One question that I ask my clients a lot is: “So what does a typical day in the life look like for you?” They usually jump right into telling me what they have for breakfast, followed by what they have for lunch and finish off with their dinner. Most don't always realize that this is a loaded question; I am not only striving for an idea of what they typically eat during the day, but also for the whole picture to identify triggers, as well as areas that could improve your health both inside and out. Whether your goal is fat loss, muscle gain, better sleep, more rejuvenated appearance-- many times it is not only the food that you consume that will allow you to progress toward your goals.
So… what's a typical day in the life look like for me?
By working out in the morning, I like to set the tone for my day. Additionally, having a job that is unpredictable every day, I can rarely plan to hit the gym in the evening. If you are doing pure cardio in the morning, many times you can get away with being in a fasted state, which will help you get your body into fat burning mode. If you are doing workouts like Crossfit, HIIT, or weightlifting, you will need some fuel beforehand. This is where experimenting comes in handy. I have tried everything for my pre-workout food from a banana to an egg sandwich. I landed on either my version of “supercharged coffee” (see below) or an RX Bar.
Eat breakfast and drink coffee
We always hear the saying that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”- I tend to believe that merely because I feel like I can't live without something to give me energy in the morning. Even studies show that eating breakfast is associated with long term weight loss, can help stimulate thought processes, and the more obvious benefit, provide your body with energy for the day. As with most everything, it depends. Lately I’ve been starting off my day with a cup of "Supercharged coffee," a scoop of collagen, and a tablespoon of MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) oil. MCT oil is a derivative of coconut oil, which has been shown to be metabolized by the liver quickly and gives your brain (and body) a shot of energy. Coffee is also full of powerful antioxidants which seek out free radicals (bad stuff) in our body and kill it. Try to keep your consumption to under 2-3 cups a day to avoid any adverse effects of caffeine.
One of the keys to succeeding in any sort of change in lifestyle, is to empower a sense of mindfulness and centering yourself with your thoughts. This can come in many forms, such as meditation, exercise, prayer, silence, solitude, among other things. The key is getting in touch with your inner feelings and understanding why exactly you are looking to achieve your goal. I’ve found that what works for me is either running in the morning or just sitting in my car for 5 minutes before going into work; this sets the scene for the day ahead.
Water has many benefits, but sometimes the media will over exaggerate the importance of it. There was a recent blog post by Robb Wolf about this which is worth a read: No, Drinking More Water is NOT Going To Improve Your Health. Hyponatremia can be pretty dangerous in long distance runners, who take in too much water without enough sodium. If you're not in that group, make sure you are getting around half your bodyweight in ounces to keep you hydrated, fill you up in between meals, and support your exercise habits. Increasing water intake can also be an effective way to crowd out too much coffee and/or soda.
My lunch typically consists of a meal containing about 6 oz of protein, a hefty serving of vegetables and a gluten free carb such as rice, quinoa or sweet potatoes. Meal delivery services such as Kettlebell Kitchen make it easy, but there are plenty of options when you’re running out for lunch at work.
Everyone is different, but for me caffeine past 11am is a no-no. Sometimes in the afternoon I will have a craving for coffee or something sweet. Instead of going for another cup of coffee, I will grab a decaf espresso, add a drop of stevia and some coconut milk for a nice treat. For those who have trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night, cutting caffeine may be your answer.
This is probably a good place to talk about timing your macronutrients (protein, fat and carbs). There is a lot of sentiment out there that the time of day you consume carbs will impact things like weight gain. Typically I look at macronutrients on a whole throughout the day, meaning just hit your numbers according to when you are able to eat and you should be fine. Consuming “too many” carbs or food in general late at night, may make the scale look higher in the morning, but trust me: that is not real weight if you stayed within your macronutrient goals for the day. There is evidence that eating more carbs at night is good for you and can actually help induce sleep, so eat up!
Make Progress and Breathe
Workout, spend time with loved ones, study for a class you enjoy, read, have dessert. We shouldn't go to bed feeling deprived and we should strive to feel as though we have a sense of purpose. Research shows that above all else, the key to longevity is being part of a tight knit community and having a sense of purpose in life.
So… what's a typical day in the life look like for you?
Until next time, catch me in the comments.