2 Crucial Questions To Ask Yourself About Any Food You Eat.

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Articles, Nutrition

I was recently talking to my friend Tai Lopez on the phone.

He said, “How do you decide if you'll eat a food or not?”

I said, “Tai, I'm not Paleo. I'm not Vegan. As a matter of fact, I don't follow any special diet…

…but instead, I simply ask myself 2 crucial questions about any food I eat: is it nutrient dense and is it digestible?”

Take quinoa for example. It's a grass. Or a grain, or a pseudograin, depending on who you ask. Whatever. Regardless, it's very nutrient dense.

But lots of people don't eat quinoa. As another friend of mine, Vinnie Tortorich says, “F*&k quinoa”.

Why? Because quinoa is coated with saponins – a nasty digestive irritant that makes quinoa far more likely to resist digestion, be pooped out by whatever animal eats it, and propagate it's seed elsewhere.

Smart stuff.

But I personally eat quinoa. Just the other day I had a nice quinoa salad with goat cheese, flax seeds and olive oil and Medjool dates.

This is because I render quinoa digestible by soaking it overnight in a water and salt mixture, then rinsing the water-soluble saponins off in the morning. Voila! Now it's not just nutrient dense, but digestible too! Silly quinoa, I'm smarter than you.

On the other hand, take sugar cane, the world's most harvested crop. Digestible? Highly. Nutrient dense? Not so much – at least compared to things like quinoa, kale, wild caught fish, eggs or blueberries. So I mostly skip that one.

You too should ask yourself those 2 crucial questions about any food you eat: is it nutrient dense, and is it digestible? I get into far more nitty-gritty details in Chapter 11 of my new book “Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health & Life“, but for now, use the guide to 40 easy meals below to get you started down the road of nutrient density and digestibility.

Enjoy, and leave your questions, comments and feedback below – along with scrolling to the end of this post to see how you can win over $5000 in free swag when you grab my new book.

Beyond Training diet

What do you think? Do you eat any of these meals? Leave your questions, comments and feed (ha!) back below.

And just as importantly, did you get your copy of Beyond Training yet?

If so, click here to go leave a review on Amazon. Don't worry – I don't expect you to have poured thoroughly through all 480 pages yet. But a quick nice thing about the book and 5 stars is damn good Karma – and the sneaky little trick is that if you're signed into your Amazon account you can go review the book even if you didn't buy it on Amazon.

If you didn't get the book yet, what are you waiting for? Your last chance to collect $5000 of swag expires tomorrow. Get all details here.

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41 thoughts on “2 Crucial Questions To Ask Yourself About Any Food You Eat.

  1. Gsal says:

    Hey Ben,

    I’m interested in getting your book, but I’m curious if it will be as helpful to me as I’m not an endurance athlete (and the book seems geared for endurance athletes). Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is my main activity, and I train several times a week. Would the book still be beneficial? How should I approach it – is there things I should ignore, or certain things that would still apply? My main goal is to just be healthy, perform and feel good for the rest of my life. Thanks a lot!

    1. AnotherSheep says:

      This article is apparently from 2014 – not that you would know that from the article since they won’t put a date on it. I looked at the comments though and the earliest I see is 2014. Would be nice if they added a date to them but a lot of sites won’t since if they give you that information and you see a page is pretty old you might leave and of course they don’t want that so you don’t get to know how recent the information is. Sorry…. Kinda sleazy and a bad brand experience if you ask me.

  2. Jamie says:

    Sorry, going overboard on the questions. Would love a One to one but would probably end up driving nuts. One overall question in that case about your book (which is a really great read) referring to the meal plan for athletes could you suggest a example Healthy sat/poly/mono ratio for good antioxidant/ low inflammation/ well being. Thanks for your help. Longevity and health is a key component of life as your book has helped focus on

    1. Around 30% saturated, 50% MUFA and 20% PUFA. Ish. You should read this: http://nutritionovereasy.com/2012/05/is-there-an-…

  3. Jamie says:

    Hey Ben. Love the meal advice and the book but I was wondering, after also reading the perfect health diet I am conserned about the high amount of omega 6/ polyunsated fat i am taking in per day.. At the moment it’s something like 20g poly per day. Would you say this is too high? what’s your upper limit and thoughts? 65% just seems like a lot of fat in the diet but I’m trying to gain weight and get in nutrient dense food.

    One last question- when trying to put on muscle or to just maintain, what should the ratio of mono to sat fat typically be? Today for example I have had a shed load of sat fat from fresh coconut but my urine literally smells like coconut now… Kinda refreshing but concerning :p cheers and sorry for so many questions

    1. Yes you can certainly over-do it on polyunsaturates, and while it's tough to say if you are without getting, say, a blood omega 6:3 index test, I simply use the very simple rule of imagining how many nuts and nut/seed based oils I'd consume if I had to shell/press them myself. Make sense? A teaspoon of almond butter is fine. The 2T a lot of folks use is excess. Same with coconuts. Try getting one from a tree, breaking it open and scooping meat out. NOW how much coconut you eatin'?

      1. Jamie says:

        It’s so easy to eat more butters…. I blitz up a fresh coconut tohe other day end ate about a 150g of it plus other oils, butters, olives and avocado… Should one try to get and even split of the saturated fats, im probably overdoing the short and medium chains. At the moment I’m having about 170g fat a day, evenly split sat and mono but with a fair amount of polls in there.

        One last question. If I’m not working out should I be refrainin from more starch and replacing with fats? Cheers again

        1. I think this post with clarify and answer most of your questions – https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/07/how-m…

          1. Jamie says:

            I have gone over the quite a few times and was wondering on a day you don’t train do you refrain from starch or still eat the 20% for brain, cell production and nerves or prefer to eat more starch on a more active day to balance out… I feel happy to eat my greens, fats and proteins but if I’m not training, on my feet most of the day, eating more than I burn to gain weight but not consumimg enough carbohydrate for the basic bodily functions then will I slowly be loosing muscle storage glycogen and gaining fat? Last one, do differing fats change the likelihood of where they are stored in the body e.g in intramuscular triglyceride stores or adipose tissue.. These are Just a few of things I’m tying to get my head around

          2. You've got a lot of questions here… I would encourage you to book a one-one-one by going to https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/coaching. but honestly, I think you are really overcomplicating it.

  4. kkarlis says:

    Great article. And great advice.

    I will definitely try some of the 40 meals for athletes. Thank you.

  5. arinrachelle says:

    Hi Ben! Great book — love all that I've read so far. Quick question on carb definition; do you consider vegetables to be a source of carb or do you only count the starchy vegetables and limited grains mentioned? I'm working on getting the correct ration and want to make sure I'm accounting for carbs correctly. Thanks!

    1. Non-starchy vegetables don't *really* count but that is a great question. We'll answer it in a future podcast at https://bengreenfieldfitness.com . If you'd like your question to get moved to "top-priority", you can also ask it via audio by going to: https://www.speakpipe.com/BenGreenfield

  6. awlareau says:

    Couple of questions: 1. So simply cooking my quinoa doesn't render it to being digestible? 2. Are there high protein/low fat and carb sources that are fairly cheap other than eggs that you recommend because I eat a ton of egg whites interspersed with yolks throughout the day and I do feel a little sluggish after those meals, but I am on a college student budget and they are the best and cheapest way to get my protein other than powders which aren't nearly as filling.

    1. 1. Nope, you gotta soak and rinse your quinoa! Otherwise those nasty little saponins are doing their damage.

      2. Low fat is a curse word. ;) Go here to find out why: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/02/why-f… – and that's also why eggs without the yolk are horrible for you – but here are some ideas for you:

      Snack recommendations:

      -Handful High Quality mixed nuts (raw, not roasted), mixed with a few small pieces of dark chocolate

      -3-4 tablespoons Chia seeds set in a bowl of water and allowed to soak for 3-4 hours

      -Smoked Salmon, 4-6oz

      -Salmon & Tuna packets

      -Handful dried apples

      -1 avocado, salted

      -2 scoops protein powder, with a few pieces dark chocolate and/or handful mixed nuts (higher calorie, better as a meal) – https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/livingfuel

      -2 scoops meal replacement powder, with a few pieces dark chocolate and/or handful mixed nuts (higher calorie, better as a meal) – https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/livingfuel

      -1 large piece or several smaller pieces Pemmican and/or Jerky (check USWellnessMeats at http://goo.gl/DAepv)

      -1-2 Larabars or Cocochia bars

      -Spirulina or Chlorella tablets like Energybits (check this https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/07/every…

      1. awlareau says:

        I know low-fat is bad for you, buuuut I say low-fat protein source because I prefer to get my fats from other sources such as nuts, avocados, nut butters, olive oil, and coconut oil. I get a lot of fat in my diet already so I am looking for sources that can give me a large amount of protein without many carbs or fats, but I do have to keep my fats in check as I am doing 170g carbs, 170g protein, and 105g fats per day, which is my upper limit for caloric intake to maintain where I'm at. I will definitely look into some of your suggestions though thanks! As for the quinoa that's good to know because I recently started eating it so I will definitely be soaking it from now on thanks!

      2. awlareau says:

        Hey Ben! I know you are probably busy, but I do have a few questions to ask. Not urgent of course, but here they are: 1. First of all I love your book “Beyond Training” so far, but does a lot of the stuff in the book apply to someone not training for an endurance event such as just general weight lifting? 2. Could I send you a couple days of what my meals look like and get a critique on them (if not I understand, I know this might actually cost something like a training session basically). 3. Do you have any books you have written or recommendations that aren't “bro science” and resonate with what you believe in about weight training to keep body fat low/recovery high and muscle mass fairly high because I want to keep around 9-10 percent fat with a decent amount of muscle because i may compete in physique soon.4. I just changed my workout routine, would you recommend I do 3 days on 1 day off (6 day split so a total of 8 days with the 2 rest days) or do 6 days on and 2 off? My workouts are about an hour to an hour 15 minutes long including either HIIT or steady state cardio and foam rolling for 25 mins every other workout. Sorry lots of questions.

        1. This is a pretty comprehensive question! First of all, http://www.BeyondTrainingBook.com is going to be perfect for your particular situation and will answer nearly all your questions. For a non bro-science book, you could definitely delve into http://www.GetFitGuy.com however. For a critique of your meals, I'd be happy to help you out via a personal one-on-one consult. Can you please check http://pacificfit.net/items/one-on-one-consultati… and then let me know if you have any questions? We can do 20 or 60 minutes, whichever you'd prefer.

          1. awlareau says:

            Thanks! I will look into some of that stuff

          2. awlareau says:

            Hey one more quick question to ask. Ok so I eat pretty filling meals, should I eat even if I'm not hungry because if I did that I wouldn't get nearly enough calories some days due to my filling meals and I am trying to build/maintain muscle and think it wouldn't be a good idea for health/recovery/maintaining muscle to only eat when I'm hungry in that case. On Mon, May 12, 2014 at 3:25 PM, Anthony LaReau <[email protected]> wrote:Thanks! I will look into some of that stuff

          3. IF you are leptin sensitive and you eat to hunger, you'll be fine. But if you've yo-yo dieted or are stressed, low on sleep, or ever been very heavy, sometimes leptin problems are present, in which case it's necessary to track your metabolic rate and eat at least that many calories per day. Here's a calculator: http://getfitguy.com/calculators/index.html

          4. awlareau says:

            So I have finally made it into the nutrition section of Beyond Training and have a couple questions on nutrition. I know you aren't a big fan of peanuts at all, but I use a natural peanut butter that only has peanuts and salt and nothing else. The mono:poly ratio is 2:1 (I know not ideal), but almond butter is still only 2.5:1. I'm not seeing why peanuts are so bad. I want to keep peanut butter in my diet because it's the only nut butter I can afford, so if it's that bad and I can't afford other nut butters should I just not eat any nut butter at all? Also what is bad about getting a couple of my veggies (pumpkin and tomatoes) in BPA-free cans with no additives just the veggies and they are also organic? Thanks for any links or response to these questions!

          5. awlareau says:

            Haha thanks for the quick response, I will check em out in a bit.

          6. awlareau says:

            Ok so this may sound gross but the past 2 weeks I've been having some stomach discomfort and loose bowel movements. Could this be because i increased my fat intake by about 150 percent within one days time? I was gradually increasing then decided the heck with it and increased it that much.On May 15, 2014 10:13 AM, “Anthony LaReau” <[email protected]> wrote: Haha thanks for the quick response, I will check em out in a bit.

          7. I would definitely be taking Enzymes with your meals. Check this out, it's the HCL/Enzyme Complex from Thorne. VERY good stuff: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/enzymes

  7. Jackson Baer says:

    I really need to cut back on my sugar intake. Also, if I’m running nearly everyday, is it okay to drink 2-3 beers most days too?

    1. 2 drinks per day is the maximum that is ever recommended. And you can't save them up and have them all on one day! Ha ha!

  8. Honestly Fitness says:

    Thanks for the tips, and the awesome graphics! Would love to incorporate more sea vegetables into my diet but sadly my MA student budget does not allow lol

  9. Cathy says:

    These are great tips! The one thing I might mention is that a lot of vegetables are actually not easily digestible. All that cellulose in things like kale and cabbage can be hard on the digestive system. I might not add these to the ‘digestible’ list. But that’s just my opinion.

    1. That's where cooking, blending and fermenting can come in handy!

  10. Chris Albert says:

    So far it’s great a lot of awesome info

  11. Ashley ONeill says:

    I hear so many conflicting things about how many eggs is okay to eat. I had been eating 2 per day but now am reading that I should only do that 3x per week?

    1. Hard to say without knowing your size, exercise level and the rest of your diet… but take a look at this http://superhumancoach.com/benefits-of-free-range… It also depends on whether you have an immune system reaction to eggs. I don't eat a TON of eggs because an immunoglobulin test revealed I am somewhat sensitive to chicken eggs. So I only have about 2-3/week. But some people do just fine with them. I personally feel a little bit sluggish when I do bit omellete's or eggs, so I'm careful. Incidentally, I do just fine with duck eggs! They're less allergenic, generally.

      But from a cardiovascular standpoint, organic eggs from naturally raised hens…no big deal at all!

  12. rungin says:

    Do you consider yourself keto-adapted? Any real hints on how to get there? I am trying!

    1. You should definitely check this podcast out. Tons of great keto info – https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/10/deep-…

  13. By definition, if it's sprouted then it's been soaked, since it has to be in water for sprouting to occur. So not as important in this case!

  14. jennymdoss says:

    What about red wine? How much is ok per week for men and women?

    1. There is no evidence I'm aware of to show that exceeding 1 serving of alcohol per day offers any additional benefits, but plenty of evidence to show that 2+ servings can cause hormone imbalance, metabolic dysregulation, weight gain, etc. So that is what I would go with! I personally do one glass of red wine about 4 days per week, then 2 glasses about once every 2 weeks.

  15. slederman says:


    Good article. Thank you.

    So, you wouldn't eat resistant starches? My understanding is that they're not digestible but they feed the good gut bugs. What do you think?


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