5 Simple Steps for Basic Healthy Eating
2) Eat 1-3 fruits a day. Fruit is nutritious, but it’s still sugar and fructose at that. So eat them, but don’t overdo it.
4) Fats like healthy cooking oils, nuts, and seeds can be added, but in limited quantities. A common problem I see with Paleo eaters is they take the “eat lots of fat” rule too seriously. They end up eating WAY too much fat to where their overall calories are too high for fat loss.
If you stop here, you are eating a standard Paleo diet. Lots of veggies, some fruit, lean-moderate fat protein, and occasional fats.
5) Lastly, add in your starchy carbs. By eating say 7 servings of vegetables and 2 fruits in one day, you are getting somewhere around 90g of carbs. This may be enough for someone who is 50+ lbs overweight or for the average person on non-workout days. More active people will probably need more carbs before and after workouts and possibly more throughout the day.
Add in “good carbs” like brown rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, legumes, and quinoa one serving at a time until you hit you calorie goal. Servings could range from 0-8+ depending on body size and activity level.
This will give you a solid nutritional base and if you want to keep it simple stop here.
Messin' with Macros
- If you train like an athlete or bodybuilder, chances are you are going to want some carbs to fuel your workouts.
- Body fat plays a role as well. The overweight person will likely do fine without the extra carbs. The fit person may or may not need the carbs.
Deciding how much extra carbs or fat to add is really a personal preference. Keeping calories the same, does eating 20% carbs cause you to lose extra fat verses eating 60% carbs? Not really. Body fat distribution will change some with different percentages, but in the end it’s more about what percentages make you feel energetic, satiated, and comfortable on a caloric deficit.
So going back to steps 4 and 5, try adding only fats(or fat+protein) and no starches for a few weeks and see how you feel as well as how compliant you are to your calories. Some people adjust to the lower carb/high fat way of eating and feel great after a couple weeks. Others continue to feel crappy or just find this way of eating too restrictive.
After a few weeks, try replacing a serving of fat for a serving of starch every couple of days and take note of how you feel. You may find that a little starch makes you feel much better or you may find it makes you feel more sluggish. It is all about trying different amounts of carbs and fats to determine the right balance for you. You will probably fall somewhere in the middle between the low fat/moderate-high carb and high fat/lower carb extremes. Play with different amounts of fat and carbs to see what is ideal for you, but keep steps 1-3 constant.
If you want to know exactly what your percentages are, you will need to log your food in nutrition app or site that has the daily breakdown of macronutrients. Take note of the daily breakdown, how you feel, and how successful you are.
Marco percentages could range from:
high carb/low fat/moderate protein of 65/10/25 to
low carb/high fat/high protein of 10/45/45
Additional Points to Keep in Mind
- With protein comes fat, usually. So if you choose to add more protein after step 3, you will likely get additional fat.
- Nuts are more fat than protein. Here's my rant on lower protein foods being marketed as “High in Protein”
- After a week or two of eating only Paleo, some people adjust and feel great. If you don't, this is a sign your body needs more carbs.
- Some do fine off of a low carb Paleo diet. Vegetables, protein, and fat. That’s it. If you feel good off of eating only vegetables and 1-3 fruits as your carbs, you may give the low carb option a try by cutting out the fruit.
- Going too low carb may result in low energy, inability to relax, increased body temperature, brain fog, irritability, and trouble sleeping.
- Going to high carb may result in fluctuating energy levels, bouts of sleepiness, constant hunger, and cravings.
If any of this sounds confusing, it’s because finding the right percentages can be tricky and it takes a good amount of self-awareness to nail down what works for you. This is where a personal trainer experienced in nutritional coaching for fat loss comes in handy.