Great quote, innit? And when it comes to getting your nutrition right to ensure success in seeing great results from training… well… it’s not always true, but it often is.
Some people just have generic “good” eating habits. They have a conventional meal schedule and happen to mostly choose foods that are conducive to meeting an appropriate total intake without needing to think too much about it.
You know some people like this, no doubt. They just eat “the right foods”, right?
Nope. That’s a reasonable conclusion to come to, but it isn’t correct. Certainly they’re making good choices of foods, but by no means does this infer that you can’t be successful with some other choice of foods. For results from training, including weight loss goals, what’s important is that we do indeed meet an appropriate total energy intake. There’s a little bit more to it that we’ll get to shortly… but for the most part that’s what it comes down to.
Now, other people might have a less conventional meal schedule, and less conventional choices of foods. When people are successful in maintaining their goal weight range and body condition via less conventional / more ecclectic eating habits, it can be easy to imagine that there’s something special about the set of circumstances that is especially conducive to good results. They’ve “tricked the body into burning more fat”, or something like that.
Clever marketers and bro-scientists will even come up with fancy explanations to convince everyone else to start doing the same for magical results, because only they have the secret to fat loss. They haven’t though. They’re simply making the choices that best suit them in attaining an appropriate total intake. However quirky those choices or that schedule may seem to the rest of us, there is nothing “special” about them other than that they happen to best suit that individual to achieve an appropriate total energy intake. That’s all.
What about everyone else though? We’ve talked about people who just have conventional, every day, run of the mill, basic “good” eating habits. We’ve talked about the people who march to the beat of their own drum with a meal schedule and food choices that might seem unusual or eccentric to the rest of us. People in either of those camps might be highly successful in making progress towards their goal, or in maintaining a suitable weight and athletic body condition, for no other reason than because their total energy intake and the ratio of macronutrients within that total is appropriate. Whether because they have good intuition, because they’re doing what someone’s told them, or by trial and error… they happen to be in the habit of consuming an appropriate intake of energy and other nutritional resources.
But what about the people who aren’t so successful, and the people for whom an appropriate total intake is not so easily so easily attained?
My observations vary.
Often when an active person first comes to me frustrated with unsatisfactory results from training, we find that they have been working to inappropriate total energy targets. Usually targets that are too low, and insufficient to provide the energy and other resources necessary to fuel for performance, and then to recover and adapt to training. This is easily addressed.
In the vast majority of cases though, and especially with people who are new to regular exercise and training, the issue is simply that they do not have any set meal schedule, much less a real plan to meet appropriate total intake and macronutrient targets. This may be in part due to being convinced that there is a “special” way that this has to be done, and that special way not being a good fit to their preferences and lifestyle.
With no plan, no targets and no set meal schedule people are likely to alternate between missing meals and going hungry, and then over eating later on… often on less than ideal choices as the body is demanding maximum energy as quickly as possible. Despite being hungry a lot of the time, the end result is quite likely to be excessive total energy intake while still falling short of the mark on other nutritional requirements.
The same can be said for when people are trying to shoehorn themselves into a particular approach that does not suit them. Not being terribly enthusiastic about the “allowed” selection of foods, you tend to under eat. Under eating inevitably leads to over eating, as described in the paragraph above.
A healthy diet that is suitable to produce results from training doesn’t have to look a certain way. It needs to meet certain requirements in providing energy and other nutritional resources, which will vary from one person to the next depending on a variety of circumstances. How best to meet those requirements will also vary from one person to the next, and the only “best” way to achieve it is whichever way best suits you.
What best suits someone else is irrelevant. This is about you.
Bottom line: Plan to ensure success. Set your schedule however best suits you. Know your requirements, and plan to meet them with the choices of foods that best suit you.
There is nothing difficult, unrealistic or outlandish about any of this.
Going back to the title of this entry, a slight variation on the theme is “if you fail to prepare, you are prepared to fail”. Being prepared to fail doesn’t mean that failure is inevitable, but it does mean that you consider it an acceptable possible outcome.
Why accept failure, when you could ensure success?