(1) Always have a plan
(2) Avoid the center aisle as much as possible in favor of the perimeters, where the freshest foods are found.
Doing these two things will vastly improve your experience at the store and in the kitchen.
Basics: Produce is where you will find variety, vitamins and micronutrients. Protein and healthy fats will keep you full and balance out your carbohydrate intake. Look for more natural products without a long list of ingredients. For the ELITE diet plan, It is also recommended to avoid soy products, which contain phytoestrogens that mimic the body’s natural estrogen hormones and can cause hormonal imbalances.
Your first stop should be the produce section. The main thing to look for here is variety and the focus should be on vegetables (with fruit in moderation). Look for a variety of colors and different types of vegetables. For example, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower, leafy greens such as spinach and kale, and root vegetables such as sweet potatoes/yams (in moderation). For fruits, go for low sugar fruits such as berries and apples. If possible try to get produce from your local farmer’s market. This produce will be the freshest and will likely contain much less pesticides and chemicals. When deciding whether or not to buy organic, referencethe “dirty dozen list” (Search the Championship site for "dirty dozen" or organic to find an earlier post) to see which produce contains higher chemicals and pesticides. For example, produce with thin skins typically contain more harmful chemicals, and therefore it is recommended to go organic if possible. With that being said, conventional produce is still good, so do not avoid if organic is not in the budget. In addition, frozen produce is also good and quite convenient because it is already chopped and washed. The key is variety!
The next stop is protein. Grassfed beef and pasture raised (or cage free/organic) poultry is your best choice for nutrient density. If that is not in the budget, no worries – go for lean meats (i.e. chicken, turkey, lean cuts of beef, bison, etc.). In addition, look for bison and lamb, which are generally raised more naturally due to less mass production. Wild caught fish and shell fish are best due to higher omega-3 content than farm-raised. If you are unable to get fresh, pasture-raised eggs then go for omega-3 enriched eggs. While dairy is off limits for ELITE, the PRO level does allow for dairy in moderation. Always try to avoid fat free dairy because it has been stripped of the important vitamins and minerals that aid in absorption and digestion. In addition, conventional dairy is not recommended (grassfed is the best).
When it comes to the middle aisles, your number one priority should be healthy fats such as coconut oil, ghee, and extra virgin olive oil. Below is a list of some other pantry staples:
Coconut oil, sea salt, herbs and spices, onions and garlic, lemons, coconut milk, canned tomatoes/tomato sauce, pumpkin, canned salmon/tuna, nut butter, nuts, seeds, coconut and dried fruit.
Pick a day each week to invest in some food prepping. It will make your life so much easier! Some examples include cooking large batches of protein to have ready for salad, stir-frys or just to eat on their own or with meals. Other ideas includebaking sweet potatoes, chopping produce and boiling eggs or making egg muffins. The key is to ALWAYS make more than one serving to reduce time in the kitchen.
Now that you have your food purchased and prepped, focus on filling half your plate with veggies and the rest with protein and healthy fats. Add in additional carbohydrates as needed, especially after a workout (i.e. starchy veggies like sweet potatoes – in moderation - or fruit).
In additions to shopping and planning, tracking your diet with food journaling is highly recommended. There are apps for this such as Myfitnesspal or fitday.com. This will help you figure out what macronutrient combinations work best for you and what needs to be tweaked.
Like this article? We invite you to register for the Championship Challenge where you will learn how to implement changes to your health and performance including: sleep, hydration, diet, fitness, and mindset. You won't just learn how to do it, you will practice it, be held accountable, and be rewarded for your efforts.
About the Author:Jeremy Mullins is an author, nutritionist, and nationwide nutrition speaker with over 12 years of experience specializing in weight loss and teaching others how to eat well. Jeremy and his co-author Tiffany Lockhart, MS RD are always asked "What should I eat?" This is theiranswer. The eBook includes 30 days of nutritionally analyzed Paleo meal plans, complete with recipes, weekly shopping lists, food prep instructions and more.
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