2021 is almost upon us and I have put together a list of top 5 dos and don’ts to a fitter healthy new year.
TOP 5 NEW YEAR DOS
- FAST – Intermittent fasting is one of the best ways to increase insulin sensitivity and prevent type 2 diabetes. In addition, low insulin levels in the body facilitate fat burning. It also encourages autophagy which is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells in order to regenerate new cells. I follow a 16:8 daily fast which is fasting for 16 hours of the day and only eating during a 8 hour feeding window.
- LIFT – The benefits of weight training are very well supported by researchers. According to research by the University of Michigan, having stronger muscles is linked to longevity. In addition, lifting weights improves bone density, promotes fat-free body mass, increases strength of connective tissue, muscles and tendons and as a result, you gain confidence which improves the quality of your life. And don’t worry, you won’t end up looking like Arnold Schwarznegger. Tip for those wanting to start running in the new year. Lift for a few weeks to build strength and lessen the chance of injury.
- DO CARDIO – you will not burn muscle by exercising your cardiovascular system. That rumour comes directly from the research of bro-science knuckleheads. Unless you are trying to win the next Mr or Ms Olympia, cardio training is essential to health and well-being. It promotes fat loss, improves heart and lung function, strengthens muscles, increases blood flow, boosts mood, improves sleep and lowers the risk of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Please build up the volume and intensity of your cardio workouts slowly. Otherwise by February, you’ll be injured and demotivated.
- GO ORGANIC – you’ll be fuelling your body with the purest food you can find. You’ll also consume fewer pesticides which arguably reduces risk of cancer. And the food is often fresher as preservative free thus containing more nutrients to fuel the body. Plus, it’s better for the environment and the animals are usually treated better and not given antibiotics, growth hormones or fed animal byproducts.
- SLEEP MORE – aim to sleep between 7-9 hours per night. This is where all the magic happens and the body repairs and rebuilds. Too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespan, inflammation, reduced athletic performance, fogginess and memory loss plus aids weight gain by raising cortisol levels.
TOP 5 NEW YEAR DON’TS
- JUST LIFT OR JUST DO CARDIO – just lifting is not the full picture when it comes to overall fitness and health. You need to train your cardiovascular system. It’s the same for those who just run, bike etc and don’t lift. Your progress will slow down and you may end up injured. An unbalanced programme promotes injury and/or boredom and before long, you will start missing sessions.
- CONSUME SHAKES AND SUPPLEMENTS – you don’t need them. Unless you’re an Olympic or professional athlete training 2-3 times per day, you are wasting your money. Eat natural foods. Remember, if you can’t kill it or grow it, don’t eat it.
- DIET – absolute madness. Dieting is a short term fix and by the spring, any weight that you would have lost will immediately go back on. Diet companies know this and that’s why they are so successful. You lost weight consuming their expensive shakes, counting calories, going low-carb, ketogenic etc etc but it’s not sustainable. Eat a natural wholesome variety of real foods with different colours. And eat more vegetables and natural fats. And please please don’t starve yourself. Be satiated, lean and happy.
- EAT FAT-FREE FOODS – links nicely to not dieting. Low-fat foods are often loaded with sugar and unhealthy sweeteners which increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and causes high cholesterol levels. In addition, we need fat as an essential macro-nutrient in our diets. Certain fats like those in nuts, seeds and oily fish provide essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are important for maintaining healthy blood vessels, producing hormones and for our central nervous system to operate correctly. In addition, the fat in our diet enables us to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K. A low-fat diet impacts these vitamin levels and can have a negative impact on the immune system (think Covid-19) and bone health. So, eat nuts, avocados, seeds, oily fish, eggs, dark chocolate and olives.
- EAT REGULARLY – eating little and often has a negative impact on our weight and health. Eating every couple of hours increases insulin levels in the body and switches off fat metabolism. Blood sugar comes from the food you eat and is converted into blood glucose. Blood glucose is used for energy. If it isn’t needed, the body stores the sugar in the cells of our body. The energy in the muscle cells is known as glycogen. If you continue to eat and produce more blood sugar and insulin, the body will store the excess energy as fat and hey presto, you get fatter. In addition, you are becoming insulin resistant meaning that you need more food to feel fuller and eating more converts energy to fat. Back to intermittent fasting I think.
So these are my new year top 5 dos and don’ts to a healthy and fit 2021.
Stay safe and be healthy. Remember these 5 top dos and don’ts as the new year goes on. It’s a great way to ensure you’re on the road to a healthy and fit 2021.