The first important (but boring) nutrition principle every skinny-fat noob should know: eat Mother Nature’s food

Eat Mother Nature’s food.

(And lesser processed variants of Mother Nature’s food.)

If you think I’m talking about CLIF bars, then you need to keep reading… or burn in hell. Either one works, because I’m not talking about CLIF bars. I’m talking about something much more raw. Something much more wholesome.

When your dog takes a shit, pick up the turd logs and eat them. On the spot. While they’re hot and mushy. That’s what I’m talking about. PureUnfiltered. Organic.

Wait. No. That’s not right, either.

Guess I got a little overzealous. I’m not myself. I’m a little nervous, because… well, okay. I’ll tell you why I’m nervous, even though it’s embarrassing.

I fully endorse eating mostly Mother Nature’s food and its limited processed variants. But I don’t have a damn clue as to what either of these things are.

Handy heuristics for Mother Nature

I’m compelled to throw some heuristics your way in an attempt to better explain what Mother Nature’s food is and isn’t. These heuristics go down smooth… until TROLLTHONY takes over.

Mother Nature’s food is in nature

Things that run, hop, jump, and fly. Things that once had a heartbeat. Things sprouting from the ground. Things growing from trees. Things like: fruits, meats, organs, eggs, fish, berries, nuts, seeds, roots, grains, and vegetables.

OH YEAH. LIKE PSYCHEDELIC MUSHROOMS. COOL MAN. LET’S GO DO SOME ‘SHROOMS. ANTHONY MYCHAL IS TELLING EVERYONE TO DO PSYCHEDELIC DRUGGGSSSSSSS. YESSSSSSSS!

Mother Nature’s food doesn’t have ingredients

What are the ingredients of a chicken pot pie? Chicken is one of them, but there are more. What about a peach pie? Peaches are one of them, but there are more. What are the ingredients of a peach? Of a hunk of chicken? There are none, save for the food itself.

OH YEAH. LIKE SUGAR. OKAY. TIME TO GO BALLS DEEP IN THAT WHITE SUGAAAAAAAA. ANTHONY MYCHAL SAID IT WAS COOL, LET’S SWEETEN THE SHIT OUT OF EVERYTHING. COCAINE IS WHITE, TOO. GIMME SOME OF DAT BOOGA SHOOGA. 

Mother Nature’s food was around 1000 years ago

DON’T EVEN TRY TO EXPLAIN THIS ONE. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT FOODS WERE AROUND 1000 YEARS AGO, YOU LITTLE SHIT. BUT I DO. THE EGYPTIANS DRANK BEER! BEER WAS AROUND 1000 YEARS AGO! DRINK TO FORGET, EVERYONE! ANTHONY MYCHAL SAID IF YOU CAN REMEMBER THE PATH TO SALVATION, YOU DID IT WRONG.

Moving to processed foods

I regret every second of wanting to write this. I can’t explain what Mother Nature’s food is, so I guess I’ll try to explain what it isn’t. And in order to understand what Mother Nature’s food isn’t, we have to enter the world of food processing.

Food processing is the transformation of raw ingredients, by physical or chemical means into food, or of food into other forms. Food processing combines raw food ingredients to produce marketable food products that can be easily prepared and served by the consumer.

~ Wikipedia

As much as I wanna say that the “purest” forms of Mother Nature’s food require no processing, TROLLTHONY wants to collect his toll.

OH YEAH? IS THAT SO. WELL, FUCKFACE. COOKING IS A FORM OF FOOD PROCESSING. SO DOES THAT MEAN CHICKEN ISN’T MOTHER NATURE’S FOOD? HUH?

Processing isn’t evil

Luckily, I’m not here to debate the “purest” forms of Mother Nature’s food because processing isn’t inherently evil. There are plenty of processed foods that are fine to eat. To which you might be wondering: O RLY, LIEK WAT?

My gut says: most “okay” processed foods tend to be (a) minimally processed, and (b) rooted in Mother Nature’s food. These foods tend to have only a few ingredients, most of which are Mother Nature’s food.

I’d get more detailed if I knew what I was talking about, but it should be obvious by now: I don’t. And if I keep it as vague as I just did, TROLLTHONY stays in his hole.

Introducing junk food

Processing isn’t inherently evil, but it can turn sour. It’s one thing to char salmonella off a turkey leg, or turn a cow’s titty juice into cheese. It’s another thing to create a somehow stay fresh forever puff pastry designed to deliver an intense dopaminergic spike in an attempt foster consumer addiction.

Perhaps that sounds extreme, but that’s junk food in a nutshell.

In general, as a category, junk food, is dominated by the “c” words: chips, candies, crackers, cookies, and cakes. And, well, you might as well add protein bars to the list.

Protein bars are junk food

Have you ever looked at the ingredients of a protein bar? Protein bars, for the most part, are junk food. Below is the label for a protein bar. There are two things to note.

protein bar junk food

First, look at all the ingredients. In general, having more ingredients hints of being more processed, and being more processed hints of junk food.

Second, look at the order of the ingredients. Some of the earliest ingredients are flour and sugar, meaning this isn’t really a protein bar. It’s actually a carbohydrate bar. (On nutrition facts labels, ingredients are listed by their percent contribution. The first ingredient makes up most of the food.)

Why Mother Nature’s food?

Junk food is definitely not Mother Nature’s food, so I’m gonna take a squat and tell you why I recommend opting for the (thus far) vaguely defined combination of Mother Nature and its limited processed variants, as opposed to junk food.

More proof

Mother Nature’s food sustained life for millions of years, before the advent of hardcore processing techniques. We have a long history with Mother Nature’s food, so we know what’s good (eat broccoli) and what’s bad (don’t eat poison ivy).

We don’t have the same empirical wherewithal with newer processed foods, with the story of trans fat being all the evidence anyone could need.

The trans fat TL;DR is such that humans thought they could make a fat better than one that occurred naturally in Mother Nature’s food (saturated fat). This new fat was named trans fat. Trans fat is now being banned. From all food. So, uhh, yeah. It was a flop. A big one.

More nutrients

If you don’t know why nutrients are important, ask the pirates that crossed the Atlantic for the first time. We need nutrients. If we don’t get them, we die. Or, even worse, we grow a fucking goiter.

Most highly processed junk foods aren’t as nutritious as Mother Nature’s food. Companies often try to fortify their junk food with vitamins and minerals, but this misses the mark. Sure, it stops us from growing goiters. But there’s more to “nutrition” than vitamins and minerals. What about phytochemicals? Bacteria?

Less consumerized

(I’m wearing my tinfoil hat for this one.) When I said that junk food was designed to hack human taste buds, I wasn’t kidding. Do me a favor. Walk up and down the aisles of your supermarket. Look at how many products there are.

These products have one goal in mind: your repeat consumption. That’s the only way these companies stay in business. Thousands and thousands of products want you to want them. That’s crazy, isn’t it?

Even Mother Nature’s food gets doctored up. Apples and peppers are given wax coats to make them look shinier because they know we don’t buy downtrodden produce. MY TINFOIL HAT IS ONE FIRE.

Junk food is a death sentence

Although nutrient-void-taste-bud-hacking junk food is less ideal than nutrient rich food from Mother Nature, junk food is not Mother Nature’s binary.

Mother Nature’s binary is poison, not a god damn whoopie pie.

The most heinous processing mistake of this age is, arguably, the aforementioned trans fat debacle. And although trans fat isn’t good for you, it’s not an immediate death sentence.

I grew up in the golden age of trans fat. I don’t even wanna know how much my body has digested (or tried to) since I was a kid. I didn’t have the willpower to resist Ritz Crackers covered in aerosol can cheese whiz.

The 90-10 split

No food (to my knowledge) will permanently halt fat burning or muscle building. But that doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. Your food intake is finite. If you’re eating for body composition purposes (or better human purposes), you need to nourish your body. Some foods do this better than others.

Think 90% Mother Nature’s food (and its limited processed variants). The other 10% can creep into processed world if needed, in whatever way best suits your personality.

If you can’t stop eating the pint of ice cream once you start, you should cap how often you eat it. Maybe you need to do the once per week cheat meal thing. If you’re a good self-limiter, maybe you’re the type of person that’ll thrive on having one small portion every day.

This isn’t an easy thicket to navigate. And I hope I’m not giving you more leeway than you can handle. You can’t eat a bunch of shit and look great naked if you aren’t genetically predisposed to look great naked. That’s just how it goes.

On needing the 10%

This 10% leeway isn’t necessary. I make room for it because behavior change is messy. You’re coming into this with decades of experiences, feelings, and emotions under your belt. If you have strong ties to certain foods, then cutting them out cold turkey can sabotage your efforts.

For example, try not to think of a pink elephant for ten seconds. Seriously. Try. After five seconds, you’ll realize that the only thing you’ve been able to think about is a pink elephant.

This is what happens (sometimes) when you classify a food as “forbidden.” It’s the only thing you think about, which makes it nearly impossible to resist.

In other words, if you absolutely love an overly processed junk food and you put it on the naughty list, you’re going to be thinking about it. All. The. Time. And that’s behavior change suicide; the prospect of never again eating a food you love is terrifying.

Eat Mother Nature’s food

Even after everything we’ve been through, you might still be wondering, “I get it. You want me to eat Mother Nature’s food. But what the heck is it?”

The best definition for Mother Nature’s food: nutrient rich foods that have been proven — over a long stretch of time — to support human life.

That’s sounds about right.

Take this definition and use it to figure out which… wait. No. Wait. Lists. There are lists. Fuggggggg. We could have ended this a long time ago. My bad.

P.S.

If you wanna check out the second important (but boring) nutrition principle every skinny-fat noob should know, click here.

P.P.S.

You have a better idea of what Mother Nature’s food is (and isn’t). The hard work is done. Eat mostly Mother Nature’s foods and its lesser processed variants. You can leave now.

Below I expand on the three reasons why eating Mother Nature’s food is the tits. I don’t want you to get too excited, but stories of pirates and goats are afoot. Okay. Fuck it. Get excited.

It’s the tits, reason one: nutrients

Calories (energy) get a lot of press. People say, “We eat because our body needs energy.” And while that’s true, it’s also negligent. The OG pirates crossing the Atlantic for the first time weren’t dying from starvation (an energy deficiency). They were dying of scurvy (a micronutrient deficiency).

The world of food below calories: vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, bacteria (bacteria isn’t always bad), and so many other things that we don’t yet know about. (I’m going to refer to this collective world simply as “micronutrients.”)

Here’s a list, straight outta’ Harvard. Tells you what vitamins and minerals do for your body. Here’s a neat infographic about phytonutrients and food color. Here’s an interesting article about hunter-gatherer gut bacteria compared to our modernized gut bacteria.

Micronutrients are what create you. The hairs on your head are micronutrients. Your fingernails are micronutrients. Your blood cells are micronutrients. In some sense, micronutrients are like materials, whereas calories are like workers. You need both to build a house.

Micronutrient importance

If you aren’t getting enough micronutrients, you might be tired, lethargic, and unmotivated. But, fuck. That’s nothing. If you don’t get enough vitamin C, you die of scurvy. If you don’t get enough iodine, you grow a goiter. A FUCKING GOITER.

You need micronutrients to keep your body running smoothly, which means now is the perfect time to shrivel into a ball of paranoia about micronutrients. Just kidding. Kind of. Not really.

If you are paranoid about your micronutrient situation, you can get it tested via hair sample. (I’m looking into credible companies that do this.) But you don’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars to get tested. You can, instead:

  1. Eat mostly Mother Nature’s food.
  2. Eat a variety of Mother Nature’s food.

Because somehow (magically) most of Mother Nature’s foods are nutrient plentiful. If you Google “best sources of <specific nutrient>”, you’re almost always going to get a list of Mother Nature’s food in return.

Then again, the fact that Mother Nature’s food is nutrient dense may not be very magical when you think about the alternative: if Mother Nature’s food wasn’t nutrient plentiful, the human race would have died long ago. Because, long ago, the only thing they were able to eat was Mother Nature’s food.

Goats galore

Just in case staving off Kwashiorkor wasn’t reason enough to care about micronutrients, there might be another big one. I’m not 100% sold on what I’m about to tell you, but it’s interesting enough to make me sound smart by association pass along.

In The Dorito Effect, the author (Mark Schatzker) writes that goats stop eating sooner when fed vitamin fortified feed (as compared to goats fed non-vitamin fortified feed). In other words — actually, fuck that. Let’s use an example.

There’s an infinite amount of Granny Smith apples in front of you. These are regular Granny Smith apples. Mother Nature’s food, full of nutrients.

A clone of you is in an identical adjacent room. He, too, has an infinite amount of Granny Smith apples in front of him. But there’s one difference: these apples have been stripped of their nutrients.

If both you and your clone went H.A.M. on these apples, eating as many as you could, you would hit a point of satiety before your clone would.

Why?

Everything in excess is toxic, or so the theory goes. Water and oxygen are fantastic. You need both of them to survive. But too much of either will kill you. Same goes for nutrients.

So you (and the goat eating vitamin fortified feed) stop eating sooner in an effort to avoid nutrient toxicity. Your clone (and the goat eating non-fortified feed) doesn’t know when to stop.

If this phenomenon really applies to humans, then Mother Nature’s food could help regulate your satiety (because Mother Nature’s food is typically more nutrient dense than its overly processed counterparts).

IT’S THE TITS, REASON ONE

The first reason Mother Nature’s food is the tits: it tends to have more nutrients in comparison to overly processed junk food. And we need nutrients, otherwise we die. Or, even worse, we grow a fucking goiter.

It’s the tits, reason two: fuckery

Obesity is an epidemic. Humans can’t stop eating. Smart people say that we’re addicted to energy. As a species, we grew up in an environment that wasn’t energy abundant. Those that had the biggest desire (addiction?) to consume energy fought hardest to get it. They were the ones that lived, and they passed on their genes.

So when you see someone that craves sweets, it makes sense. They crave the sugar because the energy within sugar is preciiioussssss. But do people REALLY crave sugar? When people get “sugar cravings,” do they reach into a jar of white sugar and shove a handful down their throat? Do kids get a hankering for a glass of sugar water?

No.

Kids don’t drink sugar water. They drink Kool-Aid. They drink Tang. (Do they still drink Tang? I don’t know. I used to slay some Tang.) They drink Little Hugs. All of these drinks are more than sugar water. They’re flavored sugar water.

Fucking with flavor

Humans crave flavor. And, if you’re just learning this, you’re late to the party. Food manufacturers have known this for a long time. They inject bodacious flavor into slop food, turning us into mindless goats. Don’t believe me? Become your own private investigator. Take a gander at the ingredients portion of the food label.

  • natural flavor(s)
  • artiticial flavor(s)
  • flavor(ing)
  • monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • disodium guanlyate
  • disodium inosinate
  • torula yeast
  • hydrolyzed protein
  • autolyzsed yeast
  • saccharin
  • aspartame
  • acesulfame potassium
  • sucralose
  • neotame
  • advantame
  • stevia

This is a list of flavor enhancers, compliments of The Dorito Effect. These ingredients are all signs that the food is being pumped with added flavor.

Money, money, money

What’s the point? Are flavor enhancers deadly? No. Not to my knowledge. But, when you peruse the supermarket, you have to come to grips with a harrowing reality: every single company that’s selling food wants you to buy their food. And not just once. But over and over and over and over.

Companies are only companies because they make enough money to continue being companies. In other words, money is king. Altruism isn’t.

This is why Mother Nature’s food often gets processed. Salt is added to meats to preserve their shelf life. Wax coating is added to vegetables to make them look shiny and pretty. But overly processed junk food usually takes it one step (or twelve) further.

Junk food is designed to hack your brain. It’s designed to give you pleasure. It’s designed to make you a repeat customer.

Have you seen my tinfoil hat?

IT’S THE TITS, REASON TWO

The second Mother Nature’s food is the tits: there’s less fuckery. Overly processed junk food, for the most part, is designed to hack your brain in the name of repeat consumption. Yes, yes. I know they should add some of this flavoring to broccoli, but, until they do, treat junk food as you were taught to treat Mos Eisley spaceport.

It’s the tits, reason three: proof

Years ago, a bunch of (supposedly) smart humans concluded that saturated fat caused heart disease. Saturated fat is found naturally (lol) in both animal-based foods and plant-based foods. So the supposedly smart humans made their own fat, which is now commonly known as trans fat.

Trans fat was (and still is) an ingredient in many different foods, but margarine — the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter substitute for butter — was the trans fat poster boy.

For a long time, people avoided “regular” butter (saturated fat) in favor of margarine (trans fat) because the smart lab guys said it was a healthier alternative.

But it wasn’t. And it isn’t.

Time has shown us two things.

First, the link between saturated fat intake and heart disease isn’t as clear as it was once thought to be. Meaning the assault on saturated fat might have been unjustified.

Second, trans fat destroys our bodies. Seriously. Trans fat is so bad for us, there’s a nationwide ban starting in 2018.

Finding trans fat

Since I dropped the bomb, I might as well give you a heads up. These days, companies have to list trans fat overtly on the nutrition facts label. But you can’t trust the label. For two reasons.

trans fat label nutrition facts

First, nutrition labels go by a “per serving” basis. But servings are totally arbitrary. You can make a can of soda have 2.5 servings. But everyone knows you don’t drink 33% of a can of soda, you drink the whole can.

Second, if a food contains less than 0.5 grams of a macronutrient per serving, it can be listed as containing 0 grams per serving. In other words, a food with 0.4 grams of trans fat per serving can be listed as having 0 grams of trans fat per serving.

Companies purposefully fracture their serving sizes so that they’re able to list their food as having 0 grams of trans fat per serving. So if you want to really find trans fat, you have to read through the ingredients. The word “hydrogenated” was (and still is) the red flag. Fully hydrogenated. Partially hydrogenated. Whatever hydrogenated. The word “hydrogenated” is all that matters.

hydrogenated ingredients

Naturalistic fallacy

Trans fat showcases human hubris, but I want to make sure you understand the point I’m driving home. I’m not raging against trans fat because it’s not “natural” (lol).

Whether or not a food is found in nature has nothing to do with my argument at all; I’m not tripping over the naturalistic fallacy.

The naturalistic fallacy, in a nutshell, is the assumption that “natural” is “right” (or better). This fallacy initially had moral implications. For instance, chimps kill other chimps. Therefore, murder is “natural.” And if murder is “natural,” then should it punishable?

As it relates to food, the naturalistic fallacy is simply the assumption that “natural” food is inherently better than processed foods. But the problem isn’t processing. I have nothing against processing. The problem is proof.

Proof isn’t in trans fat pudding

Humans survived eating a subset of food that’s been around for a long time (it existed before the advent of advanced processing techniques). And there is empirical wherewithal to know what’s good and bad within this subset of food.

  • Don’t eat chicken medium rare.
  • Don’t use poison ivy to make tea.
  • Don’t eat random forest mushrooms.

Although I always wonder about the first guy (or gal) that chomped into a raw onion. Must have thought death was imminent. I don’t know who woulda’ had the cojones to go in for a second bite.

Anything new introduced (fuck you, Soylent) into normal “human” feeding patterns should be approached with skepticism. In other words, when it comes to food, look towards Lindy.

IT’S THE TITS, REASON THREE

The third reason Mother Nature’s food is the tits: there’s more proof behind its consumption. Processing changes the proven. It’s like a game of telephone. You tell one person a sentence, that person tells another person, that person tells another person, that person tells another person, and on and on it goes. By the time the game of telephone ends, you’re left a different sentence. We know the first sentence was good. We don’t know if the new (altered) sentence will be good. Until its too late.

Trying to lose fat, build muscle, and build a body you’re proud of?

Maybe you’re a little lost right now.

Maybe you don’t have much motivation.

Maybe you don’t what program or diet to use.

I don’t know…

But what I do know is this:

Everything you need is inside of you.

You’re capable of more than know.

You just have to open your eyes.

My weekly column can help.

Just a small little honest note from me sent every Sunday.

Unless I’m hungover.

And then it comes Monday.

What I’m trying to say is that it’ll come Monday.

(These weekly columns don’t get posted to the site.)

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