30. July 2012 13:26
A lot of people I talk to are frustrated with their inability to shed the last few kilos, particularly because they exercise regularly and believe they have a healthy diet. The first thing I look at when clients come to me with this complaint is actually diet, not exercise, because 70% to 80% of our results (or lack thereof) come from what we eat. With a little digging I usually find a few common food mistakes (especially from time pressed office workers) that are actually very easy to rectify and will have a huge impact on your ability to reduce your body fat.
5 Common Reasons Why You're Storing Fat
- You start your day with cereal or toast and jam/honey/vegemite. Your blood sugar soars, your pancreas releases insulin and fat storage begins!
- Your morning tea consists of coffee with skim milk... and sometimes a muffin/crackers/biscuit/muesli bar is added to the mix. Blood sugars spike again, insulin makes a return appearance and fat storage kicks in... again.
- At lunch you choose a sandwich/wrap/pasta/rice dish... then you sit down at your desk. You know this is probably going to make you feel crampy and a little bloated but hey, it's quick/easy/satisfying and you're STARVING thanks to the morning blood sugar rollercoaster you've already ridden. Hellloooo full/bloated belly, windy stomach and (yep) fat storage because guess what!? Your body doesn't need all that energy to sit still and tap out emails!
- 3pm rocks around and you're bored, still feeling bloated and are totally exhausted now too. The office lolly jar is looking pretty darn good and so is that chocolate bar calling your name from the vending machine across the room. Whether you reach for one of these options, or ignore them in favour of another coffee, you'll get an initial boost of energy but then (you guessed it), your energy drops as your body races to store all that excess sugar/energy as... fat.
- You finish work too late to get to the gym, race home and eat a late dinner at 9pm, then sit and watch TV while you mindlessly snack on whatever's lying around OR reach for a glass of wine. Your body can't burn any of the energy from the food you've eaten until it's processed the alcohol (or sugars from the post dinner chocolate binge) so meanwhile the calories from dinner are stored as...? Fat. You suddenly realise how late it is, swallow your final gulp of wine or square of chocolate and head to bed... with a full stomach! As a result, your sleep is interrupted and your body's storing all the excess energy as fat!
So, you've arrived at the end of the day, you "haven't eaten that badly", just a bowl of cereal, a couple of coffees, a small sweet snack or two and dinner and really can't understand why you feel so bad OR why you just can't shift so much as a single kilo. But I guarantee your body's freaking out... and you're going to wake up starving and already craving sugar (that cereal's looking good!) because your body is still struggling to regulate its blood sugar levels.
What to do about it
- Eat protein and/or good fats + high fibre foods for brekky - think eggs, meats, salmon, avocado, greens, seeds/nuts, plain yoghurt, berries, NO packaged cereal/muesli (although a few plain oats can be a winner, or your own home-made mix of seeds, nuts, oats, sprouted grains). If possible, before you eat, reach for a glass of warm water and a squeeze of lemon! Or a lemon/ginger tea. Often you're more dehydrated than hungry when you first wake up.
- Avoid coffee mid-morning. The only time you should drink it is when you can burn off all that excess cortisol (i.e. pre-workout). Instead, reach for another good quality protein snack or some healthy fats. If you're rushed, fruit and seeds is a winner! Likewise chopped, raw veggies (capsicum, carrot, celery, cucumber) with hommus, or another veggie-based dip will wake you up and keep you feeling light but satisfied.
- Lunch = home made salad, or soup, or veggies with a lean protein or good fat source. Toss in some superfoods to add interest, like goji berries or chia seeds. Remove bread/pasta of any kind if possible, it's too stodgy to make you feel good as you sit on your butt in the office and all that gluten is likely to mess with your digestion.
- A good quality afternoon snack is imperative! Protein will help boost dopamine (focus/drive hormone) to kill off the arvo slump and banish cravings, a handful of nuts will keep you sustained, an apple will wake you up quick-smart (sliced apple with a little almond butter = winner!), or if you just want a hot drink, go for dandelion tea or a hot choc made on raw cacao and almond milk OR make a carob tea to ward off sugar cravings (spoonful of carob powder, a little full cream milk or almond milk + boiling water).
- Dinner should be light! The perfect evening meal is a bowl of veggies and fish, or white meat. Soup's another good one, or a veggie stew, or big veggie stir-fry with a little white meat/fish/tempeh or just a few nuts or some beans if you're veggo. Add brown rice or sweet potato if you usually have trouble sleeping, as it will help to calm your mind and boost happy, sleepy hormones. Finish with a cup of tea and if you're craving sweets and make a rule for yourself that you must wait a full 30 minutes before reaching for something sweet after meals - and make it good quality if you go there! A few squares of dark chocolate, some frozen berries or grapes, or even better, a cup of herbal tea sweetened with a little honey is much better than a big bowl of ice-cream, a cadbury binge, or a handful of lollies/slice of cake.