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  • Mitchell Rothbardt

Basics Pt. 5: Eat Well!

About the only thing more potentially confusing than all of the training advice that you find in the hundreds of books and magazines (and blogs) out there is the incredible amount of nutritional advice out there. I am here to put your mind at ease.

Listen to the fortune cookie!

Here’s a secret: Unless you are a high-level athlete, most of what you need to know about nutrition you probably already know. What’s a better snack: an apple or a candy bar? What’s a better dinner: fried chicken or grilled chicken? You see! This stuff is easy! Really. This kind of thing is actually most of what we need to know. I’m not kidding. You fill in a few extra tidbits here and there and for most of us, that’s fine. People worry and worry about how much of this and how much of that they should eat, but how many people do you know got out of shape by eating too much salmon or broccoli? Of course if you cover the salmon in butter and the broccoli in cheese, that’s a different story.

You see, here’s the thing: It’s actually pretty hard to eat too much good food. Why, you ask? A few reasons. For one thing, good food usually doesn’t have an overabundance of calories. Take lean meats, fruits or vegetables, for example. Four ounces of grilled chicken has only about 110 calories but it has about 25 grams of protein and only two or three grams of fat! For most people about four ounces of chicken is pretty filling and if it’s not, you can have more and still be doing very well on your calorie count. Also, lean meats have a lot of protein and foods high in protein have been shown to make you feel full.

As far as fruits and veggies go, you can pretty much have all you want. A half cup of broccoli is only about 25 calories and an apple is only about 100 calories. The wonderful thing about fruits and vegetables is they are absolutely loaded with nutrients, and if you are worried about eating too much, they are also loaded with fiber. Fiber does a number of great things for your body and one of those things is that it makes you feel full. You can easily scarf down five or six hundred calories worth of frappucinos or candy bars in 15 minutes but can you really eat five or six apples in one shot? And that one apple you do eat has more nutrients than a million calories worth of Nutter Butters. The one small exception to this rule is starchy carbs. Without realizing it, you can definitely pack on a lot of calories worth of rice, for example. So, the key is to make sure you are eating enough good protein, fruits and veggies at the center of your meal to make you feel full.

Another very important thing to keep in mind is that with all of the low-carb or low-fat or high-protein or Atkins or South Beach diets running around the most important thing for fat loss and general body composition is calories in/calories out. In other words, take in more calories than you burn and you gain weight. Burn more calories than you take in, and you will lose weight. It doesn’t matter if those calories are carbs or fat or whatever. Again. Simple.

So, what is this telling us? If this is so simple, why do so many people have such a hard time? Why are people so confused? What can I do? Why isn’t Rush in the Rock and Roll hall of fame?

Please let us in.

What this all comes down to at it’s core, is that there are two basic nutritional rules:

1. Eat good nutrient dense foods. 2. Eat when you are hungry and until you are full.

That’s it. Really, that’s about it. As we have talked about, it’s pretty hard to eat too much good food and if we eat until we are full we should be fine. If people aren’t fine then they must not be following these rules.

I’m sure that everyone is aware of the way we eat in this country. We are in a hurry, so that leads to quick fast-food meals and easy processed snack foods. Because of the nature of the foods we eat, we need to eat more to get full. We sit at our desks all day and we are not very in touch with our bodies and therefore we continue to eat way past the point of need. The portion sizes we are used to are out of control. I went to a movie last week and noticed that a small soda was at least 24 ounces! Ridiculous. All of this and much more add up to where we are as a society now, but with a little thought and understanding we can right the ship. We need to get Rush in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and we need to follow our two simple rules:

1. Eat good nutrient dense foods. 2. Eat when you are hungry and until you are full.

That’s it for nutrition. When you get the hang of this, of course you can think about how much protein and carbs and fat to have, etc. But really, let’s all start with this and we’ll be much better off. If you are interested in reading an outstanding book on this topic read The Body Fat Solution by Tom Venuto. There are hundreds of books about diets, but not too many about diet strategies and how to overcome the problems that so many of us face in trying to eat the right foods and control what he calls emotional eating. That’s not only the eating-when-depressed stereotype, but also eating out of habit and other reasons. It’s definitely helped me.

Anyway, I hope this has helped. Of course, if you have any questions or comments feel free to email me at or just leave a comment. I promise to answer you. Tomorrow I will talk about different kinds of supplements since that is another very confusing issue for people.

Talk to you then.

Mitchell Rothbardt (coming soon)

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