Fleur – How we can train ourselves to be more resourceful with energy
It really is okay to feel hungry. This is just a sign that we need to move around and start foraging. Most of us do not even feel hungry when we have breakfast, it is just something we feel we should do to keep us going. When we wake up in the morning our cortisol levels are generally high to prepare us to face whatever is in store for us. It does this by releasing sugar into the bloodstream. If we eat at this time we get a sugar high and then a sugar dip. We feel hungry all day and then the grazing starts. It is much better to skip the early breakfast and eat later on.
When we were back in the Stone Age, exercise was the basis of survival and we would have to move long distances to hunt for food. We did this because once our muscles are active they do not need to rely on energy coming from the food! Don’t forget that genetically we are the same as our ancestors and so we can train to do this ourselves. We don’t need that banana or sports drink before we go to gym. In fact, the more our genes register there are good times and bad in terms of the feast or famine scenario, the more effective our energy producing systems become.
So how does our body make energy without food? Our super lean, super fit ancestors did not have access to any quick energy bars – Nature’s answer to an energy demand was to move around. From the minute we move around, our muscles have some very quick methods of producing energy. When we are active, our cells produce it from the breakdown of carbohydrate, fat and protein. This is where the fasting concept comes from but you have to do it correctly. Fasting should be something you do whilst moving around because this is what we are genetically designed to do. For it to be effective you should try to leave at least ten and up to eighteen hours without eating. This is easily done if you have had your evening meal around 7pm. The following morning, go for a work-out and have a late brunch. Alternatively, have breakfast when you are hungry mid-morning then exercise in the evening. You should aim to do this two to three times per week. You will find on these days you are eating twice instead of three times. This is fine but make sure they are healthy ones as suggested in the next paragraph.
Do you find you can do an aerobics class and you are ravenous afterwards? The tendency then is to grab the nearest snack to kill the hunger. What you eat at this time is vitally important – it is better to replenish carbohydrate stores with some good quality carbs such as those in vegetables. Healthy starchy carbs include root vegetable like carrots, sweet potato, squash or beetroot. You should also include some protein like chicken, eggs or fish as this will keep you feeling fuller for longer and help to rebuild your muscles. Good quality protein such as oily fish, free-range organic meat and wild meat will also contain healthy fats such as Omega three which is important for good brain function and healthy skin. And do you want to know the secret of how to successfully get rid of your fat? By adding in a low intensity session each week where you are moving for around 60 – 90 minutes, of course on an empty stomach!
Don’t be afraid of eating healthy fats. Fats do not make you fat, too many carbohydrates do. We have become fat phobic and yet it was healthy fat that helped our transition from ape to human. Healthy fats are more than just healthy, they are essential to us because we cannot make them in the body, we have to eat them. Olive oil is not essential to life but it is still a healthy fat and a better option than vegetable oils. Olive oil has even been shown to increase our fat-burning capability!
In the coming weeks, I will talk about the following:
- What we need to do to be fit and healthy
- What kind of exercise we need to be doing and
- How we can eat well without being chained to diet regimes that are not doing us any good.
Fleur Borrelli, BSc Nut Med, MBANT. www.nutritionandsuperfood.co.uk. 07766883522
I am a breakfast person. I love breakfast. It has always been my favourite meal of the day. Pancakes, eggs, granola, berries, yoghurt, bring it on! So when Fleur said it was not only NOT the most important meal of the day, but the one she would like me to stop having, I nearly walked out on her then and there. How could that possibly be true?? We have always been told we need a good breakfast to get us through the day. I’ve always been one of those people who is actually hungry at breakfast time (some people just aren’t early in the morning) and have never skipped breakfast in my life. When she went further and said she wanted me to go the gym or yoga class or whatever exercise I chose on an empty stomach, and work out in a fasted state, I shook my head and informed her I just didn’t think I could do it. This seemed like crazy talk to me. And yet…..I believe it is this that has had such a profound effect on my health. It has changed my weight, my body composition, and I have gained lean muscle tissue, which is very important as you age as it is usually lost.
The first few days without breakfast were hard. Doing my first hot yoga class on an empty stomach made me whoozy and I had to sit it out at one stage. I was convinced this was never going to work, I just wouldn’t be able to do it. Fleur just smiled at my whinging and said you will adapt. Your body doesn’t need it. You will see. Frankly I didn’t believe her. How can you change the habits of a life time? But….I did adapt. Remarkably quickly. And the results were evident quickly as well which were the motivation to continue. Soon I was springing out of bed, maybe having a few sips of water or a herb tea at most (no coffee or tea), exercising up a storm and not feeling it at all. By lunchtime I start getting those hunger pangs, but sometimes if I’m busy I don’t get to eat til 2 or 3pm. Once I do start eating I eat well. I have a big lunch and never feel deprived in any way.
Sometimes, if I’m away or with other people, I’ll have breakfast. Once in a while it’s ok. Sometimes I’ll have brunch at 11 or 12 and that’s ok too. However, I am now a convert. I still can’t quite believe it and it took a major mental adjustment, but it has had such a beneficial effect that I honestly believe I will keep this up for life. I would say start slowly with this. Do the best you can but know that your body will adapt. Also as Fleur says if you can only exercise later in the day then have a lateish breakfast but try not to eat for at least 5 or 6 hours before exercising. You will have so much more energy, your weight will stop yo-yoing and you will glow with health. That’s got to make it worth it, right?