For as long as you have been chasing your goals, trying to lose weight, trying to gain muscle, or trying to fuel your body, you probably have thought about food and diet in some way or another. And you’ve probably flirted with a handful of diets and ideas, either seen through social media success stories or something a friend of family member has done and received some immediate results from.
The truth about food is that there isn’t one generic plan that suites everyone. There isn’t even one perfect plan that fits a type of individual. Food is a conglomerate of substances going into our body and each of us responds to that substance differently. And full disclosure for this article, this discussion is based on ideas and concepts where results depend on so many other variables in life we all experience, in which any one of them could contribute to or take away from changes we may see.
Considering variables, we have to always be aware of how sleep affects daily hormonal balance, digestion, recovery, mood, etc… On an individual level we have to consider food allergies and intolerances and how types of food affect our digestion, inflammation, and how inflammatory some foods are or make us feel. It’s important to look at sleep schedule, work schedule, workout schedule and when throughout the day these things take place, as they can have an affect on food cravings, food necessities, and satiety. And we can’t ignore lifestyle, stress, and emotional attachment to food – whether or not we have time to cook, know how to cook, education around food quality and food hygiene, and triggers for when certain foods are more likely to dominate our daily food profile.
From a coaching standpoint, creating the right plan for an individual comes with trial and error and finding out what works best. Not simply what works for getting results while keeping energy levels up, but how the relationship evolves between all of these other variables and food, as any one variable can have an effect that can seem so unassuming. Some individuals experience chronic pain and discomfort for years before figuring out that they may be intolerant to fermented foods, for example. So it’s far more than just assigning a food profile for six months and pulling the plug if your six pack abs aren’t popping out by next summer!
Generally speaking, we as coaches like to build habits with our individual clients over time. Habits based on a number of things that we feel that individual can show success with. And not just success in terms of changes in their bodies, but success with building the habit of sticking to it. That is truly the only way we know if something is working. A scientific study is just that, based on controls. Without them different things happen or nothing happens and inconsistent results are produced. So while we might work with individuals on building habits around sleep and hydration, we might also play with ideas in upgrading an individuals food profile. We can do this one meal, one week, one month at a time, and in some cases, more aggressively depending on the person.
Being that we love the science to drive our direction, we look at body scans, blood work, and client consultations for areas that we need to focus on. For example, we can look at an individuals body scan to determine their PBF [percentage of body fat], LBM [lean body mass], BMR [basal metabolic rate], and use these numbers to get an idea of where to start them if we felt such recommendations were the next step.
Protein is usually a safe place to start because most individuals have a tough time getting enough, knowing where to get good sources of it, and understanding the connection it may have in relation to their goals. Building education around different types of protein, animal versus plant based, and the ‘why’ behind which can be more beneficial can work great in the beginning because it puts purpose and intention behind a decision to increase the amount to get in your diet. Understanding how to acquire quality sources of protein and why the quality is something to consider can be key. Making these connections with food creates awareness that can help improve age old behavior patterns that have lead us down maladaptive paths for so long.
Rather than thinking about a daunting plan of attack to start your next diet to achieve the results you are after, think about how you can upgrade your food profile one step at a time. While you work on improving other elements of your life like getting more sleep, managing stress, improving relationships, drinking more water, learn what foods you are intolerant of or allergic to, and think about building your meals and snacks around protein. Prioritizing protein first can lead to benefits such as:
a stable hormonal balance throughout the day
a better mood
support muscle growth/recovery
satiate your appetite and regulate metabolism
provide essential amino acids
improve immune function
Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies. We need them, not only to survive, but to help us thrive and live in an optimal state. Consider the practice of building this habit up before taking away foods that are more challenging to avoid, and what you might find is the craving for such foods slowly die or become less frequent. Often, when we read articles like this or discover ways in which to improve, implementation and where to start can be overwhelming.
So the next step is this: before creating, planning, or preparing your next week, what is one way you can upgrade what you’re eating today?
By Coach Josh Bernstein
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