Frequently Asked Questions
About Nutrition @ The BTG
What is "Good Nutrition" or "Healthy Eating"?
The details of what constitutes good nutrition or healthy eating can vary from person to person, but certain basic principles always apply.
If you just apply these principles 90% of the time, you can succeed at living a healthier, fitter lifestyle:
- Cut out the obvious crap - junk food, fast food and sugary drinks are clearly not nutritious and healthy, even if you somehow make them "fit your macros".
- Don't drink your calories - this is an absolute game-changer for most of our clients. With very few exceptions, if it's a liquid and it contains calories, you don't need it, and it won't help you be fitter or healthier. Water, sparkling water, plain tea or black coffee are your best bets.
- Eat real food - buy real vegetables, fruits, meats / seafood, legumes and (real) whole grains in as unprocessed a form as possible, and eat that instead of packaged / processed foods.
For more on what "Real Food" really is, read this article we've written.
- Eat more slowly and mindfully - really take the time to enjoy, taste and savour your food. Take a bite, put down your utensils and wait until your mouth is completely empty before picking them up again to take your next bite. Don't eat in front of the TV or while surfing the web.
- Stop eating when you are no longer hungry, NOT when you "feel full" - eat to satisfy your hunger, then stop. If you're not sure if you've reached that point, stop and wait 5-10 minutes - if you still feel hungry after that, then eat more. If you get to where you "feel full", then you've probably gone too far.
If you need a hand figuring out a simple baseline of how much to eat, contact Coach JP to get our free guide, "Calorie Counting Debunked".
So, what about the other 10% of the time? As long as you don't go too crazy, there's nothing wrong with indulging from time to time. Have that special dessert, glass of wine, or yummy Neapolitan-style pizza (my favourite!), and really enjoy it without feeling guilty. Better yet, enjoy it with friends and family. It's not a "reward" or a "cheat", it's just life, and it's OK.
It can take some time to really nail these principles down, and you're best to gradually introduce each of them rather than trying to do it all at once. Not coincidentally, that's exactly how our BTG Foundations Coaching (powered by PN ProCoach) works.
Can I still eat / Drink "X" while trying to lose body fat / weight?
Absolutely. For our nutrition coaching clients, nothing is completely "off the table" when it comes to nutrition, as long as they are primarily eating real food and not drinking their calories 90% of the time, the other 10% of the time everything is fair game, as long as they don't go too overboard.
For some folks it's that "not-going-too-overboard" part that's the struggle. Everyone has their favourites, and it can be easy to overdo it. I've been there, and still struggle with that - over 10 years into my own fitness journey and over 7 years into being a nutrition coach, I still "go off the rails" from time to time.
The important thing is to recognize, acknowledge and accept that it's happened, investigate why it happened so you can maybe make a better choice next time, and to "non-identify" - realize that one slip-up doesn't define you. It's not "who you are", and you can move forward with better habits regardless instead of just throwing in the towel. That's where working with a coach, like in our BTG Foundations Coaching program (powered by PN ProCoach), can help.
I've read or been told that I should never eat or drink "X" if I want to be healthy and fit. Is that true?
Unless you have a medically-diagnosed condition that precludes you from eating or drinking whatever that "X" is, then you can be healthy and fit and still eat or drink it. Depending on what it is, it might not be the best idea to have it all the time (see our first and second Nutrition FAQ's above), but even those things are OK some of the time.
Let me be clear:
Whether it's wheat (or bread, pasta, etc.), dairy, carbs in general, fats in general, meat / animal products, coffee, wine, beer...whatever it is, unless you have a specific, medically-diagnosed and confirmed condition like celiac disease or food allergies that preclude you from having it (and self-diagnosing off of the Interwebz doesn't count), anyone who arbitrarily tells you that you can NEVER have something is full of crap, whether they know it or not.
If you think you might really have a sensitivity or allergy to something and your doctor isn't able to confirm it for you, you can try an elimination diet to identify it. Precision Nutrition has posted an excellent article and infographic called "How and why to do an elimination diet" that spells it all out - here's a link.
As for avoiding carbs (which seems to be the current fad in "diets" out there, particularly the ketogenic diet), the good folks at PN have two great articles on the topic:
Can't I just take "X" supplement and lose weight without changing my nutrition habits or exercising?
Shortcuts don't work for long-term results, period. Most supplements touted for weight loss are either stimulants, appetite suppressants, or fibrous fillers. These may work in the short-term, but when those things are taken away, you will gain any weight you've lost back, and may have damaged your metabolism in the process.
A better alternative is a program of gradual behaviour change, where results may come slower, but will last a lifetime, like our BTG Foundations Coaching (powered by PN ProCoach).
Are there any supplements you do recommend?
There are three supplements I recommend to pretty much everyone, and that I personally use daily, to balance out / fill in the gaps from what my diet provides. These address common dietary deficiencies that nearly everyone has, and while they can provide some benefit in regards to body composition and weight loss, that is NOT what I take or recommend them for.
- Fish Oil or Algae Oil - the DHA and EPA Omega-3 fatty acids in these oils help balance out the Omega-6 fatty acids from our diet (from meats, grains, etc.), promoting better overall cell function in our bodies and helping control chronic inflammation, among other things. If you're allergic to fish/seafood, or are concerned about the possible environmental impact of fish oil production, take algae oil instead. My favourite brand for both is Ascenta (NutraSea is their fish oil, NutraVege is their algae oil). For more info on fish oil, read "All About Fish Oil" on Precision Nutrition's website - here's a link.
I take 1 TBSP of liquid fish oil daily (the liquid is MUCH cheaper than capsules, and I'd need to take fourteen capsules to get the same amount of fish oil). I usually have it mixed in water with my greens supplement (see below) and a scoop of protein powder.
- Vitamin D3 - if you live in North America and you're not getting 20 minutes per day of unprotected, natural sun exposure over most of your body every day, then you probably need to supplement with vitamin D3. There are numerous benefits to maintaining your vitamin D levels in the high-normal range, which you can learn about by reading "All About Vitamin D" on Precision Nutrition's website - here's a link.
Because your body stores vitamin D well, if you take it regularly, it doesn't matter too much what form it's in - drops, sprays, gel caps or tablets are all absorbed pretty near equally well, according to my pharmacist. I personally use gel caps, and stock up on them when they're on sale. I take 4,000 IU of supplemental vitamin D3 daily because I don't eat or drink any foods that are vitamin-D fortified (like dairy or cereals and store-bought breads).
- Greens supplement - I take one dose of Greens+ daily as extra insurance that I'm getting as broad a spectrum of phytonutrients (the good stuff from eating fruits and veggies) as possible, even when the actual variety of fruits and veggies in my diet isn't great, and to help balance out the net acid load of my diet (particularly the meats and grains). For more info on greens supplements, of course, Precision Nutrition has an article for that! Read "All About Greens Supplements" on their website - here's a link.
Greens+ (from Genuine Health) is the only brand I use and recommend, because it is the most widely studied and researched greens supplement out there, so I trust the formula to do what I expect. The powder that you mix with water is much cheaper than the capsules, but for goodness sake, DON'T get the unflavoured one - it tastes like drinking a swamp. The flavoured varieties of Greens+ are MUCH better. I have one scoop in water every morning, along with my fish oil and a scoop of protein powder.
I have another question about nutrition that you haven't answered here...
Feel free to Contact Us with your question. We're happy to help, and will make our best effort to answer any questions you may have, or at least point you in the right direction for answers!