Abby’s Weight Loss Advice Part 2: Nutrition

Abby is back with part 2 of her series on sharing the exact formula she used to get in bikini competition shape.  Today she speaks on nutrition, which is the toughest battle for most and also plays the biggest role in fat loss!

Click here if you missed part 1 of Abby series…

Enjoy!

“What should I eat?” is one of the most popular questions both Dustin and I hear.  And I completely understand how confusing and frustrating it can be to figure out what is best.  There are so many articles out there with different opinions, and it is hard to know what is right…and more importantly, what is right for you!

        In the post last week, there were a lot of questions asking about eating.  Some people wanted to know what I eat regularly and others wanted to know what I ate during my “diet” for the competition.  To be honest, the two plans are pretty much the same!  (Phew, that makes things a little easier!)  Another thing to keep in mind, the eating info I’m about to share coincides exactly with what Dustin is telling all of us!  The only difference is I do it (most of the time)!  😉
       
        As fitness people, the one thing we don’t want to do to our body is starve it!  Actually, no one should starve their body!  Not giving your body the nutrients it needs is going to cause your body to start shutting down, and this will cause it to stop burning fat!  I don’t know many people who want that to happen!!!  People who work out, like all of us, need to pay particular attention to what we eat because we want to fuel our bodies for our workouts and for our active lifestyles.  Many of us are trying to lose weight, as well, so keeping that metabolism going is key!  The best way to do that is to eat small meals every 2-3 hours!  Keep in mind, “small” is the key word in that sentence.  We can’t be eating 500-600 calorie meals each time!  Instead, each meal should be 200-300 calories.
       
        Alright, alright, we’ve all heard that before!  So, what exactly should be included in those meals?!  The most important thing to remember is to have protein with each meal of the day.  How much protein should you be eating?  It’s a pretty common belief to eat one gram of protein for each pound you weigh.  So, if you weigh 145lbs, eat 145 grams of protein during the day.  Now divide that total amount of protein by the 5/6 meals per day.  That’s about 24-29 grams of protein each meal!  Eating this much protein will help you keep full in between meals. 
       
        Of course, we can’t be eating protein alone!  Each meal should also have a fruit or vegetable with it.  These help the protein get absorbed into the muscles.  And the great thing about vegetables, you can eat a LOT of them (especially the green veggies) without adding a lot of calories to your diet!  I usually have my fruits before and after my workouts.  My body burns those sugars and carbs right away then!
       
        It’s also important to get starchy carbs into your diet!  The staples for me are: brown rice, Ezekiel bread, oatmeal (not the individual bagged kind) and sweet potatoes.  I try to eat these earlier in the day, usually not much after 4 pm.  Of course, it’s not the end of the world if you do have them for dinner sometimes.  Just try not to carb-load late at night!  Once again, you want to be eating this with protein.
       
        Finally, fats…and we’re not talking about the pizza-kind of fats…we’re talking the healthy fats!  Eat about 45 grams of fats a day.  I find it better to eat them throughout the day, in smaller portions, rather than all at once.  (For whatever reason, I found my energy lacking if I ate all my fats in one meal and had none the rest of the day.)

       
        Regarding my diet for the competition, the only big difference was I ate only 1 serving of fruit a day.  And of course, there were NO cheat meals!  🙂  I would not recommend either of these.  For one, you need more than one serving of fruit a day.  And second, without cheat meals every now and then, a person could go crazy!  Especially if you have a sweet tooth like mine!  (Just ask Dustin, I was miserable to be around some days when I was dieting and couldn’t eat some sweets!!!!)  The third difference between my regular eating and my diet eating is that I only ate fats at night during the diet.  Again, I wouldn’t recommend this because I lacked so much energy without fats during the day!

        I often get asked how I get so much protein in my diet each day.  The protein I eat most is chicken, chicken, and more chicken!  During my competition, I ate so much chicken, I thought I would start growing feathers and clucking.  I’ve cut back a bit now, but I still make a bunch of chicken at the beginning of the week and then have my portions all divided up so I can grab and go!  Another favorite of mine is ground turkey.  I brown a couple of pounds at once, adding some spices, divide it up and then have that as my topping for my no-shell taco salad!  Just throw some salsa on top for more spice and flavor.  Lean steak and ground beef are good, too, just in moderation!  Nuts are good, but be careful of the portions because of the fats!
       
        I also get asked about water consumption a lot.  Personally, if I don’t get enough water, then I get massive headaches.  It’s amazing how my body has become so dependent on it!  I usually drink most of my water earlier in the day and then it slows as the day progresses.  (I hate getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom!)  I carry my Nalgene around everywhere with me!  I know that one bottle is 32oz, so I can keep track of exactly how much I have drank.  I usually try to drink at least 3 Nalgenes of water at work.  Then I know I don’t have to worry about much more the rest of the day.  I don’t drink much else during the day, either; green tea is pretty much the only other liquid.  The more I drink, the less hungry I am, too!  If I’m feeling myself getting hungry and it’s not quite time to eat again, I’ll take a huge drink glass of water and will feel full! Drinking enough water takes practice and some effort, but anyone can do it.
       
        Sample Meal Plan:
        Meal 1:  ½ cup oatmeal
           2 eggs w/ spinach & tomatoes 
        Meal 2:  Apple
            Handful of almonds
        Meal 3:  Turkey sandwich 
  (2 pieces Ezekiel bread, turkey, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes)
           Small side salad
        Meal 4:  Protein drink (pre-workout)
        Meal 5:  Protein drink (post-workout)
        Meal 6:  Chicken
           Sweet potatoes
           Green beans
        
        Sample Competition-Diet Meal Plan:
        Meal 1:  ½ cup oatmeal
           5 egg whites w/ spinach & other veggies
        Meal 2:  Protein drink
        Meal 3:  Chicken
          Sweet potatoes 
        Meal 4:  Chicken
  Green beans
 Meal 5:  Salmon
    Large salad
 Meal 6:  Cottage cheese (only if still hungry)
        
               A few things to remember:


1.) I am not a nutritionist or dietician.  The information above is simply what has worked for me and what I’ve seen work for others. 

2.) The most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to listen to your body.  It is so incredibly important that you get to know your body and be able to eat and do what’s best for you!  No one else can tell what you’re feeling inside.  Once you get to know your body better, you’ll be able to see how it reacts to different foods.  Listen to it!

3.) Buy a digital scale to measure the weight of your food…it seriously helps!  You’d be surprised how much you are actually eating by not weighing things.  After a while, you can start to “eye” things and won’t need the scale as much.

Dustin says I can’t give this away totally yet, but I am starring in my own core workout DVDs.  We will be releasing this program within the next month with only a limited number of copies being made available, so be on the lookout for that!

Please post comments in the section below if you have any questions about what I eat!  Next time I will be sharing with you my workouts!

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this Abby.
    It was very helpful.
    Since I am not a cook at all (I’m learning), can you share how you cook your sweet potatoes?

    What about the brown rice? What do you put on it for flavor? Or do you just eat it plain?

    One last question, I apparently have a weakness for sweets. When you are craving something sweet and know you cant or shouldn’t have it what to you do?

    • Candice Schneider says

      @Melissa:

      Hi Abby,

      How do you prepare your oatmeal? I like to add walnuts, coconut, raisins, cinnimon and milk. Sometimes I still have to add a little maple syrup or brown sugar to sweeten. Oh and coconut milk is an awesome way to get the coconut flavor minus the sugar. Candice

  2. Great post Abby..very helpful. Thank you. Eating healthy is a big challenge for me. I too have a very strong sweet tooth. I am wondering, as you resist giving into your cravings, does it ever get easier??

  3. Melissa those are alot of the same questions I was going to ask. What are your suggestions for health fats? Also even if you purchase like a good package oatmeal low in sugar and fat is that still bad? Lots of questions I know.
    Abby thanks for sharing you look absoutely amazing.

  4. I can throw in a comment on the oatmeal. Dustin had suggested getting the Steal cut oats.

    I bought mine at Woodmans. The brand is McCan’s. I make a batch at night as it takes 30 minutes to cook, and then I have enough for 3-4 breakfasts.

    I put 1 tbsp natural honey on for flavor and some frozen fruit.

    I tried putting Stevia on and was not a fan.

    Thought I would share what Dustin told me. 🙂

  5. Thanks I will try that Melissa.

  6. uwmad05@gmail.com says

    Hi Abby, Thanks so much for sharing this information! Your success is inspiring!! A couple questions….

    What brand of protein drinks, do you mix with water or milk?
    What are things to look for when choosing deli meats, which is what I’m assuming you meant by turkey sandwhich.
    I noticed there is no dairy listed, what about adding skim milk to your diet? I’ve read about the impact is has on weight loss or is that not true.

  7. I made Dustin’s recipe for the crockpot steel cut oats. It’s very good. My husband and kids like it, too.

  8. Hi Abby-

    I have heard about other healthy folks eating the Ezekiel bread. What is it exactly and where do you find it? How much of it per day do you allow yourself?

    Thanks…great information and you look fabulous!

    Jane

  9. I was wondering how you fit 2-3 servings of dairy/calcium into this meal plan? Do you make the oatmeal and protein drinks with milk? Thanks!

  10. The protein drink I have you can use water or milk. I use water and its a whey protein mix. Its chocolate flavored and its good. Also the Ezekiel bread is at woodmans in the freezer section. I keep it frozen and just toast it when I use it…not sure how it tasted thawed or what kind of shelf life it has thawed.

  11. Thanks Abby! Can’t wait for those Core videos!! 🙂

  12. I have a more general question regarding eating the six small meals a day. That’s what I always used to think was the way to go, but I just read Jillian from Biggest Loser’s book “Master Your Metabolism” and she says that’s not ideal. She says eat four “meals” (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner) every four hours. She said that this prevents you from being hungry therefore preventing the massive fat storage that comes from feast-or-famine eating and and also keeps insulin levels stable. She said that the concept of eating several small meals a day was started by body builders who had to squeeze thousands upon thousands of calories into their day. Also that many of them developed type 2 diabetes due to the body constantly releasing insulin from the constant eating.

    So…I was wondering what everyone else thought about this. I’m rather torn as to which way might be right…

    Kelly

  13. EstherPearlman says

    Im wondering about getting enough calcium? I heard a person needs at least 5000 mg. of calcim a day and to take it at night so one can sleep better. For people who have a lactaid problem they can take a pill for that. Esther Pearlman

  14. The recommended daily intake of calcium is usually around 1000mg daily for an average adult. Most calcium supplements are about 500mg so if you take that twice to three times daily you should be set. only thing is space them out because the body can only absorb about 500mg at a time

  15. Thanks for all the info Abby and for the sample meal plan. My question is, If my protien grams per day should equal my weight (167) and I eat 6 times per day that is 28g of protien for each small meal. I am not sure what I would eat to get that much protien and all my other necessary nutrients and keep my calorie intake at 1200 / day to lose weight.

    Thanks in advance!!!

    Theresa

  16. Wow! I am so inspired! Two questions……How do you cook eggs and do you use salad dressing? If so, what kind? Thanks for all the info!

  17. That sounds like a crazy amount of protein. I have been told I need 30-50 grams and I weigh 135. Why is that?

  18. I agree with Jenny about the amount of protein. I do not think it is humanly possible for me to eat that much protein in a day (I will not even say how much I weigh on here – Eeek) Even when I was pregnant the recommended amount was only about 60 grams per day and that seemed like a stretch. Looking at the sample meal plans too, I am not sure I am seeing those high protein sources although you did not go into details about serving sizes so maybe that is the difference.

    I have a calcium supplement that you take twice a day, morning and night with meals and that works out well since I am not a milk drinker.

    I would be curious about what Kelly M read too about the 4 meals per day rather then 6. See, there is just so much information out there and different opinions. No wonder I give up so easily and find comfort in my Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia FroYo 🙂

    Dawn

  19. Abby-
    Thanks for sharing, not only did the eating plan help you lose weight, but you have maintained your loss, which is where most people fail-CONGRATULAIONS!
    You do such a nice job of “listening” to your body and responding to those needs, I think that is key, and an excellent point. Someone once had a quote about ordinary people doing extraordinary things-you prove we can all do what needs to be done, old habits can be broken and new habits formed. It is one thing to say you want to change, and another to do the work needed to be a success-you and Dustin are tireless in your attemtps to help us all succeed, your direction and committment are much appreciated.
    I must say I laugh and smile at the irony of “Abby” becoming an “ab” specialist-congratulations on your success.
    Cheryl

    • There have been some great questions that have been asked! Like Abby said this is what SHE did that worked for HER. The beauty/frustration is that what works best for one person may not be the best for you. This eating plan seems to help for a majority of people. I do believe in a pretty high protein diet, and also higher fat diet in general. We consume WAY too many grains and sugars in our diets and if you consume more protein and fat, naturally you will eat less carbs and have fewer sugar cravings.

      I personally try to get 200 grams of protein in, could I get by with less than that and still have a lean physique?? Probably, but it works for me so why change it. When you are lifting you need additional protein then someone who isn’t. I think 15-20 grams of protein per meal (for women) is good, so if you eat 5 times a day that is close to 100 grams per day which is fine. If you are a woman and weigh 200 lbs, you shouldn’t eat 200 grams of protein… it goes by what your ideal body weight is, which is what Abby was getting at when referring to 1g/lb of protein per body weight.

      Kelly, eating 4 meals or 6 meals a day is a personal choice that you will have to try out yourself… My gut tells me that both would give similar results, but I enjoy trying to eat every 2-3 hours which allows me to not have to eat big meals but eat smaller snacks that keep my energy up, so again try both out and see what you like best.

      Hope that clarifies things!

      Dustin

  20. Jenn Seubert says

    Hi Abby and Dustin,
    Can you tell me what protein supplement you used to achieve your results. Great work!
    Jenn

  21. Wow, so many great questions again. I’ll address some of them, but as I said before, I’m not a nutritionist or an expert! This is simply what’s worked for me.

    I have a bit of a sensitivity to some dairy, so I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always get as much as I should. I do take a multivitamin, drink milk (1%, I’m not a fan of skim or even 2%…probably a mental thing) for a meal or two, and have cottage cheese occasionally. I’ll put milk or yogurt in my protein drinks sometimes, as well. During the competition diet, I didn’t really have any dairy at all…which is why that meal plan isn’t something to maintain long-term, unless you incorporate dairy into the meals.

    For my protein drinks, I buy protein powder from Bodybuilding.com. I use a lot of protein powder, and I can buy large quantities at a time from them…10lb bags!!! I mix those with just milk, or with frozen berries, or a combination of berries, milk, and yogurt. I’ll also throw flaxseeds in to get some healthy fats…but this is not ideal for pre or post-workout shakes.

    For my oatmeal, I personally don’t buy the steal cut oats, mostly because I’m lazy and don’t want to take the time to make it. I have heard that it’s the best for you, though. To spice up my oatmeal, I’ll put protein powder in it (the texture and taste do take a little getting used to), or sometimes I’ll add frozen fruit to that, or I’ll add a little bit of brown sugar and cinnamon.

    For sweet potatoes, I either bake the entire potato and then add a little butter and brown sugar or, my favorite is making “fries.” I simply cut up the sweet potatoes into wedges or thin “chips,” spray them with a little olive oils spray and add some salt or rosemary. Bake them at about 425 for 20 minutes, flipping half way…and they are delicious!

    In my opinion, brown rice is boring! But, it’s good for me, so I eat it. The only way I’ve really “spiced up” my brown rice is to make a bowl, add chicken, some veggies, and put a little Light Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing on top. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.

    I have the BIGGEST sweet tooth in the world. I do give in to my sweet tooth, but I don’t over indulge. Personally, if I try to cut out sweets all together, then I go crazy and way overindulge. You should have seen me the week after my competition…I ate every (and I mean every) sweet in sight…and it showed. I’ve gotten my sweet consumption back on track now. And, as cliché as it sounds, eating fruit in place of sweets does help. I always have at least 1 protein drink with me at work and one apple, so I can munch on either at any time.

    I only buy the deli meat from the deli counter, never the pre-packaged. There’s something about that which grosses me out…I feel like they really have to put the meat through a lot to keep it fresh that long.

    My eggs are either scrambled or hard-boiled. I don’t get too fancy. I like to toss Dustin’s mom’s home-made salsa in my scrambled eggs…it was a staple during my competition! I like it a little spicy, but not too spicy (right Joy)!

    Last, trust me, it’s not impossible to eat a lot of protein! It’s just a matter of changing your current eating habits. I was eating 29 grams of protein for each meal during my competition…which is more than the 1 gram/lb of body weight. I don’t eat quite that much during each meal in the “off season,” but it’s pretty close.

    Hope that answers some of the questions! Let me know if you have others.

  22. Abby,

    What do you recommend for a pre-workout shake and/or “meal”? Especially if you are working out at 5:30 in the morning!

  23. Abby –

    What is ideal for a pre-workout and post-workout snack/meal/shake? Especially with working out at 5:30am!

  24. Abby,

    Thanks for sharing you diets with us. I really appreciate your points about listening to our body. This is very empowering. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another because bodies are different. However, you have outlined for us basics that help fuel the body and stay avoid extra weight and fat. I also like you point about doing it most of the time. This is the hard part for me. As I have told you before, you are an inspiration.Thanks again for your generosity.

  25. Tami, have some protein powder and chocolate milk. It won’t sit heavy. Or, I have one bootcamper who will eat some yogurt, which is also won’t sit heavy either. Protein powder mixed with fruit works, too…just might be a bit much right before working out. Obviously, the earlier you can get up to have something, the better…but I’m not much of a morning person so I can understand how hard it can be. Test some different things out and find which one works best for you!

  26. Are you kidding me? Please no longer share yours and Dustin’s bull cookie cutter diets and workouts with other people. The rest of you should look to hire a REAL trainer that actually knows what they are talking about. This ‘diet’ is straight out of Cathy Savage fitness. PLEASE!

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