Science can make nutrition complicated. While a deeper level of nutrition knowledge can certainly be useful, what we often get through the media are little bits of information that’s never paired with an overall philosophy.
It becomes especially hard when faced with nutritional science that seems to contradict itself.
Here is SPC’s guide to a simple diet. This is based on SPC’s hugely successful body composition plan which has seen 10 of our members lose over 40kg combined in 6 weeks!
This diet assumes you’re working out reasonably hard at least several days a week. If you’re not doing that, start. If you don’t plan on doing that, you’re probably on the wrong website.
Builders & Energy Providers
Think of food in terms of two categories: builders and energy providers. It’s simple, and it works. You can also add a third category: stuff that keeps you healthy. This paradigm matches nicely with the primary functions of nutrients, which are to provide energy, build and repair tissue, and regulate metabolism.
This is important for building muscle (yes, building muscle is important when dieting). The stuff that does this job is protein and fat. On this diet, you can eat as much natural, unprocessed protein as you want, whilst adding in some essential fats when cooking or drizzled as a dressing on salad.
Here are some examples:
- Red meat (organic only)
- Eggs (whites or whole)
- Chicken (with/without the skin)
- Turkey (with/without the skin)
- Fish (with/without the skin)
- Plant Based alternatives
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
You’ll notice that we push unprocessed foods. Slicing turkey meat from an actual turkey breast is better than opening a package of pressed mechanically separated turkey parts. You already know this!
One of the rules of this diet is that you have to eat fish at least twice a week, and the more the merrier. However, fish from a can doesn’t count – it’s not off-limits, but it doesn’t count toward your twice-a-week total. Non-farmed fish is ideal, but work with what you have access to. Avoid things like mayonnaise, peanut butter, and sour cream. Mayo is too processed and peanut butter and sour cream, while natural, are better for weight gain, and this is a weight loss program. If you find yourself losing weight too fast and aren’t trying to get ultra lean, you can add those foods back in.
This is where carbs fall. This is not a low-carb diet – those diets can work but can be a pain to follow, not to mention they cause intense workouts to suck. This diet will have carbs, but they’ll be of the healthy sort.
Here’s what you can eat:
- Potatoes (any version in its natural state)
- Sweet potatoes (ideal)
- Rice (any version)
- Oats (any version but steel cut preferred)
- Any fruit
- Any veggies
You may have unlimited amounts of any of the foods from either of the above categories. Yes, unlimited. However, aim to eat your carbohydrates post workout only. For example, avoid carbohydrates in your first couple of meals of the day, instead focusing on protein, vegetables and fats (vegetables have minimal carbohydrates).
Starting your day with protein and fats can elevate the stimulating neurotransmitters which can improve energy levels and set you up for a productive day. Eating the majority of carbohydrates after you have trained is potentially a good thing to do because you would have depleted glycogen stores in your body which makes it now super sensitive to insulin. Carbs are therefore more likely to be stored as energy rather than fat! Give this a try, if you don’t feel you can train as hard before eating carbohydrates then add them back into your first couple of meals using the choices above.
Additionally, most people don’t crave natural foods, and there are far fewer reports of binging on chicken and rice than beer and wings. Natural foods are also enormously satisfying and contain more fibre, so they fill you up quicker. Natural foods are also much harder to come by. You can get junk food at 2 AM just by hitting up the drive thru or vending machine. Finally, natural foods tend to spoil, so you usually don’t have unlimited quantities lying around, and they’re expensive – so even if your head or stomach doesn’t tell you to stop eating, your wallet will.
You still might find yourself a bit hungry or experiencing cravings while on this diet. That’s expected, but it won’t be cravings for these foods.
You will have veggies at every meal. Yes, every meal, including breakfast. You can have whatever veggies you want, but fresh or frozen is preferred over canned. Your veggies should be bright and colourful and actually have taste. Peas, broccoli, shredded peppers, and mixed veggies are personal favourites, but have whatever you want. This will help you feel full, give you some energy, and along with the good fats, help take care of the third category, keeping you healthy.
Avoid any processed carbs, junk food, desserts, sugar, soda, and fruit juice – all off limits. Pasta and bread are also on the avoid list. Of course, you can eat that stuff if you must, just be aware that you’re cheating if you do. There are also no diet drinks allowed – no Diet Snapple, Pepsi One, Coke Zero, etc. They’re not natural things so they don’t qualify.
Basic rule, if the food doesn’t look pretty close to what came out of the ground, you can’t have it.
- Nuts. While healthy, nuts tend to slow down the weight loss process. If you’re losing weight too fast, or trying to gain a bit of muscle, then by all means include them. But for straight fat loss, go nut-free for a month and see what happens. You can then make a decision based on the results.
- Coffee. if you’re going to drink it in its relatively natural state (meaning your cup of joe doesn’t resemble a 30-ounce milkshake with caramel drizzle), then it’s likely okay.
- Milk.On this diet you will avoid it.
- Alcohol. From a health and fitness point of view, wine is the best. Try limiting wine to one or two times a week and see how you respond. Avoid beer or hard alcohol, although you can have them with your weekly cheat meal. Our rule of addiction holds true here, too, so if it’d be hard for you to go a month without booze, then now’s the time to stop and get it under control. After all; “No man is free who is not a master of himself.”
- Supplements. While no diet “needs” supplements, a good peri-workout protocol would be one of the first things I’d put back into a diet. A 30g serving of protein (whey or plant based) plus some carbohydrates (50g) would help to kick start the recovery process. Check out our supplements blog here.
- Cheating. You are allowed to eat one meal a week of whatever you like. This can help you stay on the straight and narrow for longer. Our advice would be to save it for a meal out with friends/family, rather than at home on the sofa. You have to make it worthwhile.
What to eat:
- Unlimited natural, unprocessed meat (chicken, turkey, red meat, wild game)
- Unlimited animal skin
- Unlimited natural fat
- Fish (not from a can) twice per week minimum
- Any plant based alternative
- Veggies with every meal, no exceptions
- Unlimited fruit
- Unlimited potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, and oats but preferably post training (in the afternoon/evening)
- If you follow the above rules, one meal per week eat whatever you want, as much as you want.
Note: Choose organic and/or high quality versions of the above foods whenever possible or as budgetary restrictions allow.
We hope this has helped you gain an understanding of what is required to eat a simple, but effective, diet. Check out the SPC podcast for all our latest nutritional information HERE