The goal of this article is to detail my current eating methodology, that is, what, when, and how I eat. I’ll provide some insight into how I’ve eaten in the past, my goals, a few basic rules I follow, and a typical day of eating.
How I’ve eaten in the past
In the last 15 years, I’ve experimented with different methods of dietary restriction:
I have also played with almost all variations of eating frequency:
- 6 meals a day
- 4 meals a day
- 3 meals a day
- 16/8 fasting window
- 18/6 fasting window
- 20/4 fasting window
- 22/2 fasting window
- One Meal A Day (OMAD)
- +36 hour fasts
- +48 hour fasts
- +72 hour fasts
Additionally, I’ve mixed different modalities while eating above, at, and below maintenance. Each modality has had its advantages and disadvantages, however, I’ve been slowly fine-tuning my diet and meal timing in order to maximize my current goals.
My current goals
As a triathlete and software engineer, I need both physical and mental performance to be optimal throughout the day. This requires making some compromises such that neither is fully maximized at the detriment of the other. In addition, I want to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle, and ensure adequate hormone production, recovery, sleep, etc.. Admittedly, this is a difficult needle to thread. Nevertheless, I am approaching, what is for me, the ideal diet.
Basic rules I follow
WARNING: The following rules apply to me. Your biology, preference, and goals may be different, therefore, these might not apply to you.
- Avoid vast within-day energy deficits or surpluses.
I have struggled in the past with severe depletion followed by extreme compensatory eating. For this reason, I focus on fueling before and after workouts (typically in the morning), so that I do not accrue an energy deficit. In practice, this takes the form of a pre-workout and post-workout meal.
- Avoid fiber.
My body simply does not do well on a high-fiber diet. I have found that eating high-fiber foods (kale, leafy greens, etc.) slows gut motility and causes GI issues.
- Avoid FODMAPs.
Likewise, FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) foods do not agree with my body. I try to limit these foods especially around training.
- Avoid sugar.
This goes without saying. Eating a lot of sugar is a recipe for GI issues.
Full day of eating
Here, I detail the whole foods that I eat in a typical day. I will leave supplements for a future article.
- 1 Slice Fresh Bread
- 1 Tbsp. Almond Butter
- 1 Banana
- I always workout in the morning. This is non-negotiable.
- I limit fat and protein in order to increase the rate of digestion.
- 1/2 Cup Oats
- 1 Scoop Protein
- 1 Tbsp. MCT Oil
- 1/2 Cup Almond Milk
- I allow the oats to soak, so that they are more easily digested.
- Rice (~300g)
- Grass-fed Beef (~125g)
- Eggs (2)
- Avocado (1/2)
- I used to get a slight mental fog after consuming this amount of rice. Increasing fat and protein to slow the uptake of glucose fixed the issue.
- I will typically have a shake containing 1 scoop Athletic Greens, 5g L-Glutamine, and 1 scoop MCT powder after lunch. This really helps with mental clarity in the afternoon.
- I sometimes will have a snack before an afternoon training session, but this is rare.
- Potato (~600g)
- Chicken Breast (~250g)
- Most days I will have a dessert after dinner. Usually dark chocolate or a homemade dessert.
Carbs: 50%, Fat: 25%, Protein: 25%
- This does not include ingestion of calorie-containing supplements (Liquid I.V., BCAAs, L-Glutamine, MCT powder).
Though I am constantly experimenting, refining, and reworking what and when I eat, I have found that this diet optimizes both physical and mental performance throughout the day.
It is important to be an astute observer of how certain foods affect your mood, energy, and performance. To this affect, it’s helpful to keep a food diary and have at least a ballpark estimate of the calories and macronutrients you are consuming.