Head-hunted by some of the country’s top sporting teams and working quietly behind the scenes to help the Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens team on their road to Olympic victory – Peta Carige is arguably one of Australia’s best dieticians.
Creating medal-worthy nutritional practices for professional sporting teams since 2005, Peta has numerous feathers in her career cap – with some resumé highlights including making sure the Brisbane Broncos, Manly Sea Eagles, Newcastle Knights, and NSW Waratahs get their correct fill of protein and veggies; and getting the Newcastle Jets, Queensland Academy of Sports and QLD Cup League teams into shape (literally).
Here, we catch Peta off-field to find out her top 10 health tips for 2017 [we especially love her tip on the natural ‘magic pill’ for weight loss]…
1. It starts with water
It is the gluten-free, fat-free, calorie-free cleansing product that few of us drink enough of. We have all heard of the two litres per day rule, but a more accurate rule is 35-45 millilitres per kilogram body weight. If you hit this target, you feel fresher, fuller – and being hydrated prevents any unnecessary grazing. The easy way to increase your water intake is to include a 300ml glass with every meal or snack. If you increase your water intake this way, you are less likely to interfere with your precious beauty sleep with throne visits during the night.
2. Three fists of veggies
Only 4 per cent of Australians hit their recommended five serves of vegetables per day. I know it sounds boring, but if you increase your vegetable intake, especially at dinner, you will be healthier inside and out and slim down without trying as you fill up on low energy nutritious food. The rule I use with my athletes is to aim for ‘three fists’ of coloured veggies every dinner… I promise this is the only ‘magic pill’ that has been proven time and time again to result in weight loss.
Breakfast tells your body that you are going to be fed that day, so it is okay to burn any excess energy. The perfect breakfast to further boost your metabolism should contain both carbohydrates (multigrain bread, oats, quality cereal) and a protein source to ensure you are fuelled with energy and protein to get through your day. Smoothies are on trend for breakfast, which my athletes love, but make sure you include some oats or nuts in your breakfast smoothie to keep you full until your next meal.
4. One habit change
The lure of the New Year overhaul of your entire diet is always extremely appealing, but inevitably it results in a three days of ‘boring’ eating before your first sniff of the office chocolates results in a complete binge and then the promise to yourself to start again ‘next Monday’. The most successful way to lose weight is to think about one habit (nutrition or exercise) that you do daily and make it healthier. For example, cut the two sugars out of your coffee that you have EVERY day, or reduce your evening wine from two glasses to one. Small changes that you can maintain will result in a healthier you long term and you will see some sustainable weight loss without even realising.
5. Whole foods
Snacks are the difference between sticking to your nutrition plan or falling off the wagon every day. Especially in the afternoon, it is so important that we reach for whole foods like a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts, tub of yoghurt or even a boiled egg so that you stay full right up until dinner and bypass all of the 3pm cravings. Make this snack substantial so you don’t graze all afternoon too. My favourite afternoon snack is a piece of fruit toast with ricotta, half a banana and cinnamon.
6. Resistance training
Men have faster metabolisms than women because they have much more muscle mass on average. Therefore, the best way to increase your metabolism is to build muscle and thus, including resistance training into your training regime. For the females out there, no you will not bulk up as you do not have testosterone, but yes, you will start to replace some fat with muscle.
7. Small treats
The concept of a ‘cheat day’ is extremely dangerous as the damage done in one day (and night) can undo six days worth of good work very easily. My clients are allowed one small treat per week, which has to be consumed before the weekend and one meal of choice on the weekend. Including these more frequently but in smaller dosages helps prevent any accidental binges and ensure you stay on track while enjoying the food you love.
8. Social movement
Our society loves to catch up over a coffee and cake or an evening vino. Make one of your New Year resolutions to catch up with your friends over an evening walk, yoga class or a group training session. It’s amazing how many more exercise sessions you will fit into an already jam-packed schedule this way and the exercise endorphins will result in more laughs than usual.
9. Think Mediterranean
The Mediterranean diet has been proven consistently to be one of the healthiest diets, but what we forget is that the Mediterranean Diet is part of the Mediterranean lifestyle. So think how you can make your crazy high-stress life more Mediterranean… Take relaxing walks to the food markets on the weekend to buy your fresh vegetables and seafood, include healthy oils in your cooking, graze on olive oils, nuts and chickpeas, and if you are really keen, sneak under your desk for a siesta at 2pm in the afternoon.
Fad diets come and go and are all based on strict ‘food rules’ to make it easier for you to simplify cutting energy out of your diet. They are not sustainable and often result in people developing an unhappy relationship with food, not to mention, you run the risk of becoming ‘that friend’ at dinners who ruins the option of the banquet because they can’t eat gluten, dairy or anything with flavour that month! In sport we have a saying which is ‘keep it simple stupid’ and it applies to training and your nutrition. Make some simple changes and make healthy changes easy for yourself, that way you can still be social, enjoy amazing food, and be the healthier version of yourself in 2017.