7 Nutrition Rules That Will Help You Shed Fat, Build Muscle, And Diet More Effectively

Spend enough time in the weird corners of the Internet that I hang out in and you’d think that people are going to war over their diets, nutritional philosophies, and nutrition rules.

The paleo dieters are set up with their trebuchets, the vegans are infecting enemy territory with invasive grasses, and the macro counters are slyly slipping too much sweetener into their enemies desserts to make them fat.

Whatever diet it is, it has an accompanying community. And thanks to the breadth of the Internet, there is no shortage of Facebook group dedicated to that specific diet. Which provides a safe place for all of the IIFYM acolytes to hang out and plot their next Internet attack on the clean eaters.

All of this leads to each dietary camp becoming very entrenched against one another, and if you didn’t know any better you’d think none of them have anything in common.

The best part being of course that they almost all agree on 95% and spend their time arguing about the other 5%. So in the spirit of breaking down barriers and helping to clear some confusion, here are 6 nutrition rules that will always be true.

  • You don’t have to count calories, but calories will always count.

The road to successful fat loss is usually paved with repeatedly failed diets. Only after a dieter has finally found a system that works for her has she managed to strip body fat off and keep it off.

Sometimes this means she counts calories or macros. In other instances, it may mean that she doesn’t, and instead has a set of habits that she practiced. Whatever the system was you can bet one thing was a fact: she didn’t eat more calories than she burned.

Dietary success is a matter of finding what works for you. A lot of the time this means finding a diet that sold it’s message just right, got you to buy in, and had a system that was easy enough for you to follow.

But at the most basic level, all diets have one thing in common: they get you to eat fewer calories. Whether by focusing on healthy habits, giving you an incentive to eat more vegetables, or just having you track how much you’re eating.

  • You don’t need to eat ever 2-3 hours, but it sure seems to work well.

It’s become en vogue to hate on bodybuilders or physique enthusiasts that eat their reheated Tupperware meals of chicken, rice, and asparagus every 2-3 hours. Hell, I’ve hated on those people. But you know what I’ve tended to notice over time when it comes to those people who eat so often? They tend to look awesome.

The truth is that eating every 2-3 hours is nothing more than a system to help keep eating in check, it just works better than nearly every other system out there.

By prepping food, eating with the clock, and controlling for calories every single meal you’re creating a fail-safe way to adhere to your diet, eat plenty of protein, and place an emphasis on vegetables.

  • In order to find moderation, you need to live at both extremes.

Moderation has become this Holy Grail type quest that every single dieter thinks they’ll find one day if they haven’t already. Talk to any middle-aged, overweight man who is leaving the gym to go meet his buddy for beers after the gym, and he’ll tell you “It’s all about moderation, you know?”

Except using moderation, as an excuse to go get drunk with your friend isn’t moderation at all. It’s just justifying your behavior to others with a word that you’re bastardizing the meaning of.

And just so we’re clear, anyone who knows me will gladly tell you how pro getting-drunk-with-friends I am; just not when disguising it as moderation.

Why is this a big deal to me? Because words have meanings and every single person that hears this bastardized definition of moderation that doesn’t know any better will then take it to mean that, start practicing it, and in turn continue being pissed off when they can’t drop fat.

Moderation, by definition, is living in the middle. To find the middle you’ve got to find where the edges are. This is why for short periods of time there’s value in complete debauchery and restriction. It helps you find a place of sustainable balance.

  • All diets are going to suck at some point.

Do you know what dieting is on a physiological level? It’s eating fewer calories than you consume so you can lose weight. But that’s obvious. Want to know another way to put it? Purposefully starving oneself.

Diets, at some point or another, are going to suck. They are going to be uncomfortable. You will be hungry, and you will get tired of eating foods that are colored green and chicken breast that isn’t covered in cheese.

This is a fact of dieting life, and it’s something that all successful dieters have resigned themselves to. For some, it takes a number of failed diet attempts to realize this. Others realize it from the very start and successfully drop unwanted fat on their first try. Others don’t ever realize this is a fact of dieting life.

My recommendation? Embrace the impending hunger. Go into the diet knowing that at times it’s going to be hard, but because of those hard times you will learn and grow as a person.

  • Removing most processed foods really works.

IIFYM has made eating junk food nearly synonymous with having abs and being Instagram famous. And while I’m all for counting macros, it’s high time we realize that health, vitality, and looking great have far more to do with than just how many carbs you have left to eat today.

Processed foods, otherwise known as junk food, highly palatable foods, or foods that come in a package are loaded with more salt, sugar, and fat than we as humans have evolved to handle. And if you want to argue about the semantics of processed foods, read this and then come back.

This mixture lights up the pleasure centers in our brain more than Tony Montana’s was lit up staring into a mountain of cocaine. And because of this circuitry going haywire, many people can’t help but go crazy and eat everything in sight.

Which actually wouldn’t be a problem if it stopped at that one time, but the more you expose yourself to highly palatable shit quality food, the more you come to crave it, and the more you come to crave it the more you give into those cravings.

One surefire way to help beat this even if you count macros? Quit eating shit quality foods and instead,  focus on getting plenty of vegetables. Harsh? Maybe. Does it work? Definitely.

  • Focusing on quality food will almost always lead to the right quantity.

One of the simplest and most effective ways for someone to drop fat is for them to immediately start shopping around the edge of the grocery store. This is tried and true wisdom that everyone knows they should be doing, but once someone starts putting it into practice, things really begin to change. Why? Because the quality of their food goes up.

Focusing on getting in plenty of quality foods like vegetables, lean proteins, fruits, and fibrous starches is an easy way to make sure that it becomes increasingly more difficult to eat more calories. These foods are what we as humans were meant to be eating, and because of that it’s far easier for us regulate our hunger and satiety.

All of which is really just a long-winded way for me to say that those foods help get you full and keep you fill without packing a massive caloric hit.

  • When all else fails, eat the rainbow.

Dieting has become far more complicated than it needs to be. Hardly a day goes by in which someone asks me what diet would be best for them to follow.

You’ve probably wondered the same thing. So the next time you’re unsure about what you need to be eating or which diet you need to be following do this one thing: eat as many different colors as you possibly can.

Eat as many reds, greens, blues, purples, oranges, and all the weird colors in between.

Is it as meticulous as figuring up the calories burned thanks to the thermic effect of feeding in your last meal that consisted of 46.4g of protein, 111.3g of carbs, and 23g of fat? Nope. But it does help you place an emphasis on eating more vegetables, and that alone is a great way to help ensure you’re eating for health and fat loss.