Go Ahead… Diet!

I know people don’t like the word diet.

And in the traditional sense I can see why – people think salad, scales, salad, scales and more salad, I’m hungry!

But remember EVERYONE is on a diet.

I completely agree that you probably don’t want to attempt eating only grapefruits or live off weight watcher bars. But if you’re not healthy, if you don’t look like you want to and don’t feel how you want to, then your current diet needs adjusting, it’s as simple as that.

Is it the diet that’s unnatural or the environment?

Society today is in a very unique place on the timeline of human existence, if you look back over human evolution, lets say from 10,000 years ago right up to very recently, even 100 hundred years ago, (for the general population at least) applying a specific way of eating would not be needed and would most likely be a pretty stupid idea as the amount of available food without having to do some form of hard manual labour or hunting was limited.

Move forward to today, food is in absolute abundance you can literally eat all day long! And easily, without the need to hunt or perform hard labour in the fields.

Not only that but the actual food has also changed too, man has found a way to manipulate and create all kinds of foods, especially since we found sugar, we now fill entire warehouses full of man made foods based on this single ingredient and any animal that finds sugar gains a very rapid and efficient fuel source, hence why the brain sends out those messages of reward and pleasure to encourage you to seek out this source of energy again and again and again.

The problem lies in the fact that our brains are still wired in exactly the same way, our bodies and brains are still crafted to survive in a multitude of tough environments on limited foods, the thing is for the majority of us at least we no longer have to survive a harsh environment, we no longer have to go hunting for our food or spend hours in the field.

In the past the availability of food and the amount of energy humans would expend would naturally create a balance in energy usage vs. consumption. Very rarely would a human being 2000 years ago be in a caloric surplus, a position where they would add much body fat, it might happen every now again, but then there would also likely be more periods of time when food was scarce and the balance of energy in vs. out would be in a deficit.

So in today’s society where you don’t have to expel vast amounts of energy to get your food, and when you do get your food its in great abundance, surely it only makes sense that we put in place a few strategies to counter this shift in today’s lifestyle and actually take us back a little in time.

Nowadays we counter the lack of manual labour at work by going to the gym and lifting things up and down.
So basically the gym is a form of artificial activity…

To counter the food conundrum, putting some strategies and rules together to follow helps us place a limit or reverse the new age lifestyles effect on the body.

“Diet” I suppose is just a word we use to describe putting strategies in place to hit or maintain our health, physique and performance goals.

So I would argue it’s not the use of a diet that’s unique or unnatural it’s the environment were in, on the scale of human existence anyway.

There are good strategies and there are bad strategies and then there are plain stupid strategies.

Good Strategies

1.     They don’t take you too far away from normal eating patterns too soon
2.     Changes are slow and steady
3.     All food groups have a role
4.     Based largely on whole original foods
5.     Simple and flexible

Bad Strategies

1.     Making drastic changes
2.     Very rigid rules
3.     Use “fake foods”
4.     The use of liquids instead of real food
5.     Eating little to no calories
6.     Demonising one specific macronutrient
7.     Only eating grapefruits (duh)
8.     Eating special k instead of a meal! (no shit!)

The makings of a good strategy starts with good food!

And it starts in the kitchen – as a human, any food that’s is in your possession or vicinity will at some point be eaten!

When you’re at home sat on the sofa all curled up, how do you choose the blueberries instead of the whole bar of galaxy, how do you ensure you make the wise choice.

Simply stack your fridge and cupboards with the foods that will carry you towards your goals as opposed to away.

“If there’s not a poor choice to choose from, you can’t make a poor choice”

Lets go shopping!

Meats and Fish

Meat, eggs, game and fish – Lamb, Beef, Veal, Venison, Partridge, Guinea Fowl, Pheasant, Duck, Chicken, Turkey, Pigeon, Eggs will all do the job!

Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines, Shrimp, Prawns. Canned fish provides an awesome alternative for when you are short on time and need a good source of protein.

Organ Meats – a vitally underused addition in most diets, the western diet nearly solely relies on eating animal muscle tissue alone. Organ meats offer a massively cheaper source of protein that is also rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, healthy fats.

Liver tops the list of organ meats with its superior concentration of nutrients including vitamin A, iron, choline, copper, zinc and also an interesting but as yet unidentified “anti fatigue factor”  (Benjamin K Erschoff 1951). Among other choices are Kidney and Heart.

Vegetables / Salads

Fresh raw and salad vegetables – easy to prepare, and great for on the go. The list here is endless. Choose as many colours as possible, leaves are great to build a salad but choose crunchy vegetables to provide more fibre and nutrients to your salads. Peppers, spinach, kale, cucumbers, celery are all great choices.

Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels are great choices well known for there anti cancer properties as well as there detoxifying affect on the body and their ability to clear excess natural estrogens and chemical estrogens we come into contact with daily such as BPA found in plastics.

The clearing of excess estrogens helps to reduce fat stored in the lower body such as hips and thighs!

Root vegetables – provide a great carbohydrate source, awesome in the winter when you require a hearty meal, try various potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash amongst others.

Fruits – include citrus fruit, they pack a punch in terms of vitmin c. Lemons are awesome in teas or even to squeeze on salads! Forget ready made processed fruit juices however as the sugar load is incredibly high, instead squeeze your own for a much tastier, healthier juice. Squeezing your own ensures the sugars stay locked up as fibre, but you still get all the nutrients!

Try out different fruit! Try Exotic fruits. Just like the well-known sources of mangos and pineapples… but you should also broaden your horizons and test out what’s out there, such as dragon fruits, kumquats & lyches.

Berries – per 100g berries are seriously low in sugar and massively high in flavour. An awesome addition to your lunch, as a dessert, or to whack in your post workout drink. Comparatively, bags of Frozen fruits are considerably cheaper and last a lot longer, try adding to greek yogurt, cottage or quark cheese as well as your shakes.

Drinks

Unless it’s for a specific purpose such as pre, during or post training or sport, You should try to make nearly all your drinks calorie free – Obviously Water should be your number one goal aim for 1-3 litres daily.

Tea’s – herbal and fruit teas provide a nice hot drink. Green or black teas are all great for a hot drink, both provide naturally occurring caffeine’s and a host of antioxidants.

Coffee – the best pre-workout supplement! provides caffeine (so use wisely), and also has appetite suppressing properties and is super high in antioxidants.

Coconut – Milk / water – obviously these contain calories – but coconut milk provides one of the best hydrating beverages on the planet, awesome at replenishing electrolyte levels during sport or training.

Coconut milk – try in teas, coffee, protein shakes for a great way to cut out lactose or dairy (if required) and for a great source of medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s)

Carbohydrates

Not to be feared, however they are to be respected, it’s all in the timing and the amounts; details are in the diet construction section.

Your carbohydrate choice is obviously very very vast!

Rice’s, rice cakes, potatoes and other starchy veg, quinoa, pasta can all play a roll in a healthy diet.

Tinned Foods

Tinned tomatoes can be used to provide the base for a multitude of sources
various beans – black, kidney, black eye, butter beans and even baked beans are all great sources of protein and carbs that can be used in cooking.

Fats – Dressing and Cooking

Do not use vegetable oils, spray oils or margerine!!!
Best oils to cook with are very high saturated fats – these have a high smoke point which ensures they do not go rancid under higher temperatures.
Try coconut oil, avocado oil, red palm oil and butter (organic grass fed is best) I like kerry gooold!

Dressings – olive oil – do not cook with this oil, a little too delicate for high temps and too high quality to burn. With a slight peppery taste is ideal for salads, dressing and on foods such as lean fish.

Vinegars – balsamic and cider vinegar are perfect.
Quick and easy dressing: mix up olive oil, balsamic vinegar, squeeze of lemon juice and a little chilli powder to make an awesome dressing!

Shopping checklist

Proteins

Lean red meat e.g. ground beef (grass fed organic is superior)
Salmon
Eggs
Organic Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese, coconut milk yoghurt
Protein powder

Vegetables / Fruits

Spinach
Tomatoes
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, green beans
Berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries etc..)
Oranges

Carbohydrates

Beans (kidney, black, lentils)
Quinoa
Oats
Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, potatoes, rice

Good Fats

Unsalted mixed nuts (pecans, walnuts, cashews, almonds, brazil nuts)
Avocados
Olive oil (extra virgin) for salads only
Fish oil
Flax or chia seeds

Drinks / Other

Water
Teas, coffee
Amino acids
Whey protein
Bcaas

Dan Thorpe