Cheater Cheater Cookie Eater

I get a lot of questions about what I eat, and how I train.

I mean, pretty much any time I'm eating someone asks me about it. And I'm pretty much always eating. So, I thought I'd break it down into four really easy ways to understand. Since, one, it's a lot of information, two, it's all variable, and three, I know you all cannot wait to hear about it.

I am actively doing all four of these things - but when I say actively I mean that each day I work towards completing these goals. It is absolutely not the end of the world if I don't hit all my marks. And if I totally go off the rails and go to Ken's for taco salad and fries, then, go me. Because that's delicious, and not going to break down all the progress I've made.


1. Let's start at the top... the chief food goal I have every day is to hit my macros. This breaks down a little differently when I start talking about the smaller goals of my diet. But in the most basic sense - even on a Sunday, even on a cheat day, even when I have a migraine, my goal is to hit my macros.

In general I'm looking for 40/30/30. That's 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fats. Pretty simple. When I'm not in the final stages of pageant prep (so, anytime before February) that puts me at about 139g of carbs, 105g of protein, and 46g of fat. For reference, that's with a calorie budget of about 1400 (which is a lot of food, for me.)

Now, this is all based on tracking your macros, which you can only do by knowing what is in your food. Tracking macros is something I would only recommend to someone who is not at a great risk of disordered eating. Tracking macros is awesome, and it really helps you to understand what nutrients are in the things you are eating and how that balances out. But with any type of food tracking, constantly focusing on every morsel that passes through your mouth can be stressful and dangerous.

2. The next goal that I have for myself, almost contradicts the first one. Right now - as in not in the last few months, but in the last three weeks as I've attempted to push through a plateau in muscle growth - I'm looking to consume about 120-125g of protein. That's roughly a gram per pound of body weight. Bonus, you now basically know what I weigh, congrats, you have a one up on the Miss Vermont judges. 

First of all, for me, this is a lot of protein. This means I consciously think about where my protein is coming from in each meal. It doesn't dramatically effect my first step, because really I'm only upping my intake by about 20g. But, since I don't always hit 105g naturally, this is still conscious work.

This translates mostly to knowing what my favorite high-protein foods are. (Ground turkey, egg whites, PowerCrunch bars, oatmeal, PB2...) And then I work on incorporating those in through the day to pack the protein in, and make my baby muscles grow.

3. The third part of my process is where it gets complicated for a second: carb cycling. Go ahead and google that now if you think I'm off my rocker. But guys, this is working. Don't worry, it's not bagels on bicycles, but it is that cool.

Okay, let's break it down really quick. Carb cycling is the process of alternating the amount of carbohydrates you consume daily, in a pattern that allows your body to maintain muscle mass, while utilizing existing fat to up the ante on fat loss. Burn fat, don't lose muscle. Sounds like my kind of party. 

Better yet, the pattern is really simple. My baseline is 150g (based mostly on the fact that it is close to my ideal consumption, and on a typical day I would probably exceed by 10g anyways.) I decrease that 150g, by 50g for three days. This allows my body to get used to the idea of less carbs, burning through fat instead of the input of excess carbs. Then, following those three days, I increase my intake by 75g for two days. Shooting my carb intake back up, allowing my muscles to maintain mass because my body now gets the excess it thought it needed previously and hit a recovery point. So it looks like this:

Day 1: 150g
Day 2: 100g
Day 3: 50g
Day 4: 125g
Day 5: 200g

Let me just say, it sounds like more work than it is. The only difficulty I have is when I wake up on a day 3 craving an English muffin. But!

4. That brings me to the fourth and most important pillar of my "diet." Flexible dieting.

This is exactly what it sounds like, flexibility in the plan, in what I eat every day. Now, I can't say that I always go for the English muffin on a 50g day, because that kinda means that the rest of the day is boring (ground turkey, broccoli, egg whites, turkey sausage...delicious, but I prefer to take the 28g that come with a breakfast of English muffin with Jif, and put it in to other things through the day.) However, it does mean that what some people would consider a broken diet, or a cheat, is just part of my plan.

Today? I had Panera lemonade, and it was awesome. Now, I also had a 0g carb lunch, with 43g of protein. And I'm probably going to have egg whites and turkey sausage for dinner...after Platform. But, what I'm saying is the lemonade left me with no guilt. A handful of popcorn? Totally fine.

Because I can plan for it. I can adjust my day. If I know someone is going to bring in amazing homemade banana bread, I'm totally having some. And just adjusting my day so I can still meet my goals. It is that easy. You eat what you want, while staying on track, and focusing on your goals. You don't deprive yourself of your favorite foods making it difficult to near impossible to stay on track. You work a little harder to make them work for you. That easy.

Now, flexible dieting, carb cycling, high protein intake, and just counting your macros are all a lot of work. This takes conscious effort. It takes planning, and it takes intentional thought. This is not for everyone. This is not something you should be doing if you are not in prep. But, if you are in prep, or your looking to really redefine how you look at the foods that go in to your body, I highly recommend looking in to one of these steps.

That being said, none of this is worth anything if you aren't also working your tush off in the gym, and eating the things worth eating. Like anything else, putting in just 5% of the effort isn't going to yield 100% of the results. If you can put the effort in though? Yeah, the results are so worth it.

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