There are so many different phrases in the fitness community. We try to implement a complex structure to nearly everything. There are essentials to any aspect of living and then there are the little things. When a person embarks on a diet or whatever you choose to call it since it’s not a “diet” it’s a lifestyle, right? However you view it, you are at a point where you need to learn about what foods you should eat. After all, there are tons of horrible, terrible, deadly foods that can kill you upon first bite.

That was a bit dramatic, right? If you read articles, blogs, magazines, and any sort of media that concept is not overly dramatic. People make food out to be evil and that it can destroy you. Food does not destroy you. Guilt destroys you. If you don’t believe me, then stop reading right now. Go order a large pizza with every topping you love and grab your favorite beverage and feast. After that, tell me how you feel (that’s all I ask). You would feel guilty. Extremely guilty. I mean all of those calories consumed in one sitting and now what? Diet starts tomorrow?

You need to look at all food for what it truly is and what it can do for you. Every different piece of food on this planet is made up of 3 major components; protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Those 3 key factors are of your concern. How much of each of those components do you NEED in a given day? If you know that answer, you are all set. Food is not a mystery (unless we are talking about pink slime, but hey, there’s a video on that nasty piece of “food”). If you want a donut, eat a donut.

What does this all mean?

This means that you need to know how much food you CAN eat to achieve your goals.

Want to gain weight? You need to have a caloric surplus (i.e. eat more calories than you burn).

Want to lose weight? You need to have a caloric deficit (i.e. eat less calories than you burn).

Want to maintain weight? Then, you need to know how many calories you can consume to maintain weight.

You will need to know your caloric baseline (i.e. the amount of calories to maintain weight) regardless of your goal. This will allow you to plan the first step, which is to establish that caloric baseline. After that you must then determine how many calories will come from protein, carbohydrates, and fats. This is where things get more difficult. You need to know your body, rather than what the tabloids will tell you.

Food is not evil, unless you make it evil.

I have always told people that they should not remove a food that they intend to add to their diet later. If you enjoy something, learn how to keep it in your diet. Certain foods are deemed as unhealthy, but it is up to you to decide on what you are willing to give up. If you know 100% without a doubt that you will never ever eat something again, then do away with it. However, if pizza is something you crave often, then learn how to keep it in your plan. The reasoning for this is two-fold.

Point A.

You are not a prisoner of food. You have the ability to eat it if you truly enjoy it. This may seem like bad advice, but it all depends on how you plan it. You cannot live off of this food as your sole means of your food plan. After all, it is highly unlikely that this “unhealthy” food would allow you to meet your daily requirements for protein, carbs, and fats. So, the key is to learn how and when to eat these foods.

Point B.

The body does not digest food easily. Try to remove dairy (all forms of dairy) from your diet for a few months. Then, eat some cheese, drink some milk, or consume some form of dairy. See how the body reacts. The body learns how to digest different foods. A new food will often make you feel quite ill as the body is trying to digest it. Generally foods that people crave are often greasy, dairy filled, or full of preservatives. All of these things are difficult to digest even when consistently in your diet. So, if you remove them completely, you will feel those effects when you decide to gorge again. Remember, the goal is guilt-free, and this is about maintaining a food plan rather than yo-yo dieting.

This point also includes people that feel the need to demonize gluten. You may have a sensitivity to gluten, but you most likely do not have an allergy to gluten. Again, do not demonize food simply because you cannot control how much you consume. Analyze the foods you eat and determine how they make you feel. From there you can determine if they are worth keeping in your food plan or if they can be gone forever.

What did we learn?

You need to begin with a caloric baseline. Determine how many calories it takes to allow you to maintain weight. Within establishing that base, you will also need to have a rough idea of how much of your diet will be made up of; protein, carbs, and fats.

Example: My ratio is around 35% protein, 50% carbohydrates, 15% fats. This is my baseline ratio.

Your body will require a certain number of calories and those calories will need to fall within the ratio of (protein, carbs, and fats) that you establish. Listen to your body. Learn from what it tells you.

Food is not evil. Overeating is evil. Going to the grocery store hungry is evil. Once you establish your numbers, you’ll be able to see what foods you can fit into those daily figures. A snickers bar may be ok once in a while. It all depends on how you set up your day(s) of eating.