fats

Food Prep: 5 Tips To Help You Dial In Your Nutrition

Want to know something funny about nutrition? It has less to do with food and more to do with habits.

Here's what I mean:  the vast majority of people know enough about nutrition to get by.

For example, just about everyone and their mom can tell me they need to be eating lean meat, veggies, some fruit, and quality fat.  While that approach won't cut it for the advanced athlete looking to flirt with the boundaries of his or her potential, it'll get the job done for the "average joe/jane" in the crowd.

So what gives with all these people having shitty diets?

Although the list is long, one near the top is habits.  People simply don't have the habits in place to carry through when it's game time.  They have "enough knowledge," but fail to act on it when it comes time to eat--they merely fall back on their normal routine.

While habit building is a science within itself, here are 5 things I've found to be extremely helpful not only for myself, but with my clients as well:

1.  Have a Shopping/Cooking Day

What's the hardest thing to do during the week?

SHOP and COOK.

It's a major pain in the ass right?  You bust your ass all day at work (or whatever you do during the day), and the thought of cooking a full meal for yourself when you get home is laughable.  Add in having to stop by the grocery store and you have a recipe for failure.

You're going to get home, grab whatever is most convenient, and then chill the fuck out in front of the TV and watch some Netflix.

While it'd be great if you we're motivated enough to come home and cook a full fledged meal, sometimes you have to be honest with yourself:  IT ISN'T HAPPENING.

Don't worry, you're really not alone in this.  I'm the same way.  The last thing in the world I want to do after a long day is shop and/or cook.

So...how can you get around this?

Designate Sunday (or some other day of choice) to be your shopping and cooking day for the entire week.  Yes, you'll get strange looks at the checkout counter, but that's all part of the game:

Fantastic convo with awesome online client.
Fantastic convo with awesome online client.

Believe me, you'll thank yourself when all you have to do is throw something in the microwave to have an awesome meal.

2.  Start Loving the Grill, Oven and Crock Pot

There's an obvious next question at hand:  how in the hell do I cook all that food without wasting an entire day.

This is fair, but something you don't need to worry about.  In fact, I've gotten it down to where I can prep and cook all my food in under 1.5 hours.

How does this happen?  I cook with things that allow me to do a lot at once.

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Here are your three best options:

1.  The Grill

2.  The Oven

3.  The Crock Pot

Learning to use those wisely will save you tons of time, and make food prep a walk in the park.  For example, when it's nice out I can often cook all my meat and veggies on the grill in one go.  I just turn on some country music, grab a good craft beer, and go to work.

If you can't get outside to a grill, or just don't have one, then fall back to the oven and crock pot.  Both are very easy to use, and allow you to cook all your food in bulk.

Cook Breakfast the Night Before

This one depends on your morning routine/schedule.

For early risers such as myself, making breakfast in the morning isn't an option.  When I get up at 5:20 I'm not trying to make myself an omelette.  Thus, I make myself breakfast the night before (usually while I'm eating my pre-prepared dinner), put it in some pyrex, bring it to work, and eat it whenever I want.

Embrace Supershakes

side note:  I tend to love anything with the word "super" in it

Depending on your goals, it can be incredibly difficult to cook enough meals to get in all the quality calories you need.  In fact, my max is cooking three meals a day.  If I have to go beyond that I'm screwed.

This get's problematic if I'm trying to gain weight though because I need more than three meals worth of calories to put on the lbs.

Enter the Supershake.

A fast, convenient, and super easy way to get in a quality meal with minimal effort.

Here's what you need:

A blending device (nutribullet)

A protein source (protein powder)

A veggie (spinach)

A fruit (blueberry)

A dense carb (oatmeal)  *optional based upon your macronutrient needs

A fat (almond butter)

A liquid (almond milk)

Simply throw all the goods in the blender, mix up to desired consistency, and drink away.

Have an Ample Supply of Quality Snack Food

One of the hardest things to do throughout the day is satisfy yourself between meals.  Granted, if you're meals are set up right you should have minimal "hunger spurts" throughout the day, but they do happen and you need to be prepared.

Instead of stocking your shelves with Cheetos, why not be a step ahead of the game and have quality snack options in the event you want/need to snack.

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Here are some of my favorite options:

Greek yogurt

Beef jerky

All kinds of nuts, seeds and nut butters

Berries

Apples

Oranges

Protein shake with almond milk

And that list could easily go on.  I just try, and you should to, to fill your cupboards with easily accessible proteins, fats and carbs that you can eat on the go.

That's a Wrap

The moral of the story today is to plan ahead.  It's very difficult once you get into the week to put a quality nutrition plan into action.  BUT don't feel down about that.  Just understand and respect the limitations that exist, and do what is necessary on the front end to set yourself up for success.

about the author

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James Cerbie is just a life long athlete and meathead coming to terms with the fact that he’s also an enormous nerd.  Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram for the latest happenings.

Nutrition: How To Pick A Plan That Fits Your Goals

Everyone understands the importance of proper nutrition and how it can benefit your body composition as well as your overall health. However I find a lot of people drowning in the vastness of nutrition and proper diet.

There is an overwhelming amount of research and methodologies that are all correct and valid, but the application to the individual is poor.

As opposed to blaming research, I find the biggest obstacle in people reaching their nutrition goals is often the misuse of the method they are utilizing.  They've found some new diet or trend, and then begin implementing it without having a true understanding for how to manage it.

Far to often I see elite collegiate athletes eating no carbs, and then failing to compensate for the complete loss of a macronutrient by eating enough fat and protein. Low carbohydrate diets have been shown to improve body composition, decrease visceral fat and optimize insulin health, but it's important to note that low carbohydrate does not have to mean low calorie.

Low calorie for an elite athlete means lower energy levels and decreased performance. This is only one example, but represents a major issue that impairs many from reaching their goals.

To prevent this, as an individual, you must look at yourself and your goals objectively, then pick the nutrition plan to fit those goals. This is where things can get tricky.

Looking into details like:

What energy system do you primarily train in?

What type of volume will you be utilizing?

How long do you have to recover?

Suddenly the thousands of good ideas and nutrition fads seem to fade.

To simplify some of these questions for you, I have come up with 3 of the most common types of people I work with and the type of meal plan I would utilize with them:

Elite Collegiate Athlete

The elite collegiate athlete is going to be my model for high volume activity. They have all of the stresses and constraints normal college students have with classes and work load, and then they expend extremely high levels of energy in their training.

This high stress routine could easily occupy 6 days of the week and is incredibly taxing on all of the systems of the body.

Such high volume and stress demands a caloric surplus, and at the very least a moderate intake of carbohydrates...if not high.

This need for carbohydrates comes from looking at the autonomics of this lifestyle. So much stress imposed on the body causes levels of glucocorticoids and other sympathetic related hormones to be elevated throughout the day, and out of their natural rhythm.

Not only can that lead to a plethora of diseases, but it can put a severe damper on performance--especially in the area of arousal. Carbohydrate consumption can help combat some of the negative effects related to these excessive stress levels.

In addition, properly timing carbohydrates around training can help any athlete expect to see far improved energy levels and recovery.

The Average Joe

The average joe is the modality I will use for the general population of regularly active people. They work full time five days a week and engage in some sort of resistance or aerobic based training three to five times a week.

This is a great group of people to work with because there are so many potential options for a meal plans.  It really allows lifestyle and personal choice to take some control, which we rarely find in the elite athletes.

This person can choose something as simple as evenly divided meals throughout the day or get as complex as an intermittent carbohydrate cycling and fasting approach, and everything in between. The main parameter for this group will be total caloric intake.

Hybrid Athlete

The hybrid athlete is a group of people with gobs of potential.

Work occupies the majority of their day and can prove to be stressful, but they also tend to crush training sessions at the bookends of the day.  They have a more than fit attitude, but have to fit their performance and physique goals within the confines of their professional schedules.

This allows for plenty of effective methods of manipulating the placement of their bulk carbohydrate and calorie consumption. Depending on the time they hit the gym, a fasting-loading protocol could be very effective at improving body composition while improving performance.

Here is an example meal plan for this population with the following attributes:

Looking to increase fat free mass

Train in the morning before work

Vigorous resistance training with some type of conditioning work mixed in

Pre Training Shake

1.5 servings BCAA’s, 2 cups of black coffee

Protein (g)0

Carbs (g)0

Fat (g)0

Intra Training Shake1 serving BCAA’s with 1 serving liquid carbs

Protein (g)0

Carbs (g)40

Fat (g)0

Post Workout Shake1.5 servings of hydrolyzed protein, 2 scoops liquid carbs

Protein (g)40

Carbs (g)80

Fat (g)0

Meal 1- 9-10am4 hardboiled eggs, 4oz of chicken breast, 1oz of cheese

Protein (g)56

Carbs (g)10

Fat (g)35

Meal 2- 12-1pm6oz of 88/12 beef, 45g of uncooked rice, 1 serving greens

Protein (g)43

Carbs (g)35

Fat (g)17

Meal 3- 5-7pm6oz turkey burger with 1oz cheese and 1 baked potato

Protein (g)43

Carbs (g)35

Fat (g)17

Meal 4- 7:30 PM8oz chicken breast, 6 slices of bacon, 84g of uncooked rice, 1 serving greens, 1oz cheese

Protein (g)56

Carbs (g)62

Fat (g)35

Daily Totals

Protein (g)238

Carbs (g)262

Fat (g)104

Calories2936

The beautiful, and confusing, thing about nutrition is there are hundreds of options, and with proper consideration and compliance to the plan, they all work.

Objectifying your nutrition and performance goals, and then using that info to pick a nutrition plan, is the key to actually reaching them. Whatever your nutrition goal may be, question yourself, pick a plan and stick to it.

*Note from James:  For more on nutrition I'd recommend checking out our free Webinar.

I know this article had a lot of info in it, so feel free to hit me up below with questions you have about the article or the sample meal plan.

about the author

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Andrew Triana “The Leucine Frog” is a promising young coach who has an intense passion for his clients success and writing. It is evident in his work that he is relentless in his pursuit of excellence. At 20 years old Andrew has produced National champions, World champions, Pro strongmen, and has helped many others reach their goals.  Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewTriana) and Instagram (@andtriana).