Optimise the fuel for your fire
Nutrition is clearly a gigantic topic and one of the biggest problems is that there is not a consensus within the scientific community, athletic community or any community to what is the "ideal" diet.
If Athlete A who is a world champion in one thing eats a vegan diet and Athlete B who is a world champion in another eats a highly carnivorous diet you can see how Athlete C who wants to become a world champion may struggle to understand which nutritional plan to follow.
So this article will not give any specific recommendations on an exact diet to follow as this would be based somewhat on speculation. However, despite not being able to provide an exact roadmap to follow there are definitely some good fundamental rules of nutrition which can be agreed upon across the board.
Fundamental rules of nutrition
- There are 6 essential nutrients - Water, Fat, Carbohydrates, Protein, Vitamins & Minerals.
- It's your responsibility to ensure you are not lacking or over-consuming any of the 6 essential nutrients as doing so can lead to negative consequences.
- Processed food will never be healthier than unprocessed.
- Calories equate to energy. If your intake exceeds your expenditure then you will gain weight and visa versa.
- Not every diet is suitable for every person - there is not one way and therefore a degree of experimentation is always required.
- The body requires a certain amount of time to adapt to any changes in your diet.
- Diet plays an extremely large role in our mental and physical health and this can often be downplayed especially if you are not familiar with experimenting with your diet. A health defect you have accepted as 'part of life' may be solved in a simpler way that first thought through an adaptation of your diet.
- Extremities can be difficult to sustain & sustainability is an important part of any diet.
- Meal timings and quantities are important too.
Using the fundamental rules
From these fundamental rules you can begin to think about how current nutritional plan is in comparison and think about any potential changes you should make.
The first step is to ask yourself as honestly as possible what your current "issues" are and what you would actually be looking for if you change your diet.
For example if you feel like you're heavier than necessary then "losing weight" would be a good conclusion to reach and you will be able to tangibly measure if any changes in your diet are working or not.
Other examples could be muscle aches, slow recovery, lack of energy, skin problems and the list goes on endlessly. The important thing is to identify what would be relevant to you and use that as a goal to attain.
Clarity and consistency are hugely important to make progress. If you decide to try a radically different diet just for the sake of it you may find it hard to realise what affect the diet is having. If you're clear in saying "I am going to try Diet A to see if it affects my recovery time which currently is XYZ" you will be able to look back in the coming weeks or months and say that before trying Diet A my recovery was XYZ and now it's ZZZ.
Consistency is the second part of the puzzle, if you are not consistent with any changes then you will never be able to know what has been affective, if it's just a coincidence or what. Consistency comes with specificity and usually means that if you're implementing a change you should be mindful not to change too much at one time.
For example if you divide to become a vegan and eat a ketogenic diet at the same time it's going to be hard to understand which of the two is making you feel different.
With the above in mind I would invite you to ask and answer these questions for yourself:
- What is my current diet.
- What is my reason for wanting to change my diet.
- What issues are there with my current diet.
- What can I do to resolve these issues.
Depending on your answers you may have already given yourself practical steps you can take. If not then I would encourage you to think about this as a journey that begins today. You have already taken the first steps by thinking in more depth about your diet than the vast majority of people and by doing this you have opened the door to learning and improvement.
The best way to begin this journey is by experimentation and it's easiest to do this by familiarising yourself with some popular diets/nutritional strategies:
- No Processed Food
- Organic Food
These are just a few but are good starting places to look that are fairly easy to accomplish. I would recommend trying any change for a minimum of 4-6 weeks. The reason for trying these individually would be firstly to see if there is any positive affect on the issues that you listed and also if you noticed any other affects. You may find that there are elements of a diet that you really like and really work for you, or you may find the opposite - at least you will know.
Experimenting is key
The more things you try the more things you will experience and understand in a first hand way. Without experimenting for yourself you will never truly understand the affects.
But any experimentation must be done in a sensible and safe way. Never throw yourself in the deep end without understanding what you're jumping in to.
Your responsibility with any dietary change is to educate yourself on it. Watching videos, read online forums, books and so on. Arm yourself with knowledge and your results will start to show patterns that you understand and can act upon.
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