Let's sum it up with what we like to it and the things we choose to avoid. The reasoning and science will be written up plenty of times, but this is often what people look to when they hope to gain a little understanding. So the to do and the not to do list is here!
What We Like:
Carbohydrates: Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits: Fruits are certainly healthy and great choices especially in today’s world of processed junk. HOWEVER, for this challenge you will limit your fruit consumption to the ABCs: Apples, Berries (not including Strawberries), Bananas and Cherries.
It is very important to understand that although fruits are natural, they are still sugar, and as a result, still have same affect on our bodies as everything else that we consider sugar. Fruits do provide us with vitamins and minerals and other important nutrients, however, we are able to get all of that from other sources (super delicious vegetables!).
Veggies: It is no mystery that vegetables are incredible for us. I rarely have someone argue about that. BUT, it is also no mystery that most of us do not crave vegetables the way we crave salty and sugary foods. There is an important point to understand at this moment: You are a grown ass man or woman and you need to go ahead and realize that sometimes we need to be an adult and eat our adult foods. “I don’t like salads” and “I don’t really eat vegetables” are silly and alarming statements, respectively, that I do hear quite often.
Keep the vegetables simple at the start. A foundation of green, leafy vegetables is never a bad way to go. Then go ahead and get as many colors as you can. Carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, and anything else you want to throw in! Sautee your zucchini and yellow squash in the pan, and make sure to pick up some potatoes (sweet is the way to go) at the store.
Protein: Animal Protein (90/10 Lean to Fat or Better)
There is some logic to exercise during this challenge. Meat has a green light. However, if you gorge on fatty steaks for 5 weeks, guess what? You’re gonna get fat! We see the most success when we stick to meats that are 90/10 or better in their lean to fat ratio. This will be displayed on the packaging of the meat. If you are interested in understanding the benefits of grass fed, locally raised meat that you will not have access to in your grocery store, do not hesitate to ask. It is not necessary to only eat grass fed meat, but it truly has some incredible benefits.
Fat: Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Avocados, Nuts and Seeds
Here is the toughest selling point. Good fat is GOOD FOR YOU! You will use olive oil for your dressings and light cooking, and coconut oil for your heavier cooking. You will not cringe at the thought of eating avocado (because it’s just so fatty!!!!) and you will keep nuts and seeds around for a quick snack!
Fat is important for vitamin and mineral absorption (fat soluble vitamins, duh!). Your body will burn fat for energy, and it is a longer lasting, slower digesting fuel source (which makes it better than traditional carbs). Fat also plays a role in cell function and regulates our bodies ability to properly utilize inflammation (Omega 3 fatty acids). The moral of the story here is, FAT, from the proper sources, IS GOOD FOR YOU!
What We Prefer Not to Like:
Sugars and Artifical sweeteners: Because, like pornstars, they set an unrealistic expectation of what you can have. Here’s a blog post I wrote for my clients a while back talking about sugar and artificial sweetners: http://districthcrossfit.com/if-you-consume-sugar-you-might-as-well-shoot-up-with-some-heroin-and-other-ways-to-scare-the-sugar-out-of-your-diet/
Cheap Oils: Vegetable oil, canola oil, sesame seed oil, partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated oils. The reason is these are sources of Trans Fats. More research is coming out and this is fairly well known: Trans Fats cause problems.
Fruits not included by the ABCs: Mangos and Pineapples and Cantaloupe and Melon and Watermelon are all gone. ONLY EAT APPLES, BANANAS, BERRIES (NOT STRAWBERRIES) AND CHERRIES! The reason for this is the nutrient density of the fruits. The ABC’s give you the most bang for your buck while those we left off go from a little inefficient to pure sugar water.
Breads: Breads are gone. Grains are problematic in a number of ways. From the start they may cause problems during digestion. Once digested, they tend to spike our blood sugar which, in turn, causes a sharp rise in our insulin levels. None of this is terrible unless it happens frequently. The problem is that in the modern American diet, it does happen often. Pretty much at every snack or meal.
Pasta: Same reasons as the breads.
All Beverages Except Water, Black Coffee and Black Tea (iced or hot): If you cannot make it yourself then you are not allowed to drink it. And don’t even start on the fruit juices. Ill set those aside and talk about them next. Be wary of any prepared teas as they often have additives.
Fruit Juices: Here is a huge load of crap served to you daily by our mega corporations through advertising. Fruit juice is not healthy. Its not super duper terrible and I am not saying you will die because you drink fruit juice, but you had better understand that the juice of the fruit is the sugar of the fruit and you do not get the fiber and a number of other nutrients as a result of not having the solid fruit to eat.
Also, it is equally important to know that solid food trumps liquid food. Our bodies tend to send the liquid foods through the digestive express lane. It’s a lot like sprinting across the yard with the lawn mower. You just won’t cut as many blades of grass as a result of your rush. When you eat solid food, and chew that food, it takes longer to break all of that down. That gives your body more time to pull the nutrients out. This is a good thing. So, therefore, chew your food! Don’t drink it!