Diet and Exercise (Part Two)

Yesterday I gave you an overview of my thoughts on diet. Today I am going into more detail about what I eat and what I try to avoid.

Plus I’ve included another of my favorite smoothie recipes!

Here is my list of “Al Approved Foods,” broken down into three categories:

Group 1 – Have as much as you want!
Water
Veggies
Roots
Seeds
Nuts and Nut Butters

Group 2 – Eat, but show some restraint.

Fruits
Grass-fed Beef
Free Range Chicken (and other poultry)
Fish
Pork
Eggs
Dairy
Peanuts (technically peanuts are legumes)
Beans
Olive Oil

Group 3 – Eat only in moderation.
Honey
Fresh Bread
Rice
Pasta
Coffee
Tea

Non-Approved Foods – Eat at your own risk!
High Fructose Corn Syrup (and anything that has it as an ingredient!)
Processed Breads and Cakes
Table Sugar
Soda and Other Processed Beverages
Ice Cream
Alcohol
Vegetable Oil

A lot of people have gotten great results from cutting grains and breads out of their diet completely. I’ve personally found that small amounts are okay as long as most of my carbs come from fruits and veggies. You should experiment and see what works for you. It’s also important to follow a plan that is realistic for the long term. People who follow very restrictive diets are less likely to stick with them.

Here’s today’s smoothie recipe. I call this one “Al’s Coconut-Cashew Concoction.”

Al’s Coconut-Cashew Concoction
1 Young Thai Coconut
2 Tablespoons of Cashew Butter
1 Banana
1 Teaspoon of Honey
6 oz. Milk (or use the coconut water)
3-5 Ice Cubes

This recipe will give you approximately 20 oz. of smoothie and 450 calories.

65 thoughts on “Diet and Exercise (Part Two)

  • By Fitz -

    Aw c'mon Al, what about red wine? That doesn't get slight approval? I need it!

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    One glass a day is okay with me, Fitz. I actually find it easier to have none than to have one though. Also, that doesn't mean you can save it up all week and drink a whole bottle on Friday night!

  • By Marisa Mezs -

    I'm curious about the nuts/nut butters. I used to eat 1-2 oz. a day (usually almonds or walnuts) but cut back after I was told it should be more like 1-2 oz. a week. Thoughts?

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  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Hey Marisa – one to two ounces a week seems way too restrictive for me. I sometimes eat half a jar of almond or cashew butter in a day! I couldn't imagine doing that every day though. I suppose if you had that much every day it might be excessive.

    Nuts are sometimes scrutinized for their high calorie content, but I think the nutritional benefits outweigh the negatives. Besides, you need to get your calories from something and if all you eat is veggies and seeds you wont have enough energy to do a killer workout.

  • By Fmte -

    Hi Al,
    Another great post! I'm not surprised to see that your approach to nutrition is similar to other aspects of fitness, simple, sensible and practical.
    Couple of questions if I may. You place meat in the moderation category. I eat a good serving of meat at least once a day (chicken, beef, fish etc.) would you consider that to be “moderate”? Also, I find breakfast challenging when trying to avoid processed foods like bread and cereal. I could gladly eat eggs every day but that's probably too much. Can you tell us what you typical have for breakfast? -Fmte

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Hey Fmte – I put meat in the category that is a bit more than just moderation. I think meat once a day is great. In fact, I often eat meat twice a day!

    When I'm not having eggs for breakfast, I'll usually have fruit, a smoothie or a veggie juice. If I'm in a hurry, I'll grab a Larabar.

  • By Aaron -

    I was going to comment on alcohol restriction but someone beat me to it. I do know a weekend binge drinking session halts progress a couple of days for me personally, so I don't make a habit with beer. For me, as far as meat and fat I prefer to get my energy from fat instead of carbs and blood sugar. Granted because of my lack of carbs I can't go run a marathon but you would be surprised how far the human body can go with out living on carbs. I should clarify i eat NO processed man made carbs (any man made food with grains), so I do get carbs from veggies just not enough to make my blood sugar go up and down (I do not enjoy the spikes at all). I do believe I could get away with eating some man made food (pasta, bread) but I just feel to good to add it back to my lifestyle. In my opinion your diet is just that, YOURS. It's up to each individual to find out what works and what doesn't. It took me over a year to fine tune mine and it was a very liberating experience.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Hey Aaron – It's important for me to point out that I am not looking to lose weight. I am interested in maintaining my current body composition and I need energy to work out daily and lead a fairly active lifestyle. I need carbs for energy because I am not looking to burn up my minimal fat stores and I definitely don't want to drop muscle. I eat a lot and without fruit (and occasional grains), I wouldn't get enough calories. Besides, fruit and bread (and nuts) are relatively cheap compared to things like beef and fish.

    • By Eddie -

      Hey Al really like your site and the info presented here. Do you just do mainly bodyweight routines? Im quite interested in strictly bw and love the Bar-barians. Also wondering as you say eat grains, do you eat bread quite often? Just wondering as I’ve been off grains for awhile but am thinking of putting them back in but don’t want to interupt my workouts. Cool site!

      • By Al Kavadlo -

        Hi Eddie – I do mostly bodyweight training but I do lift weights from time to time as well. As for the grains, I try to avoid them but I still wind up eating small amounts on a regular basis. It’s a lot less than I used to though!

        Keep looking around the site and remember to use the search feature – I’ve accumulated over 150 posts since the site began so I’ve covered a lot of topics!

        • By Eddie -

          Cool Al yeah thanks for the info. The problem I find with grains is how convienent they are lol. Do you have any routines listed on your site in terms of strictly bodyweight or are there any in your book? I need to work out my legs more and love your new post on the pistol, thanks for keeping with the updates Al Sorry for all the questions was also wondering what you do for cardio, just running?

          • By Al Kavadlo -

            Hey Eddie – check out this post on bodyweight routines: http://www.alkavadlo.com/2010/04/zero-equipment-workouts/

            There are also a few other routines in my book, but more importantly, the book goes much more in depth on my training philosophy.

            If you like this website, I highly recommend that you get the book.

          • By Eddie -

            Awesome Al cool thanks alot, I really enjoy your vids. I plan on purchasing your book as soon as I can. Hopefully it will be an xmas gift! Keep up the good work!

  • By dannykavadlo -

    About the alcohol:
    “All things in moderation… EVEN MODERATION.” -Mark Twain.
    Some hooch (particularly red wine) is fine. Life is to be enjoyed. That's why we work out and eat well– to get more enjoyment out of life. Someone who eats well and trains hard won't fuck it up by getting drunk one night a week, the same way a raging alcoholic won't cure his alcoholism by being sober one night a week.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Good point. There are no black and white answers to the questions. Like I say in my book, life is 50/50.

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  • By hooty -

    MAN do I love the site, al. Just have to ask you, why no coffee and tea?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Hooty! I didn’t say no coffee or tea, just to use them in moderation. One cup a day is fine but too much caffeine is a no-no. But as always, do what works for you. I don’t drink coffee or tea at all, but I have tons of energy without ’em – I’d be bouncing off the walls if I drank coffee!

      • By hooty -

        you da man! thanks for the reply

  • By Eddie -

    Hey Al just curious what are your thoughts on oatmeal, as in real oatmeal none of that sugar crap, just plain rolled outs or steel cut, do you eat em?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      I generally avoid oatmeal, as it is a grain. However, as far as grains go it isn’t that bad as it ranks low on the glycemic index compared to most breakfast cereals.

  • By Michael Garner -

    Al you need some Raw Honey And Raw Milk!!!!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      I love raw honey! Can’t stomach the raw milk though. :(

  • By vladimir -

    Hey Al, I have a question on caloric intake:

    I’m a 20 year old male with a bodyweight of 171 pounds. I do all calisthenics and my goal is to gain lean muscle and be at 165 pounds (see a six pack…or close to it). How many calories would you suggest (roughly) that I should eat a day. I did some research and it said 2800cal/day and tried that but I think that’s too much. I’m thinking something like 2300-2500 calories a day. What would your opinion be?

    Thanks for your help!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Hey Vladimir – thanks for stopping by!

      If you keep training hard, eat when you are hungry and stick to mostly real foods, the rest should all fall into place. I don’t really believe in counting calories.

      • By vladimir -

        thanks Al, that’s pretty much what I thought too

  • By Guy -

    Al I friended you on FB a couple of weeks back and have been enjoying your site ever since. It’s really nice to browse around looking for inspiration, whether it be for a workout or a nice treat like one of your smoothie specials! I’m meeting my weightloss and fitness goals on a week by week basis, I calculate another six weeks and I’ll have reached my ideal body weight.

    Keep up the great work you’re an inspiration!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks for the kind words, Guy. It sounds like you’re on the right track – keep it up!

  • By Liesl -

    When you say “eat in restraint” what do you mean? I am wondering how many portions a day or week do you suggest eating these foods? I am thinking a portion being 3 ounces of meat, 8 ounces of milk, etc.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      It’s different for different people – I honesty don’t count calories or portion sizes.  I just try to not indulge every single food craving I have, which is something most people seem to be incapable of.

  • By Rob White -

    Al, i dont know how you manage to stay so lean when you dont count calories or watch portion sizes! Are you as lean as you are in your photos all year round?

    From what i gather, you also dont eat as much protein as alot of other athletes either. Does it affect your exercise recovery not eating much protein?

    I have played around with high fruit diets and TBH i did not get fat from eating alot of fruit. In fact, i felt pretty good on about 5-8 portions a day. A recent study showed people eating the highest fruit intake lost the most weight compared to low fruit consuming groups. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21621801

    Funny you say about people not knowing how to control their portion sizes. I bought my mum a picture book showing what sensible food portion sizes looked like. She was shocked how small they were compared to the sizes she was eating. Once she started eating portion sizes like the book showed, the weight started coming off.
    To paraphrase Poliquin “people need to learn the difference between a mouth and a vacuum”

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Haha – that’s a nice quote!  Poliquin knows what’s up!  It’s also good to see fruit getting some good press.

      In my opinion, protein consumption is very over-rated.  The supplement industry has their best interests in mind – not yours.

      As for staying lean, my body fat fluctuates a bit, but I always stay
      pretty lean.  My range is generally somewhere between 7-12%.

  • By AustinYAYOG -

    What is your opinion of steel cut oats? They have really improved by cholesterol (total and HDL/LDL ratio) and triglycerides. 

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      There are pros and cons to oats.  Overall I’d say there are a lot of better food choices, but there are certainly a lot of worse choices as well.  Here’s a great article on the subject: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/are-oats-healthy/

  • By Aatif Naziri -

    Hi Al,

    I have become a regular reader of your articles and your workout philosophy has helped me a lot, so thanks and keep up the good work.  In group1 above you have listed roots as a food, which can be eaten in abundance, by roots do you mean root vegetables such as potatoes, yams etc? I thought these were on the high side of the glycemic index and should be avoided.  Also for nuts I normally eat almonds, walnuts, pistachios and peanuts.  I love cashews but have been avoiding them as I was told that they are high on fat and calories.  Any thoughts.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Aatif!  Cashews are one of the healthiest things you can eat.  They are high in fat and calories, but your body needs fats and calories in order to function!  Being high in fat or calories and being nutritious are two totally separate things.

      Also, go to town on yams, but don’t overdo it on regular potatoes.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Aatif!  Cashews are one of the healthiest things you can eat.  They are high in fat and calories, but your body needs fats and calories in order to function!  Being high in fat or calories and being nutritious are two totally separate things.

      Also, go to town on yams, but don’t overdo it on regular potatoes.

  • By Rich Mohr -

    Quick question Al…
    I had bought one of those coconuts a while back and I’m embarrassed to say I had no idea how to open it. Gonna try again after watching your video.
    How long should the coconut last? Couple days in the fridge?
    Thanks so much for all you do with this site and your blogs/videos! 
    Talk to ya later!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      An unopened coconut should be good for a few days in the fridge.  Just make sure you don’t drink it if it’s pink inside.

  • By Steve McHenry -

    Al, what are your thoughts on Ezekiel bread?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      I generally avoid packaged bread products, regardless of brand.

      • By Steve McHenry -

        Do you have any suggestions for a bread substitute? I really miss my peanut butter sandwiches!

        • By Al Kavadlo -

          If you really love peanut butter sandwiches, then have them sometimes.  Just don’t get carried away with giving into every craving you have.

  • By The Lion -

    What exactly is your definition of moderation? 

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      There is no exact definition, it’s a very subjective thing.  I personally eat an average of 1 or 2 servings from group 3 pretty much every day.  And I even eat ice cream too sometimes!  You just have to be mindful – you can’t give in to every little whim and craving you have.

  • By Kai -

    Al, this is the easiest guide to proper diet and nutrition I’ve found yet! Very easy to follow! I’ve been trying to lose a few lbs for parkour and this is actually the best plan I’ve ran into! Although, it’s rough to entirely give up ice cream! :(

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Kai!  Nobody said you can’t ever have ice cream again, it just can’t be a regular occurrence if you want to lean out.

  • By Nick -

    Hey Al,  I want to burn my body fat and read that drinking water is really important.
    Since I’m not a huge fan of water I drink a lot of green tea as well, also because my doctor told me so to get rid of stretchmarks I have on my shoulders and arms. Why don’t you recommend drinking tea? Even if I drink it without sugar?

    Thank you for your awesome blog, Nick from Germany

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Tea usually has caffeine, which I try to avoid.  I never said you shouldn’t drink tea, though, just to keep it in moderation.  In general, remember that all my recommendations are just loose guidelines – it’s up to you to decide what’s best for yourself.

  • By Chris -

    Having long followed you on YouTube, You and Noel Polanco are the 2 people who got me involved in bodyweight training as opposed to weights. I try not to focus on the 10% of what I disagree with you(on diet) and instead  focus on the 90% of which we see eye to eye on. 

    I’m just curious, You say you follow primarily paleo/primal diet, which generally puts a heavy emphasis on meat and animal protein(grass fed of course), as a vegan myself and someone who eats primarily potatoes, I’m surprised to see that you advocate eating them and that they are in your “eat as much as you want” list of Approved foods. Potatoes are usually vilified by the paleo crowd.

    Do you eat a lot of potatoes? Are they a staple food for you?

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    Chris Ahmed
    Australia

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Hey Chris, Thanks for the comment – it’s always good to hear from fans! 

      I do not eat lots of potatoes, though I don’t have any major objections to them (unless they are french fried!).  My main message is simply to avoid heavily processed foodstuffs.  I find nutrition-ism much less interesting than working out!

  • By Rob White -

    Hey Al, i realise you find diet questions a bit tedious but i have a few very brief questions concerning your own dietary habits you could probably answer in a yes / no fashion:

     – I know you already touched briefly on alcohol in the article and in the comments, but for you personally are you a total abstainer, or do you occasionally have a tipple on special occasions?

     – Do you follow any kind of eating schedule (‘X’ meals a day, intermittent fasting, calorie / macronutrient cycling, etc.), or do you just eat as your appetite dictates?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      I’m definitely not a total abstainer!  I usually drink a glass of red wine once or twice a week with dinner but I don’t think I’ve had more than two drinks in one night in a long time.  I haven’t counted calories or marcos in ages and I don’t follow any strict eating plan. 

      • By Rob White -

        Nice one Al. Thanks for clearing that up. Nice to know you are still human regarding the drinks!

        You seem alot more liberated form dietary regimes than most guys who are as ripped as you. It must be a bit of a kick in the teeth for them :)

  • By ea76 -

    1) basically you might have just a piece of bread or a small amount of pasta or rice once in a while, am I right?
    2) although you wrote that protein powders are unnecessary, I did found one that I like to drink, mixed with a banana and a spoon of peanut butter, is it that bad?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      1. Pretty much, yeah.  If I’m at a restaurant and they put out some bread that looks really good, I am likely to have it.  I don’t go out of my way to eat bread though.

      2. If you like to drink protein powder, don’t let me stop you!  :)

  • By patrizzi -

    Thanks for breaking down the groups. Would you suggest having a few different types of butters at home? I noticed you have used Almond, Cashew and the old standby Peanut in different shakes. Are those your top three? Or should I just go down the PB isle at my local grocery store and grab all different ones?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Yeah I like to mix it up with my nut butters. My pantry currently has peanut, almond, cashew, and coconut butters in it.

      • By patrizzi -

        Thanks, on it, but have to admit Coconut Butter not entirely the best tasting stuff. Got any special recipes for that stuff you are willing to post?

  • By samWCC -

    As Michael Pollan says in his book ‘Food Rules’, ‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants’
    I think this works really well!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Absolutely! I mentioned Pollan’s work in part one of this post.

  • By Till Auener -

    Spot on. Being a veggie, I don’t eat poultry, beef, pork or fish… but this is mainly for moral reasons. I also find that fruit should belong to group 1 (for ectos like us anyway) and that I have zero problems with unprocessed grains like oatmeal and raw barley. Still, 98% of your list looks very accurate to me.

Comments are closed.