Nutrition On Ramp – The Lean You Challenge

At a lot of gyms there are programs called “On Ramp”, these programs gradually expose people just joining the gym to elements of their future training, that is what this nutrition program is meant to do.  So the basic idea of this challenge is simple, you will eat a diet high in good fats (mostly Omega 3’s), protein and clean carbs, you are also welcome to eat at a slight deficit if you choose but I would not recommend it, at least not for 10 days.  So here is your mission:

For 10 days you will eat foods from the anti-inflammatory list, I will explain the value of that in a bit.  Feel free to suggest foods (use comments) that might be regional and not on the list and I will try to add them.

Changing what you eat sucks, join the “Lean You” group on Facebook to help with support, not everyone is doing the challenge all the time but everyone is supportive, it’s also a private group so your posts will not show up on your regular news feed.

Here is that list:

Clean Eating Anti-Inflammatory List 

If you do not know if it is on the list or not here is are the simple questions you need to ask yourself, “is it a grain?” (it shouldn’t be), is it a bean (sorry peanut butter fans, peanuts are beans, beans have gut binding lectins and for this challenge they are a no go), is it dairy (I know this one sucks for a lot of people but once again it’s only 10 days).

You might be thinking of a few questions

So why the hell would I ever want to do this? 

It’s simple, not only will you be able to eat a much greater volume than you are doing now but you will lose weight even if you eat the exact same amount of calories not following the foods on this list.  How is that even possible? Currently if you are eating foods that inflame you that inflammation is simply fluids, your body is on a constant mission to get rid of extra fluids it does not need.  The only problem is that you keep putting more foods into your body that never completely allows it to heal properly.

Said another way it is possible that you will lose fat once your body is more capable of healing itself.  Besides the point of this exercise is not to lose fat, it is to expose you to the fact that your body is just more comfortable eating real foods.

But I workout, or I am on Weight Watchers (or really any other BS reason)? 

Because mixing up your protocol occasionally has metabolic benefits.  This style of eating is very good for you from a health perspective and will certainly help you gain muscle and possibly lose body fat.  (It’s only 10 days so don’t expect miracles, once you are comfortable you can gradually reduce calories if that is important to you)  If you are on Weight Watchers feel free to count points doing this.

But other programs are much longer, why only 10 days? 

If you look at a program like the “Whole 30” on the site it is meant as a means of self discovery and healing for things like gluten allergies and lactose intolerance.  Similarly Mark Sisson’s 21 day transformation is meant to get you into the lifestyle both of those sites suggest.  In the end they would rather you not eat bad foods ever again.  That is not the intent of what I am suggesting.  What I am suggesting is simply meant to clear your body of excess inflammation to allow you to lose weight and possibly expose you to a better way eat regularly while occasionally living life to it’s fullest.

I am not here to worry about this inflammation nonsense, I want to lose body fat?

The fact is simple, when you eat a diet high in inflammation foods your body fat and organs hold on to excess fluid.  This fluid then needs to get flushed out which does not allow the hormones like testosterone and HGH to do the job you want them to do, namely build muscle and burn body fat.  Instead those hormones have to deal with that inflammation.  So ultimately you are here to deal with inflammation you just did not know it.

Ok, I am in but I will need a cheat day.

Are we talking about cream in your coffee or Ben and Jerry’s? Because in my mind that is an important distinction.  Studies have show that inflexible dieting is less effective than diets that are forgiving.  I would much rather see someone keep a few things similar to the “cream in your coffee” example from a comfort standpoint while changing the majority of their habits.  If you want clarification email me or PM me on Facebook.  I will happily give you my opinion.  In the end it all comes down to what will keep you on the best path forward.

Can I drink alcohol?

It is probably best that you do not because drinking will often push you beyond your maintenance calories and compromise the value of what we are trying to accomplish in 10 days.  If you absolutely must have a drink try red wine or tequila.

Won’t I just add back the pounds once I add back in the bad foods?

Yes you will but now that you understand what you are actually doing to your body, retaining fluids and compromising your fat loss goals certainly this should help your path forward.  Said another way when you begin eating like a moron again you probably will not feel all that great and realize exactly how awesome you felt eating clean foods.

This sounds low carb to me, I heard that’s bad for you?

Vegetables and Fruits are carbs.

What about fiber?

Vegetables and Fruits have fiber.

All that meat seems bad for me?

Not only is it good for you assuming you are making the right choices (meaning sticking with meats high in Omega 3’s or eating lean cuts, chewed protein has a great absorption rate and will help build muscle.

Why are grains bad for me?

The simple answer is that grains inflame your body by requiring it to hold onto excessive fluid.  Also as a high glycemic index carbohydrate it spikes your insulin which is a storage hormone.  Since most grains are not very nutrient dense they tend to leave you hungry sooner because of that they carry a high caloric value you are open to storing fat.  To a lesser but not unimportant extent grains also carry with them “gut binding lectins”, rather than getting into a big tutorial about the health effects of lectins I would simply suggest you google the term.  But on just the basis of nutrient density and inflammation grains are not the best choice.  Additionally many people have Gluten allergies that they are not aware of and eating them sparingly or eliminating them altogether can make a big difference for a lot of people.

Why No Beans?

Gut binding lectins is the simple answer, if prepared properly they can be fine but for ten days they should be relatively easy to avoid.

Do I really have to give up Dairy?

You can really make a strong argument that Lactose (which is a sugar) is worse than refined sugar because of the negative effects it has on a lot of people.  Personally I am not lactose intolerant but if I drink too much milk I just do not feel good.  Also since it is a sugar and calorically dense you have similar issues to many of the things that make grains a poor dietary choice.  I eat dairy and drink dairy on occasion but for the purposes of this challenge and the goals we are trying to accomplish it needs to go.

What about Salt? Don’t most anti-inflammation diets say to avoid salt?

Salt or Sodium is interesting because while it technically will cause you to retain more fluids than normal it typically is dealt with quite easily by perspiration during workouts, drinking more water or simply reducing intake the following days.  I say be aware but not a huge issue, besides, you will likely need salt to flavor some of the awesome things you will be cooking.

Aren’t nuts easy to overeat?

Yes, they are also calorically dense so you need to proceed with caution when it comes to nuts and seeds.  Add them to salads and have them on occasion as a treat but don’t be that guy buried underneath a pile of pistachio shells wondering what the hell happened.  Similarly you should probably try to eat the nuts unsalted or lightly salted.  Here is a strategy for eating nuts, do not eat them when you are really hungry, here is an example of what I would do in this instance.  I would eat a spinach salad with a few veggies and a chicken breast and THEN have the nuts, that way you can have a decent portion but will not likely be tempted to overeat since you will be full.

When should I eat carbs?

Personally I like to have a bowl of strawberries, bananas, kiwi and raw cacao nibs as a dessert and as a general rule this is probably the best time to eat carbs, I realize this is contrary to what many have heard but my explanation should make sense.  Carbs, in this case fruits or fructose are relatively high in calories (if you compared them to say spinach).  Additionally fructose is a sugar and we are looking to avoid most sugars, so you want to eat fruits in moderation.  Knowing that they are not very nutrient dense and will likely leave you wanting more shortly I think it is completely logical to have them late in the evening before bed.  The science suggesting otherwise is related to insulin blunting your HGH response which deals with your inflammation, the only problem is that is only the case when you are awake.  When you are asleep your body naturally regulates your insulin to a point where your HGH response can be unimpeded.  So eat your fruity desserts in moderation and about an hour before bed would be my opinion.  I do it and I am pretty ripped.

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