The impact that nutrition has on our bodies is underrated, and honestly, it is the simplest changes that make the most significant impacts. Magic metabolism-boosting foods do not exist, and fad diets and skinny shakes will not last in the long haul – these are quick fixes but not healthy solutions to obtaining a healthy and nutritionally balanced lifestyle.
We need to look at our body's energy balance. If we consume too much energy and burn too little of that energy, we will store that extra energy as body fat. Or another way to think of it is calories in vs calories out. Energy balance is important… but so is the quality of food.
Nutrition is responsible for helping us lose body fat, maintain a body fat level, and increase our bodyweight depending on your goal. While resistance and cardiovascular training will help us change the composition and strength of our bodies, what I am trying to say is that you can’t out-train a bad diet, so we need to look at our nutrition.
Keep it simple, and try to prioritise your protein consumption. The “hunger hormones” – ghrelin and leptin – play a part in our appetite and our satiety and eating a sufficient amount of protein can help “fill” us up and keep us feeling satisfied for longer and help with recovery.
Try to focus on wholegrain and vegetables and pulses to help keep you feeling fuller for longer as well as provide you with a variety of nutrients. Pay attention to the foods you are consuming. It can be easy to pick quick convenience foods such as a creamy pasta lunch, but can you switch that up for a salad and add in extra protein? If you like fizzy drinks, consider switching from normal cola to diet or the zero version.
It is essential to understand that energy intake and energy expenditure are dynamic. A tracker will never be able to calculate the exact calories in foods, and your watch will never be able to calculate the exact calories you burn in a day, so take the numbers as approximates.
If you want to reduce body fat, it is not necessary to completely remove a food group (unless you have an allergy or an intolerance). Variety and everything in moderation is key! A study conducted by Johnston (et al., 2014) concluded that weight loss was observed with any low-carb or low-fat diet when calories and protein remained equal.
Those smaller changes such as adding in vegetables, leaner choices of protein of at least 25g per serving, and adding diversity to your existing diet is a great way to start!
Try to not overthink nutrition and consider the basics. Less about foods we eat sometimes… what we eat most of the time! The overall dietary pattern is more important overall!