Healthy Eating Myths That Set You Up For Failure

Healthy eating is really fashionable at the moment, and as a result, everyone is trying to get in on the act.

The problem with that is there are now an overwhelming number of healthy eating rules that pretty convincing people (celebrities, bloggers, health coaches etc) swear by. But have you ever looked into how valid these rules are?

I’ve put together the 5 most common healthy eating rules that actually make you less healthy and more likely to gain weight.

You should give up sugar 100%

Sugar is the villain of the moment, and with  good reason too. When eaten to excess, it gets laid down as fat, and research has linked sugar consumption with diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Oh it rots your teeth and makes you look old before your time. But, just because going sugar-free is all the rage, doesn’t mean you should take it too literally. That’s because, try as you might, cutting out sugar in entirety is near impossible, seriously limits your diet and is actually not as healthy as you think.

For example, naturally sugary foods like fruits and root vegetables, that are often axed by sugar-free advocates, are also packed with good stuff your body needs, like fibre, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.

Plus, the vast majority of people who decide to cut out all traces of sugar from their diet end up craving the stuff more than ever before and eventually find themselves caught in a cycle of being 100% sugar free one week, and bingeing on all the sugar they can find the next week. The end result? Yo-yo weight gain, which research has shown makes you more likely to be overweight than if you just eat a moderate diet and avoid the swinging from sugar-free to sugar monster.

You need to refuel with a shake after exercising

This is true if you exercise like an athlete and your goal is fitness.

Why?

Because hardcore exercising (that’s exercising for more than 90 minutes in one sitting) will deplete your glycogen stores and if you don’t replenish them, your body may start breaking down precious muscle to fuel its high energy needs. The sugar and carbs found in post workout drinks are perfect for quickly replenishing these stores. However, if your focus is weight loss, these drinks are a bad idea.

That’s because the key to losing weight is creating a calorie deficit – either through exercise or diet (or both).

If you burn off 350 calories during a 40 minute run and then come home and refuel with a 330ml protein/carb shake that contains around 350 kcals and then eat your normal meals later, guess what you’re doing? You’re cancelling out the calorie deficit created by that workout you just did. A better strategy for weight loss is to work out closer to mealtimes, then you can simply eat a protein-rich breakfast, lunch or dinner after you’ve finished exercising. Do this, and you’ll avoid accidentally consuming excess calories from your recovery drink AND your normal meals.

Cutting all carbs is the best way to lose weight

While cutting carbs will lead to weight loss, there are two main problems with this approach.

One: the brain’s primary source of fuel is glucose.. from… yes, you guessed it – carbs. Cut out all carbs and you won’t be as sharp or energised as normal. And while your brain will eventually switch over to using ketones if you stay carb free for long enough, the majority of people don’t. We cut out all carbs, crave them within a few days, cave in and have a carb feast, and then repeat the cycle again. The end result is no weight loss, and often more weight gain in the long term.

Two: Cutting all carbs, usually leads to a sizeable drop in calories (unless you increase fat and protein accordingly) and the long term effect of drastically cutting calories is that your body becomes more efficient at functioning on fewer calories. This means your metabolism slows down, and a slower metabolism equals a greater likelihood of gaining weight when you go back to eating carbs.

If it’s a clean food, you can have as much as you like

Avocados, nut butter, sweet potatoes. They’re all clean eating staples that are unprocessed, packed with lots of nutrients and taste pretty good. However, just because they’re nutritious doesn’t mean you can eat them all day every day without any impact on your waistline and heart health. Take sweet potatoes for example. As explained in this previous post, they have exactly the same amount of calories (90 kcals per 100g of baked flesh) and carbohydrate (21g per 100g of baked flesh) as white potatoes.

Similarly, as explained in this post on nut butters, peanut, cashew and all other nut butters are actually 50% fat, making them a very calorific option (especially if you like to eat half a jar in one sitting). And the sad truth is that when you consume excess calories on a regular basis, you will end up gaining weight.

Oh, and don’t forget that 5% of every spoon of nut butter is saturated fat – the type that may raise your risk of heart disease and strokes – so that’s another reason to take it easy with nut butters.

Eating lots of small meals is healthier and more slimming than eating 3 main meals

This myth is a classic that refuses to die. In fact, it’s one of the commonest eating mistakes I see among the women who come to me, claiming they just can’t lose weight. And once they go back to eating just 3 meals a day, guess what happens? The weight drops off and their cravings disappear.

There are several reasons for this, but the biggest one is that eating encourages the release of the fat-storing hormone insulin. About 2 hours after a meal, insulin levels drop and the body can then move back into a fat-burning state. But if you insist on eating every couple of hours, you never give your body a chance to stop making large amounts of insulin, which means you never shift out of fat-storing mode. (You can get more info about why eating lots of small meals a day is not a great idea from this previous post).

Got any healthy eating rules you’ve come across but are slightly suspicious of? Drop me a comment below and I’ll let you know my two cents!

 

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stick to a healthy diet

How to be a Healthy Eater When you Hate Healthy Food

We all know at least one reformed healthy eater – that smug friend who effortlessly switched from eating McDonald’s every single day, to living off kale juice and quinoa.

Engage them in conversation and you’ll discover that they love the healthy foods they used to hate, and they firmly believe that you too can enjoy eating healthily … if you stick with it long enough to let your taste buds adjust.

But if you’ve been eating natural wholefoods for weeks or even months and still hate every single mouthful, you may be starting to lose hope.

Don’t throw in the towel just yet, because believe it or not, it really is possible to turn healthy eating from a miserable experience to a pleasurable one. Here’s how:

 

One

Stop eating foods you don’t like the taste of

It’s commonsense, but you’d be surprised at how many new healthy eaters do this. Just because everyone says quinoa and chia seeds are good for you doesn’t mean you should eat them if you can’t stand them. The key to turning healthy eating into a lifestyle is to find healthy foods you enjoy.

If, for example, you’re struggling to find healthy carbs to replace your potato chip or white rice habit, do a little research into healthy versions of these foods. Go to a health food shop and look at the foods they have. Google the ones that catch your eye to see what people say they taste like. When you find a few that sound like your thing (at least in theory) buy a small portion and try them.

 

Two

Stop reading recipes like they’re stories and start actually making them

A classic mistake of people who say they ‘hate how healthy food tastes’ is not getting adventurous. No one can live on plain egg white omelettes, broiled chicken breast and lettuce leaves without going crazy. There are lots of amazing flavour combinations that don’t involve sugar and artificial flavourings, you just have to go into the kitchen and start mixing things up to discover what you enjoy. Stock up on fresh herbs, spices, fresh stock and natural fats (yes, that includes dairy and animal fats), as these are packed with flavour and really help transform bland meals.

 

Three

Stop making healthy versions of your favourite dishes if they don’t measure up

This is a contentious point, but it’s one I firmly stand by. Say, for example, you love pizza. When you dissect what it is you love about it, you may find you love the crispy outside of the base and fluffy but slightly doughy middle. You love the rich creaminess of the cheese and the way it complements the sweet, yet tangy flavour of the tomato sauce.  Making a pizza with a cauliflower base instead of bread, and creamed cashews instead of mozzarella simply isn’t going to cut it.

Why?

Because it doesn’t have the same flavours and textures that make you love pizza so much. Settling for this will just remind you of what you’re missing and make you resent your healthy lifestyle more. Why not allow yourself an actual pizza once in a while rather than cutting it out in totality. You’ll find you’ll be less resentful of eating healthily if you balance it with a less than healthy treat every so often.

 

Four

Don’t overhaul everything in one go

Perhaps you eat too much red meat, drink too much alcohol, eat way too much sugar and can’t stay away from processed snacks. Trying to get rid of all of these things in one fell swoop will most likely make you feel miserable because the change is too extreme. Instead, take it 3 weeks at a time. They say it takes 21 days to make and break a habit, so focus on 1 dietary change per 21 days. Once you’ve gotten used to life with the first change, you can then move onto the next and spend another 3 weeks on that.

 

Five

Indulge your cravings instead of fighting them

When you change your diet, your intake of specific nutrients changes. As a result of this, you may find you have really strong cravings for certain foods you’ve cut out. If this happens, don’t fight it, instead pay attention to what you’re craving so you get the nutrients your body is crying out for.

If you’re craving something sweet, don’t drink a glass of water and tell your stomach to ‘shut up’, instead, go and have something naturally sweet like fruit – you may just have low blood sugar (chromium and magnesium deficiencies can also cause sugar cravings, so consider supplementing with these). If you’re craving something savoury, eating a few nuts, olives or cubes of cheese will do much more for satisfying your craving than chewing a piece of gum.

By doing this, you’ll stop thinking of healthy eating as synonymous with deprivation.

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Teatox Petition Success! Detox Teas Just Became A Little Safer

Back in August 2016, I launched a petition to put a stop to a misleading practice favoured by detox tea manufacturers: using the laxative senna in their teas to create a false impression of weight loss.

After investigating the practice in this article, I discovered it was a pretty common worldwide despite healthcare professionals, medication regulators, pharmaceutical companies, eating disorder specialists and pharmacists all agreeing that laxatives do nothing for weight loss, increase the risk of scary health conditions (like heart, colon and muscle damage), create long term dependency on laxatives and normalise dangerous laxative misuse associated with eating disorders.

Well, after almost 3 months of campaigning, some amazing results have been achieved.

  1. Almost 29,000 signed the petition.
  2. Some fantastic media organisations covered the petition and helped raise its profile e.g. CosmoElite DailyDaily Mail and the Metro… to name a few!
  3. Bootea – a popular UK teatox maker – decided to start selling a laxative-free version of their teatox in their online store.
  4. Holland and Barrett – a key high street store selling Bootea teatoxes – agreed to start selling the laxative-free teatox in stores nationwide.
  5. Holland and Barrett held talks with Bootea and reached a decision to change the labelling on the packaging of original formula Bootea teatoxes (which is still available for those who wish to take laxative teas despite the risks and inefficacy), to make the risks clearer and also outline that people under the age of 18 should not take it.
  6. Slendertoxtea – one of the UK’s popular teatox makers, were also inspired by the petition and as a result they decided to stop using laxatives in their teatoxes.

The decision by Slendertoxtea

The Holland and Barrett decision!

It’s a great result (huge thanks for your support!) and one that hopefully paves the way for increased transparency within the diet industry.

But does this mean I’m now a fan of teatoxes?!

Errr…. no. Sorry, but I remain a firm believer that short cuts don’t work. If they did we’d all be drinking teatoxes and obesity rates would be falling, not increasing each year.

There’s only one way to get healthy and in shape, and that involves eating less junk, eating more natural wholefoods and doing more exercise. There are of course, scientifically validated tweaks and tricks for maximising the results you get from cleaning up your diet and exercising (like switching steady state exercise for HIIT), but they have little to do with drinking a cup of tea each day.

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lemon water health benefits

Why Your Morning Glass of Lemon Water is Complete Waste of Time

lemon water health benefit

Do you swear by a glass of hot lemon water to start your day?

If you do, chances are you’ve heard it’s got lots of health benefits. It’s said to kick start digestion and metabolism, flush out toxins that have built up overnight and provide a much needed dose of vitamin C.

But is this actually true?

Well… let’s just say that if you’ve been diligently downing lemon water every morning, I am (yet again) about to break your heart.

Why? Because a glass of hot lemon water does absolutely NOTHING for your body that a simple glass of water can’t do.

 

The detoxification myth

Let’s start with the irritating idea that lemon water detoxes the body. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s no such thing as detoxing the body from mysterious toxins. The liver, kidney, skin and colon handle the removal of waste materials from your body on their own. Yes, staying well hydrated will keep these organs working efficiently, but the addition of a wedge of lemon to your glass of water won’t make them extra efficient. Sorry!

Furthermore, there’s no scientific evidence anywhere, to support the detox claim linked to lemon water.

When you think about it, that’s not surprising. Consider how much lemon juice goes into your morning water. For most, it’s a slice or two – approximately an eight of a lemon.

If you’ve ever looked into the nutritional makeup of an eight of a lemon, you’ll know there’s not a whole lot of nutrients and certainly no magical detoxing substances in it.

Specifically, an eight of a medium sized lemon (peel included) contains:

  • 2 kcals
  • 0.1g protein
  • 0g fat
  • 3.7mg of vitamin C
  • 9.7 mg of potassium
  • negligible amounts of vitamin A, B12, D, B6, magnesium, iron and calcium

As those unimpressive figures show, there really is not a lot of anything in the splash of lemon juice that goes into your detoxifying morning drink.

And even more significant is the amount (or lack) of vitamin C in it. To put that  into context, the 3.7mg of vitamin C found in a lemon wedge is just one sixteenth of the recommended daily amount of 60mg for adults.

While lemons have a reputation for being high in vitamin C, that high level refers to larger amounts of lemon (like a whole lemon) and when the flesh, peel and juice are included. In fact, if you’re drinking your morning lemon water for a hit of vitamin C, you’ll get a lot more benefit by replacing your lemon wedge with a couple of slices of kiwi or papaya (which both contain more than double the amount of vitamin C found in a lemon).

 

Dobro jutro! ???? #mctsrbija #jutro #morning #ritual #lemonwater

A photo posted by My Cup Of Tea (@mycupoftea.rs) on

The real effect of lemon water on the metabolism and digestion

Ok, so what about the common belief that drinking a glass of lemon water kick starts your metabolism and digestion?

Well, the belief that lemon juice stimulates digestion relates to the acidic nature of lemons. This, in theory, could contribute to the acidity of the stomach and therefore encourage the production of bile – the substance that your body makes to help break down fat.

However, there are two problems with applying this logic to your morning lemon water habit.

  1. There’s no scientific evidence anywhere to support this theory
  2. And that’s because the amount of lemon juice in a glass of lemon water is negligible,which means it’s unlikely to have a great deal of impact on your stomach’s acidity levels (unless you consume larger amounts of it).

But, there is a bit of good news.

Drinking a 500ml glass of water first thing in the morning really can boost the metabolism (and help you burn more calories). And this commonly cited study shows it can do so by 30%.

However, there’s a snag: the metabolism boost is due to the consumption of plain water NOT lemon water, and the water needs to be cold rather than warm. This is because your body burns the bulk of those extra calories by heating the cold water up to reach body temperature.

So, what’s the verdict?

Starting your day with a glass of hot lemon water is not a bad thing at all. In  fact, it’s a great way to rehydrate after your overnight fast. But if you drink lemon water because you think it’s doing something magical for your body’ toxin levels… it’s not.

And if you drink it to help you lose weight, you’re going about it all wrong.

Switch your hot water for a glass of ice cold water and you’re more likely to take advantage of any metabolism-boosting effect on offer. But, don’t pin all your hopes on this as the aforementioned study involved just 14 participants, which can’t really be considered as firm evidence.

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weight loss motivation

How to Get Seriously Motivated to Lose Weight

weight loss motivation

Motivation.

It’s the one thing standing between starting your health and weight loss journey today instead of continuously putting it off until ‘Monday’.

But when the days start getting colder and shorter, the motivation you had during summer (when you had beach holidays to worry about) can quickly become a thing of the past.

Of course, the irony is, it’s usually those who are desperate to stop crash dieting every summer that fail to do the only thing needed to stay in great shape all year round: continue with healthy habits throughout autumn and winter.

So, if you’re determined to stay on course with losing weight and getting into shape (yes even through the festive season), here are 5 highly effective ways to stay motivated when everyone else is ‘treating’ themselves.

One

Get specific

Set out a specific goal you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it by and what you’re going to do each day to get closer to that goal.

Write it down on a piece of paper and place that paper somewhere you’ll see it everyday. Then get a 30 day planner and each day before going to sleep, give yourself a tick if you achieved your goal for the day and a cross if you didn’t. It’s simple, but seeing crosses instead of ticks on that planner will soon drive the message home that you’ve got to follow through on your plan to hit your goal.

And that’s not just my opinion. A study on goal setting by the Dominican University found that Harvard graduate students who wrote down their goals accomplished much more than those who didn’t write down their goals.

 

Two

Recruit a buddy

It’s easy to bail on your workout plans when no one else knows about them or cares if you turn up. If you’ve failed time and time again to ‘start eating healthily’ or to ‘lose those 10 lbs’, ask yourself if you’ve been trying to do it all alone. Then ask yourself if you’re your own worst enemy where motivation is concerned. If the answer to either question is yes, it’s time to get an accountability partner. Team up with a friend, a colleague or join an online group.

But choose wisely!

You want a partner who will keep you on track and call you on your BS, not a co-conspirator who’ll encourage you to slack off 24/7. So don’t go for the woman in the office who keeps moaning about her weight while feasting on McDonalds, go for a partner who’s already showing signs that she’s serious about getting in shape and is looking to step things up a gear.

 

Three

Be realistic

There’s nothing more demotivating than trying your best and getting nowhere fast. And there’s no faster road to that feeling than setting a weight loss or body goal that’s completely unrealistic.

A few examples of unrealistic goals to avoid?

  • Dropping a dress size in less than 14 days (and expecting to keep it off long term)
  • Aiming to get the body of someone half your age
  • Trying to get a completely different body shape e.g. turn an hourglass figure into a ruler figure

Avoid the disappointment that usually leads to a month-long pity party with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s by making sure your goals can be achieved a) at all OR b) within the time frame you’ve given yourself.

 

Four

Eliminate temptation

I’m a tough crowd.  Ask any of my clients and they’ll tell you I don’t stand for self-sabotaging behaviour. But… they’ll also tell you that my approach gets them results that last.

The first rule I dish out? Get rid of temptation. You’re fooling yourself if you start a healthy eating journey with a freezer stocked with ice cream and a pantry full of sweets. I know you THINK you’ll be able to resist them, but when things get stressful, you’re feeling low, bored, upset or even happy, you’ll find yourself face deep in these treats, claiming you’ll ‘start for real tomorrow’.

That doesn’t mean that avoiding indulgent foods in totality is the best way to go. Instead, I encourage enjoying treats in moderation to ensure you can stick to your healthy eating habits. A fool-proof way of doing this without surrounding yourself with temptation is to buy a single serving of a particular treat when you feel like indulging. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and so is the temptation to carry on indulging.

 

Five

Stay off the scales

Getting in shape without daily weigh-ins may sound counter-intuitive, but this is a common cause of demotivation. That’s because your weight is affected by lots of things other than your fat levels, and let’s face it, when people say they’re ‘losing weight’, what they mean is ‘losing fat’.

Weight fluctuates with your hydration levels, menstrual cycle and even when you’re constipated. And while daily weigh-ins are encouraging when the figure on the scale is going down, a time will come when that figure inexplicably goes up… despite your hard work. And that’s when the ‘screw it’ mindset can take hold.

Avoid the torture that comes with weighing yourself every day. Instead weigh yourself weekly or less. And keep a pair of tight fitting jeans as a guide of your progress. The fit of those jeans week by week will be a MUCH clearer indication of your weight loss.

Got any motivation strategies you swear by? Share them below!

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chlorophyll water benefits

Chlorophyll Water: The True Health Benefits

chlorophyll health benefit

Another day, another over-hyped health trend to contend with.

Today, it’s chlorophyll water.

I really don’t mean to be so snarky about these things, but the lack of research done by experts and publications BEFORE championing health and weight loss remedies that have zero validity behind them, is staggering… especially when you realise how many people eat this stuff up without questioning it.

If you’ve missed the chlorophyll water trend, count yourself lucky.

And if you haven’t… fingers crossed you haven’t wasted too much cash on it (a 240ml bottle of the stuff can cost around £30!).

Whichever camp you fall into, here’s everything you need to know about the legitimacy of the chlorophyll water trend

 

What is it?

Chlorophyll refers to the green pigments found primarily in plants. Their role is photosynthesis – the process by which plants use sunlight to produce energy (hello high school biology!). Chlorophyll water is basically derivatives of these pigments in… well… water (plus glycerin and preservatives).

The health claims?

  • It’s a great weight loss remedy
  • It is a strong detoxifier that ‘protects and heals’ the body
  • It boosts the number of red blood cells in the body and therefore increases energy and well-being
  • It protects against cancer

The scientific facts?

  • The array of claims are impressive, but there’s one snag. There doesn’t seem to be a single piece of research carried out on human beings that shows that any of the above claims are true. But, I have unearthed where the claims originate from.

 

  • The idea that chlorophyll increases energy and well-being by boosting red blood cell quantities in the body arises from the fact the pigment has a similar molecular structure to haemoglobin – that’s the substance that makes blood bind to and carry oxygen around the body. However, this does not make it a blood replenisher. Think about it: when you have a blood transfusion, the blood has to be directly put into your bloodstream to be effective. If you ingest it (as with natural chlorophyll water), it’s going to be destroyed by your stomach acid during the digestive process. A synthetic version of digestion-resistant chlorophyll exists, but drinking a man-made version kind of defeats the purpose of opting for a natural drink.

 

  • The cancer claims associated with chlorophyll water most likely relate to the antioxidant properties of the pigment. Cell-based research, like this, has shown that a salt gotten from chlorophyll, called chlorophyllin can protect cells against oxidative damage from free radicals – the molecules also implicated in the development of cancer. However, that’s as far as the link goes. There are no published studies that show that cancer patients given a daily dose of actual chlorophyll water reap benefits from it. And there are also no studies that show that people who supplement with chlorophyll are less likely to have cancer than those who don’t.

 

  • There are studies that show that people who eat green leafy vegetables carry a reduced risk of colon cancer, but while these vegetables do contain chlorophyll, they also contain many other beneficial antioxidants and fibre – which are known to protect against certain types of cancer. It’s therefore completely nonsensical to conclude that this is proof of the anti-cancer properties of chlorophyll water.

 

  • As for claims that the green pigment is a great weight loss aid? Well, that falls into the category of misinterpreted science, specifically, this 2014 study. It found that among a small group of 38 women, those who ate 5g of green plant membranes everyday before breakfast for 3 months lost 1.5kg more weight than those who didn’t. However, while plant membranes do contain chlorophyll, they also contain other substances, and as such, the researchers themselves are very careful with their conclusions and never attribute the weight loss observed to chlorophyll itself.

 

  • Finally, you probably know by now how I feel about the word ‘detox’. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that claims that chlorophyll water is a potent detoxifier are complete BS. Why? Because there’s NO SUCH THING AS DETOXING THE BODY. You can detoxify the body from drugs and alcohol, but the premise of pouring in some trendy health food to clean up the remnants of too much junk food, artificial ingredients and whatever else, is a marketing myth made up to sell detox products. There’s simply no evidence anyway that it’s a real phenomenon. Legitimate toxins in the body (that’s waste products from normal cell activity) are removed from the body by the liver, kidneys, colon and skin.

 

Nutritional facts 

This is the point at which I’d normally carry out a head to head analysis of chlorophyll’s nutritional content versus a close contender, but there really isn’t one to fairly compare it to.

However, the key nutrients found in chlorophyll are: vitamins A, C, E and K, beta carotene, magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium.

Worth the hype?

Not really.

The reason for this is simple. Yes chlorophyll does contain lots of vitamins and minerals your body needs, and this means that adding it to your diet is a good rather than bad thing. BUT chlorophyll water is a very convoluted and unnecessarily expensive way of getting a daily dose of the green stuff.

You may recall I began this piece by saying that chlorophyll is what makes plants look green, and that’s a clue to the best natural source of chlorophyll: green leafy veg. And unlike processed, bottled green water that’s been sitting on the shelf of some store hoping you’re gullible enough to buy it, green veg is fresher, unprocessed and high in fibre that’s legitimately good for weight loss and colon health.

What are your thoughts? Chlorophyll water – fad or fab? Leave a comment below!

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3 Ways to Break Through a Weight Loss Plateau

kick start stalled weight loss

You’ve been eating well, working out like a fiend and seeing great results.

Then, something strange happens.

The scale stops moving, your waistline stops shrinking and you’re completely confused because you’re still working as hard as ever before.

First things first… don’t panic. It’s annoying, but anyone wanting to drop a noticeable amount of weight will notice a slowing down of results after a few months. Your body isn’t conspiring against you and you’re not doing anything ‘wrong’, it’s actually a sign that your body is right on track.

That’s because the body is built to be efficient at using and storing energy. And when you cut your energy intake to lose weight, your body soon adjusts its daily energy-requiring processes so that it can function with less energy. If that isn’t annoying enough, something similar happens with exercise too.

When you first start a challenging workout you increase your overall energy expenditure and lose fat as a result. But, the body quickly adapts to become more efficient at performing that exercise and the result is you burn fewer calories from doing the very same the workout that used to blast fat (you can read studies on this phenomenon here).

That’s the bad news.

The good? I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeves that I regularly use to get my clients back on the road to weight loss success.

Here are 3 of the best:

One

Keep a food and activity diary

While the body’s energy conserving methods will eventually lead to a weight loss plateau, this often happens sooner than natural because of complacency. Yep, the vast majority of those on a weight loss mission start to slack off once they drop those first 10lbs. That’s an extra spoonful here, a missed workout there, and over the course of a month, that can bring your weight loss to a grinding halt.

Keep an accurate record of everything you eat, drink and do for 5-7 days and you’ll know if you fall into this category. If you do, you know exactly what you need to do.

If your diary reveals you’re still being as diligent as ever, take a look at the next two tactics for your plan of action.

Two

Eat more NOT less

When weight loss stalls, most people panic and drastically cut their calories. However, this just encourages the body to go into energy conserving mode as it thinks there’s a famine on.

To encourage your body to use more energy, rather than less, for daily activities you need to feed it. But there’s an art to this… which means you can’t just go on a feeding frenzy. To prevent weight gain, you want to increase your intake of calories from protein rather than fat and carbohydrate. That’s because protein is the food group that takes the most energy to digest. Specifically, up to 30% of the total calories in the protein you eat is used to digest it. For carbohydrates, that figure falls to 5-10%, and for fats, just 0-3% of calories eaten are used to digest it.

So while a calorie is a calorie, those from protein will stoke your metabolism more than those from fat or carbohydrates. But take care to not overeat because excess calories – protein or otherwise – will slow down fat loss. Instead start by raising your protein intake by just 15g per meal and then put tactic number three into action.

Three

Switch up your workouts

When your body gets efficient at a specific type of workout, it’s time to switch to one that uses a completely different set of muscles. By doing this, you have a few weeks to reap the maximum calorie burn from that exercise before your body becomes efficient at that workout and starts using less energy again.

The best way to tell if your new form of exercise is using new muscle groups? Morning after soreness. If you’re hurting in places you didn’t know existed, you’re on the right track.

And if you’re not already doing high intensity interval work (HIIT) make sure you add 3-4 sessions into your week. Studies, like this, have shown HIIT to trigger fat loss more easily than moderate intensity exercise AND it burns twice as many calories per minute and creates an after burn effect.

Want to discover exactly how to eat to drop those excess lbs? Why not grab your free ‘Eat right for your body type’ guide while it’s still available! Get 100% clear on what you should be eating to get your genetic body type into the best shape possible.

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best fruits weight loss

The Truth: Is Fruit Good or Bad for Weight Loss?

best fruits weight loss

Fruits are bad for weight loss because they’re carbs… and if you’re on a mission to lose weight, you’ve probably gotten the memo that too many carbs are bad news… right?

But hold on a minute.

What about the great nutritional reputation of fruits? They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre.

Governments across the globe have spent decades trying to convince us we all need to be eating at least 5 portions a day… so fruits can’t be all that bad can they?

Thoroughly confused? You’re not alone.

So, let’s get things cleared up once and for all.

Here are 4 fool-proof steps to make sure you can enjoy fruit in your diet AND keep up your weight loss.

One

Fruits contain sugar – that’s why they taste so sweet. The more sugar it has per gram, the more likely it is to slow down weight loss. But, don’t worry yourself with how much sugar is in a fruit overall because the real measure of how much a fruit will mess up your fat loss (by giving you a massive calorie load and stimulating release of the fat-storing hormone insulin) is the amount of sugar it has per serving. This is something called its glycaemic load (GL).

Two

To keep things simple, if losing fat is your aim, keep one rule in mind: minimise high GL fruits and go for low GL ones instead.

Three

To tell if a fruit is likely to be low or high GL, don’t overthink things. Instead use the taste experience to guide you.

Fruits that don’t taste very sweet, like blackberries, plums or limes, are low GL.

Similarly, fruits that taste sweet but also taste very watery, like watermelon, apples and oranges, are low to medium GL (because all the water they have in them dilutes their high sugar content). This makes them OK to have in moderation for weight loss (think a single portion daily).

Fruits that taste very sweet and are quite meaty (less watery) are usually high GL. These are fruits like mangoes, bananas and grapes. There’s no need to avoid these fruits in totality, but if you are trying to lose weight, consume them as an occasional treat rather than as one of your regular 5 a day.

Four

If you don’t fancy playing a guessing game and just want to know the best fruits to eat to keep weight off, here are 12 of the best. All are low in calories and have a low glycaemic load:

  1. Lemons – 29 Kcals + 2.9g sugar per 100g
  2. Limes – 30 Kcals + 1.7g sugar per 100g
  3. Starfruit – 31 Kcals + 4g sugar per 100g
  4. Watermelon – 30 Kcals + 6g sugar per 100g
  5. Strawberries – 33 Kcals + 4.9g sugar per 100g
  6. Yellow grapefruit – 33 Kcals + 7g sugar per 100g
  7. Honeydew melon  – 36 Kcals + 8g sugar per 100g
  8. Red grapefruit – 40 Kcals + 7g sugar per 100g
  9. Blackberries – 43 Kcals + 4.9g sugar per 100g
  10. Peaches – 39 Kcals + 8g sugar per 100g
  11. Green apples 52Kcals + 10g sugar
  12. Blueberries – 57 Kcals +10g sugar per 100g

Want to discover exactly how much fruit and carbs you can get away with and still stay in great shape? Why not grab your free ‘Eat right for your body type’ guide while it’s still available! Get 100% clear on what you should be eating to get your genetic body type into the best shape possible.

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small meals weight loss

Why Eating Five Small Meals Can SLOW DOWN Weight Loss

small meals slow weight loss

You don’t have to go far to find a health expert who swears that eating 5 to 6 times a day is the best way to boost your metabolism, particularly if you aren’t a keen exerciser. It’s advice that’s based on the fact that the body uses energy to break down food, which means that the very act of eating burns calories…. right?

Not quite.

Those who swear by eating little and often fail to take into account two key things. But it’s these two things that on close inspection suggest that eating just 3 meals a day, with no snacking, is infinitely more effective for losing weight/fat and keeping it off.

 

Point number one

Snacking raises insulin, which puts the body into fat storing mode

The pancreas releases the hormone insulin every time you eat and if you cast your mind back to your high school biology lessons, you may recall that insulin’s main role is to get your body’s cells to absorb sugar (in the form of glucose) from the bloodstream.

This glucose is then used to provide the energy you need to go about your business BUT if you’ve eaten more than is needed for energy, excess glucose is taken to the liver and muscles for storage as… yes you guessed it… fat (and glycogen – a stored form of glucose).

Every time you eat, your insulin levels rise and this process is repeated, which means that by divvying up your 3 meals into 5 or 6, you’re constantly topping up your insulin levels and keeping your body storing instead of burning fat.

Of course, some foods, like sugary carbs (think cookies and chocolate) cause a bigger surge in insulin than others, like cheese, but the overall effect is that snacking (no matter how healthy the snack) raises insulin.

If you are hellbent on snacking, bear in mind that simple, processed carbohydrates (white bread, crisps etc) cause the biggest insulin spike, followed by complex carbohydrates (think wholegrains like quinoa or rye) and then pure protein (like plain chicken or egg whites). Finally, pure fat (like a spoon of olive oil) does not trigger insulin release at all. Simply put, if you’re going to snack without triggering fat storage, you’re best off opting for pure fat or plain protein… even though it’s going to taste pretty gross.

 

Point number two

Calories burned from eating relates to the total calories eaten

While the act of eating does indeed boost the metabolism, that rise in metabolism (known as thermogenesis) is due to energy being used to digest, absorb, transport and store the food eaten. This means that the amount of calories you burn from eating relates to how much food you eat each day, not how many times you eat. Simply put, if you eat 5 apples a day, the same amount of energy will be used digesting, absorbing, transporting and storing the apples in your body whether you choose to eat all 5 in one sitting or if you opt to eat one apple every 3 hours.

And for any of you who’ve been shaking your head profusely while reading this post because you’ve followed a ‘eat little and often’ plan in the past and had success, there’s a reason for that.

If you go back and add up the calories you ate in all those small meals, you’re likely to find you were actually eating fewer calories daily while following that plan compared with when you ate 3 large meals a day… and that’s why you lost weight.

And if that isn’t proof enough for you, here come the studies…

This review, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, investigated the impact of meal frequency on calorie burn and found that “nibbling meal patterns failed to reveal significant benefits in respect of energy expenditure”. Furthermore, this small Dutch study, found no difference in diet-induced thermogenesis among men who ate 2 big meals daily compared with those who ate 7 smaller meals per day.

And it doesn’t stop there. There are a whole heap of similar studies that draw the same conclusion, which when considered alongside point number one (about insulin and fat storage) means one thing: If you’re trying to lose weight, sticking to just 3 meals a day is hands down the most effective way to go about it…plus who has time to prep 5 meals each day?!

If you’re looking for more science backed strategies for getting into great shape, don’t forget to grab your free ‘Eat right for your body type’ guide while it’s still available! Discover what you should be eating to get your genetic body type into the best shape possible.

 

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charcoal detox drink

The Truth About Detoxing with Activated Charcoal

charcoal detox drink

If you’ve come across little black bottles of detox drinks over the last 12 months, no you are not imagining things. Charcoal drinks really are a ‘thing’ in health circles. But, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll also know that just because something is popular with health fans doesn’t mean it actually works. Here’s the science-backed scoop on activated charcoal drinks.

Activated Charcoal

What is it?

Activated charcoal is made from coconut shells, wood or peat that have been heated to very high temperatures in the presence of certain gases. It’s a process that introduces lots of holes onto the surface of each piece of coal and this ‘activates’ it. Activated charcoal has a much larger surface area than standard charcoal and this boosts its ability to bind to certain small particles.

The health claims?

  • Activated charcoal can prevent a hangover
  • It whitens teeth
  • Activated charcoal is a great detox and cleansing remedy
  • Taking activated charcoal will boost your health

The scientific facts?

  • Despite the impressive health claims associated with activated charcoal, the only thing it is scientifically proven to do is bind to drugs like paracetamol if taken within an hour of ingesting the drug. That’s why activated charcoal is a staple treatment for paracetamol overdoses.
  • The black substance’s large surface area allows it to bind to paracetamol while it’s still in the stomach, therefore reducing the amount of the drug that gets absorbed into the blood stream and distributed around the body.
  • Activated charcoal does not bind to alcohol. Furthermore, as this study shows, alcohol is too quickly absorbed into the bloodstream for charcoal to have any effect on it. This means that taking a charcoal pill after or even during a boozy night out will NOT prevent or cure a hangover, so don’t waste your time or money.
  • Similarly, eating or drinking activated charcoal will not renew the body by removing so-called toxins because charcoal particles are too big to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Activated charcoal is a fibre that goes straight to the gut before being passed out of the body. It has no magical detoxifying power that allows it to draw things out from blood.
  • The idea that taking a daily dose of the black stuff optimises health is the biggest myth of them all. In fact, if taken within an hour or two of a meal, activated charcoal may bind to and reduce the absorption of some nutrients in your food. This means that the very thing you’re drinking to make you healthy could actually be stealing health-boosting vitamins and minerals from your diet.
  • Finally, we’ve found out first hand that adding a little charcoal to your toothpaste does seem to make teeth feel squeaky clean. However, dentists warn that doing this may actually wear down tooth enamel because activated charcoal is quite gritty.

Nutritional facts – Activated charcoal versus psyllium husk

Activated charcoal is really just a highly absorbent fibre, just like the natural colon cleanser psyllium husk. Here’s how both compare in terms of ‘detoxifying properties’:

  • Soluble fibre: Activated charcoal 0% v psyllium husk 55%
  • Insoluble fibre: Activated charcoal 100% v psyllium husk 45%
  • Vitamins, minerals and miscellaneous nutrients: Activated charcoal contains no minerals and psyllium husk provides modest amounts of calcium and iron.

Winner: Psyllium husk. Activated charcoal solely consists of insoluble fibre – a fibre that doesn’t dissolve in water. This type of fibre stays in the gut and helps with bulking up your bowel contents, therefore treating constipation and wind. Because it is such a strong fibre, it can cause constipation when you first start taking it. In contrast, the soluble fibre in psyllium husk not only helps with bowel movements, it has also been shown to lower cholesterol, which means that psyllium husks offer a gentle way to keep your bowels regular than activated charcoal, with the added bonus of reducing bad cholesterol. And it’s a source of calcium.

Worth the hype?

Are you crazy?! No!

Activated charcoal may actually damage your health by interfering with the absorption of prescription medication and food nutrients. To add insult to injury, many of the detox drink companies trying to convince you that you NEED their charcoal drinks in your life also slap a hefty price tag onto these drinks – they do look pretty fancy after all! Save yourself money by staying away from any charcoal-containing detox drink that promises you a new lease of life. It’s 100% BS.

 

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