Way back in the early beginnings of CrossFit West Houston, on the white board by the entrance we had written the phrase, “You cannot out train a bad diet.” This is just as true today as it was 8 + years ago when we first opened. Throughout my career in fitness, I have constantly heard people say that they want to be able to work out hard enough to be able to eat whatever they want. Sadly what they really wanted was to have permission to eat like an A-hole. Many of those same people wanted to have ripped abs AND make bad food choices. Unfortunately, things just don’t work that way. Those two things just do not go together. In the previous articles I have outlined the Macronutrients and Micronutrients that make up a good diet. Trying to have a good diet and eat healthfully can be overwhelming, stressful and downright complicated. And trying to go “all in” and making a complete overhaul of what and how you eat can sometimes end in disaster. So I wanted to break down some easy fixes to start making some headway.
Step 1 Add in Vitamin and Mineral Dense Foods
Take a really good look at how you are eating currently. Are you eating vitamin and mineral dense foods? (check out this article to find out more info Micronutrients: The Little Big Nutrients) If you are not eating vegetables and/or fruits at each meal, you are likely not getting vitamin and mineral dense foods. Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies are very common. Remember that French Fries are not a vegetable, even if they are sweet potato fries.
For the next two weeks, include two fist size portions of vegetables/fruits at each meal. Keep it simple eat the rainbow ROYGBIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet). Eating the rainbow will ensure a variety of micronutrients consumed. Once you start to get these vital nutrients in your system you will likely start to feel better and more energetic.
Step 2 Eat Lean Protein
Following your two week addition of Vegetables and Fruits at every meal, examine your protein intake. Make sure that you are getting quality lean sources of protein at every meal. This means eggs, egg whites, lean beef, chicken, turkey, and seafood. These should be the anchor of your plate.
Protein gives you a steady source of amino acids and aids in satiety (the feeling of being full to avoid over eating. An easy way to get a correct portion size is 2 palm sizes (your own palm) for men and 1 palm size for women. ( check out this article to find out more Macronutrients: The Big Rocks)
Step 3 Essential Fats
Next is to make sure you are getting enough good fat in your diet. So the next two weeks you want to take a look at your fat intake. Each meal should have some fat included on your plate. Fat is necessary to help uptake fat soluble vitamins and to help regulate hormones.
A good rule of thumb (no pun intended) is for men to have 2 thumb size portions of fat with each meal. Women should strive for 1 thumb size portion per meal. This will help provide a good guide for the proper amounts.
Step 4 Proper Amounts
Portion control can be a huge determiner of whether you are overweight or lean and fit looking. According to a New England Journal of Medicine study in 2000, the average American male and female ages 25-44 will gain 3.2 to 5.4 percent every year. This could mean a 5 to 8 pound increase in weight annually.
On many levels weight management comes down to Calories In vs Calories Out. While counting calories can be a dicey prospect due to inconsistencies, an easy way generally to make sure that you are not overeating is to break your food down like the table below:
|Protein||2 Palm Size Portions||1 Palm Size Portion|
|Carbohydrate||2 Fist Size Portions||2 Fist Size Portions|
|Fats||2 Thumb Size Portions||1 Thumb Size Portion|
Step 5 Eliminate Sugary Foods
While the data varies amongst different sources, it is estimated that Americans consume 153 lbs of sugar a year. Compare this to 2 lbs a year 200 years ago. This is a pretty staggering number. There are roughly 1775 calories in 1 lb of sugar so the average American consumes approximately 270,000 calories in sugar every year.
Take an honest look at yourself and figure out if you are consuming too much sugar. Sugar is pretty sneaky as it has many names. Below are some of the names:
|Sarghum Syrup||Lactose||Fruit Juice Cncentrate|
|High-Fructose Corn Syrup||Dextrose||Fructose|
Completely eliminating sugar can be hard right away. Let’s say you are on a 2 soda a day habit. At 150 calories per 12 ounce, that is 300 calories a day and 2100 calories a week. So for two weeks cut down to 1 soda per day. Over the course of a week that is a 1050 calorie savings and considering that it is estimated that most people will lose a lb of weight having a 3500 calorie deficit over the course of a week. By cutting down to 1 soda a day you will save close to a third of a number of calories to lose one lb of bodyweight.
When you make it two weeks you are winning! So after two weeks cut out the other soda for your second big win. In four weeks you will be saving 2100 calories each week!
That is one example. Whatever your sugary guilty pleasure is try to cut it in half for the first two weeks and then totally eliminate it. It might be hard but it is definitely easier than diabetes or cancer.
It is never too late to start eating better and fixing your diet. If you do not look and feel like you wish, it is a good bet that your diet is broken. Take some of these simple steps and you will be on the path to feeling and looking better. Remember that it can be really overwhelming to try to make all the changes at once. So take the time to step it out over a couple of months, one step at a time. Make the habits stick. Also, if you stumble and fall, pick yourself right back up, forgive yourself and move forward.