It can be tough figuring out how to properly time your meals throughout the day so that your energy levels stay elevated and you can give it your best effort in the gym, but hopefully my previous post helped shed some light on meal timing. By expanding on the sample meal structure, I'll give you a play-by-play of a typical day for me, including everything I eat.
I am currently in a mild fat loss phase, trying to slowly lean out now that my rooftop pool is open, but not doing any intense dieting. Since I am extremely active, my “dieting” numbers are 220g protein, 340g carbs, and 95g fat per day for a total of 3095 calories. I make sure to hit my protein number and can really go higher carb/lower fat or vice versa, it won’t make a difference for fat loss as long as I’m around that 3000-3200 calories.
5:05 AM: Meal 1 - 48.3g protein, 46.5g carb, 46.7g fat, 805.3 calories
Time to wake up! I train clients from 6:15-9:15 AM today, and plan on working out in the afternoon. Since I won’t be doing anything more strenuous besides walking about 3/4 mile to the gym and picking up weights for clients, I opt for a higher fat breakfast, with some complex carbs for energy as I’ll be on my feet for 4 hours.
My breakfast consists of:
- 6 eggs scrambled with a chopped yellow pepper
- 2 slices of whole grain toast with 2 oz of avocado
- 4 Omega-3 fish oil pills
- Coffee with a tablespoon of sugar free creamer
This meal is full of healthy fats between the eggs, avocados, and fish oil pills. There are monounsaturated fats in the avocado which promote heart health, Omega-3s in the fish oil supplement, and lots of vitamins and minerals in the eggs. Unless you have genetically high cholesterol and have lots of relatives with heart issues, there is no need to be worried about the dietary cholesterol in eggs. In fact, cholesterol is a precursor for all sex hormones, and consuming a diet rich in it from nutritious sources can help improve your hormone profile.
I’m used to getting up early and make this meal pretty quickly. I’m done eating by 5:35, and have left the house by 5:55 to walk to my gym and train my morning clients. When I’m done with my morning sessions, I pop my second meal into the microwave that I have prepped the day before.
10:00 AM: Meal 2 - 45.3g protein, 59.9g carbs, 18g fat, 590.1 calories
- 12 oz chopped, seasoned and baked Idaho potatoes
- 1/4 cup low fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 6 oz lean ground turkey
A lot of my clients seem to think potatoes are bad for you, probably because they’re often served fried in oil or covered in sour cream, cheese, etc. Potatoes (both white and sweet) are very high in vitamins and minerals and are actually relatively low calorie by weight: 6 oz of baked potatoes is approximately 3.5g protein and 29g carbs (130 calories). They’re ridiculously cheap too. I like to chop up several pounds of them into 1/2 inch cubes, spray them with 0 calorie olive oil spray, season to taste, and throw them in the oven at 400 for 40 minutes. They taste great reheated and several pounds will last me the week, so they’ll go a lot further than that for you!
While I eat, I’ll usually watch some exercise or nutrition videos, or spend this time perusing new information related to training before I work with my midday clients. Today I have sessions from 11:15-1:30, so following that, it's time for lunch/my pre workout meal.
1:30 PM: Meal 3 (lunch/pre workout) - 53g protein, 84g carb, 3.5g fat, 579.5 calories
- 6 oz grilled chicken breast
- 2 servings (1.5 cups dry) cooked rotini pasta with salt
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
I usually tell my clients who are attempting to lose weight that if they’re going to restrict or remove a food from their diet, pasta is a good place to start for a couple of reasons. For one, a serving of cooked pasta is pretty small and not terribly filling compared to potatoes/rice/quinoa/couscous, and usually pasta is topped with pretty high calorie sauces, which isn't ideal when trying to lose weight. Pasta also doesn’t have as many micronutrients compared to many other carb sources. However, since I eat quite a bit more than most people, and I’ll be doing a long and heavy weight workout shortly after this meal, I want lots of carbs that won't leave me stuffed, so pasta is a great choice for me. Remember, it's all about context when it comes to “good” and “bad” foods. I would need to scarf down about a pound of potatoes for the same amount of carbs which would come with extra fiber, which isn't a good move before a bunch of heavy squats!
After eating this meal, I relax for 30 minutes and then start warming up for my workout. My next client isn’t until 5:00 PM so I’ve got lots of time, so I take my time with my workout. I drink a Powerade during it to keep me going, but I never recommend drinking sports drinks unless you are actually exercising hard, as they are literally just sugar water to replenish carbs used during training, along with electrolytes that are lost via sweat. Today, I followed up my workout with a banana and a scoop and a half of whey protein, but I often times will consume both of those during training.
3:30-4:45 PM: Meal 4 (intra/post workout)- 40.8g protein, 75.3g carb, 0.4g fat, 453.5 calories
- 20 oz Powerade
- 1.5 scoops Denovo Nutrition Max MPS whey protein
- Large banana (approx 6 oz)
I finish my workday with several more training sessions and am done for the day at 7:30 PM. It's time to head home and fire up the grill. For the most part, my meals are quick or pre-cooked, so I don't spend a ton of time prepping food each day during the week. But for dinner, my girlfriend and I almost always take some time to put a good meal together, especially during the summer when we can use the grill on our rooftop and eat outside. Sometimes we have dinner planned earlier in the day, other times we just look at our current numbers for the day so we know exactly how much we have left in our “food budget”. Tonight we decide to grill some fingerling potatoes and Ahi tuna steaks, with some shaved brussels sprouts on the side. We also grilled some chicken sausages for lunches over the next couple of days.
8:30 PM: Meal 5 (dinner)- 55.5g protein, 58.8g carbs, 28.5g fat, 680.7 calories
- 1.5 oz cashews (snack while grilling)
- 6 oz Ahi tuna steak
- 7 oz grilled fingerling potatoes with 1/2 tbsp butter
- 1 cup shaved brussels sprouts with 1 tbsp Champagne Pear Vinaigrette w/ Gorgonzola
Totals for the day: 242.9g protein, 324.6g carbs, 97.1g fat, 3109.2 calories.
I came within a few calories of my target total and hit my protein and then some. There are a couple of things I’d like you to take away from this:
First of all, I clearly am eating more than the average person, but reduce my numbers and portions by a third, and you have an extremely solid 2000 calorie day of eating. 2000 calories from a diet full of whole, real foods is still going to fill you up!
Aside from the Powerade and protein powder, everything I ate was “real”, minimally processed food. That being said, if I wanted to include a little bit of junk in there, it’d be very easy to just slightly reduce my portions a bit to fit it in.
Here’s an example: many nights I’ll have a beer with dinner, and not a light beer, usually something around 180-200 calories. When accounting for alcohol, the calories are going to have to go towards you carb/fat allowance, but I can make almost unnoticeable changes to fit that beer in. Removing .5 oz of cashews alone gives me 80 calories, 3 oz of potatoes throughout the day reduces them by 67, and subbing in 3 tbsp of egg whites for one of my eggs this morning another 48. That's 195 calories we just budgeted for that we would barely even be able to perceive! So when you go about your day, be cognizant of what you're eating (or just track it on an app like we do) so that if you want to fit in some treats you can adjust your “food budget” accordingly! There are lots of ways to do this, and if you stick to the 80/20 rule with 80% of your diet coming from nutrient dense whole real foods, live a little and have whatever else you desire for that other 20%.
I’ll continue to post more about food and less on the science of nutrition now that I’ve presented a good base of information, so please let me know in the comments what topics you’d like to learn more about!
If you are interested in learning how to mix up healthy food with cocktails, join The Chopping Block for Wellness Chef Alia Dalal's new Healthy Happy Hour on Friday, July 21 at 6pm at the Merchandise Mart. Bring a friend to catch up over low-sugar and unprocessed drinks, while you mingle at chef-led demo stations showing you how to make each healthy recipe.