Today, I've come up with 3 new plateau-busting diet rules. They are particularly for active people. If you are doing a Beachbody DVD program, you are active, so that means you! The first one is kind of a no brainer, but is so important I had to include it. For 2 and 3, I tried to think of unconventional things, or at least things that aren't often framed this way. My hope is something in your brain will click and you can make changes going forward! You'll notice a theme: active people shouldn't think about cutting things from their diet without adding healthy things back into it.
1. Less Sugar, More Fiber
A calorie is just a calorie right? Absolutely not. More research has shown recently that sugar calories are the WORST possible calories, even worse than saturated fat. We as Americans have a growing epidemic of non-alcoholic fatty liver, which is primarily from ingesting too much sugar.
Is High Fructose Corn Syrup really the worst kind? Tough to say. What I do know is that HFCS was a gamechanger (in a bad way) when it was introduced to the market, because it is so cheap, it can hide in anything and add to shelf life of processed foods. So without getting into what kind of sugars are worse for you, just limit everything. Anything that has syrup, cane juice, sugar, ends in -ose, or has gluco, sucro, fructo, malto, galacto, or lacto in it is probably a sugar.
Fiber on the other hand is a nutrient you need more of. It keeps you full, aids in digestion and can actually reverse the bad effects of insulin spike from sugar! Sugar always occurs with fiber in nature, think of it as "nature's candy," when you eat fruit, the two are together, whereas in a Jolly Rancher, there is only sugar, no fiber.
2. Your Breakfast is Definitely Too Small
How do I know? I just know. You hear it all the time, but probably don't believe it. Make your food intake a rightside-up pyramid where breakfast is the biggest meal and by the time you get to the night your meals are the smallest. This is perhaps the one rule I can give over and over and will never change no matter what research says.
It's not this simple, but let me simplify it. You start your day, you need energy to get through all the activities of your day. By the time it's night, you've spent all your energy tokens, so no need to eat big before bed, right?
You can almost never eat too much for breakfast, as long as it is the right foods. Egg whites, oats, fruit, flax seeds, avocado, chickpeas - pretty much any of that in any portion is ok. Think big! Especially if you are working out every day.
3. Eat More Sweet Potato, Peanut Butter and Chickpeas
Ok, that is a weird one. But often after a diet analysis, my first comment is, "Wow - you aren't eating enough for Insanity/P90X/TurboFire." Then the question is, "How do I eat more??"
Here is the secret. When you want more grains, add sweet potato instead to your meal. It is lower glycemic than regular white potatoes and has tons of vitamin A. When you need to add fats, eat peanut butter (or raw nuts, or avocado). These foods are all the good kind of fats, and can add healthy calories, PB has a little bit of protein too. If you need more protein, add chickpeas and other beans or legumes onto your salad for lunch! A huge pile of veggies is awesome, but when you mix in plant proteins from legumes (which also add healthy starches too) you can often make "complimentary proteins" which are plant based proteins that deliver the full spectrum of amino acids necessary for muscle growth and health all the way to the cellular level. The more diverse the beans you add, the more likely you are simulating the protein found in animal sources. In other words, to get the protein spectrum of chicken, you might have to mix chickpeas, edamame, and black beans. Note that quinoa is a complete protein grain, very rare!
Best of all, I love all those foods, I could almost live off of them! (Don't try it...you need vegetables).
So those are my three rules for active people. Basically, 1) Cut Sugar, 2) Stack calories in a pyramid, and 3) When you add calories, make them healthy ones!