By Rob Shaul
A couple of years ago I wrote “A Day on Rob’s Diet” article after receiving several questions. My diet has tightened up some recently, and today I share with you my current diet.
Some background …. I had foot fusion surgery last December, suffered a blood clot in my calf muscle, then spent 5 days in the Hospital in January with a kidney infection (wouldn’t recommend one of these).
I was on crutches for 4 months, and the blood thinner I was prescribed weakened my tendons, so I couldn’t lift heavy while recovering.
Through the Winter and Sprint, I still trained as hard as possible via lots of 1-leg rowing, and sandbag work, but my diet discipline declined, and I put on some fat.
As well, I just turned 51, and have noticed another slowing of my metabolism – which is common with age.
So … in March I decided to continue with the MTI nutritional recommendations, except cut the “cheat day” for sugar and “bad” carbs (bread, grain, pasta, etc.), and cut out dairy totally. On weekends and about one day a week I do drink some hard liquor at night (1-3 cocktails), so I’m not totally strict.
To review, below are the MTI Dietary Recommendations. Again, I’ve cut the cheat day for sugar and carbs.
6 Days a Week: Eat lean meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and don’t drink calories (soda, juice, alcohol, milk, etc.). Don’t eat “bad” carbs (bread, spuds, rice) or sugar. Avoid most dairy except butter and a little hard cheese.
1 Day a Week: Cheat like a mother! Beer, pizza, ice cream – you name it! We’ve found you can’t eat clean over the long term without cheating. We’ve also found the longer you stick to this diet, the less you’ll “cheat” on your cheat days, and the more cheating will hurt you – i.e. stomach ache, gas, etc.
Here’s my Diet from Monday, this week:
→ 0400 Wake Up and Coffee
- Black and instant (Starbucks Via). I’m not a coffee snob and have sinus issues which result in a terrible sense of taste …. which means instant coffee tastes fine, it’s simple, and a lot less messy than drip or aero press coffee. I drink 2 cups of coffee before leaving for work and take a third “to go” cup of coffee with me in the truck for the commute.
- No “mini” breakfast or anything else to eat before training.
→ 0500 Leave for Work
→ 0600 – 0800 Train, then Coach
- We’re lab ratting a mini-study cycle on the strength building effects of the MTI Barbell Complex.
→ 0830 Breakfast
- Crockpot Elk Steak
- 1/2 Pickle
- 1 Roma Tomato
- 1/2 Apple and ground peanut butter (no sugar or anything else). Peanuts are legumes (beans) and are generally left off the paleo and similar diets …. but it just kills me to spend $8.99/pound for ground almond butter when I can get ground peanut butter for $2.29/pound….
- Sparkling Water
One of the things I’ve noticed since cutting out all sugar is that my taste buds have changed and I crave or want more “savory” foods over sweet foods. This means more vegetables and less fruit, overall.
I’ve also noticed recently with my increasing age that my appetite has declined. I used to need a snack between breakfast and lunch but don’t anymore. As well, overall I eat less at my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, meals.
Crockpot Elk Steak – I add broth and a little seasoning, then a bunch of elk steak to a crockpot, and cook slow for a few hours. After, I cut up the steak into small, bite-size strips, and put into small plastic containers. Between breakfast and lunch, I’ll eat a full 8 oz. plastic container full.
→ 1230 Lunch
- Crockpot Elk Steak
- 1 Roma Tomato
- Diet Coke (unhealthy, I know, but I tire of sparkling water, water and coffee – and diet coke gives me some variety)
Yes … this is pretty much the same meal as breakfast. But know I don’t have a sensitive palate and eating the same thing, again and again, is no big deal for me, like it might be for dedicated foodies.
→ 1530 Snack
- 1/2 Apple and ground peanut butter (no sugar or anything else)
- Cup of Coffee (#4), Black
→ 1900 Dinner
- Crock Pot Elk Stew – with carrots and onions
- 1/2 non-alcoholic beer
- Dessert – 1Bowl of frozen blueberries with a handful of roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds, then a second bowl of watermelon with sunflower seeds. Fruit and sunflower seeds have been my go to “dessert” for several years. I have found that with my avoidance of sugar, the blueberries are almost too “sweet” for me now, and I’m experimenting with a new fruit to go with the sunflower seeds – hence the watermelon tonight.
Are you going to change MTI’s Nutritional Guidelines?
Not right now, but I am considering eliminating all dairy and possibly eliminating sugar from the “cheat” day. I “feel” better with processed sugar out of my diet.
What naturally happens following our guidelines is the “cheat” day becomes less and less of a cheat. Simply put, after eating “clean” all week, pigging out on carbs and sugar one day/week makes you sick to your stomach. And so your cheat days become less and less.
As an example, last Friday we ordered take out and I had 8 garlic and parmesan chicken wings and blue cheese dressing. This “broke” the non-dairy part of my diet, and though I was hungry and enjoyed the wings, I suffered from a sick-feeling stomach for the rest of the evening. Once you’re eating clean, eating “dirty” hurts!
Overall, MTI’s nutritional guidelines are still a great, sustainable diet and if you want to get more strict – a good “bridge” to do so.
Are you restricting calories?
Not right now, but I’m considering it. Since getting strict 3 months ago, I’ve lost 7-10 pounds of fat, but am still heavier than I’d like to be. Part of this is upper body muscle mass built during the winter which I’ll usually “burn off” in the Spring/summer as I spend time doing much more uphill endurance preparing for backcountry hunting season … but this year, I’m nursing my recovering foot, and just can’t pound out the vertical like normal. So I’m looking at reducing my caloric intake. Likely I’ll start by cutting out my dessert of fruit and nuts every other night … or decreasing the portion from a bowl to a cup.
Another area to cut would be the ground peanut butter. Even peanut butter without any added sugar or anything else has 190 calories in a tablespoon … so this may go or get cut back.
Do you weigh your food, or monitor portions?
No …. I eat until I’m full and try not to stuff myself.
This isn’t a lot of food! I couldn’t survive on this little!
I’m small (165 pounds) and old (51) …. I don’t need much food. But believe me, I’m hardly starving myself! I’m never hungry. If I do get hungry, I’ll eat something.
Don’t worry about the amount of food you eat so much, but the type of food. Avoid the “bad” calories which go straight to fat cells – sugar and “bad” carbs (wheat, grains, bread, pasta, potatoes, chips, etc.)
What about supplements – i.e. protein shakes?
What is different in the way you feel?
- One of the advantages of a strict diet is you end up with many fewer choices for meals, and fewer choices are actually liberating. You’ll begin to see food as “fuel” rather than as some reward for doing well or some “comfort” when you’re having a bad day.
- Again, I’ve lost 5-10 pounds of fat since getting really strict, so I feel much better. However, I’m not as light as I want to be and may experiment with some caloric restriction (cutting dessert size) and more endurance training to cut muscle mass. Again, I’m older than most of you reading this article, and my metabolism has definitely slowed from my mid-40s. I need fewer calories.
- Mentally, I feel about the same – no noticeable increase in mental sharpness.
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