Optimizing your nutrition involves three key variables:
1. What you eat (or don’t eat)
2. When you ear (or don’t eat)
3. How much you eat
You can enhance or limit your dietary habits by pulling one, two, or all three of these levers at a time.
– What you eat – Options include Dietary Restrictions, macronutrient planning, or supplements (DR)
– When you eat – Time-based Restrictions or macronutrient loading (TR)
– How much you eat – Caloric Restriction or overfeeding (CR)
Among the most popular approaches are caloric restriction (as seen in Bernstein, Weight Watchers, and premade meal plans), followed by dietary limitation (like macro counting, Zone Diet, Keto), and finally time-based eating (such as intermittent fasting). But, intermittent fasting (IF) is often the most straightforward way to manage your diet.
Many people unknowingly practice a form of fasting while they sleep, typically for about 8 hours (from bead time until they “break fast” in the morning).
Extending this period to 10 or 12 hours is quite manageable; for instance, ending meals by 7pm and eating again at 7am achieves a 12-hour fast.
Compared to calorie counting or macronutrient tracking, this is a simpler strategy. It’s essential, though, to be aware of and honor both your hunger and fullness cues as they are integral to healthy eating. Eating is often viewed as an inconvenience, rather than one of the best ways to promote deep health, consistent energy, mental focus and excel at sports/exercise/fitness etc.
For long-term health benefits, the ideal approach involves consuming minimally-processed foods rich in vegetables, fruits, proteins, and healthy carbs, while also staying hydrated. According to Dr. Attia, most individuals should be employing at least one of the three dietary strategies (DR, TR, CR) at any given time, sometimes two, and occasionally all three.
On the other hand, unrestricted eating — consuming whatever you want, whenever you want — typifies the standard North American diet and is a pathway to poor health.
Many leave their diet to chance: how they feel, and what’s easy and tastes good. (And in Urban Centers, Food Deserts are a real problem as well.) Whereas those with a healthy “diet” have constructed their environment and habits to promote wellness and deep health in a way that is sustainable for the long term
Eating for Fat Loss or Health
An effective fat-loss plan involves a slight caloric deficit achieved through gradual, sustainable changes. Excellent progress equates to losing 0.5-1% body fat every 2-4 weeks. Average is losing 0.5% body fat over 4 weeks. Proper hydration is also crucial for the biochemical processes required to breakdown fat.
Eating for Fitness
The key to enhancing physical fitness through nutrition is to focus on high-quality foods that aid in post-workout recovery and provide energy for your exercises. Adequate hydration is equally important. When eating for Fitness, the majority of your meals should be high quality with room for some lower quality food/drink choices.
Eating for Performance
For peak performance training, limit low-quality food and drink choices. Diets that are too restrictive can’t be sustained long term, but that’s not the goal of those seeking to peak their performance for competition anyway. This is another example of how competition and improved health are sometimes conflicting goals.