There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to food and diet. We tend to believe in a lot of “sexy” consumables, such as quinoa, soy, semi-skimmed milk, grilled chicken breast, broccoli etc., as somewhat of a universally prescribed diet when it comes to eating healthy. There is also a sort of an addition in the western world to the concept of “low-carb”. Anything that is low in carbs is by extension healthy. We beg to refute this hypothesis.
The first thing that a lot of people still fail to understand is that there is no standard definition of a healthy diet. What categorizes as healthy for us depends on a multitude of factors – genetics, external environment, exercise routine, lifestyle and so on. Men focused on strength training and bodybuilding must eat a different diet as compared to athletes or martial artists. I remember when I first stepped into the gym as a skinny kid to start my strength training. My trainer told me to eat a couple of cheeseburgers pre and post workout. Now obviously, a cheeseburger is unhealthy from any point of view. But his idea was that the heavy carb and fat intake would aid my workout session, which at the time was intense and new for my body.
A second misconception, as briefly pointed out earlier, is an almost blind faith in the “low-carb” and “low-fat” movement. Our body depends on five key nutrients, two of them being carbohydrates and fats. We are not genetically programmed to survive without these nutrient classes. A high dose of carbs and fats are essential especially for Olympic powerlifters and CrossFit athletes. The reason why we want to mention the case of Phelps is to point out the blatant hypocrisy that exists today when we view food.
Phelps is famously known for his 12,000 calorie per day meal. His lunch and dinner included pasta, pizza and more than 1000 calories of energy drinks. No one can judge if that is in fact too much or too less when you factor in his intense physical exertions. Phelps did, however, have an incredibly successful Olympic career. He also was consistent in the food that he ate, and the ingredients they were made from.
Which brings us to the source of food that we eat. Believe it or now, organic is not for everyone. This is very much driven by genetics. Our body is accustomed to a certain category of ingredients and has learnt over a period of time to break down those ingredients with speed and efficiency. A radical change of food source, even if it is to an organic diet, may not work out for you at all.
We advise you to experiment with different kinds of food and have a consistent workout schedule to complement your intake. A cheeseburger may not be a bad solution for you if you do endurance training 3 times a week or more, as my old trainer wisely once said.