A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… It is a period of civil war.

Rebel veggies, striking from a hidden base, have won

their first victory against the evil Carbohydrate Empire.

During the battle, Rebel bacon managed to steal low-carb

plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Grain,

a genetically modified space station with enough gluten to

destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire’s sinister sugars, Princess Paleo races

home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that

can save her people and restore insulin to South Beach…

As the diet and nutrition war wages on confusion grows over what and how we should eat to keep getting stronger and manage our weight.  I’m sure you all get the above movie reference.  At least if you want to remain friends you do.  Star Wars…it’s Star Wars.

Anyways, I have been getting a sudden influx of diet and nutrition questions which I’m assuming is due to the holiday season which is now upon us and thought it would be helpful to put together a common nutrition question troubleshoot for everyone.  Oh, and before I forget, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families and loved ones!

Common Diet/Nutrition Questions:

Should I stop eating grains?

  • If you have a gluten intolerance (5% of the population but don’t quote me on that) then you should cut out wheat.
  • If you are trying to lose fat it would be wise to limit them but you don’ t have to cut them out completely to see results.
  • If you are active and happy with your weight and do not have an intolerance, then enjoy your food!

If I cut gluten out of my diet will I lose fat?

  • Cutting any calorie source out of your diet MAY help you lose fat as long as you don’t replace it with other calories.  Gluten doesn’t make you fat, a combination of genetic predisposition and poor food choices does.  Unless you have an intolerance to gluten (chances are you don’t) you don’t have to eliminate it from your diet.

Should I cut sugar out of my diet?

  • Limiting or eliminating empty calories from processed sugars is probably a good idea, especially if you are trying to manage your weight.
  • Sugars from fruits are still sugars but contain other nutrients and fiber that are far more important than weight management.  Eat fruit, just don’t binge on it.

Is eating Paleo good?  Is it bad?

  • There are millions of paleo zealots who believe that is the only way a human should eat.  Many fitness and nutrition experts have debunked that myth.  My impression is that if it will get you to eat more vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats than you would otherwise then have at it.
  • It isn’t necessarily bad but it does miss out on some great foods such as peanut butter, coffee, beans, fermented foods (yogurt, kombucha, saurkraut, kefir, etc) and others I’m sure I’m missing that do amazing things for your body.
  • It also doesn’t take into account that an occasional cookie, bowl of icecream, or nacho platter won’t kill you.
  • I’m also sure that paleolithic man probably ate some pretty nasty stuff when it comes down to it that we wouldn’t even consider now.

What is the best diet to lose weight?

  • Every fad diet will work if you follow it but it will only help for so long and may adversely affect other areas of your health.  The problem is each fad diet is missing at least one key component to human health.

What is the deal with intermittent fasting?

  • I have tried fasting for 16/8, 24hr fasts and longer.  I had no problem dropping body fat but I also don’t have a problem when I just tighten up my diet a bit.  I did lose a good deal of strength in the process but I am also in the upper end of strength for my body.
  • Research shows it can positively effect your hormones, help you lose weight/fat.
  • If it works for you then do it but you don’t have to be super strict at all times.  Have breakfast every once in a while 🙂

When is the best time to eat breakfast?

  • It’s a better idea to learn to listen to your body rather than skip meals (intermittent fasting) OR force yourself to eat breakfast.  Eat when you start to feel hungry, NOT when you are starving.
  • Breakfast is the most confusing meal of the day for most people because too much conventional wisdom and too many sources say “you must do it this way…” rather than “find out what works best for you and roll with the punches”.

What should I have for breakfast?

  • As with all meals, protein, vegetables and healthy fats are the best choice (personally, I choose to destroy eggs by the half dozen).
  • Other good choices are: meat, avocados, dairy (including milk, cottage cheese, yogurt), smoothie, protein shake, nuts and any and all veggies.  These look familiar right?

How do I gain weight?

  • Eat.  For those with a small frame or ‘hard gainers’, if you are looking to pack on muscle and size and you are not eating to the point of discomfort you are doing it wrong.

I’m trying to lose fat, should I cut out fruit?

  • Unless you are days away from a bodybuilding or figure show there is no need to eliminate fruit from your diet as long as you keep your other starches in check.  Fruit is always a better choice than starch or grains in my opinion.

I don’t like the taste of protein powder (whey), do I have to eat it to get lean?

  • Whey is a great way to get more protein in your diet and is easier to consume than other sources but that is it.  If you struggle to get enough protein in your diet it is a good option but not the only one.
  • Eat more eggs, lean meat and dairy.
  • Stay away from soy protein (men and women) as it tends to be processed and genetically modified in most cases.

What supplements should I take?

  • Creatine
  • fish oil
  • vitamin D
  • food supplements such as whey and a green (veggie) supplement
  • ****spend your money on good, whole foods****

Do I have to track calories?

  • It isn’t necessary for everyone but if it helps then, yes.
  • If you have been struggling to lose weight for a while then tracking may be a GREAT idea to help you understand your daily caloric intake as well as how much protein/carb/fat you get in your diet.  You may be surprised.
  • If you are in tune with your body then it may be easier to manipulate your calories without counting them.  If you want to lose weight, systematically eat less.  If you want to gain muscle systematically eat more.

What should I eat before my workout?

  • Eat what makes you feel good and energetic.
  • Don’t eat too much as a full stomach probably won’t make you feel great and all the digestion will make you a little more sluggish.
  • Protein with a little carbs or a little fat is always a good choice.  200-400 calories about an hour before your workout depending on your size and how it makes you feel is a good rule of thumb.

What should I eat post-workout?

  • Conventional wisdom says protein which is actually always a good choice.  Some starchy carbs or sugars are a good idea as well as they digest quickly and aid in recovery.
  • ****In the grand scheme of things if you miss your post workout ‘window’ it is okay as your total intake over the whole day/week plays a bigger role in muscle growth and recovery than nutrient timing.****

Okay, enough nutritional wizardry for now.  I”m sure I missed a thing or two above so question up in the comment section below.  If I’m way off the mark on one of my answers please let me know, I am wrong sometimes….just ask Lindsay. 🙂

Written by Steve