Fitness Question of the Month with Tom Harris

Tom Harris, a PT and nutritionist working in Bury, Newmarket and Cambridge ponders our obsession with getting in shape for summer – and offers some nutritional tips for feeling fit and healthy

Ah, the classic line I hear around this time of year – “I’ve indulged over the winter with warming comfort food and have gained a little more ‘cushioning’ than I’m comfortable with. Now summer is around the corner I’d quite like to trim up and enjoy the summer and sun (ha!) to feel confident about my body”.

Most of us can relate to this scenario post-winter. As the evenings get dark and the temperature drops it’s easy to resort to eating and drinking a little bit more than we need, wrapped up cosy beneath a multitude of layer – the thought of bearing our skin, a distant one.

However, at the first sign of spring our thoughts turn towards summer. Even the fiercest anti-gym individuals will consider the way they currently look; particularly if considering braving the beach.

Tom Harris (31484495)
Tom Harris (31484495)

Supplement companies, magazines and gyms know the power of tapping into our insecurities surrounding body image and bombard us with messages such as ‘Drop 2 dress sizes in 2 weeks!’, ‘No carbs before Marbs’, ‘Bikini body now’, and ‘Abs in just 7 days!’. In fact only a couple of years ago an advert displayed on the London Underground by a well-known supplement company with the tagline ‘Are you beach body ready?’ received so many complaints it was banned by the Advertising Standards Agency.

Quite clearly getting in shape for the summer or a beach holiday is something that most of us consider. So what can we do to feel better about ourselves and enjoy our holidays as we all deserve to?

First things first, it’s important to make clear that crash dieting and / or fad diets do not work in the long-term and are not good for your health. The strategies that I would recommend to a client wanting to shape up in a relatively short space of time would essentially be the same as a client wanting to get healthier, with some slight tweaks, as good nutrition should be the foundation of any eating plan, regardless of goal.

Here are three simple nutrition tips to help accelerate the process, whilst ensuring we are not compromising our health.

1 - Aim to eat 3 meals and 1-2 snacks daily and 2 Litres+ water.

2 - Reduce Carbs to 1 starchy carb serving daily. It’s important to state clearly that carbs are not bad and do not make you fatter than any other nutrient when consumed in excess. However, we need to create an energy deficit from somewhere and most people eat too many carbs anyway. Therefore the logical nutrient to pull down on is carbs. I recommend eating your carb portion at dinner to help with sleep. Stick to sweet potato, regular potato, rice, rye bread or pulses. About a clenched fist size.

3 - Consume only protein, fat and a micronutrient (vegetables or 1 nutrient dense fruit servings eg blueberries) source at every other meal. This could be natural Greek yoghurt with chia seeds / flax and berries for breakfast, a chicken or (other lean meat) salad with avocado and plenty of chopped salad vegetables for lunch and a protein shake with a small handful of nuts and an apple as a snack.

The structure could looks as follows:

Meal 1: Protein, healthy fat + micronutrient (fruit)

Meal 2: Protein, healthy fat + micronutrient (veg)

Snack: Protein, healthy fat + micronutrient (veg)

Meal 3: Protein, healthy fat, CARB + micronutrient (veg)

Wishing you luck on your journey to a happier, healthier you this summer!


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