In class tonight, I was talking about the importance of nutrition as fuel for your body for the tournament. A few people seemed interested in what I was eating and how I was preparing food so I thought I would put together a few things for anyone interested. This post isn't short so feel free to skim then come back to later.
A few important disclaimers:
I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist. Please consult one before making any major diet changes. I'm sharing here what works for me. I've consulted doctors myself and done tons of research, looking at clinical papers and data.
Find what works for your body. Just because it works for me doesn't mean it will work for you. Spend time getting to know your metabolism
With the second point in mind, there are still some fundamentals that just about all of us know, but sometimes have a hard time putting in to practice with our busy lives. We all know that we should eat more vegetables, drink less of our calories, and consume less junk. This is where having a coach, friend, peer, someone to help keep you on track and motivate you. Motivating others is also a good way to keep yourself motivated.
I'll quote sources where I can. If something looks like I got it from somewhere else and I don't cite, please forgive me. It's not on purpose!! I get 99.99% of my stuff from others. In this regard, I'm the least creative person I know. I look to the people that are doing it better than me and see what they do.
Ok so let's get to it. Here are the things that are working really well for me right now. As most of you know, I have two young daughters, teach 7 days a week, and keep a very full schedule. I'm also not rich so we have to figure out how to eat healthy on a tight budget. What a lot of people don't realize is that eating healthily can be cheap if done right. I always eat best when money is tight. It's when I have extra that I eat out more, indulge more etc.
Tip #1 - 30x30. This one is huge and now I have Jasmine on the bandwagon as well. What you do is get 30 grams of protein within the first 30 minutes of waking up (From Tim Ferris). This does a few things. 1, it puts something good in your stomach first thing. 2, the protein abates the cravings for carbs. This is huge. No cravings for bagels, dunkin donuts, mcdonalds breakfast, starbucks (not counting the caffeine) etc. Since starting this, I have a ton more energy in the morning and it helped me to slim way down. This is definitely top of my list of places to start for making changes to your diet.
So 30 grams you say??? That's crazy Mico! How do I get that much? Glad you asked. I do a protein shake each morning. Sometimes I do a combo of shake and eggs/bacon/etc. You can get it from just eggs/bacon/ and other sources too. You can google the protein content of anything to see how to get it to add up. For me though, I don't want to think about it in the morning. I have too many other things to worry about.
Tip #2 - Eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch as often as possible. Mix up dinner for variety. This is massive on the time saving side of things as well as the diet side. You save time because you aren't wasting brain power on shopping nor preparation. And by eating the same thing over and over again, your body gets used to the same calorie density of the food so you can more easily adjust based on if you are more hungry or not (if this concept is new to you, shoot me an email and I can explain more in depth). Then mix up dinner to give yourself variety.
My typical meal for breakfast is the shake as mentioned before, then lunch is a big, yummy, interesting, salad with protein, lots of olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, basil, sometimes garlic. Dinner during the week is usually leftovers from the weekend/week. I do big cooking on Saturday/Sunday to batch things for the rest of the days. I'm a big foodie but now I save special cooking as more of a hobby for special occasions instead of trying to get fancy every night.
Tip #3 - Make a big ass salad and keep it in a tub. We've been doing this for a while now at our house and its working great. Mondays I usually do some type of roast;pork, chicken, occasionally beef but not often. And I make a huge salad. I do a head of romaine, a head of leaf, a full bag of arugula, and half a bag of spinach. I add cucumber and dump a package or two of grape tomatoes ,then add something fun in like heart of palm, artichoke hearts, Jasmine put in sun dried tomatoes this time. The point is to do it ahead of time, and make it interesting. The salad will keep for the week in a tupperware container so its great for grabbing and going.
Roasts are super fun, great source of protein and check all my favorite boxes for being yummy, easy to make, cheap, and usable throughout the week. Pork is amazing slow cooked to 203 degrees. Email me if you want the recipe I've been using lately. Cuban roast pork. MMMM. Then duing the week for my salad, I microwave a portion and dump it right on top of my salad. It might not win a Michilin star but I think it tastes pretty good, and its easy and super healthy.
Tip #4 - Consider the ketogenic diet. I've blogged about this before and I'm a super fan. DEFINITELY do your research on this first and consult a doctor. Basically what this is about is kicking your body's metabolism over to using fats for energy instead of sugars. When your body does this it produces "ketones" which is where the diet gets its name. And let me be clear here, diet in the way I use it means how you eat on a regular basis, not a fad or temporary thing. What you do is try to get lots of good fats - olive oil, avocados, fats from meats (not processed), then protein, then vegetables. You then cut out almost all carbs and all sugars. Ketones have tons of benefits for your body and for your mental performance. I could write pages just on this and what it has done for me over the past year. Shoot me an email if you are interested in learning more and I can point you to some great resources.
Tip #5 - Replace bad habits with better ones, instead of just stopping something. These days I truly believe that we are experiencing our life as a result of our habits. And our habits serve a function for better or worse. Cold Turkey can work for some people for some things. But I've found for myself that by upgrading my habits, I've been able to be much more successful and be more stable with improvements. For example if you buy bags of potato chips as part of your regular weekly shopping, that's a habit. If you take away the chips, you'll miss them. Potato chips are delicious. They are full of (bad) fats and sodium. Things our body is programmed to love! So you might get a craving for the chips and instead buy a candy bar or something like that. Consider instead replacing the potato chips with some of the great veggie chips that you can find now. Or think about what you get the chips for. Do you need something snack-y? Do you like the crunch? Could you sub in carrots or maybe even bacon? Bacon is awesome for the keto diet btw :)
Take a look at your pantry, what's in there? If it's in there, you'll eat it. Get the junk out that you don't need but look at replacing it with healthy, fun alternatives.
Tip #6 - What we are buying and keeping in our house these days. Here is what a typical shopping trip might look like for our family of 4;
Veggies - the salad stuff I mentioned before, plus some apples, "janas" (Narajas- aka oranges) for Kayla, frozen veggies if we are out, a bag of almonds for me for my snack during the week, carrots if we are out, and maybe one other thing to round stuff out. Whole oats too for Kayla. Oh and sometimes juice for her too
Protein - Whole chicken, or half pork picnic (weird name for a cut, but this is the cut for cuban style roast pork yumm!!!), bacon, then we mix up our protein source depending on sales or interest. We will get frozen white fish or ground beef. I buy ground beef in bulk, portion the day I buy it in to zip lock bags and toss some in the freezer. Protein powder if needed. I used to get by with one tub a month but now Jasmine is in on it so we are destroying these things hehe. Still cheaper than getting protein from fast food! In fact, the protein powder is the cheapest way to get protein if you go by the gram. Something to think about! I get the purple tub of whey protein. I love the chocolate flavor. Almost no sugar but tastes like great chocolate milk (I mix with water)
Shop the outside of the grocery store! All the good stuff is along the perimeter!! The junk is in the middle isles for the most part. That's where all the boxed crap is that is all processed.
Dairy - we do a little bit of dairy but not much. We'll get a small amount of cheese, milk for Kayla and that's about it.
Frozen - We do get some frozen chicken nuggets for the kids for when we don't have time or energy to cook ( I also end up eating these on occasion). Then frozen veggies and/or fish like I mentioned.
Cabrini is on toddler formula and whole foods, in transition to less formula and about to eat us out of house and home! :)
What's not on the list? No breads, pastas, rice (sometimes we do a little white rice), legumes, frozen pizzas, pizza rolls, typical snack foods, cereals (aside from whole oats we get for Kayla, she's crazy for oatmeal), no candy, no chips, no baked goods, no processed foods, and a bunch of other things I usually see in other people's shopping carts. Those things are really expensive and not needed. We do have some other costs like diapers, formula, wipes, vitamins, etc. But for the bulk of the food, this is pretty much what it looks like week to week.
Tip #7 - Stop drinking your calories! Replace with seltzer water! I'm a beverage fiend. I really have a problem. I love drinks. I like regular water but I really enjoy just about any type of flavored beverage. I cut out juice a while ago because it has an insane amount of sugar - even natural fruit juice. That saved me a bunch of empty calories right there (and money!). I really love seltzer water because it fizzes, there are insane flavors out there now, and get my water intake for the day, and it keeps me from drinking other stuff I shouldn't be. There can be some cost with this but if you balance it against the benefits of what you cut out, you should come out way ahead. We do a combo of two liters from Publix for .99 ea (sometimes they have bogo for this) and cans of different flavors to keep it interesting. Aldi has some great prices on 12 packs.
Tip #8 - This is a recent one for me but I'm loving it and applying it to more than just my diet. I've recently started sorting foods (and activities) in to three categories (from a podcast from Tim Ferris, I forget the guest's name): things that make me feel good, things that are neutral, and things that make me feel bad. I also do a version of this for habits that either; move me towards my goals, keep me neutral, or move me away. Sometimes things check two of the three boxes depending on how the goals may cross.
This doesn't mean that since I like sugar, I eat more sugar. I may like sugar but it doesn't make me feel good after that initial spike. I crash hard and I really don't like that feeling, so I avoid sugar.
So for example, I like almonds. They make me feel good. They help me get through the day as a healthy snack. So I'm going to keep eating almonds ( or eat them more in lieu of that office bagel for example). I've cut out fruit but recently reintroduced apples (specifically tart apples, if I can). They make me feel good and there are some other things I'm diet/'strength wise experimenting with.
Tip #9- Allow for setbacks. No one gets it perfect the first go around. If you allow for setbacks, then when they happen they don't destroy your mental outlook. You don't waste time worrying about how you fell off the wagon. You messed up. You ate the pizza when you knew you could have made a better choice. Big deal, everyone does it. But if you allow for the setback, you'll more quickly recover from your mistake instead of letting it snowball out of control "Well heck, I ate the pizza, I might as well have that beer too. I had the beer, I might as well have 4 more... etc"
I spend a lot of time these days being conscious of what I'm eating and drinking. If I didn't cover something here, or you would like more specifics on recipies, techniques, the ketogenic diet, how to stay motivated, etc, just shoot me an email. I love this stuff and love talking about it.
Please forgive any grammar or spelling mistakes. I feel like I write better when I let it come out and not try to over polish anything. I hope some of this helps!