Give In Or Resist?

In last blogs post, we talked about what specific cravings mean. So today, we will touch upon what to do when the cravings actually hit us and how we deal with this?

The human body is very clever and can tell us when we aren’t getting enough of a certain nutrient, or we eat because we are stressed and other times its just due to circumstances where we are bored or tired.

Cravings are inevitable. It is all part of the running of the human body.

I will start by saying it IS OKAY to give into cravings every now and again, we just can’t be eating 5 packets of crisps or a pizza every time we feel like it as this will hinder our progress. This may be losing weight, gaining muscle or even maintaining, because in order to be successful our body requires us to be consistent with our nutrition. 

There are things that we can do to help us get through the cravings. 

  1. Fit a treat into your nutrition plan. As I track my macros, this makes the treat element a lot easier. If I want to have a slice of cake, I will track this into my food first then plan the rest of my meals around this and according to how much of each, protein, carbohydrates and fat I have left. That way you didn’t fall of the bandwagon. 
  2. Look online and find a macro friendly version of the treat that you want. It may require more effort than popping to the shops and picking up a ready made option of what you want but it will definitely be worth it to stay on track. I find most of my options on Instagram.
  3. Have drinks. Sometimes I can’t fit in a sweet treat, so I have drinks. I have a coffee with syrup, or the occasional fizzy drink. None of this will hurt.
  4. Explore what other things may be going on in your life. Are you sleeping enough, are you stressed out? Write these things down and remove yourself from this. Make an effort to sleep enough by going to bed slightly earlier and deal with the stresses in a proactive way. This may be talking to someone or keeping a diary. Anything that can help, do it. 
  5. Keep busy. How many times have you snacked because you are bored? Sometimes keeping busy is the best thing that you can do. Go out for a walk, meet up with friends or family, read a book etc. More often than not, these cravings will all disappear. 

What Message Are Your Cravings Telling You?

Today we are going to explore what these cravings mean because, when we crave certain foods it may in fact be telling us something about our physical wellbeing. 

Craving that chocolate bar tells you something different to when you crave that bag of crisps. Are you interested in finding out more? Yes, then read below. 

If you crave carbs such as bread, pasta and cereal, it could mean that your body has a lack of the amino acid Tryptophan. This is used to help produce serotonin which is our mood regulating hormone. The lack of carbs can cause low moods and energy from our tryptophan deficiency.  If you do have serious carb cravings, maybe look at what is going on in your life that could potentially be causing this. 

Fatty Foods
That fried chicken, takeaway pizza and nut butters etc. all have something in common, they are high in fats. If you find that you are craving these types of foods more often than not, it is most likely that you need energy. Fat out of all our macronutrients has the highest calories, and if you are over exerting yourself by training too hard, or even the other way round and restricting calories, your body is simply looking for more to help it function better. 

Salty Foods
You walk past the shop and think to yourself, I could really do with a bag of crisps or that salted popcorn, but why do you crave salt? The reason for this could be that you are dehydrated. It sounds odd to think, but when you look at the science behind it, maybe not. The role of sodium is to pull water into our cells and ensure water stays in our body long enough to keep us hydrated. So, if you are dehydrated, the body will try and retain as much salt in order to keep the electrolytes balanced. 

Sugary Foods
We are all human and every once in a while a doughnut, cake or bar of chocolate sounds like a treat. However, craving these foods could be an indication of high cortisol (stress) levels or an imbalance in blood sugar levels. The lack of sleep can also be a cause. Sugar gives us a quick boost of energy (followed by a huge crash, if you go too crazy with it) and your body knows this so it will ask for it.

If you are craving these on a regular basis, it may be worth looking at how you are managing stress, practice good eating habits by getting in all your macro and micronutrients as opposed to the artificial foods, along with ensuring you get enough sleep. 

How Do Your Hormones Work?

How does your body know you are hungry, thirsty or tired? It’s all through hormones. When we hear the word hormones, we immediately think about the menstrual cycle, testosterone or having bouts of adrenaline, however there is so much more to consider when talking about hormones.
Hormones are the chemical substances that control and coordinate activity around parts of the body. In short, they are messengers. The brain and the small intestine spark a response from a signal such as to contract a muscle or cause excess sweating etc..
When we workout though, the exercise causes our body to produce both anabolic and catabolic hormones which aid growth and development. These are the two hormones that we shall be discussing in this email.
Anabolic Hormones
Firstly, anabolic hormones aid protein synthesis and the growth of muscles. Our body produces these hormones naturally but the one that is most important is insulin. Insulin helps us to increase our physical performance by transporting glycogen and protein to the muscles that we have energised through our workouts. Alongside this, insulin carries amino acids which help to repair damaged muscle tissue. The final thing about insulin is that it works against catabolic hormones (which cause our muscle to tissue to breakdown), by causing our blood flow to increase. This is the reason why it is important to fuel our body with fast digesting carbohydrates and protein prior to our workout to ensure that we get the full benefit of insulin during our workout.
Catabolic Hormones
Catabolic hormones cause the breakdown of our muscle. The most important catabolic hormones are cortisol and epinephrine which is more formerly known as adrenaline.
Cortisol is our stress hormone that breaks down the protein in our muscles causing muscle fatigue. Epinephrine causes elevated heart rates. Both of these hormones are valuable but only in small quantities. They both allow our bodies to escape from situations that require immediate action by drawing energy from whatever source it can find and by shutting off non-essential bodily functions such as digestion in order to boost functions that are needed for the current situation (such as elevation of heart rate etc.).
If you have high levels of cortisol and adrenaline release, this will eventually lead to an energy loss in other bodily systems which inhibit the body’s ability to intake nutrients properly and recover appropriately.
The End Game
There are other anabolic and catabolic hormones that can be analysed such as testosterone, norepinephrine etc. but the ones listed above are the crucial hormones that are worth being aware of.

The combination of the bodies energy systems and increases in hormone release before, during and after exercise produces changes in our body that all have a huge implication for our physical performance and progress. We need to be clever about providing our body with the right fuel and also ensure we get a sufficient amount of rest and recovery to ensure that our anabolic and catabolic hormones function at their greatest so we can make those gains.

Don’t Let Your Mind Bully Your Body

Body image is something that I used to struggle with. I used to feel uncomfortable with how I looked. I would do HIIT workouts day in and day out and eat good foods. 

The hashtags #fitchick #fitgirls would be what I would look up to and inspire to be with but now my outlook has changed completely. 

My mindset and focus isn’t to jump to exercise if the scales fluctuate and I don’t think to myself that I need to burn off the extra calories or restrict my food.

Instead, I fuel my body with foods that I enjoy and eat balanced and I do the things I enjoy, I go out for meals, I drink alcohol, I have desserts and I am happy and feel better than I did before. 

We need to exercise in a way that makes us feel good and also learn to love the body that we have. 

How Do I Get Toned?

Something I hear many women say is “I want to get toned.”

There is no such thing as toning a muscle. This is actually one of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to fitness. 

Let’s ask ourselves, how do people look toned if you can’t tone a muscle?

The truth behind this is that you need to ensure that you have enough muscle and a low enough body fat in order to see muscle underneath. 

How do you build muscle?

  1. You need to eat enough food. Muscle is calorically expensive to both grow and maintain. 
  2. You need to train hard. By training hard I mean lift heavy. To build muscle, it requires progressive overload.
  3. Rest and recover. When we are at rest, our muscle fibres repair. This is just as important as training. 

Being women, we won’t actually bulk up as people assume, this is because we don’t naturally have enough testosterone in our body that enables you to bulk up.

Basically, in a nutshell, we need to eat clean, train mean and live lean. 

Are You Who You Want To Be?

There is so much more to life than aesthetic change. 

Many people are in the cycle of being desperate to lose weight and scared to gain wait. 

Could you actually live in the worst case scenario so that you can live your best life?

  1. No more guilt from missing a workout 
  2. Focusing on other people because you do not just care about yourself 
  3. Working to grow and be successful in all aspects of life i.e. mental health, relationships and career?

Those that are happy with themselves are the most confident people.

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.

Wake Up Your Metabolism

I want to talk about reverse dieting. 

Firstly, our bodies are very good at adapting. If we are eating low calories, our body learns to run on that. 

However, if we are eating lower calories and want to gain muscle and lose fat, it wont happen. 

We need to upregulate metabolism by increasing food and decreasing the amount of cardio that we do. 

You should reverse diet if you are coming out of a low calorie diet, if you are hungry more often than not, if you want to fix your metabolism and recover better from exercise.

Reverse dieting has many benefits such as, increased NEAT and energy, improved recovery and being able to enjoy food freely. 

Just the same way we train our body to survive on less calories, we can also train it to eat more food. 

Life Goes Faster On Protein

Many people talk about the post workout anabolic window and how we must eat your protein as soon as you finish your workout in order to get the best results. 

Yes, I do think you should consume protein post workout but it doesn’t need to be within a certain time frame.

Our body needs the time to settle back to it’s parasympathetic state after you finish exercising so that digestion isn’t compromised. 

As long as we eat balanced a few hours after we workout it is all good.

It isn’t vital that we have our protein the form of a shake. 

Whatever you enjoy is fine. I have a shake because I like the taste, it helps me with my recovery and also helps me hit my allocated protein goals for the day. 

Life Begins Each Morning

When it came to the weekends, I used to feel anxious because I was out of my routine in terms of fitness and nutrition. 

This was actually a warning that my diet wasn’t sustainable. 

The problem with diets is that you can pick and choose when you want to do them which is a problem. 

You need to learn how to fuel your body in the right way and strike the right balance. 

Work on your relationship with food, treat yourself, eat foods that you enjoy. 

You need to be consistent. This is when the real progress will be made and where you will be happiest and your best self.