My Daily Diet
Be sure to check out the update to this article here!
Learning what and when to eat can be the most confusing thing to learn for athletes. Whether cutting fat or building muscle, eating properly is more important than the exercise you do, in my opinion. Many people fail in their fat loss or muscle gain goals because of improper diet. I’m not a dietitian, but I’ll share some things I’ve learned over the years.
Many people will eat good, clean food, but at the completely wrong time. A trainer once told me to think of your metabolism like a furnace. You want a steady burning flame throughout the day. You don’t want to dump loads of fuel onto the fire all at once, and then starve the fire to a mere flicker later. Many “dieters” do this. They don’t eat in an effort to cut calories with the hopes of losing weight. This practice eventually slows your metabolism to a crawl, and puts your body into survival mode. In an effort to protect itself, the body will store more than the usual amount of that food in body fat, when you do eat again.
So, to crank up the metabolism and burn calories, you want a steady, burning flame. Eating several small meals a day will steadily feed the body’s engine. Do some research on your own and Google “eating clean”. There are many excellent resources available.
If you are trying to cut body fat, it’s a good idea to monitor your carb intake and consume minimal carbs after lunch time. When I speak of carbs here, I’m talking about breads, grains, rice, etc. I know some vegetables are carbs, but you can eat as many vegetables as you want. If you are trying to gain muscle, you need carbs in your diet, but be careful to avoid huge carb loads at night. And don’t forget healthy fats. On salads, use olive oil, not a fat based dressing. Almonds are also a great snack during the day, with good protein and healthy fat.
You should always be consuming a healthy dose of protein with each meal. Protein is crucial to muscle recovery and burning off fat. Make sure to consume lean proteins. Pepperoni pizza and greasy hamburgers are not lean proteins! I recommend around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. There are many studies that claim this is too much. However, there are many studies that say this is the proper amount for athletes who weight train on a regular basis.
Below is an example of what I eat and when. I get up at 5:00 AM (it’s painful) and go to bed at 10:00 PM. I work out at 6:30 PM. My diet right now focuses on eating clean and getting enough carbs and protein to build muscle.
Meal 1 (5:30 AM):
Cereal, milk (low fat)
Protein shake (24 g protein)
Snack (8:00 AM)
Meal 2 (9:30 AM)
Sandwich with a good sized portion of meat, 1 slice of cheese, on wheat bread
Meal 3 (12:00 PM)
Chicken breast and vegetable (leftovers), OR big salad with can of tuna or chicken
Snack (2:00 PM)
Meal 4 (4:00 PM)
Small portion of pasta, rice, or some carb. Small portion of vegetables.
Meal 5 (5:30 PM)
2 Scoops of Cytogainer (27 g protein, 38 g carbs)
Workout (6:30 PM)
Meal 6 (8:00 PM)
Lean meat (chicken, fish, steak), vegetables, carbs (small portion of rice, pasta, or potatoes)
As you can see I try to get some protein and carbs at each meal. I eat slightly more before my workout and get a good amount of food after the workout. I am by no means force feeding myself. I am hungry for every meal. Some days I’m hungrier than others, so I just listen to my body and eat more if I’m feeling drained.
It takes a lot of planning and some dedication to eat these foods throughout the day at work. I spend a good bit of time every night preparing meals for the next day. Once you get into the groove of it, it becomes second nature. All of this planning isn’t easy, but no one said this would be easy right? Let me know if you have any questions or comments in the comments section below!