1.) In order to lose weight, just about every sound whole food diet can work - as long as you're caloric deficit most of the time and you eat for your body type and activity level.
We have met a lot of people in our lifetime and some of those people have a great physique or are in great shape and yet they all eat a little bit differently. The one thing that is constant with these individuals is that they are all very active and tend to be in a caloric deficit most of the time. The key is finding the right nutrition plan that works for your body chemistry.
Natural fats are critical for overall health and performance and actually help our bodies burn more fat for fuel. They also help make meals taste better and help keep us full for longer. Plus many key hormones in our body depend on dietary fat and essential fats like Omega-3's power our brains.
The best natural fats include extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), coconut oil, whole omega-3 eggs, flax meal, avocados, nuts, nut butters, and fatty meat and fish. These foods will make your hair and skin look healthier, make your heart pump better, and make your joints feel more supple and lubricated and from an endurance point of view, run longer without bonking as fat is your energy source.
Simple ways to add healthy fats into your meals include:
- Cook your eggs and veggies with olive oil/coconut oil. Use olive oil for salad dressing along with vinegars
- Throw some nuts/nut butters and flax meal into your protein shakes or UCAN.
- Eat a small handful of nuts with some fruits/veggies as a snack
- Eat the WHOLE egg (yes the yolks) not just the whites. As a friend of mine says, the yolks are "liquid gold"
- Throw some avocado (or guacamole) onto just about anything, especially salads
Avoid synthetic trans fats like the plague. The easiest way to do this is to avoid eating baked goods, most deep-fried food, and pretty much anything in a box or bag that has a ridiculously long shelf life.
3.) Eat lots of veggies, as many as you want. Nobody can argue with that.
Veggies are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and anti-oxidants and are the absolute best carbs you can eat. I personally don't believe you need to count veggie carbs into your daily totals (that's if you even count carbs or calories in the first place) and I've always recommended you can eat an UNLIMITED number of veggies day in and day out.
Veggies are also key in the food volume game, filling your stomach up as fast as possible with as little calories and as many nutrients as possible to prevent overeating and unwanted caloric surpluses. The green veggies provide the most benefits but be sure to gets lots of different colors on your plate throughout the day.
One of the quickest ways to lean up is to swap starches with veggies with the meals you usually eat until you hit your goal weight or body fat percentage. A plate full of veggies and leafy green salads at every meal is probably the most important thing you can do to increase the quality and quantity of your life.
4.) Eat a little bit of fruit- less if you're sedentary, more if you're very active. Consider fruit to be nature's dessert.
No one can argue that fruit provides a ton of health benefits. You could say that eating fruit will certainly make you healthier. There's only one problem; fruit does contain a significant amount of sugar (fructose).
Herein lies the problem with eating a more sugary form of veggies: if you barely move all day then that extra sugar will most likely be stored as BODY FAT since it's unused energy. Since most people have sedentary jobs, most people would be better off eating more veggies than fruit.
The best fruits to choose are the ones higher in fiber like berries. Many experts will tell you to choose fruits with a lower Glycemic Index (GI) or even a lower Insulin Index (II). Like with veggies, the wider variety of fruits with many different colors the better as each offers unique benefits (just watch the amount of carbs).
If I could only recommend one fruit, it would be mixed berries due to their insanely awesome combo of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals. Throw them in your protein shake or dollop some heavy whipping cream on top for a little dessert.
Which brings me to my next point: consider fruit to be nature's dessert. If you eat well, fruit should taste very sweet, like a dessert, and one should never overindulgence in dessert, right? I should also note that if fruit does NOT taste sweet to you then you most likely have a horrible diet loaded with refined/added sugars.
In conclusion, eat more veggies than fruit, especially if you are inactive or have a sedentary job. Limit your servings of fruit to 1 cup or 1 piece (depending on the fruit). Treat fruit like nature's dessert and like any dessert, only eat it if you earn it.
5.) Choose as many different protein sources that works for you.
For the past few years I've followed some what of a caveman type diet (some might call it Paleo) eating mostly good fats, meats and veggies. Animal protein is considered by many nutrition experts to be the best source of protein because it provides the complete blend of essential amino acids that our body can only get from diet. Great sources of animal protein include grass-fed beef, omega-3 eggs, fish and seafood, cage-free chicken and turkey, and various dairy proteins like full-fat cheese and cottage cheese.
I eat eggs each day along with a mix of plant-based protein sources like walnuts or almonds. I also supplement with 7g of Arginine (morning and night), 25-30g of Glutamine throughout the day (Morning, breakfast, lunch, dinner and night), 10 grams of Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA's) pre-workout (weights) and 30g of whey protein powder (I use Jay Robb) or Generation UCAN post-workout.
If you're out and about and in need of some fast-food options, look no further than a salad bowl (no rice or beans) at Chipotle for a high protein, high fiber meal that's less than $10. I load mine up with, veggies, double meat, pico and guacamole. La Madeleine has some great options as well, a three egg omelet with three toppings of your choosing. I normally add chicken, spinach and bacon then add a side of double broccoli.
Whether you're a carnivore or a vegan, be sure to get some protein at every meal (at least 20-30 grams worth).
6.) Drinks lots of water and tea and a little bit of coffee but never consume liquid calories. Go as easy as possible on artificially-sweetened beverages as you can.
As they say, you can go without eating for weeks (even months in some cases) but if you went without water for a couple of days you'd die. Yes, water is our liquid life force and we need to drink lots of it to be healthy (it flushes out toxins and transports nutrients throughout our bodies) and energized (dehydration is the number one factor for decreased performance). Drink 1-2 cups of water for every 15-30 minutes of activity and get into the habit of sipping on water throughout the day.
I like to drink 2-4 cups of water immediately upon waking just to get off to a good start. Since thirst and hunger are both regulated by the same part of our brain (hypothalmus) often we confuse hunger for thirst. So the next time you think you're hungry drink a bunch of water and wait 5-10 minutes and then re-assess. Also be sure to drink 1-2 cups of water with every meal to fill you up faster and compete for space in your stomach so you don't eat too many calories.
Both coffee and tea provide a water-based form of energy and anti-oxidants so drink them liberally, hot or cold. However, don't blow it by adding artificial sweeteners or sugar or too much dairy (unless it's heavy whipping cream). Limit your coffee intake to one cup in the morning and consider drinking tea throughout the day.
Probably the simplest and most powerful fat-burning rule to follow is avoid all liquid calories like the plague. No fruit juices, sports drinks, or sodas, EVER! It has no nutritional value and often loaded with high-fructose corn syrup that will keep you from losing inches and the weight.
If you are still in need of a "soda" consider Steaz zero calorie green tea or iced teaz naturally sweetened with Stevia. Steaz is a family of flavorful, great tasting, all-natural, organic and free trade tea-based beverages in three healthy and delicious product lines - iced teaz, sparkling green teas and energy drinks.
7.) There's never a reason to add sugar to your food and if you don't consume foods with added sugar, you'll most likely never be fat.
Not much to say here besides that the only sugar you should eat is what's already found in whole foods in their natural, unrefined form. Eat fruit, not candied or to-go cups of fruit. You should never add sugar to your food or drinks. By simply avoiding added sugar (especially the refined versions) you will give yourself the best chance of getting and staying lean.
8.) At least once a week, eat something that makes your day/week, whatever that may be.
The point is to eat to live, not to live to eat. That being said food remains one of the most important parts of just about every culture and has powerful social implications that we simply cannot ignore. If you eat perfectly most of the time then it's okay to be imperfect every once in a while as long as you can get back on track. The exception to the rule here is if you have a very specific goal with a tight deadline or if you have trigger foods that make you insatiable.
In general, once a week eat a food or meal that makes your week. Rule of thumb, keep the bad stuff out of your house and save this "treat" for restaurants or gatherings so that you can leave that temptation there. Now, back on subject. A reward meal is better than a reward day since the day-version tends to be a slippery slope and can get out of hand pretty quickly. Many people have success with confining their reward meals to a specific period of time like 2-4 hours. Experiment and find what works best for you.
Also, if you don't need a reward meal, don't use it! Sometimes it make sense to go without one for a prolonged period of time to develop good habits and stay the course until you reach your goal. But if you find yourself on edge with food controlling your mind, then a little break here and there may be productive. Just be sure to not just eat junk and include lots of the good stuff that you normally eat.
9.) One of the quickest ways to improve your health and lose weight is to spend more time in a fasted state and less time in a fed state.
The more you limit your eating to a specific period of time the more your body will burn fat throughout the day and the easier it is to control your caloric intake (be it 8-hours, 10-hours, or 15-hours). However, the more total time you spend in a fasted state and the less total time you spend in a fed state the leaner, healthier, and more energized you will be.
This style of eating is often referred to as Intermittent Fasting (IF) and loads of research now point to the following benefits:
- More stable energy throughout the day
- Less creation of cancer cells
- Easier on the digestive system
- Greater release of growth hormone which aids in fat-burning, muscle-building, and anti-aging
- More fat-burning (and use of body fat for energy) throughout the day
Plus, once acclimated, skipping breakfast also opens up more time for you in the morning to get more sleep and/or knock out a workout or take a walk immediately upon waking. The best time to burn fat is to perform aerobic exercise first thing in the morning on an empty stomach after drinking a large glass of water, green tea, or a little coffee too, in order to avoid dehydration. You burn more body fat in the morning on an empty stomach than at any other time in the day because your body does not have any glycogen or stored carbohydrates/sugar in the liver to burn. When this happens, your body has to go directly into the fat stores in order to get the energy necessary to complete the activity. You also increase your human growth hormone levels; which is the fat-burning hormone. The human growth hormone and insulin counteract each other. If one is high, the other is low…like a see-saw. So if you eat something, especially carbohydrates before a workout you will be spiking your insulin levels, meaning your growth hormone levels will be low.
I personally find that eating 2-3 meals (or 2 meals and a small snack in between lunch and dinner) during an 8-hour window to be the best nutrition plan that works for me. Experiment with this to find out what works best for you and maybe start by doing this every other day in the beginning to ease you into the transition.
Train Hard = Race Easy, Train Smart = Race Fast