3 Things you need to know about carbohydrates…

I want to briefly talk about carbs today.

In the same way that fat was condemned in the 80’s (along with low waist shorts and natural makeup) it is fair to say that carbohydrates are now being held responsible for our growing waistline.

Now, there is some truth to this.  We live in a world where enormous quantities of refined carbohydrates can be bought cheaply and easily.  And we can’t deny that carbs are sumptuous – particularly when they have been aerated, plumped up with lush thickeners or entombed in chocolate.

It is easy to see how they can be over eaten. Give me a packet of Tim Tams and I can show you that they are not never-ending.

Currently, carbs are being blamed for a host of weight related issues – sugar is now the cause of obesity and carbohydrates of all shapes and sizes ‘cause massive insulin spikes’ which ‘makes you fat’.

It is true; the overproduction of insulin (in obese people particularly) causes your blood glucose levels to crash, stimulating hunger. Thus, people with insulin resistance who are eating refined carbohydrates (without the fibre, fat and protein present in a well-rounded meal) will eat more.

However this doesn’t make carbs fattening.

It is actually quite simple. Carbs, particularly overly processed ones are just so easy to eat. We have become reliant on them as a cheap source of fuel. People have to eat something, and our need for ease means that carbohydrates have become the dominant norm as our fuel.

On the flip side, I see so many girls going super-duper low carb (eschewing broccoli) in their efforts to drop the last few.

But, going low carb also isn’t going to help you. You do the need them. It just depends how active you are as to how many. Generally the level of activity in your day should dictate what type of carbs you choose to eat.

So what carbs and when?

1. Whole unprocessed carbohydrate sources are your priority,  such as fresh fruit and veggies. This focus is nutrient dense and not calorie dense.

 
2. Quality grains, such as rice, quinoa, buckwheat (or whatever tickles your fancy) or bread without preservatives and additives are a secondary source and need to be consumed sensibly. When you are not physically active you haven’t done enough to justify more carbohydrates on top of whole food. Emphasis here is that they are not fattening! They are just unnecessary if you have sat at your computer all day.

 
3. Desserts, chocolate, lollies and added sugars: should be eaten sparingly in the week. I don’t care how raw/vegan/organic the source. The reality is, it is still an additional something that isn’t necessary in vast amounts daily.

 

And from a health and weight loss perspective how many carbs should I have?

I like this little rule from Men’s Health weight loss adviser Alan Aragon.

Multiply your target body weight by 1 if you have a desk job, work out in a gym several times a week for an hour or less, and your main goal is fat loss. Multiply by 2 if you’re a recreational athlete who trains for more than an hour a day. And multiply by 3 if you’re a competitive athlete who trains multiple hours a day, or if you’re a guy with a Mini Cooper body and a Corvette metabolism who is struggling to gain weight.

 The number you end up with indicates how many grams of carbs you should eat every day.

 What do you think? Have you had success on low carb diets? Find you get too light-headed without dense carbs? (usually indicates you have great insulin levels) I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Top 3 Problems with the Typical Healthy Breakfast

oatsSo…I have been tardy, absent and severely missing my communication with the wonderful world of blogging and my readers!

Apologies, I have been dabbling in website overhaul. Needless to say, I ain’t that good at it, but when I manage to pull this off (I am aiming for end of January) you will be so impressed!

I am going to be having video content as well as exciting kitchen styling sessions from other fit and healthy personal trainers, health coaches and dieticians.

Just writing about it gets my adrenaline pumping!

As for now, I will continue to instagram and post facebook updates, while my website is currently ‘down’.

Yes- I should have clarified this earlier. But, no one is perfect and I thought I could pull the rabbit out of the hat sooner rather than later.

So today, I thought I would reflect on breakfast – again.

I find this meal to be a stumbling block for many well-intentioned health seekers.

Particularly for women who want to ‘tone up’.

While I have a few friends who naturally sit at a muscular level, I am not one of them and over the past few months I have dabbled in strength training and proper nutrition in order to see how a fit body is made through spot on nutrition, fun strength training and adequate rest time.

(Such as today – where I believe a nice stretch and an epsom salt bath will suffice)

Back to the breakfast issue though, I have realised how seriously lacking most breakfast options are of protein and now know why so many people flail on the energy levels prior to lunch and indeed experience a slump in the afternoon. Instead of subtracting my breakfast portions I have merely added twice the amount of protein and gained some serious definition in my arms and abdominals (ok I am not ripped but my abdominals are present rather than pudgy!)

With this in mind

My three Issues with the Standard Approach to Breakfast:

1.    Cereal:

When a food company says something is a ‘healthy choice’ I recommend taking a closer look. Cereal is one such ‘health food’ that is targeted towards us health conscious girls. There are several leading healthy wholegrain cereals that have seriously high levels of sugar and salt, which are added to these products to lower the fat content without jeopardising the taste. Next time you are in the supermarket, grab a chocolate bar and head to the cereal aisle then compare the sugar content of either. You will be amazed.

Even better is when the cereals have synthetic vitamins added to them, which are both unnatural and often used in such small amounts that the benefits are negligible.

Once again, it isn’t cereal that is a problem it is the pre-made boxes that are seriously questionable when it comes to your health.  I encourage you to make your own cereal, read the label to see what is exactly in the box or if all else fails I suggest you say ‘cereal later’.

Cereal Substitution: Oats or Buckwheat, Cinnamon, Stevia with Coconut Oil or Cultured Butter, either warmed over the stove or baked in the oven.

2.     Dried Fruit:

Although considered a good source of energy, be fussy in the type you select. Drying is a wonderful age-old form of food preservation. Unfortunately the dried fruit that is available in supermarkets, is just not as natural and wholesome as you think. Most of these options are vacuum freeze dried, and then placed in a microwave or boiled before being vacuumed a second time. It is little wonder that after this process the dried fruit in question is nutritionally devoid. This process is also solely cosmetic; appealing to our desire for plump, soft and substantially bigger portions and involves the use of chemicals (sulphates typically) that can trigger asthma and allergies.

Now, don’t get me wrong. One of my favourite things are dried dates – they honestly can substitute chocolate for me – but I choose to eat versions with no sulphites, manufactured with integrity and I make sure, in keeping with my desire for good digestion that I counteract the dryness of the fruit with lots of water. Regardless of whether your dried fruit is organic or conventional, dried fruit is taxing on your digestive system and needs to be either soaked in water or followed with lots of fluid!

Dried Fruit Substitution: Angas Park Dried Fruit – an Australian company with fruit that is incredibly plump, dried naturally and without additives. The dates and figs are amazing and they can be found in Coles.

3.    Milk:

 I have never actively craved milk. But I don’t see why it can’t form a part of a healthy all round diet. Indeed, milk has long been part of human diets. However, recent questionable farming practices and feeding methods have left me doubting whether the milk you buy in the supermarket is as ‘bone building’ healthy as we are lead to believe.

There are a lot of anti-dairy crusaders in the health world, and with good reason. However for me generic milk at the end of the day is the stuff that is best avoided. The stuff you buy for $1 a litre has been homogenised to even out the fat molecules and pasteurised to kill off bacteria. This is often why people have issues with milk. Heating up milk through pasteurisation alters the enzymes present in milk. Milk therefore becomes difficult for your body to digest.

If you want good milk, choose a quality provider who is committed to the welfare of their animals. This way, you know your milk is mineral rich and the cows have been fed a proper nourishing diet.

Milk Substitution: I personally don’t buy it, but I really like the ethos of the Elgaar Dairy Farm. You can pick up their products at health food stores and all of their dairy products are packaged in reusable glass so you can return your bottles when you run out and be reimbursed! I adore their cottage cheese and cream. If you like the taste of Almond Milk, then I would also consider giving this a run!

What about you? Are there any breakfast finds that you have found to be particularly awesome?

I’d love to see what everyone else considers their optimal start to the day!

Gourmet Pate Recipe

You would be right in thinking I am a little bit of a fish freak.

 Yep- I was a polar bear in my former life.

 But I just love the stuff and I guess I am lucky that fish and seafood in general are nutritional powerhouses. Even if they weren’t, I would still eat them for no other reason than pure happiness.

There are a few minerals, fats and amino acids that our body just doesn’t make on its own.

Omega 3’s are one of them.

Which is why it is vital that people actively choose foods that are essential for development and ulitmate nourishment.

 Going through the scant shelves of a boutique deli recently, I was trying to find the perfect dip accompaniment for my crudités. (As you do)

I am often left searching for that perfect ‘convenience’ food and left without hope when I realise that half the ingredients on the list are just too suspect for my liking. It is an annoying habit of mine, if I am not fully aware of a component/additive I hesitate to purchase.

 The search for aforementioned dip, proved futile when I decided that my hope in finding a dip sans canola oil or sunflower oil was null and void.

 Is it that hard to use a nice nousihing oil, or am I only going to be able to buy PUFA (Omega 6) bombs every time I buy ANYTHING in a package?

Then there are the additives. Dubious delights of corn fillers, xantham gums and potassium sorbates.

What if I just want to eat food?


 Once again, I was left to fend for myself.

But as we know, necessity is the mother of invention and I have happened upon a very easy, very tasty dip that can be transported to work or a lazy Sunday BBQ and met with praise on your professionalism.

‘Oh this pate, oh yes I slaved over it for hours, do you know how long pate takes to make?’

 And with that being said, I bring to you, the easiest, tastiest and potentially trendiest Smoked Trout Pate.

 Ingredients:

 1. Smoked Ocean Trout Fillet, skin and bones removed.

2.Half a tub of Quark, good quality Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese or strained Natural Yoghurt (I tend to eyeball things. I would say this is about 300g)

3. Squeeze of Lemon Juice

4. Teaspoon of Horseradish (if you have it…not necessary but a great kick!)

Method:

 Whizz all the ingredients in a blender and pop on a serving platter with a dollop of dill.
Serve with veggie crudités.

(Terribly arduous I know)

 Done.

 Eat.

 Enjoy.

Feel free to use a tin of salmon or tuna if time isn’t on your side and you only have a supermarket to run to!

Happy Friday and get blending!

Health to Glow- Episode 14…SALT and why it isn’t bad.

This week..salt….that delectably ‘sinful’ ingredient that is supposed to be a cardiac nightmare..

I have written about the topic before….

AND…moving on from the health aspect…

salt tastes good!

As an ingredient in dishes, salt has two vital roles. First, it diminishes the bitterness of dishes (hello rocket/dandelion and other leafy greens). Secondly, through stamping out any bitter notes of your dish, salt will encourage the taste and smell of your meal to  shine on.

Making for one delectable dish..

And as an aside and of some/lots of interest…

…which for stress heads is a plus…

and for girls desperate to start reducing that puffy, swollen look often apparent in the abdomen, this is another factor to consider. High cortisol levels generally make themselves known through stomach fat. Urgh!

But..as usual I digress..

Watch the vid and see what salt Mel and I choose to use..

..and please don’t pursue the usual salt suspects..live a little and buy good quality salt with added mineral content!

 

 

 

Top 6 REASONS to EAT BUTTER

Butter???

Like so many NATURAL foods (hello red meat and egg yolks) butter has had a bad wrap.

And despite several recent studies highlighting the fallacy of saturated fat and its impact on heart disease I know it is hard to take a leap of faith and swap your ‘heath spread’ for the real tasty deal.

If you are in fact worried – perhaps take heed of the recent meta-analysis conducted at Harvard, where all the research regarding saturated fat and heart disease (21 different case studies) were compiled and examined. The resounding conclusion being that..

“….there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk (of heart disease).”

But I digress…

As I have discussed before, butter  (like all fats) is vital for your body to take in several key nutrients found in vegetables.  Think vitamins A,D,E and K – all of which are readily available in veggies so long as you add a fat.

BUT if you are still worried about adding butter BACK IN to your diet (nom nom) here are

my top 6 reasons pasture fed, organic butter is the original super food.

1. It has buckets of Vitamin A.

And it’s readily absorbed by your body in the form you get from butter. While carrots and sweet potato do have vitamin A, you need fat to absorb it. So why not eat butter instead? Or bake your sweet potato in coconut oil?  On a superficial level, Vitamin A is necessary for ‘younger looking skin’, needles to say, you know where I’m spreading.

2. It has a minimal amount of polyunsaturated fat. (Omega 6)

And if you have or still do consume a relative amount of pre-packaged food (even supposedly healthy stuff) chances are you are getting a good flood of the stuff already. Ease up buddy! PUFA’s aren’t that stable and easily become oxidized in our bodies. This generates free radicals, (oxidative stress) which predisposes us to a host of wonderful modern diseases like cancer and heart disease. Given that the optimal ratio of Omega 3 to 6 is 1:1 and most Australians are hanging out at around 1:10, it is vital to start being a little more selective in your fat intake.

With butter sitting at around 65-70% saturated fat – it is not going to tax your body like other less stable Omega 6’s are.

As a quick aside- Omega 6’s aren’t bad…it’s just too easy to O.D. on them in this day and age. Also, given how much oxidative stress we are exposed to on a daily basis, I say the less stress we can ingest the better.

3.  It has your K2 covered

And if you had no idea that K2 existed, and was ‘like tots amaze balls’ (officially in the dictionary now apparently) please get yourself acquainted. Vitamin K2 is integral for bone health, heart health and has a starring role in dental health (and if anyone knows my obsession with pearly whites you know I am rather hooked)

The much-touted dentist Weston A. Price even claimed that modern day physical degeneration was in part caused by a lack of the stuff. He noted that in the primitive societies he studied, most of its inhabitants had broad faces and dental arches – which enabled them to carry invariably straight teeth with enough room for their wisdom teeth. This is in distinct contrast to the narrow dental arches, crowded teeth and narrow faces prevalent today, that prevent full development of our pearly whites – resulting in braces, extractions and the need for orthodontics in the first place…

Oh butter where art thou?

4. Butyric Acid is bountiful!

Butyric acid is a fatty acid that holds a vital role in your metabolism. So vital that a few supplement guys keen on making a penny or two have been selling it as a fat burning supplement. The evidence is there, so I can’t fault them. One study in particular demonstrated butyric acid reversed metabolic syndrome side affects (aka obesity or insulin resistance) and made the mice leaner and less likely to over eat. But instead of buying a little pill filled with ‘fatty acids’ why not eat butter?

 5. HAS CLA in SPADES!

Also a fat burning supplement on the market ( I am seeing a slimming trend here) CLA has been shown to

–       increase metabolism

–       increase lean muscle mass

–       lower insulin resistance

–       reduce food allergies

It is little wonder that many health scientists attribute a deficiency in CLA to the host of metabolic diseases and food allergies we see present today.

To manufacture the best and MOST CLA, cows must be fed grass (i.e. allowed to roam freely) rather than fattened in feedlots. Several studies have shown that meat from pasture raised cows have as much as four times the amount of CLA as their unhappy cow cousin.

So if you are keen on adding quality butter into your diet- try and invest in one that lives up to its name and is truly pastured. Like this one.  You will know when the butter is REAL as it is a vibrant YELLOW unlike its cheap, white counterpart. Conventional butter will never have the same nutrients as grass fed cows, simply because the diet of the unhappy cow can’t supply proper nutrition for the cow and you in turn.

And, at the end of the day, I want to buy from a place that cultivates a happy cow.

Don’t you?

 

 

TOP 5 REASONS YOU SHOULD STOP ALL THAT CARDIO

The majority of ladies I know want to ‘tone up’ and insist that their previous methods; cutting their food consumption and running a whole lot more is their tool of the trade. I also know straight away that a desire to ‘tone up’ means they are scared of weights.

The only problem with ‘toning up’ is that it requires women to weight train, a notion that unleashes a tirade of excuses as to why using weights will make them HUGE!

Let me tell you- I have been going hard on weights for a little over a year and have only shrunk (albeit not massively as I am a small person) and gained enormous confidence with my bodies capabilities – a sense of confidence that could never have been found running for miles or attending back to back spin classes.

Not only has lifting HEAVY weights affected my day-to-day activities (hello being able to carry home ALL my groceries without a car) but the increased muscle mass means I burn more even at rest. (And subsequently have to eat more…oh the pain!)

And the best way for women to weight train?

Like a man.

Lifting light weights with lots of reps is a sure fire way to not see results.

Without massive amounts of testosterone, and an accompanying male appetite for food, women will only achieve that toned, cellulite-less physique they so constantly crave.

Don’t get me wrong, group classes are great for camaraderie and motivation but it will never beat heavy and intense weight training.

For me, weight training has affected my body, mind and spirit in 5 crucial ways:  (let me know your experience)

1. Creates tangible goals:

When ‘lifting weights’, exercise moves beyond the realms of aesthetic goals and touches upon the desire to outdo our last efforts. Writing and tracking our progression of strength allows us to see how far we have come, the results we have achieved and creates a massive sense of pride and reward. In a competitive world, being able to feel accomplished with your own personal pursuits is so imperative for mental health!

2. I get to be part of the bro club at the gym.

Which is dam intimidating but so satisfying once you start to blend in with the crowd. Furthermore, training with weights enters you into a wonderful community. Just like when my dad, a proud panel van driver, drives past a fellow sandman and toots his horn, so to can you feel part of something and connect with strangers. And given our propensity to live our friendships online who doesn’t love a good bit of social interaction with a random.

3. It is proven to boost your self esteem. 

There are quite a few studies that show how a weight training program can help those with eating disorders normalize their eating patterns and in doing so, gain confidence in their ability to ‘let go’ of food anxieties.

4. Weight training requires patience. And being part of a generation who wants change yesterday, cultivating a realisation that change doesn’t happen overnight and requires hard work is vital in reinvigorating a more realistic mindset on achieving goals.

5. It makes you smarter! There is quite a bit of research that demonstrates the correlations between exercise and mental cognition. The theory being that the increased blood flow to the brain enhances clarity and concentration.

So to all my female readers, and there are a few, start lifting heavy, stop running to shed fat and reap the benefits of stronger bones, a ‘toned’ tush and an astronomically faster metabolism.

..let me know what you guys thinks. Does the weights section scare you? Do you find you are addicted to the high that jogging/spin classes gives you?

Fat Free and Frumpy

'Dầu dừa' photo (c) 2012, Phu Thinh Co - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Nutrition seems to thrive on making cavalier broad sweeping statements– categorically don’t eat that, absolutely do eat that, omit this from your diet it is SOO dangerous. Admittedly, I choose not to eat certain things, mainly as I have allergy issues and I listen to how my body feels after eating.

Macronutrients- carbs, fats, protein- are constantly being demonized and when I was an impressionable teen the message was low to no fat was a healthy choice.

Had I but known.

Our desire to lump all fat into the ‘will make you fat’ basket has meant that this misunderstood nutrient has disappeared from several well-intentioned peoples diets. The fight against trans fat has become a fight against all fats, good or bad and encouraged companies, interested in their pockets rather than our own health, removing fat from products, bumping up the sugar content to appeal to the ‘health conscious’ individual.

I too throughout high school and university was seduced by the fat free = weight free façade. Despite losing weight, I looked pallid, had cracked nails and yellow skin…little wonder, when I thought eating fat free yoghurt loaded with sugar and a can of diet coke was going to make my skin glow and my health shine. Furthermore, the ‘weight I lost’ was clearly muscle tissue, so despite being smaller I was still ‘frumpy’ and without any clear muscle definition.

I realize now what a disservice I was doing to myself. Fat can be such an important part of a healthy diet and cutting all forms of it out is quite wrong. By removing the fat, not only was I upping the sugar I was consuming but I was also removing flavour!

My diet today incorporates healthy fats from a variety of sources: mainly macadamia nuts (lowest in Polyunsaturated Fats – another blog post my friends), avocados, and coconut and olive oils in moderation. If anyone hasn’t tried coconut oil I can’t recommend it enough!

As a quick aside, yes- coconut oil is very much on trend at the moment, ‘because it’s like, so amazing’, like anything, it isn’t the miracle cure to fat loss.

Rather it is just damn tasty and yes it has some pretty unique health properties that you simply can’t dismiss.

Benefits of Coconut Oil:

▪                High smoke point- you can nuke the crap out of coconut oil and it doesn’t sabotage the oil’s health properties. This is why it is great as an all-round cooking oil.

▪                Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)- medium chain triglycerides- a type of saturated fat that your body readily uses for energy because they are easily digested by the body. This thermogenic effect has meant it is now ‘all the rage’ in bodybuilding arenas. You can even buy fat burning supplements with the main ingredient being, MCT’s. Although a tsp of the stuff tastes much nicer than a little pill.

▪                Digestion- my favourite part of coconut oil is the fact that the body readily digests it. This takes pressure off your other vital organs; pancreas/liver unlike other fats. Anything less taxing on the body is also going to help with your bodies overall stress levels. Less stress = less cortisol which equates to better sleep and better health. With winter in full throttle at the moment, a less stressed body is the best defense against a cold!

▪                 Antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral- which is why traditional Ayurveda practice suggests oil pulling; in which you swish coconut oil in the mouth as a form of effective teeth cleaning. Not bad right?

Now before you go and down tablespoons of the stuff, moderation is key. Just ensure that in your pursuit to be a healthy hot someone you ensure that fats are a vital component to your diet.

If anything your skin will thank you this winter!

My Coconut Oil at 7AM this morning….solid and a little bit amazing when eaten with a spoon.

Diet or Training? Which is Better?

weight loss, rapid weight loss, tone it up, cardio is bad,

One of the biggest pitfalls in women (and men’s) ‘toning’ journeys is their diet.

Diet- is everything.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the gym will help you get that tight, toned derriere you are after, plus also assist in strengthening your bones and providing a great release of endorphins… but it will not help you progress in leaps and bounds if your diet is not completely in place.

By the same token, when I see articles telling you that a Mars Bar will require you to run for 60 minutes on the treadmill in order to burn it off – I know the only useful impact this knowledge has on me is that it scares me to reconsider my food choices on the whole. Generally, these articles severely undermine the complexity of us humans and that the whole calories in = calories out equation is somewhat flawed.

Do Calories Matter?

Yes.

 Are they the ultimate solution to weight loss?

No.

If only – then I could indulge in three chocolate bars a day, chuck in a few protein shakes and meet my caloric requirements.  That is – so long as I burn off the equivalent calories in doing back to back spin classes.

Quality of food is just as important as quantity of food.

 And if you think you can eat anything you want so long as you burn it off at the gym – here are a few reasons, why this notion is somewhat flawed.

1) If you had to focus on diet or exercise for weight loss – diet would win hands down. As long as your diet is bad, exercise will never be your best friend in fat loss. Your diet has more impact on your metabolism than your treadmills hours.  (Note the word fat loss, not weight loss – the two are highly different). While exercise, weight training particularly, allows you to fine tune your goals, by ensuring you are losing fat not muscle tissue – if I had to choose between adding an extra 20 minutes to my gym time or going home to prepare the weeks meals ahead of time, I would opt for the latter any day.

2) How we exercise is a vital consideration for the final result. If we adopt the calories in vs. calories out mantra than how we exercise is irrelevant, so long as we burn calories. However, weight training has a far different affect on our hormones than cardio. Weight training increases growth hormone levels, which assist in creating muscles and develops our fat burning ability, even when at rest. Rule number two then is that weight training wins out over cardio for fat loss.

3) When you eat bad food and try to exercise it off your body will reflect this. Often bad diets lead to you looking more bloated; retaining water and you will find it hard to be toned. Trying to use extensive cardio to out train your bad diet will not get you the look you are after. Eat less (crap) and do less will give you a much better physique.

 4) Doing too much cardio damages your adrenals and your metabolism. If you let exercise be the determiner for your weight, then you fall into the cardio trap – the more cardio you do, the more you feel compelled to do it to keep your results. And so you are stuck in a rut, where your body expects a certain amount of cardio or else you gain. Managing your fat loss through diet, in the long run, is much less stressful, far more empowering and will do wonders to ensure your metabolism is on fire and able to cope with a weekly indulgence or two.

 5) Long duration cardio makes you hungry. If you push your body through long cardio sessions, your body releases the hunger hormone ghrelin. Furthermore, over a long period of time your physical activity can affect your neurotransmitters, which have massive impacts on cravings. This is often why people recovering from severe restrictive eating disorders continue to have issues with binging. The solution? Opt for short duration, high Intensity interval training, no longer than 30 minutes if you choose to add a little cardio into your exercise regime.

The take home? Use the gym wisely, efficiently and relish its ability to provide you an inspired training community.

Do not let it become your only weapon in weight loss – otherwise your metabolism will be the biggest loser and not you.