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Healthier Eating : It's treat O'clock

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It’s Ok to eat a little bit of what you fancy – if you time it right

We’ve all been there… sometimes the lure of fast food or birthday cake is just too hard to resist. But what if you could have your cake and eat it, without worrying about the calories? Well, it turns out you can enjoy all your favorite ‘treat’ foods without the guilt, if you’re sensible about when you eat them. There are times and situations when foods such as burgers or chocolate are physiologically less likely to impact on your weight or health. ‘When you stop forbidding yourself, you’re less likely to binge and more likely to enjoy these foods in the appropriate quantities,’ says fitness and weight-loss expert Marisa Peer. Read on to discover the best time to eat those treats.

Description: It’s treat O’clock

It’s treat O’clock

What: Chocolate

When: Breakfast

We’ve known for some time that dark chocolate is brimming with free radical-blasting antioxidants – 20 times more than green tea, in fact – and that it’s a great source of magnesium, which can ease depression and migraines, as well as boost your metabolism, says Peer. A recent study by Tel Aviv University showed that morning is the best time to have chocolate, as this is when your metabolism is firing at its best. Not that we recommend it but, half the people in the 32-week study ate a portion of chocolate cake at breakfast and lost, on average, 40lbs more than those who didn’t have cake. And this was despite both groups consuming the same total amount of daily calories.

Description: Chocolate

Chocolate

What: Milkshake

When: After cardio

If long-distance running is your thing, have some chocolate milk to hand for a post-run recovery drink, says Peer. Endurance exercise depletes muscle glycogen, so while drinking water will replace fluid lost during exercise, it won’t give you all the nutrients required by your body after a tough cardio session. Drinking chocolate milk within 30 minutes of intense exercise will provide essential carbohydrates and a combination of whey and casein protein that will replenish your muscles. Whey is fast acting, allowing amino acids to get right into the muscle tissue, while casein is digested more slowly, providing a steady stream of amino acids over time.

Description: Milkshake

Milkshake

What: Burger

When: After weights

Beef has had a bad rep because it’s high in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. But, a diet that includes lean red meat can lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase absorption of omega-3 fatty acids, according to a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition. ‘Red meat aids far burning and muscle building, so if these are your goals, have it at least three times a week,’ says Peer. Red meat is also full of iron, which is important for delivering oxygen to muscles. So grab a burger (a healthy one, without the sauce and onion rings!) after a weight-training workout.

 

Description: Burger

Burger

What: Coffee

When: Before training

‘Coffee aids fat burning, so drink it before training to see better results,’ says Peer. A study by the Australian Institute of Spot found that caffeine triggers muscles to start using stored fat instead of carbohydrate as an energy source. Consumed before a workout, caffeine allowed athletes in the study to exercise three times as long, and it’s now classified as an approved supplement for athletes by the Australian Institute of Sport. Caffeine also increases stamina and improves physical performance, according to researchers from the University of Georgia, who say caffeine acts as an anaesthetic, blocking muscle pain and soreness, helping you work out for longer.

Description: Coffee

Coffee

What: White bagel

When: Pre-workout

It’s a general consensus that consuming processed ‘white’ carbs is bad for you because they cause your insulin levels to spike and can lead to weight gain. But eating a high-carb meal before a workout will ensure your body uses it for fuel instead of storing it as fat. ‘White bagels are good for training because your body uses the carbohydrate instantly for energy. If you’re training long distance, eating carbohydrates before and during training will give you the energy to keep going,’ says Peer. Also, pair your high-GI bagel with protein-rich egg 20 minutes after a workout. The mix of carbs and protein will restock your energy stores and drive protein to your muscles to help recovery.

Description: White bagel

White bagel

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