A wise man once said, “You are what you skeet eat.”
However, this same wise man (surmised by some to be the late chief Big Bear) never told us what we should eat. Consequently, Americans went on their way eating highly processed foods, low in nutritional value and high in bad things, becoming the FATTEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. (Fact)
Well, brothers and sister of swole, I am here today to change that. In its essence, Swole Nutrition is quite simple. It is neither a gimmick nor a diet plan but rather a well balanced, scientifically sound way of eating.
Meal Frequency as it Relates to Building Muscle/ Losing Fat
First things first, you may have heard that eating smaller meals more frequently “stokes the metabolic fire” and helps to “burn fat.” This is simply not the case. What matters at the end of the day (literally) is total macronutrients consumed (aka how much food you ate and what is in that food). That being said, eat as often as you want; I personally like to eat three big meals with a snack between each of them. The one caveat to this: if you are consuming all of your protein at one meal, some research has shown this is not optimal for muscle protein synthesis (aka building muscle).
Calculating Required Macronutrient Consumption (aka how much should I eat??)
Read this article that explains macronutrients. The reason they are called macronutrients is because we need greater (“macro”) amounts of these compared to micronutrients aka vitamins and minerals which we require in tiny amounts.
The recommended ratios for macronutrient consumption are 45-65% carbs, 10-35% protein, 20-35% fats.
Here’s an awesome online calculator to help get a rough idea of recommended macronutrient intake (based on your TDEE- Total Daily Energy Expenditure):
- IIFYM Calculator (IIFYM = If It Fits Your Macros)
To gain weight, eat more calories than your TDEE. To lose weight, eat less calories than your TDEE. You can choose to do this via a “clean” food methodology or by meticulously counting your caloric intake while eating the foods of your choice. There’s plenty of apps to help track caloric intake; I like Fooducate.
Personally, I don’t count calories on a daily basis, and I don’t think you need to either. However, I do encourage you to track intake for a few days. Tracking what you eat gives you a good baseline on what needs to be tweaked in your diet. For the first few times you track calories, it’s a good idea to measure out your food– oftentimes one cup of pasta may be a lot more/less than you imagined.
Over time, you’ll learn to recognize your body’s signals (aka feeling full) and know when you need to eat more/ if you’ve eaten too much.
Macronutrient Overview/Recommendations (aka different types of food and the “best” types of each)
Carbohydrates (Complex carbs are a great source due to their high fiber content)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Brown Rice
- Wheat Bread (Make sure 100% whole wheat is used in the ingredients)
- Wheat Pasta (same here—ensure it’s 100% whole wheat)
- Whole Grains
Protein (Lean protein examples below)
- Fish (Salmon is da best because it contains notable amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids)
- Eggs esp. Egg Whites (keep yolk consumption in moderation)
- Pork (lean cuts)
- Beef (lean cuts)
- Cottage cheese, low or non-fat
- Milk non fat
- Oils (I like extra virgin olive oil)
- Nuts and Seeds (Almonds and Natural Peanut Butter are my recommendations)
- Avocadoes (mmm delicious)
- Fish oil (preferably from eating fish itself; salmon is the best source)
Tip: When putting together meals, use a fist sized portion of carbohydrates, palm size portion of protein, and heaping spoonful of fats.
Other Nutritional Recommendations
- Contain antioxidants which boost our immune system and aid normal bodily function as well as fiber which makes our poops smooooth
- Get 5-10 servings of fruits or vegetables/day
- Always opt for darker colored fruits/vegetables. The color is an indication of the amount of phytochemicals present in the plant food. (translation: darker = better)
- My favorite veggies/fruits (mainly for convenience’s sake): bananas, apples, oranges, frozen blueberries, spinach, broccoli, baby carrots
- Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, always opt for non-fat or low fat
- Great source of calcium which fortifies the bones
- *You can definitely get by without dairy in your diet; you’ll just have to get your calcium from other sources.
- The elixir of life; drink 5-7 full glasses of water a day
Exhibit A: two pieces 100% whole wheat bread, two eggs, two pieces of turkey bacon, one slice of cheese, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (spread on the bread), glass of almond milk
Exhibit B: side of brown rice, chicken breast, mixed vegetables, grapes, strawberries, glass of water:
Exhibit C: Chicken breast, avocado, broccoli (so paleo bro)
- Creatine – building muscle/gaining strength
- Beta Alanine – delays muscular fatigue
- BCAA’s – maximizing strength gains/promoting recovery/boosting weight loss
- Caffeine (in moderation) – improved power output/training volume during workouts; also enhanced focus
- Check out examine.com for some more formal data on the efficacy of these supplements.
- My favorite pre-workouts (which combine the supplements above) are Amino Energy, Phos HP, and Marked
I don’t recommend pre-workouts like NO-Xplode and Jack3D. Their proprietary blends contains a lot of questionable ingredients. Also, because there are minimal regulations on those types of products, their long term safety/efficacy has never been proven.
Flexibility of Dietary Choices/ Avoiding Binge Consumption
If you don’t see something on the list above (i.e. ice cream, cake, cookies, pizza, etc.), that doesn’t mean you can’t eat it .
>>> Do NOT stress if you don’t eat “clean” for one meal. This really won’t have any tangible effects unless you go on a complete binge (which unfortunately tends to happen all too often).<<<
As I said, don’t go overboard. A piece of cake won’t kill you; however eating the whole damn thing will have some noticeable effects. Watch this video from Layne Norton, a reputable bodybuilder, powerlifter, and Nutritional Science PHD as he explains some misconceptions around eating “clean” food. An important point he makes is that if you aren’t eating a completely “clean” diet, you have to ensure you are getting adequate fiber intake (at least 20 g/day, 40g-60g optimally).
As a corollary, know that the paleo diet isn’t really based on science. It’s very possible to meet all your macronutrient requirements eating paleo, but, lactose intolerance/gluten intolerance aside, there’s really no valid reason you need to restrict items like dairy and wheat products from your diet.
As far as actual meal plans go, I recommend checking out One Result. They have some simple, effective plans which are a good starting point for those looking to improve their diet.
And that people, is it. Follow the basic guidelines above and you will be well on your way to entering the KINGDOM OF SWOLE.