Ignite your wellness: How to take your nutrition to the next level

On , In Nutrition
Nicole from Aglow, a Holistic Nutritionist acting as guest contributor to the Barreroom onDEMAND blog on nutrition and wellness.

Hey Barreroom Community!

Nicole from Aglow here! I am a Holistic Nutritionist with a passion for helping women rediscover their glow through better nutrition. I am so excited to be a guest contributor on todays blog! Barreroom (in studio & on demand) classes are one of the number one workouts I recommend to my clients & enjoy myself. They are a perfect blend of low impact strength & cardio making them easier on your joints & hormones, while still moving your body in a really impactful way!

If you are taking part in the Barreroom onDEMAND 5 Week IGNITE Program these tips will be especially helpful to get you on a balanced wellness path, mentally and physically. I am so honoured to be here to support you with your nutrition (and I will be doing the program alongside you!).

Let’s dive in!

Some guidelines to simplify nutrition & help you ignite your most glowing health!

Eat real food:

Whole foods (no – not the grocery store chain) are fuel your body knows how to use. Think ingredients, as opposed to things that contain ingredients. Sure, some things that have multiple ingredients can still be filed in the “healthy” column, but overall we want to be buying & eating whole, natural foods. Packaged foods, including “health” foods, can be expensive & are often nutrition-poor. By eating more whole foods, you are able to know exactly what goes into your meals including the type of fats, salts, & seasonings. Take stock of how many convenience foods you are leaning into and see if you can swap for less processed alternatives. 

Limit foods that can burden your body:

I wholeheartedly encourage you to live your life & not live with a restriction-based mindset. However, you may want to consider proceeding with caution with foods that can either cause inflammation, spike your blood sugar, or burden your liver. 

  • Alcohol – If you have a glass often, try to limit it to one or two a week. Ideally limit to only a few times a month or try seeing how you feel without! 
  • Processed Sugars – Swap for natural sugar sources such as raw honey, pure maple syrup, fruits, high quality stevia, or monk fruit.
  • Processed Foods – Deep fried foods, convenience foods, processed meats, etc. 
  • Artificial Sweeteners – Avoid wherever possible these can be hard on your gut & even your nervous system!
  • Inflammatory Fats & Oils – Avoid canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, and other inflammatory seed oils. Lean into olive oil (not to be cooked at high heats), avocado oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and grass-fed ghee instead. 
  • Be Careful With Caffeine – While I am all for a daily cup of coffee, if you find yourself creeping up into the 3-4 cup or more category it may be time to cut back, and balance with protein & fat to avoid blood sugar & stress hormone spikes and make sure you are not just surviving on coffee all day long.  

Eat enough (nourishing) food: 

Most people, believe it or not, are under eating. Especially if you are going to move & strengthen your body, there needs to be fuel in the tank. If you are undernourished, you are going to struggle to keep up with your day-to-day life demands or begin to deplete your body. If you want truly glowing health, you need to be eating a variety of quality whole foods in balanced meals, 3x per day minimum!

Good, Better, Best: 

There will be moments where you won’t be able to make a “perfect” choice,  just make the best choice you can in the moment. Whether that means balancing your takeout to the best of your ability (we’ll talk about this later on), having a snack that has an ingredient that isn’t ideal but is a better choice overall, or omitting the sweetener in your coffee. Use the guidelines above to guide your choices, but never burden yourself with guilt. Do the best you can, and if you happen to treat yo-self, just hop back into your healthy habits for your next meal. 

Focus on the good!

Try not to fixate on what you shouldn’t be doing, and instead focus on the health you can add to your day-to-day life. That may be making sure you eat a balanced breakfast, fuelling yourself for an awesome workout, prepping your meals so you have healthy choices at your fingertips, or swapping out some items in your pantry for healthier alternatives. I always aim to swap, instead of restricting!

Here is a breakdown of a focus for each week of our IGNITE Program:

Week 1: Power 

Summary of Barreroom onDEMAND's 34 day IGNITE online workout program, with a weekly target breakdown. White text over a woman browsing the online programs and nutrition on her phone with a water bottle and weights in. the foreground.

For you to power through week one, let’s work on balancing your meals. This will optimally fuel your body & balance your blood sugar for more even energy all day long. Finding balance in your meals can be a powerful tool to help your blood sugar, digestion, cravings, hanger, hormones, and even mood.

Although they have each taken a turn falling out of favour, none of the macro nutrients are “bad”. In reality our body needs them all (protein, fat, carb) in balance and from high quality sources. At every meal include a serving of protein, fat, carbohydrate, and fibrous or leafy green vegetable.

Nourish your body with 3 main meals, and if needed add in a snack that is balanced with as many of those four food categories as possible. Snacks tend to be where people lean way in to one food category (usually carbs). Without protein & fat there to support- it can send our blood sugar up quickly, just to crash just as swiftly and then we are hungry again, craving sugar sources, and/or low on energy. Basically, the opposite of what we were looking to do with a snack right??

Caffeine/ coffee also spikes blood sugar- so it can be helpful to have after a meal and or balance with some fat and protein.  Work on finding your categories on your plate at each meal and stay tuned for more discussion not how to optimize your categories in the weeks to come! 

Week 2: Strength 

Protein. Such a powerful nutrient! The building block of your muscles & other cells, a big player in satiety (feeling full), helps with cravings. . Protein sources contain beneficial B vitamins (energy) & minerals. Amino acids make up proteins and are incredibly important for skin (hello collagen!), tissue, muscles- protein totally embodies strength in food form! I always recommend high quality organic sources of protein, grass-fed for optimal nutrition where possible. Let’s do this! 

Some good sources of protein: 

Bioavailable animal proteins: 
  • Grass-fed meat
  • Wild caught fish 
  • Organic free-range eggs
  • Grass-fed bone broth
  • Collagen 
Plant based Proteins:

** all plant-based proteins will also be a carb, be aware of this when you structure you meal, your carb is already built in!

  • Legumes 
  • Lentils 
  • Quinoa 
  • Buckwheat
  • Hemp Hearts

Protein tip: if you find it hard to include protein because of prep time, make a batch of the versatile protein of your choice on the weekend or while already in the kitchen. Have on hand and use spices and seasonings to tie into your balanced meal!

Week 3: Tone 

Healthy fats are not the enemy! Every cell in our body has a fat component & having enough fats hydrates our cells. We need it for our hormones, for our skin, and a slow burning fuel for energy, fat can even make us feel calmer and more relaxed. Eating enough healthy fats can help us to feel fuller longer, maintain skin quality and tone, reduce fasting insulin levels (aka manage blood sugar), and maximize healthy loss of stored body fat to show off that muscle you are sculpting! NOTE: this isn’t about a quick fix diet or making weight loss the focus, instead giving your body the tools to feel safe with releasing its fat stores- which it typically keeps for protection (undernourishment, stress, hormone imbalance)! The quality of the fats you eat are extremely important. Skip the unstable fats that go rancid easily or with heat, those rancid molecules can be inflammatory and damaging to our cells. If the oil in your pantry cannot withstand heat without becoming unstable, let’s not forget our bodies are quite warm! Providing out body with the fuel it needs to feel safe, it part of how we reveal the muscle tone we have been working on!

High quality fat sources: 

  • olive oil (not to be cooked at high heats) & olives
  • avocado oil & avocado
  • coconut oil, full fat coconut milk,  & coconut
  • MCT oil 
  • grass-fed butter
  • grass-fed ghee
  • quality nuts & seeds

Week 4: Sweat 

There is no better time than Sweat week to chat hydration! Most of us know water is important daily, but especially during exercise and when working up a sweat (heat, getting motor daily activity). While exact water intakes vary with activity level & body requirements (which you can calculate with a water calculator from google) many people do not even come close to their daily basic needs. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a minimum of 2 L daily for your skin, digestion, and you guessed it- blood sugar. Sip water slowly- avoid tossing back your whole water bottle at once to give your kidneys time to process and use the fluids you are taking in. One of the best ways to see if your hydrated is to keep your urine at a very light yellow throughout the day. If it’s completely clear you may be drinking too much or too much at once, and if its dark yellow it’s a sign your body definitely needs some more h20.  If you find you are always thirsty or feel like water goes through you you may want to add a pinch of Celtic sea salt to your water or find an electrolyte drink for your workouts that doesn’t contain a ton of added sugars or artificial sweeteners. The reason we can feel depleted even though we are drinking water is if we do not have enough minerals to absorb that water efficiently. So, keep your high quality, variety of foods happening, use high quality salt (Celtic sea salt), and if this a reoccurring issue for you, you may want to get your minerals tested. You can also include hydrating foods such as cucumber, tomatoes, spinach, melon. berries, oranges, and apples. Happy sweat week, babes! 

Week 5: Ignite 

Carbohydrates ignite quick energy for our cells, and while they require balance – they are important for your energy & cellular health! Every plant food has a carbohydrate component. Plant foods are also our source of fibre, good for our gut bacteria, creating bulk to our meals, and for our digestion. More concentrated carb sources are important when committing to exercise and can help you get more out of your pulses & plies. The best sources of carbohydrate for our bodies to use efficiently are fruits & root vegetables. As always, pair with your other food categories, but do not live in fear of carbs. As for non-starchy veggies-they will contribute some carb, but more fibre and important micronutrients. The perfect way to round out your plate. You made it! I hope you are feeling powerful, strong, toned & that you enjoyed getting sweaty these last five weeks as you ignited your most glowing health!

Carb sources: 

  • Fruit 
  • Sweet Potato 
  • Potato 
  • Squash
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Rice 
  • Traditionally-made sourdough
  • Lentils 
  • Legumes 

Fibre & Green Sources: 

  • Leafy greens- spinach, kale, arugula, etc
  • Cruciferous vegetables- broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts
  • Zucchini
  • Peppers 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Cucumber

I cannot wait to hear about how you Ignite your glow & would love to connect as we tackle these next 5 weeks (and beyond)! Feel free to message me with any questions or let me know how your program is going at @aglowwithnicole on Instagram, or [email protected] 

-Nicole

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