At Thrive we believe in the nutrition approach of the guys over at Precision Nutrition. They have done all the hard work behind the science of food to make it easy for us to deliver a simple and effective nutrition plan to you, our clients, which works.
Before we consider individual nutrition plans and coaching techniques let’s look first and foremost at what food actually is, and what we consider good nutrition to be.
This might seem over-simplistic, but believe us when we tell you most of the confusion about good nutrition starts with a misunderstanding of people’s different definitions.
What is food?
Yes, food is the stuff we eat to fuel our bodies. It provides the energy for us to recycle ATP, which is the body’s sole mode of energy production. So when we think about proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. That is their main role in the body.
However, there is a little more to it than that.
Micronutrients including vitamins, minerals, water, fibre, and chemicals play very important roles other than simply fuelling the body.
An example of this is calcium.
Ask most people and they will give you the correct answer that calcium is vital for strong bones.
Did you also know that calcium is the mineral responsible for facilitating every single muscle contraction in the body?
Hundreds of these examples exist in vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin C playing important roles in cells all through the body. If the cell has what it needs to function then the body has what it needs and you will move, think and look well.
If the cell doesn’t have what it needs, the body doesn’t have what it needs and your body will look, think and move in accordance with this.
Eating unhealthy foods then is a double-edged sword. Foods that don’t help us usually provide too much energy (fuel) and not enough micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
When we are missing key vitamins and minerals energy feels low, you get sick frequently and you don’t look, feel or perform well.
When deciding which foods to eat, going for those rich in micronutrients usually has the additional benefit of controlling the amount of fuel intake along with providing the body with all the vitamins and minerals required for your body on a cellular level.
Although these nutrients don’t provide fuel, we need them to thrive.
Healthy chemicals from vegetables and the meat we eat have a list of benefits vital to health.
- Protection against the development of cancer
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced inflammation and blood clotting
- Reduced risk of diabetes
The body has natural defences against all these problems, but it needs the micronutrients to be able to run these defences.
Counting calories can be a useful tool, but it is just that. It’s a hammer in a toolbox, and sometimes hammering a nail, is not what is required.
Calorie counting has the benefit of being a simple measure that you can apply to the amount of fuel that you put into the body and the limitation of not accounting for micronutrient intake or any of the body’s discreet cellular functions.
If you want a tool for loosely measuring fuel intake then calorie counting is a good place to start, but as with every measure there is a margin for error and a degree of validity and reliability must be considered.
As well as fuel, food is information for the body. It tells the body what to do and what not to do, when to release a hormone, and when not to when to build more muscle tissue or not.
All the chemical processes running that affect your health and body fat are affected by further food intake.
On top of this studies have shown that as your emotions change – happy, sad, angry stressed, these chemical processes change with them. They speed up, slow down or change because your emotions create actual chemical changes inside the body. Even just thinking uses up glucose as energy indicating the importance of food choice on concentration and information processing in the brain.
Every food choice is an opportunity to change the body and brain’s composition, performance, and wellbeing.
What is good nutrition?
What then is good nutrition? What are we aiming for?
Here are some points to consider from the folks at Precision Nutrition.
They explain the following 6 principles of good nutrition.
1. Good Nutrition Controls Energy Balance
Controlling the amount of fuel we put into our bodies is an important consideration, so long as we don’t just stop here for all the answers to our nutrition questions.
Without the correct amount of fuel, the body starts to shut down vital processes in a bid to survive the shortage.
Too much energy and the body struggles to release the hormones and run the processes required to cope with and store all the extra fuel.
Controlling this balance keeps us healthy, fit and strong and the body shows it.
2. Good Nutrition Provides Nutrients
Every food we eat has a number of nutrients in it. Foods with more nutrients give us the benefit of those nutrients whilst naturally regulating the amount of fuel per food.
Consider the following plates of…
How many nutrients v calories on each plate?
Cookies – High calories, low nutrients = low nutrient density
Kale – Low calories v high nutrients = high nutrient density
|High Nutrient Density||Low Nutrient Density|
|Bright or deeply coloured Veg|
Bright or deeply coloured fruit
Beans, meat, eggs
Pastries, refined grains/flours
Nutrients are vital to thrive and live long active lives, whilst looking and feeling great!
3. Good Nutrition is about Performing, Feeling, and Looking Great.
This is about nutrition playing a part in our lives and not taking it over. At Thrive we believe nutrition is a means to an end, not an end within itself.
That end being feeling and looking great whilst you get to do the things that challenge you to grow as a person whilst having time and energy for the things you enjoy.
People who get nutrition right have energy for themselves and enough energy to contribute meaningfully to those around them.
Nutrition gives us the energy, attention, and focuses we need to get out and do the things that challenge us and the things we enjoy in our lives.
Nutrition helps us do the things we want to do with the people we want to do it with, and it helps us do that for as long as possible throughout our lives.
We help our clients get specific goals whilst balancing that with the general benefits of good exercise and nutrition.
4. Good Nutrition is Outcome-Based
The nutrition choices we make have outcomes that can be measured. Whatever situation you find yourself in today with your health, wellbeing, and body composition are due to the previous nutrition choices.
We invite you to use the following question to assess your nutrition outcome.
“ How’s that working for you?”
If you think your diet is quite healthy but don’t have the health, body, or performance to match it then it is clear your perception of a healthy diet is misplaced.
Basically, the human brain is faulty. It has 3 mechanisms built in to control all the information coming in Deletion, Distortion & Generalisation.
We delete the information the brain doesn’t see as important – i.e. background noise.
We distort what actually happens – because we assume what we thought was going to happen actually did. Studies have been done that show people come up with different stories when reporting the event back after witnessing the exact same act.
We generalise – this allows us to chunk information into a few labels so that we don’t need to work out every single event as though it was the first time we ever saw it.
On top of that when we are under some form of threat, stress, anger, or frustration these 3 mechanisms become even more pronounced and automatic.
It is for this reason that we can only make nutrition decisions based on actual information – i.e. a written log taken throughout the day or picture/video logging.
5. Good Nutrition Removes Limiting Factors
There are a number of factors that we often believe may limit our ability to perform, feel and look the way we want.
One of the most commonly named reasons why people can’t change body shape or lose weight is genetics.
It’s accepted that we all have a genetic code that reacts to our nutrition choices.
Our genetics are a limitation in one sense, but only really at elite levels of human performance like riding the Tour De France, playing for Real Madrid, running a marathon as fast as Paula Radcliffe or out sprinting Usain Bolt.
For most of us, our genetics limit the response to training as, well, let’s say, underwhelming in comparison to these guys above.
Here we could do training all day and every day and never reach the highest levels.
It’s also true certain genes exist that predispose people to obesity or diabetes.
The difference is that going out for a walk or making a better food choice easily impacts these genes. These genes are switched off and our health and performance for daily life stay on track.
Genetics is only a limiting factor for elite sports performance
6. Good Nutrition Builds on Positives
Good nutrition is not about eliminating everything from your diet and following a restrictive plan or detoxification system.
It’s about making sure you have the energy available to live a fulfilling life.
Start with what you are already doing well. No matter how small there will be something.
The first step to improving your diet is identifying this one thing.
Score it out of 10 right now.
Then decide what you will do next week to +1 to the score.
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