5 Simple Food Choice Tips

A. WHAT TO DO – SUMMARY

1. Use Paleo/Caveman/Evolutionary Nutrition as the foundation of your diet, and the first thing you think of when making food choices.  If it was around in caveman times you can eat it.  If man made it, don’t eat it.  If you can cut its head off or pluck it from the ground, it’s probably good to go.  If it’s neon blue and comes in a bag or box, it’s probably not great.

How far we’ve come, yet how far we’ve fallen.

2. Choose REAL foods (animals and plants) over REFINED foods (pretty much everything else).  Ditch the muffins to ditch the muffin top.

3. Choose NATURE’S foods (animals and plants) over self-proclaimed, processed & packaged “HEALTH” foods (refined oils, whole grain cereals and breads, 100 calorie snack bars, pro-biotic yogurts, health bars, etc.), except for poisonous mushrooms, which you should probably leave alone.

4. If you are an athlete or regular exerciser (especially strength training or any other high-intensity activity), you may want to add back in some starchy carbohydrates to support the physiological and metabolic demands of anaerobic exercise (muscle glycogen restoration, inhibiting protein breakdown/catabolic activity/muscle loss).  Drive a Ferrari around, and you need to fill up the gas tank.  If your Shaggin’ Station Wagon has been sitting in the garage, probably not so much.

5. A carb-based, traditional Japanese Village-style diet is a good template for active strength trainers/anaerobic athletes — basically a Caveman Diet plus some rice and root vegetables.  The Irish Farmer’s Diet (meat and potatoes), Okinawans (pork and sweet potatoes) and Kitavans (fish and root vegetables) are other good examples.

B. WHY YOU SHOULD DO IT — BULLETS

Bullet points seemed to0 geeky for me, so we’ll call them BULLETS.

PROVIDES A SIMPLE EDUCATIONAL TEMPLATE

  • The Caveman theme is a simple theme to remember and practically apply, thus it is a great educational tool for everyone: from advanced athletes who have been information overloaded by the fitness industry, all the way down to the complete beginner that doesn’t know (or care) much about nutrition, and needs a simple approach to get started.
  • Forget about mainstream media and marketing hype, and even scientific debate, and think about your physical appearance and health logically for a second.  Mass food refining has only been around for a tiny fragment of our existence.  We evolved on more natural diets.  So what kinds of foods do you really think are better for us — apples or Apple Jacks?

CUTS THROUGH THE DIET INDUSTRY BULLSH*T

  • The Caveman theme cuts through all of the nutrition myths and bias standards that are out there, which are highly influenced by the refined foods and supplement industries.  It places logic and common sense above all of the bullsh*t that is being marketed and sold to you.  We were lean and healthy long before magic fat burning pills, miracle detox cleanses, “health” foods, etc.  The foods we evolved on are much better for us than the foods we make.
  • Gets you to follow science and logic rather than gurus.  “But this authority or trainer said ‘x’ is good for me?” “But this celebrity or pro athlete is sponsored by ‘y’ company and says I need ‘z’ to be fit like them”.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  Maybe you do, maybe you don’t.  Phone a caveman friend to make sure.
  • It gives you the tough love truth.  Listen to what you WANT to hear for entertainment purposes or to “feel” like you are doing something healthy/good for yourself, even though you actually are NOT.  Listen to what you NEED to hear if you want a simple plan to start getting stuff done, and seeing real world results. The Caveman gives you that kick in the a$$ we all need from time to time.  You can keep spinning your wheels or you can start moving forward.
  • It calls bullsh*t on much of the “health” industry that preys on uniformed consumers.  Organic crap is still crap.  Gluten-free crap is still crap.  Organic, gluten-free cookies are still cookies, and are not that great for your health or body composition goals.  The Caveman can show you the true Way.  Wild salmon and spinach are gluten free as well.

crap is still crap, regardless of any marketing tag lines

MAY JUST SAVE YOUR LIFE

  • There are numerous real life, epidimiological studies of how when individuals from specific cultures  (Pima Indians, Inuit Tribes, Native Japanese, etc.) switch from their ancestral/traditional diets to a diet that resembles the modern American diet (highly refined foods), body fat skyrockets and biomarkers of health plummet.
  • I don’t want to use the fear-monger/scare tactic here, but its the truth, moving back to a more ancestral way of eating may just save you and your family’s life.  With modern Y2K eating, here are some scary stats: 2/3 of the U.S. adult population is overweight, 1/3 are obese, childhood obesity is at an all-time high, 26% of U.S. adults over 20 years of age, and 36% of adults over age 60 (over 57 million) have pre-diabetes, statisticians estimate that the number of people worldwide with diabetes will increase from 175 million in the year 2000 to 353 million in 2030, man boobs and muffin tops have reached epidemic proportions.

MERGES HEALTH ENHANCEMENT WITH PHYSIQUE ENHANCEMENT

  • It ensures a HEALTHY and sustainable approach to losing fat and changing your physique. There are many crash dieters who will follow uninformed plans based on fake diet foods, which leads to nutritional deficiencies and sets themselves up for huge weight rebounds and subsequent yo-yo’ing.
  • There are many athletes that look great on the outside, but are train wrecks internally. They are extremely unhealthy and dealing with side effects such as sleep disturbances, depression, elevated disease risk factors (blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar), metabolic damage, digestive disorders, and a lack of natural hormonal production/control as a result of performance enhancing drug usage, recreational drug usage, pharmaceutical drugs to combat medical symptoms, and poor food choices.  That’s not hardcore or tough my friends.  That’s just plain stupid.
  • If total calories are controlled, you can lose body fat eating Skittles and Ho-Ho’s, but what is that doing to your internal health?  As the late, great Serge Nubret once said, “Every sickness comes from food.”
  • I’m a vain piece of crap, so I, more than anyone, get that it is dropping fat and building a physique that turns heads, makes the opposite sex lust, blush, or stumble, etc., that really motivates us.  Health concerns seem meaningless when you are about to star in your own gun show or thong song.
  • But it is the health impacts of food that matter most in the long run, and should lie at the core of any worthwhile dietary approach. Who cares if you can look good at the beach if you are too sick to get there, or too depressed to enjoy it while you’re there? At the same time, I don’t care if I make it to 120 years old if I have to live and look like a goblin to do so.
  • “But I’ve eaten crap every night for the last 10 weeks and look good, and my biomarkers of health are OK?” Dude, talk to me in 10 years.  Take it from someone who has worked with clients of all ages, and former competitors with metabolic and hormonal damage — its the cumulative effects of our dietary habits over a lifetime that matter, not any 10-week time frame.
  • These goals, however, do NOT have to be mutually exclusive; as many uninformed athletes or non-athletic scientists would have you believe.  Its not an either or situation.  You can improve your health and improve your physique at the same time.  The food choices we make can merge those two goals together.

IS A LONG-TERM APPROACH VS. A QUICK FIX

  • Any plan can work for the short-term when motivation is high — say for an upcoming athletic event; or just for beach season or updating your Facebook page.
  • However, it is virtually impossible to stay in the relative calorie deficit necessary for fat loss, at least for any meaningful length of time, if you are making poor food choices. You can’t cut calories while eating crap and expect to stay the course.
  • This is where point systems or other calorie counting diets fail.  You’re not going to be able to stay on a diet plan for long eating low calorie lasagna, fudge cake, or “snack packs”.  Fake foods like this are just empty calories with no functional nutrients.  They have no effects on satiety or the hormones that regulate appetite and energy intake.  You will feel constantly hungry, deprived, and miserable dieting on these foods.  In other words, you will constantly feel like you are DIEting.

The Zombie Diet is not an optimal plan

  • That’s why people yo-yo on and off these plans.  They are not sustainable.  And it’s not because YOU went off the diet.  It’s because THE DIET was not sustainable in the first place
  • It’s easier to stay “faithful” to your fat loss plan when it emphasizes real, whole, natural melons (or nuts), I mean food. As an experiment, I’ve had female clients struggle to net 1200 calories a day and male clients 2000 calories a day when they cut out all refined foods (including oils), and ate only real foods.
  • It is much easier to stay in the calorie deficit necessary for fat loss, while still giving your body all of the essential nutrients and micronutrients it needs, indefinitely, IF you are emphasizing real foods.  Which means you can maintain a year-round fit physique, low body fat percentage, look awesome, AND have great health and vitality.  No more yo-yo’ing.

C. HOW TO DO IT – PRACTICAL APPLICATION

WHAT TO EAT

1. Eat low calorie, nutrient dense, real, natural, high satiety foods.  Eliminate high calorie, nutrient poor/empty calorie, packaged, refined, low satiety foods.

2. Eat wild, hormone/anti-biotic free, unprocessed, natural animal proteins.  They provide us with:  essential amino acids (for tissue maintenance – including lean muscle mass), essential fatty acids (for normal cellular and hormone production), vitamins and minerals (like B-vitamins, zinc, iron, etc.), and “good fats” (50% of the fat in beef is mononunsaturated).

3. Eat a variety of plant foods (fruits and vegetables).  They provide us with: fiber, different vitamins and minerals (A, C, calcium, potassium, etc.), natural antioxidants, and disease-fighting phytonutrients.

*That’s all you really need for survival and normal functioning.  The rest of what you take in is all about energy production.  And the human body is very adaptive.  It can use either carbs or fats as its primary fuel source.

4. I feel whole food fats are a better primary fuel source for certain demographics (sedentary, insulin resistant, diabetic, obese) = fat from animal protein foods, avocado, coconut, and nuts.

5. I feel carbohydrates (natural starches) are a better primary fuel source for other demographics (athletes and regular exercisers) = yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and rice.

If you found this post useful, please share it below.  I promise to give you a virtual high-5 or hug in return.  Anything more will have to OK’d by my wife.

Posted on October 4, 2012, in Nutrition. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Yes, unfortunately “gluten-free” marketing is now being used to sell a bunch of bullsh*t “health” foods. Veggies, whole fruits, animal proteins, etc. are all gluten free and are much better for you than gluten-free muffins, cookies, and other crap. Rice is cheap, and I think is a much better option than oatmeal. Oatmeal has a protein similar in it to gluten, and is a food sensitivity for many

  2. There’s a diet surrounding meat and potato’s….sign me up. Really though, great information. The diet industry hurts way too many people with their nonsense. Every time I see weight loss pills it kind of gives me a headache. They can really make people sick, too.
    You’re mostly right about the gluten free thing. I follow it, because it makes me sick, but they’re hawking all kinds of stuff at us, and overpricing it. I’m too poor for that, so I wind up over in the produce isle, which can’t be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. :) I only feel like I’m losing out on oatmeal. If it’s gluten free oatmeal, I think it’s 2 to 3 times higher in price than Quaker. I can’t wait for the fad to die out and for them to just price it like they normally would.

  3. Awesome post you break it down in such simple terms. Been on a paleo diet for 6 months now, train strength, and BJJ often. Dropped too much weight at one point, so I upped my white rice intake. Started to eat more after at night from your advice on Ferruggia’s site partial partial because i train late at night results are really great.

    Quick question, when we do night sessions i get to carb up a bit more from meals during the day. In the AM should I go full fast, or do you suggest anything light besides just eggs and what not? I have only 1 hour to wake and eat and get to class.

    Trying to balance energy without overeating. Which is the worst when training bjj, having someone on top of you with food in your stomach is horrid. Thanks Nate. Amazing blog.

  4. Right, for max fat loss diets I recommend getting the majority of your dietary fat as by-product of animal protein foods. No added fats.

  5. Nutrient dense food, difficuld to over eat, perfect diet, period !!

  6. this is great. but if you are regularly exercising, pretty well muscular, follow a paleo diet but are trying to shed those last few pounds, would it be wise to decrease nut consumption?

  7. Great! I am linking to it, but I expect a virtual high-5 or hug in return. ;) :D :))) That just made my day! :)

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