One of the most common types of questions we get are in regard to our philosophy of nutrition. Questions like, "How much protein/carbohydrate/fat do you recommend?", "Which foods are good and bad for me?", and, "I thought animal products were bad for you?" are very commonplace.
Until now we have never compiled our philosophy into a short, easy-to-understand article, so we thought we would remedy that today. Please keep in mind, though, that this is a lot and it can be overwhelming.
I understand the feeling of overwhelm. While we’ve tried to break it down into a step-by-step process, it can still feel like a lot when you see the whole big thing ahead of you.
First off, I’d recommend scheduling a 15-20 minute chat with us to discuss your concerns. We'll be your best resource in coming up with solutions. You can do that by going to https://gutsy.ch/consult
and picking a time that works for you.
Additionally, in an ideal scenario, we’d love to be able to do a comprehensive blood chemistry analysis, overlay it on your health history and goals, and give you specific nutrition guidelines based on your personal optimization needs. Not having that, though, here is the information that may be helpful in creating a nutritional protocol for yourself.
Whole foods are key. This means foods that are grown on a farm or ranch and make their way to your kitchen with minimal processing. Vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, etc. The more processed a food is, the less likely your body will love it in high quantities or frequencies.
Unfortunately, this also means that you have a dilemma. Between healthy, complex, and convenient, you usually can only pick two. So if it’s complex and convenient (frozen meals or restaurant dinners) it probably isn’t that healthy. If it’s healthy and complex, you’re going to have to spend some time putting it together.
RAW VS. COOKED PLANTS
For a generally healthy person, a nice mix of raw and cooked plants is ideal. Raw plants contain many valuable micronutrients, but cooking can unlock other nutrients and make digestion easier. Many people struggle with digestion, and as a result can not handle a large amount of raw vegetation.
This may be the hardest concept to implement for someone used to a modern diet, and it isn’t completely implemented in our membership meal planners for this reason. However, science shows that meat products other than muscle meat contain far more nutrients and are far more conducive to good health.
What exactly am I referring to? Organs, bones, connective tissue, etc. This means liver pate kidney, brain, bone broth, whole fish, clams, oysters, etc. the program does incorporate lots of bone broth, which is actually quite delicious. We also incorporate sardines and anchovies a fair amount, but because organ meats are so unpleasant to people we generally recommend an organ supplement instead.
Fats are the foundation of good health, but they can also be a massive source of inflammation. The four cornerstones of fat I recommend everyone get frequently are olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and unrefined palm oil. Eggs and fatty fish (sardines and anchovies) are also important for most people as long as your body doesn’t have a sensitivity to them.
You want to avoid rancid, inflammatory fats, which come from industrial seed oils. This list includes vegetable oil, canola and corn oil, sunflower and safflower oil, other highly refined oils. These are almost always what is used for cooking and food preparation in restaurants and prepackaged foods at the grocery store.
Carbs are the only energy source we can survive without and the most problem-causing of the macros, but they can be excellent sources of micronutrients when used wisely. There are three important principles of healthy carb intake.
- Complex carbs are most important. These generally include above-ground vegetables—broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, leafy greens, squash, etc. these should make up most of your carbs.
- Starchy vegetables should be limited to a few times per week in most cases. These generally include root vegetables like potatoes of all kinds, carrots, etc. Carrots and peas also fall into this category.
- Fruits should be limited to no more than 1/4 to 1/2 as many as your vegetable intake. Furthermore, they should primarily be focused on low-sugar fruits like berries, whereas high-sugar fruits like mangos should be very limited in most cases.
The key with proteins is focusing on quality. As with carbs, there are some key principles to help you pick your proteins:
ON MACRONUTRIENT PERCENTAGES
- Proteins are assimilated much more effectively when they are eaten with fat. For example, meat on the bone or high-fat ground beef. Once again, fatty fish and eggs are also excellent examples of this category.
- Similarly, lean protein in high quantities causes health issues. They are by no means bad, but they tend to make up too much of the diet of people trying to make health changes, and that leads to imbalances in the system.
- Protein powders are problematic for many reasons. First, we generally don’t need such high quantities of protein in our diet. Second, the manufacturing process used to concentrate protein is usually extremely damaging to the protein itself, making it less useful to the body. Lastly, the majority of protein powders have been found to be contaminated by heavy metals and other toxins. This is especially true for plant-based protein powders and even more true for organic protein powders, sadly. One possible exception that remains to be determined is collagen powder, but time will tell if it contains the same weaknesses. Another exception is gelatin, but the sourcing is important.
Unlike many of the nutrition gurus out there, we don’t subscribe to specific percentages of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. There are optimal mixes intended to address specific nutritional needs, but they are situational and require more information.
For the average person of good health, the best that can be said is to make sure you are getting plenty of good fats and vegetables. Then learn to listen to your body and eat intuitively. The macro ratios you eat will naturally vary in this situation as seasons, health situations, and other factors require. Keep in mind that, in order for this to work, you’ll have to first overcome any food addictions, which interfere with natural intuition.
I’ve tried to keep this simple, but there is a lot there and it could take some time to wrap your head around all of it. It’s hard to distill the entirety of healthy eating down into a few paragraphs.
Here’s the key, though: Start with good ingredients and you’ll be far more likely to eat food that is good for you. The things we surround ourselves with end up being what we eat. So make sure you have plenty of whole foods in your kitchen and get rid of all the processed convenience foods.
There’s a transition phase that occurs when you make lifestyle changes, and it can be uncomfortable. You’ll have cravings, feel hungry a lot, and your body will try to convince you that this whole thing is a mistake. But if you push through it the payoff on the other side is huge.
This is also where the program is meant to help. We’ve taken into account all of the guidelines above and created plans for you that ensure your meals will help you reach your goals. You don’t have to do any of the problem solving, you just have to put in the time to buy the ingredients on the shopping list, follow the prep guide, and eat the meals.
To make it even simpler, Juanique came up with the Real Simple meal planners, which require less shopping and prepping. We also have an Intermittent Fasting option that includes fewer meals to worry about.
If you want even more simplicity, you can do this: Buy the ingredients on the weekly planner, then just make what you feel like making when you’re hungry. Some of the ingredients you can eat with minimal prep (eggs, fruit, etc.), some will take a little more planning (the whole chicken requires about an hour of prep using an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker). Overall, it’s not quite as likely to lead to success, but it may work better if life gets hectic and isn’t amenable to a lot of planning.
Hopefully this article helps to clear up a lot of questions people may have about the Gutsy approach to nutrition. As always, though, feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have. We love to help!