In my time as a nutrition coach, I have noted a lot of common mistakes between my clients. These mistakes are easily fixed, but most people are unaware of their impact. One of the most important parts of my job is showing those who are on a health and wellness journey that success is attainable. It’s easy to believe that change is too hard, and to not even try, but these small corrections, can lead to a healthier and happier you.
1) Not tracking your water intake
This is the #1 tip I end up giving all my clients. More than 50% of the population is not drinking enough water. And most people lose track of how much water they are actually drinking, so I advise people to find a way to track their water. Some people will log each cup of water they drink on a food/beverage tracking app. Some people will get a massive bottle of water and start each day, fill it up, and make sure to finish it throughout the day.
I really like recommending bottles that have time markers on them to remind you to finish a specific amount of water by a certain time. This makes being self-accountable much easier. Also, aiming to have a glass of water with each meal can be a good way to make sure you get enough water.
2) Low protein intake
Many people don’t realize they are under-eating protein. The recommended amount of protein a day should be 10-35% of your diet. If you are very physically active, that protein intake should be at a higher level. Protein is needed for muscle repair amongst other things, and low protein intake can lead to low energy levels and a ton of other issues. Getting enough protein can be as easy as making sure you have some form of protein in each meal. This includes things like meat, eggs, dairy, nuts, beans, chickpeas and many other foods.
3) Cutting too many carbs
Who doesn’t know someone who's tried the Keto diet or talks about how they are going to have a low carb diet? While some people find success in eating lower in carbs, this is simply because they are not overeating and overall they are reducing their caloric intake. Carbs are our energy source and it can be incredibly dangerous to the body to cut out an essential macronutrient. It’s important to keep a balanced diet and that includes 45-65% of your diet being carbs. Those carbs are broken down to fuel all your body's life functions and day-to-day tasks. You could find yourself experiencing fatigue, headaches, constipation, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and so many other side effects.
4) Eating fast burning carbs
Do you experience a cycle of high energy levels and then crashes? If so, you may be experiencing blood sugar drops from eating a lot of processed or fast burning carbs. Swapping your carbs with slow burning carbs can help to keep you full and energetic throughout the day. This includes swapping out plain white bread for something like whole grain, brown rice, oats, bran and whole wheat. Items that aren’t heavily processed with a ton of misc. Ingredients are key to maximizing your diet.
It’s also helpful to pair your carbs with protein and fat, so that your meals are as balanced as possible.
5) Not knowing your TDEE
Your TDEE is your total daily energy expenditure and refers to the number of calories you burn in a day. This number is based on your weight, height, gender, and activity levels. It includes the calories burned just being alive and having normal body function (such as metabolizing food) and how many calories you’d burn based on your daily activities. In my years of nutrition coaching, I have never worked with anyone who previously knew how many calories they should be eating in a day. And many people end up under-eating. This can cause your metabolism to slow down and many people actually need to up their calories to jump-start their metabolism. Whether you want to gain weight, lose weight or just eat better, it’s important to know the number of calories you need to aim for.
6) Over-doing caffeine
Did you know that the safe limit for caffeine is actually 400mg in a day? Most people are unaware of how much caffeine is actually safe, and end up consuming an unhealthy amount. Too much caffeine can impact hunger cues as caffeine is often consumed at times when the body is actually just hungry. We get tired when we run out of food to convert into energy and notice a crash. Oftentimes you actually just need to eat a balanced meal vs. another cup of coffee to get through the lull. That balanced meal needs to include protein, carbs and healthy fats. This balance gives your body the fuel it needs to feel full and energetic for as long as possible.
Too much caffeine can also lead to sleep disturbances, poor mood, and more fatigue than if you just prioritized a good meal and water. Finding your balance is key. Coffee is fine as long as you consume it responsibly!
If you are struggling with your nutrition, and want easy changes to get you started, try prioritizing one of these at a time and as that becomes a habit for you, you can add another!
Until next time… and remember nutrition is for all!