“What Are The Best Foods To Eat?” Here’s Your Answer, Now Stop Asking Me

Best foods to eat face
My face when someone asks me what foods they should eat.

When someone decides they want to lose weight, build muscle, or whatever else (actually it’s almost always one of those two things so…never mind), they know that nutrition will play a critical role in their journey.

And you know how I can tell, almost instantly, if someone is a beginner or not?

It’s if they ask this one question, “What are the best foods to eat?”

My canned response to this question

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I get this question so often via email that I even created a canned response so that I can just copy and paste it whenever someone asks me.

Here’s my response:

Hi [NAME OF HUMAN],

It’s not so much the foods you eat that matter as it is your daily calorie/macro nutrient (protein, carbs, fat) intake.

If you eat in a calorie surplus, you will gain weight regardless of the actual foods you eat.

I recommend you to start tracking your calories and macros so you know exactly how much you’re eating.

As for specific types of foods, you should try to aim for 80% healthy, wholesome and nutritious foods like lean meats, fruits, veggies, nuts, along with carb sources like rice, pasta, and potatoes. The other 20% can be whatever you want.

After I publish this post, I’ll probably start redirecting people here 🙂

That’s pretty much the gist of it.

But let me elaborate more to clear up once and for all, the madness and confusion about the “best foods to eat.”

All physique-centered diets the same

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fitness model body
99% of guys who have a body like this follow very similar diets.

A physique-centered diet is a diet designed to help anyone lose fat or build muscle and look good naked while optimizing for training performance and health (basically what my canned response recommends).

This isn’t a diet for endurance athletes.

Instead, think of bodybuilders, fitness models, celebrities getting in shape for a movie role, and most likely, you (the dude who wants a Hollywood Superhero physique).

Physique-centered diets are one of the most common diet plans out there because they’re designed for one of the most common goals out there – to look good naked.

Once you break out of the whole “look good naked” space, shit starts getting weird.

This is when you start running into vegan juicing hippies, “eat right for your type” crazies,  guys trying to sell you weed that burns fat, gurus selling gluten free diets who can’t even explain what gluten is, and one specific girl (who will not be named) who believes sitting in an airplane is bad for you.

But getting back on topic…

Let’s take a look an average fitness model’s physique-centered meal plan.

For example, let’s use this sample diet taken straight off this Simply Shredded interview with fitness model Rob Riches:

Note: In no way am I endorsing this diet. I am just using it as an example for a average fitness model’s diet.

Meal 1: Gluten-free oats cooked with water on the stove, with a teaspoon of RAW honey and some stevia extract and cinnamon for some sweet and spice, plus a 2-scoop serving of chocolate Hydrowhey, made in my bullet blender with water, ice, stevia extract, coffee beans, and a teaspoon of raw almond butter.

Meal 2: (Meals 2, 3 and 4 are usually the same as this makes it easier to prepare them all, plus they all contain the same amount of calories and macronutrient ratios). Poached Swai fillet (meaty white fish cooked in a pan with just water to boil it), with yam or brown rice for my carbs, and a heavy dose of green vegetables (for both the fiber and nutrients, and also to make it seem like I’m eating more, as I count these as a free-food, meaning I don’t count the calories from the veg, so add it as a sort of clean, bulk food). For fats, I’ll either have a handful of raw almonds (about 10), Flaxseed oil, or even a third of an avocado (depending if I can find the ripe ones when I’m shopping).

Meal 5: (Post-workout) 1 scoop of chocolate hydrowhey with two scoops of glycomaize (a waxy maize starch). 30 minutes later I’ll have another smaller meal that usually consists of either fish of chicken (recently I’ve been BBQ’ing a lot of Turkey tenders as we have a big BBQ at the studio I run in Downtown Los Angeles, so I like to make use of it as often as I can), and some more yam with a small salad.

Meal 6: Besides breakfast, my final meal of the day has to be one of my favorite things to eat. It consists of a scoop of chocolate Casein (Optimum Nutrition), mixed in with 6 egg whites, some stevia extract and cinnamon, microwaved for a minute, then a teaspoon of raw almond butter stirred in and put back in the microwave for a further 40-60 seconds. Once cooled, it’s like some kind of chocolate soufflé that I can enjoy, knowing that I haven’t strayed from my nutrition plan, plus it’s a slow releasing protein – from the casein and fats from the almond butter, helping to keep me anabolic throughout the night.

After reading the quote above, you’ve pretty much know how 99% of all fitness competitors, bodybuilders, and celebrities eat to get in badass shape.

And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

As much as I bash on the whole “brown rice and chicken” breast diets guys use, it’s an effective way to eat healthy, build muscle, and lose fat.

It can just be incredibly boring at times.

Break everything down to macro ratios

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If you look at Rob Riches’ diet above, you’ll notice it’s a high protein, moderate carb, moderate fat diet.

This is how most most (smart) fitness models diet and it’s also how I setup diets for my readers and clients.

But what I try to teach people is that the exact foods you eat don’t matter as much as being in the specific macro range above.

Obviously you can play around with macronutrient percentages and ratios but you typically don’t want to stray too far from a high protein, moderate carb, moderate fat diet.

[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=”An easier way to track macros?”]For a more flexible approach to tracking macros, check out Macro FLEX TRACKING (MFT)[/thrive_text_block]

And the beauty of tracking your macro ratios is you don’t need to eat brown rice for your carb source.

You can eat potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, any type of rice, or even bread. As long as its a wholesome, nutritious carb source, go for it.

The same goes for fats and proteins.

There’s no reason to only eat chicken or beef because you’ve heard one is better than the other. Pick a protein you enjoy eating, cook it in a way you enjoy, and just fucking eat it.

Easy peasy.

There is no “best” food because the “best” food doesn’t exist.

Summing things up

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The whole “what are the best foods” issue isn’t really that complex.

It’s just arguably the #1 question people have when it comes to dieting.

What I find is that when people ask this question, they want the response to be something along the lines of “Oh try to avoid carbs like white rice and white bread because they will spike da insulin levels and make u fat.”

But in reality, not only is that statement false, but it makes people fear specific foods which is bad and will only lead to even more problems in the future, like eating disorders.

tl;dr

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– There is no “best” food you should eat.

– When creating a diet, look at your macro ratios instead of specific foods.

– Aim for a high protein, moderate carb, moderate fat diet. Obviously macro ratios can be played around with but definitely keep protein high to maintain muscle, and don’t go too low carb as it will affect gym performance. If you adjust anything start by lowering fat a tiny bit.

– Don’t fear any single food. There is no food on this planet that has the ability to single-handily sabotage your diet or physique.

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21 thoughts on ““What Are The Best Foods To Eat?” Here’s Your Answer, Now Stop Asking Me”

  1. Damnnn nailed it right on the head!

    I have to admit I used to be that buy who said if you eat white rice, you will get fat.

    Lately, I’ve been more flexible with my diet and incorporated more of my favorite foods and carbs.

    Guess what?!

    I’m still losing fat no matter what.

    Like you said, all that matters is the macro/calorie you consume daily.

    – Sam Pustea

  2. Really helpful site and amusing articles. This was really a game-changer. All I really need now is to fill my “bases”, which is a certain amount of protein and micros from “healthy stuff” like some fruit and vegetables. Everything else seems rather extra, and I just aim to eat what I want (I get healthy fat from peanut butter because I love that stuff)

  3. Spot on! I think the one thing that most people have trouble with (from talking to my friends who decide to start tracking their macros) is exactly what proportion they should use. Since most people tend to overestimate the “good” things like protein and underestimate things like fats, it’s really important to know how many grams of each they should have. You nailed it on the head with high protein, mod carbs, mod fats. I follow (what I was told is standard) 1 gram of protein per pound lean bodyweight, 0.35 grams of fat per pound lean bodyweight, and then figure out the grams of carbs from your remaining calories…

    • yeah I agree.

      Tracking all the macros can be tough for a beginner.

      I find it easier is to tell someone to track their overall calories and just protein which simplifies things 1000%.

      What I find is that carb and fats tend to balance out pretty well over time as long as you don’t go too overboard with one or the other.

      • Oh yeah, definitely. Especially since most foods (at least in the States) are high carb, and high fat. Makes it easier when you start counting your macros.

  4. Funny post.

    The real issue is that people have no clue of what they’re eating. Here’s a primer:

    1 gram protein is 4 calories
    1 gram carbs is 4 calories
    1 gram fat is 9 calories

    That means that 3 handfuls of “healthy” trail mix, full almonds, cashews, peanuts and raisins has more calories than a Snickers bar.

    Once you understand your macronutrient goals, you can start picking and choosing what you want to eat as long as they help you hit your macros. Wholesome, one-ingredient foods are good are easier to calculate, but there’s no “best” food.

    Your body recognizes protein, carbs, and fat. Where you get them from is up to you.

    (Be sure to eat enough fiber though)

  5. It’s always amusing to watch people glaze over when you suggest to them that they can eat most anything they want (within reason) and that calories in versus calories out is the big thing.

    They look at you like you just went on some type of Scientologist rant, or something.

    That’s why this blog rocks, Keith. You totally get it.

  6. …”don’t go too low carb as it will affect gym performance.”

    That’s certainly the prevailing bro-wisdom, and it’s true — for a while, measured in weeks. But not permanently, or so says some legit research.

    My n=1 is that going from around 100g of carbs a day to a ketogenic diet (around 40g/day) meant 3-5 weeks of gym suckage, failing on singles at 90-95% of my 1RM and dragging ass through the conditioners. After that, strength came back (and started to head upward again) and metcons got *better*, pretty much the way Phinney and Volek said they would. It’s fun to wipe the gym floor with people half my age who haven’t figured out that ketones are rocket fuel.

    I was once the proud possessor of a middle-aged gut. Abs are just now starting to appear, and LCHF gets the credit. I’m a mostly-sedentary 190 lb almost-50-year-old guy with a legit 440 lb squat, but I don’t pretend to be an expert on what anyone else should do. At my age, looking at my peers who are lean (and those who aren’t), I’d say that the truism is that any diet that lowers insulin and supplies adequate protein “works” for health and fitness.

    • I see no “legit research.”

      Great for you on getting results and whatnot but that doesn’t mean everyone should all of a sudden do a keto diet.

  7. Hi,

    you should definitely write some new celebrity-workouts. Jake gyllenhaals workout for southpaw would be awesome!

    Cheers

  8. You’re right on.

    With books like wheat belly, paleo, and all the other garbage out there, people are looking for quick simple answers. They want to. And have been lead to believe one food or one food group is the problem.

    Counting macros and calories sucks. So it’s easier to say it’s sugar, gluten or some other scape goat.

    Good job. Nice to see you spreading some good info to combat the trash.

    • Yup, everyone needs a diet “angle.” Paleo is basically just the next generation of low carb.

      Hope you’re doing well, jason.

  9. Hello,
    What advice would you give a beginner like me. I kinda get what you are saying but at the same time I’m well lost … I don’t want to get thin or look good , I want to feel good inside. Tone all this baby weight etc. Im bad for not eating but then binge eat. I feel so yuk inside. I’m not a good one for eating and anything I do eat like sugars , carbs turns into fat because of my pcos so for someone like me that feels everytime I eat i feel fat, what sort of food or even better just some sort of smoothie drink I can consume. Thanks heaps.

    • You don’t want to look good? Huh?

      Carbs don’t turn into fat, that’s a myth.

      If you want to feel “good” in terms of energy, then try to limit the amount of processed foods you eat. Stick with foods like meats, fruits, and veggies.

      • Of course Carbs turn into fat. Your body turns into glucose which your body with either burn or turn into glycogen (which would be stored in muscle). If you eat more valorise from CARBS that your body can use it will be stored in fat cells.

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