3 Foolproof Nutrition Habits to Keep You Fit for Life
1. FAST AT LEAST 12 HOURS BETWEEN DINNER & BREAKFAST
Have you ever gone to bed after having a huge, late-night meal and woken up feeling tired, bloated and nauseous? Why is that? After your last meal, it takes your body 8 hours to fully digest it (longer if you overeat). Only after 8 hours can your body go to work on detoxifying and recovery. That gross feeling when you wake up is partly due to the fact that your body has not had a chance to completely digest all of the food you ate the night before. And to make matters worse, if you wake up and eat right breakfast right away, the process gets stalled and the energy that would have normally gone to necessary processes like regenerating cells, burning fat, releasing toxins, resting and repairing muscle tissue, goes back into digesting another meal.
The act of digestion takes 80% of your body’s energy. If you eat a healthy dinner and then allow your body the proper time to do the work as Mother Nature intended, you wake up with a flat stomach, rested and energized.
It isn’t as hard as you think! Fasting between dinner and breakfast is fairly easy to do, as you should be spending most of that time sleeping anyway. If you finish the last bite of your dinner at 7pm, the earliest you can eat the next morning is 7am. Some experts say anywhere between 14-16 hours of intermittent fasting offers the most benefits.
Other benefits of fasting include:
More efficient fat burning. When you fast, your body adjusts to make stored body fat more accessible. This is due to lower levels of insulin and increased levels of the Human Growth Hormone which facilitates fat-burning and lean muscle growth.
Improved Cognitive Functioning: Fasting increases neuronal autophagy (the process which cells repair themselves), and increases the levels of BDNF, a protein responsible for regulation of memory, learning, and reasoning.
Weight Loss: Eating for less periods of time could also mean less calories consumed.
2. NO CARBOHYDRATES BEFORE 11AM (UNLESS YOU’VE WORKED OUT)
When you wake up, your body is in a fasted state and your insulin levels are low. If you start your morning with a high-carbohydrate breakfast like oatmeal, toast, or fruit, it spikes your insulin levels higher than it normally would later in the day. This is because your body is extra sensitive to sugar after being in a fasted state.
When your insulin level goes up, it gives the signal to your body to stop burning fat and to regulate the sugar that is coming in. When you wake in the morning, you can start your day with a coffee or tea, eggs, bacon, nuts, unsweetened plain Greek yogurt, or a protein smoothie without any fruit. Once your blood sugar and insulin levels regulate, typically around mid- morning, you can introduce carbohydrates.
The one exception to this rule is if you wake up and work out. Working out helps to regulate your blood sugar levels, so refueling AFTER your workout with a moderate amount of carbohydrates is acceptable.
3. REPLACE ONE MEAL PER DAY WITH A SMOOTHIE
Smoothies are a not only a convenient meal replacement, but (when made correctly) can be a complete nutritional powerhouse. I am not talking blending up some celery and water. I am talking about a nutrient-dense liquid meal that contains the correct balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.
Why am I making such a big deal about a meal in a cup? First, because compared to a regular meal, the vitamins and minerals in smoothies are more rapidly delivered to your cells. This is because all of the ingredients are already broken down, so they bypass part of the digestive process, which makes it easier for your body to absorb. Additionally, smoothies can have a greater absorption rate after a workout. So if you consume a protein smoothie within 30 minutes after a Power Burn class, you will benefit from the rapid delivery of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and muscle building protein to your cells.
Second, the raw ingredients in smoothies are highly beneficial to our bodies. Research has shown that cooking anti-oxidant foods at high temperatures actually changes the chemical configuration of the food, therefore reducing some of its valuable benefits. Because smoothies are raw, the important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes contained in the foods remain intact - offering your body a meal in its purest, most potent form.
However, not all smoothies are created equal! Some are loaded with sugar and excess calories. Try to stay away from chains like Jamba Juice, where most of their smoothies are made with sugary fruit purees and sorbets. Homemade smoothies are the best and very quick and easy to make. If you are not sure where to start, here is a basic guideline for a perfect post-workout recipe.
Start with your liquid base. This should always be a non-dairy milk, coconut water, or water. Never use juice.
Add 1-2 C of organic greens. You can be generous here!
Add 1 serving of fruit. You don’t need any more that this. 1 serving=1 cup.
Add Protein. This can be plant-based, whey or collagen. Check the label for added sugar, soy products and artificial colors. My favorite brands are Simply Tera’s Whey, Sun Warrior Warrior Blend Plant Based Protein and Primal Kitchen Foods Collagen Fuel.
Add a healthy fat. 1 serving= 1-2 TBSP. Fats include nut butters, avocado, MCT Oil, Coconut oil, Coconut Butter, Chia/Hemp/Flax Seeds
MC FIT Blueberry Pear Post-Workout Smoothie
1 C of Almond Milk
2 C Trader Joe’s Power to the Greens
½ C Organic Frozen Blueberries
½ Fresh Organic Pear
1 TBSP Chia Seed
1 Serving of Protein Powder
1 Handful of Ice
Blend until smooth and creamy. Consume within 30 minutes post workout.
Image and Blog source: michelecanonfit.com / Michele Canon