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by Tony Gjokaj July 14, 2020 6 min read
Throughout every single fat loss diet I have attempted, my biggest challenge was always the mental aspect of it. While physical fatigue wasn't really a challenge for me, the mental fatigue always kicked my ass.
The hunger cravings, the extra stress, the depression... and a lot of it had to do with my neglect in proper nutrition.
You don't know how important nutrition is for your life until you find out how it impacts your mental health.
In this post, I am going to go over a set of dieting strategies you can utilize to improve your fitness and mental health in 2020. I will include studies and personal experiences within it as well.
Let's dive in!
Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps rebuild cells and reduce fatigue. This macronutrient allows us to build new muscle, hair, nails, skin, and brain neurotransmitters.
Protein has a massive importance on mental health because of its neurotransmitter production. As most of these neurotransmitters are amino acids, protein helps produce things like dopamine. In this example, low amounts of dopamine in the body will lead to depression. Low protein typically leads to low physical and mental fatigue as well.
While these are only a few examples, we need to understand that protein shouldn't be avoided.
Whenever I would have a low protein intake for a day, my performance at work and the suffered. As I tend to be active, my body requires more protein for it to repair muscle and manage fatigue.
Here are our recommendations when it comes to protein:
Nutrient-Dense foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, rice, and beans essential to every day. This allows you to cover many nutrient deficiencies one may have, especially if they're attempting to lose weight or be more active.
There is a strong correlation between poor diets and mental health. For example, not having enough Iron in your body makes you more prone to depression and anxiety. This applies to Zinc as well.
There are plenty of vitamins and minerals to cover, which can get very overwhelming trying to get them in your daily diet.
Here are our recommendations when it comes to getting these nutrients in your body:
Fiber typically comes as a result of eating plant-based foods, but we would like to dive further into the mental health aspect of fiber.
You've probably heard a saying recently that has been going around: your gut is your second brain. According to one analysis, dietary fiber can potentially help with depression risk through the gut microbiome.
When it comes to getting dietary fiber in, here are our recommendations:
It should make sense that too much processed or calorie-dense foods can impact you mentally. Most calorie-dense foods typically have little to zero micronutrients like vitamins and minerals in them.
As mentioned before, this can have a serious impact on mood, fatigue, energy, and more. In fact, a study from Loma Linda found a connection in poor mental health and diet quality.
If you personally know me, you may have heard my story of dieting on In-N-Out for about 3 months in college. Science has proven that low-calorie diets (despite what you eat) contribute to fat loss.
I wanted to test this out by eating In-N-Out burgers, working out, and having a low-calorie intake (around 2200 calories). I would eat a full double-double or a protein styled one with extra lettuce. Typically, I would eat this 2-3x per day depending on how the calories went. Sometimes, I would eat fries.
Here's what happened:
It's possible to eat junk food while losing weight, but that doesn't mean you're healthy, or that you'll feel good while doing it.
Today, I significantly minimize processed foods and prioritize nutritious foods for not just physical performance, but mental performance as well.
What we recommend is the following:
Serotonin is known as the "feel-good" hormone as it promotes happiness and wellbeing. Having low serotonin can result in high anxiety levels, elevated depression, and low self-esteem.
Serotonin is typically produced as a result of getting a proper intake of Vitamin D, along with eating nutritious foods like nuts, seeds, fish, and fruit.
When I diet, I personally have difficulty with serotonin as dieting is harder on me mentally than physically. In my experience, I tend to perform better when consuming more carbohydrates and having a moderate-fat intake. According to science, there is a correlation that nutritious carbohydrates contribute to wellbeing.
This is only a hypothesis at this time, but it would make sense as to why I do better with 20-25% of my total calories coming from fat and over 40% of my total calories in carbohydrates.
In the meantime, what we recommend is the following:
For more on Vitamin D, read about our Vitamin D guide here.
There are so many diets that come around neglecting food groups or other nutritious foods from all sides of the spectrum.
We don't believe in eliminating macronutrients, fruits, vegetables, or food groups. At Reforged, we follow a moderation approach.
When it comes to dieting for weight loss, we simply believe that the goal is eating as much as we can so that we lose weight. We refuse to drop our calories so low that our physical and mental health gets severely impacted.
I hope this helped you understand that focusing on eating good amounts of protein, diverse nutritious foods, and plenty of fruits & vegetables will help you reach your greatest potential.
Any questions, comments, or feedback?
Feel free to comment below, direct message me on social (@ibtonyg), or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get to you as soon as I can!
Until next time, Reforged Legion!
Tony is the Owner of Reforged. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help millions exercise their way out of depression and anxiety.
by Tony Gjokaj April 25, 2023 3 min read
Exercise can feel like a chore, and even if you know it’s good for your health, the motivation to get moving sometimes just isn’t there.
But it doesn’t have to be a burden - by making exercise meaningful to you, it can become something fun and rewarding!
Here are five ways to make exercise more meaningful!
by Tony Gjokaj October 07, 2022 4 min read
Men, I know what it is like to be overweight and depressed.
Not having the energy to do anything but relax and sleep.
While relaxation and sleep are incredibly important, they can make us feel like we are not making progress in our lives.
And when depression hits, it’s very difficult to push through with exercise and weight loss.
But did you know that even though it takes time and some effort, you don’t need to get obsessively crazy over it?
In fact, with just a few small adjustments, you can lose weight, fight back against depression, and take your life back.
If you're serious about shedding pounds and pushing away those depression demons, here are five tips that can help get you started.
by Tony Gjokaj September 05, 2022 4 min read
A few weeks ago, my buddy Grant and I talked about nutrition.
We talked about how he's lost over 120 pounds so far with the weight loss progress he's been making.
This is all because he has been making healthier decisions over time.
One of the newest challenges he's facing right now is he's got a new job. He's working 10 to 12 hour days with physical demanding labor.
And what's been happening for him is that he's been super exhausted, he's not motivated to meal prep, he's having trouble trying to sit down and cook foods doesn't have the energy doesn't have the time.
So what I propose is five tips that you can use to live a more on the go fast food healthy eating lifestyle.
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