We want to eat food in its most natural state, where it has been untouched by chemicals and hasn’t been put through rigorous processing. The closer the food to its natural state, the more nutrient dense the food is. Research has shown that this class of food is most readily absorbed digested and utilized with maximum nutrition and minimum calories.
What do I mean by wholefoods?
Examples of wholefoods are:
Fruits: apples, oranges, berries, grapes, kiwi, bananas, mango, watermelon etc…
Vegetables: cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, capsicum, zucchini, spinach, onions, kale
Meat: beef, pork, chicken, turkey (avoid processed varieties like pre made burgers, sausages, deli meats)
Fish (avoid the battered types!)
Nuts: unsalted, raw
Legumes: different types of beans, peas
Grains: Quinoa, Oats
When you feed your body these foods its runs most efficiently and you will find:
- Your digestive system runs better. Less cramps, reflux, constipation etc…
- Energy levels are more stable
- Less hunger cravings. What happens when you eat 1000 calories of highly processed Macdonald’s
food? 30 mins later you’re starving again. As your body has received very few nutrients from this meal, it tells you that you are hungry again to make you consume more nutrients (food). When your body received the vitamins and nutrients it requires it keeps those hunger cravings in check.
- Lower cholesterol levels, lower risk of diabetes, heart disease etc…
The human body has no mechanisms to deal with the foreign chemicals we pump into it. For more infromtation on why we should avoid processed foods check out my blog post on the topic: 5 Reasons you should stay away from processed foods
You are doing your body a disservice if you are not consuming adequate fruit and veg. These contain the essential vitamins and minerals that keep your bodys systems ticking over. Read more about why you need to be eating your fruit & veg here:
You should be consuming fruit/veg with every meal, aiming for about 10 portions per day. If you are trying to lose weight it should be a higher ratio of vegetables to fruit. 10 portions may seem like a lot to start so you can build it up.
- 1 portion of vegetables is about the size of your fist
- 1 portion of fruit is one medium sized piece of fruit, or a cupped handful of chopped fruit/berries
3. Eat until Satisfied, not Full
When we eat, we should feel energized and revitalized. Not like we need to be rolled into bed. You should eat until you no longer feel hungry, not full. When finished eating you should ask yourself, “could I go for a light jog now?” If the answer is “No”, you have eaten incorrectly. There is no reason to gorge yourself at a meal. Overeating means you are consuming more calories than required and also puts a lot of strain on the digestive system. To read more about the benefits of this habit and tips on applying it, go to: http://www.spkfitnessnutrition.com/healthy-eating-habit-1
4. Get Hydrated
One of the fallouts of eating junk and drinking alcohol is you become dehydrated. The only way to restore the balance is to get hydrated. Aim to drink 2-3 litres of water per day. This can increase depending on the amount of exercise you do.
Start each day off by drinking a tall glass of water. Try to drink water in smaller portions regularly throughout the day. Avoid drinking it litres at a time. To add some flavour you can put some sliced fresh fruit, herbs, or vegetables into your water.
This one is pretty simple. Alcoholic drinks are not only full of sugar and empty calories, but you also make much worse food choices after a few drinks. You reach for the deep fried or sugary treat, and you eat much more than when you haven’t had a few drinks. Alcohol also has negative effects on exercise and the progress you make (inhibits muscle growth). Unless you have extremely good self-control it’s better to cut out the booze altogether (Don’t worry you can have a drink or 2 on your treat day).
Sugary treats and soft drinks are packed with calories and contain no good nutritional value. Aside from the calories, sugar can cause all sorts of issue in the body including inflammation and insulin resistance.
6. Exercise Every Day
That’s right, every day. I am not saying you should smash yourself into the ground every day, just get up and do some physical activity every day for at least 30 mins. Try and mix up the intensity of the sessions.
A sample week could look like:
- Monday: high intensity
- Tuesday: low intensity
- Wednesday: high intensity
- Thursday: Low intensity
-Friday: High intensity
- Saturday: Low intensity
- Sunday: Low Intensity
Examples of High Intensity sessions :
Circuit of resistance training exercises
Interval training on treadmill, bike etc…
Examples of Low Intensity sessions:
Easy pace Cycling
Stretching and mobility work
If you can get to a gym or train with a group, that’s great. If you can’t, don’t worry, there are loads of workouts you can do at home with minimal equipment. I regularly post workouts on the SPK Facebook page . I will be posting more throughout the challenge.
Try and find some exercise or sports which you enjoy doing. This will make it much easier to stick to the plan. Make the exercise enjoyable, not a chore. Melbourne is full of breathtaking places to go for walks or cycles. Instead of meeting someone for lunch or coffee, arrange to go for a hike. Its social, fun and great for your health!
7. Eat protein with each meal
Protein is vital for healthy bodies. Protein is involved in the formation of new cells in the body. This includes: muscles after exercise, hair, skin, nails, recovering from injuries and much more. More protein in the diet can have a very positive effect on body composition. For more on the benefits of protein go to:
Males should try to eat 2 portions of protein with each meal, and females 1 portion. A portion size is roughly the size of the palm of your hand. Some good sources of protein are:
8. Earn Your Carbs
Carbs have one function in the body: to provide energy. If you have some fat to lose you need to earn those higher carb meals by exercising. After intensive exercise your muscles are glycogen (glycogen is the stored form of carbs in the body) depleted and you are more insulin sensitive, therefore your body uses the glucose from carbs rather than storing them. Follow these carb rules:
1. Focus mostly on unprocessed varieties such as fruit and vegetables
2. Limit carbs such as wholegrain bread, wholegrain pasta, and rice to around exercise
9. Spend Time on Food Prep
Unless you can afford to have somebody shop and prepare your food for you, you are going to have to spend some time on this. If you don’t, you are at the mercy of “convenience foods”, namely fast food and junk. If you don’t have lunches prepared then you end up buying something from the food court. Yes you could go for a salad (even the salads you buy in a lot of establishments are questionable) but there is a very good chance you will walk out with a kebab, chips and can of coke under your arm. If you have prepared your lunch and brought it with you there is much less chance of going the junk food route. It takes a bit of time to be prepared, but probably not as much as you think. Trust me, it is worth it. You will be saving your health and waistline, as well as a lot of money.
For some tips on Food Prep check out my blog post: http://www.spkfitnessnutrition.com/blog/meal-prep
10. Log Everything!
“If you are not assessing, you are guessing”. Keep a log of your nutrition and exercise. This can be as simple or as complex as you like. You can use apps like “MyFitnessPal” or else you could keep a note in your phone. Or you can even use pen & paper!
You might not realize how much food you are consuming until you see it all written down in front of you. In regards to exercise, it can be very satisfying to look at your log and see how much progress you made eg: increase in reps, distances run, faster times etc... This can be great motivation to keep on going.
If you have a good week and get some results, the log for that week can be a guide as to what you did right and what worked for you. On the flipside, if you have a bad week you can look at the log and see what doesn’t work for you and make changes as necessary.
Logging shouldn’t take much more than a couple of minutes at each meal or after exercise.
Don’t Give Up!
If you mess up and fall off the wagon, don’t stress. Just get back on it as soon as you can. Have a read of the goals you laid out at the start for some motivation to keep going. Don’t be too hard on yourself, this isn’t easy. If it was, everybody would be in great shape!