Productive Good Habits: How to eat and move to be more successful at work and life!

Being a young professional often means starting at the bottom and having to work hard to prove your worth, so that you can climb the corporate ladder of success. A successful young professional needs to stay focused and mentally sharp during the workday but also have energy leftover to enjoy a great social life that the vibrant growing city offers.

Do you want to have more energy throughout the day? Be more successful in your job and not be so tired after work when you return home. To improve your vibrancy, so you can be successful at work and achieve your other life goals? These productive good habits will help you.

Eating poorly and not moving enough is not only sapping your energy and creativity, which reduces your productivity and potential success at work. It also negatively affects fat loss and health. In this article I want to discuss 5 nutrition tips and 5 movement tips to help you become the “boss” at work and improve your entire life.

Here are 5 easy diet tips to keep you mentally sharp and full of energy all day at the office and beyond:

1 – Understand Your Coffee Habits

If you are tired coffee is not the answer! The worlds most popular drink packs a variety of positive punches but if consumed at the wrong time and by the wrong people coffee can have just as many negative effects. There are smarter times to consume this social liquid to avoid negative health and performance outcomes.

What does caffeine do?

Caffeine acts by mimicking a compound called adenosine and binding to its receptors before the real thing can. By blocking adenosine, caffeine increases cognitive function and counters sleepiness. Caffeine also inhibits widening of blood vessels (vasodilation) and stimulates a cortisol response. Cortisol is our fight or flight hormone, fuelling a high-energy response to danger or perceived danger (stress).

High cortisol levels are closely related to high levels of belly fat. By drinking too much coffee or consuming it at the wrong times you are promoting fat storage on your stomach, especially for vietnamese coffee which can be quite strong when consumed in your local Saigon coffee shop.

Good Habits for drinking coffee

Rules for Consumption:

  1. Don’t drink it first thing in the morning: Cortisol is your body’s natural wake up hormone. Right before you wake up, cortisol spikes to prepare you for the day. Right after you wake up, it spikes again, pushing you to the highest levels of the day. Drinking coffee when cortisol is high is somewhat redundant and can lead to an excess of circulating cortisol and cause fat storage as well as lead to tiredness later in the day
  2. Drink coffee when you don’t need it: Coffee is not a good solution for lack of sleep or tiredness. If tired, instead of having a coffee you should get more sleep. Coffee will work best when your adenosine receptors are functioning well and not under stress. If you are tired caffeine only really equalizes energy rather than providing a boost. Drinking too much too often can make you dependant on coffee and fatigue your natural energy producing system making you more tired more often


2 – Good Habits – Breakfast, Good morning Vietnam! 

Breakfast is the best time to set the stage for health, fat loss and sustainable energy levels. Reduce the high starch portions of noodles, bread, and rice. Swop noodles and rice for omelette and vegetables, green shake or vegetable soup. These take minimal time to make or they can be made the night before and kept in the fridge.

Your morning routine and breakfast sets the stage for your metabolism and hormone balance. It’s so important as it’s your first meal of the day and is crucial to getting your “fat-burning furnace” fired up and working. What you do in the morning determines whether you’ll have sustainable energy throughout the day and if your body will be in a “fat burning state” or a “fat storing state”.

You should be aiming to eat a LIVE FOODS breakfast full of nutrients and low on empty calories. To ensure I get the best start to the day I make sure I hydrate properly and consume as many nutrients as possible with as little calories as possible. This kick-starts my energy systems, provides my body with all the essential nutrients for an excellent brain (cognitive) and cellular function while forcing my body to draw fuel from stored energy… burning my fat stores.

I start with drinking 500mls of water with fresh lime juice. The benefits of lime water are to boost digestive strength, kick-start metabolism, and provide antioxidants to put you into a fat burning state. This is one of the best good habits you can get into, especially in Vietnam where there is an abundance of great lime.


I then make a Green Breakfast Shake to provide energy and boost my concentration and brainpower. My green shake is generally made with:

    1. 2 handfuls of a super green vegetable – the vegetables provides energy, antioxidants and fibre. Choose one of the super green vegetables we discussed in article 2 of the Health Companion Series: Super Charge Your Diet 
    2. 2 tablespoons of Coconut oil – provides an excellent source of medium chain fatty acids, which delivers a great source of energy for the day as well as been proven to aid fat loss. It also supplies a good source of brain healthy vitamins, supports thyroid function and mineral levels
    3. 1 heaped teaspoon of Matcha Green teaMatcha tea improves insulin sensitivity, elevates glucose uptake and supports fat burning making it a must have in the morning and before any big meal/occasion, as it helps prevent carbs being converted to fat and stored. Matcha tea also boosts metabolism and burns calories, enhances mood and aids in concentration and help lower cholesterol and blood sugar. A fantastic ingredient for first think in the morning to get you in the best shape to start work
    4. 1 table spoon of Chia seeds – great for assisting your body to detoxify harmful substances from your intestines and a great source of protein and essential nutrients
    5. 500-600mls of water to hydrate my system. Dehydration will cause lack of concentration and sleepiness, so you must consume a good amount of water every day, especially in the morning

These drinks fill me up and make me mentally focused for the entire morning. My productivity has never been better since I began with this morning nutrition routine.

3 – Snack Habits & Weight Loss

Snacks need to be easy. Nuts and seeds are the best form of snacks, as they are easy to carry, do not perish and a satisfy hunger. They provide essential nutrients that help keep you focused and alert at work, as well as being a good source of fat to keep your body in a fat burning state. You must be careful to keep your portion size appropriate, as it is easy to eat too much at snack time. Snacks should only be 50 -100kcal.

Good Habits Healthy Eating Saigon

Snacks are helpful for keeping your energy levels and metabolism at optimal levels through out the day. Low blood sugar will make you feel tired and lethargic, so having a small snack in between meals will supply your brain and system with the energy needed to stay sharp.  Snacks are not designed to fill you up but instead provide essential nutrients for optimal cell and brain function. They should be nutrient dense but not supply much energy, so that your body has to draw the energy from its stores – burning body fat. Therefore, the correct or a smart snack can help you stay very productive and burn fat at the same time.

4 – Good lunch and dinner habits

It might sound clichéd, but adding a salad to each of your main daily meals can add loads to your overall health and well-being. They will also help to keep you alert and energetic in the afternoon. They don’t have to be boring, and they don’t have to be just salad greens. Tart cranberries are a great addition to your greens.

Avoid heavy starch meals during the day. If you eat too much rice or noodles your blood sugar levels go very high. Your body has to lower blood sugar levels to maintain your health but when your body lowers the blood sugar level it can result in you feeling tired. By consuming a large salad, with a source of good protein and fats but keeping your portion of starch (rice, noodles, etc) small you will have more energy in the afternoon.

In the evening, your dinner can have a more substantial portion of starch to satisfy hunger and restore energy levels to their optimum.

Here are some samples of lunch and dinner meals that I have:

Healthy Pho

Banh Mi

Vietnamese Beef Salad

Zucchini Boats

Squash Spaghetti Bolognese

5 – Learn to cook for healthy weight loss 

I know that a lot of young professionals don’t make time to cook and prefer to eat out with friends, etc. However, cooking is one of the most enjoyable and healthy things you can do for yourself and with friends. If you are trying to impress a potential partner then cooking for them is a great way to win a heart.

Cooking involves scrubbing and peeling vegetables, preparing whole foods and paying attention to how things are cooked. If you’re ordering food every day and night, you’re far less likely to be eating the whole foods and natural vegetables that provide the base for your health and sustainable energy. Foods from restaurants or ready-made meals often include ingredients or chemicals that sap your energy after. The only way to ensure you are getting quality sustenance is to prepare your own meals. Cooking doesn’t take a lot of time… all of my meals take less than 20 minutes to prepare. That’s about the same time as eating at a restaurant but you have a sense of achievement by knowing you are looking after yourself.

Your diet has an immense affect on your energy levels and capacity to focus and perform well at work. Likewise, movement and exercise can boost your energy and how you perform at work. If you can exercise in the morning before work or make time during your day it can really help you feel better and be more productive.

Exercise & Office Activity – developing good work habits 

A study from the University of Bristol (UK) showed that after exercising, in the morning or scheduling a break in the middle of the day, participants returned to work more tolerant of themselves and more forgiving of their colleagues. Their work performance was also consistently higher, as shown by better time management and improved mental sharpness. A very recent study has found that hitting the gym before or during the workday leads to greater productivity, reduced stress levels and even higher pay (due to a better attitude, productivity and therefore performance).

Exercise and movement fuels your brain; releases feel good hormones to help you be more focused and happy. The increased productivity comes from the stamina which physical activity gives us and also from less absenteeism owing to sickness. It is evident that physical activity strengthens our immune system and improves function.

Here are 5 great exercise tips to keep you mentally sharp and full of energy all day at the office and beyond:

1 – Move as much as possible: Stand up and stroll around the office, allow your body to reset and your brain to take a break. In addition, don’t eat at your desk. Get out of your workspace and take a walk. It will clear your mind allowing you to return to your workstation ready to destroy your to-do-list

2 – Stretching: is a great tool to alleviate mental and physical tension, stress, as well as correct postural imbalances. You also do not have to take a lot of time out to implement stretching into your day. Use momentary pauses to shake out and stretch your back, neck, arms, and shoulders.

3 – Join a scheduled class: keeping a routine is essential. If you choose a class at the same time every week then people will get used to this and know to contact you outside of the class time. Attending a class makes it easy, as you do not have to think about what to do… simply turn up and follow. Try taking a class like Zumba, Hatha Yoga or Pilates because these are less likely to work up an intense sweat plus make you feel really good.  If you want to speak to a fitness expert in Vietnam speak to one of our personal trainers for an initial free consultation.

4 –. Weight training: Perform very short intense weight sessions consisting of only 2-3 exercises is a good habit. If you make time each day, by the end of the week you would cover the whole body. Resistance training helps your body deal with stress and gives it a boost of feel-good hormone… meaning you’ll be wide awake and energised for the rest of the day. By completing your sessions this way you can just change your clothes and get back to work, fitting in more intense cardio, resistance or sweat sessions over the weekend.

5 –. Sleep: is one of the main cornerstones of our health, fat loss, and energy systems. Sleep is a vital biological function and is essential to our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Your body requires deep, restful, restorative sleep to heal, detoxify, maintain cognitive benefits, and keep all systems running smoothly. The point is that everything is harder when you’re tired! When we talk about exercise this also includes the ability to recover. If you do not get enough restorative sleep, no matter what you eat or how you move, you will have low energy and not be able to perform at your best for work or enjoy life fully once your work day is finished.  Even if you live in the center of Ho Chi Minh it’s still important to get a good nights sleep.

Staying energised all day long is a simple matter of creating productive habits. The 10 above tips will help you perform at your best in the office and enjoy your life to the full.

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