Drinking water with lemon, early morning exercise and lots of sleep all make for a happier and healthy life. At Hip & Healthy we love healthy habits and there is never a bad time to be healthy. However, according to the book “The Body Clock Advantage” by Matthew Edlund, our bodies function in sync with a finely tuned internal body clock. In order to optimise our health, the timing of our healthy habits actually does matter. Obviously, by exercising and eating well you are one step ahead of those eating doughnuts on the sofa but you can improve your health even more by clocking in those healthy habits at the optimal time of day.
Drink Water with Lemon
We’ve all heard about drinking warm water with lemon first thing in the morning. Famous healthies such as Madeleine Shaw and Ella Woodward (Deliciously Ella) swear by its benefits – apparently it stimulates digestion and gives you an immune system boost thanks to all the vitamin C in lemons. According to health experts, the reason for drinking it in the morning is because the citric acid in the lemon helps to get the body’s enzymes functioning after sleep, hence the better digestion. Also we wake up dehydrated and so the water returns necessary hydration to the body. Drinking water with lemon at another time of day isn’t going to be unhealthy, but starting your day with it is optimal. And remember to always use a straw as the lemon juice can damage your teeth over time!
Exercise Before Breakfast
Fasted-cardio has become a bit of a buzz word in the fitness world. Apparently, exercising first thing on an empty stomach stimulates fat loss (excellent!) as it forces the body to use its fat stores as fuel. However, Ollie Frost, fitness and nutrition coach at Reach Fitness, recommends that high intensity exercise done in a fasted state should be kept to less than 20 minutes – any longer and you risk muscle breakdown and fatigue (not good if you have a long day of work ahead). Ideally you want to fuel yourself before a workout session with a small snack such as one of our energy balls or Banola Bars.
And hold off on the handful of nuts post-workout. Ollie adds that fats should be kept to a minimum after exercising as they do not resynthesise glycogen, which we need to power us through the day ahead. Instead go for a mix of protein and carbohydrates such as eggs and quinoa.
Take Your Supplements
Our favourite supplement company Inner Me recommends that their vitamin supplements should be taken with a meal as some may cause nausea on an empty tummy. In addition to feeling queasy, if you take water soluble vitamins such as the Bs and C without food, they will pass out quickly as rather expensive urine. An ideal time to swallow your vitamins is with a good breakfast. Also vitamins such as Bs and C can help with energy and immunity so morning is the best time to take them. In fact, B vitamins support the breakdown of food into energy meaning you will get the most from them if you take them in the morning. Fat-soluble supplements such as vitamin D need dietary fat for absorption – a little coconut oil with breakfast is perfect!
Two supplements which should be taken at night instead are calcium and magnesium. Magnesium, in particular, assists with muscle relaxation and both have been shown to aid sleep. But before you start popping those pills, get some advice from a nutritionist or doctor.
Snack on Protein
Depending on what time you eat lunch, it is quite likely your blood sugar will slump mid-afternoon. Pre-empt this by making sure you snack on something every three to four hours. You want to avoid high sugar foods on their own such as dried fruits, sweets and fruit smoothies. These won’t fill you up and will cause a spike in your blood sugar level, meaning you will need another pick-me-up not long after – one biscuit is too many and five is not enough (you know the feeling). An ideal snack three to four hours after lunch is one high in protein and good fats which will sustain you until supper. At Hip and Healthy, we love snacking on almonds, Coyo’s coconut yogurt and nut butters.
Also known as a power nap, an afternoon sleep at around 3pm can do wonders for our health. Instead of reaching for that bar of chocolate, take a 10 minute break and have a sleep. According to an Australian sleep study which compared power nap times, 10 minutes left participants feeling most energised and refreshed. Unfortunately most offices don’t offer nap breaks but a little breathing and meditation can have a similar effect. Headspace, a fantastic resource and app for guided meditation, states that meditation activates the “rest and digest” part of our nervous system which helps with stress management. Find a quiet space, focus on your breath for 10 minutes and you will return to work with a second wind (no sugar needed!).
Stop Eating Before 7pm
Often bandied around as a weight loss tip, no eating after 7pm has very little evidence backing it up. Often you hear celebrities talking about how they don’t eat anything at least 2 hours before bed time but that isn’t the reason that they are slim. The key to a healthy weight is ensuring you eat the right things throughout the day and physical exercise. However, for some people, having a cut off time works as they know that they are more likely to reach for the chocolate and ice cream later at night. According to nutrition experts, your metabolism does not stop while you are sleeping but it does slow down. In order to avoid things like indigestion, bloating and gas, it is sensible to stop eating a couple of hours before bed so you can sleep comfortably. Sadly, it isn’t going to make you any slimmer.
Epsom Salt Baths
Who doesn’t love a bath? Light a few candles, sprinkle some Epsom Salts, a dash of essential oil and you are in bath-time heaven. But an Epsom Salt bath in the morning is probably going to make you want to head straight back under the duvet. Epsom Salt is made up of magnesium sulphate, a compound of magnesium and sulphate, two important minerals for our bodies. These minerals are absorbed through your skin and are wonderful for soothing tired muscles and reducing a bloated belly. Ideally, run your Epsom Salt bath just before bed time to help you sleep better.
words by Kathleen Fleming
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