On Season Diet and Shopping Advice
So I am two weeks out from the OCB Yankee classic. I am very excited about this show, it was my best placing last year, 2nd, and it was a great show overall. This year I am hoping to win my novice division and place in the top 5 of the open class. Thus far I am feeling great. My cardio is good. My diet has been strict, but I have been able to enjoy the food I eat and let loose when I need to. My strength has stayed constant and in some places even increased. I am on my deload week from 5/3/1 so I have just been having fun in the gym and throwing weights around for all kinds of rep ranges.
Advice on Diet and Shopping:
When the average person reads about a new diet there are two things they normally do: 1) they go through their fridge and pantry to clear out everything that doesn’t fit the new diet; 2) then they go shopping for new food to fill up the fridge. This is fine, everyone needs a little spring cleaning now and again, plus I’m sure I am not the only person who’s fridge becomes inexplicably filthy by the end of the month. However, the problem with this is two fold; 1) you end up buying a bunch of new food you haven’t tried before and don’t know if you like 2) and you spend a SHIT TON!!! more money on you groceries.
So what is the solution to this problem? Well there isn’t one, people are going to keep doing this until they realize there is a better way. As for the rest of you who are looking for a better way here is my opinion. First off you want to avoid crazy diets, no carbs, no fat, no meat, no fish, no grains, no gluten…the word “no” is presuming. People don’t stop and think about what completely stopping something means. Some of these foods you have been eating your whole life, others you haven’t, some you haven’t ever tired. Therefore, combining all these changes and trying to do a total 180°on your body and diet is not a fantastic idea. What you want is consistency, and a well-rounded diet. When I diet the major thing that I fluctuate my calories from a max of 7,000 calories in my off-season to around 1,700 in contest prep. During most of my diet my macronutrient breakdown for protein, carbs, and fat is around 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat. That can change, but those are good starting base numbers.
So what this means is if you shop smart, stick to a regimented diet, and stay consistent, not only are you going to save money on shopping but you are going to see a lot better results then if you do some silly crash diet every month. What I am going to do is break down the major purchases I make every 2 weeks during my “on-season” diet to fit these macronutrient requirements.
PROTEIN: (chicken breasts, beef round, steak tips, canned tuna fish, rotisserie chicken) The chicken breast is just a protein staple, it is the leanest of the meats, but it is pricy running around $3-4 per pound. Then come steaks, whether steak tips or beef round, you want make sure the fat per 4oz of steak is around 9-10g. That way an 8oz steak comes out to about 20g of fat. I find steak best eaten after training, as your last meal and a little red meat treat for your day of clean eating. Steak is usually the most expensive meat, ranging from $2-5 per pound. Then comes my favorite, the rotisserie chicken. A lot of people are going to say there is way too much fat in rotisserie chicken, etc. but a little fat is good. Basically, I use these pre-cooked lifesavers as beef substitute during my diet as kind of a change of pace from beef. Usually, rotisserie chicken costs around $5 a container. Generally, one chicken seems to have about 24oz of meat on it. So that is roughly 3 meals for $5 dollars, not a bad deal. The last and cheapest thing is tuna fish. I use canned chuck light tuna from bumblebee. A good market will have these for a 5-for-$5 deal. I normally get about 10 cans. These are the cheapest protein source, but there is a lot of concern about the mercury. However, the studies I have read seem to tell conflicting stories, so I figure for the time being it is safe enough. If you notice I don’t have any eggs, I am not a big egg guy, they don’t sit well with me, but I will occasionally have some eggbeaters or egg whites in my oatmeal.
CARBOHYDRATES: (sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, whole-grain pasta, whole grain bread) Carbs are the cheapest thing to buy. Sweet potatoes are a great carb source, they are nice and sweet, and if you add a little BBQ sauce…. “LITTLE”… they are amazing. Also nice and quick to cook, just throw them in the microwave or oven. They are cheap and I usually get about 5-10 for 2 weeks, costing me around $10. Brown rice is also nice and cheap, about $1-2 a box. I like the minute rice, but it isn’t very good in terms of quality, it is just easy to make. Usually, you can find a sale on the big boxes of brown rice. You can use the rice to mix with chicken or have with steak or any of the other proteins. Oatmeal is a bodybuilding tradition at this point. Make it in the morning, mix it with protein, mix it with eggs or whatever the hell you want! They are also like the cheapest thing on the planet, a month worth of oats will cost you around $10. Pasta is something I like to treat myself to. The whole grain is to help increase the amount of fiber I get, and I will add a little tomato sauce with the pasta when I make it, which is just a little extra carb and veggie in the pasta dish. Pasta is also extremely inexpensive, costing around $1-2 a box. The bread is mostly for my tuna fish sandwich. These are great to take to work, good to eat cold, tasty as hell with a little BBQ sauce. I usually get some whole grain high fiber bread to keep my fiber up. A loaf of bread usually last me about a week, and two of these work out to around $4.
FAT: (peanut butter, olive oil, nuts, protein bars, etc.) These are all just basic fat additions. You can have these as snacks, with meals, added to meals, whatever. For me the thing I use the most is a protein bar. Revolution bars, pureprotein.net, have a great macro nutrient breakdown with 6g of fat, 17g of carbs, and 20g of protein. Sometimes I will have some peanut butter, but mostly I get my fat from the red meat and the protein bars. I generally spend around $5-10 for the additional fat stuffs.
VEGGIES: (romaine heads, broccoli, strawberries/fruits) OH YOU THOUGHT I FORGOT!!! I try to eat around 3-5 large servings of veggies a day, during the entire year. Fruit and veggies help clean out your intestine, which in turn allows you to better absorb you food and most importantly protein. It is always essential to have veggies in your diet! I like romaine heads because they are cheap and you can make one salad out of eat head, which gives you a solid serving of veggies. I am all about the frozen bags of broccoli, I know everyone is going to say the fresh ones are so much better, but I just find the quickness of frozen veggies to be clutch. I will add broccoli to my low carb meals to fill me up, usually mixing them with chicken breast and a little BBQ sauce. As for fruits, Strawberries are my favorite in general. They are cheap, have great antioxidants, and you can add them to tasty salads. These veggies will help keep your fiber high and food absorption speed up. From studies around 20-40g of fiber is a good amount. I usually spend about $20 on veggies as a whole.
THE $$ BREAKDOWN: For protein I spend the most, around $40-50, around $20-25 on carbs, $15-20 on veggies, and $5-10 on fat. That means for two weeks of food, and this is on a mostly low calories diet, between 1,700-3,000 calories, I spend around $100-110 dollars. To some this may be a lot to spend, for others this may be common. Where you shop makes a big difference, as does the location of the supermarket. However, by sticking with these basic foods you are ensured a solid base for your diet, and a less expensive receipt at the register. Also any additions, like my favorite thing in the world BBQ sauce, hot sauce, or others seasonings are fine to use as long as they are used in moderation. It is fine to add a little flavor, but you don’t want the addition to substantially affect your macronutrient breakdown. One serving of whatever sauces you use is not going to kill you or ruin your diet.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Have fun with your diet. Experiment. Make the diet fit your personal needs, desires, etc. A diet may work for some, but not others. I don’t want this list to be an order of what to eat, instead it should give you some healthy foods that you can add to your own diet, and learn what works best for yourself.