We All Have Them!
Here’s A Top 10 List Of The Most Common Questions I Get Asked Regarding Food, Exercise, Lifestyle and Weight-loss.
As a health and lifestyle expert, I have CSI’d allot of clients over the years. I’ve seen and recognized that people like you are in desperate need of guidance on how to answer questions about nutrition, your lifestyle and habit changes — and how to find a coach you can trust and who you can partner together with in making those important changes.
The right answer depends on who is asking the question. Young athlete? Middle-aged man? Sixty something woman? Questions usually can be anywhere between A-Z!
There are so many facets of nutrition. Macro-nutrients, micro-nutrients, portions, supplements… where do you start, I don’t even understand those words?
There is a TON of confusion about nutrition “truths”.
“Ingo Is red wine saving your life, or killing you? Ingo Did you hear about that new miracle diet?
Here’s the challenging reality: There is no one-size-fits-all answer to any nutrition question. A helpful response for let’s say a high school or college linebacker could be detrimental for a 30-year-old mom or a 70 year old grandfather of 4.
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Ingo, I'm new at all of this what do I need to focus on first?
Answer: Let’s Start by Eliminating Your Nutritional Deficiencies.
This is one is super fun, because no one ever wants to believe they have nutritional deficiencies. I know I didn’t!
Hello new person (we would like you to be a new friend) just reading this! You might not want to hear it at first, but nutrition beginners don’t need a major diet overhaul on day one. You don’t need to “go Paleo” or “eliminate sugar”.
As your coaches, our first step is to open your newbie eyes to the fact that you probably have one or more nutritional deficiencies (seriously — more than 80 percent of the population has at least one).
Until nutritional deficiencies are removed, the body, your body, simply won’t function properly — and that makes any health or fitness goal a lot harder.
So, to eliminate deficiencies, our first order of business is to help you find workable strategies for rounding out your current diet, so you’ll get:
• a bit more protein,
• ample vitamins and minerals,
• sufficient healthy fats, and
• more water.
What I’m going to do first with you is to help you establish some optimal eating habits one step at a time. Then we’ll talk you through some super simple strategies: We like to find out which of the nutritional areas listed above will be most challenging for you (say, that you say I don’t know how to cook meat or choose the best veggies). This is different than anything else out there.
That’s the problem we’re going to help you solve first.
Once nutritional deficiencies are addressed, we can start to focus on things like food quality and portions. What foods really fit your individual food fingerprint DNA, background, stress levels and lifestyle. Here is a little coaching moment when I usually tell you “This process isn’t slow; it’s systematic. It focuses on the things that are in your way right now. Once they’re eliminated, progress happens
Ingo, whats the best diet to follow?
First off, thanks for asking, I appreciate that very much, to be absolutely honest with you….I am a nutritional agnostic since studing under Paul Chek and Dr. John Berardi Ph.D: I’m someone who doesn’t subscribe to any one dietary philosophy.
Why? All dietary protocols have their pros and cons. What works best for one person won’t work best for another. Also: A diet that has worked best for someone in the past won’t necessarily be what works best for them moving forward.
What I almost always say to someone is that we’ll help you find the approach to eating that works best for you right now, whether it be Paleo or vegan, high-carb or low-carb, tight budget or unlimited funds — or some blend of all of these. The truth is, the human body is amazingly adaptable to a vast array of diets, so the best diet is the one that:
• matches your unique physiology,
• includes foods you enjoy enough to follow consistently, and
• is realistic for you in terms of life logistics and budget.
Indeed, I can make people just like you lean, strong, and healthy on a plant-based or a meat-based diet. You can help improve your health with organic, free-range foods and with conventional foods. You can lose weight on a low food budget or an unlimited one.
It just takes a little know-how and a system for using the best practices across all diets.
What do I have to do to have a flat stomach or see my abs again?
Answer: First let’s explore whether a six pack is worth the trade-offs.
To answer this one, we need to know if seeing your beautiful abs are really what YOU want. (And if you’re prepared to do what it takes.)
Getting ripped abs is a much bigger undertaking than most people realize. There are definite benefits to getting that lean (<10 percent for most men, and <20 percent for most women), but there are real trade-offs too.
Alcohol, processed foods, and desserts all need to be severely limited if you’re trying to lose fat and show off a washboard stomach. Social situations often become difficult. Some of your other interests and hobbies may need to decrease.
However, if you really want to get a six-pack in the healthiest possible way, you’ll need to follow these principles 90-95 percent of the time:
- Eat protein and vegetables at every meal.
- Include healthy fats at most meals.
- Eat a small amount of carbs post-workout only.
- Limit carbs at all other meals.
- Exercise intensely 4-5 times per week.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
Armed with this information, you and I can have an honest conversation about whether you want the six-pack badly enough. (Or if you’ll settle for moderately lean and healthy without giving up some of the other things you enjoy does that work for you?).
Can I get lean by avoiding grains in my diet?
No; most people trying to stay lean do best with a reasonable amount of whole grains.
Grain discussions are really trendy right now and I think have been since the days of ancient Egypt, as many people have suggested they’re dietary enemy #1 and should be completely eliminated. This is hot news as, just ten years ago, they were supposedly one of the healthiest foods on the planet.
From our perspective, grains aren’t as evil as they’ve been made out to be by the Paleo and Whole30 camps. At the same time, they aren’t the superfood vegans and macrobiotic eaters suggest either.
Bottom line: While you don’t need to eat grains, unless you have celiac disease or a FODMAP intolerance, there is absolutely no need to avoid them. (And even in those two scenarios, it’s only specific grains you need to worry about).
Most people follow a better, more health-promoting diet if they’re allowed grains in reasonable amounts, along with a wide array of other non-grain carb sources like fruit, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, etc.
Remember, it’s the ability to follow a diet consistently over time that provides the greatest results, regardless of what that diet is. And unless you’re intolerant, there’s no good reason to totally exclude certain foods, especially foods you enjoy.
Ingo, what and when do I eat if I am exercising daily ?
It depends on your goals. Let’s talk about those soon just give me a call or an email… then we can come up with specific recommendations for you.
When I train athletes, this is a really common question. But lots of non-athletes are curious too.Contrary to popular media, most of our clients are best served by eating good quality whole foods in reasonable amounts,
without having to focus on specific workout nutrition products or protocols.
So you we advise non-athlete level clients to eat a normal, balanced meal 1-2 hours before and after exercise. This will provide adequate protein and carbs to both fuel the workout and maximize recovery/adaption. However, if I am coaching advanced, hard-training clients or athletes, Its much more specific and I be focusing on their unique workout-nutrition needs.
Endurance athletes, bodybuilders, or those looking to maximize muscle gain could add a protein and carbohydrate drink during their workout. We usually recommend about 15g of protein and 30g of carbohydrate per hour of exercise.
Physique competitors, as well as people trying to maximize fat loss, could add branched chain amino acids (or essential amino acids) during their workout. We usually recommend 5-10g of BCAA or EAA per hour of exercise.
In the end, rather than having one stock answer here, As an exercise and sports nutritionist I always need to be clear about who we’re working with.
Ingo, should I avoid carbs completely or what?
Answer: No; but let’s make sure you’re getting the right kind of carbs, smart ones are better than dumb ones.
If I ask anyone what they’ll need to do to lose a few pounds, they’ll probably say: “Cut back on carbs.” As a fitness and nutrition professional, I’ve probably heard it dozens of times ok 100’s.
However, most people would do best eating a moderate amount of quality carbs—whole grains (when tolerated), fruit, organic red potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans and legumes, etc. (We emphasize moderate, of course).
For men, this usually means about 1-2 cupped handfuls per meal. And women, about 1 cupped handful per meal. Of course, the needs of each actual client may differ, based on their size, activity level, goals, and genetics.
But, bottom line, carbs are not inherently fattening, especially whole food sources. And getting adequate smart carbs can help most of you our clients and friends exercise harder and recover better, optimizing progress.
Yep, this is a controversial position to take. But it works. And while avoiding carbs may facilitate rapid weight loss initially, we’ve found that it’s not practical (or necessary) for long-term success for most people.
Is counting calories important if I want to get leaner?
Answer: While it feels logical, counting calories is often complex, time consuming, and full of errors. The good news: There is a better way.
Weight management is a simple equation: Eat more than you burn, and you gain weight. Eat less and you lose weight. But the physiology behind “calories in, calories out” is actually much more complex and dynamic than most people realize.
Plus, it’s highly imprecise; we estimate that there’s typically an error of up to 25 percent on the ‘calories in’ side, and on the ‘calories out’ side.
Beyond that, counting calories is an external system (outside of your body). In essence, if you’re a person who count calories you’re are less likely to see lasting results because you’re outsourcing appetite awareness to the food-label gods. To really win at calorie control, We’lll need to coach you personally on tuning in to your internal hunger signals.
For these reasons, and more, I tell our clients that for most people, counting calories is a lot of work for very little benefit.
(Interestingly, most clients become elated when they realize they can get the body transformation they want without ever counting calories again.) Instead of calorie counting, we recommend a hand-measure system for portion sizes. Here how it works:
1. Your palm determines your protein portions.
2. Your fist determines your veggie portions.
3. Your cupped hand determines your smart carb portions.
4. Your thumb determines your fat portions.
This system counts your calories for you, and gets your macronutrients lined up too, without having to do any annoying food-label math.
Plus, your hands are portable—they go wherever you go, making portion-sizing very convenient. In addition, your hands are generally scaled to your size—the bigger you are, the bigger your hands, so the more food you need and the more food you get.
Clients typically get the hang of this system within a week of learning it; then we always help you monitor results and tweak as needed.
Do sleep and stress really affect nutrition and my body's ability to get in shape
Answer: Yes, but those effects vary from person to person, as do the best sleep and stress management strategies.
Sleep is just as important as nutrition and exercise when it comes to improving your health, performance, and body composition.
What we like to do with you is coach you through:
• creating a sleep routine, including having a regular schedule.
• limiting alcohol and caffeine, especially in the afternoon/evening.
• choosing de-stressing activities before bed.
• setting an appropriate room temperature for sleep.
• making the room dark.
• keeping the room quiet.
• waking up appropriately, with light exposure and soft noise.
As for stress, it’s all about finding the sweet spot in your life. Too much stress, or the wrong kind, can harm your health. Yet stress can also be a positive force in our lives, keeping us focused, alert, and at the top of our game.
It all depends on what kind of stress it is, how prepared you are to meet it—and how you view your stressors, does that make sense?
Since stress affects the mind, body, and behavior in many ways, everyone experiences stress differently. Each of us has a unique “recovery zone,” whether that’s physical or psychological, and our recovery zone depends on several factors.
It is critical that we teach you strategies and skills to view and handle your stress load appropriately. The following can increase stress tolerance or diminish stress load:
I call it “working in” before you work out
• Meditation, qi gong (my favorite), tai chi or yoga
• Outdoor time
• Snuggling a pet
• Listening to relaxing music
• Deep breathing
• Drinking a good cup of organic herbal tea or green tea
Ingo, what about Juice or detox cleanses? Should I do one?
Answer: Probably not; most popular detox diets don’t remove toxins or lead to fat loss.
Lots of people are worried about the effect of modern lifestyle factors like poor nutrition, sleep deprivation, stress, and environmental pollutants on their health.
So we probably get our fair number of questions about detox diets and juice cleanses, which have come into vogue as an efficient way to (supposedly) lose weight and rid the body of impurities.
But detox diets don’t clean out toxins or help you lose body fat. In fact, detox diets can work against these goals by bypassing the body’s natural detoxification systems and creating a feast-or-famine cycle of eating.
Among many problems, detoxes and cleanses often:
• are usually a bit protein deficient,
• are extremely low in energy,
• cause unhealthy blood-sugar swings,
• cause digestive tract problems, and
• lead to a yoyo of restrictive eating and overcompensation.
If doing a juice cleanse or detox diet helps you get ready to make further helpful and sustainable changes in your life, OK. We’ll coach you through a cautious and monitored protocol if you are interested.
However, we prefer helping you build life-long skills and incorporate daily lifestyle practices to improve your health, performance, and body composition without extreme (and unsustainable) things like detoxes and cleanses.
I Would prefer you checked into IF “Intermittent Fasting” I am more than happy to give you more information about this. Just reach out by phone or email.
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Questions are the root of all answers.
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