Nutrition 101

Nutrition: This is always a hot topic in my industry, and for good reason. People will often ask me what my diet consists of, and before I can even answer there is the assumption that because I am a fitness trainer, I must eat nothing but ‘health food.’ To this I would say that yes, I eat ‘real’ food (also known as unprocessed food). I have never counted my calories and I do not deprive myself of anything I want to eat. To me, it’s all about balance.

The most common misconception I often hear is to eat less in order to lose weight. It seems pretty simple; however, eating healthy and depriving yourself are two entirely different things. According to registered holistic nutritionist Cassandra Patmanidis, eating less does not guarantee weight loss. Here are the reasons why:

  • Depriving your body of essential nutrients is in no way a good strategy to achieve a healthy weight.
  • The key is not to eat less; the key is to eat well.
  • Calorie restricting makes us hungrier and thus more likely to snack and binge-eat.
  • Eating less as a method for weight loss creates an unhealthy relationship with yourself and with food, because it becomes a question of willpower

Something that often comes as a surprise to people is how high in fat my diet is. To clear up some misconceptions about fats, here are some important points that Cassandra has on why we shouldn’t be afraid of a diet rich in good fats:

  • We need healthy fats to function!
  • Fat does not make you fat – sugar creates fat. (Did you know that our bodies convert excess sugar into saturated fat?)
  • Eat fat to lose fat! Every cell in the body is lined with fat as a protective barrier (toxins out and nutrients in).
  • Hormonal production, cell development and growth, and brain health are all dependent on healthy fats.
  • EFA’s are anti-inflammatory.
  • EFA’s are utilized by the body and are not stored as fat.
  • They increase the metabolic rate (help burn off extra fat storage).
  • They help balance blood sugar, keep you full and satisfied for longer, and have a calming affect.
  • Fat turns off hunger hormones!

Eating three balanced meals a day and never allowing yourself to feel too hungry is key. Cassandra sums up three very important key points below:

Understanding blood sugar

Balanced blood sugar allows for long-term healthy weight management and helps keep your metabolism working effectively. Every time we eat something, our body (pancreas) releases the hormone insulin to take blood sugar from the bloodstream to our cells to make and store energy.

Insulin is our storage hormone. There are three places where insulin takes blood sugar to get stored: our muscles, liver, and fat cells. When you eat high-carb, processed, sugary foods and your blood sugar spikes, insulin rushes in to manage it and then plummets your blood sugar (causing a feeling of dizziness, lightheadedness, irritability, and cravings). You can naturally balance your blood sugar by avoiding processed carbs and sugar and balancing your meals with protein, fat, and fiber.

Grazing and snacking throughout the day isn’t great

If we are eating too often, insulin is continuously being released and storing this un-utilized food as excess weight. We lose weight in between meals and while we sleep (at times when our insulin is the lowest).

Make sure to eat your three main meals daily: breakfast, lunch and dinner that consist of protein, fat, and fiber/vegetables. This will help balance hunger hormones, cut cravings and allow you to feel satisfied for longer.

On the opposite side, restriction and deprivation lead to starvation. Starvation increases the production of cortisol (stress hormone) that prevents weight loss. Low blood sugar resulting from starvation forces our body to pull from our muscles (muscle burning). This lowers our metabolism.

Balance hunger hormones, cut cravings, and feel satisfied for longer

  1. Eat! Don't skip meals or try to starve yourself.
  2. Make sure every meal is balanced with protein, fat and fiber.
  3. Avoid eating a meal or snack that only consists of carbohydrates, such as oatmeal with fruit or slice of plain toast. Always eat carbs with some protein or fat to help stabilize blood sugar.

The most important thing to remember is that in order to achieve the results you desire through nutrition and exercise, you cannot have one without the other. If you are not eating a well-balanced diet, you are not going to lose weight, and if you are not exercising on a regular basis (meaning you are not spending at least 30 minutes a day working up a sweat through both cardiovascular and strength training activities), you are not going to build the muscle tone you desire to look “fit”.

Jennifer Slauenwhite is a Fitness Professional and a Mother of two with a passion for health and overall well-being. She has spent her entire life in the fitness industry through many family owned and operated fitness centres and has spent the last decade cultivating a community of strong like-minded women. She strives to set an example for women to be the best they can be by channeling their inner athlete and putting up some healthy competition against themselves! She is also the founder and owner of Queens Fitness Strength & Conditioning Studio for Women in Toronto - follow her on Instagram @queens.fitness or on Facebook @ One Tough Mother By Jennifer Slauenwhite. #leadbyexample

Jennifer Slauenwhite is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.
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