A healthy lifestyle – not as hard as you think!

how-to-live-a-healthy-lifestyle

Making a few simple lifestyle changes can have dramatic positive results on how you look and feel. Follow these healthy lifestyle tips and see how you feel…

Eating more than you think:

This is the biggest cause of stubborn weight loss for obvious reasons. You may think you are eating well but just sit down and spend a little while truly analysing what is in your food and how many calories you are eating. Keep a food log for a week, be honest with yourself. Foods like low fat mince are actually incredibly high in calories, yet marketed as ‘healthy’. Don’t be put off by supermarkets ‘healthy eating and living’ claims. While these foods are better than most it doesn’t mean you can eat more of them! Low fat products often still contain substantial amounts of sugar and other fattening ingredients. Keep them to a minimum! Also if your are the type to go to an all you can eat buffet and gorge yourself until you are literally wedged between the chair and table, then stop it! You may have been good all week but this will hinder progress severely.

Eating too little:

As strange as this may seem it can make weight loss more difficult, particularly after the early stages. Here are the reasons. Do you skip breakfast, have a light nibble or nothing in most cases for lunch, then go home and have a big meal? If so you have just let your body know there is a famine going on and it had better start saving those calories from the big meal while it has the chance. It’s just trying to survive and genetically doesn’t know food is on hand for most people at all times. If you pig out at the weekend and do this in the week you will have problems. It will make it even harder if you are working hard at the gym too. Your body will then well and truly be in survival mode- loads of energy expenditure required and too little fuel to do it- better store some calories up on your hips for later! Sumo wrestlers eat only once a day and look at them. Assuming that’s not the look you want for yourself eat small, regular meals every few hours.

Too much sugar:

Honey at breakfast? Sugar in your coffee? Simple sugars spike your insulin levels sky high, which will favour the enlargement of fat cells. Obviously most people don’t want this so they should avoid it at all cost. Remember the low fat products? They are usually packed full with sugar. Avoid sugar if you want to lose weight!

Too few vegetables:

While not necessary as such, keeping full with vegetables is invaluable in you quest for weight loss. Not only do they fill you up, your body loves them and will quite happily shed the pounds while it’s getting a regular supply. They are packed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals; your body will absorb them this way far better than a vitamin pill as well. At the very least try to eat plenty of veg of different colours with some oily fish or lean meat, every day, evening is usually best for most people.

Not active enough:

Doing the cross trainer at level 1 for half an hour is not really a workout unless you are one of those unfortunate 50 stone people you see on TV who have to be airlifted out of their bed to hospital. You really need to be breaking a sweat out at the gym. Most people don’t and get a better workout walking from the car park to the changing room. Being in the gym does not mean you are working out! Also do you drive everywhere? Take the lift instead of stairs? It’s all too easy but our bodies haven’t evolved to take things easy, your genes think life is hard constantly active and avoiding danger. You may not want the danger part but keep active always moving, don’t just sit down and vegetate at work or home. The fat will stick like glue if you do.

Make changes where you have too, just be honest with yourself. Wishful thinking does not aid fat loss, so maybe it’s time to get real.

What to leave out of your shopping basket and clear out of your cupboards:

Many people who exercise hard fail to lose the weight they want to simply because of such things as ‘hidden’ bad foods. To keep you on the right track I have outlined 7 of these.

  • Fruit juice and fizzy drinks

Fruit juice and fizzy drinks contain simple carbs or sugars. Some contain as much as 12 teaspoons per can. Even diet fizzy drinks can damage your teeth and gums due to the phosphoric acid they contain. Sugar will spike your insulin levels, causing your fat cells to expand. Avoid these where ever possible.

  • Alcohol

You knew this one would be on the list. Red wine may be good in moderation, but who drinks in moderation? Alcohol contains 7 calories/gramme- fat contains 9 calories/gramme, carbs and protein only contain 4 each. Hence why the beer belly exists. These are empty calories too, meaning they are just used to store fat and little else. So avoid the six-pack to get a six-pack.

  • Breakfast cereal

Yes these claim to be low in fat and good for you, but in fact most are packed with sugar. They are also very highly processed, the carbohydrates will be very high on the glycemic index, meaning they will cause an insulin spike- storing fat and then leaving you hungry.

  • Bread

White bread in particular is a refined carbohydrate, meaning they will cause fat gain faster than anything else. If you eat these, including bagels and bread rolls, daily you will have trouble losing weight and you may even start gaining some back. I have seen this happen numerous times with clients- the odd one or two are ok but stay away for the most part!

  • Processed pre – prepared ready meals and convenience food

Basically avoid anything that is not freshly made or that comes in a box or packet! These pre packed foods are full of preservatives and drained of all goodness. Check the back of the packet and if you cant describe the ingredients then you shouldn’t be putting it in your body. Try to prepare all your own meals and snacks and plan your shopping around the meals you want to make.

  • High-fat and sugary dairy products

Full fat milk contains saturated fat- you want to avoid this for both your cardiovascular health and if you want to lose weight. This will include cheese and some yogurts. Many low fat yogurts also contain table sugar- again these will play havoc with your insulin levels and cause fat storage and retention.

  • Low fat ‘healthy eating’ products

While many of these items are low in fat they normally contain often substantial quantities of sugar and we know what that does to you. Don’t get me wrong, not all these products are bad for dieting, but please read the labels before you by them and avoid the ones with added sucrose, fructose, dextrose and malto-dextrin for best results.

  • Drink plenty of fluid every day, a min of four glasses of water and six if possible. Green tea, herbal and fruit teas are unlimited. Limit tea and coffee to total of 3 – 4 cups per day, and don’t count this towards your fluid intake. You have a daily allowance of 300ml (½ pint) skimmed milk per day, either with cereal or in drinks, or drunk on its own.
  • Unlimited green salad items, leafy green vegetables, fresh or dried herbs and spices, vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice etc.
  • Where vegetables are listed, have large portions.

For more information on how to lose weight effectively as well as eating healthily, please give me a call on 07595 517285 or click here.

30 Day Sugar Challenge

Uni FitThe plan for the 30 Sugar Free Days is relatively simple: no sugar, no grains and no starchy vegetables (potatoes, parsnips…) or high glycemic index fruits (dates, watermelon, bananas etc).

During the 30 day challenge you can eat most vegetables, most fruits, and almost any protein source you want, but nothing else. You also want to avoid any drink that has calories in it (that means no alcohol, no fizzy drinks, and no fruit juice).

I have to tell you that this is not a high protein diet;  I would prefer to see you replace all of your grains, sugars and starchy vegetables with low glycemic index foods. In a way, the diet is a vegetarian (vegetable only), fruitarian (fruit only) diet with protein added as a side dish. I suggest that you build a diet that is 80 percent fruits and vegetables and 20 percent proteins.

How much can I eat?

Eating more often (every 2 hours) is what I suggest. This not only keeps your blood sugar steady, but also actually boosts your metabolism. The key is that you are only eating Low and Below Foods, if you are doing that, then you can eat as much as you would like (within reason).

Foods you should build your diet around:

  • Meat and dairy such as chicken, fish, beef, eggs, cheese (in moderation).
  • Vegetables: You should have something fresh and crunchy at every meal; emphasise on low glycemic vegetables, but include them all: carrots (raw), salad (any green), celery, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, onions, kale, sprouts, cabbage, peas, peppers, tomatoes and others.
  • Fruits: These generally contain a lot of sugars and should be eaten in moderation, but there are low-glycemic index fruits you can focus on (see below). Try to cut all fruit in the first 5 days the slowly introduce berries.

Foods to avoid during the challenge:

  • Grains
  • Carbohydrates
  • Sugars of all kinds including cookies, cakes, candy, look for the hidden sugars in salad dressings, table sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, and sorghum, honey, maple syrup, many juices, dextrose, sorbitol, high fructose corn syrup.

You can avoid many of these if you are the one making and preparing your own food.

The glycemic index is broken into three parts:

  1. High Glycemic Foods: which are foods that can dramatically increase our blood sugar.
  2. Medium Glycemic Foods: are foods that have a moderate, but still high impact on our blood sugar.
  3. Low Glycemic Foods: which are foods that make our blood sugar change very little.

What the creators of the glycemic index are not telling you is that there is another kind of food that doesn’t even show up on the glycemic index and these are called Below the Glycemic index Foods and it is these foods that you want to base your diet on. I will recommend that you chose foods that are either low on the glycemic index or below the glycemic index or “Low and Below Foods”.

Items not to be eaten over 30 day challenge:

Sugar (cane, brown, granulated, powdered, etc.) | High fructose corn syrup | Fructose | Honey, syrups or jams | Biscuits, cakes, chocolate (in any form) | Rice syrup & coconut | Sugar | Agave nectar | Sucrose | Glucose | Flavoured dairy products | Bread based items (pre-packed sandwiches, wraps, etc) & baked products unless homemade | Carbonated (fizzy) & manufactured Energy drinks | Artificial sugars or substitutes (aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, Splenda, etc.) | Alcohol (beer, wine, liquor) | Dried fruit | Fast food | Processed foods/ready meals | Concentrated Fruit Juice, pre-packaged smoothies

In fact, if it has an ‘E’ number (which is assigned to all food additives) then give it miss!

Foods you should eat on 30 day sugar free challenge:

Fruit: most fruits are ok; avoid dried or high energy fruit such as bananas and all fruit juices. Berries in general are lowest GI. Homemade smoothies are good breakfast option. | Vegetables: Raw and cooked, avoid potatoes (including sweet potato. Unlimited salad and vegetables and should make up highest proportion of each meal. | Beans and pulses | Dairy: full fat milk, almond milk unsweetened, full fat cheese | Nuts & seeds: all natural | Protein: meat, fish, eggs | Brown rice or natural oats 50g per day (only after initial 5 day period) | Water, black coffee

For more information on how to lose weight effectively as well as eating healthily, please give me a call on 07595 517285 or click here.

The Fat Truth

Good-Fats-Vs-Bad-FatsTake any supermarket you go into and think about all the food that it sells, what is the one ‘branding’ that is consistent throughout the store? ‘Low fat’ / ‘reduced fat’ / ‘lighter’ options are everywhere!

Now as a health expert I’m aware that fats are a staple part of our diet and essential to the production of certain vitamins and enzymes that help our body thrive, and yes there is a difference between GOOD fats and BAD fats. This said, there is such a negative approach to including any fats in the diet that people are trying to cut them out completely. This approach is seen as an acceptable way to reduce weight, which could make sense when a gram of fat doubles the calories of protein and carbohydrates. What a lot of people don’t realise is insufficient fat in the diet can lead to dietary deficiencies by compromising the efficient use of vitamins and minerals.

It is recommended that the intake of fats should be around 30% of your daily calorie intake, and many health educationalists suggest 35% would still be associated with health benefits. This said, what is the reason the general population are reducing fat intake? Being the great learning machine that the human brain is, the answer is in the literature that we read or hearsay. The problem comes with the reliability of the source.

GPs generally inform patients with any health issues to cut out fats and the media coverage of fats is generally never good. Fats are not completely stored around the body; the fact is the body has three main energy sources, the ATP (immediate energy) the lactate system (stored carbs and CO2) and the aerobic system (fats, and O2). Each system constantly works so no system is ever working alone, so a deficiency in performance of one will have negative effect on the other systems (yet another reason to eat sufficient fats).

The whole process of reducing our fat intake has to come with the source of fat that we get. Take for example ready meals, they are cheap for a reason, cheap ingredients, older food that can’t be sold fresh and generally lots of added flavourings and preservatives to allow its expiration date to be expanded. The fats in these processed foods are not made with the best oils and tend to be modified to make them solid (re-hydrogenated). This is the damaging fats that have a negative effect on are cholesterol and health. This being said, there is a second side to fats, a healthier alternative. These fats have HDL fats that help reduce cholesterol in the body. This lowering of cholesterol around are arteries will allow less stress to be placed on the respiratory system allowing greater outputs/gains and workloads.

In terms of healthy weight loss, calorie counting is not necessarily the answer; it’s all about smaller slow releasing meals. Fats takes longer to digest than carbs or proteins, a meal consisting of fats slows down the digestion process, slowing down the glycogen spike which reduces the risk of the body going into fat storage mode. This keeps the body’s ability to utilise the fats as an energy source working, allowing more stored fat to be broken down creating a slimmer more defined you.

Summary:

I’m not asking people to start adding sticks of butter to a chicken salad or overload your diet with fat I’m simply trying to make people aware that lower fat does not always mean healthier. Depending on what the food manufacturer has done to replace the natural fats in the standard food, it may end up being more harmful to the body for long term weight loss and health. Utilise the healthy fats from natural/fresh foods and only add liquid at room temperature fats to meals and this will be adequate fat consumption to benefit your goals.

For more information on how to lose weight effectively as well as eating healthily, please give me a call on 07595 517285 or click here.