The Basic Nutritional Guidelines

Cal Bauer
April 11, 2023
The Basic Nutritional Guidelines

In my last blog "Should I Worry About Calories?" I briefly teased something called the Basic Nutritional Guidelines. This is something created after working with folks to have lasting success, not a quick or short-term fix. In a nutshell, it is a habits-based approach to coaching, built on a foundational layer of awareness. That last part is key because it brings you to the center of the process, ensuring sustainability for the long run.

The BNG's are a set of four simple areas that, if implemented, will lead you to nearly anything you want from a health improvement standpoint.

Said another way - any goal you have (body composition change, inflammation reduction, gut improvement, autoimmune condition, improved blood markers, reversing metabolic dysfunction, etc) is on the other side of mastering these areas.

Let's break it down.


No, this isn't about washing the dirt off your foods (dad jokes, I'm working on em.) This area is all about maximizing digestion and nutrient absorption. The actions you take here are designed to activate your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is responsible for helping you 'rest and digest.' Here are some things to implement:


You've probably heard that your body is made up of at least 60% water. Along with macro- and micronutrients, it's a major nutrient category that the body needs to survive. You can go weeks without food, but hardly a couple days without water.

We didn't even touch on all the good it does for digestion, supporting the area mentioned above!

And if you care about performance, consider this: degradation in power output begins with a 1% loss in hydration😱

So how much should you drink? And when?


This is one of the coolest area within the BNG's because we get to discuss circadian rhythm, energy levels, and reverse engineering! The last piece of the rhythm puzzle is the plate method, which is also a huge bonus!

Don't run off just yet, we're not going to go too deep in the woods. To put it simply, circadian rhythm is just a way to assess how well we're honoring our body's natural sleep and wake cycle. And what is the natural cycle? Put simply: when you go to sleep when the moon comes up (and sun goes down) and you wake when the sun rises (without the aid of anything that puts you to sleep [meds, alcohol] or helps wake you up [alarm, caffeine]).

I'm very aware that putting out a beacon such as this can be overwhelming and discouraging, but it's not intended to be. Just like a lighthouse in a dark storm on the ocean, it's meant to be a guiding light, something to strive towards!

Now for circadian rhythm: For energy levels, you should be at your most alert 1-3 hours after waking, keeping this good mental acuity until you feel sleep slowly tugging at your eyelids in the early evening. You should not experience peaks and valleys of energy throughout the day.

This brings us to reverse engineering. What this boils down to is looking at the earlier mentioned sleep/wake cycle and energy rhythms of the day and figuring out why something is out of alignment with the ideal. It could be related to a number of things: your meal before bed, meal makeup (the foods themselves), shift work, kids, etc.

The first goal is simply to become aware of the root of the problem; solving comes later!

For instance, if you are having trouble waking up with energy in the morning, the solution is not more caffeine or setting 39 alarms (this used to be me and my college roommates hated it). The first step is looking back to the prior evening and asking a few of the following questions: 

You see, all of these things can have an impact on your sleep, which will impact your body's production of leptin (the hormone that tells your body that you're full) and ghrelin (the hormone that tells your body that you're hungry).

If you can improve even one of the bulleted points above, it will dramatically improve your sleep which is one of the most critical factors towards reaching your goals!


This final area speaks to the importance of maximizing the nutrient density of the foods we eat - the macro- and micronutrients themselves.

This means that when it comes to fruits and vegetables, we should strive to "eat the rainbow." No, no, not taste it, put those skittles away. Basically, don't just eat red strawberries and green lettuce. Shoot for foods across the colors in the rainbow: red peppers, orange carrots, you get the gist.

As for the macros (protein, carbs, and fat), you should get each of them from different sources as often as you can. Why? Because the nutrients you get from chicken are different than those in red meat... which are different from what you get in an egg, etc. Same goes for olive oil vs. ghee vs. raw dairy. All are great sources of fat, but have different nutrient profiles.

I hope that you've found value in this and will go out and start implementing some (shooting for all!) right away! Do it and I know you're well on your way to achieving what you want most - sustained results. And if you need some help or guidance, you can always book an intro to come and talk with a coach who will get you there.

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