I have mostly taught myself what I know about nutrition, I mean you don’t have to look hard to find information on this topic (Bless the internet)…
The only issue is the abundance of information and conflicting information as well.
So this requires sourcing journal material that has been peer-reviewed and gone through particular scientific scrutiny…and they usually aren’t much fun to read. The other disadvantage to this is that you often end up over complicating nutrition; if you look at the definition of diet, it means “What you eat”, not what is commonly thought, which is “restricted eating”. On the other hand, nutrition is concerned with the micro and macro nutrients of a given food and what is essential for life.
So what did I have to learn…well I had to “unlearn” a lot of what I knew and go back to basics…
Don’t get me wrong, knowledge is important, it’s the difference in eating 60g of total fats vs. 100g of fat in a day (which is the difference of nearly 400 calories) and having it as a pre-workout and not after. However, there is no need to over complicate eating, and label foods as good or bad or even follow a diet trend like Paleo, clean eating or IIFYM (if it fits your macros).
Trust me, I’ve done it all, I’ve been a clean eater and flexible dieter, and they both taught me valuable eating habits; for example,
- Clean eating taught me how base my main calorie sources from whole foods and to nourish my body, but it also taught me about food restriction and that it isn’t healthy.
- IIFYM taught me how to gauge portion sizes and find balance when trying to recover from food restriction mentality, and it also taught me the importance of eating the right amount of protein for my muscle mass (about 1g per lb of lean bodyweight) and to be careful with calorie dense macros such as fats. But it doesn’t teach you to eat for your hormones, and I found that to be a big problem when trying to recover from stress and anxiety induced amenorrhea.
Now I’m an eater… I eat for performance and optimal hormone levels.
Which in the most part means eating like a clean eater but I understand moderation when I CHOOSE to eat food that are considered processed or not healthy; I don’t limit anything, and I eat what I crave, with some very simple guidelines.
- Start your day with a large complete meal (with a good ratio of protein, carbs and fats) then, generally every other meal after that should have a source of protein and a fruit and/or vegetable.
- Workout nutrition is simple, I try to focus on healthy carb sources around my workout, a pre-workout is usually a fast acting carbohydrate and a fat and post workout is protein and complex carbohydrate (Fast and Complex relates to their glycemic Index and the speed in which food is metabolized into a sugar and promotes an insulin response).
That’s it, those are my nutrition guidelines. Always try to eat different sources of all those macros, to benefit from the different vitamins, minerals and fiber those foods may have to offer.
A typical day for me usually starts with pancakes haha…no jokes. Or French toasts!
- Then I’ll have lunch which is usually a lean protein source like chicken, with lots of greens and veggies with rice or a wrap or some sweet potatoes.
- In the afternoon I’ll have a “super woman” protein smoothie, with maca powder, chia seeds, spinach, hemp seeds, banana and berries, cottage cheese or yogurt and spinach mixed with almond milk.
- Pre-workouts – rice cakes with banana and almond/peanut butter, sometimes I’ll have pop tarts, toast or any homemade cookies or cakes I have made – Just something with fast acting carbs and some fats.
- Dinner once again is a lean meat and veggies, sweet potato or pumpkin or rice (complex carb)
- And if I’m still feeling “hungry” (I used to never not have dessert out of habit, now I have it 2 to three times a week) and I usually have some Greek yogurt with a nut butter or dark chocolate and protein.
In today’s society, the “dieting” mentality is so entrenched into everything around us, it’s easy to understand why people have a strange relationship with food. One of the biggest issues related to food and diet is the emotion of guilt, believing that it’s not ok to have that chocolate or a slice of cake with coffee when you’re out with friends for example…
In my opinion the impact of guilt on the body is far more destructive than 1 piece of cake could ever be.
So never feel guilty about enjoying time with friends, and eating something “bad” or labeling it a “cheat meal” (the word “cheat” only reinforces the guilt), just enjoy it, and move on. Providing you nourish your body well the rest of the day…a piece of cake won’t do jack!
Obviously, you can’t give in to every craving all the time, moderation is important, so picking times when you will take the time to enjoy it and knowing the difference between an emotional craving and physical cravings will help.
The other option, especially with hormonal cravings, is to replace a food your craving with something you have made yourself or a slightly more nutrient dense version; because essentially, what you’re craving is a vitamin or mineral within that food…not all the sugar, salt and fat that comes with it. I often make my own muffins or cookies (with CHOCOLATE) in occasions like that as opposed to restricting myself from a food that, in all honesty, won’t make me feel that optimal after I eat it anyway, nor kill the craving a lot of times.
My favorite food is… pancakes… I often make chocolate ones because it’s like hitting those cravings on the head first thing in the morning. It feels like your having something naughty when really you’re not!
So I thought I’d share my favorite recipe with you:
These pancakes have a whooping 40g of protein and 20g of FIBER! That’s more than half of your daily requirements of fiber. Not to mention good fats from the peanut butter and antioxidants from the cacao and raspberries. Truly a super breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Nikki’s Healthy Pancake Ingredients
- 100g raw cauliflower (you heard me!)
- 50g oats
- 20g vegan choc chips (or whatever choc chips you wish)
- 100ml egg white (can use whole eggs but then i would omit the nut butter or choc chips and no one wants to do that!)
- 1tblsp psyllium husk
- 1 scoop protein (i used vanilla proto-whey but obviously chocolate would be better)
- 40g cottage cheese (can omit if wanting dairy free)
- 1 tbsp. cacao
- 50g raspberries
- 20g peanut butter (I used Mayver’s cacao peanut spread)
Nikki’s Healthy Pancakes Directions
- Blend Protein, egg, oats, husk, cauliflower, cacao and cottage cheese till smooth and no cauliflower lumps – may need to add some water depending on your protein to get the right consistency.
- Pour in most the choc chips and stir through.
- Spray your skillet with some coconut oil and evenly distribute your mixture into the size of pancake you want.
- Flip when bubbles start to form and cook for another minute or so. Repeat for entire mixture.
- Plate up in a stack or platter then drizzle peanut spread, sprinkle remaining choc chips and raspberries!
- Eat Up!
There you have it, my perspective on a very controversial and the often over complicated topic of diet and nutrition!
Honor your hunger. Eat for performance and to feel optimal. Eat to promote hormonal health; and don’t miss out on the special occasion and end up feeling deprived.
There is more to life then “dieting”, get in touch with your cravings and listen to your body to understand what your body is truly telling you it needs!
Stay tuned for next week’s Workout & Training post by Nikki!
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