Fuel Your Effectiveness: Everything You Need to Know About Nutrition

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Green apple.

I was thinking about energy and health and nutrition and thought I would put together an incredibly simple list of nutrition principles.  At first glance it doesn’t exactly fit with our blog’s usual theme, but everything is related when considering how to be a well-balanced leader.  I had a couple posts (here and here) about the inter-relationship of Time, Money, Energy, Focus, and Relationships, and health certainly affects all of those.

For example, a healthy lifestyle boosts your immune system, which keeps you from getting sick as often.  (I am not very productive when I am sick.  Just ask my wife.)  It is impossible to be at your peak energy level without good health, and my ability to focus is also closely tied to healthy eating habits.

When discussing our diet, weight loss/weight preservation usually seems to be the focus.  And that is important, no doubt. However, there is a lot more to nutrition than that.  With that in mind, here are a few basic principles to get you started. 

  1. Nutritional Value: You are what you eat!
    1. Balanced amount of vitamins, minerals, etc
    2. Variety is good.  Moderation is good, and excess of anything is usually not so good.
    3. Fresher is better. Less processed is better.  Fewer additives is better. Fewer toxins is better.
    4. Fiber is good
      1.  Fiber is tough (if not impossible) to digest, and the fiber in something like oatmeal allows for the carbs to stay in your system and be used as energy rather than quickly being converted and stored as fat.
      2. Fiber is also good for your gut
    5. Ripe, fresh vegetables probably have some largely undescribed (aka magic) benefits.  Perhaps through fiber, natural chemicals/compounds, beneficial bacteria that will colonize the GI tract, etc, etc.  So, eat your green leafy vegetables!
  2. Glycemic Index: how fast does the sugar rush hit your bloodstream?  Slow and steady is better.
    1. See the fiber example above.
    2. Have you ever eaten a huge amount of carbs or sugar (think Chinese take-out or a bunch of ice cream) and then felt extremely hungry sometime soon afterwards?  It might be because a whole bunch of sugar hit your bloodstream, which shocked your system and caused your body to make a whole bunch of insulin, which sucked up all of the sugar, which made you feel hungry again.  It’s a roller coaster ride, but not fun.
  3. Calorie Content: burn as much as you consume.  Pretty simple.  (Exercise is even more important for your long-term health than your diet, so move around even if you don’t have a weight issue.)
    1. Calories are energy.  We need energy.  Calories are not bad.
    2. Think back to number 1.  Are you getting a lot of healthy nutrients with your calories (lean meats, fruits, veggies, complex carbs, et al.) or are your calories just empty?
    3. This isn’t complicated.  Fat has about 9 calories per gram.  Carbs and protein have about 4 calories per gram.  There is no magical ‘low-fat’ solution except for replacing fat with carbs and protein or replacing all 3 with fiber or fake stuff.
  4. Fat Mixture: Generally unsaturated is more heart healthy than saturated.  (Look at cooled bacon grease and compare it with cooled olive oil.  Then imagine your arteries.)  But bacon in moderation is glorious!
  5. Metabolism: the speed at which your body burns calories
    1. Exercise boosts your metabolism.
    2. Adding muscle boosts your metabolism.
    3. Getting enough sleep boosts your metabolism
  6. Satiety:
    1. Eat things that make you feel full.
    2. Eat small meals so you don’t get famished and subsequently overeat.
    3. Sometimes when you feel hungry you are actually just thirsty.  Try drinking a glass of water first.
  7. Hydration:  Drink lots of water.
    1. By “water,” I mean water, ideally
    2. Caffeinated beverages are better than nothing, but cause you to eliminate more water too, so you can’t just drink 8 cups of coffee and call it good.

Now that you know how to fuel your body, there are 2 more things that it needs:

  1. Sleep: good quality, sufficient quantity
  2. Exercise:  good quality, sufficient quantity.  Seriously, your body was not made to sit around all day!  God made your body to move!

This knowledge will help you when you establish great habits.  But here’s the key: don’t focus on all of them at one time.  Instead focus in on a couple that you think you can tackle, then build on your success.  Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint!

Hopefully these principles can help you use food to fuel your effectiveness!

Please share:  What other tips do you have for our readers?  What simple changes have helped you fuel your effectiveness?  How have you chosen to be purposeful in your eating habits?  

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