‘Veganism’. A word which is the catalyst for many debates and let’s face it, some pretty hilarious memes. However, as you have probably all noticed, the vegan lifestyle is becoming more and more popular and there seems to be an increased awareness across the board. Hopefully what follows will give you a brief insight into my life as a vegan and the effect it’s had on me, physically and mentally.
I became vegan on the 11th of August, 2015, and I have to say it all happened pretty organically. My partner had been a vegetarian for approximately two years so my consumption of animal products had naturally reduced over that duration – but meat, eggs and dairy still made up a fair bit of my diet. She asked if I would be interested in watching a documentary called ‘Earthlings’ which looking back, was probably what started the transitioning process. I’m not going to go into the discussion of ethics – we’ve all seen the videos and anyone with an ounce of compassion can appreciate the moral justification behind veganism. Instead, I’d more like to focus on the health benefits of a plant-based diet, as this was a huge driving factor with me wanting to becoming one of those crazy extreme vegans. After viewing the documentary, I immediately dove into researching the health benefits of a vegan diet and that was “all she wrote”.
Current Diet Now fast-forward almost 3 years and I couldn’t be happier. Now, I don’t want this article to turn into a solo episode of “This Is Your Life”, because to be honest I could talk about this stuff all day. Instead, I’ll choose three of the more significant diet-related points regarding my experience thus far with veganism.
Micronutrients – the bottom line is that plant-based diets, when done correctly, will always result in eating a larger variety of foods. More experimentation takes part in the kitchen, more enjoyment is had with cooking, and as well as being very tasty, the meals are more colourful – and more colour means more nutrients! For example, when you’re meeting your protein requirements with foods such as beans, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables rather than beef, chicken or fish, it’s pretty safe to say that you’re meeting many other nutrient requirements as well. Long-term, this sets you up for a far healthier and problem-free life, as you reduce your risk of chronic disease. For example, 28% of deaths in the year 2016 in Australia were a result of heart disease. A very significant factor of heart disease is atherosclerosis – the thickening and hardening of vessel walls – and a major cause of this is high cholesterol. But how many people know that dietary cholesterol solely comes from animal products, and that your liver produces enough cholesterol alone for normal bodily function? For me, the proof was in the pudding when, out of curiosity, I had a blood test in February of this year. My results were perfect, and my doctor was pretty impressed. Also, another fantastic change is that I haven’t been sick since becoming vegan, at all.
‘Feeling healthier’ – I have a very clear memory of 2014. I was in a ‘bulking’ phase and was consuming around 4000 calories each day. I have always strived to be the healthiest I can be, so even during this phase I was still eating plenty of vegetables and wholefoods. However, I still felt so crap. Every meal was a bigger struggle than leg day, and I was pretty lethargic the entire day. It was hard! Fast-forward to now and eating that same number of calories is entirely different. There is a noticeable difference with bloating and lethargy, and I’m generally more energetic. It’s hard to explain, but I honestly just feel healthier.
Travelling and eating out – this is something a lot of vegan’s struggle with, but I’ve never really had a problem. Since being vegan, I’ve travelled to over 20 countries with my partner and we’ve never had an issue (thanks to wonderful apps such as HappyCow). Also, almost every restaurant has vegetarian options, and it’s never a difficult task to make these choices vegan-friendly – such as swapping out an egg or dairy product for a suitable alternative. What upsets me is hearing of complaints from the vegan community about restaurants NOT having enough vegan options. At the end of the day, veganism is in it’s infancy, and recognition on a menu in the form of a meal labelled as “Vegan” or “Vg” is a total win in my books. Recognition = awareness, and that’s the beautiful thing.
Current Training and Physical Changes
Training progress, body composition and my style of exercise have also all changed quite considerably. In addition to continuing compound strength training, I now incorporate a lot more gymnastics movements and bodyweight training into my regime and am thoroughly enjoying it. All of my personal bests for bench press, deadlifts and barbell squats have improved considerably, and I have learnt new skills such as handstands and ring muscle-ups. Could I have still achieved this as a meat eater? Probably. But, nothing feels better than going to the gym full of energy (which I didn’t always experience as a meat eater) and feeling like you can conquer anything. Also, it feels great to somewhat prove people wrong. Vegans cop a lot of flak and are always being targeted as ‘protein deficient’ or ‘malnourished’, but I’ve experienced more strength and muscle gain than ever before.
I would like to point out that I am not an expert on veganism and don’t claim to be. As I said, I strive to be well-educated and due to this point, my knowledge on diet and training is forever expanding. Also, my journey with veganism and the positive results I have experienced are just that – mine. Any diet can be done incorrectly, and individuals need to be well-educated with whatever it is they choose to consume.
Thanks so much for reading,
For information on training with Matt, contact us firstname.lastname@example.org or PM us through our socials (Facebook, Instagram). For great content including vegan recipes and training videos, Matt can also be found on Facebook and Instagram.
Whilst strength training sets the foundation for fitness, doing so in a gym or with a personal trainer is not theonly physical activity you should do to stay healthy, but rather should be part of a wider active lifestyle. Making physical activity an easy part of your daily routine – like cycling on your commute to and from work, for example – or taking it up as a social activity – like weekend hikes or playing a social sport – should also be considered as part of this active lifestyle.
When it comes to social sport, combining fitness with socialising with friends or work colleagues has its benefits both physically and mentally. Social sport gives your training schedule variety and also promotes social health by spending time with friends and meeting new people.
On a personal note, I have been playing Touch Rugby League (TRL) for a number of years as my social sporting competition of choice. More recently, I’ve started working more closely with TRL through JS-PT on corporate health programs as an addition to group training sessions.
To speak more about the benefits of playing social sport and playing TRL in particular, we invited Chairman of TRL Tom Longworth to feature in this month’s JS-PT news:
Touch Rugby League (TRL) was founded in 2005 and has always been a social-sport at heart. Whilst we do offer very competitive and elite pathways, at the heart of our offering is providing teams the chance to exercise and get fit, but in a social context. TRL provides a great opportunity for people to meet others and has been an avenue through which thousands of Corporate teams have built upon team spirit and camaraderie.
Whilst physical health is important, so is mental health and a big part of that is maintaining healthy relationships with friends, family and work colleagues. In reality, we all spend more time with work colleagues than just about anyone so being able to relate to one another in a work context, and to have a strong bond (built on trust and respect) plays a key role in mental health.
TRL provides a great opportunity for people to engage, to develop a sense of trust, respect and teamwork on the field all whilst having fun and of course keeping fit. Strong relationships make for a better workplace.
With multiple locations across Brisbane (and Australia), it has always been straight forward finding competitions to enter, and also has helped me implement more cardiovascular training into my week! For more information on any of the above, please feel free to contact Tom directly by emailing email@example.com or by visiting the website.
Following a recommendation from a JS-PT client, we thought we would share something different this month. Homemade vegan Easter eggs, from Jamie Oliver himself:
“For most of us, Easter has become a chocolate-filled, sugar-fuelled holiday, full of chocolate eggs, bunny-shaped treats and colourful Easter baskets.
For many parents, the prospect of endless sweet treats coming their children’s way can be daunting, so to help out, we’ve got a refined sugar-free, vegan chocolate egg for you to try.
These eggs are great fun to make with the kids, and while you’re at it, you could make some Easter baskets, which you can then fill with your homemade treats! You’ll need an egg mould, which you can buy online or at some large supermarkets – depending on the size of your mould, this recipe will make around six to eight small eggs or one bigger one.
To make 1 large egg or 6 to 8 smaller eggs, you’ll need 200g coconut oil, 6 tablespoons agave syrup and 120g raw cacao powder. You could also add 2 to 3 tablespoons of peanut butter.
1. Melt the oil in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, carefully transfer the bowl to your work surface.
2. Add the agave syrup (you could use maple syrup or even honey for a non-vegan version) to the melted coconut oil and mix together.
3. Add the cacao powder and stir until you have a smooth, liquid chocolate.
4. Reserving a little of the chocolate mixture, pour the rest into your moulds of choice, tilting the moulds so the mixture covers the surface.
5. Leave the moulds in your fridge or freezer for around 20 minutes, or until the chocolate has set.
6. Take the moulds out of the fridge and carefully remove the chocolate egg halves. Spoon in the peanut butter (if using) for a surprise filling.
7. Brush the rim of each mould with the leftover liquid chocolate, then stick the egg halves together.
8. Leave to set in the fridge for a further 10 minutes, then enjoy!
9. If you’re planning on buying traditional shop-bought chocolate eggs, it’s best to get good quality, dark chocolate with a high cacao content, as these will contain less sugar.”
Are you working long hours and often hunched over a computer? Are you racing to and from back-to-back meetings whilst trying not to think about how you will manage the mass amount of emails coming in? Are you feeling stressed and rundown by the increasing demand on employees? As a fellow corporate professional I truly understand how close to home these are working in the corporate world. I have seen firsthand how gradually these detrimental work habits begin to take a toll on our bodies and minds in the form of stress, tension and sickness. Whilst a mild amount of stress can help us meet deadlines, too much or constant stress can have a significant impact on our overall wellbeing. We spend over one-third of our life at work, that’s why it’s so important that we introduce tools early to help us better handle workplace stress and improve our overall wellbeing in the corporate world.
One of these great tools I have found is Yoga. I’m sure you’ve heard of Yoga, but you may be wondering how turning yourself into a pretzel is going to help you in the workplace? Fair question, so let’s break this down.
Everyone has different triggers and reactions to stress and in today’s world, stress is inescapable. The good news is you can develop ways to handle stress through Yoga principles. Numerous studies have shown how Yoga can help to counterbalance the body’s physical, mental and emotional reactions to stress. Yoga is more than merely a physical practice and another element of yoga that is becoming increasingly common in the western world is meditation. Yoga not only assists in the daily pressures placed on the physical body, it can also positively affect your mental and emotional wellbeing through meditation and mindful practices.
You don’t have to be an advanced yogi to learn and apply these tools, so let’s have a look at three quick practices you can implement to better handle stress and improve your overall wellbeing in the workplace.
It’s not news that we’re all spending more time hunched over our desks creating tight hips and shoulders, a creaky neck and sore back. All the usual consequences of slouching at your desk for 8 hours a day. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can lead to imbalances in your body that cause poor posture and injury down the road. Yoga can help reduce discomfort and target areas of tension, being an effective way to counterbalance common physical ailments.
I’ve suggested 6 quick and effective stretches you can do at your desk in less than 5 minutes. If you need a visual, google these names for the image of the stretch:
Taking some time in your workday to perform these quick stretches might just save you a more expensive trip to the physio!
In a world where busyness can be perceived as success, taking a lunch break can sometimes be frowned upon. However, what you do in your lunch break can have a huge impact on your productivity for the rest of the day.
Eating at your desk or spending your break aimlessly scrolling through social media can leave you feeling not very refreshed. Productivity reduces, it’s harder to focus and you may need that extra dose of caffeine to get you through.
So maybe step away from your desk and try a few of these:
• Take a walk around the block without looking at your phone. Really notice what’s going on around you and take in the fresh air. • Eat your lunch mindfully. Take some time to appreciate the flavor and texture rather than rushing to eat while checking social media. • Practice some mindful meditation in your break, deep breathing and paying attention to how you’re feeling.
Taking a deliberate break from work with a short walk or a bit of mindful relaxation can have powerful effects on our end-of-day concentration, stress, and fatigue.
Research on meditation has shown it has many benefits, such as easing stress and anxiety and inducing feelings of tranquility and calmness. While the body needs constant movement to be healthy, the mind thrives with regular doses of stillness.
Our minds like to be busy to help us accomplish tasks, however this can also cause us stress and lack of focus. The good news is, we can train our minds to be calmer and more focused through the practice of meditation. Spending just 5 minutes in meditation can completely change the way you approach life and how your body responds to stress.
More popularly of late, the western world has been referring to ‘Mindfulness Meditation’. Here’s some quick tools as to how you can implement a 5-minute mindfulness meditation in your day. So set an alarm, and let’s get started.
• Find a comfortable position and close your eyes • Feel which parts of your body connect to the floor • Draw your attention to your natural breath, becoming aware of the sensation of each inhale and exhale • Inevitably, your mind may wander, if it does, draw your attention back to the breath • Notice the sounds around you • Notice the temperature of the air on your skin • If your mind gets carried away in thought, return your focus again to the breath • When you’re 5 minutes concludes, gently open your eyes and notice what’s around you; colours, objects, people • Pause for a moment and notice how you feel before continuing your day
There you have it, that’s it! Simple, quick and effective.
The practice involves training your mind to focus and be in the present moment without drifting into concerns about the past or future, which is where stress and anxiety can arise. Like any exercise, consistency is key. Give it a try next time you are standing in line, before a meeting, or anytime you need to regroup and have a moment of downtime. With regular practice, mindfulness meditation may also assist you in:
• Remaining calm under pressure • Improving focus, attention and productivity • Making decisions from a calm and grounded place • Re-energise and clear your mind • Experience less stress and anxiety • A sense of connection • Improved sleep
I hope you enjoy these tips on how you can easily implement yogic principles into your corporate day to better handle stress and improve your overall wellbeing. Like everything, start small and be kind to yourself, but most importantly, make a commitment to yourself as changes don’t happen overnight.
Sending calming vibes your way.
From Corporate Yogini (@coporate.yogini on Instagram)
Mindful Eating – I’m sure you’ve heard the term, but do you feel like you’ve really grasped the concept? These days the term ‘Mindful Eating’ has somehow found its way into diet and weight loss programs around the world. Yet using mindful eating as as weight loss tool actually goes against what the practice of what mindful eating is truly about. Let’s break this down. So what is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is all about deliberately paying attention, non – judgmentally to your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations in the present moment. It’is purpose is to help free yourself of reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. It is about balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is. Ok, so how does Mindful Eating fit in?
Mindful eating involves the act of non-judgmentally acknowledging your hunger and fullness cues to guide your decisions of when to begin and finish eating foods, and eating with awareness of all of your senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. It helps to develop non-judgemental responses to food (likes, dislikes, neutral) while allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities available through food selection and preparation. It is a tool to learn which foods will best satisfy your hunger. Why is it not for weight loss?
As you can see, the core purpose of mindful eating is to eat without judgement guided by your internal hunger and fullness cues. Practicing mindful eating with the intention to lose weight means that you are entering the eating occasion with expectation and judgement – to lose weight. If those expectations aren’t met, generally feelings of failure arise – which more often than not lead back to partaking in another behaviour for weight loss – which is a classic example of the diet cycle. So how can Mindful eating help?
Eating is a behaviour and behaviour change is hard! You can follow a meal plan or pay someone to dictate to you what to eat until they are blue in the face, but at the end of day you have to learn to eat for YOU. Improving your eating behaviours is not about weighing less for a moment in time, but about learning to eat well for the rest of your life. Mindful eating can assist this in this in a number of ways:
• Reconnecting with internal physical hunger and fullness cues: We were all born with the ability to regulate our hunger and fullness internally, but as we get older and life gets busier these cues get interrupted by our environment (i.e. increased stress, working shift work, designated eating times, being preoccupied with work,). By bringing awareness to your body’s sensations around hunger and fullness, mindful eating can help you reconnect with this innate ability we are all born with.
• Reduce Non – Hungry Eating: As natural cues to hunger and fullness are explored mindful eating can help you to identify any instances of non hungry eating (i.e. eating because you are bored, stressed, depressed, lonely, procrastinating or just because it is there). Recognising these occasions is the first step to behaviour change and allows you to explore other remedies for non-hungry eating than food.
• Reduce Overeating: Awareness during eating is also key to mindfulness practice. Combined with hunger-fullness awareness this allows us to notice when a food ceases to be as palatable or as enjoyable, helping to determine when satisfaction has been reached. This is called the ‘Law of Diminishing Pleasure’.
• Increase confidence around foods we feel powerless around: We all have them, those foods that we don’t keep in the house because we don’t trust ourselves around them. Avoidance is a short term solution but long term it’s important to feel confident that you can be around certain foods without going crazy. When eating for ‘pleasure’ over ‘fuel’ – which is totally ok to do, practicing mindful eating can help us to determine when our pleasure/sensory needs have been fulfilled. For example you may buy a chocolate bar because you genuinely feel like it – in the past you might eat the whole bar because it is there, using mindful eating you may find that just half the bar satisfies you – or you may not! Only you can determine this.
How can I be a more a mindful eater? Here are 5 ways you can start with now:
Write a definition of your hunger as if you were to put it in a dictionary- i.e. I feel… an empty feeling, gnawing and… fatigued, moody.
Keep a hunger diary- Note down times you get hungry and any relevant circumstances around your hunger. Are you hungrier on days you exercise? Or perhaps days you have a larger workload? Less hungry on days you are stressed? Identifying patterns can help you to pack, prepare and choose foods that are more likely to satisfy your hunger.
Give your hunger and fullness a score / 10- this is best practiced around meals you feel your overeat at (See scale below). Try to identify how much you need to stay in the comfort zone (i.e not getting so hungry you bite someone’s head off, and not getting so full that you feel unwell).
Eat without distractions- Turn off the TV and put down the phone. Save your attention for the eating experience!
Be curious with food, even if you have had it a million times- Before taking the first bite, ask yourself; What is the colour, texture and shape of your food like? Does it feel warm, cold or neutral? What does it smell like? Does it smell as you expected? Do different parts of it look, feel or smell different? Take a bite, but don’t chew yet! Is it cold, warm or hot on your tongue? How does the texture feel? Is it soft, smooth, dry or hard? Is it a combination? Chew slowly…How does it taste? Is is sweet, salty, or a mixture of both? Does the texture change as you chew? Does the flavour change as you chew? How does it feel on your tongue as you move it around your mouth? Now swallow…Has the taste changed again? Are there bits in your teeth? What is the aftertaste like? How is it similar or different from your first chew? Do you need more or are you satisfied?
I hope you enjoy these tips on mindful eating and remember – mindful eating is about eating without judgement and is a skill that takes practice. Start small – if you can only practise mindfulness at one meal this week that’s ok, be patient with yourself – remember behaviour change is hard.
For more on mindful eating, why not visit the Centre for Mindful Eating at www.tcme.org
F: Gather Nutrition and Dietetics
2018 is now in full swing – school holidays are officially over, the Australia Day long weekend has passed and everyone is now full steam ahead into the working year. Welcome back to a more consistent routine! With that in mind, now is the time to establish some healthy habits to get you moving towards your health and fitness goals fast. Whilst the following this isn’t rocket science, being on top of these few steps will ensure you are moving forward efficiently. Here are 5 habits to master to transform your body.
1. Moving more outside of your gym sessions
Whilst everyone’s new year goal tends to be to go to the gym more, or to eat better, when it comes to getting back in shape, something that’s often overlooked, but that is so simple to do, is to just move more in general. Aiming for 30-60 minutes of activity each day in addition to your gym or boot camp sessions ensures you are more active more often. This goal is especially beneficial for people who sit down at a desk all day. Options to move more could include going for a walk when you wake up or during your lunch break, parking further away, or simply just taking the stairs. Walking also aids in your recovery and digestion. Taking up a social sport or activity to mix things up with your normal gym routine is beneficial too given you can catch up with friends while being active.
2. Sleeping 7-9 hours per night
Sleeping more is one of the most overlooked aspects of fat loss, muscle gain and improved performance. Your body recovers primarily when sleeping, so getting some shut eye for 7-9 hours each night will give the body time to rebuild the torn muscle tissues which occur during training and ensure you are recovered adequately for whichever physical activities you may do the following day. Lack of sleep causes a drop in certain hormones (leptin) which play a key role in how ‘full’ you feel, making you more likely to consume more calories through snacking and cravings. Remember, quality counts, so limit the phone and Netflix before bedtime!
3. Controlling your portion sizes
Whilst we’ve recommended the approximate counting of calories through apps such as ‘My Fitness Pal’ in the past (which we still maintain is a useful tool to educate people on the macronutrient and calorie breakdown of different foods), calorie counting can be flawed due to the inaccuracy of food labels and the potential negative and obsessive effect it can have on your eating behaviours. So, with that in mind, try measuring portion sizes using the palm of your hand as a simple and flexible guide – this idea stems from our friends at Precision Nutrition. Aim for 80-90% of your diet coming from whole foods, with the remaining 10-20% spent on whatever you like, assuming you are eating adequate amounts of protein.
4. Increasing water intake and limiting liquid calories
Maybe you’ve read that increased water intake assists with fat loss, but it is not water per se that achieves this, but rather the effect that it may have on your drinking habits, in particular, by replacing ‘liquid calories’ you may have – such as juices, soft drinks or alcohol – with water intake. Drinking enough water per day (2-3L per day) has major health benefits. Studies have shown adequate water intake assists in the transfer of nutrients throughout the body, flushes out toxins, lubricates your joints and digestive tract, and regulates your body temperature through sweating. One particular study which was conducted a few years back showed that drinking 500ml of water increases your energy expenditure (calories burnt) by 24% (1). With this in mind, drink plenty of water before exercise and before meals as this is likely to increase your metabolism for the following hour and make you feel more full before eating.
5. Being mindful of recovery and managing stress
Being mindful of recovery is often something that is overlooked when people increase their activity levels. Above we mentioned the importance of sleep for recovery, but don’t forget that stretches and foam rolling maintains and improves your flexibility and mobility (recovery) too. Yoga is an obvious option here given you focus on not only stretching, but also the calmness of your mind through controlled breathing. Yoga also helps you mix up your exercise routine – lower intensity activities such as yoga, walking, pilates and meditation, combined with higher intensity exercises such as resistance training, conditioning and cardio provides a good mix of endorphin releasing and mindfulness exercises. Another very simple technique to help deal with stress is spending time in nature. Whether that is just by eating lunch in a park, or adding more greenery to your household or office, nature helps lower your stress hormones and heart rate, and improves your mood.
1. Boschmann M, Steiniger J, Franke G, Birkenfeld AL, Luft FC, Jordan J. Water drinking induces thermogenesis through osmosensitive mechanisms. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Aug;92(8):3334-7.
Always a winner and makes for one of the easiest of meals to prepare, this San choi bao recipe from karenmartini.com was passed on by a JS-PT client and was immediately a big hit. Try this for your next home cooked meal, or adjust to suit your own tastes.
1 iceberg lettuce (choose a nice heavy one)
2 medium carrots, peeled
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
10cm ginger, julienned
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
350 grams fatty, finely ground pork mince
1/2 red onion, sliced
3 stalks celery, finely diced
10 fresh shitake mushrooms, finely sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons light soy
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice wine
2 teaspoons cornflour mixed with 2 teaspoons water
2 cups bean sprouts
10 snowpeas, julienned
6 spring onions, finely sliced on the angle
2 large red chillies, cut on the angle
2 generous handfuls coriander sprigs
hoisin sauce, to serve
Before you do anything else, trim the lettuce to create cups and soak the lettuce cups in cold water in the fridge to ensure the crispest leaves.
Next, follow my tip for perfect julienne carrots. Peel them with a vegetable peeler into long strips then cut the strips in half lengthways and finely slice. Set aside.
Heat wok over high heat. Add oil, ginger and garlic, cook for 20 seconds, then add the mince.
Break it up as it fries for 1minute, then add onion and celery.
Cook for 30 seconds then add the carrots and mushroom, then the sugar, soy, oyster sauce, sesame oil and rice wine.
Cook for 30 seconds, then add the cornflour mixture, cook for another 30 seconds, then add the sprouts, snowpeas, half the spring onion, half the chilli and half the coriander.
Pile it into a bowl and garnish with the rest of the spring onion, chilli and coriander.
Serve with the well-drained lettuce cups and serve immediately with hoisin sauce.
With the many diets and portion controlled meal options presented to us in this day and age, too often people are trying to sustain a diet eating far less than what is optimal for their lifestyles.
With the above point in mind, this month we share an article written by Coach Calorie which explains what can happen when you consume too little, and how much you should be eating. Without further ado:
The majority of the time when you’re having a problem losing weight, it’s not because you aren’t making good food choices. The reason why your weight loss has stagnated is because you’re not eating enough calories to lose weight.
What Happens When You’re Not Eating Enough Calories?
When most people start dieting, they slash their calories and add a large amount of exercise to their daily routine. That’s fine, but they usually cut their calories way too low. Add in the extra exercise, and all of a sudden you have an extreme calorie deficit that is working against you.
Not eating enough calories causes many metabolic changes. Your body is a smart machine and senses a large decrease in dietary energy. Your large calorie deficit might work for a few days or even weeks, but eventually your body will wake up and sound alarms that it needs to conserve energy.
It doesn’t want to just waste away. It needs that energy (fat) to survive. So, what does your body do when it senses prolonged energy restriction? Not eating enough calories…
Slows down thyroid production – Your thyroid is responsible for fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism, among other things. Your body has the ability to slow down thyroid output in an effort to maintain energy balance .
1. Decreases muscle mass – Muscle is highly calorie intensive to maintain. In a prolonged extreme calorie deficit, it is one of the first things that your body looks to get rid of, especially if you’re not providing a stimulus to keep it. Your body needs the fat, wants the fat, and the muscle can be spared. It breaks down the muscle tissue and uses it for energy.
2. Lowers testosterone levels – An important hormone for both men and women, testosterone is just one of many hormones that are affected with severe calorie restriction . Testosterone is anabolic to muscle tissue. Without it, it becomes that much harder to maintain, let alone put on muscle mass.
3. Decreases leptin levels – Leptin is one of many energy regulating hormones. More importantly, it’s a “hunger” hormone that tells you whether to eat or not. High leptin levels signal that it’s OK to stop eating, while low leptin levels are a signal to eat more energy. Because of this, leptin levels decrease in calorie restricted environments .
4. Decreases energy levels – There are many physical actions your body takes when you’re not eating enough calories, but there are also some mental ones. Neurotransmitter production is limited, which can lead to a lack of motivation. It’s your body’s way of telling you to “slow down” – conserve your energy.
There is nothing like an Australian beef burger during the summer (or any) months of the year, so we decided to make our own. We included the following:
Scotch Fillet Steak
Spinach and Rocket
Remember no foods or meals should be off limits if you are able to balance out your intake throughout the day. So if it means eating a smaller meal elsewhere so you can enjoy a bigger meal like this with friends or family this summer, then so be it!
Tracking your calories through apps such as My Fitness Pal is a great way to manage your food intake and while this is still my preferred option, this method is not for everyone. The following alternative technique requires only your hand and is explained below in this info-graphic by Precision Nutrition (PN).
Although I am a qualified PN coach, I’m of the opinion that calorie counting still has its place, which differs from PN’s opinion. But whether measuring your food intake with an app or by using the method below, the important thing to remember is tracking your food intake in some capacity will be needed if you want to start seeing results. This strategy of using your hand is a good place to start, or potentially all you need.
If you feel you need more assistance with your nutrition, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further options.
Another gem from taste.com.au, we cooked this earlier this month for a light lunch and it was a real success! Great to add some fibre in the form of legumes to a simple salad dish like this.
1. Place chicken in a pan and add enough water to cover. Bring the to boil over medium-high heat, then cover and remove from heat. Stand for 30 minutes or until cooked through. Drain, then shred chicken into bite-sized pieces.
2.Toss beans, chickpeas, coriander and oil together, then season and divide among 4 plates. Drain apricots and chop into small pieces, then scatter over salad with chicken and almonds.
3. Swirl the harissa, honey, cinnamon and cumin through the yoghurt, then spoon over the salad. Dust with paprika to serve.
“Increasingly common, yet poorly understood. Felt intensely by the sufferer, yet often invisible to the outside world.”
The above is a direct quote from an article I read recently by a former sufferer of depression, and considering an estimated 3 million Australians are living with depression and anxiety, chances are someone you know may be experiencing these feelings without you realising. There is no one proven way to help people recover from depression and anxiety, however there are a range of effective treatments, one of which is exercise.
Exercise is so much more to the human body than how you look. The profound effects of how physical activity improves your mental state should not be forgotten.
How exercise helps:
1. You are probably aware that exercise helps boost endorphins in the body, which are neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain which help diminish pain while triggering positive thoughts; this is often that feeling you have after you finish exercising. Exercise may also boost other neurotransmitter chemicals such as serotonin, which is responsible for regulating mood and some cognitive function, and is a chemical that is sometimes low in depressed people.
2.Stress has been linked to depression and anxiety, and exercise is very much considered an antidote to stress. Exercise encourages you to move more, which is immediately forcing your brain to concentrate on the physical tasks at hand, and is then followed by the release of endorphins which will trigger positive thoughts. Consistent exercise also has positive effects on your quality of sleep, something which lacks in someone suffering from depression or anxiety. Studies have shown (including this one with over 110,000 participants) that sedentary behaviour increases your risk of suffering from depression, so try to move and move often.
3. Your self esteem takes a real battering when you’re depressed, so doing something which improves you mentally as well as physically will increase your self esteem and self worth. A healthy body is first and foremost one which feels great mentally.
As was mentioned earlier, there is no one proven way to help people recover from depression and anxiety, however with the proven effects exercise has on the human body such as supporting neurotransmitters and relieving stress, consistent exercise on any level should be strongly considered as a mainstay in your lifestyle if you are suffering from the lows depression and anxiety bring.
While exercise is a very effective form of treatment in dealing with depression, sometimes people need more. If you are feeling as though you need to talk to someone, immediate support is available at Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, and plenty of other organisations which are listed here.