There are several eating habits I have developed to get optimum results from my food choices. Throughout my journey, I am learning that meal timing, meal frequency, and meal content are the three most important things when eating. Following "the basics" of a general fat loss/bodybuilder diet can greatly increase results. Here is a quick list of what I mean when I say "the basics".
1. Eat five to six mini meals throughout the day instead of eating big meals! Eating often keeps the metabolism going all day...it is almost a workout in itself. When waiting longer than 3-4 hours between each meal, the body goes into starvation and actually ends up storing part of the next meal as body fat! Plus, eating mini meals regulates the insulin levels throughout the day, putting the muscles with a constant state of efficient "fat burning" all day long! I always eat six mini meals three hours apart every single day!
2. Lots of protein!!! Protein has a high thermogenic effect (more than any other type of food) and is the most beneficial food group when it comes to fat loss/muscle building. In order for the body to digest protein, about 30% of the calories in the protein is used up by the thermic effect of the digestion process alone! For optimum results, eat a protein at every single meal.
3. Calories count! One of the most important things is to not go over your daily caloric intake. When I am trying to lose fat, I usually eat around 1,600-1,800 calories per day. When building muscle, it is important to eat more. It is important to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate so that you do not go over maintenance level. And if you are trying to lose fat, a calorie deficit is needed of course!
4. Types of carbohydrates matter! It is very important to include ALL food groups in the diet, however, carbohydrates can be the most tricky. They can be extremely useful in having energy, the efficiency of protein absorption, and keeping the body healthy. When consuming carbs--it's all about timing, content, and portion sizes. It is important to limit sugary carbs from the diet as much as possible (such as candy, soda, white flour/starchy foods, etc.) when trying to burn fat. SOME amount of natural sugary carbs are okay to have (such as fruits, honey, milk, all-natural jam, etc.). Most carbohydrates consumed should be complex carbs (such as oatmeal, yams, quinoa, etc.).
5. Veggies speed up the metabolism! Including some raw veggies in the diet (especially green ones!) will aid in weight loss significantly, plus they add fiber to the diet as well.
6. Drink lots of water! Water is VERY important to fat loss because it keeps the body hydrated, aids digestion, increases the efficiency of the basic bodily functions, and is necessary to lose fat. I drink at least a gallon of water per day.
7. Catch some ZZZs! When losing weight or building muscle, getting an adequate amount of sleep is absolutely essential to achieve optimum results. Lack of sleep causes cravings/hunger, the release of cortisol, and decreased intensity in workouts.
8. Exercise. Duh! Exercise is one of the most important things when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off. It is important to adopt a healthy active lifestyle when turning around to make your lifestyle change! Finding fun activities to do are an option as well.
There are certain foods that actually help the body burn fat and build muscle more efficiently than others. Here I put together a list of my all-time favorite "fat burning" foods to include in a good nutrition program! So when people ask me "What do you eat?" or "What are the best foods to lose weight?" or "Can you give me some ideas of foods I can eat to lose weight?" Here are my answers...
1. Proteins-- cottage cheese, eggs/egg whites, chicken, canned sardines or mackerel (lower in mercury), turkey, extra lean beef (grass-fed preferable).
2. Complex/Starchy Carbs-- old fashion oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes/yams, brown rice, 100% whole grain bread, 100% whole grain pasta, beans (my favorites are lentils, pinto, or black)
3. Natural Sugary Carbs-- grapefruit, blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, oranges, strawberries (those all have low insulin impact), for high sugar spikes I choose honey, mangos, figs, kiwifruit, melons, apples, pears, apricots, bananas, peaches, plums, all-natural fruit preserves
4. Fats-- olive oil, avocados, all-natural nut butters (sunflower, almond, peanut, etc.), full fat milk, dark chocolate (with 85% cocoa content), organic ranch dressing
5. Fiberous Carbs-- broccoli, spinach, asparagus, green beans, dark lettuce, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, alfalfa sprouts, cabbage, celery
Throughout my experience, I have done lots of research and tried lots of techniques that have the ability to have extreme results in increasing the efficiency of losing body fat. I am going to post here some of the various techniques I know about that have significantly impacted my life when it comes to how I lose fat in the most effective way possible. I admit, hard work goes a long way...but hard work PLUS efficiency can take you much further and yield much faster results!
1. Meal timing--meal timing is one of the most important things when it comes to losing fat, increasing the metabolism, and efficiently using foods at certain times to get optimum results. To start out, I will talk about breakfast! Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day because it "breaks the fast" of the night. During the night, the muscles become super catabolic and need protein quick--so RUSH to the kitchen asap! The BEST breakfast includes a natural sugary carbohydrate to spike the insulin levels in order to increase the absorption of the protein. I usually have a fruit, honey, or jam. Anywhere between 12-30 grams of natural sugar is needed (depending on the person) in order to successfully spike insulin levels to absorb the protein efficiently. Another main component of a good breakfast is a fast absorbing/low fat protein. I usually use 100% whey protein isolate powder or egg whites. However, any type of fast absorbing low-fat protein can be used in its place such as chicken breast or tuna. Another extremely important ingredient of a "champion breakfast" is an adequate amount of complex carbohydrates. The complex carbs will provide energy and regulate insulin levels during the day until the next meal. I usually have some good old fashioned quaker oats! Another very important time to have a specific type of meal is post-workout. There is a 30 minute window (after weight training) in which the muscles will absorb everything like a SPONGE. Eating as soon as possible after a workout can increase results and recovery up to 40%! An ideal post-workout meal includes a two to one ratio of carbohydrates to proteins, low fat, and lots of water! A good example is honey (to spike insulin and help with absorption), a fast absorbing complex carb such as whole grain bread, and 25-50 grams of protein powder (depending on goals/body weight/etc.) Whey protein isolate is an extremely good supplement to use post workout because of its efficiency to get to the muscle tissue making the anabolic as soon as possible! Without a good post-workout meal, the muscles will break down because the tissue is ripped open. I'm not saying it is impossible to get results without good post-workout nutrition, but I do know that results are MUCH better when eating a good post-workout meal within that 30 minute window! Pre-workout nutrition is important as well. Before doing a hardcore workout at the gym, it is important that the body has an adequate amount of carbohydrates and proteins ahead of time to decrease muscle breakdown! A good pre-workout meal usually includes complex carbs, natural sugary carbs, protein, and some veggies for minerals/vitamins. The last thing I'm going to say about meal timing is this: Meal timing can GREATLY increase results and fat loss efficiency! When a meal is eaten at the correct time and use effectively to promote optimum results, it will be AWESOME!
2. All about carbs:
There are so many people that say carbohydrates are the number one enemy when it comes to losing weight. I will tell you first hand: it is simply not true! The problem is that many people simply to not know how to go about eating them. Being educated when it comes to carbohydrates are a key element when developing an effective fat loss plan. Here is what I know about carbs: There are different types of carbohydrates that should be included in the diet. There are natural sugars that provide immediate energy such as fruit, honey, and milk. There are complex carbs that regulate insulin levels, feed the muscles throughout the day, and also provide energy. Some examples are yams, oatmeal, and whole grain products. There are fiberous carbs such as lettuce, spinach, and broccoli that provide minerals and vitamins and also increase the metabolism because some of them actually use more calories to digest than to eat! And there are the "bad carbs" such as soda, cake, white flour, cookies, chips, etc. The only carbs that should be totally eliminated from the diet are the "bad carbs". These foods provide no nutritional value, are "empty calorie" foods, provide little or no benefits to aid fat burning or muscle building, are usually extremely high in fat and sugar, and are just all around good-for-nothing! The other carbs are very important in the diet, but need to be eaten effectively! Here is how I do my breakdown of carbs in my personal menu: I eat complex carbs with my first 3-4 meals of the day, but do not eat them after 6:00pm because I do not want to store whatever I do not use as fat! Natural sugary carbs I limit to two per day and I have them with breakfast, my second meal, and if I workout...I eat them post-workout. The fiberous carbs can be eaten with any meal because most of them are negative calorie foods and will aid in keeping the metabolism up all day! Carbohydrates are important because they provide the body with essential things when it comes to trying to workout, recovery, and have energy to do daily activities! I find that low-carb or no-carb diets have many cons, but when used correctly they can be effective as well. Carbohydrate tapering is the method I use throughout the day. This means that I eat my my larger servings of sugary or complex carbs during my first meals, then "taper" the percentage of carbs I have as the day continues. For example I might have 1/2 cup of oatmeal with breakfast, but only 1/3 cup for my next meal. After meal 4, I stop with the complex carbs. If you are not careful with serving sizes, carbs can be an enemy to anyone trying to lose fat because they are easily and readily stored if not used up during the day!
3. Negative calorie foods rock! There are certain foods such as cucumbers, carrots, celery, and lettuce that are "negative calorie" foods. These can be added to the diet at any time because they actually create such a high thermic effect that they cause the body to use more energy eating them than they are actually worth! For example, you may eat 10 calories worth of cucumbers, but burn 15 through digesting them! If you do some research on negative calorie foods...you can find more!
4. How to eat at a restaurant: Okay, so if I am going out to eat and do not want to totally mess up all the hard work I did all week...I go online and look for foods on the menu that are low-calorie! It seems like a simple "duh" thing to do, but I wanted to stress the importance of planning out meals! Cheating is a huge setback to anyone who wants to see their best results, so I wanted to post this one so people know there are ways to go out to eat and not mess up! Ask for whole grain breads, order sauces and dressings on the side, use picante/salsa instead of fattening dips and dressings, ask for the food to be grilled or baked instead of fried, order good foods that help you such as chicken breast and steamed broccoli! Any of those techniques are very helpful when going out to eat. Eating out is an extremely social activity to many Americans, so to some it is unavoidable. But going out does not mean giving up! So make the most of what you are able to do!
5. You can't have your cake and eat it too! In order to lose weight, it must be understood that hard-work as well as sacrifices MUST be made. There is no such thing as an effective fat loss plan that includes fast food and soda. I'm sorry to be the one to break the news to you...but most people cannot eat what they want AND look the way they want at the same time!
6. Workout like crazy! When you go to the gym, make sure you go to workout. I see people there all the time simply socializing, adjusting their ipod every five minutes, and putting around on a treadmill for 10 minutes thinking they are going to lose weight and get quick results. This is just not the case. To achieve the best results, it is important to put everything you got into each workout to make it worthwhile. If you are going to sweat anyways, why not just go all out? When lifting, every rep counts. When running, every stride counts!--But only if you make it count! Overtraining is also a problem for some people as well (including me). For optimum results I always train no more than three muscle groups at a time (two if I do legs as one of them), do 20-45 minutes of cardio, and stretch ALOT before, during, and after my workouts!
7. Eat good fats. Many people have a problem with including fat in their diet thinking that it will cause them to gain fat. It is actually the complete opposite! See, when the body needs something (like fat) it will hold on to its fat stores. If the body is fed an adequate amount of healthy fats, it is actually a key addition to the diet to increase fat loss! Yeah, it's that simple. Some good fats include fish oil, flaxseed oil, peanut butter, nuts, olive oil, and a limited amount of egg yolks. "You gotta eat fat to lose fat!"
8. Individualize your program. Not everything works for everyone! In order to do YOUR best at making a plan that works for you...you are going to have to do a little work on your own. The best way to get started is to 1) find your Basal Metabolic Rate and decide on a calorie deficit for you daily caloric intake, 2) make a workout plan and follow through with it! 3) realize it is a LIFESTYLE change, not a diet! If you decide to do a low-carb "diet" or another plan, make sure you know that it is not forever, and to maintain it--it will require hard work and discipline! 4) set goals, 5) if you mess up, don't quit! There are so many people who give up after they mess up...or they say "I'll start tomorrow". Well, I've been down that road once before and I know that for me..."tomorrow" always ended up being a long ways away! Plus, if I "messed up" on my diet I would not forgive myself. Now that I learned to accept that I am not perfect, "failing my way to success" has become an important learning process in my journey!
9. Take into consideration that there are some foods that will help speed up the metabolism! Okay, so it's not a super significant amount...but every little bit helps! Some of these foods include cayenne pepper, cinnamon, green tea, garlic butter, cocoa baking powder, and ginger! Adding these foods/spices to your regular diet can increase fat loss.
Lately I've been doing research on the importance of eating organic foods and it is extremely important! There are some foods that are especially important to eat organic:
The "dirty dozen" are foods that have the most pesticides and chemicals, the "clean 15" are the foods that are the cleanest and have the least amount of pesticides! Eating organic meats and dairy products (and EVERYTHING, FOR THAT MATTER) is also extremely beneficial to your health. Organic meats and dairy are also free of hormones and pesticides. Did you know that most of the corn we eat is genetically modified?! What is this world coming to?!
Make 2-3 servings of egg beaters in a flat pan. Make it super super flat...ilke a pancake. Then fill it up with a slice of swiss cheese, some slightly simmered/browned turkey breast or chicken breast lunchmeat, picante sauce, diced onions, mushrooms, then ENJOY!
Super Great Salmon Salad
Get a can of salmon and add 1 tbsp. of mayo. Then scramble 1-2 egg whites and add it into the mix. Next, add some onions, diced tomatoes, diced celery, and salt and pepper. Mix it all up and enjoy it because it is amazing! It is also good to add it between one or two slices of bread for a sandwich.