To truly reach our full potential in our pursuit of excellence we must learn how to properly fuel ourselves with good nutrition. This can sometimes seem very confusing, and almost a daunting task.
But really we can boil it down to three things: Quality of nutrients, quantity of nutrients, and timing of when and how we take in those nutrients.
Our body is a super complex high performance machine, and if we want the best performance possible from that machine, then we should give it the highest quality fuel available. If you have a Ferrari, you put premium gas in it; if you have a race horse you don’t give him cheap straw and expect him to run his fastest. I once used this logic in a conversation and the person said “yeah but the Ferrari will still run on regular gas” and yes maybe it will for a while, but we are not interested in just scraping by.
If you are not striving for excellence than move on and don’t waste your time with this subject. if however, you want to truly thrive at your highest possible potential, use only the highest quality fuel. The fuels that I like best are meats, vegetables and fats. My favorite sources of protein are rib eye steak, chicken thighs, sea bass, calf liver and pork chops. Of course there are many other good protein sources, these are just my typical choices. My favorite vegetables are zucchini, broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, red and yellow peppers, garlic and onions. Pretty much you can’t get enough vegetables. For fat I like coconut oil, fat from meats, butter, olive oil and nuts.
Let’s go back to the analogy of our body being a high performance machine. If we have a limited amount of fuel that we can fit into our gas tank, then we will want to make sure that we put the best fuel into our tank. It wouldn’t make sense to fill ourselves up on empty calories and then leave no room for essential nutrients, if we push our bodies hard and then fill up on macaroni and cheese, we can’t expect to perform at our best. But if we fill up on nutrient dense foods like a steak, broccoli and butter then we will truly be able to thrive.
Now let’s move onto quantity. Our bodies need a certain amount of fuel to perform a certain amount of work. If we don’t put in enough good fuel, we won’t be able to perform high levels of work. And if we put in too much fuel, it will spill over into excess fat stores. Think about when you’re fueling up your car at the gas station. When the gas tank is full the gas automatically shuts off, if it didn’t, then it would spill out all over the ground. We also have a limited amount of space in our gas tank, so it doesn’t make sense to fill that space with empty calories and junk. If we want the best results from ourselves mentally physically and spiritually we need to fuel ourselves with the most nutrient dense foods possible.
Something that helps maintain the balance in the quantity of nutrients we consume, and a great tool to maintain health is, intermittent fasting. When I’m talking to someone about nutrition and eating lifestyle, and I mention the word “fasting”, a look of depression and dread comes over their face, like I just started talking about the end of the world or a dying aunt or something. To many, the word fasting, brings up unpleasant thoughts and ideas and images of suffering and misery, like a half starved hermit living in a cave eating grasshoppers and locusts. Or Angelina Jolie nibbling on a rice cake. But what I’m really talking about when I mention intermittent fasting is an empowering healthy vibrant way of eating that allows us to have a higher clarity of mind and an awakening of the body and mind to a level where we can truly thrive. What people don’t understand about fasting is that it allows you to have greater freedom to really enjoy your meals when you do eat. Fasting also allows us to really enjoy the feeling of being alive when we’re not eating.
The way that I like to implement intermittent fasting is as followes: I fast from my last meal the night before until morning, then I have a coffee with a good amount of healthy fats coming from coconut oil, heavy cream or some quality butter, then I continue without eating anything until about 2 o’clock, after which I have a smallish snack of either nuts eggs or meat. I like to go low glycemic for my first meal of the day, that way I keep my body in a steady state of fat burn without spiking insulin. After my snack around two, I don’t usually eat anything until my main meal in the evening about nine or 10 o’clock, I try to really relax and feast. My evening meal consists of a big portion of protein coming from meat, and a large quantity of vegetables. I eat as much as I need, until I am thirstier than hungry, then I drink some water and relax for about 20 minutes. If I’m still hungry have something else to eat, maybe some yogurt and fruit as a dessert with some dark chocolate.
When I’m feasting on my large meal, I try to adapt the methods of doctor Ori Hofmlecker and the warrior diet, where he talks about eating until you are more thirsty than hungry, then stop and drink a glass of water, Wait 20 minutes, and then if you’re still hungry eat some more. I also like to adapt what Mark Sisson(author of the primal blueprint) says, enjoy every bite, but ask yourself before you take the next bite am I hungry for this bite?
I really enjoy fasting because it gives the body a chance to clean out toxins and go to fat for fuel. I believe, that we are meant to thrive on a cycle of under eating and over eating, or feast and famine. One of the biggest reasons I like intermittent fasting, is that it allows the body to maintain healthy levels of hormones. Fasting kicks your body’s production of growth hormones and testosterone up. I would recommend someone interested in learning more about how the body’s hormones play into all of health, fitness and well-being to look up a friend of mine and hormone optimization specialist Mike Mahler, He has an in-depth understanding of hormone production in our bodies. Another benefit of fasting, is that it keeps your mind sharp and gives you a feeling of being awake and excited about life.
Fasting also gives us more control of ourselves and the ability to handle missing a meal with no problem. I can remember how I used to be if I missed a meal, my blood sugar would be off, and I would get grouchy and irritable until I could eat. Now, when I don’t eat, my body automatically goes to fat stores for fuel and I can maintain a high level of activity and focus.
On top of all of the scientific facts and explanations, fasting just makes sense to me on a human level. When we look at the history of humans, there were not many times that we had a large quantity of food available. Usually there were times when food was plentiful, and times when food was scarce. In hunter gatherer times, we would eat a lot after a successful hunt, or seasonally during times when fruit or vegetables were available and then go through times of fasting, when food was not plentiful. Our bodies are set up to function and thrive best on a cycle of over eating and under eating. During times when food is plentiful, our bodies gain fat as fuel stores easily. And if our system is functioning properly, our bodies easily go to fat stores for fuel to maintain activity and focus, fat is a very efficient source of energy.
Think about a lion, the king of the jungle, a lion doesn’t snack all the time, or eat six meals a day. A lion only hunts and eats when he’s hungry, then he eats a large amount until he’s full, then doesn’t eat again until he’s hungry.
Something that I’ve been implementing and have seen great results from also, is some simple food combining I learned from Steve Maxwell, don’t combine proteins with starches, when we consume a starch and a protein together it creates inflammation in our body, because we produce one type of enzyme to break down starches and a different enzyme to break down proteins, when we combine the two, it creates a toxic environment in our digestive system. I try to only combined proteins with a leafy salad or cooked vegetables, or a starch with leafy salad or cooked vegetables. Another benefit to not combining proteins and starches, is that it helps simplify our meals. We have a tendency to over complicate our eating. When we over complicate a meal, and have many different types of food it becomes too easy to over eat. It is not easy to over eat when we just have a couple different ingredients in a meal. For example, try over eating a salad and a ribeye steak.
This all seems like a lot to take in and complicated. But really it boils down very simply:
1. Implement some fasting to give our bodies a chance to clean, detoxify, optimize hormones, and go to fat for fuel.
2. Make sure that we keep the quality of our nutrients high, and cut out the sugars and processed junk.
3. Keep our meal simple and tasty. Don’t combine starches and proteins. And don’t keep eating if we’re not hungry.
I want to leave you with a quote that a good friend of mine Eric Keyes is always saying, “moderation in all things, including moderation”.