Oh the new year. A time of excitement for what the year may hold intertwined with a dash of lament as we head back to work to face email inbox anxiety and try to salvage any fitness routine you might have had prior to December’s festive season.
And while it can feel like a real step backwards heading into the gym after a bit of time off, take a load off and know that a. everyone is probably in the same boat, b. it will only take about two weeks to get back into it again and c. that it is always worth the effort.
The good thing about fitness is that there is instant gratification. You drag your butt into the gym, but by the time you finish you pretty much are fitness and that bit of muscle soreness the next day gives you that feedback that you have done the hard work.
Nutrition on the other hand, well it takes a little more time and patience. It’s not like you eat a salad and then all of a sudden you are glowing out of every pore. It takes time, especially after a few weeks (or months?) of Christmas indulgence. However, there are a few little tips and trick you can implement to help the whole ‘healthy eating’ gig happen a bit more efficiently.
The approach for nutrition in order to complement your training looks very similar to everyday garden variety healthy eating, except for a few small tweaks.
Firstly, you need to ensure you are eating enough. It is very common for people to fall into the ‘exercise to burn calories’ trap. And we hear you, yes if you are after fat loss, you do need to burn more calories that you consume. However, it is important to turn up to your fitness session fuelled to work, especially if it is high intensity type training.
Sure, you don’t need to carb up before yoga or a walk but turning up lethargic and hitting a wall half way through the session because you haven’t eaten is only going to make training suck. Plus muscle requires extra energy and protein in order to be built. This means choosing a snack that sits well before your session that includes protein and carbs (and maybe a bit of caffeine) so you can go hard. If you want to cut back on the calories, try to have a lighter meal based at the other end of the day from training.
With a quality sources of protein at each main meal, planning the bulk of your carb intake around training, using healthy fats and lots of veggies to fill up in other meal, and some well-planned snacks, you can move from general healthy eating into a diet more focused on complimenting our fitness goals.
Speaking of snacks, that is a great place to start when looking to improve your overall diet if you don’t know where to start and are a bit overwhelmed by nutrition generally. Snack foods are very commonly the source of poor-quality calories, AKA ‘junk food’.
Changing your snack food from chocolate bars, cookies, chai lattes or chips to protein rich and unprocessed choices will not only provide you with more nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre etc) but also keep you full, satisfied and help build a strong toned body.
Think smoothies with a good quality protein powder like Body Science Clean Protein for a quick mid-morning snack or a quick top up before hitting the afternoon deadline crunch with a piece of fruit and a protein bar like the Body Science Clean Bar, that has whole food ingredients. Nuts, seeds, boiled eggs, Greek yoghurt or tuna on rice cakes are also great ideas for nutrient dense, protein rich snacks to help kick the 3pm fundraiser chocolate frog.
Once you have a better hold on your snacks and have crowded out the sugary stuff, you can get onto the bigger project required to maximise your new year fitness regimen. Meal prep.
Now meal prep can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. We have all seen the elaborate Instagram meal prep sessions undertaken by our favourite fitspo’s. And while it is absolutely to spend an entire Sunday in the kitchen with countless contains prepping for a month, it is also an option to just plan out your meals for the week on a piece of paper, write a shopping list, go shopping and simply ensure that each night you make enough to pack for lunch the next day.
Which is an approach to meal prep that for many is much less overwhelming and doable. The key is to watch your portions and ensure that when you are constructing a meal you first fill your plate with salad of veggies, then add a palm size of cooked protein, a fist full of wholegrain carbohydrates and then top the meal off with a healthy filling fat source such as avocado, olive oil drizzle, feta cheese or pine-nuts.
This basic template is a streamline approach to ensure you nail the satisfying yet healthy fit meal pursuit.
So while nutrition can easily be the weakest link in any new year fitness plight, setting out these three easy points of attack and applying them to your current fitness regimen, you will very quickly be ticking ‘get fit’ and ‘eat healthier’ off your new year’s resolution list without too much fuss.
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