As discussed on Episode 12 & 13 of the Wise Eats Podcast:
In this article, we’re diving deep into diet philosophy and exactly the types of foods you should be eating to lose body fat, build lean muscle, and optimize your life. This is Part 1 of the Wise Eats Diet Plan. Among the topics discussed:
- The Wise Eats Diet Philosophy
- My Personal Diet History & Relationship with Food
- The Foods We ALL Should Be Eating & Avoiding
- Best Sources of Carbohydrates
- Grocery Shopping Tips & Tricks
- Importance of Hydration
- Macros: The Best Sources of Proteins, Fats, and Carbs
- Cooking Tips
- Ketogenic Diet
- Seven Quick Diet Tips!
For an example of my typical diet day, head over to Wise-Eats.com/Ep13DietRoutine
Recipes Mentioned in This Article:
- “Always Workin’ Water”: Wise-Eats.com/Water
- Slammin’ Sweet Potato: Wise-Eats.com/SweetPotato
- Mega Power Potatoes: Wise-Eats.com/MegaPowers
- Chicken Wise Rice: Wise-Eats.com/Rice
- Clothesline Coco Cups: http://wise-eats.com/coco/
- Bastard Biker Banana Bread: http://wise-eats.com/bananabread/
- “Muscle Milk”: Wise-Eats.com/MuscleMilk
- Chokeslam Chicken Salad: Wise-Eats.com/Chokeslam
- Greek Yogurt Madness: Wise-Eats.com/Madness/
- Complete Recipe List: Wise-Eats.com/Recipes
WELCOME TO THE WISE EATS DIET PLAN
What’s up wise guys and gals? Today, we’re diving deep into diet philosophy and exactly the types of foods you should be eating to lose body fat, build lean muscle, and optimize your life. This is an important topic to me because there’s so much confusion these days. So many diets to follow and so many workout regimens to choose from. So many greedy corporations trying to sell garbage and lies and personal agendas instead of educating people about what actually works. But I’m hoping to change all of that with Wise Eats. We’re bringing it back to basics – telling you the tactics that will truly help you become the very best version of yourself. We’re all different with varying nutritional needs, beliefs, and goals, but no matter what YOUR diet philosophy is, there are some simple truths that apply to all humans in general, and that’s what I want to get into with today’s episode. We’re not talking shortcuts or quick fixes here. No pills, no potions, no macro restrictions, just what works coming from someone who has overcome some of the worst diet habits imaginable.
WISECHOICENATION.COM FOR A FREE GIFT
Before we dive in, head over to WiseChoiceNation.com and subscribe to my free newsletter, if you haven’t done so already. When you do, you’ll immediately receive a welcome e-mail containing the full list of Wise Eats Approved Foods, Drinks, and Supplements. Building your diet based on these real foods will help you lose weight, build muscle, increase energy, fight depression, prevent disease, and feel amazing. So, get over to WiseChoicenation.com right now, sign up for free, and get that list of approved foods delivered instantly.
THE WISE EATS DIET PHILOSOPHY
Now, the idea behind the Wise Eats Diet Plan is a real simple philosophy that you may have heard before and that is to EAT REAL FOOD. We eat for optimization, plain and simple. No soda, no processed foods, no junk food, take out, or added sugar. Of course, we all have these things from time to time, myself included, but as a general rule, you want to be consuming foods from whole sources, because the nutrients you fuel your body with make up your physical appearance, attitude, mental clarity, energy levels, creativity, mindfulness, and so much more. Literally your entire existence is defined by the things you put into your body. When you put in nothing but junk, that’s what you’re going to get back out. Tired, sick, depressed, and worst of all, imprisoned both mentally and physically from lifestyle-related choices.
WHAT IS REAL FOOD?
So, what exactly is real food? It’s things that come from the Earth, not a science lab. Things that were alive at one time. Fresh fruits, vegetables, free range chicken, grass-fed beef, wild caught fish, nuts, seeds, and grains. We want foods that are raw, organic, and as close to their natural source as possible. Farm fresh and locally sourced. That’s real food. Potato chips, cookies, cheez-its, and monster energy drinks are not real food; they’re poison. They’re scientifically engineered, modified in a lab, then loaded with chemicals, additives, preservatives and fillers. They’re marketed to generate profits but provide no real value or life force to your body. Now, this may seem like common knowledge to you, but it wasn’t always obvious to me.
MY DIET HISTORY & JUNK FOOD ADDICTION
Back in my mid-twenties, I didn’t understand what real food was. I’m sure I had a general sense of what was good and bad for me, I just didn’t pay it much attention. Back then, buy-one-get-one free whoppers from Burger King were life. I would buy entire large pizzas for myself, usually 2 at a time, spread over breakfast lunch and dinner. My most prized kitchen utensil back then was my fry daddy. French fries, mozzarella sticks, fried mushrooms, chicken nuggets, and bosco sticks were all I knew. My life was a constant cycle of junk food. At 270lbs and miserable, I stumbled across a fitness article very similar to the podcast episode I’m recording today. It told me to ditch the junk food and processed food if I wanted to change my body. Imagine that. I wasn’t going to get into great shape eating McDonalds and Taco Bell all the time? Get out of town! Call me naïve, ignorant, or just plain dumb. I simply didn’t realize the impact my diet was having in all areas of my life. Now, I understand proper nutrition, and hope this message can impact someone else who may be in the same spot I was.
FOODS TO FOCUS ON
So, what kinds of real food do we want to consume? Starting with the most important, it’s vegetables in all forms, especially green leafy ones. There are literally an endless amount of benefits for eating green vegetables, like fat loss and disease prevention, but they basically turbo charge your existence. For most of my life, I rarely ate vegetables outside of an iceberg lettuce salad. Today, I have smoothies, salads and stir fries made with all kinds of greens like kale, spinach, and broccoli. Any way I can think of to add vegetables to my diet, I do it, and the health benefits are dramatic! Just try a google search on any way to improve your health and fitness, whether it be getting better sleep, preventing cancer, fighting disease, becoming stronger, or feeling energized, and eating vegetables is going to be very high on the list of ways to accomplish these things. It simply helps with so many different areas of life. It took a long time for me to get used to it, but now I have them with nearly every single meal and can’t live without them. I know if my junk-food addicted self can grow to love vegetables, ANYONE can.
My favorite carb sources other than vegetables include oat bran, quinoa, white jasmine rice, sweet potato, and fresh or dried fruit. One of my favorite easy carb recipes is the Slammin’ Sweet Potato which you can find at Wise-Eats.com/SweetPotato – Baked in coconut oil with cinnamon – the perfect complement for a lights out delicious meal!
FOODS TO AVOID
Now, I talked a little bit about the things you should be eating, but how about some of the things you should NOT be eating? For starters, eliminate fast foods, completely. No Taco Bell, Burger King or McDonald’s. I can already hear the 2009 version of myself cringing at the thought of eliminating fast food. But, it happened. I went from having fast food pretty much every day for most of my life to barely touching the stuff. These days, it doesn’t even register to me as food. Of course, the idea of fast food sounds pretty good when I REALLY think about it, but then I just have my normal, delicious, healthy food that I prepared ahead of time and forget all about it. It’s simply not worth it to poison myself when I know the negative effects it will have on my mood, energy levels, and focus. Of course, I do eat out from time to time or for special occasions, but almost never fast food, it really is the worst of the worst. It’s usually some combination of refined flour, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavor and colors, trans fats, salt, genetically modified toxins, petroleum products, cow feces, and antibiotics. Your body doesn’t even recognize these foods as fuel, so instead of digesting them, it stores them away as excess body fat. I cringe when I think that I’ve lived more than 2/3 of my life eating these types of foods on a regular basis. These days, my cheat meals consist of home cooked food or a dinner out with my wife, where I’ll fully enjoy myself for one meal then get right back to normal eating afterward.
Another poison disguised as food that you should avoid as much as possible is processed food. Chips, cookies, cakes, and snack foods are off limits. If you are buying something packaged, check ingredient lists and avoid chemicals you don’t understand. If it has some type of health claim like low calorie or low fat or low sugar on the package, don’t trust the marketing. Read nutrition fact labels and choose foods with simple ingredients. Educate yourself and take accountability for the things you’re putting in your body. When you sign up for my free newsletter at WiseChoiceNation.com, you’ll instantly receive a list of foods that I recommend as part of a normal, healthy diet.
Now, let’s talk one of my favorite past times: grocery shopping. I used to get everything done at the big supermarkets like Meijer or Wal-Mart. Now, I only go there as a last resort. First, I hit local farmer’s markets as much as possible. Fresh, local produce is the way to go. The closer to the original source, the better. We live in a suburb of Detroit and have a farmer’s market that meets two days per week to offer fresh vegetables and farm fresh eggs. This market was there my whole life and I never took advantage of it! Finally, a couple years ago I decided to try it out, and have been hooked ever since. I try not to buy my vegetables anywhere else. Next to growing your own, I think these markets are your best option. So, find out where your local markets are if you don’t know already. It will be a game changer.
MY FAVORITE SPOTS TO SHOP
My top three places to shop other than farmer’s markets are Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Amazon. When I do go shopping, I stick to fresh produce sections and avoid the middle aisles where most processed junk is located. The bulk of your time in a grocery store should be spent in those outside sections where the fresh produce and meats are located. I stay away from the majority of frozen items unless it’s produce or meat. Frozen dinners and packaged snacks are loaded with sodium, refined sugar, preservatives, and additives. I know because I used to eat them every single day multiple times a day, and they were a staple of my diet when I initially lost 90lbs. Sure, low calorie foods can help you lose weight no matter how processed they are, but all they’ll do is leave you skinny and sick just like they did me.
You can’t talk diet without touching on hydration. Because I exercise in some form every single day, I usually have about a gallon and a half or more of purified water, but I challenge any person, no matter their fitness level is, to get at least a gallon per day. That might sound outrageous to some, but it’s not hard when you make it a priority. Back in the day, I hardly drank water at all – just pop, Kool-Aid, and fruit juice. I remember as a kid constantly waking up in the middle of the night so miserably tired and thirsty. I’d get up out of bed, do my sleepy eyed, zombie walk to the fridge, and suck down a heaping glass of ice cold kool-aid, Hi-C fruit punch, or Boppin’ Berry. It was the best thing ever, and I was completely oblivious to the toll it was taking on my body. Those were the good old days! But nowadays, water is automatic, and it’s my #1 priority when I wake up each day. By the way, the home filtration system I use is called the Berkey, but there are less expensive options out there. If water quality has not been a priority for you up to this point, it’s time to Wise Up.
The three dietary macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Your diet should include various possible amounts of each of these depending on your goals. In general, your total calorie intake each day should be made up of about 15-20% fat, 30-40% protein, and 30-50% carbohydrate. I’m a 34-year-old male, 6-foot-tall, about 200lbs, with very active lifestyle. I’m lifting weights 3-5 days per week and stay pretty active on my off days. In order to maintain my current weight, I need about 2,900 calories each day. In order to gain weight, I need to bump that up to around 3200 calories per day. In order to lose body fat, I need to drop that calorie amount to about 2,600 calories per day. Obviously, your body has different requirements than mine. These numbers are just estimates that will fluctuate based on your individual characteristics, goals, and genetics, but it’s a great place to start. There are many resources out there that you can use to estimate your required calorie intake based on your goals and the macro amounts you need to hit in order to lose weight or build muscle.
CARBS & KETO
In Part 1, I touched on carbs and my favorite sources, which are fruits, vegetables, jasmine rice, potatoes, and oats.
Carbs are a bad word nowadays because keto is the hotness right now, but I believe healthy active individuals should be eating healthy carbs, period. I love eating carbs and feel amazing when I have them, so that’s my preference.
My understanding is that following a keto diet can help curb cravings and provide some mental clarity. I know it’s also popular because it does result in rapid weight loss initially, but often it’s only temporary and there’s often a massive rebound effect when you come off the diet where you’re cravings intensify and your appetite skyrockets. I can’t speak from personal experience, but that’s what I understand about keto. The bottom line is that the fitness and nutrition experts that I trust do not recommend keto. A healthy balance of all the macros coming from real food combined with good sleep, exercise, and stress management are the keys to unlocking all of your fitness dreams.
If keto helps you get closer to your fitness goals, fantastic, but you shouldn’t be worried about whether you should be on Atkins, or paleo, or carnivore if you’re not even eating at least three servings of fruits and vegetables a day or going for daily walks or exercising a few days per week. Stop focusing on all the nitpicky stuff like fad diets and start doing the legitimate fundamentals that actually matter like getting good sleep and meditating and drinking tons of water and avoiding sugar. If you sleep well, exercise regularly, eat plenty of vegetables, and avoid sugar, it really doesn’t matter what diet your following.
Protein is extremely important if you’re looking to lose body fat and/or build muscle. Most adults looking to improve their body composition want to aim for about 1g per pound of body weight. My first recommendation to any person trying to improve health, lose weight, or improve their physique would be to increase protein intake. I always make sure I get enough protein for the day whereas my fat and carb intake will fluctuate. My favorite sources include chicken, fish, sardines, ground turkey, steak, tofu (beware of estrogen), eggs, beans, black bean pasta, Greek yogurt, chicken broth, cottage cheese, and whey protein isolate.
Dietary fat is very healthy but also the macro most easily converted into body fat, so be careful. I usually keep fat intake as low as possible because it’s really easy to overdo it. My favorite sources are almonds, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, MCT oil, peanut butter, feta cheese, sardines, walnuts, flax seed, and chia seed.
Balancing these three macronutrients is critical for accomplishing your fitness goals as efficiently as possible. When I first lost 90lbs, I focused strictly on total calorie intake, and it worked. I only had a general sense of the amount of protein, fat, and carbs my body required, but because I was taking in less calories than my body required, I lost weight. Now that I’m focused on improving performance and building muscle, macros are much more important to me. If you understand your needs ahead of time, you’re going to have a huge advantage.
In the past, I haven’t been too obsessed with macros, I just focused on real food. I believed that by eating a variety of healthy foods in moderate amounts, you’re likely going to end up fulfilling your requirements. Just because you didn’t get enough healthy fats in on Monday, doesn’t mean you can’t make up for it on Tuesday. To an extent, this philosophy works, but it’s very easy to overeat this way. Over time, I have learned that you can eat very clean and still gain excessive weight, so getting a handle on your total calorie intake and macro ratios is really useful when you want to fine tune your eating habits, accelerate progress, and change body composition. In general, I keep my dietary fat moderate, about 40-60g, protein intake at about 1g per pound of body weight, and the rest of my diet is made up of healthy carbohydrates.
Everything we prepare is done in the oven, on the stove, or in our Blend Tec blender. No fancy gizmos or microwaves. We actually haven’t owned a microwave in years and don’t miss it at all. We either heat everything up on the stove, in the oven, or eat it cold. Actually, some food is better cold, so don’t hate.
For high temperature cooking, we use olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil. Avoid refined vegetable oils, since those are inflammatory and low in omega 3’s. You’re going to run into those a lot when you eat out also.
One tactic that I’m a big fan of is batch cooking. I don’t just prepare one meal. I quadruple the recipe to have for multiple meals. Make the most of your time in the kitchen by multitasking. This works especially well if you lead a busy life or work a full-time job, which most of us do. This way, your meals are always ready to go, leaving no excuse to eat out or buy from that vending machine or catering truck. I’ll usually steam a large batch of frozen vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower rice. Then, I’ll bake a few chicken breasts and have those chopped up ready to go. Then, I’ll make a starchy carb like white jasmine rice, quinoa, or potato. Once you have food prepared, sticking to your diet goals is a breeze. Grab a little bit of this, a little bit of that, reheat on the stove with a little avocado oil and some fresh greens for a quick, convenient, healthy meal any time. One hour or so of preparation one day can set you up for several days’ worth of delicious, healthy, and convenient meals. Very often, our lunches and dinners are just stir fries of stuff we already have prepared and ready to go.
The bottom line when it comes to supplements is that you truly don’t need any of them. You can do just fine by eating healthy foods and exercising regularly. That said, supplements can help you achieve your goals more quickly and conveniently. Because I’m lifting weights often, I use several different proteins, including whey protein isolate, pea protein, and casein protein. The brands I currently use are Naked and Legion Athletics. For strength training, I take 5g of creatine in my post workout drinks to help speed muscle growth and recovery. Black coffee w/ MCT oil is my favorite pre-workout. Most other pre-workouts are just overhyped, overpriced junk. Once in a while, I’ll use Legion Athletics Pulse, so if you’re really deadest on taking a pre-workout, that’s the one I recommend. I try to stay away from it because the stimulants tend to affect my sleep. If you’re going with a pre-workout, beware of ingredients and go with a company that you trust.
On a daily basis, I usually take a fish oil, multivitamin, and vitamin d. Sometimes before bed, I’ll take broccoli sprout tablets or magnesium. But, most of these nutrients can be covered through a healthy diet. Supplements are good for optimization, but you don’t really need them. The truth is, the best supplement you can take is a diet that is rich in a variety of earth grown foods and vegetables. This isn’t the sexy answer, but it’s true. Supplement companies won’t make any profits by selling kale or olive oil, which is why so many different pills and powders exist. Block all of that fancy marketing out of your mind and know that real food is the supplement that actually works!
7 QUICK DIET TIPS
- DON’T OVERHAUL YOUR DIET. Add one thing in or take one thing out. Pop, fast food. Add in veggies, drink more water. Keep it simple at first. Don’t have to change everything at once, just gotta start somewhere.
- STAY HYDRATED. Most overeating comes when you’re dehydrated or bored. Keep drinking water and stay active. Go for walks between meals and don’t hang around the kitchen.
- COUNT CALORIES/KEEP A DIET JOURNAL. Can’t recommend this enough. If I were to train any one person today that would be the first thing I would tell them to do. How can you know where you’re going if you don’t even know where you are currently?
- AVOID BUYING FOODS YOU TEND TO OVEREAT. Peanut butter, dates, popcorn, other snacks. Even greek yogurt!
- VISUALIZE YOUR FITNESS GOALS. Is this food going to bring to closer to or further away?
- FIND SOME CONSISTENCY. With diet you have to find consistency somewhere in your life. My diet is pretty clean most days of the week. It can’t be a little bit of this today and a little bit of that tomorrow. You need to have a period of time when you’re only eating real food, otherwise you’ll never achieve any sort of consistency with your diet.
- IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO GET STARTED. It took me until age 25 to finally wise up and get serious about my health. My Dad was stricken with diabetes and had a leg amputated before he decided to quit drinking, quit smoking, and start eating healthy. At age 55, he lost 60lbs and cured his diabetes. Work with another guy near retirement age who’s just now starting to work out and get in shape. Riding his bike, lifting light weights, and taking charge of his health. Change is possible no matter what your age, weight, or fitness level. Sooner or later, your health is going to become your #1 priority, so why not start today before it’s too late?
Thanks for reading the Wise Eats Diet Plan. Take at least one thing from this article to improve your habits going forward and contact me below to let me know what it is! Now get out there, eat something fresh, do something good, make wise choices.