The typical American diet is full of processed “foods” that are high in refined flours, refined oils, sugar, etc. These “foods” more resemble “food-like products” and are high in calories with little, to no, nutrient value. Moreover, a diet rich in processed foods actually promotes disease. 

The modern American diet does not contain enough vitamins and minerals to meet the RDAs, which is alarming because the RDAs are not values of nutrients for optimal health but only the amount necessary to prevent a deficiency. When basic vitamins and minerals are absent from the diet it sets the stage for many of the diseases that plague us today: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, dementia, etc.

In today’s world of eating on-the-go and diets full of refined and processed foods,

more and more people are deficient in basic vitamins and minerals. While vitamins and minerals don’t necessarily prevent disease, the absence of them allows for further deterioration of metabolic function. Multiple studies conducted on the typical American diet show that the vast majority of people don’t get the RDA levels of basic vitamins and minerals.

The RDAs (Recommended Daily Allowances) were developed during World War II by the Food and Nutrition Board to identify nutritional issues that might affect national defense; a standard daily allowance for each kind of nutrient was set as a result. In 1941 the Food and Nutrition Board created a set of nutrient allotments called the Recommended Daily Allowances.

It’s important to note that the RDAs were not established to support or encourage optimal health but as the amount of nutrients necessary to prevent deficiency for entire populations, not individuals. They were also developed for healthy people who digest and metabolize food properly – not those who are sick or have compromised metabolic function.

Many studies of the American diet have identified deficiencies or suboptimal intake of certain vitamins and minerals. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition analyzed the diets of seventy people (athletes and non-athletes) who were seeking to improve their vitamin and mineral intake by making better food choices. The researchers found all of the diets analyzed were deficient in at least three nutrients with some missing up to fifteen!

Another study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that people following one of four popular diets (Atkins for Life diet, The Best Life Diet, the South Beach, and the DASH diet) were also deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. Yet another study found obese individuals who were undergoing a low calorie diet to be even more deficient in vitamins and minerals than normal-weight people. This is likely the result of “inadequate eating habits but also due to increased demands among overweight persons, which are underestimated by dietary reference intakes (DRI) intended for the general population.”

The typical American diet is full of processed “foods” that are high in refined flours, refined oils, sugar, etc. These “foods” more resemble “food-like products” and are high in calories with little, to no, nutrient value. Moreover, a diet rich in processed foods actually promotes disease.

The modern American diet does not contain enough vitamins and minerals to meet the RDAs, which is alarming because the RDAs are not values of nutrients for optimal health but only the amount necessary to prevent a deficiency. When basic vitamins and minerals are absent from the diet it sets the stage for many of the diseases that plague us today: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, dementia, etc. Figure 1 shows the key vitamins and minerals and the estimated percentage of the US population deficient in them.

Figure 1: Key vitamins and minerals and the estimated percentage of the U.S. population deficient in them. (Source: US Department of Agriculture, 2009)
recommended daily allowance

Because of how most people eat, nutritional deficiencies are very common.

As a matter of fact, if you’re reading this there a good chance you have some sort of deficiency, which is a problem because everything we do – from performing every day tasks to exercise even your mood – requires adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. People often don’t like the way they look or feel because they have some degree of metabolic dysfunction due to a poor diet and if you’re not getting enough nutrients it’s basically impossible to lose weight, feel well, get stronger, or perform your best.

Since exercise and nutrition are go hand-in-hand the first thing we do with our new athletes is have them perform a 3-day dietary recall. We simply have them record everything they’ve eaten and had to drink in the last three days.

The most common dietary trends we see are:

  • Lack of protein (especially with female athletes and clients)
  • Under-eating in general
  • High intake of processed foods
  • Low intake of vegetables and fruits
  • Low water intake

From there we begin developing a strategy that helps them:

  • Eat more protein
  • Improve hydration
  • Take in more essential fatty acids (omega-3s)
  • Eat more foods containing a higher vitamin and mineral content (veggies and fruits)

By getting a client to eat more of the protein dense foods they like, improving their hydration, increasing their omega-3 intake from high-quality sources, and getting them to eat more of the foods rich in vitamins and minerals they need our clients start feeling better in a very short amount of time. Their workouts also seem to be easier making them more efficient at losing fat and increasing their lean muscle tissue, which is a good thing because more lean muscle tissue basically means you can “burn more fat” even at rest. And ladies don’t worry about “bulking up” it won’t happen. Our approach to your nutrition will be directly in line with your goals.

We also help clients start identifying potential “roadblocks”, or obstacles that will stand in their way of progress, and work with them to develop strategies that will enable them to overcome those sticking points. Since life happens and unexpected struggles come up from time to time our goal is to educate an athlete/client and give them the tools necessary to make good nutrition decisions. Our approach to nutrition is flexible and we use consistent feedback from athletes/clients to find out what’s working and what’s not. This enables us to implement a nutrition program that we can adjust as an athlete’s/client’s body composition or goals change.

We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition or training. The best nutrition programs are the ones that are specific to the individual and adjustable, as life sometimes requires. Ensure you’re getting enough basic vitamins and minerals and keep your metabolism functioning optimally. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us today to see what a nutrition program for you might look like.