Every day you have a choice to eat right. You have a choice to eat a grilled chicken sandwich or a family-size bag of peanut M & M’s for lunch. Nobody is forcing you to eat better; you’re all grown’d up and you can make that call yourself. If you are serious about getting in shape, then you need to be even more seriouser (yeah I made that word up) about what you put in your body. It’s like trying to run a corvette on crappy gasoline: it might work, but you’re doing the car a disservice. All the exercising in the world can’t get you to where you want to be if you’re eating poorly. Let’s start with one meal at a time. There are two (sometimes three) things you want to keep in mind when picking out your meal:
Protein and Carbs – Protein builds lean muscle. Carbs give your body the fuel it needs.
Why do I want protein? Protein = muscles (if you’re working out. if not it will eventually become fat) The more lean muscle you have, the faster your metabolism operates. The faster your metabolism operates, the more weight you’ll lose. Everybody wins.
Examples of protein: grilled chicken, turkey, fish (tuna, salmon, etc.) shellfish (lobster, crab, shrip) eggs, steak, lean ground beef, skim milk.
Want to know if something has protein? Read the label. You want to get at least 20 grams of protein in each meal if you can…more if you’re looking to bulk up and build muscle mass. I eat probably 200 grams a day, evenly spaced throughout the day (30-35 grams per meal, every 3 hours).
Why do I want carbs? Because I want energy to get me through the day (no sugar/caffeine doesn’t count). Because you’re working out/exercising, you want that protein to help rebuild your muscles, so you need to give the rest of your body fuel to keep going. Without those carbs, your body will steal the protein for energy and the muscles won’t get built.
Examples of good carbs: baked potato, steamed brown rice, pasta, oatmeal, beans, nuts, anything that’s ‘whole grain,’ whole-wheat bread, apples, oranges.
What’s a bad carb? white flour, refined sugar, white rice. White bread, candy, sugary drinks, etc. Screw atkins. Carbs aren’t the enemy. BAD carbs are the enemy. Eating way more than you should is the enemy. Good carbs in moderation = NECESSARY.
And don’t forget your veggies. Try to add a serving or two of vegetables with your lunch and dinner. Vegetables generally have very few calories so eat as many as you want…as long as they’re not deep fried or covered in ranch dressing.
Pick a protein. Pick a carb. Add a vegetable. It’s really that simple. Pick one thing from each list and eat them together. BAM! There’s your healthy meal. Picky eater? Pick something that works for you from both lists, and eat a LOT of it. And get used to it. I eat grilled chicken every freaking day because I don’t like eggs or fish.
It’s tough to cook/pay for/eat/prepare/clean up after 6 meals every day. Unless you have a full time chef on hand, cooking 6 meals a day would eat up all of your time (eat, get it? zing!). I recommend buying pure whey protein (can be found for very cheap online at any store – don’t buy from GNC), and making a shake or two each day to fill in those “snacks.” Just be careful what you buy – many ‘meal replacement’ shakes are loaded with cholesterol and sugar (future blog post coming soon on supplements). I buy all my stuff on vitacost.com. And no they’re not paying me to say that – it just happens to be the best place I’ve found to buy stuff online.
Keep it simple. Find something you like, and learn how to cook it.
PS On a completely unrelated note, I played through BioShock for the first time this weekend – wow, what an incredible game. For those of you that have played it, this will make sense…just another example of how cheating your way to genetic perfection will surely backfire and cause city-wide riots under the ocean. People just never learn.