What We Eat and How We Train Part 1: Coach and Ketogenic Diet Researcher, Megan Roberts

Written by Megan Roberts, MSc

Jan. 21, 2018

For too many years I…

  • Got through the day riding the high of cortisol and adrenaline.
  • Began each morning with a 5:30am fasted high-intensity workout.
  • Often ended a long day at work and school with a second workout.
  • Wouldn't dream of taking a day for rest or recovery.
  • Obsessed over every bite of food.
  • Avoided carbohydrates despite an undetectable fasting insulin level.
  • Skipped out on fun social events because I “had” to work, study, or train.
  • Was often overwhelmed, cranky, and depressed but too stubborn and scared to change.

After Chris and I recorded a podcast, a few listeners inquired how my nutrition and training have evolved over time. You can see above what my life was like throughout much of high school and college. This kind of lifestyle, while supposedly in the name of health, was ultimately unsustainable and not in line with my goals. Despite what I thought was an immaculate diet and training plan, my health was stagnant on the best days and deteriorated on the worst. Increasing my training intensity and overthinking my nutrition only made things worse alongside the stress of a rigorous academic load. While I dabbled in a very low carbohydrate, keto-ish approach during my graduate education, I realized that it didn’t work with my health goals at the time. I now know ketogenic diets can be powerful in the right situation, but are not for everyone and certainly don’t have to be implemented long-term. After college, I came to my senses and began focusing on training for health and eating whatever real, nourishing, whole food I wanted. This more relaxed approach continues to do wonders for my body composition, sleep, gut health, mental state, relationships, and overall quality of life. Right now, my goals are to build strength and focus on longevity.  

I typically strength train five days a week with two days of active recovery and occasionally a short high-intensity workout, depending on how I’m feeling. Every handful of weeks, when my progress stalls or I just need a break, I take a deload week where I significantly decrease the volume and opt for more gentle movement. My workouts usually last about an hour plus a short warm up. I’ve abandoned what used to be daily high-intensity, crossfit-esk, fasted workouts and replaced them with training that is more focused on strength and hypertrophy (and usually in the fed state). I favor big, compound lifts and throw in some accessory exercises as supersets. While my default is to give every workout 110%, mindfulness has helped me realize that it’s OK (and even beneficial) to leave a few reps in the tank. Outside the gym, I do as much low-intensity movement as possible - walking outside, working at a standing desk, taking short mobility breaks, etc. Weekends are often spent doing outdoor activities in the mountains.

Tracking my food is something I always try to avoid, but this blog post was an exception. For reference, I’m about 5’4” and 115 lbs; my daily calories ended up falling between 2500-2800 with macros split roughly 30:25:45 (CHO:PRO:FAT). I don’t aim for a specific macronutrient ratio or calorie target, I just eat what I want whenever I want (with the caveat that I ensure to get a good portion of protein multiple times throughout the day.) I always have some kind of hot drink (tea, bone broth, Hormetea, and occasionally coffee) with collagen peptides in the morning. I also eat a fair amount of dark chocolate on a regular basis. Other than that, I simply try to focus on both calorie and nutrient density and not overthink things. This particular week of training was slightly higher volume than usual, since I knew I would be traveling the week after and taking some time off structured exercise.

Monday

Breakfast: chicken liver pate, sauerkraut, roast chicken, pile of cooked mixed greens (kale, chard, collards, beet greens) with olive oil (EVOO), strawberries, avocado, roasted beets

Lunch: sardines, salad with loads of colorful veggies (red lettuce, dandelion greens, blanched broccoli, cilantro, parsley, carrots, dill, celery, turmeric and ginger root, avocado), EVOO + apple cider vinegar, chestnuts

Dinner: beef heart, potatoes with EVOO, roasted root veggies, sauteed spinach

Training: Legs

7 sets: back squat pyramid below / 12 reps calves (alternating seated and standing)

    Squat pyramid: 10/8/6/3/3/6/8 (reps) x 95/105/115/125/130/115/105 (lbs)

3 sets: 10 x 75 lbs front squat / 20 x 70 lbs split squat per leg

3 sets: 10 x 145 lbs glute bridge / 10 step ups per leg with 25 lb dumbbells / 10 lateral lunges with 35 lb plate

2 sets: Romanian deadlift 10 x 80 lbs per leg

3 sets: 10 lunges per leg with 25 lb dumbbells / leg press to failure

Tuesday

Breakfast: leftover beef heart, sauerkraut, pile of cooked greens with EVOO, avocado, roasted beets

Lunch: salad (like above), EVOO + vinegar, cod, sweet potato with coconut oil, cinnamon and turmeric, avocado

Dinner: turkey patties, cooked greens and mushrooms with EVOO, butternut squash with ghee, strawberries

Training: Upper body push

3 sets: 8 x 75 lbs bench press / pushups with feet elevated to failure

3 sets: 9 x 30 lb dumbbells incline chest press / tricep dips to failure

3 sets: 10 x 55 lbs barbell shoulder press / 10 upright barbell row / 10 x 25 lb front plate raise / 12 tricep extensions  

3 sets: 10 1-arm landmine press / ab rollouts to failure

3 sets:  8 x 20 lbs Arnold press / 12 x 25 lbs decline dumbbell chest flies

3 sets: 10 rear delt flyes / 10 x 12 lb dumbbells lateral raises / 20 plyometric lunges per leg

Wednesday

Breakfast: roast chicken, 2 egg yolks, kimchee, pile of cooked greens with EVOO, avocado, beets, strawberries

Lunch: salad (like above), EVOO + vinegar, avocado, salmon, rice cooked in bone broth and ghee

Dinner: sweet potato with coconut oil, grass-fed ground beef with “hidden” lamb liver (Mexican spices), avocado, cilantro, green onion, brussels sprouts, blueberries

Training: Deadlifts + upper body pull

8 sets: conventional deadlifts ascending pyramid

    Deadlift pyramid: 8/8/6/6/5/4/2/4 (reps) x 125/135/145/155/165/175/180/165 lbs

Chin ups to failure / 10 lat pulldowns / 10 reverse grip lat pulldowns

4 sets: 5 x 165 lbs sumo deadlifts / 10 landmine rows / bicep curls to failure with 20 lb dumbbells

3 sets: 7 x 150 lbs trap bar deadlifts standing on 2 plates / 10 x 80 lb bent over barbell row / 10 x 75 lb reverse grip barbell row / assisted pull-ups to failure

2 sets: weighted reverse hypers to failure / assisted pull-ups to failure

Thursday

Breakfast: beef heart, kimchee, pile of cooked greens and mushrooms with EVOO, avocado, potatoes, 2 egg yolks, blueberries

Lunch: salad, EVOO + vinegar, cod, sweet potato with coconut oil, avocado

Dinner: lamb shanks, roasted veggies, butternut squash with ghee, sauteed greens

Training: 3 rounds for time: 5 clean and press, 10 man-makers, 25 kettlebell swings, 20 wall balls, 250m row, 400 meter sprint, 20 burpees

Post-workout sauna

Friday

Breakfast: turkey thigh, pile of cooked greens with EVOO, avocado, beets, sauerkraut, 2 egg yolks

Lunch: salad, EVOO + vinegar, butternut squash, grass fed beef patties

Snack: oysters, blueberries

Dinner: salmon, cooked bok choy and dandelion greens with EVOO, avocado, rice cooked in bone broth and ghee

Training: similar to Monday

Saturday

Breakfast: turkey thigh, pile of cooked greens with EVOO, avocado, sweet potato with coconut oil

Lunch: salad, EVOO + vinegar, roasted beets, sardines, avocado

Snack: lamb liver pate, strawberries, steamed broccoli with olive oil

Dinner: grass-fed beef patties, roasted root veg, sauteed greens, potatoes + EVOO, blackberries

Training: Hike in the mountains

Sunday

Breakfast: roast chicken, pile of cooked greens and mushrooms with EVOO, avocado, beets, lamb liver pate, strawberries

Lunch: Salad, EVOO + vinegar dressing, salmon, sweet potato with coconut oil, avocado

Snack: macadamia nuts, blueberries, more salmon, cooked spinach

Dinner: turkey patties, roasted root veggies, zucchini, butternut squash with ghee

Training: similar to Wednesday

Closing thoughts

This happens to be what is currently working for me. Aside from learning to be more intuitive with my training and nutrition, one of the most important things I’ve realized over the last few years is that the diet and training regime that works for me today probably won’t be exactly what works for me a year from now. The ability to be flexible is paramount to my happiness. I used to suffer from major anxiety if my workout schedule was interrupted or I ate something that I didn’t deem perfectly healthy. Now, I go on vacation and don’t worry about how I’m going to fit in a daily workout. I eat carbs on days I don’t train. And life is a whole lot better!

Finally, I think it’s worth ending with the idea that while good nutrition and exercise are important cornerstones of health, there are many other elements that are just as, if not more, critical. Optimal health, peak performance, and longevity will come when you additionally address things like sleep, stress, mindset, social connection, and purpose to compliment nutritious food and movement.

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