Last week I spoke of taking the Red Pill and letting go of my preconceived notions on everything training and diet related. Last week’s post focused on my adoption of the PHAT training system, radically increasing the volume and frequency of my training. As promised, I’m now posting on the changes I’ve made to my diet.
First, a little history is in order. I first became truly involved in fitness and nutrition in 2009, when I decided to give this Paleo diet I had been hearing so much about an honest shot. I had always been what could be described as Skinny-Fat (and toward the end, Fat-Fat). The Paleo Diet was the first thing I’d tried that simply worked. I “got” the idea right away and eating the way my genes intended just seemed wholesome and right. The diet wasn’t one cluttered with weighing and measuring or maintaining certain sacred ratios, it was simply a straightforward list of prohibited foods and a whole host of permitted ones. The fat melted off quickly and nearly effortlessly, and I was so enthused by my progress that I became that much dreaded Paleo Zealot/Missionary that is the bane of every group of friends trying desperately to enjoy their sandwiches.
Although I had gotten older and wiser and realized that people would just begin avoiding eye contact and switching the subject whenever I got all glassy eyed and climbed on my soap box to preach about gluten, I’ve been eating Paleo fairly strictly since then and regardless of how my views have evolved in terms of the real measurable effect of these “Neolithic Agents of Disease,” I still felt oddly guilty whenever I cheated and ate gluten. Obviously in my recent blog post A Farewell to Paleo I detailed my reintroduction of gluten and other non-Paleo foods, but my opinion of what proper Macronutrient Ratios was extremely influenced by my time with Paleo.
As I’ve said before, its time to look at everything a second time. I decided to listen to the advise of people such as Jason Ferruggia and others who recommend 2-3x bodyweight in grams of carbs each day. For someone who rarely ate more than 100 grams of carbs in a day, this is quite a change. Now, in order to reach this level of carbs, I will need to reduce the total amount of Fat. By the same token, I am not eating what anyone would could call a “Low Fat Diet.” I used this fantastic Calorie Calculator (using the Harris-Benedict formula option) to arrive at roughly the following Macros:
IIFYM + Paleo = An Unholy Union
When I first got hip to this whole IIFYM thing…well wait….if you don’t know what IIFYM is, it stands for “If It Fits Your Macros.” Essentially its food agnostic, just so long as you reach your macro goals by the end of the day. I also think its agnostic toward food quality. Clearly, objectively, a diet made entirely of single ingredient whole foods is going to be more nutrient filled than a diet consisting of Pop Tarts, but you’re an adult, and you’re expected to make adult decisions about you and your body.
Now…where was I. When I first hip to this whole IIFYM thing, I went off the deep end and found myself cramming down Pop-Tarts and Girl Scout Cookies like it was my job. Here is the thing about IIFYM: if you are eating tons of junk, you simply aren’t going to Fit those Macros. I found myself at the end of the day with plenty of Carbs, too much Fat, and not enough Protein. Its a lot easier to meet your macros when you’re eating whole, single-ingredient foods! Ironically, I find myself eating what is essentially a lower-fat, high carb Paleo diet. 90% of my meals are a lean cut of meat, some sort of tuber, and a veggie. I also supplement the diet with fruits such as bananas and various berries. However, when I feel like it and my macros allow it, I have no qualms of having the odd cookie or even eating a burger and fries.
It will be interesting the changes to my physique this high carb approach might net. I’m hoping of course to elicit more muscle gain, but we shall have to see.