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  • Writer's pictureLyndsey Ben

Unlocking Effective Nutrition: Understanding the Hierarchy of Nutritional Importance

In the world of fitness and health, understanding the basics of nutrition can be the key to getting fat loss results and keeping them for the long term.


Introducing The Hierarchy of Nutritional Importance:


Level 1. (Most important) Calorie Balance: This is the fundamental principle that dictates weight management. Consuming more calories than you burn leads to weight gain, while a caloric deficit results in weight loss. Understanding and managing your energy balance via portion control and calorie tracking is the first step towards achieving your fat loss goals.


Level 2. Macronutrients: Macronutrients, which are proteins, carbohydrates and fats, are the building blocks of your nutrition plan. They play a crucial role in determining whether the weight you lose or gain is muscle or fat. Getting the right balance of macronutrients is essential for body composition.  An example of this could mean keeping protein on the high end of optimal ranges when in a fat loss phase, or timing carbohydrate intake around your workouts.


Level 3. Micronutrients: While micronutrients don’t directly influence body weight like macronutrients, micronutrients are vital for maintaining overall body health. A good analogy for nutrition is comparing calories and their macronutrients to fuel in your car, and comparing micronutrients to the oil in your car: They’re necessary for smooth operations and prevention of breakdowns (illness and fatigue).


Level 4. Meal Timing: Often overemphasized, meal timing actually offers significant flexibility. The key is to avoid extremes and find a schedule that complements your lifestyle, which can help in maintaining consistency.  Some people swear by intermittent fasting.  Others prefer “grazing” throughout the day.  Personally, I like to eat 3 meals a day and 1-2 snacks.  The important thing with meal timing is that your eating schedule works for you, and you hit your calorie and macronutrient goals on a daily basis.


Level 5. (Least important) Supplements: Positioned last in the hierarchy, supplements are generally unnecessary. Few are effective, and their benefits are minimal compared to getting the above levels right. The fitness industry’s marketing tactics often exaggerate the benefits of supplements, but there are a few supplements that could be worth it, such as protein supplements to hit your protein targets if you can’t hit them through whole food, creatine monohydrate for exercise performance, or caffeine for alertness, focus and energy,.  


The key with your nutrition plan is to keep it as simple as possible, and aim to consistently follow the basic principles of the top 1-3 levels of The Nutrition Hierarchy.  By focusing on these fundamental aspects of nutrition, you’ll avoid all the common mistakes and achieve sustainable results.


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