Nutrition: So They Got Rid of the Food Pyramid…

September 21, 2013 2:54 pm / Posted in , , ,

Remember the food pyramid?  That stack of  food groups that told you to eat 6-11 servings of bread, cereal or rice a day? Well, the USDA got rid of it this year, to the relief of the nutrition coaches everywhere. If you don’t remember what the food pyramid looks like, here it is:

Nutrition and Food Pyramid From USDA

All your bread are belong to us.

What was the problem with the food pyramid?

Without getting too far into the nutrition issues the food pyramid presented, it essentially over-emphasized bread at the expense of nutrient-rich foods and didn’t provide information to help people eat healthy throughout the day.

Bread is not the basis of a healthy diet. You should instead control your intake of grain-based carbs and eat them at specific times of the day, when your body is primed to process them well.

The Alternative to the Food Pyramid: MyPlate

As an alternative to the Food Pyramid, the USDA created “MyPlate.” A nutrition guide and teaching tool that showed consumers what a standard meal should look like and how it should be balanced. Sounds good, right? Well, actually it fell short of its mark. Take a look and then I’ll explain:

MyPlate nutrition guide

Nutrition points for pretty graphics?

John Berardi of Precision Nutrition has three big criticisms of MyPlate:

  1. There’s far too much dairy: you can get calcium from sources other than milk. For that matter, many people either can’t have milk, or can only digest it with some difficulty.
  2. There’s no water: As John points out, the absence of water on MyPlate is curious. Water is a nutrient and should be emphasized over just about any other type of liquid in your diet.
  3. Not enough healthy fats: A moderate amount of monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids in a diet can help reduce hypertension, heart disease and stroke.

So while the MyPlate is a good start, it still falls short of the mark. I’m in Canada, so I don’t want to speculate too much about American politics and their influence on the USDA. But I can say that there’s another nutrition guide out there that will offer you better results.

Nutrition and Your Activity Levels

The way you process food changes throughout the day. It also changes depending on your activity levels. Your body needs different nutrients if you’ve just worked out, than if you’ve been sitting through an all-day Game of Thrones marathon. With that in mind, Precision Nutrition put together three different plates that you can use to help guide your daily meal planning.

If you’ve been to my Ottawa personal training studio, then you’ve likely seen them before, but here they are anyway. I’ll show you what they look like and then go into how they work.

Anytime Plate


Why it Works

The anytime plate is nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and low in calories. The proteins help with appetite control throughout the day, as well as with metabolism and developing lean muscle mass. You should aim to drink water or tea, as these options will help keep you hydrated throughout the day.

Post-Workout Plate

Post Workout Plate

Why it Works

After you workout, your body has higher levels of sugar tolerance, so it stands to reason that this is the time to eat your starches: you will digest them more efficiently and your body will better utilize the nutrients in the carbs. Notice that this plate is low on fats as well. Fats slow down digestion, which you don’t want after a workout.

Plant-Based Plate


Why it Works

This plate is for the vegetarian and the vegan. It emphasizes non-starchy vegetables, fats such as seeds and oils and proteins such as beans and legumes. As with all the options above, make sure to choose plate sizes that correspond to your body size.

Precision Nutrition for Ottawa Clients

If you’re in Ottawa and are interested in a targeted nutrition program that matches your lifestyle and helps you achieve your fitness goals, then book an appointment with me, Burke Cleland, Ottawa Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach. Through my focus on nutrition and gradual habit formation I’ve helped many clients achieve sustainable fitness and weight loss.

To read more about my program, check out these articles:







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