Eating right to supplement your exercise routine can be a tad tricky. Here are some tips to help you get it right.
Claire completed a high intensity 60-minute workout at the gym, first thing in the morning. Post workout, she rewarded herself with a diet soda. At lunch she thought, “Well, since I tried so hard at the gym, I can indulge a bit.” So, she ordered a creamy pasta carbonara and some ice cream for dessert.
Does this sound like you?
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to think that if they’ve burned calories at the gym, it’s alright to eat anything they want, afterwards. While it’s okay to indulge once in a while, if you are truly determined to lose weight and keep it off, it is best to make smart choices when it comes to food. After all, diet is an integral part of losing weight. You could work out every single day but tucking into chocolate bars and chicken nuggets everyday isn’t something that will get you closer to your weight loss goals.
Know what you need
Identifying your fitness goals is the first step to take. Depending on your goals, you might need more protein (builds and repairs muscles), less fat (decrease cholesterol) and of course, reduced calories. If you’re ingesting more calories than you burn, then you might end up gaining weight even though you’re working out every day. A person who does HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) compared to someone who does low intensity workouts such as walking, will require different foods and nutrients in order to achieve their fitness goals.
Another point to keep in mind is that being too strict with your diet may work against you. For example, if you suddenly and completely cut out favourite foods such as crisps, sugary cookies or sodas, you are likely to have to deal with unbearable cravings. It is then super easy to ‘relapse’ and tear into a whole bag of potato chips in a craving-induced frenzy.
Here are some alternate ideas for high fat, high calorie foods that are just as big on flavour. These ideas should help you ease your way toward healthier food choices.
Swap This: Flavoured yoghurt
For That: Greek yoghurt
Greek yoghurt is also known as strained yoghurt because the whey (liquid that remains after the milk is curdled and strained) is removed via straining. Due to the whey being removed, Greek yoghurt has a consistency that is somewhere between conventional yoghurt and cheese. WebMD says that Greek yoghurt has less lactose and twice the amount of protein compared to regular yoghurt and this will keep you feeling full longer. Greek yoghurt is a much better choice compared to flavoured yoghurts as the latter contain added sugars that add extra calories to your diet.
Swap This: Potato crisps
For That: Kimchi
If you’re the type who craves salty crisps, go for kimchi instead. Kimchi is a spicy, fermented cabbage dish which the Koreans love eating with their meals. A 2 oz. (56.7 gram) serving of kimchi provides less than 15 calories and also provides that salty and spicy taste you like. Kimchi is also full of friendly bacteria and plenty of dietary fibre to keep your gut healthy. Potato crisps on the other hand have very high levels of salt and cling to your teeth after you chew on them. When bacteria in your mouth feasts on this, it could cause tooth decay.
Swap This: French fries
For That: Edamame
Feel the need to eat some greasy, deep fried French fries? Before you do, try some edamame. They’re easy to prepare (boil shelled or unshelled for three to five minutes) and with a tiny sprinkling of sea salt, they’re ready to go. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of cooked edamame contains 17 grams of protein (34 percent of recommended daily intake) and 32 percent of your recommended daily intake of dietary fibre. French fries, on the other hand, are often cooked in a large amounts of oil. This makes fries high in fat which will cause an increase in your cholesterol levels.
Swap This: Instant noodles
For That: Miso soup and buckwheat noodles (soba)
Craving a piping hot bowl of instant noodles? If you allow yourself to indulge, you just might end up with ‘MSG (Monosodium glutamate) symptom complex.’ According to the Mayo Clinic, this condition presents as headaches, facial pressure or tightness, heart palpitations and more. So why not try some miso soup (see recipe below) with soba noodles and treat yourself to a list of health benefits instead? Miso paste, which is made by fermenting soybeans, salt, and a kind of fungus (Aspergillus oryzae), may be high in sodium but it is also high in amino acids —the building blocks of proteins. Soba noodles contain eight essential amino acids which include lysine which wheat does not have. According to WebMD, lysine could help in calcium absorption and building muscle protein.
Swap This: Fast food breakfast sandwich
For That: Homemade sandwich
A sandwich that you can make at home and take to work instead of buying one from the nearest fast food joint will definitely do you good. Being able to control what goes into your sandwich is one of the perks of making your own. Choose ingredients such as avocado, eggs, tuna and salad greens to put in your sandwich. An avocado and egg sandwich, for instance, is a wonderful choice. The creamy avocado is a great alternative for cheese and provides healthy fats (oleic, palmitic and linoleic acid) and almost a third of your daily intake of vitamin B6 in your diet.
The most important thing to remember is there’s no such thing as a quick fix weight loss pill or diet and even if there is, the results are often not permanent or could threaten your health. However, trying your best and making modifications to your lifestyle at your own pace can certainly help you lose weight, keep it off and preserve or even improve your health. As with any diet or fitness regime, if you’re in doubt, check with your medical practitioner to ensure that any changes you make will not impact your health negatively.
Miso soup recipe (Serves 6)
¼ cup Shiro miso paste
½ cup Dried wakame (a type of seaweed)
6 cups Dashi (stock made from bonito and kombu seaweed)
220 g Soft tofu cut into half-inch cubes
¼ cup Spring onions (cut thinly)
* Dried wakame, dashi and shiro miso paste can be found in major supermarkets and Japanese grocery stores
- Soak wakame with warm water for 15 minutes. Once rehydrated, drain.
- Dissolve miso with ½ cup dashi in a bowl.
- Heat remaining dashi in a saucepan over moderately high heat and stir in tofu and wakame.
- Simmer for 1 minute and turn off the heat.
- Stir in miso mixture, garnish with spring onions and serve.