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In this month’s newsletter we talked about the notion of anti-fragility, how some systems crumble with added chaos, others maintain, and others still actually benefit. We encouraged you to find ways to improve yourself so that you come out on the other end of this pandemic a better you. One way we can do that is through our food.

Performance in the gym, performance during sports or hobbies, overall health, or a change in body composition are all directly correlated to the food we put in our mouths daily. Knowing what our bodies actually need and what constitutes real health is not self evident, and there’s A LOT of misinformation out there. Our aim is for you to be able to take a more sustainable and realistic approach to eating real food while living life and pursuing goals. We’re calling it a journey because it will change as we go, and though we’ll be done doing it together in 6 weeks it never really ends…not as long as you still eat food.

So, how’s it work? First off, I need to give credit where credit is due and recognize that these strategies are not my own, but the work of E.C. Synkowski, MS in Nutrition and Functional Medicine, and founder of  Optimizemenutrition.com. She is a friend and old co-worker of mine and I love her straight-forward and simple approach to nutrition. We’ll be using these strategies in a progression I’ve put together so it’s not a HUGE change all at once. I’ve tried these strategies myself, with others, and I’m currently using them to clean myself up from those first few weeks of lockdown.

We’re committing to 6 weeks and they breakdown as follows:

Weeks 1 and 2 – Fruits and Vegetables (FV)

We’ll start by taking a closer look at our fruit and vegetable intake and aiming to hit a target number of grams/day. For those that did the 800g challenge last time, you know all about this. We target 800g because this was the sweet spot found in a meta-analysis of 95 different studies, that showed a correlation of eating 800g of fruits and vegetables and a reduced risk of cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease and perhaps most importantly, all-cause mortality. You can read more about that and how it also meets and exceeds the USDA’s recommendation, HERE. During this time we’re not requiring you to eliminate ANY foods, you just have to make sure you get your 800g of fruits and vegetables per day.

Weeks 3 and 4 – Protein (P)

We’ll continue eating our 800g of fruits and vegetables, and whatever else, and now we’ll add in the protein component. This is the one macronutrient that I see most people are falling short on when I look at a typical day. Protein is absolutely essential to muscle-growth, it helps with satiety, and plays a role in a list of other critical functions in the body. We also know that muscle tissue burns through calories much faster than fat tissue, even when you’re doing nothing, so it’s pretty vital even on our lazy days.

How much protein we need depends on a lot of factors but again, E.C. has done all the hard work for us and gives us a simplified target to shoot for based on bodyweight and activity level. She refers to this system of tracking fruits and vegetables along with protein, lazy macros. During these weeks we’ll be aiming to consume our specific amount of protein each day as well as our fruits and vegetables, AND anything else you want to eat. That’s right, we still haven’t said you can’t have something.

Weeks 5 and 6 – Other

By making sure we’re hitting our targets for fruits and vegetables, and protein we’re ensuring that our bodies are getting all the nutrients they need, and it doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for other crap. There IS room for other crap though, and that’s why we’ll finish the last two weeks by eliminating some of your go-to items that don’t fit into the FV or P categories, those “other” things that until now we never said you couldn’t have.

You’ll probably find that this other list is pretty consistent day to day. Things like rice, oatmeal, cookies, bread, chips, sauces and dressings, etc. will make it up. In the final 2 weeks we’ll eliminate some of our “other” items just to clean things up a little more before we finish and to note how much of our daily food choices typically falls into this other category of non-essential, and often calorically dense stuff.

Tracking

Each day we’ll track our progress using SugarWOD and you’ll accumulate points based on how well you adhered to the constraints for that week. Points will be based on amounts of fruits and vegetables, protein, variety of fruits and vegetables, working out, wether you measured everything or eyeballed your quantities, etc. There will be a prize for the person with the most points at the end, but cliche as it is, you’ll really all be winning if you walk away with any lasting changes to your diets. The only thing you need to have on hand is a food scale!

 

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