Aside from managing blood sugar and understanding the gut-brain connection, which we cover in my programs, the below are the general philosophies that we go by.
Focus on nutrition, macronutrients, and overall nutritional value (big picture).
My programs include a flexible macronutrient range; however, since not all calories are nutritionally "equal" even if they may be equal caloric-count-wise, a focus on nutrient-density is so important.
Of course, if you're training for a bodybuilding competition, or simply following those principles because that is what you prefer, there are far more details than macros-only to focus on; however, a macronutrient focus is a great strategy in general.
* Focusing on macronutrients does not mean that we do not care about or lose awareness of micronutrients.
2. TRACKING MACRONUTRIENTS:
Tracking for data - not paranoia:
Not everyone likes to "track" their food/macronutrients; however, this is a way to be conscious and stay aware, in addition to ensuring your macronutrient needs are met. Tracking calories without tracking macronutrients is futile, the distribution of each macronutrient group is important. Not all calories have the same nutritional value or nutrient density, so they will not affect you the same way. How your body processes protein is different than how it processes carbohydrates; however, both are important.
The ratio of protein vs. carbs vs. fat does affect your overall goals, thus having a plan for macronutrient distribution is simply a part of the science of nutrition and it is a good idea to pay attention to the numbers to a certain extent.
We optimize our businesses and work, why not treat our health like a business and make it efficient and keep track of it? This will yield the highest possible results.
When you start to see why each macronutrient group is important, but also what each category (proteins, fats, carbs) does for you, you hold the reigns. When you understand the importance of this concept and you begin to track the numbers (flexibly), it empowers you with knowledge about your needs.
Bottom line: We are not here to measure or track our condiments, sugar in our coffee, ketchup, or oils, we are simply making sure that we are hitting our protein goals and eating enough fibre and greens. We focus on a high protein diet (for people without kidney issues) and whatever percentage of what is left over of the totality of the diet is attributed to carbs and fats, which can change daily. The only factor that is fixed is: getting enough protein and focusing on protein first.
3. SAVE TIME BY MEAL PREPPING:
When using nutrition to optimize your health and wellness, do not set yourself up to fail.
Find hacks that truly suit and support your schedule, lifestyle, and preferences.
Make this health journey easier for yourself. Not being proactive in making these changes easy may lead to failure and this may lead you to give up. Build a structure around your wellness changes that support you.
No one needs additional chores, so why not batch them, automate, delegate, or hack the meal-prep game?
Prepare or purchase snacks that are portable and healthy.
My personal favourite combination for snacks involves a combination of two of the following: carbohydrates, protein, fat. Mixing two macro groups increases satiety.
Another easy portable snack is a whey protein shake or any other type of protein suitable to your preferences/needs. If you are using whey protein as a stand-alone snack, I would use a protein concentrate rather than an isolate if possible. While it is best to add fruit or something else with it, this on its own is still a higher quality option than a lot of the takeout options.
Why? A protein concentrate is less processed, has more nutrients, and has a higher absorption rate than an isolate. A whey concentrate contains fat, protein, in addition to lactose, making the satiety factor higher if you are looking for a snack on its own and if you are in a hurry. An isolate is just that, whey on its own, so protein only.
Meal-prep some or all aspects of your meals to build and strengthen discipline, will-power, and automate some of your choices:
Invest in strengthening your will-power by creating automated habits and preparing both meals and snacks ahead of time. Plan one hour of meal-prep time on Sunday nights to save time daily throughout the week. The time savings are truly crazy.
Most meals last 3-5 days in the fridge if stored properly and if you leave heavier sauces on the side. If you prepare chicken or any other protein ahead of time, it usually lasts 3 days in the fridge and is an aspect of your future meals that is ready to go. You can also prepare some sides ahead of time, such as rice, sweet potato, and broccoli.
Eating similar meals weekly does not have to be boring if you switch up your side dishes and your seasonings. I find that the body prefers consistency anyway and when your mindset becomes 'food is fuel' and you still allow yourself some flexibility - it all balances out.
4. TOO BUSY TO MEAL-PREP? TRY LIVE FIT FOODS!
If you are busy with no time to waste, the last thing you want to do is errands, meal-prep, and the like. As a Live Fit Foods Affiliate who uses their services frequently, I cannot recommend them enough.
Saving time and taking care of your nutrition are not mutually exclusive. Here is my affiliate link (or code at checkout: selfloveandfitness) for Live Fit Foods (Canada-only).
This is an awesome grocery and prepared-meals service if you are interested in finding out for yourself how much easier you can make your nutrition and fitness journey! They even have juices, snacks, and grocery options.
We all have stressful and busy times in our lives, allow yourself to be supported by convenient and healthy hacks.
If you are based in the US, many other meal delivery services can help support you.
5. MINDSET & JOURNALING:
With a focus on mindset and changing limiting beliefs around how you VIEW food and nutrition and how you USE food, you gain control of your journey.
What is your relationship with food like? How do you think your mindset influences your choices? It is very important to tackle the root of any change you want to make - mindset!
Journaling on these questions is an awesome place to start, or even continue your current journey and goals.
Self-reflection is powerful. What is even more powerful? A journal that has a coach responding to your journal is a whole other level of awesome. If you are interested in finding out how our programs work, feel free to learn more about them here.
6. NO NONSENSICAL METRICS:
While a BMI scale does make sense, too much focus on the scale can discourage those wishing to lose weight for aesthetic or health reasons (or both). How do your clothes fit? Do you feel more energetic?
Aside from fitness competitions and heavily regimented practices, not all metrics have to involve the scale, which fluctuates, the same way your water weight fluctuates, it is not the be-all-end-all. Focus on how you feel first. All else is not as important as how you feel. The rest typically follows, provided you put in the work, but the point is: do not get caught up in what you see on the scale.
When you gain muscle and lose fat - your weight may not change, but you've lost fat and gained muscle - the scale does not matter.
I want you to feel empowered and leverage the intangible metrics that matter more.
I also want you to view fitness as a PRECURSOR to peak mental performance and live like an athlete.
Fitness is far more than physical results. You will soon realize that working out can be from a place of passion for the sport, the mental wellness benefits, and the love for accomplishment. Your dedication will naturally reveal your best body. And how can PEAK MENTAL PERFORMANCE not flow from such dedication to feeling your best?
I find it very surface-level to think the only reason for fitness is changing yourself or that it is from a place of self-hate.
It is about being your best version.
My programs will teach you to fall in love with the act of showing your body love through working out from a place of self-respect and self-discipline for confidence, not just weight or fat loss alone.
7. UNDESTANDING THE GUT-BRAIN AXIS AND THE POWER OF EXERCISE:
How exactly does the gut affect the brain?
The gut microbiome is “is defined as all microorganisms in the human body and their respective genetic material. The microbiota is defined as all microorganisms in a particular location, such as the GI tract or skin.” (Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632802/).
The relationship between the gut microbiota and diet can affect the restoration of gut bacterial composition, even when diet changes are temporary. This shows how powerful a well-designed diet is.
With respect to the effect of exercise on mental clarity, it is indisputable that the impacts of exercise are tremendous on productivity and overall wellness.
“Numerous epidemiological studies have shown that exercise improves one’s self-esteem, and a sense of wellbeing..” (Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632802/).
Exercise has mental benefits as much as physical ones.
8. IDEAS FOR SUPPLEMENTS, SELF-CARE, AND MORE!
* Please speak with your physician or health professional before embarking on a fitness program, taking new supplements, or changing your diet.