We flow like water, but should our food?
With every New Year comes new and “improved” ways of achieving optimal nutrition. Within the grappling arts, we don’t always have to wait for the New Year; we are always evolving day in and day out, and with that, so are our diets, nutritional programs, and eating habits in general. Today, we are flooded with a plethora of different powdered supplements, liquid superfood concentrates, and even lab made liquid meal replacements that are designed to provide us with a perfectly balanced 2000 calorie diet without ever having to waste time cooking and eating whole foods again. Who wouldn’t want to never have to cook again or wasting time eating a meal? You and me, that’s who. With every decision in life, we must weigh the pros and cons. This month, we are sinking our hooks into the world of whole foods vs liquid foods, and finding out what is best for us.
You Can’t Have Your Cake and Drink It Too…
Should I be consuming only whole foods, or can I live off a liquid diet? The question is the same as, “Which are better, cats or dogs?” Luckily the answer is as simple as “Catdog.” Whole foods digest slower and are nutritionally dense, opposed to liquid foods that are absorbed almost instantly but rarely leave you feeling full or sustained for a long period of time. That is why in a perfect world, a combination of the two would be ideal. They each have their own role in our diet and absolutely should be used in concert with each other. Ultimately, we should try and get as much of our nutrients from whole foods and fill in the gaps with liquid foods.
What Exactly Is a Liquid Food?
Can we live off of a liquid only diet? Of course you can, but would you want to? Probably not. Many people on earth are living off liquid only diets as we speak, and the majority of them are not by choice. When people are ill, have medical conditions, or have had certain surgeries, they are often put on liquid only diets. So, can we get all of our nutrients and sustenance in liquid form? Yes. But for this topic, we are referring more so to juices, supplement shakes, and smoothies, which are much tastier than most medically prescribed alternatives.
Common Liquid Meals
Supplements: You can practically get anything you can imagine in a powdered form that can be easily dissolved in water or juice and chugged in a matter of seconds.
Juices: Taking the hard to digest fibers out of fruits and vegetables leaves us with a pure form of liquid that is jampacked with all of the nutrients from the foods we have smashed into a pulp.
Smoothies: When you do not own a juicer and like to have some fiber in your diet, liquefying whole foods rather than extracting the moisture from them is the way to go.
“Soylent” is a newer product has recently been all the rage. It is a full meal replacement drink that is designed to be nutritionally complete and provide a whole 2000 calorie diet within a few drinks a day. Coming in a powder form, and now in a ready-to-drink form, for those of you who would rather work all day, train, and sleep. This replacement is kind of cool on paper but ultimately will rob you of the enjoyment of food, the social aspect of sharing a meal with friends, family, and loved ones, and the joy of creating a tasty work of art through food.
What Does Our Stomach Think?
Do you listen to your gut? I do not mean when it is grumbling at you because it needs food or when you trying to make a tough decision, but rather how your stomach feels about whole foods versus liquid. When we consume food, the process of digestion and rate of absorption is dependent on what the food is made of. Choosing the right type of meal, at the right time, is crucial.
Morning: Hybrid. Whole & Liquid. In the morning, we wake up with an empty stomach and need to refuel, but also stock up for the day. A combination of whole foods and liquid will give us the initial boost of nutrients we need to start the day, but also fuel to burn through as we get going. Opt for more dense smoothies that contain some fats and slow digesting carbs.
Lunch: Whole foods: At this point in the day, we are probably running on empty as far as having food for our stomach to digest. It is a good point to restock and “throw some logs on the fire”. Liquid meals here will give a boost but make our stomachs crash shortly after.
Pre/Post Training: Hybrid. Whole & Liquid: Pretraining can be a toss up and is really based on how you feel training with food in your system. I feel that a light whole food meal, with a small portion of liquid, is ideal for pretraining. That way you get the boost from the liquid while having sustainability from the whole food. One or the other usually leads to being bogged down by whole foods or feeling sloshy and petering out early from liquids. Post training liquids are ideal because you rapidly absorb the nutrients lost from rigorous training.
Dinner: Whole foods: The same reasoning as lunch applies for dinner for the relaxation and enjoyment of eating. This is when we have family time, or a chance to unwind from the day. Think, wouldn’t you rather sit down with a beautifully cooked steak to sink your teeth into while talking with your family about the joys of life, or drink what usually tastes like bland pancake batter in a matter of seconds and then try and find something to do while everyone else is enjoying their feast and conversation?
Snacking: Liquid: For snack times, liquid foods shine – they are quick, easy to carry/prepare, and are nutritionally packed. Adding a few nutrients is all we need more often than not to get us through to lunch or dinner without feeling bogged down by adding more whole foods on top of what we might still have in our stomach and are trying to digest.
Eating food is more than just for fueling our body, it is for pleasure as well. We have taste buds for a reason, and foods have flavors for the same reason – eating is meant to be enjoyable, to be an experience. Drinking our food sends no signals to our brains to fire off pleasure sensors. Humans have been designed to ingest whole foods but we cannot do so without liquids present. A combo is essential to achieve the best of both worlds. Whole foods are like slow pressure passes, they are great and effective but don’t always lead to a finish. Liquids are a slick armbar that is undeniably effective, but if you find yourself mounted, you probably should not be trying to use that armbar. But if you use that pass to set up your armbar, you will find success. You will also find success by checking out grapplergourmet.com for recipes, reviews, and interviews. With that being said: Eat, and in this case, drink well, train hard. OSS