What's the best nutrition plan for you?
This is short and sweet with a few key points:
- There is no "best nutrition plan" despite all the arguments
- Many different protocols can be effective for losing fat gaining muscle and being healthy
- Carbohydrates are the one macronutrient that we don't actually need at all
- Our body needs lots of healthy fats
- You don't need as much protein as many people believe
There's lots of confusion in the marketplace about nutrition, or to put it simply, what we need to put in and around our bodies to live fulfilling and vibrant lives.
Here is my attempt to describe my personal philosophy of nutrition, as succinctly and practically as possible. However, there is a little science that has to be known. When you know the science, the plan to implement a nutrition plan derives naturally from that.
What do we REALLY need?
In a nutshell we need plenty of clean water, adequate protein to recycle the body and create all the "stuff" in our bodies from enzymes to carrier protein to immune cells and more. We also need plenty of healthy omega 3 fats along with some omega 6 fats. We need certain essential vitamins and minerals like b6 and b12 for energy, but thankfully our gut bacteria and microbiome helps handily with this. In fact one key aspect of the "perfect" plan would be the optimization and strengthening of the bacterial systems that make up 80% of our mass.
Here's what we don't need any of, at all: Processed sugars, processed and refined fats, heavy metals (not all), pesticides, herbacides, corrosive chemicals, harmful dyes in food and clothing, tons of antibiotics, and poorly and inhumanely grown meat.
What you really need depends on just a few simple questions, notably what are your priorities. A diet highly conducive to overall health will not be the same as a bodybuilding program, just like a marathon runner can't eat like a meditating Buddhist monk. And if your goal is to lose tons of body fat you can't eat like someone trying to add tons of weight.
So pick a goal: 1)overall health 2)putting on decent muscle 3)getting as shredded as possible
Of course you can have a hybrid goal (as I do) like "I want to be generally healthy but also would like to add muscle and retain low bodyfat" which means that something like simply fasting is out of the window (hard to gain weight while on a real fast!)
So here is my nutrition philosophy to reach said goal, which I think corresponds to most people at the gym (over a general average):
The pseudo-keto slowcarb timing metabolic machine
I just made that up to try and put it into something catchy. What it means is generally a low carb intermittent-fasting based approach with an emphasis on healthy fats and a goal of about .5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (110 grams per day). I place most emphasis on diversity of foods and plenty of vegetables, along with my array of supplements (won't go over them here). Meat and dairy is strictly organic or avoided.
How it works
There are so many factors that go into account besides what you eat, such as proper sleep, controlling stress and breathing, and generally keeping in a state of "calmness". This is important for hormones, which this plan tries to optimize. So work on your mind while you're working on the plan and watch the two work in synergy.
The body tends to burn what it gets a lot as fuel and store what is not. This is the idea of ketosis where the body turns to burning ketones (fat metabolites) instead of glucose (sugar). So many people are "sugar burners" because they eat so much processed...well, crap. Even huge chunks of pasta or rice can overload the system, not just twinkies and skones.
So on this notion if you increase the fat in the diet and dramatically cut carbohydrates, something magical happens, and the body turns to a fat burning machine. In this state losing bodyfat can seem effortless, and ketosis also has the added benefits of mental clarity and can even be anti cancer. The only people not fond of ketosis are the fast food companies who make money off sugar.
Intermittent fasting is something I do 2-3 times per week currently to add muscle. This fasting protocol involves 16 hour fasts followed by 8 hour "windows" but this can be modified. There is even cyclical fasting where you eat one meal per day.
The fasting protocol is the hardest to accept because the mainstream science is so far behind that our ideas of fasting are primitive...but you can find plenty of evidence for why it works. The biggest myth is that you will lose lots of muscle by fasting. The truth is that if you truly fast in a controlled manner your body actually releases more spikes of HGH (human growth hormone) in response to the situation, prompting muscle sparing.
Keep in mind this is a hybrid program; I sometimes have 2 day fasts, but generally I am not fasting for a length BECAUSE I'm not trying to lose a bunch of weight. One of the best ways to lose lots of weight is to simply not eat. The thing that really snags people is that fasting and low-calorie diets are nowhere near the same thing and a low calorie diet has the opposite effect of actually burning muscle and accumulating fat!
Protein is a constant in this diet, spread evenly between snacks in meals, typically in my 8 hour window. So I'm not cutting calories, I'm actually condensing more food into less time by skipping breakfast. My protein sources are lots of vegetables, artichokes, olives and Mediterranean including lots of cheeses, meal replacement and / or protein shakes, nuts, a little fruit, some quality seafood, and some nice cuts of organic meat. All of this is supplemented with tons of healthy fats like olive oil, butter, flaxseed (raw not oil), almonds, and some saturated fat from the quality meat cuts.
The timing aspect is where its customized for me. I feel like carbohydrates, even some processed ones, can have a huge impact if you eat them at the right time. That right time is before or right after a hard WEIGHTLIFTING session, not cardio. Weightlifting properly causes the hormone spikes needed to shuttle nutrients to muscle instead of fat, namely HGH, IGF-1 and testosterone. So carbs are readily put to use instead of stored as fat. I rarely eat carbs while not moving (but nobody's perfect).
One last thing that I think separates my diet from a lot of other good ones is that I focus a lot on what I'd call "enhancers" in the diet. These are things that are super healthy for all types of purposes but are not required, so many people don't get them or much less know they even exist. I have an herbal tea i drink routinely with green tea, orange peko leaf, and black tea. I also have a product with dandelion root and pomegranate rind extract. Another one I take has licorice root, herbal aloe vera, shiitake mushroom, blueberry powder, one has nitric oxide precursors. All of these things I just listed are super healthy but none are required and some don't even grow in the U.S. When's the last time you chewed on a turmeric root?
This last part isn't about bragging but I implore people to explore deeper into the real things that help with health. Just eating a bunch of fruits and vegetables is not enough. People are missing out or having nutrient deficiencies but without some sort of coach or expert its impossible to know that we even have the deficiency. These deficiencies like D3, magnesium and selenium are crucial to our health but up to 70% are deficient in all three. We have to have diversity and coaching with nutrition!
So to round this whole thing up the blueprint for the perfect diet (for the general audience, not the outliers) would be:
- Intermittent fasting or some sort of fasting protocol and schedule of at least 12 hours of fasting
- Emphasis on quality protein and lots of healthy fats consistently in the food window
- Like usual, no skipping meals; fasting is not an excuse to skip meals in your window
- No processed carbs like breads, pastas, rice, potatoes, etc except around weightlifting workouts
- cardio can be done on days where zero carbohydrates are consumed
- Plenty of clean, filtered water spread throughout the day; this is a commandment not an option
- Diversity of fruits, veggies and supplements to fill in the gaps when you find them
- Other complimentary lifestyle changes like proper breathing, sleep and controlling stress
And there you have it. The pseudo-keto slowcarb timing metabolic machine explained. Now, to implement.
Email me with any questions firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. its normal to feel some unpleasant side effects like lightheadedness and lethargy while your body switches form carbs to fat for fuel, but generally only for a few days at most. After that, you'll feel like a million bucks!