People are always asking me, “How should I be eating? To them I say, “Eat like this…!”
This is a spin on Dr. John Berardi’s recommendations. Keep in mind these are general guidelines. The best diet is one that supports your own individual goals and one that you are actually capable of executing.
1. Eat every 2-3 hours
Forget the well established cultural tradition of eating 3 times a day. NO MATTER if you want to gain weight or lose weight, your best bet is to spread out what you eat over more meals so that your body always has the fuel that it needs. When we go hours and hours without food, your body’s response is to go into starvation mode. In starvation mode, your body breaks down muscle tissue and stores fat. This would be great if you were a cave man who never knew where his next meal was coming from, however, you are not. So again, NO MATTER if your goals are fat loss or muscle gain, you need to eat every 2-3 hours.
2. Eat complete, lean protein each time you eat
Protein is the building block of muscle so if you want to be lean and/or build muscle mass, you need it in your system so it can be used to repair the muscle damage you’re incurring from your strength training regimen. Protein is also a highly thermogenic nutrient. That means that your body burns more calories breaking it down than any other type of nutrient. Thus, eating a diet high in protein raises your resting metabolism which will help you if fat loss or weight regulation is your goal.
3. Eat fruits and/or vegetables every time you eat
Fruits and vegetables are the best type of carbohydrates that you can eat. They are full of vitamins and minerals which are crucial for supporting every human function from the physical to the emotional. Fruits and vegetables are also high in fiber which helps keep your digestive and excretory systems operating smoothly and also makes your tummy feel full. Feeling full is a crucial component of any fat loss or weight regulation plan. SO, when you hear someone talking about eating a low carb diet, hopefully what they really mean is a diet low in processed carbohydrates like breads, cereals, crackers, tortillas, and other foods made from grains. This leads us to the next point.
4. Eat grains (minimally processed, 100% whole grains) only when you’ve been physically active
The average high school student at Central Valley Christian falls into this “really physically active” category. Pretty cool to think that 2/3 of our students will participate in an extra-curricular sport during this school year. So anyway, back to the grain thing, first of all I can (almost) never recommend that you eat a processed grain such as white rice, white bread, and white pasta. This one type of food is creating severely disastrous health effects in our country and around the globe. The only time eating a processed grain could be beneficial is immediately after a strenuous workout. However, whole grains are great sources of carbohydrates for those of us who are physically active enough to diminish muscle glycogen stores. Muscle glycogen is a key factor in being able to sustain physical activity at high levels of intensity. For most of our physically active athletes, this is really important. If you are not extremely physically active, you should eat fewer foods from this category. If/when you do eat grains, it’s best to eat them on days you work out.
5. Learn to love healthy fats
Despite what the low fat diet craze of the 1980s and 1990s taught us, fat is actually part of a healthy diet. As it turns out, the phrase, “you are what you eat” isn’t entirely true. The key with fat intake is to make sure you consume saturated fats (which come from meat and dairy products) in moderation along with unsaturated fats (which come from plant sources like avocados, olives, and nuts) because all fats are really high in calories per weight (9 calories/gram as opposed to 4/gram from Protein and Carbohydrates). However, fats are essential for many body functions and help us receive and break down vitamins and minerals that are not water soluble so don’t totally eliminate fats from your diet. With that being said, it’s typically not very hard to get enough fat in the average American diet, so I recommend ingesting fats in moderation.
There’s so much to say on this topic and I feel like I’ve given you enough to chew on (pun intended), so I’ll cover the next 5 guidelines in my next post!