There’s a fundamental flaw to the logic behind anyone setting himself up as dispensing ‘nutrition commandments’.
The very term ‘commandment’ signifies dogma and rules that cannot be broken, whereas for most of us who don’t have specific health conditions, correct nutrition is usually all about finding a common-sense way to eat healthily around your tastebuds, lifestyle, budget, and goals.
All of which means it’s a simple subject that’s made incredibly complicated (note the obesity crisis that has seen over a third of American adults eating themselves to death) because of our human idiosyncrasies.
I’m going to give you U.P.’s key nutritional commandments, but I want you to remember that if there’s a contradiction somewhere it’s because never has the phrase different horses for different courses applied more than to effective, results-producing dieting.
1. ‘Eat from the land’.
The absolute golden rule to follow that would change most people’s health, productivity, sleep, digestion and sex drives for the better is to ‘eat from the land’.
Forget complicated diets that restrict entire food groups, just eat foods that come from a farmer and not a manufacturer. Does this mean that processed foods are evil? No, of course not – you’re not going to get cancer from eating a single Big Mac.
However, every single person reading this would do better if the overwhelming majority of their food intake came “from the land”.
2. Calories count, kind of.
Calories do count and anyone who tells you otherwise is sniffing glue.
However, not all calories are equal – 1,000 calories from pizza aren’t the same as 1,000 calories from chicken.
To make matters even more complicated, the more out of shape you are the harder it is for your body to handle certain types of calories (from carbohydrates), so a lean, muscular man can chow down the same carb calories as a fat person and the lean guy could very well stay lean, whilst the fat guy will get fatter!
Unless you have a very specific goal that you’re aiming for, I find that most people do best using portion control rather than anally counting out calories, but as always with diet, it’s about what works best to maximise adherence and long-term habits for you as an individual.
3. Flexible dieting doesn’t work.
There’s a term in the fitness industry known as “flexible dieting”. In a nutshell, it means sensible, common-sense dieting where if one day you eat too much, then the next day you cut back a bit more so that in the long haul everything balances out. So far, so good.
The problem is that this approach doesn’t really work for a large percentage of the population who have metabolic insufficiencies (for example, they are not yet lean enough to properly handle carbohydrates) or have poor food habits.
Very rarely can the man on the street stop at half a chocolate bar, I know I can’t. If you’ve become fat, you’ve got there through long-term bad habits.
Most people have to go cold turkey on those habits until they’ve broken the cycle. Once that cycle is broken and health is closer to optimal, a flexible approach is a preferred choice for the majority, but as always, there are a large number outliers such as those people who respond best to following clear and precise rules that don’t allow them to fall into an ongoing junk food trap.
4. Go Hard for a Result
Dropping a few pounds of fat is usually an easy process and requires only small and often “flexible” (see my previous point) changes to your diet.
Making a big change – the kind that sees you going from looking soft and squishy, to lean and athletic within a tight timeframe similar to U.P.’s classic 12-week transformations, needs something a little bit extra.
Don’t ever be suckered by the so-called gurus and their diet books that tell you it’s possible to “eat more, move less, lose fat”. There is a very clear rule of thumb when it comes to achieving maximum results in minimum time – the more consistent and strict you are on your diet, the better and faster your results will be.
This is where a good coach is always worth their weight in gold because they ask the questions, push the buttons and tweak the plans that keep you on the straight and narrow.
I’m in a truly unique position as the CEO of the only global personal training business in the world. I focus a huge amount of my time on improving our product (results!) believing that this is the single most important factor in growing the business.
What I have seen time after time is that the trainers who get the best results with their clients are those trainers who get into the head of the client, who enforce belief and accountability, and who do whatever it takes to keep their clients on the right nutritional path.
This is a very tough thing to do well because whilst the actual diet plans themselves are often very simple, proper execution is all about compliance and managing the human psyche, which is an immensely challenging proposition.