HEALTH | 16.08.2022
The keys to a balanced diet with Martina Rebull, nutritionist at KM de Confianza
Eating a healthy diet throughout our lives helps prevent disease, malnutrition and other disorders, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, increased production of processed foods, rapid urbanization and changing lifestyles have led to changes in society’s eating patterns. Globally, unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity have become the main risk factors for our health.
In this article we have the pleasure of talking to Martina Rebull, nutritionist at KM de Confianza and creator of the Instagram account @comeypedalea which now has more than 16,000 followers. We talked to her and asked her some questions to hear her point of view as an expert in sports nutrition and, of course, to tell us about her experience as a nutritionist in the KM de Confianza campaign.
Practical tips for keeping a healthy diet
The composition of a varied and balanced diet always depends on the characteristics of each person (age, sex, lifestyle and physical activity), the cultural context, the foods available and eating habits. However, a balanced and healthy diet still has some basic principles that must be taken into account, which Martina explains in this interview.
In a a nutshell, Martina, could you explain to us how you would define the concept of a “balanced diet”?
For me, the concept of diet is already quite obsolete, as it seems that we are living all day long locked into the idea that we have to be restricting calories in order to live or to follow healthy habits. In the end, I believe that the concept that we should learn or that nutritionists should transmit is that the most important thing of all is to adopt healthy habits, habits that help us to lead a healthier or more balanced life.
From Monday to Friday it is important to prioritize the order of meals, to be very clear that we must prioritize the consumption of vegetables and fruit to increase the consumption of fiber, and to ensure an adequate amount of protein to maintain good muscle mass. We cannot forget the importance of good hydration and good quality of sleep of about seven or eight hours. All this will help us to stay healthy for longer. In the end, if we eat very well, but do not exercise and do not get enough rest, we will not be able to reach this point of balance and health.
Can you share with us the keys for keeping this type of diet?
Well, the important thing is what I was telling you. Closely control the quantities of carbohydrates according to the caloric expenditure you have during the day. We shouldn’t abuse carbohydrates such as rice or white pasta if we do not really have a high energy expenditure. That is, if in the end we remain sedentary for a large part of the day, it is much more important, for example, to consume carbohydrates such as quinoa or legumes, which are a source of carbohydrates, but also of protein and fiber. That is to say, go for foods that have a lower glycemic index and, therefore, do not produce these blood sugar peaks.
For me it is key in all meals, and in all dinners, for there to be a large proportion of vegetables, if possible cooked in the wok, steamed, boiled in the oven, grilled. Avoid fried foods and always add a dose of protein, prioritizing the consumption of fish and eggs and reducing red meat to one serving a week.
We can see that it is essential to combine good nutrition with physical activity. In your case, how do you organize yourself to get to everything and not die trying?
Well, in my case, what I do is get up early. In the end, being self-employed, I have to adapt to my clients’ schedules. So the office is full from five or five-thirty in the afternoon until seven-thirty or eight o’clock in the evening. What I do is train every morning, usually from seven to nine. And that way I have those two hours to be able to do my strength training or to go running or cycling. I do these sports because they are the ones I like the most. Finally, it is important, as I mentioned before, to be able to get good rest. I don’t go to sleep very late and I try to sleep seven or eight hours a day so that I can be at my best the rest of the day and be able to recover at a muscular level after all the workouts.
Following on from the previous question, what three tips would you give to someone who wants to maintain a balanced diet and be physically active?
I believe that the essential thing is to have good planning. For example, knowing which days of the week you will go to the gym, which days you will eat at home or in a restaurant. If you always eat out, it is not a bad idea to look for places that are closer to the type of food you need.
Another good tip for people who eat at home is to have a mealplan. That works very well because you do the shopping knowing what you have to buy, so you don’t waste food or buy junk food.
As I said, for me the number one tip is planning, and then there is the desire or motivation, and also to surround yourself with people who also want to follow this lifestyle, because if you swim against the tide it’s really hard.
What message would you give to all those who do not dare to take the step to change their eating habits?
For me the most essential thing to be able to achieve this change of habits is to be motivated, to have a goal, because it really makes you want to see those changes. If you try to change these habits without being motivated and without really wanting to, after three days you get tired and stop doing it.
With this type of program, the aim is to teach the person what to eat, how to eat it and when to eat it. In order for you to learn you have to be motivated and have a lot of desire, because nowadays we have a lot of inputs from outside and it is very easy to lose focus and get sidetracked.
Finally, we would like to ask you about the KM Confianza campaign, can you share with us your experience? How are you helping the participants?
Well, the truth is that KM de Confianza came to me at the best moment for my job. I was very active and was looking for some kind of project of of this kind, it was a perfect fit.
The truth is that I am delighted to share this project with Pablo, Judith and Germán. They are people who contribute, they give me an extra something. I can share my nutritional point of view with them, and in the end are still professionals in the field of health and sport, and who, therefore, are on the same path as me.
I started to help the participants in the first instance by talking to them about healthy habits, because ultimately, you cannot talk about sports nutrition if you are not eating healthy, if you are not sleeping a certain amount of hours a day, if you are not resting or if you have high levels of stress at work.
So, first I tried to work on all those aspects and as the big challenge is approaching, we are working more on sports nutrition. Focusing on hydration, now that they are training in such hot weather. For example, we have talked about isotonic beverages, when to drink them or how to drink them or when to have a carbohydrate-rich gel, etc.
Personally, I think we are all learning a lot. The truth is that all the participants are very motivated and looking forward to the big day. What I like most about this project and what I take away from it is that we have created a small family.
What are the key benefits for participants? What do you think their experience was like?
Well, as I was saying, I think we have created a big family in which we share the same concerns. In fact, every time we have the opportunity to get together and share some time, whether it’s a meal or a training session, we do it.
I think their experience is very positive, we are in constant communication. We have a WhatsApp group where we talk every day and discuss running, strength training or nutrition. Pablo is always sending us videos, Judith is always encouraging us, Germán is always giving them tips to keep them motivated.
Now the big concern, both for the participants and the coaches, is the issue of heat. We are not ready to train in 40-degree weather, it is unsustainable. That is why we attach great importance to staying hydrated and to do training in the early hours of the morning, from seven to nine o’clock or from seven thirty or eight o’clock in the evening.
As a result of the campaign you have been able to work with Dani García. How have you helped him achieve his goals?
From the beginning Dani was very clear about his goals and he needed some guidelines. We have to understand that Dani see food as an explosion of tastes; in my case, when I’m working, I see food as a tool to keep us well nourished.
What I did was to analyze Dani’s day-to-day life. He is a person who has no schedule, who has a lot of social life and who has to be testing dishes for his restaurants every now and then. Therefore, it’s really hard for him to follow an order. That is why the best thing to do has been to give him some general recommendations. That way, he himself can be aware or he can use these tools depending on the timing.
There is also Judith who helps him to stay active, to move and to achieve that caloric deficit that will help us in achieving a weight loss. The truth is that both Judith and I are very happy with the results Dani is getting.
In the end, this is just the beginning, because we are not talking about a one-time weight loss, but about establishing changes in habits that you will have to keep up throughout your life.
For now he’s very motivated, he’s lost a lot of weight and it’s easy for him to stay on track. The hard part will come when he reaches his objective. Then he’ll need to maintain his weight, stay active, continue to get good rest, and so on. Ultimately, the challenge will be to maintain the good habits he has acquired, but I am sure he will be able to do it.
Thank you very much, Martina! It has been a pleasure to talk to you about nutrition and healthy habits and to learn more about your experience at KM de Confianza. We wish you all the best of luck for your next challenge in Lisbon, we are sure that the heat will not be able to stop you, and good luck to all participants!