Nutrition and lifestyle made simple
From The Archives - I’m going back through the old blog and reposting some of the best articles.
Our specialty is fitness through strength, but as I've said many times before, the gym is not the most important thing in your life, no matter how much I want it to be. Since we can't hold your hand the 23 other hours of a day that you're not with us, we wanted to give you a simple (warning: simple doesn't mean easy!) set of guidelines that can get you started in rounding out the other parts of your life that affect your health.
This is intentionally a one-size-fits-all kickstart. It should work for most people most of the time, but since everyone is a special snowflake, there are parts we might have to tweak, but only after you've given this an honest try. This is geared towards the average person who walks through our doors. If you are a power athlete or a marathon runner you will have different requirements, so be smart before you blindly follow this.
If you've been trying to dial everything in and want to take care of the big things first, this is a great place to start. Try it out for 30-60 days, see how you feel and then we can start tweaking after we see how it works for you.
When it comes to sleep and health, the more sleep, the better. Get as much sleep at night as you can get away with, at least 8-9 hours each night, and more if you can manage it. Your body is doing hard work while you’re sleeping, so don’t feel like you’re wasting time while sleeping! Naps are good too if your schedule allows.
It’s important to manage stress because your body won’t recover if it gets the signal from your brain that you’re in crisis mode. Relaxation techniques and meditation can be good tools to manage stress. Practice good time management and prioritize your activities. Make sure that the exercise you do is fun and restorative rather than a chore. Take long walks and get plenty of sun, and spend time with people that make you feel happy and supported.
You will need to eat - more than you probably are right now! It’s not just about quantity of food: focus on good quality foods and stay away from junk food. In general, choose foods that are both calorie-dense and nutrition-dense. Also stay away from inflammatory foods to avoid illness and injury.
For protein, eat quality meats, eggs, and seafood. The quality of your protein is important because it will make up a large portion of your diet. Aim to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass per day. This will work out to approximately at least half a pound of meat or 4 eggs at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Good sources include grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chicken, wild-caught fish and shellfish, and cage-free eggs. Sometimes you can’t get these good sources and are stuck with conventional versions, for example, when you’re eating at a restaurant or if you need to save money on groceries - then stick with leaner cuts because it’s the fats that are problematic in conventional meats. Avoid soy, products made with soy, and legumes, as they are inflammatory, can be difficult to digest. Soy also messes with androgens - never touch soy.
Eat as many vegetables as you like, raw or cooked. If you cook them, they don’t take up too much space and crowd out the protein! Whole fruits are fine, but avoid jams, jellies, and juices and other sugary drinks. For starches, stick to potatoes (avoid the skins), yams and sweet potatoes, other starchy tubers, and plantains. If you’re active and not overweight, white rice can be okay too. Don’t eat any grains except for white rice. It’s especially important to avoid anything made from wheat, as it is highly inflammatory. Whole grains and gluten-free substitutes are still inflammatory, and you should avoid them too.
Fat is not bad, but the quality of the fat you eat is important. There are many good sources of fat. Eat the fat in grass-fed and pastured meats. Use butter, avocado oil, coconut oil, and bacon fat to cook meats and veggies. Coconut milk is a great, dense source of fat - stir it into soups, stews, and curries. Olive oil is great for salads but avoid it for high-temperature cooking. Nuts are okay in moderation, but avoid peanuts. Avocadoes and olives are other good sources of fat.
Including dairy works for some people and not for others. Many people find that cutting it out improves digestive, skin, and other health conditions, but some people are well-adapted to it. For mass gain, dairy can be very effective as long as it’s not causing you problems, so it’s up to you if you want to include it. If you do, stick to whole milk and full-fat dairy products, and source the best quality that you can (organic, grass-fed).
Keep your sugar intake low. Avoid obvious junk food like candy, cake, packaged foods, and fast food. When you splurge on a treat, make it something that’s actually worth it - good quality ice cream rather than junk from the checkout counter.
Don’t think of these food guidelines as being restrictive. Think of them as helping you eat the best quality, most nutritious, satisfying, flavorful foods. A steak dinner with potatoes and buttered vegetables, eggs and bacon for breakfast, fresh fruit - these are decadent foods made to be enjoyed. If you start getting frustrated or bored, see us for ideas!