Pinch’s Bible, Book I
OBT asked me to write up a post regarding general nutrition and supplements.
(Editor’s Note: This is true, and what Pinch came back with was what I can only call his Bible — covering everything from supplements to starches to water intake. He said he had a slow day at work and got on a roll, and who am I to question a guy who provides so much thoughtful and well-written copy? To make it a little more digestible (pun intendend), we’re going to break this thing into several parts over the next few days. — OBT)
My only qualifications for being chosen to get this post started are: a) I played college football (actually, does the Ivy League count?); b) I’ve experienced some pretty significant weight fluctuations; and c) it really is a passion that I enjoy discussing with others and continue to learn about.
A few disclaimers before we get after it. The vast majority of what I’ve written regarding supplements and nutrition is from either personal experience or from various articles I’ve read. Nutrition and supplementation are a unique blend of art and science, as every person reacts differently to the myriad options available. Put simply, what has worked well for me through years of trial and error may not work for many of you and, conversely, if you’ve found something that works you should absolutely stick with it and share it with others (though don’t be afraid to learn more, branch out and try different things).
Diet and supplements are a lot like working out: Everyone’s body responds differently and we all have strengths and weaknesses we need to identify and attack. For example, several of my Campos brothers are tremendous distance runners, cyclists or triathletes, but these types of activities are extremely challenging for me and I tend to end up near the back of the pack. However, despite being in excellent cardiovascular shape many of these same “distance athletes” struggle to perform significant repetitions of body weight exercises or sustain a significant pace during interval work, while body weight exercises are one of the few areas in which I tend to perform at a high level.
Like an F3 workout, look at yourself in the mirror, take an honest assessment of where you are and decide where you want to go. Come up with a plan and lean on your F3 brothers for support and accountability. Here goes….
In 1994 I showed up as a 6’5″ 205 pound defensive end and just three years later I weighed in at 269 pounds. The reason this tidbit of information is the kickoff to our diet section is because all throughout that 64 pounds of weight gain two things became obvious:
a) I ate a ton of starches/calories, and
b) lift a lot of heavy weights.
Think about that briefly, I gained 64 pounds and that was done primarily by adding a bowl of cereal and/or oatmeal to every breakfast, eating a bagel for a snack and adding tons of pasta at lunch and dinner (obviously, there was a lot of protein mixed in but we’ll get to that)!
Most of the F3 Nation is either trying to get back into shape, lose meaningful pounds or really take it to the next level in terms of conditioning and the proper diet is a key component. It cannot be stressed enough that one of the quickest, easiest ways to start the weight loss or leaning down process is to drop all significant starches from your diet. Take note that I wrote “starches” and not “carbs.” The obvious and most damaging culprits in the starch category include breads, pastas, bagels (yeah, Dredd, I’m thinking of you) and white rice while there are plenty of healthy carbs, most notably those found in fruits and vegetables.
Fruits tend to be high in carbs and sugars but the sugar found in fruit is all natural and processed much more easily by the body. Fruit is also an excellent source of fiber, something that tends to be lacking in almost everyone’s diet.
Cut out the pre-dinner bread when dining out, skip the dinner rolls at home, try to minimize your pasta intake and you will be amazed at how much better you feel within a few weeks. I also try to significantly limit the amount of starches and carbs I consume after 3:00 pm as many studies have shown that the metabolism begins to slow down, every so slightly around that time.
My favorite carbs include almost any type of fruit or vegetable (try to have a wide variety, think “a lot of color,” don’t eat the same 1 or 2 fruits/vegetables every meal), with spinach being a personal favorite as several studies have shown it promotes muscle recovery and growth (think Popeye); I try to eat at least 5-6 servings a day.
This is the area in which I’ve found the most conflicting views. Basically, if you’re looking to maintain your current weight and are extremely active (as most F3ers are) then approximately 0.75-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight should be consumed daily (for example, if you weigh 160 pounds your target protein intake should be between 120 and 160 grams). If you’re looking to add significant bulk/muscle (a rarity among F3ers due to focus on Mud Runs, Spartan Races and general distance training) then approximately 1.0-1.5 grams of protein should be consumed daily (for example, if you weigh 160 pounds your target protein intake should be between 160-240 grams).
I realize these protein ranges are pretty wide but this is one area in which it really depends on how your body responds to protein. I weigh approximately 215 pounds and consume between 200 and 250 grams of protein a day, trying my best to have some carbs, protein and fat at every meal.
I tend to eat anywhere from 6-8 small to medium sized meals a day, with the majority of my carbs (and some minor starches) coming before 3:00 pm. One thing that I’ve found works really well is eating a healthy snack late in the evening. Many of us have been led to believe that eating late in the evening is unhealthy, but I’ve found that as long as I’m not eating sugar or starch and focus on protein I feel better in the morning (I’ll eat a particularly large snack around 8:00-9:00 pm if I know I’m going to have an especially tough workout in the am). Many body builders actually wake up once in the middle of the night to eat a meal to prevent muscle loss.
If you’ve consumed your last meal at 6:30 pm and don’t eat anything until waking up at 5:30 am, you’re body has gone 11 hours without fueling itself during a time when most of the muscle recovery actually occurs.
As painful as it sounds, try to wake up an extra 15-20 minutes early and have a healthy snack before your next F3 workout and I’d be willing to bet you have a better workout. My favorite sources of protein include fish, chicken, lean red meat, lean pork, egg whites and protein powder/bar supplements (let’s face it, it’s pretty hard to consume that much protein in one day without supplements).
Tomorrow: Fat and Dairy