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How to Simplify Your Diet for Maximum Results

People often ask me how they can simplify their diets while maximizing their results. The bottom line is that you can only simplify your diet so much before it begins to have a negative impact. Simplifying a meal plan to be less time consuming is totally acceptable, but simplifying it so much that you are only eating the same 4 foods every day is detrimental for progress and your health. For most, the only real downfall of simplifying a diet is repetitiveness, the cost of which can be a lowered appetite, fewer enjoyed meals, and a reason to stray from the diet. Some people are either ok with this and can eat the same bland things multiple meals per day or they're financially able to spend more on food prep services or pre-made foods. For those who cannot or do not want to do that, how can we simplify things so that we aren’t cooking countless hours all day long but avoiding the repetitive diet trap? Here are some steps you can take to ease the burden of food preparation while making clean food more enjoyable.

Preparation Made Simple

Cook meats in bulk for only 3-4 days at a time. This way meats stay fresh and are more appetizing.
Do not pre make meals for the whole week in containers. This is very time consuming, creates a mess in the kitchen, and overstuffs your fridge. Meals just do not taste fresh after 2-3 days in containers. Instead, when you prepare food in bulk, store in large containers and assemble your meals the night before or the morning of. It is much easier to dedicate 10-15 minutes once per day than it is 2-3 hours once per week.
Use frozen veggies such as green beans, broccoli, and asparagus to cut down on time, cost, and spoilage. You can just add them right into your meals and they will thaw out overnight or you can thaw them out in the microwave before you assemble meals.

Meal Choices/Repetition

Repeat the same meal 2-3x per day and schedule those meals during the day or when you are the busiest. When you are busy it will be much easier to ignore the monotony of repeating meals. This will cut preparation time and cost.
Although being repetitive with proteins and starches is generally fine, it is extremely important to have a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet for micronutrients and to prevent deficiencies.
Use meal replacements powders such Animal Meal or whey shakes with cold water or almond milk. When you add a peanut butter and banana sandwich on the side, this is a fast, easy, and extremely portable meal.
Vary two meals per day—breakfast (first meal) and dinner (last meal). These are most likely the times that the meal will be made fresh to eat and at home where you can actually sit down and enjoy the meals distraction-free. You can change up these meals daily or even every few days to keep the diet more interesting and prevent boredom.
Save fish and red meat meals for dinner since they taste the best made fresh.

Flavor Enhancers

Infused olive oils—add after cooking to greatly enhance flavor and for a healthy dose of monounsaturated fat. Ariston’s is a good brand, but there are also a few others as well. They come in Lime, Lemon, Curry, Basil, Mediterranean, Pesto, Garlic, and Chipotle.
Low sodium Better Than Bouillon—use in rice cooker to hold moisture and add flavor to rice. Use 1 teaspoon per 2 cups of uncooked rice.
Coarse salt—you’ll be able to taste more while using less compared to refined table salt.
G Hughes Low Sugar BBQ sauce
Curry powder (chicken)
Cumin (red meat/ground)
Wholly Guacamole or Good Foods Avocado Mash (instead of avocado)—these packaged avocado products greatly cut down the likelihood of spoilage, are very convenient, and in some cases are cheaper depending on the current cost of avocados. Each cup is exactly 8-9g of fat and comes in regular and spicy. They’re super easy and flavorful.

Must-Have Kitchen Tools

Fast read thermometer—to cook chicken to internal temperature of 165 degree Fahrenheit and prevent drying. I cannot stress how important this purchase is if your chicken keeps coming out dry. I highly recommend Polder Safe Serve Instant Read Cooking Thermometer.
Rice cooker with a stainless steel pot—this is a must-buy if rice is a major staple in your diet. It doesn't have to be a fancy one; you can buy one for as low as $30.
Non-stick 10-12” fry pan (2”-3” inch deep) with lid—use to cook chicken, eggs, and veggies very quickly and efficiently. If you use moderate to low heat and hand wash only, that pan will perform flawlessly for a long time.

Chicken Dilemma

I think one of the biggest issues in the strength athlete’s diet is getting sick of eating chicken. For starters, stop baking whole breasts in the oven. Not only is it time consuming, but it's very easy to overcook and dry it out since pieces vary in size. Instead, grill it or use the stove top with a nonstick deep fry pan with a lid. If you are using breasts, always thinly slice them evenly or use chicken tenders (no cutting/trimming required). Use a fast-read thermometer and cook chicken to an internal temperature of 165F. The chicken will not be dry at all and will be safe to eat because Salmonella dies at 165F. Doing this will cut cooking time down and prevent the meat from drying out. It is all about efficiency without sacrificing taste and consistency of that food.

Rice

Rice is a staple in many diets due to its easy digestibility and low cost. If you eat a lot of rice, it makes sense to invest in a rice cooker. A rice cooker does not need to be watched and will cook rice perfectly every time. You simply add rice and water, and push the start button. You can go a step further and add low sodium Better Than Bouillon into the rice cooker to add flavor and retain moisture. This combination makes rice extremely flavorful, easy to prepare, and easy to get down. It is so easy you can prepare it fresh almost daily. In the time it takes you to eat your breakfast, a rice cooker will get a fresh batch of rice ready to be portioned out for the day. If you want an even faster and more convenient way of getting in good rice, try Trader Joe’s Organic Jasmine Rice. You will pay more, but you cannot beat 3 minutes of preparation time with rice that comes out great every time.

Flavor Enhancers + Fats

Stop using so many spices that contain dried garlic and onion. Some are fine, but seasoning everything with them will backfire. Over time, they not only get sickening but they are a major cause of gas and bloating which can lead to low appetite. Instead, pick up some infused olive oils as previously mentioned. This way you are adding a good healthy fat with enhanced taste. Add these after you assemble your meals the night before—this way you can change up the flavor on the fly and will not get sick of the 3lb batch of chicken that you had pre-marinated and have to finish up.

Sample Menu

Meal 1
2 whole eggs and egg whites in carton
2 pc any bread (15g carb per slice), or:
quick 1 min oatmeal measured dry, or
cream of rice measured dry, or
cream of wheat measured dry, or
Rice' n Grinds (flavored cream of rice) measured dry
Blueberries, or:
banana (with no skin), or
sliced apple, or
sliced strawberries
Natural peanut/almond butter, or:
cheddar cheese, or
avocado/guacamole

Meal (Meal Replacement Option)
Animal Whey
2 pc any bread (15g carb per slice), or:
quick 1 min oatmeal measured, or
2 Lundberg brown rice cakes
Blueberries, or:
banana (with no skin), or
sliced apple, or
sliced strawberries
Natural peanut/almond butter

Meal (Meal Replacement Option)
Animal Meal Vanilla
2 pc any bread (15g carb per slice), or:
quick 1 min oatmeal measured, or
2 Lundberg brown rice cakes
Blueberries, or:
banana (with no skin), or
sliced apple, or
sliced strawberries
Natural peanut/almond butter

Meal (Sandwich Option)
Chicken breast or tuna canned light in water drained
2 pc any bread (15g per slice)
Blueberries, or:
banana (with no skin), or
sliced apple, or
sliced strawberries
Cheddar cheese, or:
almonds, peanuts, or cashews (NOTE: flavored are fine), or
avocado, or
mayo

Meal 2 + 3 + 4
Chicken breast or cod, flounder or shrimp
Baked/sweet potato, or:
rice (brown or white), or
pasta (wheat, rice, or white), or
No Yolk Egg noodles
Green vegetables of your choice (no peas) or large salad with any added vegetables
Infused olive oil (any oil), or:
almonds, peanuts, or cashews (NOTE: flavored are fine) , or
avocado/guacamole

Meal 5
90-93% Lean ground beef/bison, or:
sirloin trimmed of all fat, or
salmon
Baked/sweet potato, or:
rice (brown or white), or
pasta (wheat, rice, or white), or
No Yolk Egg noodles
Green vegetables of your choice

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