Nutrition: 101 – The basics

 “You are what you eat!”

It is almost impossible to get into killer shape without a quality, well-timed nutrition program. I don’t call it a diet because I hate the word, I call it what it is, an abundance of healthy nutrients to feed your body what it needs. 

What does it need? Read on to find out.

A lot of guys wanting to get in shape naturally have questions about how to leverage the power of food to build muscle, lose weight or get healthier. I commend that, and I stand by the statement that it is one of the most important things you can do on your journey to success in life.

Getting into killer shape gives you so much confidence and an aura of strength that you will literally attract things and people into your life who are on the same journey as you. I have been both skinny and out of shape and lean and muscular, and I can’t tell you how good it feels and how much of a difference it makes to be in great shape!

There are three main elements to getting the killer body you want: Fitness, Nutrition and Recovery. Try to think of these three as the sides is a solid steel triangle. When they are done in the correct balance, you will have an unbreakable structure in place, and your body can’t help but do what you want it to!

First of all, let’s understand one thing. While the human body is an amazing organism, it isn’t really that smart. Aside from the brain, the rest of the body is basically just a factory which deals with input-process-output. Like all machines, what you put in matters a great deal. After all, you wouldn’t buy a Ferrari and fill it with junk oil, would you? So why do that to your body, which is infinitely more precious than any sports car could be?

Throughout the course of this short article, we’ll cover the basics of nutrition and what you need to do to get into shape, depending on your individual goals.

First up, get out a notepad and a pen and write down this basic knowledge. Once you learn this, you’ll never see food in the same way again. Let’s cover the basic food types one by one, and what they do for your body.

1) Carbohydrates. Unless you’ve been living on Saturn most of your life, most of you will have at least heard of carbohydrates. These are the basic units of food which supply us with energy, and give us everything we need to get moving and working out. Carbs can be found in rice, pasta, bread, fruit and sugar foods. They are essential for living and it is not a good idea to totally cut them out, although if your goal is weight loss, cutting down on them would be a great idea.

There are two types of carbohydrate: simple and complex.

Simple carbohydrates can be found in white bread, white pasta and sugar. They are basically junk and turn to sugar in your bloodstream, causing a quick burst of energy followed by a crash. They’re not exactly harmful unless consumed in large quantities, but in excess they will cause you to feel sluggish, gain weight and cause mood swings. If not managed over a long period, excessive consumption could lead to a host of ills – diabetes, hyperglycemia and obesity. Try to limit these whatever your fitness goals are.

Complex carbs can be found in brown, whole-wheat breads and pastas, in some of the types of rice and in good energy fruits such as apples. You want to try to replace all of the simple carbs you can with these, as they are slower to release, and thus the energy gained from them is steadier and longer lasting. They take longer to cook (by just a few minutes), but they are well worth it and you’ll begin to feel massive increases in energy shortly after making the switch.

Try to think of carbohydrates as fuel. They are converted into glucose and used by the cells of your body to transport proteins, vitamins and minerals to where they are needed. That’s their job, and you will want the highest quality fuel possible for the highest quality body.

2) Protein. If carbs are the energy used by the cells to transport nutrients around the body, protein is the building blocks used to build new muscle, repair damaged cells and tissue, and repair anything which needs fixing. Protein is absolutely essential to gaining lean muscle, and it is recommended that a grown man wishing to gain this lean muscle eats 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

Protein is made up of 8 amino acids. A complete protein has all 8 amino acids present. Some complete sources of protein can be found in chicken, eggs, red meat, fish and some seafood. Some vegetarians out there claim it is possible to gain a complete protein from purely vegetable sources, but as a former veggie, I’m skeptical.

Get those meats into you, but try to get the bulk of your protein from fish and poultry. Red meat is great, but long-term studies have shown that too much of it can lead to heart disease and a host of other illnesses. Three to four servings a week is plenty.

3) Fats. Our society has become so anti-fat it is almost Nazi. The fact is, fats are an essential part of any human diet, and with zero fat in your body you would literally die. Even the most ripped of bodybuilders have around 4% body fat, and in fact there are fats which can aid you in losing weight. Yes, you heard me correctly.


Basically, there are good fats and bad fats. Good fats help you eliminate waste, burn out bad fats and supply energy. These are known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and can be identified by being liquid at room temperature. You’ll find them in olive oil, almond oil and some nuts. Eat them daily, but don’t overdo it.

Bad fats are saturated fats and trans fats. They are extremely dangerous, will cause you to gain unwanted fat, clog up your arteries and heart and eventually outright kill you. They are solid at room temperature and can be found in red meats, butter, lard, chicken skin, and a host of other junk like cakes, muffins and baked goods. Do everything you can to reduce and eliminate this crap from your life. Both you and your body deserve better, and will both feel and look better as a result.

Those are the three basic food groups.

Of course, there are many vitamins and minerals to add in order to have a full knowledge of nutrition. This is only the first step, and you can find out more by either visiting or reading one of the great books on nutrition such as You are What you Eat or  The Food Doctor.

Very soon a complete table of vitamins and nutrients will be available on The Art of Selfhood. I’m working on it and making sure all of the facts are correct before publishing. For now, learn and improve on the above three food groups, getting more of the goodies and less of the baddies, and you’ll begin to notice a marked improvement in your health, mood and body.

Desire. Decide. Persist.


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