Everything I Eat in a Day
One of the things I get asked a lot is what I eat in a day, so I thought I'd share. I've been tentative to do so because I don't want anyone to think that a) I'm a registered dietician, because I'm not, and b) what I eat and what works for my body, will be the same as what you should eat and what will work for your body. Take this blog post for what it is. A post about what I eat in a day and why. And that's it. What works for me may not work for you. What I like to eat may not be what you like to eat. To figure out what you should be eating, I encourage you to first look at what foods you like to eat, then to read the labels and do some research, and finally, most importantly, to listen to how your body feels and reacts to the ingredients you consume. For instance, I feel one way after eating a donut (actually, let's be real, donuts) for breakfast and another way after eating 2 TBS almond butter and banana and drinking a liter of water. It's all about what feels good to your body. If you're like well I don't like almond butter and banana. That's cool! You don't have to eat almond butter and banana! You'll know when you have the right items in your diet because you will start to feel more energetic, more focused and more balanced--and you'll feel so good, that you'll continue to eat natural, unprocessed foods.
I've also been tentative to share because, while it's not that complex, it's not that simple. I didn't just overnight come up with what I eat, felt fantastic, and then began shedding weight and toning up. This entire process has taken at least five years. It really started in 2013 when I was assigned to U.S. Embassy Kabul. Besides work, there wasn't much to do so I began Crossfit training and lifting weights because, well, that's what my friends were doing. And I was hooked. I started building confidence in lifting weights, started feeling strength increase, and started seeing changes in my body composition. But, I felt that for all I was doing in the gym, and for the amount of time I was spending working out, I should've been seeing more results. So that's when I started looking at what I was eating. I read about healthy options for breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners. I read about how much of a caloric deficit I should be maintaining to lose weight. Which, news flash, is not really that much. I'd say I was probably consuming 1800-2000 calories then, and now I consume 1500-1700. That's only a 200-300 calorie difference. Which is like 2 cokes. Anyway, I started consistently reading ingredients, counting macros (more to come on this in later posts), logging my food (feel free to follow me on MyFitnessPal at leg823), and measuring out ingredients. In short, I became aware and conscious of what I was putting into my body and why. And over time, I made little changes here and there to get me where I am today. Finally, I saw the results I wanted. And after I gained 50 pounds with Teddy, I went right back to the same routine of logging my foods, and making consistent, healthy choices because that is what works for me.
One last thing, and it's a little harsh, but I just like to tell it like it is. This isn't always easy. Sometimes you're like damn I want pizza and donuts. And I do eat pizza and donuts. And then I go right back to eating healthy because ultimately, that's what I like to do. The reason this works for me so well is because a) I like eating simple, natural, unprocessed foods, b) I don't mind eating the same thing almost every day (when I get sick of it, I change it), and c) I don't complain about what I eat because I know I am in charge of what I put in my body. No one is making me eat this way. No one puts food into my mouth but me. I don't think damn, I've got to down 4 liters of water today, because I like to drink water and hydrate my body. I don't bitch and complain about eating chicken and veggies, because I want to eat chicken and veggies. I eat this way because it supports my mood, my energy and my rest.
So, I'm going to keep this short and sweet. Note: I'm not a food photographer, so bear with me.
A typical day is about 1500 - 1600 calories give or take, and consists of:
Breakfast: 2 TBS Almond butter + 1 liter of water
2 TBS Almond butter and 1 banana*
2 TBS Almond butter, 1 banana and 2 slices of Ezekiel toast
When I wake up, I down 1 liter of water (yes, 1 whole liter of water). Then, I get ready, I feed Teddy, I clean his bottle, I finish getting ready, I feed him breakfast, and I eat 2 TBS almond butter and I'm out the door to the gym. (I really don't measure this. I just stick the spoon in the jar and scoop it into my mouth.) I like to go to the gym first thing in the morning, and I do not like a lot of food in my stomach before the gym. Who wants to sweat on the spin bike with a 3-egg Denver omelet bouncing around in their stomach? So I eat something that will fill me up and give me some energy. Almond butter is rich in fiber and high in carbs and fat, so this means that it will take longer for my body to digest, keeping me fuller longer, and will provide energy to burn while at the gym. If I am really hungry, I'll eat a banana with almond butter and if I'm really, really hungry, I'll have 2 slices of Ezekiel toast with almond butter and banana sliced up. On the weekends, I'll have eggs, bacon, avocado and toast (if my husband will cook it). Or if we go out for brunch, I'll have whatever the hell I want to. *One note about bananas, like apples and grapes, bananas have a higher sugar content than most fruits, so if I do have one, I will only have 1 piece of fruit a day.
Snack 1: Vega Sport Protein Powder with water + 1 liter of water (over a few hours)
I'm not a paid advocate for Vega, but I would be in a second if they asked me. I love their Sport protein for two reasons, one it's vegetable protein--not whey. A lot of protein powders are made from whey or casein milk protein, which cause extreme bloating for me. I used to drink whey protein or eat Quest bars, and my stomach would bloat out like I was 6 months pregnant. I literally took a pregnancy test one time because I couldn't figure out why I was so bloated. (Spoiler alert: I wasn't preggers--that time.) Then I was listening to a weight-lifting podcast and it mentioned how body builders sometimes have trouble getting enough protein because their bodies cannot digest the amount of whey they were consuming. So I did a little more research (#google) and removed whey (mostly) from my diet and my bloating was GONE! Just like that. Also, Vega Sport in particular (compared to other protein powders and even other Vega protein powders) has a great protein-to-carb-to-fat ratio. I think it's like 30 grams of protein to 7 grams of carbs to 3 grams of fat. What does that mean? It means it has a lot of protein and little-to-no carbs or fat. Which only means that you can then add more carbs and fats to make a smoothie, like a banana (carbs), PB2 (carbs/fat) and almond milk (a little carbs/fat), to the Vega protein powder for an awesome, delicious smoothie. If you don't know what PB2 is, it's literally just powdered peanuts and it's great for adding into smoothies or bowls. It doesn't have a lot of added sugars and other additives like regular peanut butter does, but when added to a smoothie, it tastes like you added peanut butter. I have to warn you though, that Vega is super fine. It literally gets everywhere! *Again, on bananas, if I have one for breakfast, I won't have one here because they do have a higher-than-most-fruits sugar content.
4-6 oz tuna or chicken + 1/2 cup brown rice + 1/2 avocado + Bragg's Liquid Aminos + 1 liter of water
1/2 cup liquid egg whites + 2 slices of Ezekiel toast or Ezekiel English Muffin + 1/2 avocado + tabasco (shown)
So sometimes I'm in the mood for lunch (brown rice, tuna/chicken, and avocado with Bragg's) and sometimes I'm in the mood for a breakfast sandwich for lunch (egg whites, toast, avocado) which is shown in the photo. Each of these meals has a balanced protein (tuna/chicken/egg whites) to carbs (brown rice/toast) to fats (avocado). If you don't know what Bragg's Liquid Aminos are, it's like an all-natural soy sauce, but less sodium and more essential proteins.
If I'm still hungry, I'll grab a few dark chocolate covered almonds or a few pieces of dark chocolate (like 0.5 oz or 1 oz). I'm the type that likes something sweet at the end of my meals so I always go to dark, dark chocolate. When I worked for State, I would bring my lunch almost every single day, and it was usually a pouch of tuna or broiled chicken, a huge salad, simple oil and vinegar dressing, and pita chips/cucumber slices and hummus. If I'm consuming a salad, it's only loaded with nutritionally dense foods. And I usually use lemon juice, white wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar and some oil--I don't drench it in ranch, or even 'low-fat' ranch. Simple is better.
Power Crunch Bar* + 1 liter water (over a few hours) + an iced latte (almond milk + espresso)
Green apple + an iced latte (almond milk + espresso)
Endangered Species Dark Chocolate pieces (0.5 - 1.0 oz) + an iced latte (1.5 C almond milk + espresso)
I want to say that I really don't love all the ingredients in Power Crunch bars (whey protein isolate, palm oil, soy lecithin, sugar) but they are super balanced in protein, fat and carbs, so they'll do in a pinch, but I actually eat a lot less of them than I used to. Or when I travel, I'll grab them along with some Vega Sport protein pouches to mix with a bottle of water to ensure a healthy-ish breakfast or snack on the road.
Sometimes, I'll just have the almond milk latte. I'm honestly so busy with Teddy and my side hustle (also more to come on that in later posts) that I don't have time to sit around thinking about if I'm hungry or not. I'm usually thinking 'ok, I can't sit down for another 2 hours so I better get something inside me' and keep it moving.
3 oz sweet potato + 4-6 oz of chicken (or salmon or 2 links of chicken apple sausage) + all the veggies
One thing about me, I keep my cooking to a minimum. It's just not my thing. I don't like following recipes, I don't like adding a bunch of ingredients to my meals, and I don't like cleaning up. I do whatever is the easiest to throw together. Usually, at the beginning of the week, I'll prepare about 16 ounces of chicken in the crock pot with vegetable stock and shred it up and put it in the fridge. I'll also prepare 3-4 large sweet potatoes in the crock pot and put those in the fridge, and then I'll add them both to the Taylor Farms stir-fry veggie pack from Whole Foods. I throw the veggie pack on the stove for 5 minutes, add the sauce that comes with it (pretty simple, unprocessed ingredients) and then add my chicken and sweet potato and serve it up. This meal has another nice even breakdown of protein (chicken), carbs (veggies/sweet potato), fats (sauce and olive oil).
So, Monday thru Friday, this is what I'm mostly eating. Sometimes I'll also have a glass or two of white wine or rose after dinner. On the weekends, I mostly just eat whatever and have fun with friends, drink wine, and eat pizza. But, every day, I'm making choices that I want to. I really hope you find something useful in this and please feel free to leave me any comments on what you thought or what you'd like to know more about. I'm happy to answer any questions too! You can email me here.
The Ginger Ninja