Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What To Eat Before Bikram Class - Revisited

I thought this is a great post to revisit as it's one of the most popular questions I am asked.

This morning I made a big mistake. Huge. In fact, looking back, it was really pretty silly of me. After all, I've been practicing Bikram for 18 months now, and have run a business in the Fitness Industry for nearly a decade. And yet I still thought it was a good idea to eat scrambled cheese and basil eggs for breaky just one hour before class. Okay, I also had toast. And spinach. And bacon. The shame, the shame! The truth is, I knew it wasn’t the best idea, but I just pushed that passing thought away and went for it anyway.

As any of you who have ever gone to class with a full belly will testify, my enjoyment was short lived.

And, needless to say, it was a pretty tough class. Posture by posture I struggled through, gritting my teeth and praying that some kind of super digestion would soon kick in and rid me of my bloated, heavy belly.

Well, that didn’t happen, and my energy remained on a downward droop for the better part of the day. It’s 5pm now, and I’m really only just starting to feel awake again.

I guess I deserved to feel in a slump all day. After all – I know better. And most of the time I do the right thing. But that doesn’t mean I don’t veer off course from time to time. And when I do, it tends to be in a major way. The kind that makes you feel like vomiting while lying face-down in class.

Having said that, there’s a small part of me that realises today’s experience was actually pretty positive. After all - it was certainly a good reminder of why I don’t normally indulge that way prior to entering the sweat centre!

But enough about me. How about you? Do you know what works best in your body before class? What you should eat in order to boost your energy while still feeling nice and light in the belly?

In speaking to students at the Fitzroy Food for Yoga seminar and around the studio, I’ve come to realise that many people really don’t know what – if anything – they should eat before practice. If you fall into this category, ask yourself the following:

Should I Eat At All?

Not everyone needs to eat before class. In fact – for many of us – we’ll get more out of our practice on an empty belly. The question of whether to eat may depend on the time of day. If you’ve been awake for only an hour or so, it’s best to hold off on the food. Food in your belly during class will drain you of energy. This is because you’re body must focus first and foremost on digestion. That pretty much puts a stop to reaching any new limits with your postures, and you may even make yourself feel quite ill. For the same reason, regardless of the time of day, I’d generally cease eating at least 90 minutes before class. There are some exceptions, and I’ll get to that.

If you’ve eaten a large meal on the day in question, I’d leave a good 3 hours before practising and avoid ‘eyes-bigger-than-stomach’ snacking until after class (if at all!) This may be difficult to adapt to initially, but I promise that you will ultimately feel much better for holding out, and your body will thank you for leaving your system free to focus on going the extra mile in class.

But What If I Just Can’t Get By With an Empty Belly?

Those of you who ‘love food and live to eat’ as opposed to ‘eat to live’ may need to eat something small, even if it’s quite close to class. This is mainly for morning classes. Not sure if you fall into this category? If you wake up ravenous most days, seem to digest most foods within an hour or two, and generally have a good idea of what your next few meals will entail, then I’m talking about you.

But even if this is not you, three hours is still a little too long if you haven’t laid a good foundation. For example – if you ate dinner quite early, went to bed hungry, and then didn’t eat more than a light breakfast and a salad for lunch, you may find it pretty tough to hold out through 6pm class until late dinnertime. If you’re not sure whether you need to eat, think back to your last 3 meals. Were they a ‘solid’ meal or just a light snack? If you’ve eaten 3 solid meals within the past 16-24 hours, you should be okay to hold out. If you’ve been skipping meals or grazing, I’d suggest eating something light around 90 minutes before class.

So Which Foods Are Best If I AM Eating Before Class?

We all have different ‘types’ when it comes to which foods work best. To put it very simply, some people function, feel and look their best on a (good quality) high protein/high fat diet while others do better on carbohydrates. I’m definitely a protein person. When I eat predominantly protein and fat, with most of my carbs from vegetables, I’m like a well-oiled machine, and I stay in good shape. If I eat a high-carb diet (even if it’s ‘healthy’) I start feeling and looking awful. But my Mum is exactly the opposite. Long story short – what you should eat before class, and indeed in general, is a very individual matter. The best approach is to eat a light meal with both protein/fat and carbohydrate represented. For example:

  • A soft-boiled egg with a little spinach and fetta
  • Some natural plain yogurt with half a banana
If you choose carbs alone (fruit, cereal, salad) you may find you feel great initially and then you slump. Choose protein without carbs and you it’s likely you’ll experience a heavy feeling in your gut which will slow you down during class. Combine both and you have a recipe for success.

I hope I’ve given you the knowledge to start to figure out what the best approach is for you. Don’t worry – I’m not going to leave it there. In my next post I’ll give you an insight into foods you should definitely avoid before class (and why), as well as some more specific ideas on pre-yoga food combinations for different types of people. In the meantime, why not record what you do or do not eat before your next three classes, and track your response. Pay attention to the way your stomach feels, your physical energy, and your mental focus. A 'tick' in all three areas is usually a sign that you're doing things right. I'd love to hear from you in the comments section - what works best for you before class? Do you have any questions for me? Or maybe just something to share about your practice.

Until next time, remember -

It's not just Food for Yoga. It's Food for Life.


Monday, June 4, 2012

10 Ways To Have A Great Yoga Class

We all have classes that stand out as being exceptional. Transformative, physically as well as emotionally. I'd go so far as to say that some Bikram classes have been life-changing for me, in that I've had an epiphany leading to dramatic consequences in the way I go about my business or personal life.

Of course on a spiritual level we really can't control what happens in the hot room! I know you will relate when I say that some of my best classes have been ones I was expecting nothing from, and some of the toughest ones have been ones I thought I'd coast through.

Perhaps the tough ones are the best ones? :)

Whilst you may not be able to control what emotions or feelings bubble up throughout your practice, there is a lot you can do before and after class to ensure you get the most out of your precious time and benefit from your yoga for hours after you've left the room.

10 Ways To Have A Great Yoga Class

1. Hydrate in advance. Filling your stomach with water 10 or even 60 minutes before class will not hydrate you, and will only make you more likely to feel ill during class. Hydrate early in the day, or the day before if you're coming first thing. Better still - aim to always be hydrated!

2. Protein and a little carbohydrate will fuel you through. See what to eat before class over here.

3. Show up with enough time. Be organised. It just takes practice, and there's nothing better than starting class after having at least 5-10 minutes to lie and be still in the room.

4. Let go. Of your thoughts, of the aches and pains, and definitely of any irritation towards others in the room. Welcome distraction as it helps you to be more focused on your own practice. Learn to just let go of everything except watching your eyes and listening to the words to guide you.

5. Give yourself the gift of 5 minutes after class. I used to be first out of the room after every class. My whole life was rushed, busy, urgent. It still is a lot. But I tell you - I feel so amazing when I do take 5 minutes to truly wind down before leaving the room. Aren't you worth that time?

6. Replenish your electrolytes! You sweat it out, you have to put it back in! Get some electrolytes before class or add a pinch of real (pink or grey) salt to your yoga water.

7. Re-fuel with proper post yoga nutrition and you'll feel great! See what to eat after class over here.

8. Yoga for your mind. Yoga is body, mind, spirit and emotions. Carry it out of the class with you. Let go. And take 5 minutes each day to think of things you're grateful for. This stuff can make a huge difference in all aspects of your life and what you perceive you get.

9. 'Do' yoga even when you can't do yoga. Learn to be gracious, compassionate. Aim to do one kind thing for someone every day and notice one kind thing someone does for you. Learn something new each day.

10. Plan when you'll be back! Goes without saying! Fix a goal as to when you'll return and carry the thought of it through your busy life and day.

Not just Food for Yoga. Food for Life.


Kat is a Bikram yoga Fitzroy student of close to 6 years. She would never consider giving yoga up! Kat has a background in personal training and nutrition and runs a blog at www.womanincredible.com. Come and visit for regular free articles on nutrition, exercise and motivation. Just for registering for free updates you'll also receive a free copy of Kat's latest book!

Monday, March 5, 2012

3 Veggies To Fight Bloating And Fluid Retention

"fat loss smoothie recipes"

Would you like to burn fat better, detox your body and balance out your current diet? All that effort you put in in the yoga room is put a little to waste if your diet doesn't give you the nutrition you need for detoxification, and if you think you may need a little nudge in that area than possible a green smoothie a day is your answer!

The fact of the matter is that most of us aren’t getting nearly enough greens each and every day even when we are diligently following the Look Great Naked Clean Eating plan. I mean c’mon – be honest. Do you truly work your way through multiple cups of greens with nearly every main meal? If you do, kudos to you :)

And if not – hey, you’re human! It takes a lot of time to chew through enough greens to truly detox your body and maximize fat loss and health each day!

Green smoothies are a fantastic and convenient way to get a load of your greens in without the hassle. Done properly they are simply jam-packed full of goodness. In fact, green smoothies will give you:
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Antioxidants
  • Fibre
  • And all with MASSIVE taste. Massively GOOD taste!

Here are 3 of my favourite vegetables to put into smoothies specifically chosen for their fluid retention and bloating reduction properties:

1. Coriander is well known for it’s healing and medicinal qualities! This naturally sweet herb helps with any form of indigestion or digestive disorder or nausea, and is also an excellent natural diuretic, which makes it fantastic for helping with fluid retention AND with bloating.

2. The humble cucumber is one of my all-time favourite vegetables. I tend to carry around a few of them in my bag each day as an on-the-go snack, but another reason I love cucumbers is that they remind me of drinking refreshing iced cucumber tea at my Afghani friends’ house when I was a teenager. Obviously her Mum was onto something, as cucumbers are fantastic for everything from alleviating constipation, to controlling weight through natural diuretic properties, to promoting good bone health through their high Vitamin K. A fabulous vegetable to eat or drink!

3. Well we all know that spinach is good for us and that it makes us strong, but did you know why that is so? Here’s a pretty impressive fact for you – the nutritional breakdown of spinach is such that it has more nutrients in it per calorie than any other food. Wow, huh? And not only is it ridiculously nutrient dense (with vitamins, minerals and even essential fatty acids), but it’s also naturally very low in calories. This is a key reason spinach is renowned for its weight loss benefits. Drink up!

The Fat Loss Smoothie Collection is the latest e-book in the Woman Incredible Look Great Naked series, and it includes 10 simply brilliant fat loss smoothie recipes, all super quick and easy to make in your blender at home. If you'd like more ideas for green smoothie recipes then check it out :)

If you'd rather make up your own, then just blend a variety of fresh leafy greens with fresh herbs and some cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger to taste. I haven't looked back since introducing a green smoothie a day into my eating plan. It's quick, tasty, and makes it SO easy to get my veggie intake. You won't look back either :)

Not just Food for Yoga. Food for Life.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

10 Superfoods Your Kitchen Can't Live Without!

Time and again I get asked what the best foods are to eat. The truth, of course, is that different things work for different people and it would be rather a long list if I were to try and write them in a blog post!

That being said, there are definitely some foods I continue absolute staples. Keep these in your home and you are unlikely to ever get stuck in a food emergency before class or end up tempted to hit the take away on the way home from class!

  1. Coconut oil: this saturated fat is made up of medium chain fatty acids, and great for energy as well as fat loss. A teaspoon will quell the sugar cravings right away, and it's also fab for cooking!
  2. Organic protein powder: A great back up for a meal if need be, and also excellent post yoga. I recommend my own brand, which is all organic and grass-fed (and a great price if I do say so myself!) but if you don't want that one any good organic brand is a smart choice.
  3. Tinned salmon or sardines: I'm not a huge tinned food fan, but great as a back up.
  4. Frozen organic vegetables: frozen veg are snap frozen, retaining nutrition. Great as a back-up again!
  5. Greek organic yoghurt: I recommend all dairy be organic. Greek yoghurt is fab as it is high in probiotics; good bacteria.
  6. Dark chocolate:at least 85%: it's higher in antioxidants, and lower in sugar
  7. Red wine: enough said :)
  8. Avocado: a great fat that can be used as a snack on its own if need be!
  9. Frozen berries: add them to the yoghurt or your protein shake, or enjoy with some chocolate and wine. Yummy.
  10. A great nut and seed mix: Avoid peanuts as they are legumes not nuts. I would roast nuts yourself if possible to avoid vegetable oils, and then salt with pink or grey salt.
Keep these foods in your cupboard and enjoy being able to go home without worrying about what to eat on those days when you just can't be bothered!

Not just Food for Yoga. Food for Life.

Want to get an idea of ALL the best foods for a clean and energised you? I'm actually in the process of finishing an e-book on just that! You can check it out at my blog www.womanincredible.com, where you can also subscribe for free updated on nutrition, health, training and fat loss. Grab a free copy of my Female Fat Loss book while you're there!