She Ate Real Food!

You know how Arvind and I keep going on and on and on about eating real food and not worrying about calories even if you are on a fat loss phase? Yea so, we tell this to everyone and no one takes us seriously! Most people are thinking…

‘These guys want me to eat as much as I can? And lots of meat? Multiple eggs? And rice?!?! And they think I’ll lose weight and look and feel great? Kraeeezieeee!’

Well I wouldn’t blame them really. Today, we, as a population, have been taught to look at food and immediately associate it with calories and fat and cholesterol and carbs! We look at an egg and immediately associate it with cholesterol! We look at rice and instantly go Carbbbsss! We look at butter & cheese and scream Fattt! We look at a box of cookies and think  ‘It says low fat and low calories. Awesome. Imma get 3!’

Thank you conventional wisdom! Thank you smart marketing folks! Thank you pharma companies! Thank you docs who get paid by pharma companies! Thank you dumb nutritionists! Thank you hypocratic trainers! We owe you!

Anyways, this being the case, I decided to put our nutritional recommendation of eat real food to the test. Having a long and strong research and development background in the neurovascular and endovascular implantable medical devices field, I am trained to test anything using a ‘worst case’ scenario. So I naturally gravitated towards testing my eat real food theory considering the worst case and hence made the following assumptions.

  • The hypothetical client is a female (which basically means greater body image issues and higher chance of emotional eating).
  • She weighs 160 lb, stands 5 ft tall and is termed ‘obese’.
  • She has very low immunity due to bad nutritional habits and hence good health is a major criterion here (i.e. she can’t go on a 3 month unhealthy crash diet).
  • She only has enough time to do 2-3 short workouts every week (which forces energy intake to be very low in order to create a significant calorie deficit).
  • She is allergic to dairy, shellfish and wheat and can’t consume any of them in any form.

The recommendation

For such a client my typical recommendation would be…

  • Eat real food.
  • Stay away for all allergens.
  • Do not worry about calories.
  • Consume 1 lb of animal products (meat and fish together) to adequate protein intake and satiety.
  • Consume 2-3 lb of mixed vegetables.
  • Eat 100-200 g of starchy vegetables (or 1/2-1 cup of cooked white rice) in your post workout along with a good chunk of protein.
  • Eat 1-3 cage free whole eggs if appetite/hunger permits.
  • Eat a handful of raw nuts if hunger strikes.
  • Stay away from grains, lentils, sugars, junk and *gasp* even fruit in addition to the allergic dairy and shellfish.

The action

Let’s assume that she takes my recommendations and incorporates it as follows.

  • She eats 3 whole eggs, half a pound of wild salmon and a half a pound of chicken breast in an effort to get her protein.
  • Since she only has access to a regular store with mundane vegetables she uses a couple of bunches of spinach, two small tomatoes, a couple of carrots and a some onions when cooking her meat and calls that her vegetable intake for the day.
  • Post workout, she decides to eat about 200 g of baked sweet potatoes ‘cos she thinks they’re delicious.
  • She understands her allergies and stays away from all junk, grains, sugars and even fruit!
  • Though this is a lot of food and I’m certain she will find it hard to even eat all this, let’s just assume that she felt a tiny bit hungry around 4 pm and munched on 9-10 almonds along with her black coffee.

Pretty good adherence I’d say. She didn’t obsess about anything. She ate her meat, managed to eat whatever vegetables she could find and stayed away from the bad stuff.

The result

So if she emailed me this as her food intake for the day, my response would’ve been – Good stuff! Keep it clean. But just for the heck of it, let’s plug it all into fitday and see what we get.

Funny stuff eh?! Even without obsessing about what she ate or trying to count calories, she got 131 g of protein (which is a perfectly good amount of protein to spare lean tissue and ensure satiety) and 116 g of quality carbs (which is more than sufficient to keep her out of ketosis and fuel her smart and short workouts) in addition to 51 g of fat! Now let’s get into this a littler deeper and look into macros.

Jesus christ!

  • It looks like she almost had a clean split between protein, fat and carbs! Wow! Was she counting calories and going insane trying to balance these out? Well, no! She just ate real food!
  • It also looks like she’s getting plenty of all the three (monounsaturated, saturated and polyunsaturated) fats! Was she adding any isolated fats (like oil or ghee) to get these in? Well, no! She just ate real food!
  • And since her only source of polyunsaturated fat seems to be the fish she ate, it looks like she is getting plenty of omega 3s! Was she supplementing with omega 3 gel caps? Well, no! She just ate real food!
  • And Oh. Em Gee! The chart says she ate 34 g of fiber! Was she eating plenty of whole freakin grains? Well, no ya dimwit! She just ate real food!

But even this isn’t good enough now is it! ‘Cos there is always that one person who has to say…

Yea… this is all fine and dandy alright. But her total calorie consumption is only 1400! Isn’t that too low? What about micronutrients? There is no way she’s getting the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals!

Ummm… you do have a point. She probably isn’t. But before we jump the gun, let’s make sure.

Holy shmolly guacamole! It looks like her super low calorie fat loss diet is giving her MUCH more vitamins and minerals than what is recommended! Did she take one of those ultra stroung multi-vitamin tablets? Well, no! She just ate real freakin food!

Huh! Maybe shit works. Oh well! Its almost like I know what I’m talking about.

So if in 3 months you meet a friend you haven’t seen in a while and she looks amazing, says she didn’t do any crazy dieting or count calories and swears that she feels like a million bucks and that her energy level is through the roof, you better know she did one thing and only one thing… she… ate… real… food!

21 responses to “She Ate Real Food!

  1. Mamatha June 16, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    What?? Are you sure she didn’t eat any fortified cereal to meet her daily vitamin and fiber requirement? *sarcasm*

    Great post Raj! Congrats to your client.

    • RG June 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm

      Ah! The fortified cereals! How did I miss taking a stab at that?! tsk tsk.

      Thank you and btw… this is not a real client. Just a hypothetical person. But I see how this can be misleading. So I added the word ‘hypothetical’.

  2. swarna mani June 16, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Nice post Raj!!!

    .I have been on lot of diets before …the main difference I see between them and eating real food is that I have no hungers pangs even in the afternoon…usually when I come back from work I will be sooo hungry and gorge on crabs that is in vicinity …not anymore…

    • RG June 16, 2011 at 4:04 pm

      exactly my point! as long as one eats real food in its whole form, your body will regulate appetite/hunger and you dont have much to worry about.

  3. A-kay June 16, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Yeah – I agree with that. I still eat some snack in the evening when I get back from work. But since most of my snacks are “real food” (cheese, fruit, raw veggies), my dinner quantity automatically comes down and I don’t feel very guilty like I normally do after eating snacks.

    That said, now you need a new hypothetical client who doesn’t eat meat / eggs. What does she eat?

    • RG June 16, 2011 at 4:19 pm

      Only a matter of time before someone asked!

      Drop the chicken and salmon (obviously). Eat a cup of cottage cheese, about 100 g tempeh/tofu/paneer/halumi/mozzarella and a 5-6 egg white omelet/scramble. This will bring your macros and micros to almost exactly the same and the substitutions will keep you satiated. You will have to supplement with fish oil or DHA from algae though. If eggs are out too – have a couple of cups of whole milk yogurt instead of eggs and a scoop of whey isolate. Read my vegetarian protein options post for more info. Removing egg yolks will drop some of the micros, but you should still be above the RDA.

      • Arvind Ashok June 16, 2011 at 6:19 pm

        Hippie time. Hemp seeds are a great option too, if one wants to push the “real food” envelope. But whey is a super option, and not like we are handing out medals if people make trade-offs based on their lifestyle. Just countering my own point, so that people dont take this too far.

  4. amy June 16, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Hi Raj, I am quite new to your blog . Just wondering if you recommend against all grains or can we include some whole grains in our diet? thanks

    • RG June 17, 2011 at 12:56 am

      Welcome Amy. I recommend against all grains that have anti-nutrients and recommend eating only white rice (in limited quantities) since it is pretty neutral with nothing much to offer and nothing much to hurt either.

      But yea… stay away from them whole grains. Nutritionally pretty empty and high in anti-nutrients (lectinsm gluten etc etc.).

    • Vizeet June 17, 2011 at 2:15 am

      especially stay away from whole grain.

  5. Navya June 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    wow! when u put it down in numbers like that… It is damn hard to argue.. I had mostly given up on eating rice(do south indians ever give up on rice 3 times a day?) and having salads for lunch when I stumbled upon your site… Must say every post of yours is designed to inspire and motivate. And they have. You have one more loyal fan.

  6. Vizeet June 17, 2011 at 2:26 am

    This one is super awesome post Raj. Don’t become pray of Big Pharma and stop looking at nutritional profile of real food.

  7. Ridhu June 17, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Awesome post as always. But Can i ask why you do not sound very positive about fruits?. I ask because it is very easy to incorporate fruits into diet and extremely easy to replace junk food with fruits for people like me who have sweet tooth as well as for kids. I tend to give more fruits than veggies to my kids just because of convenience. They can eat quite a few pieces of fruits in the time it takes them to munch on couple of florets of raw broccoli. Steamed veggies and avacados are easy to gobble up and I usually give them during the dinner.

    • RG June 17, 2011 at 6:53 pm

      Ridhu – Though fruits are legit with some vitamins and minerals, vegetables have MUCH more to offer than fruits do. And, in this case, during a fat loss diet, it is wiser to get more bang for your buck by eating vegetables which are not calorie dense but dense in vitamins and minerals and fiber. In order to get the same nutrition from fruit, one would have to consume 4-5 times more calories and plenty of sugar.

      But as far as kids are concerned – fruit is awesome! They know when to eat and when not to and how to burn it off. You’re doing the right thing by pushing in the fruit during the day and add in some veggies during dinner time. This would also be the case with a healthy adult leading an active lifestyle.

  8. holydevil June 17, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Hi Raj,
    Inspiring article as usual. Thank you! Just one tiny thing though-
    “The hypothetical client is a female (which basically means greater body image issues and higher chance of emotional eating).”
    Just wondering if you meant-
    “The hypothetical client is a female (which basically means higher chance of greater body image issues and of emotional eating).”
    Don’t get me wrong here–its just that I know a lot of guys who’d do anything for 6 pack abs and spend 2 hrs in front of a mirror before a date…

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  10. Nicole June 19, 2011 at 4:12 am

    I could not eat that food without *some* added fats. I could not get down dry spinach and sweet potato. Ew.

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  12. Andreas July 4, 2011 at 3:17 am

    Try t oeat 6 meals a day, does much better for you 🙂 protein intake should come inj powder form as well to have a nice mix up !

    Nutreas Whey Protein

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