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One of my favorite Saturday routines is to grab a morning pool workout, Laird style of course. Then head over to meet my family at the local Beach Café in Malibu for an early lunch. There is something particularly satisfying about treating yourself to a healthy meal after a hard 90 minute extreme pool training workout (Laird XPT). Come the weekend, the typical routine is to get in a longer than average workout, and then head over to the cafe for a big meal. This last weekend it just happened that Laird had some extra space at his table, so my family and I joined his crowd.

Laird Hamilton Special

For years now the local beach cafe has had an off the menu special called the Laird Hamilton special. So when eating with the Hamilton’s it seemed the obvious choice. This special dish is 4 free-range organic eggs, plus every vegetable in the place, and I mean everything. From what I can tell, there’s Kale, spinach, peas, asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, peppers, with avocado and salsa on the side. The most notable thing is when you get the Laird Hamilton special there will be no potatoes, toast, bagels, or pancakes. The question I have to ask is why not? I mean after all, we just worked out 90 minutes underwater. A 90 minute workout is hard enough, but in the cold water you burn-up even more calories trying to maintain proper body temperature.

Avoid empty calories to get 6-pack abs

When asked the question, why no toast, potatoes, or other good stuff, Laird provides an extremely convicted response, “I just don’t want those empty calories that do nothing for me”. He then goes on to say, “It’s been so long since I have eaten a pancake, I don’t even think about it anymore”.  You can see Laird’s philosophy of avoiding high processed nutrient-void foods immediately in his 6-pack abs. Laird’s ability to maximize muscle development while maintaining a very low percent body fat is a perfect example of the benefits of consistent intense vigorous exercise combined with proper nutrition.

Try reducing the intake of carbohydrates

Unfortunately for millions of people, they start the day with a meal of primarily empty calories, such as pancakes, waffles, cereal, or toasted bagel with cream cheese, which has become the mainstay of the American breakfast, and especially for kids. Just recently, The Journal of the American Medical Association found that when it comes to “keeping weight off”, those who ate a low carbohydrate diet had the greatest success. As Laird has always suggested, eliminating processed foods, made from refined carbohydrates and sugars, and instead eating a diet rich in protein, vegetables, and healthy fats is key to staying fit and being healthy.

Ultra-processed foods are habit forming

These ultra-processed breakfast foods such as the typical pancakes, waffle or bagel are habit forming and addictive, and significantly contribute to the current obesity crisis. There is also evidence which suggests that eating sugar makes you crave and consume more sugar, and I can see firsthand from how my own children respond to candy, cookies, and ice cream. They simply can’t get enough.

Condition your body to crave what it needs to thrive

You want to condition your body to crave what it needs to thrive. Once you get in the routine of healthy eating, you start to look forward to consuming nutrient rich foods, and providing yourself the building blocks for increased muscle development and improved performance. One small change, like just giving up the traditional plain white bagel with breakfast, and substituting an extra order of vegetables, or something with healthy-fat like avocado, can make a significant difference in how you look and feel.

Not all calories are created equal

The lesson learned is work up an appetite, and eat close to the source. Try to avoid processed foods, especially those with chemical preservatives and artificial sweeteners. Remember, not all calories are created equal. It’s not just a matter of how much you eat. What you eat will make a critical difference in the results you get from your fitness program, how you feel, and most importantly how your body performs.

Written by
John Wildman