A Day in the Life of Nia Shanks: Nutrition
Today is the second part of the mini-series A Day in the Life of Nia Shanks. In the first part I revealed my current training program along with my goals and several training videos. If you missed that, you can check it out here => A Day in the Life of Nia Shanks: Training.
Before I get into my current nutrition and eating habits, I’m going to post a little disclaimer – this is what works for ME and what I enjoy doing when it comes to eating at this point in time. The following nutrition information is what I am currently implementing that is allowing me to achieve my body composition and performance goals. It may, or may not, work for you. Feel free to implement any of these strategies and see what happens, but it is not something I would recommend for everyone.
Intermittent Fasting Works for Me
I discussed Three Methods of Intermittent Fasting recently because it’s been my favorite nutrition method for several years now, and I wanted to share my experiences with those methods with you. For the past year or so I had been following the 16 hour fast/8 hour eating window method of fasting (with occasional Eat Stop Eat fasts as well), as discussed in that blog post.
I absolutely love that method of fasting because it fits perfectly into my lifestyle, allows a ton of freedom, makes going out to restaurants with friends and family a breeze, and allows me to eat big, which I thoroughly enjoy. However, about a month or so ago I wasn’t getting hungry at the usual times. I generally ate my first meal of the day around one o’clock or so in the afternoon, but I just wasn’t hungry any more at that time.
Personally, I don’t eat if I’m not hungry, no matter what type of intermittent fasting method I may be following. So instead of eating my first meal as usual, I started to have something protein rich, yet very small instead – protein shake, tuna or salmon, or Greek yogurt.
A couple hours later I would train and then my appetite would return in full force in the early evening.
Note – I used to train in the early afternoon, but for the past month I have been training with a workout partner later in the day. This very well may have something to do with my change in appetite. Furthermore, I don’t like training with food in my stomach because it makes me feel a little queasy when I lift. Again, this won’t apply to everyone, but for me personally, I like to have something very light before I train, such as a protein shake.
I had this a few nights ago. I call it a fajita bowl; this was made with bison, sautéed green peppers and onions, lettuce, lots of pico de gallo, and a healthy dose of guacamole.
What I Am Doing Right Now
I am still using intermittent fasting, and if forced to label the method I am currently employing, I would say it’s more Warrior Diet-ish. (See the post on intermittent fasting for more information).
What does that mean exactly? It means that I don’t eat anything until about noon each day, and when I do eat it’s something small like a cup of Greek yogurt or a protein shake, up to twice in the afternoon hours. And a few hours later I may consume about 10 grams of BCAAs before my strength training session. (I’ll talk more about this in the future as it’s a new “experiment” of sorts).
After my training session I’ll come home and eat my main meal. And, yes, it’s quite large. I should also note that I drink a lot of water throughout the day, and I start each morning with a large cup of coffee.
Alli and I enjoyed a nice roasted chicken after our epic all girls training session in Cincinnati. Yes, I ate the whole thing.
Things Change, and They Will Again
Just as I don’t follow the same training program for years on end, I don’t tend to follow the same intermittent fasting method year round either. I prefer instead to listen to my body and try new things on occasion. If the results are positive, I’ll stick with it for a while longer and experiment further, and tweak things if necessary to see if I can get even better results. Right now, what I am doing is allowing me to achieve the results I want, so I’ll stick with it for a while longer and see what else happens.
If, however, a certain method has negative results such as fat gain, decreased energy, or lack of progress in the gym, then I’ll return to something that I know works.
And it should also go without saying that my performance and/or body composition goals will determine the type of intermittent fasting/nutrition method I follow at any given time.
It should also be noted that I will most likely never follow any method that is too strict or stressful. Eating should be enjoyable and shouldn’t be on my mind for any extended period of time. If my eating habits cause me any unnecessary stress, then I won’t stick with it. I’ve done this in the past and it just led to obsessive compulsive, disordered eating habits. That is something I don’t want to experience again.
What I Track
I don’t count calories and probably never will again. I counted calories in the past and it was one of the driving factors behind the eating disorder I had developed and battled for several years. (Many people don’t have a problem counting calories, but it’s not appropriate for me).
What I do track, however, is the amount of protein I consume each day. This started a little over a year ago when I decided to track my protein intake for a week out of sheer curiosity; I averaged about 50 grams per day at that point.
Once I realized I wasn’t consuming the amount of protein I initially assumed, I made an effort to increase my average protein intake to about 100 grams each day. Yes, this was one of my little experiments.
Well, the results were great. I was much more satiated, I had more energy, my strength improved, and everything was just better. For me, higher protein intake has positive results, and so I continue to strive for 100 plus grams each day.
A meal I have been cooking quite often as I’ve been on a breakfast-type-food kick lately: sautéed green beans and red peppers, Organic free range eggs, and turkey sausage. Mmm-mmm protein.
The Typical Foods I Eat
I am a creature of habit, and so I tend to rotate many of the same foods in my weekly diet.
Here is a brief list of some staple foods I consume on a weekly basis:
- Organic free range eggs
- Grass fed beef
The grass fed beef I purchased from a local farm. I have never had liver before (in the middle), so if anyone has a great recipe, let me know!
- Local grass fed bison
- Turkey and chicken
Local grass fed bison and turkey, purchased locally.
- Veggies, of course (mostly broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, bell peppers, onions, asparagus, sweet potatoes, etc)
- Nut butters
Locally purchased bacon.
Some Other Foods I Enjoy
For most meals I eat the foods listed above, but a few times a week I’ll also enjoy some of my favorite foods that don’t necessarily fall into the “real food” category, such as pizza, ice cream, and as of lately, pancakes (these have become part of a favorite meal I have after my Saturday training session).
No, I don’t have designated “cheat meals” or “cheat days”, and I’ve explained why here => The Dark Side of Cheat Days.
In the past I’ve tried to eliminate some of my favorite foods completely (like ice cream and pizza) but that made me only want those foods even more because they were “forbidden”. No longer do I have “forbidden” foods because that does nothing but cause bad relationships with food and can lead to other disordered eating habits, for me.
Haters are Gonna Hate
Yep, I know I’ll receive all types of negative feedback from this article, but I simply don’t care. I prefer to listen to my body (to an extent) and go from there when it comes to eating and nutrition methods.
That means the vast majority of the time I eat when I’m hungry, I eat mostly real, natural food, and I make sure to enjoy the foods I do eat. Simple, stress free, and effective.
That is what works for me, and perhaps it can work for you too.
What Can You Learn from This?
I’m not really sure, to be honest. I just want to share with you what works for me, what I’m currently doing, and why I do what I do when it comes to nutrition and my eating habits. It’s entirely possible for you to do the exact same thing but have horrible results. That is because everyone is unique and no one thing will work great for everyone.
In this day and age, people can become quite dogmatic when it comes to topics such as training and nutrition. But hopefully we can all be more open minded and realize there are various methods that can be used to reach the same goal. For example, I have friends who love eating five to six small meals each day, and I have other friends who prefer intermittent fasting. They all achieve the results they want, but with different methods.
It all comes down to finding what works best for you, what fits into your lifestyle, and what is simple and easy for you to implement on a consistent basis.
Who knows, after reading this article you may decide to adopt a form of intermittent fasting for a period of time, or simply listen to your body more when it comes to being hungry and satisfied. I encourage experimenting (intelligently, please) because you never know what will work best for you until you try.
If you have any additional questions about my nutrition habits, just ask them below.