Sunday, March 25, 2012

What I eat

I've been asked by a few people to share what I generally eat over the course of a day. I'm looking forward to going into detail about several of these foods in future posts, but I'm happy to share an overview of my diet now. This is for a typical workout day. I'm not a nutritionist by any stretch, and I'm constantly tweaking and experimenting, so it's just a snapshot.

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs over 2 big handfuls of spinach, chopped bell peppers (try to have variety in the colors, since each color provides different nutrients), and pecans. Tossed with a couple teaspoons of olive oil and salt and pepper.
  • 1 serving of oatmeal (1/2 cup for rolled; 1/4 cup for steel cut, since steel cut is denser). With one tablespoon of smart balance coconut butter, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, a big sprinkle of unsweetened shredded coconut, a teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/8 cup whole flax seeds, about 1/2 cup almond milk, and 1/4 cup berries. 
  • NOTE: After perfecting my oatmeal recipe to the point that I crave it all day, I'm going to cut it out for a week and see how I feel. Get ready for a fascinating and entertaining post all about breakfast next week! 
  • ANOTHER NOTE: Don't be phased by the above description. I can prepare that entire breakfast in the time equivalent of hitting my snooze button once (ten minutes). I'll discuss in my post next week. 

Morning snack:

  • About 8 oz of rotisserie chicken. One chicken lasts me three or four days. It's an awesome deal compared to cold cuts. And they're $2 off on Wednesdays at Whole Foods. (at least in Albuquerque).
  • A huge monster salad with kale, lettuce, or whatever greens are on sale at the store or farmers market. I usually include cucumber, mushrooms, bell peppers (try to have variety in the colors), carrots, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. If I can get them on sale, I will also include hemp hearts. I toss it with olive oil and red or white wine vinegar. Sometimes I'll be crazy and add in grapes or strawberries.
 Afternoon Snack:
  • A large avocado (don't complain about the cost. Even organic is usually cheaper than the snickers bar from the vending machine.) Sliced and topped with some cashew butter, with a fistful of blueberries on the side. I also have a pear or other fruit if I'm hungry.
  • A scoop of Cytocarb 2 and a scoop of whey protein isolate. Amounts vary based on how I'm feeling.
  • A packet of Emergen-C. Way more vitamin C than our ancestors ever had, but it gets me in the mood to work out. There are far worse things. 
  •  A banana (or other high-carb sugary fruit) and a half scoop of whey protein isolate.
  • This really varies. I try to cook a big meal on Sunday that will get me through a few weeknights. When that runs out, I'll generally grill a few salmon fillets or grass-fed beef patties, and steam some broccoli or cauliflower in the microwave. Sometimes I'll have rice too, especially when I need more carbs after intense workouts. Sometimes I'll quickly saute greens like chard or spinach. 
  • If I'm really in a bind, I go for the rotisserie chicken. It's always there in the fridge ready to go as a last resort. 
Below is a calorie consumption pie chart in Fit Day, an easy-to-use resource for figuring out what the heck you're eating. On workout days, I usually get between 3700 and 4000 calories. On non-workout days, I'm not drinking my carb shake and I'm having less protein isolate, so I probably get 350 fewer calories.

A higher protein and fat intake is recommended in the paleo diet than American Dietary Guidelines. My CrossFit coaches encourage consuming at least your body weight in grams of protein per day. I've found that it's tough for me to consume more than 30% protein and 20% carbs from paleo sources. Fat supplies the rest of the calories. I know this looks scary. We've been trained to think fat is bad. To try the paleo diet is to take a leap of faith here: fat does not necessarily make you fat. There is a very detailed chapter all about the benefits of "good" fats in The Paleo Solution, but it's something you need to try to see if it works for you.

Some guidelines and justification for higher protein consumption can be found on one of my favorite blogs, Paleo Plan. That said, I'm surprised that this post recommends 40% carbs. That would be A LOT of vegetables. I'm at about 20% carbs, and that is with oats and a carb shake! In reality, I see paleo dieters consuming around 10 to 20% carbs, 20 to 30% protein or higher, and 50 to 70% fat. People really trying to lose weight push their carb count even lower. Not ideal for me, but it works for some.

Everyone is different and needs to tweak the ratio to what works for him or her. I think it's best not to pay too much attention to the specific percentages. This way, you get some variability and cyclical rhythm in your macronutrient intake. Focus on quality more than quantity.

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