When introducing beginner female clients to a diet plan to accompany an active lifestyle, and helping friends and family with nutritional questions I commonly get the same response: “Won’t all that meat make me fat? “Urgh! I’m not having protein shakes. I don’t want to look like you.” Always nice to hear! In this article I will try to dismiss the myths that surround some female eating habits, and suggest dietary tips that will enhance your workouts and help achieve the results you desire.
Some women, and men, admit to grazing on cereal bars, yoghurt covered raisins, low fat crisps, yoghurts, etc, and are partial to a bowl of cereal over a meal– which, contrary to certain advertising- isn’t sustainable or healthy. Most of these foods are high in salt and sugar, and this is even truer of the ‘low fat’ alternatives. Not to say you should never eat these foods, but I’m merely stating that grazing all day on them will leave you tired, lacking in essential fats, vitamins and minerals, and well below your recommended daily allowances of protein and fibre. Guest blogger Charlotte Geraghty denotes the hidden suprises in so called ‘healthy’ snacks.
Protein based meals are more filling than fatty or carbohydrate meals alone. This means a tuna burger, basmati rice and pesto salad will keep you fuller for longer compared to a bowl of cereal, and provide you with heaps more nutrients and vitamins. Consuming protein with breakfast is a great way to prevent the mid-morning grazing session of ‘nibbles’ we are all susceptible to, and consuming protein in meals throughout the day will help repair and build muscle tissue broken down during exercise also. Great sources of protein include chicken, turkey, tuna, white and oily fish, lean steak & pork, beans & pulses, protein powder, etc.
Lower GI foods keep you fuller for longer; they do this by reducing the insulin (blood sugar) spikes which are associated with higher GI foods. These high GI foods give you an almost immediate energy boost, but you suffer a subsequent ‘low’ or ‘crash’ 30-60 minutes later as your body has metabolised or stored (mainly as fat) all the sugar. Low GI foods include wholegrain breads, oats, brown, wholegrain & wild rice, lentils, quiona and more. However, if you consume substantial fibre with a meal containing high GI carbohydrates this appears to dull the spike.
Healthy fatty foods, despite being higher in calories than protein or carbs, contain EFAs which research shows to aid weight loss by suppressing appetite and keeping hunger pangs at bay. When enjoyed in moderation, these ‘good’ fats are essential to everyone – especially those who are trying to get a trim figure. A certain amount of fat is required by the body to build healthy cell membranes, synthesize and regulate hormones, and to keep the immune system functioning properly. Healthy sources of omega 3’s are from oily fish, nuts, olive oil, udos oil, avocado, and more.
Fibre from food is key for a properly functioning digestive tract and healthy bowels, and is proven to keep you feeling fuller for longer when included as part of a meal. Fibre is sourced mainly from fruits, grains and vegetables– which in turn contain a lot of vitamins and minerals that are of huge benefit to your overall health. Wholemeal, wholegrain, (all) bran flakes, unprocessed grains, vegetables with the skin left on are all great sources of fibre.
Example diet plan:
Meal 1: 7:00am
(With clients who have too little time for breakfast or no appetite in the mornings, I suggest the use of a meal replacement shake to go some way to replicating this breakfast).
Meal 2: 10:00am
- Medium wholemeal pitta bread,
- 200g low fat cottage cheese,
- Handful of blueberries and cashews.
Meal 3: 1:00pm
- White basmati rice,
- LDNM Thai-Style Tuna Burgers,
- Pesto and Salad.
Meal 4: 4:00pm
- Wholemeal pitta bread,
- Diced turkey breast with low fat cheese and tomato slices,
Meal 5: 7:00pm
- Red and white quinoa,
- Medium skinless chicken breast with Nandos marinade,
- Mixed veg
Meal 6: 10:00pm
- Muscle Mousse Pancakes topped with a grated 90% dark chocolate square and heaped teaspoon of Meridian peanut butter.
Please note: this is an example meal plan for a woman with an active lifestyle. This may be too low (or too high) for your specific caloric needs, meaning you have to tailor the daily macro breakdown to your weight, size, exercise and metabolism speed- a minefield which is detailed and explained within our Bikini Guide V3.