How to fuel your body
Before we can even speak our bodies crave the correct balance of fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins to fuel and build our bodies. In adulthood, we still seek the same balance in our diet to ensure we’re energised to reach peak physical and mental performance.
Putting the right food into our bodies positively impacts energy levels, brain power, and long-term health. Our bodies and brains need a steady, sustainable source of fuel each day to function efficiently and maintain physical and mental wellbeing which is why we see Fuel as an important element of Pure Wellbeing.
When our energy levels are right, we're more creative, better at decision-making, and find it easier to concentrate. Get the levels wrong and it can make us irritable, impulsive and lacking in focus.
Unfortunately, 21st-century living isn't always conducive to healthy living, so we've pulled together the latest thinking on nutrition to help you make minimal changes to your lifestyle that will maximise your brain and body power.
Cut your carbs
Carbs are an essential part of a balanced diet but too many can cause the dreaded post-lunch slump. Evidence is emerging that eating fewer carbs, especially the refined (quick release variety), can have a positive impact on your performance and energise you to get more done.
Add small quantities of the following slow-release carbs to your diet and you'll reap the energetic benefits:
- swap pasta for spiralised vegetable (also known as vegetable spaghetti and available ready made in most supermarkets)
- swap spuds for sweet potato
- swap crisps for unsalted nuts or seeds. If you prefer to snack on something with a little more flavour, you could try roasting plain nuts by putting them in the oven on a baking try for just a few minutes.
Don’t go hungry
We're often told that the less we eat and the more we move, the more weight will come off. And yet we're a nation of disillusioned dieters and sadly the stats show that most diets don't produce lasting and significant weight loss. Allowing ourselves to get too hungry not only affects our brain performance but can sabotage attempts to make healthy food choices and lose weight.
The key is to choose our food wisely and opt for choices that will keep us feeling fuller for longer and negate the need for snacking.
Whilst reaching out for a chocolate bar or sweets may seem like the perfect solution as a pick-me-up and to avoid the afternoon slump, consuming food high in sugar or carbohydrates will only lead to a sugar crash. This can actually make you feel even sleepier because when we consume carbohydrates, we get surges in blood sugar which leads to surges in insulin levels. The end result is a rebound effect where we experience a lower than ideal blood sugar a couple of hours or so later (rebound hypoglycaemia) which leads to Brain Fog.
Try snacking on the following options which will help stabilise blood sugar levels and help keep hunger at bay:
- a small handful of unsalted nuts
- hummus with vegetable sticks
- hard boiled eggs
While it’s important to eat well, it’s also important to get exercising to maximise your wellbeing and to lose weight as these both go hand-in-hand.
21st-century living has seen a number of trends that could be growing our waistline, none more so than advances in technology that have made us less active as a nation. In the past three decades, the levels of obesity in the UK have tripled and one in four British adults is obese and 1/3 of children are overweight or obese, according to NHS Choices.
Even modest weight loss of 5-10% of your body weight significantly reduces risks of developing diabetes and other chronic diseases
To counteract our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, try these simple ways of sneaking more movement into your day.
- become an active commuter and make walking or cycling your main mode of transport; if you drive, park further away from your destination and walk the final few blocks
- catch up with friends for a walk rather than in a coffee shop. In a nutshell, try and sit down less and move more.
Eat more protein for breakfast
Eating breakfast has been shown to increase activity levels compared with fasting, according to RCT in Obese Adults AJCN 2016. What you eat though is key. Protein is a fantastic choice as it leaves you feeling fuller for longer and our bodies use more energy digesting protein, which aids weight loss.
Protein-rich but calorie unrestricted diets (in other words, can eat as much as want) have been shown to reduce overall calorie intake by around 40% per day.
People on a diet eat fewer calories overall when they eat more protein. So what better way to start the day than with one of these nutritious sources of protein:
- a glass of milk
- Greek or soy yoghurt topped with fresh or frozen berries
- handful of toasted seeds or nuts
- scrambled, boiled or poached egg
Consistency is key
More than 90% of dieters regain everything they have lost and more, so instead of dieting, follow the 80/20 rule. The principle is to make the time to eat, slowly chew your food, and stop when you're 80% full. Leave it for 10 to 15 minutes and then decide whether you need more food.
Over time, this will train your brain to listen to your gut to know when you've had enough to eat. The 80/20 rule also gives you the freedom to relax a little without overdoing it 20% of the time...but only if you follow the back to basic principles 80% of the time!
Make small sustainable changes and build on them
After more Pure Wellbeing updates? Stay tuned for our November update where we’ll be looking at Move, and uncover the physical and mental benefits of staying active, plus top tips to help you shift and keep the weight off for good.
Working in partnership with Dr. Sarah Hattam MB ChB, MRCGP, DFHRH, DF SRH and Concilio Health.