Eat your way to a hot body
Summer is upon us and, undoubtedly, we are all more conscious of our bodies.
Whether it be parading Kadooment Day or visiting the island’s beaches more regularly to survive the unrelenting heat, one way or another, the months of June through August are synonymous with less clothes and more flesh. Consequently, we flock in droves to gyms islandwide, go for early morning walks or jogs, exhaust the P90X workout DVD and neglect to do two critical things on our quest to carve summer-appropriate physiques: eat and eat properly!
So just how should we approach food consumption in our endeavour to be summer ready? Do we drastically reduce our food intake and hope to drop 15 pounds of fat in two weeks? Do we eliminate carbohydrates from our diet? Do we eliminate fat?
Do we eliminate meat? Maybe we need to leave out all fried foods? Cut out flour? And, of course, there are always crazy fad diets floating around to further complicate things, for example gluten free, HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) or limewater.
It can all be rather intimidating but the decisions we make with respect to our nutrition can make or break our success.
When revamping our diets there are some salient principles that should be considered to ensure we remain on the path to a healthy transformation. Let us consider the following guidelines to success:
Have small frequent meals – Most of us have heard this one before and there is a reason why it is such a common tenet of proper nutrition. Eating frequently has been proven to stabilise blood sugar levels, elevate metabolism (great for fat loss) and reduce catabolism (great for muscle preservation or gain).
Have a source of protein in every meal: Protein is perhaps the most important macronutrient we can consume. It is responsible for growth and repair in our bodies and it aids in a positive nitrogen balance (important for muscle growth and development of lean body mass). Complete proteins (proteins containing the full gamut of essential amino acids) are a required part of any diet because they cannot be manufactured by the human body in adequate amounts. Complete proteins are typically obtained from animal sources (poultry, dairy, fish, meat,
and so on), whereas incomplete proteins (proteins deficient in one or more essential amino acids) are obtained from plant sources. It is possible, however, to combine two or more incomplete proteins to make a complete protein (for example rice and beans). Animal sources remain superior nonetheless because they are more protein dense and have a higher biological value.
Eat the right carbohydrates at the right times – Carbohydrates are required for energy and should not be eliminated from our diets. Instead they should be obtained from the right sources and consumed in sensible amounts based on activity levels. If, for example, one is going to have a sedentary period (sitting at a cubicle for two to three hours), the meal that precedes this activity need not be high in carbohydrates because it follows that a lot of energy is not required to perform this function. Lower glycemic carbohydrates are our most useful
go-to options for most meals during the day as they do not cause a significant spike in blood sugar and insulin levels.
Drink water – We should aim to consume one ounce of water per kilogram of bodyweight to keep our bodies in optimal working condition and to replace fluids we may lose through exercise. We shouldn’t wait until we are thirsty to drink water (by that time we are already dehydrated), and we should make our quota by drinking glasses throughout the day and not all at once.
Consume high-fibre foods – Fibre is a key component in ridding our bodies of excess fat. It helps us reduce our intake of calories, it reduces blood cholesterol and helps promote efficient intestinal function. Fibre supplements do not offer the same benefits that dietary fibres do.
Eliminate junk food – This includes fast food, most pastries, sweetened baked goods, soda or soft drinks and candy. Junk food contains high amounts of unhealthy fats and/or unnecessary amounts of sodium and sugar. Consuming such food does little for our energy, beyond promoting a rise in blood sugar levels and then a subsequent plummet.
• Ramon Dodson is a fitness professional and the owner of FWD Shape Up Transformation System. Read more in this month’s issue of the Better Health Magazine.