It's not a diet, diet: 5 Principles to master

By Ange

If you have specific body composition goals (fat loss, muscle gain or both), results come from long-term consistency. Before looking to do anything too drastic with your nutrition (i.e. following someone else’s meal plan, cutting out whole food groups, following a specific dieting regime), you must master the fundamentals first.

We don’t just believe in these fundamentals; we have real experience to know they get results.
We call this the ‘diet before the diet’ or ‘It’s a lifestyle diet’. Nothing fancy, just easy to implement and impactful changes that will help keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day, prevent energy slumps, maximise muscle recovery, feel satisfied, drive a humming metabolism and feel stress-free… No more wondering about what you are eating and if you are on the right path to seeing and feeling results.

Principle #1 Plan Ahead

Whether cooking for just yourself, one to two people, or a family, planning meals is the best way to improve your food choices. Ensure you carve out 30 minutes each week to roughly plan what you eat.

Forward-thinking will help you implement principles 2-4 (below) and ensure you are not letting emotions dictate your food choices. Note this also does not involve calorie counting. It is simple to ensure you can habit stack other healthy habits to ensure you have a great week chasing your results. For example, shopping for everything you need is impossible if you don’t know what is on the menu.

Principle #2: Meet your protein demands

Protein is essential in creating and maintaining every cell in your body. If you are an active woman or have just added more exercise or training to your week, you should be aware of your protein needs and ensure that you meet them (or practise getting closer
to meeting them).

Start daily with a high protein meal, as this will support balance blood sugars throughout the day and avoid you struggling to hit your targets later in the day. A high protein diet will ensure you feel more satiated throughout the day and have enough building blocks to build and repair muscle tissue without compromising the immune system or hormone regulation and maintain muscle mass, specifically if you are dieting.

Principle #3: Follow our ‘balanced plate’ and ‘portion sizes’ guide

A common piece of nutrition advice worldwide is eating a balanced diet. But what does this mean? And are you executing on this 90% of the time? A balanced plate consists of one-quarter of proteins, one-quarter of carbohydrates and one-half of vegetables.

Carbohydrate-rich food includes rice, pasta, quinoa, couscous, potatoes, bread, barley, oats and other cereals. These provide energy for the brain, muscles and other organs. They are also critical for an active woman as this macronutrient is preferred to fuel your training. If you are aiming to reduce calories, you could reduce this macronutrient somewhat, but we recommend never aiming to remove it completely.

Protein-rich food includes eggs, seafood, poultry, red meat, pulses, milk, yoghurt, cheese, tofu, nut, etc.

Vegetables and fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytonutrients, such as antioxidants. Vitamins and minerals keep our metabolism and organs running efficiently, essential for staying healthy. Further, vegetables, herbs and fresh fruit are also high in fibre, satiating while relatively low in energy, meaning they help maintain
a healthy weight.

Principle #4: Meal Timing and routine

While a ‘balance meal’ is one of the keys to good health, let’s think about meal timing! Each of us requires a given amount of energy (in calories) each day; we recommend eating at similar times every day so that you can understand what is optimal for you. While we recognise not everyone is a breakfast person, we recommend consuming something within two hours of waking up regardless of feeling hungry.

Once you have your first meal, depending on its content and balance, it’s recommended to have each subsequent meal every three to four hours to prevent dips in blood sugar levels (which can lead to feeling hungry). Bring your awareness to how you feel at different parts of the day. Are you hungry soon after eating? Maybe your meal was insufficient. Hunger might not present the same in every person either. Signs could involve becoming dizzy, lightheaded, irritable, and experiencing decreased focus and concentration.

Principle #5: Be aware of your emotions

Most people have a bunch of great eating habits, but there are some re-occurring patterns in behaviour around emotional or mindless eating. The main question is: Is your eating triggered by a specific situation or mood? Are you stressed, sad, bored, anxious or worried? Are there some significant life events you might have trouble dealing with? Are you more or less hungry? Do you eat at unusual times, like late at night? Are you using food to soothe your feelings?

There is a perfect chance that if you answered yes, eating has become a coping mechanism instead of a way to fuel your body.

To break free, you need to bring awareness to what is going on for you. If you need more help in this area, please chat with your coach/s and head to our members’ area for some great tutorial videos.

Who are your role models, and why?

Gemma: A incredible leader in meaningful facilitation and bringing people together is a women called Priya Parker. She writes and teaches about bringing people together- she’s run major meetings at the UN between counties in conflict, but also writes beautifully about organising an amazing dinner parties with meaning and love – her work is about connecting. I highly recommend her book “The art of gathering” for anyone interested. 

Lucy: My role models are my family. My Mum for being so kind and caring and the most incredible mother, my Dad for being such a great leader and a real connector of people and my siblings for all being so amazing in their own ways. 

In a work sense, I have had many amazing leaders and mentors that continue to inspire me. I think one of my biggest learnings has been about staying true to yourself and your values and morals. One mentor and former boss used to talk about always following your moral compass. I think about that often. Another mentor taught me a lot about kindness and trust which are so important. 

Claire: Haha. How much space do I have? I know some serious kick-arse trail blazers. 

To be honest, I am most inspired by the honesty, strength and wisdom of women. At any age or life phase.  Everyone has a story. Each should be heard. 

Adele: My parents are my biggest role models.  My mother embodies what it takes to be able to do it all, in the workplace and in life!  She worked in the public service for over 40 years, recently retiring.  She has witnessed all the inequalities and has fought for gender equity throughout her working career.  She leads by example and is well known for her work ethic, drive and resilience, making her well-respected to all her former colleagues and family and friends.  
My father also recently retired, ended his working career as the President of the Legislative Council of Victoria.  Migrating to Australia from Lebanon, English as a second language, he was able to embody the Australian way of life and was successful in his career due to his hard work, commitments, and loyalty.  Both my parents have worked different jobs, different industries, with different people and always say the way you want to be treated is how you treat others, be stern, be honest and commit to what you say you are going to do!  

What is your IWD message?

Claire: Never underestimate your personal power to influence positive change. 

Be authentic and intentional in your advocacy of other women. 

Lucy: We need to continue to stay committed to advocate for equality. And we must remain open minded about what this looks like! 

I love the saying that we cannot be what we cannot see. 

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Our founder

Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.

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