A common misconception is that “skinny” people don’t eat. And, while I certainly don’t consider myself to be “skinny”—I like to think that I’m more “fit” than anything—I can tell you for a fact that I eat plenty. Food is a the most important part of my fitness lifestyle, and it would be difficult to make gains, or maintain my current level of fitness, if I didn’t pay attention to my plate.
That said, food for me is less about pleasure than it is about purpose; I know what does and doesn’t work for my regimen, so I take care to keep a careful balance between three elements where my diet is concerned: fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
Protein is key for me. I lift four (sometimes five) days a week, on average, so I’m constantly feeding my muscles for both reparative and growth purposes. I make sure I get at least my body weight in protein each day (the recommended intake is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight) so that my muscles continue to operate and recover at maximal level.
Carbs are also necessary. My training sessions have gone as long as two hours, depending on how I’m feeling that day, and I don’t like feeling wasted 45-minutes in, so I make sure to incorporate carbs in the right places (usually up to an hour before my workout) so I can sustain my effort and energy level for the duration of that day’s session.
Fats, much like carbs, are important to sustaining energy. However, you should take care to eat the right kinds of fat—pizza and cheeseburgers might look good to the eye, but they aren’t helping your waistline or your fitness goals—the good kinds, like the ones found in avocados, salmon, and nuts are the best sources for your body.
As one who leans more towards plant-based eating side, I have to be even more vigilant about my non-meat protein sources, so I keep string cheese, various types of beans, almond milk, tofu, soy crumbles, and seitan at the ready and my fresh veggie box stays stocked with items like tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, and carrots.
Balance and portion control is always the ideal approach.
That said, sometimes, if I’coming off a scheduled fast, I ditch the serving sizes and go all out on my plate. See the Vegan Nachos I made below…like I said, I am definitely not afraid to eat big!
The bottom line is this: you have to change your relationship with food if you want to change your body. Learn what works, fall in love with the science of it (if you can), and then use what you know to help you start to achieve your fitness goals–whatever they might be.