Here’s a no BS rundown to give you the jist of what Eat To Perform is all about.
1. Figure out your TDEE – it’s NOT rocket science!
Plug your numbers into the Eat To Perform Calculator and figure out how much you need to eat to fuel your body. Eat this much on days you workout. (Please watch the video for an in-depth explanation of how to operate the calculator.)
Once you know your TDEE, you have a ballpark figure to go from and you can manipulate your food intake to find the sweet spot where you lose body fat without sacrificing your performance in the gym and your sanity in everyday life. This gives you a goal to shoot for other than “eat better” and makes “eating less” actually work!
Our primary goal with exercise is to get better at exercise, and carbs are the primary fuel source during exercise – especially lifting!
In addition, your body better utilizes carbs around your workouts (which will lead to more energy, improved recovery, and more muscle).
Most of us eat the rest of our carbs in the evening with dinner. This allows us to go bed happy and fed, which is favorable for sleep. (An example might be that if you load 125g of carbs around your workouts but the calculator suggests 250g of daily carbs, you’d eat an additional 125g before bed.)
Carbs should come from starches like potatoes, rice, squash, fruits (bananas are where it’s at), vegetables of all types, supplements like Vitargo, and possibly dessert before bed. Frozen yogurt and chocolate won’t hurt you if you don’t eat them with every meal.
3. Eat a lot of protein, especially when you have a lot of fat to lose.
Building muscle should be one of your top priorities at the gym, not burning Calories. If you lift regularly and keep your protein intake high, you’ll be in a better position to keep the muscle you’ve built as you lose body fat. Eat between 0.8g and 1g of protein per pound of body weight and you’re on your way. This is favorable in terms of thermogenesis (burning more calories) and keeping yourself full while you lean out.
While you do want to go for whole food sources like lean beef, chicken, and fish, you may need to supplement to meet your needs. In that case, whey protein works but make sure you experiment with hydrolized whey or plant sources if dairy doesn’t sit well with your stomach.
4. Eat plenty of fat!
Fat is necessary to synthesize hormones (including testosterone), build cells, repair wounds, and you are going to have a difficult time reaching your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) if you avoid it, so don’t skimp. When you’re not working out, you can take advantage of Metabolic Flexibility by eating high fat, high protein meals.
What KIND of fat should you eat? Well, we like ALL KINDS but especially animal fats. When you eat fat from healthy animals, you will be a healthy animal yourself. Fish oil is a must-have supplement if you don’t eat seafood on a regular basis (Omega 3s are important). Plant sources like avocados, olive oil, and nuts are good too but don’t overdo them.
If there’s a fat you want to avoid eating, it’s hydrogenated vegetable oil/man made trans fat. That stuff isn’t healthy for anyone, so minimize your intake.
5. Eat SLIGHTLY less on rest days.
We are huge proponents of Calorie/carb cycling to lose fat and build muscle. What that means is that you eat less some days – preferably by dropping your carb intake a bit – and eat at TDEE on your workout days. For many people coming from a carb/Calorie restricted background, this will be crucial to your success.
How much less? That is highly individual, so I suggest you play with what feels the most right. This is where your experience with low carb/low Calorie will help but just remember that if you get too aggressive, it will hurt your gains in the gym. Please note that training isn’t about burning Calories – you work out build more muscle, which will burn more Calories while you rest.
If you have a lot of fat to lose, the simple answer is to have fewer days in the gym. On rest days, you can get aggressive (in terms of dropping your carbs/Calories) without hurting your performance. If you are relatively lean you may not see the best results with this approach. You would be better off eating at TDEE every day, building more muscle, and maintaining your body weight.
6. Lift heavy occasionally to accelerate muscle growth.
Gains come less quickly when you don’t push the upper level of your strength limits. High intensity WODs will help you build your engine, but lifting heavy is important too. You don’t need to max out all the time but you should try to add weight to the bar as often as possible, even if it’s just a single pound. The rest of the time, you should be moving pretty quickly through a lift – especially the snatch and clean and jerk – but it never hurts to slow down and work in a controlled tempo. This gives you the opportunity to explore technique and form. Want to lift heavier? You have to train your nervous system to handle the load.