Working out? Four mistakes you might be making

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  • Push-ups fitness woman doing push-ups outside on beach. Fit female sport model girl training crossfit outdoors. Mixed race Asian Caucasian athlete in her 20s.

    Push-ups fitness woman doing push-ups outside on beach. Fit female sport model girl training crossfit outdoors. Mixed race Asian Caucasian athlete in her 20s.

  • Balanced diet: having butternut squash or carrots as your starch is way more nutrient-dense than having bread, rice or potatoes

    Balanced diet: having butternut squash or carrots as your starch is way more nutrient-dense than having bread, rice or potatoes


I’m writing this from a sofa in London; feet up, Ellen on TV, about to go exploring, then shop, then drinks and dinner. It’s pretty far from ordinary life — there’s zero routine — and it’s seriously relaxing.

I have the background buzz of work in my brain, but I’m trying to keep the office to-do list at bay for one more day. We’ll see how that goes!

I love my job, love, love, LOVE it, but it’s hard to escape it sometimes.

People love to talk nutrition, so the second they find out what you do, you’re done for. On my first night here, I found myself going over a friend’s training plan and helping her put together better nutrition support.

I did an internal eyeroll when we started, but I was happy to do it, especially because we found some really easy fixes to things that were frustrating her progress and now I’m excited to see the results. (No pressure, you know who you are!)

I thought I’d go over the errors she was making here because they are really common mistakes.

There’s nothing worse than putting your all into your training, doing everything technically “right” and then seeing absolutely no return on your efforts.

So, if you’re working towards weight, body composition or performance goals, check the list below and make sure you’re not making these errors too:

Not eating enough

If your caloric intake consistently undercuts your performance needs, then you run the risk of plateauing.

Your body’s metabolism drops to compensate for inadequate calorie consumption, meaning that you eat less than before, but without making any more significant progress.

Solution? Most active people should be eating three good meals and two healthy snacks a day.

Skipping meals and putting in an extra class is not going to get you leaner, faster, especially not long term.

I put together flexible meal plans without micromanaging calories and that’s often effective enough.

For the calorie counters among you, we can use the InBody technology from the Court House gym, which will help us zero in on your requirements. Not enough fruit and vegetables

This can throw off your hunger cues. Even if you’ve technically eaten enough, your body is still looking for micronutrients and so you stay hungry.

In addition, antioxidants in fruit and vegetables are important for neutralising the free radical damage triggered by exposure to everyday toxins and by exercise too.

The solution isn’t to avoid exercise, but just to eat your fruit and veg!

Note that free radical damage contributes to premature ageing and the development of chronic disease, so there’s some extra motivation.

Best sources: darkly pigmented fruit and vegetables, eg dark green vegetables/leaves, berries, peppers and kiwi.

Incorrect carb ratios

For most people, one quarter of their lunch and dinner plates should be protein, one-quarter carbs and half, non-starchy vegetables or salad.

Vegetables that function as carbs include potatoes, corn, carrots, beets and butternut squash.

So you can have carrots and/or corn, but that’s your carb and the total should be one quarter of your plate.

Most often, try and choose carbs that are vegetables too as they contain more antioxidants.

So, having butternut squash or carrots as your starch is way more nutrient-dense than having bread, rice or potatoes. Examples: chicken (protein) with squash (carb and a veg) and half a plate of salad; salmon (protein) with roasted carrots (carb and veg) and half a plate of broccoli and green beans.

Missing your protein window after training

This is important. If you work out without adequate food in general (as per point 1), then you won’t have enough energy to fuel your activity and you won’t perform as well.

If you don’t have enough protein circulating afterwards, then you won’t have enough bio-available amino acids for muscle recovery. You can then miss your window and inhibit recovery, wasting your workout.

Rule of thumb: eat protein within 45 minutes of finishing training, which is especially important if you haven’t eaten protein two hours before your workout, eg on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.

Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. For details: www.natural.bm, 236-7511 or, Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda

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Published Sep 21, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 21, 2018 at 7:45 am)

Working out? Four mistakes you might be making

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