How does one eat right?
Often times food choices can be very difficult to determine. We are always in a rush! And let’s be real: there are a million different options out there! It’s overwhelming.
Truthfully, most of the food Americans consume these days is filled with preservatives, loaded with sodium, and caked in sugar. It’s really hard to get away from these additions. You must be disciplined and have a plan. If you don’t have a plan of attack, most of the time you are going to consume foods that aren’t healthy. It’s as simple as that.
How many times have you been in a rush with a hundred things on your mind and still have the ability to cook and eat a healthy meal? Almost never.
The solution to this debacle is meal prepping.
It sounds like a daunting task but it really isn’t. The ease of knowing exactly what you’re going to eat and when you need to eat it saves a lot of stress and time scrambling for the right meal. This, in turn, will make your day go much more smoothly than if you don’t plan. There’s no headache, there’s no prep time each day since you have your meals ready. And it’s a huge time saver!
Picture this. Hypothetically, we are going to call student #1 John. John did his due diligence in meal prepping for the first three days of the week.
He leaves for work at 6 am. His first meal is a Builders Bar and a scoop of whey protein since he was in a hurry this morning. Feeling fueled and satisfied from the bar and the shake, the morning at work goes great.
As lunchtime comes around at 11:30, John sees all of his coworkers scrambling to find something to eat for lunch. John need not worry. His lunch is prepped, packed, and ready to go.
For lunch today he brought a cooked chicken breast, sweet potato, and a side of green beans. He enjoys a stress-free awesome lunch to himself. Feeling full but light he heads back into work full of energy! His body doesn’t feel exhausted from a greasy fast food burrito and he can continue to operate at a high level.
As work ends John heads to the gym. Feeling a little hungry he eats a handful of lightly salted almonds for a small snack and goes on to crush the lift!
As he leaves the gym it’s 7:30 pm. It’s dark and getting late. No big deal, his meal is prepped and ready to be heated up and eaten as soon as he gets home. In the refrigerator is lean ground turkey, chili, and some chopped veggies John made during his meal prep (check my personal recipe go-to’s if you need any ideas). It’s a win-win situation. John got the proper fuel he needed, right when he needed it.
It’s as simple as that! There’s no scrambling to get meals, no guessing trying to plan when you’re tired at the end of the day. And, most of all, NO STRESS added to an already busy day. Just pure flow and peace of mind. This is the way.
In contrast to that method, let’s look at how your day would go without meal prepping.
Hypothetically in this situation, we are going to call this student Ryan.
At 6 am wake up time, Ryan runs out the door, flustered as he gets to work. He skipped breakfast because he didn’t have time to eat. Oh well.
Next Ryan gets a short lunch break and because he missed breakfast he is really hungry. He gets some fast food at the taco shop to go. Now Ryan has missed breakfast and delivered his hardworking body a greasy, low-quality fast food burrito bomb. He is feeling great because he is now full and feels quite euphoric.
Unfortunately, Ryan has to head back to work. Only an hour goes by and now the euphoric feeling has turned into feeling tired and heavy. Ryan starts to feel sluggish. He becomes more and more tired at work. Since it has been a “long day” Ryan convinces himself he is supposed to feel tired.
It’s now hour 6 of 8. Ryan has 2 hours left on the clock to work. He decides on his favorite energy drink to fix his low energy level and to pick himself up. Perfect, down with the caffeine and back to work.
Now Ryan just finished work and decides to head to the gym.
After consuming that energy drink 2 hours ago Ryan starts to feel jittery and hungry. He hasn’t eaten since his 11:30 lunchtime. Oh well, Ryan says to himself, I’m a beast so I’ll push through until dinner time. So this is what he does. The workout was long, slow, and felt like a slog the whole time.
It’s now 7:30 at night. Ryan Just finished working out. It’s dark and he’s hungry. Ryan didn’t meal prep anything and he knows that in order to make a good healthy meal he’ll need to go to the store and buy everything. Then he’ll have to make his meal. That’s way too much work for 7:30 at night. He’ll be starving by the time he can even start cooking!
He decides to get his post-workout meal and protein from his favorite burger joint. It has tons of protein, tastes great and he just worked out for the last hour. Ryan thinks it’s a great idea.
Now at the end of the day, his body has consumed two huge portions of fast food and an energy drink full of chemicals, most of them in the later half of the day. Ryan goes to bed and then does the whole thing over again each day.
Meanwhile each day Ryan’s body is growing bigger and he is putting on excess weight. He still can’t figure out why!
Let’s dive in.
Student number 1, John, who meal prepped, had an awesome day. He was full of energy, had minimal stress, and above all there was no guesswork concerning meals. Everything was planned and ready. Proper nutritional macros were hit (carbs, fat, protein) and he had an awesome lift! All and all he had a winning day.
Now let’s take a look at student number 2, Ryan. From the get-go, Ryan has a stressful day. Missing breakfast is one of the biggest mistakes people can make.
Breakfast starts your body’s metabolism and ends the fast from the previous night.
Literally, the meaning of breakfast is break-fast. The reason people are not hungry in the morning is one of two things.
One, you ate too much for dinner the night before and are still full or “not hungry” when you wake up. This is both detrimental to energy production in the morning and the best way to tac on unwanted pounds.
The second scenario for someone not being hungry in the morning is a slow or weak metabolism. Simply put your body isn’t geared to work.
Starting your body’s engine isn’t as easy as wake up, eat, go. Luckily, our bodies are such high-tech pieces of machinery you can change anything in a matter of weeks, if you know how to implement the changes and execute.
Now, let’s get back to Ryan. Not only did Ryan miss breakfast but he also completely failed during lunch and dinner.
Fast food is some of the poorest quality food you can fuel yourself with.
It doesn’t matter what the protein content says if it’s coupled with the same amount of greasy fat and carbs. The problem is that human bodies do not process food like that. It literally sits in your gut and gets turned into fat as well as potentially clogging all of your arteries in the process. It almost feels like a food hangover!
For me personally, whenever I eat fast food (I’m not perfect) I feel tired and sluggish for 2 or 3 days after I’ve consumed a big meal of junk food.
It dawned on me that if I continue to eat this crap, I will continue to feel like crap!
My mental thought process is a little different now than it used to be. I ask myself: is it worth it? Is this junky meal really what I want? Am I just chasing this high of fast food euphoria? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the answer. I was clearly after the high I was getting from fast food. I knew I would immediately regret it when I started to feel like crap later that day. Aside from the crappy feeling I got after the meal, I also feel like a slug for the next two days.
On top of everything else, sweating out all the excess sodium takes 72 hours after consumption.
To me, it’s absolutely not worth it anymore. Once you truly figure out what you are capable of and what awesome things your body can do you will come to treat it with the respect it deserves.
After all, you only have one body. Once you trash it, truly trash it, that’s it. I do have some awesome news for you, though.
You have the power right now, right this very second to change! To stop the bad habits.
Stop the self-sabotage that you had no idea you were doing to yourself. I want you to focus and create a plan of attack.
Plan for each one of your meals. Know what you are going to eat and the time of day you’re going to eat it. Write it down, plan it out. I believe in you!
Your meals and nutrition are your foundation. This is the most important part of your health plan. Without it, you will progress at a very slow pace, if at all.
It’s very critical you take this time to make it happen. Become a great cook, try new recipes! Have fun with it. You will be so thrilled you did. That I promise you.
THE GOLDEN RULE
Eating “healthy” all of the time for most people isn’t sustainable. We get cravings. We give in and we eat the wrong food. And that’s okay!
It’s how you eat your food and prepare it that’s the trick of the trade.
Did you know, a study done in 2014 by Johns Hopkins Livable Future Studies came to find out that people who cook their meals at home consume fewer carbohydrates, less fat, and less sugar than those who cook less or not at all, even if they are not trying to lose weight?
The study also suggests that those who frequently cook at home, six to seven times a week, also consume fewer calories on the occasions they eat out.
Dr. Julia A. Wolfson of Johns Hopkins analyzed data from the 2007-2010 national health and nutrition examination study from more than 9,000 participants over the age of 20. The survey asked detailed questions about what the participants ate during a 24-hour period as well as other eating behaviors like eating fast food in the past 30 days. The researchers found that only 8% cooked dinner once a week or not at all.
The group that didn’t cook at home, consumed an average of 2,521 calories, 83 grams of fat, and 135 grams of sugar a day. On the other hand, 48% of the participants in the case study cooked dinner at home six to seven times a week. The study found on average these people consumed 2,031 calories, 71 grams of fat, and 109 grams of sugar a day.
The researchers also found that the people who cook at home rely less on frozen food for meals and are less likely to choose fast food for their meals. Keep in mind this case study was done with people who were not consciously dieting or actively trying to drop weight. This was just about normal sustainable day-to-day eating and as you can see all and all a much healthier way to eat and live.
Calories aside the quality of fast food is horrendous.
Have you ever eaten a meal from a fast food establishment and felt like crap after? It’s almost like a food hangover. You feel tired and sluggish and you just want to take a nap and sleep.
That’s not normal! Your body is telling you to stop feeding us this trash. It’s literally not digesting in your gut. That’s what you are feeling. The fast food business is not making food to keep you healthy and living longer. They are making food to taste great. Load it with as much sodium as humanly possible so that you’ll be back next time you have that craving. They know how to keep you coming back for more.
Let’s take a simple burger for example and look at the differences between getting it at a fast food restaurant or cooking it yourself.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Sometimes you’ll be on a roll. The unwanted pounds are coming off, your abs are popping, your arms are growing and chiseling up nicely, and then all of a sudden, boom! You hit a wall. Nothing you do or come up with can get that last bit of stubborn fat off.
What the heck do you do? The answer is in the fuel source.
As there are different grades of gas or just about anything else, there are different grades of food as well.
Let’s take something as simple as chicken breast. The way I see it there is low-grade chicken which usually comes in the shape of fast food, Chick-fil-A, or KFC for example. There is medium-grade chicken like precooked frozen chicken breast or tenderloins. Then there is the prime-grade fuel. That’s the uncooked, sometimes organic, chicken breast or thighs that you have to make in order to eat.
Your body knows which is which. Its energy production, digestibility and overall function will be much higher with the higher grade food. Just like a car.
I have had many clients over the years who have been in ruts and long plateaus for not understanding this simple grading chart of food.
I hope now you can start to look at the food you buy in this way. What grade food am I buying? Is it going to help me on my path?
Realizing the differences in food quality is an absolute game changer.
I can remember a student of mine who was in his final stages of his 9-week transformation. He was having a really hard time getting the last stubborn fat around his abdominal section to go away. We talked about his training. Which he told me was going great. The workouts felt awesome. He was seeing improvements on every muscle in terms of lean muscle growth. But one thing wasn’t going to plan. His abdominal section wasn’t coming in. There was still that stubborn layer of fat around his midsection.
Men in particular store fat first in the abdominals and even worse, lose fat last in the abdominals. That is why the famous “beer belly” was coined for men. It’s not easy to lose.
Knowing what you are doing wrong in terms of the food you consume is the first place to start looking. We analyzed his food consumption and came to find out he was consuming a lot of frozen precooked shredded chicken.
Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Even the packages say “lean” or “low fat”. Let’s take a deeper look at the quality.
Because the chicken is shredded and stored on the shelves for a number of days it is full of sodium and preservatives. The preservatives do a great job of keeping the food fresh for quite some time, especially if it’s frozen. The problem is your body has a really hard time digesting it. It literally is preserved in your gut just like it is on the shelves.
Our problem in this situation wasn’t really the choice in food. It was the quality of the food that made all the difference. With a small change in his food consumption, he was able to shred that last bit of fat off his abdominals. Within the week his abs started to pop! It’s that easy.
It is so easy to overlook things like sodium content or the actual percentage of fat calories in your food. Food product companies can be so deceptive. It’s all about profits for them.
As you are shopping for your food, please be aware of the ingredients!
If you’re buying a piece of chicken, either thighs or breasts look at the back of the tray. If there is a long list of ingredients, you can easily identify all the added crap to your food. The same holds true for any food product. Red meat, fish, chicken, and the simple things like sweet potatoes, beans, and fruits can have all kinds of additives.
Now that you know how to successfully identify healthy food, you can be on the right path to a great transformation. Remember, it all starts with the food you put in your body. You will only get so far without understanding how important and how critical it is to eat right and fuel your body optimally.
So, what is The Golden Rule of good nutrition?
You must cook your own food. There is no way around it.
At first, it will be a challenge, expect it. It’s not going to be easy to go from throwing a hot pocket or frozen chicken patty in the microwave to cooking full healthy meals. It soon will become much easier. Once you have figured out your meal set, you will become a pro at cooking your meals. You won’t even think about it.
For me, it has become all automated. I know exactly what to buy. I know exactly how to cook it. I’ve got my cook times down to a blistering pace and I have zero stress wondering what I’m going to eat and how it’s going to impact my progress.
There’s not a whole lot more infuriating than having your results halted by something you don’t know about, like the quality of the food you are eating. Imagine putting in all the work in the gym and really putting in the effort to cook at home and make your own food. It’s the smallest details that go a long way!
I know it seems like a lot to understand and master but once you apply these methods to how you consume food and how you cook food, your body will evolve and develop quickly and efficiently. You will let your results be a tool for learning. Be cognizant of how you feel and how your body digests each meal. Do you feel bloated? Do you feel overly full? Or do you feel energized and well satisfied without feeling full? All these are signs you must be aware of. They are all telltale signs of what a healthy meal should or should not feel like.
You will learn to understand and feel your body. Really, nobody knows it better than you.
THE LAST MEAL OF THE DAY
This is the meal that makes or breaks most people. It’s also hard to get right unless you understand the context of daily eating habits.
Let me explain what happens to the average American on work days.
Breakfast gets skipped due to waking up early and early work times. Lunch gets eaten at fast food places or takeout because of the lack of preparedness ( meal prep ) and dinner is most often your biggest most calorically dense meal of the day.
To say the least, this is a recipe for disaster!
All evidence suggests that our bodies perform best when we consume most of our calories in the first half of the day. Not the back half.
The problem is that’s vastly different from how most people eat. A study done in 2018 by NBC news “Better by Today”, allowed participants the same number of daily calories. It compared the impact of front-loading 50 percent of calories at breakfast versus the same number at dinner time. Those in the breakfast group faired significantly better. Bigger breakfast eaters experienced twice the amount of weight loss compared to the bigger dinner eaters.
At the end of the 12-week study, those who consumed their calories earlier also experienced improvements in triglyceride levels ( fat stores ) as well as healthier cholesterol levels. The breakfast group also had better insulin levels throughout the day. Taken together and assuming these factors hold up over time it would result in a significantly lower risk of health problems like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and obesity. What’s more, the bigger-breakfast group had fewer dropouts from the study suggesting that a bigger breakfast is not only much healthier but it is more sustainable as well.
In my own experience training and starting work at 5 am, I must eat first or I will operate horribly with my clients. I have no energy, no focus. It just sucks altogether.
But to make a solid breakfast as done in the case study above was a major challenge for me. I have to wake up an hour early for work anyway to walk the dogs, feed them, shower myself, get ready, and then, I will have a little bit of time to get food. The problem is it just isn’t enough time to make eggs, slice of ham or bacon, and a few pieces of whole grain toast, and don’t forget the sprinkle of cheese on top. Then I’d have to have a few minutes to eat.
In a perfect world, this approach every day would be wonderful. In order to do that, I’d have to be up at 3 or 3:30 am to start making food. For me, that extra hour or two of sleep is critical to my performance each day. Yes, I could go to sleep earlier but I usually get to bed around 8 or 8:30 pm anyway. So, that idea wasn’t going to work for me.
If you’re like me and you are up and working before the sun comes up here are a few things you can do:
First, you need a good quality protein. The brand does not matter but the protein quality does. Make sure you buy whey protein Isolate. Stay away from the blends. That’s just cheap filler. One scoop of whey isolate combined with your favorite health bar ( cliff bar, met-Rex, kind, power bar ) is an awesome choice. You will be delivering your body 50- 60 grams of lean protein combined with your bar of healthy carbohydrates and fat. BOOM! Breakfast in 30 seconds or less.
This usually sustains me until I get a break from training around 10:30 am. Then I will head home and usually make 3-4 eggs, 2-3 slices of Dave’s killer bread or Kodiak Protein waffles, 2-3 slices of Boars Head Turkey, and a sprinkle of cheese on top. My favorite.
Usually, by 11 o’clock I’ve had two great, healthy meals.
As in the case studies, I’ve loaded many of my calories in the front of the day and I’m right on track to eat lunch around 1 or 2. Dinner is around 5 or 6 pm.
Keep in mind my portion sizes are the way they are because of my size, goals, and kcal/hour burned. As you can see, if you take the time to really structure your eating, you don’t have to skip meals until you make it home for dinner. The science and data show this is detrimental to your health and longevity and the “gains” are just unwanted pounds and not much muscle.
Our bodies are way too dynamic and complex to grow a muscular chiseled physique from eating huge dinners. It just won’t happen.
If that’s you, eating a huge dinner before you sleep and skipping your meals during the day, let’s make the change now. Fix that beast of a body you were born to have. I believe in you. I believe you can do it!
WATER AND HYDRATION
Water is the foundation and building block of life. Without it, we would not exist. It is essential to our homeostasis and survival. Only recently have we begun to understand the role it plays in the upkeep of brain function.
Current findings in the field suggest that sufficient water consumption has a direct positive effect on particular cognitive abilities and mood. On the other hand, studies also show the immediate impact of dehydration and cognition in those with poor fluid consumption.
There is even growing evidence that shows the food and drink we consume has a direct effect on mental and physical performance. Despite water consisting of 60-80% of the human body, it is often overlooked as a significant nutrient that can affect both of these systems. In other words, people just don’t drink enough water, plain and simple.
When sustained dehydration occurs it is directly associated with poor health and poor physical performance. Chronic dehydration also increases the chance of kidney stones and urinary tract infections. Every major system in your body is directly linked to water. Why so many people “forget” to drink water during the day is beyond me.
Here are 4 dehydration facts that may surprise you:
1. 75% of all Americans are chronically dehydrated. A survey done in 2001 by the New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center of 3,303 American citizens, found that 75% of the participants likely had a net fluid loss resulting in chronic dehydration. Although the survey found that Americans drink 8 servings of hydrating beverages a day, this was offset by drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol. Another factor was eating a diet high in sodium.
2. Dehydration causes fatigue. A study done in 2012 by the British Journal of Nutrition found that young people who were mildly dehydrated were much more likely to feel fatigued during moderate exercise and even when sedentary. Unsurprisingly, fatigue is a common sign of dehydration. It is said to be the #1 cause of midday fatigue.
3. If you’re thirsty, you’re dehydrated. Dehydration triggers your body’s thirst response. When you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Just 1 to 2 % dehydration can trigger your thirst.
4. Hydration can boost your metabolism. A study done by McKinley, M.J. & Johnson A.K. in 2004 on the physiological regulation of fluid intake, found that your metabolism could benefit from drinking cold water. In fact, one study found that drinking cold water helped boost the metabolic rate of healthy men and women by as much as 30%. The researchers concluded that the body expended more energy heating the cold water which resulted in a boost in metabolism.
Now that you know how important water is, let’s get to the main question.
How much water should you drink each day?
The US National academies of science, engineering, and medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake for men is about 15.5 cups ( almost 1 gallon ) and about 11.5 cups for women.
For our focus on us guys, if you’re not drinking a gallon a day at least, you are setting yourself up for dehydration and poor conditions for building quality muscle as well as a slew of health problems. It’s just not worth it. From now on be cognizant of your fluid intake and always, always have water with you.
This is what gets us in trouble. Snacks. Glorious snacks!
These days it’s hard to get away from them. They are literally everywhere: every gas station, every store, every gym, and every pool. You can have a snack anytime you want, literately.
The food and beverage industry spends almost $14 billion a year on advertisements alone. Not only are we subjected to the ease of acquisition of these delights, most of the time they fill our cupboards and pantries at home.
A little bite here, a little bite there, it’s only a handful so why would it matter? Well here’s the thing, it does. Those unwanted calories add up quickly. Most of the time they are of poor quality. There are times to have a good snack. I’m not condemning all snacking to the graveyard. You just have to understand what differentiates good snacking and bad snacking behaviors.
The 2020 Food And Health Survey done here in America was able to reveal insights on how we snack daily. Here’s what they found.
About 25% of Americans surveyed said they snacked multiple times a day and one-third of all Americans snacked at least once a day. The most popular reasons were hunger and thirst or to be eaten as a sweet or salty treat. It was also reported that snacks were easily available. While 40% of the people surveyed said they occasionally replace meals with snacks. Lunch was reported as the meal most often replaced. Twenty-five percent of people surveyed sometimes skipped meals entirely.
As you can see, Americans love to snack. It’s just figuring out the right time to snack that’s the key here and not just eating for the sake of eating.
Let’s look at when a good time to snack would be. Personally, I always have a good snack with me when I’m on the trails hiking. I will make my own personal blend of granola, nuts, and a bit of broken chocolate pieces. Its purpose is to keep me fueled through my hike and keep my blood sugars stabilized so I don’t enter “zombie land” out there. This is a state of wandering in tunnel vision I coined.
Another time I’ll bring a snack with me is at the pool when I’m doing laps or just goofing around with my buds. A handful of almonds or cashews does the trick perfectly. I feel energized, no crash. My snacks were healthy. Boom! That’s good snacking.
Bad snacking habits would be because I’m feeling bored at work or it’s a long day so I’m going to head down to the break room and pick something up. I didn’t eat lunch, I have no time left so I’ll just eat this quick snack until I can get to my next meal. I just ate lunch but I’m still a little hungry and this little snack will do the trick.
All of the scenarios above are different. The idea of a snack is to give you a little extra fuel to get you to your next meal, usually during physical activity or playtime.
The worst time to snack is all of the other times! You really don’t need them often.
My other big vendetta with snacks is that they curb your hunger for your next meal which has all of the nutrients you need to grow muscle. More often than not, people over snack and they aren’t hungry when the time comes to eat again. This throws your whole meal planning cycle off and makes it more of a challenge for your body to grow good quality muscle tissue. Your eating plan is in a constant state of disarray.
Again, being tactical, there are times to snack but more often than not, you’re better off sticking to your meal plan.
How much should you eat for each meal? This has always sparked a huge debate among fitness experts.
The truth is, it changes all of the time. There is no definitive answer for how much food you should eat for each meal. In the fitness industry, some professionals like to use the micro and macro approaches. This means each day you have a daily allowance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
The part I personally am at odds with this method is that it doesn’t matter where your macros come from as long as it fits your bill. Meaning, if you have a daily allowance for pop tarts for breakfast and it hits your macros, go ahead and eat it. You can get other food later to hit your daily macros. I disagree fully with this.
Going back to quality control and food timing, your body knows you just ate a pop tart for your first meal that’s full of crap. The energy systems will not utilize a pop tart in the same way as a whole healthy breakfast, as talked about in the *Last Meal of The Day* section.
My other argument about this approach is each day is drastically different. There is no way to quantify workload and adaptive energy spent. It’s just impossible.
Therefore, there is no way to quantify exactly how much of each of the macronutrients to consume each day. Instead, my food portions and how much I eat each day correlate directly with my workload. Knowing how important breakfast is for me, and what a long day ahead I have, I will always be aiming for more food earlier in the day.
As endless data and case studies have shown this is the correct approach. In layman’s terms and to put it simply, more food and bigger portions earlier in the day will always serve you best! Even for muscle gain and quality muscle gains. The more food you consume in the morning the better.
MY PERSONAL GO-TO MEALS
As you get better and better at knowing your body and learning how to cook you will come to find a set of 4 or 5 meals that you will continuously use.
I call these your Go-To’s.
These meals need to be healthy, nutritious, and fairly quick to make. I like to pre-make and meal prep a lot of protein at once. I usually cook on Sundays and Wednesdays. The reason for this is that good quality protein is hard to find readily available when you need it. Unless you cook it yourself it always has lots of sodium or excess fat that you do not want. Therefore I cook all my protein on those two days of the week.
First step, I quite literally fill my whole barbecue or oven up with chicken. I season one side and cook it in the oven for around 25 minutes at 365 degrees or on the barbecue for about 10 minutes on each side, give or take. Picture this, the chicken is done and ready.
I will eat one meal of chicken then. And there and chop the rest of it up and put it into my “chicken box” – a term I coined for my cold storage box of meat in the refrigerator. So you always have a constant supply of chicken. If your box gets low or runs out, fill it up. Carbohydrates on the other hand are easy to make and easy to find. Whether it’s chopped veggies or fruit or even a whole grain tortilla you’re using to wrap your chicken, it’s fairly easy to find and use for your meals. These are a few of my easy go-to meals. Use one, or make your own.
1. Coach Sean’s Swole House Breakfast
- 4 organic cage-free eggs
- 3 Kodiak* Power protein waffles
- 3 slices of boars head turkey
- Sprinkle of organic sharp cheddar cheese
- Quarter tablespoon organic butter
Totals : Carbohydrates ( 30g ) Protein ( 59g ) Fat ( 25g ) Cal ( 628 )
2. Coach Sean’s 30 seconds or less Breakfast
- 1 scoop whey Isolate Protein Powder
- 1 cliff builders bar
Totals : Carbohydrates ( 34g ) Protein ( 50g ) Fat ( 10g ) Cal ( 420 )
3. Coach Sean’s Double Meat chili
- 1 cup of Dennison’s* chili con carne
- 1/2 Cup of 93/7 Organic Lean ground beef ( can be switched for chicken or turkey to stay leaner)
- Sprinkle of organic sharp cheddar
- Half tablespoon sour cream
- Hot sauce
Totals: Carbohydrates ( 34 ) Fat ( 27 ) protein ( 36 ) Cal ( 515 )
4. Coach Sean’s “ The Big Bird “ Chicken Sandwich w/ Veggies
- 1 Full sliced up 8oz Chicken Breast
- Whole Wheat Hamburger Bun
- 2 Table Spoons Sweet Baby Ray’s Buffalo Sauce
- 2-3 Sticks of celery
- 2-3 small carrots
Totals : Carbohydrate ( 33 ) Fat ( 12 ) Protein ( 58 ) Cal ( 466 )
5. Coach Sean’s Power House Dinner
- 8oz Tri-tip Steak
- 1 Full Sweet Potato
- 1 Corn On The Cob
Totals : Carbohydrates ( 57 ) Fat ( 23 ) Protein ( 51 ) Cal ( 642 )
6. Coach Sean’s Lean And Mean Dinner
- 8oz. Tilapia fillet
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 3 sprouts of asparagus
Totals : Carbohydrates ( 44 ) Fat ( 8 ) Protein ( 66 ) cal ( 536 )
Ultimately this is not everything I eat. These are my Go-To great tasting, fast meals that I can make in 8 – 20 minutes. There are many different ways you can substitute or switch things out based on your preferences or if you just want to switch things up.
For example, I switch from a bun to a whole wheat organic tortilla or sometimes I will add black beans or rice to a meal. There are so many wonderful healthy meals to choose from and create!
Have fun with it. I used to hate cooking. I’d always put off meal prepping to the last second and sometimes I’d just skip it altogether. This was before I understood how important it was that my body is fueled properly.
You don’t know, what you don’t know, right?
I was finally getting so frustrated with myself hitting plateau after plateau that I had to search for what was going on. What I discovered were all the processed food, fast food, and poor eating habits that were killing my body. I was strong, I could lift hard and I could lift heavy but my body was bloated, enflamed, and recovery from heavy lifting sessions seemed to take forever.
During my heaviest competition days in strongman, I weighed 314 pounds, had a double chin, and I would be out of breath trying to catch you if you took my protein shake mixer. I was under the guise of the bigger I was the stronger I was going to be. Now, this might be true for the top world strongest man competitors but I’ve had my ass handed to me in competition by far lighter, stronger competitors. I’ve seen 231 class men, strict press 400 lbs. I’ve seen 231 class men deadlift 800 lbs for reps!
Big does not mean strong I’ve come to find out. Strong means that your Strong.
Learn my lesson for yourself ahead of time. You don’t have to eat junk food and crappy calories to put on muscle and gain strength. What you need is to stick with your weekly workout programming. Lift hard, focus, and eat a healthy balanced diet. It’s that simple. If you find you aren’t keeping enough weight on or that you need an extra surplus of calories just add another meal to your schedule. Don’t go out and eat a double cheeseburger from your local fast food shop. You won’t get far. It’s crappy quality, crappy calories, and crappy macro percentages.
Personally, my body works perfectly on 4 daily meals. Sometimes if I go above and beyond my daily norm, like hikes, bike rides, or swims, I will add a 5th meal. It is always a healthy, homemade, whole meal. They are so easy to tailor to your specific needs.
For example, if you aren’t getting enough protein during your day or just want to hit higher numbers, add more lean meat, another fish fillet, or another 2oz. of chicken to your portions. The possibilities are endless.
So get cooking fellas and do yourself a favor, next time you want that cheeseburger or taco shop burrito, don’t do it!
Think through the situation. Overcome your hunger craving ( that’s all it is ) and cook one of your Go-To meals or make of one mine. This is the way.
HOW TO COOK
A lot of the time when I’m teaching or coaching I will ask my students:
What is their favorite meal to cook at home?
Most will reply with a favorite recipe, usually a chicken and rice combination. Which is awesome.
What happens a lot is that we tend to get stuck in what I call the “chicken and rice rut”. I was also the culprit of this condition for many years when I was bodybuilding in the NPC. It is the idea that everything else besides chicken and rice is bad for you and your goals.
I know this sounds weird! But the reason I felt that way, was truly that I didn’t know how to cook anything else. I was so caught up in trying to be “healthy” that ultimately eating small portions of chicken every single day was doing the exact opposite. I wouldn’t finish meals, I hated the taste of awful chicken. And I was literally force-feeding myself day in and day out until I had finally had enough!
This can’t be the way to go about eating for the rest of my life I told myself. So, I learned how to cook. It was slow and tedious at the start. But isn’t everything? I understood this was a skill I needed to have to evolve to the next level. Let’s be real, when are you not going to eat again? Was I just going to try and continue to force feed myself chicken and rice for the rest of my life. Definitely not. So here are a few healthy items I added to my menu. And some old options I always use.
Chicken breast 6-8 oz.
THE MOST INTERESTING STUDY 5
Have you ever wondered if there is ultimately a better diet than all of the others? How do you know if keto is better than a low fat diet? Or if Atkins is better than an intermittent fasting diet?
On one hand, there are multimillion-dollar companies lobbying for low-fat diets saying that they are the best and most healthy for you. On the other hand, you have more multimillion-dollar companies lobbying for low-carb diets saying they are the best and the most healthy for you.
Who’s telling the truth dammit!?
It turns out Stanford University School Of Medicine was wondering the same thing. In 2018 Christopher Gardner and his team of colleagues performed a study to find out which diet was better. A Low-fat diet or a low carbohydrate diet.
Gardner recruited 609 participants, half men, and half women. Each participant was placed in either a low-fat test group or a low-carb test group at random. Each group was instructed to maintain their diet for one full year.
At the end of the study, data was collected. It showed very interesting data charts. The two groups had an identical curvature! Stacked on top of each other it would be hard to tell the difference between the two charts. The two groups had the same number of people who lost weight and the same number of people who gained weight.
How could this be? Surely there must be some difference? There wasn’t. Stanford went back to interview the different people in each of the two groups. The top people with the most weight loss in each of the trial groups both had similar things to say. They both stuck with the diet meticulously. They did not cheat except on holidays or special occasions and they both adhered to a moderate exercise program.
Stanford then interviewed the people who had a negative experience in the trial groups and they actually ended up gaining weight during the study. They also had very similar things to say. Neither of the groups of people who gained weight stuck to the diets very well. They noted how hard it was to maintain a specific diet, how time was a concern while trying to maintain the diet, and that it was not practical for them. The data was simple. People who were successful stuck to their diets. People who were not successful didn’t have the discipline to stick to the diet and failed. It’s as simple as that.
There is absolutely no diet that is better than another. You either have the discipline to stick with it or you don’t.
TYPES OF DIETS
We’ve all heard about so many different diets. But most people don’t know what each one entails or how to pick one that best suits you.
I personally believe in balance. There is no one nutrient that is better than another. We need them all. I’ve tried keto, I’ve tried low fat, I’ve tried fasting. I’ve tried calorie cutting. Unfortunately, after the diet is “done” I find myself right back where I started.
I’ve found over the decades that eating sustainably is by far the best option. The biggest argument I have for these popular diets is the nutrient deficit of either carbs or fat. Whether the diet is keto, Atkins, paleo, or low fat, they are all centered around minimizing fat or carbs.
Here’s the thing. All the diets work, as we found out in the case study above. Or none of the diets work. It all depends if the diet is followed and adhered to or not.
That being said these popular diets will cut weight fast.
I dropped 20lbs in 3 weeks when I was testing out the keto diet. But let me tell you, I was miserable. I had no energy and I had mood swings like crazy. My body needs carbs. So, for me using keto was only a fad diet for a short period of time. Is it sustainable for me to cut carbs out for the rest of my life? Absolutely not. So it was only a matter of time before I gained that weight back.
You will find most of these popular fad diets are the same way. They will work fast and be done just as quickly. The key is sustainability. Eating whole, healthy foods and making sure your food is not stacked with preservatives by utilizing the “golden rule” – always make your food! Don’t buy pre-made, frozen, microwaveable food as explained in the sections above.
LOW CARB DIET
-Ketogenic diet, Atkins diet, Paleo diet
Claim: By cutting and minimizing carbs your body will more efficiently burn fat.
Studies show: Experimental evidence does not support a metabolic advantage in any of these diets.
Claim: Because the diet is in fact low in fat, in turn, you will burn more body fat.
Studies show: Just because an item is “low fat” does not mean it’s low in calories, carbohydrates or sugar.
BLOOD TYPE DIET
-Blood type DNA diet
Claim: Each person engaging in this method has an exact diet tailored to their DNA type to achieve weight loss.
Studies show: There is no Doctor peer- supported evidence to support this claim.
-The Master Cleanse, The Detox
Claim: the detox cleanse is a healthy way to drop weight and loose fat.
studies show: Not very healthy at all. Can cause diarrhea severe enough to cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
-BSN, Myoplex, ON nutrition, are some examples
The claim: There is a magic pill that shreds and destroys fat.
Studies show: There is no such thing. Supplements are not regulated at all, so manufacturers don’t need to prove their claim.
Written by: Sean Carden, Owner of Demand More Fitness