As humans we are naturally inquisitive beasts who want answers, why, where, what, when. Of course, this is the way it should be – nobody should be willing to just jump when someone barks, however we encounter a problem when there are conflicting opinions on several levels. In the health & fitness world there is an enormous collection of people who enjoy the following of several thousand loyal ‘’worshippers’’ yet their protocols and opinions not only differ, but often collide.
However, the guide I am going to share today is based on my experience, my results (with myself and clients) and the studies I choose to take heed of. Don’t get me wrong, there are several ways to get into shape but I feel that some ways fail to have the individual’s long term HEALTH at heart, a topic which in my opinion should always be at the forefront of one’s mind. There are also several approaches I would employ within a collective group of clients, I don’t subscribe ‘’one fits all’’ diets because this would imply ONE system exists with the answer to EVERYONE’s needs. In my opinion, no such thing exists yet there ARE fundamental changes you can make which will certainly improve health and body composition in my opinion.
Don’t view this as a ‘’secret I have been waiting for diet’’ but instead some solid points to better the structure of your day to day eating habits to achieve a leaner, more muscular physique and hopefully enhance your health.
Calories & Macros – Do They Matter?
The complexity and depth of this title qualifies for an article in itself therefore I will cut straight to the point, in relation to the topic today and within the context. Calorie and macro nutrient counting don’t become necessary until we are looking to push beyond ‘’lean’’ to shredded, therefore for MOST of people looking to become progressive I don’t think it is relevant. Instead, reasonable portion will suffice especially within the macronutrient application I will recommend a little later. Before we go on, what is ‘’reasonable portion control?’’
If you were having a lunch including chicken and fibrous vegetables this is what I would deem ‘’appropriate.’’ 2 chicken thighs cooked in coconut oil (if organic chicken, keep skin) Large bowl of kale, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach. No, this isn’t ‘’optimal’’ BUT we are not talking about a physique competitor here, we are instead looking at regular people wanting progressive steps whilst having a life.
There isn’t a single one I would ever prescribe for the reasons given above, however I do tend to favour ones which manipulates carbohydrates (not fibrous carbs). Having said that, I will give some basic rules to abide by as a day to day guide.
- Every meal contains protein (meat, fish, organic whole eggs, protein powders, cottage cheese)
- Cook meat in coconut oil or REAL butter
- Every meal contains fibrous vegetables (broccoli, kale, carrots, mushrooms, cabbage, beetroot, spinach, red onions, peppers etc)
- Have some fat with each meal unless the protein is particularly fatty i.e. chicken thigh with skin or a whole egg omelette (nuts, seeds, avocado)
- Keep complex carbohydrates for post-resistance training. Approximately 45-90 minutes post-weights enjoy a balanced meal with sweet potato, rice (if you are not gluten intolerant) or even a fruit smoothie with banana and pineapple for example. Studies support the notion that eating your carbs at the end of the day works well with insulin sensitivity. What’s more, the evening meal is often the ‘’sociable meal’’ of the day, therefore I think it is a nice touch to enjoy a more normal meal with family and friends.
- Although there are nutritionists I look up to who MAY disagree, I still maintain aiming to eat every 3-4 hours is beneficial. I feel it suppresses cravings, decreasing the chances of reaching for prohibited foods and provides more structure.
- One day a week enjoy 1-2 ‘’free meals’’ where you can indulge a little. Try and be sensible, enjoying traditional dishes such as roast dinner, spaghetti bolognaise, noodle stir fry and so on with a dessert.
- Limit caffeinated drinks to pre-4PM. Caffeine has a 6 hour half-life therefore you don’t want it to be active when you are trying to unwind to sleep. Switch to de-caff. - Stay hydrated! Aim for 1 litre per 50lbs of weight as a rule of thumb!
- Supplement with omega 3s and a greens drink. Using a red powders drink will also help with antioxidant intake IF you don’t get enough via fruit and vegetables.
There will be days when sticking to these rules is tough. Instead of going OFF TRACK try and make well informed choices. Eating out, enjoy a steak or salmon fillet rather than a burger and chips. Above all else be consistent with the rules provided.
It goes without saying, eating a diet full of wholesome natural foods is much more desirable opposed to processed junk which inevitably has the potential to cause you more problems in the future.