The Big 4 Essentials of Diet For Beginners

I follow the 4 essentials…mostly.

Every day, people tell me they are doing just fine with their diet.

Rarely, people can provide any actual evidence of the satisfactory nature of their diet, other than self report.

In numerous studies, it has been found that people aren’t eating nearly as many vegetables and fruits as they think. They are however, eating far more fats and sweets than they think. As well as far more grains and starches than what they perceive.

People aren’t even eating as much protein as they think. So essentially, every measure of self report has been shown to be completely unreliable.

Following a nutrition plan and/or logging your food isn’t for everyone. However, it may provide you with a better launch pad toward successful body composition change, especially when you are coached during the process.

Are there any undeniable rules when it comes to nutrition to follow?

In my opinion, not really. What I believe is important is that your nutrition plan reflects your own lifestyle and it’s unique challenges. That said, here are a few things the often feature in successful nutrition plans:

  1. Eat vegetables (or fruit) with every meal.
  2. Eat protein with every meal (I’m especially a fan of this one).
  3. Consume zero calories in liquid form (alcohol, juices, soft drinks — all on the not so often list)
  4. Try to eat most of your carbohydrates around training times.

All of these “features” can be argued for and against. Most commonly, coaches that advocate IIFYM (if it fits your macros — or flexible dieting) strategies don’t ultimately pay much attention to satiety and the biological disturbance of the food eaten.

Satiety is the feeling of fullness and satisfaction you obtain from eating food. High sugar, high fat, and highly processed foods tend to provide less satiety and fullness feelings than less processed foods.

People who have experience logging calories will attest to the issue of eating a high sugar breakfast, like granola, yogurt and a juice, then being very hungry much earlier in the day. You need to spend your calories wisely every day. The more vegetables, lean proteins, and good quality carbohydrate you eat, the more likely you are to come in under budget by day’s end.

Biological disturbance of food refers to the effect of the food on inflammatory gut reactions, and thermic effect of feeding (calorie cost of simply digesting the food — higher thermic effect is normally a good thing).

If people don’t ultimately focus at least most of the time on food quality, given a long enough timeline, your body won’t look the way you expect it to, even if you stick to your energy intake guidelines.

A calorie is a calorie. However, foods have different effects on the body. Would you expect 2000 calories of donuts to do the same thing to your body composition as 2000 calories of fish, rice, and vegetables?

Of course not. Consequently, flexible dieting and IIFYM style eating should primarily be kept to perhaps one or two days per week at most, and when on holidays. Attention still must be paid to what foods cause gut and inflammation disruption inside your body. If you aren’t sure, working with a coach who measures body composition weekly and sets a nutrition plan may be the answer.