By Coach Juan Rojas
If you grew up in the 80's or 90's, you may remember the low fat diets recommended by the majority of people.
At this point in recent history, obesity and disease were climbing at an alarming rate and we knew that something was to blame for it. So dietary fat instantly got the bad reputation of being guilty of this. Companies began a revolution to create all sorts of food low in fat. But in order to still keep certain consistencies and flavors, it was missing something... So these fats were replaced with other man made ingredients and sugars in order to be able to have a similar resemblance to their regular fat versions. Unfortunately, the obesity and health epidemic continued growing and is now at an all time high.This whole topic can have an article of its own though.
What my point from this is, that ever since this era, dietary fats have received a bad reputation and many people around the world think that avoiding them is the best option in order for them to have the best body composition and health. Now, not all fats are created equal. Man made fats like hydrogenated vegetable oils should always be avoided as these have a slew of negative consequences. But healthy fats such as avocadoes, nuts, seeds, olive oil, egg yolks, animal fats (from organic sources), and coconut oil should be staples in your diet. These fats contribute to many processes in the body such as decreasing inflammation, energy, heart health and hormone production.
Many do not know that it is possible to survive and be completely healthy by not eating any carbohydrates, but the same cannot be said if you eliminate fat from your diet. Many also think that eating fat makes you fat and that this is a reason dietary fat should be avoided. Calories from fat can be deposited as fat stores, but this can be said for any macronutrient when you ingest a high amount of calories over what your body requires.
Now, I am not necessarily saying you should have no carbohydrates. Everyone is different, has different goals and has a different tolerance to carbohydrates. But what I am saying, is that essential fats should be a priority for you to get in just like you worry about brushing your teeth every morning, taking a shower, or even checking your email.
So does this mean I have given you the green light to eat all the bacon and cookies you want? NO!
Although fats are very important to get in our diet, the amount should be tailored to your specific goals and needs. Too much dietary fat, even if healthy, can definitely put you in an excessive surplus of calories causing you to gain unwanted weight. Since fats are so calories dense (9 calories per gram as opposed to only 4 calories found in every gram of protein and carbohydrate) it is important to measure it out and have them in moderation. It is very easy to fit 4 tbsp. of almond butter in one teaspoon and to have 600 calories worth of cashews in just a handful.
As much as fats have been demonized the last 20 years, they are actually very important to keep in our diet. Many people feel and look much better when they experiment with adding fats and lowering carbohydrates in their diet as well. I find with a lot of my clients that they overeat carbohydrates and will under eat healthy fats before they seek help from a coach.
Once they are eating the proper ratio of nutrients, many of them report more sustained energy and better focus throughout the day as fat helps control your insulin levels. Carbohydrates often make individuals feel groggy and sleepy as well, which is not optimal if you are looking to maximize your performance and mental acuity. Those who live a sedentary lifestyle, oftentimes end up not using the carbohydrates they eat for energy and end up desensitizing their insulin while storing excess carbohydrates as fat. Make sure to adjust your fats to tailor your specific goals and lifestyle so you can reach the physique you have always dreamed about!
By Coach Juan Rojas
In a perfect world, all your meals would be of the highest quality foods and cooked right before you want to eat them by your private chef. In this same universe, you spend all your time thinking about unicorns and rainbows and not about reality. As much as I recommend that all my clients and all of you out there meal prep and always have high quality meals ready to eat, even when on the road; the reality of things is that life does not work that way.
Many of us have responsibilities like spouses, kids, a career, family etc. What happens when that project at work needs to be completed and you HAVE to stay there for a few extra hours? What happens when you are caught in traffic for hours and need to get a meal in you? Or even what happens when you drop your food everywhere and have no more meals? (Unfortunately, I have experienced this).
Many get stressed at the fact that they cannot have their meal and have a "screw it" moment. They will go for the easiest most convenient thing and since they are hungry, their sense of judgement is a little bit loose and they will opt for something that does not help them reach their goals. Well, even though life can throw curveballs at you, you can still make smart food choices while out on the street that will allow for convenience and for you to reach your goals.
Now, I am not recommending you create eating at fast food restaurants a daily habit, or even weekly. Specially if you are a competitor or high level athlete, you need to be very meticulous about having ALL your meals on you in case of emergency. But if you are just looking to get into better overall shape, this can be quite helpful. We all know that the quality of food and how it is processed does affect our health and absorption of nutrients. But if once in a while you go for one of these options, you will still stay on track while being able to eat on the fly. Sticking to these lower calorie options will help you still reach your fat loss goals while keeping a higher protein count to help your muscle growth. These are five food options under 500 calories you can get at popular fast food chains:
1. Pita Pit's Chicken Breast Pita- Many fast food places will have fresh chicken breast and it is quite lean. Whereas if you opt for their beef options, they are very low quality meats and often heavily processed. If you are going for a pita you can go light on the cheese and focus on the unlimited vegetables you have as an option. As for sauce, go for some low calories sauces like hot sauce or vinaigrettes. Something like this is about 500 calories 16-20 grams of fat, 50-60 grams of carbs and 20-25 grams of protein. You can always lower the fat content by taking out the cheese or increase the protein by getting double meat.
2. Tim Horton's Chicken Fajita Grilled Wrap- Same situation as before, chicken is usually a better option to pick at fast food places. Although it does not have as many vegetables as you would want, you can get a whole grain wrap and still get only about 430 calories in this meal. Something like this is about 19 grams of fat, 38 grams of carbs and 28 grams of protein. You can always lower the fat by taking out the cheese or increase the protein by getting double meat.
3.McDonald's Tomato and Mozzarella with Grilled Chicken- This option is great because you can really customize what is on it. If you want less carbs you can have only half the bun. If you want less fat take the cheese off, if you want more protein you can add another piece of chicken etc. Although it is going to be white bread, it is better than not having a meal at all or having a big mac with large fries. Something like this is about 500 calories 22 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbs and 36 grams of protein. Beats having a double big mac which has 700 calories with 40 grams of fat, 40 grams of protein and 46 grams of carbs. Not to mention very low quality beef.
4. Wendy's Berry Burst Chicken Salad- What I love about this option is that you are not getting your carbs from a grain source but instead from some fruit. Fruit will have a good amount of fiber and antioxidants to help you with health and energy. Something like this is about 500 calories 19 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbs and 40 grams of protein. You can always lower the fat by taking out the cheese or pecans, lower the carbs by taking out some of the dressing or increase the protein by getting double meat.
5. Taco Bell's Chicken Quesadilla- This option is probably the only option at taco bell I would ever recommend. Although it can be a little bit higher in fat due to the cheese and sauce, if you are looking for a somewhat okay option at Taco Bell this will be your best bet. A quesadilla has about 28 grams of fat, 38 grams of carbs and 27 grams of protein. If you want to lower the fat content you can always ask for it with no sauce and it will dramatically lower this.
Just because you are caught eating out due to life being "life", this does not mean you have to get off your meal plan. There is really no excuse for you to ever be off from making smart food choices with all the choices we have in 2018 as consumers. Although you want to always aim to get the best quality, homemade foods, consistency is the name of the game and eating out once in a while will not affect your long term progress!
If you need help with your nutrition or accountability make sure to apply to our coaching program. I would love to help you reach your fitness goals through proper guidance on nutrition and supplementation. This is the best possible investment that you can make in your health, happiness and success!
With the pursuit of achieving the best possible physique and helping hundreds of clients do the same, Juan Rojas has dedicated his life to finding the best strategies for transforming human bodies. Constant research, trial and error and continous education in the exercise physiology and nutrition field, Juan Rojas thrives off finding the most efficient ways to transform your body and live a happier and healthier lifestyle.