By Dan Staton MS, PES
This month’s piece is centered around the typical email or message I get from fellow hunters wanting to change the way their body appears and performs. I often get asked what diet I recommend or for a sample food plan with an accompanying grocery shopping list. Everyone is interested in keeping fat stores low, muscles packed with power, and sustained energy levels. Food is powerful, yet we don’t give it much thought – what we eat actually becomes what we are. Food is a drug. Too much or too little of the wrong foods and you can quickly feel and look the same – not good. So let’s keep it really simple, showcase what foods to buy, what meals to prepare, and the best way to time your eating.
Food for optimal success is as follows: meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. For meats, we as hunters take pride in living off the land so to speak and bringing home the meat for our family. The meat we bring home is generally super lean, 100% organic, and free from immunizations and other drugs. The next best bet, besides wild game, is this rule of thumb – the less legs it has the better, putting fish, turkey, and poultry at the top of the list. For vegetables – keep it fresh or frozen, stay away from anything canned. Hopefully, you can pull from your garden as well. Purchase whole nuts that are void of added salt,. Look for unsalted almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pistachios, etc. Fruits are usually the best when they have the last name berry – blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. The main fruits to avoid are bananas, raisins, and canned fruit. Starch is really hard to cut out initially – but is probably the fastest way to guarantee yourself immediate fat loss. So time to stop buying bread, get rid of the pastas and any other refined man-made carbohydrate. This is going to be a challenge, but I will show you how to stay full without the heavy starches. Sugar is a very addicting little drug – it tickles your brain when it hits your blood stream, but cannot promote sustained energy levels. Too much sugar or too many calories at once and you’ve followed the formula for fat storage. So now that you’ve stocked up on the right foods, it’s time to construct some meals that will keep you alert and vibrant.
The best way to insure you eat well is to plan and prepare your meals in advance. Sundays are perfect for making the bulk of your food for the week. We generally grill a dozen chicken breasts, cooked with seasoning of course, then weigh and measure out 4oz portions and put them in the fridge in Tupperware. Then we construct the world’s biggest salad full of mixed greens including spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce. This makes it very easy to have a salad with dinner every night of the week. For carbs we dice a fresh fruit salad laced with apples, pineapple, grapes, kiwi, and other berries for easy snacks. We bake squash and yams for more dense carbohydrates to add to each meal. The key here is to make all your whole foods easily accessible during a hectic workweek. It’s not a bad idea to make up your own homemade trail mix and have your meals dialed in before Monday rolls around. About two hours of food prep on the weekend is a sure fire way to make eating clean throughout the week completely doable.
Now that you’ve purchased the right foods and prepared the bulk of your meals, it’s time to plan the timing of your consumption. Eating three squares a day is very old fashioned and I believe does not do your metabolism a favor, so plan on eating six small and balanced meals a day. What I mean is, be hungry about every 3-4 hours and eat. Skipping breakfast is no longer an option. Break the fast with protein, carbohydrate, and fat. I usually encourage that all meals have at or around 40% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 30% protein. Get your carbs from fruits and vegetables. Get your fat from nuts, seeds, and healthy oils. Get your protein from animals. Balancing out each food counter is key and making sure to eat almost every 3 hours will undoubtedly ignite a stout fat searing metabolism that will bolster great energy throughout the day. While you’re starting to be more cognizant of your intake, make sure that you’re consuming over a 100 fluid ounces of water daily and cutting out alcohol.
Meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. It’s a no nonsense approach that will improve your mood, energy, and lifestyle. You’ll have to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, plan and prepare your meals for the week, and graze throughout the day. Change doesn’t come easy, but the rewards and benefits outweigh any meek excuse you can muster. Try just one week of this basic approach and hopefully you’ll feel and look better in a matter of days. Food is a drug, it’s the best medicine, and can make your outdoor lifestyle more enjoyable and extended for years to come.