The Ultimate 24 Hour Healthy Eating Plan

The Healthy Eating Plan Epiphany

I was recently sitting at the kitchen table staring at a plate full of spinach and oysters when I had an epiphany.

I am going to create the ultimate 24 hour healthy eating plan!

It was as if those disgusting canned oysters were speaking directly to me with their little nasty mouths, or whatever it is that oysters have.

I am sick of dieting. I am sick of Googling “what should I eat” over and over again. I am sick of reading articles written by “experts” telling me what I should and should not be eating.

I am sick of testing fad diets on myself like I’m some sort of human nutrition guinea pig.

I’ve had enough!

But here’s the thing. I want to be healthy. I want to be fit, which is becoming harder and harder the older I get (I’m 34…for 2 more weeks).

I don’t have any grandiose notions of having arms like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson…

Or abs like Zac Efron.

What a jerk, right.

No, my ambitions are much lower. I want to feel good about myself, doing everything I can to be healthy, and fit into my clothes on a regular basis.

Is that too much to ask?

I think not.

So I set out on a mission to discover the ultimate 24 hour healthy eating plan. What EXACTLY do I need to be eating on a daily basis to promote my own health and well being.

As you can imagine, it turned out to be a different task.

After all, who even decides what the term “healthy” means? No one seems to agree on even this simple point.

“Fat is bad!”

“Fat is good!”

“Carbs are bad!”

“Carbs are good!”

“Meat is bad!”

“Meat is good!”

It seems that any food or diet topic that you can think of, there is someone who is adamantly opposing it, and someone else who is adamantly supporting it.

So how in the world was I supposed to set my expectations and my assumptions so that I could in fact create the ultimate 24 hour healthy eating plan?

There didn’t seem to be an easy method, so I decided to use a little bit of logic and a whole lot of common sense.

Common sense. What a crazy concept!

The assumptions I set for this project were as follows:

  • Real food good, fake food bad. No processed junk or quasi-foods were going to be included in my healthy eating plan.
  • Macronutrients were to be balanced.

A quick sidebar. For those of you who might not know, macronutrients are the building blocks of food. There are 3 primary “macros” as they are known: protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

These are often the sole focus of trendy diets. Some diets even eliminate entire macronutrients.

Like I said. I’ve tried most of them. I was a vegan for 3 years (high carb). Then I started eating meat again and discovered butter coffee and the high fat diet. Man was it fun, but man did my cholesterol go up!

**Public service announcement: I am not promoting or opposing any diet. I am just sharing my experience with each one. Don’t get all butt hurt and yell at me.**

I’ve even played around with the raw fruitarian diet. Yeah, that is a real thing.

Anyway, back to macronutrients. I didn’t want to eliminate or drastically reduce any one macronutrient category. If nothing else, this healthy eating plan was going to be balanced.

Now, on to the other assumptions:

  • No added sugar. This stuff is addictive (I love donuts) and is killing us.
  • No dairy (I think it’s gross).
  • Aim for around 1 gram of protein per pound of lean muscle.
  • Use foods that people actually eat (no hippie mushroom potions or fungus cakes).
  • Meet all recommended daily allowances (RDA) for micronutrients.

Wait, did you read that last one? Let’s say it out loud together.

All recommended daily allowances of micronutrients are to be met.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what I like to call “the kicker.”

You see, most diets completely avoid the topic of micronutrients. After all, they are hard to get!

What are micronutrients? Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals found in food that keep our healthy and functioning at the highest level of capacity possible.

Think vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, iron, potassium, etc. The good stuff.

So much focus is placed on macronutrient ratios that micronutrients are often abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Poor little guys.

This is the exactly opposite of the way it should be. Yes, macronutrients are important. I don’t want any meatheads out there sending me hate mail about not getting enough protein. We’ll get there bros. I promise.

Though “macros” are important, micronutrients are vital! Without the proper level of vitamins and minerals, our bodies become weak and sick and we lose our ability to function at a high level.

It is estimated that a large of Americans are consuming micronutrient levels significantly below the recommended daily allowance. I’m sure there are scientific studies out there that talk about the actual percentage. Feel free to look them up.

No wonder we are all fat and tired!

If all you needed was macronutrients, life would be simple! Eat this much oatmeal and rice, eat this much chicken, and eat this much olive oil. Boom! Macros complete.

But micronutrients are much more complex, more difficult to track, and definitely more difficult to obtain.

Alas! We will not leave you in the cold micronutrients! We will not abandon you!

No, my healthy eating plan would not only include micronutrients in the plan, it would fulfill all RDA’a given to us by the Food and Nutrition Board (yes, I know these numbers of highly contentious. Think what you will. These are the metrics I decided to adhere to).

A few other notes/assumptions about this project. There are certain variables that must be taken into consideration when tinkering with food intake levels.

I created this diet for a 185 pound man looking to eat as close to 2000 calories per day. If you are a female that weighs 125 pounds or a football player weighing in at 300, adjust accordingly.

Lastly, before we dig into the nitty gritty, let me tell you that this was not easy! I thought I would spend 10 minutes looking over MyFitnessPal to find a few extra vegetables and fruits to add in an all would be well with the world.

What I found is that getting all of the recommended micronutrients was indeed a challenge, and if selecting the right balance of foods via an online portal was hard, actually eating the right amounts seemed darn near impossible.

So now, without further ado, here is my ultimate 24 hour healthy eating plan.

730AM

Breakfast was pretty easy. I am a man of routine. My routine used to include eating 4 whole eggs, a bunch of coconut oil, some fruit and coffee. That might not sound unhealthy, but it definitely altered my blood markets.

I wanted to keep things simple and get the day started off right. Also, since I was tracking my micronutrients, I was hoping to get a jump start on fulfilling my RDA’s.

Oatmeal — 1/3 cup dry

The base was steel cut oats, because for some reason they say steel cut oats are superior to regular cut oats. I have no idea if that’s true or not but I love buying into hype.

Either way, oatmeal is healthy for you and good for your heart. Remember, common sense.

Do you see how many micronutrients there are? Goodness we have a long way to go.

Whey Protein Powder — 1 scoop

Whey protein is the only “processed” food that I decided to include in this healthy eating plan. Getting enough protein is not only vital but also hard to do. I used to be a vegan so don’t think I haven’t had the great protein debate.

My conclusion is that if you can get more protein in your system without doing damage, you will benefit in the long run.

You can use any whey protein you want. My two favorites are Max Muscle Triple Whey and Sunwarrior Warrior Blend.

Almonds — 1 oz

One of the key components of the standard American diet over the last twenty years has been reducing the amount of fat that we eat. Recently, people have started figuring out that fat is not only perfectly acceptable as part of a balanced diet, it is something our body needs plenty of to survive and function properly.

The key is to ensure the fats that we are consuming are healthy for us. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all eat cheeseburgers and fried cheese sticks all the time? Well I guess we can, but we’ll pay for it in the end.

I mistakenly understand the instructions to “eat plenty of fat” to mean that I needed to drench everything I ate in coconut oil, eat 4 eggs every morning, and put butter in my coffee.

Maybe this works for some people, but it caused my cholesterol to go through the roof. Now I focus on eating healthy fats that are low in saturated fat.

Saturated fat is another contentious issue right now. Some people are saying that it is in fact not bad for you at all and that it doesn’t have anything to do with your cholesterol levels, blood pressure or heart health. I’m not a doctor and I haven’t done the research, but I do know that the more saturated fat I eat, the higher my cholesterol goes.

By sticking to heart healthy fats like almonds, I not only get the fats that I need, but I also guard against doing damage to my heart.

Strawberries — 1 cup

We need to eat more fruits and vegetables. We all know that.

Strawberries were a very strategic choice for this project. Just look at the vitamins and minerals! They are packed with vitamin C and potassium. Some people assume bananas are the only fruit that contain potassium but strawberries come correct in that category!

Breakfast of Champions

So far, so good. Breakfast is a very important meal. Yeah, yeah. I know they say it’s the important meal of the day. I don’t know about that, but I do know that if you want to have the energy you need to be productive throughout the entire day, you better eat your breakfast.

When I skip breakfast, I end up getting super hungry later in the day. This usually leads me directly to a mouthful of junk food and a heart full of sadness.

10AM — Snack 1

1 Banana

C’mon. Did you really think I would talk about potassium without including a banana in the mix? Look at all that potassium! Between that and the strawberries, we are well on our way to meeting our RDA for that micronutrient.

Getting the points racked up that early make me feel like I’m gaming the system. Hey. Whatever works right?

Whey Protein Powder — 1 scoop

More protein! Remember. I’m not one of those fitness fanatics who thinks you need 2.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. BUT, I do think protein is extremely important. It keeps your muscles from turning into mush (I’m mushy enough) and keeps you full in between meals.

The macro and micro numbers are already listed in breakfast so I won’t make you look at the image again but they are there if you want them.

And you might be asking why I am including snacks. Good question. For me, I’ve tried eating multiple meals throughout the day and intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is all the rage right now so of course I had to give it a try.

I found that I held onto weight more when I spaced out my meals like you do during intermittent fasting. I’m sure it works wonders for some people but for me it wasn’t ideal. Are you noticing a trend here? What works for some people doesn’t work for others. Always remember that.

Not only that, but my good friend and nutritionist Jamie Free wants me eating every few hours. He is a beast and is more knowledgable about nutrition than I am so I figure I better listen to him.

1230pm — Lunch

Time for lunch! By this point in the day I’m not even really hungry because I’ve been eating quite a bit of food. It’s funny how much food you can/should eat when you are eating healthy, real foods. Who woulda thunk? We are going to keep that train moving for a big, nutrient packed lunch.

Coconut Oil — 1 tbsp

Fat is important! Don’t fall into the “no fat trap.” You need it at every meal. Just make sure you are eating high quality fats.

Coconut oil is wildly popular right now and rightly so. It does, however, contain large amounts of saturated fat. You need some saturated fat but if you eat too much and your blood levels get higher than a college kid on 4/20, you need to limit them.

“But bro! Saturated fat is not bad for you! I eat it with every meal and snack on it all day and all night!”

Good for you bro. Have you regularly checked your blood work? If not, check it. If so and you are still in “normal” range, keep on eating it. Sadly, I must limit my intake.

Sweet Potato — 1 medium

Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Look at those numbers above. Are you kidding me!?!?!

Those micronutrient levels are insane! If you aren’t eating sweet potatoes, go ahead and slap yourself in the face.

The potassium and vitamin A numbers are off the charts. Plus, sweet potatoes are a healthy, clean source of carbohydrates so we are hitting our macro levels as well. It’s a win/win!

Green Beans — 1 cup

Good ole green beans. I wasn’t really expecting these to be a big player in my grand healthy eating plan. But I underestimated them and if we learned anything from Rudy, it’s not to underestimate anything.

Green beans are a great source of potassium, one micronutrient that was greatly lacking in my original plan. They are also good sources of vitamins A and C. Take that unhealthy body!

Black Beans — 1/2 cup

Most people associate any type of beans with fiber. While they are a good source of fiber, they are also a great source of both protein and potassium.

And we aren’t talking about 2 cups of beans here. This small 1/2 cup serving of black beans will do wonders for your body and will keep you full for hours without making you feel like you want to pass out at 3pm.

Chicken Breast — 5 ounces

Low in calories and fat. High in protein. Grilled chicken is the best. More protein bros and brosephines. More protein.

3pm — Snack 2

I’ll be honest. I don’t usually look forward to snack two. I’m never hungry by this time of day. After all, I’ve been eating all day! BUT, whenever I skip this snack, I end up ravenously binge eating anything I can get my hands on later on at night.

This snack is important, not only to keep you from ending up face down in some Taco Bell, but also to keep chipping away at those micronutrients.

Almonds — 1 ounce

More almonds please! To be honest, I 100% thought I was going to mix it up here and switch out the almonds for some cashews, walnuts, or brazil nuts. Nuts are such a great source of healthy fats.

When it came down to micronutrients though, I just couldn’t find anything that beat almonds. Go with what you know and what works (see breakfast for the numbers breakdown).

Sardines — 4 ounces

Ok. It’s time to get cray cray. I know I told you we wouldn’t be eating anything that normal people wouldn’t eat. Well I think normal people should be eating sardines.

Listen. I understand. I too was skeptical about sardines. I mean, who in their right mind eats those things?

Well it turns out that plenty of people do, including some of my favorites like Tim Ferriss. If you want to hear some great info about eating sardines and oysters, listen to Tim’s interview with Dr. Dom D’Agostino. Fascinating.

Here is the thing. Meeting your daily calcium requirements is down right almost impossible if you don’t eat dairy. If you don’t mind dairy, you can drink a glass or two of milk instead of eating sardines. I think milk is foul though, so I had to find another way.

If you Google “foods high in calcium,” other than milk, well-known “health” websites list all kinds of fortified fake foods like cereal. Give me a break. It’s disturbing to me that major health websites are encouraging people to eat more cereal. No wonder we are all fat and sick.

Aside from dairy, sardines are the best place to get your calcium. Not only that, but they are packed full of protein, good fats, and iron. Iron is also hard to get enough of.

I tried and tried people. I really did. Then I stumbled across sardines and my eyes were opened.

Guess what. They taste amazing. They aren’t fishy and stink like you might have though. I too was terrified the first time I tried them. Now I’m hooked. Buy the ones packed in olive oil. They taste amazing and before long your skin and hair will be shiny and silky smooth.

Oysters are another story. I can’t choke down more than 1 or 2 before feeling like I’m going to vomit everywhere. No thanks. I’ll stick to sardines. Give them a try. If you don’t like them, feel free to drink more cow secretions (sorry, I had to).

630pm — Dinner

It’s been a long but good day. We have crushed our macros and our micros. It’s time to finish strong. Let’s do this. You can do it!

Quinoa — 1/4 cup dry (1 serving)

Quinoa was a very strategic choice here. I was looking to round out the carbohydrate category for the day without slamming my body with something that would dramatically raise my blood sugar levels.

I also needed to get some additional micronutrients that I was short on. Do you see how hard it is to get all of your micronutrients? Crazy hard.

Quinoa is an ancient grain that I got addicted to several years ago. If you haven’t tried it, go get some asap. It has a mild nutty flavor but can be eaten at breakfast instead of oatmeal or as a carb source with any regular meal. It’s really good.

It is also the most nutrient dense carb source I could find, other than sweet potatoes. It has a decent amount of protein, but more importantly for this project, it has 10% of the RDA for iron. Iron was tough to come by so this sealed the deal.

Salmon (wild caught) — 4 ounces

Salmon was a no brainer. The king of the sea! Salmon is packed full of all the good stuff we need as we get closer to finishing up our day.

It has a good amount of good fat, hardly any saturated fat, a HUGE amount of potassium, a 24 grams of high quality protein.

Notice here that I’m not eating 12 ounces of salmon. You eat too much of anything, especially fatty foods (yes, even fish), and pretty soon you’ll be needing to buy new pants.

The small serving of 4 ounces is the perfect amount to get the benefit of all of the macro and micronutrients without going overboard on calories or fat.

Turnip Greens — 2 cups

Eat your greens!

Yes, we all know we need to eat more green, leafy vegetables. But aren’t they all basically the same?

I sure thought so. My green, leafy veggie of choice has always been spinach. I always read that spinach is a super food and I still think it is. After doing my research, however, I learned that turnip greens put a straight up butt whooping on spinach when it comes to micronutrients.

Look at those figures above. Two cups of turnip greens have 325 mg of potassium, 254% of your vitamin A RDA, 110% of your Vitamin C, 20.9% of your Calcium and 6.7% of your Iron.

That is crazy awesome. Like I said before, calcium and iron are hard to come by so when you can eat a couple cups of greens and get that much of each, you best be going to town on those greens!

We Made It!

Congratulations! You have now eaten your face off for the entire day. I feel full just looking at all of these foods.

Let’s see how we did!

Macronutrients

Not too shabby! Remember, balance was the goal. The goals on the right are just a generic guideline.

Mission Accomplished!

I’m not gonna lie. That is pretty impressive. We hit every single micronutrient goal except for potassium, which we were only under 85mg. Not only that, but we stayed well below the dangerous levels of saturated fat, sugar, trans fat, and sodium.

What I Learned

  • Getting all of your vitamins and nutrients is HARD!
  • I don’t eat NEARLY enough vegetables
  • Not all healthy foods are equal
  • Without a plan, there is no way to give your body everything it needs
  • Oysters are disgusting
  • Sardines are awesome (for real, try them)
  • You can and should eat a ton of food (good food)
  • Eating right feels like a job

What Do I Do Next?

This is a ton of information. It can be overwhelming. I would recommend that you start by trying the foods that you’ve never tried before. It can be scary to eat new things (oysters, blah!), but you will find that you like some of them and you hate some of them.

If you hate or even dislike a food, don’t eat it. You might be able to force it down for a day or two, but in the long run you won’t be able to sustain eating it, so don’t even waste your time.

Feel free to switch out foods for other foods that are similar. I love the MyFitnessPal app for finding new foods and tracking the food that I eat every day. It can be eye opening when you see what you are actually consuming and what you are missing.

Consider Supplements

Supplements are a controversial topic, but I am a big believer in them.

The odds that we are all going to eat 100% on the healthy eating plan above are pretty much zero. Life gets in the way and pizza gets on the mind. If you miss out on key vitamins, minerals and nutrients, you aren’t doing your body any favors.

I think you should be careful with supplements. Do your research and don’t take anything that doesn’t have scientific research to support it. Especially avoid fad supplements that have no scientific backing. In the end, trust your gut, literally.

I take quite a few supplements daily. I am regularly low on several key micronutrients. I get my blood tested every 3 months to make sure I know what is going on. Knowledge is key.

If you want to get your blood tested, I recommend using WellnessFX. They are awesome (I don’t get paid for this rec).

If you’d like to know exactly what supplements I take and why, got to my website at grantellis.us and you can get a free guide.

Conclusion

I hope this information is helpful to you. We all just want to be our best but sometimes that is hard to do. I’d love to hear your thoughts as you try and figure out a plan that works best for you.

Feel free to leave a comment below and share this with a friend if you think they’d enjoy it.

Thanks!

PS — I’d love to connect with you on the interwebs. I’m @granthamellis on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

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