Get on Water! – You may hear it again and again but I cannot stress the importance of correct hydration. Water is the purest drink out there and it comes with so many endless benefits. Dehydration or incorrect hydration as I like to call it, is a common issue amongst most of the population. You should be consuming at LEAST 2 litres a day to see any benefits. I would recommend 3 litres a day for absolute optimal health. The best tip I can give you for consumption would be to consume 1/3 of your daily water intake in the morning – as soon as you get up. When you wake up your body is in a mild state of dehydration after an overnight fast. Also, from 4am-10am your body is going through an internal detoxification process, so getting in a litre of water is going to massively aid in the process. So, first thing in the morning knock down a large glass or two of water to kick start your day – leave your tea, coffee or breakfast till at least 45 minutes after. Another benefit of this is that you don’t have to consume so much throughout the day.
DETOX! – Detoxification is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle. If you help your body with this detox process, you will see a dramatic increase in overall health and feeling. The best way to do this is to include detoxification foods in your diet on a DAILY basis. These foods include:
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and radishes.
- Brown Rice
- Garlic, Ginger and onions
- Herbal Teas
Furthermore, another astonishing tip I can give you regarding detox is to get on lemons & limes. Squeeze half a lemon into your morning drink of water to further aid in the detox process and for many other health benefits such as aided digestion and improved skin/hair health. Add lime into you drinks throughout the day. Limes are the best alkalizing food out there as far as I’m concerned. Add these two little gems to your daily diet and you will reap the benefits. Try and go for organic lemons & limes, especially if you’re going to put slices into your drink.
Another quick add on would be to have your garlic and ginger raw. This can mean adding it right at the end of cooking. This ensures their wonderful nutritional content is not destroyed by heat.
Eliminate Sugars and Artificial Sweeteners – Sugar is the worst of the worst. The amount of sugar consumed in the UK particularly is way too much and it brings with it many disadvantages. Depression, mood swings and low energy are all a result of sugar intake. Cutting it out means no sugar in your tea, no sweets and no heavily sugared chocolate. Doing this will take a lot of willpower, but the best way to go about it is to do it progressively. Do this and you will see life changing developments in your health.
In terms of artificial sweeteners, they are just as bad as sugars (Some are worse!) and should be completely avoided. This includes aspartame, sucralose and neotame. These have been found to have horrible side-effects long term such as affecting brain and heart health. Both of these wreak havoc with your insulin causing spikes and all sorts. Insulin is your storage hormone so you can guess what that means.
To replace sweeteners if you must, I suggest stevia or honey. When choosing honey go for the most natural you can get – Raw, unpasteurised Manuka honey is best.
High-Protein for Breakfast – This is probably the best tip I can give you if you’re already quite healthy. Your first meal of the day IS the most important meal of the day. It’s the meal that sets up your neurotransmitters and hormone production for the whole day. These are responsible for the feelings you get in the day, which affect concentration levels, focus and many other aspects. Consuming a high-protein breakfast has been found to set these up optimally, releasing a slow- steady rise in energy levels throughout the day. High-protein slows down digestion and is the most important nutrient of your first meal.
Now, whatever you have for your breakfast you can alter it to be high-protein easily. If you do have cereal, which I do not recommend as it’s loaded with sugars and all sorts of nasty’s, then you can add a scoop of whey protein to it to increase its protein content.
However for optimal health, do NOT consume carbohydrates in your first meal. Carbs are not necessary in your breakfast and can come later in the day. The reason for this is they produce an insulin response which you do not want. If you consume a lot of carbs for breakfast, you will find you’re tired and wanting to sleep within a few hours. This usually leads to a reliance on caffeine. The best thing you can have for breakfast is a high quality protein source such as eggs, chicken or meat – Yes meat! This combined with a handful of nuts or some vegetables such as mushrooms is a winning combination. If you must consume carbs, then go for low GI carbs such as steel cut old-fashioned oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice or fruits such as avocado’s, berries or an apple.
The mains point I’m giving you here is that you must make your breakfast high-protein, it doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it! Your first meal should be high-protein, low carb, and low-moderate healthy fat.
Cut Down on Carbohydrates and Increase Protein & Healthy Fat - Carbohydrates are great, but only when you going through hard training, which depletes you glycogen stores. Other than this, carbs are unnecessary and actually have many pitfalls. I’ve spoke about carbs for breakfast, but now I’m talking about throughout the day and the quality of the carbs you consume. Cut out breads, pastas, and high-fructose fruits such as oranges, grapes and figs. These should be replaced with vegetables – any vegetables are better than carbs, but the best choices are greens and darkly coloured veg. Potatoes are not included in this and should be avoided. The best time to consume carbs if you’re going to is the evening/night time. This is when insulin levels will be least affected. Also you will probably not need to be as active and alert as in the day, so consuming a heavier meal here will not have much effect on your neurotransmitters or hormones. The best carbs to consume are potatoes, rice and quinoa. These are natural carbs and your body will thank you for eating these. Other carbs such as pasta and bread’s should generally be avoided as they are packed with gluten, which is a whole different topic and one that I will devise in another article soon.
Increase your healthy fat intake. Despite what you may have heard, fats are not bad and in fact have many, many endless health benefits. You want to consume your fats from high quality foods such as:
Consume these on a daily basis in place carbohydrates and you will see improved bodily function. Better hormone health, increased mood and body composition are just a few of the benefits you can reap from eating high-quality fats.
Finally, I’ve already told you about high-protein for breakfast, but increasing your protein intake over the day is one of the best tips I can give anyone. This will result in dramatically increased energy levels, increased mental clarity and better body composition.
Cinnamon! – This is the ultimate spice. Cinnamon should be part of your everyday diet. It is an insulin saviour and will work at keeping you energy levels balanced for the course of the day. There are loads of benefits to this in itself, but cinnamon is also an anti-inflammatory and a digestion aid. If you have a problem with weight especially, cinnamon will go a long way to aiding in fat-loss. I cannot recommend enough of this stuff. I personally consume up to a tablespoon of this a day. You can sprinkle it over vegetables, add it into shakes and have it with your coffee. However you do it, you can be sure that adding cinnamon to your diet will result in much change for the better.