A solid fitness routine starts — and ends— in the kitchen. While exercise is necessary, and has an overwhelming number of benefits for your health, when it comes to building muscle or losing weight, what you eat is equally (if not more) important.
And this is a philosophy that most fitfluencers, aka fitness influencers, share with their followers. For instance, Chontel Duncan, 30, SWEAT trainer and co-founder of HIIT Station in Australia, a gym with HIIT classes inspired by Muay Thai kickboxing. And while on her SWEAT program, which is called FIERCE, you get a taste of her workout style mixed with a variety of strength training modules, her food and wellness tips on her Instagram are the real winners.
Duncan advocates prioritizing your meal planning on her Instagram — where she has cultivated a loyal following of 700,000 followers. She has been known to answer her community’s questions about how to make the best on-the-go porridge, and even fix up a balanced meal.
“Everyone is different and what works for some, won’t necessarily work for others — it’s all about developing positive habits and finding what suits you, your lifestyle and your body,” she says. So, we chatted with Duncan about her real food philosophies. Here are her five main points:
The perfect size and weight is the size and weight in which you are living your happiest life.
Don’t Worry About Counting Calories or Fasting
“The perfect size and weight is the size and weight in which you are living your happiest life,” she says. So, Duncan watches what she eats but doesn’t focus her energy on counting calories or fasting for results. “I personally never fast and always have snacks on hand … which helps me avoid grabbing anything and everything when I’m feeling hungry,” she says. Her favorites include rice cakes or corn thins with butter and Vegemite, apples, bananas, a handful of raspberries, protein shakes, protein bars, wholegrain two-minute noodles or a Greek salad. It is good to have a balance of carbs to burn before working out and then replenish with protein after.
Keep and Food and Training Diary
“I believe strongly in balance and being realistic with your meal planning [but] if I’m working towards a goal in my training, I like to know that I am doing my absolute best to get there in a healthy way, so I will track my food to ensure I’m fueling my body correctly and providing a foundation for success.” By doing this, she also ensures she is not overtraining, which she defines as noticing your performance is decreasing despite increasing your training intensity and volume, feeling more fatigued than usual, and getting injuries or ache pains that you usually don’t experience. Whether you eat before or after your workout is completely up to you; however, if you choose to eat before, Duncan recommends waiting at least 20 minutes before working out. She trains Monday to Friday with her program and her HIIT classes with her clients, with each session running 30-60 minutes, and Saturday and Sunday she dedicates to spending time with her husband and sons, who are 4 and 2 years old.
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Friends, say it with me… ‘A Sunday well spent, brings a week of content.’ Who else lives by this??? My Sundays consist of the following: Meal prepping for the week so it’s easier for me to stick to my healthy eating habits. Writing down which days I will be completing a #FIERCE or #FIERCE2.0 session in my calendar. Writing down which days are my rest days and what I will be doing. As an example… yoga, meditation, Netflix (hehe). By completing the above, I can HONESTLY say that it helps me stay accountable and makes my life SO much easier! Sweat Nation in partnership with @underarmourwomen to reach and inspire more amazing women around the world. #FIERCE #FIERCE2.0 #SWEATNATION #SWEAT @SWEAT https://sweat.onelink.me/VjFS/spCDsweatnation2019
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Meal Prep Healthy Foods
“Being a busy mom of two young boys … I plan my meals a week in advance and utilize meal prep to ensure my family and I are always able to enjoy a nutrient-rich meal,” she says. Duncan tries to eat every few hours, whether this is a snack or a full meal. Her go-to breakfast is typically oats because they are easy to eat on the go and at work. “I cook it in the microwave with some water, accompanied by a protein shake.” Her other breakfast favorites include crumpets with low-fat butter and honey. “If I’m eating out, I opt for toast with avocado, grilled mushrooms and kale or spinach with a protein shake on the side.” When it comes to lunch or dinner, she opts for items such as veggie burgers, burritos, stir-fry or homemade pasta or lasagnas, or salmon with salad and potato fries.
Take Supplements and Vitamins to Aid Your Progress
Duncan starts every training session with lemon water, followed by branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), mixed with glutamine powder 20 minutes before working out. After, she follows it with whey protein isolate (WPI) and a glutamine shake. “The combination of glutamine and BCAAs can help reduce muscle soreness caused by strength training and improve strength recovery,” she says. “It can also help maintain gut health during prolonged exercise and in turn decrease the risk of getting sick afterward.”
BCAAs are known to boost muscle growth and aid in performance, glutamine powder is good for energy production and helps to boost immune cell activity, and whey protein is good for building muscle and increasing strength. Duncan also says drinking lemon water can help prepare the body for exercise by making sure you are hydrated — adding lemon to water also helps stimulate the digestive enzymes and kickstart the breakdown and absorption of the glutamine and BCAAs. “For my overall health, I take a multivitamin, probiotic for digestion and an omega vitamin.”
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✨Plant based bowl of goodness✨ I've been loving @bhogatempeh yellow pea tempeh lately (found it at @ferm.farm). I just fry it on a skillet with avocado oil, salt, pepper, paprika and a little bit of maple syrup. It comes out slightly sweet and so delicious! Today I paired it with roasted sweet potatoes, thinly sliced Persian cucumbers, avocado, radish and kale salad dressed in avocado oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I also made a tahini dressing to go on top (tahini, lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt and pepper). Happy Saturday!
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It is All About Balance and Variety
“I follow a pescatarian diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables and eat every few hours,” she says. “Growing up, I was always fussy when it came to eating meat, so I transitioned away from it when I was around 18, and later started reintroducing fish (white flesh and salmon) back into my diet … Food is a huge part of my culture [Maori and Dutch] and some of my best memories with family were over meals, so I never jeopardize these opportunities to enjoy time with friends and family.” Duncan is a big advocate of living your happiest life, and that includes food. “Life needs to be lived, so while we chase goals, don’t forget to be present in the moments that count … Ultimately, it comes down to changing your perspective on the value of food in your life,” she says. “Consider your body like a car — when you fill it with cheap fuel and don’t look after it properly, it won’t perform at its best and could potentially stop working. Let good, wholesome, nutrient-rich food be your fuel so that you can train at your best. I am always very conscious to listen to my body and provide it with fuel when it needs it, but as much as I can, I work on consuming a full meal three to four times a day.”
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