If you're keeping tabs here at LOD Athlete, you'd know that the last 4-6 weeks have been hectic. Moving across the country, getting a space outfitted to train in, opening the gym, getting online training up and running, and the various other ins and outs of starting a business.
Oh, and my wife and I also have a 7-month old boy.
While I've kept up with my training protocols here in the gym, my nutrition has taken a serious hit. I've grabbed bits and pieces of food where I can during the workweek, and that tends to be garbage food that is readily available, but not so good in the performance or looks better naked category.
I stepped on the scale this weekend and found that I've stacked on a solid 10-12 lbs. in the last few months, weighing in the low 220's. Nothing like an inadvertent #dirtybulk.
So, time to get back on track. 210 lbs is a healthy weight for me - I feel lighter and faster on my feet, my knees don't ache as much (years of abuse and 3x ACL tears make this inevitable to a degree), and overall I look better.
Nutrition is a perilous game - some sell snake oil, some recommend intricate macronutrient tracking, and others like to keep it simple. I fall into the "Keep It Simple" category.
So, what's that mean? Below are two excerpts from coach's I highly respect and have learned from in the past.
Eat with abandon: meat, fowl, fish, seafood, eggs, vegetables, roots, tubers, bulbs, herbs and spices as well as animal fats, olives & olive oil, avocados, and coconut (meat, oil, flour) and dairy*.
*Dairy is a gray area, while it is a powerful tool in the strength and weight gain category you have to be smart. Individuals with autoimmune disease should avoid dairy products of any kind. For those without autoimmune diseases, dairy from grass-fed animals is permissible. Dairy from grain-fed animals will not have an ideal omega 3 profile. Heavy cream, butter, and ghee should not be problematic. Occasional consumption of fermented dairy options such as cheese and yogurt is acceptable. Experiment with milk but eliminate it if it is found to be problematic.
**Pasteurized whole milk from grain-fed cows treated with rBGH offers an increased anabolic environment for the consumer.
Limit: nuts, seeds, and fruit.
Better choices in the nut category include macadamias, cashews, and hazelnuts. Almonds aren't terrible. Seeds are generally rich sources of linoleic acid because they can be eaten in large quantities (the serving sizes are typically in the tablespoon to 1/4 cup range and can be misleading). Sunflower and sesame seeds are a terrible choices in the seed category. Soaking nuts prior to consumption is recommended but not necessary.
Reduce the serving size if you are going to pick a fruit that has a high metabolic fructose content.
Avoid: Cereal grains including: all varieties of wheat (spelt, einkorn, emmer, durum), barley, rye, oats, triticale, corn (maize), rice (including wild rice), sorghum, millet, fonio, and teff and legumes.
Grain-like substances or pseudocereals including: Amaranth, Breadnut, Buckwheat, Cattail, Chia, Cockscomb, Kañiwa, Pitseed Goosefoot, Quinoa, and Wattleseed (aka aacacia seed). Pseudocereals are the seeds of broad leaf plants whereas grains are the seeds of grasses.
6 Days a Week: Eat lean meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and drink water. Don’t eat carbs (bread, spuds, rice) or sugar.
1 Day a Week: Cheat like a mother! Beer, pizza, ice cream – you name it! We’ve found you can’t eat clean over the long term without cheating. We’ve also found the longer you stick to this diet, the less you’ll “cheat” on your cheat days, and the more cheating will hurt you – i.e. stomach ache, gas, etc.
Fairly simple and despite a few variables between the two, they are mostly the same. If you're interested in doing some research on your own regarding nutrition, I highly encourage you to do so. That being said, be wary of your sources. This recent article by the New York Times highlighted how the sugar industry has played a heavy hand in influencing nutritional research which was then disseminated to the public.
We all fail with diet. Life happens. It's ok. The key is identifying it before you give yourself the diabeetus or your healthy eating habits are so crushed that getting back on the health horse seems like an insurmountable task. Below are a couple cues to get your diet on track without losing your mind:
- It starts at the grocery store. My self-control is poor when I have 'bad for you but tastes so good' food in my fridge. So take grab 'em by the horns from the start and control what's in there.
- One step at a time. If you're just getting started, be reasonable in changing your diet. Going 0-60mph in a diet change is often unrealistic when it comes to a life/work/training balance. Cut out one habit you know is bad for you (sodas is the prime example). Cut it out for two weeks, and it'll become a habit. Now move on to the next actionable step like shifting away from a flour-based, carbohydrate-heavy diet. Replace with additional vegetables and healthy fats.
- Enjoy the cheat day. You only live life once. Don't be the weirdo that doesn't have a beer at friends and family gathering, or say no to your mom's cookies.
- Thirty Day challenges are great with the buy-in of a group. Your peers will keep you honest. The thirty days will end and the peer group accountability with it - the long-term diet shift must be a personal decision.