Though this plan puts a huge emphasis on the amount of calories you eat each day, part of Luke’s success can be attributed to the types of food he was eating. Though staying within your allotted calorie allowance and eating junk food will still result in weight loss, eating healthy foods can make your weight loss come easier. The chow halls in Iraq provided a wide variety of foods, some healthy and others not. Here are some general rules Luke had to follow when making healthy food decisions:
Lean Meats. The chow hall offered lots of meat. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken breast, salmon and tuna were available everyday. Luke stuck with lean meats (meats that are low in fat) such as chicken breast, salmon and turkey burgers. Meats such as beef and pork are high in saturated fat (the unhealthy fat) raising the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Complex Carbs. You need carbohydrates to function properly. Going on a low carb diet will result in weight loss because you are cutting calories out of your diet. Carbs don’t make you fat, inactivity and eating too much do. For carbs, Luke stuck with complex carbs. Unlike simple carbs, complex carbs are digested very slowly. They keep you full for a long period of time which keeps you from overeating. Simple carbs get digested quickly and leave you hungry and unsatisfied. This will increase your calorie intake throughout the day. Foods high in complex carbs include brown rice, pasta, 100% whole wheat bread, beans and vegetables. Simple carbs should be limited to before, during and after a workout.
No Desserts. Desserts are loaded with empty calories: they are high in energy and low in nutrients. Lemon cake, apple pie, ice cream and cookies, while all very tasty, were off limits to Luke.
No Liquid Calories. Liquid calories such as sodas, fruit juices and energy drinks are simple carbs on steroids. They get digested quickly because they’re liquid and loaded with sugar (simple carbs). Your body can digest liquids a lot faster than whole foods. Liquid calories will do very little to fill you up while loading you up with calories.
Fruits + Veggies. Going on a calorie restricted diet typically reduces your intake of vitamins and minerals. Luke ate a wide variety of fruits and vegetables at every meal.
Snacks. Snacking is an important part of losing weight. Instead of eating a few large meals, eat smaller, more frequent meals and include snacks to avoid hunger. Eating large meals will lead to cravings which results in binging on junk food. Small snacks can help you avoid hunger long enough to get to your next meal. Good examples of snacks are fruits, nuts, seeds and sandwiches. Luke had two healthy snacks per day, one before lunch and another before dinner.
Breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Skipping breakfast in hopes of saving calories will lead you to eat more throughout the day. You don’t have to eat something big, but you need to eat something. Since breakfast was served too early in Iraq, and because we went to the gym first thing after waking up, our “breakfast” was a pre workout Gatorade and a post workout protein shake.
If you have a problem, there’s a supplement claiming it can help. Unfortunately, companies exaggerate or simply lie to boost sales. There are many supplements that are more marketing hype than actual results but there’s a select few that can help you reach your goals. Luke didn’t waste his money on fat burning pills or abs in a bottle. He only used supplements that were proven.
Protein. Protein was Luke’s most important supplement. Protein is used to rebuild and repair muscle damage after a workout. You can think of protein as the raw material your body uses to make your muscles stronger. Luke used two types of protein in his shakes; whey and casein. Whey protein is digested very quickly giving your body access to nutrients right away. This helps start the recovery process quickly. Casein protein is digested a lot slower than whey and gives your body the nutrients it needs for recovery hours after the whey protein has been used up. Since the recovery process continues 24-48 hours after an intense workout, mixing whey and casein in a post workout shake works best. Luke’s post workout shake consisted of a 50% whey and 50% casein mixed in 16oz of chocolate milk.
Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). All proteins are made up of different amino acids. There are three amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) that have special properties to help you build and retain muscle mass, especially when losing weight. Your body is constantly either building/repairing tissue or breaking tissue down. An anabolic state is when your body is building or repairing tissue while a catabolic state is when your body is breaking tissue down. When you’re losing weight and cutting calories, your body will be breaking tissue down (including muscle) to provide for the energy shortfall that your calorie deficit created. BCAAs help this process because they can keep the body from breaking down muscle tissue to use for energy. Luke used BCAAs before, during and after working out which helped him preserve muscle mass and strength.
Gatorade. Gatorade or any sports drink is a great preworkout or intra workout aid. It contains enough sugar and electrolytes to help power you through your workout. Luke used Gatorade (mixed with BCAAs and a preworkout supplement) before going to the gym and as an intra workout supplement while at the gym. Since he worked out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, the Gatorade gave his body sugar that it was able to quickly utilize.
Table of Contents
Part 2: Nutrition/Supplements