In this article, we’ll go over how to optimize Valentine’s Day nutrition. No matter what “diet” you adhere to — If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM), Keto, Low Carb — I’ll share hacks to set you up for success. Unless you’re a breathertarian, of course. Gwenyth Paltrow will have to help you there.
Valentine’s Day can be rough, and no, I’m not talking about the fact that it can be lonely. I’m referring to the fact that, like most holidays, Hallmark’s favorite holiday comes with dietary temptations in the form of delicious chocolates, and whatever other sweets you can possibly think of.
Where many sweethearts slip up is treating themselves to a full-blown cheat day. However, if you’re cognizant and plan ahead, you can easily set yourself up for success. Speaking of, have you made that reservation yet?
Fight The Cheat Day Holiday Slide
A lot of people believe they need to either be totally strict and stick 100% to their diet on holidays. Just as many, however, think it’s totally fine to go hard and eat literally every sweet in sight. Including the stuff that gets put into clearance labeled shopping carts post-Valentine’s Day.
I don’t recommend either way. Speaking from personal experience, avoiding treats on holidays often leads to an unhealthy relationship with food.
I learned my lesson the hard way, ditching quality time with loved ones because that romantic Thai restaurant wouldn’t weigh my white rice out for…wait?! “You only serve white rice?! Ugh! Let’s get out of here…oh, never mind I’m eating alone because my dietary OCD doesn’t allow for socializing.”
I’ve come around though. Unhealthy relationships with food have no place in my life. That space is already filled by my exes, thank you very much.
On the flip side, do you really want to set yourself back to where you were in January? Let’s be honest here, most of us are barely getting back on track after the three-month-long binge — Halloween, Thanksgiving, literally all of December.
How Your Diet Can Survive Valentine’s Day
Every diet has different advantages and disadvantages in daily life. This applies to holidays as well. I’ll work around all of them to make sure that no matter what you practice, you’re still able to keep on the grind…whatever that means. Youth and your slang. Sheesh.
Whether you’re going out or staying in doesn’t matter, because I’ll cover both. Here are two diets on pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum.
- If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM)
- Very Low Carb Diet
- A blanket term. Adjustments are easy to make for these ones
- Bulking — in other words, eating your feelings because you’re all alone
- And, for you true heathens who must cheat, I’ll go over how to cheat optimally.
Valentine’s Day: IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)
Those who do If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) are obviously the most likely to indulge responsibly — I’m just calling it how it is, you folk have mastered moderating dietary hedonism.
When it comes to flexible dieting, a solid macro guide would be to go with:
- Lower fat: 0.25 — 0.4 grams per pound of bodyweight
- Moderate to high protein: 0.7 — 1.0 grams per pound of bodyweight.
- Carbohydrates: You lucky heathens. The rest of your percentages go here.
- Let it be known, I’m scowling at you from my computer
IIFYM Valentine’s Day Restaurants
If you’re going out this Valentine’s Day, obviously you have a lot of options. However, since IIFYM typically focuses on less fat, I’d suggest staying away from pizza…then again, I’d probably recommend staying away from pizza anyway.
Shoot for places that serve foods low in fat. Some great options are:
- Sushi (preferably not tempura)
- Thai or Vietnamese
IIFYM Valentine’s Day Recipe
You’re doing IIFYM…why on earth do you want to cook?! Half kidding. Back when I was indulging in some carby goodness, this was one of my go to favorites.
Chicken Marinara Pasta Ingredients:
Serves 2 people
- 2 6-8 ounce chicken breasts
- As much Butter Herb Buck Season as you want
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan Rock salt
- 2 cups Whole Wheat Pasta
- Marinara Pasta sauce
- 2-3 tbsp Grapeseed Oil
- Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Chicken Marinara Pasta Steps
- mix olive oil, Buck Season, and Himalayan Rock Salt into a bowl
- Lather up the chicken breasts in your marinade
- Tupperware down and store in the fridge
Evening of — allow enough time to cook pre-date
- Cut chicken breast against the grooves
- Boil some water
- Place pasta into pot, cook until tender
- While pasta is cooking, cook your chicken on medium heat
- I like to put the cheese on the chicken once it’s mostly cooked, but that’s just me. You do you.
- Drain water and stir in sauce and cheese
- Plate with a little basil (if you’re fancy)
- Protein: 45 grams
- Carbs: 50 grams
- Fats: 22 grams
For desserts, I’m no expert. My methodology for eating sweets is either none at all or everything within a five mile radius. So, I checked out a few blogs and this was the winner.
- Vanilla BUCKFEED (15g)1/2 Scoop
- Sugar Free Fat Free Pudding Mix (4g)1/2 Serving
- Cocoa Powder (10g)1 Serving
- Yogurt (85g)~3oz
- Strawberries (200g)1/2 Container
- Carbs: 3.5g
- Protein: 2.75g
- Fat: 0.5g
Valentine’s Day: Low Carb Keto Diet
My people! I feel your pain — and your gains. Things can be a little difficult restaurant wise for us, but not impossible! Especially if you’re willing to hike the carbs up to 30-50 grams. Which, for the record, if you’re already keto adapted — and work out prior — will have pretty negligible effects.
Low-Carb/Keto Friendly (ish) Restaurants:
One objection I frequently hear about a low-carb/keto diet is how difficult it is to live a social life, eating out at restaurants and the like. This is false.
While it might be a little more difficult than, say, IIFYM or careless consumption, it’s not a massive challenge. In my opinion, it’s actually simpler since it’s so straightforward. You just don’t order dishes with carbs. Here are some of my favorite go-tos for food types and what to order.
- The King: Brazilian Grills
- Steakhouses: Splurge, get yourself a delicious ribeye with a side of vegetables.
- Seafood: Avoid “chips” or deep-fried dishes. Salmon, shrimp, lobster tail and the likes are all game, though.
- You can even go italian, just…you know, hold off on the pasta.
As for dessert, throw in the towel on this one. Restaurants haven’t come around to making keto-friendly desserts yet. Luckily, if you stay in moderation, you can likely keep your carb intake from desserts to 30-60g. Not ideal, but not terrible either.
Low Carb/Keto Homecooked Dinner:
This is where low carb/keto diets excel. Cooking your own delectable dinner at home will impress any (potential) partner. Unless they’re vegan. Then…well, your relationship was doomed from the start.
Keto dinners, done right, make anyone look like a master chef. Who doesn’t love a perfectly cooked, buttery steak?! Here’s what I’d recommend:
- 2 8-14 ounce Ribeyes: go big or…you’re already home, but you get the idea
- 3 tbsp Grapeseed Oil
- You could do olive oil or avocado oil. However, grapeseed oil is packed with libido friendly nutrients. And, call me a heathen, but…it’s Valentine’s Day.
- 1-3 tbsp grass-fed butter (or ghee)
- Butter Herb Buck Season
- Himalayan Rock Salt (amount varies by preference)
Keto Dinner Recipe Steps:
- Mix together your salt and Butter Herb Buck Season in a bowl.
- Don’t be frugal, roll the steak around in the delicious season blend
- Stick in tupperware, douse in your aphrodisiac oil
- Let deliciousness settle in and store in fridge overnight
- Take the steak out of the fridge
- Let sit for 30 minutes outside of fridge so it’s room temp
- Turn stove to medium-high
- Set frying pan on there, warm for 3-5 minutes
- Throw steaks on, let sear on the first side
- Flip, and put your butter on
- Cook to the desired temp
- This is assuming you don’t prefer your steaks well done. If you do, make chicken thighs so your date doesn’t (rightfully) judge you.
Side Dish Ingredients
- As much asparagus as you want
- Himalayan Rock Salt & Pepper
- Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 2 avocados
Side Dish Cooking Instructions:
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Lather asparagus in olive oil
- Place in a casserole dish or baking dish
- Conservatively sprinkle salt and pepper
- Throw shredded parmesan cheese over top
- Slice avocados and set to the side
- These aren’t necessarily part of the dish, but avocados belong in every keto dinner
Keto Dessert: Fatty Protein Chocolate Covered Strawberries
It’s Valentine’s Day, so you best believe I’m going chocolate strawberries for Keto as well! In my opinion, these are even more delicious than the IIFYM ones. And they don’t break the ketosis break either!
Keto Dessert Ingredients
- Chocolate KETO PROTEIN (1 scoop)
- Dark chocolate dairy-free baking chips (1/4-1/2 cup)
- Coconut Oil (2 1/2 tbsp)
- 1 package strawberries
- 1 sheet parchment paper
Keto Dessert Steps
- Wash and pat strawberries dry
- Melt coconut oil and dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl
- I do between 60-90 seconds
- Mix KETO PROTEIN until smooth
- Dip strawberries in chocolate
- Place on prepared baking sheet
- Store in freezer for 20-30 minutes
Bulking or Cheat Meal (if alone)
I’m just going to be safe and assume you’re bulking because you’re alone. It’s okay, we’ve all had to eat our feelings before. You don’t want to focus on macros or anything like that. You just want all the “gainz.” And by gainz, I mean:
- Microwaveable…anything that has any protein in it.
- Ice cream — dudes, quit acting like it’s only women who binge on ice cream. Ice cream is gender-neutral divinity. Own it.
- Cake. In your ice cream.
- Corn dogs and cereal. Not together. That’s weird, even for a bulk.
If you’re bulking and eating alone, you don’t have to give up on your goals. It’s almost a positive really. (so we tell ourselves.) If this is you, I have to discourage going to a restaurant. Seeing happy loving couples — and their facades — might trigger stress (in other words, cortisol), and that’s not ideal for muscle growth.
Stay in. And try this simple, delicious method for getting literally everything you could possibly want out of a not clean but not inefficient bulk “meal”
- Bucked Up Digestive enzymes (30 minutes prior to eating)
- 12-ounce steak — I love steak, so what?
- Cooked with some Texas Bayou Buck Season
- Any 2 medium pizzas from Dominos for 5.99!
- 3-5 episodes of that Netflix show a partner would never watch with you
I’m of the belief that pizza isn’t a meal. It’s a side dish. It’s like a blend of avocado and garlic bread. A nutrient dense superfood. Just. You know. Without the right types of nutrient density and super in the “super-size me” sense of the word.
Still, steak with pizza is a gluttonous piece of heaven. After dinner, open up the ice cream. But try this instead of your usual ice cream.
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Halo Top, Enlightened, or my favorite, Arctic Zero
- However many servings of peanut butter you desire
- Microwave ice cream until “melty”
- Toss into large Tupperware
- mix in the desired amount of peanut butter.
- Store in freezer
Bulking or Cheat Meal (with a partner)
Communication is key. Do whatever you want, so long as your partner is also game. I’d still suggest somewhere at least moderately nice.
What’s important is that you know how to hack the surplus of non-optimal food. Here are the steps:
Lift back, entire upper body, legs, or if you’re not into specific stuff, do more deadlifts, squats, barbell rows, etc. than any human should be allowed to in a single workout.
Why? Because the larger muscle groups elicit a greater hormone response, priming your body to better absorb the massacre of carbs, fats, and (maybe) protein.
Supplement Overview for Optimization:
I won’t try to say supplements are more important than having a clean diet, but…
Your diet isn’t “clean” on these sorts of days. Might as well do whatever you can to prepare for the fun feasts as well as come back to your former glory quicker with a post-cheat meal recovery supplement guide.
- Fast (wait to eat) Post-Workout
- Phosphatidic Acid (PA) 60 minutes prior — consider PA a gps system for your nutrients. It can help even the most directionally challenged food groups (like cheat foods) find their way to the muscles. There might be some stragglers, for sure, but way less than without PA
- Digestive Enzymes 30 minutes prior: A barrage of calories = a siege on the gut. Add some Enzymes to the mix to recruit some reinforcements.
- ½ scoop Buckfeed Grass Fed Whey 15 minutes prior + 1 serving Leucine: This will help slow down the surge of insulin, fill you up enough to not make more than 3 poor –but so necessary — decisions, and most importantly, Whey protein has been shown to increase protein synthesis. Adding it in before eating foods that don’t necessarily have an ideal bioavailability is the way to go.
- HEAT Fat Burner: Morning after: These excellent fat burners will kick your body back into fat burning mode, without the adverse side effects of excessive caffeine. They also have ingredients for shedding water weight. This is great, since I imagine whatever definition you had pre-V-Day is hidden under a flood — like after a dam breaks and the lake flows over what was a sharp rock floor
- PUMP-OCALYPSE: You might as well make the best out of the carbs. Add in some extra ingredients for “nutrient” transportation and blood flow. Achieve the ultimate PUMP.
- WOKE AF BLACK: obviously high stim is ideal here. Especially if you’re experiencing post-carb day hangover. The reason to do BLACK instead of regular is because of the Humic/Fulvic acid blend’s ability to rid the system of heavy metals, toxins, and radicals.
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Stay sweet out there, folks.