Should you be having another beer?
Many of us like to drink and maybe some of us drink too much but there is no denying that alcohol is part of our social fabric and way of life.
We drink for pleasure, leisure, creativity and social connections. We drink to celebrate, relax and destress.
But alcohol does comes with potential negative effects on your health.
Alcohol is a poison that we must break down and convert into not so poisonous compounds in order to enjoy the boozy buzz. Your body’s ability to do this is influenced by your genetic tolerance, age, biological sex, body size, ethnicity and your own unique combination of conversion enzymes.
Alcohol affects us in different and individual ways.
And because it is toxic to your body, your body will prioritise the metabolism of alcohol before other macronutrients. Which means that the meal you ate before you began drinking and the nachos that will be a good idea after a few more drinks, will get stored as fat.
But what about the benefits of drinking alcohol?
Alcohol is just one of many potential factors that impact on your health, fitness and wellbeing. There are studies that show some benefits to moderate drinking and then there are studies that disprove those studies and so the studies will continue.
The reality is, choosing to drink alcohol is about what you’re willing to trade and prioritise.
• Do you want a lean body and six-pack abs? Then you shouldn’t be drinking at all.
• Are you trying to lose weight? Trading your macronutrients might be a short-term strategy if you aren’t willing to give up alcohol completely.
• Are you struggling with health issues? Time to re-evaluate the wine with dinner every night.
• Are you training for a sport event or working to improve your athletic performance? Sorry, then no Sunday beers and braai’s for a while.
• Do you want to destress over drinks with friends? Find ways to manage your stressors so that you have only one drink instead of three.
So determine your health and wellness goals and lifestyle priorities. And then if you do decide to have another beer, do so because you genuinely enjoy it and it adds value and pleasure to your life.
Forget about perfection, focus on progression.
How often have you woken on a Monday with intending to make all the positive changes that are going to make your life better? A spreadsheet with your macros calculated, meals planned, a fridge full of Paleo meals, five days of workouts booked and you’re ready to CRUSH IT.
Monday is a breeze, you did everything perfectly. Same for Tuesday. On Wednesday you’re sick of mixed vegetables and grilled chicken breasts. Thursday has morons in it, goes rapidly downhill and because you didn’t sleep well last night you’re ready for a beer and pizza on the couch with Netflix. Ah well, may as well make it an extra-large and you’ll try again on Monday.
This “all or nothing and it must be perfect” approach to implementing positive changes to our lives is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving our goals.
The aggregation of marginal gains is a theory that’s explained as the “1% improvement in everything that you do”. Instead of placing so much emphasis on one big defining moment of success, we should rather focus on making small and manageable improvements on a daily basis.
In 2010, Dave Brailsford, the General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky, Britain’s professional cycling team, applied this theory with the goal of winning the Tour de France within five years.
He looked at all the metrics that could possibly affect the team’s success and set about making small improvements across everything, including the minor details overlooked as being of little to no consequence.
Team Sky won the Tour de France within three years.
We don’t need to be training for the Tour de France to apply this theory to our lives. Small daily improvements in the areas you are looking to change, which you often don’t even notice, are meaningful and add up to big changes over the long term.
This theory can be applied to your nutrition, training, relationships or any aspect of your life that you’re looking to excel at.
So what does this theory look like for us? Instead of whole-scale overnight changes to your diet, try add some green vegetables to your dinner each week night and on Friday, have one beer instead of three. Try that for a week. Once you’ve successfully applied these changes and they’ve become a consistent habit add another small improvement like replacing the mindless after-dinner grazing with a five minute stretch session instead. Try that for a week.
Excellence is the gradual result of always wanting to do better – Pat Riley
Aim to be just 1% better, every day.
The Perfect Diet
The quest for the latest and best diet to offer fast and effective weight-loss results is never ending and while there are many nutrition frameworks that can help you achieve your health and wellness goals, this variety can sometimes be a problem. Each one promises results and inevitably when we don’t see immediate results using one approach, we jump ship and try another.
Let’s have a look at the basic principles of some of the more valid and well-researched options.
The Paleo Diet
The paleo approach to eating is based on scientific research (not just reverting to how our ancestors ate) and encourages a diet full of nutrient dense and anti-inflammatory whole foods including good quality meats, a variety of fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. It generally excludes common dietary irritants such as gluten, dairy, grains and legumes and of course, sugar.
The Zone diet was developed by Dr Barry Sears as a solution to diet-induced inflammation and is also well-researched. While no foods are specifically excluded, Zone principles require a focus on the proportion and quantity of the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats) you are consuming to maintain an optimal protein to carbohydrate ratio for improved hormone control and balance.
Macros or Flexible Dieting
Flexible dieting or Macros calculates your macronutrient quantities based on your total daily energy expenditure and how much weight you want to lose. Like the name implies, this approach is flexible and doesn’t restrict any foods provided they fit your macronutrient requirements.
A ketogenic diet consists of very low-carbohydrate, moderate protein and high fat foods and is well researched as a possible treatment option for type 2 diabetes and for improving health markers associated with metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, insulin resistance cholesterol profile and blood sugar levels). In the absence of blood glucose, which is usually supplied by carbohydrates and excess protein, the body burns ketones for energy, which are produced in the liver from fat stores.
Intermittent fasting is an approach that cycles between periods of fasting and eating and can be more accurately described as an eating pattern since the focus here is on when you eat and not necessarily what you eat.
So which approach works the best? In terms of physiology, you are indeed a unique and special snowflake and what works for your gym buddy won’t necessarily produce the same results for you. So experiment and find the approach that works best for you and understand that it isn’t going to be a quick fix.
Once you have this figured out, the secret is CONSISTENCY.
Consistency is the secret to the perfect diet. The consistent and long-term application of a sustainable nutrition framework that works for YOU. Consistent training that you enjoy and consistently making an effort to manage the other variables that impact on your health like stress, sleep, family and friends and environment.
Consistent doesn’t mean perfect. Just consistently good enough for most of the time
There has been a trend across the industries, since forever, to reintroduce past approaches. The automotive industry has the modern classic–old aesthetics with modern technology. Clothing manufacturers are always bringing their old lines back. Architecture finds a way of holding on to both antique and modern elements.
Old school is cool, yeah? Aside from the sentiment there’s a lot of marketing behind it. That’s partly how existing customers are retained while attracting young blood. Old school also works, which is why there is a growing trend in the food industry to push ingredients and recipes that were found to be beneficial centuries ago. It’s a trend I’m picking to be the big new food/health/wellness trend of the year.
It’s because old school works, and now science is able to evaluate why certain ingredients were so prominent in diets from particular regions. However, it’s not changing the message. The message is still to eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and minimal sugar; keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat; use herbs and spices to flavour.
And that’s what you should be doing most of the time. Do not fall into the trap of purchasing products that contain these ingredients. Yes, turmeric is a wonderful anti-inflammatory spice that’s been used by populations of the subcontinent in their cooking for decades. But you don’t need a pill that contains turmeric. How about you find ways to cook with it?
Food and supplements are BIG industries and that means they’re in it to make money. Fair enough. Your nutrition, however, doesn’t rely on what most big food industries are peddling. You’ve just got to eat real food, the way your ancestors did. Do what your great grandmother did!
Posts tagged with ‘nutrition’