Thoughts on Nutrition: Part 2 ... How I Ate to Gain and Lose Weight
by Jared Malvin
In part 1 of the article I talked about nutrition and how eating real whole foods is best. In terms of your goals the nutrition information is actually a very similar meal setup whether you are looking to gain weight or lose it. You may think they should be very drastic meal plans or options, but they aren’t. Remember, no matter what you should be eating real, healthy, nutritious food. If you are looking to gain weight that just means you are going to eat more of it. If you are looking to lose weight you will eat less. People make this very difficult, but it shouldn’t be rocket science. I always tell people it is simply if you want to lose weight you need to take in less calories and burn more. If you want to gain weight you need to take in more calories and burn less. The food should stay similar because it is all healthy.
The general rule is that you should be eating small meals every 2-3 hours. If you are trying to lose weight you will eat smaller amounts and if you are trying to gain weight you will eat more. Another aspect to losing weight is that it can be helpful and beneficial to fast for 24 to 36 hours 1-2 times per week. When I first got more serious about my workouts and nutrition the first thing I did was eat much more real, healthy foods. I wanted to cut the fat that I had put on from all the years of unhealthy eating. Within a few months of eating mostly fruit and whole foods I cut my body fat in half and maintained the weight I originated at because of the muscle gain. I maintained that weight and body fat percentage for some time and when it was time to try and put on some mass all I did was start eating much more at each meal and change my workout routine. Remember I did this by taking in more calories and burning less.
Good, real, healthy, nutritious food is your best bet to get the results you are looking for and you will get the most nutrition out of these foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes etc. Food with no to minimal processing and added ingredients. Here are examples of what I would eat while working on losing and gaining weight.
Goal: Lose Weight
Remember, I believe in the power and benefits of fasting if you are trying to lose weight, specifically body fat. That excess body fat is stored fat for reserve. The best way to tap into that and burn it is to “starve” your body for short amounts of time. Depending on the amount of body fat that needs to be burned through I recommend fasting for 1 to 2 times per week and for 24 to 36 hours at a time. The easiest way to accomplish this is to start after dinner. By the time you wake up the next morning you will have already fasted for around 12 hours after the previous night’s dinner. You just need to continue fasting until dinner that night, which will be 24 hours from the previous day’s dinner. If you want to fast for 36 hours you follow the same principle, but instead of dinner you continue fasting until breakfast the following day giving you that additional 12 hours of fasting of which you will have slept around 8 of it.
Examples of my nutrition in conjunction with the fasting was generally a small bowl of muesli or unflavored oatmeal for breakfast. I typically go to the gym in the morning so I would digest after breakfast, go workout and then consume a protein shake after the gym, which counts as the 2nd meal and is within the couple hours timeframe. A few hours later I would have either a small serving of nuts, fruit or fresh squeezed juice or smoothie. A few hours after that would be the same type of meal and this would continue throughout the day until dinner. Dinner is when I would have my only “real” meal of the day (which included processed foods) and could be veggie meat with rice and vegetables. And that’s it, snack on small amounts of fruit, nuts, protein shakes or smoothies and juice throughout the day and have one small meal at night. I would also drink hot tea throughout the day for the health benefits and keep me feeling fuller. You are eating less than you are used to so you will feel hungry and need time to adjust and allow your stomach to shrink.
Four months into my mostly fruit diet.
Goal: Gain Weight
The goal of gaining weight will look very similar to losing weight because like I mentioned eating to gain or lose weight is basically the same, all healthy. To gain weight though we are just going to eat more at every meal to intake more calories and our workouts will be designed to burn less of those calories. The most important thing when eating to gain weight is to never miss any meals. You need to continue to keep feeding and fueling your body throughout the day. This means you also need to eat immediately upon waking every day to break that fast from sleeping.
For breakfast I would have a bowl of muesli with almond milk, a handful of grapes and a banana. I would digest for one hour and then go to the gym. Have a protein shake immediately after my lifting which should be about 3 hours since breakfast. Once home from the gym I have a few more bananas or a couple of apples. About an hour later I make a smoothie filled with fruits, greens and protein. A few hours later would be more fruit and/or nuts and that would continue until dinner which would again be veggie meat with rice and vegetables. Depending on how many calories need to be consumed you could also have 2 of these meals.
After 7 months of strict diet and exercise and starting to bulk.
As you can see if you read both goals the eating is basically the same, but for losing weight you will fast, eat less and workout with shorter rest times to help burn more calories. For gaining weight you will eat more and try and burn less calories during your workout with longer rest times and heavier movements. Be smart about what is good for you and obviously avoid eating out as much as possible, drinking alcohol, and keep your processed foods to a minimum.