As you should be well aware despite what the latest bestselling diet book is trying to tell you, there is no ‘magic one size fits all’ diet for everybody. This is the reason you get such wildly opposing nutritional views from die hard veganism to exclusive carnivores.
As touched on in last months feature article, how you respond to a diet is dictated by your epigenetics, gut microbiome and body composition among many other factors. What’s more it is a dynamic science with all of the above constantly changing thus subtly manipulating your response to food day to day, month to month and year to year.
Here at CoActive Health we appreciate everybody is individual and therefore will require a different bespoke nutritional plan in order for them to optimise their health and performance. This is one of the reasons we believe in having regular ongoing consults with our members to ensure they are getting the most out of their nutrition.
This being said, all our bespoke nutritional plans that we give here at CoActive are based upon some core nutritional principles and strategies. Over the coming weeks we are going to delve into some of the different nutritional strategies in order to learn a little about why we prescribe them and for who and when they may be appropriate:
- Clean up – Modified elimination
- Cho manipulation / glucose tolerance
- Intermittent fasting / fasting
Clean up – modified elimination
It’s a sad fact of life that modern westernised society is not especially conducive to eating an optimal diet for health and vitality. The 24/7 availability of food has broken our neuro-regulation of appetite and modern food is engineered to take advantage of this. Our Brains are becoming leptin resistant and muscles insulin resistant. The result is that modern food is leading to higher rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes than ever before.
Therefore, prior to implementing any specific nutritional strategies, it is important you have a sound basic diet from which to start. This involves simplifying your nutrition, we evolved on single ingredient foods that changed with the seasons so this is what we need to replicate. The steps are as follows:
1: Cut out inflammatory foods – gluten, dairy, soy and alcohol
Inflammation is at the heart of all modern disease and the above foods all have strong links. By cutting out the above foods and anything processed we can start to heal our gut and rebalance the microbiome. This step will starve the bad bacteria in the gut which feed of simple sugars and thus enable the good bacteria to repopulate.
It is only by first lowering our intake of inflammatory foods that we can down regulate our immune response and start directing energy to detoxification and fat loss.
This is best achieved by moving to single ingredient foods made up of whole natural ingredients.
2: Increase fresh vegetable intake
If there is one thing that all nutritionists agree on then it’s we should eat more vegetables. Fresh vegetables are a fantastic source of fibre and bioavailable minerals and vitamins.
- The fibre in veg aids digestion and feeds the good bacteria in our guts.
- The vitamins and minerals in veg are very bioavailable to the body and play a crucial role in all major systems from respiration to detoxification.
- Finally it is important to eat a wide variety of vegetables and salads in order to give the body a full spectrum of nutrients.
3: Have adequate lean protein and healthy fat
We have evolved with high levels of stomach acid therefore we thrive most when fed with animal protein. From the beginning of time all healthy indigenous people have always eaten animal protein when available.
We need adequate protein to support detoxification. This is especially important when we are trying to lose body fat.
Protein is satiating and keeps you full for longer, it is also excellent for maintaining healthy blood sugar. Good fats such as those that come from fish oil, olive oil, grass fed butter and avocado are needed for cell, joint and brain health.
To practically carry out the above it is best to implement the following:
1: Clean out your kitchen – throw away all processed inflammatory food that you have in the house. Out of sight out of mind, no matter how strong your will power if bad food is readily available at the end of a hard day then sooner or later you will succumb. Throw it out!
2: Plan for 3 meals a day made up of single ingredient foods:
- A hand size portion of vegetables and salad ( approx 75g-150g )
- A palm size portion of lean protein ( approx 115g-175g )
- A thumb size portion of health fats ( approx 20g )
- Finish with fresh spice or herb
A practical example of breakfast, lunch and dinner may look like:
- Breakfast: 3 eggs / cooked spinach / avocado / topped with fresh chillies.
- Lunch: Chicken breast / green beans / olive oil / topped with fresh basil.
- Dinner: Grilled seabass / steamed broccoli / melted butter / topped with fresh dill.
By following this simple nutritional strategy, you should expect to see the following benefits:
- Improved energy levels
- Lowered stress
- Improved digestion
- Improved sleep
- Improved performance in the gym
- Better body composition
For many the above style of eating is a great way to revamp their health and start moving towards their fitness goals. However, for most it is just the start, indeed everybody’s health and fitness journey is different and so it is important to be able to implement different strategies when progress starts to stall. Over the coming months we will be exploring some of these strategies and when best to implement them. In the mean time, when it comes to your diet keep it simple!