Getting Fit – Part 1: Diet

DSOThis is me. This is my typical weight of about 200 lbs at 6′ in height. Bodyfat percentage? I have no idea. Maybe around 15% or more (everyone always grossly underestimates body fat). I’m not a super-ripped glistening fitness model with six pack abs and visible veins everywhere. I’m a 40-something year old dude that is in pretty good muscular shape. I don’t live in the gym. I have a real life. I don’t care about how much weight I lift and I’m not entering a bodybuilding contest anytime soon. To get in this shape requires three things for me:

  1. A very basic diet.
  2. Gym time.
  3. Testosterone replacement therapy.

What I have learned is that with my genetics (I get fat easily) and my temperament (I tend to overthink and overanalyze) I need to keep things SIMPLE or I will fail. This applies mainly to my diet. I eat certain foods and only those foods. I stay away from everything else. That’s it. I don’t calorie count. I don’t track my exact macros (the amount of protein, carbs and fat). Instead, I put up limits to what I eat, eat certain things at certain times, and the rest tends to take care of itself. If I want to get leaner, I make adjustments. A GOOD DIET IS CRUCIAL. I’ll get into the training aspect of my lifestyle in a later post, but please remember: YOU CANNOT OUT-TRAIN A BAD DIET. Sure, you can put on muscle. Yes, you can increase strength. What you can’t do is LOOK GOOD on a horrible diet. They say “abs start in the kitchen”, and they’re absolutely right.  You gotta do the work of eating right and eating right consistently. There’s no way around it.

HERE ARE THE BASICS:

I stay away from crap like packaged snacks and meals. If it comes in a box and is “processed” in some way, it’s a no-no. This stuff is usually loaded with tons of calories along with lots of sugar and salt (which is why it all tastes so damn good). The only things I may eat that violate this rule are protein snacks for when I am traveling. I like the KNOW cookies, or jerky and meat sticks.
I keep booze to a minimum. RARELY do I drink beer. It bloats me instantly and it’s loaded with calories. It’s liquid… so it goes down a lot easier and faster than a big juicy steak or some chicken. You can drink a thousand calories of booze in no time. There’s a reason they call it a “beer belly”.
I rarely eat sweets. Maybe I will share a dessert with the wife around once a month when we go out to eat or if it’s a holiday like Thanksgiving, my birthday or Christmas.
No pasta. Very little bread. If I do eat bread, it’s usually a sprouted wheat bread or some other bread with very high fiber.
I drink a shit ton of water. I have a giant plastic cup that I am routinely filling up at the fridge water dispenser. I sometimes also drink Diet Pepsi. I like kombucha but it gives me really bad gas.
I take fiber powder (sugar-free psyllium husk). Two times a day, usually. Keeps things moving and it has supposed cardiac benefits. Helps me feel full, as well.
Most of my diet consists of meat and eggs. I eat beef, chicken, pork and sometimes fish. The protein keeps me satiated and is crucial for muscle-building and staying lean.  I don’t cut the fat from my steak nor do I buy the super lean ground beef. I like the fat.
I eat salad greens. Usually a spinach and kale mix I get at the grocery store. I add olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sunflower seeds and chicken to it. That’s it. No thick dressings filled with sugar. No croutons or other crunchy goodies.
I love fruit. I eat apples, cantaloupe, pomegranates, bananas, peaches and berries.
It’s not always feasible to sit down cook/eat actual meat to get the protein I need. Sometimes I’m in a hurry, heading out the door or whatever… so instead I will whip together a fast protein shake with sugar-free almond milk and Optimum Nutrition whey protein. I like the double chocolate kind. 

That’s it as far as WHAT I eat. Nothing fancy. Basic.  Lots of protein and some fats and moderate to low carbs. It works for me. With this diet I can afford to do a “cheat” meal once a week if I feel like it. Pizza. Cookies. Pancakes. Just the one meal. Lately I’ve been losing interest with cheat meals simply because of how they make me feel afterward. The bloat, headaches and diarrhea aren’t worth it. With that being said, I absolutely love fried chicken and mashed potatoes and could have that as a cheat meal on a weekly basis. Now, let’s look at the HOW and WHEN I eat the foods I eat. I have a pretty basic rule:

On workout/weightlifting days… I eat around 100 – 200 grams of carbs. That’s when I eat wheat bread with my eggs, some rice with my chicken, some steel cut oats, or fruit.

On rest/light cardio days… I skip breakfast and don’t eat anything until around 12:00 – 2:00pm (just coffee and water). That’s a fast of about 16 – 18 hours for me. No, there’s nothing wrong with fasting. There are numerous health benefits, one being  increased fat burning. The rest of the day I eat protein and fat with little to no carbs. I make sure to drink a ton of water on these days… and I make sure to take my fiber. Amount of calories I eat? I’d say probably around 2,500 on workout days, and around 1,800 – 2,000 on rest days. Just an estimate.

What if I want to lose more body fat? Then I lower the amount of fat and carbs I eat and keep protein the same. My problem is that I CAN get to a leaner state and like the way I look, but STAYING in that super lean state is very difficult. I don’t feel as good (depleted and tired), and after eating juuuuust a little too much of something, my body says, “We need more body fat!” right away. My body always wants to stay in the “200 lbs and can see a little bit of abs” state.  I would need some kind of coach or physique expert to tell me how to break out of that state long-term and feel good in the process. I’ve never figured it out on my own. As far as supplements go, check out my page of “Stuff I like” to see a list of things I take. There’s really no such thing as a magic pill for getting in shape or staying healthy. Just things that can help you along and may be a piece of a larger puzzle that keeps you away from the doc and looking good with your shirt off. How about my health? Does all this meat and fat cause me any issues? No. My blood pressure is always around 120/70. Here are my latest blood test results: Blood test results All looks good.

 

Coming soon: My workout routine.