It is no secret that Singaporeans love their food. With a plethora of hawker favourites, multi-concept restaurants and Michelin Star haven, you’d wish there is a magic nutrition pill to counteract the effects of Singaporean-styled feasting.

The problem is, it doesn’t exist. Putting in time at the gym or the pavement is still necessary for fitness maintenance, so you can go on to feast all over again. And that brings us to another common gripe: squirrelling away time for workout is a big challenge in our zippy pace of life.

The best bare-minimum thing you can muster here, therefore, is to sustain your health with fitness’s best friend: nutrition. In case you think you’d have to confine yourself to bland, insipid health foods, you’d be pleasantly surprised that a few simple tweaks is enough to keep your health in tippy-top condition -all without torturing your palates.

1. Healthy fats -Yes, it exists

Of all the types of fats you find in foodstuffs, trans fat is the one you want to avoid. Trans fat is an artificial fat that can clog up your arteries and cause heart diseases, along with other possible afflictions such as stroke and diabetes. As it is cheap and promotes longer shelf life, it is used in large, industrial amounts and commonly found in your go-to comfort food like potato chips, cupcakes, doughnuts, fries and fried chicken.

Instead, go for food products with healthier kinds of fats, like monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. The former can be found in olive oil and nuts, while the latter in salmon. Then, there is also a little known ‘good fat’ you should definitely know about: Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT). MCT is a form of dietary fat that can quickly be absorbed into the body and broken down into ketones for boosts to the brain and metabolism, unlike its longer chain cousin found in soybean oil. Unexpended energy in the body will not stay as fats. Better yet, it comes in the form of either flavorless oils or powder, and can be incorporated into your healthy dishes (the likes of noodle soups, salad bowls and even everyone’s favourite toast these days –the avocado toast) without affecting tastes.

Now, we suppose you’re a little more savvy on the lesser evils to consume when you’re hankering after a Sunday cheat meal.

2. Juice cleanse – Health fad?

A popular import from the United States, the juice cleanse diet has a big following in Singapore. Many fans of this diet has reported feeling better about themselves after jumping on the juice cleanse bandwagon.

The juice cleanse involves replacing meals with chilled bottles of cold-pressed juices using fruits and vegetables. However, experts have cautioned that juice cleanse diets cannot provide the same comprehensive level of nutrition that you get from proper, solid meals. They recommend eating whole fruits as the cold-press process strips the fiber, leaving the residual juice with a significantly higher level of sugar.

Whether your big goal is to keep an overflowing tummy at bay, or to keep up with your frenzied kids during a leisurely football shootout, bear in mind that you need actual fuel to sustain your efforts.

We’re not taking anything away from cold-pressed juices; in spite of benefits like weight loss and smoother bowels, juice cleanse in moderation. Reframe it as a health supplement and resume your daily meal plans to hit protein and carbohydrates requirements.

For the times you really have to reach for that glass of cold-pressed juice, include vegetables into the presser for that dose of fibre.

3. Pack on the protein

Fitness buffs love to eschew greasy hawker food and cloying sweets in favor of boiled chicken breast and protein shakes. But could there be a better, tastier solution?

For those who manage to find time to work out on a regular basis, meeting this daily protein intake can result in lean muscles: 1 gram per kilogram of body weight. Food such as chicken breast, fish, steak, dairy and eggs are your best protein bets. But for those who are more inclined to work out their mouths with snacks, there is still a teeny bit of salvation. Try swapping those M&Ms, cheeseballs and cup noodles out for protein based munches to drastically lessen the damage to your health. One delicious recipe you can try is the banana peanut butter smoothie, which you may prepare at home and chill it at the office pantry.

If you need something more portable and instant, stock up on mixed nuts packs.

4. Switch To Brown rice

By now, everyone knows that brown is the healthier color choice for rice or sugar. Scientific studies suggest that when you make the switch to brown rice, it can curb diabetes, maintain healthy cholesterol and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. More importantly, brown rice keeps you fuller for longer periods of time, so you don’t fall into the wormhole of eating your way to indigestion.

Whether you’re eating out with friends or home-cooking your favourite dish to pair with a staple, make that staple brown rice. Then watch your health levels go up and guilt levels go down.

MCTs are found in natural food products like coconut oil and palm kennel oil, breast milk, cow or goat’s milk as well as dr. MCT® range of products . 

* First published on Alvinology.