How many times have you heard someone say “food is fuel”, whether it’s your personal trainer, your doctor, or your gym partner?
The food is fuel concept is ubiquitous in fitness and wellness culture. However, is this really the best way story to be telling about our food?
The fact of the matter is, the food is fuel mentality is not only a bad analogy, but thinking this way could potentially be harmful to an individual’s fitness efforts, whether they are looking to lose weight or they are looking to gain muscle.
But to really understand why the food is fuel mentality is really “bad”, let’s look at the analogy itself. While it may be true that food gives you your energy in the same way that gasoline powers a car, the food is fuel mentality doesn’t take into consideration the numerous other benefits that healthy foods provide.
In addition to energy, food also provides individuals with important nutrients, vitamins, and other components that can affect everything from your cardiovascular health to your mood.
Important Dietary Components – Nutrients
Not eating enough calcium-rich foods, to name just one example of a crucial dietary component – can lead to a number of issues, such as poorer clotting ability, more brittle bones, and a breakdown in cellular function.
Magnesium controls everything from your blood pressure to your blood sugar, while folates play a crucial role in red blood cell production as well as the health of your nervous system.
In addition to these components, there are also phytochemicals – or chemicals derived from plant sources – to take into consideration. Phytochemicals (do not provide any calories) can play any of a number of roles in your body’s health, from protecting you against cancer to reducing your chances of developing serious heart disease.
When you start to do away with the food is fuel mentality, you start to think beyond the calorie count and to consider these many other components that are present in foods.
The human body is an incredibly complex organism – not a machine – and you are only doing it a disservice by thinking of it as if it were a car.
Instead, think of the food that you eat as information. Your food tells your body how to feel, and how to act, and by giving it only the best food – or information – you can ensure that your body’s performance is at its absolute peak.