Nutrition Guidelines: By Eleanor Marshall (Personal Trainer and Nutritionist)
1. Plan and keep a food diary
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Take a few minutes each week to plan your meals and snacks for the week before you shopping. This way you will be less likely to eat energy dense, nutrient lacking processed foods on the go. Keeping a food diary is a great way to stay accountable to not only the types of food you are eating but also when and how much you are eating.
2. Eat a variety
Eating a variety maximises your chances of absorbing the most amount of nutrients from your food. It also reduces food boredom. Look for different meats and a rainbow of fruit and veg.
3. Eat small regularly
This ensures your blood sugar levels won’t get too low which can lead to poor food choices when you’re ravenous. Eating before your workouts gives you energy to get the best workout possible. Eating within 30 minutes after your workout gives your body the best chance to replenish muscles and therefore recover. If you are trying to reduce body fat percentage you don’t need to eat more, just plan your meals or snacks around your workouts.
4. Eat protein with every meal
Protein helps to keep you satisfied and your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, protein cannot be stored in the body, therefore it should be eaten over the day. Best sources are: lean meats such as; chicken, beef/veal (low fat), turkey, pork chops, fish and kangaroo. Due to the high amount of energy in meat, substitute non-meat protein sources over the day such as low fat yoghurt, cottage cheese, beans, tofu, nuts, seeds and milk. If you struggle to eat enough protein, a protein shake is a convenient snack on the go.
5. Eat slow carbohydrates
The best carbohydrates will:
• fuel your brain, helping you to work at optimal cognitive capacity,
• help you to perform at your best during exercise,
• provide fiber and resistant starch to help keep you regular and your bowel healthy and
• provide you with a relatively cheap and easily stored source of food.
The best sources: brown rice, kumara, quinoa, oats, vegetables. Bulk up your meals with leafy green veg (spinach, asian greens, kale etc.) to feel fuller without the added calories.
6. Include good fats
The Good: Unsaturated Fats
What they do: These fats raise good HDL cholesterol, lower bad LDL cholesterol, and protect against the build up of plaque in your arteries. They can also help prevent belly fat.
Where you'll find them: In olive oil and olives, canola oil, almonds, cashews, peanuts, peanut butter, sesame seeds, and avocados.
How much you need: Most of the fat you eat should be unsaturated.
What they do: In addition to lowering your LDL, these fats contain essential omega-3 fatty acids -- which boost brain function and may help strengthen your immune system and improve your mood -- and omega-6 fatty acids, which in small amounts can keep skin and eyes healthy.
Where you'll find them: Omega-3s are primarily in fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring, as well as canola oil, flaxseed, walnuts, and tofu. Omega-6s are in corn and safflower oil, corn-fed chicken and beef, and farmed fish.
How much you need: Most of the polys you eat should be omega-3s. Too much omega-6 can lead to inflammation, which is linked to heart disease. Trade vegetable oil for olive and canola oils, and eat grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish.
The Bad: Saturated Fats
What they do: They raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease.
Where you'll find them: In meat and poultry, in dairy products like cream, butter and whole and 2 percent milk, and in some plant foods like palm oil.
How much you need: Limit saturated fat. Remove any hard fat you can see, such as the skin on chicken.
The Ugly: Trans Fats
What they do: Made from unsaturated fat that's been chemically altered to prolong the shelf life of packaged foods, trans fats raise bad LDL and lower good HDL, increasing inflammation throughout the body.
Where you'll find them: In margarine, doughnuts, french fries, and processed foods such as crackers, biscuits, chips, and cakes.
How much you need: Zero.
7. Drink plenty of water:
Often when we feel hungry, our bodies actually just need more hydration. Even in a cool climate, water is essential to improve digestion, joint mobility and flush out toxins. Build up to a minimum of 2 L water a day (this can also include herbal tea). You will not only notice an improvement in your skin but also you concentration levels.
8. Eliminate alcohol for best results:
Have you ever heard the expression ‘empty calories’? This term relates to alcohol as it offers us nothing but calories (and a hang-over) in return (ie. no nutritional gain). Alcohol also ranks first on the list of priorities to be digested. Therefore the carbohydrates, fats and even proteins you have consumed are delayed. As a result you are more likely to store this food as body fat and most importantly you miss out on the nutrients from the food whilst upsetting your hormone levels (therefore reduced results from the gym).
Further, alcohol can increase your appetite or desire to eat, primarily due to dehydration. It often also plays tricks with your mind and weakens your determination to eat well. Consequently you will be more likely to be tempted by high fat/sugar foods the more you drink.
9. Best Supplements:
Multivitamin, Omega 3’s (Fish oil or flaxseed oil) and Magnesium.
10. Get adequate sleep
Eliminate all distractions in the room that you sleep. TV’s, phones, computers etc. The room you sleep in should be designed for sleep, relaxing and rejuvenating. It is the only time of your day that you get to do this. Aim for about 7-8 hours a night.
11. Stress less
As well as making us fatter, stress also makes fat more persistent. Stress responds via two main hormones-cortisol and adrenalin, which are responsible for your ‘fight or flight’ response.
Adrenalin gets your body ready to fight or flight. It is released very quickly in response to severe stress such as a danger, being yelled at or finding a pile of bills in the mail. Adrenalin acts for a short duration. If stress prolongs, then the long-lasting hormone will kick in-cortisol.
Stress hormones store more fat, especially around your central area. This fat will remain there for as long as your cortisol hormones remain high. Examples of long term stress could be a stressful job, studies, relationship issues or even chronic pain. These stress factors could all contribute to the extra fat that you have stored around your tummy and regardless of how hard you exercise, this particular fat will not budge.
Find your stress triggers and learn ways to de-stress.