What’s Changed In Your Diet?
Why have I made a dietary change?
The simple answer is I was forced to.
I fell ill with a deadly, antibiotic resistant strain of “Clostridium Difficile”. One in five people die from this. It completely wrecked my digestive system and left me with a serious form of Ulcerative Colitis. During the process I dropped from 245lbs to 198lbs, was only sleeping 2-3 hours a night, battling debilitating fatigue, and almost had to get my colon removed. For someone who carries themselves like a professional athlete this was devastating. What’s worse is that the disease left me dealing with Ulcerative Colitis which itself can be a debilitating disease (To read more about my condition and what I went through click here)
At any rate after doing an immense amount of research I learned that altering one’s nutrition/diet can help lead to a full remission of the Ulcerative Colitis.
So I did some research and changed a few things around.
There are four main changes I’ve made:
1) Intermittent Fasting…
In my research I learned that by engaging in intermittent fasting I could potentially reverse the damage done by Clostridium Difficile and also help to manage my Ulcerative Colitis.
In general there are two types of Intermittent fasting. The first type is more strict with a 5 hour feeding window and 19 hour fast. The second is more of an “Athletic” type of intermittent fasting and has an 8 hour feeding window with a 16 hour fast. The second is preferable to those with a heavy workload in the gym and those who train twice a day. Frankly because I am trying to gain weight for my sport (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) the 8 hour fast is the only way I can potentially get enough calories to accomplish that goal.
Each day my feeing window is approximately 12:30pm until 8:30pm. The reason I start around 12:30pm is because that coincides with the end of my first training session of the day. This allows me to start refueling immediately.
I’m doing this 5-6 days a week. The other 1-2 days I have more of a normal eating schedule. I have made that choice now because on the weekends I spend a lot more time with the family so it suits my “lifestyle” needs better but if I don’t see the improvement I am after I may do the fasting schedule 7 days a week.
I’m not entirely entirely strict with the start/end times of the fast. Depending on the demands of the day I may start my feeing window at 11am or push it back to 1 or 2pm. That decision is mostly made around my training schedule.
Frankly the most difficult aspect of this type of diet is getting enough calories (and protein) to facilitate muscle growth. To ensure I get enough calories and protein I have split my meals into numerous small feedings. I am trying to eat almost every hour during the feeding window.
In essence I graze throughout the window. I also choose foods with higher protein content. I am eating more meat, nuts, eggs, and I have upped my supplement use. Currently I am using a high end whey protein and also a bone broth protein.
Also during fasting window I will use BCAAs and collagen protein. I am using these to help prevent muscle catabolism and also as a way to get extra protein needed for muscle growth.
2) The Types Of Food I Am Eating…
There is a lot of misinformation out there about Ulcerative Colitis and diet. There’s a lot of bad information out there period regarding any type of diet. Some people say I should be on an all meat diet. Others say I should go Vegan. Others promote all kinds of weird food, pills, and supplements.
Like training I believe nutrition needs to be individualized so I underwent testing on my ‘microbiome’ using a company called Viome. You sign up, send a stool sample to the in the mail, they analyze your ‘microbiome’ and make detailed recommendations that are suited for you specifically.
Using the results of that test I have had to make some alterations to my eating. The alterations are meant to help heal my gut and regain a high level of health and performance.
Foods have been placed into four categories.
a) Foods To Indulge In (i.e. Get as much as possible ): For me some of these foods are blueberries, walnuts, bone broth, apple cider vinegar, brazil nuts, and lemon.
b) Foods To Enjoy (i.e. foods I should regularly eat): Some of these foods are chicken, beef, pork, almond milk, bananas, bell peppers, butter, eggs, grapefruit, macadamia nuts, and raspberries.
c) Foods I Need To Minimize (eat sparingly): Some of these are dairy, foods containing gluten, blackberries, apples, Asparagus, oats, broccoli, and yogurt.
d) Foods to avoid (Stay Away): For me some of these are corn, cauliflower, cashews, beans, and cured meat.
Using these recommendations I have altered my diet. There are a lot of small changes but it doesn’t feel like a major overhaul. The way I explain it to people is I choose walnuts instead of cashews and blueberries instead of blackberries.
I have had to add some things obviously. I have added a shit ton of stuff from the ‘Foods To Indulge’ in category. Things like bone broth (known to have incredible gut healing qualities), walnuts, brazil nuts, and apple cider vinegar all of which are things I didn’t eat before. I’ve also been eating a lot of arugula, carrot, blueberries, and lemon. Fortunately for me I love these things. I have these in mass quantities throughout the week.
I have also had to minimize some foods. I have to minimize dairy and gluten and white flour. This doesn’t mean I can’t eat it I just have to pick my spots. Let’s say I am only allowed to eat these things a few times a week. What do I do? When I go to ‘In N Out Burger’ or ‘Shake Shack’ now I have my burgers without buns. I suppose I could have a bun but if I have to minimize gluten or white flour I’d prefer to have fresh pasta once a week or a really good bread than a bun with my burger. When it comes to my shakes they are mostly made with almond milk now so that I can use my dairy allowance on cheese which I love. This makes the minimizing process easy.
In terms of cutting foods completely the only ones I have lost that I love are cashews, cured meats, apricots, and corn (I really miss tortilla chips). So that is a bit of a change but worth it for my gut.
As for fast food and so called “Junk food”. I didn’t eat that much in the first place however I did enjoy a bag of Doritos or McDonald’s every now and then, especially when I was trying to gain weight. Now I minimize it as well and just need to decide when it’s worth it and then see how it affects me before deciding whether or not to eat it again.
So really it’s not so bad. My diet doesn’t have to change that much I just make some different choices. It’s not like i have to go full carnivore, or full vegan, or keto.
3) No More Huge Feedings:
The days of eating two to three thousand calorie meals are over. It’s tough on the digestive system so I have to limit my calories each meal. I don’t necessarily have a calorie number to share with you or a portion size recommendation but basically now I don’t eat until I am full. I always leave myself a little hungry. If I had to simplify it I’d say I eat until I am roughly half full so I can eat again soon thereafter.
4) No More BedTime Snacks:
I used to eat my biggest meal of the day right before bed. Going to bed on a full stomach has always felt good from a psychological standpoint and has always helped me in gaining weight. Sometimes these meals were my biggest of the day. The other reason I would eat big before bed is because during the day when I would eat big I’d feel sluggish. That is an issue when you are go, go, go but at night it was no problem. The issue? It can be hard on your digestive system. Therefore I have eliminated it. Now I try to get in my last meal roughly 2 hours before bed. If I feel I am low on calories that day I will sometimes have a shot of protein but more often than not I am strict with this rule.
So What Does A Typical Day Look Like?:
Here is what a sample day looks like. Not every day is exactly like this but I wanted to give you guys and idea of how I am eating:
7am – Branch Chain Amino Acids and Collagen protein.
9am – Workout
11am – Brazilian BJJ or Fight Training
12:30pm – Shake with Almond Milk, Macadamia nuts, Bone Broth Protein Powder (Chocolate), and a Banana.
1pm – 1 cup of toasted walnuts and a half of cup of blueberries
2pm – 4 whole eggs, 3 slices of bacon with a Justin’s Peanut Butter Cup.
3pm – Banana and a handful of Walnuts or Brazil Nuts with Apple Cider Vinegar
4pm – Workout (second of the day) with Branch Chain Amino Acids and Collagen
6pm – Shake with Almond Milk, Macadamia nuts, Whey Protein Powder (Chocolate), and a banana
8pm – Steak or a burger with no bun or rack of ribs. Usually Arugula or Carrots on the Side.
Note: sometimes I will also include some of the things I am supposed to minimize. I’ll eat pizza or pasta or something like that but I only do it when it is worth it now. I don’t make it a habit. I also cheat. If I want a fast food burger I go. If I want ice cream I have it. The difference between now and before though is that if I do it counts on my “minimize list” so to speak and I have to make sure everything else is dialed perfectly during the day. I almost go by feel if that makes sense.
What Is The Biggest Challenge?:
Honestly it’s calories. The food choices haven’t been hard. As I stated above asking me to eat blueberries instead of blackberries or walnuts instead of almonds isn’t a sacrifice. Also adding bone broth has been easy because it’s delicious. Sure, I don’t like Apple Cider Vinegar (who really does?) but taking a shot of it a few times a day doesn’t bother me.
It all comes down to calories.
To gain weight I need to eat approximately 4000 to 5000 calories a day. Before I fell ill I could always count on eating a giant meal to make up for a deficit if I was undisciplined that day. For example if I got tied up with work and didn’t eat for 4 or 5 hours I could eat a massive lunch or bedtime meal to make up for it. Now because I can’t shouldn’t eat massive meals I have to be more disciplined during the day. This means to get enough calories in I CAN’T miss meals. I have to be on top of my eating. I have to pack snacks for anytime I leave the house and when I am at the house I need to be disciplined and graze on food all day. If I forget a meal or I get lazy then I don’t get to make it up and I don’t gain weight.
Would I Recommend These Changes To Others:
Yes I would recommend these changes. I have seen a tremendous difference in even just a month. I’ll bet within a few more months my issues are completely under control.
That said I wouldn’t just read this article and do exactly what I am doing.
For example I would experiment with Intermittent Fasting to see if it works for you however if you don’t have goals of being an athlete or gaining weight I would go with a five hour feeding window instead of an eight hour feeding window. I believe this may be even better on the digestive system.
Also I wouldn’t just recommend my list of foods. Remember my foods were based on individual recommendations. If I was you I would go to Viome (www.viome.com/maximus) and have a test done and make the changes that are best for you.
Finally all of this relates back to an individual goal. I am trying to deal with a certain disease (C-Diff and Ulcerative Colitis). You may have to deal with a different issue like diabetes or you may be a professional athlete or an endurance athlete and this may not work for you. Make sure before you make any change you do what I did and that is research and make an educated decision.