Posted on July 20 2015
“Nutrition is 80% of the way you look.”
“Abs are made in the kitchen.”
“You can’t out exercise a bad diet.”
You’ve probably heard these clichés about a thousand times before but, maybe you don’t know exactly where to start or what to change in terms of where your diet is concerned. Before I began my health journey, I heard those phrases but it wasn’t until I understood why food is important and what each food group does for my body that these phrases and their meanings all really clicked.
This is the first in a series of about a dozen blogs dedicated to nutrition. I want you to understand why what you're putting into your body directly reflects the results you see out of your hard work. By the end of these nutrition blogs, I hope that you’ll not only have a better understanding, but that
you’ll learn how to apply it to your daily life.
Lets think of the human body as a car. Just like a car needs gasoline to run, the human body requires food. Also like a car, the body’s performance is a direct reflection of the quality of food, or gasoline, that we put into it. When you go to the body shop and get new rims or upgraded leather seats, you are improving the quality of your car, but no matter how much work you put into it, it will not run properly without gasoline. Similarly, working out is important, but can be fruitless if we’re not consuming the proper nutrition.
It’s also important to remember that gasoline comes in different qualities just like our food. If your car calls for the premium gasoline and you opt to put the lower grade gas in, the car’s performance will be affected. The human body responds the same way when we feed it with low nutritional content or foods that are overly processed.
The 20% we're left with is made up of sleep, exercise, stress levels, and our hygiene. These four things are undoubtedly important, but with an 80/20 split, there’s no argument that nutrition should be your prime focus when you’re working at meeting a goal.
What’s my point?
Before you even think about starting an exercise program,
What’s the recipe for an eight pack?
The phrase should really be “Abs are created in the gym, and revealed in the kitchen.” One of the most common questions I get is how to work out the stomach to lose belly fat. Well, working out the core is important, but just like any muscle, the abdominals will grow if they’re worked out frequently; and if you’re growing your abdominals but the belly fat isn’t going anywhere, it may actually seem that you’re gaining weight and bulkiness in the midsection.
The focus for shedding belly fat should always start in the kitchen and end around HIIT workouts, like sprinting. I also like to incorporate plank variations into my workouts to strengthen the core without adding bulk.
What’s my point?
If losing belly fat is at the top of your goals list, examine your intake before you start doing a million crunches. Incorporate three days consisting of high intensity interval workouts with plank sets every week.
I workout so I can eat whatever I want.
I remember living my life with this mentality and naturally, I was never satisfied with the results that I would see. Actually, when I ate whatever I wanted, I was training 7days a week, with cardio after each weight training session, and I still didn’t look the way I do today. Today, I work out 3-5 times a week for an hour each day. I do 1-2 hours of HIIT cardio a week and work out each muscle group at least once. The difference in the way I look today versus three years ago is the emphasis that I place on nutrition. If I have the option to eat properly or go train, I will prioritize by eating first.
My rule of thumb:
Because nutrition makes up 80% of the way we look and feel, I recommend sticking to healthy “clean” food for 80% of your weekly meals. The other 20%, you can cheat or be a bit more lenient, but for the majority of your intake, you will stay consistent and because of that, you will see more permanent results. Keep in mind that this practice is for a maintenance approach to meeting your goals, so if you have a certain deadline, or event that you want to meet a goal by, you can apply a stricter split to your meals. Snacks do not count in this breakdown and they should always be kept to meet your body’s needs.
For example: I eat 4 meals/day x 7 days = 28 meals
28 meals = 100%
14 meals = 50%
7 meals = 25%
5-6 meals = 20%
When I have a photo shoot that I need to prep for, I try to stick to 2-3 meals each week where I eat more leniently.
This approach is realistic and won’t deprive you from the foods you love. Just like one day of healthy eating can’t undo the damage done by a poor diet, a few cheat meals every week won’t set you back either!