Here's what matters:
The goal is to train your body to derive its energy from proteins and fats instead of grains, legumes, dairy, and other foods that irritate and inflame your body and deprive it of important nutrients. There is a growing body if research documenting the health benefits of making the switch. In short, the benefits include reduced risk of heart diseases, autoimmune diseases, cancer and diabetes, all of which can be traced in varying ways to excessive inflammation in your body, high insulin levels, and other process and imbalances that are too detailed to cover here. Aside from that, you will simply feel better, look better, and perform better in your workouts of course, individual results will vary, so the best way to see how the diet will affect you is to jump in and try it.
Avoid the following:
Grains, legumes dairy, sugars, alcohol processed foods, corn, safflower or soy oil, and some seeds.
Eats lots of protein, veggies, and fats. Grass feed and antibiotic / hormone free meats and wild fish are best, as are organic veggies (particularly if they don't have peels or shells to protect them--and us--from pesticides). Focus on nutrient dense veggies (those with dark or bright colors) and save the starchy ones like sweet potatoes and yams--if you need them--for post workout meals. And remember; avocados, nuts, and coconuts are your friends. Eat SOME fruits, but don't go overboard. Whole fruits, not fruit juices, and preferably fresh, not dried.
Some people have special sensitivities to eggs, nuts, tomatoes, eggplants, and/or peppers. Pay attention to these foods, see if you feel discomfort after eating them.
Additional ways to boost performance and feel better:
- Drink plenty of water--about 1/2 your body body weight in ounces each day. Slow down as you approach bedtime.
- Sleep--in a pitch black room, get at least 8 hours per night.
- Reduce "stressors" in your life or--at the very least--minimize your nighttime computing and television watching. Less blue light from those screens = better sleep = lower stress levels.
- Eat three meals and 1-2 snacks each day, plus a small amount of protein and carbs per workout.
- If you're going to drink coffee: stop drinking before non so that it doesn't interfere with your sleep.
- Get outside for at least 15 minutes per day. Workout several times per week.
Suggested meal timing and ratios / sizes:
Breakfast: eat within 1 hour of waking up. Go big! Eat lots of protein, fts and veggies. Skip the high sugar carbs like fruits or sweet potatoes. You want to phase a clear brain so that you can be productive and have sustained energy throughout the morning.
Snack: eat some more protein and fat--maybe about a half meal size or a little more, enough so that you are no longer hungry and can get back on task and stay mentally focused.
Lunch: eat at your regular lunch-time, probably 3-4 hours after breakfast. Make this the feast of the day: lots of protein, fats, and veggies. A serving of fruit won't hurt if you have a hankering for a little sweetness.
Snack: same as before--protein and fast, about s half-meal size or more, enough to keep you energized and on task.
Dinner: this is the smallest meal of the day. You have fewer hours left to digest and utilize this meal, and the goal is to discourage the body from storing fat, so keep it lean and mean: protein, and fat for this meal. Resist the urge for sugars like chocolate, wine, or even dried fruit. Those cravings are your caveman body trying to prepare you for surviving times of famine. Try to get this meal consumed with a few hours to spare before bed.
Pre/post workout meals: on days you work out, eat a small amount of protein and carbs about 1 hour before your workout. You don't want it coming back up, or for your body to learn to burn this food before burning the fat on your body, so keep this "meal" under 100 calories...about a palm full of protein and carbs. If you are at or near your desired level of leanness, eat some carb-dense veggies (yams, squash, beets, parsnips) and some easily digestible proteins (meaning not much fat) within 30 minutes if weight loss if your goal, don't get crazy with the carb content here, but don't avoid it completely either--your body needs some! Don't gorge, you should be eating again--one of your normal meals--within an hour or to after this meal.
How much food should you eat?
Simply following a primal lifestyle pattern is damn good. If you are looking for some guidance in some general rules of "thumb" for intake amounts, here are some easy to remember general portioning guidelines. These are good portion for all, for a general lifestyle. You may have to adjust intake if you are in a heavy training phase. You certainly will not need any less than theses guidelines. Translate these to the meals listed above.
Proteins: the size and thickness of your palm. Or, as many eggs and you can hold in your hand.
Vegetables: are you familiar with AMRAP? As much as you can fit on your plate! Eat them cooked or raw, however you can. Save the carby ones for post-workout, (yams, sweet potatoes, squash, beets, etc)
Fruits: a fist sized portion. Limit to 2 per day.
Fats: a couple sources or servings per meal. A serving equals;
- Oils/butter - 1 thumb
- Coconut milk - 1/3 can
- Avocado - 1/2 an avocado
- Nuts - fist sized
- Olives/coconut - a very full handful
Eggs/egg whites - look for local and pastured eggs, or at least Omega-3 enriched eggs.
Beef, bison. buffalo - ideally grass-fed AND grass finished, hormone and antibiotic free and locally raised.
Chicken & turkey - ideally local and pastured, or at lest organic and hormone/antibiotic free.
Fish/shellfish - ideally wild-caught, although the habitat damage caused by certain fishing practices may outweighs the health benefits--refer to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Guide for more info.
Lamb - ideally grass-fed, hormone-antibiotic-free, and locally raised. Otherwise make sure it's lean and trim off any excess fat.
Pork - the ideal Latin is local, pasture, pigs supplemented with fruits and veggies in their feed. Delicious as it is, bacon is not the ultimate perfect food and doesn't earn a free pass on these expectations.
Limit quantities of sausage, bacon, deli meats, and jerky. Always check ingredients. You'd be surprised what they are adding wheat to these days!
* = organic highly recommended (due to toxicity levels of common pesticides for this food).
Bold = nutrient dense food.
Italics = high glycemic index (limit consumption, eat before lunch or post workout)
Berries (any kind)*
Coconut* - (unsweetened, organic, raw) coconut flakes are a great snack and (unsweetened) coconut milk (full fat in a can) makes a great base for sauces.
Avocados - great as a mid-day snack, sliced on top of eggs, in a salad, wherever!
Oils - preferably coconut oil for high heat use (like pan frying), avocado and olive oil for dressings (no corn, safflower, soy, or seed oils).
Olives - black or green
Nuts - best is cashews and macadamia nuts, but almonds, Brazil nuts, chestnuts, pecans and pistachios are ok. No peanuts or peanut butter. Limit or stop consumption for best fat loss.
- Water - half your body weight in ounces each day. Consider adding a pinch of salt during hot weather or if you are sweating a lot. Talk to a coach about this before starting it, just to make sure it's an appropriate step to take. You can always add a lemon or lime to make your water more fun.
- Coffee* - Organic! Caf or decaf black, hot or iced.. That is all.
- Tea* - Organic! Caf or decaf or herbal, black or add lemon/lime. Hot or iced.
Some pre made sauces may be ok, but pay closer attention to the ingredients--no dairy, no added sugar, nothing you can't pronounce, and preferably organic.
Stock up on herbs and spices--fresh and dried! Start getting creative with flavor combinations and you'll never miss that French bread, rice, or pasta.
A word about terminology
The term "pastured" means that the animals are actually allowed to roam around and forage in fields and pastures; while "free range" only requires the doors to the animals cages be left open for parts of the day. It does not mean that they are actually out on the "range". The best option is to buy local and k the farmer how the animals are raised (noting that many may use the term "free range" since this is the common lingo that must people are looking for, even though the animals are really "pastured"). And while organic nice, many local supplies may not be certified organic--the important thing is that the animals be hormone and antibiotic free, and grass fed and finished.
When it comes to your fruits and vegetables, organic is important if you cannot afford to but everything organic, focus on those fruits and vegetables that do not have a thick peel or shell to protect them from pesticides. If your budget is forcing you to choose between grease fed meats vs organic produce, go with the grass fed or pastured hormone and antibiotic free meats.
Top Foods to Buy Organic
- bell peppers