What, and how much, we eat is the single biggest part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Most people seem to agree that diet accounts for around 80% of our body composition with the other 20% being divided between exercise (the largest portion of that 20%), sleep and healthy relationships etc.
If you’ve ever looked at diet plans or ways of eating and felt instantly overwhelmed with all the lingo and numbers and percentages….This post is for you! Many of us who have been in this health and wellness space for a while forget that in the beginning the terms and jargon can be quite intimidating and confusing so here is my super basic break down of what to worry about, in what order, food-wise!
Calories. (Total volume)
Calories are basically a measure of energy. The more you eat, the more calories you are ingesting, no matter what that food is made from. How many calories you take in is the final word on whether you will lose or gain weight. You have a certain amount of calories that your body burns every day, in order to stay alive and move around etc, and you have a certain number of calories that you consume as food. If your incoming calorie number is smaller than your outgoing calorie number, you lose weight. It’s like a bank balance. If you’re spending more than you earn each month, your bank balance is going to “lose weight”. If you’re bringing in more than you spend, you’ll gain money/weight.
Now, technically, using this “caloric deficit”, you can lose weight eating only Twinkies every day:
BUT, you’ll probably find it very difficult and be fighting your own hunger all the time in order to stay under your desired calorie intake number and maintain the deficit. The SuperSimian, Primal way of eating will let you maintain a deficit, effortlessly and lose weight without feeling deprived or having insane cravings or hunger.
Protein (Building blocks)
Now is where we get to the Macronutrients or “Macros” as you’ll so often hear them called. The 3 basic macros are Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats. These Macros do tie back in to calories as proteins and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram of food, while fat contains nearly double the calories at 9 per gram.
To simplify your diet, start off by focussing on Protein though, we’ll leave the rest for later.
If the body is a big building, protein can be seen as the bricks. It is used to build muscles and other tissues but also for repair of the near constant damage that is happening within us. Nowadays we’ll often see very low numbers recommended, regarding the amount of protein that is needed in the diet, however all these numbers are based on the lowest amount needed to not be deficient, they are not looking at optimum levels for health, wellness or strength. I would recommend getting far more protein rather than far less. There is a huge list of problems associated with a protein deficient diet, including kwashiorkor, hair loss, fatty liver disease, sarcopenia and increased risk and severity of infections. NOT GOOD! EAT YER MEAT (and fish, chicken, eggs and whey).
A good guide here is ~1g per lb of body mass. I weigh about 80kg = 176lbs so I aim for around 170-180g of protein per day at least. (NOTE: this is 180g of actual protein, not of weight of protein rich food. For example, 100g of steak only contains around 20-30g of protein)
GREEN Veggies. (Micronutrients)
Now we’ve always been told to eat our veggies, the problem is we thought we were smart and started calling potatoes and rice and oats “vegetables” and thought we were good! Those fall into the next category, for now I’m talking about green leafy stuff, and colourful peppers, tomatoes, carrots etc. These provide so called “micronutrients” like vitamins, minerals and other good stuff. They also provide fibre which is both good for digestion and good for your gut bacteria. Eat as much of this as you like.
Carbohydrate and Fat (Fuel)
Carbs and Fat are both fuel sources. My advice here is to choose one and keep the other in strict moderation. Having both high is a recipe for disaster and is largely what is responsible for the current obesity epidemic and probably a contributing cause of diabetes and heart disease.
Think of a car. You get diesel cars and you get petrol cars, but you don’t go putting a mix of petrol and diesel into either. You stick to your fuel!
I would recommend at least trying a highER fat diet and ditching most carbs for a while to see how you feel. You’ve tried a bunch of other stuff and it hasn’t worked, why not give this a go for a month as a trial?
If you are eating enough protein, simply swapping anything that has “low fat” on it with the regular full fat derivative will likely give you more than enough fat for energy, you don’t need to go eating sticks of butter for energy, remember, we’re trying to reduce that bank balance as well!
Carbs have been demonised by many people, but there are good sources and not so good sources. Sticking to the highER fat choice above and simply having some sweet potato, or pumpkin/squash and maybe some fruit now and then won’t kill you. If you are very set on losing weight, you would keep these things in moderation though.
The fact is, humans can live perfectly fine on zero carb diets (think of the Inuit people, very little, if any carbohydrate, loads of protein and fat) and your body can actually make up it’s own carbs from protein sources for the small amount it might need. However, humans absolutely need fat in their diet and cannot live on a zero fat diet. That should tell you something already.
There are loads of other reasons why I’d suggest at least trying the higher fat diet (hormone regulation, moderating blood sugar swings and hunger, etc etc), but do you really care about the science stuff? If you do, hit me up and we can talk about it, but in the mean time:
Eat enough or not to much CALORIES
Prioritise PROTEIN (every meal)
Go mad with the GREEN VEGGIES
Choose fat OR carbs but not both.
These extremely simple rules are the basis for building a healthy diet and tweaking variables within them can account for a myriad different styles and ways of eating and even more enjoyable, tasty meals within those.
I believe eating should be a happy time, shared with family or friends and should not provoke any anxiety or be a stressful experience. Instead of strict dieting and regimented eating, the SuperSimian way emphasises nutrient density and effortless calorie control. Chat to me any time if you want to know more.