The Dear Diet - Delicious
A more flexible version of Paleo - for those who love rice and other grains.

The Nomad Diet – A Simple Approach to Eating

The Promise:

Eating healthy is not always clear. There’s a simple way to identify the purposes of foods – as either a builder, energy provider, or enrichers. Eat less energy providers, lose fat by caloric deficit. Eat more builders, maintain (or build) muscle. Enter the pretentiously named Nomad Diet.

The Nomad Diet is a combination of my favorite diet principles, taken from Paleo, The Simple Diet and If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). Ideally, it promises easier weight management with simple concepts and flexibility in what you eat after acclimation. With it, you will:

  • Eat highly satiating foods -losing fat due to reduced calorie consumption.
  • Feel healthier and more energetic – an effect of eating more real foods, and increasing natural antioxidants
  • Maintain or create lean mass through higher protein intake with a workout routine

Effectiveness:

The Good
  • It’s like Paleo with carb options – no brain fog!
  • Better suited for athletes than Paleo
  • Easy to follow
  • No rare ingredients needed
  • You can eat this diet almost anywhere
  • Ingredients can be inexpensive
The Bad
  • “Liberal” consumption of fat and relying on satiety for effectiveness
  • It’s only published one place – right here

The Diet:

There are 3 categories that food fall into.

1) Builders

The most important group to understand. Builders are things that contribute to your body’s repair after life and workouts. These foods literally become a part of you – they build you. The macros here are protein and fats. Eat as much as you want of the following:

  • Fish (with/without the skin)
  • Eggs (whole or whites)
  • Chicken (without the skin – skin in moderation)
  • Turkey (without the skin – skin in moderation)
  • Red meat (in moderation)
  • Butter (in moderation)
  • Healthy oils (macadamia, olive, coconut, walnut, flaxseed, avocado – in moderation)
  • Whey protein powders, casein protein powders
  • Yogurt (Greek)

Eat lots of fish – just not tuna. Salmon is the healthiest easily-accessible fish.

Red meat and pork in moderation. They’re higher in fat and contaminants. If you have grass-fed beef, eat liberally. Spreads such as mayo and peanut butter are disallowed – you can get flavor other ways. The more processed, the less you should consume. Body composition wise, it won’t matter. Healthwise, it will make a difference. Try to limit the nitrate-laced deli meats.

I avoid nuts. They can contain healthy fats, but are calorie dense – they are easy to overeat and stunt fat loss. I also avoid dairy for similar reasons- milk, non-Greek yogurt, and cheese are too easy for me to overconsume, and many experience gastrointestinal discomfort that leads to elevated stress circulating in the body. That will stunt fat loss and weaken overall health. Experiment with dairy in moderation – if you find you are still losing fat while consuming dairy, then go ahead. You have my blessing.

2) Energy Providers

Aka, carbohydrates. These will power your strength workouts better than fats will. You can have these in any quantity.

  • Potatoes
  • Yams
  • Rice
  • Oatmeal (steel cut > rolled > instant)
  • Fruits (non-dried)
  • Vegetables

These foods tend to be naturally satiating, but try to limit intake on days you don’t workout if you’re trying to lose weight. Vegetables are an exception to this rule.

Remember, these foods are concentrated energy. Unused energy blunts fat loss. If you are trying to build muscle, feel free to eat liberally (but don’t mindlessly stuff yourself). Naturally higher levels of fiber and better satiety mean you usually won’t “binge” on these.

Avoid french fries, fried anything, dried fruits (they are calorie dense and as addicting as candy), fruit juice (basically like soda in sugar amount), granola, syrup, candy, refined sugar… you get the idea.

3) Enrichers

Enrichers contribute to health and overall wellness. They normally take the form of vegetables – which are also light energy providers – but I also include non-caloric drinks (coffee and tea), social lubricants (alcohol), and supplements.

Let’s talk about what vegetables give us briefly (by no means a complete lowdown):

  • Fiber – fiber means you can process food in your digestive system. Constipation is the enemy of good recovery. Eat fiber! The heavier and harder the vegetable, the more fiber it likely has
  • Vitamins – Vegetables have lots of interesting vitamins that your body needs in small quantities
  • Minerals – See “vitamins”. These are things you just need

Non-vegetable enrichers include:

  • Coffee – as much as you want, but no sugar-coated Starbucks drinks – they’re worse than a candy bar
  • Tea – as much as you want
  • Alcohol – hard liquor or wine are ok in moderation. Avoid beer at all costs.
  • Vitamin pill- a food-based multivitamin is very helpful. Easy to digest, and rounds out your micronutrients for health.

It goes without saying that, if you feel bad after drinking too much coffee or tea (caffeine headaches), you should reduce intake. Same goes for alcohol. Don’t overdo the things that you know are hurting you.

One note on alcohol: it has calories at 7kcal/g. For comparison, fat has 9kcal/g, carbs 4kcal/g, and protein 4kcal/g. Alcohol metabolism differs wildly from person to person so I ignore calorie counting around alcohol for sanity purposes. You should, too. Plus, you know that stuff’s not doing you any good, so consider it a treat. If you find your sleep quality or head hurts, cut back on the drinks.

I want to keep this page brief, but if you want to know more about particular supplements to look for, check out this awesome one-pager that briefly explains the most important vitamins and minerals.

Unlisted Foods, Drinks, and Drugs

For things not on this diet, you’re allowed to cheat a day every week. Just don’t go overboard. You’ll know when you go overboard by feeling. As you get leaner, you’re allowed more freedom to cheat due to your body’s improved ability to process more foods. If you’re fatter, I would cheat much less.

On a cheat day, be smart. Think of the next days and how you’ll feel setting yourself back. Don’t go off the deep end in entire pizzas and a cake. Have a slice or two.

The Nomad Diet in Practice

So the question remains… how does one put this diet into practice? My general rule of thumb is simple: 1-2 fistfuls of protein builders, at least 1 thumb of fat, 1-2 fistfuls of energy providers (1 for fat loss, 2 for muscle gain), and 1-infinity fistfuls of fibrous enrichers.

The diet is VERY flexible. The idea is when friends go out to eat, you aren’t left picking at a dumb salad. To prove it, here are examples of the things I eat:

Chicken thigh, green beans, and brown rice
Chicken thigh = protein + fat
Green beans = enrichers + fat (oil)
Rice = energy provider
Fist for comparison
Broccoli Beef with Shrimp and Rice
Broccoli Beef with Shrimp and Rice
Flank steak, shrimp = protein + a little fat
Broccoli = enricher
Brown rice, oyster sauce = energy provider + a little fat
Salmon Teriyaki Bowl for Athletes
Salmn Teriyaki!
Salmon = protein + fat
Rice and sauce = energy provider
Vegetables on side = enrichers
cuban sandwich for athletes
Cuban Sandwiches!
Turkey meat = protein
Cheese = protein + fat
Bread = energy provider
Lettuce+tomatoes+pickle = enrichers (pickle is fantastic; tomatoes and lettuce suck as enrichers. Not enough fiber)
Now note, cheese and read aren’t on the list. But also note, I understood WHY I was eating what I was eating, and knew how much I should eat based on Nomad Principles.
Bibimbap
Bibimbap, a Korean dish
Egg, Meat = Protein + Fat
Vegetable medley = enrichers (lots of fiber)
Rice at bottom = energy provider
Excellent meal choice.

 

But my standard meals are more like the first one. The others are the “acceptable” options when you’re out traveling, exploring, and living your life.

The Verdict:

I made this diet, so I believe it is an awesome way to get started on fitness. Biased? Yes. But it’s free. Try it out.

One more note about this diet: mindful eating goes a long way in enjoying and maintaining satiety. Take the time to enjoy your meals without distraction. Don’t eat mindlessly. I’ll have a post on this topic eventually.

Good luck, and good eating.


 

Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question? Leave a comment below and I’ll answer in comments, and amend this post for future referencers. Thank you for contributing to a stronger world.

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About the author

Aaron Dear

Aaron Dear is a fitness advocate, bodyweight athlete, and product manager from Berkeley, California.

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7 Comments

  • Nice and simple. Thanks for the ideas.

    Probably just inaccurate sentence construction, but alcohol does have calories: 7kcal/g.

    • You’re absolutely right. Alcohol is a weird beast since everyone metabolizes it so differently and it does so much to the absorption of other macronutrients! I’ve unconsciously made it a habit to simply not think about non-protein/fat/carb energy sources unless in the context of micronutrient absorption or the bacterial ecosystem.

      Good catch, and I will amend.

  • What does a solid week of meals look like for someone who wants to cut fat? I always have thoughts like “I should get in shape” or “I should eat better”, I get to meal planning and end up immediately lost. And never ask anyone for help.

    If it helps you answer, I’m 26, 5’7, 185lbs.

    • I’m gonna provide an answer, but if you can, clarify your question for me. Are you experiencing some friction around what to literally eat at every meal or understanding the purpose of what you need to eat? Or… something else?

      Here’s what I eat. 3 meals a day now and a snack or 2. My day normally looks like…

      Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner:

    • Chicken/Eggs/Fish/Lean steak
    • Brown Rice
    • Broccoli/Bell Pepper/Green Bean/Vegetable Stir-fry
    • Multivitamin
    • Snacks:

    • Protein Shake, no milk. Or maybe with milk. Whatever. 🙂
    • Maybe a protein bar. Maybe an apple. Some berries… haha.
    • Lots and lots of water
    • Basically, I eyeball and categorize foods into a builder (protein), an energy provider (carbs, fat), and enricher (fiber, vitamins/minerals) category. You’re probably wondering in what quantity and why I eat like this. Here’s what I tell people. At each meal, have:

    • 1.5-2 fists of meat (builder, IMPORTANT)
    • 1 fist of potato/rice/starch/bread (energy provider, LEAST IMPORTANT)
    • 1-2 fists of vegetables (enrichers, helpful)
    • 1 thumb of fat, either the oil in your stir-fry vegetables, or some nuts (builder, second-most important)
    • Where a “fist” is the size of your balled up fist. This style, combined with the ingredients listed above, should have you recomping in no time.

      If at any point you realize your aren’t dropping in weight, eat less carbs first. Focus your attention on the protein content. And make sure you’re working out! Weight loss is fundamentally just eating less energy than your body uses. In your case, you’ll probably need to eat around 1850-1950 calories a day to lose weight. Something like 180g carbs, 150-180g protein, 55g fat if we’re getting specific.

      • My issue was closer to knowing what I should be eating on a day-to-day basis, and you’ve answered that question really well. Thanks!

  • I have been referred by my Dr to invest in this diet but need a lot of help to learn and understand. I am gluten free and do not eat and meets (white or red) I have gotten myself so sick that I ended up in the hospital.
    Please help!!!
    973-715-7449

    • Hey Kathleen, I’d recommend you ask your doctor directly what he’d like you to eat! I’m not well-versed in constructing diets around major allergies.

      Curious though: do you avoid the meats and gluten due to allergy or personal preference?

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