Within 24 hours of starting VIGOR Training, half of the member-athletes send me a message, wondering what diet they should follow.
Outside of training for a physique competition or a special event, like a wedding or class reunion, I usually steer people away from a specific diet.
Note: if you do have a special event and need to get lean quickly, check out 28 Days: Four Week’s of Fat Loss.
I’m not saying diets don’t work. They just don’t work long-term.
In fact, most people end up worse off a few months after the end of a diet than if they’d never followed a diet to begin with.
Instead of following a diet with a bunch of strict rules, I encourage you to adopt a handful of guidelines, and change the way you think about eating for the rest of your life.
These are the first five (and most important) guidelines to adopt. In this order:
- Work up to eating a minimum of 1 gram of protein per pound ideal body weight every day. Increasing protein intake alone has a significant effect on body composition, recovery, satiety, and more. Most people experience a significant difference in how they look, feel, and perform, after making just this one change!
- Eat no more than four times per day, and ideally two or three, while still adhering to guideline 1. When I say “eat,” that includes snacks. In fact, don’t snack. Growth hormone levels rise about three hours after a meal. If you’re constantly putting food in your mouth, you miss out on the fat-mobilizing, muscle-building benefits of growth hormone. I’m not saying you should start intermittent fasting; at least not yet. Just stop eating between meals. When you get up from the table, you’re done.
- Save your carbs for dinner. Unless you’re a competitive athlete, you don’t need to eat carbs earlier in the day. They’ll only make you crave more carbs, cause your energy levels to rise and fall, and make it harder to use fat for fuel. Research shows that when people eat the same amount of carbs, but eat them all at dinner time instead of spread across the day, they get leaner.
- Stop eating about three hours before bed. I mentioned growth hormone already. When your blood sugar and insulin are high from a meal, it blunts growth hormone secretion. Elevations in melatonin and growth hormone help your body rebuild muscle tissue, repair itself, and mobilize more fat for fuel. Growth hormone and melatonin should peak just after falling asleep.
- Eliminate gluten. Like don’t eat any. Gluten offers no value for your health, and carries numerous risks. Those who have gluten allergies and sensitivities are fortunate because their body clearly says, “Stop eating that crap!” Unfortunately, the long-term damage gluten can do doesn’t always show up as an allergy or sensitivity. Instead, it can contribute to numerous other health problems years down the road. Don’t eat it. You can find almost every food you like to eat in a gluten-free version instead.
It might take you three months to make these five guidelines a consistent part of your lifestyle. It might take two years. I’m certain that once you do, you’ll be glad you did.
Are there other ways of making your diet work harder for you? Yes.
Are some food sources better than others? Yes.
But the finer details don’t matter if you’re not consistent with the first five points above.
Like many of my methods, this is counter to the “track every macro, weigh and measure your food, carry your food with you wherever you go” BS sold elsewhere.
My hope is that in ten years, when you pick up a restaurant menu or consider the question, “What should we have for dinner?”, you’re still guided by the habits you developed in VIGOR Training, not beholden to the macronutrient counts from an app on your phone.
Coach’s Notes is a collection of insights, recommendations, and tutorials to help my VIGOR Training member-athletes get more out of the program. Though non-members may find the content to be informative and applicable, I’ve written them as though I’m speaking directly to one of my athletes.