By Rob Shaul
Eating clean doesn’t take rocket science. It takes discipline. You know when you’re eating poorly.
But, knowing what not to eat is easy. Not eating that stuff is hard.
Here are 5 strategies that can help.
1) Eat Clean 6 Days a Week. Cheat like a Mother on Day 7
Clean = meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts. Little dairy (cream in your coffee).
No bread, rice, potatoes, sugar, alcohol.
On Day 7, cheat like a mother – pizza, pie, beer, ice cream, pastry, whatever you want. Without the cheat day, I’ve found the “clean” diet isn’t sustainable.
Note on Sugar …. it can be “hidden” in all types of foods … milk, ketchup, yogurt, salad dressing… it’s amazing. Try to avoid it.
2) Forget Variety
My breakfast is an apple, almond butter and a couple scrambled eggs which I mix up quick before I head to the gym early, and eat at my desk.
My lunch is an apple, salami, and almond butter, or salad with meat (fish/chicken). My dinner is meat and salad. Desert is blueberries and sunflower seeds. I can follow this pattern for weeks on end.
One of the things I miss about being in the military is not having to decide which shirt to wear each day. There was no choice, so I didn’t have to waste emotional energy deciding.
Limiting your food choices will do the same for you. A very limited menu will limit opportunities for bad choices and will help you begin to think of food as fuel, not some reward.
3) Don’t Drink Calories
It’s easy to ruin a “clean” lunch of chicken salad with a tall glass of sweet tea that has 400 calories. Your fluid menu has to be even more narrow than your food menu: water, bubble water, and coffee. That’s about it. You can add lemon/lime or calorie-free flavoring to your water if needed. And a little cream or half and half is okay for your coffee, but no mochas.
4) Don’t restrict calories – just eat clean.
Eat clean, but eat as much as you want. You don’t need to be hungry, but you can’t eat crap to satisfy yourself. When I get hungry between meals I’ll eat an avocado with salt and pepper, or some strawberries with almond butter, or pre-backed sweet potato with some olive oil and salt and pepper.
Snacks – think fruit, veggies, protein, nuts.
5) Fuel for endurance.
Day to day eating is different than “event” nutrition. You’ll need carbs to burn if you’re headed out for a long run, long ruck, or six-hour day hike. Energy gels and electrolyte drinks/tablets are designed specifically for these types of events.
Get some GU’s or other gels, follow the directions on the package (generally 1x before training and one every 45 minutes during) and head out for your run or ruck. You don’t need gels for regular gym-based training, including work capacity efforts. Just don’t start these hungry.
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