Father forgive me, for I have sinned. I went to Perkins for breakfast this morning. Hold on, it gets worse. Breakfast consisted of two breaded and fried chicken breasts topped with processed slices of American “cheese”, all of which was smothered in something they considered to be gravy and sandwiched between two biscuits. On the side there were two eggs, two strips of bacon, and hash browns. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that terrible. Unsurprisingly, I can already feel a demon in my stomach begging to be exorcised.
If you’re at all familiar with the underlying nutrition principles we espouse at Burn, such a breakfast probably seems sacrilegious. In fact, there are few circumstances I’d recommend such a meal to anybody. The thing is, his wasn’t a cheat meal, I’m not “bulking”, it wasn’t a momentary lapse in reason, and I didn’t lose a bet. It was just a meal. Allow me to explain myself.
Nutrition is simple, but it isn’t two-dimensional simple. Food isn’t all good or all bad. It’s circumstantial. The occasional low-grade American breakfast isn’t going to set back years of progress. In a pinch it can help the body avoid a prolonged state of catabolism, and if you want to be bigger or stronger that’s a good thing. By tying in this meal to the circumstances surrounding it, you’ll find that even though it is low quality and better choices do exist, it isn’t as terrible as it may seem.
At this point in time my only concern lies in strength. I couldn’t care less about my weight, body composition, or physique. As long as the weight on the bar keeps going up I’m satisfied. In the case of strength, only thing that matters nutritionally is recovery. If I’m hungry I’m going to eat, if I haven’t been eating enough I’m going to eat more, and if I’m in a pinch those meals aren’t always going to be healthy (especially on the few days that I can barely drag my ass out of bed in time for work). Had it been better if I chose a venison steak with a side of sweet potato hash? Of course. Would it have been worse if I skipped breakfast and waited several more hours before eating? Absolutely. In certain circumstances it’s better to eat poorly than miss a meal. Other times skipping a meal may be better than settling for something subpar. It’s great if you like to stay lean, but a pain in the ass for developing size or strength.
I’m not suggesting that you go out and cram your face full of shitty food. Better food always yields better results. That’s worth repeating; better food always yields better results. If I would’ve eaten a better meal this morning I would’ve gotten more benefit from it. Less of the meal would have gone to waste, my stomach wouldn’t be barking at me, and I would feel less lethargic. All those things will pass, pun intended. What wouldn’t pass is the decline in performance throughout my training session.
The point I’ve been trying to make throughout this post is that you don’t have to be a food Nazi. Most of the time you can avoid putting yourself in a circumstance that forces you to make a bad choice or a worse choice, but sometimes shit will happen and you’re going to have to make due with what’s available. You know either won’t be ideal and may even contribute to a very brief setback. When that happens, don’t worry about it and move on. As long as you’re on track the majority of the time you’re going to see progress. Torturing yourself over every little dietary choice you make opens the door making nutrition about emotion. Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to see a man about a horse.