Nutrition Hierarchy of needs
Dialing in nutrition can be an incredibly tough challenge to navigate. We love to believe it’s as simple as “eat less calories” or “count your macros” or “try keto”. Unfortunately there is so much more to nutrition than the actual tactics. The type of diet you eat, and the tactics you use to control your food intake are only the very tip of the iceberg. All too often we skip the most important pieces of dialing in your nutrition – pieces that don’t have anything to do with food. But these are the important steps you need to take to master nutrition for a lifetime.
Yankee Nutrition Coaching Pyramid
Lifestyle and Habits
At the very base of our pyramid are lifestyle and habit categories. Your lifestyle and your habits will be the biggest determining factor in your nutritional success. You can be crushing your macros every single day, but if you sleep 5 hours, are stressed non-stop, and don’t make time for yourself you are doomed.
At the base of our pyramid we have sleep. A few weeks ago I did a longer blog about the importance of sleep. Click here for the details on that blog. We need to be working toward sleeping 7-9 hours of quality sleep, and maintaining our circadian rhythm with consistency. When you don’t sleep well, you have less energy so you’ll move less and you’ll tend to make worse food choices. Studies have shown on less than 6 hours of sleep people eat 20% more calories than their well rested counterparts.
Having good energy and feeling your best is one of the strongest reasons for dialing in your nutrition. So if you’re sleep deprived, lacking energy and feeling like crap, what’s the point?
Sleep is the base of your success.
Stress is stress. What I mean by that is your body doesn’t know the difference between stress at work, stress from weights in the gym, stress in your relationship, stress from a bear chasing you down. Stress causes our fight or flight response – adrenaline and cortisol release. Cortisol increases sugars in the blood and increases availability of repair substances for damaged tissues. This is a good thing post workout! A bad thing if you’re sitting in a chair at home. What Cortisol also does is shut down processes that are non-essential to escaping an immediate threat – like a bear chasing you. Digestion, reproduction, and immunity are in turn suppressed when you’re stressed out.
The stress response is actually a good thing. It is necessary to our survival, however when we are consistently exposed to stress, we end up in this perpetual fight or flight state that can lead to digestive problems, weight gain, anxiety, depression, etc.
That is why managing stress is so important and is a large piece of our nutrition coaching program. Here are some quick coping strategies
- Healthy diet and regular exercise 😉
- Meditation, or any form of “Me time” – there are some really great apps that help this process. I really love “calm”. Sometimes Matthew Mcconaughey talks me right to sleep.
- Breathing practices – just ask Coach Tim or Joe Rap!
- Practicing hobbies
- Socialize with friends
The important take home here is that like sleep, it doesn’t matter how dialed in your food tactics are, if you’re stressed all the time it’s going to be hard to reach your goals.
Quality matters. Not just the quality of the food itself, but the quality of your relationship with food, your food hygiene, and your hydration.
Being well hydrated will suppress a false sense of hunger, improve your metabolism, and make exercising more efficient. Studies have shown that increased water intake led to a loss of fat. It will also keep your joint well lubricated, regulate body temperature, increase nutrient delivery, and improve sleep quality.
Hydration is often under appreciated, but is highly important.
Let’s first talk about food hygiene. Food hygiene is about HOW you are eating you food. Are you sitting at a table? Are you getting relaxed before eating? Are you chewing your food 20-30x per bite? These things matter A LOT to the digestion process. Next how is your relationship with food. Do you use it a coping mechanism? Do you feel bad about yourself for eating something “off the plan”? Does food control your everyday choices? The better your relationship around food, the better you’re going to feel. Lastly, the food itself. Eat REAL FOOD. Food that is not processed. Food that once had eyes or grew from the ground. These foods are much more nutrient dense and better for your health than something made in a lab.
Finally, we’re at the tactics – the prescription. Calorie manipulation, weighting and measuring, keto, flexible dieting, vegan, low carb, carnivore, etc etc the list goes on forever here. These are the strategies we use to control our food intake – whether it be controlling amounts of food, eliminating food groups, or changing the timing of our food (think intermittent fasting). These tactics can be incredibly helpful, but only if the rest of the pyramid has been addressed already.
Remember, the wider your build the base, the taller you can build the pyramid.
This is our approach to nutrition coaching. It’s much more than suggesting macros or telling you to fast or putting you on keto. It’s a holistic approach to dialing in all the things in your life that caused you to get to where you are now. When it is all put together, you’ll have healthy living lined up for a lifetime.
Interested in nutrition coaching? Send us an email to schedule a free consult!