I’m known for posting some pretty edgy material on The Gram. Eight eggs? F**k it. The people can handle the truth. I can’t stand idly by, enjoying my yolks guilt-free, while the rest of you suffer with your cauliflower (insert replacement food here).
No, it’s unconscionable. But I should explain myself further, instead of just posting gratuitous images of yolky eggs with little context. I need to get to the real heart of the artichoke.
It’s time to come clean, or at least lick the plate clean. So, let’s talk stock. And I’m not talking the S&P 500, champ.
I’m talking bouillon, b***h.
Food. Am I Right??
I thought I’d share some insights into how I approach eating. The following isn’t an exhaustive list, and I certainly don’t follow these principles 100% of the time. Instead, these are rough guidelines and strategies for reframing food that help me navigate the overwhelming abundance of options we have access to today.
I’ve talked about it before, but I often view fitness and nutrition with an 80-20 rule lens. In this context, I interpret it as a disproportionate amount of your diet’s success, say 80%, will come from a small number of causes, say 20%. In other words, there are a “vital few” number of actions that will be responsible for the vast majority of your success.
So, 80% of your fitness and nutrition goals can be reached by following the top 20% most powerful strategies. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s a deadly effective framework to apply when approaching your fitness and nutrition strategy. Don’t focus on optimization—focus and getting most things right.
This might be one of the largest rocks people neglect. Calorie reduction gets a lot of love, but the protein ratio on your plate should weigh just as heavily. There are two main reasons for this.
- Protein builds muscle. Of the calories you feed your body, you want to ensure a sufficient portion is comprised of this muscle-building macronutrient. When losing weight, higher protein levels can help ensure a greater proportion of that weight loss comes from fat, versus muscle.
- Protein is satiating. Compared to carbohydrates, protein will leave you feeling fuller, longer, all else equal. Protein doesn’t trigger the same craving response that carbs do. Just try and eat a lot of steak. It’s tough. It’s even tougher to do if that steak doesn’t come saddled with mashed potatoes.
Here are a couple of examples of how I might prioritize protein in a meal.
- Are you grabbing fast food for dinner? Skip the fries, and double up on the patty, instead. Maybe even add bacon and cheese, and lose the bun.
- Use bone broth in place of water when making rice. Bone broth adds fantastic flavour to your rice and provides a healthy serving of protein.
Don’t add another unnecessary challenge to your day by trying to dream up an elaborate dinner with dozens of ingredients. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a well prepared, elaborate dinner. The problem arises if you frequently fail to make these dinners and opt for something much junkier. Have go-to, easy to access meals in your back pocket.
Here are some of my favourites.
- Grocery store rotisserie chicken. Inexpensive and very high in protein. Filling and satiating – especially dark meat and skin. Convenient. You can eat the chicken in the grocery store parking lot before dropping Timmy at soccer practice.
Shred the chicken over some baby spinach with olive oil, lemon, and salt, if you want to get fancy.
- Frozen ground beef. Our house never runs out of ground beef. We always have multiple pre-portioned slabs at the ready in our freezer. If nothing else, I can toss the meat on low on the stove, covered, and mix with taco seasoning for a delicious, healthy dinner. We usually enjoy it with shredded cheese, sour cream, and hot sauce. Level it up with a bed of rice if you’re feeling loco.
- Eggs. These are a no-brainer. Healthy and affordable. You can prepare them in dozens of ways, and fast. If you have some, but not quite enough, leftovers from the night before, eggs are perfect for stretching the meal out further. I’ll add eggs over leftover sausage and steak, stir fry, or even a frozen burrito.
F**k all these sauces. No one likes a saucy person, and no one likes saucy food. Yes, there are many exceptions, but I’m talking about the sugar-laden BBQ sauces, and the like. I’m not referring to some nutritious and delicious homemade sauce your grandma makes with butter and herbs.
Want to move the needle? Stop coating all your food in these canola oil concoctions.
Salt reigns supreme in flavour city. Enjoy it. And try playing around with spices and fresh herbs. Get creative and use a lot! Don’t be afraid to experiment.
And then there’s the lemon. Your favourite chef’s favourite chef’s secret weapon. Your chicken probably sucks, but lemon will make it about 43% better.
Set the Foundation
I aim to keep my carbs somewhat low. At least lower than the typical standard American diet. On days where I want to aggressively reduce my carb intake, the most effective strategy is to ensure my first meal is the strictest.
It builds momentum for the remainder of the day. Maybe it’s like making your bed, it starts the day with a win.
More importantly, though, it fills you up!
If you start the day with a high carb meal, you’ll be hungry again in no time. It’s that simple.
Your body wants carbohydrates. Carbs are an efficient source of quick energy. As a caveman with food insecurity, carbs were great. As a modern-day desk jockey, not so great.
Moreover, cavemen didn’t have cupcakes. You don’t find fat and carbs together in nature the way they exist in our food today.
Prehistoric man ate carbs, but likely earned them. They probably engaged in considerably more daily movement than we enjoy in 2020. Moreover, when carbs were found, it may have been in the form of a dozen raspberries, not a movie theatre sized serving of Sour Patch Kids.
Also, I like Sour Patch Kids.
Learn to Love Water
Forget trying to always optimize for taste. There is always a better-tasting option available, but if you fixate on only having your ideal meal or drink, you’re doomed. If you constantly drink Coke, everything else will pale in comparison (note, I like Coke even more than I like Sour Patch Kids).
If helpful, try to make your water more appealing. Drop some lemon slices or cucumber in a jug and keep the water ice cold in the fridge.
On the flip side, keep Coke in the basement, warm. If you want one, you have a hurdle to cross. Better yet, leave the Coke at the store if you have trouble resisting that devil-red can.
Don’t Fixate on ‘Deals’ on Junk Food
If you’re like me, sometimes you have difficulty passing up a “deal” on some junk food. The conversation usually goes something like this:
- Junk Food Jesse: Oh snap, Tim Tams are on sale. That’s like 150 Tim Tams for only $20.
- Jacked Jesse: Dumba**, remember what happened last time you bought all those Tim Tams? Are you sure this is a good idea?
- Junk Food Jesse: Listen, bro, it’s not ideal, but wouldn’t it be irresponsible to pass up the savings? I’ll keep the cookies tucked away in the cupboard. I probably won’t even remember they’re there.
- Jacked Jesse: You drive a hard bargain. Make it 300 Tim Tams, just in case this deal doesn’t roll around again soon.
More often than I’d like, I end up with the junk and proceed to deplete a bunker-size serving of cookies in short order.
Junk food in bulk is never a ‘good deal.’ If you have tendencies like mine, you end up eating more junk. Junk that will likely lead to additional costs down the road in terms of health expenses. It doesn’t make sense to grab four 2L of pop when they’re on sale. Eventually, you’ll pay full price, and then some.