An interesting topic we have today. I found it to be simple, and yet profound. I think, that this is one of the best kind of nutritional and health insights that we have come across. It’s called, “The Nutrition Triad”. The Nutrition Triad is a useful and effective model to help you improve your nutritional lifestyle.
Three Critical Areas in Improving Your Nutritional Lifestyle
When it comes improving your personal nutritional lifestyle, there are really only three areas in which we can improve:
- Quality of food
- Quantity of food
- Timing, or when we eat our food
1. Quality of Food
The quality of our food is critical to be sure we get all the micro and macro nutrients we need to function day to day and avoid disease.
2. Quantity of Food
The quantity of food is critical, as every quality longevity study has found that people who live longer eat less than those who don’t.
3. Timing of Meals
The timing of meals is critical because eating at the wrong times has a negative effect on hormones, digestion, sleep, and circadian rhythms generally.
Since we know that long term health changes are best made incrementally, and not all at once, it’s best to tackle one at a time.
Start Improving Your Nutritional Lifestyle With These Recommendations
If a person felt like there was a lot of room for improvement in all three, I would recommend going for the suggested sequence listed below, for the following reasons.
Start Off With The Timing
First of all, it’s the easiest. The idea is simply to eat all food within a certain eating window, usually 8-12 hours.
Secondly, it has a direct effect on issue 2, which is eating too much food. Studies have shown that people who eat within eating windows consume 20% less calories.
Third, it has a positive effect in other areas that are critical. First of all, stopping eating after dinner has the following benefits:
- Better hormonal balance
- Better sleep, as our body has digested the food and does a better job of hormonal adjustments between dinner and bed
- During the night, the body takes care of pathogens, carcinogens, and viruses better because it doesn’t have to waste energy on digestion
- We wake up in the morning in an optimal state hormonally, and better rested
The Timing of Food Is Two Fold
So the timing of food is two fold, when we eat our first and last meal, and when we eat the meals in between.
Research has shown its best to stick to consistent times as far as when we have our first meal and when we have our last. I currently eat breakfast at 10 and dinner around 6, and 8 hour window, and that works well for me.
You can experiment with what works best for you, but from all the research I have seen 8-12 hours is ideal, and less than that has no improved benefit, so going down to 6 or 4 hour windows, or even one meal a day, not only doesn’t improve things, it may make them worse.
The other aspect of timing involves when you eat during your window. Eating at regular intervals will improve your metabolism and prevent spikes and crashes in your blood sugar levels during the day.
So if you are in a building or training phase, as I am right now, I eat three meals, with two healthy snacks in between. If you are trying to lose weight, I would eliminate the snacks. You will notice some improvement with your nutritional lifestyle.
Now, Let’s Talk About Quality
First of all, I want to tell you about interesting research done by my nutritional certification company, Precision Nutrition. When asked the questions, “What’s your biggest nutritional challenge, the answer “don’t know what I should eat” was low on the list, 16%.
The highest ranked challenge was emotional/stress eating, which 64% of respondents listed as a challenge.
In addition, lack of planning, cravings, snacking when not hungry, eating too quickly, eating out, and other problems all came in higher than not knowing what to eat.
We know. We all know. So I won’t spend a lot of time on this one.
For many people simply cutting down on processed foods, while increasing whole foods, can have a dramatic effect.
Lastly, The Quantity Issue
Study after study has proven that those who live longest eat less than those who don’t, so there’s that.
Consuming too many calories on a regular basis can lead to weight gain and other health complications. Therefore, it’s important to assess your calorie intake and make adjustments accordingly.
The best model I have found for eating the right quantities is the hand rules of Precision Nutrition. A protein portion the size of your palm with every meal, or a serving of protein powder, starchy carb the size of your fist, fat the size of your thumb, or no more than about 2 ounces of oil, butter etc, and an open handful of veggies such as salad etc.
Ideally, portioning these out on a plate is the best way to do it. Avoid eating from open bags or bowls, as it’s too easy to eat too much.
So there you have it. The basic nutrition triad for a healthy and nutritional lifestyle; quantity, quality, and timing of food.
It’s a really useful framework for assessing where we are at, and making goals to improve.
Thanks for listening, this is Dave Sherwin wishing you health and success!