A simplistic, wholesome view: sustainable eating

13 Apr



The more I am around fitness and nutrition, the more I observe.

Social media has become an outlet for “gurus” to share information that has anecdotally worked for them and for their clients.

Alarmism and scare tactics pertaining to nutrition and food ingredients are becoming increasingly more prevalent.

Nutrition trends are becoming the flavor of the week.

Welcome to the fitness industry.

Here you will likely find several folks operating out of their scope of practice on a daily basis – dispensing nutrition information and unsolicited advice with no credentials, licensure, or pertinent education.

Bad information is passed around regularly – leading to misconceptions, confusion, and oversimplification of nutrition principles.

Firsthand, practical experience with specific training and nutrition protocols is a “lab” in its own entity in the realm of body composition improvement.

Having the ability to logically reason, comprehend, and synthesize ideas and concepts in conjunction with practical experience is what sets the good coaches apart from the bad coaches in this industry.

Finding the truth: reasoning & rationale

“Counting calories and tracking macronutrients doesn’t work.”

“Don’t eat white rice – it turns into sugar in the body too quickly.”

“Never eat carbohydrates past 6pm.”

“Eat every two hours to boost your metabolism.”

“Eating clean is the best way to get leaner”

What do all these phrases have in common?

All of these phrases are illogical fallacies with a strong lack of rationale, reasoning, and evidence-based support.

Time and time again, I overhear folks making these or similar statements.

Become an educated consumer.

Do not be afraid to question someone’s rationale or reasoning behind a statement.

What does the science say?

What is the reasoning and rationale behind prescribing a specific nutrition or training methodology?

The best coaches and professionals in this industry rely on research as a cornerstone to construct the very foundations of their stance on controversial issues, their beliefs, and subsequently, their delivery.

Evidence-based research is endlessly more reliable than statements made by the ripped, fly-by-night trainer at the gym.

squat tw

Cornerstone Coach, Tyler, understands the duality of both practical experience and evidence-based training research.


The importance of connotation

At the beginning of the New Year, you likely heard an individual state that he or she would be “going on a diet.”

This just in.

Diets do not work.

“Going on a diet” means someday that you are going to go off a diet.

If we take the literal meaning of the word “diet,” we make the connection that our diet is composed of the food and drink we consume daily for nourishment purposes.

Our diet is what gives us sustenance necessary for growth, health, and overall functionality.

Sustainable eating is not a diet. Rather, sustainable eating is a concept.

Sustainable eating is not a fad. Sustainable eating is not a diet of exclusion.


Sustainable nutrition is not a fad. It is a conceptual approach to support your specific short and long term goals through nutrition.


Sustainable eating

Sustainable eating allows you to modify your daily choices based on food preferences, accessibility, and goals.

The concept of eating for sustenance, albeit controlling for calories and macronutrients, enables you to enjoy your favorite foods without feeling guilty.

Similar to flexible dieting, sustainable eating enables you to have complete freedom over your food preferences.

There is no “cookie-cutter meal plan” that you “have” to follow.

Nutrition prescriptions are individualized

Each individual has a daily caloric and macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein, fat) nutrition prescription based on his or her age, height, weight, physical activity level, and of course the overall goal.

Your nutrition should support your goals.

If you’re trying to lose fat, you need to eat fewer calories.

If you’re trying to gain weight, you need to eat more calories.

If you’re trying to maintain your current body weight, you need to eat at your maintenance caloric level.

As simple as it sounds, it’s the simple truth.

There are no specific foods you “should” eat in order to “be healthy” or to reach your goals instantly.

Consistency is paramount.

Sustainable practices are even more paramount for long-term compliance, health, overall feelings of well-being, and longevity.


Cornerstone Coach, Mike, understands that consistency over time results in the desired end result.


Sustainable eating: general recommendations

As long as macronutrient numbers and calories are hit, specificity of a food can be placed on the back burner to honor personal food preferences to hit your nutrition prescription.

For example, let’s say you are logging your calories and macronutrients. You are short about 50g carbohydrates come dinner time. You have 4 oz. flank steak and ½ cup green beans already accounted for in your food log. You begin looking for carbohydrate-rich foods to pair with your steak and veggies.

You peruse the kitchen and cupboards only to find a bag of white potatoes and a bag of sweet potatoes. In an effort to fill in the gaps for your carbohydrate macronutrients, you compare macronutrients of the two items.

Upon further comparison, you notice the sweet potatoes are growing some mold on them. They are out of date.

You always heard sweet potatoes were “better for you, ” but per 6 oz. the potatoes are identical in macronutrient composition supplying roughly 50g carbohydrates per 6 oz — Just enough to hit your allotment.

You decide to have the white potato with your steak and green beans. You feel guilt for eating a white potato after your “coach” recently told you to “stay away from all white starches.”

Regret and self-pity set in.

Have you abandoned ship and derailed your “nutrition meal plan” entirely?


White potatoes and sweet potatoes certainly have nutritional differences; however, one is not necessarily “better” than the other. White potatoes have a higher magnesium, iron, and potassium content. On the other hand, sweet potatoes have more vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant) and dietary fiber.


Sweet potatoes vs. white potatoes. What’s the verdict?


The goal of sustainable eating is to shift our thinking of foods as “clean” or “dirty,” to recognizing them for their macronutrient composition – while keeping micronutrient content into consideration.

Doing this will only help you understand the freedom of food selection that sustainable eating encompasses.

General recommendations sustainable eating fosters:

  • Aim for 14g of fiber per 1000 kcals
  • 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • Inclusion of nutrient-dense foods that you enjoy
  • Strive to make half your grains whole grains (if able to tolerate wheat products)
  • Abidance to the 80/20 rule (read below to learn more)

Misconceptions of Sustainable Eating

  1. “Macronutrient counting doesn’t work for me.”

Even if you are eating “clean” or following a specific diet protocol like the caveman diet or some bizarre fad diet, the food and drink you consume contains macronutrients.

Remember – macronutrients include carbohydrate, protein, and fat. These energy-yielding nutrients are found abundantly in our food and drink.

For every diet and nutritional approach, there are specific macronutrient numbers in the foods you consume.

Essentially, every day you eat – you are consuming macronutrients.

Logging your macronutrients and calories specific to your goal allows for fine tuning and adjustments once progress stalls.

When clean eaters hit a plateau with their fat loss goals, what adjustments does that individual make?

Do they eat cleaner?

Be right back. Washing my food with soap and dish detergent.

I cannot reiterate the importance of consistency over time. Perhaps the greatest benefit of sustainable eating is that it revolves around consistency and allows the individual to take ownership of his or her food selection, meal frequency, and tolerances while adhering to the most important dictator of body composition: energy balance.

kayla DL

Cornerstone athlete, Kayla, lays the foundational cornerstone with her approach to sustainable eating and training day in and day out. The very blueprint of her drive and dedication is her consistency and relentlessness pursuit.


  1. “Flexible dieting and sustainable eating is just an excuse to eat junk food.”

Sustainable eating isn’t about eating just ice cream and pizza to hit your numbers. Often times, I see posts on social media outlets of flexible dieters sharing pictures of cake pastries and ice cream with a hashtag promoting flexible dieting.

What you don’t see is posts of lean protein sources, veggies, fruits, whole grains, and essential fats.



Wholesome food choices. 80/20 rule at it’s finest.


Sustainable eating comprehensively includes and promotes the 80/20 rule.

That is, you choose nutrient-dense, wholesome foods 80% of the time.

The remaining 20% of your nutritional approach welcomes and even fosters that inclusion of daily treats or “junk food” you enjoy – all while being accounted for in your total caloric and macronutrient allotment.

It’s more practical to enjoy a small treat daily, keeping energy balance in mind, rather than binging on the weekends after eating “clean” 5 days in a row.

Stay sane: choose a nutritional approach you can maintain

Sustainable eating is about discovering the degree of flexibility in a nutritional approach that works for you.

The degree of flexibility is going to vary from person to person.

Rather than rigidly dieting, completely excluding foods you once enjoyed, and jumping ship from your social life in an effort to get lean – sustainable eating harbors and welcomes practicality and sensibility.

Choose a nutritional approach you can maintain. Your mind and body will thank you.


One Response to “A simplistic, wholesome view: sustainable eating”

  1. Bridget August 27, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

    As a nutritionist who has recently entered the fitness industry, I just want to say… I COULD NOT AGREE MORE!! Thank you for this post.

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