Nutrition by Addition

by Steven Hicks

Steven Hicks

My anti-fitness coaching approach to wellness means doing things a bit differently. That’s maybe most apparent when talking about nutrition. When I look at long-term research, research that lasts 2-10 years, I see that diets and weight loss plans have paltry success rates that fall in the 3-20% range (depending on how long the study lasts).

Let me be perfectly clear. Diets regularly fail people.

But what is a diet? When I get to a good definition of diets, I find the antithetical approach, the REBEL approach, that offers long term results, weight loss, and health.

When I compare the common diets, I find one common thread that connects them all. It might seem crazy to think diets that are polar opposites to each other like vegan diets and carnivore diets can have the same theme (and even crazier when compared to gluten-free diets, Mediterranean diets, intermittent fasting, Atkins, South Beach, and more), but they all share one thing in common. Every diet, regardless of its particular flavor, puts an emphasis on elimination or restrictions. It’s about taking away.

I think this is the WORST idea! We’re trying to build a wealth of health. Food is a collection of resources, nutrients and flavors that provide the building blocks of health. Imagine telling someone to have a rich bank account, but you took away half their working hours. Ludicrous!

Instead of taking nutrients and health benefits away, I want you to add them in. I want you to add foods that are going to allow your body to operate at its best. It’s an approach I call “Nutrition by Addition.”

One client got enraged when I told him we wanted to think about additions when dealing with nutrition. With diet culture, we’ve been indoctrinated with the idea that we must always take food away from ourselves.

Think of it this way: When you wake up, how much food have you eaten that day? From here, you add nutrition throughout the day. If adding foods, let’s do so intentionally and salubriously.

In my nutrition coaching, we have a habit-focused tracking system that we use as an alternative to counting calories. We can’t go through the entirety of the system here today, but I want to highlight the most important elements.

Throughout the day, we want to add meals and snacks at regular intervals. This is a controversial stance nowadays, with the rise of restricted eating and intermittent fasting, but by eating regularly throughout the day, we ensure that you get enough daily nutrients. Regular eating also helps regulate hunger and energy levels.

Within each meal, there are specific things to add. First and foremost, a hearty serving of plants (fruits or vegetables). Unfortunately, this is the most lacking in common western diets. Plants are going to be the richest and easiest source of vitamins and minerals, as well as other micronutrients. Fortunately, because this is most often lacking, this is a great opportunity to capitalize on.

Next, you want to add protein. This one gets overly discussed, but for good merit. Protein helps create the structures of almost every system in your body. People always talk about muscle here, but protein is also crucial to your immune system, nutrient transport system, skin, and many other systems.

Finally, despite common fears, you’ll also want to add carbohydrates. They’re the body’s easiest form of energy, which is nice, but they also tend to be paired with crucial nutrients that are difficult to find in other sources (like fiber and riboflavin).

In my coaching, we discuss the exact amount you want to add of each category to each meal, but for brevity we’ll leave it at this.

For health, we want to focus on addition. Add food throughout the day to provide resources and energy regulation. At meals, be sure to add plants, proteins, and carbohydrates.

Steve Hicks is the “Anti-Fitness” coach who hates the athletic standards of the fitness industry. He teaches his clients realistic healthy lifestyles that are easy to stick with and feel great. Follow him at @HealthREBELsUS and