Which Oils are best to use and consume?

There are many oils to choose from when it comes to both cooking and supplementation. Do we choose Olive Oil? Cold pressed, extra virgin, pure?? What about fish oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, peanut oil and on and on the list goes.

Let’s do a brief rundown of some common oils.

Firstly, what does cold pressed, extra virgin etc mean?

Extra virgin oils have gone through less processing than other oils so they are generally a better option. Less processing is almost always better. You also need to read the labels carefully to ensure that you’re actually getting what you think you’re getting. A lot of oils, even those labelled as ‘pure’ are not 100% the oil you think you’re getting. Cheaper vegetable oils are often mixed in to, well make it cheaper to produce. So start reading the labels everyone.

Cold pressed oils are almost always better than heat processed. Read the labels and look for the specific words ‘cold pressed’ because the manufacturers are most likely not going to mention heat processes because of the bad rap they have gotten recently.

Applying heat to most oils changes the chemical structure of them. Repeated heating can cause hydrogenation and turn the oil partially or fully into a transfat. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that trans fats are exceptionally bad for you and should be avoided at all costs. Heating the oils also includes when you heat the oil to use it for cooking which is one of the reasons you should keep reading. Some oils should not be heated if you’re going to consume them!! They especially should not be used over and over again such as in a fast food store.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I used to cook with this all the time, but since I’ve started using my newest favourite oil (and found out why I shouldn’t be cooking with olive oil) I’ve stopped. Simply, olive oil has a fairly low smoking point meaning that you shouldn’t really heat it! Go figure. Its awesome though used in other ways such as making dressings or to drizzle over foods already cooked. As with all oils, be aware of the calorie content. Just because its good for you, doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. Olive oil is a good source of mono-unsaturated fats which are good for heart health.

Macadamia Oil – This has a higher smoking point than olive meaning you can safely cook with it at lower temperatures. It has a mild flavour which shouldn’t compete with whatever you’re cooking with it. Its not cheap though, and again, use sparingly.  Its a good source of mono-unsaturated fats as well.

Flaxseed Oil – Often used because of the higher Omega 3 content, you have to realise that it only contains 1 basic member of the Omega 3 fat family. It contains the form ALA.

What does this mean? Basically, fats are measured in length according to how many carbon atoms they contain. ALA is the shortest of the Omega 3 fats and therefore the simplest. If another pair of carbons gets added on to the ALA., it gets ready to become EPA which is another Omega 3 fat. If yet another pair get added, it gets ready to become DHA, another important Omega 3 family member.

Adding these carbons is not the only requirement to convert to other forms of Omega 3. During the process the Omega 3 fats get chemically altered and are connected together in a new way. This is called double bonding and in order for the ALA to become EPA, 2 new double bonds must be added in addition to the 2 carbon atom length increases.

This process requires many nutrients such as Vitamins B3, B6, C, zinc and magnesium. If your body is short on any of these, the conversion will not happen. So you won’t get maximum benefit from the flaxseed oil because your body will not be able to convert the ALA to EPA or DHA.

While I do recommend the use of Flaxseed oil and meal, you should also get Omega 3 oils from other more complete sources such as fish oil.

Another thing to remember about flaxseed oil is that you should never heat or cook with it. Use it in dressings, drizzle over food, add to shakes etc, but don’t heat it.

If using flaxseed meal as your source of ALA, make sure your grind your own seeds, store them in the fridge and consume them within a couple of days. While  flaxseed meal is a fantastic fibre source, most of the oils are removed during the manufacturing process because the oil, once exposed to the air, goes rancid very, very quickly.  I’ve contacted the manufacturers of flaxseed meal and they confirm that they do indeed remove most of the oil during the process of grinding the seeds.

Fish Oils – I’ve written many times about the benefits of supplementing with Omega 3 products. Fish oils are the cheapest way to do this. While the jar or bottle will recommend 3-6 x 1000mg tablets per day, the tested safe limit is 3000mg of the active ingredients (EPA and DHA) per day.

Almost all studies that showing health benefits have used this dosage. So you’ll need 10 x 1000mg tablets per day being that most brands contain just 300mg of EPA and DHA per 1000mg tablet. I split mine up to 3 tablets 3 times per day. Most brands these days are tested for mercury levels, but if you’re worried, just make sure you choose a brand that states that it has been tested.

Pregnant and breast feeding mums should definitely make sure they get enough Omega 3 in their diet. Its so, so important for brain development. Talk to your doctor about it if you have questions.

Coconut Oil – this is my new favourite oil to cook with. Its has a very high smoking, so therefore can be heated safely. The Saturated fat in coconut oil is mostly the short and medium chain fatty acids which are less easily stored as fat and more readily burned as fuel. Our bodies prefer to use MCT as energy than to store them.  But be aware that an excess of calories from any source will be stored as body fat

Coconut oil also contains lauric acid which is antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti fungal. Coconut oil can help boost the immune system as well.  I make sure to use coconut oil every day to make the most of these benefits.

At cooler temps, coconut oil is a solid and should be stored in the fridge once opened. You’ll find it in all the local supermarkets and I’d advise to go with an organic brand if possible.  Choose cold pressed and unrefined. Some brands have a stronger flavour which some love and others not so much. Experiment if its an issue for you, or you may prefer a more coconutty flavour for some recipes but not others.

And always, still allow for calorie content. As I said above, several times, just because its healthy, doesn’t mean you can consume unlimited quantities.

Butter, Ghee and Lard – these are excellent for cooking because of their very high smoking points.

Look for good quality always-organic if possible. Remember that just like us, grain fed animals have poorer fat profiles. Grass or pasture fed animals will have better quality fats. So search for brands that state; pastured, or grass fed on the packaging. Don’t buy it if any type of vegetable oil is listed on the ingredients.

Butter and Ghee are good sources of Vitamins A, E, D and K. Again, watch quantity consumed.  Butter is known as a saturated fat, but it too contains monounsaturated fats as well.  In the 80’s and 90’s we were advised to avoid saturated fats, but the recommendation now is that saturated fats are not the evil substances they were once thought of.

This has been a rather brief summary of some of the different oils used as supplements and for cooking. If you have any questions about this, please comment and ask. Feel free to share this on your Facebook page too for anyone else who may be interested.

For further reading (if you’re interested) here are a couple of links;

http://www.mercola.com/nutritionplan/beginner_fats.htm

http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/skinny-on-fats

http://evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.co.il/2010/06/vegetable-oils-and-our-brave-new-world.html

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fats/#axzz2kxd4glMg


The Secret to Successful Fat Loss

Wow, what a title.  ‘The Secret’

What is the secret?

Well actually there are a few secrets, which in fact, are not that secret at all. If you’ve been reading my posts, newsletters or anything I’ve written in the past, you already know the secrets, but I’m going to go over them again anyway.

Secret Number 1

Water is secret number 1!  What!!  How boring is that.  The truth is though, if your water intake is not adequate for you, you will never achieve your body composition or your performance goals. Every single process in your body, including fat loss relies on water to be done properly.

No special formula of calories, carbs, shakes, bars or anything will be successful if your body is dehydrated.  So number one thing to do is DRINK MORE WATER.

How much?  Around 2 litres per day for most women and perhaps a little more for most men.  Increase that amount if you’re training that day.  Say by about another 750-1000ml per hour of training.

Secret Number 2

Calories dont count!  Well sort of anyway.

We all know that 2000 calories of chocolate or other sweets is not the same as 2000 calories of lean meat and vegetables.  Its ridiculous to even the uneducated that 2 diets such as these, would produce the same results.  Yet, we are bombarded with diets and programs that insist we count calories and that this is the only key to weight loss.

With a trillion software products on the internet to help us track calories, you’d think this would make a difference. But calorie counting is not effective and doesn’t work.  Not to mention that its tedious (even with clever software) and totally inaccurate anyway.  A 100g apple today won’t have the same number of calories as a 100g apple picked tomorrow off the same tree.

Likewise with packaged products, where calorie counts on the nutrition labels are just estimates and averages.  If you actually assessed 2 packets of the same product from different batches, neither may come up with the actual amount quoted on the label. And chances are, that they’ll both be different.

The quality of your food is what counts more than how many calories it contains.  While the amount of energy (or calories) is important, the types of foods you eat are much more important.  If you’re even thinking about counting calories, stop right now!

Secret Number 3

The types of foods you eat and the combinations you eat them in, are the most important part of food choices.  For instance, fruit is a really ‘healthy’ part of a diet.  Its mostly rich in vitamins and minerals and contains fibre, all of which are essential to great results. But……….. fruit eaten on its own can be a disaster for fat loss.

When you eat, there is a rise in blood sugar. Insulin is then released by your body in order to lower that blood sugar and deliver the nutrients and energy to your body’s cells where its needed for all of your body’s functions.  Insulin also increases fat storage.

Foods higher in carbohydrates cause the biggest rise in blood sugar,  insulin and the corresponding fat storage.  You can lower this response however, by including a food high in protein and/or fats with the carbohydrate food.

Coming back to the fruit example; fruit is very high in carbohydrate (as well as all those goodies mentioned above) so eaten on its own, can increase fat storage via the increased insulin release.  Combining it with some protein or fat, such as nuts, some meat, some greek yoghurt, etc, will decrease the insulin response and the fat storage along with it.

So something as healthy as an apple can work with or against you in your fight against excess fat. Secret number 3 is possibly the most important secret of all.  The correct combo of macro-nutrients (fats, carbs and protein) will give you a much better chance of success.  And the combo has to be right for YOU.

You need to know about the amount of protein, carbohydrates and fats you should be eating as well as where those nutrients are coming from.  You could live off shakes, bars and pills and hit your macro-nutrient targets, but you’d still be disappointed with your results.

Do you train? Are you male or female?  How active are you outside of exercise?  How much body fat have you got to lose and how quickly do you want to lose it?  These are all questions you need to answer to determine the best combo and the best amounts of foods for you.

At FitterFaster, I determine all these figures for you.  From a base starting point, you choose the foods that you like best (within reason of course) and that you’re happy to eat.  You’re given choices so that its something you can continue with long term, even beyond achieving your fat loss goals.

We factor in your activity, your gender and how much fat you want to lose and how quickly.  And just as important-how far do you want to go?  How much effort are you willing to put in?  Maybe you’ll be happy with a slower fat loss to have more choices? Or maybe you want to go all out and achieve as quickly as possible.

My tips are:

  1. Drink enough water
  2. Eat real food.  Get rid of processed junk
  3. In each meal or snack, include a carbohydrate food and a protein source
  4. In 2-3 meals per day, include a healthy fat choice

These 4 tips will get you heading in the right direction.  After that, we tweak exact quantities for YOU

 


Which Sport is Best To Get Into Shape?

Wow!!  Who thought that playing sport would get you in shape?

Wrong!!  If you’re a kid, and you play sport and are active, yes, you’ll be in pretty good shape.  But as an adult, you should get in shape to play sport, not play sport to get in shape.

So you’re never going to have the ability of some of the guys in the picture, but it doesn’t matter.  Playing sport in general will not get you into shape.  Why?

Playing sport may cause you to sweat and burn some calories, yes, that is generally true. Most sports involve spurts of activity with lots of rest, both of which are not controlled or progressed.  While one game may leave you gasping, another will barely raise your heart rate.  A progressive cardio program will deliver the fitness you need to play your sport safely.

 

Playing sport when you’re very overweight and unconditioned can be dangerous.  Apart from the risk of cardiovascular problems, you’re also an injury waiting to happen.  As a mostly sedentary adult, your bones, tendons, ligaments, joints and muscles are all unconditioned and can easily be injured.  Playing sports such as tennis, netball, football, soccer and the list goes on, without strength and mobility means its really only a matter of time till you incur an injury that will not only be painful, but may also mean that you cannot go to work or do other daily activities.

A weekend sports player, save your ‘sport’ for leisure, relaxation and fun time.  If you’re a competitive athlete, your sport is time for competition.

 

The time to ‘get into shape’ is between games.  Work on your general strength, mobility and cardiovascular fitness and then build sport specific training on top of that.  You’re much less likely to get injured and you’ll also enjoy your sport a lot more as well.

 


Training To Overcome A Poor Diet

Lets set one thing straight:

You cannot out-train a bad diet.

Too much sugar, bad fats, junk, processed foods and alcohol cannot be overcome by exercising. Cruel I know, but  results will come to those who change the way they think about what they are consuming on a daily basis. Here are some of my basic tips for improving your nutrition. These are the first and vital steps you must take to get results. I will expand the list in future blogs, but get these things under control first.

1. Cut down on breads, pastas, pastries, cakes, biscuits, wraps, rice, cereals, museli or breakfast/health bars, etc. This includes multi grain and wholemeal varieties. These foods are processed!!! Since when did a loaf of bread grow on a tree? Try to limit these foods to one serve of wholemeal or multigrain per day. Once serve is a slice of bread or 1 cup of cooked pasta. Remember Grains are not my friends.

2. Eat protein everytime that you eat. This will help to stabilise the blood sugar/insulin response and also supply quality nutrients that you body needs for complete health. Protein is found in meats, fish, eggs, whey powder and also greek or natural yoghurt in smaller quantities. Nuts and seeds also contain small amounts of protein. Limit yoghurt to 1 serve a day of full cream (do not choose diet or low fat), because to much dairy is not good either.  Try to choose ‘real food’ protein sources as often as you can and keep protein powders and supplements to once per day maximum.

3. Eat fruits and/or vegetables at every meal or snack. Most of every meal and snack should be made up of fruits and vegetables. There is no limit to the amount of fibrous vegetables that you should eat. I’d recommend a maximum of 2 serves of fruit per day though if you’re looking for fat loss. Remember rule 2 and always combine with protein.

4. Drink only water or tea or coffee. This includes cutting down or completely cutting out alcohol. There are a million reasons to stop drinking alcohol regularly. Even one drink begins a cascade of bad reactions in your body. Many of which also slow or reverse your fat loss efforts as well as effecting your health and ageing you. Limit yourself to 1 or 2 days per week where you consume alcohol. By the way, cut out soft drinks, cordials and fruit juices as well. And skip those lattes and flat whites from the cafe. They are both almost all milk-refer no. 5

5. Cut out most dairy including milk and if you can cheese too. Limit milk to a tiny amount in coffee or tea. It is for baby cows, not humans. We are the only animal that drinks milk beyond infancy (and another species milk at that)and look at our state of health compared to other species. Those other mammals may be onto something.

6. Eat more often if cravings are a problem for you. While recent studies show that the overall amount and quality of food you consume over a day is more important than the number of meals you eat, I still know that eating more often works for most people trying to retrain themselves to a healthier diet and lose body fat.

7. Include small serves of nuts and seeds in your diet every day. Also supplement with fish oils daily.

8. Stop having take away or eating out so much. Cooking a meal from scratch or packing your own food really doesn’t take long.

9. If it came in a packet, or has a list of ingredients, stop eating it!!

10. Once per week, eat something you love and disregard all the rules. The only caveat here, is limit the portion to something reasonable. Don’t eat the entire block of chocolate and ruin the whole week.  Total calories over a week still counts.

11. Exercise every day or at least 4-5 times per week.  Even if its just for 15-20 minutes, get up a sweat and start puffing!!

Sticking to these rules will get you well on the way to a healthy and lean body. Every rule is important and although sticking to one or two of them will help, you will never reach your full potential without improving your entire diet and lifestyle.

Until you follow these rules every day, you do not need to worry about serving sizes or quantities of carbs or protein etc. Once you’re making good food choices on a daily basis, then you can worry about how much to eat. I can help you with this if you’re stuck.

Stick to eating real, non-processed foods and it will make a huge difference. Stop worrying about calories and carbs and get healthy food into you.

Don’t worry about the latest supplement of weight loss pill or drink. The basic rules above will increase your fat loss much more than any of these ever will despite the advertising promises. Basically they just don’t work without everything else being in place first. If you read the fine print, they all say they work combined with the proper diet and exercise routine–dah!! What is really working??


Fat Loss – Don’t over complicate it

Often when a new client approaches me with questions, they have the idea that getting fit and healthy and achieving a lower body fat level is complicated.  Even though there is no magical bullet, they keep looking for it anyway.

Most of us know what has to be done, but it seems way to simple and if it was really that simple, everyone would be doing it-wouldn’t they? Yes and no. The actual methods are not that hard to learn, its the getting it done that’s the hard bit.

I like to start with these simple questions:

Where Am I Now?
Where Do I Want to Go?
How Do I Get there?
It’s really that simple. Then it’s a matter of following through-which is the hard bit.

Where Am I Now?

You first need to work out where you are in relation to where you want to be. It might be as simple as jumping on the scales and taking some measurements. It could be do conduct some fitness testing if improved performance is one of your goals.

Where Do I Want To Go?

You need to work out what it is you want to achieve. For some, that’s really easy-I want to be able to wear my size 10 jeans again, or I want to get back to my prepregnancy weight. For others, it might be more complicated. They may want to drop a certain amount of time from their best performance or have more energy or improve their immune system function so that they don’t get sick so often. Or you could have a stack of health/fitness goals that you want to achieve at the same time.

Whatever it is that you want, it really must be measurable in some way. Otherwise, how will you know when you get there. A goal weight, waist measurement or body fat percentage is something you can aim for and know when you’ve achieved it. Something airy fairy like, I just want to lose some weight, will leave you feeling like you’ve never completed your journey, even if you do indeed lose some weight.

So work out where you want to be and how you’ll know you’ve arrived.

How Do I Get There?

This is really the easy bit. I doubt anyone reading this doesn’t know the basics of a good training program and healthy nutrition.

So why aren’t we all achieving our goals? It’s not because you don’t know what to do. It’s not because you lack the knowledge. It’s because you look for something more complicated. A magic powder or gadget. You’re looking for  the latest best kept secret. A new breakthrough that’s just been discovered, a magical herb or extract……….The list goes on. But none of these things will help you at all unless you follow the basic steps to health and fitness.

Eat healthy, non-processed foods at least 95% of the time. (100% compliance really does work best till you’ve reached or almost reached your goals.)
Train with intensity. Train frequently and train hard. You don’t need marathon 2 hour sessions. In fact, every session need not even last an hour. Short 20 minute sessions in between your core longer workouts are a very effective way of maintaining a fired up metabolism and everyone can fit in 20 minutes here and there.
Get plenty of sleep and drink plenty of water. Heck, if you don’t do either of these now, just doing this will get you some results for a start. A dehydrated and/or tired body will not burn fat effectively.
So there you go. Work out where you’re starting from, where you want to go and head out and get there.

 


Are You Really Doing What It Takes? Part Three

So you’ve planned out your schedule so that you can train 3-6 times per week-EVERY week.

You are putting in 110% at every training session. Pushing yourself to the maximum of YOUR ability at all times. You’ve stopped thinking about saving yourself for the last set and are really reaching as high as you can on every repetition.

Congratulations, you are well on the way to getting great results again.

The third part of the puzzle is just as important as the correct training. In fact, it can account for 100% of it if not done correctly-and that part is your nutrition.

100%!!!!!! Yes 100%. You absolutely cannot out train a bad diet.

If your diet is not anywhere near where it should be, you will not magically be able to melt away your fat by training hard. Not only will this not work, but you will be exhausted and become sick, picking up every little virus that comes your way. Some of you already experience this, but a few changes to your every day nutrition can turn this around for you.

Good nutrition will also improve your performance, keep you from getting sick all the time and help you to maintain weight loss or lose that fat once and for all. It will also provide the energy to train hard and recover well from every training session. It is not normal to fall ill with every virus that goes around. If you find that you are catching everything and feeling tired all the time, it may be time to have a good hard look at your nutrition, fitness and recovery habits.

Once you make improvements, good nutrition can count for up to 70% or so of your results. Of course the closer you get to ideal nutritional intake, the more results you will get from your training. So it’s like a vicious circle, bad nutrition equals fewer results all round. Good nutrition yields greater results from your training and your nutrition put together.

So what is good nutrition? Here are a few simple rules to follow for a start:

Avoid processed foods whenever possible-and it is possible most of the time. Eat real food that has not been processed or added to by man. This includes avoiding so called healthy foods like breakfast/protein/meal replacement/museli bars. Breads, pastas, wraps, cereals, white rice and the like are also processed foods and despite the marketing hype (from the grain boards) do not provide available nutrition to the human body. Our bodies can absorb little of the nutrients which have been added to these foods. THIS ONE TIP WILL MAKE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE TO YOUR NUTRITION PLAN
Drink only water with some black tea and coffee. Simple, juices, cordials, sports drinks and soft drinks should not be consumed unless you are doing endurance events of 2 hours continuous exercise or more.
Include a protein source with every meal or snack. Good sources are red meats, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. Occasionally a protein powder can be used for convenience, but remember that protein powder is a processed food.
Eat every 2-3 hours! This may seem excessive, but will keep your blood sugar on an even keel helping you to avoid crashes that cause cravings. You will also avoid those hunger pangs that make you want to eat anything and everything in sight. So from breakfast to bed time every 2-3 hours!
Eat fruit and/or vegetables at every single one of those nicely spaced meals and snacks. It can be something as simple as an apple or banana, carrot sticks, a salad or steamed vegies. Just include it every time you eat.
Eat healthy fats a few times each day in your meals. These include walnuts, flaxseed oil/seeds and coconut oil to name a few. Also make sure you take an Omega 3 supplement (such as fish oil) daily.
Keep a food diary. Even if you don’t do this every day, a couple of days per week or one week per month, write down every single thing that passes your lips. Take a small notebook with you everywhere and record as you consume and the time you consumed it. Don’t wait till the end of the day and try to remember everything. A food diary will point out your weak areas and highlight things such as meal frequency, whether you are eating protein and fruits and vegies at every meal and how often you reach for processed foods.
Improving your nutrition takes planning and commitment, but really isn’t that difficult. Follow all of the above rules for a start and fine tune other things as you go along. Cooking real foods from scratch really doesn’t take any extra time or effort. So called ‘convenience foods’ don’t really save you much time or energy, so rethink what you are feeding yourself and your family and start seeing your results go through the roof.

There are plenty of people out there who are counting on your willingness to believe that
there are shortcuts to great results when it comes to fat loss. They say it’s cheap and easy and if you just buy their pills and potions, or try their ‘easy’ programs, you will have a six pack in no time. Well, they are liars. In fact they will sell you the pills and include with them some of the information you need to get it done. But they won’t tell you everything. That is my job.

I’m here to tell you everything. To tell you what it takes to get it done. But it’s you who has to pay the price. It’s you who has to take responsibility and get the job done.

This does work. I 100% guarantee it. Anyone who follows the guidelines at FitterFaster will lose fat. You will lose cm’s and you will improve your fitness. Most likely you will be fitter than ever before in your life no matter what your age or your present state of fitness. But you have to do the work. You have to turn up and train hard. You have to make the right food choices every day.

I took up this lifestyle 10 short years ago. In that time I’ve tested 100’s of different fitness regimes, nutrition plans and supplements. I’ve researched everything and still do on an ongoing basis. I’ve completed many courses and am currently studying more courses all related to health and fitness. I subscribe to many different journals and publications so that I know what I’m talking about. I know what works and what doesn’t.

I’m in better shape now than at any other time in my life. I’m strong and have great endurance. I have a very low body fat percentage and maintain it easily. I rarely get sick and when I do, I bounce back within hours or days, not weeks. I’ve been injury free despite rigorous training day in, day out for that whole time. This doesn’t come from my genes. I do what it takes to be this way-from a background of absolutely no sport or physical fitness even in my youth, to being one of the fittest people you probably know.

You can do this too. You don’t even have to come to FitterFaster. All the workouts you need can be found for free on my website. The nutrition advice is free too. But if you do decide to join us at FitterFaster, you will get extra motivation and support through the great group of people that turn up every day to train together. There’s something very special about the way they mesh together and keep each other going.

So I’ll see you soon at FitterFaster, in the meantime, clean up your nutrition, schedule in and complete your training sessions and give it all 110%.