Many people are feeling the challenges of the modern world. They’re racing from A to B, barely pausing to catch a breath. Life is lived in the fast lane, with very little downtime.
It is why, perhaps, many millennials are challenging the status quo and looking for opportunities to use their talents and desires in other ways. Gone are the days when straight out of college, you’d jump on the property bandwagon. Youngsters these days want more- they want to live. Many want time to breathe. They want to travel and experience the world.
Mothers are also feeling the pinch on time. For those that race back to work, they feel the pressure to be on as a colleague and on as a mum. There’s no time out from both their professional and maternal roles. This is why many women are choosing to pave their own path and go their own way. They want a professional life on their terms, while also having time with their kids. With some studies thrown into the mix, life can sometimes feel chaotic.
Living a healthy lifestyle need not be difficult. It’s as simple as one, two, three. You just need to have the knowledge to make active, healthy choices that boost your wellbeing. In a sea of information, it can be overwhelming to know what to do. Amongst the Adkins, Paleo, and Keto diets, knowing what road to take can feel too much. Diet is simple, however. It’s about making choices that become a lifestyle, not a quick fix solution. Want to lose weight? Then a simple formula known as calories in versus calories out is key. Expend more than you eat and you will lose weight. It really is that simple. Want to maintain your weight? Eat the same number of calories as you use up. If you’re active, you can eat more. Adjust accordingly.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
We each have different energy needs. While rough guidelines suggest that a woman should consume 2000 kcal per day and a man should have 2500 kcal, this is simply a guideline to follow. We’re all unique. We come in different shapes and sizes and we each have different activity statuses. As such, we have varying needs when it comes to our energy consumption.
If you’re relatively inactive and have yet to sign up to the couch to 5k app, then your energy needs will be much less than a professional athlete. That goes without saying. If you’re a 6 ft 5 strapping hunk, then your energy needs will be larger than a 5’ 1’’ slender female. This is where basal metabolic rates come in. We can calculate our basic energy needs using the following formula:
Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years ) Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.8 x age in years )
Now once you have your basic energy needs from your BMR, you can work out how much additional energy you need. If you sit at a desk job all day every day, your needs will be vastly different to a professional sportsman.
You can use the following formula to calculate your energy needs if you have the following activity levels:
Ø BMR x 1.2 if you’re sedentary
Ø BMR x 1.375 if you engage in light exercise 1-3 times per week
Ø BMR x 1.55 if you’re moderately active and exercise 6-7 times per week
Ø BMR x 1.725 if you’re very active (high amounts of exercise)
Ø BMR x 1.9 if you’re training for a triathlon or marathon
Macros and Micros
Knowing your macros and micros is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You don’t need to keto. You don’t need paleo. And you certainly don’t need Atkins. You just need a balanced and healthy diet that contains all of your macros and micros.
Macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein, and fats. You also need fibre and water. 6-8 glasses on average to be precise. That’s the easy one. We have a whole range of micronutrients that our body needs. These are our vitamins and minerals. They’re essential to functioning. You’ll learn more about your macros and micros in the next chapter.
Knowing Your Macros and Micros
A healthy diet is a diet that is nutritionally balanced and contains all of the essential vitamins and minerals, as well as the macronutrients in the required portions. Macronutrients include protein, the building blocks of tissue; carbohydrates that provide energy; and fats, which can be split into saturated, unsaturated, trans, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated. Focusing on eating healthy fats from oily fish, nuts and avocadoes is important, and avoiding trans fats found in pastries and cakes, is key to getting the essential fatty acids that we need while avoiding upping our cholesterol.
It’s so important to eat a varied diet. We need variety because we need to ensure we get a wide variety of vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) and the three macronutrients. Without a varied diet, we risk being undernourished. For instance, vegetarians may need to supplement their iron intake due to a lack of iron. It’s also important to look into having omega 3, 6, and 9 if you’re not eating oily fish.
What is a nutrient?
A nutrient simply nourishes the body. Nutrients are vitamins and minerals that we need. Some are stored in the body and some are needed daily. There are fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body, whereas water-soluble ones are needed on a daily basis. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, whereas vitamins B (all of the B vitamins) and C are water-soluble. There can also be too much of a good thing. Too much vitamin A can be dangerous, whereas too much vitamin C is simply excreted. In terms of minerals, we need selenium, iron, iodine, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc, cobalt, molybdenum and copper to function effectively.
Fruit and vegetables are good sources of nutrients. They contain a lot of plant sources of vitamins and minerals. Meat (organic especially), oily fish, and fortified milk and yoghurts can contain calcium. Nuts and seeds are good sources of omega and selenium too. These are good for giving us a more youthful glow.
The main factors that affect our nutritional needs are age, sex and activity. A pregnant woman will need to up her folic acid levels even while trying to conceive and throughout her pregnancy. Men need zinc for good quality sperm. Sedentary lifestyles will need different nutrient levels to that of an active person. If a person is sick, they may wish to up their nutrient levels to aid healing. Vitamin C is especially good for this.
Macronutrients, or macros, are the three types of food molecules the body can break down for energy:
Ø Protein, which has 4 calories per gram.
Ø Carbohydrates, which have 4 calories per gram.
Ø Fat, which has 9 calories per gram.
Foods High in Protein
- Animal meats, like beef, chicken, lamb, pork and turkey
- Dairy products, like cheese, milk, whey protein and yogurt
- Legumes, like beans, lentils, peanuts, peas and soy
- Seafood, like fish and shellfish
Foods High in Fats
- Egg yolks
- Fatty fish, like salmon, sardines and anchovies
- Full-fat dairy products, like cheese, cream, whole milk and yogurt
- Nuts and nut butter
- Oils from fruits, nuts and seeds
- Seeds, like chia and flax
Foods High in Carbs
- Bread, cereals, pasta and baked goods
- Legumes, like beans, lentils, peanuts, peas and soy
- Grains, like oats, wheat, barley, rye and rice
- Fruits, especially bananas, plantains, mangoes and apples
- Pseudocereals, like amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, teff and wild rice
Now for some tasty snacks to help you through your day
It’s easy to reach for the biscuits and chips while studying. Time is a rare commodity, and you feel you don’t have time to cook up a healthy feast. However, these healthy snacks can help you feel on top of things, while also keeping you going through stressful times.
The energy and protein ball. Homemade and loved by mums and kids alike.
To make them, simply mix ground flaxseed, your favourite protein powder, some nut butter such as peanut butter and a drop of date syrup or honey. Blend until doughy and then add some raisins, chopped nuts of muesli to the mix. Roll into balls and pop in the freezer for an hour to set. You now have a simple, yet nutritious ball to get you through the day.
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