Sadly, there are no “best” or “worst” foods to eat for summer. However, there are optimal times to eat certain foods. Eating foods that are in-season and locally available is optimal for your body and your gut bacteria, writes Drew Harrisberg.
Getting in shape requires an energy deficit, meaning if you burn more than you store, you will lose weight. This doesn’t mean starving yourself and exercising all day, it means eating enough calories to support a healthy metabolic rate.
Save carbs for when you’re most likely to use them, like fueling a productive workout. Post-workout is also an ideal time to consume carbs because this is when you are the most insulin sensitive. Seasonal high-carb fruits such as bananas, watermelon, oranges, mangos, grapefruit, cherries and lychees are the perfect snacks for this.
Another important thing to remember is that fats are your friend! Fats are critical for hormonal development, cellular functions, and an array of other psychological and physiological processes. Fats are also very filling, especially alongside protein, which means your hormones leptin and ghrelin will function optimally. Avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds and fatty fish high in omega-3 are all great examples of healthy fats.
Be sure to keep your protein intake moderate. You’d be surprised how little protein you need to maintain muscle mass and keep your hunger levels in check. As a starting point, aim for 0.8g to 1g/kg of your body weight. Protein has a high thermic effect of food, meaning there is a large metabolic cost to simply digest the meal (i.e. you burn calories during digestion). This will also increase your metabolic rate. Grass-fed meat, omega-3 rich salmon and tofu are all great sources of protein.
Within all of these parameters, make sure you are eating REAL food! Focus on consuming, whole, natural foods that are seasonal and locally available. Veggies that flourish during springtime happen to make wonderful salad ingredients and are naturally low-carb, low-calorie, and high-fibre! Leafy greens like spinach and rocket make for a great salad base. You can add some cruciferous vegetables like kale and broccoli. Throw in some asparagus, artichokes, cucumber, tomato, spring onion, beetroot, zucchini flowers. Add in your protein source of choice, and then top it all off with some healthy fats for flavor. Get creative!
Another important note is that tracking your food and water intake on the Fitbit app allows you to see how close you are towards reaching your goals. This helps to keep you accountable and aware of what you are putting in your body.
What can one do to supplement those best foods in order to get the summer body?
Supplements should only make up 1 per cent of a steady foundation of real, whole foods. If you struggle to meet your protein demands, you can supplement with a whey protein, egg-based protein or plant-based protein.
But, for the most part, you should be able to get a balanced intake of all essential macro and micronutrients by eating a whole food diet. The same principle works for multivitamins. Generally, vegetables are more effective and cheaper!
Is it easy for anyone to incorporate these foods and habits? Why/why not?
Incorporating these practices is cheap, easy and even takes the difficulty of reading the back of packets, ingredient lists and nutritional information out of the equation. I like to use the Fitbit app to scan the barcode, so I can easily see the nutritional value. This also requires less preparation and time because the majority of spring and summer foods are best eaten raw!
Why do you think a “daylight savings diet” is important?
The daylight savings diet is simply a diet rich in seasonal and locally available food. Our bodies have evolved over time to eat what’s in season. This means you should be eating an array of fruit and veggies that thrive during this time.
For the most part, spring and summer mark the transition from hot, cooked winter foods to raw, cold foods like salad and fruit. It’s important to provide the body with the nutrients it expects and deserves. Not only do your genes crave it, but even the bacteria that reside in your gut do too. Eating enough fruits and veggies will provide prebiotic fibre to your gut bacteria to thrive on, which has systemic health benefits.
Drew Harrisberg is an exercise physiologist, Fitbit ambassador and diabetes educator with a balanced approach towards exercise, nutrition and mindfulness. Since Drew’s diagnosis of type 1 diabetes at the age of 23, Drew has been dedicated to the goal of personal health and happiness for himself and his clients.