A Simple Way to Feel & Perform a Whole Lot Better

Written by Jason FerruggiaTopics: Nutrition


What food you put in your body is probably the single most important decision you make every day. A lot of us have that down and always make very healthy choices. Or so we think…

Unfortunately, what’s a healthy choice for me may not be a healthy choice for you. Everyone reacts differently to certain foods. For the most part you can’t go wrong with lean protein, vegetables and berries. Those foods seem to be tolerated very well by the majority of people. Once you veer off that list it gets a little bit more complicated.

Foods like grains, eggs, nuts, certain fruits, legumes and dairy can all have negative effects on people’s digestive systems. When your digestion gets messed up so does everything else.

So what I suggest is that for a week or so you simply keep a food journal. Write down what you ate and then make note of how you felt during the 60-90 minutes following that meal. What you discover may surprise you.

I’ll use myself as an example.

I love sweet potatoes, but when I really cued in on everything I was eating and recorded it all with notes I realized that sweet potatoes make me feel a lot worse than white, red or Yukon gold potatoes.

Quinoa gives me an instant headache.

Oatmeal just makes me feel blah and I have no energy.

Nothing makes me feel better than red meat. I feel incredible after eating it and have zero digestion issues.

Eggs are one of my favorite foods yet if I eat them too much I get a similar (though nowhere near as severe) feeling that I get from eating oatmeal. One tip for egg lovers is to make sure you don’t eat them every day and to always change the way you cook them (hard boiled, fried, scrambled, etc.).

I love nuts and nut butters, but unfortunately I have adverse reactions to many of these. Some cause digestive issues, others cause my throat to get scratchy.

Same with apples. The only apple I can eat is a Pink Lady. If I eat other types of apples my throat gets itchy and slightly swollen and my stomach just doesn’t feel right.

Many of these reactions aren’t the end of the world so I continue to eat these foods (eggs, nuts and apples; never really quinoa or oats anymore) occasionally just because I enjoy them so much. You don’t have to give up every single pleasure in your life.

The point of this little exercise is to identify what causes adverse reactions in your body. If you eat something and it causes your nose to run, as do certain foods I eat, that means you’re not meant to eat that food. If a food doesn’t agree with you, sure you can deal with excess mucus production for a little while or a scratchy throat, but just imagine how much better you would feel if you eliminated all the foods you can’t tolerate. You’d be unstoppable because you’d be operating at 100% and firing on all cylinders.

You see, any time your body has to react to an outside stressor like that you’re taking vital energy away that could be used more efficiently elsewhere, like recovering from workouts, etc.

So take the time and do this for a week. Then cut out the foods that are causing you problems and note how much better you feel. Some may make such a big difference that you’ll vow to never eat them again. Others may be your favorites and even though they cause some minor problems you’ll allow yourself to have them for a treat on occasion.

It’s up to you but I think it’s very important to at least know what is causing you problems.

If you really wanna take it up a notch do a full blown elimination diet and get rid of all foods that are known to cause allergies or inflammation then gradually add them back in one at a time.

It’s a short time to sacrifice considering you’ve got the rest of your life ahead of you. And every one of those days could be a lot better if cut out the stuff that’s making you feel like crap.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is too simple to make a huge difference. This could be a lot more significant than changing your training split or improving your squat technique. Digestive health is crucially important to how you look, feel and perform.

Don’t ignore it.



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40 Responses to A Simple Way to Feel & Perform a Whole Lot Better

  1. Tomas Jehlicka December 22, 2011 at 1:02 am #

    Hi Jay,
    good reminder of how bad I feel after my post-workout meals. I tried rice with red meat (bad idea) nad than switched after while from rice to pasta bad still have some issues.

    What would you suggest for easy digesting post-workout meal when I want to build some mass?

    The problem is that with other types of food I have a hard time to fulfill my 1000 calorie limit for that particular meal.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    • robbie December 22, 2011 at 9:20 am #

      immediately post workout i like to have a whey isolate shake for about 40g protein, some red potatoes, raw honey, and about 3-4 rice cakes. i think this gives the same results in terms of fast digesting carbs+protein for glycogen replenishment and recovery, but without the nutritionally void dextrose/maltodextrin sugar crap

    • robbie December 22, 2011 at 9:26 am #

      …then about 1-2 hrs later i’ll have some type of meat and some slower digesting carbs, usually brown rice or sweet potato

    • Martin December 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

      Tomas,

      One of my favorite post workout meals that’s easy on your stomach is a nice thick protein shake that looks like that:

      – 2-3 scoops of whey protein
      – 8 oz of organic whole milk
      – banana
      – handful of berries

      Mix it all up and chug

      Snack up with some nuts after. Guarantee you will build lean muscle.

      • Tomas Jehlicka December 23, 2011 at 3:00 am #

        Thanks man. I would probably have to add some more bananas, berries and milk to make it to 1000 cal meal.

        I hope more of these will not make my stomach suffer. ;-)

        • Martin December 23, 2011 at 11:35 am #

          It won’t those are all natural fruits dude! They can’t possibly hurt your stomach unless the grower uses tons of pesticides. Then you could always switch to organic.

          Munching on nuts after it will get your calories up

  2. Scott Brady December 22, 2011 at 2:41 am #

    Interesting about the quinoa.

    If you’re wanting to give it one last go try this and see if it helps:
    – rinse very well to get rid of it’s saponin content (rinse until it stops frothing)
    – soak overnight; 12+ hours. This will cause the seed to start sprouting making it way easier to digest and improves it’s nutritional value
    – drain and rinse again
    – then cook

    It may not make a difference but a worth a try.

    Cheers

    Scott

    • Robbie December 22, 2011 at 7:08 am #

      Haha you think he is Jim Wendler. Both are badasses so I can see how you could get confused.

    • Al December 22, 2011 at 10:07 am #

      Scott mate, how’s it going? Noticed your H4NI avatar there, hope you’re well.

      Been trying myself to cut out food that doesn’t agree with me recently actually – remember that prowler session I’d had a 5-egg omelette prior to? I was not well. I found that omelettes make me feel a bit nauseous for some reason so I stick to scrambled and boiled these days.

      Jay, definitely agree with this, so many foods you think are healthy and keep eating because of that, even though you feel like shit afterwards. People need to pay attention more to how they feel after certain foods, for sure.

      I’m allergic to nuts so that’s out the window, but if you get an itchy throat with some foods does that not suggest a specific (if mild) allergy? They’re the same symptoms I get with nuts except mine are quite a bit more severe and my throat swells, I get sick etc.

      Anyway, great post as always, very interesting.

      Al

      PS Scott was actually the guy who first advised me to visit your blog

      • Scott Brady December 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

        Hey Alex.

        Yes mate I remember the prowler session well. I’m surprised you came back for more a few weeks later! lol

        Yeah, Jay’s work and blog is great.

  3. Ryan December 22, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Jay:

    I thought I was the only one who had issues with quinoa or certain kinds. of it (oddly enough, red quinoa gives me even more issues than regular quinoa)

    And, i just started doing a food journal because i’m starting to notice that i’m having issues with certain foods I eat and since i’m not sure which ones, ill start monitoring and figuring out the culprits and eliminate them from my diet, etc.

    great article and happy holidays!

  4. David December 22, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    I’m going to give this a try in the new year. Might be useful. I also can’t eat too many eggs, but I remember years ago reading that Bertil Fox consumed 40 raw eggs every day. Must have worked for him I guess. And Vince Gironda thought eggs were the best thing ever too.

  5. robbie December 22, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    interesting stuff… i have never seemed to have any problems with any of those foods. i eat 6-8 egg whites plus 2 whole eggs and at least a cup of oats every day, actually i think oats make me feel really good compared to some other foods and i love oats so i guess im lucky

  6. Jason December 22, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    And that list you mentioned is just of “real” food. Most people eat lots of processed food. Just think what all those chemicals do to your body.

    I think the Paleo Diet suggests you stay away from grains and foods of that nature. The author writes of how we haven’t had enough time for our bodies to evolve and digest them properly.

    Could be true, apples that we eat today are all genetically modified. Maybe that is why you can only eat one kind.

  7. Brian December 22, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    This is right on the money! I “thought” I was having heart palpitations last year. I ended up with very unnecessary tests and so forth. The culprit was gluten! I gave it up, no more palpitations, which were actually digestive issues. Oh yeah, the heartburn and skin problems cleared up as well.

  8. E.J. December 22, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Jay a lot of people are allergic to the skin on the apple, if peel them you may not have any issues with any type of apple.

  9. fabian December 22, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    jason. you are practicing the paleo diet right? there´s a lot of research about it.. but I have one important question… What kind of carbs do you eat? with this diet you are maybe eating less carbs but , does it affect you on the way you perform or in making your muscles bigger? because Its known by many that you need a lot of carbs to get big… so there is my question about… thanks jason

  10. Jonny December 22, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    Great article. Simple advice, yet things that no-one really follows. Finding alternatives is the sticking point fr me normally

  11. Odhran December 22, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    Great system for working out the intolerances J, will need to do something like this soon myself after my christmas pig out this sunday haha

  12. Adam Harper December 22, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    You are definitely right. Everyone it seems has foods that don’t treat them well. I used to have the same issues with many foods. I kept up with what I did ok with and what I couldn’t handle. Unfortunately the list was rather large. I followed someone’s advice and went about it rather differently than most. I just ate to excess of the foods I knew were un-processed and shouldn’t cause me problems (if I were healthy). It took a few months but my body adapted. Now, there is nothing that I have found that causes me any problems. That’s just me though, everyone is different for sure. All my years of restrictive eating, over exercising, and just being orthorexic in general contributed mostly to my problems I believe.

  13. Michael M December 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Great article. So true, what works for one person may not work for another. I was surprised that you said red meat caused zero digestion issues. I remember you saying we (humans) were not even meant (evolution) to eat and digest red meat. You sited our digestive track being so long as the proof, along with red meat eaters generally having digest problems because of it. Do you still believe this???

    • Jason Ferruggia December 22, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

      I’ve already covered the mistake of my ways back then and apologized for it. I was doing something based on a moral decision and it clouded my judgement. Truth is there are very few, if any, cultures that evolved on a meat free diet. Never would have survived a winter. Grains are actually a lot more stressful to a lot of people.

      • Michael M January 10, 2012 at 8:40 am #

        Thanks you for the response. Hopefully you did not take my question as attacking/negative, because I did not mean it that way, but I was curious because your experience on this issue is first hand unlike others who just talk about without experimenting. It is a very confusing: one camp siting “The China Study” as the end all be all way to prevent cancer, heart disease, etc … and the other camp, Paleo, saying virtually the same thing yet with a completely different diet and approach. They contradict eat other. Anyhow, I appreciate you honesty on the subject. I definitely believe meat, as you said, has to be part of a good diet.

  14. Mark December 22, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    My wife and I have been using allergy drops to deal with out food allergies and it’s been very effective.

    You can check out the clinic we use here:http://www.allergy-solutions.com/Benefits/Default.aspx

  15. Dean Coulson December 22, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    Hi Jay

    I started to carry out this exercise a long time ago and continue to monitor my body reactions to what i eat to this day. This is an essential exercise and well worth doing. So many people are completely out of tune with their body’s due to modern living and a total disregard for their health. There are others how are so convinced that they do eat healthy (wholegrain pasta, skimmed milk etc) that they dismiss that they have issues and blame other things.

    I was out talking to local business owners a few months back promoting a nutrition talk I was giving in the area and I walked into a main stream health food shop. The woman in question stopped me in my tracks and said she didn’t need to come as her nutrition was excellent. Unfortunately one look at her told me she was way off the mark, but she believed what she gets told in the media and obviously from her employers that there was no swaying her. Her mind was closed (and she needed glasses I am guessing)

    This is exactly what I get my clients to do when they first start with me, in fact i insist on removing the most toxic food types for 28 days and get them to write food diaries and feelings/reactions, it helps reinforce the fact that food most people believe to be good isn’t and gets them back in tune with what their own body tells them.

    great post Jay

    Dean

  16. Ray Sr December 22, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    Good stuff and thanks for sharing this Jason!
    Sometimes it’s the simple things that we take for granted…

  17. Henrik December 23, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    Hi Jason
    Very solid and good advice. Tanks a lot.
    Best Wishes
    Henrik

  18. Jake December 23, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    Hey Jay,

    I’ve noticed you’ve been on the paleo diet for a while now. You no doubt know how important raw foods are in a diet. Have you ever thought about taking it a step further and going raw paleo ie. the paleo diet but 100% raw.

    If you’re curious about it you can read some articles here:

    http://old.rawpaleodiet.com/articles/

    The raw paleo diet forum also contains loads of info from people that eat this way:

    http://www.rawpaleodietforum.com/ There’s also an exercise section!

    If you already know about it sorry for wasting your time…

    • Mark D February 9, 2012 at 5:59 am #

      Eating raw can be dangerous. what about parasites and bacterial contamination?

      Eating raw meat is dangerous to pregnant women or those trying to conceive, young children, the elderly, patients receiving chemotherapy or those who are taking immunosuppressant medications, and people with weakened immune systems.

      Buyer beware when reading information like the above poster has provided. Where is the science to back it up? All information, no matter by whom, or how convincing it sounds needs to be compared to reliable scientific data. The raw paleo website does not.

      I recommend the Primal Blueprint and nutritional advised provided by the Weston A Price Foundation.

      • Jake February 9, 2012 at 6:55 am #

        Ofcourse good quality meat is of high importance. That means 100% grass-fed or even better, wild game meat. The meat should not be from animals that were treated with antibiotics or artificial hormones etc.

        Any bacteria on such high quality meat will only be good, healthy bacteria. You could even go as far as to call them a probiotic. Also, problems with parasites are very rare among people following a raw meat diet. Parasites are unlikely to overwhelm a healthy individual following a healthy, raw diet. Many so called parasites live in symbiosis with their host. Further more, numerous herbs eg garlic and cloves will kill parasites or force them to leave the body if one would wish to get rid of them.

        By the way, the Weston Price Foundation also recommend some raw meat in the diet, not just cooked.

        As for pregnant women; in many tribes raw liver from a fresh kill is given to the pregnant women, because it is nutrient dense.

        I would not recommend chemotherapy to anyone.

        Seeing as you recommend the primal blueprint yourself, I assume that you know about and likely have read the works of Aajonus Vonderplanitz?

  19. Alexandru Constantin December 23, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    I see you have a style of writting to convience everyone on the right path…good job mate,good job :)

  20. Mike December 23, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    Important article Jay

    Clearly eliminating all processed foods is the first step. But even with this action foods can cause all kinds of problems. It seems odd that an apple can be an allergen. We also have to make sure that it is the apple vs the pesticides etc. I used to think I had an issue with chicken but later discovered that organic free range chicken does not give me problems. Maybe it is the other chemicals involved that give me problems,

    I had asthma for 9 years, I eventually cured the disease with a major effort as presented in this article. I am convinced that food (and medicine addiction) was the source of the asthma. Eliminating harmful foods was the first step. Then I had to focus on reducing the use of asthma inhalers. It was challenging and painful. Using breathing techniques to get thru asthma attacks. Sometimes took hours. But each time I got thru it without the medicine was a step in the right direction. Now asthma free for almost 3 years.

    I was in a hurry today. Had a shitty lunch from a deli. Felt like shit for the rest of the day. It would have been better to skip that meal and just have a huge healthy dinner.

    Nice work Jay

  21. Abdiel Rodriguez December 24, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Not all grains are bad for people. Actually many of the problems people have with food are about wrong combinations that create fermentation, not the food in itself. As an example you should not mix veggies and fruits in the same meal, etc. Fermentation is also cause in meals with lots of different ingredients (even if they are natural ones).

    Also some allergic reactions have to do with toxins inside us. And diggestive problems with lack of enzimes. I use to be “allergic to grapes and pineapples” until a detox.

    And about paleo actually it is not a miracle diet just that doing it is an indirect way of caloric reduction and enzime loading (because of the veggies and fruits). Now that being said, is waaay more healthier than modern american diet.

    I eat a lot of grains and my reaction to them changes according to how clean of junk food or fatty foods (not the same thing) is my diet. That is the reason that you have another bunch of healthy energetic people who are vegan and swear by the consumption of grains.

    By the way pelo is based on the evolution theory… and that teory is still not uniform… and flawless… some of those “palelo” folks from ancient times used to eat some heavy carbs somewhat frecuently.

    Bottomline: experiment a lot!

  22. Mike Cruickshank December 24, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    You guys ever think that you are over thinking this whole gut thing? I spent years and probably more interestingly thousands of dollars following Paul Chek and this whole eat right for your type, parasite, organic etc. approach.

    The end result was as my wallet got thinner going to seminar after seminar and buying incredibly expensive organic food but my gut never got any better (nor my body composition or immune function). In fact the only change was the amount of revolving debt I had on my credit card from the expense of it all.

    The solution was it was all in my head. I was over worked, over stressed and over analyzing every thing that I ate. I wasn’t reacting very well to the world around me, trying to be someone I was told to be versus who I really was.

    End result of dropping these approaches for a much more simple tract is my gut has never been better with flare ups only rarely and every time there is one it always goes back to what is eating me versus what am I eating. I haven’t bought anything organic for a couple years now which has saved me a fortune and all my bio markers are excellent and in comparison much better than they were despite the fact that I am eight years older then when I was into all that stuff.

    Interesting stuff presented here and in the comments but I think there is also tremendous value in considering how our psychology plays into all this digestion stuff.

    Thanks
    Mike Cruickshank

  23. Raymond December 24, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    That’s worth a go at looking for things that make me feel discomfort maybe some of these healthy ones are a problem .. but I would really hate to find out I suffer from all those foods you do as they are my staple diet, except meat where I hardly eat any.
    Thanks
    Raymond

  24. Sam- Look Like An Athlete December 24, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    Great advice Jason.
    What we eat definitely affects us all around. I have to watch what I eat as I have suffered from migraine headaches since I was a teen and eventually learned that some foods act as triggers to the headaches.

    It’s interesting that you mention red meat as making you feel good afterwards because I have always noticed that when I eat high amounts of protein throughout the course of the day my body and mood is excellent.

    -Sam

  25. Laura December 27, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    I too can attest to the effectiveness and importance of recording your food to see how you feel after. I’ve been able to really personalize my diet, and my husband’s, just by keeping a log open on our phones with what we eat and when and how we feel/exercise after. At first it seemed tedious to do, but now that we’re in the habit, we’re able to track and adjust what affects us, our calories, and in turn, how our weight and athletic performances are affected a lot easier.

  26. Scott Umberger December 27, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Great article… Interesting thoughts.. Common sense stuff. I’m going to have to start paying more attention. I never really thought about food like that. Sure Taco Bell is better than a cleanse, but it’s Taco Hell and it’s expected.
    I’ve been taking a probiotic on and off for the past 3-4 months and I have to say that it’s REALLY helped my digestion. It’s become way easier to determine what agrees with my digestive system and what doesn’t. I just need to start paying attention. I guess I’m to happy to be reading on the shitter and getting a few minutes of “me time”.

  27. Mark D January 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    This is a good article, and is wise for people to see what food they are sensitive to and restict them from their diets. I do have a comment/quesiton though for Jay, I don’t understand the statement about making sure to not eating eggs everyday, and I don’t understand the reasoning behind always changing the way they are cooked. Can you explain?

    Many studies have shown that whole eggs are healthy, and have no effect on cholesterol levels. Some studies have shown that consuming just egg whites can not sustain life in a lab rat, but eating a whole egg can. In fact, studies have also shown it is cholesterol restriction in the diet that causes cholesterol levels to rise. I will note though that some studies have shown that cooking an egg where the yoke is exposed to oxygen (i.e. scrambled) can oxidize the cholesterol and that is when it can become “unhealthy”. Regardless, I have been eating whole eggs for decades, three-four everyday for breakfast. Most of the time they are cooked over-easy in olive oil, and occasionally scrambled. My annual cholesterol levels are always to be found normal. I also do not restrict healthy dietary fats, and include saturated fats in my diet. I eat whole eggs, whole milk, full-fat cottage cheese, real butter, etc. I avoid reduced fat and non-fat products, as these are just jacked with corn syrup, sugars, and toxic non-sugar sweeteners to get the flavor back into the product after the fat has been striped away.

    I practice the Primal Blueprint way of eating, and also follow the dietary recommendation of the Winston A Price Foundation. All healthy nutrient-dense foods, something the common American diet is lacking in. When 80% or more of my diet is practiced this way, I feel great mentally and physcially.

  28. Adrian January 20, 2012 at 6:42 am #

    RE the FB comment about meat staying in your system for days, there’s a great post here about why this is a myth and what actually rots and doesn’t rot in your system:

    http://www.gnolls.org/1444/does-meat-rot-in-your-colon-no-what-does-beans-grains-and-vegetables/

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