Tomorrow we are going to be welcoming in a brand new year The indulgence of Christmas comes to a short sharp halt and every one you speak to will be doing dry-January or cutting the carbs. Gyms will be busier than ever and you will undoubtedly feel inclined to join the masses and jump on the health kick train. There is no better time to start eating healthily, after all, it’s the 1st Jan and a New Year. However, if you want my honest advice- start on Monday. You’ve already spent 75 % of this week indulging, it’s now the weekend, so what’s 2 more days going to do?
I have been receiving a lot of emails lately asking for my advice on how to approach a low carb lifestyle, what snacks you can enjoy, what my advice on exercise is and whether you will be hungry. So I thought I would compile my own simple guide to low carb.
DO NOT approach low carb as a “Diet”
Eating low carb is a lifestyle choice, it is not a diet, you are not restricting yourself to anything that’s good for you and you are not only eating once a day. There’s no reason why you should ever go hungry on it. Eat lots of protein, fat and nutrient dense foods and enjoy them. There’s a shopping list on my blog if you need inspiration.
Make short-term goals.
The worst thing you can do is know that on Monday you are about to embark on a 1 month, 2 month, 6 month diet of air, juice and crudités. Not only will this make you over indulge in the run up, abusing your body and making you feel unwell, but it doesn’t focus your mind or give you a positive outlook. Instead, make short-term goals. Aim for 10 days instead. Monitor your progress, write down what symptoms you are getting on each day and how you are feeling. Is your mind clearer? Do you feel hungry? Are you having any cravings? I always suggest to my clients to focus on 10 days as this gives the body time to rid itself of a lot of toxins and things that it relies on like caffeine and sugar and gives it time to start using its own natural energy source again.
I can’t survive without my coffee
Hand in hand with sugar and nicotine, caffeine is one of the most addictive substances in the standard diet, it is a stimulant and there is some research that indicates that excessive consumption of caffeinated beverages may pose a risk to your well-being. Our bodies don’t NEED caffeine to survive and I always find it very worrying when people tell me that they can’t possibly give it up as they won’t be able to function through their days work…. The truth of the matter is that caffeine has the same effect on the body as drugs, they are addictive. How often do you see someone sat outside an office building with a cup of coffee and a cigarette or a cup of coffee and a chocolate bar. Sugar, caffeine and nicotine, three stimulants which when combined together are even more toxic.
We use them too much and then we rely on them to get through our days, we think that we can’t function without them. Inevitably when we try to stop them we get withdrawal symptoms (headaches, shakes, heart palpitations, mind blank etc) which makes us go straight back to them, but DON’T. Try something like rooibos tea instead, or ginger tea, or have an energy ball if you need an energy boost. If you can make it through 10 days without your daily 3 cups of coffee, then I can guarantee you can make it through life without needing it. That’s not to say that you can’t have it as a treat on occasion, but we just have to realise as with most things in life, moderation is key and it should your choice to have that cup of coffee as a treat, not your body telling you that you need it.
PLAN your meals
I can’t stress how important this is. If you know what you are going to have on a daily / weekly basis then you can look forward to the meals. You can prepare what you need to buy from the supermarket and stick to your plan. If you don’t plan then you are inevitably more likely to give up or reach for something that’s not good for you out of convenience. If all else fails, have a veggie packed omelette, or make a nut butter curry, both take under 15 minutes from pan to plate and will fill you up.
WRITE a shopping list
Don’t walk in to the supermarket not knowing what you are going to buy as you are much more likely to slip in some treats. Also, never go to the supermarket hungry. The best time to head to the supermarket I find is after a gym session when my body is buzzing with endorphins and the only thing I want to fill it with is goodness. If you are looking for snacks then I would suggest: macadamia nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, boiled eggs, chicken pieces, full fat cheese, greek yoghurt, blueberries or nut butter (almond or cashew).
DON’T skip breakfast
I am sure a lot of you grew up with your mother’s nagging tones, telling you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well kids, it is. It sets you up, fills you up and will inevitably stop you reaching for the tub of biscuits at 11am if you have the right balance of fats and protein. Protein packed breakfasts are the best and will make you feel fuller for longer, give you energy and keep your mind active. My favourite breakfast is something like scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and avocado. OR if I am in a rush, 2 boiled eggs the night before with some carrot crudités and a little nut butter with sea salt.
DON’T go hungry
As I’ve already mentioned (and you’re probably sick of hearing), low carb is NOT a diet, it’s a lifestyle, and if you are hungry, then eat! You should not be restricting yourself and you should not feel hungry. I eat more now than I have ever eaten, I am slimmer than I was when I used to survive on diet coke and crazy diets and I never feel hungry. What’s the fun in feeling hungry anyway? Did you know that our bodies will actually store fat and act against us in our hour of slimming need if we starve it? Stress + dieting can be of great detriment to those trying to lose weight. When your stress and cortisol levels are high, the body actually resists weight loss. Your body goes in to starvation mode so it hoards the fat you eat or have present on your body. Instead, eat a diet high in good fats, protein, vegetables and nuts / seeds. Drink lots of water and herbal teas to stay hydrated too as sometimes being dehydrated can actually be your body’s way of telling you that it’s hungry.
LOVE your fridge
FINALLY, enjoy it and do it for YOU