All calories are not equal. Yet we continue to count them in hopes of managing weight and health. Correcting this flawed thinking will forever change your relationship with food, calories and your weight. Changing your fuel just may change your health trajectory.
Consider the significance of changing the fuel you use in your body. It could make the difference between getting promoted, being injury and illness free, lean and healthy, and even finding romance (or not). It can, and I am living proof. When I began to think of calories as more than just a number, I lost 84 pounds, reclaimed my health and looked years younger. When I only counted calories, not considering their source, I was obese and unwell.
Many know the value of this truth about calories. Professional athletes serve as ideal evidence for this argument. The difference between first and last place is often seconds of strength, endurance and power. Having the correct balance of healthy fuel in the body can change a non-medalling effort to a gold medal day. The rituals of professional athletes on competition day extend beyond wearing lucky underwear to consuming the exact meal at the perfect time to fuel their success.
Still not sure?
Think about your own body. When we ingest junk food full of empty calories and quick-burning sugar, we get an immediate high followed by a sweat-soaked crash that sends us looking for a comfy place. Productivity grinds to a halt, our focus and attention is compromised and our body is unable to regulate blood sugar, spiraling us on a roller coaster of sugar cravings and crashes. Weight gain is often the result.
Now think about your body on a good day. A day where you started with a nourishing breakfast loaded with protein, fibre, good fat and healthy carbohydrates – maybe it was a vegetable omelet with a side of salsa and avocado, and a glass of water. Your breakfast is followed by a healthy snack before lunch, a well-balanced lunch and a clean snack mid-afternoon, and then a small but nutritious dinner. Your day was productive, your focus outstanding, you were accomplished and others noticed. You were mentally fit, but your body felt different, too. Energized, supported and able to meet your physical and mental needs for the day, your body reigned supreme.
Follow these five simple nutritional tips that will change your day from mediocre to outstanding.
1. Eat 6 small meals daily.
Our body runs best when it can not only predict its next meal, but receive nutritious support. Every meal should be comprised of quality foods that represent protein, good fat and nutritious carbs. I find that my own body works best on complex carbohydrates like leafy green vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds – I encourage you to try it out for yourself.
2. Always include good fats in each meal/snack.
Every cell in the body, including the brain, is made of fat, yet we often avoid fat because we think it will make us fat. Fat however, is critical in keeping the body healthy. Without sufficient fat, the metabolic rate slows, the brain begins to shrink and our ability to repair the body is jeopardized. Good fats are easy to consume once we know what they are. These include healthy oils such as olive and coconut oil, nuts and seeds, and nutritious fruit such as avocados. Including a handful of almonds with your meal or snack, allows you to get protein, healthy fat, fibre and complex carbohydrates in one place.
3. Eat breakfast daily.
A nutritious breakfast is not coffee paired with pastry made from processed flour and sugar. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it sets the tone for the entire day. Would you drive to work without gas or leave the house without shoes? The answer to both of those questions is likely no. I ask then, why would you make your body starve for nutrition first thing in the morning and ask it to do work, be productive and help you achieve success? Easy breakfast ideas can include smoothies or leftovers from the night before. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it has to be fuel.
4. Drink two to three litres of water daily.
Water is the number one deficiency in the world – we are constantly losing water not only from the obvious things like sweat, but also from the not so obvious: stress, processed foods, sugar, juices, caffeine, and all the work our brains are doing to keep us moving each day. The most abundant, accessible nutrient in North America is the one that we often forget about but is critical to our success. A dehydrated plant doesn’t grow and repair, and neither does a dehydrated body.
5. BYOS – Bring Your Own Snacks.
I get you, hunger sets in and the choices around you aren’t ideal so you reach for whatever seems to be the healthiest and hope for the best. Instead of hoping, change your trajectory and your outcome by packing your own snacks. My cooler/lunch bag contains portable items I can rely on to give me excellent fuel – hard-boiled eggs, hummus and cut veggies, or sliced apples and almond butter. Some people like to make a large lunch and break it into two portions, one for lunch and the other for an afternoon snack. Find a system that works for you and start today.
Lastly, because I know that these tips are going to make you feel fantastic, I want you to do something before you start. Take a pen and a paper (or take out your mobile phone) and write down how you feel today, what you ate, what your sleep was like, how you feel about your body, how you fit into your clothes, how productive you were at work and what your vision for the future is. Then follow these tips for three weeks and revisit what you wrote.