Category Archives: Nutrition

The Top 7 Fat Burning Foods!

Hello lovely people,

It’s getting down to crunch time as the ‘unofficial’ start of summer is this weekend. Now is the time to maximize your fat burn – and every little bit helps, right? Is there one particular food that will help you lose fat? Yes – more than one. And I’m not talking about the Cookie Diet.

Today is all about fat loss foods. My approach to losing fat doesn’t involve starvation, boring chicken breast and broccoli or taking a bunch of pills. Instead, I’d rather think of it as an opportunity to try new healthy foods, explore variety and even whip up and create a new recipe or two.

A friend recently asked me, “What are the best fat loss foods, that you should really try to eat every single day?” Awesome question. Let’s go.

The Top 7 Fat Burning Foods

My Fave Greek Yogurt

Top Fat Burning Food #7: Greek Yogurt. Not every yogurt is made the same. Go for 0% saturated fats with less than 10g of carbs. Warning: it’s not sweet. But this is so good for you! It has a rich source of protein, calcium and vitamin D, helping you preserve and build muscle mass, while still low in sugar. Add berries, chia seeds and a few almonds for sweetness and a healthy crunch.

 

Top Fat Burning Food #6: Eggs/Egg Whites. The breakfast for champions (like you)! Eggs are loaded with protein, vitamin B12 and fat metabolizing awesomeness. Don’t be afraid to eat the yolks. For years we’ve been told eggs are high in cholesterol and we should avoid them. This is old news! A recent study has shown adding eggs at breakfast can help to keep you full for longer, and reduce the number of calories you consume for the rest of the day. The participants who ate two eggs lost 65% more weight than the bagel eaters – even though the calories consumed were equal (1). Eggs first thing in the morning can be tough sometimes, so try to mix in lean turkey bacon, tomato, asparagus or any other leafy vegetable.

Top Fat Burning Food #5: Berries. These little gems are packed with antioxidants and fiber, a key ingredient to fat loss. The health benefits are endless but I suggest eating them raw – add them to your yogurt, shake, or simply plain as a snack. Pick up the organic ones if you can find them. Unfortunately, baked berries in pies, cakes or muffins don’t have the same effect.

Top Fat Burning Food #4: Flaxseed. Bring on the omega-3’s. Loaded with fiber, an ounce of these seeds will provide 32% of you RDI.  Make sure you get flaxseed oil or ground flax seeds, as the goodness is within. Again, a simple way to add these to your day is on your yogurt or shake – not muffins. Stay away from the roasted version, I know they are delish but it’s not the same!

Fat Loss Food Kale
Biggest Bunch of Kale Ever!

Top Fat Burning Food #3: Kale. A super leafy green that’s a must in your fridge. To start out, disguise it raw in your shakes, with protein powder and berries. It’s actually really delish (and super healthy raw). Or when you cook it, add spices, lemon juice and pepper. Not only is it full of fiber and Vitamin K, there are so many amazing health benefits of kale. Make it a daily vegetable.

Top Fat Burning Food #2: Red Hot Chili Peppers. Capsaicin, is the super ingredient that gives chili peppers their fiery blast. This can also fire up your fat-burning furnace! Just add a tablespoon of chopped chilis to your salads, grilled meats or vegetables for a delish burst of flavor. If chilis are not your thing or your mouth can’t handle it, start with a small amount and gradually build up your resistance. Or better still, have a little greek yogurt on hand to kill the after burn.

Top Fat Burning Food #1: Green Tea. Could it be the miracle drink? That’s debatable. Green tea is packed with cancer fighting properties and heart protecting nutrients to make it an essential daily beverage. It’s full of catechins, the nutrients linked to increased metabolism and a smaller waistline. But how much green tea do you need to drink each day to see a fat loss effect? A lot. Make sure you’re close to the bathroom. The research suggests consuming 4 cups of fresh green tea daily, combined with moderate exercise, may enhance exercise-induced abdominal fat loss (2).  Coffee still has priority for me in the morning but green tea is definitely my go-to drink in the afternoon.

BONUS Honorary Mention: Wild Salmon. Best food ever. It is a great source of essential fatty acids and encourages the body’s production of leptin. Leptin is a vital hormone that works to suppress your appetite and burn fat. Make sure you’re eating salmon at least 3-4 times a week.

As you can see, there is nothing processed on this list. I think it is really important to eat whole, fresh foods that provide an array of macronutrients, vitamins and minerals to keep your body functioning at optimal output. Plus, foods high in protein and fiber will stop the hunger attacks and keep your paws out of the fridge. Feeling amazing is just as important as looking amazing.

YOUR CHALLENGE: For the next 14 days, I have an exciting challenge for you.

It’s called ADD to LOSE. Very simple. Each day, add one of the following foods to your meals. Load up your fridge and let’s make it happen.

How many of these foods do you consume daily already? 3 or 4? Or are you a superstar who hits all 7? Let me know in the comments box below.

I just finished a delish shake loaded with flax seeds, greek yogurt, kale and berries – I’m 4 up in one hit. Have an awesome day!

Kate :)

REFERENCES:

1. Vander Wal, J.S., Marth, J.M., Khosla, P., Catherine Jen, K-L., Dhurandhar, N.V. (2005). Short-Term Effect of Eggs on Satiety in Overweight and Obese Subjects. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 24(6):510-515.

2. Maki, K.C., Reeves, M.S., Farmer, M., Matsuo, N., Katsuragi, Y., Komikado, M., Tokimitsu, I., Wilder, D., Jones., F., Blumberg, J.B., Cartwright, Y. (2009). Green Tea Catechin Consumption Enhances Exercise-Induced Abdominal Fat Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults. The Journal of Nutrition. 139(2):264-270.

The Most Overrated Health Foods

Hello lovely people!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend. How many times have you been to the grocery store and wondered about the real nutritional value of the ‘healthy foods’ on offer?

I’m here to help you on the way to amazing health and wellness, so I wanted to share a few truths when it comes to so-called ‘health foods’. The media have a tendency to vastly overstate the health benefits of certain foods today, in an effort to sell more products. For us, as the consumer, it can be confusing, overwhelming – and misleading.

Yesterday I was at the local grocery store picking up a few healthy foods to make breakfast. I couldn’t help but notice my number one, most overrated health food jumping off the shelf at me. The nutritional label promotes claims to be so good for you, but does it really live up to the hype?

No.

First of all, what is so healthy about something packaged? Not only are these products loaded with calories, but it’s the high, hidden sugar content and hydrogenated oil that makes its unhealthy.

Top 8 Most Overrated Health Foods

1. Granola: In my opinion, granola is by FAR the most overrated health food. It doesn’t matter what brand you pick up – that delicious breakfast cereal is not helping your waistline. Toasted oats and nuts, coated in sugar and then add dried fruits. I call it the sugar and processed fat deadly combo. And just in case you were wondering, the same applies to granola bars. Stick with regular old-fashioned oats and add real, fresh fruits.

2. Bananas: this is my least favorite fat loss fruit. It is the most calorie dense one out there. Do you really need a 15-20g hit of sugar from a healthy food? When I speak to my mum, I always ask how her fat loss is going and what she ate for breakfast. Her biggest fat loss breakthrough came when she stopped eating 2-3 bananas a day, and started eating eggs for breakfast. Plus, more importantly, her blood sugar levels stabilized. Instead of bananas, choose berries, kiwi or grapefruit.

3. Protein Bars: it looks like a candy bar, tastes like a candy bar – yes that’s right, it actually is a candy bar with added protein. I remember these bars used to taste horrible (yes I’ll admit I’m a recovering protein bar addict). I mean, they used to be really disgusting. But with soy protein chips and extra organic syrup, today these bars are delicious and seriously addictive. It’s those sugary syrups and other mutated fats that keep you craving.

4. Fruit Juices: eating fruit is always a better choice than drinking fruit. You get more fiber, less calories and sugar so it’s naturally more fun. Would you sit down and eat 6 oranges in one go? I would think not. There’s about 6 whole oranges in a 450ml glass of juice. Don’t even get me started on the smoothie chains. The supersize drinks they sell are loaded in calories and sugar, which is not the right kind of health food you want to be consuming. Bottom line: eat fruit instead.

5. Whole Wheat Bread: another case of crafty marketing to catch you out. Whole wheat flour isn’t the same as whole grains. Anything ‘fortified’ is no better for you than the white version. You want to choose 100% whole grains that are still whole when you eat them – as here lies the health benefits. Go easy on the bread if you’re trying to lose fat.

6. Bran Muffins: does adding bran (meaning more fiber) make a muffin a healthy, better choice? Hardly. Considering the size of these babies, you might as well eat a slice of cake. Put down the breakfast cake and choose yoghurt, eggs, fruit or nuts instead.

7. Pita Chips: the selling point of this delicious snack is by comparison to regular potato chips. Sure they have 50% less saturated fat, but the amount of carbs and calories is still significant. Have you ever tried to eat just 1 serving of pita chips (that’s only 6 by the way)? It’s really difficult.

8. Soy: Soy is one of those foods that can be healthy, but also processed to smithereens to make it really unhealthy. Hydrogenated soy is a hidden ingredient found in a lot of packaged foods – which is also a common trans fat. The research is conflicting with regards to the health benefits, so stick with least processed soy foods like tempeh, tofu and miso.

Why Are These Health Foods So Bad?

Reviewing the list, you may not realize it at first but these foods have a ton of hidden sugar. Why is the sugar making you fat? When your goal is fat loss, you want to keep your body in fat burning mode, which means keeping your insulin levels steady. The problem is, any sugar wreaks havoc on your blood sugar and insulin levels, and promotes storing fat.

Now I guess you’re wondering if there’s anything healthy or safe left to eat on the planet.

Of course there is! Keep your choices fresh, clean and eliminate the processed stuff. With the intention of being healthy – I don’t want your health and fat loss to be sabotaged.

Have a great week!

Kate :)

What Do You Eat For Breakfast?

Hello lovely people!

A super breakfast is a great way to start the day on the right path. That’s not just my personal opinion! Research has shown people who regularly eat breakfast have lower rates of Type 2 diabetes and are less likely to develop heart failure over their lifetime than those who don’t, according to a 2011 Georgia Centenarian Study. A 2006 study of 19,000 Americans found breakfast skippers are more likely to gain weight, because they are more inclined to overcompensate for the loss of key nutrients at breakfast by eating more fat-rich, high energy foods later in the day.

We know a ‘nothing’ breakfast, despite being low in calories and in theory good for weight loss, can lead to overeating at meals for the rest of the day. So what is the best thing to eat for breakfast when trying to lose fat? We’ll get to this in just a moment.

I often get asked what I eat for breakfast. To be honest, it changes. Variety is important with anything in life, and breakfast is no different.

The Evolution of My Breakfast
So it all began back in Australia, in a small country town west of Sydney. From an early age, my mum taught me the importance of eating a hearty, healthy breakfast before heading off to school. Each morning she very kindly whipped up the following:
– glass of orange juice (really hard to make this) ;)
– bowl of Weet-Bix cereal with milk and white sugar sprinkled over it
– 2 slices of white toast with a layer of butter and Vegemite

Big breakfast for a growing girl. This is a pretty common Australian breakfast. As I grew up and started college, with limited time and nothing in the cupboard, my breakfast was all over the place. (just like me really!) Some days I had a bowl of Special K cereal, other days breakfast cake and coffee, and some mornings I had a terrible hangover and couldn’t stomach anything!

20120326-072637.jpg

Fast forward to New York and 2012. Today I have an on-the-go breakfast and a relaxed preferred option, depending on my schedule.

ON-THE-GO:

– FAGE 0% yoghurt with chia seeds, 10 almonds and flaxseeds

PREFERRED: (that’s it over there to the right)
– 2 whole hard boiled eggs
– 1/2 cup steamed lentils
– 10 cherry tomatoes
– 1/2 cup spinach

This may seem like a lunch meal, but it’s a perfect way to start the day. The key to a super breakfast is protein, having options and making it work with your schedule.

What Is A Super Breakfast for Fat Loss?

A great breakfast is one that has an equal ratio of carbs/fats/protein and can sustain you for at least 5-6 hours. In other words, unprocessed whole grains with lean meat/eggs, veggies and healthy fats (like seeds or olive oil). If this is not happening for you – it’s time to change your breakfast now! When you feel like you need a mid-morning snack this is a sign you didn’t eat enough protein at breakfast, and the high carb food that sent your blood sugars sky rocketing has now sent your energy levels plummeting into a black hole. Make small improvements, you don’t have to change everything at once as this will set you up for failure. Start by adding more protein. Eggs are a fantastic choice. Go easy on the sugars, and the processed carbs like bagels and cereals. You’ll feel better for it come 4pm.

Have a great day!

Kate :)

P.S. What do you eat for breakfast? Good or bad, let me know in the comments box below:

Exposed: Top 4 Myths About Metabolism

Hello lovely people!

I hope your training is going well and you’re moving (literally) in the right direction and towards your goal. You know it takes a solid effort, both in the diet and exercise department to see significant fat loss. If you are serious about getting sexy results, you have probably read about ways to speed up your progress. Your metabolism has an important role… It can help to increase the rate of your fat loss! However beware, some of the information in magazines/TV is complete rubbish — I don’t want you to be misled!

Let’s start with the basics: What is metabolism? The dictionary states metabolism as “the chemical changes in living cells by which energy is provided for vital processes and activities and new material is assimilated.” Basically, metabolism is a combination of everything going on in your body. Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the daily amount of energy you expend at rest, and this estimation will vary depending on your age/sex/height/weight. So the more, the better – right? You may have also heard of Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). It is similar to BMR, although RMR measurements are taken under less restricted conditions. It’s more useful for you, as it’s easier to estimate this number with an equation.

Let’s be clear from the start — there is no magic trick to boosting your metabolism. Just like there is no magic pill for weight loss. Onto counting down the top 4 metabolism myths:

4. Increasing your muscle mass will drastically improve your daily caloric burn to boost your metabolism

You may have heard one pound of muscle will burn approximately 50 calories extra a day at rest. Unfortunately this is not true, otherwise gaining 10 pounds of muscle would mean you could burn 500 calories extra a day by doing nothing additional. Too good to be true people! On average, an extra pound of muscle will burn 6 additional calories per day, while fat burns 2 calories. OK, better than nothing.

Dr. Claude Bouchard of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, a world-renowned obesity researcher states the vast majority of our BMR caloric burn comes from function of the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs. Muscle has a relatively low resting metabolic rate.

“When you account for everything that isn’t skeletal muscle, it makes up about 75-80 percent of RMR, so skeletal muscle only accounts for 20-25% of resting metabolic rate.”

So realistically, even adding a considerable amount of muscle isn’t going to drastically increase your resting metabolic rate as skeletal muscle has a small role in the number of calories you burn at rest.

But hey this is not to say weight training is a bad idea! Building muscle is great for strength but it’s not a miracle calorie burner.

3. Pills/Diet Supplements Don’t Work

Many of the ‘increase your metabolism’ claims these products make are unproven and lack scientific backing. Stay away – it may seem tempting but there is no magic pill. Or I would be selling them!

2. Eat frequent meals every 3-4 hours to increase your metabolism

This one’s a cracker! I read this often in a bunch of fitness magazines, and to be honest with you I thought it was true. However, there is NO solid research evidence to show eating 6 meals/day over 3 meals/day will increase your metabolism. It’s a touch controversial but here’s the truth: your metabolism increases every time you eat anything, and the amount it increases depends on the size of the meal and the amount of carbohydrates/fats are in the food ie. big meal, big increase. Research has shown that two equally caloric diets will produce NO significant difference on your metabolism whether you have 3 large meals or 6 small meals a day.(1) The other problem is these smaller meals are too big and cause you to over consume.

Also, skipping meals WON’T slow down your metabolism. It takes about 3 days of fasting or severe calorie restriction before you metabolism goes into ‘starvation mode’. I repeat, you will not go into starvation mode if you don’t eat every 3 hours! In fact, you may feel hungry but you will be using your fat stores as fuel instead of feeding off the calories you are constantly ingesting. (YAY!) If you think about our ancestors, they would not have regular meal times every 3-4 hours. There also wasn’t a pizza joint or Starbucks at every corner tempting their indulgence.

Please note: eating 5-6 small meals a day is still a useful strategy for fat loss. If you struggle to consume 3 meals a day and get uncontrollable hunger between these hours, eating more frequently can help prevent bingeing sprees and keep your total calories in check. Think about the big picture: it’s more about consistently lower, TOTAL daily caloric intake.

1. As You Get Older, Your Metabolism Automatically Slows Down

The number one myth is that your metabolism will automatically slow with age. The main reason is due to a loss in muscle mass as you age. Yes —  as you get older your muscle mass will decline. However, there is no automatic rate based on your age — there is more to it. If you continue to weight train and eat a clean healthy diet, you will see a slower reduction in muscle mass and any weight gain will not be noticeable. Plus, regular exercise will maintain your functional capacity and enhance your quality of life. For example, one of my clients has increased his lean muscle mass and lost significant body fat over the time we have been training– he even has a six-pack… Did I mention he’s almost 62? Very impressive and inspiring!

In summary, getting older is not an excuse for an inability to lose weight.

SO with this in mind… how on earth can you increase your metabolism?!

Exercise. High Intensity Interval Training. Strength training.

The research shows the benefits of strength and interval training for fat loss. (2) Not all exercise is equal: for a greater metabolic boost aim for compound exercises (using more than one body part at once) and up the intensity. The magnitude of the metabolic increase depends on how intense and how long your workout was. It is hard, and challenging. But that’s the aim. Your body is constantly being challenged and improving.

Today’s take home message:

Consistently reducing your daily caloric intake, keeping your appetite in check and exercise intensity is the key to success for awesome fat loss. The best way to boost your metabolism to increase your fat burning ability is through exercise. So get out there and make your workout count!

Stay healthy and happy,

Kate :)

References:

1. Cameron, J.D., Cyr, M.J., Doucet, E. (2010) Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet. British Journal of Nutrition. 103(8):1098-101.

2. Stiegler, P., Cunliffe, A. (2006). The role of diet and exercise for the maintenance of fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate during weight loss. Sports Medicine. 36(3):239-62.

How To Survive The 4pm Sugar Cravings

Hello lovely people!

This is the moment that can make or break your weight loss plan. It’s 4pm, you’re bored at work and crazy hungry. What is the best choice snack? Do you grab a candy bar to cope with your afternoon cravings – and then reach for a Coke to get out of your death-like slump?

As an ex-sugar junkie, I know how hard it is to resist the sweet temptations. However, munching on sugary snacks will just make you crave more – it’s a serious addiction! Eating simple carbohydrates, without protein or fats will quickly satisfy your hunger and give your body a short-term energy boost. Hello sugar high! Only to leave you grumpy, famished and craving more sugar shortly after. In the long run, the regular sugar rush will affect your body’s ability to store and utilize sugar, potentially leading to diabetes and other serious health implications.

Try these handy tips to avoid the afternoon sugar cravings:

  • Get enough protein: every meal should include protein. This will increase your satiety levels and control your blood sugar, therefore less cravings. For animal sources, choose free-range and hormone-free. Eat wild fish to decrease the intake of pollutants, or if you go vegetarian, black beans and chickpeas are a great choice.
  • Eat regular smaller meals: try to eat protein and vegetable snacks every 3 hours. This will help you avoid getting too hungry and overeating carbalicious treats.
  • Drink plenty of water: sometimes a food craving is disguised as thirst. Go for water or seltzer to check if you really are hungry.
  • Out of sight: say no to the sugary treats at the store or work. Don’t even bring it into your house, because I guarantee you will eat it if it’s there!
  • Watch out for sneaky sugars in processed foods: 4 words – High Fructose Corn Syrup. This and other sweeteners in your food is why you’re so addicted. Check the labels or better still, avoid processed foods altogether!!
  • Go for fruit: keep your paws out of the cookie jar and in the fruit basket. Choose lower GI options like grapefruit, berries, green apples or pears. Stay away from bananas, pineapples and watermelon. You’ll get a little sugar hit plus the fiber and nutrients. Woohoo!

So what if you didn’t plan snacks for the day and you don’t have an emergency supply of almonds in your bag? What is the healthiest choice at the store? In the emergency ‘I need chocolate‘ case, opt for dark chocolate as it has a lower sugar content (compared to other candy) and antioxidant properties that show promise in helping your heart. Look for a brand with at least 70 percent cocoa content. The higher this percentage, the healthier the chocolate. Go for quality over quantity.

My All-Time Favorite Afternoon Snack to beat sugar cravings:

Non-fat natural Greek yogurt (no added sugar) – FAGE is my fave brand

1/2 cup blueberries

5-10 raw almonds

Mix these ingredients together for a delicious, healthy snack. This is also a super breakfast!

But what about artificial sweeteners and no-calorie/sugar-free drinks? It will do little to stop your sugar cravings and should be avoided. Diet drinks and no-calorie sweet snacks often contain potentially toxic sweeteners like aspartame. Remember the more you feed yourself the natural, unsweetened foods the less you will crave the sweet junk.

Preparation is the key to success here lovely people. Make sure you keep little healthy snacks with you because if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Kate :)