Nutrition is a notoriously sticky subject. For every single person out there who preaches the benefits of eating plenty of protein, there’s an army of vegans storming their gates, forks in hand, ready to tell them how protein is killing them.
Try hard as we might to eat well, most people can’t figure out exactly what the hell “right” even means anymore. Here are 15 facts about nutrition that we know, and you can use to craft a well balanced idet.
1. Calories will ALWAYS matter.
Calories will always be an important factor of dieting. That doesn’t mean they’re the only factor, just don’t fool yourself into thinking you can eat 5,000 calories of chicken and broccoli and still lose weight.
2. You don’t need to eat small meals every 2-3 hours.
“Your metabolism is like a fire, and if you stoke it just a little bit every few hours it’ll burn more effectively than throwing a big ass log on.” That’s usually the thinking behind this idea, and it sounds really damn good. Except that human metabolism and all the components that make it up are far more complicated than some wood burning. For dieting purposes, calories are calories. If you eat those in one meal or eight it doesn’t matter. Do what is the most comfortable for you.
3. If you can’t see yourself eating the same way a year from now, you need to find a better diet.
Weight Watchers is one of the most successful diet programs out there. It helps thousands of people lose weight while on the program. Unfortunately according to some reports 99% of participants gain the weight back. Why? Because once out of Weight Watchers, it’s impossible to replicate. For a diet to be successful, it has to be something you can practice for the long haul. Crash dieting, 30 day challenges, 17 day diets, and 7 day cleanses are all just different spots on the diet merry-go-round. Bringing you right back to where you were before.
4. Juicing is for scientologists.
Why in the world removing all the fiber from a fruit or vegetable has become a good idea is completely beyond me, but it’s a terrible idea. Sure you may get the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients but you lose all the fiber. That’s one of the main reasons fruits and veggies should be eaten. Instead just throw them in a blender. It tastes the exact same, but is a hell of a lot better for you.
5. Cleanses and detoxes are bullshit, at best.
You have absolutely NO need to cleanse or detox. You have two of the greatest detoxing and cleansing machines in your body, the liver and kidneys. They do an amazing job at keeping everything clean, even if you’re not giving them what they need. Contrary to popular internet belief toxins don’t build up then need to get cleaned out. It sounds nice and almost makes sense, but the body doesn’t work that way.
Next time someone asks you to do cleanse or detox, ask them which toxins will be cleansed, and the mechanism in which they’ll be cleansed. Then take the $50 you saved and go to the liquor store. You’ve earned it.
6. Supplements can be useful, just not near as useful as we like to think.
For the most part I’m indifferent on supplements. There are some that I really like, and some that shouldn’t ever be sold again. Most supplements have some sort of use, and the more advanced someone gets the more likely they’ll see some benefit from supplements. The average person who just wants to drop some fat and build muscle would benefit greatly from just focusing on eating and training above all else. Supplements are there to supplement a program. Nothing more.
7. The 30 minute anabolic window isn’t as strict as we used to think.
For years there’s been a mad rush to get a protein shake down within 30 minutes of working out. It was thought that this “anabolic window” was the time in which the most gains could be made by taking in some sort of protein. We now know it’s not that simple. Depending on when your last meal was before training, you could have an anabolic window of anywhere from 4-6 hours. Do you have anything to lose by slamming protein right after a workout? No way, just don’t stress about that.
8. You can absorb way more than 30 grams of protein in one sitting.
This goes hand in hand with the anabolic window, since most of those protein shakes being slammed are around 30 grams. It flies in the face of common sense. If you can only absorb 30 grams of protein at one time, I guess you just piss away half that steak you ate last night? Read more here to find why this is complete craziness.
9. It doesn’t matter the diet, as long as you stick to it.
Zone, Mediterranean, Dash, Atkins, Vegan. It doesn’t matter which one. As long as you stick to it. Too many people hop from one diet to the next, when in reality if they just gave themselves a year or more on the same diet, they’d likely be happy with the results they got. The worst dieting mistake that could possibly be made is diet hopping.
10. Carbs aren’t the devil.
Carbs are good for us. Really good for us actually. Carbs are necessary to fuel activity, fuel our muscles, and fuel our brain. As we get older we become less tolerant of carbs, but that’s no reason to forgo them all together. In fact, the more active you are, the more carbs you’ll be able to take in on a daily basis. Oh, and remember veggies? The things that are good for you? All of those are carbs.
11. Fat doesn’t make you fat.
Fat is a necessary part of life, and is necessary for us to live and be healthy. Fat alone isn’t the reason why people become obese or have heart issues. It’s usually a perfect storm of problems, with excess fat being one of them. Fat is completely necessary for hormone production, heart health (!), cellular function, and recovery. It’s also a strong source of calories, since fat is 9 calories per gram – more double the amount of calories in protein or carbs.
12. You need to be eating junk food.
Incorporating small treats of junk food into your diet is one of the signs of a successful dieter. Allowing yourself to have small treats is hugely important for psychological well-being while dieting. If having that piece of chocolate or ice cream satisfies your craving and prevents you from eating the entire gallon this weekend, it was well worth it.
13. Flossing is good for your heart.
Not necessarily about nutrition, but since you use your teeth to eat nutrition, we’re counting it. Oral hygiene is actually an excellent indicator of cardiovascular health. If someone has a clean mouth, brushes, and flosses daily they have a far better chance of avoiding heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. Not to mention it make way more pleasant to speak to in close quarters.
14. Breakfast is NOT the most important meal of the day.
Truth be told, there is no most important meal. Thousands of people have gotten in amazing shape by skipping breakfast all together. Intermittent fasting is an incredibly popular tool, and some scientists suggest that those who fast have healthier hearts, hormonal profiles, and live longer, healthier lives. Fasting = awesome.
15. Creatine might be the best supplement you can buy.
Creatine is dirt cheap, has been studied hundreds of times, and has been proven to be completely safe and effective. For men AND women. When it comes to building muscle and aiding performance, nothing compares. Creatine also has cardiovascular and neurological benefits to it as well, helping the brain and the heart stay healthy. Creatine itself is so damn important that if your body didn’t make it, it would be a necessary vitamin for you to take.