How To Eat Healthy On a Budget

SpecialBlog Guest

Anirudh: Hey Surin!
Surin: Hi buddy! How are you doing?
Anirudh: I’m doing great buddy but need to share this feedback with you!
Surin: Feedback? Okay, tell me
Anirudh: So, I took your challenge and advise to consume healthy food for a month
Surin: Wow, that’s so cool. I must say, that I’m impressed.
Anirudh: No, but my budget has gone for a toss and it’s a huge investment for me. I think, I’ll have to stop this healthy eating!
Surin: Well, eating healthy doesn’t mean, consuming expensive salads and juices. You just need to be creative with your diet chart so that it doesn’t get boring and monotonous.

Keeping this conversation in mind, today I’ll talk about specific foods that are a great bang for your buck. I understand that a good physique is 70% diet, 30% workout and making the right dietary choices will always be 80-90% of your success. The goal is to reshape the way you evaluate good deals – the way you evaluate the 30ml and 60ml. Instead of price per calorie, we’ll be looking at the price per nutrient. We want more nutrients for the least amount of money. 

So, here are my top 5 cheap healthy food chart plans:

Vegetables – Green leafy vegetable was never costly and it’s far better than your McDonald’s king size burger. You must calculate the nutrients you’re getting out of that food. For e.g.: Cabbage, broccoli, Spinach, carrots, kale etc. give you the same amount of nutrients compared to your expensive healthy food.

Go Seasonal on Fruits – Without a doubt, fruits are the best source of nutrients and you can save ample on them if you eat seasonal fruits. For e.g. Bananas and grapefruit in winters, blueberries, watermelon in spring and apple, cranberry, carrot, beetroot in autumn. These can be modified according to your taste.

Best source of protein – Sweating out like a meth head but isn’t gaining an inch? Eggs are a great source of protein and can be experimented in varied forms. Other sources of protein are Greek yogurt, oatmeal, muesli, whole milk, dried fruit, sweet potato etc.

Eat Smart – Be smart in your eating. Find your objective. Figure out if your goal is to gain weight, muscle mass or lose weight and accordingly plan your diet. Remember if your goal is to lose weight then most of your nutrients should be coming from fats and proteins and not from carbohydrates. The fancy term is “Paleo diet”.

Buy smart – Another great way to save on some bucks is to buy frozen than fresh. Frozen products allow you to buy in or out of season produce at much lower prices. Buy non-perishable items in bulk whenever a grand sale is on the card.

Do not give up on your goals. I REPEAT DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR GOALS. Hustle Up.

FITNESS-FRIDAY: Foods You Definitely Must Avoid If You Want to Get in Shape

SpecialBlog Guest

Black coffee and hours of pondering didn’t fetch me a conclusion as to what should be my next fitness blog topic. Even the internet which is flooded with content these days, could not rescue me from this dilemma. According to statistics, 15% and 23% of the internet population searched for what to eat before they hit the gym, and what to eat post gym respectively. Out of all these, the thing which gained my attention was that only 7% were actually worried about what not to eat pre-or post-workout. Let’s cut the cake and go a little further and talk about what not to eat at all, to attain maximum results while they are sweating it out.

Regardless of whether you work out to lose weight, build muscles, enhance health or compete in sports, what you eat before, during and after a workout plays a major role in attaining results. Ideally, you should fuel the body properly to achieve the best performance, without feeling weak, sluggish or nauseous. What you eat should assist you in enhancing your workout. It will assist you in gaining more power, more muscles, less fat or whatever your personal goals are. So, I’m listing down few of the choices you should keep yourself away from:

White bread

They are high on GI (Glycemic Index). It is an index which measures blood sugar level. So, the next time you’re up in the store and thinking of picking up the white loaf. Just stop then and there and pick up the brown loaf. You get the same thing but with the better nutrients.

Alcohol

This is one thing most people won’t compromise on when they want to kick start their weekend on a high note. But the bad news is that regular consumption of alcohol is unhealthy for your body, as it puts more stress on your body. Thus, asking for more antioxidants. The antioxidants which are used to help muscle recovery are instead used in metabolizing the alcohol. So even if you are not able to curb your craving don’t exceed your consumption for more than 2 drinks. (Rum or Vodka)

Dry fruits

Most of them suggests that it is one the best evening snacks, but I would like to disagree with the fact that it provides all the required nutrients. Dried or dehydrated fruit contain Sulphur and added sugar and the removal of water from it allows us to overeat. You consume a lot of calories by eating dried fruits as compared to eating a fresh apple or any fruit. The amount of water percentage determines that how your body digests the fruit. So, next time pick an apple over dried fruits.

Processed Cheese

Processed cheese contains more calories as compared to unprocessed cheese. It also contains emulsifiers, which help keep the fatty and non-fatty ingredients mixed together.

Packaged salad

Again high on calories and can turn your healthy meal into a fat bomb.

Ice cream

When your objective is to stay healthy and trim, you cannot choose this as an option in the diet chart. This is very high on calories and fat. Processed sugar which is used in making Ice cream can be harmful for your health.

Fried foods

The tinge of oil and a twinkle of cheese might enhance the taste of your cuisine, but will not help in reducing your fat midsection. The oil is high in saturated oils.

So, guys, these are the things, that I invariably keep out of my diet cart. Make sure you do the same if you are willing to lead a healthy life. Hustle up!

Want more awesome Fitness articles and inspiration? Follow Fitlet, here.

Healthy Chia & Oat Pudding

I will start saying this again: if you don’t fancy complicated recipes, but you do like to eat healthy, than this post is definitely for you. Here is today’s deal: the other day I came across a “chia pudding” and I got marvelled with the fact that you can do a pudding with healthy ingredients and with zero preparation struggle.

I found this to be very exciting, because I come from a family to whom pudding is more or less like the king of desserts. However, recipes always include eggs and complicated tricks in the kitchen. Once I tried to do something we call “pudim flan” with caramel to a boyfriend of mine and the result was that I completely screw up the pan to a point that we could no longer use it. Can you imagine such thing?

So, going to what really matters here: I made a slight twist to the recipe I found and came up with a chia and oat pudding. Here are the ingredients that you will need:

  • chia seeds
  • oats
  • milk (I used almond milk; the original recipe used coconut milk)
  • honey (the original recipe used brown sugar)
  • cinnamon

Now you might be marvelled as I got when I tell you the steps. Here they are:

  1. in a bowl, put two thirds of a cup of milk and add a tea spoon of honey
  2. add some chia seeds and oats (half a cup with both, maybe… you know I’m the worse with dosing)
  3. mix everything altogether and make sure the honey, the seeds and oats are blending
  4. add cinnamon to your mixture, mix it up once again and…
  5. put the bowl in the fridge for two hours

The seeds and oats will absorb the milk. The honey and cinnamon will give a nice flavour to your pudding. Once your pudding became consistent, you can top it up with some fruits. This time I chose black-forest fruits, but I imagine that some peach would work really well too.

King Prawns On a Bed of Spinach With Thai Sauce

Yesterday I saw an Instagram post with shrimps… I ended up craving it and bought some prawns today. However, I was craving something with an asiatic twist and so I put my imagination to work a little bit. I embedded the prawns in sesame oil and chia seeds and served them on a bed of spinach and pineapple. The final and secret ingredient was really the Sweet Chilli Thai sauce.

28643174_2052253571721217_2128558681_o.jpg

Here’s what you are going to need:

  • a dozen of prawns (I got mine from Iceland)
  • sesame oil (easy to find at Aldi’s)
  • chia seeds (easy to find at Aldi’s)
  • himalayan salt
  • spinach
  • two pineapple slices (canned)

 

Here’s how I did it:

  1. pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees
  2. in a bowl, put the prawns, add some sesame oil, a little bit of himalayan salt and a sprinkle of chia seeds
  3. mix all the ingredients together and make sure the prawns are well coated
  4. put some kitchen foil in a trail and distribute the prawns evenly
  5. put the prawns to bake and reserve the bowl to the side
  6. use the same bowl (don’t wash it!) and cut some spinach leafs into it
  7. cut the pineapple slides in squares and add it to the bowl as well
  8. mix the spinach and pineapple – the sesame oil and chia seeds left from the prawns should be enough to temper the salad
  9. remove the prawns from the oven when you’re happy with their look
  10. place the prawns on the spinach bed and…
  11. finish the plate by dressing the prawns with some Sweet Chilli Thai Sauce

This is by far one of my favourites! Let me know if you decide to try it. I personally think I’m going to repeat it again tomorrow!

How Food May Be Compromising Your Work Performance

Great part of our brain is composed by fat, followed then by protein, micronutrients and carbs (please see the post on “sugar coma” to learn more about glucose and other types of sugar). Each one of these nutrients has a specific function in our organism. For instances:

  • “healthy” fat (e.g. omega 3 & 6) protects our cells,
  • protein maintains and rebuilds tissue,
  • micronutrients facilitate the communication between cells, and
  • glucose provides the necessary energy so our cells can do their work properly

We usually think about food and its effect on our body as separate from the way we feel, think and behave, but what we eat affects enormously our brain’s function and therefore our emotions, cognitive abilities and actions. Hence, what we eat also impacts how we work and the fact that you may feel sleepy ater lunch or alert at night might well be a result of your daily eating habits (please see the post on “sugar coma” to know more about this), because it’s the great diversity of food-nutrient combinations that allows our body and mind to function as they do.

 

 

Knowing this, then you want to know what combinations are better or more suitable to enhance your psychology and therefore your performance as a whole-functioning human being. So let’s see in more detail the impact of each nutrient in  our performance.

Fats

Fat is the number one nutrient of our brain’s composition. Nonetheless, just like there are different types of sugar there are also different types of fat, each with a specific function and potential effect. When thinking and designing your meals to make the most of your performance at work you want to invest in “healthy fats” or fatty acids which are present in higher doses in foods such as nuts, seeds, and fatty fish like sardines, salmon, and tuna. This type of fat participates in the creation and maintenance of our celular membranes and therefore is essential to keep our brain cells working in perfect condition. The “unhealthy fats”, present in foods such as pizza, cake, and french fries, and when over-consumed though can compromise the healthy maintenance of our body and even block many important communication channels between cells.

Protein

Proteins are big agglomerates of amino acids, which are very important for cellular communication. They are also the building blocks of many neurotransmitters which in turn are responsible for how we feel and what we do. Neurotransmitters regulate our mood, sleep, and attention, just to mention a few of the processes that are essential to our performance at work. Hence, you don’t want to eliminate protein from your diet.

Micronutrients

They are indeed micro but not least important. Micronutrients participate and help in many of the processes mentioned above. Iron, zinc, magnesium and all sorts of vitamines are crucial to keep our mind and body healthy. The reason why it’s so important to consume a great amount of vegetables and greens is exactly because such foods are very rich in micronutrients.

Carbs

Again, this is another nutrient that you don’t want to take out of your meals. However, you do need to learn which carbohydrates are better for your health and performance. Carbs are to our body like gasoline is to a car. Carbs are the fuel of every cell process. They are the source of energy that allows us to function and our brain actually consumes 20% of our overall energy. If you go without carbs, you go without energy. But again: different carbohydrates have different effects in our system. To make it easier, let’s say there are three types of carbs: starch, sugar, and fibre. Of course these three types of carbs come all together in our food but here’s why it’s so important to know how to read nutritional labels: the ratio between these three types of carbs varies from food to food. For instances, a cake has carbs, but the proportion of sugar is far greater when comparing to its starch and fibre content. Therefore, you want to choose carbs that are higher in fibre and starch than in sugar. This is also why we have food with different glycemic index (GI). For instances: white flour bread has a very high GI and even though it will quickly boost your energy but it will also lower your mood and attention after a few minutes, whereas integral bread has a lower GI and therefore will help your body to release and produce energy over time without making your system “crash”.

For practical and healthy meal suggestions, please see the blog posts under the section “Food” or follow the Instagram account @work.life.fitness

What Can You Eat To Have More Energy & Avoid A “Sugar Coma”

A recent study has shown how “sugar coma” exists and how it can negatively affect our cognitive function. This “coma” is actually what many of us experience as “low energy” but which we rarely associate with the food we eat. However, before you decide to eliminate all the sugar from your diet, please note that this phenomenon is induced by what we call “simple sugars” which are contained in foods such as chocolate, biscuits, cookies, cake, fizzy drinks, and so on.

On the other side, there is also what we call “complex sugars” (or carbs), which are present in foods such as bread, rice, and pasta. But even these more complex carbs may induce you into a food coma, because the more available, cheaper and easier ones to find in the supermarket contain refined ingredients. So how do you prevent yourself from “food coma”? Choose foods from the following list which have a low glycemic index:

  • whole grains (e.g. brown rice, rye bread)
  • root tubers (e.g. sweet potato)
  • legumes (e.g. chickpeas, red beans), and
  • vegetables

Fruits are very rich in a simple sugar called “fructose”, so I don’t recommend eating a lot of fruit if you’re very sensitive and you often feel low. I do recommend though the consumption of high-quality protein once in a while (e.g. twice a week). I personally choose from the following options:

  • smoked salmon
  • beef
  • tuna
  • eggs

Needless to say that if you often feel low, you also need to supervise the amount of fat you’re consuming. Avoid fried and over-processed food – they have zero nutritional value and are not effectively used by your organism.

Here are some ideas & suggestions for meals:

For more tips & suggestions, follow me on Instagram (@work.life.fitness) or Twitter (@vcr_dias).

Healthy Lunches for Work: Mushroom & Cherry Tomato Wrap

Wraps are a great option whenever you are in a rush or simply lazy to cook. This week I needed something on the go, so I prepared an easy but incredibly delicious wrap. Here is what you are going to need:

  • wholemeal tortilla
  • laminated mushrooms
  • cherry tomatoes
  • mayonnaise
  • watercress, spinach, and rocket leaves
  • curry powder (optional)
  • garlic olive oil (or any other olive oil you like)

You can buy all these ingredients at Aldi’s store and I totally recommend you to do so. Ingredients, specially vegetables, are of great quality. Plus, you can find a variety of healthy food options in their stores. For instances, the mayonnaise I use is a great alternative and it only contains 10 calories per table spoon.

Preparation & How To

Make sure you wash the mushrooms, the tomatoes and your green leaves. You can do this while you warm up a pan. Cut your cherry tomatoes in halves and set them aside with your mushrooms.

Put the tortilla wrap in the pan and flip it several times, so it can get toasty in both sides. Remove it when it is good enough for you. Next put some olive oil in the pan and add the mushrooms and the cherry tomatoes. Mix them altogether so they can absorb the olive oil. If you like like spicy food, I recommend you to add a little bit of curry powder. If you do so, make sure you mix everything again.

While the mushrooms and tomatoes are cooking, you can now put a table spoon of mayonnaise on your wrap and spread it evenly. Then add a layer of green leaves.

By now your mushrooms and tomatoes are probably already done and you can turn the heat off. I like my food warm, so I add immediately the mixture to my wrap, but you can wait a few minutes and let it cool down, if you prefer. After adding a layer of mushrooms and tomatoes to your wrap, you can then fold it as you like most.