So we know we need to be avoiding added sugars and processed grains and starches. What than should we be eating? The answer is not cut and dry but I promise you it’s not complicated. What you eat depends on what your fitness goals are. By that I mean what are trying to do, do you run marathons, do obstacle races, or even CrossFit? Strength based events require strength and that means muscle. Muscle is made from protein and if you want them to grow bigger after you shred them, then you have to feed them. Most of us know that we need to eat protein but unfortunately we have been taught that only body builders need to be conscious of how much they’re eating. Protein helps you lose weight by a very simple effect. It requires more energy to digest then fat or sugar and it also builds lean muscle which burns more calories at rest than any other type of tissue.
The primary sources of protein are meat. Many plant, nuts, and dairy products also contain high levels of protein. The supplement Whey comes from processing milk into its component forms. Soy has long been considered an alternate form of protein but be warned, recent studies have shown soy based proteins to have an adverse effect on the male hormone and estrogen production. I would advise men to avoid it whenever possible. Scientists believe that Homo sapiens began their rise to dominance on the earth when our ancestors began consuming more protein first from fish and then land based animals. I would suggest you do the same in your diet.
Red Meat can cause issues for some people and if it does you stick to meat from fish such as Salmon, and Herring. Chicken has long been the staple of muscle heads and for good reason. However look into buying your poultry from organic sources. Mass produced chicken is shot full of the hormone estrogen and several antibiotics, preservatives, and additives. Another benefit of organic meats, especially beef is that they contain much higher levels of essential amino acids and fatty acids than their feed lot raised counter-parts, so much so that it has been estimated if men were to eat grass-fed beef, pork and chicken exclusively they would have no need to take Omega-3 supplements at all. I enjoy pork but recognize that many people do not. Most of the pork I consume is in the form of organic uncured bacon. I love the taste of it and don’t miss the added sodium found in most brands today.
It has long been the advice of the health community to purchase lean meat. This is one point in which I disagree. My diet has very little fat in it. I carefully monitor my fat intake to an obsessive level. When I first started doing this I soon began to notice side effects in my health and mental state of mind. I was lethargic, constantly hungry, and continually sore. It was in my college Biology class that I learned why. You body produces hormones to regulate your growth and function. These hormones are composed of and made from fat from your diet. It’s a simple fact of science if you cut all fat from your diet it will endanger your health no matter what any infomercial or advertisements promise you. You must have fat in your diet and the best type you can eat is found in animals, nuts, and vegetables. Fat is an important fuel source in your body and works to regulate and insulate your core temperature. It helps cushion your joints and strengthens you bones and nerves. This does not give you license to eat anything you want. You must still cut out certain types of fat from your diet, especially the processed kinds used in modern food preparation. If it says hydrolyzed or hydrogenated on the label toss it in the garbage. You want saturated fat only as it occurs in meat the rest should be poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated. Look for this in vegetable oils, especially olive oil, nuts, avocados and nut butters.
The other important thing you need to be eating is fiber. Most fiber in your diet should come from vegetables; you know them as the multi-colored section you usually pass as soon as you walk in most grocery stores. Vegetables are nutritional powerhouses. Too many Americans are ramming supplements and vitamins down their throats today because we do not eat the right proportion of fruits and vegetables in our diet. For the serious athlete, green leafy vegetables, dark fruits and whole grains are a must. I love whole grains myself but would advise you make them the smallest portion of your fiber intake. Whole wheat bread, pasta, and old-fashioned oatmeal should constitute your grain supplies. Too many products claim to be “whole grain” stick to the real thing. When choosing these products if Whole wheat is not the first ingredient on a very short list put it down and walk away.
Fiber works in a very simple way. It fills you up and carries nutrients into your body. Fiber is composed mostly of indigestible plant matter. Once your colon extracts the vitamins and minerals from it the rest is passed out of you as waste. It is not stored or carried with you. The healthiest part of most vegetables is the skin. The vitamins and beneficial compounds are concentrated here. Unfortunately this is also the part of the vegetable most people throw away.
Now I have shared a few items with you that should be in your diet. Tomorrow we will begin preparing a plan to incorporate these foods into your day, and make healthy eating a part of your life permanently. We will also discuss the single most neglected part of the average person’s diet; hydration.