Flexible Dieting: An Example of Daily Eating
Editor’s note: This article by Joe String originally appeared at Machine Muscle.
Being highly involved in the fitness industry, having an impressive physique and possessing a large amount of knowledge in regards to nutrition, I am frequently asked,
“What do you eat in a day?”
As a matter of fact, I am usually asked this about five times a week by different people. It’s not a bad idea to get the opinion or a sample diet from someone reputable, but a lot of people expect to hear things such as endless amounts of vegetables, chicken breasts, high quality oils and absolutely nothing processed or high in sugar and saturated fat.
I do include my fair share of nutritious, whole food sources. But let’s not forget that on top of being dissatisfied with that style of eating, overall macronutrient consumption is the most important thing that matters when speaking in terms of body composition.
As you read on, you will learn what I look for when I structure my diet.
Do I always opt for the more tasteful food sources and often neglect micronutrient density and satiety? How many meals do I eat in a day? What kinds of foods do I thoroughly enjoy and how often do I fit them into our macros?
Finally, what are some ways I include less tasteful and more nutritious foods while making them highly enjoyable? I’m going to take a deeper look and go meal by meal to find out the answers.
My Flexible Diet Example
I have to begin with one fact regarding my diet. The following meal layouts I will discuss are optimal as far as hitting our macros.
All of this can be done in one meal or nine meals, all in the morning or all right before bed. And finally, it will be done with completely pre-packaged foods and processed goodies.
Again, these meal layouts are what I have in mind in a perfect world, but know that macronutrient timing is irrelevant and what foods those macronutrients come from is entirely a personal preference.
Most of the time, meal one contains primarily carbohydrates and protein with a moderate fat count.
In order to provide my muscles with good fuel early on, which makes it easier to hit my daily protein macro, I consume some here. My fat intake is typically on the lower side because I enjoy high carb/protein diets, so I may look to steer clear of foods high in fat (15-20g+) here. Those calories add up quickly, leaving me with less room for fatty foods later on in the day.
Now here is the information you are looking for: What foods do I actually eat? More likely than not, I will reach for common breakfast foods such as eggs, oats, fruit, etc. With that said, if I feel like eating a toaster pastry, some frozen waffles or buttermilk pancakes, I won’t shy away.
This is where the concept of moderation comes into play. With macronutrient make-up in mind, I can conclude that two toaster pastries is nearly equal to one and a half cups of oatmeal (actually, the oatmeal is more calorie dense). It is important to note that the oatmeal may be more filling and will more than likely leave you more satisfied. But if discipline is not an issue, one can easily enjoy the processed pastry without giving in to a quick rebound-hunger shortly after.
Also, as far micronutrient sufficiency goes, many processed goods are fortified with nutrients. Whole food sources are better for consuming your vitamins and minerals, but fortified foods are better than nothing. The only thing they lack is fiber, which we have plenty of time to make up for later in the day.
I want to speak of meal two as if it were a pre-workout meal.
A lot of people new to the bodybuilding lifestyle believe the foods that surround their workouts will make or break their gains or fat loss. Knowing this idea is false, gives me the opportunity to show you why these meals are nowhere near as important as you think.
First things first – no two people are the same. Some people enjoy training while fasted, and some like to put down a high amount of carbohydrates right before they workout. Some need a nice-sized, balanced meal a couple of hours before their workout.
As a diet coach, my diet is nowhere near as complicated as one would think. I eat what I want, when I want it.
There is no particular benefit or down side to any of these regimens. Pick whichever one works best for you.
I like to find a meal that is not on the heavy side but does contain a decent amount of calories. Again, carbohydrates make up a large amount of this meal as well as protein. I know that I am going to be using up some glycogen in the gym and will also be tearing muscle, so those two macronutrients, protein and carbohydrates, are preferred here.
I will also include a little bit of fat. This fat will already be in our food choices or the ingredients used in preparation of those choices. Food choices do not matter here.
I’m sure you are expecting to hear brown rice and chicken breast, but if I can only find four slices of white bread and some whey, I will make that work just as well. This goes back to the whole idea behind flexible dieting; it does not matter what you eat or when you eat it, what matters is your numbers at the end of the day.
Meal three we will look at as if it were a post-workout meal. Let me guess, you say: “a whey protein shake with at least 50g of fast acting carbohydrates.” My greatest response to that nonsense would be that I enjoy whole foods much more than shakes and dextrose powder.
In saying that, I must tell you all that this meal is no different than any other meal throughout the day. Whatever I feel like eating at this time, I simply eat. As a matter of fact, if I am not hungry, I will not eat.
There is still time left in the day to finish hitting our macros. A lot of people opt to save post-workout nutrition for their “big meal” or cheat meal. They believe that everything post-workout goes directly to gains or is burned instantaneously. This is false, but I am usually very hungry post-workout so I do consume my most caloric dense meal at this time.
If my family plans on going out to dinner, I will usually wait to work out directly before that meal in an attempt to have heightened hunger so I can eat at a place that serves excellent food. Remember, though, this does not give you the excuse to go out of line.
“When eating out at a restaurant, be sure to add at least 5g of fat to the online nutrition facts, as most cooks get lazy and throw in extra butter, oil or cheese in attempt to please the customer.”
Last, but far from least, is my final meal. As you can from each previous meal, the same conclusion usually surfaces; we eat what we want when we want it. I feel this is the most important paragraph for you to read.
If there are, for example, 80g of carbohydrate left over and it is 10 PM, guess what? We will eat those carbohydrates. It will not change our body composition one bit because the process of lipolysis will overcome lipogenesis when you remain in caloric balance. What time you ingest those calories and where they come from has absolutely no affect on the biological processes.
With this being true, I will usually opt for a delicious, satisfying treat to end my day. I do not have any more calories to “save” and can fill these existing numbers with foods of choice. Having fats left over is nice and they will allow you to feel full until bed time.
That’s it, everyone. As a diet coach, my diet is nowhere near as complicated as one would think. I eat what I want, when I want it, while still making sure that my food choices fit into my macronutrient goals.