I recently asked this question to health and fitness experts within my community: what is your #1 nutrition tip? Here are the responses.
Sean James Argo
Сertified trainer and owner of Renaissance Fitness Personal Training:
Don’t demonize food. Food is fuel and is our friend, not our enemy.
Strength and conditioning coach: Note that when you go beyond very general recommendations such as “don’t eat too much,” “earn your carbs,” and, in my opinion, “minimize your intake of processed sugar,” nutrition advice necessarily becomes quite specific to individual circumstances. What is appropriate or acceptable for a very fit and active young man with 10% body fat is often very different than what is appropriate for an unfit, sedentary, pre-diabetic 50-year-old with over 20% body fat.
Josh Hewett – owner, Top Form Fitness: It depends on the goal, but keeping a nutrition journal or food diary would be a powerful first step. An app like MyFitnessPal would be even better… to become more aware of your portions, calories consumed, and macros. This empowers you to make informed choices of what and how much you eat while encouraging mindful eating.
Will Brink – writer, researcher, consultant, and owner of BrinkZone.com; and Richard Da Silva: Consistency is one of the most powerful tools you have. Your brain and body crave it. We are creatures of habit and consistency makes tough routines automatic, helping you to stay motivated.
Natalie Bean nutrition expert: Eat to lose! Eat to get leaner! Train your body to lose by taking in the most amount of calories.
Staci Boyer – 30-year fitness professional and published author: You should fuel your body type for your activity and your goals. Know the answers to those questions before entering into any nutritional program.”
Joe Stankowski – fitness and nutrition coach: Eat with chopsticks using your non-dominant hand and put the sticks down between bites. In other words – slooooooow down!
Geoff Girvitz – founder of Bang Fitness: If tasty, prepared food is in your house, you’re going to eat it. This is not a willpower thing. It is not a character flaw. It is also not worth wasting one second beating yourself up about. Accept it and plan accordingly.
Israel Blume – local fitness legend: Overall health is highly dependant on good gut bacteria; consuming adequate amounts of probiotics is critical. Foods high in probiotics include yogurt, kefir, pickles (not those fermented in vinegar ) cheese, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
Vinson Smith – VS2 Fitness: Stresses the importance of water and also states, if it’s green it’s good.
Paul Gagne – renowned posturologist and performance physical preparator: Make sure to nourish yourself in a calm and peaceful state of mind. Practicing some heart coherence breathing techniques for 5 to 10 mins before a meal will help you achieve that state of mind. Also, chew your food slowly and enjoy each bite. It will help you absorb more nutrients and eat less.
Rose Di Marco
Rose Di Marco – nutrition expert: Hara Hachi Bu…eat until you’re 80% full. It is a habit practiced by one of the oldest, longest living, healthiest population of people on the planet: the Okinawans, a group of indigenous Okinawa islanders living at the southern tip of Japan.
The key to practicing Hara Hachi Bu is to eat slowly to allow your body to respond to cues, which tells you that you are no longer hungry.
How to implement this:
- Eat a smaller portion of a few different foods instead of a larger portion of a lot of foods.
- Eat slowly. It takes up to 20 minutes from the time you put food in your mouth to the time your brain gets the message that you are full.
- Make the transition to more mindful eating and remove all distractions.
Shane McLean – balanceguytraining.com: Plan your meals. preparation takes away the guesswork and limits the likelihood that you’ll make poor food choices.
Thomas Lorne Irvine
Thomas Lorne Irvine – owner and head coach, Quest Personal Training Studio Inc. and St. Lawrence College Cornwall physical fitness teacher: It’s not about how much quality food you can consume. It’s about how much you can actually digest and absorb.
When you take the time to use your senses like sight, smell, and taste, you will enhance glands in your mouth and throat to secrete saliva and enzymes for optimal digestion. If you rush the process of chewing your food, the digestive system becomes confused and stressed. This can lead to many health problems both physically and emotionally.
The ideal process of eating would be to sit at a table without distractions and focus on your food. After each bite, put your fork down until you finish the process of chewing and swallowing your bite. Aim for a minimum of 30 chews per bite of food.
The benefits of proper chewing and awareness of what you are eating will:
- Cultivate gratitude and allow you to appreciate the beauty, taste, smell, and sensation of your food.
- Avoid overconsumption of calories; your brain will get the signal of fullness at the ideal rate.
- Enhance the enzyme peroxidase in saliva that battles diseases like cancer.
- Avoid bloating, diarrhea, cramping and other issues because your stomach will get the proper signal as to how much acid and enzyme production is needed.
- Improve the health of your teeth as more saliva will help clear excess bacteria that lead to cavities and gingivitis.
- Help absorb more nutrients and utilize more energy from your food.
- Help increase blood flow in the brain, leading to enhanced development of young brains and less chance of memory loss as adults.
- Lower the chance of acid reflux and damaging effects to the esophagus and throat.
Johnny Olsen – the owner of Johnny O’s Gymnasium: Very often I get asked my thoughts on nutrition. Oftentimes these questions come after “the latest and greatest” fad diet. My answer is always the same: let’s try eating healthy, and healthy does not necessarily mean eating bad or something that is unsustainable. Think about it if you are on one of these very restrictive but sometimes very effective diets that are offered. How long will you be able to actually sustain this unenjoyable meal plan? If we were to eat a healthy meal plan, something that actually tastes good and it’s good for us like chicken, fish, occasionally lean red meat, green vegetables, and good carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and rice, that’s something we can do for a long period of time.
Now let’s think about this if you’re eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner that equates to 21 meals per week. Let’s back out seven meals for breakfast because this is the easiest meal to do routinely and not get tired of. Now we’ve got 14 meals remaining. If you can eat 12 of those meals clean, which gives you two cheat meals per week, you’re still eating healthy over 90% of the time, and you’re actually able to enjoy yourself. This is a sustainable number and one that won’t get you on a roller coaster ride going up and down with your weight on a regular basis.
Michael Finigan – strength coach and personal trainer: My most impactful and easiest nutritional tip would come from the late Charles Poliquin who coached the importance of our first meal of the day consisting of protein and essential fat, and to save our carbs for post-workout or the end of the day (depending on goals and body composition status). I find most people struggle with adequate protein intake and/or blood glucose levels; this is a simple strategy to address both.