Here is a basic template for meals. It is designed to give you the right amount of protein, carbs and fat, be high in nutrients and have a good balance between omega 6 and omega 3. Use this guideline as a starting point.
Eat 3 meals a day, an extra one if needed post workout or if you have a heavy physical workload
Protein – amount needed is approx 1.5 – 2 grams per kilo ideal body weight per day. For most people following this rule – 1 – 2 palms of protein food per meal just happens to work out very closely to this. (If you want to be more precise – use this as a guideline: Protein amounts in seafood, meat and dairy) I recommend ‘leanish’ protein as I’ve sometimes noticed excess fat in protein foods can keep fat cells topped up rather than allowing them to empty. Make one meal a day a seafood meal. Eggs, 3 per meal for most females, 4 – 5 for most males
Increase protein sources of omega 3
Omega 3 enhances fat loss – use seafood at one meal every day – fish, and shellfish, crustaceans, etc. The bonus is you get a lot of minerals in seafood as well, many of these are low in land based animals, e.g zinc, selenium, iodine, and trace minerals.
Carbohydrate: for adequate carbohydrate – at least 100 grams per day, the amount needed for basci physiological functions. If you are an insulin resistant person, lower may work, if you do go lower increase your fat amount. If you are lean, or only a little overweight, particulalry hips for women, then you should be able to tolerate and will probably feel better on a minimum of 100 grams of carbs a day. If you take part in high intensity exercise like CrossFit, boot camps etc, you will need carbohydrates to fuel the workout. So keep carbs to at least 100. Experiment to see what amount makes you feel your best.
Fruit? Berries and highly coloured fruit are best, keep to a small amount 1 – 2 pieces, more if you tolerate carbohydrates. fruit has fructose that can top up liver glycogen after workouts.
Start at about fist of starch at each meal and one post workout. (For a more accurate guide to carb amounts use this: Paleo diet carb list and carb counter.)
The amount needed if you are exercising and insulin sensitive is from 2 – 6 grams/kg/day. Play around with this and see what makes you feel best. If sedentary 2 g per kg per day is probably enough.
Add non starch vegetables to every meal: Eat a lot for nutrient content, prebiotic fibre and polyphenols. At least one cup per meal in addition to starch. Try to get 2 – 3 cups per day from each of the sulphur group, green vegetables, and bright colours. Also add some sea vegetables / seaweed for minerals, or sprinkle kelp granuales on your meals.
What about fat? Eat about a thumb size at each meal. 2 – 3 teaspoons of added oil or fat, if nuts about 2 – 3 tablespoons, if avocado; 1/4 to 1/2. Make sure you eat low omega 6 fats and foods high in omega 3 (Use this as a guide: Omega 3 and 6 in fats, oils, meats and seafood)
If you are trying to lose weight, keep your fat content lower, and choose leaner meats.
Try not to snack – if your meals are well balanced, your plate it full, your meals should be satisfying and high in nutrient. A meal should last 4 – 6 hours, so snacking should be un necessary.
NOTE: this guideline is a place to start, everyone is individual – give this a go for a month, then test to see if different combinations help you feel or perform better.
Other food recommendations:
Eat organ meats for their high nutrient value once a week (liver, kidneys etc)
Make bone broth and drink a small cup most days, or use bony meats like ox tail and lamb necks in slow cooked casseroles. These are rich in collagen and glucosamine, good for joints and gut.
Probiotic foods: kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut for healthy gut bacteria
Magnesium is useful for helping sleep improve. Most people are deficient in magnesium. The more exercise you do the higher your magnesium requirement.
I also recommend a good quality multivitamin initially as it can help weight loss and reduce cravings linked to nutrient deficiencies.
Caffeine, Alcohol, Sleep and Stress
People’s responses to caffeine vary, however for some even one cup a day can affect sleep. If sleep does not improve with dietary changes I recommend removing all caffeine for a trial of 2 – 3 weeks.
Alcohol interferes with sleep quality.
Alcohol decreases self-control and increases impulsiveness. So you go out for a meal, decide to eat well, and a couple of glasses later: I’ll eat the triple scoop ice-cream sundae, to hell with it – I’ve been good all week.
Alcohol is fuel. Once detoxified by your liver it goes into the cells where it is converted into ATP (the energy for your cells). (Alcohol metabolism) If cells have all the energy they need that ice-cream sundae is shunted into your fat cells.
My recommendation – cut down on alcohol, save it for social nights and when you do drink – drink a small amount (1 – 2 glasses), earlier in the evening, so it is less likely to interfere with sleep, OR cut alcohol out for a few weeks to reduce reliance on it. (If you can’t do this – you have an alcohol problem in my opinion)
Many people vastly underestimate the importance of sleep for weight loss and performance. Lack of sleep increases insulin resistance, increases hunger hormones, gives poorer appetite control, increases muscle loss and decreases fat loss. When college athletes slept more – their performances; both strength and fitness improved in this study. I recommend the client gets 8 hours sleep per night.
Stress can play havoc on your body, both physical (like over exercising) and phycological (money, job, relationship) stress. Minimise these and do activities like meditation, nature walks etc that reduce cortisol levels.