Try this diet. Eat this food. Don't eat this food. Lose 10lbs in 10 days. Starve yourself. Eat more. Avoid carbs. Go vegan.
The word 'minefield' is an accurate description for the world of nutrition at times. There are so many different diets plans and so much conflicting information it can be utterly confusing, even for those who know what they're doing.
How do you know where to start? What is right for you?
My approach is to keep things simple. After all, we all have so much going in our lives, a simple approach makes it manageable. When it becomes manageable, it becomes lasting and sustainable.
Firstly, there are a few basic fundamental principles of nutrition that everyone should know in order to be successful with it.
1. Calories and Energy
Food is energy. It gives us fuel to live, breath and go about our daily activities. This energy is measured in calories.
Whether you agree with monitoring calories or not, this is one of the most basic scientific principles of nutrition. Calories are the currency of food.
We all know how we get fat; eating too much a.k.a eating too many calories. But we often seem to forget this or make excuses for it when it comes to losing fat.
Everyone has a calorie limit; a maximum capacity for how much fuel we need each day.
Eat too many calories / food / energy and you will gain weight.
Eat fewer calories / food / energy and you will lose body fat.
Imagine running a successful business. You wouldn't turn a blind eye to the money that came in and out of that business.
The same can be said about calories. Having a good awareness of the calories you consume via the food you eat is essential.
Every single trending diet you see that claims to do wonders for your waist line will simply find a way in which you consume fewer calories than you currently are.
Calories aren't everything, but understanding energy needs and calories will go a long way to being successful with your nutrition.
The next basic nutrition principle to understand are macronutrients, of which there are 3.
All the food we consume will fall into one of these 3 categories.
Some trending diets will tell you that you don't need to eat carbs or that cutting all fat is best. Again, these 'myths' are created in order to sell you a made up meal plan.
The truth is, we need all 3 of these macronutrients in our daily food intake for body and brain fuel.
The majority of standard western dietary intake will be carbohydrate based.
Balancing your macronutrient intake, that is making sure you get enough protein and healthy fats as well as carbohydrates, will be another crucial step towards being successful with your nutrition.
3. Understanding Moderation
Good, healthy nutrition isn't just about eating tiny portions of chicken and broccoli all day every day. I couldn't think of anything worse!
It's about moderating your food intake, but allowing yourself to enjoy what you eat. If you don't enjoy what you're eating, you're not going to do it for long and will ultimately fail over the long term.
I often use the 80/20 rule when it comes to moderation.
Aim to eat a wide ranges of wholesome, healthy meals that contain sources of protein, healthy fats and healthy carbohydrates 80% of the time. Make sure you use sensible portion sizes.
This gives you a 20% allowance to enjoy a glass of wine, pizza, ice cream and bit of chocolate throughout your weekly intake.
4. Plan Your Meals
Any success in any walk of life requires a plan of action to get there.
Spending 10 minutes every Sunday planning your meals for the next week will engage you with being organised.
You're more likely to stick to an action plan when it's physically written down and stuck on your fridge too.