Staying Lean on a Mini-Mart Diet

August 9, 2008

Yeah, this is one of those titles I use to draw people in. I certainly don’t recommend living on nothing but mini-mart food. That being said, I would rather go into a mini-mart than eat at most fast food places. Often times after a long day of work, I don’t feel like going into a large grocery store. I can be in and out of a mini-mart in less than two minutes with a few passable food choices.

mini-mart
[The gas stations in Seattle don’t look as fancy as this. My guess is that this is somewhere in Europe.]

I’m Not a Fan of Shopping for Groceries

I HATE shopping. I really, really dislike it. Despite this hatred of shopping, I do my best to get fresh fruits and vegetables from my closest supermarket. I do well in getting really healthy whole foods for dinner, but I’m kind of lacking when it comes to picking up stuff for lunch. For breakfast it is either the occasional piece of fruit or nothing at all.

Why I Don’t Shop for Lunch Food

To be honest, I only eat lunch about 3-4 times per week. I like to eat fewer meals, since I like to do cardio in a fasted state (check out my cardio fat loss strategy here…Low Body Fat Mini-Course). So, most of the time I just don’t plan on eating lunch. On the days I do want a bit of food, mini-marts are ideal!

Mini-Marts Are Loaded With “Evil” Food Choices

It used to be that mini-marts were loaded with nothing but junk food. In my high school days when I ate poorly, I had my share of $1 hamburgers and chili nachos. I remember going to a place called AM/PM and getting 2 hot dogs for a dollar along with am 89 cent 48 ounce Coke. I wish I could go back in time and slap myself upside the head, because I ate poorly back then…thank goodness I saw the light and try to eat healthier these days.

hot dogs
[I’m glad I didn’t turn into Kobayashi the former hot dog eating champion. The guy has consumed 53 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. I think eating 53 hot dogs in 12 years sounds like a lot!]

Shopping in a Mini-Mart = Walking Through a Mine Field

I started noticing about 10 years ago that mini-marts began carrying Meal Replacement Bars. They were limited at first, but now many have close to an aisle of these protein bars. I’m not saying these are ideal, but they are a much better alternative to most fast food places. Around a year ago I started seeing Meal Replacement Shakes in many mini-marts. In my opinion, the shakes are much better than the bars. They have more protein and lower calories.

A Good Excuse to Drink More Water

I like really cold water. I’m also a fan of bottled water. Most of the mini-marts I go into these days have at least half a dozen different brands. I can’t really tell the difference between brands, but I do like to switch it up. The one thing to avoid for sure are the sports drinks. In fact I suggest you avoid sports drink at all costs. It will jack up you insulin levels making it hard to burn body fat.

Drive Past the “Drive-Thru” and Into the Mini-Mart Parking Lot Instead!

When you are on the road and strapped for a quick food choice, min-marts are the way to go. I suggest to keep it simple and grab a thing of bottled water and either a meal replacement shake or protein bar. Typically your meal will be less than 5 bucks and if you get a good Meal Replacement Shake like Muscle Milk, you will get 30 grams of protein at 300 calories. This is a great way to keep those calories low if you are trying to get extra lean or if you have a lot of weight to lose.

Some Mini-Mart Tips

1) Don’t use the ATM…You will get jacked with fees!
2) The guy waiting outside the door is going to ask for “Bus Money” (aka beer money). Pull out your cell phone and pretend you can’t hear him.
3) Don’t use the bathroom ever! You will smell that nasty smell hours after you leave. It won’t wash off your hands or clothes.
4) Be kind to the shop owner or poor guy that has to work there late at night. It can’t be a pleasant job.

Note: I used to live off of protein shakes and just a bit of food. While you can get lean this way, you won’t be at the optimum health. Over the past two years I’ve weaned myself off of most supplements and try my best to get most of my nutrients through natural food sources. I feel better than ever! A great site that talks about this is Modern Forager…Scott has built an amazing resource here. This isn’t your typical “generic” health food site.

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Diti August 9, 2008 at 5:03 am

Hey Rusty,

I really enjoy your website. In fact this gave me so much motivation. But I really need some help right now. I am 16 years old and recently moved to the USA from England. In England (and most of Europe) we’re all just normal looking. Kind of “skinny-fat”, we all drink a lot and eat quite a bit of junk, but maintain a fairly skinny look because we play a lot of football (soccer). Anyway, I live in Redmond, pretty close to you (I think I saw that you lived in Seattle). Everyone here is either ripped or pretty fat for the most part. I’m really trying to break out of this skinny fat look (5″11, 163 pounds) and just get lean and ripped, six pack and all that.

For the 3 weeks leading up to this week I have been working HARD, eating really clean food, but didn’t have all that much results. I’m pretty much eating one reasonable meal a day with some fruit throughout the day. Of course it takes more than 3 weeks but its a bit disheartening. This week I haven’t really worked as hard as I should have, and have been not eating so great. I have only done one H.I.I.T workout this week, I did 10 minutes on 8 on the treadmill, took a 5 minute break like the SFP (I think thats what its called), and tried to do another 20 minutes on 6 but was just so lazy. Then the other days I’ve just swam alot, and done some stupid jump rope workouts (100 skips, 5 pull ups, 6 diamond pushups, repeat same except chin ups), some soccer.

Before this I was doing 7 mile runs, H.I.I.T almost everyday, and just killing myself.

I’m feeling extremely motivated again and want some HARD workout tips, I mean hard. I want to get as LEAN as I possibly can in a month. I know you’re busier than hell, but school starts in a month and I want to look as good as I can. I have 10 pounds of stubborn fat to lose. If you tell me what to do I’ll do it, it would mean a lot to me. Some diet and motivational tips would be nice too.

Luke August 9, 2008 at 10:58 am

Nice link to your mini-course Rusty, great to see some of your side projects coming out! I think info in this layout is easier for people to access as oppose to trawling through posts.

Over here in England I quite like the tap water so not such a fan of bottled water: it costs money and it costs the environment…

thanks for letting me know what to expect from an american mini-mart 🙂

Eleni August 9, 2008 at 12:32 pm

hi rusty. Just wanted your opinion for people training to run half marathons. I ran 10 miles this morning fasted but I started losing energy to get through by mile 7. My friend ate a banana beforehand and she was fine. Mike o’donnell recommended vitamin c for me and I just want your opinion. Thanksgir your suggestion to read his site. I gave up sugar, and feel great.

BurritoKid August 9, 2008 at 2:33 pm

very cool link to your cardio routine. when we are talking about rest, do we mean absolutely nothing? or a slow walk on the treadmill? light weights?

admin August 9, 2008 at 10:44 pm

Diti,

This is going to be an easy one, depending upon when you workout. Here is what I suggest you do. 3-4 times per week go into your workout in an extremely fasted state.

Try to workout in the evening if possible…around 5-6 pm. Just eat something pretty small for breakfast around 8AM or 9AM. Like some yogurt and a piece of fruit. Don’t touch another calorie until after your workout. Wait until an hour after your workout to eat.

Only do this about every other day. On the other days eat like you have been. This is tough but it works. I have done this with great results. Do it for 4-6 weeks and you will be blown away with how lean you get. Kirkland is a really nice place. Some pretty attractive girls out there as well. Welcome to the Seattle area…get ripped!

Luke,

I’m going to try and get 10-15 mini reports out there quickly and then expand upon them. I like the “low body fat report”, because I can point people to it when they ask what cardio workout I recommend. I can keep these focused on one topic and to the point. Are Mini-marts in London much different? I’m guessing they have to be nicer looking and probably a bit more expensive. From what I understand, London is one of the most expensive cities in the world…and one of the coolest (I love beer and techno…I’d be at home).

Eleni,

You may have to eat at least a tiny bit of nutrients for marathon type training. Try some fruit like your friend. Experiment with what works best. I prefer a large fuji for energy over a banana, but that is just me.

BurritoKid,

You could walk really slowly on the treadmill or do a few low rep sets of weights with a bit of rest in between. The main thing is to let your heart rate go back down. I usually just try to relax for 5 minutes.

Good comments guys!

Rusty

Diti August 10, 2008 at 2:59 am

Hey man,

Thanks a lot for your response. Do you think I would get better results if I did it everyday? Don’t worry about me not being able to do it, I’ll be able to do it. What if I skipped breakfast and just had coffee too? (I am not really concerned about “health”, that sounds bad, but I just want to look good haha).

BurritoKid August 10, 2008 at 3:31 am

I got the Rapid Fat Loss Handbook this week. Did you do the crash diet for 2 weeks? Im thinking about going through atleast the first week this week.

He recommended no cardio on it because the calories were so low, I imagine this is what you are doing with your method.

eric August 10, 2008 at 10:18 am

you posted that you eat lunch about 3 times a week. the rest of the week you follow stil the intermittent fasting/warrior diet eating approach? do you eat low carb on the days you eat lunch? i have hade great succes while following the warrior diet hardly every day..but like you said in one of your post it is sometimes hard to follow..do you think it is the easiest and appropriate way to maintain your weight by eating one big meal in the evening only 3-4 days a week instead of every day?

admin August 11, 2008 at 2:14 am

Diti,

You can be extreme for really short periods of time. You can be really strict for 4-6 weeks, but back off a bit after that.

Burritokid,

I do the Rapid Fat Loss Hanbook diet when my life becomes too busy to workout…so that is about 1-2 times per year….for 10-16 days at time. It is an outstanding plan when you can’t get to the gym as much as you would like. I should do a better review of it and how to work it into your gameplan. When I’m doing this I get very little exercise and it works well every time.

Eric,

I like doing it 3 times per week. It just seems more realistic to me. Also…I don’t eat as large of meals at night as Ori recommends. Even on the days I don’t do this type of eating, I eat a VERY small lunch. I just don’t like a blood sugar spike followed by low blood sugar during the day when I am trying to be productive. I get so much more done when I don’t get weighed down with a bunch of food.

Rusty

eric August 11, 2008 at 3:15 am

so you eat low carb the days you eat lunch? or are you just careful with the size of your meals?

Giselle August 11, 2008 at 8:38 am

Hey Rusty,

For the Low Body Fat Mini-Course, What is the purpose of the Coffee/Caffeine? Can this be replaced with green tea?

thanks!

3ller August 11, 2008 at 5:14 pm

hey rusty, this is totally unrelated to the post but….

most of my family members have rings under their eyes. they say its genetic but i doubt it since all of them are overweight or out of shape. Is this inevitable or can i avoid this by being healthy and fit( you say doing cardio n sweating causes the toxins and ‘dirt’ to come out of your face)

Can you reassure me? I hate the rings

Jeff in PDX August 12, 2008 at 12:49 am

3ller,

I know I’m not Rusty, but yes it is genetic. Although it can be exaggerated by other causes.

BurritoKid August 13, 2008 at 5:34 pm

just read through the Ultimate Diet. Were you able to reach low bf levels pretty easily? Lyle discussed why its so hard when you get lower. You were able to get lean without the need to carb load etc. to balance out all the low carb eating?

thanks R.

MikeTS August 15, 2008 at 12:43 am

Rusty, just kind of stumbled upon your site a month or so ago and its become my favorite site on the internet. I’m not on my computer much (usually outside), but I always end up following link after link here and when I look up its been an hour or 2. I have to say, after graduating a year ago with a degree in kinesiology that included many fitness and nutrition courses, this site is a much more realistic resource. I’ve been a workout fanatic and competitive athlete for so many years and if Ive personally learned 1 thing, its that there are a million different ways to keep fit. Mixing it up and trying new things are the key. Sometimes I spend months outta the gym, just playing sports and running and surfing and I find my body always just adapts and I learn what works and what doesn’t. The clincher was seeingthe IF info you recently posted. Its refreshing to see someone doesnt just accept the fact that 6 meals a day is the be all end all. I used to always do that and it just lead to excess weight causing more working out. Then I noticed that when I travel, (last trip was surfing all thru Central America) I end up eating less because of other countries smaller portions and the fact that when your travelling your in the middle of nowhere and the main piorities change. I realized how often as North Americans we eat out of boredom and routine.

Anyways, sorry for the novel man, but I just love seeing passionate ppl doing great things and I just wanted to say that I think you site is an amazing free resource to pll who want to learn more and let you know how much it is needed. Hopefully I can contribute sometime (the experiment of getting fitter is never ending). Thanks and keep up the good work.

Diti August 15, 2008 at 2:57 am

Michael Phelps, you read about his diet?

See, of course for the average man the warrior diet or [IF] is a lot more practical.

But the man, like many other olympian athletes and tour de france cyclics, packs down 12000 – 13000 calories a day. He does, however, swim for 5 hours a day, so his metabolism is crazy.

Have you seen him? He is ripped.

It IS possible to eat what you want, as long as you workout rigorously. I want to dispel any myth of having to have an extremely low calorie diet to be ripped. It’s a lot about the intensity and duration of the work. Diet.. isn’t ALWAYS 80% of it.

Look at Michael Phelps typical day:

Breakfast

Phelps kick starts his day and his metabolism with three fried-egg sandwiches, but with a few customised additions: cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and, of course, mayonnaise.

Amuse-bouche out of the way, he throws back two cups of coffee and sits down to an omelette – containing five eggs – and a bowl of grits, a porridge of coarsely ground corn. He’s not finished yet. Bring on the three slices of French toast, with powdered sugar on top to make sure there’s no skimping on the calories. And to finish: three chocolate chip pancakes.

Lunch

With breakfast wearing off and the hunger pangs biting, Phelps downs half a kilogram – ie a whole packet – of enriched pasta and two large ham and cheese sandwiches. On white bread with loads of mayo on top. To remove any chance that his body will run out of fuel, he washes this down with about 1,000 calories of energy drink.

Dinner

Time to load up on carbs for the next day’s training. Another half kilo of enriched pasta goes down the hatch with a chaser of an entire pizza and another 1,000 calories of energy drinks. And so to bed. As Phelps told US television channel NBC yesterday: “Eat, sleep and swim, that’s all I can do.”

Helder August 15, 2008 at 10:48 am

Speaking of Phelps his already has 6 medals, 2 to go, fantastic. About his diet and training it’s always a question of caloric balance, he eats a lot, but he also burns a lot. It’s also interesting to see that he eats 3 meals a day not the 6 meals a day mainstream diets. That’s also why he’s ripped, he gives his body time to burn the calories.

thamas August 16, 2008 at 12:15 pm

Rusty

Loved the article on mikes daily apple. Skim boarding! I just started doing the the low reps not going to failure its works amazing I was suprised how cut my abs have gotten in a week from it. The question is I have is i have lost weight and gotten to 5 percent body fat but I am 6 feet now 163 at night I feel so small now even though I am more cut then I have ever been. whats your take should I try to gain weight

NancyJ August 16, 2008 at 5:48 pm

Hi, Rusty,

I have a question for you. Is it my imagination or do some (most) of the olympic swimmers seem to have a higher level of subcutaneous fat than most of the other olympic athletes? They all seem to me to have a “smoothness” or a soft noticeable layer of subcutaneous fat around their necks, shoulders, arms, and torso area, in general…even though they are quite fit. Maybe theirs bodies have adapted to hours and hours spent in water and they have accumulated a layer of fat — especially in the upper body — to give them some buoyancy. Sure, they are contiditioned to compete anaerobically under oxygen debt and they are probably aerobically conditioned, too, but most of them have a slight “whale” or “seal” or “dolphin” marine-mammel look to me, and some are more like that than others. Also, why do they all look barrel-chested? Do the people who look that way choose the sport? Or does training for the sport cause their bodies to adapt? Or both?
I just wondered what your thoughts were about this…Thanks!
NancyJ

Jen August 17, 2008 at 11:39 am

I don’t know why everyone says swimmers are fat! I think they look good! We’ve all seen Amanda Beard in a bikini plenty of times, and she looks good to me. She doesn’t have Marion Jones abs, but she still looks good. If I had to guess her body fat percentage, I would say she’s around 20%. Divers, on the other hand, appear to be a little chubby. I would guess that’s because their sport doesn’t require a lot of muscle. Swimmers definitely have good bodies. They’re not the most rock-hard bodies, but they’re tight bodies nonetheless!

Jen August 17, 2008 at 11:39 am

P.S. swimming in cold water does make your body store fat, but I’m sure they’re not training in cold water.

Luke August 17, 2008 at 12:03 pm

hey again Rusty,

Sorry for the slow response – I had my trip down to the hospital in the meanwhile.

As for London – your taste would be easy to satisfy….many clubs pumping out Daft Punk for you haha…

No mini-marts as such – but all chain food/gas station type stores tend to be pricey indeed.

Stay fit,

Luke

Mike August 24, 2008 at 8:33 pm

Heh. I never go to the mini-mart. I never touch those protein bars. It’s just glorified candy. Glad you stepped away from the all protein shake diet, because you were definitely missing out on a lot of nutrients.

admin September 5, 2008 at 12:10 am

Eric,

Yeah…I typically go low carb during the days that I’m eating 3 meals. It just keeps my energy levels stable…plus it keeps the insulin levels low which is key to burning body fat for energy.

Giselle,

The caffeine assists in the release of Fatty Acids from your fat cells (lipolysis). You can do the same thing with green tea…just drink 2-4 cups.

BurritoKid,

My ability to get to low body fat levels easily is based around my strategic cardio workout (click the link in the footer “Low Body Fat Percentage”). This works wonders…body fat doesn’t stand a chance.

MikeTS,

You should start a blog if you haven’t already. People love reading about those who travel the world. Somebody who stays fit while going on amazing adventures…that makes for great reading! Thanks for the compliment!

Diti,

Most of us don’t have the time or desire to workout that much. The more calories you eat, the more you need to workout to stay lean. Hey that is a good post title (note to self). To a certain extent, eating 4,000 calories a day and having to workout to burn 2,000 calories is “spinning your wheels” to a certain extent. The same could be accomplished by eating 1/2 of that amount and 1/2 the physical activity. Michael Phelps had to eat that much due to the unusual demands of being an Olympic swimmer. Good point about calories…it all depends upon how hard you want to work.

Helder,

Michael Phelps is a freak of nature. He is the most dominant athlete in his sport, along with Usain Bolt…that guy is amazing as well!

Thamas,

Stay at that weight…that is roughly the same proportions and body fat percentage as Brad Pitt in Fight Club…it is a great look. You will look much better in clothes and have that “GQ” look instead of looking like a “gym guy”…good job buddy!

NancyJ,

Swimmers do hold on to more body fat than other athletes, but like Jen said…most look pretty good. If I was a swimmer, I would add in 2-3 days a week of interval sprinting and that would help in reducing the body fat a little. Christian Finn over at Facts About Fitness, states that he believes that swimmers aren’t as lean due to swimming increasing the craving for food…while sprinting can decrease the appetite a bit.

Mike,

Yeah…not the ideal food to live on…more of damage control if you don’t have the option of healthy whole foods.

Rusty

Jeff Winkler September 15, 2008 at 11:56 pm

Bottled water – no! It’s a waste of money and only 12% of bottles are recycled. A lot of bottled water is just tap water anyways! Save your money – you already pay for good water with your taxes 🙂

jason September 23, 2008 at 9:31 pm

hi im new to this blog. im 34 years old weigh 166 and just started working out. how can i get ripped fast? heVY WEIGHTS OR LOW WEIGHTS

Jim November 20, 2008 at 12:32 am

Hey,
More of a question than a comment but i live in a dorm and have to eat what they serve which makes dieting difficult. but my question is if i am trying to lose roughly 4-6 lbs of body fat and i am lifting 3 days a week and doing the HIIT running 4 days a week. so with not many food choices am i better off avoiding carbs totally and eating not so lean meat and sometimes very fattening meat or avoiding the meat and eating things like fruit, yogurt,baked potatoes, and chicken noodle soup and healthy cereal?????
Thanks for all your help,
Jim

David December 30, 2008 at 2:39 am

Actually, I think there are a lot more healthy/Paleo foods available at a mini mart than just “water and protein bars.” For example:

-whole milk
-nuts
-jerky
-cold cuts
-pork rinds
-100% fruit/vegetable juices

Also, there’s the great “stay lean” option of just fasting until you can get to a grocery store!

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