Happy New Year from everyone at Blendi snacks!
2020 was a roller coaster year for us. Regardless, we need to welcome 2021 with positivity and hope for a brighter year ahead. Hard times teach us the most valuable lessons in life, and you could say 2020 did just that. One very important lesson to take from the year gone by is to value our health. Hence, our new year’s resolution goes without saying to stay fit and healthy in 2021 and beyond.
Due to lockdown number three, yes number three!! It is a particularly tough time to begin New Year’s resolutions with all non-essential retail being closed again and a restricted 5km radius. However, it isn’t the end of the world as lots of us have experienced exercising and cooking from home from previous lockdowns.
The amazing pies, cakes, processed foods and high calorie treats this Christmas and New Year’s added up a few extra kilos for people who love to indulge, like me. Of course though, these treats come with potential health implications such as energy fluctuations, fatigue, moodiness, reduced metabolic rate, increased stress hormones, increased triglyceride (fats in blood) levels, increased insulin resistance and increased VLDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol).
People will generally start lots of healthier goals in January and come February they have given up. This is what we want to avoid! So, we have put together some information on nutrition for beginners to help you achieve your goals this year.
Beginners nutrition guide
Work on one meal at a time
Don’t overwhelm yourself by removing lots of different foods from your diet all at once. Many of us over-indulged during Christmas and to restrict a bunch of food at the start of January will definitely result in some sort of failure. Gradually reduce things like alcohol, sweet treats and high-calorie foods. Focus on each meal of the day individually and see what small changes you can make to improve it. Good nutrition can only be accomplished with a good mindset and applying the right dietary habits daily. Do it for the right reasons and be consistent! Set simple targets like having only one coffee per day and replacing the others with green tea, or eating a portion of fruit or vegetables with each meal. Some other practical suggestions include writing up a shopping list at the weekend for the following week, buying a healthy cookbook or writing down what you eat.
Gradually build up to 2.5 to 3 litres per day
Water is vital to your health. Water transports nutrients to every part of your body including your muscles. It also makes up between 45-75% of your bodyweight. It plays a key role in heart health, weight management, physical performance and brain function. Dehydration prevents you from exercising at your peak aerobically and anaerobically, making you less effective at building muscle and burning fat. Make sure to drink 2 to 3 litres a day and more if you’re training hard with your new fitness goals.
Eat small meals regularly
Try to eat small meals every 2 to 3 hours to keep your body fueled and metabolism ticking over. Not consuming food for long periods can send your body into panic mode, making it store food as fat. Flood your system with a steady supply of nutrients to help you burn fat and build muscle all day long. A great way to do this is to have one snack in between every meal. Keep your main meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner light and full of nutrients. In between you can choose snacks like fruit, yoghurt, nuts, carrot sticks and hummus. Here is a full list of healthy snacking options.
Don’t drastically cut out anything
A lot of people change to drastic diets like Paleo, Vegan, Detox, Atkins and so on. These diets can have a major impact on your body if not introduced slowly. Veganuary is a very popular diet in January and is increasing in popularity due to the ongoing climate crisis. Use January as a starting point. Cut out one food per week and note any symptoms you might have. It is never a good idea to go cold turkey in the new year, your body won’t expect such change.
Reintroduce fruit and veg
Fruit and vegetables provide the body with lots of essential nutrients. Try to aim for anything between 5 to 10 portions of fruit or vegetables per day. Fresh, frozen and even canned counts and can help to prevent heart disease, diabetes and some other forms of cancer. Fruit and vegetables are loaded with fibre, vitamins A, C and E and minerals magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and folic acid. BBC good food has a great post with links to lots of fantastic recipes that incorporate fruit and vegetables.
Don’t avoid fats
Favour healthy fats instead of avoiding all fats. Choose your fats wisely and substitute trans and saturated fats, such as those found in animal and take-away products, for unsaturated fats found in vegetable products. Unsaturated fats come in two forms: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. You can obtain polyunsaturated fats from salmon and other fatty fish as well as corn, soybean and cottonseed oils. Rich sources of monounsaturated fats include olives and olive oil, canola and peanut oils, and most nuts. The most unhealthy type of fat is trans fat from partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fats form when vegetable oils are processed to make them more solid at room temperature. You’ll find trans fats in many baked goods, such as donuts, muffins, and pastries and snack foods like crackers and popcorn.
Eat plenty of fibre
Fibre helps you feel fuller for longer and supplies your muscles with a lasting release of energy and nutrients. Many studies have shown fibre to prevent certain diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke and bowel cancer. Increasing your fibre intake can be easy. Choose a high-fibre breakfast such as Wheeatabix or oats, go for wholemeal or granary breads, use potatoes with their skin on, add lentils like beans, peas or chickpeas to your dinners, include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet and incorporate nuts and seeds into your day.
Protein with each meal
Protein is a vital nutrient to build every cell in your body from hair and nails to blood, muscle and bone. Eating protein everyday with all meals has proved to be hugely beneficial. The recommended daily allowance is 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. For the best results vary your sources by eating fish, beef, poultry, legumes, nuts, eggs and dairy. Protein has shown to control blood sugar levels because it is digested slowly by the body. It also satisfies hunger and reduces unhealthy impulse snacking which in turn results in weight loss. Protein is an essential nutrient in muscle repair after exercise.
Eat before and after every workout
If you are exercising, the meals before and after exercise are very important. Proper nutrient-dense meals can fuel your exercise and help your body to recover and adapt after. Always have a protein and carbohydrate-filled meal at these times. From our previous point, protein is essential in muscle repair and recovery time, preventing any potential injuries. Aim to have a snack or meal 1 to 3 hours before working out like a sandwich, oats or some fruit like a banana. Eat within 1 hour of finishing exercise as your body is ready to refuel and rebuild muscle tissue. Some great post-workout snacks are chocolate milk, eggs and toast, a whole grain turkey wrap or Greek yogurt and fruit.
Don’t forget you can treat yourself too, just don’t over indulge
A balanced diet definitely includes treating yourself. The main thing is choose your treats wisely and don’t go overboard. Have one takeaway you’ve been craving at the weekend. Have a bar of chocolate with a cup of tea if you’re feeling something sweet. Listen to your body and don’t derive it of everything. There is always the option to choose lower calorie treats or even make your own healthier homemade options like energy balls.
Mindset, consistency and realistic targets are huge factors when it comes to nutrition post-Christmas for beginners. Eating well doesn’t have to be time-consuming or hard. Be creative, research some easy recipes that are tasty and fun to make – there is an abundance of them online! Enjoy the lifestyle change and make sure it is sustainable.