Improve your fitness
Are your New Year’s resolutions to exercise more and stick to a ‘good’ diet fast becoming a fading memory?
Has the lack of tangible results (toning, weight management, energy levels) made you reach for the comfort food and the TV remote?
Don’t throw in the towel just yet! With the help of wholesome, nourishing and energy-giving foods, there are ways of making these hours on the treadmill count!
Here’s an easy-to-follow list of tips that will maximize the effect of your exercise programme and help you reach your goals.
- Forget diets - you need calories to burn calories! Your body’s metabolism* is like a great fire that needs constant fuel to keep it burning. When you increase your exercise/activity levels and you starve yourself at the same time, your metabolism slows way down to conserve the little energy it has. So in addition to preventing you from losing the weight, this starvation will exhaust you and prevent you from exercising effectively.
- Hydration is vital for energy! A dehydrated body will be too exhausted to think - let alone spend an hour spinning! Two litres of water every day (spread throughout the day, not in a few big gulps) will prevent the accumulation of dehydration and is much safer and more effective at getting rid of nasty toxins than any detox program. On exercise days, make sure you top up your 2 litres during and after your workout. Sports drinks are full of chemicals and very high in sugar and can send your blood sugar on a rollercoaster, which in turn will increase your cravings, so limit your use of these. Alternatively, make your own chemical-free sports drink: 500ml fruit juice (not from concentrate) diluted with 500 ml water and a pinch of salt.
- Eat energy-giving foods before a workout. Complex carbohydrates like wholemeal pasta and bread, brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes and quinoa, eaten with a little protein in the form of nuts and seeds, lean meats (turkey, chicken, fish) will give you lasting energy. Make time to eat up to two hours before a workout, and munch on a high-energy banana up to half an hour before a longer session for a quick top up.
- Don’t forget protein! Proteins (lean meats, nuts and seeds, dairy foods, quinoa) will help you to build and repair muscles for a lean and toned body! They also keep your blood sugar level, which will prevent you from snacking - so make sure you have a variety of proteins at each meal – and don’t forget that includes the most important meal of the day: breakfast!
- Good fats are essential for life and energy. Low-fat diets are never nourishing or filling and they make you crave fatty foods (chocolate, cheese, fried food, crisps). So eat good fats every day, including essential fatty acids from omega oils like fish oil and flax oil – even a little butter – full-fat dairy products and saturated fats once in a while. Stay away from margarines or vegetable oil spreads, as they add zero nutritional value and don’t get utilized for energy. They only add toxins, go straight to your waistline, and can clog those important arteries!
- Recovery is key. Make sure you drink extra fluid after your workout and eat a combination of carbohydrates and protein within two hours following exercise. My personal favourite is a banana with a dollop of peanut butter on top or a couple handfuls of unsalted, raw almonds – yum!
- Throw away the scales! Constantly weighing yourself can become very stressful and depressing, especially since muscle is heavier than fat! So the more toned you become, the likelihood that you might be a little heavier on the scales. Go by how your clothes fit. Bearing that in mind, you might want to reconsider if your goal of slimming down is unrealistic – just aim for healthy, energetic and fit instead!