Before I even explain why I’m dieting, we need to talk semantics here. What does “diet” even mean? A lot of people use that word as a verb to mean they are trying to lose weight. I like to view it more as a noun: my “diet” is how I eat to take care of myself.
When I say I’m dieting, I mean that I’m eating in a specific way to take care of my body and its needs.
Food is fuel.
I’ve had quite a few people asking me if I’m trying to lose weight for my upcoming wedding, and proceed to tell me I would be crazy to think I need to lose weight. (I could do a whole post on this alone – it really is dangerous to say these kinds of things even to the skinniest of girls. You never know who is silently struggling with body image issues or eating disorders.)
No, I’m not trying to lose weight! What I am trying to do is gain muscle. Starting this past January, I began lifting weights more and focusing on cardio less. I’ll go into more details on my workout regimen in another post. But what is important here is that, in order for muscle to grow, you need to be eating enough protein.
Because I need protein, my “dieting” consists of making sure I get enough grams of protein a day to sustain muscle growth. Everyone’s diet can be broken up into three basic percentages: protein, carbs, and fat. All three of these are, in my opinion, essential to your health. And in order for my body to feel healthy and happy, my daily diet looks something like this:
- 30% protein, for muscle growth
- 25% fat, for hormone balance
- 45% carbohydrates, for energy
I tried the low-carb thing a few months ago, but I’ve found that if I don’t eat enough carbs, I am lethargic and always hangry. This is something that is unique to each person and is why we should never push one specific diet on everyone around us.
What I’ve learned from this process of figuring out my dietary needs is that food should be seen as a fuel source for your body… as a means to take care of yourself. We should all respect food and our bodies, which is why I try not to eat unless I’m actually hungry, and to eat what I’m craving. Trust your bodies! If you are craving something specific (such as pasta) then it could mean your body is screaming for something specific (like carbs).
I’ll leave you with a typical day’s meals, and please let me know if you have any questions!
- Breakfast – 1/2 cup oatmeal with a scoop of protein powder
- Lunch – apple with 3-4 tablespoons peanut butter
- Afternoon/evening snacks (if my stomach is actually growling and telling me it needs food before the next meal) – 1 pack peanut butter crackers or 1 bowl grapes
- Lifting day snack – protein smoothie (1 cup soy milk, 1 scoop protein powder)
- Dinner – something to include a protein, carb, and fat (some favorites are spaghetti, chicken salad sandwiches and a side of grapes, grilled chicken with rice and veggies)
- Drinks – lots of zero-calorie tea and water