The new year is in full swing and we’re in our third full week of 2020. As we’ve entered the new year all the New Year resolutions have begun. Maybe your gym has been more crowded. The produce section has more people. More people are resharing and engaging with nutrition and fitness related posts. I personally have noticed significantly more engagement on my social media in addition to a ton of nutrition related questions and not from any current clients.
As I was taking my mid-day break earlier this week, I came across a quote that really resonated with how I feel about this 2020 year so far.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but your diet doesn’t have to have a name. You can just be normal and eat.” – Jill Coleman
At the top of each new year, you’re guaranteed to face whatever new fad diet is out. This year, it’s the plant-based diet. Last year it was Keto. The year before that was intermittent fasting. The year before that was Paleo. The year before that was vegan.
What do all of these diets have in common? They just have a name.
I’ve gotten a ton of questions lately about the plant-based diet and what my thoughts are on it. That’s not what this article is for, so I won’t say much except to say that it is just another fad diet with a name. It will come and go, just like the rest of them and probably in 4-5 years will make another appearance.
The biggest problem related to these fad diets is that most people don’t know any other way. The issue with the Gamechangers documentary is that the people who need the most help are going to watch it and think that the plant-based, vegan diet is the only way they’re going to be able to love their bodies and love what they see in the mirror.
The plant-based diet could very well be the magic diet out there. The diet that everyone NEEDS to follow to lose weight, stay healthy, build muscle, live longer, you name it.
Now let me be very clear that it is NOT that diet. There are plenty of studies proving vegan and plant-based diets do not improve longevity. They don’t magically help you lose weight. They do result in loss of muscle mass and strength. They are not performance-based diets.
BUT if it was proven WITHOUT A DOUBT that it was the superior diet, it wouldn’t matter!!!
Because humans are rebellious and going to eat the foods they’re going to eat, plain and simple.
Here’s some better examples. We know, for a proven fact, that smoking is bad and causes cancer. We also know not wearing sunscreen puts you at risk of cancer. We know wearing a helmet WILL protect you from a head injury. We know that wearing a seatbelt is a law and will likely save your life.
But do all humans listen? NO. People still smoke. People still refuse to wear sunscreen and get burnt. I live in South Carolina. I’m guaranteed to drive 5 minutes down the road and see a person on a bike (road bike or motorcycle) without a helmet (it’s not illegal). I fought with my best friend every time she got in my car since we were 15 years old until she put on her seatbelt (I usually threatened to call my mom to beat her up, which usually did the trick).
Same with diets. These diets with names aren’t the magic secret to success and if they are, it wouldn’t matter. If you like carbs, you’re going to eat carbs so you will fail at the keto or paleo diets. If you like animal proteins, you’re going to eat them at some point regardless of the plant-based diet.
SO instead of worrying about whatever named diet is famous this year, just “eat food and be normal.” Change the habits you need to change to be “normal”.
Instead of following some fad diet, here’s 5 things that’s missing from your nutrition to change as you head into 2020. I decided to make this article to address the 5 most common mistakes I see in people’s nutrition, or just overall life. Fixing just ONE of these will put you 100x more ahead than if you were to go all in on some named, fad diet that you’ll give up on in 4 weeks.
So without further ado, let’s get into it.
SLEEP MORE. This has been the number one mistake I’ve seen in clients since I started this business nearly 2 years ago. Clients are getting injured at the gym, constantly fatigued, craving sugar and alcohol, and think the answer is in the multivitamin or the macro prescipriton I will inevitably give them.
Sure supplements can help. My macro prescription will definitely help.
But if you’re not sleeping, you’re not addressing the root cause.
I’ve recently ramped up my Ironman training. I went from MAYBE 1 cardio session per week up to 5 (2x swim, 1x run, 1x bike, 1x bike+run) sessions. This is on top of 3-4 lifting sessions per week.
I’ve increased my sleep to 2 hours more per night to account for the added stress and inflammation created by my training sessions. Up until I made this change, I was bloated, experiencing worse PMS symptoms, had terrible brain fog, and was sick constantly. Once I added sleep and made it a priority to get into bed at 8:30-9pm every night (waking up at 6am), all of my problems went away.
If you’re sleep deprived, you’re increasing stress, cortisol, and inflammation. Cortisol leads to stubborn belly fat, hormone issues, and cravings. It also makes sleep even worse because it inhibits the release of melatonin. This causes you to spend MORE time in sympathetic fight or flight mode and LESS time in parasympathetic rest and digest mode. It becomes a nasty cycle.
If you sleep less, then that also means you’re awake for longer, giving you MORE time in the day to eat. When I have to coach at our gym in the mornings, I have to get up at 4:40am (almost 1.5 hours earlier than usual). To keep routine and my circadian rhythm balanced (and also keep calories in check), I wait until my usual breakfast time. Most people tend to eat more food when they’re sleep deprived simply because there is just more time in the day. Even worse, your inhibitions are slightly lowered so you’re decision making into the TYPES of food probably isn’t great.
Make it a goal to get a MINIMUM of 7 hours of sleep per night. That’s a minimum. If you can sleep closer to 8-9 hours, you’re only doing yourself a favor.
#2. Meal timing and frequency
This is one that is often last to focus on, but I’m mentioning it at the top for several reasons. It’ll also tie with #3.
One of the biggest faults in many people’s diets is following the 3-meal per day plan. If you eat only a breakfast (7am), lunch (12pm), and dinner (7pm), you’re going anywhere from 5-8 hours without food. This leads to cravings, binges, poor decisions, grogginess, brain fog, lack of energy, hunger, you name it.
One of the best things you can do in your nutrition is increase the number of meals. Even if you’re just adding a 4th meal somewhere into your day, you’re going to see a ton of results. You’re going to find that it’s easier to increase food and reach your macros (because you have less volume at each meal). You’ll find that you’re eating every 3-4 hours, instead of 6-8 hours. You’ll feel like as soon as you’re done eating and hungry, it’s time for the next meal. You might NOT like this at first but doing this means you’re less likely to fill that time waiting for your next meal with junk food and sweets. That wait for more food becomes way easier and more manageable.
This will prevent energy crashes. It’ll make your workouts flow better. It’ll be easier to increase your protein and veggies, something you probably are struggling with. It’ll improve adherence. It’ll prevent brain fog and improve mental clarity.
Secondly, evenly space out those meals so you create a routine...this is going to be carried over in #3.
Routine and consistency is key. Your body thrives off of habits and routines. You may say you