"What diet should I be doing, Justin?"
I have been asked that question hundreds of time by dozens of different people. The answer has never changed.
The truth of the matter for most individuals is that nutritional habits (not "diets") are the only way to make long-lasting changes to your health. Adopting standard principles and nutrition rules concerning your food is usually the best way to make lifestyle changes that lead to achieving your goals over time.
No diet or style of eating works for everyone. We all have different chemistry within our bodies, different goals and different stages in our fitness journey. To assign a meal plan to someone without considering those variables would be irresponsible; but even when I consider those things, I've been offering less and less diet advice lately.
What I tell people now is much simpler, and it's proven to be much more effective.Why? Because it empowers clients to become self-sufficient and accountable for their efforts.
I have simple guidelines for healthy living. Meal size, frequency and other things of that nature are based solely on individual goals; but the following four tips can be used by everyone without confusion or feeling like they are on a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all meal plan prescribed by your favorite online guru.
Follow these 4 rules in conjunction with your personal goals, and you will feel great, perform at a high level and enjoy food for the fuel that it is.
- Every time you eat, consume something green.
- When you eat, eat the green first.
- If it comes in a bag, box, bottle, can, wrapper or jar, it must have no more than 5 ingredients.
- Drink a minimum of one gallon of water a day.
Easy, right? I've had more clients lose fat, gain muscle and make more lab-tested changes to their bodies from the inside out with this approach than with any cult diet the internet tells you is the next big thing.
It's because it's not a diet. They are just four simple rules that guide you in the right direction on food selection and habits. How much you eat and when you eat are topics for an entirely different conversation. These 4 rules are just easy ways to keep yourself true to a healthy lifestyle.
Let's take a more detailed look at each rule below.
Rule 1: Every time you eat, consume something green.
I don't care what the label on your wonderfully marketed greens supplement says, you do not eat enough greens. No supplement will ever replace chewing on green fruits and veggies. Nothing. Ever. That is why the first and most important rule forces you to consume them.
This puts an emphasis on providing your body with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which you get from green foods. It also reduces unhealthy snacking and evens out unbalanced meals. Broccoli, avocado, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, green apples, green grapes, green tomatoes and so many more—are examples of green foods that you need to be eating regularly. It's an easy, but impactful rule. Try it out.
Rule 2: When you eat, eat the green first.
If you follow Rule 1, Rule 2 should be easy to follow as well. Go with the greens first when you eat. More than likely, the greens in your meal will benefit your health more than any other food in your meal.
Eating your greens first reduces the chance of your getting too full and failing to finish your fruits and/or vegetables. Look, I get it. I am a carnivore to the core. I eat all the meat. But there are properties in fruits and veggies that allow my body to use macronutrients to the fullest extent of their potential. Make the most important thing the most important thing.
Rule 3: If it comes in a bag, box, bottle, can, wrapper or jar, it must have no more than 5 ingredients.
In other words, do not eat processed, crappy food. Most of your food should have one ingredient. If you buy a can of green beans, ideally the only ingredient is green beans. Maybe some water and salt. But we don't live in a perfect world, and things can't always go our way, so we must adapt. That's why five ingredients are the limit for living within these guidelines. This allows you to buy meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc., and take clean supplements and products with minimal processing, which should be all you need to fuel your body for success.
Rule 4: Drink a minimum of one gallon of water a day.
This is self-explanatory. Water is life. Drink a minimum of one gallon (128 ounces) every day. I will admit, this is a challenge at first, but you can do it and your body will thank you every day that you do.
Some people need more, others need less but a gallon is an excellent place to begin. One of the easiest ways I have seen people achieve this is by challenging themselves to finish a bottle of water at the top of every hour. If you wake up at 7 a.m. and go to bed at 9 p.m. you were up for 14 hours. If you were on-point, you had about 236 ounces of water that day. Even on days when you fall off track for various reasons, you should be able to easily get a gallon in. It will make all the difference in the world.
Now I know this isn't mind-blowing information, but sometimes it doesn't need to be. I think we often forget that our bodies are the greatest creation. We are adaptive, complex and always wanting to thrive. It should never be a challenge to be healthy. Your body wants to be healthy. These are just simple employable tactics that make it easier.
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