There are three key times that often lead to unhealthy or detrimental eating:
1. At mealtime, when you’re rushed and need to eat something fast
2. Anytime during the day when your office is filled with lots of sugary and flour-laden snacks
3. When you’re traveling and have to eat at airports, restaurants or at your hotel
In order to set yourself up for success at losing fat by eating according to the Get Fit, Lean program, you need to control your nutritional environment. That means that you have to plan your nutrition ahead of time, take your own meals and/or snacks to work, and make smart choices about food when you’re traveling.
What do I mean by all this? Well let’s go over the 3 scenarios I listed above.
1. Mealtimes When You’re In a Hurry
How many times have you been in this situation:
You’re in a rush because you need to get to work but you’re starving and didn’t have time to make breakfast. So you duck into Starbucks and grab a Mega Giganta-Muffin and a Carmel Macchiato. Or you cruise the McDonald’s drive through for a McGriddle and hash browns. Or it’s lunchtime and you’ve only got 30 minutes so you hit the sub shop on the corner for a foot-long turkey and cheese mayo bomb and a bag of salt & vinegar potato chips. Congratulations, you’ve just consumed a ton of sugar, flour and calories, and spiked your insulin, putting your body in fat-storage mode. This reaction to flour and sugar is explained in detail in the Get Fit, Lean and Keep Your Day Job book.
Situations like this can be avoided by planning your meals ahead of time (I like to do it the day before) and pack and take your breakfast, and/or lunch with you. I also keep ready-to-drink protein drinks in the fridge at home and at work so that if I’m rushed but need some food, I can slug down 30-40 grams of protein instantaneously without having to prepare a meal or even stop to eat. You can also take your own protein drinks in a shaker bottle. If you buy off-the-shelf ready-to-drink shakes, be sure to read the label and pick one that doesn’t have added sugar. I like Muscle Milk and Muscle Milk Pro 40 for that reason. Now I’m not saying to replace all your meals with protein drinks; what I’m saying is this is a way to have something that fits your nutrition plan when you’re in a pinch. Whenever possible, pack and take a balanced meal (like a broiled chicken breast, some whole grain rice, and a vegetable packed in an easily microwavable container).
Fast food joints aren’t the only places peddling sugar and flour laden crap – stop into any gas station, convenience store, grocery store, or retail store such as Home Depot or Bed Bath and Beyond, and you’ll find a huge selection of candy and junk right by the checkout lanes. Don’t let a sudden craving, coupled with the fact that you don’t have something healthy nearby to eat, derail your nutrition planning.
The bottom line is that you have to be the master of your domain, to quote Jerry Seinfeld. You control what goes in your mouth at meal times, and so you must ensure you have the healthy food and snacks at hand to stay on track with your nutrition.
2. Office Snack Bonanzas
As JD wrote in his previous post, the holiday season is here. If your workplace is anything like mine, that means a lot of people will be bringing in treats to share. And as kind and thoughtful as that is, the snack foods that populate office lunchrooms and communal work areas are typically the absolute opposite of what you should be eating to get fit and lean.
So just like I advised in point #1, it’s imperative that take your own snacks to work. A handful of raw almonds or a healthy nut mix is a great way to get some protein and healthy fats without sugar or starchy carbs. Protein drinks or on occasion protein bars (again, check labels for added sugar and avoid them if they have too many carbs/sugar grams) can be filling and help you reach your protein macro target for the day. A whole-grain unsweetened granola is a complex carb option that’s easy to keep in your desk drawer. You get the idea – the bottom line is that you need to pass up the Krispy Kremes, home-made cookies, bacon pretzel bites, and chips & salsa that takes over the lunch room, and stick to foods that will fuel your body and help you lose fat and stay fit.
3. Eating on the Road
I travel a fair amount for work. And when I was pushing 190 it was partly because I was making poor food choices when I was sitting in an airport, out at business dinners or eating at hotel restaurants.
So first off, I always travel with my own snacks (see above). Nuts, granola, a shaker bottle with protein powder (I can mix water in it later and shake it up), and low carb protein bars are my faves. They easily fit in my carry on and I can eat something when I’m hungry. I also make a point of only drinking water, rather than one of the soda or juice options offered during a flight.
If I’m going to be staying somewhere for a few days, when I get to the hotel, I find a nearby store where I can get healthy food. I was recently in Austin for a week-long conference. I googled grocery stores and located a nearby market that carried my favorite ready-to-drink protein drinks and stocked up for the week. They were a life saver multiple times during the week because there were almost no healthy food options at the convention center.
Eating out at restaurants can pose challenges to your nutritional sticktuitiveness, but there are a few things you can do to minimize the impact. First of all, if possible start off with a good dark greens salad (kale, spinach, etc – not iceberg lettuce – and go easy on the dressing, oil/vinegar or just vinegar is best) or some sort of protein as your appetizer. Avoid fried appetizers and starchy items, and don’t eat the bread that’s sitting on the table. Next, order a sound protein source as your main course. Broiled or baked fish, chicken breast, lean beef, or sashimi are examples. Ask them to swap any starchy side (mashed potatoes, pasta, risotto, etc) with roasted vegetables. And drink water or tea instead of soda or lemonade. And of course, don’t have the Great Wall O’ Cake for dessert. If alcohol is being served, I strongly recommend that you avoid it if possible, or limit the quantity if you must imbibe. You can ingest a ton of calories in alcoholic formats, and it can cause you to crave carbs. It also can weaken your resolve to avoid dessert. Let’s face it, after a few glasses of wine that chocolate lava cake seems like a great idea, just like calling your Ex.
I know some of you are saying to themselves “Duh, who doesn’t know this” but I’ll tell you that in talking to people in my travels, and after observing my colleagues and friends at various meetings and functions, I’m amazed at how many people don’t even think about what they are eating, have whatever is offered to them, and then wonder why they are 30, 40 or more pounds overweight even though they exercise regularly. I also know this from personal experience, because that describes me 9 months ago before I began the Get Fit, Lean program. But once I started taking control of my nutritional environments and got in the habit of making good choices, it was amazing how quickly I lost the gut and unwanted bodyfat, and started feeling better than I had in decades.
Make Sunday your food prep day for the week – start today! Plan your meals, pack your food, and you’ll pulverize your body fat levels no matter how much temptation surrounds you.
About the author:
Steve Welch is a medical publishing professional who Got Fit, Lean and Kept His Day Job at the ripe old age of 50. If he can do it, so can you. So get on it!