In the world of health and fitness, nutrition is notorious for being unnecessarily complex.
Instead of determining how to simplify your diet, the current theme seems to be how to make your diet more complex than is necessary.
The basics don’t sell (they’re far from sexy).
However, add some fancy jargon and rules—now you have a money maker.
Losing weight doesn’t need to be a roller coaster. Unfortunately, many people will diet and abandoned their plans within a couple of weeks due to the intense and regimented approach they forced upon themselves.
Instead of adopting habits that are truly beneficial to their particular lifestyle, many people find themselves adopting habits and strategies that perfectly suit someone else—not themselves.
Nutrition doesn’t have to feel like a game of tug-of-war. Food doesn’t have to be viewed in a negative light. Eating doesn’t have to feel like a chore.
Instead of dreading and resenting your diet, implement these 9 core nutritional laws that I use to simplify my diet.
1. Live by the 80/20 rule
The first objective on how to simplify your diet is to simply let go of the trivial nutritional tactics. Unless you’re a competitive athlete, prepping for a photo shoot, or a bodybuilding show—obsessing over minute nutritional tactics is counterproductive.
Before macro counting, measuring food, comparing whey protein powders—ask yourself “am I making good food choices on a daily basis?”
If you’re not making good food choices, don’t even look into advanced strategies. You can’t count, weigh, nor debate nutritional tactics if you don’t even understand how to properly make good food decisions.
Master your basics before anything else.
2. Have a bias for longevity
Looking fantastic at the beach, the pool, or on the boat is wonderful, but what good is it if the trade off is poor overall health.
If you have to exchange your long term health for results—it’s not worth it.
A plan that focuses on longevity views internal health over external health while recognizing that each macronutrient plays a pivotal role in supporting an optimal and high performing physique.
As you’re designing your nutrition plan, make it a goal to eat a well-balanced diet and have all macronutrients represented appropriately as well as an ample amount of vegetables with each meal.
3. Intelligently eat with purpose
You are what you eat. Eating just to eat is mindlessly eating and is the reason why so many people secretly put weight on over the years without recognizing what they’re doing to their body.
Intelligently eating is eating with an objective and purpose in mind.
It’s eating foods that you understand will not only help your internal health but also support your external (aesthetic) goals. Everything you eat should be able to help repair and build lean muscle while providing you with the energy needed to show up as the best version of yourself.
Your transformation starts with the daily decisions of what foods you’re going to consume.
4. Have a green drink every day
I will gladly admit, I’m not the biggest fan of vegetables.
However, one the best decisions I’ve made in the last few months is to have one green drink each and every day.
Our greens are so important because they contain a plethora of micronutrients which are the forgotten members of a healthy overall body. Many of our daily functions couldn’t be carried out without a plethora of micronutrients.
5. Have protein with every single meal
Protein gets a lot of the spotlight, but rightfully so. It plays a role in keeping our metabolism operating smoothly, maintaining our energy levels, lowering your blood pressure levels, and is used in every single cell within our body.
Building lean muscle, maintaining strong bones, maintaining proper motor skill functioning, helping to reduce your ghrelin levels (i.e. your hunger hormone), helping to cope with stress, and helping satiety levels—protein is a nutritional superhero.
Each woman should aim for at least one portion of protein (palm size serving) and males should be two portions (2 palm size servings). These aren’t set in stone but are a good place to start.
6. Have a few default meal options
Decision fatigue is a real thing. Information overload will make you less likely to take action or make smart decisions.
There’s a reason the president, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and many other high achievers wear the same outfits predominately throughout the week—it frees up space to make decisions and have energy for the important matters of the day.
The same applies to your nutrition. Eating a handful of the same meals throughout the week is the best thing you can do to turn your nutrition on autopilot. You know exactly what you’re putting in your body without wasting too much mental bandwidth thinking.
An example of a template I use is the rice bowl strategy:
Your meat of choice
Your preferred style of rice
Vegetables (at least 3 different types)
Coconut oil (used to prepare my chicken)
The serving size is entirely up to you and your desired goals.
7. If you’re having the urge to binge—ask why 3 times
Whether it’s a tough day at work, relationship stresses, discomfort from traffic or anything else—emotional eating is powerful enough to halt your fitness goals.
Before I make an impulse food decision, I ask myself why I want this item three times. If it’s three sound and logical reasons, then I buy the item with no guilt.
Often times, by the second and definitely the third reason, you’ll realize this impulse food decision was only a distraction to something else going on within your life that you’re avoiding.
8. When you do indulge, indulge guilt-free
Guilt is a terrible and unnecessary thing.
I love tacos, tamales, arepas, empanadas, ice cream, and wine. I resist from binge eating by having control of my emotions and indulge by selectively planning for moments of indulgence.
Any sustainable diet that is designed for long-term success needs to include your favorite foods.
Diets are important, but they don’t equate to deprivement of the foods you enjoy.
9. Eat foods that you (actually) enjoy
If you’re on a nutrition plan that includes foods you don’t enjoy, how realistic is it to expect that you’ll stick to it?
Willpower is finite and motivation is fleeting.
I don’t like brown rice so I’m not going to eat it (there are many types of rice & other available starches).
Don’t like broccoli? No biggie, there’s a plethora of other green veggies.
According to a study published in “Eating Behaviors” in 2005, individuals who took a strict, rigid, all-or-nothing approach to dieting were more likely to have a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) and compulsive eating behaviors compared to those who were a little more flexible with their dieting approach.
When you give yourself options and feel in control of what you’re eating, you’re going to create a better attitude toward nutrition and yourself.
This post was originally published over at The Art of Fitness & Life—for more information like this and to get a free 5-day course on how to fail proof your fitness—check it out here.