Health Life Sport

Another New Year, Another New You?

  • January 15, 2024
  • 3 min read
Another New Year, Another New You?

Each year comes a slew of diet and fitness trends. With most diets, fad or otherwise, you will get some temporary results. However, before you get too excited, you need to consider why it works, why it stops working and if it is really that healthy for YOU.

Generally diets will work as they put you in a calorie deficit. Meaning you are burning more calories than you are absorbing. Note, I say absorbing, not consuming. Depending on the type of food, there can be a huge discrepancy, with ultra processed foods causing you to absorb much more of that foods actual calorie content. Whole foods, being a lot harder to digest, have a greater consumption to absorption ratio. In the case of nuts, you will only absorb around 70% of the calories. The other benefit of whole foods is that you get a nutrition pay load of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Diets usually stop working when you stop doing them or when you have lost weight to the point you are no longer in a calorie deficit. The smaller you are, the less calories needed. At this point the weight will creep back on or weight loss will plateau. The down side to a lot of these fads is that they are not necessarily healthy or sustainable. The weight you lose isn’t just fat but also muscle, which gets increasing hard to hold on to after the age of 35.

The exclusion of certain food groups, along with tiny portions can leave you lacking in vital nutrients. Ironically, this can impair the body’s fat burning efficiency as well as having other more harmful effects on your health.

Omega 3

The best “diet” is one that you can stick to. A change of lifestyle is the ideal long term solution. Whatever eating style works for you, try to eat a wide variety of non processed whole foods. Get adequate protein to support the function and repair of the body’s tissues, especially muscle. Select fats low in saturates and high in omega 3, such as oily fish, olive oil, roe, nuts and seeds. These are essential for the brain, mental health, joints and nerve function. Eat plenty of fruit and veg for fibre, vitamins and minerals. Current guidelines recommend at least 30g of fibre a day. Reach this target by including fruit, vegetables, roots, whole grains, pulses, nuts and seeds. Such a diet can also help lower cholesterol levels!

Root Vegetables

In 2018 study showed that participants who ate a wider variety of plants, 30 or more, had more diverse gut microbiomes and better health. These bugs produce chemicals that can strengthen your gut lining, allowing better nutrient absorption, improved digestion and even benefit mental health! These gut microbes feed on the various types of fibre and plant pigments, know as polyphenols. So even different coloured versions of the same vegetable, such as peppers will count as different plants. Herbs and spices also can also be included!

Eating vegetables before carbohydrate can lower post-meal glucose levels. The plants own defensive chemicals can help us to metabolise toxins faster. For example, sulforaphane found in Cruciferous vegetables, can help us metabolise alcohol faster, lessening a hangover! Ensure adequate hydration and sleep and you’ll start the year feeling great!

About Author

Natalie Shanahan

Natalie Shanahan has a BSc in Genetics and a MSc in Bioinformatics. She worked as a lecturer, teaching genetics and biochemistry, before moving to Australia to work for their first Bioinformatics company. Here she managed their marketing as well as working on their numerous educational resources. Natalie left her career in science to follow her passion and now works as a personal trainer and nutrition consultant, helping individuals and employees of large organisations better understand their health and wellbeing.

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