The Importance of the Basics of Nutrition

“So, I have this friend who was overweight, and he/she got on this program or did this diet (fill in the blank of whatever is trending: plant-based, vegan, paleo, low carb, etc.) and they look amazing. They lost so much weight and you should see their before and after pictures. Amazing! Do you think we could do something like that?”

I’ve heard this story so many times. Granted, my day is filled with talking to people about health and nutrition so I’ve heard it all. I’ve heard of everything from the diet that allows you to eat for only 1 hour a day to the 800 calorie a day diet. I’m going to give you some simple, basic rules when it comes to what diet to pick. Ready? It’s simple. Don’t pick a diet until you have mastered the following basics of nutrition:

  • Eat mostly whole foods that are minimally processed

  • Eat slowly

  • Eat to 80% full most of the time

  • Drink alcohol in moderation

That’s it. These basics are all sustainable practices that you might want to consider mastering before moving on to any diet, especially the one that your friend lost 20 lbs on. Here is why. Most of the time the people who are picking the low carb diet or the all vegan, raw diet have chosen something that isn’t sustainable. I mean, how long can you actually last eating for only 1 hour a day before something goes wrong? The problem isn’t the diet, the problem is that the person dieting doesn’t have the basic skills of nutrition, so when things go wrong, they go really wrong.

Fast forward 6 months to your friend who lost 20 lbs from the low carb, paleo diet and recently gained back all 20 lbs plus 10 more. These fad diets have a time and a place. They are great to prepare for an event or a beach vacation, and they can serve a purpose, but only for a season. They are not designed to be sustainable and we are not designed to sustain them. So, once you have mastered the basics, then we can talk about that crazy carb cycling diet that your friend lost 20 lbs on, and maybe it might be right for you right before spring break! Because when eating 50 grams of carbs stops working for you, you will have the basic skills of nutrition to fall back on.

NutritionAaron Leventhal