We tend to think of summer as the season of R&R where we get a much needed break from our busy schedules. In reality, however, many of your weekends are likely booked before the summer even begins. This causes our weekdays to become even busier with less downtime to recover.
With more social gatherings, backyard barbecues, company picnics, and drinks with friends on the patio, opportunities to consume delectable offerings are also decadently consistent and plentiful. The sobering truth is that all of these elements often lead to summer weight gain.
You can manage your schedule, fit in the additional summer engagements, and avoid weight gain this summer by utilizing the following five simple strategies.
1. Opt for a Homemade Morning Smoothie
Breakfast may be the only time of the day where you’ll consume a meal at home during the summer months, so take this opportunity to include body balancing ingredients that you can’t easily access throughout the remainder of the day. A smoothie is often the fastest and easiest way to do so. Choosing the right ingredients can also help steer you into making healthier choices throughout the day.
• Hydrating Base: choose water, unsweetened non-dairy milk, or herbal tea. With the summer heat and an increase of alcoholic beverage consumption, hydrating first thing in the morning (and throughout the day) will help minimize cravings, increase energy, and reduce water retention.
• Plant Based Protein Power: Aim to add in 15-20 grams of plant based protein powder. Choosing a plant based option helps to reduce inflammation and supports weight loss efforts. If you’re a meat-eater this is an opportunity to create a balance in your protein choices. Beginning the day with protein contributes to more stable blood sugar throughout the day.
• Greens: start with a large handful of greens. If you are concerned with bitterness start with baby greens which are easier on the palate, such as baby kale or baby spinach. Increasing leafy greens will help reduce cravings for refined carbohydrates and provide an abundance of nutrients to maintain a healthy weight with minimal calories. Better still, try to include organic greens from your local farmers’ market. This will provide more nutrient density without pesticides and herbicides which will support your gut microbiota and your weight.
• Healthy Fat & Fiber: add foods rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce inflammation and maintain healthy gut health. Constipation can create an illusion of midsection weight gain. Rotate between 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon ground flax, walnuts, or chia seeds.
2. Schedule in Your Food & Beverage Fuel like You do Your Meetings
Much like having a master clock on your phone keeping you on schedule with meetings and deadlines, the human body has a master clock as well. Your biological rhythms exist because every organ needs to have down-time to repair and reset. When you are responding to ongoing work pressures and are in and out of meetings, going long periods without eating and hydrating can create a pattern of body discord. Our hormones, enzymes, and digestive system are primed for food intake in the morning and afternoon. For best metabolic impact, schedule in your meal and snack times in a 10-hour window from when you consume your first meal in the morning until your last bite in the evening.
3. Pack a High-Protein, Low-Sugar Snack:
When we experience a dip in energy, a refined carbohydrate is the first food we crave to provide instant energy. It’s the easiest food to find while on the go as you can order a bagel, muffin, or donut almost anywhere. The challenge is finding a high protein, low sugar snack which is what will provide balanced blood sugar, sustained energy, and will reduce cravings. Consider packing roasted chickpeas, protein bars with natural sweeteners, and/or dehydrated meats free of preservatives and additives.
4. Turn Your Moments into Movements
If your day can’t allot for a scheduled workout, take advantage of where you are able to fit in some extra movement and intentionally bring awareness to your body. According to a study in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, one minute of high-intensity activity may be just as good as a longer moderate-intensity workout. The study measured 27 sedentary men who were split into three groups. The first group did a 50-minute cycling workout with 45 minutes of moderate intensity. The second group continued their own exercise routine, or lack thereof. Finally, the third group engaged in a 10-minutes cycling workout with one-minute of high intensity. At the end of the study, various health markers were recorded. Oxygen consumption, insulin sensitivity, and muscle function all improved for participants in both of the cycling groups and in almost the same amount.
So if it’s making your way faster up the stairs, scheduling a meeting on the go, or doing some pushups while your office door is shut, it all contributes to feeling and looking healthier this summer.
5. Conscious Cocktails
The average summer inspired cocktail consists of 250-500 empty calories. Delicious? Yes. A recipe for weight gain? Also yes. Alcohol in itself is calorie dense, so choose beverages with mixers that contain low to no sugar. Steer clear from simple syrup, fruit juices, and bar mixes. Choose beverages with real ingredients to help your body manage the alcohol. For example, a Mojito contains limes which help to detoxify the liver and the mint aids in digestion. It’s prepared with with soda water and by ordering it without simple syrup, you can cut down the calories to 136 from 242 (and 25 grams of sugar). You could go even lower with a vodka soda with lemon at 96 calories. If you are responsible for stocking the bar during a summer gathering, consider offering healthier mixers. Kombucha (fermented tea), cold pressed organic juices, and homemade herbal iced tea are all great additions for a well thought out evening.
After consuming an alcoholic beverage, try a shot of apple cider vinegar in water to help alkalize and reset digestion. Simply mix 1/2 cup of pure water with 1 tbsp of raw apple cider vinegar.