"What should I eat, Coach Stevo?"
This is an important question I get from every one of my clients. And I'm glad people ask, because 90% of bodily change (fat loss, muscle gain, recomposition, etc.) is the result of manipulated nutrition. And people know what to eat. Our grandmothers used to make it for us. Vegetables, fruit, oatmeal, eggs, chicken, fish, etc. We know what good food is. However, I find that people are more often concerned with what they should not eat. We often think of diets as centered around, "less." Less carbs, less fat, less candy and ice cream. But Coach Stevo is here to tell you that if your goal is health and fitness, your day should be filled with thoughts of "more." Four "Mores," actually.
This is the biggie. I already wrote one article about how important protein is, but to sum up: proteins are the legos of the human body. They are also the macronutrient that the body metabolizes least efficiently and which provides most people with a greater sense of satiation, or the sense of being full. All good things if you want to make any change to the composition of your body. The baseline number you should shoot for is 1g per pound of body weight every day. So a 120lb woman should shoot for 120g of protein per day. This is not an easy task if you are used to eating 3 square meals a day with some thoughtless snacking (how most people eat), but easy if you structure your diet around your legos. Make sure you have a handful of high-quality, lean protein (chicken, fish, lean beef, eggs, or dairy) with every meal and include protein in your snacks. I like cups of cottage cheese with pepper, yogurt with walnuts, hard-boiled eggs, and a personal favorite, beef jerky.
The name of the game with fat loss is simple: nutrient dense, calorically light. Veggies are the perfect fat loss combo. They are mostly insoluble starch and water and lots of micronutrients. They provide provide a great deal of mass (and therefore some satiation triggers) and whatever carbohydrates they do provide are slowed down by all that fiber, lessening their impact on your insulin (and therefore fat storage) levels. The micronutrients they provide ensure you can create all the hormones necessary for optimum functioning and therefore composition change. Aim for a handful every time you eat. Isn't that convenient? You need a handful of protein and a handful of veggies at every meal and you have two hands!
More Plant and Fish Fats
Yes, you need fat. More to the point, you need a balance of fats. There are 3 main types of fats that your body uses to create lipid bilayers in your cells as well as hormones and shuttles for micronutrients like calcium and vitamin D. Those are mono and polyunsaturated fats as well as saturated fats. If you are American, you probably have no trouble getting your required amounts of saturated fats. But the other fats can only be found in plants like avocados, olives and nuts trees and from fatty fish like salmon. You should work to incorporate more of these into your diet. The easiest way is by taking fish oil, but I try to make sure a little olive oil, a few walnuts, or an avocado is present at every meal, especially at night when fats are more easily digested. But be careful, fat has more calories than any other micronutrient and 4 carelessly scooped-up handfuls of almonds can easily top 800cal.
Everyone knows this but I'm here to tell you again. Water makes all your systems run better and that means faster fat loss and muscle gain. It also tricks you into feeling full. Make water your base beverage and consume it consciously, not just when you're thirsty. I keep a 1.5 liter bottle by my bed and make sure to drink its contents every morning when I wake up and every night before I go to sleep. I also try and drink one glass of water for every glass of alcohol I consume. This goes a long way to preventing hangovers and keeps me bright and perky for my 6AM clients.