How you look is largely influenced by what you eat. Lack of muscle mass, high body fat, lack of energy at work or at the gym, bad skin, digestive problems, … All of that can be caused by unhealthy nutrition.
Since there’s a lot of confusion about what to eat and why, here are 8 simple nutrition rules that will help you build muscle, lose fat & get stronger.
1. Eat Breakfast. You get energy from the first hour and you’ll be less hungry the rest of the day. It also sets the trend: you’ll tend to eat healthier if your day starts with a strong & healthy breakfast.
Your best bet: omelets, smoothies & cottage cheese. Read how to build the habit of eating breakfast and try these breakfast recipes.
2. Eat Every 3 Hours. The easiest way: breakfast, lunch, dinner, post workout, pre bed and 2 snacks in between. Benefits:
- Less Hunger. Eating more smaller meals vs. few big meals will decrease your stomach size. You’ll feel full faster and your waist will trim.
- Less Cravings. Not eating for long periods usually causes overeating at the next meal or ending at the candy machine.
Eat at fixed times every day and your body will get hungry at those fixed times. Example: 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 6pm, 7pm & 10pm.
3. Eat Protein with Each Meal. You need protein to build and maintain muscle. Proteins also help fat loss since they have the highest thermic effect. And they satiate: proteins make you full longer than carbs.
How much protein should you eat daily? At least 1g per pound of body-weight. That’s 200g/day if you weigh 200lbs. The easiest way to get this amount is to eat a whole protein source with each meal. Some include:
- Red Meat. Beef, pork, lamb, deer, buffalo, etc.
- Poultry. Chicken, turkey, duck, etc.
- Fish. Tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, etc.
- Eggs. Don’t believe the cholesterol myths. Eat the yolk.
- Dairy. Milk, cheese, cottage cheese, quark, yogurt, etc.
- Whey. Not necessary but great for easy post workout shakes.
Check also these protein sources for vegetarians & vegans.
4. Eat Fruits & Veggies with Each Meal. Most of them are low calorie: you can eat your stomach full without gaining fat or weight. Fruits & veggies are also full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber which helps digestion.
Some of my favorite fruits & veggies are: apples, berries, pineapple, oranges, bananas, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, pumpkin, beans, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, roman lettuce, chicory, peas, etc
5. Eat Carbs Post Workout Only. 70% of population is carb intolerant: they get fat eating excess carbs. While you need carbs for energy, most people eat more than they need. Limit your carb intake to post workout only.
- Eat Fruits & Veggies with all Meals. These contain little carbs compared to whole grains. Exception: corn, carrots, raisins.
- Other Carbs Post Workout Only. This is rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, quinoa, oats, etc. Avoid white carbs and eat whole grain.
- Exception. If you’re a skinny guy who wants to gain weight: eat carbs post workout and post post workout. More if needed.
6. Eat Healthy Fats. Healthy fats improve fat loss and health. They also satiate, digest slowly and are cheap. Eat healthy fats with every meal and avoid artificial trans -fats & margarine. Balance your fat intake.
- Saturated Fats. Increase testosterone levels. Dietary cholesterol is not bound to blood cholesterol. Real butter, whole eggs, red meat.
- Monounsaturated Fats. Protect against heart diseases and cancers. Extra virgin olive oil, olives, mixed nuts.
- Polyunsaturated Fats. Increase testosterone levels, promote fat loss, decrease inflammation, … Fish oil, ground flax seeds, mixed nuts.
7. Drink Water. Strength training causes water loss through sweating which can impair muscle recovery. Drinking water prevents dehydration but also hunger since an empty stomach can make you think you’re hungry.
- 1 US Gallon Water/Day. Drink 1 cup of water first thing on waking up, 2 cups with each meal and sip water during your workout.
- Get a water filter. Cheaper than bottled water and tastes better than straight tap water. Try also green tea & water with squeezed lemon.
- Ignore Water Intoxication. Eating healthy as explained in this post will make sure you replenish your electrolytes. Unless you do crazy stuff like drinking 2 gallons water in 10mins, you’ll be safe.
- Whole Foods. Unprocessed and unrefined (or little refined) foods that come as close as possible to their natural state. Examples: fresh meat, fish, poultry, eggs, veggies, legumes, fruits, rice, oats, quinoa, …
- Processed Foods. Usually contain added sugars, trans-fats, nitrates, corn syrup, sodium and more chemicals. Examples: bagels, fruit bars, cereals, pizza, cookies, sausages, frozen meals, supplements, …
Eat whole foods 90% of the time. Difference in result is insignificant compared to eating 100% healthy. So if you eat 6x/day, you can eat 4 junk meals per week guilt-free. Same with alcohol & sweet drinks: 10% of the time is ok.