You’ve probably heard the saying, “Fitness is 70 percent diet, and 30 percent training.”
While I don’t entirely agree with the saying (for one, there are other factors worth considering), I do believe that nutrition does indeed play a huge role in our fitness outcomes.
And I do believe that too many people out there put a lot of focus on their training, yet don’t think twice about what they put in their body.
To that end, we’ve dedicated this chapter to nutritional basics every fitness enthusiast should know.
The Three Biggest Nutrition Myths Today
Knowing what to do is essential, but knowing what information you shouldn’t trust is also paramount in the world of fitness. With that said, here are the three biggest nutrition myths.
“Carbs/fats/proteins are bad for you.”
This myth comes in many forms, and you’ve probably come across it in one form or another. The fact is, if you look hard enough, you are bound to find someone, somewhere who picks on fats, proteins, or carbs.
But, none of the three macronutrients is bad for us, and each serves specific (and essential) functions within the body. The problem comes when:
1) We don’t control our caloric intake and overeat over an extended time.
2) We get the majority of our calories from highly-processed foods, and thus consume lots of fast-digesting carbs and fats, while not getting nearly enough protein.
So long as you maintain a healthy and balanced diet with some form of caloric mindfulness, you shouldn’t worry about any of the three macronutrients being ‘harmful’ to your health.
“You need all sorts of supplements to get good results.”
Supplement manufacturers love that one. And why not? That helps them sell more products and bring in more money.
If you spend an hour online and look up fitness supplements, you can probably come up with a list of at least thirty products that are supposedly essential for muscle growth and fat loss.
The fact is, you don’t need any supplements to bring in the majority of results. You’ll do incredibly well with the basics of a healthy diet, enough sleep, and consistent training.
“You need to eat often to stoke the metabolic flame.”
Granted, this myth is slowly fading, but many people today still believe it. It’s been long since established that eating more often doesn’t speed up your metabolism or lead to faster weight loss.
What matters more is that you eat the right number of calories (maintain a calorie deficit), get enough protein, and practice some resistance training. Stretch that over a few months, and that’s where the magic happens.
So, follow a meal frequency that fits your schedule and preferences, and don’t worry about having some arbitrary number of meals every day.
Why Your Nutrition Is The Most Important Thing
Too many people spend their time and energy looking up information on how to train, yet completely disregard what can easily be considered the foundation of fitness - nutrition.
While it sounds a bit cliché, we are, indeed, what we eat. The fact is, your nutritional choices will have a significant impact on your health, energy levels, cognitive function, gym performance, and fitness progress.
For example, while many folks out there believe that they need to exercise in a certain way to lose fat, it primarily comes down to nutrition - creating a caloric deficit (i.e., eating fewer calories than you burn each day) and getting enough protein. As the saying goes, “Abs are made in the gym, and revealed in the kitchen.”
Weight gain is the opposite - eating more calories than you burn each day (i.e., creating a caloric surplus).
In other words, how you train will have an impact on your results and body composition, but your nutrition will be the determining factor here.
Here’s another example:
We’ve all heard of the saying, “Eat well, feel well.” As it turns out, there’s quite a bit of truth in that because your food choices will impact your energy levels and cognition. As an example, having a well-balanced lunch with plenty of protein, slow-digesting carbs, healthy fats, and fiber will keep you satiated for a long time, provide you with a steady stream of energy, and help you maintain a level head throughout the day.
On the other hand, if you were to eat highly-processed foods for lunch with little to no protein and fiber, you’d find yourself hungry sooner, your energy levels would plummet by the early afternoon, and your cognition wouldn’t be as great, either.
This is why it’s so important to pay attention to our nutrition - not just for the sake of making better fitness progress, but also because our food choices significantly impact our health and well-being. Imagine that your body is much like a car - if you put high-quality fuel, you can expect better performance and increased longevity. Put low-grade fuel, however, and expect it to leave you stranded on the side of the road.
Simply put, even if you followed the best training program out there, you wouldn’t be able to see good results unless you also pay careful attention to your diet.