On the quest to get healthy, feel great, have abundant energy and burn body fat, the right nutrition approach is probably the most important factor involved. That being said, there is quite a bit of confusion out there about what to eat. This post is not super detailed but addresses the question I hear so often, “what should I eat?”
What to eat
Plants —eat lots and lots—at least 50% of the bulk of your food and your plate should be plants, preferably veggies
- Veggies (green, orange, yellow, all of them!)–focus on the veggies
- Fruits (in season fruits if possible; berries tend to be higher fiber and lower sugar)
- Tubers (sweet potatoes, other kinds of potatoes): ok in moderation, can be great to eat these post workout
Animals (eat the next most of)
- Meat—all kinds, white, dark, whatever. Preferably grass-fed or “organic” or locally purchased. Avoid the meat from huge commercial farms if possible but do your best.
- Bone broth—lots of awesomeness in bone broth
- Dairy—full fat (not low fat), dry cheeses, full fat yogurt or kefir, grass-fed butter, heavy cream for coffee. Avoid milk as milk is designed for baby cows and will likely work against your health goals. If you drink it drink whole milk, make it minimally pasteurized if possible. Dairy is not absolutely necessary but eat it if you like and tolerate it.
- Eggs—awesome protein and vitamins. Eat in whatever way you like them
- Organ meats—sounds nasty but packed with nutrition if you can stomach it (no pun intended)
Healthy Fats—not all fat is the same, some are good and some are bad and some in between
- If you decrease carbs then you may have to increase fat intake to ensure you are getting enough calories
- That being said, I do not support intentionally consuming high amounts in fat. For example, extreme high-fat shakes including butter + coffee+ MCT oil or coconut oil are popular but I do not support the consumption of such dense sources of fat (or really any other macronutrient as far as that goes).
- Coconut oil and lard are great for cooking due to their stability and high smoke point
- High quality dairy such as hard cheeses, full-fat greek yogurt, kefir.
- Olive oil, avocado oil, olives, avocados, coconut milk are all great
- Nuts, seeds in small amounts
- Nut butters such as almond butter or macadamia butter. Peanuts are actually a legume and peanut butter is not technically “primal” or “paleo”. There are some pro-inflammatory concerns and some issues with fungal growth in peanuts due to their harvesting and storage methods. That being said, if you like peanuts/peanut butter and tolerate them ok then eat it once in a while!
Acceptable carbs in “moderation”
- Starches such as potatoes (mentioned above), rice, quinoa (not a grain, more like a seed)–starches are good after a hard workout but otherwise you may need to avoid them or eat very small servings if trying to burn fat/lose weight. That being said, you should give yourself at LEAST one hour of fasting after a workout before eating to maximize the positive hormonal response from the workout.
- Non-gluten grains like rice, quinoa, and oatmeal can affect people with gut issues and/or autoimmune conditions due to the types of proteins and other toxins such as molds often found in or on grains. Plus, almost all grains typically have cause a spike in blood sugar after eating so if you are trying to maximize fat burning it’s best to avoid all grains
- Fruits: once again, don’t go overboard, eat in moderation. Berries are great—high fiber and lower sugar. Most other fruits are ok once in a while. If your body composition is at a good place you can consume a bit more fruit than someone looking to lose quite a bit of body fat.
- Try different herbs and spice combinations to make your meals delicious. Pepper, pink Himalayan sea salt, turmeric, curry, cayenne pepper, paprika, basil, coconut amines, etc. There are many different herbs and spices out there so don’t be afraid to experiment with many different kinds. The right herbs and spices can be the difference between a boring dish and a delicious dish.
- Probiotic drinks, such as kombucha, can be great for your gut health and immunity. Just be sure to watch the sugar content of some of these drinks as they can be quite high depending on the brand or flavor (fruit-based drinks such as mango, pineapple, etc tend to be higher in sugar)
- For your sweet tooth, a couple pieces of dark chocolate (70% cacoa or higher) is not only acceptable but may have some anti-oxidant properties as well.
- Vinegars, such as apple cider vinegar, may have some very positive health benefits. Other vinegars, such white vinegar and balsamic vinegar, can also be consumed and used as dressings and as cooking ingredients.
- If you like carbonated beverages and have a bit of a soda/diet soda addiction try and wean off of this and give some of the NATURAL (not artificially sweetened) carbonated waters a try. One of the popular brands is LaCroix, but now there are quite a few companies producing the same sort of carbonated, naturally flavored water. The ingredients should say: water, natural flavor. If there is anything else in addition to this it is probably best avoided. There should be 0 calories and 0 sugar.
- Coffee, tea/herbal tea—these are all fine for most people. Avoid adding sugar or flavored creamers if possible. Try and drink it black or with some ½ and ½ or a bit of heavy cream.
If you are trying to break free of the Standard American Diet (SAD) and all of this seems a bit overwhelming to you, contact me and we can discuss a coaching session to come up with an individualized plan and I can educate you with more details in regards to living a primal lifestyle. http://parnhamhealthcoach.com/contact/