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Before one more word is even spoken, pay attention to this. For the 999th time, what you eat on a daily basis IS your diet! If you are overweight or obese, you do not need to GO on a diet. You need to change your diet.
If you are getting sick and feeling nauseous every time you eat peanuts, you need to change your diet, not go on a diet. If your doctor told you your cholesterol is high, you need to change your diet, not go on a diet.
The bottom line is, what you eat through the course of a day IS your diet! Now that all of that stuff has been cleared from the train tracks it’s time to focus on the positive.
Aside from the everyday information, this guide is intended to go a little deeper and farther than what you’re normally told about food and dieting. And perhaps it’s going to give you a newfound perspective that you didn’t have before.
You can argue the fact that everyone in this world lives different lifestyles and has different levels of activity. But you can’t dispute the fact that we all need food to survive. The key is to learn something more than the obvious. This is what will promote the best health and make you feel good to be alive every day that you wake up.
It’s probably fitting to start the festivities off with a form of sacrifice called fasting. What is being sacrificed? Well, food comes to mind. And any beverages that contain sugar and empty calories.
If you are unaware how fasting works, here is a brief summary. You simply do not eat or drink calorie-laden beverages for an extended period of time. Why would you want to make this sacrifice? Because the benefits are irrefutable.
Fasting can boost your energy levels, reduce inflammation, increase (yes increase) your metabolism, promote weight loss and balance out your body’s systems—this is known as getting into homeostasis.
The question should actually be more like, why WOULDN’T you want to do fasting? All it takes is a little bit of sacrifice and discipline and you’re on your way.
This entire guide can be dedicated to fasting, but since there is so much other important information to cover, here is a quick few points of interest to remember. Never eat past 7 pm at night and try to fast for a minimum of 12 hours every. But ideally, shoot for 15 to 16 hours fasted.
You will hear this strategy referred to as either time-restricted feeding or time-restricted eating—TRF and TRE for short. If you just did this alone, you’d be on the right track and change the game with your health.
Work out on an Empty Stomach
Although this is related to fasting, it deserves a section of its own. If you stroll into the gym after eating a plate of eggs rancheros with potatoes, toast and bacon, you best start making preparations for a reappearance of said fare. But it won’t look nearly as pretty coming out as it did going in.
Do you know what happens when you eat food? Especially food that is high in fat? An equally high amount of blood rushes to your gut to kickstart peristalsis—the process at which food gets pushed through your intestinal tract.
When you work out after eating, your muscles also want a high amount of blood flow to produce contractions and maintain energy. You then have a Mexican standoff caused from your Mexican omelet.
The best-case scenario is you will feel nauseous, you’ll be breathing like a 90-year-old chain smoker who just walked up a flight of stairs and your heart rate will be through the roof. And that doesn’t sound like a very good, best-case scenario.
On the contrary, you can breeze through your workout like a greased-up cheetah if you opt out of the food game. When your stomach is empty, you might be hungry for a few minutes upon starting, but that will quickly dissipate.
Your hormones will shift, and you will then be able to move around better and not be so labored with your breathing. This, in turn, will enable you to fire through your workout without the worry of vomiting or feeling sick.
Plus, if you are fasted long enough, your levels of testosterone and growth hormone will both rise. These are the two hormones you want to focus on most when it comes to building your body because they help with muscle gain and preservation.
Boost Your T-levels Through Food
You just had a segue handed to you for what you are about to learn next. Working out in a fasted state is one way to get a boost in testosterone. But you can also look to the medium of food for the same effect.
Sure, there are many supplements on the market—both natural and sketchy—that promise to boost your t-levels, but why not look to mother nature first? She was here way before a testosterone booster was.
The interesting aspect of this is that some foods that have been demonized over the years are actually the ones that help the most. Eggs, for example, rank high in this list. As does bacon, cheese and pork rinds. Yes, this is not a misprint.
Do you recognize a commonality with these foods? If you said they are all high in fat, then you win a prize! They also have a decent amount of cholesterol.
Before you go into cardiac arrest just reading this, here’s the deal. Hormones in the body rely on fat for proper production. Very important hormones like testosterone and growth hormone.
If you deprive yourself of fat or follow a very low-fat diet, you will compromise your hormone activity, thus compromising your workouts and your sexual function. Whoa! It just got real in here!
Flip the table over and you have the complete opposite. A daily dose of key fats will boost your hormone production, keep your muscles nice and swole and also fire up your libido. You will then be fitter, happier and more energized all around.
But the trick is you want to find the sweet spot with your intake. This can take a little practice. Even having too much of a good thing can lead to a bad thing. And definitely too much of a bad thing can lead to an even worse thing.
Opt for fats that are already known as healthy, such as coconut oil, avocados, red palm oil, nuts, seeds and nut butters. If you do go with the eggs, cheese, bacon and pork rings, reach for the cleanest sources that are not infected with hormones and antibiotics.
Then you have to use them in moderation. You’re probably sick of hearing that word by now, but this is a good example where it’s very important. A single serving of food every day that contains saturated fat and cholesterol is all you really need because it is calorie-dense and very rich.
Eat a couple hard-boiled eggs, crush some pork rinds up and throw them into your salad or chop up a couple strips of bacon and sprinkle them across your brussels sprouts.
And speaking of which, brussels sprouts are other foods that can help your t-levels. To be more specific, cruciferous vegetables in general have a hormone-boosting effect. Aside from brussels sprouts, they also include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collard greens and radishes.
They contain substances that suppress estradiol, which is the precursor to estrogen. In males, if estrogen is high, testosterone is low. But if you turn the tables and consume cruciferous vegetables, you can lower your estrogen levels. When they go down, testosterone goes up.
And to all you ladies out there, you should still feast on cruciferous vegetables and get a decent amount of fat. You produce a significantly lower amount of testosterone, but it is still important for muscle gain and preservation.
The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more you can keep unwanted fat at bay and rock your bikini in the summertime.
Feel the Fermentation
A lot of people instantly get repulsed and maybe even nauseous when they think of fermented foods. But there is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, much like fat, you should strive to get at least one dose a day of fermented foods.
Why are they so good? Well, it goes a little something like this. When you eat foods, they get broken down and distributed throughout your system. That is what’s supposed to happen. But if you have problems digesting these foods, you won’t be so lucky.
They can either get passed through your digestive tract undigested or they can remain in there to putrefy. Just the word “putrefy” doesn’t even sound good! In layman’s terms, it means to decay.
The end result is comprised function of the body. Your energy levels can fluctuate, you can feel bloated, your brain function can be off, and inflammation can develop. All of this can be caused from bad gut health. And this gut health all hinges upon the bacteria in your stomach.
You have good bacteria and bad bacteria. When the bad bacteria overtakes the good, you are left with problems. When the good bacteria wins the fight, you optimize your health.
A way to win this war is by doing two things—eating foods that are really high in vitamins and minerals and eating fermented foods.
The former is pretty obvious. Get a daily dose of fruits and vegetables that are clean, fresh and as organic as possible. Eat them as snacks, eat them before meals and eat them with meals.
This alone will get your enzymes in tune and improve the health of your good bacteria.
The latter is a little more hardcore than eating fruits and vegetables. Fermented foods have a little zip to them, so to speak. They are enzymatically active and tend to be a little pungent to the taste and smell.
But, they deliver a mega dose of probiotics to your gut that are very helpful to the digestive process. You probably already know that yogurt contains probiotics, but the amount found here is rather low compared to other fermented foods.
Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, tempeh and kombucha really bring the house down in this department! Kombucha is a fermented beverage that has quickly gained a lot of momentum across the country as a beverage of choice.
A lot of people don’t even know why it’s good for them. They just drink it because it’s trendy or their friend at work got them hooked on it.
The reason YOU want to drink it is because it IS high in probiotics, and it can help detox your body, AND it can help keep you hydrated, AND it’s very alkaline. There are not very many other beverages that have these same benefits.
The take-home point here is, try to get at least one serving of fermented foods and one glass of kombucha into your diet every day.
Keto for the Win?
Maybe. As long as it’s right for you, then sure! If you haven’t heard out on the streets, the ketogenic or “keto” diet is used to put your body into ketosis. This state causes you to burn fat quickly, which leads to weight loss.
But it can also lead to improved brain function, higher energy levels, higher immunity and less inflammation.
If you are able to restrict your intake of carbs for an extended period of time, you can get into ketosis and feel the magic happen. But be on guard because this does take some discipline and you have to be willing to forgo the beans, rice and chips.
Much like TRF, it’s all about sacrifice. But if you are looking to lose weight and nothing else you’ve tried in the past has worked, keto might be your ticket to ride. If you really want to try to boost your function fast, give TRF a spin while also following a ketogenic diet.
The Finish Line
Forging your way through life without direction is very unsettling. And this is also the case at the dinner table and gym. If you take at least some of the information you just learned into consideration, you can get by a lot easier.
And always remember that change does not occur overnight. Be patient and slowly start shifting your diet and tweaking it until you find what works best. Once you get there, it will be easy to stay there, and you’ll be hitting on all cylinders. That right there is always the ultimate goal.