“I eat healthy!” It is a statement that I am sure you have heard or said, and it is one I have heard many people say. However, results speak for themselves, and if you are not seeing changes in body composition, performance, energy levels, etc., maybe there is something you could be doing differently. There are two recurring things I see from people who claim to eat healthy. First, their diets do not include enough lean protein, and two, many do not eat enough food.
Protein is an interesting macronutrient. It is the only macronutrient which once its requirement is met by the body, it becomes 100% thermogenic, meaning, it burns calories. The amount you eat before your needs are met is 30% thermogenic. Typically, it is recommended for athletes to eat 1 gram of protein per pound bodyweight, so for a 150 lb athlete, that is 150 grams of protein. Studies have shown you can eat 4x this amount and not gain body fat. In resistance trained individuals, lean body mass, or muscle was gained, but body fat stayed the same or was reduced. Also, the older you get, the greater your protein requirements are, as your body absorbs less of the protein you consume. If you are looking for body composition changes, decreased body fat, increased lean muscle, increase the amount of protein in your diet.
A couple of ways to make sure you get enough protein in your diet starts with a simple habit I picked up from Tim Ferris, eat 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking. Protein is satiating, and will limit your cravings for carbohydrates in the morning, as well as continue to promote fat breakdown which occurs in the middle of the night, as well as replenishing the stores of amino acids needed to keep nitrogen balance positive so lean muscle building can occur.
The focus should be on lean proteins, chicken, pork and yes, beef. Some people find eating this much protein difficult and that is where using a supplement protein is useful. Our favorite is Ascent Whey, which is a fast acting protein and better for after or before a workout, and Ascent Casein Pudding (5 oz unsweetened almond milk and one scoop) as a meal supplement, as casein is a slow acting protein. The casein protein is a great option for meal replacement protein. If you are vegetarian, stay away from soy protein supplements, and focus on pea protein which has been shown to be just as effective as whey.
The second issue people who claim to eat healthy do is not eat enough calories. Once you get your protein up to speed, then you can focus on the rest of your meals. If you look at your plate, most of your plate should be protein and non starchy vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, etc). The whole foods starch you consume should be centered around exercise. The more exercise you do, the more starch, within reason, you can allow yourself. Two fistfuls of veggies, and two cupped hands of starch along with two palms of protein with two thumbs of fat is an easy way to measure out a meal for an adult male, post exercise. For females, it is one of each. This intake is for 3-4 meals a day, based on hunger, and if you are looking for body composition changes, the starch at every meal goes except post exercise.
If you are not seeing changes in your body, and think you are eating healthy, try these two things. If we needed to simplify this down even further, at every meal, every day, consume a full plate of food consisting of two things, protein and veggies.
If you would like individual help on attaining your nutritional goals, and analyzing your own nutrition and diet, we are available to help. You can email noriskcrossfit [at] gmail [dot] com or call to make an appointment to go over your individual goals, your nutrition, and get a step by step plan of action for you to commit to. We require at the first consultation a 3 day food journal both written and photographic of everything you consume, a three day sleep, stress, and exercise journal, and a written our specific goal you would like to attain. With every consultation you get a In Body scan to show you a quantifiable baseline of where you are beginning, so we can measure your outcomes with as thoroughly as possible.