Every Nutrition Mistake I Ever Made
When I first started working out, it wasn’t long before I realised that not paying any attention to my nutrition was probably a big mistake. I didn’t want my diet, or lack of attention to it, to negatively impact the work I was putting in.
The problem was, I didn’t really know where to begin.
I haven’t always known about calories, macronutrients and micronutrients. When I first started, I knew nothing at all. I wanted to achieve goals like fat loss or building muscle, but I had no idea how I should eat for these goals.
Of course, I turned to Google for the answer. The problem with this is that there’s an abundance of information out there. It’s hard to digest it all. It’s also completely wrong more often than it’s right. You need to look in the right places.
Now, I can detect someone online who knows what they’re talking about almost instantly. Back then, I could fall for any rubbish. I had no experience of what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, a lot of the things that don’t work do seem to make sense in theory.
As well as looking online, I also watched a few documentaries about health and nutrition. Looking back on it now, this was an incredibly bad idea. Back then, I lapped it all up. There is NO quality control on the information that goes into TV programmes in terms of that information being correct. DO NOT trust it! Just because someone made a TV documentary, doesn’t mean what they’re presenting is correct.
Beware Extreme Opinions
Just remember, if anything ever seems like it sits at one end of a spectrum, or is extreme, then it’s probably not right. If anyone says you should ONLY eat organic food, or you should NEVER eat processed meat, or NEVER eat any junk food – then that’s a pretty good sign you should ignore their advice – you can still eat what you like.
I started out with that kind of mindset. Over the last 4 and a half years, I’ve realised through experience that it’s not as black and white as it may seem.
So, without further ado, on to the list!
Here’s every nutrition mistake I ever made:
- I thought the paleo diet was the way forward. If a caveman couldn’t have eaten it, I didn’t eat it.
- I thought carbs were bad and made you fat (apart from fruit and vegetables – it confused me that these were also carbs)
- I thought spiking your blood sugar meant food would be stored as fat.
- The glycaemic index and glycaemic load of foods were things I worried about!
- I wouldn’t eat white potatoes, only sweet potatoes. I could never really understand why. Those were the rules!
- Sugar was the worst thing in the world and I would never touch any of it, ever.
- I thought I couldn’t eat chocolate, cake, ice cream, sweets etc. AT ALL
- Rice, pasta and bread were not allowed.
- I wouldn’t eat things that came in boxes or packets.
- My thoughts on protein shakes were that they were some kind of magical potion and I had 3 of them every day. Protein is important, and shakes have their place IF you are falling short on your protein target!
- I thought fat burner pills worked.
- When I realised I needed to eat more to gain muscle, I thought the VOLUME of food was important, not the calorie content. In an attempt to gain weight, I ate A LOT of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage and spinach.
- I thought “good fats” meant I could eat as much as I wanted of those foods.
- When I finally figured out about calories, I went way too low in my cutting periods and experienced all the negative side effects of doing this. Terrible mood, very low energy, intense cravings, incredible hunger.
- My ultra-low calorie diet was extremely restrictive, and led to unhealthy binge/restrict cycles. This is what you should do instead.
- When I had gotten incredibly lean (and lost some muscle too) I embarked on a bulk and made the classic mistake of not caring how big my calorie surplus was. My thinking was “I need to be in a calorie surplus, I’m going to eat as much as I want of whatever I want.” I gained a lot of weight incredibly quickly! I strayed into dreamer bulk territory and gained a lot of fat!
- My calorie surpluses and deficits were too big. This meant my bulks were never long enough to make serious muscle gains before I had to start cutting again due to excess bodyfat. My cuts were so harsh I lost whatever muscle I might have gained. I had a few pointless cycles of adding and removing fat, looking the same at the beginning of each new cycle.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Partly it’s to flag to you anything that might lead you down the wrong path.
However, the main reason is to make clear to you that everyone goes through a journey of figuring out the optimal way to get results.
If you ask any fitness “expert”, they can probably tell you a similar story to mine.
Lots of people go through this process. They find something which seems logical, they try it and get results, but don’t necessarily understand why they’re getting results.
For me, I thought eliminating entire groups of foods was the answer to losing body fat. It worked for me. I told everyone about it, which was probably very annoying. I was also wrong. Since then, I have achieved far better results without eliminating any foods.
I didn’t understand that I lost body fat because I’d reduced my calories below my maintenance. I thought it was because some foods were good and some foods were bad.
It’s all a learning experience.
You don’t need to know everything now and you don’t need to collect all of the information before you get started. Just start.
You will make mistakes along the way, but you will still get results. If you’re reading this blog, you’re already ahead of most people in that you’re consuming the right information that will actually work.
In your first year you might get good results. Then you might learn a bit more and get better results in the second and third year and so on.
Just get started. And come back to this blog for more tips along the way!