Joel Eric Pinto is a project manager who brings Keventers stores to life and brings the same problem-solving approach to nutrition and wellness. His passion for living a fit, long, youthful life free of pain and chronic illnesses finds expression in co-founding Knox, a ‘cool PT fitness studio’ as Joel describes it.
Always interested in new trends in fitness, Joel problem-solves his way through his fitness journey: he identifies the problem, takes steps to address it, tracks his progress and relies on metrics to correct the course. He shares a few tips from his continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) playbook:
- Revisit choices before the crisis
I really loved my fix of aerated drinks back in the day. But when you start getting to know how bad it is, it’s not like you have to make an effort to leave it, right? A simple example I like to give is that when someone suffers a health crisis like a heart attack, they change their lifestyle, start eating healthy and start working out. The realization dawns on them and they don’t miss their old lifestyle or diet. My advice is – don’t wait for the crisis to happen and make that mental switch to healthier choices today.
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- Measure, track, tweak!
I like to get a lot of insights into my fitness routine. For example, people tend to assume that they are much more active than they really are. However, the moment they actually start measuring their activity through a wearable device that tracks their workouts or counts their physical steps, they discover that they might not be doing enough. This helps you realize that you might need to add another workout or a walk to your routine to meet your goal.
There’s an endless supply of reading material here and I would say I had already come a long way before I started monitoring my blood glucose levels. Everything that I’d studied was theory, but now the CGM gives me a live feed. It’s good because I have realised things like if you have a carb-heavy meal, you can go for a walk around the market or the mall before heading back and blunt the blood glucose spike.
- Question everything
I used to occasionally have ‘diet’ beverages and the zero-calories, sweetened drinks, but didn’t really count them in my calorie intake. Also, I’d usually have them in the evening and thought it was okay for me to have them once in a while. After putting the CGM on, I realized it was still spiking my blood glucose levels and I didn’t feel it at all. It definitely did affect my sleep, especially if I had one late at night. Now, I know not to do that because the benefits I was seeking from not having dinner too late were being lost.
- Time it right
What you eat, when you eat, when you exercise – timing is the key to the end results. Sometimes, I’d exercise in the fasting state and surprisingly, my readings would show that my blood sugar spiked! I later learned that it’s because the liver releases stored glucose as glycogen to fuel muscles. If I have a meal before exercising, the spike is not that much and CGM gives you the data about the best time to work out. If you have a dessert on an empty stomach, your blood glucose will rise sharply, but if you have dessert after a meal high in fibre, the spike will be lower.
- Align your eating habits with your lifestyle
Regional and traditional diets are suited to certain lifestyles, sometimes from hundreds of years ago. A farmer out in the fields all day needed his carbs for energy and ate five times a day. But now that I work at a desk, I have to eat according to my current lifestyle. For example, if I’m going to the gym and work out extensively, I need to have higher protein intake than a person who doesn’t go to the gym. To combat pollution, I should eat food rich in antioxidants. In short, what one eats should serve a purpose for their lifestyle today – this is what I call ‘purposeful eating’.
CGM has also helped me to eat smarter because I’ve come to realize that even though I’m having good, nutritious food like eggs and sauteed vegetables, my blood glucose will still rise if I add five eggs to it or eat mindlessly. Now that I monitor my levels, I exercise portion control.
6. Be a creature of habit
Sleep and food are the two main regulators of our body. If you sleep, wake up and eat at the same time every day, your metabolic health and your hormonal profile will gradually improve. Your body then knows when you have the last meal and starts priming for sleep, focusing on restoration more than digestion. If you eat close to bedtime, resources are diverted towards digestion. Thirdly, more and more research indicates that exposure to sunlight affects our circadian rhythm, which optimises our internal functions and the body runs like a well-tuned car!
- Stay current
Nutrition is a really deep, ever-evolving subject. As further research is undertaken, medical recommendations change. For instance, a few years ago, cholesterol was the villain. Now, we know that cholesterol is a precursor to most of the hormones. Learning is a continuous process which never stops.
Joel brings a unique problem-solving approach to metabolic health and nutrition. He introduced continuous glucose monitoring to his fitness journey and made quite a few surprising discoveries. He advises getting feedback about biomarkers to fine-tune one’s fitness regime and emphasizes the importance of following a set routine and being mindful of the timing of food and exercise. He also suggests that one has to adjust one’s food and lifestyle according to the individual needs that take into account one’s current lifestyle. Above all, Joel recommends being proactive about investing in health and investing in continuous learning about metabolic health and fitness.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes only. It neither provides any medical advice nor intends to substitute professional medical opinion on the treatment, diagnosis, prevention or alleviation of any disease, disorder or disability. Always consult with your doctor or qualified healthcare professional about your health condition and/or concerns and before undertaking a new health care regimen including making any dietary or lifestyle changes.