- Challenge Seminar Slides
- Seminar Video – Part 1
- Seminar Video – Part 2
- Seminar Video – Part 3
- Challenge Rules
- Tracking Sheet
- Grocery Ideas by Macro
- 3 Per Shopping List
Nutrition Challenge Update 3/9
Congratulations on completing the challenge! Now is the time to double-down on your healthy eating. The urge is going to be to swing away from your healthy habits, but keep drilling weekly prep, macronutrient balance, and whole foods into your lifestyle.
We saw lots of body fat lost during the challenge and most everyone did a great job maintaining most of their muscle mass. Great work on your results. You’ve built a solid baseline, now keep improving upon that foundation.
I hope you’re feeling better, recovering faster, and have more energy with your current healthy eating plan. Remind yourself of the improvements you’ve made to help stay on the same path.
Remember that you can still enjoy food, and you don’t have to be overly restrictive, but have some basic rules around food quality that keep you in check, but keep you sane.
And now for our winners… Based off of change in muscle mass, change in body fat, attendance, and turning in tracking sheets, here are our top 3 participants for the women’s and men’s categories:
- Jenn Vincent
- Jennifer Burton
- Megan Murphy
- Levi Donaldson
- Jeremy Renner
- Nick Guilinger
Congratulations to our winners, and great work to everyone!
1st place finishers, see me at the gym and I’ll get your prizes to you.
Keep eating mostly whole foods… Get protein, carbs, fat, and veggies at every meal… And keep your nutrition at the forefront of your health!
Nutrition Challenge Update 2/28
Congratulations! We’ve made it to the end of our 6 week challenge!.. But hopefully this is just the beginning of a lifetime of healthy eating.
Final Action Items
This will be our last week of action items, so it’s important to complete the following steps before Saturday 3/6:
- Complete your 2nd InBody Scan. Sign-up sheet with available times is in the lobby
- Turn in your Challenge Tracking Sheet at the front desk, and complete these steps before returning.
- List the five categories (quality, quantity, timing, water, & sleep) at the bottom of your sheet, and tally the total number of X’s from each category from the full 6 week period. This should show you the area(s) you still need to work on the most.
- Write 2-3 short takeaways (something you learned, habits you improved, changes you saw, etc) from the challenge. Put this on the back if you don’t have room on the front.
Scoring / Prizes
Scoring will be based on 3 criteria:
- Workouts completed from 1/18 – 2/26 (pulled from attendance in Wodify)
- Tracking sheet completed and turned in
- Change in body fat (pounds) as a percentage of bodyweight
- Change in muscle mass (pounds) as a percentage of bodyweight
One male and one female winner will be announced on Monday 3/8. Prizes include the following:
- 1 month membership at 4B
- $50 Gift Card to Ready Set Prep’d
- $50 Gift Cart to 3D Valley Farms
Post Challenge Eating
You’ve worked hard to make changes to your eating habits over the last 6 weeks, and I urge you to keep these habits in place.
I want to stress the two things which will keep you the healthiest in the long run.
- Eating mostly whole foods while limiting processed foods & alcohol.
- Getting a balance of protein, carbs, and fat at most meals.
If you can keep your diet 80% on-point, you’ll be much more successful long term, versus going through periods of strict dieting followed by total abandonment. Moderation and consistency go a lot farther than short-term perfection.
Then if you’ll continue to make food prep part of your weekly routine, and keep some basic parameters around sugar, alcohol, and relaxed meals, that “80%” goal is easily attainable.
Also, make sure you’re eating ENOUGH food. If you’re eating mostly whole foods, and staying in a 12 hour eating window, overeating will likely not be an issue. However, if you’re not eating enough, your metabolism slows and weight loss or fat loss becomes much more difficult.
So if you want to cut weight or body fat, eat the full suggested portions from the hand method for at least few weeks, and then gradually pull back your quantity (a half of a hand serving at a time).
The takeaway here is you have to eat a lot of the right stuff for a period of time in order to drive your metabolism up, so that your body is willing to lose fat or weight when you begin to pull back on calories. Then if/when you do pull back, the change is small, typically a couple hundred calories to your daily intake.
Body composition is just one piece of the equation. Eating whole / nutrient dense food has the ability to change your performance, energy, mindset, and long-term health. To reach your optimal level of health – Remember the importance and power of food, drink plenty of water, stay on a consistent sleep schedule, and move as much as you can.
Good work on our 2021 Nutrition Challenge! I’ll reach back out next week to announce the winners!
Challenge Update: Monday 2/22
As we head into our last week of the challenge, my biggest hope is that you’ve started to build the following habits:
- Making a 3 per shopping list – This guarantees weekly planning around your nutrition, and builds balance along with variety into your diet.
- Weekly Food Prep – A little goes a long way. This will increase your frequency of healthy eating more than anything else.
- Viewing your food through the lens of protein, fat, carbs, and veggies, and trying to get all four at as many meals as possible.
These three habits should serve as your foundation for eating healthy… For the rest of your life! They require a little bit of effort, but they’re simple and will pay the biggest dividends for your long term health.
Keeping these three habits will get you 80% there. To dial-in the last 20%, apply our framework from the challenge:
- Quality: Eat mostly whole foods
- Quantity: Use the plate method or hand method
- Timing: Eat in a 12 hour window
- Hydration: Drink 80-100oz of water a day
- Sleep: Get 7-8 hours per night
- Exercise: Move every day. Strength train at least 3x a week
Your motivation and commitment will ebb and flow, and that’s okay. The trick is to always keep some level of our 3 habits above. Then go through periods of more stringently applying our framework, followed by periods of keeping the framework, but giving yourself more wiggle room.
Be sure to complete these actions items, as we start our last week of the challenge:
- Finish marking your challenge tracking sheet. I’ll have you tally up some numbers and write a few takeaways on the sheet before turning them back in (more details in our next update).
- Keep recording your workouts in Wodify. We’ll pull attendance numbers next week for challenge scoring purposes.
- Sign-up for your 2nd InBody Scan (sign-up sheet is in the lobby).
We’ll have two more challenge updates. One will go out this weekend with final action items, and another the weekend of 3/6 announcing our challenge winners.
Importance of Variety in Fat & Protein Sources
I came across an article last week I’d like to share. It’s a deep dive into the topic of whether saturated fat is good or bad for you, and highlights the necessity of getting variety with your fat and protein sources.
Saturated fat: Is it good or bad for you?
Bloodwork: Are you metabolically healthy?
Bloodwork is the best way to see how changes in diet or exercise affect your health. In a prefect world, we would all get panels done before and after making changes to our nutrition, in order to see how those changes affect deeper markers of health.
At the very least, we recommend getting panels done once or twice a year. A good place to start is with your markers of metabolic health (from our challenge presentation below).
If you get bloodwork at a check-up, your doctor will likely run additional tests as part of a standard panel. And if you’re interested in taking some of this data into your own hands, or getting tests done more frequently, services like Inside Tracker and Any Lab Test Now are making consumer-driven testing easier than ever.
Stick with it! I’m excited to see, and hear about, how the challenge has affected your habits and performance.
Challenge Update: Saturday, 2/12
We’ve wrapped the hardest part of the challenge. The first 4 weeks were meant to teach you a system for eating balanced. For the last two weeks, we’ll continue to eat balanced, but will eat in a way that you can hopefully sustain for the long run.
Loss / Gain Cycle
This is an important topic if you hope to make healthy eating a long term endeavor.
Your body was not made to “diet” all the time. It’s programmed for short periods of gain or loss followed by periods of maintenance.
Also, remember that a better goal than weight loss or gain, is lean tissue gain / loss, and body fat gain / loss. To stay strong and healthy, we need to grow, or at least maintain, our pounds of lean tissue, and decrease or maintain our pounds of fat.
When gaining lean tissue (which is mostly muscle), a rate of 0.5 to 1 pound a month is a good sustainable number. When losing fat, a rate of 1-2 pounds a month is sustainable.
Your body will “recomposition” when you first improve your eating, which means you’ll gain some muscle and lose some fat simultaneously, but in general, if you want to increase lean tissue, you have to eat more calories than your body burns in a day, and if you want to lose fat, you have to eat fewer calories than your body burns in a day.
When trying to lose fat, adjust your hand portions down 1/2 to 1 serving a day. This is typically enough of a caloric deficit to elicit fat loss, but not so much that you starve your body, lose lean tissue, or wreck your metabolism.
When you want to gain lean tissue, adjust your hand portions up 1/2 to 1 serving a day. This is enough to stimulate muscle gain without so many excess calories that fat gain becomes an issue.
You may lose a little muscle during a loss cycle, or gain a little fat during a gain cycle. The trick is to keep it from being excessive.
Our eating guidelines for the challenge are structured to get your body functioning optimally – Regulating glucose efficiently, having adequate nutrients for exercise and recovery, improving gut bacteria and digestive function, and driving up your metabolism. You’ve spent the last 4 weeks getting your body humming. Now the trick is knowing when to adjust your intake up or down.
Everyone’s body is different, but typically 12 weeks is the longest period of time you should pursue a gain or loss cycle. During a 12 week period, if fat loss or muscle gain stalls, you can adjust your servings sup or down again, and see how that effects your body composition numbers.
After 12 weeks, your body starts searching for some new form of stasis. You’ve been stressing it, and forcing it to adapt, so eventually your body says, “This is enough stress!” and finds a new equilibrium (this is when people tend to see their body composition plateau or stall out).
That’s when we recommend eating for maintenance. Adjusting your hand portions to a level that keeps you full but not overly-full, and allowing a little more flexibility in your diet. This doesn’t mean to abandon healthy eating. Just loosen the belt a little to give your body and mind time to rest and recover.
This all probably sounds like a lot of adjusting and time parameters, but the big takeaway is to create a foundation of healthy prep and eating. Then if you want to make a change to your body composition, simply adjust your intake up or down slightly, and be a little more disciplined with food quality and timing.
Every 2-4 weeks, either take note or how clothes are fitting, take some simple circumference measurements, or get an InBody scan to see your pounds of muscle and fat, and make adjustments from there.
Gaining or losing should not be a large deviation from your typical diet, and it should be done intermittently. Allow yourself periods of adjustment, followed by periods of relaxation, to create a long-term system that makes healthy eating realistic, sustainable, and keeps the body happy.
Adjustments for Last 2 Weeks of Challenge
We believe the foundation for long term healthy eating is:
- Understanding the necessity of whole foods over processed foods
- Knowing you need nutrient balance – protein, carb, fat, & veggies – at most meals, and viewing food through that lens.
- Knowing how to shop for and prep healthy food (e.g. learning how to cook).
So for the last two weeks of the challenge, we want you to keep the foundation you’ve built over the last 4 weeks.
- Keep meal prep part of your weekly plan
- Try a new item or two each week
- Keep using your hand estimates to eat balanced
- Stick to a consistent eating schedule
- Get plenty of water & sleep
We hope that this style of eating is at least close to how you could see yourself eating for the long run, but we understand a little more flexibility keeps us all sane and more likely to be consistent.
Start reintroducing foods you cut out – judiciously. Here are a few things I’ll be reintroducing:
- Whole Grain Bread – no more than one serving a day
- Oatmeal – Once or twice a week
- Zevia (my favorite sweet drink) – no more than a few a week
- Protein Bars – no more than one a day
- Maple Syrup / Honey – a teaspoon or two a few times a week as a sweetener
- Alcohol – 1-2 nights a week (reasonable amounts :).
- Relaxed Meals – More on these below.
Allow yourself a little more room to indulge in terms of food items, but shy away from extra snacking, and try to stay within your hand estimates.
Tips for Relaxed Meals / Cheat Meals
Keep yourself sane, and enjoy whatever you’d like, but have some boundaries.
The easiest way to frame this is to avoid “cheat days,” and instead, give yourself a reasonable number of relaxed meals each week.
My goal is 1-2 relaxed meals per week. I eat enough to enjoy, but not to be overly full.
If we eat out, my wife and I typically share a meat & veggie option and another dish that’s typically more indulgent. We’re still enjoying the experience of going out, but safeguarding against overeating, limiting our intake of less healthy foods, and still getting some protein, carbs, fat, & veggies.
These meals are also the times we tend to have some alcohol. We recommend shying away from higher calorie options (cocktails, mixed drinks, IPAs, sweet wines, etc) and opting for lower calorie options like dry wine, champagne, or single ingredient liquor.
Occasionally we’ll go to a pizza or burger place where healthier options are totally off the menu. We’ll have what we want, but try to keep it within our typical hand portions.
I also plan for an average of one special circumstance each week – birthday party, drink with a friend, etc. So this gives me a range of 1-3 relaxed meals per week.
Having a limited range of relaxed meals, but still some flexibility, and knowing that I can be reasonable with quantity, allows me to rest easy. I know this is not enough to derail my healthy eating (especially during a maintenance phase), and I don’t feel over-restricted.
Tracking Sheet: How to Mark Your Final Two Weeks
For the final two weeks of the challenge, continue to adhere to your quantity, timing, hydration, and sleep guidelines. Continue to update the QUALITY row, but (1) make a list of guidelines for yourself (similar to my bullets above). If you stay within those guidelines, still mark a check. If you fall off the wagon, mark an X. Lastly, mark an “R” on any day that you have a relaxed meal.
Remember the idea here is to continue to eat within our healthy guidelines for most meals, but to give yourself a little more flexibility in the long run.
Continue to eat as close to the challenge guidelines as you reasonably can. Limit your intake of things on the “Avoid” list to a couple times a week, and keep getting protein, carbs, fat, & veggies at every meal.
Good luck this week, and here’s to making healthy eating a long term endeavor!
Challenge Update: Friday, 2/5
We’re ending our 3rd week of the challenge! I hope you were able to pick-up some new habits and skills this week.
This past week we focused on simplifying our meal prep and refining our daily quantity. Next week we’ll focus on variety.
This Week’s Focus: Variety
In order for your body to function optimally, you need a wide variety of macro and micronutrients (vitamins & minerals).
Adverse health effects are often a result of eating the same foods over and over again. For example, red meat can be healthy, but if you eat mostly red meat as your protein source, your saturated fat and omega 6 fatty acid intake will likely be too high.
Vegetables are almost always a healthy option, but plants contain anti-nutrients as well. In small doses, these anti-nutrients likely won’t have a lasting effect on the body, but if you always eat the same vegetables, you can overload your system with too much of a specific anti-nutrient.
In addition, if we always consume the same foods (even if healthy food), you’ll get some vitamins and minerals contained in those foods, but will likely miss out on several other essential nutrients.
The same holds true for less healthy foods. Two easy examples here are high fructose corn syrup and omega 6 fatty acids. Both are found in most processed foods. Your body needs omega 6 fatty acids, and it processes fructose just fine when consumed in whole foods like fruit; however, if you eat processed foods too frequently, you’re likely consuming too much processed fructose and too much omega 6 – which can lead to a whole host of health issues.
So the best insurance policy for getting all the nutrients your body needs without over-consuming any specific nutrient – is variety.
For your meal prep this week, make it your goal to add one new item to each macronutrient category on your 3 per shopping list.
This is also an easy and useful rule to use for all of your future meal preps. Don’t try to buy all new items every week. Rotate one new item in and one old item out from each macro category. This will give you enough variance in your food choices without overwhelming you, or making food prep too difficult.
Evaluate Your Tracking Sheet
What are you doing well, and what do you need to improve? What other trends can you find?
Let’s evaluate my sheet as an example:
- Quality is my biggest win so far. I’ve been able to stay within the parameters everyday but 1.
- Quantity was my biggest hurdle in week 1. It’s gotten better, but is still the thing I’m working on the most.
- Timing has been good most days, but I’m seeing a trend of missing this goal on Wednesdays because I have an altered work schedule that day. I need to be more proactive in planning my meals on Wednesdays.
- Water was good week 1, but I gave it no focus on week 2, and my sheet showed it. This was an easy fix this week – I’ve simply been more diligent about keeping my water bottle nearby,.
- Sleep is by far my biggest gap. I’m not hitting 7-8 hours most nights, but I have added 30min on average since the beginning of the challenge, and will continue to work on it.
Do a similar evaluation of your sheet to see what changes you need to make and where you need to apply more focus or effort.
Saturday marks the halfway point of the challenge, but the hard part is mostly over. As a reminder here’s how our weeks are broken down:
Weeks 1-4: As strict as you can reasonably be – following as many of the guidelines on the challenge rules sheet as possible.
Weeks 5-6: Keeping what you’ve learned from the challenge, but allowing leeway for occasional sugar, alcohol, and other items on the “Avoid” list. I’ll give more guidance on this in next week’s update.
Something we did not cover in depth in the seminar was supplementation. Most of your vitamins and minerals should come from whole food; however, supplementation can still be helpful. I recommend getting a vitamin panel done the next time you have blood work. This will let you know if you’re deficient in any specific vitamins or minerals, which may warrant taking other supplements. That said, three blanket supplements that we recommend to almost everyone are:
Krill oil is packed with the omega 3 fatty acids – EPA & DHA. Most of us don’t get enough omega 3 fatty acids in our food, and EPA & DHA have been shown to help the body function optimally in every stage of life. Other benefits include:
- A slowed rate in attrition of telomeres (a well-known marker for aging)
- A delayed rate of brain aging and atrophy
- A reduction of inflammation
- An increase in HDL (“good” cholesterol) and reduction in triglycerides
I take 1 capsule of this brand daily
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient and hormone that affects our bone density, immunity, longevity, executive function, and more… And 70% of Americans do NOT meet the requirements for sufficient vitamin D levels. Also, research is pointing to a potential link between vitamin D deficiency and complications related to COVID-19.
The most recent recommendations I’ve read is to take 5,000 IUs daily.
I take 10 drops of this Vitamin D Supplement from Thorne daily
Protein powder gets into the bloodstream quickly; partly because it’s already broken down into a fine powder. This is why it’s best utilized during or after a workout when your body needs quickly digestible nutrients. Whey protein is typically your best option. It has a full profile of BCAAs (what protein is eventually broken into, and then used as building blocks for cells / muscles), and it sits higher on the glycemic index than other proteins (which is actually a good thing post workout when your body is depleted of glucose). Adding 20-30g of protein powder after your workout is also a good way to get to the total amount of protein you need in a given day.
2nd InBody Scan – 2/22 – 3/5
Just to put it on your radar – Sign-ups for your 2nd InBody scan will be out in the lobby starting Monday 2/15. Time slots will be available from Monday, 2/22 through Friday, 3/5
Evaluate your tracking sheet, add some variety, and get your meal prep done this weekend. Here’s to another week of healthy eating, consistent exercise, and plenty of sleep :).
Challenge Update: Saturday, 1/30
Here’s our week 2 challenge update. Simplify your meal prep, dial-in your quantity, and learn to find a healthy mental balance around food this upcoming week!
This Weekend’s Meal Prep: Simplify
For this weekend’s prep. Stick with the items that you found were (1) easy to prep and (2) that you ate through the quickest during the week. If you noticed any holes in your prep from last week, try to fix those (e.g. we ran out of protein sources a couple days early).
We’ll work toward adding more variety to our prep next week.
Next Week’s Focus: Quantity
Use the upcoming week to work on your quantity. Personally, y current hurdles are more accuracy and consistency. I did a good job including protein, carbs, fat, and veggies at all meals this week, but I did NOT do a great job adhering to the hand portion estimates.
If you’ve already nailed the accuracy and consistency piece, start honing in on your body’s hunger / fullness cues. It’s okay to be a little hungry (if you’re recovering well from your workouts and have plenty of energy), but if you’re constantly hungry, adjust your hand estimates up by 1/2 of a meal.
Adjusting Intake Up:
Men: Add 1 palm protein, 1 hand carbohydrate, 1 fist veggies, & 1 thumb fat to your daily intake
Women: Add 1/2 palm protein, 1/2 hand carbohydrate, 1/2 fist veggies, & 1/2 thumb fat to your daily intake
If you’re feeling overly full, adjust your hand estimates down by 1/2 meal.
Adjusting Intake Down:
Men: Subtract 1 palm protein, 1 hand carbohydrate, 1 fist veggies, & 1 thumb fat from your daily intake
Women: Add 1/2 palm protein, 1/2 hand carbohydrate, 1/2 fist veggies, & 1/2 thumb fat from your daily intake
If you make an adjustment, stick to it for the entire week to give your body time to adapt. Then decide whether or not to adjust again.
Don’t Be Over-Restrictive
While there’s value in learning discipline around food, a downfall of challenges can be the rebound from over-restriction. This rebound often comes in the form of losing motivation, falling off the plan, and even binge eating during the challenge, or quickly reverting to old habits after the challenge.
Everyone comes into a challenge with different levels of experience and motivation, so it’s hard to draw the line of “here’s what you should and shouldn’t eat.”
In the long run, you need to eat enough whole food with some semblance of balanced macronutrients (and minimize your intake of processed foods) in order to stay healthy, perform well, and have a nutrition plan that you can actually stick to.
If you take all the joy out of eating, or create a famine mentality around food, you’ll stay on the roller coaster of short term dieting followed by a total abandonment of healthy eating.
Part of the process is figuring out a level of restriction and balance that keeps you the most consistent.
When Renee and I are not in the middle of challenge, our level is “as healthy as possible – outside of a couple meals on the weekend.” This doesn’t mean we binge at those meals. We’re smart about the quantity we order and have a reasonable portion of whatever we want.
We typically don’t plan relaxed meals during the week, but if a dinner with family or friends pops-up, we don’t restrict ourselves. We try to eat as healthy as we can earlier in the day, and once again try to be reasonable with portions.
We stick to the guidelines of having healthy protein, carb, fat, & veggie options available, and don’t buy much processed food, so we know a large majority of our meals will still be healthy, and we never feel like “healthy eating is too hard” or “this is too restrictive”.
These same principle can apply to a challenge – We want you to practice some discipline, try some new things, and develop new habits, but don’t be overly-restrictive.
Don’t look at the challenge like, “If I eat something on the avoid list – I failed.”… Rather, “Let’s aim for the bullseye, and get as close as we can.”
If you stay perfectly within the guidelines for all 6 weeks, great! If you’re eating better, making progress, but not perfect, that’s great too!
Eat better, find some balance, and don’t make yourself miserable.
Questions from Week 2
Is Ezekiel Bread Challenge Approved?
Someone asked this question at the seminar, and I originally said no. Mainly because I do think it’s beneficial to remove bread from your diet for a period of time because many of us overly-rely on it as a carbohydrate source, so this pushes you to try other options.
That said, I do believe Ezekiel bread is healthy. So if you’re trying to get by with other carb sources (fruit, veggies, unprocessed grains), but just can’t seem to make it work, I say it’s OK TO INCLUDE Ezekiel Bread as a healthy carb source, but try to avoid all other types of bread.
If you’re interested in what Ezekiel Bread is, check out this post.
Food prep is taking longer than expected. What should I do?
The first couple attempts will take more time, but don’t give up. Keep the things you liked from last week’s food prep, and try one or two new items this week. Also, don’t get hung up making full recipes – Prep mostly ingredients that can be mixed and matched for various meals throughout the week.
Last week we made two proteins in the crockpot (chicken & pork), cubed & baked sweet potatoes, chopped onions and peppers, and Renee made a frittata – That was the extent of our prep duties.
The remainder of our grocery haul required no prep until we were ready to grab or make.
We kept salmon in the fridge, which took about 10 minutes to pan fry one evening. We used eggs for omelets, scrambles, and more. Bought snack-sized carrots and peppers + dip, along with several types of fruit, some nuts, and greens.
The trick for us is to fully prepare a few staple items that can be put together in 5 minute or less (to pack a lunch or for a snack), and then having other ingredients that are ready to use and easy to mix and match for breakfasts or dinners. We typically dedicate about 15 minutes each for making breakfast and dinner. It fits our schedule, and it’s not so much of a time burden that its keeps us from making a meal.
Keep Logging into Wodify
Workout consistency, along with improved nutrition and sleep, will be your fastest path to results. Keep recording your workouts in Wodify so we can track your weekly average.
Keep Updating Your Tracking Sheet
This is a good daily reminder to focus on our five categories (Quality, Quantity, Timing, Sleep, & Hydration), and it’s required for our final challenge scoring. Come up with a consistent daily time to mark your challenge checklist, and keep it up to date!
Do the simple stuff. Refine your shopping, prepping, and meal planning on the weekend. Keep viewing your food through the lens of “protein, carbs, fat, veggies”, and start to dial-in your quantity.
Here’s to improving our nutrition a little more this week!
Challenge Update: Friday, 1/22
Challengers – I hope your first week is going well! As we head into the weekend I wanted to give some reminders, ideas, and objectives for meal prep:
- Make a 3 per shopping list before you go
- Keep shopping convenient – Go to where you always shop
- Keep your food prep simple
- Put 90min of “Prep Time” on your calendar
*Keep updating your tracking sheet and remember to sign-in to Wodify so we can track your weekly workout totals.
We’ve had some questions about sauces & dips, so we wanted to give some challenge approved ideas here. Biggest things to look for are simple ingredients (ideally no vegetable or seed oils), and no / minimal added sugar. If a sauce has less than 3g of sugar, I say it’s okay, as long as you keep an appropriate serving size. All of the examples below can be found at Kroger. Those brands are generally healthy and have several other flavors / options.
I also wanted to give some simple snack ideas, and show you how to view some foods as combo items in terms of macronutrients. Follow the row across to make a full balanced snack. The biggest wins in this category for most of us are: (1) not reaching for processed food, and (2) getting some semblance of macronutrient balance when we snack. The first two options are better because they include veggies. The third is a decent option, and can help satisfy the want for a sweet snack.
|Hard Boiled Eggs||Hard Boiled Eggs||Carrots / Dip||Celery / Dip|
|Tuna or Salmon||Raw Cashews||Apple||Peppers / Dip|
|Greek Yogurt (plain / full fat)||Greek Yogurt (plain / full fat)||Frozen Berries||X|
In the instance of the hardboiled eggs, the whites are mostly protein and the yolks are mostly fat – making it a combo macronutrient item. For the Greek yogurt – Full fat dairy tends to be what’s best digested, and it creates a lower spike in blood glucose versus low fat dairy options. Full fat also allows you to count this item as your fat & protein. I prefer plain because it’s less likely to have added sugar. Adding your own fruit gives it sweetness in its most natural and healthy form – providing fiber, vitamins, and minerals along with the other natural sugars in fruit.
Lastly, I wanted to give some ideas for meal prep:
- Remember that a weekly bulk food prep is probably the single most important thing you can do for your health. When your coworkers want to go to Wendy’s for lunch, or when the week gets busy and you don’t have time to make dinner, having healthy food already prepared is the one thing that will keep you eating towards your goals.
- Schedule it on your calendar – Improving your health will improve all other areas of your life. Most of us don’t bat an eye at scheduling a hair appointment, or spending time watching our favorite TV show. If improving your health is important, then make weekly bulk prep a priority, and schedule it in advance.
- Clean up is half the battle. When you typically make a meal, cleaning pots, pans, and dishes takes as much time as cooking. If you do a bulk prep, you only have to clean pots and pans once, saving you time throughout the rest of the week.
- Chop your veggies, but don’t cook. Veggies keep longer when uncooked. We commonly chop up peppers, onions, and carrots. Then use them in salads, omelets, or even for a quick stir fry during the week.
- Chop your protein after you cook it and before you put it away. This makes it easier to portion out when making meals throughout the week. Also, you bypass the need for knives/cutting if you plan on packing it for a lunch or snack.
- Cook your carbs. Things like potatoes and rice can last a full week after cooking if stored properly. Also, a fun fact about potatoes, every time you heat and cool them, their glycemic index (sugar response) lowers.
- Stock up on pantry staples. Some go-tos are salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne, and garlic. Olive oil is a great healthy option for dressings and cooler temps. We suggest avocado oil, coconut oil, or beef tallow for most cooking. Balsamic and apple cider vinegar are great for marinating and/or dressings. Many hot sauce brands have no added sugar, so just check the label. Tessemae, Primal Kitchen, and Siete Foods also make high quality condiments.
- Use Tricks for Easier Clean-up. The first thing that comes to mind at our house is throwing a sheet of aluminum foil over our pans before roasting potatoes or other veggies. This way if potatoes stick, it’s no sweat, and cleaning our pans is no more than a simple wipe down.
- Frozen Fruit is a great item to have around to satisfy a sweet tooth, and it keeps for months. It’s also a great item to add to smoothies (along with some greens, protein powder, and nut butter) for a meal on the go.
- Frozen Vegetables are also a great option if you need something quick and are worried about your veggies going bad before you make them. You can never have enough vegetables, and the more colors on your plate the better as you’ll have a wider variety of vitamins and minerals.
- Instead of recipes, mix and match ingredients to make meals. The problem with recipes in a traditional sense is one ingredient often only applies to one meal. Once your food is prepped, you can make dozens of different meals by mixing and matching one of your three proteins, carbs, fats, and vegetable sources from your 3 Per shopping list.
- Break Paradigms – “Eggs are only for breakfast” or “I only eat salads for lunch” are almost social norms, but don’t be afraid to have foods that are traditionally eaten at another time for any meal of the day. Your body appreciates the nutrients at any time and it won’t discriminate. For example, a salad with eggs over-easy on greens with apples, balsamic, and avocado can be an easy and delicious dinner.
- Create a system of starting with items that take the longest. For example, we’ll drop a pork loin in the crockpot, and throw chicken breasts in to marinate with apple cider vinegar, salt/pepper, and avocado oil for 15-30 minutes. We’ll then get to got to work cubing sweet potatoes to bake, and chopping veggies for storage. Within an hour, the chicken chicken is baked, grilled or transferred to another crockpot, sweet potatoes are baked, and veggies are chopped. It may take a few tries to get all of your items timed just right, but this is an easy rule to work towards.
- Put food away once it’s portioned out for meals. This one is more of a behavioral trick than a prep trick. You’re more likely to overeat if you leave your extra food / containers sitting out. Anyone else ever eat half a jar of peanut butter that was left on the counter? Use your hand estimates to portion out your servings when making a meal, and then put the rest away.
- Focus on the essential tools. A knife, large bowl, a few pans, a crockpot or an Instant Pot, big cutting board, baking sheets, spatulas, tongs, and mixing spoons are all you really need to help complete your food prep. Remember, clean-up is half the battle. Find the big tools that you can utilize for the biggest number of tasks, and stick with those.
Keep dedicating a little time each day to focus on your nutrition, email me know if you have any questions, and I’ll check back in next Friday.
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