Exploring My Holistic Approach to Nutrition

Hi! I am the author and founder of Old School Calisthenics

I have a very holistic approach to my nutrition, meaning I don’t go overboard, I don’t follow any niche diets, and I don’t try to be pretentious. Thank God, I have a healthy metabolism, which is why I consume a variety of foods. Certainly, practicing various forms of training has greatly helped in achieving such metabolic health. Regular physical activity is key to enhancing metabolic efficiency, allowing the body to better handle a diverse range of foods and nutrients.

I don’t usually count calories or my macros, but I do know when I need to eat high-protein or high-carbohydrate. I feed myself abundantly based on the workouts I do. An upper body pyramid workout consumes a lot of carbs, so I make sure to consume simple carbohydrates before exercising and also replenish my glycogen stores right after. High-quality protein becomes essential post-workout since I need to rebuild the damaged tissue and to produce a hypertrophy response.

I’m not aiming to have an extremely low body fat percentage since it’s not that healthy. I have a visible, very well-developed, and balanced abdomen, and this is due to general nutrition, not just the training. A bit of fat aids in my long-duration cardio workouts since they use triglycerides in the presence of oxygen to generate muscle energy.

Holistic nutrition always aligns with the type and level of physical activity but takes into account many other aspects.

In this article, I offer to share some of my menus, with brief explanations. But first and foremost, understand that I don’t always eat the same way. There are days when I practice intermittent fasting and skip breakfast. If I don’t need to replenish my energy and amino acid reserves, and I’m not exhausted from previous workouts, meaning my body isn’t in a state of stress and anabolism, then there’s a chance I might do intermittent fasting. Especially if that morning all I’m doing is sitting at my desk writing articles like this one, answering emails and messages, or creating other types of content. Sometimes I go in the morning to train my athletes, so other than a glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice, two good black coffees, and another substantial glass of water with electrolytes, I don’t eat anything until lunchtime in the afternoon.

Kickstarting My Day: My Breakfast

I don’t eat anything out of the ordinary for breakfast, believe me. But I love whole eggs; they are the protein foods with the highest biological value, meaning their amino acid content is roughly the same as in our muscle tissue. This implies that they easily convert from albumin (free protein) to muscle tissue. They also contain other essential nutrients, but generally speaking, the egg is superior to whey, fish, and any other food.

I know that a high consumption of eggs can have some consequences. Some people develop allergies, while others avoid them out of fear of getting sick. And rightly so, the eggs I consume are usually from a trusted source. But there are also many alternatives for a nutritious breakfast. It doesn’t mean that without eggs, one can’t build an exceptional physique or achieve outstanding physical performance!

If I’m not practicing intermittent fasting, breakfast is certainly the first meal of the day, setting the tone and course for the day. So, if I have it, I definitely aim to include high-quality proteins, carbohydrates since I plan to train at some point during the day, fats, and of course, vitamins and minerals. This balanced approach helps in fueling the body adequately for the day’s activities and supports overall health and well-being.

Breakfast menu for calisthenics
Omelette with oats and natural yogurt

In the image above, there’s an omelette with oat flakes and natural yogurt. That’s it! It contains fiber, carbohydrates, complete proteins, vitamins, minerals, fats, and is even suitable for digestion. It will provide you with all the energy needed for several hours.

Below, I have a chia pudding with fresh kiwi or/and berries. You simply put the chia seeds in whole milk, mix well, and let the seeds soak properly. You can add honey and even a scoop of hemp or whey protein for extra protein if you have a very high protein requirement. I work with high-performance athletes, and I also handle the nutrition aspect. Protein requirements vary based on age, gender, and especially the level and type of physical activity. Of course, if you’re into calisthenics, these are typically muscle-focused workouts, so the protein requirement might be relatively high.

Chia pudding with kiwi or fresh berries, honey, and protein

This is a delicious breakfast packed with nutrients. It will boost your energy level. Also, fresh berries are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is a great option if you are looking to build muscle, lose weight, improve your heart health, or boost your energy levels.

I love clotted milk. I always go to the local market where I have a farmer who sells high-quality dairy products — rich, whole, fermented, as they should be, full of calories and nutrients. I consume a lot of kefir, clotted milk, cheese, and curd, whether from goat, cow, sheep, or buffalo. This way, I get many quality amino acids, calcium, and vitamins. These dairy products not only contribute to a balanced diet but also provide essential nutrients that are vital for maintaining good health.

In the mornings, I also make it a habit to eat fruits like apples, avocado, and bananas, but in perfectly moderate quantities.

And not to forget, perhaps the most complete and healthy option, in my opinion, are vegetables cooked with eggs and potatoes or bread, as you can see in the image below.

vegetables with eggs for breakfast

Lunchtime Delights: How I Balance Taste and Nutrition

You should know that often, if I eat well at breakfast, I skip lunch or have a fruit snack instead. Lunch is less important compared to breakfast, partly because it can make me sleepy or unable to function for an hour after eating, which is significant if I have errands in the city. However, it can also be the meal before my evening workout. So, everything is relative. This approach highlights the importance of adapting meal patterns to individual lifestyles and daily schedules, ensuring that food intake supports rather than hinders daily activities and fitness goals.

Lunch for me usually consists of a simple soup and a main course rich in proteins, complex carbohydrates, and even fats. So it’s a menu rich in macronutrients primarily. The soup provides the micronutrients, aids digestion, and warms me up. Home-cooked meals, served hot, have a very rich nutritional and thermal effect. I can feel how these dishes nourish and help me. I don’t usually eat out except on rare occasions, but that’s also because the restaurants where I live don’t meet my standards of quality and life in general. You might have a different lifestyle and can eat nutritiously in restaurants, which is great, just that it’s expensive at the same time. So, I vary the soups, broths, and main courses from pasta, potatoes, various types of meat, and associated salads possibly. Nothing extraordinary, just simple and efficient.

My meals for lunch

Refueling Post-Workout: My Go-To Evening Meals for Recovery

As you’ve rightly deduced, I generally eat 2-3 meals a day, with exceptions depending on the recovery need and the weekly physical activity level. There are days when I don’t train, but because I did so quite intensively the preceding days, it’s evident that the caloric requirement on that rest day might even be higher than on the training day. These workouts accumulate. Fatigue accumulates. But dinner, or my last meal of the day, is typically also the post-workout meal, especially when I don’t train in the morning, but after 6 p.m.

Somehow, it’s not important whether I choose to eat two or three times a day; it’s quite arbitrary. What’s important, I believe, is to optimize nutrition to match the activities of that day. I know that by the end of the day, I relatively satisfy my macronutrient and caloric needs. So, if I skip lunch and am extremely hungry in the evening, I definitely eat much more. This approach is about flexibility and listening to your body’s needs, ensuring that you provide it with the necessary fuel when it needs it, rather than strictly adhering to a rigid meal schedule.

Of course, dinner somewhat resembles lunch. Meaning, it’s oriented towards macronutrients. I aim to eat primarily high-quality proteins, complex carbohydrates with a medium to low glycemic index, lots of fibers, and especially the kind of vegetables that don’t upset my digestion. That’s why I choose green beans, green peas, and simple dishes that are quick and easy to prepare, where the protein source is rich in this nutrient: beef, tuna, salmon, etc.

Dinner time!

Sometimes the dish from lunch remains for dinner. At times, I have another portion of the soup from lunch, but not always. So I could say that both my dinner and lunch are very substantial. I don’t usually go to bed hungry, but rather quite full – though not to the point where I feel bursting in bed. I often go for a longer walk with my girlfriend before bedtime to help with digestion. This also prepares me for better quality sleep, especially in winter when it’s cold outside.

How much I eat or how many portions I consume depends on how much I feel I need. I know my body down to the smallest detail. I know when I’m overdoing it or when I need more. So, there are times when I eat even two plates if necessary. If not, I choose a natural yogurt after dinner with honey and some nuts, hazelnuts, almonds. I might occasionally add, though very rarely, some hemp protein powder, though I prefer hemp seeds. I don’t usually take protein supplements because being extremely massive and muscular isn’t my goal today. I want to be athletic, relatively muscular, and high-performing. However, my girlfriend works at a shop where they sell various quality products and supplements, so she brings them without me asking, from various seeds to powdered electrolytes and even hemp protein. I didn’t choose hemp personally, as I believe whey is also an excellent option, but she gets them for next to nothing, so she brings them anyway, and they last in the cupboard for about 3-4 months before they run out. She also consumes a bit when she feels she’s doing more demanding workouts. So, once again, it shouldn’t be understood that I recommend supplements. I built my physique without any kind of supplements. The fact that in the last 10-15 years of training, I’ve only recently started to supplement lightly, out of taste or necessity, doesn’t mean it’s the reason I have the physique I have. Please don’t have this narrow and obtuse perspective!

To summarize a bit, I consider dinner to be the most important when there are fitness objectives involved. Dinner puts me in an anabolic state overnight. What I want is to provide the most suitable nutrients, so proteins are definitely the most important. Generally, as seen in the images, I consume beef, poultry, pork, fish. Here I want both quantity and quality. Then I need carbohydrates, and as I mentioned and as is evident, I try to avoid carbohydrate sources that spike blood sugar too much. Now, this is always relative to the individual; I have good metabolic health, so I can consume any type of carbohydrate. I’m also interested in fats, both unsaturated and saturated. Here is where protein intake can be best regulated!

My Picks Between Main Meals

As for snacks between the main meals of the day, of course, I consume apples, chocolate (70-85% cocoa), peanut butter on bread with honey, bananas, natural yogurts with fresh fruit, and sometimes kefir with seeded bread. Anything that provides about 200-300 kcal and some nutrients that help me refill my energy reservoir. Let me explain another aspect. I am a relatively robust person, I am 183 cm tall and weigh 85 kilograms, so I have a substantial muscle mass. These muscles contain extra glycogen stores, so naturally, my carbohydrate requirement is higher. An interesting aspect also occurs: I do a lot of training that heavily stresses both the central and peripheral nervous systems, with exercises for speed, explosiveness, and strength. Therefore, I need an extra dose of glucose! Otherwise, I don’t recover from one day to the next and become lethargic or physically weakened, and I can’t even concentrate on other tasks.

My Reflections on a Holistic Approach to Life, Training and Nutrition

My metabolism is efficient. I sleep well, more or less at the same hours, almost always before midnight. You know the saying that every hour slept before 12 is worth two hours after 12. I try to respect this principle as much as possible. Sleep is the key to increasing metabolic activity. Thus, it becomes easier to maintain a low level of body fat, also due to the activity of the glands that regulate metabolism. My healthy diet approach also helps in this regard. So it’s not just because I do cardio workouts dedicated to body fat. I hope you understand this holistic approach!

In addition to this, I monitor my heart activity during training sessions. I have a watch and an external heart monitor around my chest for maximum accuracy. This way, I know what caloric consumption I have during training. Wearing the watch on my wrist for days on end, I also know what heart activity I have outside of training. Therefore, it is easy for me to understand why I am so hungry on certain days. Well, if I burn over 3000 kcal in a day, often reaching 4000, day after day. Of course, a hearty meal that provides about 1000 kcal becomes insufficient, even if it looks like I eat a lot. Healthy food is voluminous, plenty, but not calorie-dense. That’s why I sometimes choose to eat chocolate or peanut butter or hazelnuts. A soup with two full portions of rice and meat in a plate doesn’t provide me with more than 1000-1500 kcal, so I need a sustainable dinner, a more consistent breakfast, and even snacks.

Moreover, I sometimes have one or two glasses of wine with dinner, or even two good beers in the evening. As I said, I’m not some pretentious person who follows dietary principles just to look good or to feel more important in front of others. I’m not an alcoholic; sometimes I go two or three weeks without consuming any alcohol. But it happens that in the summer, after a game of tennis, I stop for two beers. This doesn’t prevent me from being healthy and functional. Do I recommend this to everyone? NO! I am a person who lives by my own choices. Nutrition is personalized, and I never recommend the consumption of alcoholic beverages to anyone. If you do it because you notice that I am honest and open about this, you do it at your own risk. However, it is true that beer has a high glycemic index, so it can quickly lead to conversion into body fat, but like anything else, alcoholic drinks integrate with the rest of the nutrition and other elements you do or don’t include.

Thus, almost never is a single food or product entirely healthy or very unhealthy on its own. It’s like saying sugar is entirely unhealthy, but it needs to be integrated into overall nutrition and the body’s response to sugars. Do you have problems digesting and metabolizing sugars or sucrose? Then sugar is your enemy! Do you have a big belly and are sedentary? Then any type of sugar with a high glycemic index is your enemy. But are you athletic and fit as a fiddle? Then sugar will just provide you with a higher energy intake to use quickly during training. Everything is relative to the person, the same goes for alcohol or any other food. Avocado is a good food, right? But if it doesn’t grow in my Romania, me being Romanian, living here, do you think without consuming avocado I can’t be just as healthy? It’s silly to form such opinions. But yes, I also eat avocado, but it alone is not the reason for my high fitness level. Health is not something I take for granted. I received it at birth as a gift from God. I try to take care of it and am saddened every time I see distressed and unhealthy people because nature was not generous with them. Were you born healthy? Do something about this aspect because someone with problems would give anything to go for a run, to swim, to eat a variety of foods, etc. Let’s be wiser and approach everything more holistically.

If you’re interested, you should know that I have an eBook that extensively addresses the aspect of nutrition in relation to physical training: New Nutrition & Training Made Simple.

Table of Contents

Related Articles

FREE 2-Week Calisthenics Workout Plan