Every now and then, I get asked a question along the lines of…
“How the heck do YOU eat? You’re always posting pictures of food on Instagram, but they don’t look like chicken & broccoli to me.
Aren’t fitness coaches supposed to eat ‘clean’?”
So today, I’m going to tell you how I eat.
I’m going to lay everything out. No BS. No pretending. No hiding.
I’ll tell you exactly what I eat, when, and explain the “why” behind all of it.
I’ve included pictures, too (cue hashtag #foodporn).
So. I’m going to get right into it.
Here we go.
A Foodie Fitness Coach’s Diet, Revealed
Let’s start with coffee (because who doesn’t like coffee?).
I prefer espresso-based drinks like Flat Whites and Lattes.
If I drink regular coffee, half & half is a must. I rarely drink straight black. They say it’s an acquired taste, but I apparently haven’t acquired it yet. And I don’t think I ever will.
In my eyes, if a meal doesn’t have protein, it’s not a meal — so you’ll always find chicken, beef, pork, or seafood on my plate. Preferably red meat, though.
As far as number of meals go, I usually have 2-3 big meals a day.
I personally am not a fan of small meals because I find myself getting more hungry throughout the day if I ate more frequently.
Eating big meals keeps me full for a longer period of time. I no longer have the urge to snack. It’s also just more convenient for me. It’s a good feeling to have the extra mental capacity because I never really have to worry about food.
I’m currently not tracking my food intake with an app like MyFitnessPal, but I do stay mindful of my calorie & protein targets every day.
How do I know how I’m doing with my numbers if I’m not tracking?
But after years of tracking my food, I’ve developed a knack for being able to eyeball how much calories (and their macronutrient content) are in certain foods — for the most part, at least.
I’m happy with where I’m at with my physique and simply want to maintain.
If I ever want to start leaning out, then I’d bust out MyFitnessPal again. I wouldn’t do it every day. Just a few days of the week to make sure that I’m on the right track.
[Sidenote: Do NOT attempt to track every day. You’ll go insane. Trust me. Three to five days a week is good. What matters most about tracking your food is the awareness aspect of it. It’s a great way to see if you’re over/under-eating.]
Speaking of tracking… when I do log my foods, I only keep an eye on three things: the calorie, protein, and fat numbers. Calories to make sure that I’m not over-eating, and protein & fats to make sure that I’m eating enough of them.
I don’t obsess about hitting the numbers (although I admit that I used to). As long as I get close to my targets, my body’s happy.
As for carbs, I simply increase my intake on workout days and minimize it on non-workout days.
I rarely drink alcohol, but when I do, I prefer hard cider or stout (Dragon’s Milk, anyone?). If I’m drinking “empty” calories, it might as well be worth it, right?
I eat out often. I’m a foodie and travel very frequently, so cooking isn’t always an option.
My go-to: Chipotle burrito bowls (don’t do what I do — I load mine up with sour cream), buffalo chicken wings, greek-style chicken with greek-style potatoes, and authentic Mexican steak tacos.
I’m also just a very efficient person who’d rather not cook everything I eat.
Ok, in other words, I’m lazy.
That said, there are certain guidelines I follow when eating out that allows me to make sure I’m not overeating:
1. As I mentioned earlier, my meals are always protein-focused. You will never see me in a restaurant eating pasta that doesn’t have meat, or a sandwich without a good amount of protein. Pizza is the exception. It’s the one thing I’ll eat without protein.
2. I only eat when I’m hungry. If I’m not hungry, I say no to food. I don’t eat just because it’s “lunch time” or “dinner time”. There’s only “I’m hungry now” time.
3. I eat until I’m full. Because I eat relatively big meals with lean meats, I get full pretty easily. Once I do, I put the fork down and save the rest for later (which becomes my next meal, by the way).
For long drives, I make sure to have protein bars and beef jerky on hand.
And sour cream & onion Pringles. ‘Cause I <3 Pringles.
When it comes to homemade meals, these are my grocery staples:
- Red meat (ground beef, steak, etc)
- Fish (salmon, tilapia, canned tuna & sardines, etc)
- Chicken (breast, rotiserrie, chicken wings, etc)
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
- White rice (I think brown rice is disgusting)
- Eggs (lots of them)
- Nuts (I like almonds, peanuts, and cashews)
- Fruits & veggies
The foods above are typically very easy to prepare and don’t require much time to cook.
Salmon, for example, takes less than 10 minutes and all you need is salt and pepper.
Steak? Same thing.
Canned tuna and sardines? Takes 30 seconds.
Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are great “sides” that I include in my meals if I have catching up to do with my protein intake.
The best thing about these staples is that I can have access to them from almost every part of the world. So far, the grocery stores I went to in Southeast Asia and South America have had all of these foods.
Now let’s talk meal prep.
Here’s my secret to making it super simple: I always buy pre-cooked foods.
Remember, I’m lazy.
So ready-to-heat BBQ, rotisserie chicken, and frozen vegetables are some of my other staples.
They’re convenient, which saves me a lot of time and mental energy.
[Sidenote: Rotisserie chicken is like one of the best things in the world. You can feed a whole family with it for the cost of almost nothing. And for those who don’t have families, well, it’s pretty much a whole day’s worth of food. Maybe two.]
The Foods I DO NOT Include In My Diet
No food is ever off limits for me.
The same goes for my clients.
That being said, there are two things I don’t eat:
- Foods I dislike (like brown rice lol).
- Foods I’m sensitive to.
That’s it. Everything else is fair game.
I used to eliminate all sorts of things from my diet when I was trying to lose body fat, but it sucked big time. I am a foodie, after all.
Now I simply keep my calorie & protein targets in mind, follow the 80/20 rule, and eat whatever I want.
What You Can Take Away From This
Four things I want you to leave with before you go on with your day:
1. It’s all just food.
Don’t let some quack on the internet or the media dictate what you’re not allowed to eat.
Food is not the enemy. It’s also not a prize.
If you follow the fundamentals of nutrition and keep an eye on your calorie intake (priority #1), you can eat all the delicious foods in the world while still getting/staying in amazing shape.
Not sure what your calorie targets are? Check with the VBF calorie & macronutrient calculator.
2. I eat whatever I want, not however much I want.
If I go overboard in terms of portions with the foods I eat, there’s no doubt that I’ll put on fat.
I’m no superhuman. The law of thermodynamics applies to me just the same as it does to you.
3. Track your food at some point in your life.
You can use an app like MyFitnessPal, or write everything down with pen & paper.
Either way, food logging is a good skill to develop that teaches you lot about yourself and your eating habits. You don’t have to do it every day. Just a few days of the week to give you awareness of how you’re eating.
Do it for long enough, and you’ll eventually be able to put your diet on autopilot by simply eyeballing everything.
4. Stick to the basics.
As my friend and fellow fitness professional Erich Bach once said, “Success lies in the relentless pursuit of the basics”.
Pursue the basics.
Nutrition isn’t rocket science.
Do what already works.
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