Hands-down, the most common topic I talk about with my clients is what they are eating. They get used to hearing me ask, “What are you eating, and why are you eating it?” If you can’t answer that question, more than likely you should not be eating it.
Whether you are trying to lose weight, maintain weight or training for a Half Ironman, it is important to understand the basics of your metabolism. Once you understand the basics, figuring out what to eat and when to eat becomes easier. Before you know it, you’re not only feeling your best, but looking your best too (bonus!!) That being said, lets review the basics of metabolism.
The body requires fuel to keep your metabolism burning. Rather than get fancy with biology terms, I prefer to use analogies therefore think of metabolism as a campfire. To keep a fire burning strong, it must be fed small doses of wood (i.e. fuel). Dropping a large log onto the fire will keep the fire burning, but not as effectively as if it was fed small portions of wood.
With the fire still in mind, you have to look at its preferred fuel choice. Adding paper or “empty calories”, the fire will burn through it very quickly. As a result, the fire becomes starved and must be fed very often. Now if you added a mixture of paper and wood, the fire will have enough fuel to burn for a longer period of time. The wood will satisfy the fire’s appetite more than the paper.
Wood is to the fire as protein is to humans. Consequently your meals and snacks should always include a source of protein. Having the “Campfire” in mind, below are 8 basic tips to help you optimize your metabolism, look and feel your best!
- Food is fuel. Always ask yourself: why I am putting this in my body? If you don’t know why you shouldn’t be eating it
- As much as possible avoid sugar, diet drinks and “diet” food. Important note: sugar suppresses your immune system for 4 hours!
- Eat 3 small meals as well as 2 small snacks throughout the day. Eating small meals prevents binge eating, nighttime snacking, and weight gain. Most important, it keeps your metabolic rate at an optimal place
- Do not go more than 4 hours without eating
- With every meal and snack, you want to have a combination of a carbohydrate, protein and fat. An example for a snack: 1/2 banana (carbohydrate), 1 tbsp. of peanut butter (protein and fat).
- The food you eat should have no more than 5 ingredients listed on the label
- If you can’t pronounce the ingredients listed on the nutrition label – don’t eat it!
- Avoid processed foods. Processed foods have many chemicals and just because it says, “Low-Fat” does not mean it’s good for you. Typically they add chemicals to make up for the fat they took out, so it may be low-fat, but high in sodium or sugar.
Remember, if you can’t answer one of my favorite questions “what are you eating and why are you eating it?” DON’T EAT IT ☺