Improving your health requires changes that are sustainable for the long term. As a Precision Nutrition coach, we often provide guidance to our clients that are interested in fat loss on how to master certain food habits which will naturally lead to improved calorie control and food selection. These habits are:
1. Eat slowly and stop at 80% full
Most people (including myself) can often tend to eat their meals far too quickly, which lessens our ability to feel our hunger and appetite cues. Did you know it takes 20 minutes for our satiety mechanisms to kick in? The communication between our stomach and our brain is slow, and because of this, if we eat quickly we are far more likely to eat too much before our brain notifies us that we’re content. An excellent goal would be to aim to spend 15-20 minutes each meal. I realise this may be difficult for some so slowing down by even a few minutes will still have it’s benefits. This way, you will be able to properly gauge your fullness, which will enable you to eat until you’re ‘80% full’ which is defined as eating until you are no longer hungry, rather than eating until you’re full. This may take some practice but overall will be beneficial for your digestion, performance during your exercise, and better sleep if you’re eating before bed.
2. Eat protein dense foods with each meal
Research has shown that not only is a diet higher in protein completely safe, it may actually be important for achieving the best health, body composition (body fat % and muscle mass), and performance. The fact of the matter is, it’s hard to achieve these things with a suboptimal protein intake. By incorporating decent amounts of protein (20-30g for women, 40-60g for men) per meal, you will not only ensure you consume an adequate amount of protein, but you’ll also stimulate your metabolism, improve your muscle mass and recovery, and reduce body fat.
3. Eat vegetables with each meal
Science has demonstrated that in addition to the fibre and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) packed into vegetables, there are also important plant chemicals called phytochemicals which are essential for optimal functioning inside our bodies. Unfortunately an inadequate vegetable intake is something I see all too often, which was reflected in Australia’s new food pyramid released earlier this year which placed vegetables (as well as fruit and legumes) as the food group we should consume the most. Given only an estimated 7% of all Australians reach their recommended intake of vegetables per day, it is something we should all aim to improve on. Including two servings of vegetables/and or fruit during each meal, not only will you regulate your overall food intake but you will also be receiving the many disease fighting benefits that vegetables provide.
4. Eat healthy fats daily
As a general rule of thumb, about 30% of your diet should come from fat, although this can change between each individual. Whilst you should focus on adding monounsaturated (extra virgin olive oil, some nuts, avocados, red meats, eggs) and polyunsaturated (some nuts, some vegetable oils, fish/fish oil) fats, including some saturated fats is ok too as a balance of all 3 types of fat is optimal. The benefits of dietary fat include the balancing of hormones, increased brain and nervous system health, and improved metabolism.
Mastering these four habits are simple and sustainable ways to improve your overall health, body composition, and performance, as your calorie control and food selection will be greatly improved.
(Inspired by the Precision Nutrition Certification Manual)
Health is our greatest asset – we’ve all heard it before, and deep down we all know it. Taking care of ourselves physically and mentally through exercise should be one of our highest priorities given all the health benefits it brings, but often prioritising exercise can be a challenging one when the calendar is full. Sure, we all have businesses to run, children to pick up, meetings to attend, but I guarantee you someone who is much busier than you is still scheduling time to exercise. As Arnie says below, if Barrack Obama and The Pope can make time, so can you!
Finding that optimal work/life balance can be challenging, but if you follow the following few tips, that balance may be easier to find than you think.
Schedule time to exercise. Enter it in your calendar and make time rather than find time to exercise. Schedule 30 minutes for a workout and some time to shower and change afterwards. Everyone is busy, but let’s face it, if your child needed picking up because no one else could, you could get out of the office. If you had a dinner you needed to attend to which meant you had to leave work by a certain time, you’d make it happen. That same commitment should be made to meeting your exercise needs.
Work out efficiently. You don’t need to spend hours on an activity to see results or to receive the health benefits that exercise delivers. You can do plenty in 30 minutes. Pick something you can do at home, when traveling, or in the gym. High intensity interval training, bodyweight exercises, running, and cycling are all good options. Hire a personal trainer if you need help with consistency and intensity, and therefore the time you do spend exercising is beneficial.
Enjoy what you do. One of the most important points – find something that fits your lifestyle and personal preference, because you are more likely to make time for something you enjoy. Not everyone is a runner or a yoga enthusiast, so don’t do it because you feel as though you have to. If you’re not sure of what you may or may not enjoy, experiment with different activities until you find something. This could mean social sporting competitions, boxing for fitness, dance classes; there’s no right or wrong.
Make it social. Don’t want to exercise alone? Get together a group of friends or work colleagues and join a group activity. Whether it be organising fitness boot camp for your workplace, starting a yoga or pilates class, or joining a social sporting competition such as TRL (touch rugby league) or indoor football, there are plenty of group activities out there to try. Training with friends means you are held accountable if you don’t show, and you won’t want to let the team down will you?
Choose something over nothing. Even if you start by doing the minimum, if it’s more than what you were doing initially, it’s a start. Starting small on little things such as going for walks, or catching public transport every so often is better than doing nothing at all. From there you can build to any of the suggestions in this post .
Once you prioritise your health and start making time to exercise each week, not only will you improve your energy and physique, but you are greatly decreasing the risk of a number of health conditions such as heart disease/stroke, certain cancers, and depression/anxiety. Despite everything that we face each day, it’s easy to forget what our biggest asset is, and that is living a life with good health, because without that we can’t achieve much!
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As the mornings become cooler and the daylight hours decrease, motivation for exercise before and after work can begin to diminish as it competes with extra sleep in a warm bed or a hot meal sooner in the evening. Sure you have that weight to lose, but what harm will missing one day really have? Well, these missed days tend to accumulate more when the weather is cooler and before you know it, your consistent routine is something of the past. Often in life, you need another person to inspire motivation, and exercise is no different.
Even if you are seeing a personal trainer for motivation, sometimes you need a little bit more. That little bit more comes in the form of a training partner. Whether it is your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, family member or best friend, training with someone else both in and outside of your PT sessions can be of great benefit to you. Some of the reasons include:
1. You’ll miss fewer sessions. When your motivation is lacking, you have someone else to answer to now. Cancelling is one thing, but you won’t want to cancel on a friend or your partner!
2. You’ll work harder. No one wants to be that person holding back the team. Training with someone else will push you to reach a higher intensity. You can also encourage each other throughout the workout.
3. Your bank account will thank you. When two people are training with a PT, you split the costs. This is a great way to receive extra attention to detail that a trainer can give you versus a busy boot camp.
At JS-PT, the most common 2-on-1 sessions are couples training together, however more friends are enquiring and starting these types of sessions due to the financial benefit. An extra benefit with the JS-PT 2-on-1 sessions is the option of training in a gym of which has no membership payment required, or training outdoors. Now keep your exercise frequency and consistency this autumn and winter, and find someone to start exercising with!
You can have the best nutrition plan in the world, but if your compliance to the plan is low, your results will be minimal. Those that travel for work often know all about the challenge of remaining compliant with their plan, and even those that travel occasionally can relate. If you fall into this category, then the following strategies will help you increase your adherence to a nutrition plan.
Choosing the best location
Whether you’re away for a conference for a couple of nights or working in an interstate office for the week, your first priority should be location. Not just in relation to where your work commitments are, but how close are you to supermarkets/gyms/restaurants from your hotel? Are you within walking distance? Without these type of places being close, it’s easy to make poor selections.
Choosing a room with kitchenette
Price is an obvious factor here, but a room with a kitchenette or even just a fridge, you can stock the room with healthy snacks/meals such as fresh fruit and vegetables, yoghurts, breads, sliced chicken/turkey, milk, bottled water etc.
Research restaurant menus in advance
If you intend on eating out, hop onto the websites of the possible restaurants where you intend on eating so you know what could potentially fit into your plan.
Bring protein supplements
Often the biggest challenge for people who travel often (even those who don’t) is maintaining adequate amounts of protein. If you are using the above strategies then you should be doing well to maintain sensible eating patterns, but bringing your own protein powder down is a good and quick fall back option if you aren’t able to eat as well as you would like.
While these are pretty simple steps to take when travelling, sometimes it is easier said than done to be compliant with a good eating plan. Put into place these strategies and help increase the likelihood of you remaining on track with your nutrition goals.