Should I stick to strict rules when it comes to eating? That’s a great question. I’m kind of obsessing over diet right now with the rest of America as we kick off the New Year. My last post was about the 80/20 rule and how to remain healthy and live in relative comfort when it comes to your diet.

(What we all look like when thinking about our food choices…)

Now that 2017 is here, I’m going to take a look at 2 different approaches:

  • Should I adhere to only consuming a certain amount of calories per day?
  • Or, is stripping certain foods away (following rules – Paleo would be an example) the way to go?

Personal side note:

In 8th grade, I decided I wouldn’t drink or eat anything with caffeine (people who know me these days know I wouldn’t survive without it now), switched to turkey bacon from pork and wheat bread from white bread. I did this for years. I’m not saying that’s the diet you should follow (though something that simple could make a huge difference in certain people’s lives), but that I was already experimenting at a young age.

(Me at 16 years old / 10th grade)

If you want to look like this guy pictured below (what’s his name?) where every ripple of your muscle shows and be ready to step on stage you need to follow a strict diet plan. Something that calculates your macros (protein, carbs and fats) in accordance with your activity level and ultimate goal which would probably be a body fat level that is hard to maintain over a significant period of time.

(Get to the choppaaa)

Was Arnold blessed with genetics? Yes. Did he take ‘supplements’ (wink wink)? Of course. Did he work hard and diet like crazy? Most definitely. You might not be blessed with his genetics or willing to go to the lengths he did to look that way, but you can certainly get as lean as he is in this picture by adhering to a strict diet. Natural bodybuilders do this all the time. Case in point, ole F-Dub (Forrest Walden), founder and CEO of Iron Tribe pictured below.

(Looking all lean and mean)

What does a strict diet look like?

Well, for a 200 pound male trying to cut it could look something like the below. Now, by no means am I saying this is the end all be all, just an example. Diets like this are specific to that person, their body composition, activity level, etc.

  • Breakfast: 8 egg whites with 1 yolk, cup of oatmeal and 3/4 cup blueberries
  • Snack 1: 25 gram whey protein shake and a bagel
  • Lunch: 6oz lean meat (probably chicken) and one cup of rice
  • Snack 2: 25 gram whey protein shake and medium-sized avocado
  • Dinner: 6oz lean meat, two cups green veggies with 1/4 almonds

This would equal about 2,100 calories per day and for someone at 200lbs who’s moderately active would certainly see results. The plus side to this diet is that you know what to eat. You know that if you put this in your body for let’s say 12 weeks you’re going to see results. And, you get into a routine which makes life easy. That being said, that positive is also a negative. Diet’s like this can become a drudge because there’s not much variation and you can only eat the same thing so many times before going all ‘LAY OFF ME, I’M STARVING!’ on someone.

(I feel you, bro…)

So, that’s not really sustainable. It’s doable – for a time – and will definitely get you abs you can wash your clothes on, but here’s another approach – creating some rules for yourself. An example of this, like I mentioned above would be the Paleo diet where you’re stripping out certain foods like breads and grains or you could be like this guy pictured below.

Andrew Taylor lost over 100 pounds eating only potatoes for almost a year. It’s like the anti-Paleo diet. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend it. Rules are great, but anything that extreme or that completely cuts out foods we need probably isn’t wise. We need protein, we need fat and, yes, we need carbs… Ehem, potatoes… Just probably not that many.

One can actually get pretty lean by simply following a set of rules. You might not look like ‘Ahnold’ pictured above, but you’ll without a doubt have a body composition to be proud of at the beach. So, what does something like this look like? I’m glad you asked.

Here’s one of my favorites and something I’ll be implementing for myself over the next couple of months.

1. No fried foods.

Plain and simple. Anything deep fried or cooked in it’s own grease (bacon) is off the table. Sorry, bacon lovers I don’t care what you say. It might be the best damn tasting food on the planet, but it ain’t healthy.

2. No dairy.

Milk is easy to give up for me, but cheese and butter? That’s a little more difficult. That being said, it’s high in saturated fat and saturated fat is good for one thing – love handles. The one ‘bend’ to this rule is that I still drink whey protein (which comes from dairy).

3. No simple sugars.

I mean sweets and junk food are pretty easy to cut out (I’m not 3 years old…). What’s more difficult are foods that equate to the same thing – white bread and starches that to your body are (you guessed it) sugar. I still eat bread, I just replace it and the like with whole wheat products.

(It’s time we had a talk.)

This is also good because it helps you set boundaries and learn self control. Maybe you’re not ready to follow a strict regimen like what I listed out earlier, but something like this would be good to get your feet wet. There are other versions of this out there that you can checkout. A little intuitive thinking would take you a long way in this pursuit as well. Now days, I think most of us know what to avoid. There’s too much information out there – right at our fingertips. It just takes executing a little self control.

Whatever you pursue, I hope you take the steps necessary to be the healthiest version of yourself. You don’t have to have washboard abs to be happy, but taking steps like what’s listed above will improve your health which in turn will improve your overall well being. You’ll feel better physically and reap the benefits of a healthy body.

As 2017 begins, let’s all resolve to take steps to improve ourselves – whatever those may be.

Over and out.