Once upon a time, there was a great mystery in the land of far, far away. The onlookers gazed upon the residents there in disbelief.
“How is she so slim?” one said to the other behind the wall.
“Luck, maybe?’ Suggested the other onlooker, still staring at the girl judgingly, “She can’t be happy though. I bet she barely eats a thing.”
Hold on a minute though, this is no fairy tale. In fact, so many of us still wonder how some are slim, and equally, why we may be a little curvier. After being both opposite ends of the weighing scales, I have found out that very small tweaks to your diet and exercise can change your body completely. Thankfully, I’m now happily residing in the middle of the two. Through this experience though, I have gathered some wisdom that might be of help to us all. Whether you want to up your weight or reduce it, know that little changes here and there can do wonders for your body. And do you know the best part? You’ll never feel hungry and you’ll still be super nourished.
I Want to Change My Body!
But which way do you want to go? Depending on the goal you have and on your own body type (endomorph, ectomorph and mesomorph-see more here) your progress will always vary to others around you. Know that no two bodies are the same and that this endeavour should only be conducted healthily, not hastily.
- I Want to Lose Weight and Shed Fat:
It is super important that with any diet you keep your body hydrated! This can be done by guzzling 2l of water a day, or mix it up with matcha tea and coconut water too. Food focus should be on lean protein, low GI (glycemic index: food that keeps the body’s energy levels steady and longer lasting) carbohydrates and high fibre from fruit and veg and omega 3 stacked snacks. Eat small and frequently to keep the metabolism on its toes. As for exercise, put your efforts into cardio and aerobic fitness to burn calories and reduce fat content. Remember, your legs have the biggest muscles, so work them to burn the most during and after your workout regime.
Breakfast should be a blend of high protein and complex carbs with low GI content. E.g. porridge made with soya milk, cinnamon powder for sweetness, goji berries and a handful of nuts.
Lunch made up of high protein, complex carbs and antioxidant-packed vegetables. E.g. Pan fried sea bass with leafy greens such as spinach and kale and roasted sweet potatoes and pumpkin.
Snacks are best kept light and clean, such as fresh fruit and veg, for example, a sliced apple with a small handful of walnuts or carrot sticks with a little helping of houmous.
Dinner is best to keep as the nimblest of meals, as you use the least energy when you’re winding down before bed. A mix of light protein and minimal carbohydrate, such as flame-grilled chicken breast strips with a salad of adzuki beans, leaves, onion, tomato, cucumber, beetroot, carrot etc. and an optional light dressing should do the trick.
- I Want to Gain Lean Mass:
This diet is relatively similar to the above, but with a higher helping of carbs and calories, especially on workout days. Exercise should be a combination of interval training (aerobic and anaerobic) and continuous training (e.g. cycling and running).
Breakfast can be like in diet 1, but you can switch it up from porridge to more savoury starts such as Eggs Benedict on wholegrain toast with spinach, tomatoes and onion.
Lunch follows the same principle too. Go for a pan-fried salmon fillet with quinoa, butter beans and a sweet herby salad.
Snacks still can be kept clean with fruit and veg, but feel free to add a high protein carbohydrate in there, such as a low-sugar nutty flapjack, or plain yoghurt with nuts and oats.
Dinner sticks to being the lightest meal for the same reasons. A nice and nourishing end to the day would be a good turkey stir fry, with colourful vegetables and a small portion of noodles.
- I Want to Build Muscle:
For those investing in beefing up their bods, your new lifestyle will take some dedication in both diet and physical fitness. Your food investment should include a high carb and protein content, keeping the nutrition the same but on a higher scale as your physical activity is more demanding. Also, aim to keep the sugar in your diet purely from naturally occurring sources; anything unnatural will turn to fat if not burned off. Focus on resistance training mostly (exercise that goes against gravity, such as with weights) and blend with anaerobic fitness.
Breakfast can be a cooking masterpiece of homemade high protein pancakes made with nut butter and whey powder, served with berries, apples and seeds and thick, plain yoghurt. Or, you can go savoury with an egg and sausage sweet potato frittata combined with a super green salad and colourful peppers and tomatoes.
Lunch will be mostly focused on high protein meats and omega stacked fish with a mix of carb grains and vegetables. For instance, you could indulge in a chicken, chorizo and seafood paella, or whole-wheat spaghetti and meatballs with a light side salad. Just keep it stacked!
Snacks you can go to town on! A great blend of nutritious, protein, carb and energy stacked, such as eggs and spinach, spicy meat tapas, broccoli and falafel mini pittas, mackerel and onion on rye bread etc. Go as wild as your taste buds allow.
Dinner like all the other diets remains the least hearty of all the day’s meals. However, compared to the rest of the lifestyles, it is still a pretty fully loaded meal. Feel free to settle your stomach with a sauce-free chicken tikka curry and vegetables such as aubergine, onion, broccoli, carrots and kale. Or, try seared marlin with a Thai infused combination of rice, root and light vegetables. Either way, you should be pretty full by now!
Now, I know this piece is a mere brief overview of each very in-depth category, but I do hope you found it insightful nevertheless! That and you are no longer baffled by the mystery that is body shapes. Even the smallest of tweaks in diet and activity will change each and every body type, without sacrificing your health (which is super important!).
We may not all be the same, but we do have the ability to change what we have and stay healthy, whichever path we decide to embark upon.