Over the past two years, I have received numerous emails and had countless face-to-face conversations all surrounding the same million dollar question — “What do you eat?”
These days, my dietary routines are rather consistent whether in or out of a show prep. Now that I’m finished competing, I have a little more flexibility allowed for a treat meal or two per week but Carter has taught me a well balanced system and I enjoy my nutritional routines. I follow a really balanced strategy that leaves me feeling satiated, provides a variety of food groups and flexibility and best yet, I don’t feel like I’m “dieting”. I’m also confident that I’m getting the best of the best foods and nutrients into my system.
If you’re training hard but eating crap, you’re really doing yourself a serious disservice. I promise if you’re eating poorly, despite your training efforts, you’re not going to get optimum performance in the gym, you’re probably not going to get proper recovery post training and your simply conflicting your efforts towards your physique goals.
On the Precision Nutrition website, there is an interview with Carter Schoffer from 2006. The last question they ask him is “How important is nutrition in the body transformation process?”
Carter’s response really puts it into simple perspective, he says: “Absolutely critical. Nutrition is 100% important just as exercise is 100% important. I mean, you often hear people say things like, “Nutrition is 90% while training is 10%,” or even, “Nutrition is 50% while training is an equal 50%.” I think they’re missing the point. It’s like asking, “What’s more important, the lungs or the heart?” Bottom line is that if you can’t breathe, you die, just like you die if you can’t pump blood. They’re both necessary, and there’s no room for fractions of importance, it’s an absolute. But which do I see people neglecting the most? Definitely nutrition.” — CS
Carter’s strategies (for me) are an extension of the Precision Nutrition system.
The following Top 10 Rules are from Precision Nutrition‘s Gourmet Nutrition book written by Dr. John Berardi and Dr. John Williams. My diet is tailored to my body and goals but it does follow these similar parameters:
1. Eat every 2-3 hours – no matter what.
This doesn’t need to be a full meal each time, I make sure I’m feeding the fire for a total of 5-6 feedings per day.
2. Ingest complete, lean protein each time you eat.
Some of my routine favorites include eggs/egg whites, chicken, turkey, bison, lean ground beef, salmon and shrimp.
3. Ingest vegetables every time you eat.
Aim for a variety of both green and colored, 1. to keep out of a food rut and 2. to optimize the benefits from the intake of various vitamins and minerals provided by the different vegetables.
Some of my personal favorites include: (Green) – Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus, Green Beans, Zucchini, Cucumbers (Colored) – Tomatoes, Carrots, Mushrooms, Onions, Peppadews, Sun dried tomatoes, Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash, Spaghetti Squash, Canned Pumpkin, Eggplant, Yellow Summer Squash
4. If want to eat a carbohydrate that’s not a fruit or a vegetable, you can – but you’ll need to save it until after you’ve trained.
I aim to keep these carbs gluten free, including but not limited to: oats, sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa and beans.
5. A good percentage of your diet must come from fat. Just be sure it’s the right kind.
Best from three types of fat – saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Your saturated fats should come from animal products, your monounsaturated fat should come from mixed nuts, olives and E.V. olive oil. Your polyunsaturated fats should come from flaxseed oil, fish oil and mixed nuts.
Some of my personal favorite daily fats include: avocado, extra virgin olive oil, natural nut butters, almonds and fish oil.
6. Ditch the calorie containing drinks.
Yup, that includes alcohol!! Aim to stick with water and green tea. I also include coffee 🙂
7. Focus on whole foods.
Read as UNPROCESSED FOODS! ‘nuff said. 🙂
8. Have 10% Foods
If you’re not in a contest prep, which most of us are not – plan your socializing or reward meals into your week with the 90/10 rule. Don’t interpret this as permission to go overboard, but if you’re on point 90 percent of the time, allow yourself what you enjoy too. For example, with 5 meals a day, 7 days a week – that is 35 meals for the week – 10 percent of that is 3 treat meals per week.
9. Develop food preparation strategies.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The hardest part about eating well is simply being prepared. Create strategies and habits for yourself to develop CONSISTENCY. Do your routine grocery shopping for the right items. Prep food on certain days of the week (perhaps Sunday and Wednesday). Tupperware your food and take it with you. These are habits that need to be prioritized. I hear it all the time, “I don’t have time” or “I can’t do it like you” but it’s just a priority one has to make if the goals are important enough. Also find foods and tricks for quick on-the-go meals. (I will post more on tips in a future post). It’s a learning curve, give yourself time to learn the tricks and build routines – but start developing a strategy.
10. Balance daily food choices with healthy variety.
Again, Carter did not prescribe certain vegetables, fruits or proteins that I had to eat at certain times. Rather he gave me parameters – a food group and the measurement. He hammered home however that it was MY RESPONSIBILITY to take in the variety.
So there you have it. The 10 nutritional strategies to begin physique and performance success in the kitchen. In future blog posts, I will share with you some of my favorite meals and recipes, certain superfoods, plus more specifics about my personal diet.
For now keep it simple and see if you can adopt these 10 key take-aways.
For more information, you can also visit Precision Nutrition and Body Transformation.