Eat Two Pounds of Meat a Day, Every Day
My typical weekly shopping run at the price club is about 20 pounds of meat, but my fiancee eats some as well:
~7lb pork loin
~ 5 lbs of chicken breasts
~ 5 lbs of chicken thighs
1-2 lbs of steak if they’re on sale
3-4 pounds ground turkey
Streamline your Cooking
I use basically 3 methods:
~Slow cooker (I have 2 large crock pots) can do up to 10 lbs of meat
~Oven on cookie sheet – can do 3-4 lbs of chicken easily with no supervision
~Big Ass Pan – I have a huge frying pan I can cook 5 lbs of meat in on the stovetop
Honorable mention – I’m going to be buying an electric smoker soon
I generally trim the fat pads from my meats before cooking, but it’s mostly preference. Pork and poultry fat seems to be more innocuous to health than corn fed beef meat, and beef has gotten expensive. I do buy smoked bacon from time to time, but it’s a sometimes thing to go with eggs. Cured red meats generally aren’t worth it.
Staple Carbs, Fun Carbs
I have what I think of as staple carbs, and it’s a short list. In order of desirability: Sweet potato, lentils, quick oats, brown rice. I keep these in the house in basically unlimited quantities, and these just plain don’t make me fat. I guess it’s a glycemic index thing, maybe it’s a sugar structure thing, whatever. If I stick to these I wake up looking dry and ripped. Fibrous fruits can qualify here too, but the only things I really eat in terms of fruit are frozen blueberries (unless fresh is on sale) and apples.
Fun carbs are everything else. These generally are higher glycemic, but hopefully not too inflammatory. Sugar, basically, but sometimes I want white/jasmine/basmati rice with curry or asian dishes, stuff like that. Or, yukon gold potatoes oven roasted with my steak. I eat these not every night, but most post workout nights. I have very little food during the rest of the day, unless I need to be above 250lbs for some reason. I just say eat what you want within reason when you feel like you’ve earned it. My general rule on cheat foods now: make it worth it. I don’t buy regular ice cream, I only buy the hyper premium stuff (B+J, Talenti, local creamery). Junk food is pretty dumb to me, because there are better ways to spend your monetary and caloric budget.
Know How to Get Good Calories
This is where healthy fats rule. I really like pistachios and almonds as snacking foods, they provide lots of calories without filling you up. They other tip I will give is use your staple carbs and meat to load up on healthy fats.
I use basically 3 staple fats: extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin first pressed olive oil, kerrygold grass fed butter. Avacados and avacado oil, good as well but I don’t use them much. Cook with extra oil, measure it out, you’ll get thick, delicious sauces providing tons of flavor and a controlled amount of guilt free calories. You can add 500 calories of coconut oil to a meal without blinking. Huge pats of butter turn oatmeal and sweet potatoes from kind of a chore to delicious treats (tons of cinnamon and a bit of nutmeg on the oatmeal, the same plus red pepper flakes on sweet potato)
I buy 2 vegetables for nutrition – broccoli, and spinach. Broccoli is incredibly easy to cook (Wash, drain, microwave 70% for 3 minutes for a head) and is a fantastic food for micronutrient density.
Spinach is fantastically versatile, unlike the overrated kale. Spinach I can throw in a bowl of lentils or rice before scooping my pan prepared meat + oil mixture, and it adds bulk and micronutrients to the dish, and frankly an enjoyable flavor/texture. You can use it as a main component of a meatloaf (turkey meatloaf is cheap, easy, and healthful). But, most importantly, you can make fast salads with it.
If you don’t have a method to quickly make your own salad dressing, just buy one. Vinegar, olive oil, and some spices, and you are rolling – you can consume 400 calories of healthy dressing over some spinach, baby carrots, tomatoes, maybe a sprinkle of goat cheese. It’s delicious, and you can eat the same damn thing near every day without getting bored.
I also buy garlic, bell peppers, spicy peppers, onions, and tomatoes on a weekly basis, but this is because the dishes I enjoy making them, more than for nutritional reasons. Everyone’s tastes are different, but vegetables and spices are a way to add lots of great flavors with minimal caloric input. Plus, vegetables are generally anti-inflammatory, which is important to keep your nutrient partitioning ratio good. Pan roasting squashes or zucchini with spices in a pan with healthy fat of your choice is very underrated. Again, we’re using the vegetables largely as vehicles for the fat when bulking.
Dodging Sweetness Cravings
I keep a bag of stevia in the raw around. It’s cut with maltodextrin, so it’s not ideal, but for oatmeal especially, which I eat as a staple, it’s great to add sweetness. Having a low calorie way to indulge sweet cravings helps immeasurably in terms of putting your calories in the right place.
Another great tip – learn to love 85%+ chocolate bars. Lindt and Ghirardelli both have offerings that dark at my local supermarket, and Trader Joe’s has better boutique brands. Chocolate feels like a sweet indulgence, but on a caloric basis you get 600 quality kcal for ~8 grams of sugar.
Gluten, Milk, BPA etc
Milk is what I consider a “suicide bulk” food. Whole milk is highly insulogenic, amazingly calorie dense, AND significantly contributes estrogens resulting from cows kept in a pregnancy state. Milkfat lowers testosterone, more than soy milk, in fact. However, the shift in estrogen metabolism likely upregulates IGF-1. On balance, you’ll gain weight much faster, but it will be less clean. I prefer greek yogurt and kefir for my dairy intake. I feel I retain more water and feel a touch worse if I’m drinking a lot of milk, but when I was 270+ lbs I was drinking half a gallon of 2% a day. Milk’s a powerful tool, use accordingly and assess individual tolerance, IMO.
Gluten, it’s less clear. I generally don’t buy loaves of bread, but I don’t avoid it like the plague either. Studies don’t generally support a lot of the anti-gluten hysteria, but they may not be probing factors like chronically leaky gut due to zonulin accumulation. To me, this is in the “fun carb” category: I’m going to eat amazing Panera or Italian or Challah breads when they are right in front of my face, but I won’t seek it out as a staple food.
Finally, I do not buy canned food ever, and I don’t microwave in plastic. BPA-free plastic still leeches other plasticizers. Canned food is the #1 source of BPA in the American diet. This includes canned soda and beer. Nothing good comes from a can, ever. You can google other ways to eliminate BPA exposure, but this is a very easy and painless step. (My full diet guide has more on this).