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Article Contributor: Andrew
When you Google the word ‘Nutrition’ you will find the following definition: “the process of eating the right kind of food so you can grow properly and be healthy”
Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary.
However, even though the above simple explanation is correct there is so much more to eating well to stay fit and healthy in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Over the last few years our understanding of the relationship between the food we consume and how it effects our bodies has increased. Almost everyone knows that a diet of pure fast food will eventually be bad for our health and fitness levels.
Many people though are still confused about what food is healthy. Ask one person and you will almost certainly get a difference answer if you ask someone else.
This is why a personal trainer in Abu Dhabi or Dubai who is qualified to provide nutrition advice is a good choice if you want to lose weight, gain weight, tone up or increase your endurance.
Hopefully this article will provide you with a basic understanding of nutrition. It’s not meant to tell you what to eat, how to eat or even details every food type but it will give you ‘food for thought’
Wherever you go or whatever you read you will always come across either an advert or article that is food related. With all the information in magazines and on the web (some information conflicting), many of us get so confused, that at the end of the day we end up throwing in the towel before we have even started to get our diet sorted out.
If you are a newbie to fitness and nutrition, the best is to ‘keep it simple’ – that’s it ….. no complication needs to be added to your already hectic lifestyle.
In the UAE people eat because they like to eat – its a time-honoured social thing. Whenever there is a party, a gathering or just a get together there is always food involved.
This doesn’t mean at any kind of event you should steer clear of food (life would be fairly boring if you did). It simply means making better choices or limiting the amount of food you eat.
Following a proper / nutritious lifestyle is crucial to your well-being but many men and women use food as a ‘crutch’ without even realising it. If you feel happy … you eat. Feeling a bit sad or depressed – what do you do? You eat.
Are you in the mood to celebrate a certain occasion or accomplishment – you eat.
Eating has become such an integral part of our society that we seem to have lost the plot completely when it comes to what food is actually for.
Here’s a thought. When the gas tank of your car is full do you overfill it? NO, you know your car is sufficiently filled to do it’s job.
The body is similar – we don’t need to overfill it for it to perform correctly. In fact overfilling leads to problems.
There is a strong correlation, like the study found here between eating healthy and exercising. You can exercise for hours a day and put in 100% effort, but if your nutrition is not on par – all your hard work will be in vain.
Have you heard of the 80/20 split? To lose body fat, build muscle and lead a healthy lifestyle – 80% of your bodies change will come from the type of food you eat and 20% of the change will come from exercising.
Better nutrition in the UAE leads to a healthier lifestyle. So, to put it short and sweet – the secret to a perfect body: work out, eat healthy, get at least 8 hours sleep a night and reduce your stress levels.
If you follow these simple rules, you will have the result you want to achieve – guaranteed.
Make vegetables the foundation of your diet in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and vary your vegetable intake as much as possible for the full range of nutrients. Green vegetables have filling natural fibers which can help with weight loss as well as keeping you ‘regular’. They are some of the lowest-calorie, and most nutrient rich foods on the planet.
Protein is a great source of essential nutrients such as iron, it is also a source of a lot of fat. Choose low fat options and avoid high fat options such as sausages. Protein is essential for recovery and repair from resistance and bodyweight training.
Eat naturally occurring fats but avoid all processed, hydrogenated fats, especially trans fats. Good fats are found in nuts, eggs, avocados, coconut oil and EVOO. Eat Real Food whenever you can – not something that has been created in a lab to mimic real food.
Think of breakfast as any other meal, you need a balance of proteins, fats, carbs and fibre. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it breaks the fast your body was in during sleep. This is also the ideal as it raises your metabolism as your body burns calories to digest your food and will lead to less over eating during the day. Eating small, regular meals every 2.5-3 hours a day will supply your body with consistent nutrients and energy and metabolism fired up all day.
Simply put, the more you drink the more it will slow your progress! Alcohol has almost twice the caloric content of an equivalent quantity of carbohydrate and protein.
Reducing your caloric intake may simply revolve around changing from full or high fat options to low fat options or at least reduce your consumption of high fat dairy options.
Drink plenty of water, specifically 6-8 glasses per day (equivalent to 2-3 liters).
Water has no calories it also serves as a good appetite suppressant (provides a sense of fullness without adding calories). Have a large glass of water with every meal – it will be a great help for reducing caloric intake and make you feel full quicker. Whenever you get a hunger pang between meals it’s more often than not not an actual sign of hunger so grab a glass of water instead.
Another consistent recommendation is that you reduce you intake of products with unnecessary amounts of added sugar such as soft drinks, cakes and sweets.
The average can of fizzy drink contains ten teaspoons of sugar. Instead go for natural sugars from fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, bananas and apples.
Reducing your sugar intake is so good for you in so many ways and will reduce your risk of becoming obese and diabetes.
High intakes of saturated fat (found in fast foods) are linked directly to premature death through cardiovascular disease. According to a great article from Harvard Health there are many ways you can reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat without compromising on taste or quality.
Choose healthier, lower fat options. Try lower fat cooking methods such as grilling as opposed to frying and roasting will help to reduce fat intake and switching to vegetable oils or coconut oil as opposed to the solid fats such as butter and lard will also be beneficial.
A high intake of salt is directly linked to high blood pressure and premature death. Many fast foods and heavily processed foods are high in salt so generally westerners have excessive salt intakes.
You can more often than not improve the taste of food and make it more palatable with adding additional salt by using more spices and fresh herbs in your diet.
Many men and women in Dubai and Abu Dhabi think that if they eat less they will be healthier, fitter and lose weight. While this might be the case for people who tend to overeat there are many people who don’t eat enough and therefore are lacking in many essential nutrients.
Now there is a also a misconception out there that eating “healthy” and eating less is the only way to reach your desired goal. This is entirely false.
Eating healthy and getting proper nutrition is such a broad word – clean, raw, vegan, gluten free sound familiar? Yes you might be eating healthy, but are you eating the right amount of nutritious food?
Of course not everyone has time or the need to track calories, track micro-nutrients and more which is why getting advice from a qualified nutrition personal trainer can save time and money.
Using a professional coach in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, even if it’s just to help you with the basics will be an investment in yourself and your family when it comes to healthy eating.
At it’s most fundamental level good nutrition consists of the following:
Carbohydrates provide your body with fuel. Due to many fad diet crazes in the UAE some people view ‘carbs’ as bad but nothing to be further from the truth.
Our bodies are designed to process carbs and obtain energy from these carbs. However, the confusion is often because there are ‘good carbs’ and ‘not so good carbs’.
When dieting or training you want to focus on good carbs because they will provide you with the best source of energy.
The simple truth is that good carbs are you friend. The easiest way to differentiate between good and bad carbs is very very simple.
Good carbs – unprocessed whole food sources. Think wholewheat grains, beans, pulses, brown rice, vegetables, etc
Bad carbs – processed foods like breads, pastries, white pasta, white processed flour, fried vegetables etc.
Proteins and the amino acids found in them help your body build, maintain and repair muscle. They should be an essential part of your diet even if you get your protein from plant sources.
Many people in the UAE tend to eat too much meat. In fact, your protein intake doesn’t need to be the largest part of your plate.
Good sources of protein include lean meats, beans, seafood, nuts, eggs etc
However, you should try and limit the amount of processed meat you eat for health reasons.
Don’t be afraid of fats. There is far too much negative press about the amount of fats in our diet.
It’s not about the amount of fat but the type of fat you eat.
Fat plays a crucial role in keeping us fit and healthy. Men and women in Dubai think they need to cut all fat out of their diet in order to lose weight but this simply isn’t true. Fats are required for proper growth, cell growth, insulation, organ protection, joint help and also to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins.
It’s easy to remember what fats are good for you. Plant based fats and oils like olive oil, avocado oils, sunflower oils are much better for us than saturated animal fats. That doesn’t mean you have to cut animal fats out of your diet complete – just consume them sparingly.
Vitamins and minerals are an essential part of proper nutrition. They play major roles in all aspects of your bodily functions and basically help you to maintain an optimal level of health.
Many of us can easily get all the essential vitamins and minerals we need through our diet without the need to use supplements.
Fruit, vegetables, lean meats and fish (or a vegetable source of protein) should all be part of a proper, well balanced diet to ensure you meet your bodies vitamin and mineral need on a daily basis.
Nutrition and healthy eating in Dubai and Abu Dhabi isn’t as difficult as many people think. Eat sensibly, try to avoid processed foods and watch your portion size. Try to eat fruit and vegetables every day and only eat snacks or fast food as an occasional treat.