5 nutrition mistakes that you must avoid

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There’s more to reaching your goals than being an avid gym-goer. A thousand crunches a day may make you sore but certainly can’t make up for an unhealthy diet. Proper nutrition is an important factor in reaching your fitness goals, and sports nutritionist and personal trainer Scott Baptie is helping us cover a few of the biggest mistakes you may be making in the kitchen.

Mistake #1: Avoiding fat

Many men looking to get shredded abs and cut triceps often make the mistake of avoiding high-fat foods at all costs. The belief that eating fatty foods makes you gain weight isn’t entirely false- fat contains more than twice the calories as its protein and carbohydrate counterparts. However, avoiding fats altogether is nutrition mistake #1. Fat has a variety of nutritional benefits, including its aid in brain development and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat also provides linoleic and linolenic acids- the fatty acids that our bodies need but cannot produce on their own. Try opting for avocado, nuts, or salmon, all healthy sources of the essential fatty acids our bodies need.

Mistake #2: Banishing certain foods altogether

While some foods certainly provide more health benefits with fewer calories than others, deeming a food ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is an oversimplification, a mistake Baptie sees made all too often. ‘It isn’t wise to use a blanket statement like “that food is bad” without considering the diet as a whole. There isn’t a single food that is the sole cause of weight gain.’ According to Baptie, it’s all about balance. ‘If someone eats 4 bars of chocolate a day, little fresh food and does no exercise, is chocolate bad? Probably. If someone exercises regularly, eats nutritious food and is in shape, is eating chocolate, on occasion, bad? Probably not.’ Banishing certain foods may lead to irresistible cravings and overeating, so limit your unhealthy indulgences rather than attempt to eliminate them. 

Mistake #3: Relying on multi-vitamins for nutrition

Though multi-vitamins do pack nutrients into a convenient, easy-to-take pill, they should be used to ‘supplement the diet, not form the main part of it’, according to Baptie. Taking your quick daily dose of multi-vitamins may be tempting, but the value that authentic sources of nutrients provide cannot be replicated in a capsule. Worried about your calcium intake? Eat more broccoli or nuts. Think you’re not getting enough vitamin E? Add extra spinach to your next meal. Making these changes may not be as easy as popping a pill in the morning, but will provide you with a healthier, more natural dose of those vitamins.

Mistake #4: Letting calories govern your diet 

For the longest time, calories were all we knew about nutrition and weight-maintenance. In recent years, however, we’ve discovered that macronutrients are the building blocks of calories and fuel our bodies with the energy we need to survive. By now, we all know about carbohydrates, protein and fat, the three main macronutrient groups. It’s important to understand how a 3000-calorie per day diet consisting of trans fats and sugars differs from a 3000 calorie per day diet that combines proteins, fats and complex carbohydrates. Obsessing over every calorie makes for an inflexible, impossible-to-maintain diet, so read nutrition labels and balance your diet accordingly.

Mistake #5: Believing the marketing hype

The booming supplement market is quick to make promises about fat loss and muscle gain and consumers are quick to believe them. However, according to Baptie, ‘if a supplement was as effective as many companies claim it to be then it would more than likely be illegal’. Don’t make the mistake of feeding into the marketing hype. Supplements can be helpful when used correctly, but ‘the key to a good physique is good nutrition, rest, patience and intelligent training’, says Baptie, so make sure your daily habits are healthy before relying on any supplements to reach your goals.