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Quality vs. Quantity (aka, Cheeseburger vs. Fasting)

Hey DCL. Hope everyone’s had a fantastically sugar-free couple of weeks since we last touched base! Today’s nutrinformation bit revolves around a topic some (me) are pretty good at sucking at, and that’s the conundrum of how much to eat versus what to eat. With “intermittent fasting” and “counting macros” flying around the nutrition airwaves, it’s easy to either throw our arms up and buy-in to one, or simply to say “screw it” and eat whatever happens to swing in front of our mouths. Let’s pseudo-ruminate on some very “wave-top” levels of this issue, and how it may be effecting your time in and out of the gym.

So first, let’s talk about quality, since we already nibbled on that topic a couple weeks ago. Bottom line up front… “if it has a nutrition label, it probably isn’t food.” By now, most of us know (thank you Coach Glasman) that eating sugar leads to all the results we very much don’t want in life: fatty hips, lethargic workdays, torturous recovery periods, and as much mental clarity as we have on a good Friday night out with friends… so, don’t eat that.
As far as “macronutrients,” just remember what’s been drawn on the DCL whiteboard for a couple weeks now, which is that they include protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Protein is found in dead animals, generally; beef, chicken, fish, turkey, bacon, and bacon. One can hunt these in the meat sections of any grocery store, but be wary of added “flavors,” as they will most certainly include sugar, or one of its harmful lookalikes (high fructose corn syrup, sucralose, agave nectar… you get it. And did I mention bacon?
Carbohydrates should be gathered in the appropriate section of the grocery store as well… frozen veggies are usually a good option for you meal-preppers out there, as the freezing process doesn’t usually chemically alter them at all. Again, beware of added sugars. Lastly, healthy fats are found in multiple items throughout the store, and include coconut oil, nuts (almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, etc.), seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, etc.), and avocado. And yet again, watch out for added sugars, especially if you’re gathering your nuts and seeds in the form of trail mixes… perhaps a healthier path is the simpler, by selecting yours from those bland-looking (but so delicious) cartons of raw nuts and seeds, usually found by the fruits and veggies.
But those carbs!?… Bread? No… turns to fructose and you may as well eat sugar. Wheat? Nope… damages your gut and inhibits the absorption of other nutrients. Carbs should be around 80% vegetables and the remainder is fruits.
So that was a small recap on quality. Some choose to dive down the rabbit-hole of only eating grass-fed, hourly-massaged, good-vibes-induced, only-smiles-given cow meat from Portland, but if your protein currently consists of the pepperoni on a frozen pizza, then perhaps starting at the fairly-priced beef at your local grocer is sufficient to get it in!
Now on to quantity. This is where some people’s (my) failure really shines through. Yes, you can starve yourself and join the “intermittent fasting” (socially-accepted eating disorder) craze… or the “see-food” diet. We won’t seek to sway your nutritional journey in that way, but will posit that when do eat, your meal should include equal parts protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Also drawn on the DCL whiteboard (lower-right, beneath the ipad for future reference) has been a picture of a hand, showing proportion sizes. Looking at your hand as a baseline, the protein you eat should generally be the height/width/thickness of your palm; again, beef, poultry, fish, whatever! Your fat portion should be about the same volume as your thumb (height/width/thickness), and your carb intake (again, mostly veggies) should be the volume of what you can hold in both hands at once. Picture that for a moment… that’s a lot of carbs, man! Trackin.’ Personally, I find a blender to be helpful in getting those carbs in when time is limited.
Even beyond the quality of what you are eating, ensure you are eating enough to sustain your day! Starving yourself replicates the effects of poor diet, but at least you won’t pass out at the end of a difficult WOD.
Let’s take a whack at micronutrients while we’re at… these refer to vitamins and minerals! A simple plant-based (no sugar added!!) multi-vitamin checks this block rather easily; chewable vitamins almost always include sugar (poor kids!), so perhaps avoid those, if possible. Regardless, adding a multi-vitamin to your daily intake will aid in exercise recovery (all of it), mental clarity (B-vitamins), mood (vitamin D), excitingly-colored urine (also B-vitamins), etc., so pick up a bottle and slam one a day (or whatever the bottle says), and soak-in the reward.
To recap then, we discussed quality (fresh macros and no sugar), quantity (the hand model: protein=palm, carbs=two handfuls, fat=thumb), and micros (vitamins/minerals). Intake all this with a healthy amount of water (around 2 liters depending on who you ask), between 7-8 hours of restful sleep (parents, chuckle and shake your head), and some vigorous bodily stimulation (thanks Matt for your results-proven programming)… and you’ll be pouring fuel on the wellness fire!
Until next time DCL, eat clean, work hard, and take a moment for yourself today.

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