Hannah:
Welcome back Burn Pod listeners, and we’ve got Laura Cini joining us again. She previously just did a podcast episode on weight and fat loss. So if you’re interested in that topic, just jump back and you can have a listen to that one. But let’s get stuck into our next topic on the series of nutrition-based podcasts. And today we’re chatting all things energy. How does what we eat, our nutrition, impact our energy levels and how can we use nutrition plus other health levers in our lives to improve our energy levels? So welcome back, Laura.

Laura Cini:
Oh, it’s good to be back, Hannah. Thank you.

Hannah:
No worries. And let’s get, I guess, an introduction to energy first. So how does energy and nutrition operate together?

Laura Cini:
Well, low energy, I suppose, is probably one of the most common health issues that clients approach me with and it’s a fairly balanced equation, I suppose, in that good fuel usually equals good energy, unless there’s background factors, perhaps infections or health issues like low thyroid function or high levels of stress. If there’s complicating factors then in the background, it’s not so simple, but usually it is like your car. If you fuel your car with steady supply of quality fuel, then it’s generally pretty happy. If you supply your body with again, a steady supply of good quality food and hydration, then generally it will run quite happily.

Hannah:
Yeah. And I mean, most of us have a fleeting understanding of food energy and how this impacts us and for how long. I mean, for example, we know that a boost of sugar to the bloodstream usually peaks our energy for a very short period of time, but it also usually follows a quick crash. I know that, for example, athletes use glucose or some sort of drink or like a gel to maintain energy levels when they’re undertaking and endurance type sport. But how does an everyday woman manage energy through food?

Laura Cini:
Yeah, sure. So look, I see a lot of people whose energy levels are not steady through the day, particularly falling at around sort of mid afternoon, 3:00, where they get the munchies for the lolly jar at work or the chocolate box. Look, eating patterns when and what you eat has an enormous effect on your energy levels and nutritional needs vary enormously between people. I think there’s not a general level of understanding in the community about that in that often people will think, “Well, the latest fad diet is a vegan diet or a paleo or keto style diet and so that works really well for my friends, so it’s going to work really well for me.” And that is just not true because the nutritional needs vary so enormously between people that often people are trying to eat in a style that is not suitable for them.

Hannah:
Yeah. Yeah. And how do you balance that with your every day delicious red wine or a cheese platter with your friends? I mean, we know this stuff doesn’t give us a huge amount of decent energy. It’s not great for us, but I mean, it’s part and parcel of our lives that we socialise based around food. I mean, if you look at after work knockoff drinks, you look at brunch with your girlfriends, dinner. Basically, all our social lives revolve around our energy and our food and quite often that involves not so great options. So how do we balance this in our life to make sure we are getting good food and good energising food into our bodies?

Laura Cini:
Yeah. So there’s a few, I would say, fairly simple principles in that one, eating food as close to its natural state as possible. So eating food that is minimally processed, so real food, quality fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, protein, dairy products, if you tolerate them. So that’s one that most people are aware of. Another that I talked to my clients about is the 80-20 principle where perhaps 80% of the time, you really do the right thing and you eat those quality foods and maybe 20% of the time, approximately, you kick back and you have something yummy. But you don’t want to be thinking about it as a bad food, psychologically, and that’s guilt inducing.

Laura Cini:
You want to think about it as your 20%. Okay, kick back. Have something yummy. Have some cheese from the cheese platter or a glass of wine here and there. It’s about sustainability and being practical. I think sometimes people are unsure about coming to see a nutritionist like myself, because they’re worried that we’re going to be like a dictator and say, “Right. This is it. No more of this for you. No more of that. And you have to eat this way.” It’s not practical and it’s not sustainable. And I don’t think any of my clients would come back if I told them no more Tim Tams, no more red wine.

Hannah:
Yeah. Yeah. You’re like a woman to my own heart because the 80-20, I’m not sure if it’s come from somewhere, but we talk about that all the time with our members as well, that you can’t expect to be perfect a hundred percent of the time because we’re human. We can’t be. And that doesn’t just relate to what you’re eating, but it also relates to your exercise too. You’re going to have off days. You’re going to have a couple of weeks here and there where you just don’t feel up to it. So if 80% of the time you are choosing good, healthy options and you’re moving your body in a way that feels right and good for you, you’re doing well. And the other 20% of the time, it’s just life.

Laura Cini:
Exactly, exactly. It needs to be sustainable. It needs to not be guilt inducing. There’s too much guilt around food. And as I said, it needs to be a personalised approach. What suits one person won’t suit the next. And it may be that for you, there are some nutritional deficiencies that you may not know you have, and that might be impacting on your energy levels, for example. You might be low in magnesium or there could be a low iron issue. It might be that you’re not eating enough protein. That’s pretty common in women. And that will affect your energy levels. That will affect how full you feel. It will affect your ability to burn fat. So that’s where personalised nutrition comes in and that’s where if you see a nutritionist, then we will sit down and really look specifically at you, your body, your exercise levels, your health history, any health conditions that you might have, and we will get together a practical, doable, sustainable plan for you.

Hannah:
Yeah. Yeah. I love that. And what is the impact of hydration on our energy? How does this work?

Laura Cini:
Ah, yeah. Spot on with that, Hannah. This is really, really important and it sounds so simple, but maybe it’s not as easy to do for everyone. Hydration is vital. A huge percentage of the body is water and if you’re dehydrated, that has an effect on your ability to burn fat. It has an effect on the brain’s ability to work efficiently. It affects every cell in the body. As I’ve said to you in a previous podcast, our body is made of trillions of little, teeny, tiny cells, and they need to be well-hydrated to keep your metabolism kicking along well. They need to be nice and plump my grapes. You don’t want them dehydrated, if you sort of think more like [inaudible 00:09:04]. Maybe not that extreme, but if that helps to understand.

Laura Cini:
So hydration, it’s usually one of the first things that I’ll talk to my clients about and I’m not talking about coffee and tea because they are diuretics, which means they actually dehydrate you. So we talk about other ways, water, a bit of lemon in water, maybe herbal tea, peppermint, or chamomile, if you’re into those herbal teas, maybe kombucha. We’ll talk about a range of ways that you can make sure you’re hydrating yourself. And again, not over. I have seen a few clients over the years, not a lot, but a few that are actually drinking too much fluid and that can wash out your water soluble minerals, like magnesium and zinc. So yeah, not too much, but usually the issue is not enough.

Hannah:
Yeah. It’s a delicate balance really, isn’t it?

Laura Cini:
Yeah, that’s right.

Hannah:
Yeah. I mean, this one’s pretty obvious to most of us, but I mean, sleep on our energy levels and rest and relaxation. How does that work?

Laura Cini:
Yeah, so… Oh gosh, that’s a huge issue.

Hannah:
If you don’t sleep, you feel crappy and you don’t have any energy and you’re tired for the day. But I guess what we probably don’t think about is also rest and relaxation in there.

Laura Cini:
Yes. Look, I think our society or our culture really values busy-ness. Yeah, it’s fun to be busy, but I do think sometimes there’s an overemphasis on being busy and not enough emphasis on rest, relaxation, stress management, and that has a huge effect on your health. And it really can’t be underestimated, the effect of not getting enough rest and relaxation because those stress hormones that we’ve talked about before, cortisol. Many people have cortisol that’s really not in the right daily pattern. It’s really quite out of whack. And that has an effect on their sleep, which makes them more tired and has an effect on their ability to burn fat, particularly around the middle section of the body. So stress management, rest and relaxation is just so, so, so important. And I keep repeating myself, I know, to my client sick and they’re sick of hearing it, but sometimes you do need someone remind you. Guys, you’ve got to rest. You’ve got to give your body a chance to regenerate, repair, especially if you’re doing regular exercise and you’re trying to build more lean muscle tissue and burn fat. It is just vital.

Hannah:
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And you say it when you’re in the crux of trying to lose weight and you think, I’m going to exercise seven days a week, and hard exercise, seven days a week, it’s actually not conducive to fat loss and to your overall health. We do need to rest. And I feel like I’m sort of the pot calling the kettle black right now, in terms of my rest and relaxation. My members know of just, well at the recording of this podcast, we’ve just come out of launching the Moonah Studio. And it was literally four months of just go, go, go, go, go, go and I think my cortisol levels were probably skyrocketing. But I’ve taken a few weeks off classes and just trying to slow down.

Hannah:
So it’s a good reminder that when it comes to looking after energy, it’s not just your sleeping time, but it’s actually your resting time, being able just to slow down, smell the roses, take a bit of time out for yourself, which is hard, I know obviously for a lot of us that have kids and busy lives. But taking those small little pockets during the day or during your week or during your month where you can actually just rest is really critical.

Laura Cini:
Look, yeah. I understand where you’re coming from Hannah, because I’ve got a family. I’ve got a daughter and a partner and I’ve got a business and I often have to give myself a stern or firm talking to. “Right. That’s enough, Laura. You need to have a rest now. Let’s slow down.” But also, I suppose, with my herbal medicine knowledge, as I mentioned before in the previous podcast, there are some really great herbal and nutritional medicine options to help when your body is stressed, when it’s tired and when the cortisol is really out of whack. So if you’re sensibly supplementing, and by that, I mean not going to the supermarket or the chemist and picking up something there, but actually going to a practitioner like myself and getting premium quality evidence-based supplements, that can also help because it can be difficult when stress levels are high in your life and you’re not able to do less or to stop and have a rest and it’s not always possible. So, yeah, there are some really good supportive supplements that can just help rebalance things and give your body a bit of support during those times.

Hannah:
I had a little trick to goals during those crazy months and I think I got all these different, amazing little things. I kicked off or managed to stop a cold coming on. I’ve got a herbal tea that helps just sort of reduce the stress levels. So it did really help it. Yeah, you said it exactly perfectly. It’s not always if you’re in a hectic time that you can take time to rest. And there was no chance to be able to do that until it was open, in terms of the studio. But I know another one that a lot of us struggle with is I really struggled with feeling guilty, like I shouldn’t be sitting on the couch or I shouldn’t be, I don’t know, doing something that’s not work because I’ve got work to do. So it is hard for us as women, as busy women, to also switch off too.

Laura Cini:
I think as women too, that I think many of us, and I see this in a lot of my clients, are very hard on ourselves. There’s very high expectations in multiple areas of our lives. There’s high expectations in if we’re running a business, if we’ve got a family, if we’re studying. I think many women, their own appearance, their exercise level and how they look, there’s a lot of pressure and I, yeah, want to try and help women feel less guilty and support them where possible, because that guilt is very draining and very tiring.

Hannah:
Yeah. And I assume that guilt would lead to any increase in cortisol levels as well, wouldn’t it? Which is also defeating the purpose of trying to be healthy.

Laura Cini:
Definitely. What you think, what those thought patterns that are happening in your brain cause chemical reactions, cause hormonal reactions in the body. So yeah, what you feel, what your thinking is beating yourself up and the guilt, then yes, you’re going to have stress hormones released and that’s going to be good old cortisol again. And then that’s going to affect your sleep and your ability to burn fat and your mood as well. I see a lot of women with dysregulated cortisol that get a lot of anxiety and low mood, even depression and burnout. So yeah, I suppose I want to shout out to your listeners that there is support there and there’s a lot you can do just to support yourself during those times.

Hannah:
Yeah, exactly. And it’s a good point that you just made that when it comes to physical health, it’s not just about what you eat and what you put in your body, but it’s about what’s going on in your mind as well. And that’s a big one for us, the mental health or the mindfulness component. I think it’s forgotten by a lot of the health and the fitness industry. So thinking the way we think, like you mentioned, and how we feel about ourselves has a huge impact on physically our outcomes.

Laura Cini:
Yes, yes, definitely. Yeah. I do chat to my clients about that what you’re thinking, what your thoughts are, how hard are you being on yourself? We work on changing those thought patterns. I mean, life isn’t always easy and you do have difficult times, but if those thought patterns are quite predominant for you, and often they’re a lot more predominant than people realise. Often there’s a lot more negative self-talk happening than what they’re aware of. So if we can start to shift that and bring down their stress levels, it can make a huge difference to how they feel.

Hannah:
Yeah, exactly. And do you have any energy thieves that you can discuss that’s simple for us busy women to actually navigate around? So not just what they are, but how do we navigate around them?

Laura Cini:
Energy thieves, let’s get rid of them. Okay. So, well-

Hannah:
I mean, obviously an energy thief could be a child that is taking up all your energy.

Laura Cini:
Look, yeah. When you’re multitasking and there’s a lot going on, having a low grade infection is what perhaps a lot of people don’t realise can really rob your energy. So if you’ve had a really bad cold or a glandular fever or something like that, I see a number of clients that sort of say, “I’ve never been the same since I had glandular fever,” or “I went overseas and got a gut bug,” or “I had a really bad flu and had to have antibiotics,” or something. So that is something, a bit of immune support is something that can go a long way. Thyroid, thyroid conditions, low functioning thyroid is common in women and it will cause tiredness, weight gain, slow moving digestive system, a whole host of symptoms, but fatigue very much so. Nutritional deficiencies is a huge one.

Laura Cini:
Our food is not what it once was 20, 30 or 50, 60 years ago. It’s a lot more processed. A lot of it’s harvested before it’s ripe. It’s kept in cold storage. It’s processed. And there’s a lot of nutrient loss that happens along that journey. Some of our vitamins and minerals are very light sensitive, heat sensitive, oxygen sensitive. So those processes really damage the nutritional content of foods. So that’s one area I work with. Correcting a few nutritional deficiencies can go a long way to towards people’s energy. That’s the raw materials that the body needs to function efficiently. So that’s a common one. Stress, stress is really tiring, Hannah. Our bodies are not designed to be under longer-term stress. Back in the caveman days, we might need to run away from, oh, I don’t know, a dinosaur or-

Hannah:
Sabre-tooth tiger or something.

Laura Cini:
Or a tiger. It’s short and sharp and then the stress is over. But these days, we have one of my colleagues calls it, hurry, worry, money. Day in, day out, I got so many things to do on my to-do list, financial pressures, lack of sleep, maybe not eating as well as you could be and that is all a stress to the body. Yes, the body can maintain it for a while, but it’s an enormous drain on your vitamins, your minerals, your raw materials, an enormous drain on your body having to make those stress hormones. And it’s not designed to do that for a long time. So again, I don’t want to sound boring as if I’m repeating myself, but what I do in my clinic is really, really focus on that stress support. So what nutrients are you low in, perhaps, from long-term stress that we can boost those and get your body functioning better. Oh look, I could go on and on and on, Hannah__, but I won’t. They’re probably very common energy thieves.

Hannah:
Yeah. Yeah. And one of the biggest stresses at the moment is the COVID situation. I know that’s causing a lot of people a lot of anxiety as well. So throw that into the mix on top of our standard stuff and yeah, it’s just a pot of stress for a few people out there. And once again, listeners, if you’re interested in this topic and you want to deep dive in a little further, we are actually running the second of our triple workshop with Laura. And the next one is on Saturday, the 2nd of October at our Moonah Studio from 10 till 11. And yeah, it’s all about focusing on energy. Like the previous one, it’ll be interactive and educational. So if you’re keen to dive in a little more, either reach out to us at info at burntheory.com.au or download the Burn Theory app, head to explore and then toggle across to workshops to book that one in. Are there any good resources that you’ve got out there, Laura, that our members and our listeners can jump onto to have a look?

Laura Cini:
Yeah, sure. So listeners can follow me. I’ve got a Facebook and Instagram site where I post a lot of free content and that’s at Laura Cini Wellness, so L-A-U-R-A C-I-N-I Wellness. I have a website with some information. That’s Laura C-I-N-I wellness.com. I also have a chat on ABC Radio about once a month on their evening show with Mel Bush, where I cover things, talk about things like sleep, intermittent fasting. And so that’s always… I put information about that on my Facebook and Instagram. And then yeah, listeners can reach out and connect with me. That would be great.

Hannah:
Fantastic. Well, thanks so much for joining us, Laura, once again. I’m loving chatting with you and I’m really looking forward to getting into the next podcast with you, which is going to be all about sleep. So thanks very much.

Laura Cini:
You’re welcome, Hannah. My pleasure.


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