How old are you?
(Nutritionally speaking of course!)
Remember learning fractions in grade 1? No right? You had to go through learning numbers, times tables, division etc. before you were taught how to work with fractions in grade 4 or 5.
Remember the 1st day of your driving lesson? Were you expected to parallel park the car? Absolutely not! You were taught the fundamentals of Accelerator, Break & Clutch over and over again before the tutor let you control the car.
Similarly, Nutrition is also a skill & if you don’t spend sufficient time in mastering the fundamentals, you are setting yourself up for failure.
So, it’s important for each of us to know what our nutritional level is before we bombard ourselves with complex practices.
I love how Precision Nutrition divides nutritional levels into 3 different categories (1,2 & 3), based on:
1. Your Goal: What do you want?
2. Your Knowledge: What do you know?
3. Your Skills: What can you do? And
4. Your Consistency: What can you repeatedly do?
This helps you translate your goal into immediate actions and also helps you set realistic expectations based on your efficient and consistent practice.
Let’s list out some basic characteristics of each level to help you figure out your Nutritional age:
You are an elite athlete or have an elite bodybuilding competition or a modeling career; you train for 15 – 20 hours or more per week; you are a subject matter expert; your skills in workout and nutrition are high; you can follow a complex plan, you weigh your food and you count calories, you have a personal coach and this is your life; it is the only thing you focus on; everything & everyone else in your life supports your goal
You are a high performance athlete, you have body composition goals; you are a physique competitor, you train about 10 hrs/ week, you can do tasks with clear instructions and monitoring, you have mastered your fundamental behaviours and are also consistent, you count calories, this is top priority and are working on balancing other aspects of your life to stay on track.
Some typical goals of Level 1 are: Fat (weight) loss, Build muscle, Get stronger, create a healthy lifestyle, change my relationship with food, resolve emotional eating, sort out my digestive issues, improve my athletic performance/ recovery etc. Knowledge is usually none but can sometimes be overwhelmed with too much information. You can do tasks with clear instructions; still struggle to stay on track, you have a job, you have a family, you have a social life and you are constantly trying to balance your environment with your goal.
Do you relate to any of the levels? What is your nutritional age?
Does this also ring a bell, why a general program of one size-fits all might not work?
The answer is, even though most of us might be level 1, our goals, skills, knowledge, consistency & even our environments have a huge variance.
It is therefore extremely important to choose a strategy or a coaching system that has a deep understanding of where you are (nutritionally), what fundamental skills you have already mastered and which ones do you need to work on, your consistency and your resilience (because life will take you off-track).
“Awareness is the key: Know where you are and where are you headed & ask yourself what do you need to get there!”
P.S: Next, Failure is feedback