best healthy eating tips, nutrition label

Nutrition labels: How to tell if a food is as healthy as you think

This week a crazy number of my conversations have followed the format below.

Really smart friend: I’ve been eating {insert healthy food} for a while now. It’s meant to be amazing and do so much for the body.

Me: I know the packaging claims it’s super healthy and everyone who’s anyone is eating it, but if you look at the ingredients label, {insert healthy food} is actually just {insert normal food}.

Really smart friend: *looks suspicious, Googles said ingredients label and promptly dies of shock*

 

The secret to healthy eating

 

Obviously nobody has actually died during these conversations. I exaggerate to make the point of this post: why do so many savvy people never check ingredients labels to see if they’re eating what they think they’re eating?

That’s the secret to nailing healthy eating.

Just read ingredients labels and ask yourself: do these ingredients match my health goals?

And if you don’t recognise the name of a listed ingredient, there’s no shame in Googling it… right in the middle of aisle three (I promise you that no-one cares what you’re doing, they’re too busy doing their own thing).

If you want to lose weight, common sense suggests that anything packed with sugar and fat (especially saturated) isn’t going to do you any favours… no matter how much sneaky marketeers claim otherwise.

You want younger looking skin? Stay away from sugar-laden foods and alcohol – deep down you know there’s zero chance that stuff is going to take years off your face.

I could go on, but no-one likes a smart ass. Instead here are my top tips for becoming a pro at spotting if a ‘healthy’ food is worth your time and money.

 

Best tips for understanding ingredient labels

 

Most of us look straight at calorie counts when we read food labels, but this isn’t the best place to start because in isolation they tell you nothing about the food.

Did you know that two maple pecan cinnamon buns from Cinnabon have the same number of calories as 26 eggs (2000 kcals)? But those eggs have infinitely more beneficial nutrients, like protein, vitamin D, and B vitamins, AND they’re less likely to lead to fat gain because they are low in sugar and carbohydrates (refined and natural). In contrast, two maple pecan cinnamon buns are high in refined sugar, packed with simple carbohydrates and devoid of virtually any nutrients.

This is just one example of the fact that calories are not what you need to focus on if you want to sculpt a lean and healthy body.

Instead, when looking at an ingredients list, simply ask yourself:

One: Are there more than five ingredients?

When you see a long list of ingredients, there’s a good chance that food has been highly processed. Remember that processed foods are associated with weight gain and diseases, like diabetes, simply because they contain more calories per gram than the unrefined version of the food (think a piece of fresh fruit versus a dried fruit bar OR a glass of chocolate milk versus a chocolate bar).

Two: Is sugar the first or second ingredient?

Ingredients are listed on food packets in order of weight. Therefore the first ingredient in the list is usually the one that’s most abundant in that food. If sugar is number one or two on the list, that food is not likely to be great for your waistline, heart health, skin, gut or body in general. And please don’t be fooled by natural sugars, like honey and maple syrup. Yes they’re natural, but they’re still sugar. Make sure these also don’t appear at the top of an ingredients list because they are high in fructose – the sugar molecule that gets stored as fat when eaten in excess.

Three: Are there any ingredients you don’t recognise as real natural foods?

It’s best to minimise consumption of foods with artificial chemicals because they often overstimulate the appetite and some have been shown to be harmful to the body. Artificial chemicals include preservatives, sweeteners and even added vitamins and minerals. The last point is contentious. I don’t avoid fortified foods like the plague, but I’ll always choose a whole food over a fortified one whenever possible. That’s because foods that have been fortified (usually baked goods, cereals and soft drinks) have usually been stripped of their nutrients during processing. That’s why companies then have to fortify them – to artificially replace the same nutrients they initially removed!

And that’s it… for now.

Stay tuned for part two of this post, where I’ll go into more tricks for telling if a food is as healthy as you think it is. In the meantime, hit me with any questions about ‘healthy’ foods you think are a little suss – just leave a comment below.

 

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daily water, 8 glasses water, drink water

Why the 8 glasses of water rule is a myth

I spend a lot of time exploring what we should eat to stay healthy, but I rarely talk about what to drink.

Today, however, I’m breaking protocol because drinks are a key part of the nutrition equation.

And a key drink-related issue is how much water to drink each day.

You’ve undoubtedly heard that the average adult needs to drink 8 glasses of water daily – more if you drink tea, coffee or alcohol. But have you ever questioned the validity of this rule?

Scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find it’s a rule that undoubtedly benefits the economy, but may not do much for your health.

Yep, a lot of people have got a lot of money riding on the belief that humans must drink 8 glasses (2.5 litres) of water each day.

At the front of the queue? Bottled water companies who’ve made billions selling us the same stuff we can get out of our taps.

They’re closely followed by isotonic sports drink makers who insist that those 30 minutes spent on the treadmill will result in the loss of potentially fatal amounts of electrolytes unless we promptly rehydrate with a bright blue sugar-laden drink.

Let’s not forget the more recent trend of plant waters.

Those driving the trend want us all to replace good old H2O with extortionately priced fluids tapped from virgin coconuts, birch trees and even cacti.

This, perhaps, explains why the myth that we all have to drink a specific quantity of water each day continues to persist, even though it has been disproven time and time again.

So, let’s put this issue to rest once and for all.

 

Why 2 litres of water each day?

 

An impressive 2002 paper published in the American Journal of Physiology smashes the myth to pieces – it’s worth a read if you have 10 minutes to spare. In short, the paper’s author Heinz Valtin pinpoints the following statement made by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council in 1945 as the origin of the myth:

A suitable allowance of water for adults is 2.5 litres daily in most instances. An ordinary standard for diverse persons is 1 millilitre for each calorie of food. Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.

But it seems the last sentence, which clearly states that the bulk of the water an adult needs is found in the food we eat, was ignored. This, in turn, led to the idea that the average person needs to drink 2.5 litres of water daily.

So back to the question at the heart of this blog: can a person stay properly hydrated without drinking water?

The answer is a resounding yes.

There’s water in so much of the food we eat that we don’t need to drink the stuff to remain hydrated. Fruit and vegetables, like cucumber and berries are up to 90 percent water. And contrary to popular belief, ‘bad’ drinks like coffee, alcohol and even fizzy drinks all count towards your daily fluid intake because they too contain a lot of water.

But as someone who makes her living from writing about health and fitness, and advising others on how to optimise their health, it’s safe to say that I don’t think swapping water for double espressos and Coca Cola is a great idea.

So what’s my point then?

It’s the same one I regularly make: don’t believe the hype.

There’s no specific amount of water you need to drink each day. The amount you need will vary from day to day depending on the temperature, how much sweat you’ve lost, the food you’ve eaten, etc.

Let your thirst levels guide you. And if you’re a little out of sync with your thirst cues, use the colour of your urine as a reminder – if it’s darker than a light straw colour, it’s time for a drink.

 

How to stay hydrated if you don’t like drinking water

 

For those who consider eating healthily a priority, it goes without saying that drinking plain water is the quickest way to rehydrate. But while I’ve always struggled to understand people who say they don’t like the taste of water (which is like saying you don’t like the smell of fresh air), I appreciate that drinking water is a legitimate problem for some.

And my heart goes out to you because so many ‘healthy’ alternatives to water are secretly packed with crap (usually artificial sweeteners and flavourings to mimic exotic fruit flavours), which means you’ve got to be pretty observant to avoid loading your body up with rubbish when trying to stay hydrated.

My advice? Man up and drink some water – it’s not meant to taste delicious.

If you really can’t do it, throw in a few slices of fresh fruit to add some flavour.

And if that sounds too much like hard work and you’d rather opt for ‘healthy’ flavoured waters, read the ingredients label of all drinks… just to make sure they’re as healthy as you think they are. There are some good options on the market that are low-calorie; free of added sugar, sweeteners and preservatives; and actually taste nice.

But there are a lot that, well… aren’t.

Here’s a little head-to-head to demonstrate my point.

Take the new Swiss drink Purelosophy and the supermarket favourite Juicy Water. Both are marketed as water with a splash of fruit extracts. But take a peek at the ingredients label of both and you’ll find that Purelosphy drinks really do contain just alpine water mixed with fruit and herb extracts, while Juicy Water contains spring water, lemon and lime juice, and a load of added sugar – 37g per 250ml bottle to be precise!

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Where your health is concerned you can’t take everything you read or hear at face value. Always do your own research and don’t forget to read food labels.

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best healthy eating tips

Why your diet needs a little bread and cake… gasp!

I usually try and keep myself out of the equation when dolling out advice on here.

I figure you guys want the scoop on how to create a healthier body and could care less about what I do on a daily basis.

That’s the same reason you’ll never find body shots of me ANYWHERE on social media because I really try to make this about my readers and clients rather than me.

However, I’ve been receiving emails and social media messages which suggest that you guys may have gotten the impression that I live off quinoa, kale and kombucha.

So, let’s turn the spotlight on me for a minute.

 

How to make healthy eating a habit

 

I LOVE carbs – pizza, cake, cookies – basically anything sweet, stodgy or comforting is my friend. But having been a little dumpy in my teens, I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t eat this stuff all day, every day without consequences. And after yo-yo dieting for about a decade, I also know it’s easier to keep weight off than to lose it.

With that said, what works for me is the 80-20 rule. I’ve talked about this before, but to recap, the 80-20 rule is based on the idea that your health and body are determined by what you do 80% of the time.

That means you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to make sensible choices 80% of the time.

 

It also helps if you know your body well, as that determines what a ‘sensible’ choice is for you.

In my case, I’m carb sensitive.

How do I know this?

Simple: When I eat too many carb-rich foods I gain weight and feel sluggish, so I tend to save my carbs for my ‘20%’ of each day, and instead ensure my main meals are mainly protein and veg with a serving of a higher-protein carbs like pulses or quinoa rather than rice or pasta (but remember that this applies to my body – you may be completely fine with those foods).

Other tips I live by?

 

Best healthy eating tips

 

One

I steer clear from fads and trendy foods. That means you won’t find any kombucha, kefir, spirulina or any other ‘superfood’ cluttering up my fridge or cupboards. Yes I enjoy a splurge in Wholefoods or Planet Organic from time to time, but I prefer to stick to easily accessible foods, and I’m all too aware that all the goodness to be gotten from spirulina is also available in spinach or watercress.

Two

I also try to exercise a little common sense when buying products.

Everyone is trying to make a fast buck from giving commonly available foods a makeover and selling them for 10 times their price.

Turmeric capsules or latte powder, for example, can cost around £20, yet a packet of turmeric costs around £2 from the supermarket… and lasts months.

My advice? Buy the £2 packet and add your own milk and vanilla essence to it if you must have a turmeric latte.

Three

Finally, I avoid imitation foods.

I NEVER make ‘healthy’ pizza or flourless dairy-free, sugar-free brownies because they are the saddest things ever and just make me crave the real deal more.

I’d rather have a cheese-loaded, chicken, roast onion and chorizo pizza (yes those details reflect how serious I am about pizza;)) with a real bread base a couple of times a month than a sad cauliflower crust, cashew cheese pizza every week. But with that said, I will always for quality ingredients when I do eat these types of food because there’s no benefit in loading up on lots of preservatives, e-numbers and highly processed ingredients if you can avoid it.

So, that’s a little insight into my eating habits for those of you who’ve been asking.

Remember: it’s all about giving yourself a break and not denying yourself the foods you enjoy.

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best healthy eating tips, weight loss tips

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, healthy eating tips

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:

Stop eating healthy foods you don’t like

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.

 

Don’t just read recipes, make 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.

 

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.

 

Don’t make too many changes 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.

 

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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detox tea, teatox, bootea teatox

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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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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end weight loss plateau, best weight loss tips

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 ways to break through a weight loss plateau:

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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best fruits weight loss, best fat burning fruits

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
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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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