Somewhere between Western Christmas (I’m Russian and our Christmas is on January 7th) and Western New Year (Chinese, Thai, Indonesian year starts at different times), I’m writing this blog from my home town, Surgut, where I’m spending holidays with family, my parents and sister, focusing on my work in the quietness of Siberian cold (It’s -32C outside as I’m writing this), giving a couple of talks, meeting up with a few clients locally, having some quiet time before fully jumping into 2020, new decade of our life and new phase of my own life, that definitely feels new and growing. And even though I haven’t achieved everything, that was on my goal list, that feeling of growth, personal, professional, financial, that I’m undeniably going through at the moment is the best thing I could have wished for 2020. I’m not feeling, that something has come to an end, I’m feeling like something new has already started. It started and is growing inside of me. I like to do some self-reflection at the end of each year, and if there is one biggest lesson I learned this year — all that matters is how YOU change, how you change INSIDE, what kind of person you are becoming, the rest, the world, the career, financial success, relationships, it’ll all change along with you.
The world will change, when you change.
You know, what really changed also?
The way I talk to myself.
Before making ANY choice, that affects my future — eating better and working out, sleeping better, uplifting people and my relationships instead of complaining or talking about “what’s wrong with others and the world” — before making any choice, I ask myself, “What do you want? What kind of choice the person, that lives your dream life would make? What would TRULY make you feel better now and tomorrow?” — and then I make a choice. No regrets. No heavy feeling because, “I have to eat right and exercise” — just the clarity about what I want to experience, and the joy of hard work transforming me today into my vision in the future.
Like choosing to load up on apples and walnuts, when thinking of eating an apple tart — the calories might very well be the same, but the end result, how you feel after will differ like day and night.
I’ve been studying nutrition and health for almost 2 decades now, and it amazes me, that I’m still learning so much! Every day! One of the reasons is — our nutrition science (and science in general) never moved that fast, because of all the technology to share, to measure, to research. The knowledge never spread that fast before, because of super-connectedness of everything and everyone.
At the beginning of 2019 I was SO much into keto (It’s been 7 years now!), and now I understand that macros, in most cases, is not the most important thing at all!
What’s more important, when it comes to food? Besides calories and macros?
- Satisfying your requirement for micronutrients on a regular basis through a variety of foods.
- Eating the best quality of foods.
- Eating foods, that work for your body the best.
- Keeping a fasting window and eating schedule.
- Keeping energy balance in check, keto or not.
- When it comes to food behavior?
- Eating with joy food that you love, foods that love you back.
- When eating focusing on food — not watching TV or working.
- Taking time to breathe before meals, getting into rest-and-digest state instead of inhaling food, stressing out about the next item on your to-do list.
- Cooking and sharing meals with people you love as much as possible.
- Having a routine around meals, something that nourishes you, something that’s planned and doesn’t require constant decision making, something that beautifully flows with your lifestyle.
- Having meals not snacks (That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy snack foods at your meal times to make it fun and try new things)
Am I still keto?
Most of the days I’m paleo lowcarb or keto — it makes me feel and look the way I want. I love my colorful fiber — veggies, berries here and there. Sometimes I go high carb vegan for a week (whole foods, still paleo). I fast a lot. And more than ever I’m focused on eating foods, that
a) Satisfy my nutrition requirements
b) Work the best for my body
c) Give me the most joy
People often ask me, why is eating got so complicated, it didn’t seem so for our grandparents, our parents?
Our parents and grandparents didn’t have it better — we do. When it comes to knowledge, what’s better for human health, and access to a variety of great quality nutritious foods.
Now we just need to put it into common practice, easy and doable.
Eating nutritionally balanced diet is a part of human experience.
It’s like having a vehicle or a gadget. It comes with a set of instructions for the best performance. You can disregard them and do whatever, but as we all know, that will come with compromised performance and shortened longevity of the device. The human body is no different — it is more complex and more resilient. Our body requires a systematic approach to maintenance, and then it’ll endure many things for many years. And when you get sick, it’ll take care of you, if you provide all the conditions necessary. Medicine doesn’t fix you — your body does, but some medicine/procedures/supplements/practices can help your body with healing, or it can make it worse.
Nutrition is my thing — my passion, my obsession, my career, my calling and my mission.
So, what do I have to say about nutrition for 2020 and beyond?
1. Nutrition doesn’t work in isolation — your sleep, your stress management, your activity levels and exercise you do, your emotional state, your geographical location and your relationships — all that affects your biochemistry, all that affects how your body processes food and what your body needs for optimal performance.
2. Nutrition, food is not just fuel — it is also building material for every cell of your body. The better “ingredients” you eat — the better cells, the better tissues, the better organs, the better body you’ll build and it’ll all function better. Every. Single. Thing. End of story. Cookies and junk food with supplements will build junk cells and junk bodies, that will perform as cheaply as junk food costs.
3. No matter how many calories you eat and how perfect your macros are, you can’t skip one rule of human nutrition — you got to eat all the micronutrients human body needs to thrive (and often more, since we don’t really know the exact amounts of the nutrients for longevity and optimal human performance). 13 vitamins, 16 minerals, essential fatty and amino acids, carbohydrates, water.
4. Just eating your macros and micros is not enough either. You have a digestive system, living and breathing, not a calorie-burning machine inside of you. Digestion is a complicated process — what foods, in what amounts, in which combinations — it all matters for the nutrient extraction and usage. Some nutrients simply cancel each other, some nutrients can’t work properly without each other. We are at the very beginning of understanding the complexity of this interaction and optimization of it.
5. Fasting, not eating is just as important as what you eat and when you eat, and how you eat. Mindless eating, with no regard to time, your physical and emotional state is just as bad as eating junk food.
And to make things even more complex — each of us is a unique individual, and the exact “perfect” way of eating, the perfect diet will be slightly different for each of us, and it’ll change throughout our life.
If I were to start today with all this knowledge, how would I eat?
1. I’d sleep well.
2. I’d exercise regularly.
3. I’d learn to manage my stress and emotions.
4. I’d fast for 14 hours daily (more is fine, but no less).
5. I’d make sure I hydrate well, and I don’t drink my calories.
6. I’d eat 2–3 meals a day without snacking in-between.
7. I’d eat a variety of veggies with a lot of colors and nutrients at each meal, mixing raw and cooked. I’d make veggies the main course by volume.
8. I’d focus on a variety of whole foods of the best quality with the most essential for human health amount of micronutrients per bite, foods that work the best for my body.
9. I’d eat liver, egg yolks, bell peppers, canned sardines (with skin and bones), sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds, sauerkraut (or other fermented foods), mussels and oysters, sweet potatoes, other tubers, blueberries and other berries for carbs, variety of green and colorful veggies, some seaweed and dark chocolate, cod liver when not in a sunny climate.
10. I’d take a natural multivitamin, vitamin D3 and K2, magnesium, potassium, zink, iodine and calcium, when I can’t eat all the foods above while traveling or in a place where I don’t have many food choices.
And that’s kind of it.
They say people are omnivores.
Well, so are cows. And any other animal.
But just because we can eat everything without dying or food poisoning — it doesn’t mean it’s optimal and good for us long-term and/or not harmful.
A modern cow eats grass or grains.
When a cow eats grass — it’s lean, healthy, lives longer.
When a cow eats grains — it’s fat, gets sick often, lives a shorter life.
Humans are kind of like that. There is a better way and there are other ways.
(Cows choose more nutritious grass, when they are given the freedom to roam around. So who’s smarter now?)