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As Easy as A, B, C,

By Steve Edwards - October 4th, 2001

Coaches always harp on "getting back to fundamentals"; for your diet you'll want to do the same.

Remember back when you first learned a sport, to play an instrument, to write. Remember how your teacher would stress fundamentals again and again. Not many skills can be perfected without a solid grasp of the fundamental movement or principals associated with them. Over the course of the next few articles you will see that dieting is really not any different.

Most of us learned basic nutrition way back in grammar school. We learned about proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. We learned how many servings of the various food groups were thought to be healthy at the time. And most of us paid no attention at all. Even if we had, who is to say what we learned way back when is correct? Certainly today's nutritionists know far more than those of 30 years ago. I mean, when was the last time someone recommended three servings a day of the red meat food group? But the basic fundamentals are the same. We all need a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fat to survive. To be healthy we must pay attention to and monitor what we eat. In short, we can all benefit from basic knowledge of nutritional theory.

I am not a nutritionist. I do however, probably posess more hands on - or more accurately, personal trial and error - knowledge about eating than most people ever will. Eating for fitness performance has been a life-long hobby of mine and I have experimented with diets that have caused many "rational" minds to inform me that I was mad. Way back in high school I was experimenting with so many strange eating and supplemental combinations that I inspired my mother to write her thesis on nutrition, just to see what I was up to. I think I've attempted every supposedly performance-enhancing diet I've ever heard of. I've also experimented with most (legal) supplements. (I've been tempted to experiment with steroids but could never justify it to myself.) Basically, when it comes to fitness and nutrition, I've been a human guinea pig, and hopefully my life as a lab rat will be able to benefit you.

This month's rule (or Rule Number One as it were): Results may vary. This is a very important rule to understand. Just as in exercise fitness, there are no hard and fast rules that work for everyone. There are hard and fast rules about what your body needs to eat to survive, but that is different than what will turn you into an energetic whirling dervish. In exercise, the varying results are fairly easy to explain because it usually comes down to muscle fiber type. In nutrition, there is no hard science to explain it. Some say blood type, and some say heredity, some say we all benefit the same from the same foods. The fact is we just don't know. This is where you come in. This is why if you want to learn how to eat to maximize, or even improve on, your body's capabilities you need to learn to listen to your body; to gauge what is happening to you as opposed to what someone told you would happen.

Like horse wrangler Hans Ehrengard said about his horses, "I can make 'em go, but I can't make 'em do"; I can tell you what works for me (and what will theoretically make you go), but I can't tell you what will work for you. There are some things in this life you have to do for yourself and listening to the subtleties of your body is a damn fine place to start.


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