Nutrition is one of the most cost-effective investment you can make in your life . You’re not only actively healing and repairing yourself now, but protecting your future self also. What you’ll find in this article is what I consider the easiest to implement and most effective tools (the least painful) for optimizing your nutrition. This information has been distilled through at least 30 carefully selected books, thoughtful analysis from nutritional experts, studying research, articles, forums, and my personal experiments and observations which span over half a decade.
I say this not to impress you, but so you have an idea of where I’m coming from. I also want you to know that I still consider myself a beginner. My skills, if any, are in being able to carefully select sources and to cross reference material from opposing fields. The results are practical methods and principles that you can easily follow. Bearing this in mind, some of what I say today may be wrong tomorrow. However I am confident that if you follow what’s below, you will be nutritionally superior to 95% of the planet.
Long term abuse of the fundamentals that I present will most likely drain your energy, destroy your metabolism, wreak havoc in your gut, and set the stage for a multitude of diseases. The research can’t be ignored, and neither can common-sense. What is your health worth to you?
In this article you will learn:
- Why nutrition could save your life
- How to create the perfect diet for health
- Why there is so much conflicting information available
- How to be your own scientist
and much more…
Food: medicine or poison?
What we choose to put in our bodies can be either a medicine or poison. What’s medicine for me may be poison for you, and too much medicine can turn into a poison. Confused yet?
Our bodies rely on a host of things to keep us healthy, from sunlight to movement and even toxins (yes, toxins are vital for health). The human body is the most complex and sophisticated organism in the known universe.
Yet interestingly, we are the only organisms that seem to be collectively poisoning themselves. Health related issues are an epidemic, and they are not a natural occurrence. It seems we are making some systematic errors.
The rise and fall of nutrients
Humanity started with a nutrient rich and whole-food lifestyle, free from toxins and pollutants. This has changed. We now live in a world where only one in 30 isles of a supermarket hold fresh, nutritious foods and takeaway is normal.
Cereal and white bread with jam for breakfast. A ham sandwich for lunch and pizza for dinner. Throw in a load of calorie rich drinks and this is the average diet, and the worst-case scenario. Welcome to the age of the ready meal.
Its also critical to understand that skinny doesn’t mean healthy. I’ve known plenty of people with great metabolisms who eat crap but look great. What you see on the outside doesn’t reflect health. However, it’s worth noting that a healthy person will tend to have less fat on them and an unhealthy person will tend to have more fat on them. The body is highly adaptive. It can put up with stress for years with no sign of breaking down, when suddenly a host of problems hit. I’ve seen this happen and it’s not pretty.
The reason why nutrition is so damn important is because its preventative medicine. By taking control you stack the deck in favor of longevity and performance. There is literally nothing to lose by paying attention to your nutrition, except a sensory pleasure in your mouth…It should be an easy choice.
So what is the perfect diet?
I hope your ready for this..years of personal research has gone into what you’re about to learn, pouring through books, articles and studies to bring you this simple truth: There is no perfect diet.
Ok, so if you’re still here, this is actually good news. This reason alone explains why there is so much arguing and confusion in the world of health and nutrition. I’ll go into a bit more detail later but our genetics play a massive role in determining what dietary choices suit us best. For example, some people can digest lactose much better than others. Some do great on a vegan diet while others disappear into nothingness. So how does this help us?
If we can isolate the variations that genetics play on our health and focus on the fundamentals that serve the majority of us then we have a useful template which can serve as a solid foundation for great health.
Minimal Rules For Maximum Results
We’re going to focus on the few important things that will guarantee (with exceptions to certain groups suffering from things such as IBS) you move in the right direction. These “rules” will give you most of your results for the least amount of effort, and they will work for you regardless of your individual makeup.
Rule #1 Get a wide variety of veg in your diet
Fill your body with high quality, nutrient dense fuels. They should make the bulk of your diet. The more color variation, the better. Your top three contestants are spinach, kale and broccoli. Just eating these daily puts you far ahead in the race. supplying essential ingredients for happiness, muscle growth, and energy regulation. Say hello to mother natures’ medicine. Alongside this, add spices and herbs to your food as they contain massive amounts of goodness. Turmeric is especially potent at reducing inflammation.
Rule #2 Find a handful of good protein sources.
Most people eat too little protein, and fitness junkies often eat too much (benefits max at around 0.75g per pound of lean body mass). As long as you get about a palm-full (20-30g) per meal you’ll protect against muscle loss, feel nice and full and repair damage to your body.
There’s a lot of heat over whether meat is ‘good for you’. Regardless of moral choices which is another topic, meat and especially organs are highly nutritious. Whether they help promote cancer and heart disease is a complex topic. Looking at the evidence, there is no strong correlation between the two. Maybe excessive meat causes problems, maybe it doesn’t. Here’s what I think.
If the meat is from a good source, not full of preservatives and/or steroids then I see no problem. Meat is FULL of nutrients, there is no denying that. Whether you personally operate well on meat is another question entirely. However keep in mind that if you go vegan, you need to be careful that you’re getting the right protein mixes. The same applies for dairy, if it works for you then great, but if there are signs of reactions (gas, spots, lethargy) then don’t consume.
Rule #3 Cut out processed food and added sugar.
These products are nutritionally empty and have big consequences, though if you live a healthy life a few treats here and there is not going to do much damage.
Rule #4 Don’t eat too much
Your body has an amazing system for telling you when to eat and when to stop. However, processed and hyper-palatable foods mess with this system, so If you’ve abused your health for a while then it may need rebooting. In which case eating ‘clean’ for at least a month will go a long way to re-setting this. Learning to listen to your body is a big part of effective nutrition, it takes time but is a process all of us have access to.
Rule #5 Be flexible
Allow for variation in your week/day. This is healthy and natural.
Now you have a solid foundation, pretty simple right? I’m going to share a few tools that will take your nutrition to the next level. These can be used whenever you like. Some however, like time restricted eating can be followed all the time. At the end of the day, experiment.
These tools will require further research as whole posts could be made on each one. I’ll go into more depth later, but a quick google search should give you the basic ideas if you’re stuck.
Time restricted eating
There is a lot of very interesting research being done in this area. By getting all your food into a sub 12 hour window you work with your circadian rhythm. This looks like it could be a huge factor in long term health. Its easy to do and the results to our health could be massive
This sets into motion a process called autophagy, the bodies way of clearing out dead/damaged cells. There is also research to suggest it slows down the ageing process. Also, fasting can start nutritional ketosis which protects the brain and muscle tissue. These are just some of the benefits. This is a great protocol to do once a month or whenever the fancy strikes you. Some people do better than others, though I think everyone should fast once in a while.
A simple fast would be to eat dinner then eat nothing until the next day where from 4pm-10pm you would eat as much as you like. The goal here isn’t calorie restriction.
Simple, and should be done daily. Get a ‘greens powder’ and throw in a load of spinach, kale and whatever else you want to get a massive dose of nutrition. Its easy and foolproof, making it perfect for someone like myself.
Kombucha and kefir are my favorites, and you can make them yourself easily and cheaply. They feed good bacteria in the gut (also known as the second brain), which is critical to overall health.
Do not underestimate tracking your nutritional intake once every few months for a week. You can use free apps such as ‘myfitnesspal’. Its quick and painless and gives you a complete breakdown of where you’re falling short of your requirements. Keep in mind the RDA is the minimum amount required to prevent disease, not for optimum health!
Learn to cook
Again, do not underestimate this. My rules for cooking are it has to be simple, nutritious and delicious. By learning some recipes and making a few clever substitutions where you need to, you can eat extremely tasty foods that are cheap and simple.
23andme will give you your genetic information for a small price, which can go a long way into personalising your nutrition, which I’ll get into later.
You are being sold a LIE
So if this is all so simple, why all the confusion, arguing and contradictory information?
Its shockingly simple really. This information A. doesn’t sell and B. doesn’t keep you hooked. You can read this article once, and get by pretty well for the rest of your life. Maybe if you’re a bit nuts like me, you can geek-out on this stuff, but for most people this will do.
look at it this way. Past generations never had to worry about health, because most people were healthy. Then came the obesity epidemic, which caused a cultural backlash. This resulted in the diet industry going into hyper-drive, but as I said earlier being skinny doesn’t mean being healthy. The public is now starting to wake up to this fact, and we’re seeing a shift towards health as opposed to just looking good. Viva la revolution!
The food industry has a lot of money invested into keeping you under the impression that their products promotes health. Diet companies are selling junk products as ‘healthy weight loss’ and everybody is trying to cash in on the next fad. All this money goes into ahem..”research” which gets picked up by bloggers, making its way up the chain to big newspapers. This is when you see big sensationalist claims that people rush to believe. It happens almost weekly.
Macro-nutrient Wars: Return of the myth
This really should be common knowledge by now but contrary to popular belief, there is no evil macro nutrient. What works for me, may not work for you. You see, the differences lie in our genes. Through constant exposure to different environments over a long time, adaptive variations occur. Makes sense right…What works well for me may not work so well for you, because of what our direct ancestors had to survive with.
With this in mind, from what I’ve seen I’d say the typical western diet is far too high in refined carbohydrates and sugars, and too low in vegetables and protein. For people who exercise a lot and have a high metabolism, complex carbs are probably a great choice (although a lot of people can operate at a high level on ketones). This is not most people though.
You are the test-lab
So how do you work out what’s best for you?
Become your own test subject. Get your fundamentals sorted, and then try something for a few weeks and take it away. Notice the difference, if any, and make decisions. It takes some time but a little goes a long way. A simple list of changes you can look at are:
- Energy levels (especially crashes and drowsiness)
- Skin quality
- Hunger levels
- Weight change
- Blood markers (get tests done)
- quality of your fecal matter (poo)
- If you want to get really smart, you start track your blood-glucose and gut health with wearable tech. This is the rapidly approaching future: Real-time tracking of biometrics, linked to a personal A.I with full access to your medical data.
The amount of work you put in here is entirely decided by how much you care about your health. To understand what you’re looking for you’ll need to do some more research. There comes a point where you have to ask, why am I putting so much effort into this?
At the end of the day health is a tool to use and go live your life with. The ideal situation would be to get the basics drilled in, which doesn’t take much time or effort. From there it really depends on your lifestyle and goals. You supplement with turmeric, magnesium and bone broth to support training, and broccoli sprouts to slow ageing..but these are all tweaks. They’re fun to do and give you an edge, but most of your results will come from the fundamentals.
There is so much more I’d love to say here, but this is a good start. Its also worth mentioning that this is only one ‘leg’ of health. There are many others that are equally as important, but I found that getting my nutrition handled had a domino effect through my life which spread to the people close to me. So whether you’re just starting out or you’re already deep in the weeds, I hope this article has given you some inspiration and ideas!
I’d also love to hear your thoughts on the topic! So feel free to start a conversation.