If there is one thing I know to be certain about nutrition and the food industry – it’s that whole foods will never go out of style. There is so much talk about counting macros, keto diet, superfoods, intermittent fasting…and while all that can be beneficial, the hype usually starts to fade and the media is onto something else to talk about. But one thing no one has ever stopped talking about is the benefits of just real, whole food. Back to the roots – which is why I want to give you the best nutrition advice for beginners that I have.
What are Whole Foods
This might seem confusing to some of you, so let’s clear it up. I am not talking about Whole Foods Grocery store here. I am talking about whole foods, foods that don’t need a nutrition label. Foods in their purest form.
This means things like sweet potatoes, chicken breasts, vegetables, fruits, rice, wheat, regular potatoes etc. Anything you can grow is a whole food!
America is thriving on “quick” and “easy” because life has become so fast paced and hectic, but until we bring our food back to the roots, we aren’t going to be well.
So let’s dive into that piece of nutrition advice for beginners…
Quality vs Quantity
I don’t know why, but counting calories still always seems to be in the forefront in some way or another. Diets and plans with counting points, and containers. Tracking and counting macros to fit your goals. And while some of these might be a great option for people, I know it doesn’t work for everyone. Especially those who have created bad habits and thoughts around food because of calorie counting.
The issue with calorie counting is that it usually comes down to women trying to survive off of poverty macros. Meaning grown women counting calories to stay below 1,000 calories a day – when science tells us that is barely enough calories for a small child. But once those ideas and thoughts are engrained into your head, it is hard to get rid of them. So when we start to talk about counting different things like containers and colors to get on track, it can surface some bad habits.
I will ALWAYS preach the idea of quality over quantity. Meaning I think the type of food we eat is far more important than the amount we eat. Yes, I understand that in order to lose fat and change your body composition you have to be in a caloric deficit. But I promise you that if you are eating foods that are nutrient dense (whole foods without a label) than you are more than likely going to be in a deficit. This is because these foods are lower in calories and fill us up faster because of the fiber and nutrients. Whereas foods that are poor quality (require a label) tend to be higher in calories and make it much easier to eat in a surplus.
So the biggest piece of nutrition advice for beginners – think about the type of food you are putting into your mouth before you worry about how much. It is easy to get overwhelmed by numbers and counting and tracking.
So start simple.
Start with eating whole foods and filling your plate with simple ingredients. From there you can start to focus on if you need to be eating more/less in different areas like carbs or fats. Like I said before, you can only lose fat if you are in a caloric deficit. But focusing on the quality of your food before focusing on the quantity is what I think creates long term success.
Even those that count macros – it is a great tool to be able to eye ball how much you specifically need, but it still allows for those not so good foods to creep in. And while I do feel like balance is key and we do need some of those soul foods, it is very hard to limit yourself to a serving or a specific number unless you are perfectly tracking every ounce of food. I know that having 1 or 2 cookies isn’t going to break progress – but when you can “fit” 8 of them into your macros, is it really “healthy” at that point to eat them just because you can? Just a personal opinion, and something I strongly stand against in terms of long term health.
Basics of a Well Rounded Meal
So now that I have shared with you the 1 piece of nutrition advice for beginners is that being successful in your nutrition journey is, I should probably share with you a few other basics that I stick to when coaching others who are just starting out!
It is important to note that macronutrients (carb/fat/protein) are always going to be important. Our bodies use different nutrients for different things, and it has been proven by science that we need all 3 of these to survive. Now, how much can get a little tricky and complicated.
So let’s not start there.
If you are just beginning your journey and are trying to figure out how to stop drinking soda, stop ordering pizza for dinner and start meal prepping nutritious meals – then listen up!
There are 4 components that need to be on your plate for all main meals:
Including each of these on your plate is going to fuel your body properly, keep you full and also keep your blood sugar stable. If you need a list of what foods are in each a category you can check out this blog! If you start out creating meals with these three components, then you will be starting on a strong note. From there you can start to tailor it to more in depth meals, or even changing the amounts of each to start seeing the weight loss you are after. But if you just start out wanting to only lose weight and not caring about the ability to stick with it long term (or with the hopes to be as healthy as possible in 5 years) then you are going to fail.
It has to come from wanting to feel good, be healthy and reap the internal benefits – and the external changes and results will come!
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