5 Nutrition Tips I Was Wrong About

5 Nutrition Tips I Was Wrong About

As we get older, we tend to see the mistakes of our younger years a bit more clearly.  

And nutrition advice from fitness & health professionals tends to declare each new finding a 'total breakthrough' that is likely the cause of all your extra weight, low energy and other various ailments despite having incomplete information from which to draw that conclusion.

Put those two things together, and you're going to have a lot of mistakes to own up to.

Just like anyone else, my beliefs on what you should and shouldn't focus on when trying to eat healthier has evolved over time.   With hindsight, I can see many things that I preached to athletes of all ages that, if I could take it back now, I'd gladly do.

Here are the 5 biggest nutrition tips I've provided to clients in the past that were, to be blunt, wrong.

1. Eating 5-6 Times Per Day Will Raise Your Metabolism

The idea that your body will speed up the digestive process and help you to burn more calories just by eating a little bit every couple hours is a wonderful concept.

It just isn't backed up by any solid research.

Today we know the best way to determine when it is time to eat is to simply listen to your body.   When you're physically hungry, eat.   When you're not, don't.  

Instead of rigidly having to eat small portions of food constantly, just be more mindful of the excellent nutrition advice your own body tells you on a regular basis.  It knows extremely well when to send out the signals that nutrient stores are getting low, and for a variety of reasons it won't likely be on a perfectly regular schedule.  Be a bit flexible with when you eat (if school or work permits) and you'll likely feel a lot healthier in the long run because of it.

2.  Carbs Are Bad For You

First there was the fat-free revolution, which turned out to be poorly thought through.  

More recently, we've had the carb-free revolution.

And guess what?   That one's a little short-sighted as well.

The issue here is really two specific types of carbohydrates that people tend to gain weight from - sugars and refined flours (aka breaded foods).   These add a lot of nutrient-poor calories to your daily total, and also slow down your digestive system to a toxic halt.   Much like with groups of people, it is these two 'bad actors' that are giving the carbohydrate group as a whole a bad name.

There are, in fact, good nutritional uses for foods like rice, potatoes, pastas and breads when used in relative moderation.  In fact, some people may even thrive on diets with greater amounts of these types of higher-quality carbs.

Carbs are an energy source, and one your body can use quite efficiently if you give it the chance.  

3.  All Supplements Are A Waste Of Money

Let's be clear, MOST supplements are still a waste of money.

But not all.

Those who eat poorly would benefit from vitamin and mineral supplementation.   Creatine does speed up the muscle-building process under the right circumstances.   And there are products out there that can increase your endurance, your ability to train harder, or both.   

And they are both legal and, for the most part, safe.

Understand, though, that a high percentage of the supplements out there are either a marketing scam or do not include a high enough quality of the key ingredient to actually help you succeed.   Any results you get from them are most likely a placebo effect.

Athletes who move up the ladder in their sport and need to keep up with the competition should look into products that are approved for safety and legality (here's a good place to start your research) because it's highly likely that many of the players you're competing with will have done the same.

4.  You Have To Eat _____ In Order To _____

Eggs, broccoli, whole grains...there's a long list of specific food items I've preached as a means to a specific end.  This was short-sighted.

Yes, there are certain foods that can help address a nutritional need.  However, for every one food I've strongly recommended someone add to their diet there were likely 5 to 10 other foods that would have done the trick just as well, or better.

Following someone else's strict dietary suggestions does not take into account the varying tastes and metabolisms of different people.   Knowing a general need, like adding more protein or vegetables to your diet, is a starting point that both a nutrition coacn and a client can agree on.   Within that broad category of food types, though, each individual must explore the healthy option they will be able to add to their diet over the long run.

We've probably all made the mistake of eating a specific food we hated for a short period of time to achieve an objective (weight loss, muscle gain, etc).   But it likely didn't last long, and it left us seeking the same answers as before.

There are no perfect food solutions for everyone!   Building a sound diet is a gradual progress whereby you add foods to your regular routine that are better for you than the ones you replace, but are also foods you can see yourself eating for years and years.   Keep doing this one item at a time, and you'll soon be both happier and healthier.

5.  You Absolutely Have To Eat Breakfast!

Here's yet another problem with declaring absolutes.  

Yes, in the morning your body is likely dehydrated and nutrient-starved.   But not everyone falls into this category, and as we mentioned above your hunger will determine if you should eat in the morning or not.

Now, most active people who eat healthy tend to be starving in the morning because their metabolism is turned up to inferno-level.   Kids who are in their growing years are also more likely to be craving food in the morning, too.   So for most of our clients, breakfast is still highly recommended.

For adults and those who truly eat healthy and don't get hungry in the morning?   Breakfast is not an absolute must, and you'll be just fine without it.

I should also note that when we talk about eating breakfast, we are talking about a meal centered around high-quality foods  (proteins, fruits and even vegetables).   If your regular breakfast is more sugar than anything else (I'm looking at you pancakes, waffles, muffins, French toast, cereal, doughnuts, scones, coffee cakes, and juice!!!) then you also are probably better off skipping breakfast.   


So there you have it!   With nutrition and sports performance, these fields are overflowing with so many new crazes and fads that I'm sure there will be many more mistakes we'll look back on some day and revise.   We improve through our mistakes, though, and making them is what brings us to a more advanced state in the future.

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