By Phil Stevens

Something that came up in conversation today with Charles, myself, and a client…simple dietary basics. Meaning, just fundamental habits. It is easy to forget that a large part, or the majority, of the population simply doesn’t know, register, or use, simple solid habits. Its easy to lose sight of this when you’re around, and dealing with people that have been in the game a long time. Even then many of us lose sight of things and try and make diet and training more complicated then it has to be. Honestly. In a world obsessed with speed and results. Wanting them from little to no work. Its amazing we have both lost a grasp of simple basics and also developed a society that sweats the smallest of minutia and detail that is meaningless and un-needed for the VAST majority. If everyone were to stick to a few very simple rules then honestly 99% of people lives, and for 99% of the goals they have, there is NO need for such stress, confusion, and time wasted on small details. Unless your looking to get to the VERY extremes of body composition and or strength and performance, there is NO need to complicate things further then they have to be. Even when reaching for the extremes you MUST have a firm and comfortable foundation in the basics and those are still where you spend 95% of your time. So what are the basics of nutrition?? And why are they so elusive to the whole? Do a Google for search for diet basics and your inundated with 893,000 hits most of which are loaded with the next magic pill or potion. Hoodia Gordonii – The latest and greatest weight loss supplement? Whittle that down and you find several thousand that actually take the time to give some pertinent information on dietary habits, yet still loaded with minutia that many people don’t need, want, will stick to, or it is simply outdated, or blatantly ignorant claims. For efficient weight loss you must comply to the ten fold principles of balancing your macros in a very scientific pattern, along with proper micronutrient intake and……. With further investigation you then begin to uncover some solid plans and habits that continually pop up time and time again. We begin to get to some nice solid foundations. Broad habits that can be built upon. Yet some are still a bit to broad, or incomplete in my opinion and can be even further filtered to core habits of dietary intake.

Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Reduce intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. Limit sweets and salt. Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation, if at all. Control portion sizes and the total number of calories you consume.

With that I’d like to give is 3 very simple suggestions for dietary habits that again EVERYONE should base their intake on. Habits to reach ANY goal. Core simple principles that simplify things. You can make it to a very high level without getting wrapped up in the minutia at all. Without stressing over the exact macro levels, weighing food, or even counting calories. Only after making marked progress and making core simple principles habit, and building a solid and indestructible nutritional base that you can seamlessly and stresslessly live should you even worry about getting more complicated. I don’t care what anyone claims, solid dietary habits that will produce VERY legitimate, impressive and advanced physique and performance results are not rocket science its only the past fee decades that it has been popular thought.

#1 Eat Real Food.   Above all simply base intake on real food, things that you can find in nature. Foods that grow, walk, swim, fly, or come from things that fly. Beef, fruits, eggs, veggies, milk, beans, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, whole grains, spices, oils. Basically eat things that you could go outside in nature and find. Base your nutrition on those things, they should be the foundation to each and every meal. Your staples. The day there is a Twinkie tree, blowing pastures of spaghetti, or you can hunt a wild flock of Tofurkey, and drink from flowing streams of Pepsi is the day these should be the staples of your diet. (While on that topic why do vegetarians always process and craft their foods to taste and look like meat? They are vegetarians, accept it and eat the vegetables how they look? If not eat the damn cow instead of making some weird vegetable voodoo doll) I guarantee you will have to try DAMN hard to get fat if you simply changed to real whole foods. Foods that have not been ran through the wringer, stripped and then refortified with Junk. Foods that are hard to digest and loaded with macro and micro nutrients. These foods will have your metabolism burning like a nuclear reactor, give you energy and the building blocks of a healthy life. Again this is a BASE principle. A part of your foundation. You then adjust to your goals. Someone looking to lose weight would stick to this simple habit 90% + of all the food eaten. Someone Looking to put on, or hold a Large amount of body mass, or an athlete with a high energy expenditure will adjust to a greater % of simple foods that are easily digested and pack a caloric punch. But they still have real food as a base

#2 Eat Protein with every meal.   Plain and simple every meal should contain a complete protein source. Anytime you put something in your pie hole there should be protein to go along with it. I don’t care how much or how little your getting. If you eat it at every meal, every snack in some form you will go a long way in the right direction to having enough or even a little excess without having to stress over the macros. As well we all know protein has several very desirable properties that we can tap into by having consistent intake of it. It has a High TEF, meaning simply digesting it is hard costly and makes your burn more fuel to consume it. Numerous amino acids ( the building blocks of protein) are vital to a simply healthy life. We MUST get them through ingestion as we cannot create them (much like EFA’s). Amino rich blood is muscle sparring, or has a high potential to be the building blocks for anabolism. Meaning we WANT them in abundance no mater the goal be losing fat of gaining mass, they have great benefit. If it was my choice each meal would be of a complete protein, meaning things that walk, swim, fly, crawl, make noise and move under their own power, or things that come from them like eggs and milk. That however would complicate things. So by all means be a vegan or base your protein intake on soy, bean rice what have you, that leaves more of the good stuff for people like me. Just get your protein in.

#3 Eat as MUCH as you can to make progress to your goals.   One of the most common mistakes I see is also one of the most problematic as far as health and reaching one goals and staying there. Making healthy continual major progress for the long term. It is people eating like birds or starving themselves. Even when on so called mass gaining phases men eating like a 12 year old girl from Ethiopia. Eat as MUCH as you can to make progress to your goals be it losing, gaining or maintaining weight. Most often people decide to drop weight and go on a “diet.” What do they do? Starve and deprive themselves. They go from pig to chicken in one swoop. This massive dropping of calories give and instant reaction to scale weight but the positive benefits are short lived. Soon they begin losing energy, catabolizing expensive muscle mass that the body feels is a detriment to its survival and storing life’s fuel, body fat. The metabolism further drops, the very life processes being to slow, and a never ending cycle of having to eat less to get the same results begins. Same can be said for many people trying to gain muscle. I see it time and time again. A person wants to Get HYYYUGE!! And strong and they want it NOW. but they don’t want any body fat so they train like a demon and add a few hundred calories to their diet. They make little to no progress. 5 years later these are the same people you run into still sporting there extra small shirt touting how they made 4 lbs of 100% lean gains. Leaving out the fact it took them the whole of 5 years to do it. Eat as MUCH as you can to make progress. Only drop your calories as low as you need to see body comp change in the right direction when looking to shed fat. By keeping intake UP you will preserve as much strength as possible and as much lean mass as possible. Your health will stay up, your metabolism wont crash, you will have greater energy for training and you will assure as much of your loss as possible will be fat. For gaining, bite the damn bullet shovel some food in and train HARD. The extra intake will speed recovery and growth. Any fat gain will be negligible and easy to take off later. The amount of mass your able to gain in even months will eclipse what you would have in years trying to do it 100% clean.

There you have it. Its not an exhaustive list, its not complicated but honestly from my experience, and experience with those I’ve worked with and trained around I firmly believe it shouldn’t be. That these simple core habits will allow people to stop over thinking things, and reach a very high level goal set in a short amount of time. Half of which would be do to just simple time and stress saved from not sweating the minutia. Please by all means chime in. Get some good dialog going on. What do you feel are the basics? How simple can we get it? Must we honestly go into macros, and micro processing of daily diet on a year or life long basis to make success in your opinion? I’m all for trying new things and toying with the vast sea that is nutrition, but I’m not sold on it being a must or need for even the vast majority.

Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and Be Healthy)


  1. Ryan Lowther says:

    You had mentioned that you carry a gallon of water around with protein mix,salt or something of that nature. Can you point me in the direction of that article or the recipe you use.

    Great site. I have been to a couple IWA ceu’s,always great info. Keep up the great work. Thanks.

    • chriskolba says:

      I think i was saying that I try to drink a gallon of H20 per day and my post workout drink consists of whey protein, creatine and aI mix it with powdered kool-aid for a simple sugar. This is a cheap and easy way to get carb-protein suppl post workout.
      Thanks for checking in and hope all is well with you

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