In the past, I didn’t mind using my free time to cook, prepare, and pack meals for the week. I’d make a bunch of the same foods, pack them into microwavable dishes, and take some to work each day.
It was very logical, methodical, and…boring.
During another period of our marriage, Vanessa did a lot of preparing and cooking meals and desserts. She created the best low-carb, gluten-free, dairy free meals and desserts!
Alas, not anymore. Over the last couple of years, Vanessa’s business has exploded and she doesn’t have much time to cook.
I’ve had more time to cook than ever before, but less interest in doing so.
It’s amusing to me. I want to eat well enough to stay lean and healthy, but I don’t want to have to cook to do it.
I can finally relate to a number of the clients I had when I was a personal trainer! Back then, I believed everyone should prepare meals like I did. Now I realize why many of them didn’t want to.
Can you relate?
Perhaps your kids are grown up and moved away. Maybe you don’t have kids. Maybe you’re single. Or maybe you travel a lot and need to eat out frequently.
Starting about two years ago, I decided it was time to approach my diet in a new and unique way.
My goal was to figure out how I could:
- Spend minimal time cooking – I’d rather read, work, play, take a nap, watch a movie, or spend time with Vanessa and our friends than cook
- Love every meal I eat – I foolishly told people in my younger years, “Food is just sustenance,” as though people should eat boring food in exchange for being fit.
- Stay relatively lean without, feeling like I was following a restrictive diet
- Perform well while strength training
- Build/maintain muscle
- Stay focused and productive during the workday
I didn’t change everything all at once. I guess you could say my diet adapted over time.
I used to workout first thing in the morning, then Vanessa and I decided we’d workout around noon instead.
Working from home, this allows us to wake up (without the alarm) and get right to work. We are the most productive in the morning so it works out well.
Since I don’t workout in the morning, I don’t really need to eat. So, I started skipping breakfast.
I’d tried intermittent fasting in the past, but because I usually trained in the morning, it didn’t work for me.
Today, I workout around noon.
This made the intermittent fasting a lot more appealing. Since I don’t waste any time cooking or eating in the morning, I get more done.
I’ve also read more than enough research to feel that breakfast isn’t a necessary meal for health or performance.
Actually, a lot of people would be better off without breakfast (blog post coming soon).
Lunch didn’t change much, except that I started eating it later. We usually get done working out around 2:00, so that became our typical lunchtime.
For lunch, I usually stop by one of the restaurants in the Minneapolis skyway and get a big chopped salad with double protein and lots of extras. When I say big, it’s BIG. It usually takes me half an hour to eat, and I’m not a slow eater.
The salad includes greens, nuts, chicken, avocado, black olives, cucumbers, celery, and dressing. I pick up the same for Vanessa without so much protein.
I’ve never counted out the calories in it, but I’d guess it’s around 1000 calories.
My typical dinner is pretty amusing, when I consider how I was eating five years ago. Back then, I was certain that eating carbs at night was bad news.
Then I read the book Carb Backloading (NOT an affiliate link). The first time I read it, I found it to be entertaining. The second time I read it, I started wondering if my beliefs were a little off. Maybe there was actually some benefit for some people to eat carbs at night.
As I often do when I want to challenge my own beliefs, I experimented.
I started eating more carbs at night, on the nights before my workouts. Over time, I have gotten in the habit of eating carbs with most dinners.
When I say carbs at night, I feel silly even saying it, but most nights my meals include Udi’s bread sandwiches or a gluten-free, dairy-free pizza, lower-fat chips of some sort, and a pint of So Delicious Ice Cream or Cookies. Crazy huh?
Or, if we eat out, I’ll have tacos and chips or some other form of starchy meal. And often, dessert.
I don’t skip my supplements and essential oils, which I consider part of my nutrition plan.
And I’m as healthy, and as lean, and probably a little stronger than I was in the past.
Is my total calorie intake relatively low? I’d guess it to be 3000-4000 calories per day, but I don’t count.
If I were reading this, I’d say, yeah, but what about your internal health?
I get my labs tested every six months. My lipids, glucose, triglycerides, insulin, HbA1c are all great, along with my hormones, electrolytes, etc. In fact, my testosterone was 1353 ng/dL on my most recent lab test, which was in October.
Since I’ve written so much about nutrition in the past, I’m often asked about what my diet is like today, so I figured I’d share it here. I’ll use this in the future as a reference for some of the more “science-ish” posts I’ll write as well.
Will I eat like this forever? Probably not, only because I’ll probably try something else at some point. But for now, I LOVE eating what I’m eating, and it seems to be working.
And I LOVE that I only have to think about food a couple times per day.
Would I recommend eating like this for everyone? No. I think the first step is getting blood sugar and body composition to a healthy level. I also believe strength training is important to help your body know where to put those carbs.
All I know is, there are multiple ways people can eat and be healthy, and I’ll continue using myself as a guinea pig to try some of them.
If it’s still hard to believe how this diet could work, check out this article on intermittent fasting and breakfast.