What to eat? Where to begin?

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by Cody Brotherton, Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach

I grew up in a small town in the Texas panhandle, and if you wanted to get directions to the pig farm it would sound something like this.

“Go over the train tracks, and keep going straight past the grain elevators.  Then take a slight right at the rusty green fence, you can’t miss it.  After that you will see a dirt road, take that until you see a giant barn full of hay bails.”

Today, I rely way too heavily upon my smartphone to get to the address I type in and hope to not end up driving into a lake like Michael Scott.

You can find countless “directions” on how to eat healthy and lose weight.  How should you navigate through the noise out there?  I also recognize the irony of this blog being more noise added to the digital landscape. :)

Here are 3 of the best nutrition practices that should be a part of any healthy diet.

     1. Eat REAL FOOD!!!

My favorite ingredient labels contain 1 item.  For instance: steak, avocado, or tomatoes!  Also, if you pick up a food and you do not know or cannot pronounce the ingredients, maybe think twice about eating this regularly.

Quick story on me.  I lost 85 pounds (and have kept it off for 5 plus years).  What is the number 1 reason?  Eating REAL FOOD that God made!  This involves shopping, reading ingredients, and cooking your own food, but for me that is a small price to pay for the increased energy, health, and personal growth I have had eating REAL FOOD!!!

     2.  Calories In VS. Calories Out 

Energy balance is king as far as weight loss goes.  Now, energy balance is a really complicated subject that we may not know everything about yet, but its simplest form goes like this:

Burn more calories in a day than you eat!

This rule should be what we type in our address bar if your destination is weight loss.  (If it is muscle gain, you need to eat more calories in a day than you burn – and muscle gain comes with fat gain most of the time.)

Portion control methods, plate sizes, calorie counting, mindful eating, and tracking macros are all ways one can go about managing energy balance.

3.  Nutrient Density

Did I mention eating REAL FOOD is important to health and weight loss?  One huge reason is nutrient density.  Real food sources maximize the protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and zoo nutrients you get per calorie.  This gives you more bang for your buck and eating less food can be more filling.

Organic fruits and veggies, wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef, and wild game helps us maximize nutrient density.  Farm-raised salmon vs. wild-caught salmon have very different fatty acid profiles, with the wild-caught having more of the “oh so good for you” omega 3 fatty acids.  True organic farming practices rightfully treat the soil as the living organism it is and also helps take care of this earth (We only have 1 EARTH PEOPLE!!).

The flip side to this is highly processed foods.  These foods are stripped of their precious nutrients (I am hearing Nacho Libre talk about his eagle eggs here), and while many of them taste incredible, they merely taunt the body and leave your hunger signals wanting for more.  The sad reality is many overweight people are severely undernourished.

So… What Can You Do?

Information is great, but ACTION leads to transformation.  Here are a few suggestions to implement these 3 strategies into your life.

·       Find your local farmers markets or, even better, connect with local organic farmers!! Hug-A-Root Family Farms is my organic vegetable provider if your are in the Abilene, TX area!!

·       Shop outside of the grocery store – buy ingredients, not things in boxes in general.

·       Download a calorie tracking app on your smartphone (MyFitnessPal is a good one to start with).

·       Find a nutritionist, personal trainer, or nutrition coach — There never would have been a karate kid without Mr. Miyagi.

Finally, if you have any questions please feel free to connect with me on Facebook or contact me through email, or if you are ready for nutrition coaching or personal training (I have both in person and online options), contact me for more info.