20 Jan Nutritional tips for a happier and healthier life
Nutrition plays an essential role in helping us lead a healthy lifestyle, but trying to have a sustainable and balanced diet can be a big challenge considering our hectic schedules and routines. It is of great importance however that we develop healthy eating habits that will help us achieve happier, healthier lives.
We interviewed a highly respected nutritionist and dietitian Alessandra Furlan for top tips on eating well for great health and wellness. From suggestions on what to eat before and after a workout, to food trends and supplements, we have great advice that will help you kick start 2018.
Read the full interview below.
How do you advice your clients to have a healthy and balanced diet?
I generally carry out a complete nutritional assessment, with evaluation of patient’s nutritional status and needs, as well as body composition, eating habits, preferences, routine, and goals. If necessary, I also request some specific blood tests. Within 3-5 working days, they receive a personalised dietary plan via e-mail, which includes specific advice according to their needs.
What is the best meal to eat before and after a workout?
It depends on the individual’s needs, as well as type, intensity, duration and goals of the training session. From a general point of view, I would recommend some good source of carbohydrates, such as oats, fruits, sweet potato, or even some high quality organic wholemeal bread before exercising. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s not always necessary to eat before the workout if the person is not hungry, or in a weight loss programme. After the workout, the best thing to have is a complete meal, including proteins (chicken, turkey, beef, eggs or vegetarian options), some source of carbohydrates (potato, cassava, whole grains, etc.), and some antioxidant-rich foods, such as raw vegetables, seeds and olive oil.
Calorie and Carbs Counting
How important is it to track or monitor personal consumption statistics, such as calories intake and portion control?
Calories and portion control is very important for people with specific goals (weight loss, body composition improvement, muscle mass gain, vegetarianism, etc.) or health conditions (diabetes, high cholesterol levels, etc.). For people who simply want to keep healthy, I suggest sticking to the following essential rules:
- Quality = eating real, not processed food;
- Balance = eat all food groups (carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables) in a balanced way.
- Moderation = eat when hungry, stop when full, and avoid the excess of anything.
- Variety = eat coloured foods, and try new flavours and textures when possible.
Which supplements would you recommend to achieve good health and wellbeing?
As said before, it depends on individual’s health status, nutritional needs and goals. However, probiotics tablets and omega-3 supplements are highly recommended for most of the people.
How much Carbs, Protein and Fat should I eat per day as part of a balanced diet?
Generally saying, people should follow the traditional dietary recommendations, which consists of 45-65% of the total amount of energy intake from carbs, 10-35% from proteins, and 20-35% from fats.
Carbs are getting a little notorious in some circles. Should I cut carbs out if my aim is to lose weight? Is it efficient and healthy to do so in order to achieve my goals?
In low carb diets, carbs shouldn’t be cut, but reduced to levels lower than the traditional recommendations. When it’s made with proper nutritional guidance, it can be very healthy. However, many people stick to a very low carb diet themselves, with poor or no guidance at all, which can be potentially harmful to their health.
Advanced and On-going Nutrition
Do you advice pro-athletes differently compared to your regular consumers?
Yes, for sure. They have completely different nutritional needs, comparing to regular people, and they also need the best performance possible, which can be promoted through a good nutritional strategy.
Which tips would you give to keep the weight off completely after losing it?
The first tip is to keep putting into practice what they have already learned about healthy eating. People shouldn’t think like “I achieved my goal, now I can stop this diet and start eating everything I want again.” Actually, I don’t believe in restricted diets, because they can’t be taken for a long time. Instead, I love the idea of long-term lifestyle change.
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How much emphasis should we put on water consumption?
We should give it a great emphasis. An adequate water intake is absolutely essential for body’s balance and health. Most of our body is made of water, and the hydration level is related to microcirculation efficiency, transport of nutrients and toxins elimination. No dietary plan or nutritional strategy works without good hydration. For people who struggle to drink water during the day, I always recommend to use mobile alerts from 1 to 1 hour, when they should drink water even when not thirsty.
Grocery delivery, packaged meals and on-demand food delivery platforms are everywhere now. How do these tech innovations complement your work?
It makes it easy for people to shop good quality food, provided they make good choices – generally according to their dietary plan.
2018 Healthy Eating Trends
What are your thoughts on these food trends?
- Drinking Apple cider vinegar – I think apple cider vinegar can be helpful when it comes to improve digestion, but it’s not something that I recommend frequently.
- Collagen – Hydrolised collagen is a very controversial topic, and there’s no scientific evidence that proves it’s efficacy. However, many people really see improvements on the quality and aspect of skin, hair and nails. In this context, I believe that it can be used for people who like it with no harmful effects and possible beneficial effects, provided they are aware is has no scientific evidence so far.
- Probiotics – I’m a big fan of probiotics. In my opinion, almost everyone should take probiotics on a regular basis.
- Keto diets – It can be used in a healthy way in few situations, but never without professional guidance. Instead of keto diets, I prefer healthy balanced diets, as well as moderate low carb diets, depending on the situation.
- Intermittent fasting – It can be beneficial for some. However, when it comes to weight loss, there’s no evidence that it will be more effective than a very well planned diet.
- Detoxing food – The detox happens naturally in our bodies, provided we eat real food, rich in vitamins, minerals, good sources of proteins, bioactive substances and drink proper amounts of pure water. If we can avoid food additives and pesticides, even better. We don’t need an specific diet to have detox, just a very healthy diet, which should be done everyday.
- Drinking warm lemon water – I’m not a big fan of this practice, since there’s no scientific evident that supports it. On the other hand, I always recommend cold lemon water because it’s refreshing and source of vitamin C.