The update that nobody ever really wanted. The one that tells me to stop eating junk and change my lifestyle, right? I am not going to tell you to restrict yourself completely. The reason I have allowed 5 weeks to pass before I sent nutritional information is because the dramatic increase in intensity in your programming can make it extremely difficult to change dietary behaviors. Your body needs time to adjust to the new intensity level before you start restricting yourself of calories, caffeine, or sugar (the energy sources it is accustomed to utilizing). You still have at least 12 weeks (Class 98) to ween yourselves of the things that we simply will not allow you to have, so if you haven’t started on your own, I recommend starting now. Whether now or later, the sooner you start, the less likely you will have any withdrawal symptoms while in the Academy, so keep that in mind.
In the Academy, you will eat good food. We actually have a 5-star chef who prepares our meals/menu here. Trust me when I tell you that this has not always been the case. You will probably eat more here than you’re used to; however, you will still find yourself feeling hungry because you will burn an extremely high amount of calories in a normal day. There are extreme diet restrictions for those who show up out of shape, but they don’t last long because the cadets who show up out of shape normally resign or are terminated anyway, so it doesn’t take long to get everyone on the same diet plan.
The foods you eat will be healthy. You will have steak, chicken, salmon, shrimp, roast beef, lean ground beef, eggs, bacon, etc. You will also have fruits, vegetables, rice, potatoes, and a plethora of side dishes. Some of you will even get dessert at some point during the training. With that said, now is the time to break the food addictions that you have, because we do not allow you to eat whatever (or whenever) you want. You will drink water. You will also drink water. When you finish your water, we will make you drink more water. Hydration is key, and your caffeine intake while here will be limited to what little some of the foods contain. There is no Gatorade, soda, coffee, tea, etc. in the cadet diet.
Many reputable studies show that foods that contain both simple sugars and high amounts of fat cause an excessive amount of dopamine to be released into your blood stream. Dopamine is the most highly-addictive hormone in the human body. It is what causes people to become addicted to cocaine, heroin, alcohol, and other substances. Caffeine also causes dopamine release, but not to the severity of simple sugars and fatty foods. Caffeine also provides energy and is more than a simple psychological dependence. There is a physiological dependence associated with caffeine as well. Simply put, caffeine-related headaches are a real thing. Not being able to stay awake without caffeine is a real problem. We recognize this, so I am giving you plenty of time to break your psychological and physiological dependence on caffeine.
My Achilles heel is Peanut Butter M&M’s. If you don’t like them, consider yourself un-American. I limit my intake of foods like these to one day per week. Why? Because by limiting this intake, I can fuel my body 6 out of 7 days per week on healthy food choices, yet keep a lifestyle where I know I get to reward myself that one day. Your reward days in the Academy are limited to Friday evenings, Saturdays, and Sunday mornings. My recommendation is to make that reward day Saturday, because Sunday evenings often consist of PT when you return to the Academy. While I do not recommend ever overindulging, most people need some sort of reward in sight to successfully commit to a lifestyle change. If you are more than 10-15 pounds overweight, I recommend limiting that “cheat day” to once a month for a while. At least until you can turn your body into a fat burning machine.
So, first thing first. The number one priority of this week is to start weening yourselves from simple sugars, caffeine, and high fat foods. We can discuss complex carb intake, good fats, glycemic index and working out on an empty stomach in future updates. All of these things will jump start your metabolism, but you really do need to be somewhat gradual in these changes, or your output in your workouts will suffer severely. If we do this one step at a time, you will still be able to fuel your workouts, while also eliminating body fat and chemicals that are likely dragging you down. My disclaimer for this week: If you currently eat junk regularly, and you focus hard on eliminating it from your diet, you will have withdrawal symptoms that feel similar to the flu.