Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fit Lifestyle: What should you eat?

Today I want to talk about food - I get a lot of questions about what I eat, how often I eat and how many calories a day I eat so I wanted to address that.

What to EAT?
I actually don't know the specific number of calories I eat per day because I follow a diet that is constructed around portion size and weight, not number of calories. Often, calorie counts on foods are at best an estimate of that actual macro nutrient content of the food, and the actual number of calories (or as I like to think of it "energy") cannot be accurately determined! For example a "banana has 100 calories" but not all bananas are created equal! Some are bigger, longer, riper, from a different region, ect... all which could effect their calorie, vitamin, sugar, or fiber content.

Bananas come in all shapes and sizes, just like people!
 So, to answer the question of "How many calories do I eat per day?" I have to say, I don't know! And, it varies! I know if I am not seeing the fat loss I want I will slightly decrease my food intake, usually from carbs, and see what happens in a couple weeks. Same goes for muscle building, I will increase calories in my post-workout meal and maybe add a slow-digesting protein, like a steak salad or a casein protein shake to my meal plan right before bed. After making sure all your food choices are CLEAN, and beneficial for your body, personal diet largely depends on the specific person! Everyone needs to find their own balance and if I eat 1500 calories in a given day that doesn't necessarily mean you should too.

That being said, here's a typical day of my diet and training:
6am - first thing in the morning take a fat burner before 1 hr of cardio (varies)

8am - Meal #1 oatmeal, egg whites, flax oil

10:30am - Meal #2 a serving a fish, veggies, and sweet potato

1pm - Meal #3 a serving of chicken on spinach greens with balsamic & olive oil
1/2 serving of fruit

3pm - Meal #4 1 scoop of protein powder, 2 rice cakes and coconut oil

4pm - Evening lifting session. I usually hit legs 2-3 times a week and shoulders/chest, back/biceps/triceps the other days. I do abs and calves twice a week too.

6:30pm - Meal #5 Right after training (I eat in the car on the way home from the gym!) I eat a serving of ground turkey, whole wheat pasta, olive oil and green beans
9pm - Meal #5 a serving of flank steak and sweet potato salad greens with balsamic and olive oil

10pm - Bedtime! Rest and recovery :)

You may be wondering, "What is a 'serving of ___?" Well for proteins, this is anywhere from 3-6oz for women. And like I said, it varies for me! If you don't have a food scale, it's about a palm size. For vegetables, portion size is basically unlimited. 
Be sure to eat your veggies!
Veggies aren't something that contain a lot of calories, carbs, or sugars; unless we're talking starchy/sugary veggies like potato, sweet potato, corn, or peas. Don't go crazy with these. About half a sweet potato should do it, and the other veggies have portion size given on their packaging (ie: 1/2 cup or 2/3 cup). For fats and oils, 3 tablespoons of healthy fats (olive, flax or coconut oil) should be your max (as a female, men may need more).

A typical plate with correct portion sizes

You may also be wondering, "What foods are considered "clean" or contest-prep approved?" This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here's an example of "clean eating" foods:
  • almond milk
  • egg substitutes
  • skinless/boneless chicken breasts
  • tilapia fillets
  • tuna in water
  • salmon fillets
  • balsamic vinegar
  • bran cereal
  • plain oats, cream of wheat
  • brown rice, couscous
  • dried beans (black, kidney, etc)
  • peanut butter, almond butter, walnut butter
  • mixed raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc)
  • extra virgin olive oil spray
  • raisins
  • bananas
  • avocados
  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • grapes
  • apples
  • oranges
  • prunes
  • spinach
  • peas
  • broccoli
  • asparagus
  • mushrooms
  • peppers
  • tomatoes
  • onions
  • carrots
  • sweet potatoes
  • green tea

Find the definition and philosophy behind clean eating

Tosca Reno, the woman behind the Clean Eating Movement

Here's a very complete list of BodyBuilding (aka fit lifestyle) foods, courtesy of Clutch Fitness: Clutch Fitness Bodybuilder's Grocery List

So that covers the basics of WHAT I eat in my diet, next time I'll discuss HOW I prep all my food and plan ahead so I can eat clean all the time. It's not easy, but it can be simple if you learn a system that works. I'll share my system next time! :)

Next time: FOOD PREP :)

Hope this helps, and as always... blessings,
~ Ruthie

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