Life’s all about balance. Yin and yang, up and down, summer and winter. But as the days grow longer and the mercury starts to soar it’s important to stay aware of your long term goals and physical aspirations.
Don’t let a little sun undo all your work in the gym and kitchen. Instead follow these simple tips from Gentleman’s Journal fitness editors, Tom Cleminson and Paddy Colman of FITcademy, to ensure you spend your summer living life to the full, and getting healthier in the process.
Calories in vs. calories out is as important as ever but that doesn’t mean you have to play by the rules, especially as alcohol intake increases and barbecue season rolls around.
Experimenting with alternative dieting methods, such as intermittent fasting, can go a long way to making sure you maintain the energy deficit essential for fat loss. Reducing your eating hours is one of the easiest ways to cut your overall calorie intake because, put simply, if you’ve got less time to eat then you’re going to eat less. Ideal for holidays where the last thing you want to think about is calorie calculations and restrictive diets.
Xander Pipe, co-founder of meal delivery service The Key To Food, recommends fuelling yourself around your fast with good quality protein and fats to give your body energy to repair, move and conquer the day. Fasting hours will depend on your preference but, as a general rule, eat when you’re hungry and train when you’re not. Try starting with three ‘fasting’ days per week at a ratio of 16:8 (fast:eat). That could mean eating between 12pm and 8pm if you’re not a breakfast person, or 8am and 4pm if you are. There’s no magic formulae, find what works best for you.
Know your macros
This is an insider tip everyone should know. Fat has 9 calories per gram. Protein and carbs have 4 calories per gram. If you know you’re going to have a couple of drinks at a work party, wedding or wherever else your social calendar takes you, drop your fat intake for the day without increasing your protein or carbs to offset a big chunk of the calories ingested through alcohol. An easy win.
Look after your gut
It’s not sexy but gut health is an overlooked but extremely important marker of health. Alcohol and processed foods can seriously mess with your gut bacteria, potentially leading to a damaged gastrointestinal tract. This in turn can lead to some nasty and highly unattractive ailments.
Thankfully there are some fairly simple steps you can take to avoid this. Take advantage of the longer evenings to reignite your love for cooking. Experiment with fresh, seasonal produce and improve your knowledge of the nutrient content, health benefits and caloric load of different foods. Cooking is, after all, an essential skill that every gentleman should know.
If you’re serious about both your health and your body, consider supplementing your existing diet with some pre- and probiotics to offset the effects of any beer garden antics. Form Nutrition’s Superblend Protein is not only high in protein (great for the gym) but also packed full of gut assisting bacteria and is only 160 calories per serving.
Navigate barbecues like a pro
When presented with what is perceived as ‘free food’, it’s unsurprising that many of us over indulge, especially when said food is offered buffet style with no limitations on second helpings. To help navigate this honey-glazed minefield Dr. Adam Collins, Head of Nutrition at Form, has broken down a couple of strategies you can employ, because science:
1) Scope the buffet before going up with your plate and try to identify the ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ foods, mentally noting what you want to prioritise.
2) Try to make your plate up with 40-50% fruit and veg, 20-30% protein, and the remaining portion as your carb (rice, potatoes, bread, pasta etc) while limiting coleslaw, sauces and dressings (where the calories really rack up).
3) Start small. When making your first visit to the buffet, go with a smaller plate or with a mind to have an appetiser-sized portion. Only go up for your main course once you’ve finished and always follow rules one and two.
4) Take your time. Eat your meal slowly and let conversation flow! This will allow your stomach to communicate with your brain and tell you when it’s full while also giving the body time to digest your food.
Balance. Balance. Balance. Summer is short, especially here in the UK, and there’s no reason why you can’t have your cake and eat it too as long as you keep things balanced and don’t fall off the wagon completely.
Respect the 90/10 rule. As Xander of Key To Food says, one bad decision doesn’t ruin all your hard work. Acknowledge there will be times when you’re going to drink and indulge but don’t allow them to create a domino effect. Enjoy each event then get straight back on the horse. Train regularly, move daily, eat well and treat your body with respect. Try tracking your intake on an app like My Fitness Pal so you stay mindful of your progress and goals.
If you’re in need of a little extra motivation, FITcademy offers an online personal training platform for less than an Old Fashioned. Even better, if you’re a GJ Clubhouse member you’ll get 15% off the £32/month Premium Package. That’s a bespoke diet plan, training programme, unlimited trainer support and community support for less than a round of drinks – can’t say fairer than that.
Looking for more fitness advice? Here’s how to get a six pack in time for your summer holiday…