Today I would like to contribute to a topic that people have been fighting about on the internet since its inception: Nutrition.
Every couple of years, a fad diet will emerge with its very own rules, restrictions, and claims of being the best way for all human beings to eat and live. We’ve seen Zone, Paleo, Primal, Keto, Juice cleanses, Intermittent Fasting, the Carnivore diet, 7-day detoxes, and many more. Many people will try more than one of these, with varying degrees of success or failure, until they get frustrated, quit, and continue swimming in the confusion of all the information available. I’m not here to dissect these nutrition regimens. The aim of this article is to discuss what they have in common, and reveal how you can use a few simple guidelines to reshape your attitude toward your nutrition as you work toward your goals.
First, let’s talk about what you are eating. Food companies are able to make really tasty, food-like substances by putting chemicals in our food and pulling nutrients out in order to extend shelf life. Avoiding processed foods is one way to steer clear of these food alternatives. Pay attention to the foods that you eat to discover if you have any sensitivities to them.
- Protein: Choose grass-fed and antibiotic/hormone-free meats and wild fish
- Veggies: Focus on nutrient-dense, bright or dark colored, organic (particularly if they don’t have peels or shells to protect them, and us, from pesticides), and save the starchy sources for the window of time before and after workouts.
- Fats: Avocados, nuts, coconut or avocado oil, and medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are your friends.
- Fruits: Eat SOME. Whole fruits, not fruit juices, and preferably fresh, not dried.
Simply eating real food is a great starting point. If you are looking for some guidance on intake, here are some easy to remember general portioning guidelines. These are for general health and fitness. You may have to adjust intake to find the right amounts for you.
- Lean Protein: For most women, 1 palm (3-4 ounces); For most men, 2 palms (6-8 ounces)
- Veggies: 2 fists, or up to the size of your plate, cooked or raw, however you can. Save the high carb ones for post-workout (yams, sweet potatoes, beets)
- Fruit: A fist sized portion. Limit to 2 per day if your focus is weight loss
- Starchy Carbs: For most women, 1/2 fist (1/2 cup); For most men, 1 fist (1 cup)
- Fat: 1-2 thumbs (1-2 tbsp) _ Avocado: 1/2 Avocado _ Nuts: Fist-sized
This paints a picture of a balanced meal. Eating 3-4 meals each day that fit these guidelines will put you well on your way to a leaner, stronger, healthier body inside and out. Snacks between meals should be about a half-meal size or enough so that you are no longer hungry and can get back on task without feeling full and groggy. If weight loss is your primary goal, stick only to these meals 90% of the time, and limit or eliminate snacks in between.
Here are some suggestions regarding meal timing and ratios to assist you in preparing your meals.
- Breakfast: Eat within an hour of waking. If you drink coffee, make sure to have a big glass of water first or alongside it to avoid the dehydrating effects. Eat a big meal here with lots of protein, fat, and veggies. Save the high-sugar carbs for post-workout so that you can have a clear brain and sustained energy through the morning.
- Snack: Some more protein and fat, about a half-meal size as stated above, so that you can stay mentally focused.
- Lunch: Preferably 3-4 hours after breakfast. Protein, fat, veggies, and a serving of fruit.
- Snack: Optional, and same as before.
- Dinner: You have fewer hours to digest and utilize this meal, so stick with protein, fat, and vegetables here. Resist the urge for sugars like desserts, snacks, and alcohol. Try to get this meal in at least a couple of hours before bed.
- Pre-Workout: Fuel your body with carbs and protein. Choose liquids over solids if you have trouble working out with food in your stomach; Examples: Greek Yogurt / Fruit & Protein Smoothie
- Post-Workout: Rehydrate ASAP (within 30-60 minutes) and replenish your body with protein and carbs; Example: Protein Powder Shake in some Water + Coconut Water or FitAid
Remember, these are only general guidelines. It will take some experimentation, consistency, tracking, and patience to find out the best individual approach for you.
Choose high quality foods and eat them in quantities that support your goals. Eat real food, not too much of it, and prioritize plants and animals. “Clean Eating” doesn’t have to be complicated. There are definitely benefits to counting your macros and following a well-laid plan, but simply being aware of what you’re putting into your body and making a consistent effort to eat balanced meals will help you make some serious progress. Look under the hood and examine the quantity, quality, and timing of your meals. Then the additional practices of tracking your food and maybe taking a couple of key supplements will pay off even more. Simplify your approach, and watch your body change inside and out.
Get started today by scheduling a Nutrition Consultation with one of our expert nutrition coaches and get started on the path to reaching your optional level of health, fitness, physique, and performance.