Are all carbs evil?

Carbs (carbohydrates) are everywhere, not just in ‘evil’ bread, rice or pasta but they are also found in most things including nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit, dairy, lollies, and soft drinks. Often when people are making a conscious choice to lose weight, they immediately cut carbohydrates from their diet, thinking that carbs are the reason they have gained weight. This is not true!

Carbs are an essential macronutrient. They provide us with fuel in the form of glucose, which is used by the body and brain for energy.  The body can produce and use Ketones when glucose is not available (Keto diets) and are made from fat stores and certain proteins.  However, very high levels of ketones can make the blood acidic and can lead to serious illness.  It is also important to know, that when glucose is inadequate the body also creates glucose from certain proteins leading to a breakdown of muscle.

There are two types of carbs: Complex (good) or Simple (Bad)

Complex (good, low GI) carbs require our bodies to work harder to digest, and the energy produced is released over a longer time.  They are high in fiber and nutrients, are a low glycemic index food, help you feel full with fewer calories, and naturally stimulates metabolism.

Good Carbs: Vegetables, Whole fruits, whole grains, nuts & seeds, Legumes, and Root vegetables.

Simple (bad, high GI) carbs are digested quickly into our body.  Energy is stored as glycogen and if it’s not used immediately gets converted to fat.  Bad carbs are generally ‘processed’ food.  They’re low in fiber and nutrients, have a high GI, are empty calories converted to fat, high blood glucose levels = feel tired.

Bad Carbs: Sugary drinks, Fruit juices, white bread & white rice, regular pasta, cakes & cookies and other sweet treats, deep fried food and potato chips.

The general problem with carbohydrates is that we overconsume them. It is too easy to put two massive scoops of rice or potato on our plates for our dinners and consume unhealthy sweet “pick-me-up” snacks throughout the day. Carbs should ideally be between 45 – 65% of your daily calories which can equate to around 40g – 75g for each main meal, depending on your body weight and energy needs. Vegetables are technically a carbohydrate. However, vegetables contain a huge amount of water content, so can be very full, with very few calories. Plus the vitamins, mineral, and fibre = bonus!

Overall it is best to consume more complex, slower-burning carbs in our diets. These are not only better in terms of nutrients but will also keep you fuller for longer and prevent overeating. Cutting down on simple carbs is recommended as they spike blood sugar levels, which does not sustain our hunger and energy levels for very long. Remember that life is about balance, as long as you are good 80% of the time, you can enjoy the odd treat now and again

Benefits of Water

How many of you have felt thirsty today? Now the weather is colder, the desire to drink water throughout the day gets a bit harder. Well did you know, by the time you actually start feeling thirsty your body is in fact already dehydrated? The thirst you are experiencing is your body’s way of calling out to you to rehydrate your body.

Our body is composed of 60% water, which means when we are dehydrated our body’s water composition is less than that of 60% and closer to 58-56% water composition. Although this may not seem like much it is important to note that all systems within our body do not function as well without the proper water intake.

We all know that we need to consume water on a daily basis. That saying about 8 glasses a day has been drilled into us, but why do we need it? What does water actually help with?

Researchers have discovered that by keeping our body hydrated we can maintain a better mood. Drinking more water also enables you to think clearly throughout the day helping you develop a better mindset for the day and in turn make you happier.

In a sporting context, an increase in water intake can help you perform better. Proper hydration contributes to increased athletic performance. Not only due to the fact that it keeps you hydrated throughout your workout but 75% of our muscle tissue is comprised of water! Lack of water intake or dehydration can also lead to weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and electrolyte imbalance.

Now the point you’ve all been waiting for… keeping well hydrated has been linked to weight loss. Sometimes we think we are hungry when actually we are thirsty. Our body just starts turning on all the alarms when we ignore it. For those of you trying to drop some kgs, staying hydrated can serve as an appetite suppressant and help with weight loss. It will also keep your digestive system healthy and functioning properly. We clear waste through urine and sweat, so if we aren’t drinking enough water we aren’t flushing out all the waste our bodies don’t need. Water is also essential for proper circulation of nutrients throughout our bodies (water-soluble vitamins). Water serves as one of the body’s transportation system and when we are dehydrated things just can’t get around as well.

For any of you out there that seem to have sore joints throughout the day or just when you are working out, I have some good news for you! Drinking water can reduce pain in your joints by keeping the cartilage soft and hydrated.

And last but not least adequate water intake throughout the day can help with your skin, it can give you your natural glow, obviously not literally but figuratively. Our skin is the largest organ in our body. Regular and plentiful water consumption can improve the colour and texture of your skin by keeping it building new cells properly. Drinking water also helps the skin do its job of regulating the body’s temperature through sweating.

If plain water is not your thing or it gets boring, try infusing your water with some no sugar water drops or try adding fresh fruit to it to flavour it a little (try slices of lemon, limes or sprigs of mint).

 

10 Benefits of more water:

  1. Weight loss
  2. Your skin will glow
  3. Better performance and productivity
  4. No more headaches and migraines
  5. Replaces lost electrolytes which are thought to prevent cramping
  6. Helps digestion and bowels
  7. Improves your immune system
  8. Relives fatigue by flushing our toxins
  9. Reduces risk of bladder and colon cancer
  10. Helps aches and pains

 

 

Should I be taking protein powder?

One of the most common questions we get at the gym, is should I be taking protein powder?

Why protein is important in our diet.

Protein IS NOT just about building muscle and is only needed by bodybuilders. Protein is one of the three macronutrients (the other two being fats and carbohydrates), which means your body needs it in a relatively large amount and is vital for the body. Protein is the building blocks of the body and is used to repair everything. Your bones, muscles, cartilage are all repaired by protein. And your skin, hair and nails are mostly made from proteins (keratin, collagen, and elastin). Fats and Carbohydrates are stored in your body, but Protein is not, which means it needs a fresh supply every single day.  Even if you don’t exercise, your body still needs protein to regenerate and repair different cells in your body.

 

Use of Protein Powder

Whey protein powder is actually a bi-product from casein and cheese manufacture. people like to use protein powder, mainly out of convenience. You may not always be in the position to roast a chicken, pan fry some steak, or boil up some beans. This is when you can utilise protein powder to give you a good serving of protein, without cooking, prepping and refrigerating. Also, protein powder is very economical in comparison to buying meat.

It is recommended that you eat a minimum of 0.8 x your body weight (KG), up to x 2 of your bodyweight. Athletes who are strength training are near the higher end and also people who are recovering from serious wounds or injuries. Women especially tend to be very low in their daily protein amounts.

Consuming more protein in our diets can really help with satiety, which in turn, helps with weight loss. By consuming protein we tend to keep ourselves fuller for longer and tend not to overeat. A study has also shown that participants that consumed a high protein breakfast did not overeat at the end of the day.

Examples of Protein:

Some examples of this (using calories just as a comparison for how much protein you get for the number of calories you consume) are as follows:

  • 2 Eggs: 14g of protein
  • Serving of black beans: 8g
  • Piece of fish: 20g
  • A thin slice of shaved ham: 2.9g of protein
  • 2 Vegetarian Sausages: 8.4g of protein
  • ½ cup of Lentils: 9g of protein
  • Baked Beans: 10.8g of protein
  • A serving of broccoli: 3g
  • 1 glass of milk: 3.4g of protein
  • 10 almonds: 2.5g of protein
  • Milo “Protein Clusters” Cereal: 5.5g protein
  • 2 scoops of Horley’s 100% Whey Vanilla protein powder: 18.6g of protein
  • Chicken breast: 30g

 

When should you use protein powder?

Whenever you want! Protein shake for breakfast, or morning tea, or afternoon tea, or for dessert! That’s the great thing about protein powder, it’s quick, easy, and versatile! You can have it alone with water, make it a smoothie by adding some berries or half of a banana, or you can even put it in some yoghurt and make a thick  flavoured mousse! If you are rushing around in the morning a protein shake can be a convenient good option or even as a post-workout snack.

 

At the end of the day, you don’t need protein powder. There are many foods high in protein that would let you reach your goal easily! However, Protein powder is usually lower in calories, super tasty (if you find the right one!), and convenient! If you need to up your protein intake and want the convenience, definitely give protein powder a try!

 

 

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How to take the dread out of the dreadmill (a.k.a treadmill)

Winter has just arrived and the weather is certainly changing! The temperature has certainly dropped and the rain and wind will be here soon! Outdoor running starts to feel like it’s not even an option anymore so it’s time to hit the treadmill. But, to many people running for 45 minutes or so on a treadmill does not sound like a lot of fun.

So here are a few ways to mix up your running on the treadmill this winter:

  • BLAST the upbeat music. I would highly recommend creating a playlist of your favourite upbeat tunes or discover new upbeat music to listen to as you run. This can be really motivating and get you in a great headspace to beat your PB or even just get you past the first 10 minutes! Spotify has some great running playlists already made too.

 

  • Podcasts! I find running to a podcast so motivating and distracting from the fact I’m running. Find a topic you’re interested in whether that be health & fitness, crime stories, comedy etc. and I’m sure there will be a great podcast available.

 

  • Watch a video. Now you need to be careful with this one because you don’t want to fly off the end! Find a YouTube video or Netflix episode, set up your phone/tablet on the front of the treadmill, plug your headphones in and run! This is a great distraction that makes time go a lot faster. We all spend hours on the couch binge-watching TV series at some point over winter so why not burn some calories too.

 

  • Interval train. Breaking your runs up on the treadmill can make it a lot more interesting and feel a lot quicker. Going for a slow distance run often feels like hours on a treadmill when it’s only been 20 minutes… so why not smash a half an hour session at a higher intensity and mix up your runs. Pick a speed that challenges you and run at that pace for 2 minutes. Because this is a higher speed than you normally run at, 2 minutes should be enough to get your heart rate up and leave you feeling puffed. Now break this run-up with 1 minute of slower speed or power walking. Continue this for 10 minutes. Now increase the running time to 3 minutes and repeat. Mix up your interval training to what speeds and intervals suit you but remember to challenge yourself!

 

  • Find a buddy. If your bestie goes to the same gym then why not arrange treadmill running/walking dates and coffee. Walk and talk is something a lot of females love to do. So why not do it on those rainy winter days side by side on a treadmill. Challenge each other or even race to keep it interesting. Sometimes having someone with you to support you and distract you makes it that little bit better.

 

  • Set goals. Running on a treadmill is a lot different from running outdoors. You might discover you can run a lot further and faster on a treadmill. So, set yourself some goals to aim for and smash them before the end of winter. Whether that be distance goals, time goals, or amount of times you run a week goals!

 

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Importance of a good breakfast

Many of us find excuses in the morning for skipping a good breakfast whether that be you don’t have time, you can’t eat that early in the morning, or just not having food available. However, these are all excuses we should work on changing because starting your day off with a nutrient-filled breakfast comes with so many benefits! With health trends continuously changing we often overcomplicate things as simple as breakfast with fasting, no carbs before lunch and juice cleanses etc. When it comes down to it as long as you’re not eating sugary crap (a lot of common cereals!) or a gas station pie you’re most likely fueling your body with some of the nutrients it needs.

What is breakfast?

Breakfast broken down means break the fast. Overnight when you are sleeping your body is in a phase of fasting which gives your body time to digest, replenish and restore blood sugar balance. Breakfast in the morning breaks this fast and gives your body energy to carry out the new day. When you skip breakfast your body basically has no fuel to run on and this can lead to overeating, sugar cravings, and low energy.

Importance of a good breakfast

  • Breakfast helps to set up your day by providing your body with the nutrients it needs. In the morning your body’s blood glucose level is low from fasting through the night. A good breakfast in the morning helps to increase your blood glucose level which gives you energy to start your day.
  • Breakfast can help with preventing weight gain. This is because fueling your body in the morning and giving yourself energy for the day can help maintain your hunger levels so you will often snack less. Excessive snacking because you have not eaten a substantial meal is a common cause of weight gain.
  • Nutritionally balanced meals for breakfast helps to maintain high brain activity more than skipping out on breakfast or drinking a high sugar drink. This can lead to improved concentration throughout the day and make it a lot easier to remember the small things we often lose track of.
  • There has been a lot of research done around whether skipping breakfast can increase your risk of diabetes and there has been a fair bit of evidence supporting this. When you start your day with a nutritious meal you increase your insulin levels which have decreased overnight. Increasing your insulin levels with a meal when you first wake up can help to prevent an insulin spike later in the day when you have lunch. Continuous insulin spikes can be bad for your health and can induce prediabetes.
  • Having a good breakfast in the morning helps to ensure you get the right amount of nutrients in the day. Quite often people do not get enough fruit and vegetables in their diets, so beginning your day with some fruit or veg will make a good contribution to your 5+a-day!

Healthy breakfast. Yogurt with granola and berries

Healthy breakfast ideas

Eating a good breakfast doesn’t need to be complicated!! Here are some of my favourite breakfast ideas that can be quick and easy!

  • Homemade granola served with Greek yogurt and blueberries (or any other fruit). This is super simple and can be prepared the night before and kept in the fridge to grab and eat on the go.
  • Scrambled eggs with a slice of wholegrain toast. Scrambled eggs can be super quick, whisk them with a fork and a bit of milk and either cook on a frypan or in the microwave on low heat for a few minutes. Even better is mixing in some spinach for extra goodness.
  • Overnight oats topped with nuts and seeds. This is a great source of fiber and made the night before makes it easy to grab and go.
  • Chia puddings with berries. Just like overnight oats made the night before! Mix a bunch of chia seeds with milk of choice and milk in some berries, leave in the fridge overnight and it will be like a little pudding.
  • Smoothies! Smoothies are a great way to get your fruit and veg in because you can throw everything in and often the fruit will make the smoothie sweet enough to enjoy. Add in some protein powder too and you have yourself a great breakfast that’s super easy.
  • Omelet loaded with veg can be such a filling breakfast if you have a bit more time in the morning. My favourite is filled with baby spinach, red onion, capsicum and cherry tomatoes, and basil pesto.
  • 2x boiled eggs to grab and go.

Coke Vs Coke Zero… sugar free drinks for the win?

Coca-Cola is a prime example of a high calorie, sugar packed fizzy drink that has very little nutritional value (vitamins and minerals). Many of us are already aware of this, and opt for Coke Zero instead. But, is this really the healthier option?

The main difference between coke and coke zero is the sugar content. When drinking coke zero as opposed to regular coke, you are consuming significantly less sugar which a positive for weight loss and reducing the risk of weight-related diseases. A study by the American institute of nutrition found that consumption of high sugar drinks was positively associated with progression of insulin resistance and prediabetes, but no correlation was found with diet sodas.

Regular coke has a direct effect on our health and weight due to its excess sugar and calorie content. However, diet coke may not be the best alternative. Research suggests that diet coke may have indirect effects on our body that leads to weight gain and other adverse health effects.

Several studies have indicated that diet sodas my increase appetite stimulating hormones such as ghrelin, therefore, increasing hunger. The artificial sweeteners in diet coke may also alter gut flora leading to reduced blood sugar control. Additives such as citric, malic, and phosphorus acid are present in both coke and coke zero, and have been linked to tooth erosion. Some research has also linked diet sodas to health conditions such as increased risk of high blood pressure, osteoporosis, heart and kidney disease.

 

 

Maybe we need to consider why we actually crave fizzy drinks in the first place?

The most common reason is dehydration – have a glass of water firstly, and see if your fizzy craving is reduced.

A less prevalent reason is a calcium deficiency. The phosphoric acid in carbonated drinks can leach calcium and magnesium stores out of your bones, which momentarily increases the calcium in the body but then creates a continuous cycle of depletion. This is the reason high soda consumption is linked to osteoporosis, as the leaching of minerals reduces bone density and increases the risk of fractures. It is important to have a good intake of dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collards, bok choy, and broccoli. As well as quality dairy sources such as milk and Greek yogurt.

It is clear that there are negative aspects to both diet and regular coke. So, to maintain overall health sticking to good old water is the best bet. Both diet and regular coke should be consumed in moderation as a very occasional treat.

 

 

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Melinda’s Fitness Journey

Hi Ladies, Melinda here, like most women out there I to have had a on and off again love hate relationship with my body and weight. From originally wanting to lose my teenage weight, trying to get back to my pre pregnancy weight after my last child and hitting 40 and beyond my weight has always been a struggle. When i hit 40, I wondered why the scales are slowly going up, if I’m still exercising and eating healthy like I did in my 30’s. I thought I would share with you a little about myself and my first journey to lose weight and a few hurdles I had to overcome.

All through my school years I was chubby, plump or slightly overweight, by the time I was in my early twenties I was overweight (size 16 +), exercise was non-existent and I ate very badly. That all changed one day when I woke up and made the decision that would change my life and subsequently my husband’s. I decided that I was sick of being the size I was and I wanted to lose some weight. I ultimately decided that I would be happy if I could get down to a size 12.

What did I do? I started with one thing at a time. First, my diet – I stopped using butters & marges, fatty spreads, high fat cheeses, no more dressings and swapped the milk to low fat. I became what my husband calls me “a picky eater”. If we ate out it was like “20 questions” because I would and I admit I still do interrogate the waiters as to what is exactly in the dishes.

Next came the exercise, my sister had just started going to aerobic classes down at the local gym, so I tagged along with her a couple of times per week. That was the start and 3-4 months later I had lost my first 10 kilos and was hooked on Group exercise classes. However, I had reached my first obstacle. I had reached a plateau. And my body had adapted to the changes. I had lost a decent amount of weight, felt fitter, stronger and faster but I couldn’t seem to lose any more on the scales. I realised I had to change something up to shock the body even more.

I decided to make a few more changes to my diet, what I was eating and how often. I started to eat 5-6 times a day, increased my fibre intake, limited the amount of fat and drank plenty of water. I also increased the amount and intensity of the exercise I was doing. I started doing 4-5 sessions per week which now included a Pump class and I started running. I also talked to a Fitness Instructor and got a programme for the gym which was a combination of weights & cardio. However, I have to admit, I spent more time attending the Group fitness classes than doing my programme. I struggled to find the motivation to exercise by myself in the gym and personal trainers were non-existent.

How does lifting weights help you lose weight? Resistance training not only tones your body (stops those bits from wobbling), it also increases your Basal metabolic rate (BMR) – How many calories you burn at rest. This means you burn more calories even when you are not exercising. The scales might not have gone down as much as I would have liked – they even went up occasionally, but I was still getting slimmer as my body shape was changing. I noticed I wasn’t jiggling as much and as a side effect I was reducing my chances of getting osteoporosis. Ladies are often worried that lifting weights will make you big and muscular. Don’t worry! It’s just not in our genes for this to happen without hormone enhancement. After 8 months I had reached my goal and surpassed it! I was now fitting into size 8/10 clothes. YES! I had done it.

In total I lost approximately 25kgs. I was not only looking great but I had lots more energy, sleeping better, my skin was looking healthier and I was feeling great too.  I was now hooked on exercise and love the way it made me feel. I often get asked if it was hard. Yes, but it was so worth it. I had days with low motivation and didn’t feel like doing any exercise. I had to constantly remind myself that I always felt better after that class, run or gym session. I had set myself a goal and I wasn’t going to reach it, by doing nothing. Once I got past being self-conscious and how I looked like while exercising, it got easier and in no time I was addicted. Was this a good thing? Yes and no. Positively, I was at the lightest weight (55kgs) I had ever been in my adult years. I liked the way I looked and was wearing clothes I would have never even considered wearing before my weight loss. However, it became a negative thing for myself as I was doing too much exercise. I was working out 7 days a week, without a recovery or rest day and doing very long sessions of 1.5-2 hours most days. On top of this, I was eating a very low fat, low carb diet.  I had what I called constant “fuzzy brain”. My head just didn’t feel right and I hadn’t had a period for over 18 months. I soon learnt through my doctor, that this was a condition called amenorrhea. I was eventually referred to a fertility clinic for it and after all sorts of tests it was put down to significant exercising and extreme weight loss, which had caused (FHA) Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea. I had taken exercising and dieting too far. My body looked healthy on the outside but my weight and body fat was just too low for my hormones to function correctly. I was advised to cut down on the amount of cardio exercise I was doing and get my weight up to around 58kg. I have to say, that was a very hard thing to hear. After all the hard work I had done to get to where I was, to then be told that I had to put weight back on was a shock, but the “fuzzy brain” and amenorrhea was my body’s way of telling me that things weren’t ok. I did what was recommended and got my body back to being healthy functioning again. This became more important to me than how small the number on the scales read.

Sixteen years, three children and a career change later, I still work out 5-6 days a week but for only 30 – 60 minutes at a time. I instruct several classes per week and lift weights, which are much heavier than when I first started. I still prefer to eat a lower carb diet but instead of low fat, I now incorporate healthy fats.

Healthy habits to implement in your life during the lockdown period

It’s a crazy time in the world right now and most of our lives have been impacted from this lockdown. Whether you’re working from home, online learning, having this time off or an essential worker – chances are you’re not in your regular routine. And that’s okay!

Thankfully we are only looking at one more week of level 4, but Level 3 may not be too much different for you. Whatever position you are in during this lockdown I’m going to share some of my top healthy habits to implement into your life to try and stay a little in routine.

 

  1. Break up your sitting time

    During isolation most of us are spending more time sitting, whether that be at your makeshift office at home or on the couch binge watching Netflix. Breaking up your sitting time every hour or so with a few stretches, a walk around the house or a couple of jump squats is great for your overall health. Not only does it benefit your mental state from taking a break from whatever it was you were doing it also helps increases your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) to burn a few extra calories.

 

  1. Increase your NEAT

    Following on from the tip above; usually you would be out and about walking to your local coffee shop, walking to work, going up a few flights of stairs, walking to the bus etc. These are all activities that increase your NEAT during the day. Whilst being at home we all tend to spend more time not moving because we don’t really have anywhere to go. Try and increase your NEAT by doing a few stretches on the floor whilst watching TV at night to relieve tension in muscles, check your emails whilst standing, any small tasks you would normally do sitting try standing and take regular walks!

 

  1. Keep a large water bottle with you at all times

    Simple but effective! If you have a large water bottle sitting on your desk as you work, cook, watch TV, garden or any task you will be much more inclined to drink it! We don’t drink nearly enough water as we should, so this is one of the best tips to implement to keep your body and mind happy!

  1. Remember to take time out for yourself

    Self-care is important! Give yourself at least an hour a day to do something you love or enjoy. Read a book, bake, go for a walk, take a bath or put on your favorite music!

 

  1. Try a few new exercises

    With all this time at home try and find a new style of exercise you like! Take up running, yoga, shadow boxing, dancing! There are so many options and so many videos online to teach you!

 

  1. Set yourself daily goals and gratitude’s

    Learn to appreciate the small things in life and set yourself small daily goals to feel like you’ve accomplished something each day! I like to write down three things I am grateful for and three small goals for the day!

 

  1. Keep in contact with friends and family

    We may be in self-isolation but that doesn’t mean we have to be alone! Catch up with old friends, the ones you always think about calling but never do! Now’s the time to check in with them and make the call! Try group face time calls and have Friday night drinks or Sunday brunch together.

 

  1. Sneak vegetables into everything

    Getting to the supermarket isn’t as easy as it used to be so sometimes you won’t have fresh produce in the house! But get creative with it! Stock up on the frozen vege and put lots in all your dishes! Even better frozen spinach and zucchini are great for smoothies with frozen bananas! This will give you a boost of nutrients when you may be lacking!

 

For a lot of us, we do have more time on our hands. More time at home. More time to ourselves. So now is THE TIME to focus on yourself, your family, your DIY projects, your baking skills, your favorite Netflix series or whatever else interests you. Try and stick to a routine that works with you and your #isobuddies and implement exercise or daily activities into your lifestyle.