If you have been following my diet journey over the past few years, you know that I have been trying to find a sustainable diet approach. I have been shifting my strategies in order to best target these 3 main objectives: health, workout performance (supporting my training), and body composition (keeping lean and optimizing fat loss). One element that has always been a key to my success but that I never elevated up to the status of a goal is my happiness as it relates to my diet. It seems kind of obvious, but somewhere in the conversation about diet and the strategizing about food lists I forgot to make a checkbox beside my feelings about food and what at the end of the day actually made me happy. It’s not just about carbs and proteins and calories – it also has to be about weather or not, on a whole host of levels you actually enjoy your diet. Call me crazy but I want to enjoy preparing and eating my food.
Food is not just an energy source. Food is also about enjoyment, creativity, expression and social interaction. We should enjoy the creative process of preparing our meals as much as we enjoy eating them and sharing them with our friends and family.
So having these 4 goals in mind: health, workout performance, body composition and happiness I have decided on going back to the diet approach I was following when Freddy & I lived in Malta. Some of you guys may remember that we were inspired by Michael Pollans book In Defense of Food – a great read that I highly recommend to all BodyRockers interested in taking a healthy, natural and common sense approach to their diet. Most of the great recipes that I have on this site – including the BodyRocker Breakfast Cake came from that era of my diet journey. Do you remember how fun and tasty all of those recipes were? I want to go back to that – and I am really looking forward to sharing recipes with you guys that we can try together.
I will be talking more about diet in our upcoming coffee talks, but to quickly sum up the rules to my new (old) approach:
1. Eat whole foods (see the superfoods list), and avoid processed food as much as possible.
2. Eat as many fresh veggies as possible.
3. Carbs and fruit in moderation.
4. Try to include protein in every meal. This does not mean that you have to eat meat with every meal. You can use a protein supplement (like the one I use) or you can get your protein from other whole food sources.
5. Drink water as your go-to beverage. Avoiding processed foods also means avoiding artificial sweeteners and soft drinks.
6. Dairy in moderation.
7. 1-2 glasses of dry red wine a night if you so choose.
If the word “moderation” throws you into a fit of panic and uncertainty – relax. This is about balance so eat for energy not for storage. Most portion sizes are huge. Freddy & I often easily split a single restaurant portion meant for just 1 person. Use your hands to measure your portions and you won’t go wrong.
As a general rule:
1. Meat portions should be the size of the palm of your hand (2 palms for guys).
2. Veggies – 2 hands cupped together (but basically you can eat as many veggies as you like).
3. Bread – 1 slice of whole wheat bread per meal.
4. Potatoes,Pasta, Rice, Oats etc – 1 cupped hand (cooked).
5. Fruits – I enjoy fruit 1-2x per day – a piece in the morning and a piece for a snack later in the day.
I have stopped with the whole concept of “earning” carbs with my workouts. I train 6 days a week and will opt for moderation and balance instead. Cheat days are also out – moderation will also apply towards deserts and sweets. I am not in the habit of eating deserts on a regular basis anyway, and I may choose to enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate with my coffee now and then. Obviously you have to strike a balance between your diet and your goals, but we can enjoy a treat now and then.
So to sum up this post:
Eat fresh whole foods as often as possible. Avoid processed foods. Eat for energy and not for storage. Use your hands to control your portions. Everything in moderation.
Have a great weekend and leave some comments for us to read
Here is again a short list of some superfoods:
Protein – lean red meat, salmon, omega 3 eggs, low fat – plain yogurt, black beans, tempeh, kidney beans, low fat cottage cheese (lactose free if you can find it), chicken breasts, turkey breasts, protein supplements (whey protein isolates, milk protein isolates, or rice protein isolates)
Veggies and Fruits – spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, oranges, mixed berries, lettuce, bananas, grapefruits, cucumbers, kale, collards,
Other Carbs – mixed beans, quinoa, whole oats, amaranth, brown rice
Good Fats – mixed nuts, avocados, extra virgin olive oil, fish oil, flax seeds (ground), coconut milk,
Drinks – green tea, liquid exercise drinks (quickly digested carbohydrate and protein), greens supplement