The Nutrition Blueprint that follows was originally a nutrition seminar I held at House Of Strength Gym for our members and the Roanoke, VA community.
The seminar was recorded and transcribed, then turned into a small book that was distributed to new members upon joining.
At scale, there was no way I was going to have 60 minutes to deliver this information to every single person on a 1:1 basis. The idea with the book was to create something that delivered the nutrition information in my head to each and every person who entered our community in an effort to help them move forward.
I realize it will be much easier to distribute that information by publishing it here as a free blog post that can be shared via email, and viewed on any computer or smartphone as opposed to the reader having to carry around a paperback book. (You can still buy the book for $6.99 if you want a physical copy.)
Without further ado, here it is.
The Nutrition Blueprint
1: You Are What you Eat
The first thing that I want to stress the importance of the foods that you eat. And I’m not talking about the superficial, external factors. We’re going to go a lot deeper than just muscle or body fat, calories, carbohydrates, things that every other “diet book” addresses first.
Every single thing that you eat has a biochemical effect on your body at the cellular level. You are voting; you are choosing every time you put something in your mouth, you are choosing to either improve or harm the way your body works. The weird thing is that if it was a non-food related item that you were making this choice with, you would have a hyper awareness of that choice. So if I gave you a pill and said, “Hey, just take this,” you’d be pretty skeptical, wouldn’t you? You’d want to know what it was, what it was going to do, why you were taking it.
With food, we all eat all the time, everyday, and most people do it without giving it a second thought. Food is the most heavily used drug in the world, and it’s done without a second thought. So if you get nothing else out of this book, I want you to take a heightened awareness from this so that you can start paying a little more attention to what you’re eating, why you’re eating it, and what you’re doing to – or for – your body & health.
With that said, we’re going to go over what I consider to be the only three (or four) rules, that you need to know, in order to make your own choices. I don’t ever want you to be in a situation where you have to rely on me (or anybody else) to tell you what to eat and when to eat it. I want you to have the information so that you can make those choices for yourself. It’s the old, “We’re not going to give you a fish and let you eat once. We’re going to teach you how to fish so you can feed yourself for life.” That works for you, right? Good!
2: Framing, Re-Framing & Perspective
Before we go on, I want to touch a little bit on the psychological and the emotional connection that we all have with food. You haven’t noticed this yet, but I actually put something really embarrassing over there in the back corner behind you. Don’t look! You’re not allowed to look! DO NOT LOOK BEHIND YOU!! So, right now, I want you to forget about the thing in the corner. Don’t think about it. You can’t have it. You can’t look at it.
Now, tell me right now, how hard are you thinking about that thing? How badly do you want to turn around and look at it! Go ahead, turn around and look. There’s nothing over there! It’s no different than it was 10 minutes ago. That’s the power of your mind. That’s the power of you telling yourself, “I can’t do this. I can’t have this.” So if you say, “I can’t have this food, or I can’t eat these groups of foods or these things or do this,” all you want is to do engage in that “taboo behavior”. That is one of the main reasons many of the popular dietary approaches fail – the restriction of a certain thing (or things) leads to binging or other “disordered eating”.
So rather than look at what you can’t do or what you’re not allowed to do, I want you to think about what you want to do, what you want to accomplish, what you want to achieve, and think of your choices as willfully opting for the higher or the better path as opposed to not being able or not being allowed to go where you want to.
You’ve got to have something within you that drives your choices – something that will steer you in times of temptation because they WILL come. You must stay connected to this “true north” or your WHY to help you get through those tough times. We all have them. We all want that instant gratification, and a lot of times, food can be a crutch or a coping mechanism for boredom or an emotional thing at any given time. You’ve got to stay connected to what you truly want, more than what you want in that one moment. And if you can do that, you’ll have 10 times more success with any venture or diet or whatever it may be. So just don’t lose track of what you want in the long run, and don’t let your short-term emotional state or boredom or whatever sidetrack that. And again, don’t think of it as something you can’t have. Think of it as, “I’m choosing a better way, or I’m choosing healthier, better,” whatever your adjective there is.
**Ryan’s Note – we could do a whole section on goal setting and psychology here…but we won’t. Let’s leave it a this: Focus on progress, not perfection. Set goals based on ACTIONS you can control, not OUTCOMES you cannot control. For example, instead of setting the goal to lose 10 pounds in 1 month, an action-based goal would be to Eat as close to perfect as possible for 1 month – which involves meal planning, grocery shopping, meal prep, cooking and if need be taking meals with you to stay on track. Do those ACTIONS for a month and you WILL SEE PROGRESS.
You may have heard this story before. I’ve written about it, and I’ve told the story a lot. But if you haven’t heard it – or even if you have – it’s worth hearing again.
So there’s a professor and he stands up in front of his class and he’s got a big mason jar. Pretend this page is a mason jar. And the professor is going to fill it with big rocks the size of golf balls. So when it’s full, he held it up and he said, “All right, jar is full. Can’t get any more of these rocks in, right?” The whole class says, “You’re correct. You can’t get any more in.”
So then he takes pea gravel and he pours pea gravel in. So the class is like, “All right, ha, ha, you got us. Really funny.” He says, “So is it full now?” And they all agree, say yes, now it’s full.
Then he takes sand and he pours sand in. “All right, is it full?” “Yes, can’t get anything else in there.” Then he puts water in. And at that point, everybody, the class just kind of gives up.
But the point that he tried to make – and the point I want you to take from that – is if you started with the water, you wouldn’t be able to get the other things in. Don’t major in the minor. Focus on the changes that give you the most return for your investment of time and energy – i.e. the biggest rocks. Start with those, and then add in the other things.
3: Food Quality
With that thought process in mind, we’re going to go through the hierarchy of how you guys need to be feeding yourself. So the first thing, the big rocks is going to be the nutrients you put into your body.
This can said thousands of ways…”put crap in, get crap out” make a pretty good visual.
Quite literally, your body assimilates the digested food particles you consume and uses them to construct every single cell, tissue, and organ of your body. The phrase, you ARE what you eat could not be more true.
The typical Western or American diet is highly inflammatory. It’s toxic and it’s killing us. If you look at the top 10 causes of death, you’re going to see things like cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, stuff like that. All of those are diseases of chronic inflammation. And that is something that you have 100 percent control of, through your lifestyle and your food choices. I’m going to repeat that, because that’s really, really important. You have 100 percent control over the environment that you create inside of your body, that will or will not – or can or cannot – lead to those chronic diseases of inflammation. And I’m laying out that strategy for you right here in this book you’re holding! THAT is why this is called “the blueprint”. This book is literally the blueprint for YOU to design, build, and create whatever future you choose for your health.
So if you want to avoid or significantly lower your disease risk, listen up! I can’t promise you today that you will never get cancer if you eat like this – but if you want to look at the numbers, before World War II, cancer rates in this country were 1 in 100. Today it’s 1 in 2.5 or 1 in 3. So what’s changed since World War II? It’s our food supply. Specifically our unprecedented access to calorie dense foods, factory farming that depletes soil nutrients and replenishes it with chemicals, pesticides, GMOs and preservatives.
I think you probably will know where this is going, that you want to – whenever possible – you want to buy organic. You want grass-fed. You want pasture raised. You want to stay away from genetically modified foods. You want to stay away from factory-farmed animals. You do not want to eat the meat from a cow who has spent his entire life eating molded soy pellets and standing knee deep in its own feces, and that of the other 300 animals that are in its feedlot.
We store our toxins in our fat cells. So everybody accepts and is familiar with mercury poisoning with fish, right? That doesn’t surprise anybody. Nobody has an issue with that. So it boggles my mind that people don’t realize the same thing happens with land animals. There are pesticides and chemicals in the grass. They get into the water. That, in combination with the grain and the feed that is provided to these animals, makes them sick.
So people are like, “I don’t want to eat a fish that may or may not have some mercury in it.” Yet back to what we said at the very beginning, there’s not even a second thought, not even a passing thought to how unhealthy and how sick the animal is that you’re eating, or what kind of awful chemicals are on the leaves of this vegetable? So whenever possible, you want to try and eat organic. You want to try to get grass-fed meat, free range, pasture-raised, all that kind of stuff. This could be (and IS) an entire book in itself, so we’ll leave it at that.
4: Nutrient Timing
The second level of our hierarchy is the pea gravel, so the smaller rocks. It’s going to be what we call “nutrient timing” – or WHEN you eat, WHAT you eat. What this does is this allows us to control and take advantage of the hormonal environment in our bodies. And that is AWESOME – because hormones dominate everything that goes on, and now we can control them – forcing your body to do as you wish! Your hormones and your nervous system are everything. And the foods that you eat affect those things way, way beyond what most people realize. This is easily the biggest weight loss mistake or fat loss mistake that people make – failing to manage and control insulin levels. That means controlling blood sugar but eating certain foods at certain times.
When you eat carbohydrates, whether they’re good or bad, they are broken down into glucose. That is the form that your body uses. So you take a good carb – somebody say one. What do you think is a good carb? Sweet potato is probably the most common answer. Bad carbs would be then, what? Common examples of perceived “bad” carbs include white potatoes, cookies, and donuts.
So the thought process, or the principal behind “good carb” and “bad carb” is the bad carbs are converted into glucose faster than the good. That’s the only reason one is good, one is bad. They still have to get broken down into glucose. Which means if you eat them, you will have glucose present in your blood stream. When that happens, your body has to get the glucose out of your blood stream. And how does it do that? INSULIN.
The mighty non-selective, anabolic, storage hormone known as insulin. I call insulin the Honey Badger or a snowplow. Honey Badgers, as you know, don’t give a shit! And snowplows…well, think about it, tt snows, roads are covered, you can’t get anywhere…snowplows go down the road and clear snow out of the street without regard for where it goes – as long as it’s OUT OF THE STREET!
That’s insulin in your bloodstream. You know how the snowplow doesn’t care where the snow goes? It just says, “Get out of the street.” If your car is in the way or if a side street is in the way, it just gets buried. Insulin is just going to charge right through your bloodstream and it’s going to get the glucose (the sugar) out. That sugar goes one of two places – it goes into a) your muscle cells or it goes into b) your body’s storage tanks. You know what your storage tanks are? Fat tissue. That’s all body fat is, is it’s stored energy. We’re biologically designed to store fat. We’re still the same creatures with the same DNA that we had when we were running away from saber tooth tigers and we didn’t know when we were going to have access to our next meal. In today’s world, we have the availability of food unlike generations before us. In the last maybe 60-70 years, or since World War II, a lot of things have changed. That’s not enough time for our bodies to adapt to that or to be able to handle that. So we are doing things to our bodies right now that they can’t handle, tolerate, process. We have to take it upon ourselves to understand our biology and then a) resist it or b) work with it. And resisting doesn’t work – that why “diets” don’t work!
Think of it as an individual responsibility that you have if you want to be healthy and perform at your best, to learn how your body works and to try to eat in a way that’s best for you. Not the way that magazines or newspapers or whatever tell you.
So what do YOU do to work WITH Your biology?
Let’s go back to where we’ve got that glucose in your bloodstream, there are two ways to get it out. One is insulin, which we discussed. The other is called non-insulin mediated glucose uptake. That is a fancy way of saying your muscles are moving and they’re going to suck sugar out of your blood, into your muscles and use them for contraction at that time. The easiest way to think about that is to think about a hummingbird. If you ever had a hummingbird feeder you know it’s just sugar water. Because hummingbirds do not stop moving, their muscles are always contracting so they’re constantly pulling sugar into their muscles from the bloodstream. People think kids don’t gain weight because they have fast metabolisms. That’s not true. They just never stop moving. So they’re constantly pulling sugar into their muscles, for the muscle contractions. (At least before kids got hooked on TV, computers, handheld technology, etc – but that’s a story for another day!) That is why exercise – specifically strength training – is so good for diabetes management, weight control, fat loss, all those other things that as a society we have said, “Oh, crap, we’ve got to really start focusing on that,” because of what I’ve just mentioned. Our bodies are not able to handle what we’re doing to them with our increasingly sedentary lifestyle right now. (Case in point – The average American consumes 126 pounds of sugar every year. Compare that to the measly 23 pounds that that same American averaged only 3 generations ago.) Does that make sense? GOOD – because you have two ways to get rid of glucose in your bloodstream. Muscle contractions or insulin. The choice is yours. Will you choose strong, lean, muscled and healthy OR will you choose fat, sick, and diabetic?
There is yet another we do not want to rely on insulin on a regular basis, because insulin is a storage hormone. When insulin is present, you cannot burn body fat for fuel. So if we think about somebody who is constantly eating carbohydrates, even good carbs, they are releasing glucose into their bloodstream. If they’re not exercising – doesn’t have to be at that moment but either side of a few hours – then they’re relying on insulin to come through and clear the glucose from their bloodstream. Whenever that insulin is there, your body is in what is called an anabolic environment, meaning that it thinks it’s in a storage or a building phase. Even if you’re in a caloric deficit. Do you see how this works? Do you see what I was saying earlier about what you eat affecting your hormones is more important than calories?
Think about it this way…
How many people do you know who have gone on a 1,200 or 1,300, really, really low calorie diet, but weren’t able to see the results that they/you wanted? You hear about it all the time. People are starving, they don’t get enough to eat, have no energy, but they/you’re still not seeing the weight loss or the fat loss that you want. Maybe you’ve done this yourself.
Even though you think you’re eating good carbs, you’re creating an environment in your body where it thinks – because insulin is present – that it’s in storage mode. So A) you can’t tap into the stored fat for fuel, and B) it thinks it’s in an anabolic environment, so it’s not going to even try to tap into the stored body fat. All body fat is just stored energy for later. It’s reserves. It’s your savings account. You’re not going to tap into your savings account if you know you have a paycheck coming in two days, right? And that’s the problem with being on this glucose pathway of, “Hey, I’m eating six meals a day, and I know my body has gotten used to, I’m only 30 minutes away from another dose of this. I’m just going to shut down and not function until you give me some more glucose. Because it’s easier for me as a body – my body is built for survival. Your body doesn’t care about the goals that you have or what you want it to do. So it’s going to shut down for 30 minutes, which is why you feel tired, you get cranky, you get moody. You’re like, “Oh, it’s been three and a half hours. I was supposed to eat 30 minutes ago.” You can relate to that, right? That’s what’s going on. It’s easier for your body to shut down and wait than it is for it to switch pathways and tap into your savings account. It doesn’t want to do that, just same way you don’t want to do that with your finances. It’s great for finances, but it’s terrible for fat loss. And we don’t want to lose weight. We want to lose body fat. We need to get that straight up front! That’s what the goal is. The goal is more muscle, less fat.
So this is the most important thing that you can do with the way that you eat. It’s the number one mistake in fat loss.
If more muscle, less body fat, and improved health is your goal, you do not want to eat carbohydrates all day long, everyday, for all the reasons we just laid out.
So when should you eat carbohydrates? Turn the page…
Before we talk about what to eat and when to eat it, we must define calories and macronutrients. Calories come from one of four places. One of them we’re not going to get into today. That’s a story for another day, it’s alcohol. There are seven calories in a gram of alcohol. Only thing I’ll say on that is your body sees alcohol as a toxin, so when it is present, it’s going to shut down all other metabolic processes until it removes that toxin. So that window, when alcohol is present, you cannot burn body fat for fuel, you cannot build muscle, you cannot do anything else until that poison is removed. That’s what’s going on in your body. That’s why people get hangovers. That’s why people get alcohol poisoning. I’m not saying that for any other reason than it’s the truth.
The other three places that calories come from are – proteins, carbohydrates and fat. Protein and carbohydrates each have four calories in a gram. Fat has nine calories in a gram. Protein is a building block. It’s not going to be used for energy. It can be, but you don’t want that. That would be muscle wasting. So you’ve seen the person who they look sick or they are sick – cancer patients, AIDS patients – they are in extreme catabolic states. They have muscle wasting. Yes this is an oversimplification – but it’s done so you get the point and you know what that looks like. That’s what happens when your body has to use protein for fuel or break down muscle. We don’t want that.
So that leaves carbohydrates and fat as your energy sources. So we just talked about why we don’t want to eat carbohydrates all day, everyday. So what does that leave? Say it louder? FAT. Right. And you’ve probably heard this – you’ve probably heard people say, “Don’t be afraid to eat fat. Fat doesn’t make you fat.” That is 100 percent true. It’s used as an energy source. AND, it’s an energy source that doesn’t elevate blood sugar or insulin. It allows us to stay fueled without the energy or mood swings caused by peaks and valleys of carb-induced blood sugar “roller-coastering”!
So what we want to do with our timing is this; we want to limit our carbohydrates to the window around your workouts, when you are most like the humming bird. Think about a car parked in the garage. It doesn’t need gasoline if it doesn’t get out and go anywhere. That’s you. If you don’t get out and go and do something, you don’t need carbohydrates. All you’re doing, if you eat carbohydrates on a day where you’re sitting around doing nothing is, you’re creating this environment in your body where it’s snowing. You’re telling the snowplow to come through and if your muscles don’t want it, it’s going straight into fat cells. Not only is it contributing to accumulating body fat, it’s also preventing further oxidation or mobilization of your stored fat sources as used for fuel at that time.
6: Anytime Meals vs. Workout Meals
To make it as simple as possible, we’re going to classify our meals into 2 categories: post-workout meals, and then you have anytime meals. So you’ve got post-workout meals and this would be when you would have carbs, and then anytime meals would be without carbohydrates.
So then when you look at building your meals, your anytime meals, this is like your default, baseline template. It’s going to be protein, fats and whenever you can, vegetables. That way, you’re getting the protein that you need for building blocks. You need a certain amount of protein everyday for your immune system. You need protein for muscle repair/recovery. A good goal to shoot for is 75-150g per day depending on you size and activity level. (More on this later) The fat in these meals is going to give you the energy. Fat is involved in every single cellular membrane in your body. If you don’t get enough fat, you cannot grow hair, you can’t grow nails, your hormones don’t function properly. Like we said from the start, this approach goes beyond just the calories that you need for energy – it’s about controlling your body’s chemistry so you can achieve peak performance and finally get the results you deserve!
Now, on to those post-workout meals…this is going to be protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Imagine your regular anytime meal of grass-fed beef, kale sautéed in organic, unrefined coconut oil…and simply add some rice or a sweet potato and BOOM! Perfect post-workout meal! How easy is that. Then you simply return to your “anytime” meals for the remainder of the day.
The next level of that hierarchy…
7: How Much to Eat
This is the third level of our hierarchy. It matter for peak performance and for body composition (more muscle & less fat) but it is not AS IMPORTANT AS the first 2 levels.
Energy is neither created nor destroyed. So if you take in a certain amount of energy, you either burn it and expend it, or it gets stored. It would be impossible for me to sit here and tell you exactly how much each you need, but I can tell you guidelines for where to start. We named the three places that your calories are going to come from earlier, and that is protein, fat, carbohydrates. Again, those macronutrients are: protein, carbs and fat.
Let’s start with the building block – protein. You are going to want to start at around one gram per pound of body weight, everyday as a cap. For example, a 200 pound male would “CAP” his protein at 200 grams per day. And this would be for an extremely active male looking to gain muscle mass. 100-150g is sufficient for MOST.
Remember, you may or may not have the same protein requirements as somebody who is doing two-a-days in football practice in August would have. So this is a baseline number.
For easy math, let’s use our 200 pound male looking for 220 grams of protein per day… and if you eat five times a day, that’s 40 grams of protein at each meal (200/5 = 40). That’s kind of how that works. You don’t have to get it all at one sitting. Nor does it have to be evenly distributed. That’s the water – or FINAL LAYER…more in the next chapter!
Now, the carbs. That’s going to be even more individualized than protein. Because again, somebody that’s playing football all day long and then comes in to House Of Strength and works out is going to have a different need, different requirements than somebody who spends maybe 30 minutes at lunch doing a workout and that’s the extent of their activity. This also goes back to timing. So you’ve got your anytime meals, where you’re going to be getting your protein and your fat would be distributed between those anytime meals and then your carbohydrates are going to be added in at the workout meal. You have a choice there – you could do one or two workout meals. One before, one after, or one after. If you want to really accelerate fat loss results, you could LIMIT your carbohydrate intake to ONLY after you work out. Or, you can have carbs before and after. Carbs before will help you get a little bit more performance. They’ll give you kind of an instant energy source that you can kind of burn during that workout. As a general rule of thumb, the leaner you are, the more you can get away with carbs before AND after. The more fat you carry, the more you should limit carbs to ONLY the periods AFTER exercise.
So with the carbs, what we want to say is for most people, that number should be under 100 grams a day. So we’re just going to say less than or equal to 100 grams in a day. Now, if you are only eating carbohydrates after a workout, then one potato may have about 50 grams of carbs. So you can still eat potatoes. You can still eat rice. A cup of cooked rice is 45-50 grams of carbs. That’s nowhere near your 100g for the day – so that number is NOT as restrictive as you might think! And just for the record, we don’t count vegetables or green vegetables in that “carb” total. So don’t sit there and say, “I’ve had too much broccoli today.”
Then for fat, we want to put that at a minimum of about half a gram per pound of body weight. You need at least 60 or 70 grams a day, minimum, for basic bodily functions. And by that what I mean is what I mentioned earlier – your brain is two-thirds fat. Every cellular membrane in your body is made up of fat. Your nail growth, your hair growth, all of your hormones. If you’re female, then all of your estrogen. If you’re male, testosterone. All that stuff is dependent upon fat molecules. So 60, 70 grams is the bare minimum. We’re just going to write half a gram per pound of body weight. So we’ll go back and use our theoretical 200-pound person. So then that person would be getting 200 grams of protein in a day, 100 grams of fat and we’ll call it 100 grams of carbohydrates in a day.
These are extremely LOW and conservative numbers. If this were a custom nutrition client, we would START here and quickly begin to manipulate both protein intake and fat to normalize energy balance , muscle gain and fat loss. So don’t use these numbers as a “lifetime plan”. I’m actually reluctant to give numbers at all since nutrition is SO individual – but these are baseline numbers to help you visual amounts. Let’s face it, if I said eat whole eggs, you need to know if I mean 1, 3, or a whole dozen!!
Get comfortable experimenting and constantly manipulating up & down these targets. As your life shifts week to week, month to month, so will your needs. You are an experiment of 1 – find what works for YOU!
8: Meal frequency
Meal frequency or the number of meals that you eat in a day is our final level in the hierarchy. In short, that number doesn’t matter! One, three, six, nine … does not matter!
As long as the first 3 levels of the hierarchy are met, the number of times that you eat in a day means zero. In the 10 years that I’ve been working with people and experimenting on myself, I’ve seen one meal and nine meals produce equally awesome results. Do what works for you. I could sit here today and as you walked out the door I could hand you the world’s greatest plan, the plan that for one person provided the most amazing results and transformation ever. But if that plan doesn’t work for you and your life, it might as well be crap. So if it’s nothing but foods that you don’t like and a schedule that you just can’t make work, then it’s worthless. Remember, YOU are an experiment of 1.
I don’t care how many times a day you eat and neither should you. But what you should care about is meeting the first 2-3 levels of our hierarchy. Fill your jar with big rocks, pea gravel and sand – THEN worry about the water! Okay?
Remember we said earlier, there are millions of people who have tried significantly reduced calorie diets – the 1,200, 1,300 a day – where even though in theory they’re eating enough to lose weight, it’s not doing for their body what it should be doing. And maybe in the short term, there are some results there. There’s a little bit of weight loss at first, but eventually – and it always inevitably plateaus and stops and then people get stuck. And they want to know why. And then they start cutting it lower, and then you wreck your metabolism, and then it takes two years to fix that. Please, don’t do that!
We ALL have the ability inside us. Those who attempt and have failed, only failed because they did not have the right strategy. You now posses the strategy to go along with ability. The only thing missing now is time and effort. There is no try – as Yoda said, “do or do not”. Time to get to it. Enjoy the results you deserve!
Question: Can you just briefly discuss where fruit might fall into any of this?
Answer: Yes, fruit is a carbohydrate, so it’s going to go right here. And that’s a good question, because a lot of people will say, “I’m going to eat healthy.” And then they just eat a whole bunch of fruit. Even though it’s a good carb – remember what we talked about earlier, good/bad – that’s a really ridiculous thought process. Because they all get broken down into the same thing in our body. So you’re still going to have glucose and you’re still going to have insulin. So you would want to only eat fruit there. Because that’s when you get, timing, that’s when you want your carbohydrates.
Question: What’s a good source of fat?
Answer: In nature, fat always comes packaged with protein or fiber. So if you think about animal fat, it always comes with meat. That’s the protein. Or eggs. There’s protein and fat. If you think about coconut, avocado, nuts, peanut butter or any other nut butter, that has fiber with the fat source. So when you’re looking at your healthy fats, you want to try to seek out the ones that come like that. So all the ones I just mentioned are going to be great fat sources, as well as when you start venturing into the oils it gets tricky. We talked a little bit earlier about the quality of your food. We did not really get into inflammatory oils. You guys want to avoid any processed, refined vegetable or seed oil. That means peanut oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, vegetable oil … those things will wreak havoc on your health. Our ancestors had a two-to-one or three-to-one ratio of omega six to omega three. Omega threes are what you find in fish oil, things like salmon. Today, the typical diet has a 20-to-one ratio, and that imbalance is another thing that’s causing inflammation and leading to all those other diseases states that we talked about earlier.
So if you’re going to buy – and a lot of people ask about fish oil and that supplement – if you’re going to get a supplement with omega threes, you want one that’s just omega threes. You don’t need the six, nine. Because we’re trying to fix the imbalance of six to three, so we don’t need more sixes. So with those oils, you want to avoid the high omega six oils. A lot of times you’ll see them marketed as polyunsaturated fats. PUFA. Polyunsaturated fatty acids. You want … when you get into oils, the oils I would suggest are going to be unrefined, organic coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil is another one that’s okay, macadamia nut oil. They’re hard to find, unfortunately. Roanoke is not a wealth of health food stores. Some of those you can find at Fresh Market co-op. You can always order stuff online. Amazon has everything you could ever imagine, especially foodstuff. But that’s a good question. Hopefully that gives you guys a good list of fats to start with.
Butter is actually another really, really good one. It comes back to the quality, though. As long as you’re getting butter from a grass-fed cow or an animal who was healthy, that’s a great fat source. The butter and the coconut oil and any coconut product have shorter fatty acid chains than all the other fats we just mentioned. And that’s significant because your body processes them differently. There’s a different metabolic pathway there. They’re called medium chain triglycerides. Sometimes you’ll see it abbreviated MCT. You can buy MCT oil. They are preferentially used for energy by your body and your brain. If you’re just venturing into adding more fats in your diet, that’s a really good place to start, because it’s almost like giving your body a jump start. It’s like something that it will easily, readily accept, so you take that, and then it helps it become fat-adapted quicker. And that’s ultimately what we want. We want our bodies to be fat-adapted. We want them to be used to using fat as fuel. Because remember what we said earlier – if it’s constantly on that glucose pathway, trying to use glucose to fuel, rather than switching to fat, even though we have fat in our reserves, it doesn’t want to do that. It’s much easier for your body to just shut down and wait.
And a classic example of that is anybody who’s ever done physical activity and you can even think about endurance or super endurance athletes, where you hear them talk about they bonk or if you run a marathon or even when you come in here and you work out, if you’re on that carbohydrate pathway, you hit a wall. There’s a certain point where you have to stop until you go get more food. And that’s because your body is on that glucose pathway, and it won’t switch over. Even though you have something there in reserve that it could. It’s much harder for your body to switch those pathways. So if you’re already on that pathway and you run out of currency, you just … it has a reserve that it can dip into. It’s already there. Does that make sense? Okay. So that would be one time where you could take that and you could apply that to your workout meal, where that may be an advantage or disadvantage of having carbohydrates before you workout. Because if you have carbohydrates when whatever you ate ran out, you’re done. Because you told your body, “Hey, we’re going to do this, running on the carbohydrates.” So it ran out. It’s not going to tap into stored body fat.
Question: What about legumes?
Answer: That’s a good question too, because there are a couple of food sources that fall into different categories. Milk has both protein and carbohydrates. Beans or legumes have both protein and carbohydrates. Peanut butter often gets labeled as a protein source, but it has both protein and fat. I put things in the category where the majority of their calories come from. So if somebody tells me that peanut butter is a protein source, I tell them they’re full of crap. Because if I hand you your paycheck and it has 20 percent of your pay, then you’re going to say, “This is not my paycheck.” Right? Well, 20 percent or 80 percent of the calories in peanut butter or nuts come from fat. So that’s a fat source. That’s not a protein source. Yes, it has some protein, but it’s a fat source. Beans, legumes, have like a three-to-one ratio of carbohydrates to protein. So yes, there’s some protein in there, but for every one gram or let’s say if you get seven or 10 grams of protein, then you’re looking at 20-30 grams of carbs for those legumes. So they would be a carbohydrate source.
Question: What about lentils?
Answer: Same thing. They’re actually like four-to-one ratio of carbohydrates to protein. And that’s the problem that a lot of vegetarians will run into, is that the typical vegetarian protein sources are predominately carbohydrates, like I just explained. Yes, sure, there’s 10 grams of protein in a serving, but you’re trading that for 40 grams of carbohydrates. So you’re walking around with these chronically elevated levels of insulin, which effects body composition and over time, if you guys have ever used caffeine or anything else you, realize you habituate to it. It takes more over time to get the same effect. And that’s exactly what Type II diabetes is. Your body has habituated to insulin, and over time it takes more and more to do the same job, and then after years of that, your pancreas just says, “I quit. I’m done.” Or your body just doesn’t respond, and then you’ve got chronically … you’ve just got insulin that’s going out, but it’s not getting the job done because your body isn’t responsive or receptive to it. And that’s why we started with that as being the most important thing. Those are all really good questions. What else you got?
The other thing I’ll say too about this, there are things called – when we talk about nutrition – when we use the word essential, that means that you must get it through your diet. Your body cannot/does not make it. There are essential amino acids, there are eight of them. You don’t need to know their names, but what you do need to know is that you want to seek out complete protein sources. And again, that’s something that most of the time, if someone is a vegetarian, they’re aware of that. There are certain combinations, like rice and beans is a big combination for vegetarians, because neither the beans or the rice are complete protein sources. They do not contain that entire spectrum of amino acids. So they have to combine them to get the entire spectrum of amino acids, but like we just said, now not only are you just looking at the carbohydrates in the rice, but you’re looking at carbohydrates in beans.
Any animal source of protein is a complete protein. It’s already … animal meat is muscle. It’s already fully formed. It would not be fully formed if it was an incomplete protein source. The other essential is essential fatty acids. So there are essential fatty acids that you must get through your diet. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate or essential glucose module. You do not need carbohydrates to survive. You absolutely, 100 percent, must have the essential fatty acids and the essential amino acids in order to function and survive.
Question: Do you have any suggestions if someone’s not really suppose to be eating higher-carb meals earlier in the day, like breakfast time; do you have suggestions of things they might be able to eat if they can’t eat like fruit and bread and things like that?
Answer: And so what you’d want to do is – and we’ve got a food list (attached at the end) that’s broken down into categories. So you would want to build your meal, and I guess not just for those meals, but for all your meals – when you guys start to look at, “Okay, what am I going to eat?” You want to build your meal around your protein source, because whether your meal is an anytime meal or a workout meal, it needs to have protein. So, you’re going to build it around that meal. And you look at what your protein source is and if it’s a workout meal then you would add carbs and if it’s not, then you build it around fats. You want to incorporate vegetables like we said as much as you can. So you could do a couple-egg omelet with any vegetable you can think of, and there’s your protein, your fat and your vegetables. You can do meat and nuts. That’s like … it sounds weird, but if you did any kind of meat and some nuts for breakfast, you’d be amazed at the steady energy release that you have and how focused and clear your mind is through the morning.
I would do that. And that’s … any meal, you want to start with your protein source and then you ask yourself, “Okay, is this is a workout meal or anytime meal?” And based on that answer you’re going to add or not add carbohydrates. Then you add a fat source and if you can, a vegetable. But that’s, I think that’s a great way to build. Does that answer your question?
If you follow these guidelines, and that template, I can assure you that you will see changes not only in your body, not only in the way that it feels and functions and operates, but in the way it looks, and also your overall health, your energy levels. When you lower … when you do not constantly put carbohydrates into your body, you’re going to have better lab values. So if you go to the doctor and you have high triglycerides or high blood pressure or any other health marker, you’re going to see improvement in those numbers as well. So I encourage you to … you’re doing the transformation contest, you’re doing this for six weeks. Dive into this as much as you can. If you need any kind of support, feel free to reach out to us. If you want even more support, we have the nutrition coaching, but I can tell you that nobody who has ever committed to and made changes on the right plan has ever regretted it. So I know that maybe some of this flies in the face of what you may have heard or may have thought, and if you want more explanation on that let me know. We can go into it. But doing these things will change your life. And I think that’s why you guys are all here, because you want to be stronger, healthier, happier. We always do the best that we can for our current level of development. So if you’ve been told wrong, it’s not your fault. You’re following the plan of what you thought was best. But now you know a better way, so now it’s up to you to take it and run.
Question: So this would be consistent with a low-glycemic approach?
Answer: Sort of. Low-glycemic by definition means low blood sugar. And that’s what we said the number one thing – we want to keep blood sugar low as often as possible.
Question: Do you have a certain amount of carbs as a cutoff point – like Greek yogurt has carbs in it.
Answer: Right. Don’t worry about that. If it’s not in that carbohydrate column, you’re not eating it at that meal. And if it’s not in that column then you don’t have to worry about it. And that’s why it’s set up that way, to make it easy for you. So you’re not sitting … that’s why I was saying earlier, I made a joke earlier, it’s an exaggeration with broccoli, but that’s what I mean. You’re not going to get too many carbs from asparagus or broccoli or celery or cucumbers. Don’t count those. They’re mostly fiber. I dare you to try and get fat on celery.
Appendix 1: FOOD LISTS
- Protein = grass-fed beef, bison, wild game, wild-caught fish, free-range eggs, pastured poultry (chicken, turkey), HIGH quality protein powders
- Fat = grass-fed butter, Ghee, unrefined coconut oil, organic virgin red palm oil, extra virgin olive oil, cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds, almond butter, avocados, guacamole, egg yolks, cocoa butter , 100% chocolate, cocoa nibs, sunflower lecithin, coconut,
- Carbohydrates = sweet potatoes, white rice, gluten-free oats, butternut squash, acorn squash, quinoa, couscous, any other gluten-free grains/cereals
- This is NOT an exhaustive list – but it should get you started! Again, don’t focus on what you “can’t have” – focus on what is good for you, build your meals using as much of the great foods as possible, and a)you won’t be distracted by the object in the corner & b) you won’t have room on your plate for the things not on the list!
Appendix 2: Sample Days
All meals are “ANYTIME Meals” unless noted:
(Amounts based on 200 pound male – adjust accordingly!)
- 6 whole eggs cooked in unrefined coconut oil (or virgin red palm oil)
- ½ Cup cashews (or pecans, walnuts, or almonds – NO PEANUTS)
- LARGE spinach or greens salad with grilled or baked chicken breast & 1 avocado
- ½ Cup almond butter (no added sugar) with organic celery
- ½ pound red meat (grass-fed beef, bison, wild game, etc) with green veggies all covered in melted grass-fed butter or Ghee
- Optional snack –
2nd Sample Day (LIFT/Exercise DAY)
- Chicken or turkey sausage with bacon cooked in grass-fed butter & sauerkraut
- 3-4 Hard-boiled eggs (top with guacamole!)
- “Chicken Nuggets” recipe on HOS blog http://houseofstrengthgym.com/healthy-paleo-fried-chicken-recipe/
- ½ Cup nuts of choice (NO PEANUTS)
- POST-Workout meal = Roasted or grilled veggies with meat of choice – cooked in or topped with coconut oil or grass-fed butter and 1 C (cooked measure) rice
- Late night “snack” = hot tea with grass-fed butter or coconut oil