It’s not about Diet, It’s about Lifestyle
Michelle Meinking MS, RDN
Today’s modern diet culture is confusing, to say the least. There is a continuous surge of new diets promising results such as improved performance, weight loss, detoxification, pH balance … the list goes on. People are overwhelmed with marketing and mixed messaging, making it difficult to sort out what they “should” and “shouldn’t” be doing. Quite frankly, each of us is different, and just like we all have different training needs, we also all have different nutrition needs. Listening to your body and beliefs is a solid way to find a diet that works best for you.
To begin, the word “diet” simply refers to the foods we eat each day, it does not need to be thought of as something that is “followed” or has rules. We all need to eat, and our “diet” consists of what we choose to put into our bodies. What’s important is choosing to eat foods that support a healthy lifestyle and eating pattern as a whole, with a focus on long-term health versus short-term results, which supports investing in your physical pension.
Many “fad diets” promise quick and unsustainable results that may be detrimental in the long run. Some may even have the potential to incur nutrient deficiencies leading to decreased energy, compromised performance, and other health issues (1). This is why there should instead be an emphasis on food choices that are sustainable, support long-term health, and enhance longevity.
Focus on an eating pattern that provides your body with the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs to function and perform at its best. This type of eating pattern incorporates foods such as whole grains, which provide carbohydrates, fiber, and B-vitamins crucial for energy production. Incorporating sufficient fruits and vegetables provides countless vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help fight inflammation and defend against disease. Consuming high-quality protein supports lean muscle mass and nutrient transport throughout the body. Plus, adding in healthy fats promotes immunity, heart health, and brain health.
Consistently incorporating these food groups into your diet establishes an overall eating pattern that not only enhances performance but promotes a lifestyle that supports long-term health.
There are many different diets and lifestyles people may choose to follow, whether that be paleo, intermittent fasting, keto, Whole30, intuitive eating, vegan, gluten-free, etc. When following some of these, it’s important to be mindful of certain nutrients or implications that may result from following the specific eating pattern. For those who follow a diet that restricts certain foods or follows specific guidelines, the key is ensuring you are still providing your body with all the essential nutrients that it needs to function properly and perform its best. This means that although you have guidelines within your eating pattern, you should still be mindful of certain foods that need to be incorporated more throughout the day, or you should potentially be supplementing with nutrients that you may be lacking.
For example, many vegans are aware that they may need to supplement with vitamin B12 due to the lack of availability in the types of foods they eat (2). Those who eliminate dairy products from their diet need to be mindful of where they are obtaining calcium from in order to avoid compromising bone health. This may mean supplementation or ensuring consumption of other foods high in calcium such as canned sardines, fortified foods, or tofu (3). Those following diets that are low in carbohydrates, such as the ketogenic diet, should be mindful of nutrients such as thiamine, iodine, and folate to ensure they are still consuming adequate levels to support their body’s needs (4). And although here at the School of Calisthenics we like to encourage real food first, circumstances such as these are a great example of when supplements may serve as a tool to ensure you are providing adequate amounts of the essential nutrients your body needs to function properly and perform.
You can follow specific types of diets in a healthy and sustainable way, as long as you are aware of areas that you may be lacking nutrients, and address any deficiencies that may occur. Following a specific diet may work well for some people, especially if they’re able to do so with a healthy, sustainable, and consistent approach. Others may find it doesn’t work well for them, and that’s okay. Establishing an eating pattern is about finding what works best for you, what you can follow consistently, and what you can make part of your lifestyle rather than a short-term plan.
Although different diets have their own defining characteristics, one theme typically unites them all: eating a variety of real, whole, and natural foods while cutting down on processed, refined, and packaged goods. This principle really establishes the core and foundation of any healthy eating pattern, because a healthy eating pattern is just that: a pattern.
Eating right for you is not about cutting out or including a single food, drink or nutrient, but rather about approaching your dishes with consistency and sustainability in mind. In the end, the answer does not necessarily reside in what “diet” you follow or what you do or don’t eat. Rather, you should focus on nutrient density, food quality, and overall lifestyle.
To learn more about nutrition, what works for you, and contribute to your physical pension through diet – check out the School of Calisthenics Nutrition for Performance and Health Course. The Nutrition and Health Course is packed full of useful information and practical tools to help you achieve your goals and optimise your nutrition, training, and health. Here is a sneak-peek of the modules and what you can expect from the course:
I hope to see you in the classroom and can’t wait to help you achieve your nutrition, performance, and health goals!
Michelle, SoC Dietitian & Nutritionist
We’ve teamed up with expert nutritionist and dietitian, Michelle Meinking, to bring you the best help and advice for all your nutrition and dietary needs within our Virtual classroom alongside all our online training programmes.