T Nation

Requesting a Diet Analysis

Hello, hope you’re all doing well.

So I’ve developed an all-organic diet in preparation for when I hit the gym two months from now (till then, I’ll be doing body-weight exercises) in an effort to gain some muscle (weighed in at 157 lbs this morning).

I don’t want to waste my time at the gym so I know diet is essential. Thing is, I also work in construction and I spend about 4000 calories doing that. I have massive fatigue from this work and want a diet that will both give me the energy I need to work and work out, and the energy required to build muscle and to recover.

Basically, I don’t want to be drained all the time and want to amp up my endurance/stamina while building muscle.

Please take a look and let me know if I’m on the right track:

Breakfast (about 5-6am):

1 Cup Long Grain Brown Rice with splash of Olive Oil
1 tsp Freeze-dried Acai Berry
1 tsp Maca Root Powder
2tsp Goji Berry Powder
1 Scoop Plant-Based Protein (Pea, Artichoke, Quinoa)

*** NOTE: I’m looking for a suitable protein powder that is both organic/clean and inexpensive. I’ve searched around and found a brand called “Only Protein” but am unsure if I should commit to buying. If you can suggest some others I would appreciate it.

2oz Almonds
1 Cup Matcha Tea

Total Meal Value:

834 Cals

45.0 Fat

58.0 Carbs

56.1 Prot.

Snack (around 10 am):

1 Cup Long Grain Brown Rice with splash of Olive Oil
2 Eggs (in Rice)
2oz Almonds
1 Pear
1 Apple
1 Banana

Total Meal Value:

1,111 Cals.

58.4 Fat

128.5 Carbs

31.8 Prot.

Lunch (Around 1pm):

1 Cup Brown Rice
and
1 Cup Lentils splashed with Olive Oil
2 Eggs (In Brown Rice and Lentils)
1 Carrot
10 Spinach leaves
3 Celery
1 Kiwi
1 Apple
1 Pear

Total Meal Value:

1,027 Cals.

31.4 Fat

155.6 Carbs

41.7 Prot.

After Work/ Dinner (Around 5:30pm)

Half Salmon Tail (About 2oz)
2 Eggs
1 Cup Long Grain Brown Rice with splash of Olive Oil
2oz Almonds
1 Celery stick
2 Kale leaves

Total Meal Value:

891 Cals.

58.2 Fat

67.1 Carbs

32.6 Prot.

Before Bed (About 8:30)

1/2 Cup Brown Rice
with
1/2 Cup Lentils with splash of Olive Oil
and
1 Cup Ground Beef
2oz Almonds
1 Banana

Total Meal Value:

1,209 Cals.

60.4 Fat

122.9 Carbs

56.3 Prot.


TOTAL DAILY VALUES:

5,072 Cals.

253.4 Fat

532.1 Carbs

218.5 Prot.

Here are a few problems. You are getting about 55-60 grams of animal protein from eggs, fish and beef and over 160 grams of plant protein. No matter what, plant protein even in combination is not as useful for protein synthesis as animal protein, and it DOES signal your body to produce more enzymes to oxidize protein for fuel.

I believe that it is better to choose the LOW protein vegetables, and add animal protein which gives you more total protein efficiency before your body starts to increase amino acid oxidation. I’d like to see at least 80 grams of animal protein, if not half of your protein from animal sources.

I suppose your carbs are OK for your level of work, but if you are burning 2000 extra cals at work in 4 hours or so, that’s huge. You need carbs during work at that level.

You are getting 8 oz of almonds a day. That alone is about 25-30 grams of Omega-6 fatty acids a day. 5-10 is perfect. 10-20 is marginally acceptible if you are getting enough Omega-3s. At 5-10 grams of Omega 6 you should get 2-4 grams of Omega-3. At 10-20 you should get about 4-6. You are getting about 1-2 gram of Omega-3s and 30+ grams of omega-6s which is bad. You should double the fish, or add Flameout, AND stay at 1-2 oz of almonds a day. Instead, use macadamia, or avocados which have less than 20% as much Omega-6s for the same number of calories.

I would only eat lentils occasionally, and white rice is less allergenic than brown rice, but not everybody reacts the same way.

Oh you probably have slightly too much fructose before work, like 50 grams a day by my count. Fructose is OK in the middle of work though, so I’d save a banana, or have some dried apricots at work, but stick cut 2-3 pieces of fruit from the other meals. Banana is actually better than apple or kiwi or pear for fructose, getting about 35% of its sugar from fructose (after breakdown) versus 50% for the other fruits.

I agree with mert about the proteins. You are getting a lot of incomplete proteins from plants. Although you have complimentary proteins(rice & lentils), it would be more beneficial to substitute for a lean meat.

So what can I do?

I’m currently thinking:

  • Add more beef and Salmon (which will lower calories). But, to make up for the calories, can I keep my rice and lentils? If not, suggestions?

  • What are low protein vegetables? Which ones are nutritionally packed? (Most bang for buck so to speak)

White rice is unacceptable to me (unless you can give me a better reason than “less allergenic” to eat it). As a matter of fact, while I’m listing the “off limits”:

  • Wheat
  • Dairy
  • (Obviously) anything processed, shot full of hormones, sugar-filled etc.

Also, “mertdawg” said: "I suppose your carbs are OK for your level of work, but if you are burning 2000 extra cals at work in 4 hours or so, that’s huge. You need carbs during work at that level. "

/\ Can you explain what you mean? Should I be getting more then or is my current level acceptable?

  • I’m also concerned about the vitamins and minerals I will likely need to sustain a high-demand lifestyle.

  • Why are Omega-6’s bad? What do they do?

  • Why the concern for “allergenic” brown rice? I have had no reaction, so what’s the deal? Why mention it?

As for the fructose concerns:

You don’t think it’s necessary for my level of work? Why do you oppose the fructose?

Thanks for the help.

You carbs are acceptable but you don’t need that many carbs in the 3 carb meals spaced out 7 hours before work, then you get no carbs for 4 1/2 hours while you are burning 500 extra cals an hour? You are burning half of your daily calories at work, you should be eating most of your daily carbs during or right before or right after work. When work output is lower you function on almost no carbs. If you burn 2000 cals at work you should move almost all of your carbs to the meal before work, during work, and right after to rebuild glycogen.

Omega-6s are oxidizing agents, and likely primary cause of cancer and heart disease. In fact the original studies found that when feeding 3 groups, one extra saturated fat, one extra low omega-6 (olive oil) and one high omega-6 oil, the high Omega-6 oil group had the highest mortality, then the olive oil, and lastly the saturated animal fat group. The heart attack rates were similar, but the W-6 group started dying of other things. I will try to find references on W-6s and Fructose but along with wheat they are probably the worst foods.

White rice is unbleached but has less of the grain fibers that can be toxic in the gut. It has a similar effect to wheat on many people, as does lentils, but if you know wheat is bad and you don’t get the same issues from brown rice then don’t worry about it.

You also should not eat the same greens all the time as you eventually build up alkaloids. You should rotate them.

And while apples are good, and bananas too, you HAVE to have berries in your diet for key plant anti-oxidants, or take superfood.

The first 2 supplements I would get are Flameout (4 capsules a day) and superfood (just 1-2 scoops a day) and the third would be protein, but its hard to find something without some artificial sweetener, so if you can afford beef, get it. I’ll try to respond to a little more later.

And just so you understand, you asked for advice, but now you kind of want me to summarize about 6-7 books I have read regarding omega-6s and fructose. There is an optimal range for both of them and you are 2-4 times the top end of that range where they lead to diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

http://chriskresser.com/how-too-much-omega-6-and-not-enough-omega-3-is-making-us-sick

Fructose starts to show effects like higher bad cholesterol at about 25 grams per day. This includes fructose as 1/2 of the sucrose dimer. Using basically grams of fructose plus 1/2 grams of sucrose, fruit is about 1/3 to 1/2 fructose. Banana’s only get about 1/3 of their carb calories from fructose, or about 8 grams. Most other fruits and sugary plants get about half.

This means that you can get 200-300 calories from fruit and sugary plants a day before reaching the 25 gram level. Also, as I mentioned, if liver glycogen is depleted, then fructose is OK as it has a use (to refill liver glycogen). Post workout drinks rightly derive a fraction of their sugar from fructose.

Just to clarify: my work takes 4,000 calories on it’s own, my regular maintenance is something like 2,000 (6’1", 157lbs. Ectomorph?). On this, I figure 6,000 for daily maintenance, is this right? How do you calculate the figures?

Either way, I’m always exhausted after work, and I figure it’s because I’m not eating enough. The reason I continue to eat carbs after work and before bed is I want my body to have something to work with while I sleep and to recover itself from the work I’ve done.
Is that not a good idea?

I appreciate the explanation. So, obviously, I need to change things a bit.

I would rather skip all things potentially harmful if I can, but this leaves me (with my limited knowledge) with little to nothing I can eat.

Suggestions for good foods that can form a solid, healthy, nutritionally-packed and reliable (I’d rather not have to alternate anything) diet then? I can figure out the quantities on my own, just let me know what are some good foods to work with.

I plan to increase beef for sure. I can get free-range beef where I’m at. What about things for vitamins and minerals?

I appreciate the help.

So do you eat lunch at work now? How many hours is the work day? 4000 calories of extra work a day is huge. Runners who exceeded 2000 cals burned a day running (average for 6 months) were found to die from illness at a higher rate than totally sedendary individuals. They did have issues with the high oxygen demand in a fairly short period, and also a buildup of inflammation from impacts. I think Arnold estimated that he burned about 2000 cals a day working out 6 days a week.

I loaded and unloaded trucks for 5-6 hours a night with a few short breaks and I could not gain muscle on a weight training program with that workload. I think I probably burned 900-1200 cals in 5-6 hours extra.

Anyway, here is a list of good foods, but keep in mind that there is a range for all of these:

Organic potatoes and Yams
Rice
200-300 cals from fruit, plus 100-200 more if it is fueling your work directly
Coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut milk
Red palm oil
Macadamia
Avocado
Olive oil
Organic butter
about 2 oz of other nuts
beef/lamb/bison
most fish and shellfish
Some chicken
calf liver (1/4 to 1/2 pound a week)
pretty much all fibrous vegetables

If you need cals, try mashed potatoes with red palm oil or butter, or try adding coconut butter to your rice. Coconut oil is medium chain triglycerides so it gives you energy similarly to carbs.

There is nothing wrong with brown rice and almonds, but you should mix things up a little. Potatoes instead of brown rice. Macadamia and avocado instead of almonds.

Also you can fry potatoes in coconut oil and they are a pretty good source of clean energy.

Some things you mention sound off. I’ll list what I know:

  • I have been eating the diet in my first post for 1 whole week (Since Feb 19th, actually). The times are accurate for my eating which take place on two breaks: One at 10am, one at 1pm during the work day (Mon-Fri).

  • The 4,000 calories figure I got is actually less. I just used the nutrition calculator I use on the website “FitDay”; I work from 8am till 5:30pm. That’s 9 hours with 1.25 hours subtracted for breaks = 7.75 for a total of 3,259 calories burned in that time. My lifestyle figure is 945 calories for 8.25 hours of “free time”, with 505 calories burned during 8 hours of sleep, for a total daily value of 4,709.

  • My work is not particularly “breathtaking”, it’s just strenuous, and requires energy. Best I can describe it is I lift and move a lot of heavy stuff, on average maybe 60lbs every 15 mins or so, while walking all day. It depends on the day of course.

  • Unless you can offer a way to “counter” the increased likelihood of death, I have no idea why you’d mention it. But my boss is almost 70, and he’s still working. Not as much now, but two years ago he worked much harder than anyone I had ever seen. So yeah, I don’t think the work would be a problem if I could square away a diet.

  • I have gained weight since starting training two years ago. I only work out for about 5 months (during the summer, as our winters are brutal and I don’t like going out if I can help it) for 3 days a week, and went from 145lbs to 160lbs but, as I mentioned, my most recent weight is 157lbs. I intend to start my third “cycle” in March or April, weather permitting.

  • I’m an Ectomorph (I believe), thus, if you’re not taking that into consideration, it might change things.

Now, what do you mean by “range” for the foods you mentioned? I also didn’t see any pork on there, why’s that? I’m merely thinking flavor here. It’s hard to make fast, tasty meals the healthier you get. Also, can I ask you your current fitness level/stats?

Finally, are all the foods you mentioned good sources of vitamins/minerals/nutrients, or will I need to take a supplement? I’m against most supplements simply because I’ve heard they don’t absorb that well (like vitamins), or they often have sugar or chemicals.

Thanks a bunch.

Pork is fine, and chicken but they have a little worse fat profile than Beef.

The total calories burned in a day is not so important. I thought you were eating meal 3 at 1:00 and then going to work for 4 1.2 hours which would have put you at a much higher level above basline. If you are burning around 450 an hour at work for 8 hours it is different than a runner burning 2000 cals in 90 minutes.

I have lifted weights for 20 years. I am 5-8 and got up to 237 pounds at 28% bodyfat. I cut high omega-3 oils, wheat, and added sugar and also added the healthy fats I mentioned and I went to 195 at 13-14% in about 8 months without trying to cut calories or change my exercise. I pretty much lift heavy. I’ve totalled 1255 in the 3 powerlifts raw. Not a big deal. I’m 43.

Epic, yo. I like your weight too. I myself want to get to about 190-200lbs with 8-10% BF.

Are you an Ectomorph then? I’m reading a lot of stuff that says I need to train and eat differently because of my body-type, specifically they recommend compound workouts, but I like my workout I’ve been using which is all isolation. That and I hate dead-lifts or bar bell stuff of any kind >>

Anyhow, knowing what you do now, what would you suggest? I’m thinking maybe my meals can be less because I’m not burning as much in high-intensity or am I wrong?

What did you mean when you said “total calories burned in a day is not so important”?

Finally, what do you recommend for maximum nutrition absorption? Veggies with every meal? A bucket of spinach? Lol, any guidelines I can follow to make sure I’m supplying myself with what I need?

Thanks again.

by total calories in a day, I meant that a runner is burning 2000 cals in 90 minutes. You may be burning 2000 cals in 8 hours. He is at a much higher level during that period that doing it every day creates a higher level of stress above baseline so its more likely to lead to a supressed immune system for the runner.

I am pretty endomorphic but meso-endomorphic as I have a lot of muscle in the thighs and back naturally. Actually I think that ectomorphs sometimes need more isolation work because their arms and legs are longer and so the compound lifts might not build all the muscles in a balanced way. Plus isolation exercises can stress a muscle without using a ton of calories by the whole body as stabilizers. I have a build which lets me hit my chest and tris about equally with the bench press, and all my leg muscles with the squat. One of my brothers is ectomorphic (80 pounds when he started high school), and he doesn’t get full development from the compound exercises. That may be more an issue of body structure though.

More tomorrow.

Interesting. Where’s your brother at now in size?

He’s 6-1 and around 175, but he was a competitive in traditional japanese Karate. My other brother is 6-4 and was about 285 in college and walked on the CU football team but had too many injuries to pass the physical (torn achilles and patellar tendons).

Bummer. Still, sounds like he was in good shape.

And they both did isolation?

Anyhow, I appreciate the help. I’ll be developing my diet tomorrow based on your list so, any last remarks about diet or am I good to go?

Thanks again.

My bigger brother used a combination. He was tall but had a pretty good structure for compound lifts. I think that compound versus isolation is more a matter of bone structure than “germ layer” body type. And compound lifts for partial range of motion work well for most structures-train in the bottom half, then in the top half etc.

Hmm, would you say that compound is better than isolation in any way or in some cases, or does it matter? I’d like to know what I should lean towards.