Did you manage to Shop And Cop?
One thing that really annoyed me when I began my fitness journey as a teenager was the fact that I had absolutely no clue about what to eat.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't confuse rocks for food but, more to the point I didn't know what to eat to fuel my body and facilitate my goals.
We live in a world where everything is now online and as great as this is, the abundance of information can actually be information overload.
Sometimes, all you need is for someone to keep it simple and break it down in take home messages that you don't need a degree in astrology to understand.
So, that's what I'm going to do for you now.
I'll break down dieting into 5 topics that primarily concern the younger guys and girls out there; general advice, learning to diet, meal timing at school, meal prep and fitting your diet around what mum cooks for dinner.
IF WATCHING VIDEOS ISN'T QUITE YOUR THING, WE GOT ZAC TO WRITE DOWN HIS TOP DIET HACKS...
#1. GENERAL ADVICE:
THIS IS WHERE A LOT OF CONFUSION ARISES...
Kids as young as fourteen are trying to figure out the perfect macro split and are obsessing over the tiniest details that will only stress them out in an attempt to get fit or lose a little weight.
If you're just starting your fitness journey or simply want to live a healthier lifestyle, keep it simple and start by eating healthy. Don't overcomplicate it!
Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, meats and animal products and minimise processed foods.
"SO, CUT OUT SUGAR, SOFT DRINKS AND EAT LIKE A CAVEMAN."
Paleo really does work! Usually this is because you're eating foods that are less calorie dense and MORE nutrient dense, so you feel full whilst losing weight.
So, to sum it up, if you want to lose a bit of excess weight: eat healthy unprocessed foods and don't starve yourself.
#2. EDUCATE YOURSELF:
NOW, ONE THING I CAN SAY I DID WELL WAS RESEARCH.
Remember when I said I had no clue what to eat? Well, I didn't just sit there and wait for a perfect 'fat loss meal' to serve itself up. I used my spare time to read articles on how dieting works, what is in food, what macros and calories are and how I can manipulate them to suit my goals.
"YOU GUYS HAVAE SO MUCH TIME NOW TO LEARN THIS BASIC INFORMATION, SO START SMALL AND WORK YOUR WAY UP."
Download 'myfitnesspal' or another calorie tracking app and just start logging your day. See what's in food!
Notice how a slice of pizza is a few hundred calories, low protein, high carb, high fat piece of deliciousness. Not to rule it out as blasphemy but just so you are aware of what you’re eating.
Once you’ve done this you can start to think about creating a meal plan for yourself. If you are unsure how to do so let me give you a run through as quick as possible.
Find your maintenance calories by using a calculator on google as a baseline and then try that level using trial and error for a week so that your weight does not change.
Set your protein intake at 1-1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Split up the remaining calories amongst carbs and fats however you like (carbs have 4 calories per gram and fats have 9).
Decide on your goal. If it’s fat loss then cut the calories by around 300. If it’s muscle gain then increase the calories by around 300.
That’s it you now have a meal plan to suit your goals. Now you just have to fill it in with the appropriate foods (refer back to general advice).
#3. MEAL TIMING AT SCHOOL:
I'LL BE HONEST WITH YOU GUYS, I WAS SHOCKED AT THE AMOUNT OF MESSAGES I GOT FROM THOSE AT SCHOOL WONDERING HOW THEY CAN FIT THEIR MEAL PLANS IN AROUND SCHOOL OR UNIVERSITY HOURS.
I found school to be my saviour when it came to gaining muscle or losing fat as it FORCED me to have regular feeding periods.
Breakfast, recess, lunch, after school (preworkout), Dinner (post workout) and before bed.
"SCHOOL ENFORCED A STANDARD BODYBUILDING DIET UPON ME WITHOUT REALISING IT (WELL PLAYED PENINSULA SCHOOL, I OWE YOU 15KG OF LEAN MASS)."
However, one thing I did differently was actually bringing proper food to school. My mates would be eating lollies and chips at recess when I would be shoveling down chicken curry and rice.
If you don’t have access to a microwave then either check the recipes in the attached video OR bring a thermos to school with you and have a hot meal!
Honestly, take advantage of the breaks while you have them!
#4. MEAL PREP:
BEING AN AVERAGE TEENAGER, COOKING PROBABLY ISN'T YOUR PASSION NOR ARE YOU THE GORDON RAMSAY OF MEAL PREP BUT I STRONGLY SUGGEST THAT YOU PUT IN THE TIME TO PRACTICE COOKING AND LEARN HOW TO MAKE FOOD THAT TASTES GOOD AND THAT FITS YOUR DIET.
Meal prep is an easy way to stay compliant and consistent. I have done just about every method from cooking on a Sunday for a week and freezing meals, cooking the night before and cooking every three days.
"I FOUND THAT COOKING EVERY 3 DAYS WORKS THE BEST AS YOU DON'T NEED TO FREEZE ANY MEALS AND, YOU WON'T FEEL LIKE A SOUP KITCHEN COOKING A GIANT POT OF GOD KNOWS WHAT FOR 7 DAYS."
So let’s say you cook three days worth of food. You can either split it up in containers and make a dozen meals ready to go, or you can cook your meats, carbs and vegetables and separate them into large containers to portion out at a later date.
Whichever is easiest for you but I recommend trying a few different methods. If you don’t prepare, you will fall out of routine and it will be a challenge to get it back!
#5. BUT WHAT IF MY MUM ISN'T A BODYBUILDER?
ANOTHER ISSUE THAT I HAVE COME ACROSS IS KIDS NOT KNOWING HOW TO FIT A HOME COOKED MEAL INTO THEIR MEAL PLAN.
I never had any issues with this when I should have every reason to. My mum is an awesome cook (especially Italian food) and we’ve always been the type to sit down as a family and eat together.
So, when my diet started to get serious I would try to accommodate as best as I could. I wouldn’t throw my plate at the wall because Mum made steak instead of plain chicken breast and broccoli. I would eat the steak, eat some vegetables and perhaps cook some rice instead of the fried potatoes.
You will find you can make it work most of the time. If you can’t make it work (I used the example of your mum cooking deep fried mars bars for dinner), then you might have to respectfully cook your own food for a night.
When I was competing, it became too hard to eat normal, family dinners, so I would just cook my fish and greens and then sit down at the table and eat with the family.
"MUM DIDN'T SLAP ME IN THE FACE FOR REJECTING HER DINNER AND ALL WAS WELL."
So, try and make it work as best as you can and if you cant; just suck it up and cook your own dinner!
Dieting doesn’t have to be complicated nor does it have to be torture.
Start by eating healthy and slowly educate yourself on food, how it affects the body and proper ways of cooking and preparing nice tasting food. Then before you know it you’ll be effortlessly cooking and eating food that TASTES GOOD, facilitates your fitness and health goals and most importantly is sustainable.
Remember; this isn't a quick fix, this is about setting yourself up for a healthy lifestyle in the long run!
Watch the rest of Zac Perna's Bodybuilding Edit right here at Gymshark Central:
Episode 1: My Top 5 Mistakes
Episode 2: Training Tips
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN: MEET THE ATHLETE | ZAC PERNA