I have had some requests to offer my opinion on diet. It is always a controversial topic and a subject about which one could write volumes. Here are 10 points, in no particular order and by no means fully comprehensive that I believe are important to good health. Feel free to comment or add to my list.

  1. There is no evil macro nutrient.
    Quality Carbohydrates, fats and protein are all essential and should be eaten in quantities that match your energy requirements and according to what works for your metabolism. There is no one size fits all!

2. Do carbohydrates make you fat?   

No, eating too many calories and a diet with too many refined sugars and processed rubbish makes you fat! People associate carbohydrates exclusively with foods like pies, chips, white bread, pizza, cake, pastries, sweets, beer etc which leads to the false conclusion that carbohydrates are the enemy. Don’t get me wrong, most people would do well to reduce their carbohydrate intake particularly when weight loss is the goal, but be careful not to base your decision to cut out all carbohydrates on your past experience of over indulging on primarily low grade processed carbohydrate rich foods. Whole grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables have a vital role to play in hormonal balance, healthy metabolic function, the provision of essential micro nutrients, roughage and fibre (to name a few benefits) See 1 above.

  1. Eat fruit, it’s good for you
    I recommend two to three servings per day.
  1. Eat more vegetables, you probably don’t eat enough.
    Five or more servings per day, and choose from a variety of colours.
  1. Eat more protein, you probably don’t eat enough.
    I recommend a minimum of 1.5 grams per kg body mass, and 1.5 to 2 grams per kg body mass for active people. (More is required if your protein is coming primarily from vegetables). As a guideline, 100 grams of tuna or 100 grams of  chicken or steak provides 25 to 30 grams of protein (do the maths for your own body weight)
  2. If you eat enough protein, you probably eat enough fat. If you are getting enough protein from a variety of sources, eg meat, fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables, you’re likely getting enough fat in your diet. Don’t make a special effort to add more which will add unnecessary calories.
  1. Calorie counting is not an exact science, don’t obsess about it.
    Chances are, with discrepancies in food databases, labeling and quantities, there is a discrepancy between the number of calories you count and what you’re actually consuming. ( by some estimations, you could be up to about 20% out). So don’t obsess too much over calorie counting unless you’re a body builder or fitness athlete. It is however a good idea to go through the exercise of tracking your food, and counting your calories over a period of time in order to develop an understanding of the calorie content of food, and an intuition for how much you should be eating. Calorie counting is something you can return to from time to time, to see that you’re staying on track, and if you have hit a wall in your weight loss, but otherwise, once you have developed that intuition, and settled into a routine, don’t obsess about it.
  1. Eat Regularly
    Purely anecdotal, but the people I see with the best physiques have regular eating times. Whether you choose to eat three or six meals per day, I believe establishing a routine will benefit you.
  1. Take care of your gut
    If your gut isn’t working and you’re not effectively absorbing nutrients and regulating toxins, your fitness goals, immune function and overall health will suffer. Kefir is evidently a very good probiotic, and rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-inflammatory properties, so is a good option for many to help restore your gut health. Also, a diet consisting mainly of unprocessed or minimally processed foods is key.
  1. Your diet is not a religion.(unless you choose to eat in a certain way for religious or ethical reasons)

You will not be angering the diet gods if you deviate from a prescribed way of eating. Paleo, Banting, Atkins, Weight Watchers, all have merit, but there may be aspects of a diet or eating philosophy that don’t agree with your system. There is no reason why you cannot combine the good elements from various diets to find what works for you. If you find yourself asking ..’am I allowed this or am I allowed that…’ too often, the diet is probably too restrictive for you to sustain in the long term.