The gallery of images that follows is in no way all the lunches I’ve had from 2017 to 2020. It’s a snapshot to show the basic composition of lunches, a macro scheme I’ve followed from 2007 when I first read and adopted the nutrition principles in Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle by Tom Venuto and Nutrient Timing by sports nutrition scientists Dr. Robert Portman and Dr. John Ivy. Adhering to the knowledge in those books and making adjustments based on my evolving goals, I’ve maintained muscle and stayed between 13-16% body fat from 2007-2020.
What do all these meals have in common besides being my lunches?
Balanced Macros: A Lean Protein, A Complex Starch, and A Fibrous Carb
Incorporating balanced macros into your daily nutrition is simple. Macros are just protein, carbs, and fat. The trick to losing fat and staying lean is eating the healthiest versions of all three: lean, complete proteins; complex, unprocessed carbs; and a variety of vegetables (organic is best).
The time element is often overlooked. As a result, one can miss out on optimizing caloric utilization, meaning eating what the body needs when it needs it. Optimal caloric utilization translates to easier fat loss and minimal effort to stay lean year after year, decade after decade. Knowing what time of day to best utilize these three macros is the secret sauce to keeping body fat down.
There is only one macronutrient that truly requires intelligent time management to keep body fat down: carbohydrates. Simply eat carbs around activity (pre- and post-workout) and earlier in the day to ensure your body burns more carbs than it stores.
You can also optimize your body’s utilization of protein by considering the element of time. The body requires protein throughout the day because, unlike carbohydrates, protein is not stored throughout the day for ready use by the body during activity. Solid protein is superior to liquid protein for much of the day, particularly because it is the most thermogenic macronutrient (meaning it burns a lot of calories simply to digest), but also because supplementation science still fails to beat nature when it comes to the nutrient complexity of natural proteins. However, post-workout, it is vital to get protein in your blood stream as soon as possible to maximize exercise recovery, especially after strength training, making liquid protein (e.g., protein shakes) a smart choice after and even during that activity.
Finally, fat is the third element of a balanced daily macronutrient ratio. Fat contains more than two times the amount of calories/gram of protein and carbs: Protein = 4 cals/gram, Carbs = 4 cals/gram, Fat = 9 cals/gram. If you’re staying away from sources of saturated fat, you’ll likely hit your required fat intake per day (~ 20% of daily macro ratio) with no conscious effort required, unless you’re following a high-fat diet, which BSMF does not advocate as part of its lifelong fitness philosophy.
More info on the above is to come. For now, here are some informative supporting resources for your review:
Nutrient Timing by Dr. John Ivy and Dr. Robert Portman: https://amzn.to/2lVGbgL
Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle: https://amzn.to/2k7I7Sg
Carbs stored by the body throughout the day: https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/main-storage-carbohydrates-human-body-11216.html
Protein and increased thermogenesis: https://www.livestrong.com/article/512626-list-of-foods-with-high-thermic-effect/
As an athlete for over 19 years and a broke single mom for most of that time, I created brokesinglemomfitness.com, now LLAFIT.com, to aid anyone who believes the road to fitness requires a lot of cash or time. In reality, the way to fitness is paved with knowledge and firm principles; teaching readers how to master both is the goal of this site. LLAFIT – Lifelong Affordable Fitness