No food is ever off-limits, or considered banned, and if you wanted to just get your protein from protein shakes, and the rest of your calories from Twinkies, you could.
But I don’t suggest you do that.
For one, you’ll probably feel pretty lousy, and secondly, having an adequate intake of fiber and nutrients means you’ll perform better, feel fuller, and ultimately get better results.
To help you along, here’s a table with my preferred foods.
Aim to get the majority of your diet (say 80%) from the foods listed, and the rest from other foods, including junk foods if desired.
|Protein Foods||Carb Foods||Fat Foods||Protein + Fat||Protein + Carbs|
|White meat (chicken, turkey, etc.), non-oily fish, protein shakes, low-fat Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, shellfish, soy, tofu.||Rice, pasta, bread, bagels, quinoa, couscous, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, cereals, oats, tortillas, tacos, pretzels, low-fat chips, all fruits.||Nuts, olive oil, avocado, peanut butter, nut oils, salad dressings.||Oily fish (salmon and mackerel) non-lean red meat (20% ground beef, pork, bacon, lamb, etc.) full-fat Greek yogurt, cheese.||Beans and pulses (lentils, chick peas, black beans,) skim milk, flavored Greek yogurt,|
Accelerate Your Progress Using Nutrient-Timing
Have you ever wondered how when you eat affects your physique and your fat loss?
Well let me tell you …
A lot of myths are often thrown around regarding nutrient timing, with perhaps the most common one being that you shouldn’t eat carbs after 6pm.
The science shows us that there’s no proof to this whatsoever, but there is some interesting research regarding nutrient timing that you should take into account if you want the best results.
Perhaps the most important of these regards eating around your workouts.
Before you train, your body is in need of energy in order for you to perform at your best. Pre-workout nutrition also sets the recovery process in motion, so it’s pretty important.
As carbs are your body’s main source of energy, it makes sense to eat a higher percentage of them here.
The other key component is protein. Due to the fact you’ll be working your muscles hard when you train, you don’t want them to break down and not build back up again, so make sure you get your protein in here.
As far as after training, similar rules apply. The protein is needed again for muscle reparation, but this time carbs are pretty crucial for helping shuttle the protein to the muscle cells.
After training, your insulin sensitivity is higher. This means that your body is primed to use carbs for recovery and for fuel, rather than storing them as body fat.
It would be a very smart idea to eat around 20% of your daily protein requirement around 60 to 90 minutes before training, and the same again within an hour of finishing.
As for carbs, this depends on how you’re splitting up your calories from carbs and fats, but having a minimum of 20 grams and a maximum of 40 grabs each side of training along with your protein would be a very good idea.
The only other thing I’d urge you to do is avoid having too many carbs early in the morning, unless you train.
Carbs are a useful fuel for intense exercise, but seeing as most of us train later in the day, and the mornings are usually pretty sedate, you’re best off saving your carbs for later on. Some research has also shown that a breakfast that’s higher in fat and protein and lower in carbs may also enhance the fat-burning process.
So save the cereal for later, and get your egg game on, or mix some low-sugar yogurt with protein powder and mixed nuts first thing in the morning.
Dealing With Inevitable Plateaus
Even with a plan as effective as this, plateaus are bound to happen from time to time.
It’s not that you’re doing anything wrong, that’s just the way it goes.
If you remember we talked about how your metabolism adapts to extreme dieting earlier on, this is the same concept. Obviously the adaptation happens much slower when you’re eating properly and training right (which we’ll get to in a couple of minutes, I promise) but it will still occur at some stage.
The important thing when it does happen is not to panic. You have two choices –
1. Eat less
2. Move more
Now, neither of these tweaks have to be drastic, and actually, very small, subtle changes can yield big results, so here’s what you need to do when you hit a plateau.
Oh, but firstly – remember that just because your weight isn’t going down, doesn’t mean you’re not making progress.
Once a week, check your weight, your waist, hip and thigh measurements, and take a photo of yourself in the mirror.
If any of these (the weight, measurements or photo) have improved, then you’ve not plateaued, you’re still progressing, so don’t change anything.
Weight is particularly temperamental, so don’t base all your achievements on that alone. If nothing seems different, then you probably have hit a slight roadblock, so you may need to –
1. Reduce calories by 50 per day.
This drop is small, but it’s enough to force your body to keep burning fat. Just drop your target by 50, then reassess next week.
2. Add an extra HIIT workout
Check back tomorrow for more on HIIT workouts
There you have it.
Dieting can be simple, easy and actually pretty tasty.
Just do what we’ve outlined here, by working out your calories and your protein, getting to grips with My Fitness Pal, weighing and measuring food when necessary, sorting out your nutrient timing, and finally keeping an eye on your progress.
If it sounds straightforward, then good, because that’s exactly what it is.