The 5 Constant Principles of an Effective Diet (From the Science)

Principle 1:

Weight loss and weight gain come down to one key equation. The Energy Balance Equation, commonly referred too as calories in versus calories out.

[Energy in] – [Energy out] = Changes in body stores.

Weight loss comes down to an energy deficit, less calories are coming in compared to what is going out. When you are using more energy (calories) than you are consuming. On the flip side, weight is gained when you take in more energy (calories) then you burn.

And no matter what the diet plan or type is, they all work around this principle. The goal of any weight loss diet is to put you in a calorie deficit.

Principle 2:

Protein is the most important macronutrient to get right.

Protein is the building blocks for the body. They are the most important macro for a few reasons.

Firstly protein helps with satiety, it keeps you fuller for longer. Protein’s are responsible for the release of satiety hormones in the gut, giving the signal that you are full. In fact it is possible to keep eating and not feel hungry until your protein requirements have been meet, sending signals of fullness.

Secondly protein helps build and repair our cells. It is responsible for building muscle, and as mentioned, protein is the building blocks for the body. Without protein our bodies will not function well at all. Protein is an essential macronutrient, without adequate protein there is the potential for muscle to be lost. This is something to avoid at all costs.

Thirdly, Protein has the highest Thermic Effect in the body, meaning protein requires more energy to process than fats or carbs. By consuming adequate amounts of protein it will increase your metabolism. You will burn more calories on a higher protein diet.

Finally, due to these reasons, higher-protein diets are better for improving body composition than normal or low-protein diets.


Principle 3:

As food processing increases, nutrient density decreases.

The problem we are faced with is the increasing prominence of processed foods, that are easy to access and hyperpalatable. Foods that have been processed and refined have an increase in calories while also having been stripped of their nutrients.

Processed foods basically provide empty calories. Calories that will help reach an energy surplus, meaning we will gain weight. To double down on this the more processed a food is the higher likelihood it has lost nutritional value. Stripped of nutrients such as fibre, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. And if this isn’t bad enough it gets worst, these processed foods have added additives, preservatives, fillers, sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats, and/or refined starch.

It is easy to say that highly processed foods aren’t even foods, they have become an eatable product.

If processed foods are not the way to eat for health what is?

Wholefoods and minimally processed foods.

Research resoundingly shows; We have better health (or our health improves) when we consume more natural wholefoods in our diet. Significantly better. There are two main reasons why.

Natural Wholefoods have fewer calories with much higher nutrient density, it is high in vitamins and minerals and doesn’t have the dense calories of processed foods. Basically the quality of food is increased whilst the amount of calories decreased when compared to processed foods. That’s a win win in any situation.

Principle 4:

Fruit and vegetables reduce disease risk and help you lose weight.

This isn’t a knowledge thing for most. People know that Fruits and Veggies are good for us. They not only help with weight management they are also health promoting.

Why though? This could be a little less know. Fruit and Veggies are loaded with health-promoting antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and phytonutrients…They are nutrient rich and calorie low.

Evidence from study after study over the last 30+ years clearly demonstrates that consuming more fruits and vegetables can help prevent a wide range of health problems. Problems including diabetes, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.

Principle 5:

Sleep Affects What You Eat and Your Overall Health.

Doing everything right with your food with no results? It could very well be your sleeping habits causing the lack of results. It is common for people to nail everything with their nutrition but still struggle to reach their goals…and the cause may very well be the lack of sleep.

What’s the connection?

If you are under sleeping and your body is always in a sleep-deprived state this will play havoc on your body’s ability to regulate key hormones.

Sleep deprivation causes:
Ghrelin levels to rise, which triggers hunger.
Leptin levels to fall, meaning it takes longer to feel full.
Endocannabinoids will increase, making your perception of foods seem more pleasurable.

Along with all of this hormone disruption, this tiredness will decrease your motivation to exercise. Meaning the end result will be a double down of negative impacts on your health. You will be hungrier, (Sleep-deprived people can eat at least 300 more daily calories) and you will burn less calories as you are more liking to skip exercise when in a tired state)

Reference: The 5 universal principles of good nutrition, according to science. (Ryan Maciel, RD, Pn2, CSCS, Alisa Bowman, PN1. Precision Nutrition)