Nutrition is a confusing topic, as mainstream media puts out constant conflicting information. That’s ok, we’re going to sort through some common traps.
In this recent CrossFit West Houston Nutrition Series, we have covered a lot of ground, what nutrition is macronutrients, micronutrients, fixing a bad diet and intrinsic motivation. There are a lot of components that make up your nutrition; food, mental aspects, habits, strategies and tactics. This article with cover tactical mistakes.
Making Behaviors or Habits Match Your Goals
Most people have some type of goal. Look at the beginning of the year when people make their new year’s resolutions, which in effect are goals. Goals are not really the problem; reaching the goals are the problem. Having goals are a good thing, but you need to have a plan to reach the goals as they will not just happen without some sort of action.
Everyday behaviors are the key to reaching a goal.
If you have a goal to lose 10 Lbs. in 5 weeks, it is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. It will mean nothing if you continue to eat fast food, donuts and junk food.
Some good habits to follow if you want to lose 10 lbs:
Lack of a plan or preparation
As the saying goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Like the last point, wishing a goal to come true is not going to make it come true in actuality. Many folks know what they want but do not know how to get there. It can be overwhelming to make a plan, but having a plan and being prepared definitely increase your chance of success.
There are several things that you can do to plan in advance and be prepared.
Having the above items will set you up to be prepared.
Having a Plan:
Regardless of your goal; weight loss, gain or maintaining, or eating for performance or health; knowing how much you are eating is an important data point. Most will agree that if you take in more calories than you expend, you will gain weight. If you take in less you than you expend, you will lose weight. However, if you have no tracking mechanism, there’s no way to know for sure.
It can be as complicated as weighing and measuring your food with a food scale and using the My Fitness Pal App. Or you can use your hands to gauge portion size and track with paper and pen. For men, a good guide is two palm size lean protein sources, two fists of vegetables and a thumb size of fat. For women, one palm size lean protein source, two fist sizes of vegetables and a thumb size of fat. Whichever methods of measuring and tracking, they will both increase your potential for success.
Tracking keeps you honest with yourself. You will know rather than guess if you are eating the right amounts.
Excess Liquid Calories
For many people, they may eat relatively good portions of the right foods but the calories they drink are bringing them down. Most drinks that are not water, coffee or tea will have calories associated with them. Up to 1 in 5 Americans consume some sort of soft drink daily and according to some sources up to 2.6 per day. Cutting down or eliminating these beverages can go a long way towards body composition change as well as long term health.
Alcohol is another beverage that adds up in the calorie column. Whether it’s a family tradition of a glass of wine at dinner, beer with coworkers after work, or cocktail at home to wind down, they all add up. In this Washington Post Article from 2014, 30% of Americans don’t drink at all, 30% consume at least one drink per week, and 10% of Americans consume on average 74 drinks a week which is 10 per day. Ten! That is a pretty staggering number.
Think before you drink as the old Public Service Announcements said. While that drink might take the edge off a tough day it is doing nothing for your waist line, nutritional goals, or performance. In actuality it is likely negating or reversing the positive effects of your health, fitness and nutrition efforts.
Lack of Food Variation
Whether it is for convenience, taste or habit, it is very easy for people to keep eating the same things week in and week out. Unfortunately, that is not the best strategy for results, especially for long term health.
There is a quote I think of frequently from Dr. Tom Incledon, who is a researcher in nutrition and health,
“The healthiest individuals are the people that eat the widest variety of foods.”
Why would this be? Mainly because of micronutrients and their support for different systems and processes in the body. If you eat the same foods all the time, you will eat the same micronutrients, which will mean you can have deficiencies due to a failure to consume micronutrients found in other foods.
Eating Out Too Frequently
Eating out too frequently is very common. It is a convenient and social way to get food. Who doesn’t love to go out to eat with friends? I am not saying you should never do it, but it should be limited. There are a lot of pitfalls with eating out.
A restaurant’s job is to provide good tasting food and a lot of it. The food is typically cooked in butter or covered in a sugary sauce with plenty of salt. Why? Because it makes the food taste good. However, that comes with lots of extra calories. You can easily find your calorie count rise above 1000 calories when eating out. Add in alcoholic drinks and extras like chips, bread and desserts, you can really dig yourself into a big nutritional excessive calorie hole.
There is no better way to control your intake than using your own kitchen. You control the flavoring, portion and extras. Do yourself a favor and cook your own food! Remember that seasonings and spices add flavor, but not calories. And many bring positive nutritional contributions as well.
As you can see, there are many pitfalls. You may feel like you’re in a minefield of possible errors when trying eat well. And you may find yourself making more than one of these mistakes. It is ok. Give yourself some forgiveness and find a way to make corrections in order to get the results and long term health that you are looking to achieve.