Regularly, I receive questions and comments from clients or from some of my readers as to why they may be experiencing a certain outcome on one’s personal path to better health. Questions may arise due to unwanted results or diminished results or, maybe, even just confusion about what one reads online. There is great reason for so many questions when it comes to gaining optimal health! In this abundant technological age of easily accessible information, it is incredibly easy to become overloaded, over-informed, or just mislead. So, for my blog today, I thought I would share some of my most commonly asked questions or stated concerns to help clear up confusion and properly inform. Because, as you all know, I want my readers (and all people) to be as healthy as possible!
Q: Should I eat after my workouts and, if so, what should I eat?
A: Absolutely! Consuming the right meal following a workout is vital for optimal recovery and keeping your metabolism humming so that your body will be ready for it’s next burst of activity or athletic event. Without a meal, your body slows down and you will not be able to perform as well in your next workout, progress in your strength, and just have energy to motor you throughout the day. Actually, no post workout meal can also set you up for overeating the rest of the day. Your post-workout meal should be consumed immediately to 45 minutes after workout completion if you are trying to stay in shape and fit. If your goal is to put on muscle mass, then consume your meal up to 15 minutes post workout. It is the protein and carbohydrates that are really important here for your ultimate recovery. You want to consume approximately 20-25 grams of protein and 30-35 grams of carbohydrates. The carbs that you do consume should be quick digesting and easily absorbed in the body. Stay away from high fat and fiber immediately after a workout due to how they both slow down digestion. Remember, we also needs lots of fluid to replenish, so if you get it through a smoothie or a glass of water added to your meal, make sure to drink up!
My food recommendations?
- Organic yogurt with fruit and gluten-free granola
- Dates with a protein shake (my favorites are Garden Of Life’s Raw Protein, Vega, Life Basics, and Sunwarrior)
- Smoothie: protein powder, fruit, spinach, one date, and trace mineral drops (optional but a fantastic addition to help recovery).
- Recovery protein bar such as Vega Sport
- Ezekiel sprouted bread with pure fruit spread and a protein shake
Q: I stopped eating as much as I was because I am trying to lose weight. Why am I still not losing weight?
A: This is one of the most common mistakes that I, as a health professional, am hit with regularly. It is most common with us ladies because, for some reason, American society as a whole has really labeled ladies who eat a lot of food (healthy or otherwise) as being taboo. It has become so commonplace that to lightly graze throughout the day or go to bed hungry is encouraged when trying to lose weight. Ok, here is something that will really blow your mind and you might feel a new found freedom or you may run and hide with fear…you HAVE to EAT to LOSE weight! That’s right, I said it. There is a catch to this and there are some stipulations that you will want to consider. The catch is that you want to choose foods that are healthy, nutritious, low in sugar and low in refined carbohydrates. So, that means, eating a piece of cake after each meal for dessert or filling up on pizza and french fries is not going to help you achieve your weight loss goals. These foods are acceptable if you are choosing to treat yourself occasionally, but not considered a real meal to fuel your body and encourage weight loss. In conjunction with this, watch the amount of sugars that you include in your diet. We all know that refined sugars and candy and sugar-spiked beverages are a huge no-no in weight loss, but did you know that too much fructose (sugar from fruit) or too much high sugar fruits and veggies in juicing could do the same to spike your insulin levels and cause weight gain? Sugar is sugar is sugar and the body recognizes it the same. I am a huge advocate of fruit for the nutritional content and it is a much better choice than a candy bar, but I would recommend no more than 2-3 small to medium sized fruits daily and try to consume them after workouts or in the morning to mid afternoon.
How much alcohol are you consuming? If you are consuming large amounts of alcohol, this could detour your weight loss plans. I love my craft beers and my red wines just as much as the next girl, but I also know that I have to factor them into my regular nutrition plan so that I can stay as fit as I would like. Alcohol is empty calories with minimal nutritional value. With the sugar required in the fermentation process of alcohol and the large amounts of gluten and yeast in beer, extra stress and inflammation is placed within the body, therefore increasing bloating, fluid accumulation, digestive issues, and fatigue…just to name a few. What the body can not burn, it stores. And, if the body is not operating efficiently and digesting properly, the metabolism (and the fat burning) will slow down. With all this in mind, weight gain increases. Alcohol also dehydrates the body, therefore decreasing how effectively the body functions and the digestive system works.
Another concept to look at that may be masking why you are not losing weight is your stress levels and the amount of sleep and recovery you are getting on a regular basis. If your body is stressed, it will raise the hormone, cortisol. Do you look bloated or “soft” and just can not seem to lose the puffiness and fluid-like feeling that sits deep within your soft tissue? You may have a lot of inflammation and your adrenal glands may be out of whack. Try getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night and using stress reduction tactics daily for a full week and see if this make a difference in your physical appearance.
The bottom line? The more you decrease your food consumption to the point where you do not feel fulfilled and/or feel hungry, the faster you slow down your metabolism (aka, your fat-burning system). You got to feed the fire to keep the fire strong and the body burning the calories; you will burn more calories and body fat even when you are not working out. Address the whole picture (alcohol consumption, type of food you are eating, sleeping habits, and stress levels) before you really cut back on your food!
- Eat when hungry and stay away from calorie counting. Calorie counting and worrying about that “magic number” will only stress you out. Eat when hungry, stop when almost full. Repeat.
- Make sure to include lots of “alive” foods, (such as raw veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, avocados, unrefined coconut oil, leafy greens, etc) to help fill you up. Not only are they healthy and filling, but they are abundant in energy and you will directly reap the benefits!
- Make your foods colorful. Lots of color in your diet will affect you nutritionally, emotionally, and spiritually. Colors provoke inner responses and feelings and food are no different.
- Indulge in your favorite meal or food 1-2 times per week. Deprivation is a recipe for failure and when you deprive yourself of the joys of life, you will crave them 100 times over and mostly likely attack them with a vengeance.
- Make sure to contain all senses and tastes of the palate to feel totally satisfied. Most meals should contain something sweet, salty, sour, bitter, astringent, and pungent. This will also ensure that all nutrients are being met. Variety really is the spice of life!
Q: Lately, I’ve kinda hit a wall with my workouts. I’m kinda in that blah mood. I took some time off, but it hasn’t seemed to help. Do you have any advice or ideas that might help get me back on track? I mean I still love working out and the lifestyle, I’m just in that blah mode as of late!
A: Take a hard look at what your program looks like. Is there variety and do you cover many aspects of health or have you been doing the same program or style of program day in and day out for months, even years? If so, I think I have an idea as to why you are starting to plateau now… the body becomes acclimated to a workout and no longer grows from it when change has not been seen for a long time. I see many individuals fixated on cardio and doing as much cardio as their body will withstand that day in hopes of weight loss. Even though that may work initially, results typically do not last and muscle begins to break down and atrophy. If you are only performing long, low intensity cardio, then that it time to shake things up! Long, low intensity cardio over a long period of time does not typically elevate the heart rate efficiently to burn optimal fat. I would recommend cardio 3 to 5 times a week and one of those days keeping as a long cardio day where you take a walk or perform cardio on various machines back to back. The rest of the days should be shorter but more intense. I would say 1 to 3 of those days performing 30 to 40 minutes with more of a steady pace that is higher intensity. This will allow you to work up a good sweat and really get your heart rate pumping. On at least one of the days out of all of your cardio, do interval training (HIIT) for 20-30 minutes. Does your program involve strength training? If not, it should. Perform 3 to 4 days of about 30 minutes of strength training to focus on building lean muscle mass that will increase your metabolism and turn your body into a fat burning machine, even when you are not working out! If you are already strength training, then perhaps you need to switch some things up. You can try different exercises, functional strength training, lower reps with higher weight, higher reps with lower weight, pyramid training, circuit training…honestly, the combinations are endless. Maybe you need more uplifting and powerful music during your workouts. Maybe your music is holding you back or you are just not inspired by the same old tunes. The bottom line is…change up your routine! Allow your body to remember what it feels like to learn a new task or new movement. Challenge your body and take it to the next level. If you need advice or assistance in putting together an effective workout plan or you just need someone to shake things up for you, email me at email@example.com. I would love to be your coach!
Do you have any questions of your own? I bet you do! Comment below or email me directly and I would love to help you out!
Take action now! Do any of these questions resonate with you? Have you ever felt like these issues held you back from progress or just threw you in a tailspin? I want you to comment below or email me through my website, facebook, or twitter and tell me all about your experiences regarding this blog.
Do you have any health or wellness questions that plague you? I want to hear them right now! Live your life with passion and purpose…
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