Why not spring clean your body right along with spring cleaning your home?
It is a required “metabolic wake-up” after transitioning from winter, the season where our metabolism is naturally the slowest. Yes, it’s true, we are physiologically and mentally set-up for weight gain and lethargy in the winter due to a drop in thyroid hormone, your metabolic master, and mood hormones, which spurs our cravings for fat, salt, carbs and all other so-called comfort food.
Come May, the days are longer, which alone provides a welcomed dose of motivation for most Canadians. Now that the season for growth and revitalization is here, I hope to encourage you even more to seize this opportunity for a brain, body and metabolic reset. I know most of us are still dealing with lockdown measures but these tips are all obtainable even while observing the rules.
Tip 1: Adopt a FRESH new outlook towards your diet, exercise habits and lifestyle: Start each day by asking yourself this question “How much am I going to move today?”
Your answer to this question will determine your diet habits for the day – including what you eat when you eat it and how much. You should let go of the mentality of adopting an “eat less, move more” approach as it sets us up for failure. In fact, 96% of people who do this gain the weight back, plus more.
The answer is simple – yet so commonly overlooked – when you move more, you should eat more. When you move less – you should eat less. The days you are sitting at your desk or not exercising, are the days we need to take in less so that our body uses the reserves stored in our body as fuel instead.
How can we eat less?
- Before you start cutting stuff out, I want you to increase two things – your intake of protein to at least 1.6 grams per kg of body weight and your fibre to 30 grams a day.
- Once you have mastered your protein and fibre intake, without restricting anything else – you will notice you are free from hunger, you feel satisfied, especially if you combine your protein and veggie meals with loads of spice and flavours. Your cravings for fat, starch and salt will subside when you consume enough protein and fibre – and even if you keep eating all that you want, it’s proven protein will counteract the harmful effects of excess.
- Add a day per week of intermittent fasting (only if you have mastered your protein intake on the other days of the week). I have laid out two different styles for you
Tips 2: Change your perspective on moving.
I ditched my Fitbit! I did this after researching into the benefits of walking and realized I have been quitting my walks right at the moment when my body would have switched to burning fat stored on my body as fuel, rather than the energy provided from the sugar in my bloodstream. You must deplete the blood sugars with steady activity before you can hit this metabolic sweet point. For most people, the time this happens is after at least 50 to 70 minutes of walking, briskly, and without dilly-dallying on your phone! So – use the Fitbit or other device to track what you do – but do it right for the optimal metabolic, fat burning, stress reducing and mood enhancing benefits. Stop thinking 10k steps – start thinking 60 -75 mins continuous walking 4 to 6 days a week.
Tip 3: Boring, I know – but write everything down!
I have been working in this field for over 25 years and working out for 30 but I still write down what I eat and my workouts. It’s so rewarding to see all that you have done when you flip through the pages. The main reason I record my diet is to make sure I hit my protein goal by the end of the day. If I haven’t, I drink a protein supplement in water at bedtime, which can vary between pea, whey and pea and rice as well as a formula that has added nutrients to support detoxification. Check my writing in this picture – no one can read it but me – and it’s all that matters.
Tip 4: Pay attention to how you feel: You may need to change when you eat certain foods and in which combinations.
- Feel tired after breakfast or hungry soon after? Never have starchy carbs at breakfast – your oatmeal, rye toast, hash browns or egg-on a muffin are not your brain power and metabolic friends. Go for my breakfast challenge – or choose high protein options like a meal replacement, eggs with goat cheese, turkey sausage with egg whites, and other high protein no starchy carb options.
- Craving muffins or pastries at 3 pm? Definitely cut the carbs from breakfast, increase your protein to hit your 30 to 40 gram goal per meal and add a fiber supplement to your smoothies at breakfast.
- Craving sweets after dinner or snacking at night? Never miss having a protein source between 2 to 4 pm. And even better, go for a whey – a rich source of protein as whey is proven to lower cortisol and to help you eat less in the following meal. Craving sweets and snacks at night means you have not eaten enough protein during the day and have had too many starches and sugar. Consume one source of starchy carb only, in your evening meal, best choices are carrots, peas, lentils, quinoa, squash, turnip, beets and buckwheat.
Tip 5: The are five supplements I think we all need to age the best that we can age.
- Protein – from food and/or a protein powder supplement, especially if you find you can’t hit your goal for daily intake. Whey, a mix of pea and rice, or soy (non-GMO, organic, and fermented) are complete protein powder sources, which means they provide all the essential amino acids your body needs.
- Marine Collagen – as the building block of tendons, muscles, ligaments, skin, bones, and more, it is one of the most crucial nutrients we need. Collagen naturally decreases as we age. You need 15 grams per day with 500m g of vitamin C for best effectiveness. You can learn more about the benefits of collagen here:
- Vitamin D3 – We all know of the benefits of vitamin D by now! It is one of the most common deficiencies and during this time when strong immune system is essential.
- Omega-3’s – A component of all cell membranes, essential for muscle and strength, cardiovascular health, neurological functions and mood. Take four capsules of a plant-based version or two to four capsules of concentrated marine based-oils daily.
- Prebiotics – Everyone needs prebiotics, which feed the probiotics in the digestive system and aid microbiome balance. Look for products that contain bifidobacteria, Sunfiber (or guar gum), acacia fiber. I use a combination of a protein powder, marine collagen powder containing vitamin C and a soluble fiber powder that also contains bifidobacteria in a shaker cup each morning with 4 to 8 ounces of water.