Max’s Basic Food List and Sample Meal Plan
by Max Wettstein, Copyright 2005
People often ask me what I eat to stay lean and fit, year ‘round. Well I have no secret or special diet. Sometimes, a week or so out from a photo shoot, (if I’m lucky enough to have that much notice), I will really clean things up and increase my water intake, and tweak a few other things. But fad or extreme diets don’t last very long because they tend to deprive you of certain food groups, or are too calorie restrictive. Diversity and moderation are key for me, as well as choosing foods that are nutrient dense and unrefined. And, of course, I allow myself to enjoy the foods I love every now and then to ease cravings and prevent binges.
A ‘golden rule’ of all diets and weight-loss programs states simply that if calories consumed are greater than calories expended, you will gain weight. Whether this weight gain is muscle or fat depends on the type of training you do. I’ve found that if I eat good food in sensible portions spread equally throughout the day, I really don’t need to count calories. Sure, my weight will fluctuate a pound or two each day, but this would probably happen even if I was to count calories, and most of the time these fluctuations are water weight, or food in the GI tract. By good food I mean whole, unprocessed, unrefined foods, even organic opportunity permitting. This type of diet centers on complex carbs including plenty of whole fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and chicken and fish. It naturally follows when eating these types of foods, that my diet will be low in refined sugar and saturated and trans-fats. Also, by cutting out most processed, refined foods, I also eliminate partially-hydrogenated oils and other rancid oils. Refined sugars and flours, added sweeteners such as 'high-fructose' corn syrup, rancid and hydrogenated oils (deep-frying), are the culprits behind the obesity epidemic in our country, combined with lack of exercise of course. These ingredients are calorically dense, devoid of nutrients, and sometimes toxic.
I personally do not count calories but go by my own hunger instincts to determine how much I eat each day. Generally speaking I eat about 6 times a day consuming portions that never make me too full but at the same time, I’m usually never starving either, even when leaning out for a photo shoot. I certainly have my fair share of ‘cheat meals’, a few times a week, especially when going out to dinner for a special occasion. You have to enjoy life, and that includes dining! I indulge on my fair share of beer, pizza, and dark chocolate, but make up for it the rest of the day or week, or during the following work out. I often go low-sugar, but rarely low-carb. I need carbs for energy and training, not to mention eliminating carbs would eliminate at least 75% of my food choices. I strive for about .7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, and increase this amount when dieting or restricting calories. As far as meat is concerned, I mostly eat chicken and fish, mostly tuna, and eat red meat only about once a week. Red meat does tend to be much higher in saturated fat. I supplement with flax oil or fish oil capsules daily to ensure I get enough EFAs/omegas, (emphasizing Omega 3s, DHA and EPA). I use olive oil abundantly for cooking, and flavor.
Here is my basic food list. Of course I consume many more foods than this, but these are staples in the grocery cart each week:
Oats, brown and wild rice, pastas, Soba, (buckwheat noodles), whole-grain bread including wheat, oat, and spelt breads, whole-grain, oat-based cereals and low-fat, all-natural granola, potatoes with the skin, black beans, all whole fresh fruits and vegetables, raw and unsalted trail-mix blends, dried, sulfur-free apricots, berries, prunes, honey.
Chicken, fish, (mostly tunas and salmon), low-fat cottage cheese, eggs, (EFA-enriched), low-fat, organic milk, soy milk, low-fat yogurt (with live-active cultures and no corn syrup), tofu.
All raw nuts, especially almonds, walnuts, and Macademia and pine nuts, raw, natural almond butter and peanut butter, fish oil, olive oil, canola oil, flax oil, avocado, fresh cheeses, (goat, mozzarella, feta, Swiss).
*Many of these foods apply to all three categories, containing equal amounts of carbs, proteins, and fats.
*Buy Organic when possible/affordable.
*By no means is this all-inclusive. Diversity is key.
Sample Meal Plan – 6 Xs Daily
1. Breakfast: Whey-protein smoothie usually, but sometimes oatmeal with whey protein, blueberries, and flax oil. Coffee with soy milk.
(Mid-morning work out)
2. Post-work out meal: 2 Scoops of whey protein with simple carbs, such as bowl of cereal, or whole-grain toast with honey, and piece of fruit. *5 grams Creatine optional.
3. Lunch: 4-egg omelet with half the yolks, with low-fat cottage cheese, ½ avocado, and slice of whole-grain toast.
4. Mid-afternoon snack: Can of Albacore tuna, apple, and two-handfuls of raw trail mix blend. *Coffee with soy milk optional or green tea.
(20-30 minute walk with dog)
5. Dinner: (This is the most varied and diverse meal of my day.) Usually some sort of skinless, boneless chicken breast, or fish, with as much brown rice as I want, and a giant salad of mixed greens and romaine, and balsamic vinaigrette made with olive oil. Sometimes pasta with a low-fat, red, meat sauce.
6. Pre-bedtime snack/desert: Usually either a bowl of whole-grain, oat cereal, with dried blueberries, a scoop of whey protein, and low-fat milk, or, some sort of all-natural, chocolate protein bar and a glass of milk.
*This breaks down to about 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fat. (For active people, carbs equals necessary fuel.)
*Averages about 3000 calories a day, plus or minus 400 or so, depending on my activity level. Adjust your portions accordingly but dividing up total calories into 5 or 6 meals is key.
As you can see for yourself, this is certainly not a low-carb or low-calorie meal plan! However, I try to only eat sugar for breakfast and my post-workout meal. This is when your body will uptake sugar and use it most efficiently. This is when insulin provides the most benefit, during these two meal windows. During pre-photo shoots, I will replace two of my meals, (mid-afternoon snack and bedtime snack), with pure whey protein and water, or milk at night. This drops my overall calories but ensures adequate protein intake to prevent muscle catabolism.
Lastly, while it may appear that I am super-regimented and routine in my eating and schedule, this couldn’t be further from the truth. This was just an example from an average day off. Being an airline pilot with a varied trip schedule, my work out time, and type differs almost daily and I have to be really creative with food selection while I’m on the road. My point is, while a consistent schedule and meal plan is ideal towards reaching your fitness goals, it is not necessary. Adaptability and creativity are the real secrets…making the smartest choice from what’s available to you at the time, and planning ahead when time permits.
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