When it comes to getting optimal results for yourself or for clients, specificity to training and nutrition always breeds the best results. That is, training and nutrition should always be specific to the person. But with everyone being their own individual person with individual needs it can be confusing to know what will work for one person and not another person. How many carbs can you have? Do you carb cycle? Will intermittent fasting work for you or will it mess up your hormones? What about if it fits your macros (IIFYM)? What macro portions should you have? Will taking fish oil help you lose fat like it did for person X?
You can ask a hundred questions and depending on what your goals are, there can be a hundred questions that you could look at. A professional athlete or a physique competitor will often need an expert to give them nutrition and lifestyle advice, but for most people, nutrition doesn’t need to be overly complicated. At the end of the day, nutrition is often quite simple for most people; it’s the daily habits and routines that complicate things.
Having said that, I do understand that not everyone aims to compete in a physique competition or join a sporting event. Some of you may have just decided to start your healthy lifestyle and are simply looking to hit the gym and clean up your food.
If you are a beginner just hopping on the fitness wagon and aren’t too sure where to start your nutrition, here are 5 healthy eating guidelines you can follow to make sure all your hard work in the gym pays off.
1. Don’t get caught up in what worked for someone else.
The first thing you should understand when it comes to healthy eating, is that no one diet is going to work for everyone. The diet that the fitness model on Instagram model raved about for months may not work for you. Track your diet and then make changes based on what works and what doesn’t work. Track and experiment until you find something that works for YOU.
2. Eat whole, natural foods.
Whether or not you believe in eating meat, dairy or grains, your diet needs to revolve around whole, natural foods. The more local and organically produced you eat, the better (but not completely necessary, cost can be a factor). Cut out processed food and foods with a hundred different ingredients that you can’t even pronounce. Cook as much as you can with whole foods.
3. Don’t fall for labels.
Just because something says “All-Natural,” “Low Fat,” or “Gluten-Free,” doesn’t mean it is healthy or good for you. Do not fall for labels that are just meant to sell you a product. Stick with whole, natural foods as much as you can and read the ingredient list to determine for yourself if something is healthy.
4. Keep it simple!
All too often we overcomplicate our diets. We get stuck on tons of small details when we don’t even have the main pillars of our diet set. Start with the basics. Then worry about the details. When we get bogged down in the details, we get overwhelmed and generally give up on our diet. Pick out a few healthy foods you enjoy and build your diet around them. Pick out recipes around these foods. Try to pick recipes that require many of the same ingredients so your grocery list is short and simple. Keep it simple but also learn to add in a little variety every once in a while to prevent you from falling into a rut with your diet.
5. Preparation is key.
When we aren’t prepared, we give ourselves an excuse to deviate from what we know we SHOULD be doing. Meal prep and planning are extremely important especially when starting a new healthy diet. The easiest way to be prepared is to cook meals that make more than one serving so that you have leftovers for later that week. Preparation is also key for when you travel and even plan to eat out. Decide ahead of time how you are going to eat. Are you going to “cheat?” Or are you going to stick to your diet? If you make up your mind ahead of time, you will have an easier time not deviating from your plan. A great way to prep for trips or meals out with friends is to look at the menus or at least know what your basic healthy options are when you dine out. The more you can prepare yourself for different situations, the better off you will be. Being happy with your decision is also key even if you aren’t completely prepared. If you do end up cheating, don’t regret it. Enjoy and get right back on track the next meal!
Contact us today at www.trainasp.com.au or call us at (03) 9038 8008 to book in a consult with one of our trainers!
I first heard about bone broth when I first moved to Australia three years ago and I’ve got to say, now I’m hooked! I make them throughout the year but I enjoy having them especially during winter! If you aren’t already making bone broth regularly, I’d encourage you to start today! It is an incredibly healthy and very inexpensive addition to any diet and the homemade versions beat store bought broth in both taste and nutrition 😀
The benefits of bone broth are infinite and some of the biggest natural benefits of adding bone broth into your primal diet are:
1. Joint Health:
Bone broth reduces joint pain and inflammation courtesy of chondroitin sulfates, glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down cartilage.
2. Better Digestion:
The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid that attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby supporting proper digestion.
3. Rich in Minerals:
Bone broth contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients that play an important role in healthy bone formation
4. Helps with leaky gut and inflammation:
The gelatin in bone broth protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract and helps aid in the digestion of nutrients whereas the amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine in bone broth all have anti-inflammatory effects.
Bone Broth Recipe:
4 lbs beef bones
12 cups water
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 medium onion, roughly diced
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped leeks
3 bay leaves
3-5 spring fresh rosemary
6 cloves garlic
- Place bones in a pot or a crockpot, add apple cider vinegar and water, and let the mixture sit for 1 hour so the vinegar can leach the mineral out of the bones.
- Add more water if needed to cover the bones.
- Add the vegetables and bring to a boil. Skim the scum from the top and discard.
- Reduce to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 24-72 hours (if you’re not comfortable leaving the pot to simmer overnight, turn off the heat and let it sit overnight, then turn it back on and let simmer all day the next day)
- Let the broth cool and strain it and add sea salt to taste and drink the broth as is or store in fridge up to 5 to 7 days.
To use a slow cooker, you will need to first bring the broth to a boil in a pot on your stove, then skim the scum off the top. Pay careful attention to this stage, as once the broth begins to boil the scum is rolled right back into the broth. The scum are the impurities that you want to remove. You can then transfer the broth to your slow cooker and turn it on to low heat for 24 to 72 hours.
With the onset of colder winter days and rainy weather, what better way to warm yourself than by coming home to a bowl of hot creamy soup. Here’s one of our favourite recipes for a nutritious, high in protein soup, guaranteed to titillate your tastebuds and satisfy your winter carb cravings.
- 1 table spoon olive oil
- 1 large brown onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 500g cauliflower cut into florets
- 500g broccoli cut into florets
- 120g baby spinach
- 1 litre of vegetable stock
- Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat
- Add onion and garlic and stir for 3 minutes until onion has softened
- Add the broccoli and cauliflower, cook, stirring for 5 minutes
- Add the stock
- Season with some pepper and salt
- Reduce heat to medium low
- Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower and broccoli is tender.
- Add the spinach in the last 2 minutes of cooking
- Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly
- Blend until a smooth creamy consistency
- Grill some salmon fillets seasoned with Himalayan sea salt
- To serve, add yoghurt and salmon chunk
For many of us in the fitness game, winter is that time of year that seems to sabotage our fitness goals. The cold, dreary days make us stay indoors more than we’d like, and the layers of clothes means that many of us think it’s “okay” to let ourselves go. On top of that many of us seem to have a curiously increased hankering for all the foods we know we shouldn’t be having: chocolate, lollies, cake, pastry, pasta, chips, etc. If you’re someone who has increased winter carb cravings, don’t fret, you’re not alone. Many of our clients come to us during the winter period with complaints of irresistible carb cravings, resulting in growing waistlines. So what is it that drives us to crave carb-laden meals and sugary snacks during the winter period?
The Winter Blues
Well-documented research has shown that the winter months can bring about a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or more colloquially known as the winter blues. One of the reasons affecting SAD is the lack of vitamin D3 in our bodies due to reduced sun exposure. Optimal Vitamin D3 levels is crucial in regulating mood, with low levels of vitamin D having been shown in studies to be correlated with poor mood and even depressive symptoms.
In order to feel better, many people rely on high carb, sugary junk foods to elevate their mood. This is because the carbohydrates in these foods promote the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which enhances mood. In addition to this, the stress from being in a low state further depletes our body’s serotonin levels resulting in physical cravings for carbs in order to replenish the low serotonin levels, and the cycle continues.
So what can be done to keep vitamin D3 levels up during the cold winter months? Aside from going out and trying to get some sunshine in the grey weather, a simple solution is to take a good vitamin D3 supplement. Keep in mind, however, that because vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin, the absorption of this supplement will be far more effective when taken with sources of good, healthy saturated fats.
Increased Energy Needs for Homeostasis
Another reason for increased food consumption over winter may come down to homeostasis, the body’s process of maintaining a stable internal environment (e.g. stable body temperature). During the cold winter months, our bodies tend to burn more calories in order to stay warm. One method of doing this is by generating heat through brown adipose tissue, otherwise known as brown fat. Interestingly, brown fat utilises a substantial amount of blood glucose when active, bringing blood sugar levels down and potentially eliciting carbohydrate cravings. In addition to this, thermogenesis (the creation of heat) from brown fat can be induced by eating food, which may mean that our bodies are naturally stimulating our appetites in order to bring about diet-induced thermogenesis.
One common mistake that many people make when they experience elevated hunger is to try and “manage” their hunger by ignoring it or taking the route of calorie restriction, which has been proven to be ineffective for long term fat loss. Others may choose to have “light snacks” that often include chocolate, biscuits or a sugar-loaded granola bar rather than real, wholesome food.
Hunger is often your body’s way of signalling that it needs more food, or simply more of particular vitamins and nutrients. Ignoring these signals or going down the path of calorie restriction often results in binge eat, over-snacking (often on junk food) and poor food choices in general. The research on calorie restrictive diets have time and time again shown that those who practice this will tend to put on more body fat in the long term than when they started.
If you find yourself hungrier over the winter period, aim to increase your consumption of protein from healthy, clean sources and as always, eat plenty of vegetables with your meals. If you’re eating carbs then opt for unprocessed carbs such as brown rice, sweet potato, yam, quinoa or pumpkin. As a final note on this point remember to stay well hydrated during winter. Hunger can often be mistaken for thirst and winter is one of those periods where people don’t drink enough water.
One possible explanation why some people experience winter carb cravings may be due to an evolutionary adaptation based on lifestyle practice. Studies on earlier nomadic and farming groups show that populations experiencing cold winters relied significantly on grains and tubers harvested during the warmer months as well as on a small proportion of cured meats. This is because many of the fresh fruit and vegetable food sources would not have survived the cold, and hunting animals became significantly more difficult.
As such, the increased cravings for carbs during the winter months could have resulted from an innate evolutionary reliance on carb sources over winter.
Of course, this adaptation may have aided our survival up until 100 to 200 years ago, but the world we live in now is vastly different and we no longer have the winter famines that our ancestors had. Vegetables, meat or other protein-dense foods are readily available. If you find yourself with carb cravings then increasing protein consumption from healthy sources can help decrease these cravings by keeping you satiated. Don’t worry if you find yourself eating more food during your meals provided that what you’re eating is the right kind of food. If you keep yourself satisfied with the right kinds of food then you’ll be less likely to eat the foods that add to your waistline.
The reasons why people experience winter carb cravings can differ from individual to individual ranging from low vitamin D levels, to increased energy needs and potentially even evolutionary adaptations. At the end of the day, however, whatever the causes are for your carb cravings it doesn’t mean you need to make poor food choices. Being smart about what you eat by consuming nutritious, unprocessed food with plenty of meat and veg can greatly curb carb cravings. If you find yourself indoors and lacking sunlight then it may be worth trying a good quality vitamin D supplement to boost depleted levels which may assist in improving your mood and curbing your cravings.
To follow on from ASP Coach Priscilla‘s popular post on ‘The Business of Fish’ last month, we have her back to discuss fun and tasty ways to get your kids eating healthy!
I was asked by a client for suggestions for her kids’ meals as she was embarking on her new nutritional plan. As she found the change in food had made such a difference for her and the way she felt, she thought why not have the kids to the same thing?
Instead of pulling the box of cocoa pops from the cupboard she wanted to introduce the kids to the idea of having protein as the first meal of the day. Kids lead a very active life and what better way to support their activity and growth than by providing the right nutritional support?
So here are some ways of creating fun in the kitchen while providing healthy meals for your kids.
- Scrambled Eggs: A fun way to serve kids eggs is to put cookie cutter shapes in a pan well oiled, then arrange cutters in a close circle and pour egg mix into cutters. You can add salmon, vegetables etc. at this stage. Cover cutters with some non stick baking paper. Cook for 3-5mins or until desired texture. Use a fish slice to remove cutters.
- Grating vegetables is a good way to disguise them when adding them to mince meat.
- When making spaghetti and mince balls, make the spaghetti out of zucchini as a variation.
- Paleo style crepes are great in the morning and you can also add them as a lunch box filler. Spread with a nut butter (if the school allows nuts) or simply squeeze lemon juice and roll into cigar shape and wrap. You may also use the crepes as bread alternatives. Add your savoury fillings and roll into shape.
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons coconut flour
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients.
- Heat a 9″ frying pan over medium heat and melt a small amount of coconut oil in the pan.
- Using 2-3 tablespoons of batter per crepe, swirl in the pan until the batter is thin.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes; until the edges are browned and curling upwards slightly. In a swift motion, scoop the crepe onto a spatula and flip quickly.
- Cook for 1 minute on the other side.
- Roll the crepes with your favourite fillings. If you choose to make these ahead of time, you can freeze them with a couple sheets of parchment paper between each crepe.
When I was younger my mum would make a soup or broth in the cooler months and send it with us to school in a thermos – a great way of adding all those nutritious veggies!
Today we have another guest post from one of our senior coaches, qualified chef Priscilla Burnett! We’re lucky enough to have Priscilla discuss some simple but delicious methods to incorporate healthy quantities of fish in your diet. Enjoy!
Growing up, Friday night was fish and chip night, which was the highlight of the week. One of us would be in charge of writing who was getting what, another to run around to the shop and collect the order. And the unfortunate others would be on setting the table.
Now when I talk fish and chips, I mean FISH and chips. None of this palm sized morsel that you pay the earth for. I’m talking proper fresh juicy fish. However I’m digressing.
I’ve had a clients of late ask me how to cook and how to choose fresh fish. Melbourne is fortunate to have a host of fresh food markets to choose from.
Ideally buy your fish between Tuesday and Saturday as the fishing traulers don’t go out over the weekend.
Try and choose Australian or New Zealand fish. This way you are guaranteed clean, fresh water and the ‘catch to table’ time is drastically reduced.
Build a repoure with your fish monger. They will be more likely to give you the best cuts of fish.
Fish shouldn’t smell like Fish! Look for plump, bright coloured flesh. It shouldn’t look dull or flat or have a slimly feel to it.
If buying whole fish, the gills should be bright colour, eyes bright and still protruding.
Often you can smell fish cooking from a mile away. To help with this try cooking in an oven bag. This greatly reduces cooking time and cleaning up. Adding vegetables to the bag gives you a meal all in one.
Remember to rotate your fish. Often you find one you like and just keep buying it. Again ask your fish monger to recommend different varieties to you.
Try adding fish to the recipe for cauliflower fritters available in our ebook – Lean Cooking Made Simple
Oven bake is a hassle free way also of preparing fish. Often marinating fish overnight or during the day helps create a different flavor. Whether it be an Asian theme ginger/coriander or Spanish flare with a salsa verde.
Try mixing salmon with white fish and making fish balls. This is a great way to use end cuts and use up left overs.
A nut crust is a nice textural difference to add. Add some seasame seeds and lemon juice, blend and genourously smother fish.
Poaching fish is not commonly done in the home but is very easy. You can just use a high sided tray and fill 2cm deep with either a fish stock or white wine/water mix. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper and herbs. Place fish on a piece of baking paper with butter smeared on the inside side (side to touch fish), submerge fish almost completely in liquid. Fish is done when white droplets appear on surface.
CORIANDER/LIME AND OLIVE OIL DRESSING
Heading into summer, this is a nice refreshing dressing to add to your seafood dish.
Handfull of coriander
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup olive oil
Shred coriander and place in bowl.
Add lime juice and zest.
Add salt, pepper and honey.
With a whisk, slowly add in olive oil making sure you are whisking the whole time.
The more oil you add, the thicker the dressing will be. So play around with oil amount for desired coating.
This has a lovely summer feel to it. It also keeps well in the fridge and can be used with chicken and pork.
- 2 red capsicums
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and pan fried
- ¼ cup roasted almonds
- 2 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar can be substituted)
- ½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
- Preheat oven to 180 degree.
- Put the capsicums on a baking paper lined tray. Cook for 30 mins or until the capsicums have turned black and started to collapse. Set aside to cool, then remove skin and seeds.
- Put the garlic in a food processor and blitz.
- Add the almonds and blitz to a coarse crumb.
- Add the capsicum and tomatoes, the olive oil, sherry vinegar and smoked paprika.
- Season to taste and set aside.
- 2 cups nuts (salted if you like)
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- Place ingredients into food processor and pulse to semi course consistency.
You can brush fish with melted coconut oil to help with cohesion of rub.
SALSA VERDE (ADAPTED)
- Large handful of parsley
- Handful of basil
- Handful of mint
- 2-3 roasted cloves garlic (quickly pan fried)
- Small handful of capers
- 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
- 8 tablespoons of olive oil
- Juice of 1 small lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place all items except olive oil into food processor. While blending, drizzle in olive oil.
- Use as either a basting/sauce to cook seafood in or as a sauce to drizzle over once seafood is cooked.
You can play around with the consistency by how much olive oil you put in. The more you put in the thicker it will be.
Missing the satisfaction of spreading butter or margarine over your potatoes? Simply put a small container of olive oil in the fridge. It will harden and become like a soft butter! Also add garlic or herbs to create your own flavoured oil spread.
After renowned Australian professional natural bodybuilder, powerlifter, martial artist and vegan Billy Simmonds’ Recent Visit to ASPC to smash out a lifting with ASP Coach Luke Tan, we are super excited to announce that Billy has produced a vegan strength and nutrition workshop, to be held right here at ASPC!
In conjunction with Prana Organic Nutrition, and supported by Saka Water, Spectablend and of course the whole team at Australian Strength Performance, we have the pleasure of hosting a three hour workshop presented by the man himself!
Enter the running for FREE TICKETS to Billy’s workshop by heading to our Facebook Page and following the prompts! We’ll be announcing the two lucky ASP Fans by next Wednesday the 4th of December. Full details for the workshop below.
SUNDAY 8th DECEMBER 2013
9:00AM START – 12:00PM FINISH
$149 EARLY BIRD BEFORE DECEMBER 1st
$199 UNTIL DECEMBER 8th
AUSTRALIAN STRENGTH PERFORMANCE CENTRE
120 WESTON STREET, BRUNSWICK EAST VIC 3057
In Part 1 of the session Billy will discuss in detail nutritional concepts ranging from foundational basics through to competition dieting, raw foods, meal structuring, how to stay lean while building muscle, supplement reviews and more.
Part 2 will involve a look at different training protocols and the most effective for varying levels of ability and experience.
Part 3 will be practical with tuition during some fun lifting games and then an intense metabolic conditioning circuit.
There will be alkaline water with amino acids and a delicious post-workout smoothie provided for each attendee.
Numbers are strictly capped to ensure an intimate, personalised workshop.
Cost includes full participation in both nutrition & strength sessions, personalised written notes including programs and a gift bag.
It is recommended you are already undertaking some level of exercise if you are expecting to fully participate and benefit from the session.
To secure your spot please send the below details to Billy at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Training Experience
- Injuries/Food Allergies
- What you are most wanting to learn to help you get to the next level
- Estimated personal bests in both deadlift and squat
- Your preferred t-shirt
Payment can be made via Paypal with email@example.com as the ID.
“This will be a ground breaking workshop and I look forward to seeing you there to share with you all my knowledge. Being strong and fit as a vegan is by far one of the best lifestyles for your health, the environment and of course other animals so please join me and become a POWERPLANT!!! ”
— Billy Simmonds
Today we have a guest post from one of our inhouse specialists – ASP Coach Priscilla Burnett! As well as being a full-time ASP Coach, Priscilla is also a qualified chef, and with many years experience in the culinary industry she is here to discuss her top tips to spice things up in your kitchen!
The most common issues I have found with my clients when it comes to their nutrition, is the challenge of creating exciting meals within their prescribed nutritional guidelines. Food for them can often become bland, mundane and just plain boring when focusing more on the nutritional parameters that we’ve recommended. As a Chef and ASP Coach though, I have the opportunity to use my years in the kitchen as a tool to offer clients ideas to ‘spice up their lives’.
Below I have compiled some of my most most popular ideas for you to try for yourself at home!
FORGET WHAT YOUR MOTHER TAUGHT YOU!
When I start to talk about cabbage, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower, many of you will conjure up some horrid image of a plateful of soggy, overcooked mush. Unfortunately for these humble, nutritious vegetables, many of you have discarded them from your dinner tables. But it is actually not their fault they’ve gained the poor reputation they have over the years, it’s ours!
With the Great Depression affecting the way many foods were cooked, the ritual of boiling vegetables and leaving absolutely no nutrient value left in them became the norm for many of us growing up. However, this process also left a bad taste in our mouths, pun absolutely intended!
So, let me show you how these little gems can be the delight that they were always meant to be and the highlight of your next feast.
igh in vitamin C, cut the cauliflower into florets and also add as much of the stem as possible. As with any vegetables with a stem, this is where most of the nutrients are, as the stem is the ‘straw’ in which the plant draws up the nutrients from the ground.
Drizzle a small amount of walnut oil, fresh rosemary and season with salt & pepper.
Roast in oven for 20 minutes.
Remove when florets are browned and starting to blacken on the ends. This brings out a lovely nutty flavour to the cauliflower.
Try slicing celery and leaving to macerate in orange juice.
The orange juice brings a sweetness that helps cut the acidity often associated with celery. Serve either as a side or add kale and walnuts and serve as a tasty twist to a Waldolf Salad!
Possibly the most hated of vegetables, but with the help of some friends can be the enjoyment of your dinner party!
Pan fry sprouts with a nob of organic butter, sliced bacon and chestnuts.
This can be served as a salad, but is also excellent as a compliment to a pork dish.
The bacon brings saltiness to the dish and adds texture to compliment the softness of the Brussel sprouts.
Priscilla was one of the masterminds behind the recipes in ASP’s first cookbook! Lean Cooking Made Simple incorporates similar methods to those mentioned above to help spice up your nutritional routine, with
nutritional break downs, facts and tips, all based around healthy, wholesome foods! Check out the link below to grab your copy, only $11.00!
With the increasing number of vegan clients and athletes we are training, we are also proud to introduce ASP Senior Strength Coach Luke as a competing athlete and passionate vegan! In this post, he highlights the importance of protein for vegans/vegetarian and identifies some great sources to obtain a variety of different proteins.
Whether it’s because you’ve been brought up as one, you detest the taste and texture of meat or perhaps, you are one for ethical or spiritual reasons, you are a vegetarian/vegan.
Vegetarians/vegans consume a large proportion of their calories from whole and natural plant based products, hence a typical vegetarian diet will be high in carbohydrates (mainly sugars), starches and fibres. Sugars and starches provide a great energy source for training, while the fibre in the diet helps with digestion, detoxification and sugar regulation. Just as common though, is that the vegetarian/vegan diet has an overall lower protein content.
Since protein is the one of the main macronutrients that facilitates critical bodily processes, cellular repair, muscle growth, immunity and overall health, particular attention must be paid. As opposed to a traditional meat eater’s diet where protein is readily available, a vegetarian needs to consume a greater volume and variety of protein rich food to have the necessary amino acids (basic building blocks of protein) and achieve muscle-building goals.
TOP 4 VEGETARIAN SOURCES OF PROTEIN
Legumes (also known as “pulses”) are a group of plant foods that boast a high protein content. They are also a good source of fibre, zinc, magnesium and iron. Examples of legumes include lentils, cooked beans (eg: kidney, black & red beans, chickpeas, lima beans, etc.) and peas. A cup of cooked legumes yields approximately 13-18 grams of protein.
As legumes contain certain fibres and sugars that are only ingested in the gut instead of the small intestine, consumption of legumes has been associated with bloating and gas. To prevent and minimise these occurrences, start with small amounts and slowly increase your portions. Do not mix legumes with simple sugars in the same sitting. Wait at least 30-45 minutes before consuming any fruits. Additionally, soak beans overnight and discard the water before cooking them (not necessary for lentils).
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2. Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are another alternate protein source, and provide ‘good fats’ that your body needs for brain and cell development as well. Nuts and seeds also help induce a feeling of satiety (feeling full).
Both chia and flax are a great source of omega-3s for the vegetarian. Omega-3s reduce cancer risks, promote immune function and support healthy cognitive development.
Protein content for various nuts:
- ¼ cup of raw almonds : 6 grams of protein
- ¼ cup of walnuts : 5 grams of protein
- tablespoons of natural peanut butter (unsweetened) : 8 grams of protein
- 2 tablespoons of flaxseed : 7 grams of protein
- 2 tablespoons of chia seed : 6 grams of protein
Soy is a commonly used source of protein because of it’s digestibility and high protein content. Since soy is a grain that’s quite often genetically modified, opt for organic and GMO free should you wish to consume it. Tempeh, natto (fermented soy beans), edamame beans, tofu are some examples of soy products. Soy milk, although popular is often also highly refined, processed and sugared. As such, opt for alternatives like almond, oat or rice milk.
Protein content in some soy products
- 1 cup edamame beans : 16 grams of protein
- 125 grams of tempeh : 25 grams of protein
- 125 grams of firm tofu : 20 grams of protein
Some people can be allergic to soy products, so before consuming, check to see if this includes you. There has also been substantial research showing that soy can exert an estrogenic effect on the body. Over consumption of soy could thus lead to accumulation of fat especially in the thighs, an increase in estrogen and concomitant suppression of testosterone (a muscle-building hormone). For an individual looking to build muscle and lean up, such effects can prove counterproductive to their goals.
4. Whole Grains
Not only do grains provide a great source of carbohydrates for energy, they also contain a decent amount of protein and are a great source fiber.
Protein content for some common grains:
- 1 cup of brown rice : 5 grams of protein
- 1 cup of wild rice : 6 grams of protein
- 1 cup of quinoa : 11 grams of protein
- 1 cup of oatmeal : 6 grams of protein
It’s important to note that oatmeal on its own, though gluten free, may have traces of gluten through cross contamination. If possible, always opt for gluten free choices for all foods. Gluten is highly allergenic to many individuals and is one of the common causes of food insensitivities and intolerances we face.
VEGETARIAN PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS
Given that a vegetarian/vegan’s diet often lacks protein, it is important to consider supplementing the body with these options:
Rice, Pea or Soy Protein Isolate – These can be great alternatives to whey protein. Shaken, stirred or mixed, they provide a convenient protein boost to your diet. Each serve (depending on scoop size) typically contains approximately 25-30 grams of protein.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) – BCAAs are a primary source of fuel for the muscles during a workout. They aid optimal muscle recovery and help boost testosterone levels. Taken pre, intra and post-workout, BCAAs assist the building of lean muscle and fuel the fat burning process.
Amino Acid Complex – This can constitute a range of different amino acids, which aim to counteract the lack of certain proteins due to a vegan/vegetarian diet. You can opt for these throughout the day to supplement and meet individual daily protein intake needs.
Lysine – This essential amino acid is often lacking in many plant based foods, with its highest concentrations being in soy based foods, lentils and legumes. Furthermore, lysine is also depleted during a workout. So if you are working often, and are a vegan/vegetarian, be sure to add lysine to your supplement stash.
MUSCLE GAIN AS A VEGETARIAN/VEGAN
Your body’s priority is to achieve a state of homeostasis (remaining the same or ‘normal’) as this ensures your survival. Putting on muscle mass therefore requires you to consume a substantial amount of protein and calories more than ‘normal’. To calculate the approximate amount of protein required to gain muscle mass, here’s a simple formula:
1.5 to 3.0 (depending on activity levels) x bodyweight (kg) = Protein (g) needed per day.
If you have identified that in your vegetarian diet you are not consuming the necessary amount of protein for muscle growth and recovery, now’s a good time to start! Keep in mind these few points when designing a good vegetarian/vegan diet:
Eat Frequently – Aim to have 5-7 meals per day (including protein shakes & supplements) to keep those protein levels in check.
Maintain Variety – Vary your intake of plant based proteins to ensure the body receives a full spectrum of amino acids. This also prevents you from getting tired of always eating the same types of foods.
Limit Processed Foods – Foods such as veggie patties and sausages are highly processed, sugared and contain large amounts of gluten. Aim to consume mainly whole and natural foods. However, should you opt for processed foods, choose a gluten/wheat free alternative.
Go Gluten Free – Not only are most people’s digestive tracks insensitive to gluten, long-term consumption gluten has also been shown to slow down brain synapse function, thus affecting brain cognitive abilities and reaction time.
Training for mass gain? Looking to lean up by increasing your muscle mass? Be sure to maximise your nutrient absorption to maximise your muscle growth!
We should all know by now that muscle hypertrophy is dependant on a lot more than just an increased dietary protein intake. But what exactly should we be consuming to promote a significant and healthy increase in lean muscle mass? Here’s five of our top supplemental/nutritional recommendations to promoting optimal muscle growth.
Bicarbonates, such as those found in natural sparkling water, are very helpful in increasing stomach hydrochloric acid (HCL) production which supports the effective digestion and absorption of food.
If you are looking to build muscle, then first ensure the food you consume is effectively broken down and absorbed.
2.Prebiotics and Probiotics
High quality pre and probiotic are necessary to ensure the flourishing of good gut bacteria. These nutritional aids ensure you have a healthy absorption system and prevent the onset of stomach bugs. The latter being an all too common setback in the form of unnecessary weight loss.
Zinc is the precursor for the absorption of all nutrients. It also assists in increasing stomach HCL production and is a necessary ingredient for the production of testosterone, a prime hormone for muscle gain.
Dietary magnesium is a nutrient that works synergistically with zinc. Daily intake can help suppress stress levels, prevent weight gain across the stomach regions and increase testosterone levels through the reduction of cortisol.
5. Saturated Fat
Saturated fat is an essential component in the production of fat-soluble hormones like testosterone, cholesterol for healthy brain integrity and function, and also promotes an optimal metabolic rate. Often, the inability to lose weight and gain muscle can be directly attributed to the lack of saturated fat intake. Some great sources of saturated fat include cold-pressed coconut oil and organic servings of butter.
Struggling to lose that festive season bulge?
Looking to shed that final 1% body fat that just won’t move?
Below are four untold truths of fat that may change your perception on what’s best for your body, and might just be the key to dropping those kilos!
1. Everyday Fat Cells DON’T Multiply!
Fat gain is actually often due to an increase in the storage size of the fat cells, NOT the number. The only time fat cells multiply is during puberty or pregnancy. As a result, individuals who tend to gain fat during those times, will find it harder to lose weight.
TIP: A great tip for accelerating that fat loss is coupling a high quality flexseed/ fish oil together with L-carnitine. This helps to increase the energy production of the cell and increase overall metabolism.
2. High Cholesterol is NOT a Be All and End All Indicator
Having a ‘High Cholesterol’ level may not be all that bad. Cholesterol is a lipid molecule found in all cell membranes and a main constituent of our brains. Sometimes, a high cholesterol reading can actually reflect the natural response of the body to replenish the loss of cholesterol via cell disruptions like stress or cell oxidation. So in fact, high cholesterol can often just indicate the body’s healthy process of repairing itself.
3. Fat is the Body’s Toxin Storage System
Fat accumulation is the body’s natural protective instinct against the effects of toxins. From petrochemicals and xenoestrogens to heavy metals, we are in contact with at least 200 of these toxins on a daily basis, causing our bodies to be in a constant state of protection. It is no wonder why our population is getting fatter and more disease ridden.
4. Saturated Fat is Essential!
Saturated Fat is critical to maintain cell membrane integrity and an essential synergist for the effective absorption of amino acids in the body. It is therefore imperative we include servings of unprocessed saturated fat in our diets. Societal emphasis on low fat and high carb/astpartamic products has no doubt contributed to a population deprived of essential proteins for body repair and detoxification.
Got a question? We’d love to hear from you! Post your queries, experiences of feedback on our Facebook wall here and we’ll get back to you the best we can!
Here is the first addition to our ‘RECIPES’ section! One of our enthusiastic and very talented clients Cara Jelinic delivers a delicious pesto stuffed chicken breast recipe that combines fresh, natural ingredients to keep you lean, healthy and satisfied!
Like us on Facebook here and stay tuned for more healthy recipes that are on their way.
- 1 to 1 and a half cups basil leaves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese or cottage cheese
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tomatoes chopped
- 1 small onion or half a large onion chopped finely
- 1 heaped teaspoon of butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 x 150gm or more chicken breast
- Fresh rocket for serving
*Use organic ingredients where possible.*
- Turn oven on to 200 degrees Celsius (fan forced)
- Toast pine nuts on stove till slightly golden
- Place basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt & pepper in a food processor and pulse until basil is chopped. Turn on high and slowly add olive oil. Pour into bowl and mix in the cheese. Put aside.
- With a knife, slit each chicken breast lengthways to form a large pocket. Spoon half the pesto mixture into the each chicken breast. Place each chicken breast onto a piece of pre-cut baking paper and wrap until firmly sealed. Place both onto an ovenproof tray (folds underneath) and place on middle shelf of oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
- While the chicken is in the oven, place onion and butter in a saucepan and sauté until soft. Add the tomatoes, garlic, salt pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Prepare both plates by placing
- Put a small handful of rocket in the middle. Place the chicken breast on top of the rocket and spoon the sauce over the chicken.
- Serve immediately
Diets are the latest trend in our weight conscious society. With everything from shakes and calories, restrictive plans to pills and celebrity fads, diets aim to make you slimmer, healthier and happier. Yet a ‘Die-It’ as the name suggest, appears to be merely a painful means to an end rather than a sustainable and satisfying solution.
Recent statistics have shown that while Australians spend up to one million dollars per day on dieting products, they are likely to regain one to two thirds of their lost weight within the year, and almost, if not all of the lost weight within five years. The question then remains, why are diets so ineffective? Here are some tips on making a diet more enjoyable and sustainable for you.
1. HAVE A LIFESTYLE OVER A “DIE-IT”
Being on a ‘die-it’ often carries an underlying belief (and often a desperate wish!) that your action is merely short term. This not only results in extreme and often harmful eating habits such as “crash-dieting”, but also ”diet-clock watching” – where an individual develops an unhealthy focus on “letting loose” at the end of the suppressed diet rather than focusing on the ultimate goal of health and wellbeing.
As such, it is common to see people reward themselves with comfort foods once they can justify that the dieting period is over. Such actions can lea to guilt and emotional overeating, causing the individual to ‘rebound’ or ‘relapse’ in an extreme way, and put on more weight than when they first started the diet.
On the other hand, by embracing your new nutritional plan as a lifestyle change, you are consciously accepting the positive change in your eating habits to be a long-term action that will be part of everyday living. This paradigm shift is not only effective in eliminating the guilt and need to emotionally eat, but also in maintaining focus on overall health and wellbeing in the long run.
2. CHOOSE A NUTRITIONAL PLAN THAT SUPPORTS YOUR INDIVIDUAL OPTIMAL HEALTH
While there are so many diets in the market, not every one will suit you. What can make someone lose fat fast can in fact help you stack on the kilos and vice versa. It is important then to consider and choose a diet that will support your individual body needs. A nutritionist or qualified Biosignature Practitioner would be able to assist you. When you’re on a nutrition plan that supports optimal health, you will find that not only does the fat melt off,
but you feel more energised, sleep better, are able to think more clearly, and also naturally start to reject the comfort food you were previously on.
3. INTRODUCE ONLY ONE CHANGE AT THE TIME AND DO NOT MOVE ON TO THE NEXT UNTIL YOU HAVE MADE THAT CHANGE
Small and steady changes are easy to introduce, remember and implement. It is how good habits are formed and built upon. For example, if you normally rush off to work with only a coffee in the morning, then having a small handful of nuts or an egg in the morning can be a great way of introducing breakfast as a habit. Once the action of eating something is cultivated, then you can look at better alternatives for the meal.
FOR EVERY THING TAKEN OUT, SUBSTITUTE IT WITH ANOTHER
A sudden removal of a regular food from your routine can cause a void and lead to cravings and constant thoughts about the removed food. Choosing to substitute the food for a similar but healthier option is a more gradual, but effective way of removing that undesired food habit. For example, if you have a habit of drinking a couple of bottles of beer or a can of sugary soft drink every night, start substituting this with a glass of iced-soda water that will still leave you quenched and refreshed, but in a better state. is text.
5. BE CREATIVE IN YOUR FOOD PREPARATION
Whoever said that healthy food had to be bland, tasteless and dull? One of the biggest problems in sustaining a diet is the lack of taste and variety in the food. This has the effect of deterring people from their new eating regimes. Be creative in introducing spices and herbs to flavor your foods. You’ll be surprised just how good healthy foods can taste!
6. IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN, YOU PLAN TO FAIL
Not planning your meals in advance can lead to bad choices in foods especially when you are hungry. When you plan in advance (e.g. stocking up your pantry with nuts rather than chocolates) or prepare healthy ready-to-go meals or snacks beforehand, you not only plan what nutrition you will be consuming but also have less of a tendency to look for other less optimal choices when hunger strikes you.
Following my article Being Awake to the Problems of Losing Sleep many readers showed a keen interest in what I might have to recommend as remedies for improving sleep. So here’s my take on natural sleep solutions – A useful list of tips we all should know about foods, supplements and lifestyle habits in gaining a better night’s sleep.
1. NATURAL FOODS
Foods high in Tryptophan
(an amino acid) such as turkey, fish, dairy, eggs, bananas, figs, pineapples can make a good and relaxing evening meal. This is because tryptophan is involved in the production of serotonin, a feel good hormone that also helps induce drowsiness. However, try to refrain from eating big meals within 2 hours of your bed time, as this not only hinders growth hormone production but can disrupt the quality of sleep.
Refrain from eating or drinking stimulants
(things that are likely to increase heart rate and dehydrate you) such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and foods high in fat or salt close to bedtime. Caffeine from percolated coffee for example, has a half-life of 8 hours, meaning its effects on the adrenal system will last a whole eight hours! So ensure your last cup of coffee for the day is no later than 2:00- 3:00 pm in the afternoon, otherwise you’ll probably be in for a restless night.
are known for calming the adrenal system after a stressful day, though sometimes it may take up to 2 weeks of nightly use for the person’s system to feel and enjoy the tea’s full benefits. The most popular sleep-inducing herb is Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), an ancient remedy for insomnia. Common teas like Tulsi and Chamomile are also known to work a treat by reducing cortisol (a stress hormone). Other herbs include Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) from North America, which acts upon and calms the nervous system, and Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), recognised by European herbalists to aid digestion and induce sleep.
is a cheap yet effective supplement that will help with reducing cortisol, induce calm and improve sleep patterns. For those that find pills hard to swallow, magnesium creams are also highly effective as they get absorb into the skin and can act rapidly to give the same advantages.
is another helpful supplement. The Poliquin products range we stock in Melbourne include a product called Uber inositol. When taken just before bed, this supplement helps induce deep sleep by balancing out all neurotransmitter imbalances, including raising serotonin levels to help with sleep, and decreasing adrenaline levels.
is a powerful antioxidant 20 times more potent than vitamin E. If you are waking up between 1am and 3 am constantly, it can be an indication that your lung meridian (an energy centre of your body) is disrupted due to a lack of antioxidants. Regular doses of grapeseed extract often does the trick to help this sleep bump.
Liver Support Supplements
like the P1P2 balance from Poliquin that we have available in Melbourne, which can help improve the quality of sleep, especially if you find yourself frequently waking between 3am-5am. Often our liver has to work overtime to detoxify numerous toxins from our systems and this strain can affect sleep quality.
Phosphatidyl Serine (PS)
works to reduce stress and high levels of adrenaline within the system, effectively calming a person down. When used before bed, PS is great for inducing deep sleep.
3. PHYSICAL EXERCISES
such as a walking, jogging or working out in the gym produces endorphins – chemicals which help you feel good and improve sleep. However, performing vigorous exercises close to bedtime can overly increase adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones), and be counterproductive to good sleep. As such, exercises should be done at least two hours before bedtime and not immediately before.
Light and Muscle Relaxing Exercises
like yoga, which can also help release physical and mental tension without overstimulating the body. Here’s a simple relaxation technique to be done in the “Savasana Position” (Lie flat on your back with a pillow under your upper body so that your shoulders are slightly elevated; this makes breathing easier). In this position, mentally focus on relaxing individual muscles in your body, starting from each toe, up your calves and thighs, through your hips, lower back, abs, chest, shoulders and neck. Focus on relaxing the muscles on your face and feel your eyeballs gently relax down into the eye sockets. Relax the temples and forehead, then the bridge of the nose, your cheeks and jaw muscles. Feel the connection between the ear passages and the jaws, and relax them. Allow your tongue to rest on the lower palate and for your relaxed mouth to be slightly parted. The key here is to focus on deep and effortless breathing. You’ll probably find yourself concentrating a little harder on the steps to do this initially, but constant
4. PSYCHOLOGICAL TOOLS
Stay Relaxed and Positive
when you cannot get to sleep. As rhetorical as this might sound, frustration or anger will only agitate you and tense your muscles up. Adopt a positive mindset and know that even if your mind can’t completely shut down, the fact that your body is in a restful position is already aiding muscle and tension recovery. Drowsiness often occurs in 30-45 min waves. If you happen to miss a wave, don’t get restless, simply relax your mind and body in time for the next wave.
Prayer or Journaling
can be an effective method for ‘getting stuff off your chest’. Speaking, thinking or writing out the day’s highs and lows, triumphs and anxieties can be an effective way to release these built up emotions. It may also help organise your thoughts and rationalise away any unnecessary worry or tension. One great technique I’ve learnt from Strength Coach Charles Poliquin recommended to many of our clients in Melbourne is to use a grateful log.
Here’s how it works: Before going to bed, get a pen (not a computer!) and write down at least 10 different things you are grateful for within the day. You could simply begin with: “I am grateful for…”.
As New Age as it might sound, this practice is very calming for the mind and helps you appreciate the world in a positive light before falling asleep. I have found this to ease all my stressed clients, prevent their minds from racing all night, and enrich the quality of their sleep significantly.
5. CREATING A SUITABLE ENVIRONMENT
Try to Rid Your Bedroom of Electronic Distractions
such as televisions, laptops and phones. Apart from the obvious noise and lights disturbances, these devices also emit radiation that has had been scientifically shown to interfere with your sleep patterns.
Needing an Alarm Clock is NO Excuse to Use Your Phone
The best option would be a simple battery operated analogue clock. However for those that insist on having digital bed side clock, ensure that your clock has red numbers, since blue and green colours used on the digital clock stimulates the brain.
Sleep in a Cave!
Closing all curtains and blinds to have complete darkness encourages your body to produce more melatonin and to induce drowsiness. If you’re not able to get complete darkness in the room, use a sleep mask.
6. FORMING THE RIGHT HABITS
Avoid High Adrenaline Activities Before Bed
Adrenaline-fuelled activities are typically thought of as including strenuous exercise and daredevil stunts. However, what we consider relaxing, such as watching television or chatting online will also raise adrenaline and decrease melatonin production, thus disrupting your sleeping patterns. If you do have to watch television, make sure you choose an appropriate genre such as a relaxing comedy and not a thriller or horror flick.
How About SEX?
Is that too high an adrenaline activity to avoid before bed? Research shows that although sexual activity results in increased heart rate and adrenaline, it also helps us release a cocktail of brain chemicals and hormones, including prolactin, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin and nitric oxide (NO). These chemicals are strongly linked to the sensations of drowsiness and relaxation, as well as a reduction in stress levels – so sex can be a great help when trying to sleep.
Establish a Regular Sleeping Pattern
by going to bed the same time each night. This sets up your “body clock” so that you are more likely to feel tired at the same time every night. Research has found that ideal time for sleep is between 10pm and 6 am in the morning, where the first 4 hours are crucial for the physical recuperation and the next 4 hours, from 2-6am are for mental/psychogenic repair.
Refrain from doing “Daytime” Activities
whilst lying in your bed. (e.g. watching TV, working, studying, etc) Doing so gets your body used to being awake whilst lying down in bed and makes it harder for it to recognise and abide by sleeping patterns.
It is widely accepted that when it comes to fashion, sophistication and a touch of class, no one says it better than the French. Yet in more recent times, it is their rather controversial diet that has stolen the limelight. From buttery croissants and full fat yoghurts at breakfast to cheeses and confit of duck at lunch accompanied by robust red wines, the French diet is rich in flavour, calorie dense and great at getting you into shape. Celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Gisele Bundchen have both used this diet to regain their amazing figures after childbirth.
Here are 5 great tips on how living la manière Française (the French way) keeps you slim, healthy and beautiful.
1. MAKE IT A POINT TO KEEP YOUR MEALS REGULAR
The French Diet is all about maintaining a balanced lifestyle rather than entertaining a quick fix. In France, people make an effort to incorporate regular meals into their busy schedules; with breakfast, lunch and dinner tending to be the norm. By having fixed times for meals, you not only promote an effective metabolic rate (how much energy is being used up through the day), but also ensure steady and consistent energy levels throughout the day.
2. TAKE TIME TO ENJOY YOUR FOODS
The French people are food connoisseurs in their own right. Eating is regarded as a luxury and every mouthful is savoured, enjoyed and celebrated by their palates. By taking time to enjoy each meal, you encourage better digestion, decrease stress and get more satisfaction out of smaller food portions.
In contrast, wolfing down your meals often leads to eating more as it takes an average of 15 minutes for your brain to get the message that your stomach is full. In addition, a large food intake at any one time is accompanied by a steep rise in insulin levels (a storage hormone) and results in fat being deposited directly around the love handle region. Eating slowly is thus a great way to appreciate flavour, eliminate unnecessary calories and reduce your waistline.
3. OPT FOR FRESH PRODUCE WHERE POSSIBLE
The French are big advocates of choosing quality foods over quantity. Fast foods and packaged foods are uncommon, and the French will go to great lengths to ensure that their foods are prepared with the freshest ingredients and the best locally farmed produce. Apart from enhancing the flavours in foods, fresh locally farmed produce also mean fewer pesticides, fewer artificial chemicals and more naturally occurring nutrients for the body.
4. MAKE SMART FOOD CHOICES
Organic Butter over Margarine
Staple French cuisine, with the likes of croissants and patès are known to contain copious amount of butter. Yes, it’s true that butter is a saturated fat, but more importantly it is also true that many of our body systems (such as the hormonal and immune system) and cells depend on saturated fat for survival and proper functioning. High-quality butter from good organic sources provides natural fats needed by the body; fats that are low in toxins, high in vitamins, trace minerals and natural antioxidants. When used in place of margarine, (a hydrogenated fat whose molecules resembles plastic), butter has scientifically shown to better heart health and reduce the appearance of cellulite in women.
Choose a Full Fat Yoghurt
Yoghurts constitute a huge part in French diets, especially during breakfast, and its benefits are plenty. A high quality naturally-produced yogurt contains milk fats and proteins, enzymes, vitamins and live cultures for good digestive health. The fat in the yogurt plays a crucial role in facilitating the body’s absorption of the milk calcium, as well as providing the body with all the nutrients as nature intended. This allows for satiety, and less cravings for sweets. The live cultures in yoghurt also aid the intestinal tract in fighting off bad bacteria, breaking down lactose (milk sugar) and creating an optimal environment for digestion.
Have up to 2 glasses of Red Wine a Day
Wine is an integral part of the French lifestyle. From socialising to dining, the French never fail to be seen with a glass of wine in hand. Wines, especially red wines, are high in minerals, antioxidants and contain a special compound called resveratrol, that is great in maintaining heart and arterial health, elevating testosterone levels (this helps to maintain lean tone muscle), keeps a person youthful and sustains longevity.
Keep Well-Hydrated with Water
The French always make an effort to drink lots of water through the day. Water is not only necessary to life, but being well-hydrated can also help speed up your metabolism and weight loss, boost skin rejuvenation and maintain a youthful, more radiant complexion
5. ENJOY REGULAR EXERCISE (KEY WORD – ENJOY!)
The French people understand the benefits of regular exercise. In fact, they love walking everywhere. From the grocer to going to work, the French walk because they enjoy it, not just for the sole reason of keeping fit. Learning to enjoy activity is a great way to stay motivated, maintain your health and sustain results.
In fact, a recent study found that people who exercised for weight-loss or toning up spent about 40% less time exercising than those who exercises for reasons beyond dropping weight such as: reducing stress, spending time with friends, or to increase their well-being.
As a strength coach, one of the most frequently asked questions by gym goers and athletes alike is: “what supplements should I be taking before and after my workout?”
This idea of workout specific nutrition though popularised by the commercialisation of protein shakes (cleverly endorsed by sports stars and bodybuilders), is not a novel concept. As early as 1940, whey protein has been used specifically as a workout aid to enhance muscle growth in athletes, and by the early 1980s, peri-workout nutrition had evolved to become a precise science adopted by top coaches such as Charles Poliquin to improve athletic performance.
However, while the benefits of workout specific nutrition are well documented, how well a person responds to a given supplement is dependent on numerous factors ranging from their training age, type of training performed to their individual genotype. Furthermore, it is my firm belief that one’s workout nutrition is only worth their workout invested. Simply speaking, a workout cocktail will not offer maximal benefits should the workout not be carried out properly.
Keeping this in mind, here are some supplements I have found to be universally helpful to anyone wanting to push harder and recover faster:
Caffeine – is a great stimulant that is best taken 45 minutes before the workout. Research has shown caffeine to enhance mood, increase adrenaline levels, increase maximal strength and decrease one’s perception of pain (Now, that’s one great way to push harder!)
What you also ought to know is that contrary to popular belief, espressos contain little or no caffeine, given that the caffeine cannot be effectively extracted from the brief amount of time boiling water runs through it. Instead if you want caffeine from a coffee fix, use a percolated coffee, or alternatively, a caffeine supplement like Java Stim from the Poliquin range that we stock in Melbourne will give you that edge.
Beta-Alanine – is another good pre workout supplement. It is an amino acid that increases strength and power output as well as delays muscular fatigue during training. A good dose of this supplement will give you a distinctive tingle across the face, chest and arms.
L-Carnitine – works within the mitochondria (energy producing centres of the cell) to burn fat, as well as increases the number and sensitivity of androgen receptor sites. Simply speaking, its purpose is to shred fat while increasing testosterone uptake during training – a combination that will get you leaner and stronger.
Alpha-GPC – (Alpha-Glycerylphosphorylcholine) serves to increase maximal strength by up to 7% pre-workout. It also Increases growth hormone production for muscle growth and regenerates the pituitary gland.
BCAAs – branched chain amino acids are a pre-requisite for individuals looking to get the best results from their workouts. Comprising of 3 amino acids: Leucine, Isosleucine and Valine, this supplement provides the main source of fuel for muscular contractions, aids recovery, decreases visceral fat and increases the testosterone to cortisol ratio while working out. Strength Coach Charles Poliquin recommends a dosage between 20 -40 grams of BCAAs during a workout for optimal results (In fact, he even goes as far as saying one’s workout efforts will be futile should BCAAs not be consumed!).
Lysine – is an essential amino acid (one that the body cannot naturally produce, and needs to be sourced from foods or supplements) that tends to get depleted during a workout. Research has shown that supplementing with 3-5 grams of lysine thoughout enables the body to maintain optimal conditions for carnitine to function, helps muscle recovery and promotes calcium absorption for stronger bones, tendons and cartilage.
As soon as the workout is complete (which ideally should last between 40 minutes and an hour tops for most individuals), aim to consume your post workout nutrition so as to optimise that window of recovery.
High Quality Whey – isolate/hydrolysate (provided you are not lactose intolerant) is abundant in BCAAs and protein for recovery and has the added benefit of being highly insulogenic , i.e., spikes insulin levels post-workout. This works two-fold: to decreases cortisol (a primary stress hormone that is catabolic) and insulin being a highly anabolic hormone, encourages muscle growth. For my athletes, I normally recommend a serving of 0.6 g of protein to 1 kg body weight.
Magnesium – is a cheap method used to decrease cortisol after a workout. This in turn can help to increase testosterone levels post workout to optimise muscle growth. Another alternative is to take 800mg of Phosphatidyl Serine.
(Check out Charles poliquin’s Blog at www.strengthsensei.com for more information on the benefits of Phosphatidyl Serine post-workout)
Vitamin E – (Specifically gamma-tocopherol) works synergistically with essential fatty acids to protect muscle from oxidative damage which may be created during the workout.
such as pomegranate or cherry juice, can help with providing antioxidants for cellular damage and sugars to create an anabolic environment for recovery.
Simple Carbohydrates – like dextrose powders should be consumed by athletes who are “carb worthy” (in the standards of Charles Poliquin, less than 10% body fat!). Simple sugars increase post workout insulin levels, creating a highly anabolic environment for muscle growth. Furthermore, adding protein to carbs post workout helps to increase protein synthesis up to 31% and glycogen synthesis up to 36%! The recommended amount is 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight (Again, this is dependent on factors like training volume – The more reps, the higher the need for sugars post-workout). Products likeQuadricarb from the Poliquin Range offers 4 different types of simple sugars in one hit that facilitates both a rapid and continuous uptake of sugars into muscles following the workout.
I once heard legendary strength coach Charles Poliquin say that if our cells, tissues and organ systems were like the pages of a book, then Omega-3s would be the spine that bound these pages together. Essentially speaking, Omega-3’s constitute the fundamental building blocks that our body requires for optimal function and survival.
Omega-3 can be derived in two main forms: Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), commonly sourced from small cold water fish such as sardines and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from, larger fish like salmon. However, despite the ‘acid’ terminology given to it, Omega-3s (and it’s less famous counterpart Omega-6) are actually forms of polyunsaturated fat. That’s right, it is a FAT!
Omega-3 and Omega-6 are both essential in our diets because they cannot be self-generated by the body but instead need to be externally sourced from the foods we consume. Over the centuries of human evolution, our feeding habits have seen our DNA built upon a 1:1 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 – an optimal proportion for cellular function and overall health. This remained the case even up till the early 1900s where natives were living off a Paleolitic diet. For more information on the Paleolitic Diet, see our article The Paleo Diet – Stone Age Nutrition or Fad?
However, in the past hundred years or so, modern western diets have changed to include more processed and pre-prepared foods, distorting our Omega-3 to Omega-6 consumption to a staggering 1:20 ratio! One main reason for this is the introduction of seeming ‘healthy’ plant oils like peanut oil, corn oil and sunflower oil which are high in Omega-6 and have become a complication which is a staple for numerous households. At the same time, our diet has neglected important sources of Omega-3 such as fish and seafood, most likely due to cheaper and more convenient alternatives. Furthermore, even our cheaper meat alternatives like beef are now disproportionately higher in Omega 6 because these animals are now mainly grain fed (a cheaper alternative which contains more Omega-6) rather than grass fed (which is high in Omega-3).
OMEGA-6S VS OMEGA-3S
Whilst Omega-6 remains essential to the human body for growth and general maintenance of health and brain cells, a high Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio can lead to a thickening of the blood as well as cardio-vascular problems such as blood clots, blocked arteries and heart failure. It may also aggravate autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as arthritis as well as promoting obesity, high insulin and blood sugar levels.
On the other hand, the health benefits associated with a diet higher in Omega-3 has been well documented. This was first discovered by scientists in the 1970s researching a particular tribe in Greenland who ate large amounts of fatty fish and seafood, yet displayed no signs of heart disease. It supported the findings that Omega-3s reduced the risks of coronary heart disease as well as triglycerides and atherosclerosis. Further evidence also showed that Omega-3s improve blood flow circulation and prevent plaque build-up in arterial walls.
In addition to the numerous cardio-vascular benefits, Omega-3s have been associated with other positive side effects:
Weight Loss – A high intake of Omega-3s in obese individuals has been shown to promote fat loss and increases in their metabolism.
Insulin Sensitivity – Research has found that Omega-3s improve the insulin sensitivity of cells. This increases the body’s efficiency in storing glucose as glycogen within the muscles as opposed to storing it as fatty tissue – in other words, this keeps you lean.
Reduces Stress – Omega-3s have been found to decrease cellular stress and disruption (this is a precursor for inflammation and numerous modern diseases), as well as contributing to restoring cellular integrity.
Reduced Cancer Risks – Several studies have found a possible link between Omega-3s and a reduced likelihood of cancer (especially breast, colon, and prostate cancers). There is also evidence that Omega-3s may benefit existing cancer patients by improving appetite and energy levels, as well as retaining muscle mass.
Immune Function – It has been found that particularly with infants and children, Omega-3s improve immune function maturation.
Healthy Brain Function – An increased intake of Omega-3’s (and carnitine) during pregnancy have shown to produce children with higher IQs. High Omega-3s dosages have also helped improve learning disabilities and cognitive disorders in kids, such as ADHD (attention deficient disorder). There is also recent evidence that Omega-3s impede the progression of psychotic and neurological disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Sources of Omega-3 – Good sources of Omega-3 come mainly from Seafood such as oysters, mussels, prawns, scallops, etc. and Oily fishes of both small and large species. Many fishes nowadays however, tend to contain traces of toxic heavy metals (e.g. lead, nickel and mercury) as well as solvents (e.g. PCBs and PBDEs) due to their feeding and breeding environments. When ingested, these toxic substances can accumulate within our bodies and adversely impact our short health.
A safe recommendation would be to limit consumption of oily fish (with the exception of tuna which should be completely eliminated due to its high mercury levels) to two servings per week and supplement the rest of your Omega-3 needs with high quality fish oil. Some of my preferred brands include: Nordic Naturals, Melrose and Poliquin, all available in Melbourne containing minimal solvents and are highly regulated to ensure quality.
Cod Liver Oil has been a popular choice of Omega-3s especially for growing children (you might remember the orange flavored emulsions as a kid). However, the high levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin D in this oil may cause toxicity with prolonged consumption. Such oils are best consumed by individuals with specific conditions like Chromes disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, both of which are conditions associated with vitamin A and D deficiencies.
For some vegetarians and individuals with seafood allergies, choosing to avoid fish (even if this mean oils in supplementary form) often means switching to plant-based ‘alternatives’ such as Flax Oil for their Omega-3 fix. Whilst flax oil is often advertised to contain Omega-3s, these are in the form of short-chain Omega-3s called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). While ALA carries its own health benefits, our bodies are not able to convert them efficiently to the desired long-chain EPAs and DHAs, and even when they are converted, it is in minute amounts. Flax oils also tend to be unstable, and most store bought oils would have been already oxidised upon transportation, making the oils rancid upon consumption. The danger of this, apart from not getting your money’s worth, is the fact that rancid oils are cancer causing and have known to lead to other diseases such as arthritis, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Krill Oil is another good and nutritious source of Omega-3, however the mass harvesting of krill has been found to damage the ecosystem, particularly their impact on whales that rely on them for food. It is therefore in the best interest of the environment that if we source our Omega-3 oils from seafood and oily fish.
The move from winter into spring often brings on new challenges. For most of us, that can involve losing those winter bulges and getting our physique in top shape for the upcoming summer. This is a time where personal training, gym memberships and bootcamps are in greatest demand, and also a great time to realise that proper nutrition is most crucial to achieving that ideal physique. So what better way to begin than by eating your way to a leaner, sexier body?
Recent research has shown that foods low in refined sugars and high in quality protein, beneficial fats and fibres are a great way to go when targeting the love handles and upper back fat, just under the shoulder blades. According to internationally renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin, fat gravitates to these specific regions due to the body’s insulin response to excessive carbohydrate consumption (do pastas, chocolates and desserts ring a bell?). If that sounds like you, then it’s your body’s unique way of alerting you to the fact that you (along with approximately 70% of the world’s population) are not tolerant to carbohydrates, and should minimise your sugar intake (including fruits and juices) in order to shape up and optimise health benefits. Furthermore, choosing foods that are dense in beneficial vitamins and minerals can also support and accelerate the process of your physique overhaul. For example, foods rich in trace minerals like zinc, calcium and selenium play an important part in building lean muscle and maintaining healthy looking skin
Here are 10 treats for your taste buds that will help you shed those unwanted kilos, feel healthy and bring your sexy back.
1. Wild Salmon
- Low in calories, yet makes a very satisfying meal.
- An excellent source of protein that helps build lean muscle and speeds up your metabolic rate.
- High in omega 3 essential oils that are necessary for maintaining heart health and overall cell integrity.
- Great source of protein that is low in carbohydrates, and high in fibre.
- They prevent aromatisation – the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. This helps the body maintain more lean muscle mass, and can contribute specifically to keeping the back of your arms (triceps) lean.
- High in antioxidants and natural antibiotics that help strengthen the immune system and prevent cancers. In fact, research has shown that women who ate just one third of an ounce of raw mushrooms a day (about one button mushroom’s worth) had a 64% reduction in breast cancer risk.
3. Brazil Nuts
- A nutritious snack high in healthy fats to help regulate your thyroid and effectively accelerate your fat burning ability.
- High in selenium – a trace element that that has shown to prevent breast cancer, maintain youth and speed up your metabolic rate.
4. Ricotta Cheese
- More than just being high in calcium, ricotta is also rich in branch chain amino-acids (a protein constituent) that boost lean muscle and immune function.
- Is produced from whey protein (a highly absorbable and beneficial milk protein) that is left behind in the cheese making process, unlike other cheeses that are made from milk curd.
- Contains phenylethylamine – a naturally occurring chemical compound that acts like a stimulant elevating desire and mood.
- Prevents the build-up of estrogens in the body. Estrogen accumulation has shown to cause certain cancers like breast and ovarian cancer and specifically induce fat deposits on the thighs as well.
- Rich in Vitamin C, calcium and zinc that is crucial for collagen production, a protein that gives skin elasticity and firmness.
- Rich in antioxidants that strengthens the immune system and combats sun damage to the skin.
- High in monounsaturated fats that will help lower bad cholesterol absorption and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- A great source of antioxidants that helps maintain firm great looking skin.
- A tasty healthy alternative to sauces, spreads and dips.
- A green leafy vegetable that is rich in bone-fortifying calcium.
- Prevents the accumulation of estrogens, which is important for cell health and maintaining lean legs.
- Very rich in beta-carotene. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A which assist in cell turnover so old skin cells that dull your complexion are replaced with new ( youthful looking) ones.
- Helps build lean muscle, a strong immune system as well as maintain a healthy overall cholesterol count.
- One of nature’s most complete sources of protein and nutritionally balanced meals, provided the yolk and white are consumed together. An Organically-farmed egg (as Mother Nature intended), contains just the right proportions of omega3’s and 6’s for optimal nutrition.
- The cholesterol in the yolk is a crucial component of each of our 75 trillion cells and is used to maintain an optimal cholesterol count within our bodies.
9. Green Tea
- A refreshing beverage high in antioxidants that can help combat stress, strengthen the immune system and prevent cancers.
- A cup of organic green tea can help prevent the absorption of 50 grams of carbs after a meal – a great quick fix for carb binges.
- A robust spice that contains capsasum – a compound that helps to elevate your metabolic rate, maintain good heart and skin health, and is used as an anti inflammatory.
- Contains as much as 3 times the amount of vitamin C as oranges, a vitamin that helps boost immune function and maintain vibrant skin.
In recent years, there has been a push for foods that are artificially preserved, sweetened, packaged, canned, genetically modified, fortified, and microwavable to be seen as healthy and 100% consumption-safe. What that means for us is that despite destroying vital nutrients and enzymes in whole foods, and adding numerous artificial chemicals (many, lethal in accumulated dosages, with names we can’t even pronounce!), these food cocktails are considered acceptable for our bodies and our ongoing health. Little wonder nowadays we develop countless nutritional problems! With this understanding, let’s embark on a quick nutritional re-evaluation to seek some truth about 5 common food myths, no holds barred:
“When eating eggs, the cholesterol-filled yolk should be discarded, while the egg-white, high in protein and goodness is eaten.”
Eggs represent one of nature’s most complete sources of protein and nutritionally balanced meals, provided the yolk and white are consumed together. An Organically-farmed egg (as Mother Nature intended), contains just the right proportions of omega3’s for optimal nutrition. The cholesterol in the yolk is a crucial component of each of our 75 trillion cells and is used to maintain an optimal cholesterol count within our bodies. Without the yolk, we limit our ability to absorb the nutrients within the egg-whites. It is natures’ way of telling us we should be consuming the egg whole to enjoy its benefits.
In fact, back in some primitive societies, whole eggs were considered so nutritious; it was often prescribed as a pre-pregnancy food for the mother-to-be. Some of these women ate up to 8 eggs daily for extended periods in preparation for conception.
“Tuna, nicknamed ‘chicken-of-the-sea’, is a great protein source and can be consumed frequently.”
Tuna may be high in protein, yet most varieties contain abnormally high levels of mercury. Fossil evidences of more ancient tuna varieties also exhibited a similar pattern of elevated mercury levels, indicating that we should be careful about consuming tuna as a species.
Toxicity studies suggest that by having a single standard can of tuna each day for a week, the safe level of mercury consumption for a 200-pound person is exceeded twice over!
Short term, mercury accumulation can cause decreased mental function and insomnia. In the long run, individuals may develop disrupted thyroid function (tuna will get you fat!), poor gut function and hypertension. Mercury toxicity can also complicate birth and seriously compromise the health of the baby within the womb.
“Margarine is a healthier alternative to Butter, a saturated fat.”
Margarine is a product of a chemical process called hydrogenation. This causes the vegetable oil to solidify and stay rigid under room temperature. Hydrogenation destroys the nutrient and vitamin value of the oil and transforms it’s molecules to resemble a plastic rather than fat!
Because our bodies cannot effectively detoxify plastics, we accumulate it, causing us to store fat and can eventually lead to cancers. Hydrogenation also often leaves traces of nickel and aluminium (used in the chemical process) within the margarine and metal toxicity has been found to cause Alzheimer’s disease and cancers.
In contrast, butter is made naturally from beating cream. The vitamins and minerals are preserved, and pure butter without additives contains healthy fatty-acids that benefits cholesterol levels and general health.
Additionally, numerous studies have shown that margarine increases ‘bad’ Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol levels of its consumers. Interestingly, since margarine began displacing butter and animal fat in households, heart disease has correspondingly risen from its anonymity to become a leading cause of death!
And finally, given its celluloid-like properties, experts have linked margarine consumption to the development of cellulite. Research have shown that women who revert back to consuming more natural fats like butter tended to display marked improvements in their cellulite problems (so ladies, think again when you opt for margarine).
“Skimmed/low fat milk is a healthier alternative to full fat milk.”
Removing fats from milk separates this naturally-occurring nutrient from its source, creating an ‘incomplete’ food. When consuming skimmed milk, our body will crave for that missing element, often giving us food cravings and hunger-pangs.
Truth is, we cannot absorb the minerals from the milk without the saturated fat that act like carriers. So if you are drinking milk for the calcium, it is futile unless you consume full-fat milk.
Additionally, low fat milk often contains milk powders to obtain a smooth consistency. The milk powder is made by spray-drying the milk proteins and fats, oxidising the cholesterol within it. Increasing research has linked oxidised cholesterol to heart disease.
“Diet drinks are always a healthier alternative because of its significantly lower calorie count.”
Diet drinks contain fewer calories because they contain alternative forms of sweeteners such as aspartame to trick the taste buds. When the tongue tastes the sweetness of the drink, it alerts the brain to incoming sugar. Accordingly, this stimulates the digestive tract to receive the sugar input. However, when no traces of sugar are detected, it sends a return message to the brain indicating a need for sugar. This ironically spikes your craving for sweet foods! Furthermore, recent studies have also started to draw a link between Aspartame and certain cancers.
Sounding like something straight out of the Flintstones, the Paleolithic (“Paleo”) diet is the original diet designed keep us lean, strong and healthy. As its name suggest, this diet is essentially derived from the types of foods our ancestors consumed during the Paleolithic Age, spanning from about 2,600,000 years ago to about 10,000 years ago. While the availability of certain foods depended largely on factors such as geographic location, climate conditions and seasonal changes, each Paleolithic diet shared several similarities in common:
Firstly, the vegetable components did not include grain and grain products, but mainly consisted of non-starchy wild fruits and vegetables, dairy, and consisted mainly of meat from wild animals, which bore a completely different amount of fatty acid composition to our modern day domestic animals.
Secondly, the non-vegetable components excluded any dairy, and consisted mainly of meat from wild animals, which bore a completely different amount of fatty acid composition to our modern day domestic animals.
Third and perhaps most obviously, the Paleolithic diet excluded processed foods and refined sugar (apart from honey). As a result, the diet could be characterised as high in protein and fibre, and low in carbohydrates.
Now this begs the questions: what makes a 2 million year old diet still relevant in today’s society?
According to science, our genetic structure determines our optimal nutritional needs, and this has evolved according to the environmental conditions in which our ancient ancestors lived, including the foods they ate. The latest research has shown that our genes have only evolved between 0.01-0.02% since our ancestors in the Paleolitic age, leaving us (yup, you guessed it) between 99.8%-99.9% similar to how humans were 2 million years ago! Yet even though our genetic profile has remained largely unchanged, our human diet has drastically drifted away from that of our ancestors. Mass agriculture and industrialisation have introduced numerous grain, refined sugar and salt, dairy products, as well a plethora of processed and artificial foods as a regular part of the human diet.
In other words, many of us are not eating the foods we are genetically and physiologically adapted to eat. The food which we are fuelling our bodies with is therefore not in sync with the fuel our bodies need – much like fuelling an unleaded car with diesel. This resulting discordance has been accused as being a fundamental cause for many of our modern “first world” diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancers, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and a host of other conditions that originally were unknown to our Paleolithic ancestors.
Ironically, some of the unhealthiest foods in today’s diet is being promoted and recommended to us by health organisations and nutritionists, and some of the foods which we were made to consume are rejected as unhealthy. Things like saturated fat, cholesterol and red meat – types of foods that humans are actually genetically designed to consume – often come attached with a “eat only in moderation” label. Yet what we should really be eliminating in our diet are grain products, excess sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils, legumes and homogenised and pasteurised dairy, some of which are at the very base of the universal food pyramid (an out-of-date diet concept still widely accepted in Australia).
If your goal is to stay lean, healthy and natural, here are my 6 Top Tips to maintaining a successful Paleo Diet:
Be generous in having ANIMAL PROTEIN through the day
Organic if possible, as this will contain less toxins, preservatives and hormones. This includes:
- Red meat and game (Beef, pork, lamb, veal, rabbit, goat, sheep, kangaroo, deer), including their organs (liver, kidney, bone marrow). Don’t be scared to eat the fatty cuts if they come from a well-treated animal and all meals with proteins should contain fat as well. Preferably choose pasture-raised and grass-fed meat coming from a local, environmentally conscious farm.
- Poultry and eggs (chicken, wild turkey, pheasant, duck, quail, goose)
- Wild caught fish (Salmon, tuna, trout, bass, halibut, sole, haddock, turbot, walleye, tilapia, cod, flatfish, grouper, mackerel, anchovy, herring)
- Shellfish (Crab, lobster, shrimps, scallops, clams, oysters, mussels)
Have lots of fresh NON STARCHY VEGETABLES.
- Non leafy vegetables (Celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, chilies, onions, garlic, leeks, kohlrabi, green onions, eggplants, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, okra, avocados, zucchini, mushrooms)
- Leafy vegetables (Lettuce, spinach, collard greens, kale, beet top, mustard greens, dandelion, swiss chard, watercress, turnip greens, seaweeds, endive, arugula (rocket), bok choy, rapini, chicory, radicchio)
- Root vegetables (Carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, radish, jerusalem artichokes, yams, cassava, pumpkin, ginger)
- Herbs (Parsley, thyme, lavender, mint, basil, rosemary, chives, tarragon, oregano, sage, dill, bay leaves, coriander)
Moderate your intake of FRUITS AND NUTS.
Bear in mind that while fruits are high in antioxidants and vitamins, the way a lot of store bought fruits are being cultivated and stored nowadays cause them to be extremely high in sugars and almost devoid of nutrients. Therefore aim to eat mostly fruits low in sugar and high in antioxidants like berries as well as nuts high in omega-3 or low in omega-6 like macadamia nuts and almonds. Here are some examples:
- Fruits (berries, strawberry, cranberry, cranberry, blueberry, blackberry, grapefruit, peaches, nectarines, plums, pomegranates, pineapple, papaya, grapes, cherries, apricot, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemon, lime, mango, tangerine, coconut, figs, dates, passion fruit).
- Raw nuts and Seeds (pistachios, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, chestnuts, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts).
Minimise (or eliminate) CEREALS, GRAINS AND LEGUMES.
While there are certain cultures that have adapted better to consuming these foods, humans as a species have only been eating grains (refined or whole), since the beginning of mass and industrialised agriculture some 10,000 years ago. Since our genes and the make-up of our digestive system was formed long before the advent of industrialisation, grains remained structurally and chemically different to the foods which the human body had already grown accustomed to eating. Unlike birds, which have a digestive system adapted to dealing with grains and seeds, our bodies are simply not made to effectively break down these forms of carbohydrates. These include:
- Grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, soy)
- Legumes (peanuts, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans and black eyed peas).
Eliminate PROCESSED SUGAR
In nature, sugar almost always coexists with fats, protein, minerals and vitamins. By segregating sugar, like white sugar, we are in fact feeding our bodies a foreign substance, something that it cannot breakdown completely and will eventually interpret this as a poison. This includes:
Sugar products (sweets, soft drinks, all packaged products and juices including reconstituted fruit juices). As a rule of thumb, if it comes pre-packaged in a can, bag or box, don’t eat it!
Eliminate HOMOGENISED AND PASTEURISED DAIRY PRODUCTS
With the exceptions of organic butter and maybe heavy cream. Some cultures have successfully adapted well to dairy and its products, but this represents only 30% of the population, and more often than not, they have access to raw diary from organically grown grass-fed cows (not genetically modified cows selected for increased milk production, nor grain-fed cows). For those of us that may not get such high quality raw diary, then be aware that homogenisation and pasteurisation kills the good cultures and enzymes in milk that many of us need when consuming diary.
“Diets, Diets, Diets.” That seems to be the hot topic on everyone’s lips leading up to summer. Alas, the annual quest for a toner, leaner, more defined physique begins, but with the vast amount of information on dieting, nutrition and looking good, which ones actually work? Let’s take a look at three popular diets and find out what exactly makes a diet work for you.
The Atkins Diet has been widely popularised because of the rapid changes dieters see in their weight. The diet works by switching your body into a state of ketosis, using fat as the main source of energy instead of carbohydrate, thus inducing drastic weight loss. Dieters follow a regimented 4-stage eating plan. The first stage is a two-week induction phase where only fats, meats and certain cheeses are allowed, and starchy carbohydrates, fruits, nuts and legumes are kept to an absolute minimum. Following which, selected carbohydrate portions are gradually increased with each subsequent phase, and done so until the desired weight is achieved.
Celebrities who have been on the Atkins Diets include Halle Berry, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
- Good for people who are pre-diabetic and those with type II diabetes.Works well for people who are overweight and need to lose fat fast. Great for meat lovers, given that it is a high fat, high protein diet.
- Weight loss in the first week or so is mostly due to water loss from the body.
- It is non- sustainable in the long term.
- Depravation from carbohydrates can cause one to ‘rebound’, and over indulge in sweets when getting off the diet. (So don’t be surprised when you are heavier than when you first got on the diet!).
- While it allows for unlimited saturated fat, it does not specify the need for organic saturated fats. The increasing incidence of heart disease and high cholesterol nowadays is due to the accumulation of trans-fats, plastics, chemicals and stress hormones in non-organic animal fats.
- High amounts of protein at any one time can also increase insulin (the storage hormone) secretion substantially, causing fat to be stored instead of lost.
SOUTH BEACH DIET
Founded by Arthur Agatston, MD, the South Beach Diet has had a following of big names such as Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, Jessica Alba, and our very own Nicole Kidman. This diet is based on the theory that cutting out ‘bad’ fats and carbohydrates will help your body lose weight and be less susceptible to heart disease, thus helping you become healthier and slimmer.
Unlike the Atkins, the South Beach Diet does not restrict carbohydrate portions per se, but emphasizes the use of ‘good’ low glycemic (GI) carbohydrates ( carbohydrates that do not cause a sudden spike in our blood sugar levels) over ‘bad ’ high GI ones, such as highly processed foods, sweets and soft drinks. It also distinguishes between ‘good’ unsaturated fats and ‘bad fats’ like saturated fats and trans fat, both of which is believed to increase in the likelihood of cardiovascular disease. The diet is divided into three different phases all of which include specific allowable foods, meal plans and recipes.
- Ideal for people who want a rough outline on nutrition rather than a structured program.
- The focus on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbohydrates has been found to decrease the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and help with type 2 diabetes.
- Carbohydrates are not cut out completely, but are substituted by ‘good’ low GI carbohydrates.
- There is no need to count calories or weigh foods on this diet.
- The diet can be a slippery slope for carbohydrate addicts, as no clear guidelines about portion sizes or grams are given. This is left open to the dieter’s interpretation and may lead to overeating.
- Focusing on the Glycemic index (GI) can be rather misleading and cannot be taken as an absolute indication for healthy living. For example, French fries have a lower GI than baked potatoes, but that does not mean it is a healthier option.
Created by Dr Barry Sears, the Zone Diet was not originally intended for weight loss diet but in fact, had an initial focus of decreasing heart disease. The diet focuses on the consumption of a correct ratio of food groups, in particular each meal should comprise of 40% carbohydrates: 30% protein: 30% fat. By keeping to this optimal ratio, our body’s sugar and fat storage hormone – insulin, will not be over secreted at any one time. This means reduced inflammation, more sustained energy, a better metabolism and the best part of all, the weight falls off. Celebrities including Madonna, Demi Moore, Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston have all claimed success with the Zone diet.
- Places a focus on lean protein and ‘good cholesterol’ which is healthy for your heart.
- No specific foods are forbidden, thus giving the dieter a wider variety to choose from.
- While an ideal ratio is specified, the total amount of food to be consumed within each meal is not. Eating large quantities, despite keeping a ratio does not make it healthy to the waistline!
- The Zone can be time consuming as food has to be prepared in a fixed proportion. Inconvenience can often deter dieters from reaching their goals.
While all 3 celebrity diets are helpful in losing weight in their own right, dieters often cannot sustain the results of the diet, leading them to put on more weight than when they first started. Oprah, for instance, has been on almost every diet known to man, only to see her weight ‘yo-yo’ up and down. This is known as the ‘rebound effect’. The stricter the diet and the more emotional suppression the dieter goes though, the larger the rebound effect. Frequent yo-yoing also impairs the proper functioning of the thyroid gland (this is the centre that regulates our metabolism), and leads to drastic weight gain.
Diets may work better for one individual over another. This highlights one fundamental truth – that we are all different in body chemistry and physical structure, and therefore have different nutritional requirements. Unless we are eating what our body really needs, it is not going to be helpful to our weight nor health in the long run. Severely low calorie diets have also been shown to increase cortisol (a stress hormone), causing abdominal fat and muscle breakdown.
So if you really what to shed those nasty kilos and keep it off for good, make sure to give these tips a go:
1. Make eating healthy a lifestyle, not a temporary band-aid.
A Diet (Pronounced ‘die-it’) as its name suggest, is a means to an end. By making a lifestyle choice to nourish your body with healthy produce, you will keep that weight off for good.
2. Stop counting calories!
While calories do have a part to play in the dietary equation, they also discount the importance of other elements in foods such as vitamins, mineral and phytochemicals. These are essential for maintaining the optimal health of our bodies as well as facilitating the absorption of nutrients, without which our bodies breakdown and are more susceptible to disease.
3. Do not just focus on weight loss.
Often initial dietary weight loss can be due to the loss of water (not fat, as you would be led to believe!). Learn to rely on other signs such as how your clothes fit, muscle tone and overall fitness levels.
4. Specific foods stimulate specific hormonal responses.
For instance, while pound for pound carbohydrates have the same calorie count as protein; it stimulates insulin more than any other food! Insulin is a storage hormone that is responsible for reducing blood sugar and storing fat.
5. Aim to have protein in every meal.
Protein sources such as meat, fish and eggs not only increases the satiety of the meal, keeping you fuller for longer, but also increases your metabolic rate. In fact, having protein in the morning has been found to stimulate neuro-peptide Y, a neurotransmitter manufactured in the gut which is responsible for feelings of motivation. Thus a good hearty breakfast sets you up for the day and can help you make better decisions.
6. Stick to nature.
Because our bodies are organic, it is best suited to handle foods that are natural. Unprocessed, organic foods contain a higher amount of vital nutrients and are not adulterated with artificial chemicals and pesticides. By opting for fresh organic produce as often as you can, you will ensure that your body has the nutrition it needs for optimal living.
7. Stay off packaged, canned and preserved foods.
Such foods are known to contain large amounts of xeno-estrogens and ‘plastic- like’ molecules which our bodies are unable to breakdown. According to Renowned Strength Charles Poliquin, our inability to detoxify such estrogens effectively often results in fat storage specifically around the thigh and hamstring region.
8. Eat fat to burn fat.
Due to our diets of modern foods, our bodies severely lack omega-3, an essential unsaturated fatty acid. Omega-3s contribute to the optimal functioning and integrity of all our cells. A high quality fish-oil such as Poliquin or Nordic Naturals is regulated by the highest standards in the industry and can provide a much needed supplementation our diets. The benefits of increasing our Omega-3 intake include weight loss, improvement of cognitive ability, and overall cell health.
9. Eat and enjoy your foods slowly.
Taking time to chew and taste the flavours, will not only promote better digestion, it will also ensure that you do not overeat.
10. Exercise with weights.
Research has found that you would reach your maximum weight loss potential after only 6 weeks of continuous aerobic cardio (that’s right, all those extra miles on the treadmill won’t do you any good), and in fact, can make you fat around the belly region. By using weights, you are building lean muscle tissue. Every extra pound of muscle actively tones your figure and burns an extra 70 calories a day!