Nutrition is the key to curing more than your need to eat.
Maybe you’ve heard the locker room mantra: Train hard or go home. Anyone who has ever dedicated themself to a serious workout plan knows that this is true. There’s nothing gained from a half-hearted plan. You might as well stay home and binge on YouTube videos.
And yet, being greater than better is more than grunt and sweat! A lot more.
Dr. Philip Goglia has been a certified nutritionist for more than 30 years and is recognized as an elite performance nutrition and rejuvenative health practitioner. He also works with me to help bring the 4D Health concept to my patients – working on the wellness of patients as a first course of action well before we introduce surgical solutions for neck and back problems.
One of the first things that he tells his patients is that fitness and physique is 80% kitchen and 20% gym.
Of course, he’s using the word “kitchen” figuratively, but the point is very clear: what you do with nutrition – your intake of food – is the trailhead on the journey to health and wellness. When I hear him explain this to a patient, I think of what the Taoists say about a journey of a thousand miles – it begins with the first step.
Dr. Goglia was very kind enough to give us the first 10 steps that anyone can take:
1. Avoid foods that have multi-ingredients, such as breads, muffins, bagels, pastries, cereal, and so on. Basically, you want to curtail any baked goods that include yeast, sugar, mold, and gluten.
2. Avoid packaged diet foods that advertise low or no fat and low or no sugar.
3. Hydrate your body. That’s water; and you ought to be drinking between one-half ounce to one full ounce of water per each pound you weigh, per day. Do your conversions. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking between 10 to 19 of water cups! Per day!
4. Although metabolic body type varies from one person to another, across the board, a healthy meal includes high-fat fish, one starchy carbohydrate (potatoes, rice, yams), organic poultry, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables.
5. Try to eliminate as much dairy from your diet as possible. A splash of milk in your coffee is okay, though; one cappuccino per day is fine.
6. Never rely on supplementation over food and exercise. Supplements will not fix a pizza or a skipped meal.
7. Save the biggest protein meal you eat at night several hours before bed; give your body time to tank up on rest and resources to repair your muscle tissue.
8. Need a pre-work out snack? Eat raw nuts – like a handful of almonds with a piece of fruit. About 12 almonds is an excellent source of fat (as an energy source) and fresh fruit is a better source for sugar. The fat/sugar combo will be extremely energizing and allow most people to sustain a 60-90 minute workout.
9. Avoid sports drinks. Many of them are high in sodium and sugar. Many contain caffeine, which will cause digestive discomfort in most people. The type of energy you get from sports drinks will be “spikey” at best and not sustainable (see #8 for a better solution).
10. Dr. Goglia tells me that one of the questions he’s often asked is what type of protein bars are best to eat. His answer: “There is no such thing as a protein bar! Does your protein bar taste like salmon, chicken or steak?” Thanks to marketing, the short answer is, “No.” The long answer: all of the popular “protein” bars taste like chocolate or cookies; basically, sugar with a fairy dusting of some low-grade protein. If your food is not fish, poultry, steak, eggs or nuts, it’s not protein. Period. Dr. Goglia suggests, if you really need a pre-work out bar, look for a healthy split between sugar and fat for sustainable workout energy. He recommends Bonk Breaker bars as his ‘go-to’ choice that has a good 50/50 split between sugar and fat. I know that many serious cyclists and multisport athletes also carry them around.
Dr. Goglia’s last word on workouts and nutrition: he can’t emphasize enough on the importance of drinking plenty of water. Eat balanced meals; please do not under eat. Whatever you do, be honest with yourself: don’t try to convince yourself that you can turn apple pie into an apple.