Updated: Jan 28
Food should primarily be consumed to provide the body with essential nutrients for human life. The human body is a complex organism which performs a huge number of physiological processes which require thousands of different nutrients to function correctly (1). In most cases, food is in such abundance that a trip to your local supermarket should provide you with all the required nutrients. This convenience can also be detrimental to health. We live in a time of nutritional affluence dominated by food companies who produce cheap, processed, highly-palatable and low quality food for increased financial profit, not for our well-being (2) (3). Manufacturers rarely consider the nutritional content of their stock and the effects they have on health. Fortunately, some still do and more are beginning to take notice of the increase consumer demand for healthy food.
We must, therefore, take responsibility for what we put into our bodies. While many are lured into purchasing and consuming certain foods (who doesn't love sugar!), no one is force feeding us.
Eat as little as possible while:
- Reaching your healthiest, most efficient bodyweight and maintaining it
- Avoiding tiredness and eliminating risk of illness, injury, disease & death
- Reaching an appropriately low body fat level and maintaining it
- Achieving optimal function for daily tasks and long-term adherence to exercise
Drink enough water - nearly 2/3 of the body is made up of water so everyone needs to hydrate properly. Drinking water regularly helps remove toxins from the body, ensures the skin retains its elasticity and can help you lose weight (4) (5).
Eat your vegetables - in almost every meal, half of your plate should consist of vegetables. Choose vegetables of different colours, cook and consume them raw where appropriate and opt for fresh, washed, seasonal vegetables where possible. If in doubt, buy organic.
Remove junk - ingredients and additives used in a lot of common foods can be detrimental to our health (6). Artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated fats, modified foods, high-fructose corn-syrup, sugar, preservatives and gluten may all negatively affect our health (7) (8) (9) (10). Removing these from your diet can help fix gut problems and other health issues.
Quality over quantity - the quality of your food must be high! Buy organic where you can and if appropriate and opt for high quality meat and fish. Check out our What Should We Be Eating article for more information on food choices.
Eat slowly, consciously and socially where possible – food can provide many benefits when meals are prepared and/or consumed socially. Going out for a meal with friends or family is a common occurrence and, often, one is compelled to eat certain foods and consume certain drinks. While one should not avoid such occasions, it is important to remain conscious of the nutritional qualities of foods, not just the taste!
Do not be afraid to feel hungry for an extended period - we spent 2.5 million years evolving in a time where we had to survive on a limited food supply or even without food unless incredible feats of strength, bravery and endurance, often combined with good fortune resulted in a successful hunt and/or gathering. In order to survive we developed systems specifically to store energy as fat. We have only had access to food in abundance in approximately the last 5,000 years so our bodies still have the ability to survive well without food for longer than we think. This goes a long way in explaining the obesity epidemic plaguing many countries. Think you cannot go a day without eating? Ask this man who fasted for 382 days.
Carbohydrates are useful - carbohydrates are useful, NOT vital. Carbohydrates provide our body with instant energy which may improve health if occasionally consumed before or after intense workouts. “Oh, but don't complex carbohydrates slowly release energy?” Yes, but so does your body fat. If you are trying to burn body fat why would you provide the body with energy when even a very lean person has over a hundred thousand calories worth of body fat to provide “slow release energy”?
NOTE: Fibrous carbohydrates are essential for good health and should not be avoided unless advised to by expert health professionals.
Fat is vital - dietary fat is vital to human health (11). It helps transport essential vitamins and minerals around the body, protects nerve cells and makes up most of the brain. Most people should intend to consume more calories from fats than any other nutrient (some people have become intolerant to a high fat diet and must not increase levels significantly without asking their doctor first and proceeding with caution).
Value for money nutrition - “but it’s so expensive to eat healthily”. We have heard that before! It is expensive to buy certain “healthy” foods but there are ways to find high quality foods which provide ideal amounts of bioavailable, essential nutrients at a very low cost.
Related Post: Ask Us Anything #1: How To Diet?
Related Post: Vitamin D: The Most Important Vitamin?
Related Post: 5 Benefits Of Turmeric
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
John Maitland is the co-founder of 'The Evolved Way.’ A personal trainer with over 10 years’ experience, he has worked alongside a wide range of leading CEOs, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. John is a keen athlete and holds a black belt in Shaolin Kung fu. A fan of the great outdoors, he can often be found exploring the British countryside and mountains...or breaking pine boards with his fingers.
Co-founder of 'The Evolved Way', and experienced personal trainer, Samson practices what he preaches. His own healthy lifestyle, which informs this site, is based on understanding the right way to eat and exercise, not excluding of course going out and enjoying life knowing you can still feel and look good.