Hello there, Constant Readers. If you have been following this series of articles, I’m changing up the format a bit this week. I’ve been in a stressful moving situation the past several weeks, and one thing I’ve learned from my five years of being in this lifestyle is how to be flexible and take obstacles from excuses that keep you from your goals, and turn them to just some challenge to overcome. Before I made this transition, being in this type of situation would have completely derailed me. It would have been nothing but fast food for lunch and dinner, stress eating, and no working out. I didn’t let that happen this time, mainly because I have learned too much about what goes into those processed foods. Knowledge is power, boys and girls, but only if you use that knowledge to modify your behavior.
Hippocrates is credited with the quote “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food,” which is a fantastic motto and one I have truly come to see first hand. The only problem is he never really said it, according to leading researchers on his writings, but why let facts get in the way of some truly great advice? Hippocrates did, however, fully understand that nutrition was one of the most important tools a doctor could use to treat a patient. Ah, the good ol’ days, before some hot pharmacy rep would have tempted him with a flirty sales pitch and a kick back on every bottle of pills he pushed onto a patient. Now, it seems like the main focus is not about nutrition education and the prevention/reversal of symptoms by proper nutrition, but instead pushing expensive pills that somewhat counter the effects of a disease, but come with a host of their own problems. Not to mention that it usually means the patient is taking that pill or shot for the rest of their life, so the money train keeps rolling. Fast food joints get rich, big pharma gets rich, and people get sicker and sicker at younger and younger ages.
I can attest to how getting off of big corporation processed foods and cutting simple sugars has improved my daily life and kept me from most of the effects of aging. The picture below of my daughter and I on the horse was taken 20 years ago. The other picture was taken in 2019 after she graduated from Navy boot camp. My daughter went from being a cute little 4-year-old in pigtails to a full grown woman serving our country in those 20 years, but dare I say it, I look younger in 2019 than I did when she was small. We just aren’t going to talk about the horse, may he rest in peace. Looking back at that picture, I was all about fast food, sweets, chips, cokes, and you can see the bloat in my face. I felt terrible, and I thought it was just because I was getting older, even though I was just a baby compared to my age now. I bet the horse was the one that really felt terrible having to carry me around on my Big Mac and fries diet.
Back then, I really thought that was just my lot in life. I was always a husky kid, always prone to carrying extra fat and being soft and doughy – even when I did stick to a work-out regimen. But then, at the ripe old age of 43, when I finally figured out what foods to eat, and then combined that with a strength and conditioning workout, my body composition finally changed along with my health.
I’ve had people walk by as I do legs and back day out in my garage. They will see me with a straight bar loaded with plates doing squats or dead-lifts in the heat, and invariably they will yell to the effect, “Just wait until you get older, you won’t be able to do things like that anymore.” So I always ask how old they are, and usually they will be around 40… while I’m 48. So as Hippocrates probably also never said, “Avocados keep you young, while burger joints turn you into Archie Bunker by your 40s.”
I’ve hit on the major macros before, but for a quick recap, I’ll go over them again. Complex carbs fuel your energy, for work-outs or chasing your 3-year-old through a department store. Vegetables, beans, fruits make up that macro. Protein fuels muscle recovery, helps build strength for picking up said 3-year-old after you catch him, throwing him over your shoulder, and carrying him to the car. Eggs, pole caught wild tuna and salmon, pasture raised beef and poultry are good examples of clean sources. Fats promote vitamin absorption, helps you to feel full, improves brain and organ functions, and actually help to lower the “bad” cholesterol. Avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil will fill those out for you. I know elimination diets are all the rage right now, no carbs, or no fats, or no fruits… and far be it from me to say not to do those. My theory is whatever you can stick to and gets results for you, go for it. We are all different and respond to different things. I myself have experimented with just about every version of a diet you can think of, even recently.
During the winter months, I was eating more and going outside less, so I always pick those months to do a “bulk” phase where I lift heavier weights and try to add muscle mass with the extra calories. I prepare myself that I’m also going to be carrying a bit of extra weight during that time, so I’m walking around about 10 pounds heavier than normal. Once Spring sprung and it was time to cut those extra 10 pounds and bring the abs back into sharper focus, I decided to try the bulletproof diet since I had never tried it. The author of the book has extreme claims on what this diet will do, basically that it’s almost going to make you superhuman. It consists of an 18-6 fasting period each day, and breakfast is always plain black coffee with MCT oil and grass fed butter, followed by meals that were more on the Keto diet, mostly fats with much less protein and complex carbs than I was used to getting. I always give myself two weeks to decide if I like it and it works for me, and if it’s something I can see myself doing the rest of my life. I functioned on the diet fine, but I never lost a pound in those two weeks, and the idea of having to blend oily coffee every morning full of saturated fats wasn’t something I was prepared to do forever. So, after a solid two weeks, I knew it wasn’t for me. Maybe some of you are on this diet and swear by it. Again, if it works for you and you are healthy, that’s great. I switched back to a balance of the three macros while switching to a 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. eating window, and I lost a pound a day until I was back at my target weight pre-bulk phase. Once I hit that weight, I just added a little more calories to my meals until I was in maintenance, where I wasn’t gaining or losing more than normal water weight. So, that works for me. That eating schedule might sound extreme to some, but I feel really good on it, and it really makes me savor and enjoy breaking the fast at 9 a.m.
My son eats at all times of night, but he’s almost 17 and his body burns calories like an 80s era Soviet nuclear power plant. My body never functioned like that, so this is what I do. What’s great is I enjoy it, it frees up my afternoons and evenings to do things not food related, and it’s something I can easily maintain for years. By choice, when the holidays come around again and it’s pumpkin pie time again, I’ll go off it for a bit, lift heavy, gain a bit of weight as I add strength, knowing full well I can drop the extra weight without a lot of effort. During my week of moving, I wasn’t able to work out per say, other than picking up couches, washing machines, and refrigerators and moving them around a bit from here to there, and because of my eating style and schedule, never gained a pound. Food, without a doubt, is the key to weight, while exercise is key for body composition and shaping what is left.
One type of diet I would strongly recommend you stay away from is the “only eat this” diet. Some of these programs state to only eat raw potatoes, or only cabbage, or even popcorn. There’s no doubt you will lose weight doing that, but losing weight does not automatically correlate to being healthy. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of celebrities that have done those diets, and they look like shrunken “left in the dryer way too long” versions of themselves. They don’t look healthy, they have added no lean muscle because it’s virtually impossible to work out on a diet like that, and they end up having to take all kinds of supplements to get the vitamins they miss out on by only eating one type of food. We’re trying to get you away from having to take pills, not add to them.
Probably most important, by preparing your own foods from these major macros isn’t what you get from them, but what you are avoiding by not letting giant mega-corporations prepare your meals for you. They absolutely do not have your best interests at heart, and they do not care what the additives and chemicals they put in the food to make it cheaper and last longer do to you or your children. Take, for example, TBHQ, short for tert-butylhdroquinone, which is a chemical corporations add into over 1,250 snack foods, most of which are aimed at children. Pop-tarts, Cheez-Its, Rice Krispies treats are just a few examples. If it comes in a box at a mega-mart with some flashy packaging, it’s a safe bet it’s in there. It’s a preservative so the foods last longer on the shelves, so they can produce more at once, cutting costs while avoiding spoilage. Here’s the fun part. It’s made from butane… you know, the stuff in your zippo lighter. Butane is a petroleum derived compound extracted from natural gas and crude oil. Yummy, right? This stuff has been shown to affect immune cell proteins, the things in our bodies that make our immune system function. So when you eat this stuff, you are taking a jack-hammer to the wall of protection that keeps you safe from cancer, viruses, and even makes vaccines now work as well. Maybe not the best thing to be consuming during a global pandemic, just spitballing. Just 5 grams is enough to kill a person, so the FDA said keep it under .02% and gave it the green light. That is just one of thousands of thousands of additives corporations sneak into your food, I could keep going for days. I think you get the idea.
The beauty of it is if you are here reading this, maybe you want to change how you eat, and now you have some good reason to do just that. The power lies with you, and that’s a beautiful concept once you embrace it. Personally, I’d rather give my money to hard working small farms growing foods and animals the right way, instead of giant billionaire corporations putting 5W-30 weight in my freaking breakfast pastry. As Hippocrates never said, “Why eat a rice crispy treat filled with butane like an idiot when an apple with natural peanut butter gives you the energy to kick up your sandals like a 5-year-old on first recess?”
See the list of the Shirtless Chef recipes at www.mysaline.com/shirtless.