Nutrition and its importance

Once we’ve understood how powerful the effect of nutrition on our brain, energy, and general health is, the easier it becomes to eat healthy every day. There are five macronutrients which provide energy in everything we eat (with the exception of one of them): Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, alcohols, and water. In the following chapters, we want to dig into all of them individually. 

To get a feeling for how nutrition affects your brain, this video offers a good first idea:

Even though just being 4 minutes long, this video carries an extraordinary load of content. The main takeaways for you should be:

  • Avoid trans- and saturated fats as found in meat and oil
  • Eat or supplement omega-3 fats as found in nuts, avocados and fish
  • Get enough protein by eating beans, non-fatty meat, nuts, eggs, fish and other seafood
  • Eat enough vegetables to get relevant antioxidants and other micronutrients 

In the following sections, let’s dig a little deeper into some of the main principles you as a leader want to follow to maximise your energy balance.

Avoid quick carbs and eat healthy carbs instead

Quick carbs are those carbohydrates that can be broken down by your body quickly, such as sugar or white bread. The problem with these is that the chemical process of processing them is so quick that your body will experience a short burst in energy followed by a much longer energetic abyss. They are the nutritional equivalent to FailArmy compilations and useless YouTube videos, giving you short-term pleasure but causing long-term harm. In fact, they’re way worse not only wasting your time and energy, but affecting your entire body and physiology. The below video explains how sugar affects your brain and body, for example by increasing insulin in your body, which in turn leads to you gaining weight more easily. 

The sub-rules to this principle are simple:

  • Avoid sugary drinks
  • Avoid white bread
  • Avoid sweats
  • Drink water and juice (fructose affects your body differently than glucose or dextrose)
  • Eat long carb foods such as brown bread, brown noodles, rice or vegetables

If you’re interested in digging further into how carbohydrates work, this video offers a great summary and explains how to interpret the glycemic index.

Eat healthy fats

My recommendation is that you try to generally avoid partially hydrogenated food and supplement Omega-3 oil instead. I do not recommend vegan Omega-3 oil, as it is possible that most of the benefits from Omega-3 oil should actually be attributed to folate. The effect of folate is often neglected as its proportion in omega-3-rich food is very low. However, it often lacks vegan Omega-3 supplements, so I do recommend non-vegan Omega-3 supplements. In case you are vegan, the best alternative will be algae oil.

Regulate your protein intake

My main recommendation is that you 

  • Vary your food intake as much as possible to consume a healthy mix of protein
  • Eat between 0,7g and 2g of protein per kg of body weight per day

Also interesting to check out: How muscles grow.

Application Task #1

Knowledge is silver, application is golden. While you now have a comprehensive understanding of how your body works and how you can leverage sleep, mindfulness and nutrition to increase your health, you might want to apply some of that knowledge. Some knowledge indeed, not all of it. That’s because big changes do not happen overnight and you want to give your body time to adjust to new changes. This will be the next topic covered in this course, but, until then, you might want to give it an intuitive start already:

  • List down the main key takeaways you’ve got from taking this lesson
  • Decide which of them will have the greatest impact to your life
  • Make a plan of how you will implement those changes to your life
  • This plan might include at which time exactly those changes will appear during the day and how you will prepare now to make implementation of those changes most likely
  • In the best case, you’ll visualise how you implement those changes. This might make you aware of any steps you will have to take before actual implementation can take place. Make sure you have arranged all pre-steps, too, before you move towards implementation.

Once you’ve built your plan, post it and your considerations in the forum below and discuss with your peers. Experiment with your plan for at least the next two weeks until you read further. Managing your energy and time will help you better stick to your plans, but the learning effect of reading the sections will be much greater after you’ve tried sticking to a bigger plan prior to your lecture of the content.

Your place to reflect with your peers