Summary : Shop regularly, preferably selecting foods that optimize how you look, feel and perform.
If your food selection and shopping happens on a regular schedule, you are far more likely to attain your health and fitness goals. Sporadic, unplanned shopping habits predictably leads to poor health and body composition outcomes.
In addition to what you are bringing into your home, it’s important to think about the food already in your home. If food is in our house, at some point, we or someone we love with will eat it. We can influence this by stocking our homes and workplaces with food that serve our goals rather than hinder them.
Take control of the food in your home to the highest degree that you are able. Even if you live with your parents, a spouse, or roommates you have a certain degree of control over the food you bring into the home.
What Should I Buy
My approach to food selection is based on the simple principle of using foods to optimize how you look, feel and perform using four guidelines.
Four Guidelines of Food Selection :
1. High nutrient density.
2. Reduce chronic inflammation.
3. Promote gut health and digestion.
4. Support athletic performance.
Guideline 1 : High nutrient density.
Nutrient-dense foods are high in vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, complex carbohydrates, complete proteins, and healthy fats but relatively low in calories.
Guideline 2 : Reduce chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is the bodies response to eliminate causes of cell injury, clear out dead cells and damaged tissues, and initiate tissue repair. Prolonged inflammation, known as chronic inflammation, leads to a simultaneous destruction and healing of the tissue from the inflammatory process. Said another way, the body never adequately recovers and continues to damage itself in unfavorable ways.
Guideline 3: Promote gut health and digestion.
Healthy immune function is directly related to our gastrointestinal system, or the gut. Consuming foods that produce an allergenic response, support chronic inflammation, have poor digestibility and poor absorption into the body will have negative impacts on our gut health and overall well-being. Optimal immune function will empower performance and positively affect body composition.
Guideline 4 : Empower athletic performance.
Athletic performance benefits from proper amounts of complete proteins, varied carbohydrate sources, and quality fats to support metabolic function and power. Animal protein plays a large role in my recommended list with it’s complete amino acid profiles, the building blocks of protein, and vitamin profiles that support athletic performance which unfortunately can be difficult to replicate with a plant only diet. However, an athletic plant only diet it is achievable with planning and supplementation.
I’ll be exploring foods that achieve these 4 guidelines in more exhaustive detail within our Protein, Fats, and Carbohydrates chapters later in this book.
Please be aware, there are no good foods or bad foods. There is only food that promotes or degrades good gut health, has high or low nutrient density, enhances or inhibits athletic performance, and supports or impairs proper immune function. Food is not a moral choice unless we choose to make it one, it’s that simply some foods will lead to more favorable outcomes than others.
In addition, since what works for one individual may not work for another, everyone requires an individualized approach rooted in outcome based decision making with measurable results. I will be going into this topic further in our advanced strategies and protocol chapters.
Just Tell Me What to Eat
Meat, fowl, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables of all colors, fruit, roots, tubers, bulbs, herbs and spices, animal fats, olives and olive oil, avocados, coconut meat and oil, and low sugar dairy.
Greg’s Grocery List
Below is my personal shopping list I use every week, which I’ve organized by area, type, and a not-to-buy list.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive. It does not take into account your personally known and unknown allergies, ethical or religious values, or personal preferences. It is simply a starting point for you to create your own personal method of eating from my four guidelines.
- Red meat : Beef, bison, buffalo, lamb.
- Fish : Salmon, cod, halibut.
- Poultry : Chicken, whole, thighs or breasts. Ground turkey. Chicken sausage.
- Pork : Bacon, pork chops.
Vegetables : Fresh
- Bagged washed greens. Micro-greens.
- Brussel sprouts, green and red peppers, jalapeño.
- Apples, pear, avocado, lemon, lime, tomato.
- Sweet potato, potatoes.
- Yellow onion, white onion.
- Fresh salad dressings, pico de gallo.
Vegetables : Frozen
- Smoothie ingredients : Blueberries, mixed berries, spinach, kale.
- Lentils, riced cauliflower, diced potatoes, hash browns, mixed green vegetables, carrots.
- Steel cut oats, rolled oats.
- Hot sauce, bbq sauce, sriracha.
- Walnut pieces, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts, pistachios, roasted cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts.
- Cashew butter, sunflower butter.
- Jasmine rice, brown rice, arborio rice, sushi rice, quinoa.
- Beans, lentils.
- Olive oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, coconut oil.
- Black bean pasta.
Dairy / Dairy Alternatives
- Feta, goat cheese, parmesan grated.
- Whole eggs, Egg whites (carton).
- Greek yogurt.
- Salted butter, unsalted butter.
- Coconut milk, almond milk, hemp milk, oat milk.
Canned / Boxed
- Chicken broth, beef bone broth.
- Black beans.
- Boxed soups.
- Marinara sauce, fire roasted tomatoes.
- Seasoning blends, cinnamon, chili powder, vanilla extract.
- Fresh basil, garlic, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, etc.
- Maple syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, pancake mix (gluten free), bread flour mix (gluten free).
- Protein powder, fish oil, vitamin d, multivitamin, creatine.
Not-To-Buy List :
- Chocolate, ice cream, frozen desserts, carbohydrate rich microwave foods, cheeses, shredded cheeses.
The not-to-buy section may be the most important part of this list if you struggle with snacking or binging. Even if a food meets our four guidelines, if you find it difficult to control the amount you eat for fat loss, it simply cannot be in your home for the duration of your planned fat loss. You can’t get clean in a crack house.
Pre-Made Foods & Meal Delivery Services
If you shop pre-cooked, ready to eat meals you are essentially using money to buy your time back so you can skip or minimize the fundamental third habit, meal prep.
Buying completely pre-made food or delivered meals is a smart strategy for those overwhelmed by life and needing to leverage their time in the short term, typically less than 3 months.
However, my personal experience with coaching has been that when individuals rely completely on pre-made food or meal delivery services longer than 3 months and have not attained their goal physique already, nearly always they fail to meet their goals. In fact, they’ll often achieve modest results within the first three months confirming the strategy that they are using is successful, but over the course of the next year gradually gain weight greater than where they started.
I’ve come to this conclusion after working with many individuals including those who had the luxury of personal chefs or expensive bodybuilding meal prep services, some spending thousands of dollars or more per month.
While rationally it makes sense to outsource prep to buy back time, when you dramatically reduce ownership of your food to a high degree to another individual or corporation, the investment and stakes in a body transformation steadily weaken. Food sneaks in. Body fat returns. I’ve witnessed this phenomenon countless times in spouses who outsource all the food preparation to their partner.
Many of the most famous bodybuilders, movie stars, and cover models shop and make their own food to a large degree even when they’ve achieved great financial success within their trade. However, it would be at this point for, outsourcing seems to become a valid long term strategy for professionals with a proven track record of maintaining their results and have the income on hand.
My ultimate advice is not to rely on these services completely for longer than 3 months. Beyond 3 months, I would advise at least 50% of the food you consume is food you’ve made and the other 50% coming from that of a service or partner.