Everyone today seems to be asking ,”What should I eat?” and “I heard _____ is bad for you, is that true?”
But what now takes a back seat is the big picutre of how all the different pieces of your nutrition work together.
Perhaps it is easier to think of nutrition and hydration in an analogy, so let’s pretend that building an athlete is the same thing as building a house. (Because it kind of is)
To build a house, you’ll need workers of course.
And workers, no matter how skilled, can’t build anything without materials.
For the project to run as smoothly as possible, someone will need to be in charge of coordinating who shows up when and how to get the supplies ordered, a project manager.
If you understand those three roles of building a structure, you know how all the pieces of your nutrition fit together.
The workers are your carbohydrates – foods like breads, pastas, cereals, and sugars. They fuel the project, doing the work necessary to put the building together.
The materials in your diet are proteins – meat, dairy, fish, nuts – these foods are your ‘supplies’ that build healthy bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles.
And your project managers are your water intake and vitamins/minerals. They keep your system running most efficiently by speeding up cellular processes inside you necessary for growth, repair and recovery.
So let’s think through some of the common nutrition problems and relate them to building the house, where the solution should be quite obvious.
If you hire low skilled workers to build your house, it won’t come out too well.
And guess what? If you fuel your body with low level carbohydrates (sugars, chips, etc) you won’t be able to produce the effort necessary to be a great athlete in quite the same way. Just like you get what you pay for with skilled workers, the same applies to your carbohydrate source.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, cereals, pastas and other powerful carbohydrate sources are the high skilled labor you need for success.
Nothing gets built without enough materials, no matter how skilled your workers.
Hire all the best workers you want, but if you don’t supply them with materials they can’t build anything.
The same goes with those who do not eat enough protein. Your body needs enough of its ‘supplies’ to maximize its progress.
And if the person in charge does a poor job, the project runs slower and the quality suffers.
This is where your hydration level comes in, along with eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals like fruits & veggies.
With a deficit of either water intake or micronutrients, growth of your body slows down.
So does recovery from hard training.
As does recovery from injuries.
Along with poor energy levels, mood, and body composition.
Just like having a leaderless building project, poor hydration and micronutrient intake leads to far worse results over time.
So when confronted with new nutrition information, of course study it to find new ways to improve your health and athletic development.
But the answer to “What should I eat?” is “Whatever your most deficient in that is holding back your ‘building project’.” Understand the big picture and solve what should be an obvious problem in context.
Take a step back to see the whole project – building a healthier and more athletic you – and try to avoid getting lost in the minor details.