while exercise is certainly important to get your body into good shape, many experts claim somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-80% of your fitness relies solely on how you eat. i will never tell anybody to go on a diet. ever. that said, i will tell you that your diet (that is, not your weight-loss nutrition program, but what you eat every day) is probably terrible. you might be familiar with this:
if you are, and if you adhere to it, you’ve probably already made your first mistake. i will get into the specifics of each category in other posts (which will be linked within this post as they appear) but here’s a quick run-down of each category. starting with…
the suspects: wheat, rice, oats, corn (to name a few)
the verdict: avoid grains. i know, they are the bottom of the standard pyramid. everything needs a bottom! yours will be much smaller cutting this out or cutting way down, however. avoiding the science of it all for now, grains are essentially pillows of carbs which your body turns into sugar and into fat very quickly. even if you stick to 100% whole wheat, brown rice, and so on, you’re still gaining very few nutrients in exchange for a whole lot of calories and carbohydrates. additionally, any nutrient gain will be easily made up for with your daily helping of…
the suspects: leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, capsicum, AND MORE!
the verdict: chow down. at every meal. every. meal. i usually make a big ass spinach salad every time i eat (spinach is very good for aiding in lean tissue generation). i try to eat as much raw vegetation as possible, but cooking them still yields benefits. eat a wide variety, try new things, and eat all you can. these should be the basis of your pyramid.
the suspects: apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, berries, melons, etc.
the verdict: who needs candy? eat these like veggies, but let it be known too many will make you poop, and fruits are sweet because of sugar. natural sugar, but sugar nevertheless. eat the freshest fruits early in the morning, after working out, and/or as a between-meal snack.
EDIT: i have heard rumors that eating fruit post-workout is bad due to the heavy antioxidant load. i will research this further in a future post.
the suspects: milk, cheese, yogurt, butter
the verdict: ingest it if you wanna. a little bit is alright, and there are well-documented benefits of dairy. however, think of this in the mindset of human evolution: back before farms and livestock, humans only drank mother’s milk and possibly a small amount of milk pilfered from a kill (no source, but it’s feasible, right?) every now and then after that. we obviously simply don’t need it, and it is a common allergen. use at your own risk, i’m not condemning it.
the suspects: beef, chicken, pork, lamb, duck, goose, deer, moose, bear, fish, liver, heart…anything that once had a cute lil’ face
the verdict: let me preface this by saying that i’m a former vegan. i took a lot of time to figure out my thoughts on the way we as a society use animals and found that i disagreed with almost every aspect of the meat industry. almost. i have no problem with the ‘old way’ of doing things – local, sustainable farming, fishing, and hunting are not morally disagreeable to me. that said, from a nutritional stand point, you should be eating meat. doesn’t mean you have to, but it’s going to be difficult (but not impossible) to make up for the loss of protein, vitamins, and minerals present in meat completely. for those who don’t abstain from meat – eat up! all forms, from in or outside the animal, have their benefits for your health. with as little carbs prescribed by your daily intake (if you’re taking my advice), you will need to get energy somewhere. protein is an incredibly efficient source of fuel for your body and meat is the most readily used type of protein for muscle growth. stick to organic small farms to ensure your food was treated as humanely as possible and that nasty chemicals stay out of your food.
if you choose to abstain from meat eating, be sure to try and take in .7-1.2 grams (depending on goals…if you wanna put on muscle, stick to the high end of the range) of protein per pound you weigh per day. and be sure to supplement and gain your vitamins and minerals from your fruits and veggies!
the suspects: processed foods, soda, sugar-water sports drinks, everything above and much more
the verdict: my advice on junk food is to stop eating it now. cold turkey. just fucking quit it, alright? try that for a month. or two. or however long you can go without it. then, when you eat or drink it again, you will most likely be surprised to find out that it isn’t what you remembered. sweets are too sweet, soda too caustic, ice cream too heavy, and gatorade gives you heart burn. or maybe not – you might love the same things you’ve always loved. but, once you have one peanut butter cup, snickers bar, bag of barbecue chips, or piece of cake, chances are you will be satisfied. for a long time. junk food doesn’t kill people, people who live off of junk food kill themselves. once you’ve gotten yourself off it, you should be able to handle junk more responsibly.
there you have it – a basic rundown of the food pyramid. as stated before, i will get into the scientific explanations of these choices in other posts. as it stands, though, here’s the food pyramid that’s been put together:
remember – being fit is mostly in your diet! eat right and stay healthy.
ps – it’s totally alright to go ahead and cheat on your nutrition every now and then. it’s actually beneficial to your leptin levels to have a day where you eat some bad-for-you food. leptin is the hormone which suppresses your hunger, fyi.