Nutrition has come a very long way since the classic “food pyramid.” We have learned more about how our bodies (and minds) can process, react, and partition foods and in what ratios are considered “optimal” for any goal. But in doing so we have created diets that cover every end of the spectrum but yet somehow "dieting" has turned into a psychological anomaly of willpower that only few possess. We exclude “bad” foods only to grow to love them more. The more we try to eat less the more we crave to eat more. We compare ourselves to people we cannot relate to and assume they must know the “secrets” only known by the elite. We force ourselves to be strict for short periods of time only to self-destruct down the road. Why is it so hard?!
Reason #1 – When you’re “on” a diet, eventually you will be “off” a diet. Sure, I could get more specific than this, but we have to crawl before we can walk, ok? We continue to refer to eating healthy as “diets” rather than just plain simple, nutrition. In fact, the best diet has no name. So stop telling yourself you are on a diet. You are on a nutrition plan. Nutrition plans are positive, diets are negative… already sounds better, doesn’t it?
Reason #2 – Your diet is too specific, and impossible to stick to for an extended period of time. This causes yo-yo-ing , starvation, bingeing, guilt, depression…then you “start a new diet” and the cycle continues. Never satisfied, always looking for the “perfect” diet (what exactly to eat and how much)…I’m here to tell you there is no such thing. The “perfect” diet is a diet that you can adhere to for your ENTIRE LIFE that combines moderation of food groups combined in a way that is efficient for your body as well as your mind.
Reason #3 – You waste too much energy researching/debating/arguing over magic cave beans, “toxins and “chemicals” that we forget where 99% of the results are –portion control and nutrient dense foods. Yes it is that simple, but until you get these basics down it doesn’t matter if you’re alkaline, wheatless, caveman, or whatever. Nothing matters without the foundation.
So What's The Answer?
I created this cheat sheet to let you know what the “pros” are doing. You will never be “on” this plan or “off” this plan. You will probably never complete every single one of these every day, but a nutrition plan is not binary, you don’t get either an “A” or an “F” at the end of the day. These tips are designed for EVERYONE regardless of your goals. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in weight-loss, weight-gain, athlete, non-athlete, male, female, whatever…
· NEVER EXCLUDE BUT ALWAYS ACCOUNT - There are no “good” and “bad” foods, only foods that should be earned more than others. At the end of the day, calories matter. Nothing is "off-limits," but everything comes at a price.
· EAT BREAKFAST - Protein and Fats are ideal, you will be satiated longer and won’t crash at noon. So unless you are trying Intermittent Fasting, eat breakfast.
· PREPARE your meals at home.
· WATER is the number 1 thing you can drink today, to feel better tomorrow.
· CARBS must be earned. Earn them by resistance training at least 3x/week.
· CARB TIMING - Majority of carb intake is best around your workout, and the remainder later in the day/dinner.
· # OF MEALS doesn’t matter, however regular meals will avoid extreme hunger, which controls insulin, which controls binge eating.
· Post-Workout/Dinner/Night carbs – quinoa, long grain rice, potatoes, oats, or black beans
· PROTEIN with every meal (.8-1g/lb of body weight/day)
· LEARN TO LOVE colorful/green veggies (broccoli, asparagus, spinach, bell peppers, carrots, kale, brussel sprouts) (1lb/day men, .5lb/day women)
· FAT is essential and should be rich in Omega 3’s – Grass-fed beef, Fish, Avocado, Flax/Chia Seeds, nuts/seeds (5-10g of Fish Oil /day)
· NO FRUIT JUICE OR SODA - (fresh squeezed or not, diet or regular)
· DAIRY is limited to Greek yogurt (plain), cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta, or goat cheese
· FRUITS – dark berries, bananas and apples. Awesome workout foods.
That’s IT. Nothing fancy about it. Just some loose guidelines on what and when. If you cannot perform the tasks outlined on this list, there’s no reason to worry about the finite details. Portion control and Nutrient-dense foods will take you as far as you need to go.