I have been asked about my nutrition by multiple people. Specifically, I’ve been asked what I eat, when I eat, when do I prepare my meals, what the hell is Paleo, and how I manage everything. Well it was no simple task to do, but over time I started getting a better understanding of what to eat and how my body takes it in during the day or in a given training session, as well as knowledge on prepping and storing the meals.
When it comes to food, I am not picky whatsoever. You can place it on the table and chances are it’ll be gone before you realize you forgot a fork and turn around to get one. That being said, I have to be extra careful because I tend to eat a little WAY too much. So to kick off my discussion, I’ll start by talking about my lifestyle and how it has evolved into how and what I eat today.
In college, I thought I was on the healthy side of things and was at my natural weight, as I tended to always eat relatively healthy. Like when you ask someone how their diet is and their immediate response is “oh, I eat pretty healthy all the time” yet the both of you know the person is a couple pounds on the heavy side and could actually afford to eat a little ‘healthier.’ I ate whole wheat bread, 2% milk, the good brands of cereals, stayed away from fats, and carb-ed up all the time (with pasta and breads) like a good athlete is “supposed” to do. But I’ll be damned if I went to school just for a degree rather than a freaking education, in which it so happens to be about this particular kind of stuff. My world flipped upside down and I was beyond amazed at how backwards everything was from what I had always been told to what I learned.
I can really get into it and dig down deep to the science behind it, but here is the “in a nutshell” part: what I ate was based on the notion that for optimal health, modern humans should go back to eating real, whole unprocessed foods that are more healthful than harmful to our bodies.
Agriculture came on the scene give or take a some odd 10,000 years ago—a tiny fraction of our evolutionary history—and there simply hasn’t been enough time and evolutionary pressure for humans to completely adapt to eating modern foods like wheat, sugar, chemically processed vegetable and seed oils, and other “Neolithic” foods. It’s not a coincidence that many modern diseases of civilization—including autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rampant obesity—have accompanied the global spread of industrialized food. That’s why after digging and learning the actual effects of foods on the body, I approached nutrition by returning to a more ancestral way of eating. It just made sense to me and this was way before I found out that it was a thing called Paleo.
The simplest way I can ever put it is to AVOID foods that will harm you by causing systemic inflammation, wrecking our guts, or derailing our natural metabolic processes. Abstain from toxic, pro-inflammatory foods like literally all grains, legumes, sugar, dairies and the laboratory-concocted Frankenfoods found in the middle aisles of every supermarket.
Shop around the edges of the supermarket and make life easy. Meats, veggies, roots, and fruits is the shopping list, while everything else…. no thank you. But that’s just me. Some people love their milk, their french toast, and their spaghetti, but again I am looking for optimum health to better my chances for success. I loved them too, but I like improving and succeeding more.
Once I changed my way of life (eating), in which I had no problem doing cold turkey, I immediately started seeing results. I didn’t change the amount of intake, just the quality. I didn’t change my exercise routine either but I lost a BIG 12 pounds in one week (and no it was not water weight – I have to drink water – I am an endurance athlete silly), felt leaner and more alert, my energy level rose, I had more stamina, and my breathing improved. I mean overall, I went up a couple levels within the first two weeks. I ended up losing a couple more pounds, I was training harder, and the best part was I was eating way more than before. Then I hit my natural weight which was 14 pounds lighter than I previously thought.
So with the back story being said and now fast forwarding a couple months to after school ended, I had to figure out how I could eat the same but also save a little $$ because your grass feed, cruelty free, fat free bison meat costs an arm and a leg. But to me, meat is meat and fat is fat. Once that association was made, you could put fat under a microscope and it looks the same weather your a vegan or on the McDiet. Furthermore, grabbing your easy-to-cook frozen meals was tempting, but after having a couple altercations after sampling other HIGHLY processed foods and my stomach not reacting well to it, I just knew better. It ended up being that taking the actual time in preparing my foods rather than buying them pre-made worked best for me. I looked up and researched (still do) other people, methods, strategies, seeing how body builders prep their meals, as well as checking on the best means of storing my meals. I picked my least busiest day of the week and said I would start by making my breakfast and lunches. Dinners I would still make nightly because it usually took no more than 20 minutes the way I eat.
So I started breakfast simple with 3 eggs in the morning and bacon ( YES BACON! the best freaking source of every thing breakfast nutrient related! Don’t believe me? Let’s do some research –> Bacon is Magic. They have entire websites devoted for bacon and its incredible powers!) and for lunch a simple salad with a protein. Literally simple as in throw in some greens, some colors, protein (like chicken or tuna) and dress that pretty thing up with mayo or ranch. (High in fat and low in carbs = Awesome paleo stuff!) BOOM! That’s that. I made 6 of those suckers and stored it in the fridge. To my surprise, it turned out pretty well (and no I didn’t get bored of having the same meal every day as I was too focused on my training to care). If you do get bored, just change it up to have options for the week – don’t use the same dang dressing or same protein and use something else instead. As time went on I started getting more clever with what I made. For example, breakfast became a 3 egg omelette with chopped veggies, 8 strips of bacon, half of an avocado or guacamole, and portabella mushrooms. My lunch got tastier as I started doing things as easy as Crunchy Honey Mustard Chicken Salad – You’re welcome – and Thai Pork & Veggie Meatballs – You’re welcome again.
Prepping my meals took about 2- 3 hours to do depending on what I made but i’ll be damned if it didn’t save me hours throughout my busy week. In the money saving department, I just bought in bulk from SAM’s club so you could shop their or just go to Walmart and try to shop for the exact amount needed for your 5-6 breakfasts and lunches (so yeah a little math has to be done), but I only spent money once a week and I typically spent no more that $85 for a week’s worth of meals. I am only one person and their are people out there with families and such but it works the same way at the end of the day as you know exactly what you are eating and spending for the week. I call it ballin’ on a budget.
As I plan my training sessions I also plan my meals and try to eat within the same time period everyday so my body has a structure of when it is eating and the fact that there are numerous case studies on just that and how beneficial it is to have that kind of structure. There are also case studies on the benefits of eating that way too.
What made things easy for me was planning it all out. The first couple of weeks was challenging like anything in life but after a while it became my way of life and just got easier. I am not telling anyone to do it my way, I am just simply throwing it out there in the hopes that someone takes the time and invests in their lives to figure out that HUGE! aspect of life that everyone always belittles. I mean let’s think about it, we as humans have to eat for the nutrients from the foods to support the activities of day-to-day living and to protect our cells from environmental damage and repair any cellular damage that might occur. Protein rebuilds injured tissue and promotes a healthy immune system. Both carbohydrates and fats fuel your body (Yes Fats!), while vitamins and minerals function throughout your body in support of your body’s processes. Vitamins A, C and E, for example, act as antioxidants to protect your cells against toxins, and B vitamins help you extract energy from the foods you eat. Calcium and phosphorus keep your bones strong, while sodium and potassium help to transmit nerve signals. So why rob your body from all that with products that claim to help but in reality (because they are soooo processed) they do the very opposite and destroy you from the inside out?
All of this further leads to the notion that abs are made in the kitchen NOT the gym… BOOM!