As an athlete, I am often asked if I have to follow a special diet. In short, no. I don’t follow a diet (mostly because they don’t work – see this Ted Talk explaining why diets often lead to failure), but I do have what I would call a food lifestyle. So with a new year starting and weight loss resolutions buzzing, I thought I’d share my three golden rules of nutrition. For those who have been around me, you will likely recognize many of these concepts, but of course these simple guidelines should be integrated in a way that work for you!
1. EAT A RAINBOW EVERYDAY
2. THE FEWER THE LEGS, THE LEANER THE MEAT
In the meat and poultry kingdom, I have a preference for animals with fewer legs. For instance, I prefer fish (no legs) over chicken (two legs) over pork (four legs) over sausage (a mix of animals and thus an unknown number of total legs). The reason for this is that the quality of the fats tends to be better in fish over pork for instance, but this does not necessarily mean there are less fats. Moreover, there are many alternative sources of lean protein that have no legs such as lentils, beans and tofu - all of which are easy to add into a stir-fry, chili or pasta sauce.
Side note: insects tend to have several legs (usually more than four) and are known to be an excellent source of protein. However, I must admit my cultural and culinary palates are not yet inclined to these types of foods…should this change, this rule may also have to be adapted.
3. NOTHING IS PROHIBITED, BUT EVERYTHING IN MODERATION
To be clear, I don't "diet and exercise", I eat and train. Whether you're an athlete or not, if losing weight is part of your new year's resolution, try adopting a food lifestyle you can feel happy with rather than a diet you resent. (And if you didn't click on the link above earlier, seriously take the time to watch this Ted video to understand more about the science of diets.)
I have my nutritionist, Mathilde Hannuise [pictured above], to thank for better understanding this last rule and my former University of Oregon sports dietitian James Harris to thank for rule 1 and 2. Follow Mathilde or James for recipe ideas and useful tips.
Thanks for reading and bon appetit!