Some of you have been curious about what my diet looks like. I already spoke about caloric goals and macronutrient balancing in another post. How does my normal day look?
What I eat probably won't work for you, since you'll want to adapt what you're eating to your own goals. And as I've said before, approaches to a healthy diet are numerous - you can find them everywhere on the web, in books, in magazines, etc. But there is one that I follow, and that has produced great results for me.
I eat 6 meals a day, all within my caloric and macronutrient goals. The idea behind 6 smaller meals rather than 3 bigger ones is simply to reduce cravings and the overeating that can result. I'm not a nutritionist, so check out this site and this one for a little more info on how to approach eating more frequently with less overall calories.
Meal 1: Breakfast, 6:30am
My go-to breakfast is shown above. It includes 3 strips of turkey bacon, 2 whole eggs, 2 egg whites (extra protein), and a slice of toast (Dave's Killer Bread or similar) or whole wheat english muffin. (Alternative breakfasts are oatmeal + blueberries and bacon, or Kashi cereal + blueberries and bacon. Sometimes MorningStar sausage instead of bacon). Yes, and there are a couple of teaspoons of real butter on that muffin.
Meal 2: Mid-morning Snack, 9:30am
My go-to snack for mid-morning is a piece of Dave's Killer Bread, toasted with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter. And one apple cut into slices. This is so yummy I have eaten it for 8 months straight and have never tired of it.
Meal 3: Lunch, noon
This varies, but a big salad or green veggies and a boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 6 oz) is most common.
Meal 4: Afternoon Snack, 3:30pm
Again varies, but most commonly is 3/4 cup of cottage cheese and a serving of Salsa-flavored Wheat Thins (these are really tasty). Better would be some greek yogurt with blueberries, but I got sick of that rather quickly. Other go-to snacks are almonds, mixed nuts, beef jerky, and sometimes a protein bar. I like Zone Perfect chocolate/peanut butter, my wife prefers Think Thin bars.
Meal 5: Dinner, 6:30pm
A serving of "healthy" starch (like Brown Rice, whole wheat noodles), green veggies (like broccoli or a salad), and some high-protein relatively low-fat meat (like chicken, sirloin, lean ground beef). It is a constant struggle to shop and prepare nutritious food that the whole family will enjoy, and that burden usually falls onto my wife. But I am always willing and able to jump in when I get home to help prepare a meal.
Meal 6: Snack, 9:30pm
Something very light, like a mozzarella cheese stick and a clementine, or a half serving of Kashi + blueberries.
Pre Workout Shake
Sometimes I do have a 4 or 8oz pre-workout protein shake at 5am as well, just to keep up the protein grams and give muscle something to build with. That includes 4oz of milk, some chocolate weigh powder, a tablespoon of ground oatmeal. Sometimes a half banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter.
I do give myself a cheat meal a week where I can just have anything...that's where pizza would fit in, pad thai or chocolate cake. One meal isn't going to hurt my progress at all, and it does give me the feeling that there are no forbidden foods. If I feel like a food is forbidden, that would make me crave it even more. In fact, about a half an hour before we go out for the cheat meal, I have a healthy bite to eat. Then I'm not ravenous and I still eat within reason. And if there is something on the menu that I like that is healthy as well, I'll veer towards that (steak and shrimp with veggies anyone?). And if there are buttery rolls there on the table, sure I can eat one...but then send the rest back. Chips and Salsa? Pace yourself, just eat slowly, count how many you're eating and try to stay within a normal serving size (like 10...). Don't go crazy.
If you add all that up, you're close to the 2200 calories I can eat for my size, gender and nutrition goals. Also take into consideration that I work out for an hour at least 5 days a week. So don't expect to eat the above without taking everything I've said about food planning into consideration.
Some people like to cut down on carbs. I say if that works for you, you feel more healthy and you achieve your weight loss goals, great! Some people, rather than eating more small meals, do intermittent fasting. Again, read up on it and if it sounds interesting to you, try it! Your body is like a chemistry lab, and you are the mad doctor. As long as the approach isn't unhealthy, try different things, see what works and what doesn't for you, and tweak as you go. Just the fact that you're committed to being healthy and are interested in finding what works for you will bring success.
What I like about my plan is that I don't feel like I'm starving myself, ever. In fact the first few weeks I actually felt like I was overeating and never got hungry. Some say that feeling hunger is good, and perhaps it is. But I find that if I'm not terribly hungry at a meal, I eat less overall. Insulin levels never really dip or spike this way either. I also feel like I can eat what I want, within reason. I like tacos. I like spaghetti. I like stir fry. I like chicken and steak. Veggies I tolerate. I like salad. I'm eating pretty much a common diet, with some healthy modifications. I can live like this forever without feeling deprived.
So there you have it. This is what worked for me, although the diet and nutrition goals did change along the way as I lost weight. Find something that works for you, do the research, stick to it and see the results.