Toast is not a meal: Part 2

In Part 1 of our post I went through a laundry list of reasons choosing a breakfast like toast isn't nearly optimal.  We cover the convenience factor, why it's appealing and what it's lacking.  But we need solutions!

In this week's Part 2, we'll tackle how I address someone living the "avocado toast life" and what we need to do to make it optimal for their goals.

Practicality always wins out

The good thing about being practical is that like my nutrition mentor Dan Garner says "the program writes itself".  And the more I create meal plans, calculate macros and then apply that to real, working, busy people it rings true.  This is because when creating a meal plan we have to do a few basic things that get 80% or more of the results. And a persons goals combined with their current activity and body composition tell you what needs to be implemented.

-Find their maintenance calories (always a bit of an estimate but that's why we adjust!)

-Find their optimal protein

-Fit their carbohydrate intake to activity level

-Fill in the rest with fat

-Eat enough veggies and fiber

Really, that covers almost all of it.  Sure we cover hydration, supplements, post-workout meal timing and sleep but the actual nutrition side is taken care of with the list above. For insulin resistant or obese clients I tend to prioritize veggies and high quality fats first over carbs, but unless they're severely metabolically deranged, everyone gets SOME carbs

Point A to Point B

Right now, you don't need to see the calculations for calories, protein, carbs and fats.  What you need to see is how we can practically take someone from Point A to B without messing their whole life up....and still implementing the plan that will help them hit their goals.  For

We discussed a 160 pound woman looking to lose 20lbs.  She's exercising three times per week, works full time and is relatively active.  On a rough calorie and macronutrient standpoint I come up with the following:

Calories: 1867

Protein: 140g

Fat: 72g

Carbs: 160g

Now this is a rough estimate but we're looking at 1g protein per pound of her goal weight, plenty of fat to make her meals appetizing and enough carbs to get lots of veggies and fiber in with room for some starch so her meals are filling.

Remember that this is still just an estimate - sometimes you implement a plan like this and someone needs less food.  It could be that you find they aren't actually exercising much, they weren't honest about their weight or just because we're adaptive organisms that don't function on math equations......the estimate is wrong.  On the flipside you've got the metabolically adaptive people who might be able to eat more and lean out.  This is why we look for 1/2 to 1% bodyweight lost per week so we have a range to shoot for if we're over or under.  Undereating will not make fat loss happen that much faster but it WILL get you to stall out faster.  In my experience, women do this more than men.  If you can lean out at 1867 calories then why would you want to start with 1200 calories?!!

My Point B

I push for a lot of people to eat more Paleo-ish from the start.  One of my reasonings is that if you are eaitng lots of whole foods, proteins and veggies then it's easier to control your calories.  Being full (shocker!) is a good way to stay on your plan.  In addition, so many people rely on pre-packaged foods and take in far too little fiber, lots of sugar alcohols and fillers and other foods that could cause digestive or inflammatory stress.  If you're good with dairy or wheat we'll keep it in but ditching a lot of the low-quality foods improve your health.  Believe me, nothing like having your constant gas, bloating or constipation go away from improving food quality. 

Here's how a days worth of food looks on the macros I calculated:

10 ounces chicken breast

3 whole eggs

2 Slices Ezekiel bread (if they're good with wheat)

10 ounces sweet potato

1/2 avocado

1 cup strawberries

2 Tbsp Nut butter or 1/4 cup mixed nuts

8 ounces fibrous veggies

8 ounces butternut squash

1 Rx Bar

That is a LOT of food volume forabout 1800 calories.  Do you eat that much in a day?  Maybe not, but your calorie density may be higher from food choices so what most people find is they are over-eating calories but still hungry because theyre food volume, fiber and protein is too low.

MealsPoint APoint B
Upon Waking20oz Coffee from Starbucks with cream and sugarWater and black coffee
Breakfast1 slice ezekiel bread with 1/2 avocado smashed onto it with a drizzle of olive oil3 eggs, 2 slices ezekiel bread plus some greens and salsa, 4oz butternut squash on the side
LunchCaesar salad with 2oz chicken breastLarge salad with 4oz fibrous veggies, 5oz sweet potato and 5oz chicken, 1/4 avocado
Snackprotein bar(the kind advertised to women) and a handful of almondsRx Bar
DinnerIndian food4oz fibrous veggies, 4oz butternut squash, 5oz sweet potato, 5oz pork loin, 1/4 avocado
SnackApple with "only 2 tablespoons almond butter" on it1 cup strawberries and 2Tbsp nut butter or 1/4 cup mixed nuts

Now most people see this volume of food like "whaaaaattttt?  Dinner looks like a feast and this drives adherence high.  But the shock of that much food volume can throw people for a loop.  Sometimes we'll split that 3 meals into 4 and combine the snacks into one larger snack if need be but either way as long as the daily total of food is accounted for they'll be good.

What did I do that most people overlook?

Here's the big kickers that most people overlook not knowing these are driving factors in their success.

1. Protein is much higher: Not only is protein more thermogenic, meaning it takes a lot of energy to digest but it also acts as an insulin agonist, bringing blood sugar back up to stable levels.  And it's filling to boot!

2. Lots of veggies: Now hold onto your pants here but vegetables are carbs.  They just happen to be low calorie because they contain cellulose which we can't digest, thus acting as fiber and bulk.  They also contain lots of nutrients and fill you up

3. Fat: We ditch fat-heavy protein sources since they add calories without adding food volume.  And we include fat sources like avocado and nuts because they have fiber and more volume than oils

4. We use smart snacks: Rx Bars are not high calorie and they've got some protein, so that's cool.  They also do not have xylitol, inulin or other additives that make you want to crap your pants.  Also cool.  Strawberries are low calorie so you can eat a decent amount without racking up the calories.  Raspberries, watermelon, melon and apples are awesome too. AKA food volume!

5. High-volume carbs: Don't get me wrong, I like people to include rice, plantains, oats and other carbs when they can.  But sweet potatoes are high volume thus driving fullness.  The Ezekiel bread is me throwing the client a bone so they get to have some fun, convenient carbs that aren't a calorie splurge

Nothing really magical but very practical.  And of course a client's feedback and results tell you what to do next.  All the stuff I write and give people advice on is right here above.  The reason most people struggle is they need some accountability and when it comes to creating your own nutrition plan, it's kind of like writing your own workout program: you make it how you WANT it not how you NEED it.

Now you're asking yourself, "yeah but he said avocado toast isn't a breakfast but he has BOTH in the nutriton plan".  And you're right.  But it's the slippery slope of relying on something like toast as your breakfast which leads to eating candy or other snacks at work, hitting up fast food for lunch, over-eating at dinner and late night snacking. Maybe breakfast was only 300 calories but most of us can EASILY make up the rest with highly palatable, calorie dense foods throughout the day.  Heck, a large coffee from Starbucks with all the fixin's might run your 500 calories right there.  

Your job

Now your job is to be an adult.  Like, you have to actually eat your vegetables, prep your food (or use the Strong Kitchen!), pack your food, tell your signifcant other NO you are not making a separate dinner for them and do this most days.  It's the consistency that gets people.  The adult-ness of it that seems so friggin' boring and rote.  But it's also what gets results.  Consistency also buys you some leeway too.  Nailing all your meals means one weekend dinner out for a burger is probably fine.  Most people miss the big picture and don't realize they are rewarding themselves with a burger on the weekends for a half-ass job on their nutrition during the week. But nailing 23 out of 25 weekly meals gets you a LOT of wiggle room on the two you ease up the rules on.  Not so much if only 10 out of your 25 weekly meals are on point.  Again, being an adult.

By now we know toast alone is not a meal.  And it's not just about the toast, it's the implcations that result the rest of your day and week.  Now you see how a solid nutrition plan looks like. How does yours compare?