Browse Tag: eating

“HOW SHOULD I EAT?!” (HINT: DON’T DIET)

EATING CONFUSION

When I was younger, I wanted to go to school to become a nutritionist.

I believed nutrition was everything and that if we could just change someone’s eating habits, then we could get them on a path of health and wellness.

During this nutrition-centric time, I experimenting with multiple diets and read about a million books  on the topic of nutrition alone.

Here’s more-or-less what I learned:

  • Diets are bullshit and those that push them are even more-so (and yes, I used to be one of them).
  • The whole “eating clean” thing isn’t as important as we think and that intentionally cutting calories to lose weight may actually be one of the hardest ways to attain the body we desire.
  • Focusing on our diet takes energy away from other areas of our life that we could be improving.
  • The more holes we dig in other areas of your life (sleep, exercise, emotional), the more strict we will need to be with nutrition to achieve our goals. Still, however, the focus should be filling in those holes first.
  • Nutritionists and dietitians are often fat (red flag much?).
  • Eating is an emotional, intuitive, and a right-brained experience but diets are often left-brained, scheduled, and full of numbers. See the clash?
  • Selling diets and foods is a lucrative business. Selling just as important things such sleep and meditation is not.
  • And perhaps, most importantly: The more we restrict foods, nutrients, and calories – the more our body and mind will work its magic to get us to consume them.

I guess you can say that I am no longer impressed with nutrition. Yes, I believe it’s still important but just not as important as everyone (your doc + media) is telling us.

And as far as getting someone on a path of health and wellness, there is no greater habit to create than that of exercise. This is why I am a trainer and not a nutritionist.

Now a while back I wrote a short piece that summed up my philosophy on eating which I will re-state again here: Eat in a manner that gives you energy and satisfies you, both in the short-term and long-term.

This vagueness comes with good and bad news.

The bad: This means you are responsible for creating your own diet.
The good: This means you are responsible for creating your own diet.

This will not be a quick fix type of thing, but rather a trial-and-error experiment that, in the end, will produce a way of eating you can actually follow indefinitely.

To get you started (and hopefully inspire you), here is a list of 21 facts and reasons on why I eat the way I do.

HOW I EAT

  1. My key to productivity ==> I naturally fast to start my day. Usually for 14 – 16 hours. Coffee, half n half, stevia, and sometimes MCT oil / coconut oil is about all I consume during this period. Read more: Coconut Oil, Coffee, and The Best Morning Ever
  2. When I consume caffeine, I almost always exercise (even if for 5 minutes). This means my workouts are [99% of the time] in the AM. Read more: Got Coffee Belly?
  3. No caffeine after 1 pm. Cannot risk screwing with sleep.
  4. I tend to break my fast after exercise and I do this with an easily digestible meal (see: carbs). Honey, oatmeal, and creamer is a favorite here.
  5. I don’t use protein powder. Seem to be doing fine without it.
  6. I usually nap after my first meal (sometime around 1 – 3 pm). When I miss my nap, I seem to eat more.
  7. I wake up and I eat again. Usually another carby meal.
  8. I can (and should) consume a rather high carbohydrate diet for 2 reasons: 1) I have lots of muscle and 2) I am quite active. Read more: Carbs: Where Your Diet Journey Begins
  9. How I lose fat ==> I don’t diet nor do I do extreme workouts. I eat to sustain performance and performance for me means both mental and physical strength. So instead of cutting calories or restricting myself, I create a caloric deficit by walking more. Read more: How I Lose Fat
  10. In the evening, I’ll have my biggest meal (usually high-fiber). Right now, this means roasted red kidney beans in ghee with a stir fry mix. I’ll eat enough servings to feed a small family.
  11. Before this meal, it is typical for myself to drink 2 – 4 cups of boxed wine or cider. Read more: Getting Drunk Tonight?
  12. I love dairy but I realize my body responds unfavorably to it (tongue turns to a white coat). Because of this, I only stick to my favorite sources: Creamer, chocolate, and ice cream. We seem to go through about 2 cartons of ice cream a week.
  13. Same story with wheat. I have a wheat allowance and I am not going to waste it on silly bread. Usually pizza, nachos, and chinese food buffets is what I spend it on. Try to do at least one of these a week.
  14. I have very little emotional stressors in my life. As a result, reward-eating is not an issue. When I do eat  “junk” it is more for the experience rather than an attempt to fill in a hole.
  15. One thing I despise: Trans fat (also known as hydrogenated oils). I’m pretty lax when it comes to processed food, but I refuse to buy products that have this “brain-numbing” chemical.
  16. I rarely eat meat. No or little beef, chicken, fish, or eggs. Once again, seem to be doing fine without it.
  17. Most of my protein comes for lentils and other beans.
  18. Because legumes contains a substance that impairs zinc absorption (and becomes my activity requires a crap load of magnesium to prevent a deficiency), I supplement with ZMA. Read more: The Best Supplement For Athletes
  19. I typically eat right up until bed. Having a feel stomach not only helps me sleep, but ensures that I am able to rock a wicked fast in the morning.
  20. More important than food ==>I try to be in bed by 10 pm and shoot for at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. This is the biggest factor of what I can and cannot eat. Failing to get enough sleep changes the way my body responds to certain nutrients. Read more: How To Go The F*ck To Sleep
  21. How I know if I am eating the right foods ==> The next morning, the answer will be in my poo. If I am eating something that I am allergic to or doing something else that is stressful (like being Negative Nancy), my poo will tell me. Read more: You Are What You Poop

 

HOW YOU SHOULD EAT

Once again, you will have to follow your [own] energy. The reality is, different genetics with different environments will require different sustenance. To find out what that is, I suggest you experiment. A lot. Take notes and eventually you’ll find out what that is.

With time, you’ll be your own authority (nutritionist).

BASICS OF FAT LOSS

SIG·NAL

Transmit information or instructions by means of a gesture, action, or sound.

At the heart of our efforts to transform lie signals.

These signals (or behaviors) are what make our mind and body what they are.

When we lose fat or gain muscle, it is because not only did we send the signal(s) that corresponds to that outcome but we allowed our body the opportunity to process that signal (by cutting out other noise, confusion, and competing signals).

There is a formula for this process: Stimulus (signal) + Recovery = Adaptation

Worded a different way, it looks like this:

EXERCISE + (SLEEP + NUTRITION) = BODY COMPOSITION

Let’s break it down.

Starting with the end product, body composition refers to the proportion of muscle and fat we carry. For most people, improving their body composition means adding more muscle while subtracting fat.

The signal that our body listens to for that to happen is exercise.  With this, there are essentially 2 different forms: One that sends a signal to our body to build (ie maintain or grow muscle mass) and one that sends a signal to break down (both fat and muscle).

In order for our body to hear that signal, however, we need to cut out outside noise (other stressors) and provide the means for our body to recover. During sleep is when our body gets to work repairing damaged tissue and making the hormones needed for us to thrive (both in fat loss and muscle growth) and food/nutrients is what our body uses as its building blocks to do that with.

So, as you can see, it’s pretty simple:

  1. Send the signal.
  2. Cut out outside noise so body can hear signal (through proper nutrition and recovery).
  3. Then reap the adaptation.

Let’s get more specific.

SENDING THE FAT LOSS SIGNAL

Now I am NOT talking about weight loss (this is easy: just go to the bathroom). What we really want is not to see the number on the scale move, but for the fat in the mirror to disappear, right?  So how do we that?

We have 3 variables to work with: Exercise, Sleep, and Nutrition.

A        +         ( B    +    C)     =   Fat Loss

We can improve all 3 for optimal fat loss, but we don’t have to.

Here are the options:

OPTION A: MOVE MORE

So before I was talking about the 2 forms of exercise: One that builds and one that destroys.

Well, cardio and aerobic activities are the destroyers. Biking, running, walking, and swimming all fall into this group.

They send a signal to our body that in order to survive and become better at these activities, we have to get smaller. To do this (and depending on the intensity and length of the activity) they will break down both fat AND MUSCLE for fuel.

Most aerobic activities are not body-friendly for this reason, but they can still be used correctly.

Here is a guideline:

  • The less intense they are, the more we can do them and the more likely that a large % of the breakdown will be fat. An excellent example of this is walking.
  • The more intense they are, the more we should limit them as they will target a lot of our muscle for fuel as well. An example of this is training for a marathon or running 5+ times a week.

Another side effect of high-intensity aerobics is that they give us cravings in an effort to replace lost fuel. So this is why running to lose weight will literally leave us running in circles (as we run long distances and then gorge on food).

A better alternative is walking every or every other day and doing 1-2 runs a week (if you must).

OPTION B: SLEEP MORE

If you are sleeping less than 6 – 7 hrs a night on average, by increasing sleep to 8 – 9 hrs, your cravings will decrease, your energy will improve, and other aspects of health (such as digestion) will significantly improve.  This will all lead to fat loss.

Note: If sleep needs are not met, then exercise is out of the question.

OPTION C: BETTER FOOD

Dieting is the typical approach to fat loss. This is hard to do right as far too many people feel that if they are going to diet than they got to do it hardcore. What’s hardcore?  Taking what you used to eat and dropping it by 500 or more calories a day.

This sucks because:

In chronic calorie deficits, our body is going to eat up fat AND MUSCLE for fuel, positive hormones are not going to be made in sufficient amounts, and our metabolism is going in the toilet. In short, life (and your energy) will suck.

A smarter approach is to just eat better foods. With this, we will be getting the right nutrients so cravings will naturally diminish. Fat loss will be slower but so will be muscle loss.

OPTION D (BEST): RESISTANCE + ENOUGH SLEEP + GOOD FOOD  

A big problem with losing weight is the chance that a large % of that could be muscle.

We care about this because it is muscle that gives us our shape and curves.

If we lose 50 lbs of total weight (25 of that is fat and 25 of that is muscle), we are just going to become a smaller version of ourselves. But if we can manage to make that 40 lbs of fat and 10 lbs of muscle, we are going to come out with a sleeker, trimmer, tonier look.

So how do we tell our body to lose more fat while keeping the muscle?

  • =>> Lift weights
  • =>> Sleep 8 hrs
  • =>> Eat Better (and slightly less) food

For the first one, we do not have to do anything extreme. Simply lifting weights 2x a week for a full body workout will be enough. Keep the reps relatively low (2-15) and keep the workout short (within 50 min) and the signal will be sent.

We also want to tell to our body to lose fat. For this to happen, we need to create a teeny-weeny caloric deficit. To create this, try focusing less on numbers and more on eating better food (of course) and going to bed slightly hungry.

Lastly, SLEEP. This is obviously crucial for any positive goal.

If you are still really skeptical of strength training while attempting to lose fat, try just training the areas that you wouldn’t mind enhancing. For most females, this means the booty.

That’s it.

Now some pro advice: If your goal is fat loss, then focus on fat loss only. Trying to build muscle or train for a marathon will be competing signals that will only confuse your body (and take you further away from fat loss).

There is a reason runners don’t look like body builders and body builders do not look like athletes.

That reason is signals.

 

[When you have lost all the fat you wanted to lose, it will be time for building muscle (shape and curves). Read Part 2 of this series to find out how.]