Saturday, July 20, 2013
You eat the healthy American diet starting with a breakfast of oatmeal with a little bit of brown sugar, fresh berries, some fresh juice and a cup of coffee. By mid-morning, you’ll feel a bit sleepy–throw in a 2nd cup of joe and you’ll have no problem making it to lunch. Ahh, lunch: not much time to dilly dally. How about a deli down the street for a tuna salad sandwich made with low-fat mayo and sprouts on whole wheat bread with a small bag of sun chips on the side? Then, after a long day at work, you’ll walk in the door, grab a glass of wine, and unwind to a much heavier meal: dinner. Maybe a steak; maybe a salmon filet or a vegetarian meal? If you’re a health nut you’ll have poultry or fish, maybe some brown rice or quinoa (or, avoid the carbs altogether if you’re concerned with your waist line), and a nice garden-fresh salad with your favorite dressing. If that was your day, how would you think you did, nutritionally speaking? I can practically hear the collective “great” coming from the masses.
Then, you wake up the next morning to see your mirrored image staring back: the disappointing reflection is you–plus twenty pounds. The voice in your head says, “You just need to eat a little less; get to the gym more then just twice a week; put in another hour of cardio on the treadmill.” In summary, you believe you should work harder and eat less. And, so some of you do, and yet still experience that disappointing glare back in the mirror. What is the problem? Here’s the final statement coming from the same voice in your head: “Well, you’re getting older.”
Now, I’m not going to be able to delve into the many ways that last statement is wrong, or in fact, how many possible solutions there are to suddenly shed that disappointing weight. However, a great place to start is by, simply, managing your blood sugar. It will streamline your energy levels, help you remain awake when you need it most, and help you sleep when you need that too. Much of that can come from timing your intake of macro nutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fats.
Foods which cause a spike in blood sugar trigger an insulin response which then causes sleepiness. Sleepiness is a great thing right before you go to bed, right? So eat foods which cause a rise in blood sugar at dinner or shortly thereafter. Eat foods which don’t cause sleepiness throughout the rest of the day. Both carbohydrates and fats are easily converted to energy by the body. Of the two, fats cause the smallest rise in blood sugar. One more detail: separate those two energy sources. In other words, don’t eat carbohydrates and fats in the same meal, if possible. A meal high in fat with only vegetables as a source of carbohydrates is great in the morning or throughout the day; a meal low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates in the evening is effective in helping you calm down and sleep more soundly.
Managing your energy levels are a key catalyst to reaching your health and fitness goals. High energy through the day will make you more likely to exercise. Sound sleep will help you manage stress levels more effectively as well as experience the greatest recovery possible (when all of the muscle is built and the fat lost) from your exercise regime. Further, when your insulin crashes after your heavy carb dinner and you sleep well, you’ll have the highest likelihood of naturally boosting your growth hormone levels.
Here are some basic meal examples of how to practice macro-nutrient timing:
Breakfast: 3 – 6 oz protein for women, 5 – 7 oz for men, (eggs or anything that runs, flies or swims) and a 1/2 cup of nuts or avocado (this is the fat source)
Lunch: 3 – 6 oz protein for women, 5 – 7 oz for men, 2 cups of vegetables, and a 1/2 cup of nuts or avocado
Dinner: 3 – 6 oz protein for women, 5 – 7 oz for men, 1 cup of vegetables, and 1 cup of complex carbs
In summary, practice macro-nutrient timing, and you’ll find that mirrored image staring back isn’t so disappointing after all.