Experimentation is good for you!
My wife and I have been playing guinea pig with nutrition for quite a while now.
Even though I am a Certified Health Coach (dun dun DUUUUUUN!!!!) it’s vital to experiment with food. Really look at this- while anyone can tell you that we’re all different, most people want to be told that a formulaic diet will work for everyone. Seriously?!? That would be like me telling you that one specific pair of shoes is going to work for everyone, all the time!
For us, we have begun to see where the differences in our individual needs are. I need more protein, she needs more carbohydrates. I like fried eggs, she prefers scrambled. She likes salads. A lot.
These differences, while pretty minor, illustrate the major variables in dietary requirements. While we’re close to the same age and are both pretty active, the similarities stop there. She is a woman, does different activities than I do, and comes from Northern European descent. Pretty obvious differences, so why would anyone think we should eat the same way? And if you extrapolate that across the broader spectrum of humanity, thinking that any one eating plan would work for everyone is downright ludicrous!
I’ve written before about our “sugar detox” earlier this year. We felt quite good (eventually…) on it, and there are a lot of things we’ve continued to do. However, this restrictive of diet may not be necessary, or even beneficial, for everyone. Athletes and especially active people may find that they need some simpler carbohydrates in order to perform at the level they expect. But here’s where things get tough. Each of us needs to be brutally honest with ourselves, realistically looking at our true activity levels and nutritional needs.
I struggle with this. While I’ve done many ultra-endurance mountain bike races, commute by bicycle almost every day, have a physically active job, work out throughout the week, and practice kendo 1-2 times a week, I have a tendency to overestimate my nutritional needs. Basically, I tend to eat like I’m training 100+ miles a week, even if I’m doing a lot less.
This come-to-Jesus mindfulness is key to maintaining lifelong wellness. I understand that, in order for me to feel strong while on a 20 mile, 2,300 vertical foot mountain bike ride, I need access to some high-glycemic food. I don’t need that stuff when I’m sitting around binging through 4 episodes of “True Detective.”
At the end of the day, the only way to figure out what works best is to experiment- try different things with a mindful, “scientific method”-style approach. Only your experience and objective, realistic observation, can separate the trash from the treasure.