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The easy way to eat smarter

eat smarter

When it comes to nutrition, there’s a heck of a lot of information out there. Whether you’re concerned about your health, training for a sporting event, or simply want to look better, you might feel as though you’re drowning in a sea of advice. Let’s simplify things by taking a look at some of the dietary advice that you don’t have to be a genius to see the wisdom in…

Apply science, but don’t be a slave to it

Not too long ago, low-intensity cardio was touted as the way to slim down. Hulking bodybuilders would trudge over mile after mile of treadmill in order to rid their abdomen of those last few percentiles of body fat. Now it’s all about high-intensity intervals and surprise, surprise, strength training.

We should hesitate, too, when presented with the latest ‘miraculous’ diet recommendations. For years, we were told to eat immediately after exercise – during the ‘anabolic window’, where gains are most likely. Now, it seems, significant doubt is falling over the anabolic window. For years, we were told that eating many small meals is healthier – but there’s no consensus there, either!

While it’s undoubtedly useful to consult the science, one should do so without over interpreting it – or misapplying it. In the gym, suggestion quickly turns to recommendation, and then to dogma – and it does so with a rapidity that no science could justify!

Your diet is your own

Recently, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, frequent gym-goer and much-adored actor of stage (well, ring) and screen, shared his daily eating regimen with Muscle and Fitness. It turns out that, in order to maintain his considerable musculature, Mr Johnson needs to eat a co-ordinately considerable volume of food – more than five thousand calories daily. This information sparked something of a craze, whereby average-sized people would copy Mr Johnson’s diet. The result, perhaps unsurprisingly, was vomit.

The lesson here is that there is no more point in the average person imitating a professional wrestler’s diet than there is in imitating his bench press. Your metabolism will be unable to process those calories, and the result will be… Unpleasant.

The mistake is not restricted to those looking to bulk up. Just because Gwyneth Paltrow maintains a trim figure by subsisting on blended celeriac, doesn’t mean that you should. Everyone’s nutritional goals are different, and so too, therefore, should everyone’s diet.

Eat when you’re hungry; don’t eat when you’re not.

The most useful dietary advice is that which is specific to you. Consequently, your best advisor is your own sense of hunger (and indeed, thirst). You can apply this advice differently depending on your goals. If you’re trying to bulk up, then eat slightly more. If you’re trying to trim down, then eat slightly less. It’s often a good idea to store healthy snacks around – like raw fruit and nuts. This way, when hunger strikes, you’ll have something nutritious to snack on!

Of course, the advice provided by your appetite can sometimes be misleading. Imbalances in the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which respectively induce hunger and satiety, can corrupt the ‘advice’ provided by one’s appetite.

The best way to address such problem, say scientists, is to eat the right foods – specifically fibrous, ‘real’ foods, or those which your grandmother would have recognised as such. This means meats, pulses, dairy, whole grains and a variety of different vegetables throughout the week.