Is A Lower Carb ‘Diet’ for you?

healthy foods

 

It’s been proven time and time again in recent and not so recent history that lower carbohydrate diets work best for fat loss and fat loss management-or maintaining that fat loss long term.

This is all very well, but what exactly does an effective lower carbohydrate diet look like, and more importantly, what does it NOT LOOK LIKE?

Quite a few years ago, I jumped on the no carb craze for a little while and let me tell you. Effective for weight loss-yes it was. Sustainable-no definitely not. So what happened? Firstly, my usual full of energy self disappeared. I was cranky and irritable in a big way. Secondly, as soon as I went back to eating my ‘at the time’ usual way, the weight immediately went straight back on.

So what’s the right way to do lower carb?

I like to look at my diet as firstly, not really a diet. A diet in most peoples’ minds is something you do for a certain period of time and then stop. This is certainly true for most people (I can see you nodding in agreement-been there, done that)

I don’t call the FitterFaster Precision Nutrition Plan a diet either. It’s a way of eating for life that happens to be lower in carbs than the average diet of someone just eating whatever they feel like.  I dont actually refer to it as a  lower carb plan as you then tend to straight away think that it’s going to be all about the protein and the fat content. AND IT’S NOT!!!!!!

Good nutrition in terms of fat loss, lean weight management and better health is all about the nutrient content of foods. And yes, there are good and bad foods (please don’t go all politically correct on me) Some foods are good for you and some are bad for you-period. It doesn’t matter if you only eat them occasionally or in tiny portions. They are still bad for you and that is that!!!

Now I’ve got that off my chest-what does my ‘lower carb’ effective ‘diet’ look like? What should I eat and what should I avoid?

Foods to eat

Nuts and seeds-a great source of carbs, protein and fat-yes these are good for you, just watch your portion size carefully

Eggs-again a good source of fat and protein

Meats, fish, poultry, game-a great source of protein and in some cases healthy fats too

Full Fat Greek or Natural Yoghurt-small portions of full fat dairy. Avoid anything labelled diet, low fat, no fat or fat reduced. Yoghurt is a great source of carbs for your body coupled with some protein. Greek and Natural are best.

Fruits– A good source of carbohydrates. Very healthy and always a better alternative than a chocolate bar etc, but do watch your portion sizes too if you’re trying to lose body fat

Vegetables-the best source of carbohydrates! This is where you should be getting your carbs from. Eat unlimited amounts of fibrous vegetables.   Vegetables will supply your body with all the carbs you need to function properly. Combined with some fruit, you’ll have all the carb energy you need even if you run marathons or do triathlons.

Vegetables also supply you with all the fibre you need. Compared to other so called fibre foods, there’s much more fibre in vegies. Don’t believe the sponsors of certain programs that tell you that you need ‘wholegrain’ fibre to be healthy.

Foods to Avoid

You know this, but here’s a reminder

Processed Carbs-breads, pastas, breakfast and other cereals, wraps, biscuits, crackers, pizza bases, large quantities of rice, popcorn, pretzels, pastries, all bars (including protein bars), noodles, crisp breads, etc. These are sometimes referred to as white carbs, dry carbs or grain foods. This list includes wholegrain, wholemeal and multi grain foods-avoid them if you want to see great results.

Junk and other processed foods-yes the bad foods-cakes, biscuits, lollies, chocolate-you know this, I don’t need to say anymore

Calorie laden drinks-this includes but is not limited too: cordials, soft drinks, alcohol, juices, meal replacement drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and basically anything that isn’t water. Don’t waste your calories on drinks. Instead, drink water and eat your calories and provide your body with the nutrients that healthy food contains. Be especially careful of cafe purchased coffee drinks. Most contain large amounts of milk. If in doubt, ask for a long black, with or without a small bit of milk. No sugar of course.

Milk and other dairy-milk is for baby cows. Would you think it weird to give your baby some cat or dog milk? Think about it! The only milk we should consume is human breast milk. It is designed for us as infants. After that, we don’t need it!!

Now of course, everyone is going to eat some foods from the Foods To Avoid list. I’d be dreaming if I thought you would never touch these things again. But that doesn’t change the fact that these foods are bad for you, or at the very least, not good for you.

Instead of thinking about the carb content of foods, think about the nutritional value instead, and the carb content will sort itself out.

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What Can I Snack On?

snack1

A common question I’m asked is what to snack on? You’ve cut out cakes, biscuits, chips and pastries. So what’s left?

Here’s a short list of suggestions. Some more portable than others, some requiring some preparation. Others are also suitable as meals including the all important breakfast.

Nuts – try almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pecans, macadamias or walnuts. Choose portion sizes carefully however.  Also include one of the protein ideas with your nuts to make a complete snack

Hard boiled eggs – how easy is that? Prepare a batch in advance for a quick, easy and oh so healthy protein snack.  Enjoy with a piece of fruit or with a quick salad

Small tins of tuna or salmon-packed in water, not flavoured varieties.  As per eggs.  Try carrot, celery and capsicum sticks to go

Smoked salmon in small portions as per tuna/salmon

Home made jerky– a great protein choice to include in your snacks

Fruit with a protein serve-try fresh, tinned or frozen fruit without additives.  Enjoy with any of the protein options above.

snack2

Veggie sticks with cottage cheese.  Try stuffing mini tomatoes or capsicums with cottage cheese and herbs

Cottage cheese with  diced fruit or vegetables.  One of my favourites is strawberries with cottage cheese

Veggie sticks with salsa and some protein

Mini quiches and easy one that’s ready made. Cook up a batch on the weekend for the week ahead.  Simply eggs and lots of veggies.

snack3

Fruit salad and greek or natural yoghurt

Greek or Natural yoghurt with diced garlic and cucumber, celery and capsicum

Left over sliced cooked meats, or other left overs. Make up a small plate when dishing up tea the night before.

As you can see, there’s plenty of ways to have healthy snacks with a minimum of preparation. Just think ahead for the next day, or if you haven’t been so organised, always make sure you have fruit (fresh or tinned), tins of fish, cottage cheese, greek yoghurt and eggs in your kitchen and you’ll have plenty to eat without resorting to junk foods.

For a comprehensive chart of healthy foods and ingredients to make up your snacks from, complete your details below and I’ll send it out to you for free


Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

A lot of men and women are close to their ideal weight. They may only have 2-6 kg or so to lose, but it just won’t budge. Is this you?

There are many reasons why this may be. It could be that the program you’re following is not right for you, or that you’re not following it as carefully as you think you are.

Other reasons include:

You have high cortisol levels

High levels of the stress hormone cortisol will absolutely stop fat loss in its tracks. If you wake up thinking of everything you have to do or you are racing from one appointment to another, chances are, you have higher than optimal cortisol levels.

Do you need coffee to function well? Do you race around after your kids, race to get to work, race to get tea and other things organised? Chronically high cortisol levels increase appetite, increase cravings for sugar and fat and increase fat storage. Find a way to switch off every day and get yourself organised.

You’re eating too much fat or other healthy foods

While I”m all for the Paleo style diet, you have to remember that just because its healthy, doesnt mean you can eat unlimited amounts of it. Foods such as nuts, coconut products, meats, eggs and seeds, while super, super healthy and extremely good for you, are all high calorie foods that need to be eaten in suitable amounts or they will cause you to gain weight and/or stop fat loss.

The overeating of these types of foods is becoming a massive contributor to stalled fat loss programs and even weight gain.

You’re not eating enough vegetables

Eating enough vegetables has many great benefits, all of which will contribute to fat loss or lack of fat storgae

Providing satiety (they make you feel full) is one benefit as is an increase in fibre intake

Lots of nutrients. The more nutrients you can get into your body, the healthier it will be in all ways. You’re also less likely to have cravings if you eat more vegetables, simply because you feel fuller and you’re providing your body with the nutrients it requires.

Some vegetables such as those from the Brassicaceae family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, boc choy, etc) also help with oestrogen balance in your bodyimages

Your have an oestrogen imbalance

Many women, especially those of childbearing age or older, have an oestrogen dominance problem. Some causes of oestrogen dominance are; exercising too much, pesticides and plastics, soaps and other personal products and some of the chemicals they contain and even things such as carpet and furniture and the chemicals they expose us to. Diet plays a big part in controlling oestrogen dominance with one simple thing listed in the item above.

You don’t get enough sunlight on your exposed skin

Vitamin D acts like a hormone in our bodies and levels have been recorded as lower than ever, most likely due to the overuse of sunscreens and other habits employed to reduce sun exposure.

Low levels of Vitamin D have been associated with allergies, fatigue, cancer and yes, fat gain. You can supplement, but its not advised without the advice of your healthcare provider who should test your levels first. An easier way to ensure healthy levels is to expose your skin for a short time each day to direct sunlight. I’d avoid your face and neck though, don’t want to risk more wrinkles!! Remember, just a short exposure each day to your arms, legs and/or torso should do the trick.  Try training outside for a double whammy of benefits.

You’re not getting enough sleep and/or good quality sleep

This is perhaps one of the most important but most neglected points. That is, lack of good quality sleep. In order for the hormones leptin and ghrelin to remain in balance, you absolutely must be getting enough good quality sleep. In simple terms, leptin tells us we are full and ghrelin tells us to eat.

Guess what! Lack of sleep causes a rise in ghrelin, meaning cravings and hunger and a drop in leptin.

Sort this out guys. Get the best quality sleep you can and aim for 7-8 hours a night. Any less, and you’re fighting an uphill battle.

So how did you fare? Got all this sorted?  What could you improve that could make all the difference?

These are just some of the things that could be reasons why you’re not losing the body fat you think you should be.

Comment with the things you struggle with and email me if you need further information or help with any one of them

know the difference


Make Ahead, Ready to Go Recipes

There are lots of times when you just don’t have time to prepare a meal or snack at the time you need to eat it.  Heck, it happens most days to most of us; hectic mornings, no break at work, busy evening, you’re out and about, you planned to cook but something came up, packed lunches and packed snacks required are just some

Some of the most common reasons I hear from people not eating a healthy meal or snack at any given time are; I wasn’t organised, I was out and nothing was available, I didn’t have time to cook.

The following are some ideas for simple meals and snacks that are FitterFaster ‘compliant’.  For exact quantities, check the FitterFaster Food Charts and/or your individual menu plan

NO COOKING REQUIRED –  Can be prepared ahead, even the night before and kept in containers. Portable and easy to carry and eat anywhere:

  • Greek yoghurt, fresh or frozen berries and almonds
  • Low Fat cottage cheese, fresh or frozen berries and walnuts
  • Greek yoghurt with garlic mixed in and veggie sticks.  Add a fat serve if required in that meal in the form of 1/3-1/2 avocado mixed in.
  • Low Fat Cottage Cheese, Moroccan spice mix and veggies sticks to dip.  Add in fats if required in the form of walnuts mixed in or even a scoop of the FitterFaster Seed Mix – see recipe book
  • For the above, sub in any tinned fruit (straight fruit, no additives, juices, sugars etc) and/or your favourite nuts

PRE COOKING REQUIRED –  Serving sizes generally refer to ‘1 protein serve’ as per the FitterFaster Food Charts.  Low energy carbs do not need to be measured and if hte recipe contains High Energy Carbs and/or Fats, the serving size of those is also noted.

BREAKFAST (OR ANY TIME) MUFFINS

2 muffins = 1 protein serve

Add fats or high energy carbs if needed in your meal as per your individual FitterFaster Nutrition Program

6 eggs

4 slices of short cut bacon diced

1 finely chopped onion

Approx 1 cup (or bit less) of chopped capsicum

Add your favourite herbs or spices, or not if you prefer

Mix everything together and season lightly with fresh black pepper.

Place into 6 large, greased muffin tins and cook for approx 15 mins at 180degrees.

Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly before removing them from the tins.

These are yummy warm or cold and are so easy to pack as a lunch, snack or to have for breakfast when you don’t have time to cook eggs in the morning.

Experiment with your own flavourings and veggie additives.

FISH CAKES

These are also very portable.  Make a yum breakfast, lunch, snack or tea on the run.

Makes 10-12 fish cakes. 1 fish cake = 1 protein serve.

Also contains healthy fats, so allow for that in your day’s plan

2 x 425g tins of salmon (or try tuna)

3 eggs

1 large sweet potato that you’ve chopped, steamed and cooled

juice from one large lemon (or 2 if you love it)

1/2 cup almond meal

1 med onion chopped finely

large handful of parsley and/or chives chopped finely

2 tsp of cumin and/or paprika combine (2 spoons in total)  Smoked paprika makes a nice change

Pepper to taste

Mash the cooled sweet potato.

Add everything else and mix well.  Its best to do this with your hands.  I use rubber gloves and wash them while I’m still wearing them.

Form into 10-12 patties and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Pop them in the fridge for 30 minutes or more.  This will help them stick together when cooking

You can either fry these in a little coconut oil, or bake them in the oven straight on the tray.  If frying, do them in a couple of batches to keep your fry pan nice and hot.

Eat hot or cold.

If taking to work, simply make a quick salad and add 2 fish cakes per serve.  Experiment with the spices.

PANCAKES

Yep, pancakes are portable.  I have a version that I make the night before basketball tournaments and take with me to snack on at games.  Add a piece of fruit and I’m set.  They contain high energy carbs, but these ones are more user friendly for any time of day.

1/2 of this entire recipe = 1 serve

Add optional extra low energy carbs.

Fats are already included in the form of the extra coconut oil but you could chuck in a few walnuts before cooking if you liked.

When eating at  home, you could add a scoop of greek yoghurt and some fresh berries on top!!

4 eggs

2 tbsp coconut flour

2 tbls coconut oil melted

1/2 – 1 banana (I know this is high energy, but its only 1/4-1/2 banana per serve)

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (heck, I usually add a bit extra, I love cinnamon)

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Approx 3.4 cup of mashed pumpkin or sweet potato ( I do this quickly in the microwave)

MIx everything together well.  Let sit for 10 minutes or so  before cooking

Cook over a medium heat in coconut oil in batches.  the size is up to you.

Just remember that 1/2 of this whole batch is one serve.

Because turning them can be a bit difficult (they’re heavier than normal pancakes) dont make them too big.  Make sure they’re cooked properly on one side before flipping.  A minute on the 2nd side is usually enough.

Don’t overcook as I find that the spices burn quite easily and it ruins the taste

Pack these for a total ‘on the go’ snack or meal.  Contains everything you need including fats

SOUPS

Soups are a fantastic ‘prepare ahead’ food that are easy to take to work and/or quickly reheat any time of day.  Add a protein source to most soups and healthy ones are usually veggies based.  Check the FitterFaster Recipe Book for lots of quick, easy and deliciously healthy soups.

Check out this past post on being organised ahead of time and also the Recipes page for some portable ‘sweet’ foods.  You’ll find the link above for other recipes.


It’s Okay To Want To Be Better

reflections

I just wanted to do a short post on body image, body hate and the pursuit of the perfect body.

Firstly, I believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to be better.  Without a goal or somewhere to aim, we are just spinning the wheels.

A totally realistic goal for most people is to lose 5kg, heck, a hell of a lot of people (may I even suggest ‘most’ people here as well) could stand to lose 10kg in the name of better HEALTH.

But how many times have you promised yourself “this year I’m going to lose 10kg” or “this year/month I’m going to get down to a size 12” or whatever your goal has been?

And how much has the amount increased or how much further away is that elusive size 12 getting over the years??

So okay, we all agree that we can aim to be better, BUT in the meantime, we’ve got to stop hating ourselves!!

We’ve got to stop beating ourselves up because we don’t look like the photo shopped models and celebrities in magazines and on TV.  Hell, most of us are never going to look like those people even in real life when they’re not photo-shopped.

But that’s okay 🙂

stophatingyour body

We are still okay.  While it is okay to want to be better, its not okay to hate your body or hate yourself because of how you look.  Honestly, those models and celebrities mentioned above most likely don’t like their bodies either.  Nobody is satisfied with how they look.  Well, okay, there are probably some, but those people you admire, that you think have EVERYTHING because of how their body looks.

They are just like you, there is always something they’d like to change.  My thighs are too big, or my arms are flabby.  My butt is flat, my tummy is too large, my ‘everything’ wobbles.

So I’ll repeat, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be better.  Making progress is a great way to increase your happiness and satisfaction.  Just think about it.  Losing 1cm or decreasing your 3km run time by 15sec.  Its all progress and that’s what its all about.

We have to stop hating ourselves and telling ourselves how HOPELESS we are because we mucked up our plan.

We have to stop giving up because we failed.  The road to being better is full of potholes.  But when you stumble, you must get up and keep going.  You only fail when you give up.

Make progress!!  Aim to be better, not because you’re BAD, but because progress is the key to feeling better, being happier and getting better.

Decide what you want (remember small steps to achieve progress)

It could be to be able to complete an entire FitForce session, in MetCon week with a 12kg kettle bell

It could be to attend 3+ session every week for the next 10 weeks

It could be to eat healthy foods every day and only have ‘treats’ on 2 days per week

It could be to eat a healthy breakfast every day

It could be to be able to run 3km in less than 20 minutes

 You don’t have to hate yourself, but its okay to want to be better

morethani though possible

 

What are you capable of??

To give you an idea, a some of my goals for Jan-March this year are:

  • Improve my run speed.  I will do this by not just ‘going for a run’ all the time, but by focusing on run workouts that will increase my speed instead of low intensity runs all the time
  • Keep on top of aches and pains by visiting the chiropractor and/or having a massage at least monthly
  • Get body fat back below 20% by eating enough protein, drinking enough water and limiting ‘non-daily’ foods to 1-2 times per week.
  • Improve strength and fitness (I have specific goals that I wont detail here) by prioritising my own training over other ‘stuff’ that I often let creep into my day

Once you work out what you want to achieve, what progress you want to make, then its time to work out how to do that.

If you know about the ‘what’ but you’re stuck on the ‘how’ let me know.  I can help you work out a plan to achieve the ‘what’

Comment on this post or email me and I can give you some ideas

work hard love body

 


The New Year of the New Skinny

Yet another year down and boy didn’t 2014 go fast. I had a fantastic year, with family, business and personal goals achieved.

If you’re a regular reader of my blogs and posts, you’ll know that there is nothing I hate more than people wait for a New Year or a new week or a new month or till after ‘X’ to think about making changes to their health, fitness and/or lifestyle. But seeing that a new year has just begun, I’m all for starting NOW.

I’ve already posted some of my personal health and fitness goals for the first 3 months of 2015 in the FitterFaster Private Client group. They include having a regular appointment at the masseur and chiro, drinking a minimum of 3 litres of water every day for the next 90 days(well 89 now), taking a maximum of 6 days off training (my fitness and lifestyle support this, yours may not!), and running 300km as well as doing more other fitness training such as my own FitForce and PeakFit sessions.

Another goal I have is to slightly change the focus of FitterFaster. I’ve been heading this way for some time now, but I really want to focus on improving my clients’ overall lifestyle and health as well as their body composition.

Those already in attendance or who have taken part in any of my programs know that this is a huge factor in all my packages/programs already, but I want to ‘put it out there’ so to speak a lot more.

healthy is the new skinny
healthy is the new skinny

I want to focus on overall fitness, improved health and wellbeing, all the while showing people how achieving these factors will results in a healthy weight as well.

There are too many programs that focus on the short term weight loss factor. Their intention is only ever losing X amount of weight as quickly as possible. I want to show people how improving your lifestyle habits will results not just in fat loss, but in improved wellbeing – more energy, better sleep, less disease, less illness and just overall a better quality life.

So I want everyone, especially my clients to stop judging their every success on the number of the scales.

Instead, start to focus on how your fitness, strength and endurance are improving.

Focus on how much better your skin looks and how much more energy you have.

Notice how you are not bloated anymore and how your ‘gut’ has really settled down.

Feel how your clothes fit and look better and how those headaches and other aches and pains are disappearing.

Healthy is the new Skinny.

NO, I’m not promoting being overweight and being happy with that (although that is also a choice YOU could make if you wanted to) but instead, I’m promoting taking the route to a better body that includes healthy habits and food choices so you can enjoy that better looking and feeling body to its full potential.