No excuses. Eat like a champ.
While chatting with one of my coaching clients last week, I heard something I hear a lot:
"Thank you for making this so straightforward. I hear so many different diet suggestions, and so many of them are contrary. I can't tell what I'm really supposed to be eating, so I get confused and frustrated, and just fall back into old, familiar habits."
Yep, I hear that. I get that. And I bet you do, too.
Diet advice is all over the map. Some diets say you can have your cake and eat it, too. Others tell you cake is the root of all evil. So, which is it?
The answer to that question is: it's both. All these diets are mostly right about there being a thousand ways to drop pounds. You can count calories or cut carbs. You can focus on fat and eat bacon, or go 100 percent vegan and never touch a piece of pork again.
After years of studying nutrition and fitness, it's clear to me that different people want different things from their bodies. And there are diets and plans for all of them.
If you want to bulk up, you'll chase protein.
If you want to optimize for marathons or extreme sports, you'll need a precisely balanced plate of carbs and proteins and fats.
If you want to heal illness and inflammation, you'll start by cutting sugar.
But, what if you just want to eat right?
What if you want to do all the things — lose weight, cleanse toxins, find a flat belly, boost energy, and live a long and healthy life?
There is a way to optimize your health, to give your body exactly what it needs. There is a perfect way to eat. One that will give you a vibrant, healthy, youthful body. As grand as that promise is, it's actually really easy to follow.
If I could take all my years of nutrition schooling, hundreds of hours of fitness coaching, and thousands of hours of reading and researching, and distill it into a single one-page plan, this is it.
Following these basic concepts will change your body for the better. Ready? Let's walk through the basics. I've also created a simple 1-page downloadable plan so you can start today.
You don't just deserve to read about the perfect day of eating; you deserve to enjoy it.
The Perfect Day of Eating is going to turn 1 day of eating into 2 simple basics:
- What not to eat
- What to eat
That's it! We're going to make this so easy. There are things that should be going into your body and there are things that should not.
Here are a few things 100 percent worth cutting from your diet:
We've become accustomed to it, obsessed with it. Though many diets flirt around with sugar as a "sneak" or "cheat," sugar is completely unnecessary.
It adds zero nutritional value, and actually causes measurable harm to the body. Sugar weakens your bones, causes obesity, creates drug-like cravings, and more. Nixing sugar is a vital first-step for a perfect day of eating.
Download my FREE 7-Day Sugar Detox Plan.
Avoiding gluten isn't just a good idea for celiacs; it's a good idea for everybody. Wheat, especially refined white flour, stops up your gut, promotes inflammation, and leads to "brain fog" and other mood disorders.
If you deal with nightly bloating, low energy, or mood swings, omit grain for a week and see if you don't notice an incredible difference. Of course, in the perfect day of eating, we're focusing on cleansing and healthy foods. Gluten simply doesn't make the cut.
If added hormones and antibiotics don't turn you away from milk, consider this: cow milk contains 4 times more protein than human milk. That's because baby cows have to get big really fast.
Cow milk is designed to grow a little cow into a big one. Unless you want to be a big cow, drop the dairy. You'll likely drop weight and notice fewer gut issues, as well.
4. Processed foods.
With labels on the back of every package, it's easy to see why you don't need this stuff in your diet at all. The ingredient lists are atrocious — a tongue-twisting mix of refined carbs, artificial additives, and unpronounceable chemicals.
Processed foods are dead foods. Put a fresh apple on a shelf for a year and you'll end up with a clump of compost. Put a granola bar on a shelf for a year and you'll end up with ... well, a granola bar. Your body needs living foods to live. It needs plants that contain the chemicals and nutrients that make a body thrive.
Most processed foods are largely foil-wrapped hunks of sugar and refined carbs. Your body can't use them, so your liver panics, and frantically tries to balance your body and blood sugar, storing the excess away as fat. A perfect day of eating will give your liver a rest, and give your body what it needs to work right.
Nutrition coaches, doctors, and dietitians are seeing a huge rise in adrenal fatigue — the effect of overworked, tired adrenal glands. Stress, poor nutrition, and high caffeine intake can all lead to adrenal fatigue, and it's been estimated that up to 80 percent of the population will deal with adrenal fatigue at some point in their lives.
Cutting caffeine is the first step. It's the easiest way to start giving your adrenals a rest. As you're heading into your Perfect Day of Eating, swap out that coffee for a green smoothie instead. You'll enjoy a natural energy boost, without the dramatic side-effects of coffee.
Now that you know what the perfect day of eating doesn’t include, let's get to the great stuff.
Here is what you should you eat when you're eating perfectly:
1. 80 percent raw.
The easiest way to eat right is remember: 80 percent raw. Focus on raw, whole foods and you'll be supporting your system with powerful plant-based nutrition. Raw foods alkalize the body, creating an optimized environment for health and wellness.
2. Leafy greens.
If there's a single food everyone could be eating more of, it's greens — leafy, vibrantly colored greens. They're chock full of vital nutrients. They're cleansing.
Pound-for-pound, they're also surprisingly high in protein. Fill your gut with greens instead of sweets, treats, and processed filler foods. You'll notice a marked difference in your health and energy levels in just 7 days.
3. Plant-based protein.
Contrary to popular belief, it's easy to get protein from plants. Protein is an important part of a strong, healthy system. It's also important to eat because it keeps you full.
So many diets are bereft of proper protein. They count calories and give you tiny portions of high-sugar foods or juices that actually create a starving sensation.
They tell you willpower is all you need to muscle from one meal to the next, but this is a recipe for diet disaster. When you're not giving your body satiating protein, it doesn't matter how often you eat — you're going to be hungry.
So, fill up on plant-based protein and feel full. The only way you'll ever be able to stop that constant hunger is to quit eating the stuff that creates cravings, and start eating the stuff that stops them.
Check out my Free Vegan Protein Printable, which makes it easy to know how much protein you need, and how to get it.
4. Healthy fats.
If you've got prom photos from 1986 with big hair and shiny braces, you'll have some idea of how I feel about diet advice from the 80's. I wish it had never happened. Like acid-washed jeans and Axel Rose mullets, the whole fat-free eating movement was a horrible idea.
Too many of us today are still operating under outdated, misguided diet principles. Fat doesn't make you fat; healthy fat is actually a requirement for a healthy body.
So, toss the low-fat yogurt and let your perfect day of eating be boosted with coconut oil and avocado. Those healthy fats will satiate hunger, help you drop pounds, and super boost skin, hair, nail health.
5. Grassfed meats and wild-caught fish.
My 80 percent-raw approach leaves 20 percent up to you. If you're a meat-eater, focus on the highest quality meats you can find. Organic, grassfed is infinitely better than corn-raised, and sustainable fish consumption can offer dietary benefits.
With both meat and fish, consciously farmed and fished meat makes a difference. Choose grassfed and wild-caught whenever possible.
The above DO and DON'T principles are a great place to start, but, let's make it even easier.
I've prepped the following printable for you. It summarizes all these basics, then offers up a go-to guide and eating plan for your Perfect Day of Eating. Just click on the link above, then right-click and copy to download. It's all yours!
Yuri Elkaim is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and author of the NYTimes Best-selling book "The All-Day Energy Diet." In his upcoming book, "The All-Day Fat-Burning Diet" (Rodale, 2015) he walks readers through a 5-day food cycling program guaranteed to double your weight. Look for it in bookstores December 2015.
This article was originally published at yurielkaim.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.