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
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
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
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.
There is no “best” food because the “best” food doesn’t exist.
Summing things up
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.
– 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.