Making balanced lifestyle choices takes practice, but once you realize how good it feels to provide the body with healthy habits and proper nutrition, you'll understand why I always emphasize that food is essential for fitness!
That is exactly why I packed the BTES App full of delicious, easy to make recipes! From breakfast tacos to teriyaki stir fry, there is something for everyone. Nutrition plays a crucial role in your fitness results and staying on track has never been easier when using the BTES App!
From cheat days, to alcohol and bloating, lets take a look at the most common nutrition questions that I hear all the time!
Can I Have A Cheat Day?
People ask me all the time if it’s alright to stray from their healthy meal plan, and most of the time I ask: what kind of results are you looking for? The answer really comes down to the reason for “cheating” and what kind of person you are. Did you work out extra this week? Have you been on point with your diet? What food are you cheating with and how much of it are you going to eat? Do you think you might get derailed from your program if you cut yourself some slack?
You should feel confident in trusting that you won’t go totally overboard and turn a cheat day into a cheat weekend or more, and if you’re not at that point yet, it’s best to wait a while before cutting loose. Sure, it’s fine to celebrate a special occasion by dining out and I definitely do that sometimes! But designating a day of the week to indulge is ultimately not going to help you see results, and having a heavy meal or several drinks can impact your body for a longer time than just a few hours.
You don’t have to be overly strict or hard on yourself, though if you want my advice, here’s what I think: we should make sure we are maintaining good nutrition as much as possible, and it’s alright to have a special meal once in a while, not once a week or for a full day, because that can throw off your body in a way that makes it hard to stay on track. Don’t stuff yourself because you’re already straying from your healthy program and you figure you might as well do all the damage at once.
When you do indulge, enjoy it while it lasts and savor the moment! That food or drink will taste even better when you know you can’t have a weekly appointment with it.
How Often Should I Eat?
I’m sure you’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of day, and in any case this is true! You should be eating breakfast within an hour after you wake up to stabilize blood sugar levels, and make sure to drink some water as well - you’ll stay full & satisfied until your pre-lunch snack.
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During your regular daily tasks, aim to eat every 2-3 hours. It is super important to fuel your body when you feel hunger coming on, because that’s the time when we’re most likely to diverge from healthy meal choices. Eat slowly and make sure your portions are appropriate. The longer you wait to eat, the more your body craves processed foods and you’re more likely to overeat.
Aim to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time each day - routine can really help establish positive eating habits and keep blood sugar consistent, meaning you’ll have more stable energy levels and be more productive since time management is a big component of achieving goals!
Fit in a light snack sometime between breakfast/lunch and lunch/dinner to avoid overeating at mealtime and to keep your digestive system functioning at its best. This snack should be protein-oriented and healthy! Even if you don’t feel particularly hungry between meals, having a snack ensures that your body is processing food efficiently since it’s never left to guess when the next meal is coming - if you deprive yourself of food, even for a few hours, the body slows down digestion and stores away as much as it can of that food just in case you decide to not eat again!
Does Alcohol Affect Your Fitness?
It's just liquid, right? Turns out those drinks can be detrimental to your diet plan! Alcohol can affect your body in many ways, but if you're trying to tone up or shed mass, these beverages might be your biggest barrier! For starters, alcohol is an extra calorie. Our bodies can't process it or utilize it for energy, so it turns into unwanted weight gain. But there are a few other reasons why alcohol is going to effect your fitness: your metabolism, muscle recovery, and sleep will all pay the price after party time!
Metabolism: Alcohol is converted into chemicals which the body registers as toxic, so the process of metabolizing and eliminating alcohol is a prioritized system which trumps all other functions: your body's other sources of fuel are weakened or shut off, and this definitely includes digestion. After you consume alcohol, your body channels all resources to recovery mode - the process of fat metabolism stops, and this form of energy is stored for later.
Many alcoholic drinks are also mixed with sugary syrups, juices, or high-calorie liquor. Because you're filling your stomach with liquid, you'll probably find that snacks are sounding good after a drinking session, and the combination of sweet drinks with decreased food inhibition (as well as delayed metabolic function) means that your waistline is going to feel the effects.
Muscle Recovery: Wonder why your brain feels foggy in the morning after a night of drinking? You're dehydrated! And this water imbalance impacts muscles too - think of it as a muscle hangover. For the same reasons that alcohol slows your metabolism, the rest of your structural system experiences a booze aftermath.
The body operates as a system, so the breakdown of alcohol is not isolated to one area. When your liver is engaged in metabolizing alcohol, the kidneys and digestive process are caught up in the mix, therefore influencing muscle recovery. Alcohol also extends recovery time because you're going to lose even more water if you work out after having a drink or two...or more. So make sure to help your body bounce back by giving it adequate nutrition and properly hydrating if you're going to exercise within a day of drinking.
Sleep: You may find that having a couple of drinks helps you to unwind and induce drowsiness, making the drift off to sleep seem like a breeze - but that slumber isn't going to be any deeper and may actually have you feeling more tired the next day. Alcohol can prevent restorative sleep cycles from kicking in and giving your brain the rest it needs to re-energize, so your workouts are going to suffer if you plan to focus on fitness after a night of snoozes which lack real rest and regeneration.
When consumed excessively, alcohol can have detrimental effects on how your body uses, stores, and excretes nutrients. It can also interfere with the absorption of nutrients, including B vitamins (which play a huge role in metabolism), vitamin A (a powerful antioxidant that helps the body recover from exercise), and vitamin C (which assists with bone growth and vision). While there’s room in an otherwise balanced, healthy diet for a drink now and again, at the end of the day, alcohol translates into unnecessary, un-nutritious calories.
Does Diet Effect Your Complexion?
Most of us have been told, at some point during our lives, that eating greasy goodies or chocolate will result in blemishes. While some people are definitely more sensitive to dietary factors when it comes to skincare, do the foods we eat really impact overall complexion?
Yes! You probably don't feel great after drinking soda, guzzling baked goods, or chowing down on some French fries. The body reacts negatively to foods like this for a reason, and it's because our guts are responding with inflammation. So we're going to look at skin from an inside-out perspective to understand what could be triggering breakouts, blotchiness, and more!
- Salt: Are you puffy in the morning? In a way that's not as cute as the word "puffy" sounds? Too much sodium can lead to water retention, and this could be the culprit behind bloated-looking facial features. The skin around our eyes is very thin and swells more easily compared to other parts of the body, so it's a good idea to consider how much salt you're ingesting the next time you find a set of swollen peepers looking back at you in the mirror!
- Dairy: This one is still up for debate, though the link between dairy products and exacerbated pre-existing acne conditions is based on the brain's hormonal interaction with milk. Dairy can promote excess estrogen in the body due to the excretion of this hormone by female cows, leading some people to experience worsened pimple outbreaks. Milk also contains naturally-occurring androgens (male sex hormones) which can lead to increased oil production and clogged pores.
- Gluten: Individuals living with Celiac's disease are most likely to experience skin reactions resulting from a wheat allergy, though some people without Celiac's can still see the effects of gluten translated onto their face due to a wheat "sensitivity." This condition is referred to as dermatitis herpetiformis. Eliminating or reducing the amount of gluten in your diet can be beneficial even without evidence of an allergy or sensitivity, because cutting wheat out of the equation will require you to diversify that diet and rely less on simple carbs!
- Caffeine: This stimulant amplifies the production of cortisol – a stress hormone. Raised cortisol levels may be responsible for acne breakouts, though the effects may be less significant if your body has adjusted to a caffeine habit like coffee in the mornings. If you really want to be kind to your skin, opt for water! You can start by making the switch from coffee to green or black tea, then herbal tea. You can practice other healthy energy-boosting habits like eating a nutritious, balanced meal for breakfast or sticking to an exercise program!
Foods For Glowing Skin
Vegetables: sweet potatoes, carrots, leafy greens, bell peppers, asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli
Fruit: tomatoes, citrus, berries, pineapple, mango, melons
Protein: seeds, nuts & nut butters, fish, chicken, turkey, starchy beans
How Do You Deal With Bloating?
Bloating happens. Sometimes a little swelling can make it seem like our fitness routine isn't helping to shed abdomen mass - don't be discouraged! Your belly becomes naturally distended throughout the day due to eating, drinking, and digestion (as well as other factors), though there are ways to avoid uncomfortable puffy problems.
Bloating occurs when there is increased swelling in the abdominal area, and the more you stuff your belly, the more contents your stomach has to figure out how to digest! Eating a balanced meal is always the best move, because skipping food altogether is bad for your health. Those of us who have missed out on a meal know that doing so can lead to a chow-fest the next time we get our hands on some grub, but did you know that eating too fast can also cause bloating?
Chemical signals from our stomachs that tell our brain we're satisfied can take as long as twenty minutes to register! Also, trying to fit food in too fast causes us to swallow lots of air, which means air bubble belly, or... gas. Remember to practice portion control, savor your food, and really listen to your body.
Making time to be active can help keep your digestive system operating normally! Just a short post-meal walk or pre-meal stretch can encourage the body to process foods more efficiently, but, you know, you should definitely try to get some other kinds of physical fitness in during the day! I have god news for you! You can still join our currently monthly challenge. You will get daily workouts, a live workout schedule, yummy recipes and mindset. What are you waiting for?! Join now!
Bloat belly is one matter, but getting the abs of your dreams takes a little more effort than that! Need some help staying on track with a fitness program? My 30-Day Calendar is a great resource to keep you motivated! A different exercise playlist every day helps to optimize results and prevent abdominal swelling caused by stagnant lifestyle habits!
You might be living with food allergies and/or sensitivities and not even know it! Of course, only a doctor can determine whether or not you should ultimately try to avoid particular foods, though it could be worth looking into.
For example, people living with gluten allergies experience digestive problems like inflammation and swelling, and those with lactose intolerance have similar issues with abdominal distention and discomfort. If you've been feeling like you just can't escape the belly bloat then it might be time to consult a professional about possible negative food reactions!
Living a healthy lifestyle is a choice and something that you need to work at. Making small changes every day will lead to big changes overall. Nutrition is a main component of fitness and should always be in the back of your mind when reaching your goals.
If you have any nutrition questions you would like me to answer, leave them in the comments!