Dubai Fitness Challenge: 6 nutrition tips to transform your health

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Dubai - Eat right, get fit

By Dr Ryan Penny

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Published: Thu 21 Oct 2021, 1:41 PM

Last updated: Thu 21 Oct 2021, 3:10 PM

This year’s Dubai Fitness Challenge, which starts on October 29, is a great opportunity to transform your diet, as well as increase the amount you exercise.

Here are some straightforward tips for improving the way you eat, whether you want to lose weight or simply improve your nutritional intake.

Keeping things simple

In my line of work, the most common mistake I see people make when it comes to nutrition, is overcomplicating matters. Nutrition is not as confusing as many make it out to be — in fact, it can be broken down into six really simple steps. Firstly, I tell my clients to eat the rainbow. What I mean by this is to try and get as many fruits and vegetables, with as many varied colours as possible, to ensure you’re getting a wide-range of nutrients. My second piece of advice is to avoid processed food. This means eating whole foods, which look like (or close to) how they are found in nature. It also means trying to make your diet as organic as possible, as well as hormone-free, additive-free, and preservative-free. The third important factor is to eat a plant-strong diet. In our diet, 80 per cent or more of our foods should be coming from plant sources. I ask people to incorporate as many raw plants in their diet as they can. Although this can throw some people off, it really is as simple as getting some fresh salads in your diet day-to-day, and making sure to eat fresh fruit too. And the final — and probably one of the most important factors is to track your calories. If you need to lose weight, create a calorie deficit, and if you need to gain weight, create a calorie surplus in your diet.

Gluten, dairy and other elimination diets

It’s often overstated that ‘gluten is bad’, personally I am not too hung up on this one. Of course, if someone has a diagnosed allergy or intolerance then they should avoid it. However, with gluten, when many people eliminate it from their diet, they are also cutting out a lot of processed foods — which could be why they see the benefits from doing so. In terms of dairy, a mistake many people make is thinking it is a health food. In my opinion, it is not healthy to consume dairy. If people enjoy dairy, it comes back to the 80 per cent or more plant-based diet rule — they should consider dairy a “treat food” outside of the nutrition they get from a plant-based diet. It’s about trying to find the right balance of enjoying life versus being good most of the time.

The great meat debate

The human body can process and digest meat and fish. But overconsumption of these proteins is not beneficial to the human body and that’s why I recommend that my clients eat no more than 10-20 per cent of meat in their diet and focus more on plant-based meals. A bit of meat once a week, or once every couple of weeks shouldn’t be too much of an issue but try to limit it at that.

Should I supplement?

With supplements, it’s important to apply the same six rules that you do to your overall diet. The way to tell whether a supplement is good, is to look at whether it comes from natural food sources. For example, a Vitamin C supplement which comes from 100 per cent organic berries. Something else people should keep in mind is that supplements should not be the main way of getting nutrition into their diet — they should only be a booster, where needed.

How the Dubai Fitness Challenge can help

I think the Dubai Fitness Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to get people moving more, which is so important for our overall health. It’s also unusual for people not to cluster good habits as positive behaviours attract other healthy behaviours. For example, moving more and improving their diet at the same time. In that way, I think the Dubai Fitness Challenge is a great way for people to improve their day-to-day exercise capacity and focus on eating better.

As Dubai Fitness Challenge proves every year, there are simple ways to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle with so much happening across the city. It’s the same with nutrition too. It’s very easy to eat a good diet, if you just follow the six golden rules: eat the rainbow, choose a plant-strong diet, avoid processed food, eat raw and wholefoods and count calories. It really is as simple as that.

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