Are eggs good or bad? Should you eat low-carb or low-fat (we actually answer that one here)? Should you skip breakfast or is it the most important meal?
Don’t like the current answer, give it a week and it’ll change.
At least that’s what it feels like.
But does the science behind legitimate nutrition advice actually change as much as it seems? I can confidently inform you that the answer to that question is a very solid:
Yes. And no. But also yes. And then no again.
Of that I’m certain.
Don’t Be an Idiom
When choosing advice to follow, there are many viable options, just as there are many trees in the forest. It’s easy to get so caught up looking at the trees that you miss the forest completely.
The problem is (aside from being a stale cliché), as it pertains to nutrition information, most people aren’t even in a forest. It’s more like you’re driving around a bustling suburban neighborhood, hoping if you count enough trees you’ll get that same "forest experience."
It won’t work.
The forest of nutrition is far too large to pick any random passing trend to follow and expect reliable results. Yet, on an individual level, distinguishing the details makes a big difference.
You have to look at both.
Some of the things I understood about nutrition 5 years ago are very different from my perception now. Guaranteed, some of those ideas will evolve over the course of the next 5 years as well.
Science does change over time. Which means some of the details in the advice we give nutritionally will change over time.
That said, the basics of nutrition remain constant.
If you eat food that is nutritious (i.e. less processed and plenty of veggies), and don’t overdo it by eating too much, a lot of the other details will work themselves out naturally.
The reason it gets confusing is because, if you aren’t immersed in the fitness industry and staying up to date on nutrition research (why would you if it’s not your job), the only nutrition advice you’ll get is from headlines and advertisements (directly or indirectly).
Those things change with the wind as they try to find new ways to get in your wallet. Which makes it seem like ALL nutrition advice is changing all the time.
Be assured, it’s not.
On the other hand, as an individual, you are changing all the time. Which is where the details come into play.
Knowing the basics and sticking with them can get you a long way, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll reach every goal you have in mind.
That’s because the more you change, the more the details of your diet can change.
The advice I’d give you as a 1st month client is different from the advice you’d get if you’d been working with me for years. (If it were the same, wouldn’t you be disappointed?) That’s because:
Maybe you lose a bunch of weight and your metabolism slows. Time to reassess portions.
Maybe after losing weight, you decide you’re ready to get strict and lean out even more. Time for more advanced strategies like carb cycling, or experimenting with macronutrient percentages.
Maybe you were single when you started, but now are married and have kids. You’ll need more efficient ways to plan meals for more than just yourself.
For similar reasons, nutrition advice has to be different from person to person. If someone wants to gain muscle, you can’t just give them the same advice as someone who wants to lose weight.
Individual advice does change, whether it be for one person over time, or between two different people.
From the outside, it can look like nutrition advice is never constant. In some ways, it’s not.
However, the foundational principles are solid.
The headlines change, and some of the ways we coach things change over time, but not the principles themselves.
If you aren’t getting the exact results you hoped for, it’s not because there’s some new piece of information you’re missing out on. You just need to find a way to take the basics and make them more applicable for your body, your goals, and your lifestyle.
(We can help with that. Apply here for our 1-on-1 coaching.)
If that’s more than you want to mess with, the basics are at the foundation for a reason.
Stick with them long enough, and your results will grow exponentially, like a dense, intricate forest.