Episode 116 Transcript – Top 10 Nutrition Mistakes

Aidan:

Welcome to the Ideal Nutrition Podcast. My name is Aidan Muir and I am here with my co -host, Leah Heigl. And this is episode 116, where we’re going to be talking about the top 10 nutrition mistakes that are very common. And we just came across top 10, like we were just writing ourselves, it happened to come out as 10, but it’s a nice round number, so we’ll go with that. Who wants to go first, me, you? Yeah, why don’t you chuck one out? So I’m going to start off with dieting way more aggressively than necessary.

I’m not opposed to dieting aggressively at times, but I think a good thing that you should have in place before you even consider dieting aggressively is a good track record of consistency with whatever approach you want to do. Because what is more common to see is a lot of people set an aggressive diet is either quite strict, quite restrictive, or just quite low calorie in comparison to their maintenance or their quote unquote needs. And it just makes it way harder than necessary. And even if you were to stick to it, it would come alongside a lot of downsides, such as being hungry, fatigued, training would suck, maybe you get sick more frequently.

There’s a lot of downsides that come alongside that. And I think the pursuit of that makes things a lot harder than necessary and come alongside more downside than necessary for a lot of people, which is why I would put it into this category of a new mistakes for a lot of people.

Leah:

Yeah definitely see that one a lot. Also talking about the flexibility with nutrition is another one so being too flexible with nutrition. Obviously it can go in the opposite direction but I think if you’re too flexible then you lack the general structure in your day -to -day life to make good decisions most of the time. If you’re too flexible, how is that going to contribute to habit forming that you can just autopilot day -to -day? It’s not really. So I think when you’re too flexible, there’s almost a lot of thinking that has to happen day -to -day. You’re not autopiling anything through habits and that in itself can make nutrition overall harder, particularly if you’re doing something like dieting, for example.

Aidan:

And at the other end of the spectrum, so the third one will be being too rigid with nutrition. Obviously there’s a nice middle ground somewhere in the middle of this. There’s a sweet spot. A line that I often say to clients is, can you name two people in your life who consume no added sugar ever, for example?

The reason I say two is because every now and then, it’s like a one in 100 kind of case, the client will be like, my uncle’s a Navy SEAL. And I’m like, okay, like, okay. That’s an anomaly. I don’t want you to destroy my argument here. But it’s like, it’s very rare for people to eat quote unquote, a hundred percent healthy, a hundred percent of the time. And I just use the out of sugar example to use an example of that. And that therefore means if your game plan is to be a hundred percent quote unquote, perfect, 100 % of the time, the odds of success are incredibly low.

And then how you react to the, what you would call a failure of sticking to your own plan could then impact whether you’re consistent with nutrition overall, which is why I say being too rigid could be something that reduces the odds of sticking to things.

Leah:

The next nutrition mistake I want to go over is a really basic one, but also a really common one. And that’s just generally not being hydrated. So not drinking enough water. I ask all my clients in their initial session, how do you go with water intake? And a lot of the time they’ll just look at me and literally laugh. And we all know what that means is that, yeah, they’re probably not having a lot of fluids throughout the day.

A lot of people are just like, yeah, they have their coffee in the morning, a few sips throughout the day, and then wonder why they are so mentally fatigued or why they’re not performing well, why they’re not recovering. And obviously there’s a lot of things that can go into all of that. But I think an easy win is just drinking enough water and staying hydrated, but it is something that so many people don’t do.

Aidan:

Yeah, I have mixed views on that because like, I don’t know, my baseline is feeling good all the time. I feel like that’s why this stands out to me so much and I can’t relate because like if I didn’t drink water, I don’t feel good immediately. I’m like, why don’t I feel good?

Leah:

It’s very unclear to a lot of people,

Aidan:

Yeah, I don’t know. I can’t relate. And it’s also such an easy thing to solve. But like the thing that gets me is like, clearly people aren’t feeling what I’m feeling because otherwise it wouldn’t happen that way.

Leah:

I think when you’re used to being hydrated, when you’re dehydrated, you’re really feeling it. But I think if that’s your baseline, like you just don’t know how you could feel. And I think a lot of people just sit there for years before they fix it and they’ll go after supplements and other dietary interventions where like honestly that could give them such a huge win for little effort.

Aidan:

Yeah. So the next one we’ll go through is caffeine too late in the day is another common mistake. I am really passionate about getting good sleep. I think it helps with everything and caffeine too late in the day is very likely to affect that. Too late is quite subjective. It obviously depends on the individual situation, but a common theme is that the half-life of caffeine is somewhere along the lines of around six hours on average, but it has a bit of a range from about 1.5 hours through to about 11.5 hours. So huge differences in how long it takes to metabolize caffeine between people.

The majority of people who have caffeine late in the day would make the assumption that they’re quite quick metabolizers of caffeine, otherwise they likely wouldn’t be doing it. But it’s not possible for everybody to be freaky out as at that 1 .5 hours end of the spectrum, like a large percentage of people would be closer to the norm and would come, would believe it’s not likely to be affecting their slave that much. A very common line is people saying, I can have a coffee right before bed and it doesn’t affect slave.

I can’t recall when I read this study so it probably won’t be in the show notes but I recall reading a study a few years ago where they basically got a bunch of people who had to like fit that criteria of believing that kind of statement of being like, caffeine doesn’t really affect my sleep. And they started the effect of sleep quality where they did caffeine versus placebo and the people who had caffeine got significantly worse sleep quality and quantity than people taking placebo.

So it’s like even people in that kind of group, it still is affecting their sleep. There was a another study, it was a meta analysis that was published this year that I posted on Instagram earlier this year, basically looking at how late in the day does certain caffeine containing things affect your sleep quality. And with smaller amounts, like you could have the equivalent of a cup of tea, which might have about 40 milligrams right before bed. And it has almost no impact on sleep on average. So it’ll be something that will respond differently.

Meanwhile, pre -workout, which had 300 milligrams on average, affected sleep 12 hours later. It was like 11 or 12, I think it was between 11 and 13 hours later. That’s absurd because the numbers they were chucking out there, they’re like, if you go to bed at like 10 pm this is how early you’d have to stop pre-workout and it was like 9am and that is an absurd, it’s like it’s so absurdly early which definitely means you theoretically under that circumstance could only take pre -workout if you’re having it really early in the morning and you’re not. Yeah.

And there’s a lot of people who haven’t pre -workout for an afternoon session and everything like that. And then the other thing that wasn’t really touched on that study is the cumulative effects. The fact that caffeine has a cumulative effect in that if the half life of something is six hours, but that’s still in your system when you load up on your next dose of caffeine, you still have, it like builds up a little bit over time as well. So it’s not, I know it’s not advice that anyone wants to hear, but this is why I care about it.

Because if the goal is improved recovery and everything, like that, better sleep and then that will have a carryover effect to improve performance in the gym, improving just your ability to even stay on track with food, it makes it easier as well, improve body composition doing this does make a difference. And even if you can’t go from what you’re doing to perfect or whatever, even some level of improvement there will likely help with everything as well.

Leah:

Yeah, I’m definitely a big advocate for not overusing caffeine generally, but also not late in the day. Because I think even if you think it doesn’t affect sleep quality, we know for a lot of people on average, it does, even if you think it doesn’t.

Next one I want to talk about is a common mistake is having majority of your protein in one meal and that’s typically dinner for a lot of people. So if we look at generally what a lot of people do with their food intake is there’ll be very minimal protein in breakfast. There might be small to moderate amount in lunch and then a lot of people are having like a huge portion of their protein for dinner. Maybe it’s like a big piece of steak with veggies or something like that. So there’s not this like even distribution in protein across the day.

And we do know that there are several reasons why you’d want to more evenly distribute your protein. First is from a muscle building or muscle retention perspective, we know it definitely helps there so if that’s a goal for you that’s something to consider. But also just from a satiety perspective we know protein is very satiating so if you’re kind of. having it all at the end of your day and not spreading it out across the course of the day potentially that could lead to over eating or just changes in nutrition habits that are maybe not super beneficial and maybe you would have better hunger management overall if your protein intake was spread out across the day rather than back -ended at the end of the day.

Aidan:

That leads into my next point about another mistake being solely focusing on either calories and macros or other variables like food quality. And using the just focusing on calories and macros. I heard somebody else make, make the claim you should watch out for the nothing matters crowd. And basically the nothing matters crowd in the nutrition space has been like, calories and macros are all that matters. Nothing else matters. And it’s like, if that was all that mattered stuff like protein timing wouldn’t also matter. It’s like distribution maybe matters significantly less than total protein intake, it still matters. It’s still another variable that can help you optimize body composition and also just satiety across the day and a bunch of things.

The deeper down the rabbit hole you go, the more you can see that individual aspects of food quality and stuff like that matter and often it gets simplified down into flexible dieting and stuff like that, because these things just matter far less than the big picture stuff. But one mistake would be focusing just on calories and macros. The other would be completely ignoring calories and macros and only focusing on food quality because then it even gets more confusing. For example, if your body composition isn’t trending in the direction that you want, but you’re eating quote unquote good, it’s like, well, what is the next step? Like what is, what is the next action that you take? Both of them matter. And you could put a different weighting on which one you care about more and everything like that. But at least having some acknowledging of both of them mattering is a pretty crucial step.

Leah:

Next one I want to touch on is cutting foods haphazardly to deal with IBS symptoms. So when you have IBS -like symptoms, any kind of gut issues, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, whatever it might be, it can be pretty tempting to just want to cut foods that you’ve either kind of got, I think I’ve reacted to this, I’m just going to cut it, or you’ve seen online, maybe gluten, maybe soy, maybe dairy, et cetera.

If you go about your IBS that way, I think it can be really hard to get a read on what the actual issue is as opposed to actually going through the process of an elimination diet or going to your GP and getting those tests done to test for other things outside of IBS that may be contributing to your symptoms or looking at lifestyle factors, for example. I just don’t think it is a good way to go about it. And it’s what most people end up doing, even though it doesn’t seem to be the best approach.

Aidan:

Yeah. I’m all for like a little bit of self experimentation. Like if you can see something you think is an easy way and you’re like, Hey, every time I eat this causes this symptom. And then if you try avoiding that and it solves the problem, like okay I can get that. The bit that gets tougher is when you are eliminating stuff But you’re still getting symptoms, and you’re like did eliminating that help did it not help? Are there other things I need to eliminate? Have I needlessly eliminated stuff that I shouldn’t eliminate? It just gets quite messy. So it’s like a little bit of self -explanatory rotation, probably okay.

Leah:

Yeah, there are things that can be super clear cut, like lactose intolerance, for example. You know, if you have a milkshake and then you have loose bowel movements after that, and that’s like continually happening after dairy, you’re like, okay, this is probably a lactose problem. But if you’re cutting a few things and you’re like, yeah, I don’t know, maybe it worked, maybe it didn’t. And then you just keep cutting things. You’re probably going to be trialing that for a really long time before you get a solution.

Aidan:

And every elimination style diet that’s useful for this has reintroduction processes. We both obviously see this where people have eliminated stuff, their symptoms are not resolved, but they’ve eliminated stuff for like ages, like they haven’t reintroduced anything. And it can turn into like a very narrow list of foods that people are eating and they still have symptoms as well.

Leah:

Yeah, and that obviously can lead to changes in the gut microbiome due to a reduction in food diversity and does that create more symptoms? Are you kind of piling on to the problem at that point? And to be honest, I see that a lot and it’s like it could be really frustrating because if that person had kind of used a different approach earlier on perhaps it would have been an easier thing to solve.

Aidan:

Yeah, so then we’ve got not eating enough food and early in the day leading to unintentional overeating on poorer quality foods later in the day is a common mistake. I’m pretty particular in my wording there because there’s some people who intermittent fast love it, it works well for them, et cetera. That wouldn’t necessarily come into this same category. I’m talking about people who aren’t intentionally doing anything like that. And they’re also unintentionally overeating on poor quality foods later in the day. As you can see, it’s the kind of thing where you could start out with like good intentions.

I posted this on Instagram as well earlier about…This is a delayed podcast, it’s probably a few weeks back, but I did a post, it was basically like a Yo Pro for breakfast, which is like a hundred calories, and then say an apple as a snack, which is under a hundred calories, and then a salad for lunch that doesn’t contain any decent carb or fat source, even if you had a protein source in there, you’re looking at under 200 calories for that snack, so you’re at 400 total for the day, and then the intention could be either another piece of fruit or nothing through to dinner, maximum another 100 calories and then the dinner could be just meat and veg and you look at it a day that’s like 800 total calories and there are people who will have an intention of doing that maybe during a fat loss phase, like they haven’t done the numbers in advance or anything like that, they haven’t calculated their needs and be like, well my maintenance is, I don’t know, 2500 or 3000 or like 2200, it doesn’t really matter. And then the drop is just a substantial drop in what their plan is versus what ends up happening.

And let’s say you had that plan and you got through to like 3pm in the afternoon and you’re starving. If your maintenance calories had been above 2500 and you’d only had say 600 calories at that stage or maybe less. Well, you’ve had such a small percentage of your normal intake. Of course you would be hungry. Of course you would be maybe potentially a bit fatigued if you tried exercising that day as well.

Like that’s going to be brutal as well. Like even if you did see to it, it wouldn’t really end well if you did that consistently over time. But you can see how that would lead to you wanting to eat more food as well. And like, I don’t think a lot of people have intentionally sat down and planned out a day like that. I think it’s just something that a lot of people do without really thinking about it.

But this is actually something that commonly I do see that if you’ve got somebody to lay out what is a good day when they’re trying to eat healthy, quote unquote, a day that kind of looks like that isn’t too uncommon to be something that you see written down.

Leah:

Yeah, it definitely reminds me as a teenager flicking through women’s magazines and seeing those diet examples for weight loss and they’re literally exactly what you said. And we have been fed that for many, many years. So it’s like it makes sense why people go to that but I can absolutely see why people fall off at the end of the day because you would be starving.

Number 10 so out down to the last one and the final mistake we see people make is just generally having a very black and white approach to just nutrition based goals in general So whether this is quote -unquote being healthy whether it’s weight loss Whatever it is having a very black and white mindset to it towards that in that either you’re doing the thing perfectly or you’re not doing the thing at all.

Nutrition and lifestyle stuff is rarely ever going to be perfect, not every day of your life for the rest of eternity. So you need to find ways to kind of operate in that gray area where you’re still achieving what you want to achieve, but you have the flexibility of, you know, deviating. So I think it does go back to not being too rigid with your nutrition or too flexible, but just generally having the mindset of I will do as much as I can with the time, energy and resources that I have and work with that rather than trying to be perfect because that kind of just ends up being nothing when you can’t do it perfect.

Aidan:

Yeah. Something I’ll add on to that is that point I made earlier about how there’s nobody who really eats 100 % healthy 100 % of the time apart from old mate’s uncle who’s a Navy Seal. That is like, this whole thing of saying, quote unquote, I am all or nothing. One big thought I have on that is that we actually don’t really have a choice with that when it comes to food, if we want to succeed with nutrition. Because name me two people who are all or nothing with food and have good success with food.

Like it’s just an incredibly rare thing. So if you do try to box yourself into the category of being like, I am all or nothing. Like, we just don’t have that choice with food. Like, we can’t be all or nothing and have success.

One of the first steps to having success with nutrition is getting yourself out of that box and taking steps towards not being all or nothing. We can’t just kind of write ourselves off as being all or nothing. We have to kind of take steps away from that to achieve what we want to achieve in most cases.

Leah:

What I like to discuss with clients is bringing up the example of sleep. And I’m like, okay, if you approached sleep that way, would you say, if I can’t get eight to 10 hours tonight, I’m not going to sleep at all? Yeah, you wouldn’t. Obviously we wouldn’t survive if we didn’t sleep, but it’s like, it makes it I guess it just emphasizes that it’s a silly approach if you want sustainability.

Aidan:

And I think we often have weird views with food, with stuff like that as well. When we use another example in any other field, we’re like, that’s kind of absurd. But for whatever reason with food, it seems to happen that way.

Leah:

This has been episode 116 of the Ideal Nutrition Podcast. If you haven’t yet left a rating or a review, it would be super greatly appreciated for you to do so. But otherwise, thanks for tuning in.