I don’t know of any other subject in our industry that is more confused, twisted and all together molested than the subject of nutrition. Honestly it makes a very simple subject quite complex and intimidating. Nutrition is also a very intimate part of our lives so there is a lot of validity as to the necessity to customize it person to person while keeping in mind what is important. Will power, likes and dislikes, personal schedules, and even food allergies are just some of the valid reasons a “one size fits all” approach is doomed to failure. Nourishment, weather for our physique or strength goals, is not nearly as complicated as one might think. Avoid these very common mistakes while customizing your nutrition to your life and with enough time, you’ll be well on your way to achieving and maintaining your physique goals.
#5 – Food Today Is Too Calorie Rich! Face It, There Are Going To Be Times When We Are “Hungry”
In today’s day and age, foods are more calorie rich than ever. Four or five plates of food calorie wise equals a saucer sized plate of actual food. So naturally the tendency is to consume too many calories, especially when looking to be “full.” However being hungry more times than being full, is probably about right calorie wise. With that being said, the vast majority of us who have physique goals, want to look good and enjoy the food we eat simply have to track food in some manner. It’s rare, ~10%, that our athletes have the metabolic capacity to simply eat what they want, when-ever they want and / or force feed to maintain a good looking physique. The good news is that it’s just as rare that our athletes maintain a good looking physique on “poverty macros.” The other 80% of us, yours truly included, have to adhere to some sort of tracking regimen most of the time if we want to stay looking good, perform well in the gym, AND enjoy the food we eat.
#4 – Focus On What Matters And Forget The Rest
As I mentioned in my intro, nutrition is not as complex as it seems. Manipulating the timing and sources of food and other micro nutrients in efforts to control hormones or some other desired effect are not nearly as effective as they seem. IF these things work, they are a kin to increasing the cruise control on our cars from 70 to 71mph. In other words in the long run it’s not going to amount to much. Especially when the focus is on that extra 1mph when the other 70mph has not already been achieved. Instead focus on consistently going 70mph. Consistently make sure there is adherence to caloric requirements, more on that later, along with the macronutrient, vitamin, mineral and fiber ratios needed. That means, focus your time on developing strategies to maintain those requirements day after day, month after month and year after year.
#3 – Not Sticking To A Plan
Bulking, cutting, keto, maintenance, and of this sound familiar? These are all questions I’m sure many of us have asked all too often. Changing out nutritional strategies on a frequent basis results in wasted time and never truly discovering how one truly “ticks”. All too often athletes change out nutritional strategies on a week to week and sometimes day to day basis hoping for faster results, divine intervention, or simply because they are scared they are missing out on something better. The reality is the body simply does not respond overnight to changes regardless of the strategy or nature. Sure we can drop or gain a pound of weight from fluids over night, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that a recognizable amount mass, whether it be fat or muscle, can be quantifiably measured in a few days’ time. Whether that be visual or scale weight. The body is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, year after year machine and changes can only be identified in trends over time. Don’t change a strategy without knowing how the current one is working.
#2 – Not Knowing How To Decipher The Data
It’s been 5 minutes now and I’ve gained 2.5 pounds. How did I do that you may ask? I just drank a liter of diet soda. Frequent data in the form of daily weighing and macros consumed must be collected and recorded. However decisions from that data must be made once a large amount of data has been collected and trends can be identified. It’s like seeing the entire forest of deciduous trees and not looking solely at that one random coniferous tree. No matter how much you focus on that one coniferous tree, it does not change the fact that the forest is indeed deciduous. Look at no less than a month or two of consistent data executing the same strategy. Evaluate that data using trends and averages over time, then draw conclusions.
#1 – Not Knowing How You Truly Operate
This is the biggest mistake that most athletes make and it’s because it’s the one that takes the most time and patience. However it could also be considered the most important. It’s common knowledge that we all have a “level” of calories, food, macros etc. that we require dependent upon body weight. How many of us know without a doubt what that level is though? I’m not talking about taking your body weight, multiplying it by 12 or 17 or 20 to derive upon calories and / or macros. That gets us in the ball park, but that does not mean that’s undeniably maintenance, surplus or deficit. In order to un-questionably know, we must develop a plan using that “ball park” figure and then execute it over time. Furthermore, as I mentioned in both #2 and #3, you must be patient and execute your plan over the long haul to see how your body responds and to be able to decipher the data. This can take months in most cases and is why most never truly discover how they truly operate. Patience is key.
As in most aspects of our physique journeys it’s the simplest and most common sense strategies that are executed well over the long haul that are the most effective. Avoiding mistakes is one of the most effective ways to keep moving forward.