Do you feel guilt for eating foods you know are labeled as unhealthy or fattening? Of course, every food this day has a good or bad annotation and leaves you and me feeling like I just added my freshman 15 all over again after those two slices of pizza. Luckily, food is much more than something that just adds inches to the waistline or self-doubt when we look at the mirror. Food is the source of our energy and our ability to conquer life’s challenges. Food is important for performance and function so how do we get past the idea that if we eat, our body will change for the worse?
First off, let us picture our diet as a currency. Each one of us will have a slightly different number based off our height, weight, how much muscle we have, age, etc. This currency is the total allotment of food or calories that we can consume each day without change in our body composition. The best part about this number is it does not even include those walks, training sessions, and a busy life with kids. So, any activity that we partake in each day creates a little surplus to our original number which is a bonus when you love dessert like me.
The challenge is finding the currency in the first place. You can identify if you track your food but that can be a process so- what can you do? The body is exceptional at recognizing when you are truly hungry and when you just want to eat. It can be a tough distinction at first, however when you decide if you need that second portion of dinner or that third scoop of ice cream, consider, do you need this to be full? It is going to be tough to turn away the extra food, and I think that you will find this decision to be easier than you expect.
Okay, okay so, we have now learned how to tell our body that we are okay and do not need more food. Step 1 is complete, and this will let us control our food and calorie currency. What does that mean for your body? If you start to under eat your currency on a regular basis, this is the strategy to start to lose weight and fat. You want this to be a slow process because you want the body to have enough food to perform at full function. Same thing goes for if we exceed our currency on the day to day. This is when we can start to gain weight and muscle and become more anabolic (building state).
If you are like me and live to eat food, trying to restrict may be difficult. I say, “let us not restrict what we eat but fit it into our currency”. That means we can pull from other meals throughout the day, or not eat as much when we know a little indulgence is coming. There is a rule that I think works well to keep me full, get all my vitamins and nutrients in, and control my currency/food and that is the 80/20 rule. Simply put, 80 percent of all the food you eat throughout the day should be whole foods– meats, vegetables, fruits, pastas, grains– things that will fill you and keep you full. The other 20 percent is whatever you want. Some days it might be seconds of steak and mashed potatoes, others it might be a chocolate bar, and others you might just crave a salad, but the point is, that 20 percent is yours to choose! If your currency is 2000 calories, then 200 of those are free game!!
Diet can be a tough word to understand with all the information and clashing beliefs out there about what works. It is important to remember that your currency will control what is going to happen to your body and you are in control if you want to make changes to it!
Author: Nicholaus Barker, Sports Performance Director, TTR Performance