MEET THE MACROS
If you haven’t met, let me introduce you to the macronutrients, or “macros,” for short: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Everything you eat, from cereal in the morning to a steak for dinner, is made up of macros. This “trifecta of success” provides energy, measured as calories, to maintain life. There are also micronutrients in food: vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. They don’t give you energy, but they help your body metabolize and use the macros. Without macronutrients, we’d starve to death, and without micronutrients, we’d suffer deficiency diseases and poor health and eventually die from malnutrition.
At every meal and snack on the Badass plan, you’re going to eat a precise balance of the three macros, which in result will give you a good balance of your micros. Let me give you an overview.
Of all the macros your body needs to develop firm muscle, protein is king. Why? Because it’s an absolute must for building and maintaining all your body’s structures. I’m not just talking about muscles, either. I’m talking about tendons and ligaments, blood vessels, brain, organs, skin, your immune system—just about everything. As old cells naturally die off, protein is constantly needed to renew and repair them. If brand-new protein from your diet isn’t coming in on a regular schedule, body structures can start to break down.
Protein is a supreme fat burner. Some quick background: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are measured in terms of their “thermic effect,” which refers to how many calories it takes to burn them off. Sugary carbs and fats have around a 3 percent rate; this means it takes 3 calories to burn off 100 calories of these foods. Natural carbs like fruits and veggies have a 20 percent rate (it takes 20 calories to burn off 100 calories of these foods.) Proteins, at 30 percent, have the highest thermic effect of food (TEF), which is why protein is a fat-burning food.
Most of the protein on the Badass plan is animal protein. It’s my position that animal protein is an important part of the human diet when balanced correctly, and is definitely a key to getting a firm body.
I know what you’re thinking: What about plant-based proteins such as beans, legumes, soy foods, and so forth? These proteins are acceptable, but some of them are high in carbs, while others (such as soy foods and alternative meats like veggie burgers) are often processed, which leads to limited muscle development, and they may do nothing to help eliminate booty fat and cellulite.
A confession: I was a vegetarian for eight years, but at age 20 I started eating meat again, and I haven’t looked back. It’s one of the reasons I was able to put lean muscle on my body. So don’t mess with my animal protein. If you try to take steak away from me, you might as well lock me up.
Carbohydrates are simply the sugars and starches in our food. The body burns carbs as fuel. The brain also runs off carbs. Have you ever felt draggy and moody? I know I have. This is because your body might be running low on carbohydrates. Carbs include grains, cereals, bread, fruits, and vegetables. They contain essential vitamins and minerals plus fiber and plant nutrients that are vital for health and disease prevention.
Carbs come in two forms: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are found naturally in fruits, dairy products, and processed foods such as bread and many packaged foods. They’re also found in refined sugars, such as table sugar, that are used in sweet foods. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are found in grains, potatoes, beans, and vegetables.
Carbs can be troublemakers. If you eat too many, you’ll get fat. When we eat carbs, the body secretes the hormone insulin in response. Insulin activates enzymes in fat tissue; those enzymes stimulate the body to hold on to fat and pack it away. When insulin levels decline, fat is released and burned. So the worst possible diet is one that’s high in carbohydrates because the body makes fat from carbohydrates and lots of it. That’s why you can’t eat a lot of carbs and expect to lose weight and get a nice, sexy ass.
I’ve carefully calibrated the Badass plan to make sure you eat enough carbs for energy, but at levels that keep your body in a fat-burning mode. And I balance carbs with protein and fat for the very best results.
I love peanut butter, especially on top of my scrambled eggs (no, it’s not yucky; the taste is amazing, really!). I love bacon, too, sizzling right next to those eggs. And I eat nicely marbled red meat at times. Yes, some experts still feel that low-fat eating is supposedly important for health, the responsible thing to do, but this view is changing.
I firmly believe that we all need to shift back to eating more fat, including the much-demonized saturated fat. I’m not talking about fatty junk foods or man-made fats like trans fats, but fresh meats and fats such as nut and seed butter, butters, and some cream. These foods are nutritional gold mines.
Surprised? Take a look at all the good things about fat:
1. Fat helps control your hunger. The first purpose of fat is to slow down the rate at which food goes into your bloodstream. The net effect is that you feel satisfied, and any urges to eat more are delayed. If you eat your meals and snacks with fat, you’ll need less food than you think. Fat is a natural appetite suppressor!
2. Fat is a carrier for certain vitamins. Several essential vitamins are transported through the body by fat molecules—namely, vitamins A, D, E, and K, also known as the fat-soluble vitamins.
3. Fat makes food taste good. For example, butter is yummy on vegetables (and on popcorn, of course). Greens and salad veggies come to life in oil-based salad dressings, and fresh berries in rich cream are one of life’s most scrumptious treats.
The thinking that fat makes you fat is wrong. There’s little evidence that eating fat makes you put on weight. Fat is not fattening. So, fat? Fear not.
I’M A BADASS!
After having her first baby, Amanda, 35, put her body and health on hold and focused on raising her little daughter. Between being a mom, preparing meals, and caring for the house, she didn’t feel she had time to watch her weight, and her days felt crammed. She had never really worked out or dieted, so of course, the pounds were creeping on, especially around her tummy and thighs. She was starting to feel uncomfortable in her body and disguised herself in her husband’s oversize sweats and T-shirts.
When her daughter turned two, Amanda realized she could no longer use “I just had a baby” as an excuse,
and she didn’t want to be a mom who couldn’t keep up with her kids.
I suggested that she follow one of my plans that would ease into better nutrition, with fresh veggies, fruit, and protein, and she could still learn how to balance all the macros for great results.
Talk about results. Here’s the big reveal: Amanda lost 15 pounds in the first 21 days. How cool is that?
One of the best things she learned was the importance of making time for herself to eat right and exercise. When she did that, she was much happier and so was her family—which is the most important thing, after all.
PRIMO, ACCEPTABLE, REALLY TERRIBLE MACROS
Macros rule, for sure. But some are better than others, and some are downright bad. I further classify the macros like this:
These are “whole” foods found in their natural state—no processed crap. They don’t have labels or multiple ingredients, either. Examples are:
Proteins. These include meats (beef, pork, lamb, veal, and so forth), poultry; fish, shellfish, eggs, and egg whites.
Non-starchy Vegetables. This category includes broccoli, cauliflower, peppers of all kinds, asparagus, lettuce, and other greens, green beans, yellow beans, cabbage, summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, onions, zucchini, and many more. These foods are low in calories, high in fiber, and loaded with nutrition.
Fruits. Fruits are full of nutrients and fiber, plus they provide energy in the form of carbohydrates to power daily activities, including exercising. All types of fruits in whole form are allowed on my plan.
Fats. You get to eat a wide variety of fats on my plan. They give you energy, help your body burn fat, and lubricate your joints. Fats make you happy, too—they’re a terrific mood lifter. They also tell your body when you’re full and prevent you from overeating. The Badass Fats Choices list in chapter 5 gives you many options; primo fats such as nuts and seeds are excellent choices because they contain natural fats, fiber, and excellent nutrition.
For your first 21 days, I want you to choose “primo” foods only.
There are foods you can pick that are healthy in moderation and with deliberate purpose, but your progress might slow down if you eat too many of them. Examples are dairy products such as milk and cheese and starchy foods like sweet potatoes and natural grains. There are limited benefits in adding dairy foods to your diet; they can be a good combo item but contribute to extra fat gain if not careful. Plus, a lot of people can’t stomach the lactose in dairy foods and suffer digestive problems. Most of the nutrients you get from dairy you can get easily from other sources, including canned salmon, broccoli, and green leafy veggies. As for starches, choices like legumes and grains are healthy, but they’re carbs. Carbs kick up insulin. You don’t want that happening since insulin interferes with the breakdown of fat and drives fat right into storage. When you eat a balance of carbs, insulin stays in line.
REALLY TERRIBLE MACROS
No matter how good we try to be, there are times when we women turn a little naughty, calling back the guy we know is wrong for us, just because he’s good in the sack. Well, “really terrible macros” are like that: tempting but bad for us. I’m talking about junk food here: anything that comes in a box, foods with long lists of ingredients on the label, fast foods, lunch meats, soy products (soy tends to increase estrogen, a fattening hormone), sodas, alcohol, and anything with sugar dumped into it, natural or imitation.
“Really terrible macros” are also known as processed foods. They are loaded with additives, preservatives, flavorings, dyes, processed fats, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, sodium, and all kinds of gunk and junk. Your body is just not designed to handle these foods, and they will make you fat and unhealthy. Your muscles crave high-quality, primo foods and will respond best when fed the best possible food choices. Put the best fuel into that beautiful body of yours, and it will take you to the highest level of fitness and performance.
That said, I’m a realist, and I know there are times when you want some of these foods. It’s okay. I for one like to treat me to a cupcake every once in a while. Later on, I’ll show you how to do some controlled cheating that won’t throw your eating plan out of whack. But for the best results, you want to avoid the really terrible macros.