Ah January. The magical time of year when many of us seek the opportunity to embark on a new path. Some do this by making resolutions, setting awesome goals, or pressing the reset button on a tired routine and establishing new habits. All awesome things. Yay us!
For many, this is the time of year when some big ol' diet changes come about. Boozed and sugared-out from the holidays, we race to the opposite end of the spectrum and vow that this will be the year we will we survive on kale or green smoothies or whatever the trendy veg is. Don't do that. I love kale. I love green smoothies. I love trendy veggies. But there's more to life.
Some kick off the new year with real food challenges, like a whole30 or sugar detox. I love that. I'm all about it. But as awesome as it is to go through that process, its important to approach it in a way that is sustainable.
So! I am dedicating the next few posts to helping you successfully embark on your own real food challenge.
When embarking on a sugar detox or Whole30 or just consciously deciding to incorporate more "real food" into your diet, your body is making this really cool shift from relying on Swedish fish, bean burritos and caramel macchiatos to lots of veggies, steak and sweet potatoes.
Unfortunately, this shift doesn't come easy for some.... mentally or physically.
Some feel groggy and tired. Others feel jittery or wired. Some are HUNGRY ALL THE TIME. PLEASE GIVE ME FOOD NOW. Others find their appetite suppressed. Some of these temporary (seriously, temporary) effects are just the result of removing processed food and sugar from your diet, while some may indicate the need for refining what's on your plate.
Sounds kinda shitty right? So how do you combat this and feel like the champion you are?!
1. Make sure you are drinking enough water!
Aim for 1/2 your body weight in ounces per day, not to exceed 128 fl oz (or a gallon). Sometimes when we think we are hungry, we actually may just be thirsty. Sip on some water! Add a lime or lemon if you're feeling festive-- I know I am! This will help combat headaches, grogginess, indigestion and keep things...ahem... moving along.
2. Make sure you are eating enough!
You cannot subsist on iceberg lettuce, celery, and a cup of bone broth. I mean you can for a while, but that sounds miserable. Just because you are not eating your coveted bean burritos, does not mean you can't have food that is tasty AF. Get after it. Roast a sweet potato, slather it in butter (yes, real butter) and sprinkle with cinnamon. Make a big ol' pot of chili. Become a grill master. Try things you've never tried before. The world is your oyster (and that oyster could be your dinner).
3. Make sure your macro-nutrient levels are balanced!
Okay so you are eating all the good food and drinking all the water, but still feeling off? It may be time to check in on your macro-nutrient ratio!
Hold up Liz... Macro--whaaaa?
Oops. Good point! Macro-nutrients are the big categories of food. They break down in to carbohydrate, fat and protein. Carbohydrates encompass things like fruits and veggies, grains etc. Fats are butter, olive oil, nuts/seeds. Proteins are meat, fish, eggs and legumes.
Got it? Got it.
We need these macro-nutrients to be in balance to ensure you feel like the ultimate fighting champion you are! It can be soooo easy to overdo it on tasty things like dried fruit or almond butter, so we need to find a balance.
Remember: you are all beautiful little snowflakes, so this macro-nutrient ratio will differ for everyone depending on your body composition, activity level and more!
How do you find that balance?
Well first lets do a quick overview of what each macro-nutrient does for you!
CARBOHYDRATES act as the kindling for our energy source. They provide that quick burst of fuel to fire you through a tough workout. That quick burning nature also means its not sustainable for us to subsist on carbs all day--- we'd have to constantly fuel the fire to keep going! That's where our buddy FAT comes in! Fat is the slow burner. It's the fat log on the energy fire that keeps you satiated between meals and keeps your energy levels steady.
Our other macro-nutrient, PROTEIN is primarily used for muscle building and repair, as well as hormone development, and only plays into the energy equation in emergency situations.
So if we continue our fire analogy-- you can see we may run into problems if our carbohydrate and fat ratios are out of balance. Too much kindling? The fire burns hot and fast and then dies out (cue: sugar spike and crash). Not enough kindling? The fire has a tough time getting started!
If you are tracking your food, I recommend starting your ratios at 40% Carb, 30% Fat, and 30% Protein, and adjust from there.
A super helpful tool is the Dietary Fine Tuning Mini Quiz. Walk through this chart about an hour after each meal to help determine if that was the right carb : fat ratio for your bod!
Thoughts? Questions? Post in the comments below!