Food For Fuel
A lot people ask about what I eat.
The answer is simple and complex at the same time.
The simple answer? Eat healthy. Chicken, fish, steak, beef, fruits and vegetables. Don’t eat processed foods, fatty foods, deep fried foods.
The complex answer is what I eat works for me. Jason (my personal trainer who is a Precision Nutrition coach since 2010, but was coaching even before they had a certification) and I tested out different foods for about 6 months to see what my body responded the best. What I eat what works for me. So you need to test out and see what works best for you, what makes you feel the best, because there is more than one right answer.
The idea behind this post is to give you a concept of what healthy is - as opposed to what it isn’t. What I thought used to be healthy really isn’t.
An example is Booster Juice. It seems healthy in concept however, after looking deeper into it - it’s not as healthy as one might think. Don’t get me wrong it is much better than a fast food alternative (A&W, McDonalds, etc). But they use fruit that contain mostly water content, low grade protein powder, and lots of sugar/fruit juices to make it sweet (below I post the shake I have every morning).
So what do I do? I rarely eat out anymore, I have grown to appreciate the whole foods and healthy foods. A green salad with fresh fruits and veggies with two chicken breasts is so much more appealing to me than a burger any day. Not not only because of the taste but how I feel after. Do I get the garlic break on the side of the salad? Hell yes, I know I need the carbs.
I heard this a long time ago from my old MMA train David Belanger, he is the one that got me started on my martial arts journey back in 2007 - (I will write another post on what training with him was like back in the old school days!). Dave said that no one can eat perfectly all the time.
A person can either:
Have one treat a day
2) Eat perfectly during the week for five days and take the weekend off for two days
The concept is no-one can eat perfectly all the time, but we can eat healthily overall.
Personally I really like option #2. Eating healthy during the week and taking the weekends off eating healthy. When I first started eating incredibly healthy I actually felt sick. This was a massive shock as I expected to feel healthy right away. But this was because my system was going through a detox. It was used to unhealthy sugars, fats, processed foods, etc. Now I actually choose to eat healthy 7 days a week, and have one cheat meal. Because I don’t like the way processed and unhealthy foods make me feel.
Which brings me to my next answer - what is eating healthy? There is such a fine line of this that I am not qualified at all to have authority to explain (again, Jason is the one to take on a nutritionist - brilliant when it comes to food). But I can give some ideas and concepts of what I eat during the week.
There is a black belt who everyone calls ‘Big Mike’. He is built like a superhero and has phenomenal jiu-jitsu. He shared with me a long time ago his secret shake that I have been having every morning for almost a decade. We call it the ‘Big Mike Shake’ - or I do anyways.
Protein powder or cottage cheese
I would use water as a base. No need to add the extra processed sugars that are found in fruit juice. If I am feeling extra tired or if I know I have a massive workout ahead of me I’ll also add some oatmeal to the shake, sometimes I do both protein powder and cottage cheese. In hard training seasons I’ll also add a greens supplement.
Greens are good sources of many vitamins (such as vitamins A, C, and K and folate) and minerals (such as iron and calcium) just to start. They are crucial to every diet.
Banana: High in potassium, magnesium and so much more.
Cottage cheese: Slow digesting protein.
Berries: Full of antioxidants (as mentioned before) and Vitamin C.
Can you add hemp hearts? Kaffir? Chia seeds? Add whatever the hell makes you happy.
Sometimes after training if I am too exhausted to make dinner I’ll make myself a shake in the evening as well.
The shake is a fantastic way to get a ton of much needed fuel into the body in an easy and fast way.
Does it have to be a shake? No, you can slam a cup of cottage cheese and some berries on top and whatever else your little heart desires. Again, this is about finding what works for you. What makes you feel good.
The ooooooooold fashioned chicken and sweet potatoes. I usually haver 2 chicken breasts and quarter to half of a sweet potato. Protein and carbs. Whatever types of carbs is up to you. Rice, bread, quinoa, carbs are carbs. Whatever type of protein is up to you, whether it is chicken, turkey, etc. They are meant to be used as energy. I have my big meal in the afternoon before I teach all my classes.
I’ll have some type of meat, and some type of greens (kale, broccoli, salad). I don’t need carbs in the evening. So I try not to have them. Carbs are used for energy, and I don’t need energy in the evening.
As mentioned above, sometimes if I am too tired to cook I’ll have a shake in the evening, or if I am super hungry or if I know I didn’t get enough protein during the day I’ll have protein and water right after my training on the way home to dinner.
I don’t even look at food as food anymore. I look at food as protein, carbs, and greens and what my body needs and I eat accordingly.
I find chicken and turkey to be the leanest forms of protein and easiest to digest, so I’ll have those for all my lunches. Then for dinners I try to switch up between all types of other meat, making sure I do steak and fish once a week each.
The reality of the situation? Eating healthy is hard at first, but after time the healthy decisions just become habit. Now I would rather eat healthy than not because I feel so good.
The biggest mistake I see in people’s diets? Not getting enough protein. We should be eating our weights worth in protein. This is true. I aim to have between 150-200 grams per a day, as soon as Jason directed me to do this I was less sore immediately.
The internet is an amazing source of what carbs, proteins, and greens are.
It comes back to simply eating real foods. There are lots of diets and fads and it’s all controversial. I just find this is what has worked for me. Eating real food.
The biggest thing I have found that helped me? Creating an environment that allows me to eat healthy. I have no booze and no garbage food in the house. I have everything I need to make shakes in the morning during the week, while I am making my Sunday evening dinner I also make my lunches for the week (chicken and sweet potatoes), and I make sure to have enough food for dinner for week.
I could even go as far to mention that Friday after training I head to the grocery store to get my groceries for the week, and meal prep on Sunday. This is my routine. So I know I will always get groceries and always have them in the house for prep. It’s just what I expect of myself, so I create an environment and routines that make it not only possible but easier.
Is it hard? Yes, especially at first because it is creating new patterns.
Is it worth it?
It is hard for me to see how many people are operating at 60-70% of their full potential because they aren’t eating well. Good food helps me think better, train longer, have better energy, be faster, be happier - in short my life revolves around good food. I didn’t realize ho much of an massive difference it made until I started eating really well. So let me rephrase the question. Is it worth living a higher quality of life?
A trick I use when faced with a tempting decision of something ‘good’ or ‘bad’, is I ask myself: ‘do I want to sacrifice what I most for what I want now’.
Sure the two chicken breasts and sweet potatoes gets boring after awhile and I would rather have a big juicy piece of pizza (I am human!). Either way I have to make a choice if I want gratification now or later, and if the price is worth it.
If I choose the pizza I get the gratification now, but the price I pay is feel crappy after eating the pizza and even more importantly what I want most suffers. I’ve taken a step farther back from my goals.
If I choose the chicken and sweet potatoes I don’t get gratification right away, the price is having to suffer through eating it - but I feel amazing after and I’m one step closer to my goals.
So I have to choose. Either way there will be gratification and a price to pay.
What I want now vs what I want most. That’s really what is comes down to. And how I answer that question every day proves to myself how serious I am about what I really want.