What’s the optimal diet for maximizing focus and performance? As the saying goes, we are all unique snowflakes. On a biological level, we all have a distinctive genome (goes without saying…) and metabolic systems thus what you should eat might not be exactly on your neighbor’s optimal dining card. To add to the complexity, we each have a unique ratio of hormones that fluctuate daily (hourly, if you are a female), we live in and sometimes come from different geographical regions and the current state of our bodies contain varying levels of toxicity.
Having said all that, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain optimal choices everyone across the board can make to enhance the way we feel. What follows are my top three suggestions that zoom into time tested strategies proven to yield the best results the fastest amount of time. However, they are broad enough to incorporate into diverse lifestyles.
- Know Yourself. Pretty clear there but to drill in a bit further, this point can take some time for many to gauge. To me, this means that I constantly stay on top of newest research in nutrition, experiment on myself and really pay attention to how I feel after eating a particular food. This doesn’t need to take months, a week will suffice, that’s if you are willing to be on top of your game and keep a food journal that lists everything you eat and when, how much you drink and what and how all that makes you feel. Armed with data, you can now start making better choices. Furthermore, there are tests and books on the subject of metabolic typing that I found helpful in determining just what sorts of macros (protein, fat & carbs) my body thrives on. Of course you need all of them but your ratios will be unique. A simple web search can point you in the right direction. Be patient. It’s a lifelong journey to improve your lifestyle. Your body will thank you, your confidence will grow and your creativity will soar.
- Have a Goal… with a deadline! Setting timed goals that are specific keeps us on target and makes us serious and committed, not to mention the sweetness and the sense of empowerment you get when you meet your goal. If you want to lose and x amount of weight by the end of the year, do the math. It sounds daunting but is not as hard as it seems. In fact, there are ton of tools online to help you determine your BMI, track your calories, activity levels, etc.
- Eat as close to nature as you possible can. If you only to this, you’ll make huge improvements. In a world of ever changing diet fads, one thing that consistently delivers results is eating unprocessed, whole foods. Think about it. When you eat a pastry, your body has no clue how to attack the beast. It doesn’t have the tools to properly digest it because the thing is not a part of the ecosystem from which we evolved. What it wants to do is eliminate it quickly, as a result pushing the somewhat broken down residue as far away from the vital organs as possible – right under your skin. Guess what? Add to it toxins, pesticides and an overload of sugar, and the liver gets overwhelmed. What it cannot process fast enough, it will store in the fat tissue. The result is toxic fat under your skin. Eat whole, eat organic, be natural. The body came form nature so it’s a good match that eliminates many pairing glitches.
Why do I write posts about diets & fitness? For one, I am deeply passionate about the subject. But building on the theme of self-empowerment and becoming your best in any and every area of your life, nutrition is foundational. I consistently find that I am most productive when I feel energized and balanced. And to feel that way, I have to pay attention to what, how much and when I eat. I now know what works best for me and while I’m not perfect and slip from time to time (have to pay for it later, though…), at least I’m still able to rebound pretty quickly and get back to my optimal baseline.
What works for me? Eating more carbs earlier in the day, eating two smaller breakfasts instead of one large, upping protein content as the day progresses, cleansing regularly, eating lots of veggies and occasional fruits, keeping treats to a minimum but not depriving myself either. Drinking 3-4 liters of water (that can include herbal teas like red or mint). Finally, I give it my all when I’m at the gym as often as I can because intensity is what I’ve found makes the biggest impact. But the fitness aspect of Back to Basics begs for another post… I decided to start with diet, though, as it indeed is the bottom of the stack. When diet is a mess, no amount of exercise will help. But once you sort it out, results will follow and faster than you may expect. And that’s a real treat.
Ciao for now and have an awesomely fresh and nutritious weekend!
PS: I am including a video I saw this morning that sheds light on a lot of the myths currently circulating in the media. Enjoy!
Debunking Paleo Diet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMOjVYgYaG8