Is your job DESTROYING your body (Part 2) – Sugar, Alcohol & Vitamins
In Part 1, I discussed the importance of aligning your job to your life’s mission and how the demands of a busy job can send your sleep cycles and caffeine intake spiralling out of control. I also suggested micro actions, ‘Do One Thing’ actions to take to address these issues.
In part two we move onto addressing sugar intake, alcohol consumption and nutritional deficiencies while holding down a busy job.
Fuelling yourself on sugar
Just as it’s now common knowledge that weightlifting (even if you’re a girl) is amazingly good for you, it’s also received wisdom that refined sugar is bad, very bad.
With that being said, everyone’s human. We all bend the rules now and again and give in to the box of doughnuts that conveniently appear in the office. Fighting against this and trying to eliminate sugar and carbs in all forms just makes you, well, a little boring and for most people, it’s unachievable.
Unless you are on a strict ketogenic or paleo diet for a specific nutritional or health reason, my general recommendation is to plan to have a moderate amount of carbs and naturally occurring sugars, especially if you are in a demanding job.
If you’re too idealistic and do not accept that you WILL FAIL and ahead of a busy day, you’ll need to refuel properly with at least some carbs, you’re much more prone to cheating in a big way at the vending machine which is not good at all.
None of these will come as a surprise to you but my favourite ‘good’ carb sources are:
- sweet potato
- gluten free oats
- brown rice
What works for some may not for others but the benefit of the above list of ‘good’ carb options is that they avoid triggering a state of inflammation in the body and causing problems with food allergies in the vast majority of people. Try to avoid pasta, bread and other carb sources containing gluten – they tend to cause problems for a number of my clients, especially if their jobs demand long periods of intense focus.
You should take your carbs in the evening with your evening meal, contrary to popular belief, there is no fat loss downside to eating carbs late in the day. You’ll feel strong and alive the next day if you eat properly the night before and it gives you the option to have a relatively light breakfast such as a meal replacement shake (I am currently using this one which I highly recommend and gives me everything I need to start the day) which I find works well for many of my clients. A stodgy breakfast has the potential to slow you down all day as you digest it.
Protein in the morning, through a meal replacement shake or high protein foods such as organic eggs, really suppresses the appetite and dampens sugar cravings for the rest of the day.
Do One Thing Action item:
Aside from the other tips in this section, a good strategy if you regularly find yourself at the vending machine for a hit of sugar is to invest in some mini bars of high cacao dark chocolate and take a stock of these to work with you at the start of each week like these ones. Go for at least 70% cocoa solids. You’ll get a sweet tasting hit and it will increase your alertness. If you try to eliminate all sugar as a busy person in a busy job you’re setting yourself up for failure!
Alcohol is bad for your body and performance in every single respect. But alcohol, like sugar, tends to be very difficult to avoid if you’re in the corporate world, especially with obligatory work functions where bottomless champagne and beer are a feature.
Again, I acknowledge that a certain amount of alcohol consumption is inevitable. Punishing yourself with a spartan teetotal existence if you really enjoy a glass of wine a few times a week is actually likely to do more harm than good. It’s controversial, but even the occasional binge boozing session can keep you sane and on the straight and narrow during office hours.
I recommend at a minimum you focus on completing a dry January every year, the peer pressure at this time to go out will be vastly reduced and you’ll feel like this is quite achievable. Your body will thank you. If you’re more committed to this, taking the first three months of the year ‘off’ the sauce when drinks invites in the corporate world are much more limited will set you up amazingly well for the year ahead.
Do One Thing Action Item
In terms of a quick action to take regarding your alcohol intake, if you currently drink wine or beer, switch to spirits like gin or tequila with a zero cal mixer and fresh lime if you fancy a drink of an evening. If you love the taste of wine, opt for a dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc.
A lot of the items on this list are ‘difficult to fix’ but this one is much simpler to address. There are key nutrients our bodies need to have energy and to stay in shape. If you’re feeling run down by your job and tired all the time there might be a wider cause than just ‘too much work’ or ‘tiredness’’.
There are a few vitamins to monitor here (don’t self medicate, get tested!):
D3, the vitamin you can only get naturally from the sun, is in short supply in your fluorescently-lit corporate building where there is no natural sunlight (especially if you live in the UK with its three days of sunlight a year!). D3 impacts on the expression of hundreds of genes in your body. If you’re low, your doctor will recommend supplementation. In general it’s a good idea to get out in the sun for as much time as you are able to.
Zinc and magnesium
In men, Zinc and Magnesium is critical for testosterone production and whilst women need a lower dose, is also important to regulate their sleep cycles and muscle recovery. Again, you should get tested to establish if you do have a deficiency and if you do, supplementation should be considered. It is a very common deficiency so don’t be surprised if you’re affected.
The B vitamins
B vitamins are key for energy production and a whole load of other health markers. If you feel tired, get tested. Sometimes, if you have a digestive complaint or your diet is not up to scratch, you can suffer from a depletion of vitamin B which can throw you off balance. Go to your doctor and get tested if you feel more than just a little tired after a day of work, if you’ve got a problem your doctor will prescribe either injections or tablet supplementation to get you feeling right again.
I have a bit of a problem with health and fitness professionals “prescribing” these type of supplements to clients without the medical data to back this up. As I have discussed, a large number of you reading this MAY be deficient in the above nutrients, but please get tested by your GP to make certain.
The truth is, keeping fit and most importantly healthy, whilst tackling the demands of work, life and family is a tough ask. Poor nutrition and sleep deprivation lead to a reliance on caffeine and sugar to pick us up and alcohol and prescription medication to bring us down. Our working environments deprive us of essential nutrients and place additional stress upon our bodies that promote illness not wellness.
The contents of this post and Part 1 describe a world in which we are effectively surviving, but not thriving. An idyllic world without the daily stresses of work and family, where a private chef can accommodate your every nutritional requirement and a live in trainer can sculpt the perfect body are not achievable for most!
However the simple actions outlined above performed consistently can take you away from a survival state and towards a life where you can thrive in all areas!
If you like what you’ve read so far then stay tuned as I’ll introduce you more to my concept of Do One Thingeach day to achieve the health and fitness you’ve always dreamed of.