It’s easy to look at a food and say it’s good or bad. I think this is a horrible way to go about assessing foods and determining which foods you want to consume in a specific circumstance.
There are 2 things that I do when I am assessing a food to determine how beneficial it will be overall, and how beneficial it will be in a specific application.
Overall Beneficialness of a Food:
Instead of looking at a food as good or bad, I consider foods to be quality or less quality. Labelling a food as good or bad puts up a barrier that makes you question everything you consume.
Determining if a food is of better quality or lesser quality doesn’t have this problem. It is simply a way to see how good a food is as a whole. In general, we want the majority of our nutrition to come from higher-quality foods. This is because most situations where we choose foods are not special circumstances, so most of the time we want to be eating the high-quality foods that are beneficial overall.
What are the primary dictators of food quality?
There are 3 main things that I look at:
- The amount of high-quality macronutrients we get from the food, and for how many calories?
- Is the food dense in nutrients and fibre/is it a more whole food source?
- How well does this food agree and work for us?
Whatever food we are consuming and whatever macronutrients we want to obtain from it, we generally want to have high-quality macronutrients without a crazy high-calorie cost.
This is because if you are trying to lose or maintain weight, we won’t be eating as many foods that are high in calories. This makes it easier to manage the calories we consume. Even if you are looking to put on muscle, eating foods with high-quality macronutrients that aren’t extremely energy-dense likely means we are eating whole foods, which is what we want most of the time regardless.
When I say high-quality macronutrients, I mean complete proteins, good fats and complex carbs/starches. Now, of course, if you are looking to build muscle and are eating in a calorie surplus, and there are high-quality foods that are also dense in energy, great.
Micronutrients. The more micronutrient dense a food is, the more help we will be giving our body with the foods we consume. An example would be eating a piece of steak instead of genoa salami. That steak will not only be higher in protein, it will also provide us with more micronutrients. Micronutrients are essential to the functioning of our body, and our body relies on us providing it with the micronutrients it needs.
As for fibre, we all know fibre is good for us, specifically for digestion. General recommendations are 14 grams per 1,000 calories eaten. Typically, less processed foods will allow us to consume more fibre. Fibre further benefits the quality of a food.
Lastly, no matter how high quality, whole and unprocessed, nutrient and fibre dense a food is, there will be foods that simply don’t agree with us. Whether this is a sensitivity, allergy, you name it. We simply can not call a food quality for ourselves if the food does not work for us.
Choosing Foods in Specific Circumstances:
Now that we know how to determine a foods overall quality, it is important to understand specific circumstances where we would be making food choices, and how we can assess a food to make the decisions that make the most SENSE!
Yes, we will choose foods that make SENSE, not just what society tells us we should consume.
When I look at a food, I first look at what the food will actually be giving me. This helps to consume foods that make SENSE for the situation.
For example, if I am having a standard breakfast, I would want it to be well-balanced. So, I would pick a protein source (complete protein ideally), carbohydrate source (starchy/complex carb ideally), a healthy fat source and a fruit for some added micronutrients.
What would a breakfast like this look like? For me, it is usually some eggs, toast with butter, a glass of milk and a banana. Throwing in some walnuts would also be a good idea. Can you pick out where all the breakfast traits I am looking for come from in those foods? If so, let me know in the comments!
So looking at what a food actually provides us helps organize our meals. But, there are times where we don’t need a full-on well-balanced meal.
What if you are about to train? In that case, I am looking for a carbohydrate source (starchy if consuming more than an hour before the session, or more of a simple sugar if less than an hour before the session). I would also be looking for a complete protein source so my muscles can execute muscle protein synthesis to recover and grow from the session.
Here is another circumstance. You are out for dinner and feel like something tasty. You’ve been dieting hard and something to satisfy the sweet tooth or whatever tooth you have makes sense to help keep things sustainable. Let’s say it is the sweet tooth. Now you’re looking for a food that is likely a bit (or a lot, haha) sugary, and something that you enjoy the taste of.
Based on this wide array of examples, you can tell that MANY circumstances can be considered. Looking at what a food is actually providing us, and not just what we may THINK it will do for us is important. We need to KNOW what the food will do for/provide us. How do we know this? We look at the factors that determine food quality and see what is actually in the food. This allows us to see if the food would be considered quality/beneficial for the specific circumstance.
Well, everyone, that’s what I have for today’s article! If you have any questions, be sure to leave them in the comment section. Do you have thoughts on the article? Leave them down there as well and I’ll be sure to respond to all of you!
Thanks for reading and have an awesome rest of your day!
Here are some other articles that may be beneficial for your knowledge!
Until Next Time,
Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for the use of this information after reading.