I've been asked by more than 20 people recently to write about my nutrition and thoughts around diet. I've been tremendously busy, but I've also been hesitant to write about nutrition because few things are more polarizing. After all, diet is heavily ingrained in our culture and social lives and we have this unnecessary emotional attachment to what we eat. I think who we share our meals with is far more important than what's on the plate. So why argue? I'll get to exactly what I eat below, after I lay out my rules, but many of you will be shocked.
Before you read any further, please understand that I am not an R.D. - I'm actually in a business career and it's likely that I'll be heading to law school. I am well-educated when it comes to nutrition, and I'm very passionate about it. I've been a fitness professional for more than a decade. This is what I live for, but ultimately I am not a dietitian, so keep that in mind.
I'm writing specifically about my thoughts around nutrition for athletic performance. I'm certainly not writing about disease prevention or cure - that's above my pay grade.
The most common question I get is:
“What do you eat and how can I look like you?”
The short answer is that you can't, we don't have the same genetic makeup. As a side note: I don't eat to ‘look’ a certain way as much as I eat to ‘perform’ a certain way.
From all of the data I've gathered and all of the painstakingly tedious research I've done - I know one thing in absolutes: Elite athletes don't typically cut out any specific macro-nutrient from their diets. I personally know elite runners who wouldn't dare have a cheat meal, and I know elite runners that eat Arby's before a race. There are fringe athletes in the endurance community who do cut out whole food groups, but this rule is mostly-true. Zach Bitter eats a ketogenic diet he is one of the rare anomalies among elite athletes. You don't need to start name-dropping other people who don't eat carbs (I swear that I don't care). My personal friend Sage Canaday is a vegan and a world class mountain-ultra-trail runner, but it's not all too common among elites.
For most people, I think that moderation is going to be the key to success. Numerous large studies show that unless someone has a medical or health related reason for restricting specific aspects of a diet, they'll ultimately end up back where they started.
Nobody can produce facts or reproducible studies that say “this or that” is the optimal human diet for performance. I can say, however, that slamming a series of chemical-filled saturated fat-laden cheeseburgers down your throat isn't good (yes, even if you've removed the bun).
No matter which philosophy you subscribe to, here are the rules that I follow -
I currently average about 100g of complete protein per day on a diet in which I consume no animal products whatsoever. I would like to emphasize that I make no effort to get extra protein, 100g comes pretty easy when you're eating a varied diet. Yes, a varied diet makes complete proteins.
3.) Water consumption must be adequate. I spent years dehydrating myself. When I ruptured my hamstring during college soccer, it was suspected that dehydration played a major role. Now when my training volume gets higher, my right hamstring suffers most still. This seems fairly simple, but it's a common issue and should be addressed.
4) There's no point in going Gluten-free if you don't have an intolerance to gluten. You could say “wheat belly” but I've never had a wheat belly, so not sure what the issue is. Though each person is different, you need to find what works for you. I think sprouted grains are an even better choice than standard whole wheat.
Biggest thing to remember:
What works for me might now work for you. I'd never attempt to convince you to eat what I do. I have flaws, as does my diet. I have been eating a plant-based whole food diet in which I consume zero animal products whatsoever. Please don't call me a vegan though. I don't really like the idea of being pigeonholed into some philosophy that is associated with judgmental hippies. I just do my thing and I don't judge anyone else. That's another reason I've been hesitant to write this article. I haven't always been plant-based, but I have always been uninterested in meat; I just don't enjoy it and it gives me acid reflux. I also hate the way animals are treated and would argue it's a catalyst for disease, but that's another story.
Within the next week I'm going to write an article or make a video which chronicles a full day of eating for me personally. Since becoming fully plant-based I have recovered faster, had no instances of acid reflux, and have been able train at a higher volume all while saving money at the grocery store. I attribute most positive changes in my physique, musculature and performance improvements to my switch to a plant based diet, I was will able to gain muscle, I lost fat and didn’t have a guilty conscience in doing so.
I'm going to recommend at this point that you stop reading because below I'm going to tell you why fad diets are complete rubbish and it's going to offend people, it's going to hurt some feelings, it's gonna make me lose some followers.
Okay, if you're still here; here's the deal. If you've ever struggled with weight issues, or body image, or poor performance - you know that you would have killed for a quick solution. The part that most people hate is that there is no quick solution. But that's what they want to sell. How boring is that?! This new keto craze may have some applications - specifically in epilepsy treatment, but it's long-term effects have yet to be determined. My guess is that we'll see seemingly fit 55 year olds collapsing left and right from heart disease. When you're overweight or obese - it feels good to throw some bacon at it. That's what fad diets do - they sell you on your addictions, on the things you don't want to walk away from. Sure, if you eat only 1600 calories worth of bacon each day, you'll lose weight. You'll also triple your odds of dying from pancreatic cancer I'd imagine too. Isn't the keto diet just a new version of the Atkins diet? With no intent to body-shame Dr. Atkins, wasn't he clinically obese and struggling with heart disease and hypertension? Not exactly what I'd hope to emulate. In addition to his large midsection and collection of obesity-related diseases, he had a fat wallet filled with money from profiting off of his fad diet that either didn't work or wasn't easy enough for him to sustain.
Am I boring? Doesn't it suck that I'm not trying to sell you some magic pill? That I'm saying the best way to be healthy is adopt a sustainable lifestyle, make sacrifices, and stick to it for a really long time? I hate the idea of profiting from people's struggles with health and obesity or food addiction. If you are on the fence about changing your diet, whether to plant-based or not -message me, and I can give you tips, recipes and other useful tools. I'll help in anyway possible.
Thanks for taking the time to read.