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Get Lean

Chocolate & alcohol and still get fat loss…is it possible?

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Eating your favourite foods or enjoying a drink is essential to your success. There are no strings attached here – you do not have to choose the ‘1 point’ biscuit that tastes like cardboard, or the no-alcohol wine…rather, you want the decadent triple-choc cookie…or a lush hunk of camembert paired with a glass of your cellar’s finest. Not only is it possible, it’s recommended – in moderation.

BOOZE!

SET YOUR BOUNDARIES. All too often “I’ll only have 2 drinks” turns into 3 or 4 or more. Make sticking to your guns a whole lot easier by attaching booze to another activity – force yourself to ‘qualify’ before you can drink. Some suggestions? “I can only drink when I am eating my meal”… “I can only drink until 8pm”… “I can only drink when the conversation turns to football” …you get the idea. Come up with your own guidelines and figure out what works for you.

DON’T BOTHER SAVING IT UP. Being ‘good’ all week and then binging on the weekend spells disaster for fat loss. Would you ever have 4 oranges in a sitting? What about 5 or 10? Probably not. And why not? Because eating that many would be excessive. The ‘metabolic’ effect of one standard alcoholic drink can be likened to drinking a shot of oil! If a spirit & soft drink combo is more your style, then you can add 6-10 teaspoons of sugar into your shot of oil. Disastrous, right? So it’s a good idea to keep a lid on the number you have. If drinking, opt for wine, beer, champagne, or a spirit on the rocks/with soda; stagger your drinks with water; and always kick off a social occasion with water/mineral water to quench your thirst.

FAVOURITE FOODS

If you avoid them, you crave them. You may be able to keep it out for 3 days or 3 weeks, but when you inevitably ‘give-in’ to your black-listed food, it is likely that you will eat more in that sitting than if you allowed yourself to eat it occasionally. To boot, you probably felt guilty about having eaten it. This is no way to enjoy your favourite food! A consistent characteristic of people who maintain a healthy weight is that they DO EAT their favourite foods. Here’s how to do it:

  1. ONLY THE BEST version of your favourite food will do. Don’t settle for a second-rate apple slice – seek out the most decadent one you can find. Research shows we eat less of our favourite chocolate than if we ate just any old chocolate.
  2. TASTE EVERY MOUTHFUL: Eat in an environment conducive to enjoyment and awareness. Switch off the TV, make a cup of tea, and remember that the first few bites are the ones that give you the most pleasure.
  3. HOW MUCH: not so little that you are left craving more, not so much that you walk away feeling ill!
  4. HOW OFTEN? 2-3 times a week.

These are our top 5 nutrition tips to get you on your way

By Blog, Get Lean, Health, Sports Nutrition No Comments

1. PRACTICE 2-HANDED PUSH-UPS…away from the dinner table. Stop eating when you are 80% full, rather than when you can feel food in your stomach. The stretch receptors in your gut take 20 minutes to tell your brain that food is in there. Two-handed push-ups give them time to work their magic!

2. EAT WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY. When was the last time you felt true hunger? Many of us eat/graze out of habit. As a test, wait to eat lunch until your hunger is distracting enough that you can’t focus on your work.

3. SLEEP IT OFF. Researchers have established a clear link between sleep & body weight in that if you sleep more, your weight will come off more easily. How so? It comes down to 2 hormones:

Leptin: produced by our fat cells, its role is to signal to our brain when we are full

Ghrelin: produced in the gastrointestinal tract, it works to stimulate our appetite

When sleep is scarce, leptin levels drop, which means you don’t feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin to rise, which means our appetite is stimulated, and we want more to eat. This sets us up for overeating.

If you currently get <6 hours of sleep, try logging a few more (most people need 7 hours of sleep a night; some more, some less). You may just discover that you aren’t as hungry, or that you have fewer cravings for sugary, calorie-dense foods.

4. ALLOW SOME TREAT FOODS – this is very much a part of being healthy. Don’t feel that you need to try EVERY treat food that comes your way though – if it is not a favourite, skip it. Is the caramel slice worth it when you have slogged your guts out in a training session? Just because it is there, it doesn’t mean you HAVE to chow down.

5. OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MOUTH. Research by Brian Wansink (author of “Mindless Eating: Why we eat more than we think”) shows that we will eat twice as many Hershey’s kisses when they are in a clear container than when they are in an opaque container. If your office has a biscuit barrel/lolly jar – make sure it is not glass or plastic. Purchase a new ceramic version & wear the expense as your ‘nominal 6-pack tax’!

Your Top-5 tips for simplifying the food label!

By Blog, Get Lean, Health, Sports Nutrition No Comments

If you know a thing or two about nutrition, you will already know that when comparing 2 products, you use the ‘per 100g’ column so you can draw the comparison. You have probably also spent hours scrutinising the numbers on the nutrition panel. But what other than the numbers can you look at? Here are the simple things that don’t require you to be a number cruncher…

1. HOW MANY INGREDIENTS? The FEWER ingredients, the better. A long list of ingredients generally indicates a high degree of processing. The more processed a food is, the less nutritious it is. AIM: no more than 5 ingredients in a food. AN EXCEPTION: natural muesli.

2. COULD YOU BAKE IT YOURSELF? Again, check the ingredient list to find out. Do you have these ingredients in your pantry? Can you pronounce them without sounding the word out? If you do and you can – chances are this is a healthy food product. AIM: no numbers, no words you can’t pronounce. AN EXCEPTION: Lecithin (322) is a natural substance found in egg yolks & soy beans, and is added to foods to hold them consistent (e.g. it keeps the cocoa & cocoa butter in chocolate from separating)

3. SPLITTING INGREDIENTS – the lower down the list an ingredient appears, the less of it is used in the food product. So…sugar should NOT be the 1st or 2nd ingredient listed! But food manufacturers have become crafty…now there is a trend to split the TYPES of sugar added, so that they can be listed further down the list. Golden syrup, corn syrup, sucrose, fructose, dextrose are all just sugar – and will add into the sugar total of your food. AIM: for <15g sugar per 100g in cereals & biscuits. AN EXCEPTION: when fruit is listed high in the ingredient list – it will be a more nutritious product than something that uses the afore mentioned sugars.

4. ‘NATURAL’ – there is no food law covering the use of this term. Food manufacturers will use it to make you think it is a healthy food. Don’t forget that sugar, fat and salt are all ‘natural’. So while your food is ‘natural’, it could also be very well be high in an ingredient that you are trying to keep low. AIM: don’t be fooled when ‘natural’ is plastered across the box; don’t choose a food based on the fact that it is in recycled/brown cardboard packaging. Check the ingredient list, it won’t lie! AN EXCEPTION: Fresh fruit & vegetables – you can’t get any more natural than that!

5. PRO-ATHLETE BRANDING: Food companies like to use popular athletes to make their product seem healthy. Research shows that shoppers choose an athlete-endorsed product (believing it to be healthier) over an identical unbranded product. Compare the swimmer-endorsed muesli bar versus a Carman’s muesli bar. One is a standout for being healthier! AIM: remember that the brand without the fancy packaging is often the smaller company that produces the healthier, less processed product. AN EXCEPTION: I am still searching for one! Has anyone seen an athlete-endorsed broccoli?