Tips on Nutrition, Fitness and Prepared Meals
Can a nutritionist or dietician help you achieve your goals? Let's meet dietician Alysha and find out how she can help. Be sure to refer back to our post about being in a caloric deficit to achieve your weight loss.
HBM: How did you get into nutrition (and fitness!) and what are your credentials/degrees?
AC: My name is Alysha Coughler and I am a Registered Dietitian and Sports Dietitian. Growing up on a dairy farm in small town Ontario, I had always been fascinated by how food made people feel and brought everyone together. In high school, I went through a series of health issues which eventually led to the diagnosis of multiple autoimmune conditions. I was introduced to dietetics during this time of struggle by a dietitian who was helping me get healthier. Movement came to the forefront of my mind in university when I decided to lift weight to build strength and shortly after got my personal training certificate. Jump forward to today where I've combined my love of lifting and sports performance with nutrition, taking multiple courses to expand my knowledge on sports nutrition, along with various topics within the nutrition field.
HBM: What is your approach/philosophy towards food and nutrition?
AC: My philosophy with food and nutrition is that there are no barriers you cannot overcome. By implementing gradual change, I aim to educate and inspire others to reach their goals taking a collaborative holistic approach. Success within nutrition can be achieved by shifting our mindset around nutrition to feeling good, having our body functioning well and working towards a healthy relationship with food.
HBM: How do you work with clients?
AC: I work with clients in-person at CrossFit 6S in downtown Toronto and online through various platforms for people all around the world.
HBM: What are some goals your clients have?
AC: I work with a variety of clients from all walks of life with a variety of desired endpoints. Some primary goals I see in my practice are related to optimizing body composition, increasing athletic performance and recovery, improving gut/digestive health, enhancing energy and mood through food, developing a better relationship with food, boosting health outcomes, and more. Over the years, I have gained experience working with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, women's health, Celiac Disease, IBS, IBD, weight loss, muscle gain, sports performance, thyroid dysfunction, family meal planning, menu planning, mental health and more.
HBM: How do you help your clients achieve their goals?
AC: By translating and delivering high quality, evidence-based nutrition information I work to empower my clients to better understand their body. We work to examine a full comprehensive picture of their lifestyle, habits, stress, sleep, water, activity, food preferences, and life situation together. Having my clients involved in creating their care plan ensures they are working on areas they are open to changing first. I have my clients set small goals and action sets each time I see them to accumulate big change over time that they stick with.
HBM: What advice would you give someone who says: "I don't have time to shop for fresh food and cook nutritious meals"?
AC: When someone is in a situation where they don’t have time to cook, looking at their schedule more critically to make time to shop is one piece of the puzzle. It could be that we stop at the store on the way home from work or the gym. With the current world situation, it does become more difficult as we don’t want people going to the store daily. That’s where getting prepared meals delivered works well into their day.
HBM: Have you seen some of your clients with busy schedules successfully use prepared meals to stick to their nutrition goals?
AC: I have many clients I’ve worked with over the years that struggle to cook for themselves whether it’s time constraints or inability to cook. For these individuals, nutritionally balanced prepared meals give them the food they need to stay on track. Some clients get all their meals and snacks delivered, whereas others will just get lunches for themselves. It can be a game changer for them!
HBM: If someone is considering a meal prep service, what do you recommend they look for?
AC: There’s a few things I get my clients to look at when looking into a meal prep service. The first thing is the quality of the ingredients and that the meals are primarily whole food based. The next thing is to see that the meals are balanced in terms of protein/ veg/ carb and that the macronutrients are listed. We also will look at the variety of the meals as that can make or break someone sticking to their diet.
HBM: Being a sports nutritionist, how is meal prep for athletes, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts different?
AC: For athletes, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, meal prep is different as they also need to take into account what they are eating around their training sessions and timing their food throughout the day. Generally speaking, these individuals would want a quicker digesting meal closer to training that is lower in fat and higher in carb. Whereas away from training we would want slower digesting meals with low glycemic carbs, healthy fats and protein. The quantity and frequency of meals in this population would also be increased to optimize recovery and metabolism.
HBM: What is your favourite thing to cook?
AC: My favourite dishes to cook are anything breakfast! Despite the time of day, pancakes can be found in my household. I'm also a fan of trying different egg dishes from a variety of origins around the world - hello Huevos Rancheros and Shakshuka! I use to find experimenting in the kitchen was intimidating, but over the years it has become a creative outlet.