Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What Should Be In Your Refrigerator

If working with clients has taught me anything it’s that people don’t know what to eat.  It almost seems to be unimportant to most people.  The same people that don’t know what to eat will spend countless hours at the mall picking out items they put ON their body but hardly spend any time at all figuring out what they should put IN their body.  Much of this is due to sheer ignorance.  People just haven’t taken the time to find out what they should be eating.  They just buy what they see everyone else buying or what they see on TV and in ads which is usually the exact opposite of what they should be eating.  What I am about to tell you isn’t rocket science.  In fact, most of you already know what you should be eating but don’t do it.  Hopefully I can help change that.
An excellent artist rendition of your local grocery store layout.  I am willing to bet that where you shop is set up similar to this. 
A trip to your local grocery store tells you exactly what sells.  Almost 80% of a typical grocery store is prepackaged, preservative filled garbage but that is what people buy the most of.   Initially when you walk in to a typical grocery store you are greeted by fresh fruits and vegetables.  This is all by design and there is a purpose behind it.  You are given the illusion that you are entering a healthy place that wouldn’t dare sell you something that could make you fat.  Subconsciously you have already justified those potato chips and French onion dip.  The meats are usually in the back and the dairy is usually on the opposite side of the vegetables and fruits.  This is also by design.  To get the most basic of food items (meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables) you must touch just about every corner of the store.  This gives the grocery store the opportunity to entice you with the crap they sell that’s down the middle isles.  Now I’m not saying that everything down those middle isles is crap as there are plenty of decent food items in those middle aisles, but what I am saying is that we need to be more aware of what we are purchasing.  Those purchases eventually make themselves back to your house and end up getting eaten.  Changing the way you shop and changing what’s in your fridge is the first step to eating healthier and subsequently becoming healthier.  If you don’t have it in the house there is a far less chance you will eat it.
Fruits and vegetables should find their way into every single meal you eat.  They are low in calories and extremely high in nutrients and antioxidents.
Inside just about every fridge is at least two pull out drawers that are specifically designed for fruit and vegetables.  If you have a newer fridge they might even have a selector knob so you can choose your humidity levels.  How many people actually use that drawer for its intended purpose?  My guess is far too few.  The first thing you should be stocking up on each week is fresh fruits and vegetables.  Fruits and vegetables should make up a large part of just about every single meal you make.  Spinach, squash, avocado, onions, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplant are all extremely versatile vegetables with almost limitless cooking options.  Fruits like apples, bananas, pears, oranges, kiwis, grapes and berries taste amazing and are also great for you.
Mmmmm meat.  If this picture doesn't make you drool there is something wrong with you.  American's need more protein in their diet.  I recommend 2.2-2.8g per kg of LBM

The single most important macronutrient in my opinion is the one that the typical American gets far to less of.  That macro is protein.  There are so many great tasting sources of protein that I really don’t understand why this is a problem.  Chicken, steak, turkey, lamb, fish and pork are all great sources of protein and again, have almost limitless cooking options.  These should all be staples in your weekly meals and your fridge should be filled with a decent variety of these.  Most of these meats can be cooked in bulk and refrigerated, then brought out as needed when you get your meals ready for that day.
Pure bottled protein!
Eggs and egg whites are also great sources of protein.  At any given time my fridge will have at least a dozen eggs and usually 3-4 containers of egg whites.  Egg whites are so versatile because they can be combined with vegetables to make an awesome workout day meal and load that baby with cheese and avocado for an amazing rest day meal.  46g of egg whites contain only 25 calories, all of which are protein.  The average egg has about 60 calories with 6g of fat, 6g of protein and less than 1g of carbs.  A well-crafted omelet with vegetables and some cheese has the ability to completely fill you for hours and also be extremely low in overall calories.
These are some of the better brands of Greek yogurt.  Chobani and Voskos are my personal favorite with Fage coming in after them.
Greek yogurt is another excellent source of protein.  On workout days I have been known to eat an entire 32oz container as part of my post workout meal.  If you buy the good stuff (Voskos, Chobani etc.) a single serving of fat free Greek Yogurt contains 23g of protein and 9g of carbs.  What’s that? You don’t like the taste of the fat free Greek yogurt?  Either suck it up and eat it because it’s good for you or just mix in a few 100g of your favorite fruit.  Problem solved.  Cottage cheese is another food that has a great macro balance, high in protein, low in carbs and fat.

Milk is usually purchased on every grocery shopping trip and rightfully so.  Switching the kind of milk you buy could save you from some unnecessary calories though.  I highly recommend trying both almond milk and coconut milk.  If you buy the unsweetened varieties they are only 30 calories per cup as compared to 90 cal for a cup of fat free milk and almost 200 cal per cup for whole milk.  Cow’s milk is still the best source of protein out of the three though.  I’m not advocating against it, I am merely letting you know what your options are.  I almost always have all 3 in my fridge.
This is the cheese I recommend buying.  It tastes great and is split into smaller quantities which helps with over consumption.
Cheese is a great source of fat for rest days.  I love loading my omelets with cheese and avocado to hit my rest day fat macro goal.  It tastes great and comes with a decent amount of protein and little to no carbs.  Cheese is something people can easily go overboard with though, so make sure you know exactly how many calories are in the amount that you are eating.  100 cal per oz of cheese is about average for most cheeses.  My wife and I love the Sargento cheese that is pre sliced thin.  Per slice it contains 40-45 calories so there is no measuring involved.
Quinoa can be used as a replacement for rice and is an excellent source of carbodydrates and protein.  It is also very low in fat.
Grains and starches are up next.  Oatmeal, quinoa (keen-wa), steel cut oats, pastas, breads, potatoes etc. all fall into this category.  All of these items provide you with a great high carbohydrate, low fat, moderate protein option that is perfect for eating on workout days when carbs are your primary macro focus.  The trick with these food items is portion size though.  The plate you get at olive garden is not 1 serving of spaghetti; it’s probably close to 5 or 6.  I eat pasta on a regular basis.  I’m Italian, it’s what we do.  When my wife makes it we take out 1-2 servings for each of us and we are left with about 6-8 servings left over.  Those get split up into Tupperware containers by a predetermined calorie amount and stored in the fridge.  The next workout day I can look inside the fridge and pull out 2 containers that I know have 200 cal of spaghetti each.  No math necessary, I already did everything up front.
Tupperware is probably one of the greatest inventions ever. It's right up there with the piano neck tie.
The last thing I would like to talk about is planning your meals.  If you don’t make a plan, you can plan on failing.  Having all of the right food is great but you have to plan out your meals in advance or you will quickly become frustrated which will turn into a trip to McDonalds.  Tupperware and a Sunday afternoon are perfect for this.  It gets you in the right mindset for the week and you will set yourself up for success.  Separate your meals into containers that you can just grab in the morning.  It will save time during the week and allow you to focus on more important things like family, friends etc.  Happy shopping!