Greetings, American Partisans! It’s been a few months since I posted about fitness-related topics, but things have settled down just a bit, and so I’m back in action to deliver more good information for Partisans interested in boosting their fitness and health, as well as changing their lifestyle for the better and healthier!

Unlike the last few posts comprising the Lean n’ Mean Series, which provided a rather general and introductory overview of eating lifestyle change and some specific theory, the next six posts will get into the practical/how-to side of lifestyle change by spelling out exactly what/which nutrients and foods Partisans should focus on, as well as how to use them. My intention with the next six posts on eating lifestyle is to provide a comprehensive eating guide, as evidenced in the name of this series: The American Partisan Nutritional Empowerment Guide series. As part of this comprehensive eating guide, I will also be covering bare-bones supplementation using essential nutrients (vitamins and minerals) to help Partisan readers’ efforts at getting healthier and leaner, as well as meal ideas and other suggestions that have proven helpful in my personal training business and in my own life. The full eating guide is meant to be a one-stop shop for all things related to eating lifestyle change, according to my worldview on fitness and nutrition.

As such, the six posts relating to the eating guide have been structured in such a way as to bring together the concepts and ideas presented in the How to Get Lean n’ Mean series of posts in order to be a full reference guide that can be easily cherry-picked by Partisans on how best to proceed with their eating lifestyle change, depending on the reader’s needs. Change your eating lifestyle at your own speed ! The eating guide shows Partisans the way to get the best basic nutrition, from A – Z. 

Hopefully, the six posts of this eating guide will be of particular use to Partisans making them ol’ New Year’s Resolutions to “trim down and tone up” (although, of course, one need not wait until New Year’s to start getting their health and fitness together), and should be of use not just to readers, but to their family members as well! Let’s get right into things.

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The American Partisan
Nutritional Empowerment Program Guide

Introduction: The Purpose of the AP Nutritional Empowerment Program (“NEP”) Guide

Welcome to your Nutritional Empowerment Program, Partisans! The purpose of the NEP Guide (which I will simply call the “Guide” from now on) is to provide you, the American Partisan, with an understandable, easy-to-use, full-spectrum eating program that allows you to progress immediately in your efforts to lose fat, gain energy, and achieve your natural right to maximum health. As the Guide name plainly states, this program is meant to empower Partisans to take firm command of their health and appearance, starting NOW!

This Guide will also provide many useful details and background information about the foods and nutrients I humbly recommend so that Partisans know not just what to eat, but also how and why they should eat it! Empowering your health through nutrition requires some basic understanding of what’s what in the wide world of nutrition, which is what this Guide seeks to provide.

Adjusting your eating lifestyle, as prescribed by this Guide, will quickly lead to your increased health and vitality, of which weight loss is a natural result; after all, a healthy body is naturally lean and energetic!

Besides weight loss and increased energy, other benefits of eating according to this Guide include:

  • Anti-Aging: Fortifying the natural anti-aging processes of the body; strengthening the building, growth, and repair functions of the body for maximum longevity with accompanying vigor
  • Immune System Health: Boosting the power of your immune system to more effectively fight infections and illness (more relevant than ever these days! Like…Omicron, bro! LOL)
  • Brain Health: Improving alertness, clarity of thought, and positive mood
  • Physical Performance: Enjoying better physical performance results in athletics, tactical training, or just day-to-day life, whether you are a competitive athlete, a desk jockey that works out and trains hard in the gym and in the field, or an on-the-go older Partisan filled with spark and hustle and a continued readiness to fight

In short, following the diet prescriptions made here should put you squarely on track to becoming the master of your own body, both internally and externally, so that you can live your life to its fullest length and physical potential… it’s there for the taking, and nutrition has A DAMN LOT to do with that!

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NEP I: A Call to Action – Are You Ready to Take Command of Your Body?

American Partisan NEP I: Empowering Yourself through Good Nutrition

You will now have the conceptual tools to embark on a very worthwhile and important journey towards improving your health, vigor, and appearance. Adopting the program of nutritional adjustments you are being presented here may be the single-most important step you can take towards getting healthier, and it is not to be taken lightly or half-heartedly.

The sole purpose of the American Partisan NEP is to provide personal physical empowerment. You must decide if you are serious about getting healthy for life, as well as creating the body and appearance you’ll love to keep.

Therefore, before you read any further, be advised that while the NEP Guide shows you the way forward, you will have to invest a certain minimum amount of discipline, time, and money to realize the results made possible by the NEP; dedicating some effort and money towards creating and maintaining a results-oriented structure is vital!

Structure”, as just mentioned, refers to putting in place and having at the ready (basically, “staging”) the various elements you will need for your success with the NEP, such as the right foods, appropriate eating “hardware” (like containers, measuring cups & spoons, cookware, etc.), and nutritional supplements for your repeated use. This also means a willingness to regularly shop for mostly FRESH ingredients, prepare your own food at least most of the time, and willingness to keep your eating “hardware” clean and ready for immediate use. That means a certain amount of tedious but necessary work.

To be sure, I am not talking about making gourmet creations here, but rather, a readiness to prepare fresh food at least a few times per week so that it is YOU (or your mate or other trusted person) supervising the contents of every last crumb that you put into your body. Obviously, leaving the preparation of your food to a restaurant or to Betty Crocker frozen dinners (for example) takes you out of the command role and leaves you at the mercy of whatever the preparer decides your food should contain. This is definitely not the way to become the master of your body!

What we are striving for with the NEP is not just a few eating adjustments here and there. Rather, we seek to make definitive, fundamental changes in your eating behaviors and choices, transforming this effort from just a come-and-go “diet” into an actual lifestyle adjustment. Therefore, structural changes to your eating may well be necessary, but any changes can be implemented at a rate that is suited to your preference and your ability to sustain the changes. Remember, any positive lifestyle change made but not kept is a worthless waste.

It helps to think of your NEP-related efforts as an investment that pays out rewards: the immediate rewards of following the NEP are your increased health and improved appearance (already a worthy thing!), while the medium- and long-term rewards are the realization of: your best body ever; optimal health; high energy levels; and ultimately, looking and feeling younger and more vital than ever, as well as completely avoiding or remaining a slave to chronic disease and the ongoing medical care it requires. The return on investment couldn’t be better, really.

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American Partisan NEP I: Action Steps to Success – Creating a Structure That Wins

Cutting to the chase, in order to realize the awesome rewards of your Nutritional Empowerment Program, you should be ready and willing to create the framework for success via the following critical steps:

  • Go shopping for fresh produce at least once per week (preferably twice a week or more – FRESH is KING!)
    • Fresh produce like greens and veggies have a rather short shelf-life, even when steps are taken to store them properly, so a minimum of at least one visit to the supermarket per week assures proper replenishment of your stock of raw produce
    • Fresh produce essentially means vegetables (particularly green leafy vegetables – more details to follow in future posts of this series) and eggs: those food elements of the NEP that are consumed quickly and in large amounts on a constant basis
  • Spend a few extra bucks on high-quality, sealable containers as a one-time expense
    • Sealable plastic containers are vital for storing your various foods, either for maintaining their freshness or to enable you to have ready-to-go meals at your time of need
    • Sealable plastic containers allow you to prepare your foods ahead of time and store them for immediate use at a later time, making them a godsend for on-the-go people who are serious about eating right while they are out and about, at work, or wherever
  • Spend some time during the week preparing your foods. This means:
    • Regularly cleaning out plastic containers for your liquid nutrition (for example, protein shakes – more details in future posts of this series) which you will be consuming regularly as part of your NEP
    • Measuring and filling your drink shakers/containers with the ingredients/powders of your liquid nutrition (ex.: protein powder) at least once a day so that your liquid nutrition (of critical importance to your success) is ready to go at your hour of need – convenience and ease of access is especially critical when just starting a new eating program!
    • Cutting/processing your raw vegetables and meats to be ready for quick preparation; meats can be cooked in batches to last a few days, but vegetables should ideally be kept in their raw, semi-prepared (chopped/cut) state until cooked, steamed, sautéed, or used in a salad
    • Having stashes of staple items (esp. protein drink ingredients and nuts) in sealable plastic containers and stationed at all locations outside your home which you may frequent (especially the workplace), so that you don’t get forced to eat food not prepared by you
  • Stick with and stay true to the NEP
    • Stay with the NEP for at least two (but preferably four) weeks so that enough time is available to tweak or customize NEP elements to your satisfaction, find a good mix of foods that you like and can stay with, and develop an eating pattern that works for you within the bounds set by the NEP

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NEP II: “Listen” to Your Stomach, Not Your Brain!

American Partisan NEP II: Addressing Real Hunger and the Need for Food

Overall, the main goal is to eat less. Period. We simply do not need as much food as we typically consume! I discuss this some in post #2 of the How to Get Lean n’ Mean series, but the idea of eating less deserves some elaboration.

In the worthy quest to eat less food, two major adjustments that may require some conscious effort are:

  1. Eating only when you are hungry – Sounds straightforward on the face of it, but this is not easy to do. Many, if not most people, very frequently eat for reasons other than hunger: emotionally, socially, or habitually; for example, the concept of “comfort food” perfectly embodies the notion of psychological eating. In truth, however, you should only eat to provide real nourishment to your body – that’s it! Therefore, you should start paying attention to your hunger to determine if you need – not want – to eat. Ask yourself if you are:
    • Irritable, weak, or feeling unenergetic?
    • Having a tough time thinking or having “brain fog” from your perceived hunger?

The above are the signs of genuine hunger. So just because your stomach is growling a bit and feels empty, it doesn’t mean you actually need to eat! Instead of eating because you want to, let your body burn more fat by not eating, and eat only when you feel any of the above-mentioned signs of real hunger. Learning to eat for nourishment instead of eating out of habit or desire will go a very long way towards boosting your health, increasing your alertness and energy levels, and shedding those pounds of fat.

  1. Eating to the point of satiety, and not the point of fullness – Satiety and fullness are two different sensations altogether. You should try to get used to being satisfied without feeling full – this is really a matter of “listening” to your stomach, not your brain. The brain is a pleasure-seeking entity, both psychologically and physiologically – it is the brain that makes us eat to the point of fullness. However, the stomach sends satisfaction signals to the brain well before the stomach’s “fullness point” has been reached; the truth is, your body doesn’t need so much food – even healthy food – such that you end up actually filling up your stomach. In fact, feeling FULL means you’ve probably eaten too much and probably even excessively stretched out the stomach to boot (making it harder to feel satisfied in subsequent meals). So you should definitely learn to tune into the stomach’s signals of satiety instead of following the brain’s pleasure command to eat to fullness.

The good news here is that there are foods dense with nutrition that can very effectively, efficiently, and quickly hit the brain’s and stomach’s satisfaction centers at the biochemical level so that you are not forced to search deep within for sufficient willpower in order to stop eating or to eat less. The AP NEP provides you with an eating road map and proper, nutritious food choices so that you can hit the brain’s satiety “buttons” and eliminate cravings when they occur. However, in the end, you will still have to make psychological peace with feeling merely satisfied, yet not full, and eating only what and when you need to. Again, for many, this psychological transition to accept satisfaction over fullness takes some effort.

Also, I suggest that you spend some time analyzing your hunger next time you feel it. If it’s not true hunger as described above, then do the right thing and extend the fat-burning period for as long as possible to maximize the body’s natural fat-burning processes. That may mean skipping breakfast or other meals, but so what? We already dispelled the fallacy of “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” in a previous post. Learn your satisfaction point and go by how you feel!

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American Partisan NEP II: Using Good Nutrition to Say Goodbye Once and For All to Portion Control and Calorie Counting

As I discussed in a previous post, and to recap, the whole notion of counting calories and controlling portion sizes is one of the reasons why the vast majority of “diets” fail. For one thing, it’s quite tedious to sit there and count calories diligently for every single food and meal – do you see yourself counting calories for the rest of your life?

Portion control is another diet strategy that is also destined to fail because it requires significant willpower. In the face of the foods we love, sooner or later, we will simply be unable to resist the urge to indulge. The fact is, there are very powerful psychological and physical drives behind food cravings and overeating that make portion control a supreme pain in the ass while also rendering efforts at portion control unsustainable, if not a total flop from the get-go; Partisans need to take these powerful drives into proper account, and eat tactically – this Guide will show the way.

The other misguided aspect of calorie counting and even portion control is the primitive notion of creating a “calorie deficit”, also known as “calories in, calories out”. The concept of a “calorie deficit” is based on the idea that a certain number of calories need to be consumed daily to maintain a certain body weight, and that any increases or decreases will add or reduce body weight; the calorie deficit method misguidedly assumes that all calories consumed are somehow equal to one another in nutritive value and metabolic effect on the body, but this is far from true. For example, a gram of fat has more than twice the calories than a gram of sugar; yet, in most cases, healthy fat is a much better source of energy than sugar (more on this in follow-up posts to this Guide) that also leads to better fat loss results, despite how strange this may sound to some people (this is due to the way sugar gets metabolized by the body, covered in a previous post).

Using the notion of a “calorie deficit” or portion control taken to an extreme, one could theoretically eat only McDonald’s or pork rinds and chocolate in small amounts to create a calorie deficit and lose weight, but as you may already imagine, the results would be neither healthy nor attractive! Or, one could eat a steady diet of low- or even no-calorie processed junk (like diet soda) that is totally devoid of nutrition and lose weight that way, but this approach ignores the body’s need for healthy inputs to function properly, and the bill for this comes due sooner or later.

There is yet another consideration when it comes to “calorie deficits”: by trying to lose weight through calorie reduction, you are setting up an inevitable backlash by the body against your weight-loss efforts. With calorie deficits, you are essentially fighting your body through a form of controlled starvation, to which the body will then respond to compensate by slowing down your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight. For special occasions or brief one-off needs (ex., looking your absolute best for a life event, like a wedding), dieting through caloric deficit can work, but as an ongoing lifestyle, caloric deficits will result in a metabolic slowdown to blunt your efforts, as well as make you feel like shit much of the time. 

The bottom line here is that calories in and of themselves are just a measurement of energy. The real consideration for the savvy dieter is: “What comes along with the calories (energy) of the food I’m eating?” Are you getting a lot of nutrition with each calorie, or are you really just eating edible junk that just provides energy and no nutrition, which is guaranteed to make you gain fat and eventually get sick?

In sum, losing fat is NOT a matter of counting metabolically different calories but rather, losing fat and getting healthy is a matter of creating a fat-burning, health-boosting biochemical environment in the body by using proper nutrition and developing proper eating habitsObviously, exercise plays a role here too, but 80% (my own number) of the fat loss and health “equation” lies in nutrition practices. Period. 

What’s the solution then? Truly healthy, nutritious (“nutrient-dense”) foods are actually self-limiting and very filling too. As mentioned before, you really can’t over-consume high-quality protein (e.g., steak, eggs, or whey protein) and healthy fats (i.e., oils or foods rich in healthy, natural fats). Once again, nobody binges on poached eggs, steak, butter, or olive oil! Moreover, nutrient-dense foods promote a sense of fullness and satisfaction very quickly when eaten, unlike low-quality edibles which certainly stimulate the hell out of the appetite, but don’t promote satiety at all (think: potato chips – “bet you can’t have just one!”).

And so by eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods (which will be specified in the coming sections), we can, in effect, also harness the power of biochemical elements in these foods that effectively satisfy the fixed biochemical programming of the brain that promotes overeating and cravings – kind of like “hacking” into the brain’s pleasure triggers to address the craving, but without eating junk. The right food selections can access these biochemical “backdoors” in the brain to disable and effectively stop cravings dead in their tracks – this “backdoor” strategy is, in fact, the very essence of satiety and successful (and sustainable!) appetite suppression.

The NEP will show Partisans how to leverage the biochemical mechanisms of natural appetite suppression and satiety found in good nutrition in order to get healthy and get the weight off permanently, as well as liberate themselves once and for all from slavery to cravings and food!

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Addressing Psychological Hunger in an Organized, Guilt-Free Way

American Partisan NEP II: Addressing Psychological Hunger in an Organized, Guilt-Free Way

In order to address the psychological basis of eating and especially of cravings, The American Partisan Nutrition Empowerment Program also provides for a “cheat” meal ONCE a week where you can eat the foods you love (within reason, got that?)

The main purpose of the so-called “cheat” meal is to provide Partisans with a release valve of sorts that channels the various urges driving your cravings, so that you can stay true to the NEP and achieve your goals. Please note!! The “cheat meal” is optional and, if eaten, it should not be two or three meals rolled into one.

You may notice that after cleaning up your eating behavior and diet, however, that the foods you used to love don’t seem so tasty anymore. This is because, after you seriously clean up your diet and lifestyle, you and your body will become much more sensitized to the low-quality nature of junk foods, and your body will react to them like the absolute shit that they really are. In my case, I used to LOVE Popeye’s Fried Chicken and I would eat Chicken McNuggets by the 20-piece size, to go with my large fries (of course). At this point, though, I can’t stomach that stuff at all; it just doesn’t appeal to me and invariably makes me feel like crap, so it’s been years since I had these junk foods. 

Therefore, you may notice after your “cheat meal” that you don’t feel too hot – this is a sign that the body has become less adapted to low-quality inputs and certain foods that kill your energy levels and cause digestive symptoms. You may even find that you’re feeling quite ill after “cheating”, which you should take note of. Maybe it’s time to remove those foods forever? Up to you, but if a food is causing you serious digestive discomfort, it’s really time to ditch that food for the sake of health and longevity. Something to think about, particularly if you do suffer from some kind of long-term chronic health condition, ranging from skin issues to serious metabolic disease (heart disease; diabetes; autoimmune issues; etc.)

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