Several of my friends have asked what I eat to stay in shape so I thought I would share my current eating routine and diet. NOTE: This is my personal diet and while I can recommend the same or similar as a general guideline for a healthy diet, this may not be an appropriate diet for every woman so please check with a doctor or nutritionist first if you are interested in trying what I do.
My diet is high in protein, high in fiber and low in simple carbs. High protein means I eat a lot of meat, eggs, dairy, and I supplement with protein powders. High in fiber means I eat a lot of vegetables and some fruit. Low in carbs means I eat very little simple carbohydrates such as white bread, rice and pasta, and basically anything with refined sugars. Vegetables and fruits are also carbohydrates but they are considered complex carbohydrates because they take longer to digest and therefore make you feel full and satisfied for longer than simple carbs. Complex carbs such as fruits and veggies also offer nutrients and generally more fiber than you can get from simple carbs.
My diet is also focused on keeping my metabolism running very fast and keeping my blood sugar levels even. I do this by eating every 2-3 hours, 6 times per day. With each “meal” I aim for at least 20 grams of protein. This helps me to stay full throughout the day and prevents my blood sugar from reaching highs and lows. Fluctuating blood sugar levels is not a fun thing; you probably know what I’m talking about, when one minute you feel great and the next minute you feel so hungry, shaky, weak, and cranky that you will eat jut about anything in sight! As I mentioned in Maintaining Muscle: Advice for Women , the average woman (meaning not seriously overweight) should consume about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day in order to maintain muscle. Consuming regular amounts of protein throughout the day also keeps blood sugar levels even, and keeps our metabolism active. If I eat exactly 20 grams of protein 6 times per day, I am right at 120 grams of protein which is almost matching my bodyweight in pounds. The amount of grams I eat at eat meal varies slightly, but my end goal is to consume 120- 130 grams of protein each day.
In addition to protein, I try to get the recommended five servings of vegetables and fruit, which based on my routine means I need to eat a fruit or vegetable with almost every meal. I admit it is a little more of a challenge for me to get enough veggies and fruit in my diet than it is to get enough protein. I tend to get lazy about the cleaning and chopping that is needed to prepare them so getting my five servings a day of fruits and veggies is something I’m working towards being more consistent with.
For Carbohydrates, I try to stay around 100 grams or less per day. I don’t count carbs from fruits and vegetables, I only count simple carbs from other foods and beverages that I might eat such as bread, pasta, rice, lattes, etc. When you consider that a Tall Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks has 40 grams of carbohydrates, you’ll see that those simple carbs add up quickly! Again, I try to stay under 100 grams per day because the simple carbs are going to be high in refined sugars which we should avoid anyway for numerous reasons.
So here is what a typical day of eating looks like for me:
7:30 am BREAKFAST 1st meal: I have three choices that I rotate throughout the week:
CHOICE ONE: Three large egg whites plus one whole large egg scrambled, and a sautéed vegetable on the side, usually zucchini or broccoli (24 grams of protein, carbs from veggies not counted). I also like to alternate the sautéed vegetable with a small fruit salad on the side.
CHOICE TWO: Greek Yogurt with Extra Protein exactly as detailed in my recipe (20 grams of protein).
CHOICE THREE: Protein shake – I’ll recommend my favorite protein powders in another post but for breakfast, I like to use a medium release protein powder (as described in Protein Powders: A Quick Overview ) and for me it needs to have about 24 grams of protein and no more than 6 or 7 grams of carbs.
9:30 am SNACK 2nd meal:
CHOICE ONE: 2 ounces of deli meat, 2 – 2.25 ounces of cheese (22-24 grams of protein). Deli meats tend to be really high in sodium so it’s a good idea not to overdue it.
CHOICE TWO: Assuming it was a day I didn’t have yogurt for meal 1, I will alternate Greek Yogurt with Extra Protein as a meal two choice. (20 grams of protein if prepared exactly as detailed in my recipe).
CHOICE THREE: Quest Bar (20-22 grams of protein, net carbs are about 3-4 grams) these things are awesome!!! They are a little sweet for me (usually 0-4 grams of added sugar but they use Stevia which is really sweet!), but they have MUCH more protein than the average protein bar and much lower carbs too (just compare the nutrition facts to a Cliff Bar. Not that I don’t like Cliff Bars but you’ll see what I mean). Also they have about 7 grams of fiber which makes them even better!
12:30 pm LUNCH 3rd meal:
2-4 ounces of some type of meat, I usually alternate between chicken, turkey and canned tuna (no more than three times per week for tuna) and some vegetable (protein varies slightly depending on how many ounces and what type of meat, but total protein should be around 15-22 grams).
2:30 pm SNACK 4th meal:
CHOICE ONE: Quest Bar if I didn’t have one earlier (20-22 grams of protein).
CHOICE TWO: two tablespoons of peanut butter with an apple or banana (8 grams of protein) and 2 ounces of cheese, assuming I didn’t have cheese earlier (14 grams of protein).
5:30 pm DINNER 5th meal:
Basically the same deal as lunch, 2-4 ounces of some type of meat, I usually alternate between chicken, turkey, beef, pork, salmon, tilapia (Once a week at most for tilapia as it’s got a lot of fat) and canned tuna (again protein varies slightly depending on how many ounces and what type of meat, but total protein should be around 15-22 grams). I include some type of vegetable
9:30 pm POST WORKOUT RECOVERY SHAKE 6th meal:
My post workout recovery shake is what I drink IMMEDIATELY after getting home from the gym. Typically the shake I make has 25-30 grams of protein. This is my last meal for the day, recovery for my body and muscles after working out and protein that continues to fuel and repair my body until morning. If I don’t work out, I may or may not skip this last meal; just depends on my overall protein intake for the day.
You might be thinking “That’s a lot of eating!” or “How do you have time to prepare and pack all those meals?” Well the truth is, it takes time to get into a routine like this. When I think back to where I was a year and a half ago, “breakfast” to me was a pastry and a latte from Starbucks. With all the simple carbs, I would be ravenous in a couple hours and had to break for lunch at 11 am. Then I would have a lunch that was usually low in protein and high in carbs and by the end of the work day, I was rushing home because I was hungry again and needed to eat. Not to mention in between meals, I was often light headed or shaky as my blood sugar levels were unstable between the sugar rushes and the crashing, as I hadn’t consumed enough protein and complex carbs to fuel my body. When I finally got tired of feeling like this all the time, and I started educating myself about how and what I needed to eat, and THAT was when I started to change my eating “habits.” Things like pastries or croissants for breakfast can take a while to replace, but when your body is satisfied nutritionally, those cravings start to fade and eventually you will crave the nutritious and wholesome foods instead of the simple carbs. Once you start the habit of eating healthier foods, then you can start a routine of eating healthy foods at scheduled times. Message me for more information on how to start eating your way to becoming a fit and fabulous female.