Diet is what you eat; not a short-term, restrictive plan for losing weight.
We all tend to follow some diet or other, and while I was pacing Geoff a few weeks ago, we starting discussing mine. The other day he reached out and requested that I write a blog post on how I eat.
[Caveat: We are all an experiment of one. What works for me may not work for you. Also, I do not care how you eat, and you shouldn’t care how others eat. I have heard way too many people get way too passionate about the superiority of their particular food cult. Eat healthy, whatever that means to you.]
So what works for me? No sugar, no grains — NSNG. And this isn’t just while I am training for the Bigfoot 200 Mile Endurance Run, this is how I live.
I started eating NSNG just after the Super Bowl in 2013. Following that basic guideline, I lost approximately 20 pounds and have remained at that weight since.
But more important than the pounds I lost, I feel better. My energy levels are higher, I’m running better, and it’s not so restrictive that it complicates my life.
I have not been perfect in my implementation of NSNG, but I don’t want to be. Having a root beer float once in a while is not going to send me or my diet straight to hell.
So what is NSNG?
NSNG is simple. It involves following just two rules: Don’t eat sugars and don’t eat grains.
Booze and gummy bears are sugar; they’re out.
Corn is a grain; it’s out.
The no-sugar half of NSNG also includes natural sugars. Raw honey, while not processed white sugar, is not a normal part of this diet.
But indulging in a treat every now and then won’t derail your diet. NSNG isn’t a religion. I would say on a good week, I can maintain 90-95% NSNG. I am always striving to eat better, but at the same time, a root beer float after a long run is simply amazing.
If you want to learn more about the primary principles of this diet, check out author Vinnie Tortorich. I also recommend his podcast, America’s Angriest Trainer, and his book, Fitness Confidential. He is entertaining as hell and will always remind you that it’s alright to “put a little life into living” and allow yourself a treat every once in awhile.
My typical NSNG day looks like this:
I like a high-fat breakfast, which lately means eggs. I sauté spinach in a little coconut oil then add two eggs and cook it all together. If I have ripe avocado, I’ll throw that on top.
Coffee is mandatory, and I normally have mine with a splash of heavy cream.
I’ll have an apple.
I’ll have two baked pork chops — no sauce, just seasoning — and a large serving of vegetables. I gravitate to frozen peas, because they’re quick and easy.
This is usually a handful of almonds or cashews.
When I get home from work I’ll normally have a scoop of peanut butter or some cheese. I usually run after work, so I just need a little bite of something before I head out the door.
Again, I go for high-fat, nutrient-dense foods. Most nights I eat a boiled sweet potato — a method that keeps the glycemic index low — and broiled, seasoned chicken breast.
If I have dessert, it will normally be frozen berries with a little heavy cream on top.
What about when I am running?
During my training runs I typically eat pouches of pureed fruit (you know, the ones made for toddlers) because they are energy-dense, easy to carry and do not make a huge mess. Another thing I love are Epic Bars — meat bars, somewhat similar to jerky, that taste amazing. They’re a great source of protein and don’t need to be refrigerated, making them great for long runs. My personal favorite are the habanero and cherry beef bars.
When it comes to hydration, I stick to water. I have found anything else is just too difficult to figure out during a long run. Water is always safe. If I am feeling short on electrolytes, I reach for an S!Cap or start searching for pickles or pickle juice at an aid station.
When it comes to mid-race fueling, I am one of the lucky ones because I have a pretty strong stomach. At aid stations I let my stomach choose and tend to reach for anything that looks appealing.
Again, I do not belong to a food cult. When given the option of eating nothing or finishing a race on Skittles, eat the fucking Skittles. If you get into an aid station, and the idea of a fresh grilled cheese sandwich covered in butter just makes you drool, eat one.
Hell, eat two. You need the calories.
My diet is boring, but it is easy, and it does the job.
The best advice I can give anyone when it comes to diet is to experiment.
If you want to experiment more, NSNG is very similar to Paleo, to the point where Paleo cookbooks have some great NSNG recipes. But be wary of low-calorie or low-fat processed foods, “low” usually means it’s full of bad shit.
Everyone is different and you need to find what works for you. And please remember, don’t give anyone shit for not prescribing to the same food doctrine as yourself.