An Introduction to Nutrition and Fitness
In the past few weeks I’ve talked to a few people who want to get in shape but they’re really not sure where to start. There are so many diets and exercise options, which one do you pick? I choose to eat a diet based upon meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts and I use functional fitness to get fit for multiple reasons:
1. A diet based up on meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts is the same diet that our paleolithic ancestors ate, therefore it shaped our DNA and works best to fuel our bodies. Our bodies need protein from meat, fat from nuts and meat, and carbohydrates from fruit and veggies. Scientifically it makes sense.
2. When I eat meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts I feel REALLY GOOD, when I add in grains, lots of dairy, processed foods, and sugar I feel REALLY BAD. For me it is a no brainer. It does involve discipline and willpower and sometimes I falter, but over all I stick to it. I wouldn’t be able to function optimally without a diet of meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. There’s no doubt about that.
3. I choose functional fitness because it prepares me for everyday-life situations. The term everyday-life situations can vary greatly, my everyday-life doesn’t always ask me to do things that are too difficult, like pick up a heavy load, scale walls, or run after my food, but I would like to think that if it did I would be more than capable. Maybe I won’t ever need to run down my food and catch it but if my child falls into a lake, I want to be able to swim after him, if I am trapped in my car I want to be strong enough to break out the window to crawl out, if someone jumps me in a parking lot I want to have the ability to get away. These situations might sound outlandish, but ask anyone in law enforcement and they will tell you they are not at all outside of the realm of possibility.
4. I choose functional fitness because it is fun and it works. Whether you are 400 pounds or 60 pounds, you can benefit from functional fitness. Pull-ups, push-ups, running, jumping, lifting heavy loads, squating– these are all movements that translate into real life situations and they are fun and constantly varied. With just that list of 6 exercises, I can think of about 100 different workouts and ways to mix and match them. No fancy equipment or DVD’s necessary, just your body. I am fortunate enough to get to workout with friends on a daily basis now, but I spent 4 years working out on my own with awesome results as well. It CAN be done. Constantly varied at high intensity= burning fat and getting stronger and faster. If you want any of those three things, this will work for you.
5. Lastly, I choose this way of eating and exercising and refer it to others because not only has it worked for me, but it has worked for EVERYONE I have seen do it with 100% devotion. Even those I have seen do it with 50% devotion have seen results, although not as great. Just this week I saw someone lose 10 pounds in one week by cutting out grains, sugar, and dairy and eating more meat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. She ATE MORE and lost weight. I wouldn’t have built an entire blog around this stuff if I didn’t believe in it whole-heartedly.
Based upon my experience and the experience of others I’ve put together an introduction that will help you learn; what you should eat, what you shouldn’t eat, how much to sleep, how much to drink, how much to eat, and how to workout. There isn’t anything on here that I don’t do or haven’t done myself. It is all based off of my personal experience, whether your goal is to fit into a size 12 or become an athlete this will work for both. At first I used this to get thinner and now I use it to become stronger and a more capable athlete. Your goals are up to you but these guidelines will help you accomplish whatever it is you’re looking for.
- Any kind of meat (fresh, without processing)
- Small amounts of dairy (a couple servings a day maximum, or cut it out all together)
- Small amounts of starchy vegetables (like potatoes, carrots, and parsnips)
- Fried food
- Processed foods
- -cereals (even the “healthy” ones)
- -frozen, processed meat
- -anything in a box
- Sugar-see the bottom of this article to find a list of ingredients that mean “sugar.” (look at ingredient labels and pick the ketchup, pasta sauce, and condiments with the fewest amount of sugar, if you get them at all)
- Additives (the longer the ingredient list, the less natural= yucky)
- Artificial Sweetners- these are completely fake, and your body might be reacting to it JUST like it reacts to sugar, they are not even sure about the affects of this stuff on the body yet, but it is not looking good. Save yourself the trouble and get out of the habbit now.
The food we eat can be broken down into 3 categories (macronutrients): fat, protein, and carbohydrates. We need all three of these to survive.
We’ve been trained to think that fat is the devil; this is not at all true. Our bodies NEED fat to survive and we need a lot more of it than “common knowledge” tells us. When fat is consumed it does NOT immediately find its way to our hips, thighs, stomach, and butt and sit there until the end of time. Fat is necessary for many, if not all, of the systems of body to work properly. Fish, nuts, oils (olive oil, coconut oil), butter, are all good sources of fat.
Protein is also necessary for your body to work properly, without the proper amount of protein the systems of the body cannot work to their full potential. Protein is necessary for muscle repair as well as all organs and tissues to rebuild. Whether you workout or not your body needs to refuel its protein sources everyday. As far as the amount of protein you should be eating….this is where you might find it difficult! Some say you should be getting about .75 grams of protein per pound of body weight and up to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight if you are very active (workout out 6-7 days a week at a very high intensity). Therefore, if you weigh 100 pounds, you’d need 75 grams of protein per day, unless you are very active. Others say you need 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight (your body weight divided by 2.2 = the amount of protein you need each day in grams. I say–find what works for you. I find that if I keep my protein intake somewhere between those two numbers I feel the best. AT A MINIMUM you should be getting 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. So, what exactly does that look like on your plate? I will hit on that later. If you are worried about eating too much protein and bulking up like a body builder, have no worries, without the help up steroids and endless, pointless hours in the gym that won’t be happening to you.
The protein you eat should come from meat and a small/moderate amount of dairy. I say a small/moderate amount of dairy because it is known to cause inflammation, which can lead to many diseases and illnesses. A couple small servings of dairy a day is all you should have, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. If you would like to see really fast, drastic results, cut out the dairy all together. Last week I went from a small/moderate amount of dairy to no dairy at all and lost 2 pounds, just from that change in my diet. Other forms of protein, such as soy, are too processed and have been shown to cause multiple problems for the body. Beans are also another “known” source of protein and they do have protein, but they also have high amounts of lecithin and phytic acid–which are toxins to your body. Therefore, they are not worth the small amount of protein you get!
This brings me to carbohydrates, which is anything that is broken down into glucose once digested. Fruits, vegetables, starches, grains, legumes (beans), rice, etc, these are all carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are not bad, but again, too much of anything can alter your body in a negative way. When a carbohydrate is consumed it is broken down into glucose, which is used as energy so we obviously need them. When too many carbohydrates are consumed the body cannot use all of them, therefore, the excess is stored as fat. Fruits and vegetables should be your main source of carbohydrates, with an emphasis on the vegetables! Vegetables are digested more slowly and will stay in your system longer, therefore leaving you feeling more satisfied and with more energy.
Grains, in general, whether whole grain or highly refined, do not give you the amount of nutrition that “common wisdom” leads us to believe. The truth is that grains do have nutrients, but they are so wrapped up with toxins and other anti- nutrients that our body gets extremely little, if any, good stuff from them. In order for the body to be able to digest any nutrients from grains they have to be soaked so that certain enzymes can be released and the bread and flour bought at the store is most certainly not given this kind of attention. If this is something you really want to hold onto or wean yourself off of, that’s okay, just really cut back on the amount of grains you are eating– no more than a serving per day.
Putting it All Together
With every meal you should have protein, carbohydrates, and fat. This will allow your body to access and burn fat storage. When protein, carbs, and fat are all eaten together, it keeps you full longer and allows your insulin level to stay nice and steady, which is exactly what your insulin should do. If you look at your plate, you would have a piece of meat or fish which will cover about ¼, and vegetables should cover the rest, maybe with a little bit of fruit. If you cook your meat in olive oil, that should be enough fat for the meal, but you can always add some nuts or something if you’d like.
You need water like you need air…well, kinda. About 6 months ago I realized I’ve probably spent the better portion of my life dehydrated without even knowing it. You may not feel dehydrated but you will definitely feel a difference when you get rehydrated. You need half of your bodyweight in ounces in water each day. So, again, if you weigh 100 pounds, you need 50 ounces of water per day. It’s not a hard thing to do, but the benefits are endless
Your body needs fat as I said earlier, but it especially needs a certain kind of fat. The body needs a ratio of 1:1 of Omega 3 fatty acids to Omega 6 fatty acids. The typical Western diet provides us with a ratio that is closer to 1:15 or 1:20—which is WAAAY out of control. Omega 3 fatty acids come from fish, grass-fed meat, nuts, as well as many other sources, while Omega 6 fatty acids are readily found in processed foods, vegetable oils, ect. So by cutting processed foods out of your diet you will drastically reduce the amount of Omega 6 fatty acids you are digesting, but at the same time you need more Omega 3’s. We would have to eat a lot more fish, grass-fed meat, and nuts to get all of the Omega 3’s we need so this is where fish oil supplements come in handy. You get a good dose of Omega 3’s without eating an entire school of fish. Costco sells a good fish oil supplement that doesn’t give you the fishy burps. This will provide you with more energy and help combat any inflammation that is happening in your body.
Your body does a lot of repair work while you sleep, you absorb all of the information you gained that day and your body gets the time it needs to repair (provided you’ve given it adequate nutrition). 7-8 hours/night is a good place to start. Some require less, some require more but don’t jeopardize your efforts to become healthier by not getting enough sleep.
This is an example of what a woman weighing 150 pounds might eat throughout the course of the day to get enough protein, fat, and carbohydrates to lose weight and maintain it.
- 2 eggs
- 2 strips of bacon (yummmmm)
- 1 piece of fresh fruit or a couple handfulls of berries
- An ounce of lunch meat and raw fruit or veggies with a half handful of nuts
- A salad topped with 4 oz. chicken breasts and sliced green peppers and tomatoes with an olive oil vinaigrette.
- Greek yogurt with slivered almonds, I like Choboni, click here for a coupon.
- A protein shake with 1 scoop of whey protein and a couple of cups of fresh or frozen fruit with a little coconut milk. Although protein powder is processed, it is a great way to get more protein into the diet, especially right after a workout when your body is most receptive to it. I have looked far and wide for a protein that I like and feel good about eating. Click here for my favorite brand; SFH Pure Whey
- Lots of Roasted vegetables (broccoli, carrots, and onions)
- 4 oz. Grilled Pork Chop
Example Kid’s Lunch:
- Lunch meat and cheese wrapped in “pinwheels” with a honey mustard dipping sauce
- Raw veggies
- A piece of fruit
- A homemade treat (there are lots of options for healthy snacks that taste good)
- White whole milk or water
When it comes down to it whatever form of exercise you choose to do it needs to be something you enjoy but it should also challenge you. You won’t see significant results unless you really push yourself to new limits. In Crossfit we do varied exercises at high intensity, meaning we do different movements everyday, as fast as we can or as heavy as we can. By doing different movements everyday we train our entire body, not just legs, arms, shoulders, etc. By doing it as fast as we can we are raising our heart rate and doing “cardio.”
You can use things you enjoy, like the jogging or swimming, in the same fashion by doing them at high intensity and incorporating other movements. Example workouts are below. These workouts will probably be much shorter than you are accustomed to but they will also be much more difficult. There are countless workouts you can do at home without any equipment. This may mean learning new movements, but they are not hard to learn. Here are four example workouts for you to try.
6 rounds as fast as you can:
- 50 skips on a jump rope
- 10 box jumps (on a 12 inch box- jump or step up on the box and jump or step back down)
As many rounds as possible in 12 minutes of:
- 5 burpees (look this up on YouTube if you’re unsure of this movement)
- 10 sit ups
- 15 air squats
4 rounds as fast as you can:
- ½ mile on the elliptical or run 1/4 mile
- 50 air squats
8 rounds of:
- 20 seconds of swimming, running, or biking
- 10 seconds of rest
- All out effort!
Setting a goal:
Having a goal or a timeline will really help keep you motivated. Give yourself a measurable goal that you can easily accomplish at first, then reward yourself and set a new goal. A reward could be a cheat day, where you eat whatever you want or it could be a new pair of workout shorts or shoes or anything else you can think of
- I will lose 2 pounds this week and reward myself with dessert on Friday.
- I will workout 4 times this week and reward myself with a massage on Saturday.
- I will commit to eating well for 4 weeks and reward myself with a shopping trip for some new summer clothes.
Setting yourself up for SUCCESS!
Taking the initiative is the biggest step. You have to want to do this, at least a little bit. Maybe at first you won’t be to crazy about the idea of not eating grains or sugar and cutting back on dairy, but if you commit to this for 2 WEEKS you will see wonderful results and find the motivation to keep going. If you falter just make sure the next meal is a good one, that’s all you have to do. Just because you eat cake doesn’t mean you have to go ahead and eat pizza and ice cream too, just start over with the next meal and keep going. For me the biggest struggle is having the food at my finger tips when I am the least prepared. Therefore PREPARATION is the key. Having all of the right tools at your fingertips when your willpower is at it’s weakest.
- Grocery shop on the outside of the store: produce, meat, dairy, and checkout.
- Rinse and chop your vegetables and fruits in advance so they are ready for you when you are ready for them.
- Cook a bunch of meat on the grill on Sunday afternoon in preparation for the entire week; chicken, pork chops, steak and throw them in your lunch box everyday.
- Buy all of the healthy foods that you like to eat, not the ones that you think you should eat but know you never will. Pick your favorite cuts of meat, nuts, fruits, and veggies and after you’ve become accustomed to eating those, become more adventurous in the grocery store.
- Accountability-this can be done in a lot of different ways. You might have a friend do it with you, your spouse or kids, make it something the entire family joins together as a team on. Whatever you do, ask for support from SOMEONE. If your spouse isn’t on board, let them know that this is something that you NEED to do for yourself and can’t do without their support. Maybe they don’t agree or want to join in but let them know you need their support in your efforts. Have this conversation before you even begin, instead of cleaning out the pantry and riding the entire household of grains and dairy and THEN letting them know you have sworn the entire family off of grains, sugar, and dairy. Don’t make it a fight, if it becomes to emotionally difficult you will have a harder time sticking with it. The health of your family is extremely important, but so is your strategy to get them healthier with you.
- Cheat meal– I used to have a cheat day each week, but then I realized I was consuming a weeks worth of food in one day. I would suggest a cheat meal and dessert, where you eat whatever you want for one meal! Have this meal on a day when you’ve had a really good workout. If you want an entire cheat day though, go for it, whatever is going to help you stick with this.
- Clean out your pantry-it can be hard because you see dollar signs going in the trash can, but just think “Better in the trash than on my ass.” A lot of people keep things in their house “for their kids” but end up doing the majority of the eating. If you shouldn’t eat it, neither should your kids. Their little bodies may not look like they’re not affected by the sugar and junk BUT THEY ARE.
- Workout right away in the morning or after work, before you get too tired, make it a PRIORITY for yourself.
- Read ingredient labels- you will be AMAZED at how many of your everyday foods, condiments, and drinks have sugar in them and you don’t even know it. Sugar comes in all forms, natural sugar, such as those found in honey and fruit, and others that were created by men in lab coats. Which would you rather have? Honey, Agave Nectar, Stevia, these are all of natural origins, but should still be used in small amounts, afterall, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Here is a list of ingredients you may find on labels that mean SUGAR and should be avoided.
- Barley Malt Syrup
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
- Dehydrated Cane Juice
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Raw sugar
- Rice Syrup
- Sorghum or sorghum syrup
- Turbinado Sugar
- anything that ends in “ose”
Natural Sugar Sources to be used in small amounts:
- Agave Nectar
If you have any questions or would like suggestions on what you should be eating, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have.