The nutrition meta thread: principles for a healthier life style

Nutrition is a topic that comes up very often, and one of my goals for 2020 is to eat more healthily, but in a more systematic fashion. This is probably one of the most discussed topics on this forum and the podcast, but I found most of the advice is too focussed, either on a certain goal or on a certain type of diet.

Let’s say, my goal is not (just) necessarily to be a faster cyclist, but to live a healthier life, to teach my children how to eat right and to plan meals not just for myself, but my whole family. I don’t want to obsess over food, and sometimes I want to splurge. I want to strengthen my immune system so that I don’t get sick as often. I don’t think I am such a special snowflake in this regard.

So I thought we can pool our resources — podcasts, websites, books — and share. Everyone is welcome, omnivores, pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans. The advice/source should have some scientific backing, though. And please keep it civil, I don’t want people making fun of vegans or pontificating for their diet as the only diet. I think we can all learn from each other. :slightly_smiling_face:


Maybe change your user name to start lol.


Touché! :rofl:


The problem with any such discussion is that there are too many conflicting opinions for a consensus.

My personal guidelines would be:

Eat lots of fruit and veg
Eat a varied diet
Whole grains are preferable to refined
Avoid highly processed foods
Try to keep saturated fat to a minimum
Try to keep refined sugars to a minimum

Even the above list is contentious though, with some people thinking that fruit should be avoided due to the amount of sugar.

As a vegan, I obviously don’t eat meat, eggs, or dairy. I do, however, think that they can have a part in a healthy diet, although probably as a smaller component of that diet than most people think.


The books: ‘Racing Weight’ and ‘Endurance Diet’ are worth a read


I’m interested to know if the negative effects of refined carb/sugar intake are lessened if you are very active. In the past few years studies have added to the popular knowledge that “each additional sugary drink” per day is particularly bad for you. Obviously a lot of cyclists use such drinks as fuel and for recovery… That’s not strictly going to fit into the type of diet mentioned above.


One of the things Matt Fitzgerald states in Racing Weight is not to include ‘fuel during training’ in your dietary assessment

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Seems to me that if you are actively working out, you probably burn that sugar before it has the chance to be stored or cause any of the insulin resistance problems. Similarly post workout that sugar is sucked up to replete your glycogen and your body isn’t ‘bathing’ in it as if you just had a soda while watching TV. No evidence for that, but an assumption based on decent knowledge of physiology

I think the problem is people think that because one way works the other way can’t work. As long as everyone realises that just as with training methodologies there are many “Right” ways.

For example you can be healthy on a vegan diet and on a carnivore diet. They conflict but both can be a fine healthy diet.


I agree that there are many different diets that could be considered healthy, each removing, restricting, or promoting the consumption of different types of food. However, there has to be some underlying reason for any health claims, and this is where the problems come in with trying to have a thread on nutrition that doesn’t descend into the realms of “you’re wrong and I’m right”. It generally all comes down to the balance of macro- and micro-nutrients in each diet and there is a huge amount of disagreement when it comes to what that balance should be or what range could be considered healthy.

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I’m a big fan of Matt Fitzgerald’s nutrition ideas. His latest book, “diet cult”, should be a good read.


This changed the way I eat. I now focus on micronutrients and attempt to add as many as possible to every meal. I also have a weak immune system and since adopting this nutritional philosophy (3 years ago), I have gotten sick way less.

About 2/3 of the way through this book, it starts to take a strong stance against meat. I still consume meat, however, less of it but still think the ideas presented in this book are good for plant-based and meat eating athletes.


Broadly speaking eat things that don’t need to list their ingredients on the packaging and prepare them yourself. You don’t have to do this 100% of the time, but the more you do it the healthier you will be.

It simplifies caloric intake tracking, increases visibility into what you’re eating, and encourages you to eat fresher ingredients.

Similarly - moderation in all things, including your diet. It’s perfectly ok to go have a pizza or an ice cream or whatever other ‘treat’ you really want as long as you’re making it the exception and not the rule


There’s also a lot nutritional/ diet information that are just theories rather than supported by actual science. What’s worked in n=1 doesn’t necessarily mean it has any scientific support, no matter how many books have been sold.

However, some people are very much evangelical, even fundamentalists in “beliefs” over science. Consumerism is often described as the new religion, I actually think it’s diets!

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Treat your diet like TR plans, with an emphasis on sustainability and consistency, e.g. don’t choose a high volume plan if you’re going to end up skipping a bunch of workouts.

Avoid extremes. In particular, I like to avoid doing anything that I don’t see myself repeating multiple times per month, and 5-10 years down the road.

I’m a “part time vegetarian”. If alternatives are available, I’ll go meatless and/or choose meat substitutes, but I’m not going to lie to myself and pretend for even a minute that going meatless permanently is going to stick.


This is literally the best purchase I have made to better my diet:

Vitamix Blender

I don’t mind salad but it’s not my favorite thing to eat. Absent a salad I found it hard to get the 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables recommended per day (or higher depending on who/what you trust and follow).

I had a nutribullet and I still like it for small things like protein shakes (protein, almond milk, blend and drink). The nutribullet couldn’t handle the volume of vegetables so I wanted something that was larger and also was able to really get the veggies down to small particles.

For Breakfast today I put the following in the blender:

2 cups spinach
1 cup kale
1/2 medium size beet (just took the skin off of 1 medium beet, cut in half and tossed it in the blender)
1/2 large Fuji apple
1 medium banana
1/2 large orange
1 cup blueberries
2 cups Califia Farms Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 scoop Whey Protein powder

That’s going to be 6.5 servings of fruits and veggies by 9 AM. 574 calories on MFP with 88 carbs, 11 fat, 38 protein. No added sugar or sweetener. Depending on the macro choices for me on the day I sometimes add flax seeds, chia seeds, collagen peptides or other ingredients to change the macro percentage.

This has really changed my diet as the shake is very satiating and I don’t really have cravings for sweets if I have this every day. Sometimes I will have another in the evening depending on the workout I had that day.

I can’t recommend this (or another like Blendtec which I have) enough if you are struggling to eat enough F&V every day and find yourself snacking on bars or other snacks when another chicken breast just doesn’t sound appealing.


I know you aren’t saying this but just to reiterate, I’ve never seen anyone get fat on fruit.

Apple pie, sure. Berries with cream, yes. Fruit as part of a balanced diet, just hard to imagine overeating fruit. Fruit has a natural cleansing and almost self correcting ability when eaten in high volumes if you know what I mean.


While your recommendations are, as general advice, spot on, I find myself in an uncanny valley where I know enough to know best practices and overarching principles, and yet I feel like I know nothing when I dig a little deeper. Did you find any sources of information that went into a little more detail?

Yeah that makes sense intuitively, but I wonder if it has harmful inflammatory effects on the lower digestive system, even if it gets used quickly.

As long as we keep in mind that there are many ways to Rome, giving examples of good ways to eat is a productive exercise for us all.

I find the input of vegans quite interesting in general, not necessarily because I want to become vegan, but because many vegans (have had to) think about nutrition when they switched.