13 Step Nutritional Plan Anyone Can Follow: What Mainstream Media and Dieticians Still Don’t Understand

“Eating right” is an obsession of the American culture. We try so hard and follow what the government recommends on food labels, we watch every segment on every talk show and news program and we read and even hire dieticians as consultants. Yet we continue to struggle with our waistline and it gets worse every year. Why is this?!?!

While I may offend a lot of people, the simple answer is that most everything we’re being taught in the mainstream is WRONG starting with how we look at nutrition as a whole. We are human beings – animals. So, we have basic needs. For that reason, there IS a nutritional plan that EVERYONE can follow albeit a slight tweak here and there to accommodate your on specific needs, allergies and sensitivities.

Here we go:

All humans have basic needs and those are the macronutrients. In other words, try thinking about ALL of your meals in terms of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Let me break it down for you and give you a plan you can stick with forever.

 Eat a protein (P), a carbohydrate (C) and a fat (F) at EVERY meal.

  1. Aim for single-ingredient foods. The fewer the ingredients, the better. Less than four is a great goal but one is best. It’s ok to mix single-ingredient foods. For example, in my oatmeal I add almonds, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar (I’m not perfect, I admit it. Also, I drink a scoop of protein powder in water to balance my macronutrients for the meal.)
  2. Live by the ratio. To simplify your macronutrients, whichever macronutrient is in the majority then treat that as the primary source and the others as bonus. For example, if there are 3x as many carbs as protein then that food is a carbohydrate source. Period.
    1. This is where the “authorities” really get it WRONG. Look at the labels for quinoa, beans, nuts and read more about them below.
  3. Read labels and know what you’re reading.
    1. Focus on the items from #1 – macronutrients
    2. Understand that RDA (recommended daily allowances) are not based on any real science… nor are recommended calories.
  4. Protein source examples: Beef, chicken, fish, pork, tofu and the various protein powders (animal or vegetable based)
  5. Carbohydrate source examples: vegetables, fruits, grains, pastas, breads, potatoes, etc.
  6. Fat source examples: avocado, nuts and nut butters, cheese, oils-EVOO, coconut, safflower, flaxseed
  7. Don’t worry about calorie counting, per se, but portion your meals to achieve your desired weight goals
  8. I can’t stress this enough…
    1. Myth: beans, quinoa, nuts are great sources of protein.
    2. Facts: Beans have 3x the carbs as protein, quinoa has 4.5x the carbs as protein and nuts have 2x the fats as protein. While these foods have protein, they are not a “good” source!
  9. Another major error in what we’re told…
    1. Myth: protein fills you up. (Thank you Dr. Atkins for this inaccuracy.)
    2. Fact: Fats are what satiate (i.e. satisfy) your appetite and give you that “full” feeling. Try this dinner experiment for yourself and see how you feel until morning:

                  i.      Dinner 1 – One whole avocado (medium sized) and 16 oz. of water (P-3g, C-12g, F-21g, Calories-234)

                  ii.     Dinner 2 – One 6 oz. steak and 16 oz. of water (P-46g, C-0g, F-10g, Calories-296)

                  iii.     Dinner 3 – Macaroni (3 oz. dry) and 16 oz. of water (P-10.5 g, C-64.5 g, F-1.5 g, Calories-318)

  1. How much water should you drink per day?
    1. Myth: drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day.
    2. Fact: Does this make sense? What was it based on? Does a 100 lb. woman and a 250 lb. man both need the same amount of water per day? A better rule to follow is drink 2/3 of your weight (lbs) in oz. of water per day. If you weigh 100 lbs, drink 66 oz. of water per day. If you weigh 200 lbs, drink 132 oz. of water per day. Yes, it sounds like a lot but you’ll feel A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!
  2. The key to losing (or gaining) weight is a 300 calorie difference, per day. You can achieve this difference by either a) adjusting your food intake or b) adjusting your activity level.
    1. You didn’t gain all of that weight in a week so why do you think you can lose it that quickly? In fact, it’s harder to take weight off than put it on… and that’s the TRUTH!
  3. Foods to avoid
    1. Anything with a list of ingredients especially those you cannot pronounce.
    2. Sugars (a.k.a. simple carbohydrates – even honey, agave, syrup, stevia, etc. Or, try to use as sparingly as possible. Remember, you don’t need sugar to survive. Our culture is addicted just like any illegal drug and you will suffer from withdrawal when you stop using. The good news is you won’t die and once you’re off sugar, your life will change for the better.
    3. Breakfast cereal – this food group is a complete waste and has no real nutritional value. It is sugar in a fancy and fortified package. Then, adding milk is like adding sugar-water. You’re better off eating eggs, bacon and whole grain toast with peanut butter (no sugar added). And orange juice is just more sugar!
    4. Alcohol – how many bodybuilders or fitness models (with the “perfect” physique) drink alcohol? Exactly. But, if you must have your drink, simply accept the fact that you’ll need to balance those calories and the toxins with a healthy activity like a 45 minute brisk walk or more.

Well, there you have it. I hope you give this approach a try and see for yourself how easy it is and how is it is to maintain, forever. Obviously you can adjust it to suit your needs but the basic foundation is there for you to build from.

How did I learn all of this? Well, it’s taken me many years and I’m still learning every day. I’m a regular guy with a passion for nutrition, fitness and overall wellness. In fact, my day job is running a website called FamilyeJournal that improves communication and connection between people which is actually far more important to your overall health than any nutrition or fitness plan. (This is supported by research.)

I used to be the guy who needed to gel packet before a 45 minute spin class. Then I learned the right way to train and eat and I’m a successful 12 year Ironman triathlete and coach.  If you stick with the basics, as I’ve outlined above, you too can live healthier and stop wasting your time listening and reading all of the misinformation in the media.

Good luck and let me know how you’re doing.

Kevin

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Are We Getting the “Real” Connection We Need?

The word “connection” can take many different meanings these days. Connected (the film), discusses how we, people, are using technology more and more and we’re completely addicted to it. It’s getting faster every day and as the film says, when will we cease to be able to keep up.

Families need to connect and fit together like a puzzle.

I am in total agreement with Connected – The Film, that people and their interdependence is key. In the past 12 years that I’ve been observing and learning I ultimately draw the same conclusion every time. Of course, I may be rather biased at this point but that is all the more reason to discuss these ideas.

My basic frustration is the lack of connection between people. Or, in other words, the false sense of connection we think we have and especially the hypnotic path we are on (e.g. leaving dinner with a friend to check our digital world, a family or group of friends sharing a meal but everyone is on their phone). More specifically, I believe the lack of “real” and “true” connection within a family is actually the root of most of society’s bigger problems (e.g. suicide, bullying, gun violence, drugs, alcohol, cutting, fighting, bulimia, anorexia, obesity, etc.).

Instant Gratification - I want it now!Recall back to Introduction to Psychology, where Abraham Maslow theorized there is a Hierarchy of Needs common to all humans. I believe his theory is correct and the Need for Connection is not being met with most people. In short, we continue to try and fulfill the Need for Connection (i.e. non-romantic love) with other, more instantly gratifying means but these means have no real value so we are left unfulfilled. So, we go out and get more and more, faster and faster. Nothing is satisfying but we keep getting more. A new iPhone, a nicer car, a bigger house, another helping of pasta, ice cream, checking a Facebook status, updating our own status… it’s not fast enough…. I need more so I get a Twitter account and I follow thousands of people to get more non-personal updates and the cycle continues.

Unfortunately, none of this instant gratification adds value to our lives but they meet our need – for a moment. The truth is we need REAL connection but that takes time and effort and is only developed after great joy and sometimes pain. But, if it’s worth staying true, the Connection Need is completely fulfilled and we ARE satisfied and then we grow. Human connection takes time and requires the ability to seek the delayed gratification but when it is reached it is incredibly valuable to us.

Instant Gratification Race of Zero Miles RunToday, society too often falls short when it comes to seeking delayed gratification. Children are forced into it for their high school diploma but what else? Some of us find it when we graduate from college, train for a marathon or triathlon, we used to have it with lay-away programs at K-Mart and Sears but now we just buy on credit with money we don’t even have. Trying to fulfill our Need for Connection the wrong way has put very far along a very dangerous path. Some may recall the automotive industry, housing industry, banking industry… do we need more evidence? No, we need solutions that address the cause not the symptoms. Suicide, drugs, alcohol, bullying, eating disorders ARE ALL SYMPTOMS!

My goal is to help people rebuild their connection with their family. To fulfill their Need for Connection by bonding with the people who they say are most important to them. Family (and friends) relationships are what people value more than anything else yet we typically take them for granted and we rarely cultivate them especially in our younger years. But I figured out a way to use technology and a little instant gratification to help people connect and over time, without even realizing it, they’ll be connecting deeper and more positively than ever before.

FamilyeJournal Logo

FamilyeJournal helps families communicate and connect but it requires a little work, like 5 minutes a few days a week. (This image is a preview of the new logo.)

That is the goal I’m trying to achieve with my website www.familyejournal.com. It’s a huge task but one I think the world needs and will greatly benefit from. There is a place for Facebook and Twitter but a need for FamilyeJournal.

Why Does Our Society Ignore the Mental & Emotional Health Component in a Wellness Program?

Why is it that nearly every “Wellness Program” available today is so slanted toward fitness and nutrition and few, if any, truly address the mental and emotional components of health? I would venture to say the answer to this question is quite simple; nobody has thought of a worthwhile program that can address mental and emotional health. Wellness Wheel - Mental Health, Emotional Health, Physical Health

Fitness and nutrition programs are easy to create because our society has a bias toward the physical. Even allopathic medicine is completely unbalanced toward physical health with the exception of psychiatry. What makes this even more difficult is that our society negatively stigmatizes anyone who is having a mental or emotional issue.

Unfortunately, the prevalence of mental and emotional issues is far greater than anyone cares to acknowledge except the myriad of professionals (e.g. counselors, therapists, psychologists, etc.) working in this ever growing and increasingly “shamed” industry. Taking a brief look at the numbers, 21 million Americans suffer from depression alone which results in $31 billion in lost productivity per year, 30,000 suicides per year and the 3rd leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds.

Teen depression is serious and can lead to suicide

Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds and it often begins with depression

To give mental and emotional health a little perspective, the spinal implant industry is only $8 billion worldwide and WE ALL know someone with back issues, right?

So why isn’t anyone initiating any good programs for mental and emotional health and why does everyone continue to focus on the symptoms like depression, suicide, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, obesity and the like?

Well, I’ll tell you why… I have a theory that the lack of “real connection” is the root cause and until we improve our relationships and take time for each other the problems will only get worse.

So, stay tuned for future posts and more details about the power and need for connection. In the meantime, start building stronger relationships in your family by using a very cool website called FamilyeJournal.com. FamilyeJournal IS a simple program that addresses mental and emotional health at its core.

Your Phone Checking Habit Can Help Bring Your Family Closer Together

The habit has become that whether you’re on the commuter train, having a coffee, at the doctors office, before opening the restaurant menu or even before you begin eating during your lunch break, the first order of business is to check your phone for Facebook, Twitter and Text Messages.

Mom on phone ignoring daughter

Once again a mother prioritizes her phone over her daughter.

What has happened to us that we are so completely addicted to our phones and any kind of status update? Are we truly engaged with people are simply addicted to “checking”? And once we start, no matter our age, background or occupation, we all seem to be doing it.

Even just sitting in Wegmans, right now, and looking straight ahead I’m seeing a mother on her phone completely ignoring her daughter. And this is by no means an isolated incident. What kind of message are we sending to our kids? What are we teaching them? What kind of behavior are we leading them to?

Now, what if there was a way to easily take advantage of the mobile technology and truly engage people or more importantly, our family? What if, in the time it takes to board a plane and turn off your device, you could connect with your family in a deep and meaningful way?

FamilyeJournal  helps bring families closer together.There is a way and it’s called FamilyeJournal.com. In about 5 minutes you can answer four questions and read the answers your family members have given. Learn about what’s on their mind. Listen to their thoughts and concerns. Hear them and let them know you care.

We can’t deny the power of technology but we can find away to really make it work for us. By sharing just a little bit of how you really feel you’ll be building a deeper rapport and connection. Relationships are often considered the absolutely most important part of our lives but we have trouble cultivating them in our face-paced world. With FamilyeJournal.com, it’s easy and worthwhile for everyone who can read… and type.

Water Blog: The Definitive Guide to “How Much Water Should I Drink?”

I’m pretty passionate about drinking water and staying hydrated. As an Ironman Triathlete it’s constantly on my mind: morning, day and night. The sadly outdated standard proposed by “I don’t know who” has us all thinking 8 x 8 oz. glasses of water per day is enough. This “rule” is not supported by any scientific data and simply doesn’t make sense.8 Glasses of Water

Think about it… if you’re a 6’2’’ man weighing 225 lbs or a 5’1’’ woman weighing 105 lbs, does it seem reasonable that you both require that same amount of water per day? Do you think both of these people take in the same amount of food per day? Of course not!

Well, I don’t have any “hard data” either but I have more than 4380 days of anecdotal data that if you choose to follow, you’ll be feeling better than you’ve ever felt before. I can almost guarantee it!

Here are two rules you can follow for How Much Water To Drink Per Day and they’re pretty simple:

  1. Your pee (i.e. urine) should always be clear and copious. (except when you take Vitamin B2, Riboflavin and then it will be bright neon yellow)

  2. Drink at least ⅔ of your body weight in ounces of water per day (not counting workouts).

    1. For example, if you weigh 100 lbs, drink 66 oz. of water per day.

I know this may sound like a lot but trust me, you’ll feel great, beyond great! I know you’ll be heading to the bathroom every hour but it’s worth it. You’ll be more energized, need less sleep, be less grumpy, probably require less food, have better skin, fewer headaches and better poops.

 

1L Nalgene Bottle

A man and his 1L Nalgene Bottle – Attached forever.

I’m a 5’8’’ man weighing about 160 lbs so I should drink about 106 oz. of water per day. I just round up to 128 oz. (1 gallon or 4 liters). Here’s how I do it: 

  1. I start my day with 1L (32 oz.) as I wake up and watch the morning news, checking Facebook and emails.

  2. Even with my morning coffee (which is decaf and doesn’t count toward hydration) I finish another 1L through the morning and lunch.

  3. Between 2-5pm, I’m able to finish my 3rd liter of the day.

  4. Liter 4 is consumed through and after dinner and sometimes isn’t finished until the minute before I go to bed.

I know it sound like a lot but can you see how easy it breaks down throughout the day? And yes, I typically have to get up in the middle of the night to pee but I’ve learned that it is well worth it because waking up in the morning is SO much easier.

Water really is the key to life and too many of us, especially the elderly, live in a dehydrated state. Do the experiment for yourself, see how you feel and let me know what’s working for you. And if you don’t get there today you’ll have a chance to start over tomorrow and the next day….

PS. One final thought, if you’re afraid of Hyponatremia, I wouldn’t worry about it. As long as you’re eating normal meals throughout the day you will be fine. Hyponatremia (a.k.a. Water Intoxication) is a condition where you lose too many electrolytes and you’re only drinking water. This will basically only occur when you’re exercising and sweating a lot, not eating and only drinking plain water. (Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and I rely on you to determine what is right for you.)

My Fancy Oatmeal for Breakfast

I’m a 12-year triathlete and an Ironman. People are always asking me what I eat and I’m more than happy to tell them because while my meals aren’t very lavish they do fuel the body. I’m also very lucky in that I don’t get bored easily with what I’m eating even when I eat the same foods day in and day out. Don’t get me wrong, if I had a personal chef or a Star Trek Replicator, it would be a completely different story.

So, on my non-workout mornings for the past 7+ years, I’ve been eating oatmeal for breakfast and it is amazing! I’m going to back up just a bit and preface by saying I eat mostly to fuel my body for my next workout. I’m not an emotional eater or an angry eater. I don’t eat because I’m bored or because food is in plain site. I eat to nourish and fuel my body and I’m conscious of everything I put in it. I’m not perfect and what I eat is always a work in progress.

My goal is to eat cleanly. What I mean is that I’m a big fan of single ingredient foods. Also, I try to eat a protein, a carbohydrate and a fat at every meal. To me, that is balance and my body seems to like it. Also, in case you didn’t know this (and most people don’t) FAT is what satiates the appetite, not protein. Everyone thinks protein fills them up probably because of the Atkins craze years ago but they’re wrong. It’s fat. If you don’t believe me, try this experiment. For dinner, eat one whole avocado (25g fat) and at least 16 oz. of water. That’s all. How do you feel? Did you make it to breakfast? How did you sleep?

Sorry for getting sidetracked, but I get pretty passionate about nutrition. Back to breakfast, here it goes:

Oatmeal with flax seed, almonds and raisins

My oatmeal will make all your friends jealous because it’s delicious, smells great and is so good for you.

I begin with 1 scoop of protein powder, in water. Drink it all. Done.

  • 1/3 cup Quaker 1-minute Oats (that’s one cholesterol lowering ingredient, now I mix in more)
  • Add water (I use 2/3 cups) then microwave it
  • 1 Dash Nutmeg
  • 3 Dashes Cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs Brown Sugar (I know sugar is bad but I can’t help it.)
  • 2 Tbs Raisins
  • 1 Tbs Ground Flax Seeds (good, cholesterol lowering fat)
  • 1 Handful Ground Almonds (good, cholesterol lowering fat)

This is a balanced and delicious meal that keeps me well fueled until lunch. Give it a try and let me know how much you love it!

Endurance Sport Guidelines

Spring is in the air, well, it should be and this is when so many of my friends and family ask me about fitness. They know I’ve been participating in triathlons for more than a decade yet too often they still ask me about my last marathon. That’s when I break the news that I don’t typically run marathons; I compete in triathlon.

Ironman Triathlon Logo

The Ironman Logo – M-Dot

Of course, their next question is, “Oh, so you’ve been to Hawaii?” No, that is the Ironman World Championship and you need to qualify to race. The comparison is the requirement to qualify for the Boston Marathon (and while I’m here, shout out to #BostonStrong). The difference is the Boston Marathon is not considered a “world championship” and about 25,000 runners race each year and only about 2000 triathletes compete in the Hawaii Ironman. (No offense runners!)

Most running races cover distances of: 5K, 10K, 20K, 13.1mi (half marathon) and 26.2 (marathon). There are other longer “ultra” distances like 50K, 50 mi and 100mi, etc.

Boston Marathon

As for pace, this range can really vary based on your fitness level and perspective but I’d say running 8:00 to 9:00 min/mi are respectable. You’re not going to win any awards and you’ll probably beat most of the pack.

Triathlons are a different story. A triathlon is a sport consisting of swimming, biking and running, in that order.

I’m not really sure of the reason for the order but it seems to me there is less risk of a serious problem if something goes wrong later in the race. Here’s how the common races break down along with T-Time, N-Nutrition, H-Hydration and Tr-Training considerations.

Running

Half-Marathon – 13.1mi run

  • T – <2 hours
  • N – 0-2 Gels
  • H – 16-20 oz./hr
  • Tr – 4-6 hrs/wk

Marathon – 26.2mi run

  • T – <4 hours
  • N – 2-4 Gels
  • H – 16-20 oz/hr
  • Tr – 5-8 hrs/wk

Short Course Triathlon

Triathlon Logo

Sprint – .5 mi swim, 12mi bike and 5K (3.1mi) run

  • T – <2 hours
  • N – 0-2 Gels
  • H – 16-20 oz/hr
  • Tr – 5-8 hrs/wk

Olympic (International) – 1.5K (.9 mi) swim, 40K (25mi) bike, 10K (6.2mi) run

  • T – ❤ hours
  • N – 0-2 Gels, maybe something more solid while biking
  • H – 16-24 oz/hr
  • Tr – 6-12 hrs/wk

Long Course Triathlon

Half-Ironman – 1.2mi swim, 56mi bike, 13.1mi run

  • T – <6 hours
  • N – 100-300 calories/hr – Gels, Concentrated Liquid, Solid
  • H – 16-24 oz/hr, perhaps more during transition
  • Tr – 12-18 hrs/wk

Ironman – 2.4mi swim, 112mi bike, 26.2mi run

  • T  – <12 hours
  • N – 100-300 calories/hr – Gels, Concentrated Liquid, Solid
  • H – 16-24 oz/hr, perhaps more during transition
  • Tr – 15-25 hrs/wk

Also within triathlon are Transitions: T1 (swim-to-bike) and T2 (bike-to-run). This time is also counted in your total time and typical transitions are in the 1-3 minute range but may be longer for longer races.

Kevin Ironman FL 2013

Kevin crossing the finish line of Ironman FL in 12:17:18 and Top 30%.

Remember, the nutrition, hydration and training specifications are guidelines and it’s important to know what “you” need. That is what all the hours of training are for. You need to learn how your body handles different products and conditions. The more you practice the greater chance you’ll have for success. Most races go “wrong” not because of fitness but because of poor mental, nutritional and/or hydration preparation and execution. But you still have to train each discipline. Also, the “solid times” posted will not win you any awards but are quite respectable and not that easy to accomplish, especially for the newcomer. However, you’ll beat most of the pack.

I hope you enjoyed this brief overview and guideline to endurance sports. If you want to learn more please comment/reply and of course, share with anyone you think this might help. FYI, some of this general information can be found on Wikipedia Triathlon.