There is no big secret in nutrition

So what should I eat? As a fresh graduate in Nutrition and Dietetics everyone wants to pick my brain. What is the secret they haven’t been told? What is the magic food they should or shouldn’t eat on a daily basis? Often I’m asked about this fad diet or the next one. Should I be a vegan? Should I try the ketogenic diet? Are carbs making me fat? Everyone I tell the same thing. There is no secret! Sorry to disappoint, but there just isn’t.

One thing we know to be true is the energy balance equation. Which is if you eat more calories than your body needs the excess will be stored as fat. If you eat less calories than your body needs you will lose stored fat. If you eat approximately the same amount of calories that your body needs you will stay the same weight. Now of course there are caveats to this. Individual physiology plays a role. Some people are “hard gainers”. Others are “easy gainers”. (You know, those thin people who seem to eat like it’s Thanksgiving and never gain a pound. Or those people who have one off weekend and gain five!) You also don’t want to drastically cut calories. Who wants to feel hungry all the time? However with all we have learned in the science of nutrition, we know this one equation to be true. This is why weight loss surgery works for most people. It is forcing them to consume fewer calories than they were previously. Their body utilizes their stored fat for energy and they lose weight. *

Should we watch what we eat? Yes, of course. Vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and healthy fats should make up the majority of your daily diet. These foods provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and support overall good health. However how much you eat should take priority. It is easy to gain weight if you eat too much “insert healthy food item of choice here”. Does this mean you are stuck counting calories for the rest of your life? No. Does this mean you should take the time to learn what is in the foods you like to eat most often? Yes. But the guidelines can and should be simple. What I’ve learned from 3 years of graduate school and 8 years of personal training is this. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you are not. Eat more plants, in as many of your meals and snacks as possible. Exercise regularly, doing something you enjoy so you stick to it. Drink in moderation. Don’t smoke. Get quality sleep, aim for 7–9 hours. Drink enough water, especially in the summer time. And of course, be happy.

*I’m not supporting or not supporting weight loss surgery. Many people can lose weight with a healthy diet and consistent exercise. This is a decision to be made between the individual and their physician.