Making your Diet Work for You
Your calorie intake and the foods you eat significantly affect your body weight, health, and hormonal balance. While you could get ripped eating only fast foods, candy bars and protein shakes, that’s definitely not ideal.
Many people’s idea of “eating healthy” is quite exaggerated. They think in binary terms: good foods and bad foods.
The truth is much more complex. There are very few, if any, foods that are actively unhealthy, meaning that if you eat them once, they immediately and measurably harm your body. The reason foods such as chocolate or french fries are labeled as “bad” is because they are relatively devoid of micronutrients, protein, and fiber while they are very high in calories. A better term for these foods would be “empty calories”. If they dominate your diet, you develop micronutrient deficiencies and become overweight as a result.
What do these statistics mean to you?
Most of the health problems blamed on the foods consumed are actually caused by being overweight, being deficient in the essential vitamins and minerals, and being sedentary. Sure, there are some foods that contain compounds that are harmful such as trans fats or sodium nitrates but those foods would have to dominate your diet for them to significantly affect your health.
A better way to look at healthy eating is this: Instead of completely eliminating “bad” foods, make sure your diet is dominated by highly nutritious foods. This way you get all your vitamins , minerals, and fiber, you don’t become overweight and you can still fit empty calories in your diet without negative effects on health.
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The Best Resources For Eating Well
THE SHREDSMART PROGRAM
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MUSCLE AND STRENGTH NUTRITION PYRAMID
The Muscle and Strength Nutrition Pyramid by Eric Helms teaches you how to optimally set your nutrition for bodybuilding or powerlifting. Eric cuts through all the myths and gives you the proven methods to get shredded or build muscle. This is Radu's go-to resource for nutrition information.
Key Principles for Optimal Nutrition
Nothing affects your health and body composition as much as calories do. If you’re overweight, losing body fat is the best thing you can do to improve your health, improve your hormonal balance, improve sleep quality, increase your energy levels, improve your workout performance, improve your sex life, and more. You lose fat by eating fewer calories than you burn in a day.
Check out this post to learn how to set your nutrition plan for fat loss.
Having more muscle mass also has very positive effects on health: it increases life expectancy, improves energy levels, reduces all cause mortality, increases testosterone, speeds up your metabolism, and more. Being lean and muscular improves pretty much all aspects of your life.
Read this post to learn how to set your nutrition plan for muscle growth.
Where your calories come from also matters. A higher protein diet helps you build more muscle, lose fat easier, stay fuller, and preserve muscle mass while dieting.
Fats and carbs are also very important for hormonal health, workout performance, sleep quality, mental alertness, and more. Going too high in one means going too low in the other and both options are suboptimal. Use this calculator to set your macros for great results.
A large variety of vitamins and minerals are essential for the production of bodily steroid hormones, including testosterone.
Although in our modern society food is abundant, its micronutrient value is slowly decreasing. Despite the rise in obesity a large portions of the US population are deficient in multiple key micronutrients. Fixing deficiencies all starts with eating more real ‘whole foods’ like: eggs, lean meats, potatoes, apples, berries, avocados, and so on. A proper ‘whole food-based diet’ alone covers the intake of many key micronutrients. You can add a high quality multivitamin on top of that and you’re set.
“Processed foods” is a term that wouldn’t be accepted in a scientific paper because it would mean different things to different people. After all, if you take a piece of meat and you ground it, it is now a processed food. You’d need to define the processes you’re referring to.
The “processed foods” we’d encourage you to eat little of would be: All high sugar foods that have a long shelf life, microwave ready meals, processed meats (such as hot dogs, hams, bacon products, pre-packaged deli meats, and other products that are pink, cured, and preserved with sodium nitrate), canned foods, high fat sauces.