There is a lot of controversy out there regarding healthy eating. A lot of emotion and heated debate. My view is the we underestimate the body’s ability to adapt to what the feed it. In my opinion real food nutrition plans of Paleo, Primal, LCHF, Plant Based and the many others are all valid with three non-negotiable rules;
- We focus on real, unprocessed foods as the primary source, that is 95%+, essentially limiting processed grains, processed sugars and hydrogenated oils.
- We get a broad spectrum of vitamins and mineral through a diverse profile of food. Colourful vegetables, fruit, multi source proteins.
- We consume sufficient calories to support vitality, an active lifestyle and a high metabolism.
I personally lean towards Paleo / primal as it helps my satiety. Whichever you prefer, I strongly advise a to move towards a real food diet.
For clinical conditions it is recommended you seek the advice of a registered dietitian or your local general practitioner before significantly changing to diet.
I do not recommend crash diets or diets aimed a getting to goal weights quickly as these are unsustainable and generally lead to weight gain. The main aim is the tune in to a sustainable eating plan which satisfies hunger but will lead to weight adjustment over time to a natural, healthy balance. Usually around 15% body fat for men or 22% for woman.
Protein intake does need to be adjusted for athletes to ensure sufficient amount for recovery and regeneration. In recent times the general recommendations have been too high, in my opinion swayed by the marketing of large food companies. There has been much scientific research supporting this from the plant based, primal and traditional camps.
Recommended Carbohydrate, protein and fat intake is generally not an absolute number, but instead should align with obtaining dietary satisfaction at every meal. Although high-fat foods are calorie dense, they have a high satiety factor and do not stimulate an insulin response. By eating what amounts to a high-fat diet in comparison to the Standard American/Australian Diet, one can stabilize appetite and energy levels, and shed excess body fat without having to face the traditional struggles of deprivation and restriction.
For athletes I believe the periodising carbohydrates is important to ensure we maintain the capability to burn fats and carbohydrate optimally. Stress causes adaption, even with nutrition. Without periods of low carb we loose the ability to efficiently burn fat as a primary fuel at aerobic intensity. I do recommend a pre-season ketogenic period. I also recommend most recovery weeks have a period of very low carbohydrate to re-establish fueling from fat as a preference.