Week 4 Optimal Nutrition Course

by Matthew Palfrey February 22, 2015 0 Comments

Welcome to the 4th week and halfway point of the Optimal Nutrition for Health, Performance and Body Composition course. At this stage of the course everyone should have some clearly defined goals, detailed food diary records, and a good idea of their daily calorie intake based on BMR and activity levels - taking into account that energy intake varies from day-to-day.

This week is focused on a practical look at different dietary approaches and some simple daily tips to help you achieve more. 

Lesson 1

I've had a few people ask me "but what exactly do you eat?". I typically avoid promoting one dietary approach over another as it can be a very individual process. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa. But, in this lesson I'll cover what and how I eat when I want to make major changes to my energy or body fat levels. I make the point about major changes because I don't necessarily eat this way all of the time, but rather this is the spectrum that I work on and at various stages of the year I'll be stricter than others. 

For me there is nothing more effective at reducing my body fat levels and giving me more consistent energy than a low carbohydrate diet. It's hard work for the first week or so and then I feel amazing. When I'm following this approach strictly I'll eat the following foods:

  1. Meats and fish like salmon, tuna, chicken and turkey. 
  2. Leafy vegetables and salad like spinach, lettuce and kale. 
  3. Some nuts and seeds like sunflower, pumpkin and walnuts. 
  4. Eggs, usually boiled. 

That's it. I'll also drink nothing but water for the duration of the diet. I allow some olive oil, seasoning and spices although nothing that has a significant carbohydrate content. 

When I tell most people about this it seems crazy and unrealistic and I guess it is, unless you decide that you're going to do it. But if you consider this to be the far end of the spectrum then I hope you can appreciate where this type of approach may sit in the overall scheme of things. People also look at this and say things like "but where does your energy come from?". It should be noted that I still try and hit my calorie intake targets, but the answer is simply that my energy comes from stored energy AKA body fat. 

Do I recommend that you try this? Yes, if only to see how your body responds to it. I cope well on this diet and it really does work for me. You might think that something this strict is too much for you but a week of discipline is achievable for you I'm sure. This weeks mission, should you choose to accept it, is to try and get through 7 days of low carbohydrate dieting. 

Lesson 2

You can follow the exact food list above or try out your own low carbohydrate approach. For the latter, if you're shopping and you are unsure of what to purchase then the following tips can be useful:

  • Avoid root vegetables and opt for leafy green vegetables instead.
  • Avoid packaged foods where possible. If you do choose packaged foods then opt for those that have less than 1g of carbohydrate per 100g.
  • Avoid diet foods as they generally take away fat and add sugar.
  • Fat is not your enemy. When removing carbohydrate, fat and protein will obviously make up the bulk of your dietary intake.

I also find the following practical tips useful:

  • Drink lots of water.
  • If you are used to eating on the go and grabbing something convenient then you are going to struggle this week. Plan ahead and package your food for the day in tubs.
  • You can eat out while following this approach but it can be easier to avoid it for the initial week. 
  • There is very little variety on this diet so I actually recommend eating the same 2 or 3 meals over and over again. Sure it's boring but it's just a week. 

While short term plans like this can be gimmicky I don't always see it that way. It's a short term, highly concentrated period of effort that can propel you closer to your goals. If that period of effort (even if you revert to something more manageable in the long term) allows you to make progress then it works. 

See you next week!

Matthew Palfrey
Matthew Palfrey


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