The 6th Man For Nutrition

diet tips for busy dads

So, let’s briefly review the 3 nutrition principles we’ve already agreed must be included in every weight loss diet/attempt/trick/book/fast/plan to be successful.

We agreed that:

  • You must eat less calories than you burn. Duh.
  • You must be compliant with your diet. Dieting for 3 days and eating like a maniac for 4 days won’t result in a smaller beer gut.
  • You must track your calories. What gets measured, gets managed.

Undisputed. No questions. Done deal. Good as gold (or bitcoin).

Have you ever wondered why there is a 6th man of the year award in the NBA? Me too.

There are 30 teams in the NBA. There are 5 starters on each team. That’s 150 players starting in the NBA. And yet, the NBA creates an award for the 151st best player. Huh?

That’s how I feel about this 4th (almost) nutrition principle. I understand the value it adds to the “team,” but someone could make a great argument for a different principle to be the 6th man of the year (like protein or a partner) and they wouldn’t be wrong. So should it really be a principle? Tough, tough decision.

However, since I’ve noticed its impact on my diet as well as its impact on clients’ diets, I’ve decided to name it my Sixth Man of the Year. It’s been valuable enough to my team that I can make a pretty compelling argument for it to be included as the 4th (almost) principle.

Meal Structure

If you’re attempting to build a bridge from where you currently are to where you want to be, I think we can agree that the actual structure of the bridge is vital to your success. No one wants to walk on a bridge made of sticks and duct tape.

That’s also how I feel about structuring my meals. The more rigid my meal times are, the more compliant I am with my diet.

If my meal times are unstructured, like on the weekends, I almost always overeat, even when I attempt to use my 3 tricks.

However, during the week, when my schedule is the same every day and my meal times are set in stone, I have little, if any, trouble staying within my daily calorie allowance. And that includes eating pizza or fast food for dinner. Why?

Because there are less variables to juggle. With structure, I don’t have to think. Habit takes over. I know if it’s during the week, I’m going to eat before I go to work, between 1-2pm, and around 7-8pm along with a bedtime protein shake. So if I’m craving a Roma’s pizza for dinner, I can easily adjust my morning and lunch meals to accommodate the increased calories at dinner. Simple.

Unfortunately during the weekends I don’t have that luxury. I don’t have a structured schedule, and thus lack the support needed to stay within my daily calorie allowance. I may wake up at 8am or 10am. I may or may not eat a breakfast depending on what we have planned that day. I may eat out for for lunch and dinner, or I may only eat once that day depending on how busy I am. No structure. No habits. No whammy.

Don’t you have the same problem when you vacation?

So, if I can give you one more piece of advice, keep your meal times consistent. You don’t have to eat every 4 hours or have 3 meals per day. Instead, find an eating pattern that fits your lifestyle and stick to it. If you can only eat two meals per day, great. Keep it consistent though. Trust me, it’s a lot easier to make adjustments when you know when you’re going to eat.


An added benefit to scheduled meals is that it also allows you to keep hunger from causing havoc on your waistline. By eating at the same time daily, you get a better understanding of your daily rhythms, thus allowing you to stop hunger before it even starts. For example, if I don’t eat half a small bag of almonds at 11am, by 1pm, I’m starving and overeat at lunch. I was only able to pick up that hunger “tendency” because my meals were structured and after the 4th straight day of hunger pangs at 11am, it became blatantly obvious I needed to fix my plan. Bam. That 1/2 bag of almonds probably saves me 300-500 calories of overeating at lunch.

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