What we can learn from the Italians


Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 8.20.55 am

What we can learn from the Italians

A week spent in Italy recently was a stark reminder of how much we can still learn from the Italian when it comes to food and nutrition. No, I am not talking about the amazing pasta, gelato and pizza which we already do pretty well but rather the way they enjoy their food and the way food fits into their everyday lives. Here were my key take home messages. 

1. Time to eat and time not too

Forget the potato chips, chocolate bars and cakes and muffins paraded at every café, corner store and coffee shop. Italians focus on their main meals. They sit down to eat them and they are proper meals, rather than quick snacks of wraps and sushi on the run. When you sit down and enjoy real meals at the table you naturally have a more nutritious diet. 

2. Coffee is simple

Forget a double shot almond milk caramel Latte, coffee is consumed in small cups, at the café (not slurped walking to work) and it is basic – espresso, cappuccino and even their Lattes have a lot less milk. The less milk we consume, the less of the natural sugar lactose we consume which adds up for many of us when we down a couple of large milky lattes each day. 

3. Forget the snacks

Unlike us who take every single opportunity to eat each day, snacking in Italy plays a much smaller role. There is less snack food available in generally, no banana bread or muffins in sight and the snack food aisle in supermarkets is half the size of ours. Overall this means less eating in generally and a much bigger focus on the main meals. 

4. Shop daily

In a number of the cities we visited we actually struggled to find a supermarket. Forget a block size shop filled with processed foods, rather most towns had small stores for life’s necessities and rather the market stalls played a much bigger role when it came to buying the daily bread, fish and fruits and vegetables needed for that night’s meal. The smaller the shops, the less we buy and the less we eat. It is very simple. 

5. Portion control

We may serve ourselves massive plates of pasta and risotto but traditional serves in Italy are small. A thin pizza with a couple of toppings or an entrée sized pasta is all that is serves so while they do eat their carbs, they do it in the right quantities.

How to enjoy your Winter comfort foods


Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 3.32.28 pm

It is the time of year when food thoughts turn to pies, pastry, pasta and puddings – warm, tempting treats that we give ourselves permission to eat simple because it is Winter. Unfortunately the kilo creep that tends to accompany these high calorie, high fat foods is not all that appealing so here are some ways to enjoy your favourite Winter comfort foods minus the fat and calories. 

Hearty pies

The biggest issue nutritionally with pies and pasties is the massive wad of pastry that accompanies them which can add 20-30g of fat to any meal. A much healthier alternative that still offers plenty of bulk and taste is to switch to making pies with filo pastry which contains just 5-10g of fat per 5-10 sheets compared to puff pastry which can contain three times this amount. Or, simply mashing your favourite vegetables including pumpkin, potato, zucchini and sweet potato and adding a little cheese creates a tasty, filling, fibre rich vegetable topping for any pie or baked mince dish.

Pasta

We all know there are few things as tasty as a fresh bowl of pasta with a sprinkle of fresh parmesan but for those keen to keep their carb intake controlled pasta can be taboo on many a Paleo or low carb diet. Like any one food, enjoying an entrée sized bowl of good quality pasta every so often is no issue but many people who have swapped their traditional pasta for a spiralizer to make zucchini pasta have not looked back. With next to no calories, and full of nutrients and fibre, zucchini pasta can be freely enjoyed with your favourite pasta sauce.

Burgers minus the bread

It may surprise you to hear that a burger can actually be a relatively good option when dining out, or when preparing a tasty treat style meal at home. The trick is to choose lean beef or chicken breast as your burger base along with plenty of salad. Ditch the extras such as cheese, mayo, bacon and egg and if you can, say no to the chips. If you are super keen you can also opt for a low carb burger, using a mushroom or lettuce leaves as your bun for a tasty, filling meal with significantly fewer carbs. 

Spicy curries

The biggest issue nutritionally with a curry is a large load of both fat from coconut cream and heavy carbs thanks to the rice and potato base many popular curries are served with. The good news is that it is relatively easy to lighten the calorie load of your curry by choosing vegetarian options; ditching the rice in favour of extra vegetables and if you are making curry at home, use a light evaporated milk with a little coconut essence as a lower fat alternative to coconut milk and cream. 

Sunday roasts

When it comes to enjoying a hearty Winter roast; the more vegetables you can add the better. With a roast the extra fat and calories generally come from fatty serves of meat and the gravy so if preparing your roast at home, choose the leaner cuts of meat; load up with plenty of the lighter, nutrient rich vegetables including pumpkin, carrots and greens and ask for your gravy to be served on the side so you can control your portions. 

Mexican

Whilst nachos, burritos and quesadillas can be packed with fat and calories from rice, flat bread, corn chips and cheese the humble taco can be a relatively good choice. With a single taco shell containing just 6g of carbs and 2g of fat, a couple of tacos filled with lean meat and plenty of salad can be a great choice nutritionally. Just watch the portion sizes of avocado, cheese and sour cream which can bump up the fat content of your Mexican significantly.  

Desserts

Winter is synonymous with puddings, pastries and pies seeing us eat desserts and treats we never usually would. The key thing to remember is that a single cream or pastry based dessert will contain more calories than a meal so sharing or tasting is always the key. Baked fruit, small individual puddings with just a spoon or two per serving or a hot drink made with a little milk and cacao can be just as satisfying, with significantly fewer calories. Another option is to limit the number of times you indulge in dessert to just once every week or two, this way you can enjoying whichever dessert you like and the occasional nature in which you are having it means that you do not need to be overly worried about fat or calories. 

How much plastic are you drinking?


Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 2.29.38 pm

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Zip Water.

How much plastic are you drinking?

Do you have a re-usable water bottle that you carry with you everywhere you go? Or do you often find yourself resorting to buying bottled water when you are out and about to help keep you hydrated throughout the day? You are not alone, in fact Australians buy more than 118,000 tones of plastic drink bottles a year. Alarming new research suggests that there is much more to worry about than just the environmental impact of human beings using so many plastic bottles considering that we actually ingest at least some of the plastic we are drinking from. 

A recent study undertaken by The University of New York in collaboration with Orb Media, US-based non-profit organization has recently identified that there is widespread micro plastics contamination in more than 90% of bottled water. This means that we end up actually drinking plastic. These alarming results has already seen the World Health Organisation announce a review into the potential risks associated with drinking water bottled in plastic. 

The study analysed 259 bottled water samples from nine countries across 11 different water brands. An average of 10.4 micro plastic particles about the width of a human hair per litre was found in bottled water, almost twice the level of contamination discovered in a previous study of plastic in tap water. Red dyes were used to identify trace particles of plastics in the bottled waters and the plastic particles found included nylon, polythene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene, used to make bottle caps.

One of the reasons why WHO have acted so quickly in response to these findings is that the science relating to the ingestion of micro plastics is only in its early stages, meaning we really do not know a lot about the health consequences of ingesting micro plastics and as such more research is urgently required. 

For frequent bottled water consumers, these findings are a major cause for concern. Frequently ingesting plastic is likely to be identified as a significant health issue and these new findings are another strong reminder for many of us of the need to minimise our use of bottled water wherever we can. And the solution is simple. Use reusable water bottles – at the gym; at work and at home, if not for the environment, for you and your family’s health. We now know that tap water has much lower levels of micro plastics than bottled water, and better yet the best type of tap water is filtered tap water. The coveted Zip HydroTap for example, has advanced filtration with their very own Micropurity system which combines activated carbon and a 0.2 micron sediment removal system. This not only removes taste, odour and dirt – it also removes contaminants and heavy metals such as lead. In addition to this, it removes up to 97% of chlorine and 99.9% of microbiological cysts (if present in the water). The HydroTap is one of the most simple, yet powerful investments you can make for your family’s health. 

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here OR read how a Zip HydroTap® changed Susie’s life, here.

Why am I not losing body fat?


Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 8.53.20 am

Why am I not losing body fat?

For any regular exerciser, the balance of exercise and diet required to support weight loss is generally well understood – eat fewer carbs and calories, get enough movement and cardio and add in some weights to change body composition and increase metabolic rate. An interesting scenario arises when it seems that no matter how many workouts you do, nor how few carbs or calories you consume, nothing seems to budge. And we are not talking about a couple of kilos here. We are talking about 10 or more kilos which could clearly be lost but which do not seem to budge. Whenever I see a client who is carrying 10-20 extra kilos, despite eating relatively well and exercising regularly, I question whether their insulin levels may be out of whack. Insulin is the hormone that controls both glucose and fat metabolism in the body, and high levels of insulin over time can make weight loss very difficult. 

Insulin resistance (IR) is a clinical condition in which insulin, the hormone secreted by the pancreas to control blood glucose levels in the body is no longer working as efficiently as it should. Over time, numerous factors including a diet high in processed carbohydrates, a relatively inactive lifestyle and often genetics insulin becomes less and less efficient at processing the glucose we consume in carbohydrate based foods such as bread, cereals, fruit and sugars. When insulin is not working properly, the body is forced to produce more and more insulin to process the same amount of glucose that we consume in food to fuel the muscles and the brain. The unfortunate thing when it comes to weight control is that the higher the amount of insulin that you have circulating in the body, the harder it becomes to burn body fat. This means that if you have insulin resistance, you can be eating an extremely healthy diet, exercising as recommended and actually physically unable to lose weight. In fact, as insulin is the central regulator of both glucose and fat metabolism in the body, when it is not working, the basic energy balance equation when it comes to weight loss, calories in versus calories out simply does not hold true.

The body may show signs of insulin resistance in a number of ways. As resistance builds up over many months if not years, these signs and symptoms can be subtle before become more noticeable over time. Fatigue is common as glucose is not being taken to the cells as efficiently as it should be. Sugar cravings are too common, as insulin and glucose levels fluctuate widely during the day. Perhaps the most powerful sign that a degree of insulin resistance may be present is in the way that fat is deposited on the body. Insulin likes to deposit fat around the abdominal area, which is why women (and men) with severe insulin resistance have a large belly, and the reason that a waist measurement greater than 80cm for a female too may be a sign that insulin resistance is present. 

What about the diet?

From a lifestyle perspective, the irony of insulin resistance is that the standard low fat, high carbohydrate diet filled with wholegrains, fruit and low fat snacks may actually exacerbate insulin resistance and may even act to prevent weight loss. While a high carb diet is ‘healthy’, highly processed carbohydrate rich foods result in a relatively high release of insulin. The more insulin we have circulating at any one time, the less likely it is we will burn body fat. For this reason, those with insulin resistance require a high protein, moderate carbohydrate diet which eliminates as much processed carbohydrate from the diet as possible. This does not mean eliminating all carbs, rather working to combine both small amounts of carbohydrates with protein rich foods such as eggs, fish, meat, dairy or nuts at each meal and snack. This ensures that the body has small amounts of carbohydrate at any one time, which in turn helps to regulate the release of insulin, while the proteins help to, keep you full and provide essential nutrients including the good fats, calcium and iron. 

And exercise?

Getting the right mix of movement and high intensity training is a crucial component of managing IR long term, as the right types of exercise can actually teach the muscle to burn carbohydrates efficiently again. Ideally a mix of plenty of movement via 10 000 or more steps a day, coupled with 4-5, 30-40 minute high intensity cardio training sessions such as running, aerobics classes or even Zumba are ideal. While weights training is often prescribed, as insulin resistant individuals tend to have plenty of muscle mass (up to 25% more than a non-insulin resistant person), focusing on cardio training and plenty of movement at least initially is a better option that embarking on heavy weights training, as while insulin levels are high, the body will remain in store and build mode, often working to prevent weight loss. This is often seen when individuals who are insulin resistance start with a weights program and lose body size but not weight on the scales. 

What to do if you think you may have IR

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of insulin resistance and find that you are constantly struggling with your weight, the best thing you can do is visit your GP or endocrinologist and have a glucose tolerance test to identify if IR is present. IR is a clinical condition and does need to be managed accordingly, with good dietary and exercise advice and often medication. Once though you do have IR under control not only are your likely to prevent getting diabetes, but you are also likely to be able to get your weight under control, and nothing is more empowering than that. 

Signs you may have IR:

Family history of Type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes

Distinct abdominal obesity

Inability to lose weight

Bloating

Fatigue

Sugar cravings

When you have insulin resistance things are changed dramatically with insulin resistance requiring a specific macro nutrient balance to successfully achieve fat loss. Shape Me has developed this 14 day Kickstart to help those dealing with insulin resistance.

The best breakfast for weight loss


Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 3.41.30 pm

What is the best breakfast for weight loss?

The benefits of eating breakfast are well documented – improved concentration, fewer cravings and fewer calories consumed for the remainder of the day. Which is the best breakfast options has not been so clear. For some time we have known that a protein rich breakfast helps to keep us full and now work published by Tel Aviv University has shed further light on what is the best breakfast mix for weight loss.

Researchers compared 3 different breakfast options – a high protein breakfast in which the protein was predominately from dairy foods; a second high protein option with protein via soy, tuna or eggs and a traditional carb breakfast option. Over the 12 week study period which also included a larger breakfast and lunch followed by a smaller calorie controlled dinner, dieters who consumed a dairy based breakfast lost 7.6kg compared to 6.1kg for dieters in the other proteins group and just 3.1kg for dieters in the high carb group. This basically means that dieters who enjoyed a whey based protein shake have shown superior weight loss results compared to traditional high carb breakfast options.

This study supports previous research results which have found that a protein rich, egg based breakfast, which is particularly high in the amino acid leucine, was of particular benefit for weight loss as leucine helps to regulate insulin levels. Tightly controlled insulin levels are linked to weight control long term. In this study, whey protein specifically found in dairy rich breakfast options including Greek yoghurt, milk and concentrated in protein powder appeared to offer the added benefit of helping to suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin. The group eating a breakfast with whey protein had fewer spikes in their blood sugar levels after meals when compared to the other two diets. Fluctuating blood glucose levels can result in sugar cravings, feelings of fatigue and flagging energy and concentration levels. 

Traditional carb rich breakfast options – breakfast cereal, toast, bagels, juice and muesli can be easy to overconsume and can contain 2-3 x the carbohydrate load of protein rich breakfasts. For example, a large bowl of muesli or single bagel can contain as much as 60g of total carbohydrate and just 5g of protein. This is compared to just 20-30g of total carbohydrate and 10-20g of protein for eggs on wholegrain toast or a breakfast shake made with dairy milk and fruit. This study supports the hypothesis that high carbohydrate load breakfasts leave us prone to fluctuating blood glucose levels and weight gain over time compared to higher protein options. 

This does not mean that do need to ditch the toast and cereal completely. Rather looking for ways to boost your protein intake via dairy or eggs offer positive benefits when it comes to weight control. For example teaming a little muesli with a serve of low sugar high protein Greek yoghurt; eggs with your breakfast bagel or toast or skip the juice in favour of a whey protein smoothie. All of these options offer 20g of high quality protein, and will help to keep you full and satisfied throughout the morning.

5 things to know about your diet if you are vegetarian


Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 3.51.28 pm

Going vegetarian the right way.

With a growing number of people following both a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle, there is more and more discussion focused on the health benefits of a plant based diet. While the way you eat is a personal choice, there is extremely strong scientific evidence to show that those who follow a largely plant based lifestyle live longer; have lower body weights and a reduced risk of developing a number of lifestyle diseases including some types of cancer and diabetes. Pretty convincing stuff. So if you have been dabbling with the idea of becoming a vegetarian, or even a vegan here are some of the key aspects of your diet to consider to ensure you achieve the right nutritional balance.

1. You will need to focus on iron rich foods

When you suddenly eliminate meat from your diet, you also eliminate the key source of well absorbed iron. It is not that the body is unable to absorb the iron found in plants, rather it will take time for it to get used to using non haem iron as its primary source of iron. Good vegetarian sources of iron include eggs, wholegrains and legumes so aiming to include at least one of these foods in your diet each day will help to ensure you have iron available for absorption.

2. You can overdo the healthy fats

Cheese, avocado, nuts and seeds are all vegetarian friendly foods but when you eliminate meat, chicken and fish is does not mean you can eat unlimited amounts of fat. In fact a vegetarian diet that is based around cheese, fries and pizza can be far less healthy than a diet that contains lean meat. A vegetarian will still only need 60-80g of fat each day which translates into a serve of cheese, nuts and avocado ( 1/3) once each day. 

3. Watch your milk choice

Coconut oil, almond and rice milks may sound like they are user friendly options for vegans and vegetarians but they can be packed full of extra sugars and little else. If you are swapping your milk to a plant based milk, make sure you are choosing once that contains added calcium and Vitamin B12. 

4. Focus on protein at lunch

Protein can be a nutrient that suffers when you shift to a vegetarian eating pattern, especially at lunch. While we often get some protein from dairy or eggs at breakfast, we are far less likely to get it at lunchtime when we pick up sandwiches and sushi on the go. Protein rich lunch options when you are following a vegetarian diet include bean salads or burritos; leftover stir fries with tofu, sandwiches with cottage cheese and edamame beans with your favourite sushi order.

5. Be careful when eating out

It can be extremely difficult to find non carby vegetarian meal options when you are eating out and you can find yourself eating a whole lot of pizza, pasta and risotto. For this reason particularly good options when you are eating vegetarian including Mexican, Japanese and other Asian cuisines where you can find tofu and legume based options relatively easily. 

With nutrient rich, calorie controlled meal and snack choices, our brand new 14 day Vegetarian Kickstart meal plan will not only tick the box for all your nutritional requirements but will leave you feeling lighter and more energised after 2 weeks of enjoying a plant based lifestyle. To get your meal plan, click here.

The foods that help you sleep and those that don’t!


Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 5.36.29 PM

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

What to eat when you want to sleep

Sleep is something few of us get enough of and we are often looking for ways in which we can help ourselves sleep better when we do manage to get some shut eye. There is no doubt that there are both foods that help and hinder our sleep, consuming a massive meal close to bedtime is sure to disrupt things, while high fat foods are known to leave us feeling tired and lethargic. So if you are looking to optimise the quality of your sleep day in, day out, here are some of the foods to focus on, and the ones to avoid!

Foods that help

Milk 

It is not just an old wives tale that a little warm milk before bed will help us achieve a restful slumber, milk is a rich source of the amino acid tryptophan which is involved in the production of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that naturally calms the body and helps to naturally induce sleep.

Bananas

Bananas are especially rich in the nutrients potassium and magnesium, nutrients which are directly involved in muscle relaxation. In addition, the natural carbohydrates found in bananas will gradually see a reduction in blood glucose levels which will help to induce sleep 60 minutes or so after consumption.

Handful of nuts

All nuts and seeds are nutrient rich choices, but it is the essential fats and amino acids including tryptophan which link the consumption of nuts close to bedtime and sleep.

Herbal Tea

There are a number of herbal teas linked to improved sleep quality, but it is chamomile tea in particular that shows particular promising results in the sleep department. Specifically, it is the antioxidant apigenin found in chamomile tea that helps to bind brain receptors that promote sleep. There is also some early research to show that consuming chamomile extract is linked to falling asleep faster and waking up less during the night, so watch this space! 

Foods that hinder

Dark chocolate

Whilst dark chocolate is generally considered the healthier choice of chocolate, we often forget that dark chocolate also contains more caffeine than regular chocolate. This means that enjoying your dark chocolate after dinner is not the best idea if you have difficulty falling asleep. 

Ice-Cream

It is the mix of sugar and fat found in ice-cream, particularly ice-cream filled with lollies and other sugary treats, that acts as a major brain stimulator rather than relaxant. 

Alcohol

A glass of red each night may not seem like that big a deal, but all alcohol no matter which type, is linked to poorer sleep. Not only is alcohol dehydrating, but as alcohol acts as a muscle relaxant, often causing snoring and poorer quality sleep, drinkers tend to wake up multiple times each night. For this reason, aiming for some nights without any alcohol consumption is one of the best things you can do for your sleep.

Salty food

Whether it is a pizza, Asian food or a curry, the high salt and fat content of these meals can impact our sleep. Not only do we often have issues with ingestion, but dehydration is also common which can result in you waking regularly during the night desperate for water. Another common issue that we consider less frequently, is the MSG content of these meals, which can again leave us feeling agitated and stimulated at a time when we should be relaxing and calming down. 

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here.

The best foods to beat the bloat and those that add to it.


Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 9.44.18 PM

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Zip Water.

Beat the bloat

Bloating – that uncomfortable feeling that seems to worsen as the day goes on yet you cannot necessarily link it to one particular type of food or drink. Not only is it uncomfortable, but a range of abdominal symptoms ranging from gas to pain to distention can be distracting, aesthetically irritating and frustrating. So if you are regularly suffering of bloating, here are the key foods that may help to relieve your symptoms and the key foods to avoid. 

Foods to beat the bloat

Yoghurt

Not only is natural or Greek low sugar yoghurt extremely nutritious, yoghurts that contain added ‘good bacteria’ known as probiotics help to naturally regenerate the good bacteria found in the gut which helps to reduce gas, bloating and digestive discomfort quickly. In addition, a daily serve of a probiotic supplement or yoghurt will help to keep the gut in optimal health, eliminating wastes and gases quickly, which can further act to prevent gastric discomfort on a daily basis. 

Peppermint tea

A number of herbal teas including green, licorice and dandelion tea all have powerful diuretic properties which means they draw fluid from the body, reduce water retention and keep the tummy relatively flat. Peppermint tea in particular is known to help reduce stomach discomfort and aid digestion. You can easily prepare a range of herbal teas in an instant when you have a Zip HydroTap at home or work that offers ready to go boiling water whenever you need a hot drink.

Sparkling Water

Contrary to popular belief, drinking sparkling water appears to help gut discomfort. It is hypothesised that the gas found in sparkling water helps to move food through the digestive system, helping to alleviate abdominal discomfort. One study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology examined the effects of sparkling versus still water on digestive symptoms. The study found that in female subjects just 250ml of sparking water released significant amounts of gas which related to the woman’s perception of fullness minus any gastrointestinal discomfort. This means that your daily water of choice can be still or sparkling from your Zip HydroTap with no negative tummy trouble. 

Cucumber, celery and radishes

While all salad vegetables are good for us, the high water content salad vegetables contain few calories but are packed with nutrition, including the nutrients which help to eliminate fluid and waste from the body. Snack on vegetables throughout the day and aim for at least one serve of salad a day to maximize the flat belly effect of these foods. 

Watermelon and berries

While some fruits have a relatively high sugar content, most melons and berries are relatively low in sugar whilst having an extremely high proportion of water. High water content foods move quickly through the digestive tract, helping to keep bellies empty and flat. 

Then the ones to stay clear of

Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage are extremely nutritious with a number of anti-cancer properties but they can also produce relatively high volumes of gas thanks to a type of carbohydrate, raffinose, which can remain partly undigested in the intestine contributing to gas production. For roughly 5% of the population who are sensitive to the FODMAPS in foods, excessive gas production in the intestine can also cause more extreme symptoms. For these groups, these vegetables are best consumed in small volumes only. 

Chewing gum

Sugar free gums may not only contain alcohol sugars mannitol and sorbitol which can lead to bloating, but the chewing action will result in you taking in much more air which can become trapped in the digestive system and contribute to bloating.

Stir fries, noodles and soups

Stir fries; noodles and Asian soups are packed full of sodium with a simple Laksa or Pho containing as much as 2000mg of sodium or our entire upper daily recommended intake in just one meal thanks to the addition of soy, fish and oyster sauce. Even a simple stir fry can contain as much as 1000-1500mg sodium in single serve. The more sodium we consume the more fluid we will retain and hence the bloating feeling we can experience after a big Asian feed. 

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here OR read how a Zip HydroTap® changed Susie’s life, here.

What to do when your diet isn’t working


Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 11.11.00 AM

There are few things as frustrating as trying really hard at something only to find that your efforts have been fruitless. Many people have this experience when they try to lose weight. Despite their best efforts they do not get the results they are expecting on the scales, feel demotivated and throw in the towel. So if you have been trying to lose weight without success, here are some things you can try to get things moving.

1. Check your calories

I mean really check them by entering everything you eat and drink into a monitoring program such as ‘myfitnesspal’. In many cases w are eating more than we realise but we can also be eating too little, especially if you have ramped up the training. The average female will lose nicely on 1200-1400 calories as long as they are not doing more than 40-60 minutes of exercise each day. A male, more like 1600-1800 calories.

2. Check your timing

Unless you are following a fasting regime and not eating until lunchtime, the earlier you eat your first meal each day the better, and the later you have your dinner, the worse it will be for weight loss. Ideally we need 10-12 hours overnight without food so you may need to make lunch a bigger meal, and add a more substantial afternoon snack so you can go light at night.

3. Try something different

The body responds well to change. This means if you always try and lose weight the same way it may be time to mix things up a little. If you cut back calories, try fasting. Or if you exercise a lot, try exercising less and eating less overall. Or try a couple of low calorie days or swapping dinner for lunch. Change is the key when things are not moving. 

4. Check your bloods

Low iron levels, low Vitamin D, thyroid issues and insulin resistance are just some of the biochemical factors that can impact weight loss. So if you have not been feeling your best, and know that your calorie intake and exercise is on track, it may be worth checking some of these variables with your GP.

5. Check your steps

While you may be exercising regularly, if you spend much of the rest of the day sitting you will not lose weight. Remember we need to move at least 10000 steps each day (to make up for the all the time we spend sitting) and exercise regularly to lose weight. Often it is a lack of movement that is letting us down.

The extra calories creeping into the foods you think are healthy.


Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 10.31.21 am

The healthy calories slipping into your day

Chances are you know that cakes, biscuits and chocolate are not doing your diet any favours. Most of us are aware that there are certain high calorie foods closely linked to weight gain. It may though come as a surprise to hear that there are also a number of healthier food options that can actually be packed full of extra calories. Here are some of the most common options we generally think are healthy but are not always.

Salads

If you make a salad at home and combine fresh leaves, salad vegetables and a little dressing naturally you have yourself a very healthy salad. On the other hand if you pick up a premade salad at a food court you could be eating as many as 600-800 calories and 40-60g of fat. This is thanks to the addition of plenty of high fat dressing, nuts, cheese, avo and fried meats, common in premade salad mixes. The best option? Make your own salad or at least choose your own ingredients so you know exactly what is in there!

Sushi

Sashimi is healthy. Seaweed is healthy and miso soup is healthy but if your Japanese order consists of white rice rolls your sushi is more carbohydrate and sugar than anything. To keep your Japanese order in line with traditional fare, go easy on the rice based rolls, seek our sashimi and also add extra vege sides.

Yoghurt and fruit

The tubs of yoghurt and brightly coloured fresh fruit look healthy but when you consider the mix if generally of sweetened yoghurt, fruit syrup and muesli your healthy snack can contain as much as 500 calories and 6 teaspoons of sugar. If you love yoghurt team plain yoghurt with berries and a few nuts or buy the individual Greek fruit yoghurts with contain less than 3-4 teaspoons of sugar per tub.

Burritos

Marketed as a healthy choice, burritos are healthier than burgers and fries but they can still be massive and as such packed full of calories. In fact a single burrito with rice and cheese can contain 800-1000 calories in a single serve. Lighten your burrito by ditching the rice, asking for less cheese or even better going for a mini or naked version to slash your overall calories.

Stir Fries

Generally considered healthier than deep fried Asian dishes while stir fries have less fat and calories it does not mean they are low in calories. In fact the average stir fry with rice will contain at least 30g of fat and 600-800 calories. For this reason when choosing Asian dishes go for less rice and option that contain less meat and more vegetables to help lighten the meal. 

The most common reasons (or excuses why) we gain weight in Winter.


Screen Shot 2018-06-19 at 3.06.03 pm

The Winter excuses that are leading to weight gain

Each year it gets to about this time and many of start our annual hibernation. We are so spoilt with our generally warm temperatures that as soon as it gets even a little chilly we can barely bring ourselves to leave the house. So if you have been a little slack with your food and exercise these last few weeks, here are the pretty lame excuses hat are holding you back from achieving  your health and fitness goals at this time of year.

1. Its too cold

Yes it is true that our temperatures have dropped suddenly but lets be honest, since it barely drops below 10deg in Australia (sorry Melbourne) it is really not that cold. In fact if we exercise outdoors we barely need a scarf to keep warm so stop telling yourself it is so cold, it really isn’t.

2. You need more food when it is cold

If we were living in Iceland we perhaps could get away with a little more carbohydrates and not lose weight but since again most of our homes are heated and we spend much of the day sitting down no we do not need a whole lot more carbohydrate just because it is Winter.

3. You will wait until Spring to lose weight

You know the drill, you can eat what you want now and then focus on getting back into shape in Spring. But lets be honest what really happens is that Spring returns with a bang and we are straight back into parties and socialising. The best idea, stop the weight gain now and then you will not have to worry come Spring.

4. It is too dark to get up

Yes it is much harder to get up and out when it is cold and dark but it does not mean you cannot swap your gym session to a lunch or evening session, or arrange to walk or run with a friend later in the day. Team up with a buddy to get those training sessions happening even with shorter days.

5. It is hard to eat healthy during Winter

Winter meals do not have to be heavy and they can be just as satisfying when they are healthy – think soups, vege topped pies, roasts with lean meat and baked fruit instead of pies, hot desserts and creamy rice and pasta dishes

If you are looking to take control this Winter, our 14 day Kickstart program could be perfect for you. Reset your eating habits with our delicious meal plan featuring all your Winter faves plus tips from Susie on keeping your weight under control through Winter. Sign up now here.

My top supermarket soups for this Winter


Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 1.01.20 pm

With a sudden drop in temperature there is also means that it is soup season. Not only are soups relatively low in calories but adding a soup to your day helps to lower your overall calorie intake whist boosting your nutritional intake. And if you simply do not have the time to make your own soup from scratch, the good news is that there are plenty of premade options now available in supermarkets that you can pick up on the run and add to any meal or alternatively enjoy as a light meal once each day. 

Generally speaking the tetra pack or fresh soups are superior to packet and canned soup as they tend to be lower in salt and contain more vegetables. Any vegetable based option is a good choice but you may need to add some extra protein to make it a complete meal. Alternatively using a vegetable based soup is an easy way to get your vegetable serves in at a meal.  I look for soups that contain <20g total carbs per serve; minimal added sugars, <800mg of sodium per serve and 5-10g protein. 

Here are my best picks this season. 

Pitango Chicken Noodle Soup

The entire range of Pitango Fresh Soups is great but this variety contains no added sugar whilst also offering some protein.

La Zuppa Tuscan Chicken & Vegetable Soup

With a clean ingredient list and loads of vegetables, the entire range of La Zuppa soups in a tetra pack are good choice nutritionally and this one contains both good amounts of fibre and protein. 

Woolworths Fresh Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Another variety with good protein levels, and the plain vegetable options from Woollies are strong nutritionally too

Darikay Lentil Soup

The entire range is great but this lentil variety is particularly high in fibre and protein. 

Hart & Soul Pho Soup

Particularly low in calories, this brand offers quality soups with clean ingredient lists and relatively low levels of sodium for packet soups. 

Trying to lose weight this Winter? These tips may help.


Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 3.30.40 pm

Easy ways to drop a few kilos (instead of gain them this Winter)

Winter is well and truly upon us and along with the cooler temperatures and shorter days is the tendency to gain weight as we indulge in hot chocolate, puddings and pies much more frequently. So how can you achieve weight loss success this Winter without too much effort?

1. Get rid of the pastry

Whether it is your favourite croissant, sausage roll at the footy or warm fruit pie on the weekend, high fat, high calorie pastry will quickly add on the kilos if you indulge too regularly. A single serve of puff pastry contains more than 600 calories and 30g of fat, much of which is saturated, which is bad for both the fat in our blood and ultimately our weight. Often poor dietary choices are made when we are presented with tempting foods without any reference point about whether they are a good choice or not. Making a blanket rule about avoiding pastry altogether is an easy way to eliminate much extra fat out of your diet without the need to make the decision each time a tempting pastry treat comes your way.

2. Try a kickstart

Research suggests that when we commit to a relatively strict diet for a short period of time and drop a few kilos quickly, we are more likely to continue to lose weight. It is for this reason we have designed the Shape Me 2 Week Kickstart program – nutritionally balanced eating plans that will support you in losing a couple of kilos quickly, but the right way. With plenty of Winter soups, salads and warming meals, not only will you feel much better when you focus on your diet for 2 weeks but the scales will also be moving in the right direction

3. Quit the calories in drinks

You may love a Chai Latte or a cheeky hot chocolate but the truth is that liquid calories, especially the sugars found in milk and juices add up; we do not eat less because we have consumed them and they result in rapid increases in blood glucose levels which can drive hunger. When you consider that a small hot chocolate can contain as much as 4 teaspoons of sugar or a Chai Latte 6, it is easy to see why skipping these drink in favour of clear tea or black coffee can dramatically reduce your daily calorie intake.

4. Change the times you eat

Who needs a strict diet when all you need to do is limit the number of hours each day that you eat? The simple shift of eating in just 10-12 hours of each day leaves up to 14 hours a day without food which has been shown to have the same benefits when it comes to weight control as formal fasting. So simply aiming for breakfast by 8am, lunch at 12 and your final meal by 6pm will support weight control, without any real limits on what you are eating at these times. 

5. Exercise after dinner

Forget early morning sessions that you are likely to skip when it is freezing outside. Instead commit to a short training session or walk after dinner. All you need is 30 minutes and exercising at this time will help to burn off the food consumed at dinner and also keep you out of the house so you are less tempted by Tim Tams as you sit on the lounge and watch TV. And even more powerful is the virtuous feeling you will have when you return, which in turn will help to motivate you to keep focused with your diet and weight loss goals. 

The health benefits of the most popular herbal teas


Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 2.51.31 PM

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Zip Water.

The most popular herbal teas and their health benefits.

Drinking plenty of water can be relatively easy when it is warm outside – you naturally reach for more ice cold water when it is hot; we notice ourselves sweating more and outdoor socialising lends itself to drinking more in general. Fast forward to the cooler autumn and Winter months and it is not so natural to reach for our water bottles. So if you are struggling to reach your daily water targets, maybe herbal tea is the way to go to help boost your total fluid intake.

Unlike regular tea and coffee which contain the stimulant caffeine, the truth is that herbal tea is not technically tea, rather it is a drink made from a specific plant in which leaves, seeds, roots or even bark are infused in hot water. Not only will the fluid we consume via herbal tea help to hydrate us but in some cases we can also enjoy the associated health benefits the plant source of the tea offers. 

So if you could benefit from drinking a little more in general, and when you have filtered boiling water on tap thanks to your Zip HydroTap, here are some of the most popular herbal teas you can make at home, and the potential health benefits they offer. 

Ginger Tea

Ginger is most commonly known for its ability to help manage nausea and aid digestive comfort and specifically for anyone battling morning sickness or motion sickness, ginger tea is worth a try. You can easily make your own ginger tea simply by placing a small piece of ginger root in boiling water along with some lemon and a little honey. This mix also works wonders for any throat and nasal congestion when winter strikes. 

Peppermint Tea

Perhaps the best-known herbal tea, it is the refreshing nature of peppermint tea that makes it one of the most popular. It is most commonly used to help relieve bloating although should be avoided by anyone who may suffer from heartburn. Peppermint tea also works wonders in helping manage food cravings as it changes the taste in the mouth quite dramatically. 

Rooibos

If you have spent any time in South Africa you will be very familiar with Rooibos, a slightly sweet flowery tea that is very easy to drink. My personal favourite, rooibos is high in antioxidants, and in particular Vitamin C, and as such rooibos is a herbal tea that will offer a daily immune boost along with a subtle sweet hit with no calories or caffeine. And if you prefer your tea chilled, one of my favourite refreshing options is to add a rooibos tea to some instantly chilled, filtered water from my Zip HydroTap, served with ice if you like it particularly chilly. 

Dandelion Tea

With a distinct taste, dandelion tea is not always one that springs to mind but its powerful diuretic properties make it a powerful option when you are feeling bloated. Known in naturopathy circles as a liver cleanser, the only concern with drinking dandelion tea frequently would be if you were taking any medications that alter fluid levels in the body.

Chamomile Tea

This aromatic brew is a favourite for those wanting a calming effect before sleep and in general for anyone dealing with stress and anxiety. Made from the chamomile flower, chamomile appears to be a source of the phytochemicals flavonoids but it should be noted that chamomile is not appropriate for children or for anyone with a pollen allergy. 

Cinnamon Tea

Well known in the US, cinnamon tea is an aromatic and flavoursome tea that is a perfect alternative to sweet foods after dinner. Cinnamon has also been shown to help regulate blood glucose levels, which makes it a perfect low sugar yet sweet beverage choice.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here OR read how a Zip HydroTap® changed Susie’s life, here.

How do you build a healthy gut?


Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 3.04.04 PM

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

How do you build a healthy gut?

How is your gut health? Do you focus on making sure that you are getting enough dietary fibre each day? Is there any family history of irritable bowel syndrome and constipation, or bowel cancer? With more and more evidence emerging that our gut health is closely linked to our overall health and immune function, ensuring we are nourishing it with the right nutrients is one of the most powerful things we can do to improve our wellbeing. 

As we celebrate World Digestive Health Day on May 29th, there is no better time to take stock of our own gut health.

1. Focus on fibre

One of the easiest ways we can all positively influence the health of our gut is to ensure we get enough dietary fibre. Not only does the right mix of both soluble and insoluble fibre ensure that our digestive tract works efficiently and keeps us regular, but an optimal intake of fibre is also linked to healthy gut microflora, helping to lower cholesterol levels and allowing us to feel lighter and more active. An adult requires 25-30g of fibre each day to keep the digestive system healthy and help to reduce the risk of constipation, some types of cancer and diverticular disease. In order to get this much fibre, you will need to consume at least two pieces of fruits like bananas which contain 3g of fibre per serve, 2-3 cups of vegetables and 1-2 serves of wholegrains such as oats, wholegrain or rye bread, quinoa, brown rice or buckwheat. 

2. Feed your gut right

We know that it’s not only our fibre intake that nourishes our stomach, but also what we feed  it with. Found in various food ingredients, prebiotics promote the growth and function of different types of good bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics found in various fibrous foods move through the digestive tract undigested and then act to feed the good bacteria promoting their growth and optimising gut balance. As a result, the gut is healthier and better able to absorb nutrients as they pass through the digestive tract. 

There are a wide range of foods that naturally contain prebiotics, in particular aromatic vegetables including onions, leeks and celery, as well as wheat bran, soy beans, rye based breads and green bananas. While ripe bananas offer the health benefits of 3-5g of dietary fibre per serve, which is still important for health, green bananas in particular offer a significant dose of the powerful prebiotic, resistant starch linked to a number of positive health outcomes.

3. Give your gut the bugs it needs

Known as the ‘good bacteria’, probiotics are microorganisms naturally found in the human digestive tract that improve the balance of healthy bacteria. Probiotics have been shown to reduce digestive symptoms such as constipation and bloating, help restore gut flora after consuming a course of antibiotics (antibiotics can kill the good bacteria naturally found in the gut) and rebalance the bacteria required for optimal nutrient absorption. It is thought that poor dietary patterns, along with the stress of modern lives, mean our gut bugs take a beating and as such making sure we are getting a regular dose of various probiotics is a powerful step towards optimal health. 

Probiotics can be found in various food sources, including fermented drinks and yoghurts. It’s been shown just 1-2 serves a day can reduce bloating in sensitive stomachs. For those individuals opposed to yoghurts or milk-based drinks, probiotics are also available in supplement form, which can be an effective way to get your daily dose of ‘good gut health’.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here

A look at the new FUNtainer® range by Thermos®


IMG_4019

This post is sponsored by Thermos.

What containers do I use for the twins?

IMG_4016Now I have the twins, I find myself cooking and preparing more food so when I was approached recently by Thermos® to help them launch their kids range known as FUNtainer® I was thrilled. Not only is Thermos® a respected Australian brand but their unique technology means that you can keep drinks cold for up to 12 hours and warm food such as soups hot for up to 5 hours, or chilled food like yoghurts cold for up to 7 hours, eliminating the need to be worried about lunchboxes overheating – how fab is that? 

Recently Jess Rowe (aka the crap housewife) and I were involved in a media launch for the children’s range of FUNtainer®, in which we spoke about common parenting issues, and together cooked a range of FUNtainer® friendly recipes mums can use to expand the range of lunchbox options we pack for both pre and primary school aged children. 

A couple of my favourite recipes that the twins love, Banana Bites and Turkey Balls (included below) work perfectly with FUNtainer®, as I can pack both warm cooking and chilled snacks and travel around for the day without worrying they won’t be kept at the right temperatures.

IMG_4017Even more importantly for me, is the water bottles I use with the twins? As I naturally want them to drink mostly water, I need the water to be appealing and since we have added FUNtainer® drink bottles with Disney Designs, the twins cannot get enough of their favourite fire engine and cars water bottles (and mum is happy). 

So if you have been looking for some child friendly containers that work with your desire for your little ones to eat more fresh, home cooked, unprocessed food, look no further than FUNtainer®. For more information about Thermos® products, and the Thermos® FUNtainer® range, visit www.thermos.com.au.

IMG_4018Banana Bites

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

2 large bananas, mashed

1 cup rolled oats, raw

1 cup pitted dates, chopped

1 cup coconut, shredded (for rolling)

Method

1. Combine the mashed banana with the oats and dates in a blender for 1 minute.

2. Place the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes, or until firm.

3. Roll the mixture into small-sized balls in your hands.

4. Coat the balls in shredded coconut and store in the fridge.

Turkey Balls

Serves 4 

Ingredients

500g turkey mince

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 zucchini, grated

1 carrot, grated

1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup fresh herbs (rosemary, time, oregano, marjoram)

1 cup reduced fat grated cheese

1 tbsp. olive oil

Sauce

250ml tomato pasta sauce

1 can 420g can tinned tomatoes

1 tbsp. olive oil

4 cloves garlic

Method

1. Mix onion, turkey, carrot, and zucchini. Combine with egg, panko, cheese and herbs. Roll into small balls. 

2. Add olive oil to frypan over medium heat and cook for 5-7 minutes until cooked through. Meanwhile, simmer tomatoes in small amount of olive oil, with garlic and pasta sauce. 

3. Serve sauce once reduced with turkey balls.

Why we should all fast once a week


Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 10.23.26 am

Why we should all fast once a week

Of all the areas of diet and nutrition that have emerged in recent years, fasting would be one of the most topical, and potentially most effective we have seen in some time. While fasting is not a new invention – many religious and cultural groups have been fasting for thousands of years, the potential benefits it offers for weight loss is still being understood. One thing we do know is that various types of fasting offer a myriad of health benefits and as such embracing some form of regular fasting is most likely a good thing for all of us, even if we do not resort to the most restrictive regimes. So if you have been considering fasting, here are some reasons you should commit to a regular fast (or light day of eating).

1. It resets our hormones

While weight loss is linked to some types of fasting, it is actually our inflammatory markers – cholesterol, blood glucose, insulin, blood pressure that all improve when we fast.  Long term controlled levels of all of these markers is linked to a reduce risk of developing a number of chronic disease including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer.

2. It reminds us what it is like to be hungry

Human beings rarely eat when they are hungry, rather they eat because they are tired, bored or because other people around them are eating. This means we are also often overeating. There is nothing like a brief period (16-24 hours) of a low calorie diet to remind us what it actually feels like to be hungry.

3. It helps us eat less

It is safe to say that most of us eat far too much each and every day – a regular fast is an easy way to remind us how much we are actually eating and how little we actually need to eat to maintain our weight.

4. It buffers our high calorie days

There will always be days when we eat far too much – celebratory meals, parties, elaborate restaurant meals. Having a day or two that helps to buffer these high calorie days via plenty of salads and soups is an easy way to balance your overall calorie intake without dieting. 

5. You may lose weight

One of the best outcomes of regular fasting – whether it is eating only in an 8 hour window or having a low calorie day or two each week is that you may even lose 1-2kg a month without dieting. And for many of us, this is the best outcome of all.

6 superfoods to embrace this Autumn


Shape Me May Kickstart - Blog Header

Now that temperatures have started to drop, there are plenty of people out there battling with a running nose and chesty cough – welcome to Autumn – finally! Hence the reason we have focused this months Kickstart on all things ‘superfoods’. Superfoods are simply nutrient rich foods that offer extra bang for our buck when we eat them and when it comes to keeping our immune system working at its best, it is all about loading up our diets with the essential nutrients that are crucial for optimal immune function. So our Shape Me May Kickstart is packed full of soups, choc full of veges and foods rich in zinc, iron, omega 3′s and Vitamin C rich fresh foods to help give you the immune boost you are looking for. So if your diet needs a little work this Autumn check out our 2 week May Kickstart and focus more of your meals around some of these Autumn superfoods of the season.

Red Capsicum

Red capsicum is a rich source of carotenoids, the group of antioxidants known to play a powerful role in helping to down regulate a number of inflammatory pathways in the body. Individuals who have had a higher intake of carotenoids during their lives have been associated with lower risks of mortality from common disease states including heart disease, cancer and stroke in large population based health studies. Red capsicums are another great vege snack teamed with hommus or cucumber dip. 

Pumpkin

Not often put into the superfood category, the thing that is not commonly known about pumpkin is that it is exceptionally low in carbohydrates and calories, making it the perfect heart vegetable to include in soups, salads and roasts. A good source of beta carotene, Vitamin C, fibre and potassium, pumpkin is one vegetable you can literally eat to your hearts content.

Banana

Often taken for granted as a superfood, nature’s number 1 snack thanks to coming in its own packaging, bananas are the perfect natural energy rich food. With 3g of fibre in a single banana, they are also a rich source of potassium, Vitamin B6, folate and magnesium and can be used to add natural sweetness to smoothies, baked goods, yoghurt or enjoyed as a nutrient rich snack on the go. 

Spinach

One of most versatile leaves, fresh baby spinach leaves make a delicious salad base; can be added to green juices and is delicious stir fried with a little olive oil and nutrient rich garlic and teamed with light fish meals or as a vege base for omelettes. The dark green leaves of spinach gives some insight into its rich nutrient content; spinach leaves are a rich source of Vitamin C, E, K beta carotene and folate and cooking spinach in a little olive oil will help to enhance nutrient absorption. 

Beetroot

The rich, bright colour and texture of beetroot give you some idea of how chock full of nutrition this vegetable really is. Beetroot contains a number of extremely powerful antioxidants known to support cell health and with minimal calories per serve, is a daily must include in your diet. Roast and add to salads, juice for a tasty mixed vegetable juice or grate and keep handy as an addition to sandwiches, crackers, dips and pates. Recent research also confirmed that the high levels of nitric oxide in beetroot helps to improve blood flow and shots of concentrated beetroot juice have also been shown to improve cycling performance in sprint events.

Avocado

It is hard to fault Australia’s favourite toast topping – avocados are rich in the heart healthy monounsaturated fats and a good source of dietary fibre and it is their high natural Vitamin E content that takes them into the superfood category. Linked to everything from heart health to good skin to acting as a natural anti-inflammatory, you cannot go wrong if you include ¼ – ½ an avocado in your daily diet.

Try one of our delicious recipes from our May Kickstart program below or get started with our May Kickstart here.

Grilled Salmon & Vegetable Mash

Serves 4 – per serve: 130 cals | 7g fat | 14g protein | 3g carbs | 3g fibre

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 9.05.36 AM

Ingredients:

4 x 175g salmon fillets

2 tsp. Wholegrain English mustard

Vegetable Mash

1 zucchini, coarsely grated (if moist, squeeze out excess moisture)

1 large carrot, coarsely grated

1 small butternut pumpkin, pre cooked in microwave and diced

1 tsp. olive oil

Preparation Method:

1. Heat oil in a large pan and add grated zucchini and carrot cooking until soft.

2. Remove the veggies and mash together, combining well and adding a little butter if desired.

3. Serve salmon with a drizzle of mustard dressing on top of the vegetable mash.

5 signs you are not eating enough carbs


Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 3.17.38 PM

Are your carbs too low?

Carbs – some people hate them, most of us love them but they do not necessarily love us back. While many of us eat too many carbs, in some cases we are not eating enough. If your carb intake reaches a level that is not low enough to see you go into ketosis (<20% total calories coming from carbs) but is too low for your levels of activity you may find yourself in the situation where you seem to be eating very little but still not losing body fat. So here are some signs your carbs may be a little on the low side.

1. You are eating well but not losing weight

If you are consuming less than 80g of total carbs each day but doing a lot of exercise, your carbs will be too low to actually metabolise body fat and your metabolic rate will slow down over time. The average female will require at least 120-140g of carbs if they are exercising regularly and sometimes our amounts are a little on the low side. A quick calculation of your carb intake using myfitnesspal may suggest you need a little more carb at one or more of your meals. Start by adding 10-20g of extra carbs via a piece of fruit, bread or 1/2 cup of wholegrains to the meal straight after exercise to slightly increase your carb intake and support fat loss.

2. You are feeling tired

There are a number of reasons we can feel tired but if you are exercising regularly and consuming inadequate amounts of carbs you will be left feeling lethargic and lacking the energy you usually have to go about your day to day life. The reason for this is that your naturally energy systems have been altered which may in turn impact your blood glucose control. Fluctuating blood glucose levels can result in headaches, and inability to concentrate and a general feeling of lethargy. 

3. You are craving sugars

Regular cravings after a meal may be a sign that your meal does not contain a balance of carbs and proteins that you need for fullness and satisfaction which can result in extreme feelings of hunger. Fluctuating blood glucose levels can also leave you feeling extremely hungry even when you have eaten only an hour or two previously as the body identifies that you have not taken adequate amounts of carbohydrate on board. 

4. You are clogged up

As a number of high carbohydrate foods including fruit, starchy vegetables including corn and sweet potato and breads and cereals are also rich sources of dietary fibre, eating few of these foods can leave your overall fibre intake a little on the low side. In addition when your gut has been used to you consuming these foods regularly, and suddenly finds that it is no longer receiving significant amounts of wheat based fibres it can significantly impact the total amount of bulk moving through the gut and cause significant reductions in transit time, or the time waste moves through the digestive tract resulting in constipation and much less frequent bowel movements in general. 

5. Your breath is very ordinary

When our carbohydrate intake drops below a certain level, the body will make ketones, which is an alternate fuel source for the liver and the brain made from fat stores. Ketones have a very distinct smell, some of which will be secreted through saliva if you are in ketosis. Often evident when you have trained after consuming very little carbohydrate for a day or two, the smell is far from pleasant and may suggest you could benefit from a little more carbohydrate in your diet.

Why am i so tired? 5 reasons your fatigue is holding you back.


Screen Shot 2018-04-27 at 11.07.54 am

 The dietary reasons you are so tired.

In busy lives, fatigue is not uncommon. Many of us work long hours; we are juggling the demands of family and relationships and our nutrition can take a back seat. So here are some of the reasons your diet may be contributing to your tiredness, and the easy ways to fix them. 

1. You are not getting enough iron

Low iron levels are extremely common, with up to 1 in 4 women having low iron which can leave you feeling as if you have been bit by a bus. For women who do eat meat, what is not always understood is that you actually need to eat small volumes of lean red meat at least three times each week to give the body access to the high quality iron that is readily absorbed. While there is some iron in plant based foods and chicken and fish it is not overly well absorbed. The other important thing to know when it comes to your iron is that once your stores are low, it can be difficult to restore them from your diet alone, often you will need supplementation or even an iron infusion. So if you are constantly tired and know you do not consume red meat a few times each week, it may be worth a trip to the GP for some iron studies via a blood test. 

2. Your Vitamin D is low

Another extremely common nutrient deficiency thanks to our indoor lifestyle and focus on covering up while we are in the sun. As the shorter and cooler days of the year approach, keeping a close eye on your Vitamin D levels is crucial as it is believed that up to 50% of Australians may have low Vitamin D. Low Vitamin D is linked to fatigue, muscle soreness and a number of chronic diseases including neurological disorders and heart disease. The best way to get your daily dose of Vitamin D is to spend time in the sun bit of you do take a supplement remember that Vitamins D is a fat soluble vitamin and as such needs to be taken with fat such as nuts or avocado or olive oil in a meal to maximise absorption.

3. You are not getting enough fresh food

Busy lives means that many meals and snacks can be picked up on the go, and as such we are often not getting enough fresh food on a daily basis. This means that our intake of vitamins, fibre and antioxidants can be reduced, leaving us prone to colds, infection and fatigue. Even if you are busy, make a concerted effort to eat at least one fresh food meal packed with vegetables or salad every single day. Other easy ways to give your diet a fresh food boost include drinking a vegetable juice every day; snacking on fresh fruit and nuts and keeping a broth based soup on hand for a quick, nutrient rich meal on the go. 

4. Your carbs are too low

When we are trying to lose weight and ‘be good’ we often cut right back on our carbs ditching the bread, rice, fruit, cereal and pasta in favour of vegetables and lean protein. While this can be a useful dietary strategy in the short term, long term chronically low intakes of carbohydrate basically starve the muscle, which can leave you feeling tired and fatigued and actually less likely to burn body fat. At a minimum the average female will require 100-120g of total carbohydrate each day, and another 20-40g for every hour of activity. Good carb choices including fruits, wholegrain crackers or bread or starchy vegetables as sweet potato and corn if you are trying to avoid processed carbs. When it comes to carbs, we do not need a lot, but we do need some of the right type at the right times. 

5. You are eating too much sugar

Milk based coffees, juices, smoothies, soft drinks, fruit yoghurt and snack foods are all packed full of sugar and even if you consider your diet to be reasonably healthy it can be easy to be getting too much of the white stuff. Ideally we want to keep the added sugar in our diets as low as possible, as high intakes of added sugar can increase insulin levels and increase the chance we are storing fat in the liver. This means aiming for less than 20-25g of added sugars in the diet each day, which in food terms means avoiding processed food and added sugar as much as possible. Check food labels and aim for products that contain less than 5g of sugars per serve; avoid products which have sugar listed on the ingredient list and get your sugars from natural foods including fruit and plain dairy.