The adage is true: you are what you eat..
Never have truer words been uttered, and never have truer words been more ignored.
So you wanna be strong like a bull? Simple: eat grass-fed beasts, wild animals and seafood. You probably don’t wanna be weak, unhealthy, and disgusting? Well, that’s what you become if you eat processed foods in the form of refined grains, sugars, and other preservative-filled junk food.
Eating a Paleo Diet, also known as the caveman diet or hunter-gatherer diet (my fav), makes man and woman healthy, fit, and functional. It improves every aspect of the human condition. Basically, it is the natural human diet. It will make you better at everything you do. Forget anything you have heard about this or that diet, in fact, don’t even think of a diet, just think about eating whole, natural food. This is the secret formula to reaching the body and health you’ve always wanted.
The most important parts are up to you:
- I can’t do your grocery shopping for you…
- I can’t keep you from ordering fried chicken at KFC…
- I can’t stop you from eating the bread put on your table by your waiter
- I can’t make you fast and eat fewer meals
- I can’t prevent you from drinking gluten-filled beer and sugar-laden mixed drinks every weekend (try cider)
- I can’t make you put down the fork
No, I can’t make you do any of that. What I can do, however, is arm you with the knowledge to help you start the change that could save your life—and I’m gonna do everything I can to try convince you to help yourself.
Changing your diet is difficult. For some of you, it could be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done. It can take months, even years, and you will progress only a little at a time. But please, please listen to me when I tell you this:
It’ll be worth every single bit of effort a hundred thousand times over!
And don’t forget: anything worth having only comes after effort. If you want to reap the benefits—in this case, having a sexy bod and life-long health—than you must invest the time.
Any action you take in life will always produce a result, for better or worse. If you waste one hour of your day watching mindless TV, you might lose hundreds of hours in the future from the lack of exercise and damage to your brain cells. If you spend a dollar on pointless crap today—instead of investing it—you will lose out on much more in the future by failing to invest those dollars. When it comes to food investing is the perfect analogy: You are investing in your health on a daily basis with every thing you do (or fail to do).
Life is a marathon and you should treat it as such
You can’t win a marathon by sprinting and you can’t win it by going too slow. You have to stay at a moderate pace long enough to get to the finish line. If you work consistently towards your goals on a day-to-day basis, you will eventually reach them. Goals with food are just this: a marathon. Unfortunately, most don’t have the endurance to keep going. They wax and wane, they yo-yo, and given enough time, they revert to old ways.
At the beginning of every New Year, gyms sell a ton of memberships to people who have convinced themselves that this year will be different. Yet, it never is. Most people last a month or two before falling back into their old habits. If your health isn’t important enough to you now, it will never be important enough.
I hate to sound pessimistic, especially because I am an eternal optimist, but I have seen it far too many times to spin it any other way. I truly hope that many of you can make the change and reach real results. That said, you should prepare yourself for what it’s going to take. To get those results, you must commit to yourself with every fiber of your being. If you don’t, you won’t make it.
One thing I love about personal development and improving one’s health and fitness is the carry-over it has to everything else in life. If you can eat a clean diet and stay on an exercise protocol, you can do anything. Health improvements are some of the hardest habits to maintain for humans living in our modern world; its far too easy to give up.
I always recommend that nutrition be at the forefront of people’s efforts. Making improvements in your diet will have huge carry-over to other things you are working on like training, stress, sleep, etc.
So what do I eat?
My answer: some damn good food, aka The Paleo Diet, or my personal favorite via Mark Sission, The Primal Diet.
With that long introduction out of the way, I will now get down to the specifics. Proper nutrition is pretty simple to understand. Don’t let the newest “expert” or “guru” tell you otherwise. Many people get hung up on trying to find perfection and end up worrying about trivial things when they should be focusing on the basics:
- Food quality (buy the best you can find and afford)
- Eat meals and avoid snacking (2-3 meals a day)
- Skip meals if not hungry
- Avoid sugar, grains, lentils, beans, rice, processed food, most dairy, and all processed food
If you stay in the realm of this short list for the majority of what you do (remember, it’s never about being perfect), you will achieve excellent health and body composition. You will look, feel and perform better at everything in life.
FOOD in a nutshell:
Courtesy of MarksDailyApple
Eat the highest quality meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit, and starches you can find. You should also include grass-fed butter and organic coconut. This style of eating is based on the hunter-gatherer diet that humans have survived on for thousands of years before the advent of agriculture. There are cultures that still eat this way everyday in remote parts of the world where industrialization has yet to infect. Across the board, these people enjoy excellent health that is void of heart disease, diabetes, and nearly all western disease.
Food: Where To Get It, How To Prepare It, and Restaurants Suck
Home-cooked food is ideal because you control what goes into your meals, and thus, your body. Restaurants use preservatives and processed ingredients to keep food costs low.
When eating out, be picky and vocal with your server. Ask for a gluten-free menu and request butter or olive oil for cooking your meal. Typically, I tell the waiter that I have a gluten allergy and that my meal must be gluten-free. The better restaurants usually have a gluten-free menu; however, many will not. You have to ask the waiter questions and sometimes he will have to go to the kitchen and ask the chef what goes into certain dishes.
It’s worth the hassle.
Try going gluten-free for 30 days then have it slip in one meal: you will bloat like the Goodyear blimp. It’s not pleasant.
Home Food Prep
If you are pressed for time, or if your budget is tight, I recommend making big pot meals such as soups, stews, and braises. A crock-pot or Dutch oven is your best friend. The more you practice each of these methods, the better your dishes will get. Season each ingredient as you add it to the pot, this will develop deep flavor. Always taste throughout the cooking process and adjust with vinegar, lemon juice, salt pepper, herbs, and spices.
Here is a quick basic stew/braise technique (One of the go-to techniques featured in The Gym Life Cooking Technique Book):
- Preheat Dutch oven – med heat
- Add oil
- Sear protein on each side 2-5 minutes until crust forms
- Remove protein
- Add various vegetables and cook until soft and browned (onion, carrots, leeks, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, etc)
- Add wine or vinegar or both and deglaze pan, scraping up browned bits at bottom of pan. Return meat to pan
- Add stock/broth/wine until fill to desired level. Optional: add tomato sauce/paste, or canned tomatoes
- Season and bring to boil. Reduce heat and cover and cook until protein is tender 30 minutes to 2 hours depending.
- Eat and refrigerate leftovers
Or the crock pot method:
- Throw in bunch of ingredients: Protein, veggies, stock, wine, vinegar, seasoning, herbs, spices
- Cook on low 8-10 hours.
- Finishing options: organic cream, garnish with herbs, chopped green onions, a splash of olive oil, or a thick-grained sea salt
Food quality: The most important thing…
Nutrition is a heavily debated topic across the Interwebz. Some people get sucked into this and end up trying to find the “answer” to nutrition. I suggest you avoid getting sucked into this rabbit-hole; it can be hard to get out of.
If you analyze hunter-gatherers that lived around the world you find completely different diets. The Inuit (Eskimos), for example, ate a diet comprised of mostly saturated fat and animal protein with little prevalence of fruits or vegetables. The Kitavans, which were a group of islanders, consumed coconut and starchy root vegetables as the bulk of their diet with fruit and fish representing the rest of calories consumed. We find the same story as we venture around the globe and look at the diet’s of people living in different geography regions; people survived on what food was prevalent in their local area. And still, what is the main thing that all of these diets have in common?
It was fresh, locally available, REAL FOOD!
The answer to nutrition is this: Eat Real Food. If you do this, you won’t have any problems (actually, you’ll probably change your life).
The point is to not be neurotic with your food. You don’t need to read 20 books about nutrition to feel like you have the answer. Just Focus on eating a colorful balance of high-quality ingredients each time you sit down for a meal. That being said, everyone is different and can sustain different ratios; you just have to tweak and find your preference. My general recommendation is to eat protein and fat first—about 70-80 of your calories—and then fill out the rest with healthy, starchy carbs in the form of veggies and some fruit.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to food ratios; this is why food quality is so damn important. 100% Paleo or not, if you consume only the highest quality ingredients, everything else tends to fall into place.
Whole foods fill you up because they are full of satisfying nutrition which signals your body that you are nourished. The same is not true of processed foods. Processed food have a reserve effect in which the body craves more calories because it isn’t nourished–this is because the processed food is just “empty calories.” This is why processed food begets processed food. You end up eating more of the processed crap as your body craves more.
The bottom line is if you are eating a colorful diet full of fresh ingredients, and mixing it up often, it’s hard to go wrong. The problem is people eat at restaurants, snack on crap, drink soda, and have other unhealthy habits that screw it all up, and worst of all, their diet is comprised mostly of processed food that comes in a package.
Meat and potatoes
A typical Paleo meal looks a lot like the meat, potatoes, and veggies meal that was the staple American dinner a short 30+ years ago. Unfortunately, since this time things have changed with the development of factory farming, fast food, and the low-fat food revolution. America has been convinced that eating animals is bad, that egg yolks raise your cholesterol, and that fat is the devil. What is ironic about these so-called “bad” foods is they are actually the BEST foods we can eat. If this isn’t a paradox than I don’t know what is.
The fat-hypothesis and other “health healthy” dogma promoted to the American public ushered in the processed food revolution and allowed corporations to produce food that was fast, easy and at the fraction of the cost. This quickly turned into a multi-billion dollar a year industry. Research done by Ancel Keys (if you can call it that) led to campaigns led by the American Heart Association and other government agencies that ended up creating the completely inaccurate food pyramid. I won’t get into the Meat and potatoes (you like that?) of it right now, but I highly recommend you check out Gary Taubes book: Good Calories Bad Calories. In a nutshell: Eating cholesterol from animals is not proven to raise blood cholesterol levels nor increase the risk of heart disease (the same goes for egg yolks).
In a nutshell: eating cholesterol from animals is not proven to raise blood cholesterol levels nor increase the risk of heart disease. Read The Manifesto and get motivated.
A very simple formula: eat meat, leaves, and berries.
Do this and you will live a longer, more enjoyable life. Your blood lipids will improve. You will easily burn fat and build muscle. You won’t feel sick, bloated, or irritated.
You can change your life with food.
Get serious about your food; make better decisions, shop local, and cook your food at home. It will change your life.