It’s not a secret, that nutrition is the key to losing fat and gaining lean mass. I’ve posted religiously about how you can’t outwork a bad diet, and this golden rule still stands strong. Whatever your fitness goal may be.
As in my last meal throwdown I’ll analyse my clients meals, pointing out the good, the bad and the downright ugly. (And I’m not talking about food presentation.) All of these meals are shared with my clients’ permission and judged primarily for their fat-burning and longevity potential.
[Meal 1, Client A] Breakfast: Smoked Salmon, Fried Egg and Leafy Greens
Not bad, but not great either. This person is obviously trying to restrict their carbohydrate intake by eliminating the usual breakfast (think cereal or other processed garbage). This person is not an athlete, nor do they want be better at exercising – they just want to get abs. This meal isn’t bad but there’s a few tweaks I could suggest that would help their journey:
Includes whole eggs (protein and good fats) and salmon with omega 3s (DHA, EPA fatty acids that are crucial for optimal brain and bodily functions). Also includes greens yet…
Not enough of leafy greens.
Macronutrient ratios: the majority of this meal is protein. There’s very little fat and carbohydrates. High amounts of protein can be pro-inflammatory. While lots of protein might seem desirable if you’re a bodybuilder, those who want to lose weight sustainably should be cautious of its negative effects such as stomach distress, indigestion, etc.
How to upgrade:
Leafy greens should take as much place on the plate as salmon and bacon do now. Think of the meal canvas approach I introduced a while back – you need to base your meals on leafy greens (at least 80% of plate) and then add protein and other macronutrient profiles on top of it (making up the remaining 20%).
[Meal 2, Client B] Lunch: Chicken and Carrot Bake, Rice, Tomatoes and Gherkins
This meal’s confusing. It goes over the top with complexity on the protein side, but it’s also simple on the sides. The amount of rice is alarming. The client who was eating this described it as very filling, which is not surprising. Their goal however is to maintain low bodyfat so let’s see if this meal helps them with that…
Hard to name it, but this meal is fairly clean – meaning it lacks the processed foods and sauces full of MSGs and other crap you’d expect from a restaurant menu.
An alarming amount of carbohydrates and grain based coating (even if small amount) are the key things that might hinder my client’s goals. I also know they adopted an eating approach that welcomes dietary fat and this meal has very little of it.
This is a fat gainer meal. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not bad for building and maintaining mass, but that’s not my client’s goal.
How to upgrade:
Yet again… add more leafy greens! Add a leafy green salad next to the other sides, while reducing the main course and the amount of rice. As with a previous meal the meal canvas approach would improve this meal greatly.
Reducing amount of rice and adding a handful of olives would also improve it for those who are not restrict their carbohydrates.
[Meal 3, Client A] Lunch: Roasted Chicken, Parmesan, Mushroom and Leafy Greens
This is a keto-friendly lunch. The client here is obviously trying to restrict their carbohydrate intake. You can see a bed of greens topped with other items, which makes it an overall OK option.
Plenty of greens, some mushrooms and tomatoes for taste. Lean poultry for protein source.
Not enough fat. Parmesan adds some fat to the equation, however the rest of the meal is way too lean. There’s also quite a bit of protein, which can kick even the biggest keto enthusiast out of the ketosis. You see excessive protein easily converts to glucose, especially when carb intake is restricted.
How to upgrade:
Oiling the things up with couple of tablespoons of olive oil would not only make this taste better, but also add some dietary fat into equation. Knowing that this client is applying ketogenic diet principles, their fat intake should be maximised for optimal performance and fat burn.
[Meal 4, Client A] Lunch: Airplane meal
It’s almost impossible to make even a gourmet meal taste amazing while flying in a metal tube with all the radiation, noise, dehydration and immobility etc. So I won’t comment on the taste.
It’s good to note, that my client who is watching their carb intake decided to skip the brownie and bread. Kapow! Nothing makes me happier than people who follow recommendations. Now let’s take a deeper look:
The greens and other vegetables. You can see some steamed spinach and broccoli in the hot meal box.
The client was proud to consume the tiny butter portion. The problem here is that the butter is highly processed, margarine-like substance full of damaged fats. It doesn’t make for a dietary healthy option (think grass fed butter, coconut oil etc.).
Mashed potatoes and questionable ingredients in the chicken sauce (out of photo). Knowing the typical setup it’s likely full of MSGs, preservatives and sugar.
How to upgrade:
It’s extremely hard to stay on track while travelling long distance. The best way to stay squeaky clean is to pack your own snacks, e.g. nuts and combine them with a crispy salad, which is served most airplane meals. Alternatively, eat a considerably healthier meal before boarding the plane.
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