Ask 20 people what you should be eating and I can almost guarantee, you would get 20 different answers. Have you ever noticed how two people follow the same diet or workout plan and one person gets great results and the other one doesn't? The answer is simple. It's because one-size-fits-all is a myth, we are all created differently, we all have a different code (DNA) that our body reads to operate. Having a plan to start with is a great idea, there are a lot of similar needs we all have to lose body fat, build muscle and to maintain good health. It’s important to know how to customize that plan to fit your unique body and your specific goals. While I think we know this on a surface level, the internet, magazines, books, news and food companies themselves are blasting us with new nutrition “solutions'' daily. New fad diets promising fast weight loss and Instagram models showing us flawless “after” pictures fill our social media news feeds. It’s so much noise to sift through, no wonder most of us are paralyzed by information overload.
I’ve spent years studying nutrition, I have coached myself and hundreds of clients through successfully changing their lives through food. My clients and I work together for months to create a custom plan that works specifically for them. We even have the technology now to to test their DNA first so that we can create personalized plans designed to get them results faster by skipping all the trial and error. While I can not give you a one-size-fits-all magic formula, I can give you a simple three tip strategy that is beneficial for all people regardless of their DNA makeup or goals.
This is a great place to start:
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Our grocery stores today are mostly made up of “food-like” products. Most items in the inside aisles are highly processed products that resemble food but are far from their original state. The outside aisles is where you will find produce, meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Yes, you will probably need some things like nuts, oil, rice, oatmeal and coffee from the inside aisles, but the bulk of your diet should come from whole unprocessed foods.
- Read the labels. If you are eating foods with labels (processed foods) make sure to read the side labels closely and whatever you do, don’t trust the marketing on the front of the products. Food companies have spent millions of dollars to research buzzwords, choose colors and create packaging to make you believe that what you are eating is good for you. Specifically, be on the lookout for added sugar and serving sizes. It’s incredibly easy to go over the daily recommended amount of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (or 25 grams) of added sugar for women, 9 teaspoons (or 36 grams) for men per day. If you eat “healthy” yogurt, oatmeal, or energy bars, take a look at the nutrition label to make sure they aren’t packed with sugar.
- Pay attention to portion sizes. While the quality of foods is important to your success, you should also be very aware of the quantity of food you are consuming. A very easy way to track this is to use your hand! Side note-how cool is it that we each have our very own measuring device for this?
Using Your Hand To Measure
- First, open your hand, palm up. Women should eat a palm size portion of protein at every meal, men should eat two. Protein includes meat, fish, poultry, beans and some dairy.
- Make a fist. Women should eat a fist-sized portion of vegetables at every meal, men should eat two. If your goal is weight loss, double that.
- Cup your hand. That’s your carbohydrates, like whole grains, starchy vegetables and fruits. One cupped hand portion for women, and two for men at every meal.
- Finally, use your thumb to measure your fat portions. One thumb for women at each meal and two for men. Fats include, nuts, oils and butter.
It's important to note that these 4 components should make up at least 3 meals per day. Restricting food groups or skipping meals is not recommended as part of a healthy lifestyle. If you are more a visual person, love this guide from Precision Nutrition.
Following these three simple rules is a great start. If you would like a more detailed, personalized nutrition plan or more information on DNA testing for health and fitness, just let us know. We would be happy to help.