As I complete the 12-week meal plan created for me by Christine of Gauge Girl Training, I'm being asked a lot of questions repeatedly – for good reason – you want to know the answers!
Here are the questions I'm asked most frequently about the clean eating / flexible dieting meal plan I'm currently following.
First things first – join me LIVE daily to hear about my experience over on Periscope.
I'm vlogging (video blogging!) about the experience with daily or twice-daily Periscope videos that are live, so you can jump in to watch the broadcast (don't worry, only my face appears on-camera, not yours!) and ask questions there.
If you still need to download the Periscope app, it's free and available in the App store on iPhone and Andriod OS. Simply search for it in the App store, then find me there @dianesanfilippo.
You can also watch my previous Scopes in my Katch replay archives here.
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The plan I'm following and the details behind it.
What is the plan you're following?
I'm following a custom 12-week meal plan created for me that could mostly be classified as flexible dieting or clean eating style IIFYM. I have macronutrient breakdowns to hit for each meal and overall for each day, and I'm doing that by eating real, whole foods, not junk. I'm eating mostly Paleo with the addition of white rice because it's an easy source of carbs that I find I tolerate well.
Read more about specific foods I'm eating and avoiding later in this list under “the food.”
Why are you following this plan?
While I began this plan at a healthy body weight and body fat percentage for my height, I have felt like my self-care practices for the last 3+ years since writing my first book, Practical Paleo, haven't been what I'd like them to be. It's easy to eat well for overall health, but for aesthetic goals, dialing in nutrition requires more attention and focus, and I'm ready to tackle that now.
Who created the plan? Why did you select this plan/coach?
Christine of Gauge Girl Training created my plan. I chose to follow a plan from Christine based on a few factors:
- She first created a plan for my friend Tony of Kasandrinos International. I saw what Tony was eating and it looked reasonable, and not like a starvation plan, so I dug a bit deeper.
- I read through Christine's website, bio, and followed her on Instagram to see what kinds of things she posted. Christine posts supportive, motivating, inspiring things and is focused on the success of her clients more so than on her own physical appearance. Sure, we get to see some photos of Christine here and there to remind us that she practices what she preaches, but in a world where it's easy to gain attention with a flood of bikini photos, that isn't her approach, and I have a lot of respect for that.
- After watching some of Christine's videos, I felt her energy was spot-on for the kind of coach that would be helpful to me – she is confident and mellow. As a chemical and biological engineer turned food scientist, Christine knows the nerdy stuff, but she's also human enough to know how to help real people put her plans into play in their everyday lives.
How does this compare to __________ (insert name of any other plan/program created by someone else here)?
The same way I don't think it would be fair for someone else to compare one of my programs or plans to theirs, this isn't a question I'll answer. That said, if you have a way of eating you follow like Paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, etc., this plan is focused on the macros, not your food choices, so Christine will work from what you eat to create a plan and will not, for example, force you to eat something that you don't like or don't want to eat.
What are the macronutrient breakdowns and calories you're eating?
I won't be sharing details of exactly what the breakdown of my food looks like by the numbers, but I'll show you what typical meals look like (see below).
It would be misleading for anyone to follow the plan I am on, since my situation and goals will inevitably vary from yours.
I will say this, however, that I am not on an extreme or highly restricted plan. This plan is sensible and will promote gradual changes over the 12 weeks.
How is this different from what you were eating before?
The main differences between this program and how I was eating right before it are:
- Macros: I'm eating more protein and carbs and less fat than I was previously
- Food choices: I'm eating more gluten-free grains (mostly white rice) than I was previously as well as more white and sweet potatoes, I am also using collagen peptides as a post-workout protein source on days when I train.
- Timing: I'm eating more often than I was previously
How many times a day are you eating?
I am currently eating 6 times a day on days when I train (5 if I don't, excluding the post-workout protein shake or extra meal), but my plan isn't what everyone would necessarily do. Since I work from home and can easily manage eating this often, that's what my plan includes.
While eating less fat, I do find that eating more often, while sometimes feels like a time burden, is satiating. I am hungry each time I go to eat again, but not hangry or cranky since the plan is not high-sugar. More on this under “the food.”
Each time I eat is not necessarily a meal in the terms you might think of it, but more of an instance of eating – some are more meal-like, some are more snack-like.
What will you do after the 12 weeks are up?
Honestly, I'm not sure. It depends on the progress I make, and how I'm feeling. At this point (nearly 3 weeks through), I'm assuming I'll want to shift my macros to include more fat and less protein, probably also less carb, but I will probably try to watch portions much more carefully and stay with eating a bit more often as a result. But, since I'm not even halfway through this whole program, I will wait and see what happens before making any calls on this 100%.
The food I'm eating.
What exactly are you eating? Is it still Paleo?
I'm eating real, whole foods, and yes, primarily still Paleo with the addition of white rice. I tried adding quinoa and wild rice in the first week, and while I digested them just fine, I honestly didn't enjoy eating them the way I thought I might. White rice is the one non-Paleo but still gluten-free grain I take pleasure in eating and I also like how easy it is to add to any meal.
I'm still avoiding gluten as well as dairy as I normally would, but being a bit stricter about the dairy right now since I do think it's inflammatory for me (I typically get acne from it). I am eating Tin Star Ghee in amounts that are called for in my plan, which is not a ton, and this specific brand of ghee doesn't lead to any issues with my skin since it's purely butterfat and lab tested to be lactose and casein-free.
Why are you eating less fat? I thought fat was a good thing and we shouldn't avoid it?!
You all know how I feel about fat – I love it. I want people to embrace eating it, and to not fear it. That said, I have seen time and time again that folks take their newfound appreciation for the wonders of fat – and nearly anything, frankly – to the extreme. Extremes don't tend to be my thing, per se, though neither is moderation (more on this later when I talk about “cheats” and what I plan to do after this 12 weeks is up).
So, a diet that's high in refined carbohydrates/sugar, low-ish or moderate in protein, and low in fat will likely will lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes. Long ago when I followed a low-fat/USDA type of diet, I would not only avoid fat as much as possible, I'd eat processed foods by letting their macros guide me, not taking the nutrient value of the food itself (the vitamin and mineral content) into consideration.
Now, and while on this plan, I'm led by real, whole foods. So while my carbohydrate intake is a bit higher than it was before, it's nowhere near as high as it was in my previous low-fat days, and the carbs I am eating are not sugary/nutrient-poor, processed choices that lead to the intense blood sugar spikes and crashes. It's not carbs alone that do this to us, it's nutrient-poor carbs – the ones that deliver calories without much nutrition (vitamins & minerals) – I talk about this at length in both Practical Paleo and The 21-Day Sugar Detox. Think a Pop Tart versus a sweet potato. Yeah, that's what I'm talking about here. It's not just about the carbs, the types of foods also matter (this is where I divert away from IIFYM and towards clean eating/real food, etc.).
What do your meals typically consist of on this plan?
Most days look something like this (portions are specific to me, so I'm not going to disclose those details), though some days do vary, and that's okay. I am able to shift the meals/snacks around as I need to:
Meal 1: [pre-breakfast] homemade chia “pudding” or a banana with peanut butter
Meal 2: [breakfast] 2 whole eggs, small portion of additional lean protein (though sometimes I forget to add this), white rice, white potatoes, or sweet potato, arugula or some kind of green vegetable.
Meal 3: [lunch] chicken, steak, or seafood (any type of fairly lean protein),white rice, white potatoes, or sweet potato, vegetables, my portion of additional fat.
Meal 4: [post workout] protein shake with Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, organic frozen cherries, organic vanilla extract, pinch of green stevia or sometimes a tiny bit of organic maple syrup, ice, water, and a splash of low-fat coconut milk. Watch my protein shake recipe video here.
Meal 5: [dinner] chicken, steak, turkey, or seafood (any type of fairly lean protein),white rice, white potatoes, or sweet potato, vegetables, my portion of additional fat.
Meal 6: [evening snack] chicken, steak, turkey, or seafood (any type of fairly lean protein),white rice, white potatoes, or sweet potato, vegetables, my portion of additional fat. I change this meal up pretty often with something like deli turkey or roast beef, a small amount of Paleo mayo (see below for the one I use) or other sauce that fits my plan, and fruit instead of starches and veggies for my carb source.
Links to products I'm using & foods I'm eating
(Get more details on these items in my Diane's Macros Experience: Planning & Preparation post if you like.)
Salter Eco-Friendly Bamboo Kitchen Scale (hold the “on” button for a few seconds to turn it off)
Speaking of quality oils, if you'd like to try the Paleo mayo I use from Primal Kitchen, use code BALANCEDBITES at checkout to receive a whopping 15% off of your order. Along with the oil, the spices are a must-try, as well as the balsamic vinegars!
What kind of training are you doing on this plan? Did Christine provide this as well?
Christine did provide workouts that I am doing mostly on the weekends, and she recommended that I get up and do some fasted cardio first thing to start my day. The cardio doesn't need to be intense, so mine is simply walks that often include some moderate hills, but nothing too crazy. Some mornings I sweat more than others.
The fasted morning cardio (ahem, walks) has been my absolute favorite new habit I've adopted while on this plan. Hands down this sets me up for the day like nothing else – both physically and mentally – and I truly hope that the weather doesn't derail me too far from this once winter in San Francisco hits! I'll definitely keep doing this after the 12 weeks are up.
My weekly workouts typically look like this:
Monday: Morning walk, 20-60 minutes (fasted), Cardio Kickboxing, 60 minutes (Turbo Kick) in the evening – if I arrive early for the class, I do some lifts I may have missed over the weekend.
Tuesday: Morning walk, 20-60 minutes (fasted),Session with personal trainer (mostly body-weight workouts with some kettle bell movements, barbell lifts, and gymnastic-movements that are full-body movements and lots of core strengthening, balance, etc.)
Wednesday: Morning walk, 20-60 minutes (fasted), Tennis with my husband before lunch
Thursday: Morning walk, 20-60 minutes (fasted), Session with personal trainer(mostly body-weight workouts with some kettle bell movements, barbell lifts, and gymnastic-movements that are full-body movements and lots of core strengthening, balance, etc.)
Friday: Morning walk, 20-60 minutes (fasted)
Saturday: Cardio Kickboxing, 60 minutes (Turbo Kick) in the late morning, weight lifting session at the gym that includes some classic bodybuilding style movements (as directed by Christine)
Saturday: weight lifting session at the gymthat includes some classic bodybuilding style movements (as directed by Christine)
I don't do the morning fasted walks on the weekends since my daily routine is different then, and I like to slow-roll into my weekend days. On weekdays, if I wake up too late, or if I have something I need to do (or if it's raining!), I walk less than 30 minutes, but if the weather is nice and I'm up early enough, I try to make them 45-60 minutes. I put on a podcast and just go.
That's it guys! I hope this helps you to understand the program I'm doing a bit better I'll come back and add to this post as I see fit based on the interaction and questions I get from you all here in comments, on Periscope, and on Facebook and Instagram!
See you on the internet!
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