Primary and Secondary Food Filters

secondary and primary food filters

There is a simple way of looking at nutrition. It’s by looking at primary and secondary food filters. Learn how they can help make a nutrition plan that works for you.

In talking with clients about their nutrition I often notice that they fall into one of two groups. The first group doesn’t focus on much of anything. They just kind of eat “whatever”, which usually translates into bad food choices. The second group focuses on some things…but usually the wrong things. This also leads to a lot of bad food choices.

Which all leads to a lot of frustration and confusion.

The funny thing is, though, that nutrition can be pretty simple.

Over the years of working with clients I’ve developed a way of explaining a way of looking at your nutrition that clears up a lot of the confusion.

I call it Primary and Secondary Food Filters.

Primary Food Filters are the “rules” that cover general nutrition principles and Secondary Food Filters are “rules” that dig into more specific aspects of what you eat. The problems start to crop up when people hear about and focus on Secondary Food Filters before they have a Primary Food Filter in place.

Here is an example to explain what I mean…

Primary Food Filters

The 123’s of Nutrition:

  1. Eat every 3-4 hours (Don’t let yourself get super hungry).
  2. Eat a lean protein and healthy fats with each meal (Don’t fill up on carbs).
  3. Eat mostly real food and avoid processed foods, especially sugar (Don’t eat things that contain ingredients you can’t pronounce).

Those are general rules that are pretty easy to apply and not very confusing. If you ran your current eating habits through that filter you would have a very good idea of the overall effect of what you are eating. If you are not meeting 1 or more of those rules then you need to work on fixing that.

Secondary Food Filters

A Secondary Food Filter would be things like eating Gluten Free, Organic Foods, Whole Grain or something else that filters food choices based on a very specific aspect of the foods. The problem is that when you don’t have a Primary Food Filter in place the Secondary Food Filters can actually encourage some bad choices.

For example, a milkshake is “gluten free”, you can make a cake that is “organic” and Fruit Loops are “whole grain” but those foods still are still not good for you. You’d be better off eating a meal that broke all of those rules – a chicken breast with a piece of bread and a salad.

Again, the problems arise when people are sold on and focus on Secondary Food Filters before having a Primary Food Filter in place. Once you have one in place then you can start to add Secondary Food Filters to dial your nutrition program in even more but don’t put the cart before the horse, so to

Unfortunately, most nutrition programs are promoted and sold on Secondary Filters, which is why it seems every time you turn around there is a “new” nutrition program that you need to follow.

So, when someone asks me if they should eat gluten free (which seems to be the big buzz right now) I ask them how their overall nutrition program looks. Most often I get a blank stare back – they have no idea, they just have heard that they should avoid gluten and start to filter their food choices based on that.

Get your Primary Filter in place first before worrying about the Secondary Filter and you’ll find it a lot easier to know what to eat to fuel you performance and recovery.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

BJJ Strength Training Systems


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