Who has managed to stick to a diet for a lifetime? I haven’t. We might argue for ourselves that the diet is only temporary and you can return to your ‘normal diet’ once you’ve obtained your ideal weight. But our previous article debunking the myths of ‘fad diets’ and what caloric restriction can do to your body have demonstrated that most of us tend to regain the weight we have previously lost.
Instead of thinking of quick fixes with strict rules that leave you feeling miserable about yourself and in social settings, let’s set some realistic ones that can also allow us to achieve our health goals.
Eat breakfast within one hour of waking up
This kickstarts our metabolism. Especially when sleep is essentially 7-8 hours of starvation, it is important that we quickly replenish our muscles and our bodies with the necessary fuel. If you go for morning workouts, and do not want to or cannot stomach a full meal, you can opt for a carbohydrate-full snack instead. Remember that our muscles and brain require glycogen – which is also carbohydrates, for fuel. Without it, our performance, reaction time and strength reduces.
Frequently would mean every 3 to 4 hours. This ensures that our muscles have a consistent supply of energy to use. Recall that when our muscles run out of carbohydrates, they take part in gluconeogenesis, which eats away at our lean muscle and use up protein. It also sends a message to our brain that there is going to be a steady, reliable supply of fuel and that prevents unwanted fat storage. Another important point is that carbohydrates are the only energy source for our brains.
Have your meal after a workout
Carbohydrates are important to restore intra-muscular glycogen stores, which gets used up when you exercise and work your muscles. Protein is important for muscle repair and building of lean muscle mass. All these contribute to proper recover, which is then crucial in preventing injury and fatigue. For those having morning workout sessions, remember to have a proper breakfast within 30 to 60 minutes after.
Aim for 4 to 6 cups of water
The Harvard Medical School Special Health Report notes that water has many important jobs, such as:
- Carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells (your cells are made up of 70% water!)
- Aiding in digestion
- Stabilising blood pressure and heart rate
- Protecting organs and tissues (like your joints!)
Aim for a colourful plate
Include green, leafy vegetables; red or white meat such as lean beef, pork, fish or chicken; yellow or essentially complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat bread, brown rice or oatmeal.