If I had to list the most valuable piece of information I’ve learned from the No Meat Athlete, it’s the beauty of formulas… especially when it comes to simplifying health!
When your body has received enough food to A) trigger the stretch receptors and B) trigger the nutrient receptors, hunger disappears. You can see how measuring calories and points could be useless if we’re eating 100 calories of Oreos (that’s about 2.5 cookies). Since you won’t stretch your stomach enough nor is there enough nutrient content to trigger a signal to your brain, you can easily eat your daily caloric intake in one sitting. (I don’t care if they’re vegan, we know they’re not healthy!) Let me put it into perspective for you:
100 calories of oil (2 tsp) vs 100 calories of meat (2 ounces) vs 100 calories of vegetables (2 cups) look a lot different when you’re measuring quantity and quality.
For optimal health, we want nutrient-dense foods that have a lot of bulk. Here’s a simple formula for you to accomplish that, which equals about 1700 calories:
- 4-6 cups of greens, cruciferous veggies per day,
- 4-6 cups of cooked vegetables (steamed or as 1-2 cups of soup)
- 1 cup of beans/soy (add to your soups—healthy clear broths fill you up),
- 1-2 cups of whole grains/starchy vegetables,
- lots of fruits, and
- an ounce of nuts or seeds (the equivalent to ¼ cup).
- 8-10 cups of water, to help keep all that fibre moving along!
Notice I didn’t mention oils. While I am not opposed to a little olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, or ghee here and there (the latter two are great for the microbiome), 1 tsp per day is more than enough. If you have higher fat fruits like coconut, olives, or avocado during the day or you ingest nuts and seeds regularly, that added daily teaspoon of oil can sneak in extra fat quickly.
Break the above macronutrients up into 3 meals, and your meal plan formula is easy to calculate (add more raw or cooked veggies as needed to make you feel full). If you can handle more grains and starchy vegetables without gaining weight, add a little more of those. Here’s a quick chart I created, which gives you 20 of the 40gms of fiber recommended daily.
How to Apply the Above Plate to Each Meal
(Or in case you have square plates!)
|Whole Grains/Starchy Veg||.5 cup||2|
|Non-Starchy Vegetables||2 cups||8 (lettuce would be 4)|
|Beans/Soy||.5 cup||7 (soy=1gm approx.)|
|Fruits (not as juice)||¼ cup or 1 medium piece||3|
|Fats (avocado, nuts)||¼ cup||Negligible|
|TOTAL||3.5 cups of food||20 grams|
Maybe like me, you fast sometimes. Maybe like most people, you don’t eat vegetables for breakfast, nor do you eat fruits for lunch or dinner. Just adjust as needed! For instance, have 1 cup of oats for breakfast with a piece of fruit, skipping the starch for lunch and/or dinner.
When we talk about vegetables, we’re looking for the highest nutrient content per serving. In order of nutrient-density and therefore our order of focus for meal planning, have:
- Dark, leafy greens,
- All other green vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, green beans, peas, etc.),
- Mushrooms, beets, bell peppers, onions, garlic, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, sprouts, tomatoes, artichokes,
- Fruits (especially berries),
- Raw nuts and seeds,
- Colourful starchy vegetables,
- Whole grains and potatoes
To make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck in your produce:
- Avoid wilted produce. Avoid storing veggies longer than a week or opt for frozen instead
- Keep the skin on unless it’s a Dirty Dozen food. Always trim off waxed coating, though
- Don’t cook foods by letting them swim in water unless you drink the broth or save it
- Avoid BBQ’d or fried foods in oil. BBQ’d foods are a carcinogen, whether you’re merely breathing the air or eating the food. Frying changes the molecular structure of foods
- Don’t refrigerate leftovers for more than a day if possible and store in air-tight containers to preserve freshness and exposure to air
- Avoid warming foods for over 30 minutes before serving, as heat decreases the number of antioxidants in your food
Print this out and put it on your fridge, so you never have to think about it ever again!