What I Eat – Part I – My Evolution

So the questions have been pouring out as if the Hoover Dam had been knocked down in the last couple of days since my last post on Fasting Vs. Bodybuilding Diet.

If you haven’t read it yet, make sure you do and after you’re done, make sure to drop a comment and cast your vote on who has the best abs (She does) 😉

When it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter what my abs look like at this point.  I’ve need to be able to perform at a high level no matter what.

When you train at a high level and EAT RIGHT, getting shredded up is a nice bonus, plus it’s always nice to have that cut up look right?M

Many of you that read my blog have wanted to know what I personally eat on a daily basis, so what I’m going to do over the next series of blog posts is go over what I eat, when I eat it, and why I eat it.

I’ll break it down into two different days (training and non-training days) and if you’re lucky, I’ll even share some of my favorite cheat meals with ya as well. 😉

Before I get into what I eat on a daily basis I think it would be best to take you through my personal “evolution” of eating.  What I eat today is way different from what I used to eat in college as there have been many things that have taken place since then.

#1 – As time has gone by, I’ve grown wiser and have learned many lessons…

As a fitness professional who’s always striving to better my crafts by continuing to LEARN, TEST, and RESEARCH different things within the health and fitness realm, I’m ALWAYS allowed to change my mind.

Just know, what I may say to be the best thing for me or my clients today, quite possibly might nto be what I say in the future. I may turn around and say the total opposite.  It’s just how it works and you’ll see what I mean as you read through my evolution below.

Any good coach / professional knows this is how it works.  The world is ALWAYS changing and if you don’t evolve with it, you will simply fade away in the wind.

So, I’m going to start with my first few years out of college when I “thought” I knew what good nutrition was and I’ll go from there…

College Years: Freshman / Sophomore

college footballWhen I first started college, I ate primarily an Atkins type diet during the day, but I would allow myself to have starchy carbs for breakfast.

During the football season when I was most active,  I would eat whatever I wanted.  Fast food, pizza, pasta, rice, you name it, I was eating it.

My thoughts were since I was so active and “healthy” from football that I could eat whatever I wanted to eat and I would be fine.  I would simply burn it off from all the practice and extra training I was doing.

Little did I know that this was putting a HUGE dent into my overall performance on the field with such sh*tty eating habits.

In the off season I would go back on an low carb Atkins Diet or try different extreme diets I would take straight outta the different Muscle Mags I was reading.

I can remember this one I did for 2 weeks that consisted of nothing more then canned tuna, chicken breasts, and water.  I felt like total crap for those two weeks…

The worst was I NEVER was as shredded up or jacked as I wanted to get to be and I had NO idea that it had to do with what I was eating.

College Years: Junior – Senior

I can remember the exact event that changed the way I looked at nutrition forever…

One weekend, a certified nutritionist from the University of Nebraska visited our football team and talked about the importance a solid nutrition plan had on our performance on the field.

I can remember thinking she was full of sh*t and that I already was eating “good”.

She said to “Eat whole grains, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and yams for fuel”.  I thought she was full of sh*t because I was eating a Atkins type diet at the time and that carbs would make me fat…

Even though I thought she was full of sh*t, I took her advice and started to eat a more balanced diet composed basically of healthy foods and the recommendations she made with the carbs.

So, I started to eat a ton of whole grains (100% stone ground wheat bread, pasta, pancakes,tortillas) at every meal.  I thought since it was “100% whole grain” that is was something truly special and”healthy” for my body.

With that I ate more grilled chicken breast, ground turkey, and fish.  Didn’t eat too many greens or veggies and the only fruit I ever really ate were apples.

I NEVER ate nuts or seeds as I thought the fats were “bad”.

Post College Years:

After I got out of college, I started training at a big box gym as a personal trainer.

There I found out more specific principles of eating such as with counting calories and macro-nutrtients.

My own eating basically stayed the same as it was in the last few years of college until I got myself into bodybuilding…

Bodybuilding Years:

When I decided I wanted to do a show I started to read every damn nutrition book I could get my hands on that had anything to do with bodybuilding.

At first, I tried to do exactly what Arnold did in his Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.

This was your true old-school bodybuilder’s diet.

I started eating the SAME thing every day…  Chicken, Broccoli, Brown Rice, and Lots of Egg Whites.

I had about 2-3 protein shakes a day to top that off and would drink anywhere from 3-4 gallons of water a day.

When it came to competition time, I had it locked in even tighter.

All of my meals were strategically timed, the calories were specific, it was spot on.

I got completely shredded, but I felt like sh*t.

Very low energy levels, quick mood changes, and overall I just wasn’t very happy.

After I competed and won in my first show, I said that was enough!

Post Bodybuilding:

I will admit that I learned a TON about nutrition while I was prepping for my show.  Stuff that I didn’t know or even think about before.

The best thing I learned was how to manipulate my macro-nutrients and properly time my intakes of carbs, fats, and proteins, so the main thing I changed after my show was the timing and intake of my carbs.

When I figured out how to properly do this, I was able to keep myself well around the 7-8% bodyfat range year round with no problems.

My diet consisted of a lot of the same foods:  chicken, steak, eggs, turkey, brown rice, whole grain breads and bagels, quinoa, sweet potatoes, berries, ect but the whole overview now was that of Carb Rotation.

The only issue was, I was eating every few hours and if I didn’t get in my meals or I had to skip a meal for whatever reason, I was very stressed and temperamental.

Also, my fat intake was still very low and even though my diet mainly consisted of real, healthy foods, my energy levels still weren’t where I wanted them to be…

Enter – The Caveman Diet…

So after a few years of eating mainly like a bodybuilder, I had enough of being tired most of the day.

I had been hearing tons of talk about this “Paleo / Caveman” diet from a lot of different people so I said to myself that I would look into it.

Long story short, after I made the switch from your typical Bodybuilding Diet to a 90% Paleo Diet, I could see the difference in both my performance levels and physique and my energy levels went sky high as well.

Here’s a sample of my own personal “Caveman Diet”…

One of the biggest changes I made switching from a Bodybuilding like diet to Paleo was I cut out 95% of the grains I was taking in and switched that up with healthy fats.

I added in more nuts and seeds to my diet and cut the breads.  I also added in Almond Milk.  I was never really a huge dairy person before, but the addition of almond milk was extremely good.

One of the best things I ever did was invest into The Paleo Recipe Book.  Instead of eating the same old stuff day in and day out, that book gave me a ton of new ideas which helped keep things fresh.

While I felt and looked better then ever, I was still eating every few hours.  I still believed that in order to retain muscle and keep my metabolism as high as possible that I had to eat every few hours.

I never skipped meals, always ate breakfast, and NEVER ate any type of starchy carbs at night unless I was cheating…

Enter – The Paleo Cheat

After adopting the Paleo way of eating, my main philosophy was to eat lean and clean 90% of the time and cheat 10% of the time.

This was great and kept me from going insane.  I still eat this way today and I recommend everyone do this.

Monday – Friday I would eat mostly all of the same things day in and day out – All Paleo, no junk and then on the weekends, I would eat pretty much anything I wanted to eat…

Burgers, fries, pizza, dessert…  You name it I ate it!  It was my way of cheating and getting away with it.

I wrote up a whole blog post about it – How to Cheat Paleo and WIN.

Then there came this thing called Fasting?

So, what you’ve read thus far has been a timeline of how I’ve evolved with my eating habits over the course of the last 10 years or so.

It’s come a long way! 

I can truly say that Paleo changed my life the greatest overall, but the last few months that I’ve added fasting to my lifestyle, it has truly been even more remarkable!

I feel that the combination of a Paleo-like eating style and strategic fasting is the ultimate package for health and energy.

Thanks to books and resources from Brad Pilon (Eat Stop Eat), John Romaniello and Dan Go (Fat Loss 4 Ever), Jason Ferruggia (The Renegade Diet), and Martin Berkhan’s, I’ve learned more about fasting and have created a eating style that has specifically worked very well for me.

Personally, I’ve never felt better!

Many of my personal online coaching clients are getting some extremely great results as well.

I’ll continue to research, test, and tweak as time goes on, but for now, I’m happy with where I’m at.

Thus far, has been my evolution of eating!

In the next two blog posts, I’m going to cover what I eat on a daily basis.  I’ll go over what I eat on a TRAINING DAY and then what I eat on a  NON-TRAINING DAY schedule.

In the meantime, go ahead and leave your thoughts below and f you got questions, post them up in the comments! 

Live and Train Aggressive!


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  • Molly

    Great article Travis! There are so many of us who have gone through similar evolutions in eating but are still so confused. With so many different schools of thought on nutrition, it all gets a little overwhelming. I have found that one of my biggest challenges with eating clean is low energy level and am excited to see what a day of eating looks like for you. Not only am I impressed by your photo with Aundrea but I have watched you kick some serious A@@ in the gym!!

    • forgedstrength

      Thanks Molly!

      I know what you mean about all the different info out there that always seems to conflict in some way or another. Best thing to do is figure out what works BEST for you and stick to it.

      If the wheel’s NOT broken, don’t fix it 😉

  • http://Aggresive,HardcoreandForged... Nelson

    Damn Travis,
    Even in your learning stages of eating you were doing OK. My youngest son ( 14 yr old Nel Jr. ) is on Easter break from Cardnial Hayes High, but he just left this morning for a Track meet and he is learning the eating curve like you mentioned above. I help him out at home and forward your e-mails to his lap-top to share with his freinds. I am going to tell him to subscribe to your mailing list and friend you up on Facebook so he can get all your tips 1st hand.
    Train Hard, Eat Right and Enjoy Life…Herc.
    PS/ Hope you enjoyed the collage I made for you…

    • forgedstrength

      Thanks Big Herc!

      Always spreading the word which I highly appreciate and Respect!

      Thansk for the kickass collages to! You are way too kind man! Aundrea loves those too!

  • Bruce

    Hey Travis, my “evolution” of fitness and nutrition has been very simular to your’s. If it was in Muscle and Fitness it had to be true!?? I ate lots of carbs as they recommended, but I never was lean. Having worked Midnight shift for years, that always messed up my hormones, despite trying to stay in shape. Though I’m over 20 years older than you, I’ve been doing the IF recently and have been getting good results. Energy levels are up, despite the fear of missing a meal and withering away, metabolism crashing, and fitness levels crashing. So many of the fitness world/certifications teaching are really 180 degrees from what science is showing us how the body works. Just when we thought we knew it all now that we’re certified!! lol Thanks for being real Travis. Leaders aren’t afraid to admit they don’t or ever will know it all, and let their passion for their art out weigh their ego. For that reason you’ll always be a success. Keep making the world a better place. P.S. She does have the better abs!!

    • forgedstrength

      Thanks Bruce!

      Yes – the world will always be evolving so I must evolve with it or I won’t be much use for those that are looking for anwsers.

      I’ll NEVER know it all which is a good thing of life – ALWAYS learning and discovering new and exciting things!

      I can remember when I missed a meal how pissed I would get and how I would think I was shrinking away in time at that very moment! LOL! Hoe things change…

      YES – she does have better abs…

  • Chase

    I’m looking forward to reading more. I have yet to experience the “I have more energy now” feeling that everyone seems to feel when they are training and eating right.

    • forgedstrength

      If you just started, just like anything, it takes time to adjust.

      You need to make sure your eating ENOUGH food when you do eat and make sure those foods are HIGH QUALITY too.

      • Eli Bailey

        I was stuggling with this not so long ago aswell. The thing that helped me was writing down everything I ate for a day 0r 2 and it made it very easy to see I wasnt eating enough food to fuel my body for the day.

        Great post, thanks Travis!

  • Daniel

    This is great, I am sure that me and much of your audience have gone through a similar change in nutrition. It is nice to get advice from someone that has gone through it all, and till the day I followed your advice, I have been seeing better results and perform at a much higher level. It also keeps you sane because you are allowed to indulge in bad food that one would naturally crave.

    Overall awesome post Travis, eager to see what is next.

    • forgedstrength

      Thanks Daniel!

      You’ve been KICKING ass man! Keep it up bro!