Nutrition & Hydration Week: Abs are not just made in the gym
As part of Nutrition and Hydration Week, Lifestyle Coach Ravi Summan, has kindly shared an article on how effective nutrition plays a major part in successfully achieving your fitness goals and providing consistency in results.
Whatever your goal for transforming your body, it is essential that the nutrition and eating plan you follow is aligned to your goal.
Nutrition is quite a broad subject and over the decades there have been a range of theories on the ideal diet for losing body fat, maintaining your weight and building muscle. This can vary from Paleo to Keto to Low Fat. You can have great genetics, be naturally strong and have a training programme which is constantly evolving, however, effective nutrition plays a major part in successfully achieving your fitness goals and providing consistency in results.
Abs are not just made in the gym!
With the vast information we have access to and as information on the topic continues to grow, it is no surprise that it can be a challenge to grasp the principles of eating right for your body type and metabolism. There is no one size fits all approach for nutrition or training plans. Why?
Because the study of the human body is fascinating, and each person has characteristics which makes them unique.
So, what is the ideal healthy diet? The first national food guide that was formed to help people choose how and what they should eat, was formed in the USA during 1992 – The Food Guide Pyramid.
In the UK, the Food Standards Agency adapted this to develop the ‘the Eatwell Plate’ in 2007. Over the years, Public Health England and the Food Standards Agency evaluated research on nutrition and for the UK introduced the Eatwell Guide. This is a model for nutrition and its current version was published in 2016.
The Eatwell Guide provides eight tips to eat healthier and it advocates the following daily calorie requirements for men and women:
Adult Males, Aged 19 – 64: 2,500 calories per day
Adult Females, Aged 19 – 64: 2000 calories per day
When I first began weight training, my initial understanding of nutrition was limited to macro nutrients, vitamins and minerals and the role they play. However, not all calories are the same.
To achieve your goals, supporting a specific training programme also requires an eating plan which is based on your body type and metabolism.
There is no doubt that over the years we have seen low carbohydrate, high protein diets being more commonly used and advocated as effective methods for body fat reduction and weight loss. However, we need to remember that for sustained results and to avoid excess body weight and fat returning to the body, the diet you follow must also provide emotional wellbeing. Stability of mind is as important as consistency in results. Crash diets can lead to demotivation when the weight you lose returns later when you are ‘off’ your diet.
Without going into too much technical detail, let me share some foundation on the macronutrients:
The macro nutrients – Carbohydrates, Protein and Fats:
Carbohydrates are the ideal source for providing energy to the body; they are broken down through digestion into glucose which is used by the body. On a daily basis, we use both carbohydrates and fats as an energy source and when you do more strenuous activity, the body will use more carbs. I must emphasise that in your diet when you change the amount of carbs and fats consumed, you can use fat as an energy source to fuel your workout. This is a technique I have used consistently to lose bodyfat.
There are three types of carbohydrates:
Simple carbohydrates – sugar
Complex Carbohydrates – starches
Non- Starch Polysaccharides (NSP) – fibre
Simple carbohydrates provide a short spike in energy and are found naturally in fruit. They are also in processed foods such as desserts, chocolates, biscuits and cakes (these do not contain the antioxidants or phytochemicals that you get from fruit).
Complex carbohydrates release energy over a long period of time than simple carbs as the body takes a longer time to break complex carbs into glucose. Complex carbs are in starchy foods such as grains, potatoes, pulses, rice, pasta and bread. Oats are also a complex carb and vegetables, nuts and seeds have different amounts of starch.
Do Carbohydrates have the same effect on the body?
Not all carbs are the same and when you digest them, they have an effect on your blood sugar or blood glucose. The glycaemic index (GI) provides a measure on the speed of how these foods are converted into glucose and are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100. A food which has a GI of 70 or more is commonly thought of being high and those with a GI of 55 or less is low (for instance, oatmeal).
Protein is made up of amino acids and these are classified in essential and non – essential amino acids. It is used primarily for growth, building and repairing muscle. The other functions include movement of body and antibody proteins to enable immune protection.
While carbohydrate is commonly regarded as an effective energy source, protein can also be used as an energy source especially in times of fasting and sporting events which require a lot of endurance (for example, marathon running).
There are 20 amino acids in total and a complete protein source has all of the 9 essential amino acids. The complete protein sources are food from animals such as dairy, chicken, turkey, fish and eggs. The essential amino acids cannot always be produced by the body and the 4 non – essential amino acids are produced by the body during the absorption of protein.
What are complete and incomplete protein sources?
Comple protein sources include food from animals such as dairy, chicken, turkey, fish and eggs.
Incomplete protein sources are food in plant foods and they do not have all of the 9 essential amino acids. Some examples of incomplete protein sources are vegetables, grains (wheat, oats, rice), nuts and pulses (lentils, beans and peas).
For those on a vegan or vegetarian diet, how can you ensure adequate protein?
You can combine different incomplete proteins to help increase the amino acids that are consumed. This would require eating in the same meal combinations such as:
rice and beans
pulses such as lentils and quinoa
vegetables and nuts
seeds such as pumpkin seeds, flaxseed and vegetables
tofu and rice
Protein supplements which do not contain animal products and can also be used to supplement the diet. I recommend choosing a protein source which has no or minimum sugar. It is very important to always read ingredients and check for levels of artificial flavours, preservatives when choosing a protein supplement.
Despite what multiple diets have led us to believe, fats are not evil. Fats provide an important role in absorbing vitamins and also are a significant source of energy. They also enable you to establish your levels of cholesterol and protect internal organs of the body.
Fats can be classified further into saturated fats and monounsaturated fats. When fats are broken down, it generates fatty acids, and this can be saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.
Saturated fats are founded in animal protein such as meat, chicken, eggs and dairy sources. The non-animal saturated fat is in coconut oil and cocoa butter. Saturated fats help your immune system and to support the liver function.
Monounsaturated fat is in olive oil, rapeseed oil and food such as nuts, seeds, olive and avocado. Studies indicate that diet high in monounsaturated fat helps reduce bad cholesterol and fat in the blood.
Fish contains more grams of fat than some other protein sources. Why is it regarded as a healthy food choice?
Polyunsaturated fats are known as essential fatty acids (EFAs) which are important for overall health. These EFAs are omega 3 and 6 and you will see in health food stores a range of oils which contain omega 3, 6 and 7 fatty acids.
Oily fish contains omega 3 fatty acids which provide a range of health benefits such as reducing total cholesterol levels, improving skin and hair growth. Omega 3 fatty acids also reduce the blood triglyceride levels (fats found in blood).
Omega 6 fatty acids are found in sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, evening primrose oil and sunflower oil.
For information on how to make your fitness go further, contact me to create a tailored meal plan.
Ravi Summan Wellness can be followed on both Facebook and Instagram using the handle: @ravisummanwellness