Nutritionism

Nutrition is an incredibly complex and largely mystifying science to us, even in this day and age. We actually know astonishingly little about why certain foods do or do not work well for the human body. 

But that sucks, right? To think that a practice you engage in three times a day is barely understood?

It’s the 21st century, damnit!

This is why you’ll see so many people (and industries) treating nutrition like a religion, like a set of beliefs based primarily on theory and faith. (If you’ve ever met a particularly fiery vegan or awkwardly aggressive Paleo-enthusiast, you know exactly what I mean.)

Michael Pollan, one of the most esteemed nutrition-writers of our time, refers to this phenomenon as “Nutritionism."

What Nutritionism aims to do is reduce all nutrition to its requisite parts, meaning that instead of looking at a banana and concluding that it’s healthy because many cultures have subsisted and thrived on bananas for centuries, it decides that bananas are healthy because they’re comprised of vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C, potassium, biotin, copper, and are a good source of dietary fiber.

Sounds fair, right? None of this is untrue.

However, it’s undeniably reductionist and speaks nothing to why, when these particular vitamins and minerals are extracted and administered to a person outside of the food, that person doesn’t receive the same health benefits as the person who simply eats the banana.

This is all to say that a banana, or for that matter any food on this planet, is not the sum of its nutrient parts, but rather a food that, for some scientifically inexplicable reason, is healthy for us, and makes us feel good and live longer.

So while, like with any religion, we must respect other eaters’ beliefs, I also invite you to keep an open mind and a clear head when it comes to nutrition.

When people ask me what particular nutritional “camp” I fall into, I have no answer, since I believe that all sorts of diets work well for all different types of people, and to say otherwise would not be particularly humble.

Who am I, God?

So what CAN we say conclusively about nutrition, if anything?

The only thing that nearly every Nutritionism cult in the world can agree on is that fruits and vegetables are good, and processed food is bad. No matter who you are, if you follow these principles, you will be healthier, thinner, and, most likely, happier.

It’s important to keep perspective and remember that the nitty-gritty is less important than these  basic, overarching principles.

Intermittent Fasting: Healthier, Shaper, Thinner

Intermittent Fasting is one of the biggest budding trends in the health and fitness world right now.

And for good reason.

More and more research is being done every year, and so far all signs point towards improved cognitive function, increased fat loss, and enhanced immunity.

In other words, it'll make you healthier, sharper, and thinner. 

And I can tell you firsthand, it’s changed my life for the better.

What exactly does it do, you ask?

  • reduces inflammation

  • increases your metabolic rate (making it a great accelerant for weight loss!)

  • drops your insulin levels

  • aids with cellular waste removal

  • enhances hormone function

  • improves cognitive function and productivity

  • helps avoid Alzheimers and Parkinsons

In short, fasting gives your body the time it needs to repair itself in many ways, without the added stresses of digestion.

So what is Intermittent Fasting?

Now, there're a couple ways to do it, but, if you ask me, the easiest way to intermittently fast is to basically just skip breakfast and wait 'til the afternoon to eat.

And that's it!

Easy.

"But wait, wait, wait! Isn't breakfast the most important meal of the day?!"

If you look to the government, WebMD, or most people's mothers, you'll probably get an emphatic "Yes!"

And that's fair.

There's a lot of science out there to back them up, maintaining that this beloved daily routine improves focus, helps manage weight, and increases overall energy, making you healthier, sharper, and thinner.

Sound familiar?

Yep, that's because there's a lot of science (and pseudoscience) on both sides arguing for very similar health benefits, and, of course, everyone's got their proverbial panties in a twist over it.

Who to believe?

Well, first of all, everyone's body is different and, as is the rule with all things wellness, no single approach works for everyone. 

However...

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It's worth mentioning that a lot of the funding for these "pro-breakfast" studies have been conducted by the same people who sell you sugar-coated, hyper-processed cereal, promising healthy, happy mornings packed with "whole grain goodness," Vitamin D, and Calcium.

Thanks for that, Trix Fruitalicous Swirls cereal. 

(By the way, that whole grain ingredient they're bragging about is corn.)

So take all arguments on all sides with a grain of salt, and find what works best for YOUR unique body.

That said, I'd strongly encourage you to just try Intermittent Fasting.

You'll have to push through the first 2-3 weeks, but if you can make it past the hump, you'll know 100% if it it's for you cause you'll just feel so much better overall.

So you wanna try it?

It's really not hard, it just takes some extra planning.

Here're some tips for getting started: 

Make sure your dinner includes a good amount of healthy fat and protein (which will keep you satiated for longer) 

Keep drinking coffee (coffee, tea, and any other beverage under 50 calories won't break your fast, plus the caffeine will help suppress hunger)

Keep yourself busy (mental distraction is key when getting started)

Try to avoid smelling food in the morning (smells can subconsciously trigger digestion and make you hungry...so mouth breath as you walk past that Panara on your way to work)

Again, these first few weeks may not be easy. You’ve been eating one way for probably the majority of your life, and breaking from that may send your body into confusion, panic, or “hanger.”

You may experience temporary dips in energy or grouchiness— just know that that’s totally normal, and it only gets easier with each passing week, as your body adapts and resets its physiological habit responses.

Also know that a lot of the initial resistance you may feel is mental, so try your best to keep an open mind and a strong sense of willpower.

And even if you decide that this is not in fact the path for you, it's still wise to allow 12 hours between dinner and breakfast regardless, as your body still needs a daily break from digestion, which is a rather demanding process.

But try it out and let me know how it goes in the comments section below!

Here's a link to additional resources if you wanna dig a little deeper into this.

Are You Getting Your Protein The Right Way? Complete vs. Incomplete Proteins

Think of protein as an alcoholic beverage. 

You’re standing at a bar, and you’ve got a bottle of gin, some Campari, and and a bottle of vermouth. You can only have one drink, and you’re trying to feel a nice buzz. 

There're a few ways to achieve this. 

One option is to pour out some straight gin and go for it.

Another option is to grab all three bottles and throw them together to make....

A Negroni! 

Either way you’ll get buzzed, it’s just a matter of personal preference.

Got it?

Ok, so think of all these bottles as proteins. This gin is a complete protein. The others are incomplete proteins. 

Now in this scenario we can equate "trying to get a nice buzz on" with "trying to build muscle." In order to build muscle and feel satiated and get our ideal bodies, we gotta consume protein.

But not all proteins are created equal. 

Proteins are basically just chains of amino acids.

There are two types of amino acids:

  • essential

  • nonessential

Nonessential amino acids are created by the body (so you don't have to worry about those), but essential amino acids are not and must be obtained from food.

And in order to really build muscle, we wanna get all of 'em.

So, back to the bottles.

The gin is high proof and will get you drunk quick— this is the "complete protein." 

The others are lower alcohol and could be consumed alone, but they serve their purpose much better when consumed together in a mixed drink. These are the "incomplete proteins."

Complete proteins contain all the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities, while incomplete proteins need to be combined together to create a complete protein. 

Complete proteins are typically animal-based (meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, etc.), however there're a couple other plant-based complete proteins as well, such as quinoa, buckwheat, hemp, and chia. 

Incomplete proteins (the ones that should to be combined) account for pretty much every other protein in the world-- grains, legumes, nuts, vegetables, etc. 

In other words, the less animal-based proteins you consume, the more diverse you want your plant-based diet to be, to make sure you’re getting all your aminos. 

This is particularly important if you’re a vegetarian or vegan.

To take it even one step further, you want to aim to combine what are known as “complementary proteins” to create a complete amino acid profile. 

Good examples of this are:

  • brown rice and beans

  • yogurt and nuts

  • hummus and whole grain pita

  • tofu and tahini

  • peanut butter and whole wheat bread

So when it comes to protein, do as they say and "consume responsibly."

Cheers!

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

This is a question (and an excuse) I get a lot:

"How am I supposed to eat healthy without spending ALL OF MY MONEY?" 

Listen, I get it. Fast food and hyper-processed sugar-packed goodies are everywhere and they’re cheap AF! 

It can feel like a ridiculous choice to make, standing in the grocery store choosing between a $2 box of 6 delicious glimmering glazed doughnuts or a single $2 organic lumpy grapefruit from Mexico. 

But just because it’s harder to find the cheaper, healthier options doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. You don’t just settle for the first guy you meet on Match.com who’s over 5’6”. You got standards!

So here’re the exact steps to take to eat healthy on a budget.

1. Buy ALL of the fruits and vegetables!

Shop the perimeters of the supermarket. Stay away from the packaged foods in the middle aisles altogether, and go for the good stuff that’ll give you biggest nutritional bang for your buck. 

And, of course, go for the stuff that’s domestic and in season.

2. Replace "shit quality" meats with cheaper, more nutritious proteins.

Beans, eggs, hemp seeds, legumes, tuna, high protein whole grain, etc. Get out of the habit of buying crap deli meat and packaged nonsense, and go for the good stuff that’ll keep your pockets heavy and your stomach satisfied.

3. Get high quality meat and dairy for cheap by buying local.

Go to your local farmer’s market. Find a high quality butcher in your area. Are there any farms close to you? Get on Google, get creative, and do some research.

Fun tip: sometimes you can even find small, local farms that are secretly organic even if they don't have an organic certification, since the certification process is pricey and smaller places often can't afford to essentially "buy" the label.

4. Buy in bulk and seek out online deals.

Buy big, save money, and freeze as necessary. 

Don’t discount the power of shopping the interwebs. Sometimes my favorite health food store is Amazon. 

Just this week I got bulk packages of chia seeds, flax, hemp hearts, MTC oil, oatmeal, and a bunch of other great stuff for way cheaper than my local Manhattan Whole Foods.

5. Cook at home, Dummy!

Eating out is a surefire way to wreak havoc on your diet and ensure you spend more money than you’d like. 

Try getting into weekly meal prep, where you make all your meals for the whole week in bulk at one time and throw them into tupperwares in the fridge. It’ll save you time and energy and help you resist the urge to order in after a long exhausting day when you don’t feel like cooking.

And, of course, be smart and pack your lunch.

Hope that was helpful.

What're some of YOUR favorite affordable healthy foods?

What to Eat Before and After a Workout

Working out without considering your nutrition is sort of like going to a mixology bar and ordering a vodka cranberry. 

Like...why are even you here? 

Just stay home, you just don’t get it... 🤦‍♀️

Today, I’m gonna tell you exactly what and when to eat before and after a workout.

First thing to get out of the way here:

I am one of the few people in the industry who is NOT a fan of supplements. Probably cause I don’t sell any.

(And you should be suspicious of the advice given from anyone who does). 

Unless you have a naturally-occurring or diet-dependent vitamin deficiency, or your prepping for a bodybuilding competition, 90% of the crap out there is must marketing in a tub, so, please, save your money, and get what you need from eating real food.

So let’s start with what to eat BEFORE a workout.

As you may recall, I’m a personal advocate of morning workouts paired with fasted training and intermittent fasting, meaning I’d always prefer you, if possible, to workout in the morning (since willpower fades over the course of the day, and you’re more likely to get it done), and to do so in a fasted state (on an empty stomach). 

This is what I practice personally, as well as a good portion of my coaching clients, and I’ve seen this path to reveal the best results the quickest. 

So if you can do it, all I want you to consume before a workout is: 

  • A lot of water

  • Coffee, tea, or any other morning beverage less than 50 calories (which won’t break your fasted state)

That said, not everyone can handle that routine, either because of their schedule, or maybe they just don’t like it or can’t lift as heavy, and that’s 100% fine.

So what would you eat in that case and when?

In order to max fat loss and prep your muscles for maximum protein synthesis (which we care about cause that’s how we build muscle), you’re gonna want to eat a small meal of protein and carbs about a half hour before your workout.

This could look like:

  • eggs on whole wheat toast

  • some cottage cheese and fruit

  • oatmeal

  • some lightly sweetened granola and yogurt

  • hummus and veggie sticks

  • a sandwich with a protein and mustard (or other non-fatty spread) 

  • protein pancakes

  • smoothies

Now let's talk about what you eat AFTER a workout.

Post-workout nutrition is super important! 

Make sure to consume a meal that includes a decent amount of protein, to maximize protein synthesis rates, as well as some carbs, to raise insulin levels and keep them elevated, further facilitating that muscle growth. 

And you’re gonna want to consume that within a 1-2 hour window after you workout.

So this could be:

  • a sandwich

  • a salad with grains and some protein on top

  • tuna on crackers

  • a turkey/chicken/veggie burger

  • quinoa bowl

  • a protein packed fruit smoothie

  • chicken and brown rice

  • basically anything else with a balanced amount of protein and carbs

Also, for a super easy on-the-go solution, just pack yourself a powdered protein shake in a shaker and simply add water when you’re ready to consume it.

Now I wanna know:

What’re YOUR favorite pre and post workout foods? Comment below!