Many people shy away from carbs because they think they’re bad for them. Certain carbs are but if you eat the right ones you’ll get a lot of healthy benefits. Avoid highly processed carbs, stick to natural whole carbs and you’ll be fine.
Benefits Of Carbs
Carbs can actually help with weight loss!
The right carbs contain quite a bit of fibre. Studies have shown that a diet high in fibre from fruits and vegetables help with weight loss.
Great source of energy.
Carbs contain glucose which is your body’s preferred source of energy.
They boost your mood.
Carbs help to increase serotonin, the feel-good hormone, in your brain. Eat the right carbs and you can help fend off depression and also be able to sleep better.
Carbs contain vitamins!
Carbs are a great source of vitamin B, which helps your body make energy from food and helps you make red blood cells. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C which helps keep your immune system strong.
Helps build muscle.
Building muscle takes a lot of energy and carbs help provide that energy that you need to get through your workouts.
Helps with muscle recovery.
Eating carbs after a workout will help with muscle recovery. Try pairing a high glycemic carb such as a banana with some protein after your workout.
Eat The Right Carbs
Not all carbs are created equal. The best carbs to have are ones that have not been processed (or are minimally processed). Go for fruits, vegetables, brown rice, quinoa and whole grains (if you’re not sensitive to them). Avoid overly processed packaged foods. Remember – if it’s not natural don’t eat it!
A lot of us believed it when we were told that ‘fat makes you fat’. The result was a huge variety of low fat and fat free foods that many people flocked to. Unfortunately, the claim that ‘fat makes you fat’ is untrue. People need to have a certain amount of healthy fats in their diet.
Here are 5 reasons why:
Fat absorbs vitamins.
If you go on a low/non-fat diet you’ll soon notice that your hair and skin will become dry, your nails will become brittle and you’ll feel weak. This is because you need fat to help absorb fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, E and K.
Fat keeps you feeling fuller longer.
Fat takes longer to digest than carbs or protein. This means that you’ll feel fuller longer and you won’t end up eating more than you need. If you’ve ever been on a super low-fat diet you’ll probably have experienced some intense cravings for fatty foods. This is your body’s way of getting you to eat the fat it needs. If you’re getting enough of the right fats you won’t get those crazy intense cravings.
Keep your hormones in check.
Fat is used to produce sex hormones. If you don’t get enough fat in your diet you can really mess with your hormones which can cause all sorts of health and reproductive issues.
Fat is good for your brain.
Fat is a crucial part of your brain structure. It protects the nerve fibres in your brain by forming an insulating layer around them. Fat also helps the nerves carry messages faster. If you’ve ever been on a low-fat diet you may have noticed a feeling of ‘brain fog’. Your brain can’t operate optimally without enough of the right fats.
Fat is an essential part of cell structure.
The membrane of every single cell in your body needs fat to form properly. Without fat the integrity of your cells is compromised which could lead to self-destruction of the cells leading ultimately to health issues.
Excellent Sources of Fat:
Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and herring
Nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, macadamia nuts just to name a few
Healthy oils such as olive, hemp, grapeseed and coconut
Full fat yogurt – go for Greek for the higher protein 😉
Butter! Butter is a great source of healthy fat. It’s a natural food and as long as you don’t over eat it, it’s a great source of fat to include in your diet.
Ah cheat days! Some people don’t like to call it a cheat day because the word cheat has a negative connotation. Whatever…..call it what you like: cheat day, break from your diet day, re-feed day – it’s all the same. You have one day where you stray from your normal clean eating and enjoy those foods you love that possibly aren’t really that great for you.
Some people feel that you shouldn’t have cheat days. Personally I think it’s good to have a cheat day or at least a cheat meal once a week.
Here are some reasons I think a cheat day/meal is important:
Helps with cravings.
I don’t know about you but when I’m told I can’t have something ever again, I want tend to want that thing more than ever and can’t stop thinking about it. Knowing that I can indulge in my favourite foods once a week helps me deal with cravings I might get.
When you do the same workout day after day, eventually your body adapts to the stress and no longer changes. You no longer see results – aka the dreaded plateau. A similar thing happens when you diet. When someone wants to lose weight they’ll restrict their calories a bit. This typically results in some weight loss but once your body adapts to the lower calorie allowance no more weight is lost. The only way to lose more is to restrict more and this will eventually lead to a diet that’s way too low in calories that can really damage your metabolism.
Cheat day to the rescue! By consuming more calories once a week you can actually prevent damage to your metabolism. When a person diets a hormone called leptin will start to dwindle. Leptin is basically responsible for maintaining energy balance and causing weight loss. By increasing your calorie intake once a week you actually increase your production of leptin by about 30% for up to 24 hours.
Just remember, one cheat day or one cheat meal per week is all you need. If you over feed yourself consistently you will gain weight.
Your social life!
A lot of social activities are centered around food. Sharing food is one of our basic human needs – it bonds us and has many psychological benefits. If you’ve ever tried sticking to your diet when you’re out with friends you’ll know how isolated that makes you feel. Having a cheat day or meal allows you to plan your social time so that you can indulge and enjoy both your food and your friends.
Makes eating clean a little easier.
Not everyone loves to eat clean and some people really struggle with it. If they had to commit to eating clean for the rest of their lives and never indulge in their favourite foods again a lot of people wouldn’t. Having a cheat day makes eating clean easier because you know that pretty soon you’ll get to give in to your cravings and enjoy some not so healthy stuff without feeling guilty. Personally, I think it’s a healthier approach to losing weight. If you’re following an eating plan that’s making you feel deprived there’s a really good chance that you’ll develop an unhealthy obsession with food. Keep that up and you could end up doing damage to your physical and mental health.
A healthier mind set.
Diets can be a slippery slope where some people might develop an all or nothing mind set. If they happen to give into a craving they feel like they’ve failed and decide they might as well keep going since they’ve already ruined their diet. This type of unhealthy thinking quite often leads to eating disorders and once you develop an eating disorder it never really goes away completely. If you have a planned cheat day or cheat meal you’ll feel more in control and not at all deprived.
Cheating Can Be A Good Thing!
So there you have it! Cheating can be a good thing, just make sure you do it properly. Use your cheat day/meal as an opportunity to enjoy food you don’t normally have. Do not use it as a binge fest. A healthy attitude towards food will do wonders for your soul.
Sometimes things happen and you end up having a few too many drinks the night before your workout. You wake up feeling not so great but you committed to a workout (or maybe you’re the instructor) so you can’t really just skip it. I don’t recommend working out with a hangover but if you must here are some tips to make your workout a bit safer and a bit more bearable the morning after.
As soon as you get up drink some water and then drink some more. Actually you should chug a glass or two before you go to bed. Try having some potassium rich coconut water in the morning to help replenish those electrolytes.
When you’re hung over you’re severely dehydrated – that’s what’s causing you to feel so bad. If you tax your body with a workout when it’s dehydrated you’ll perform poorly and feel even worse.
You may not feel like eating but force yourself to eat a healthy breakfast. Your body is recovering from the abuse the night before and you’re about to tax it again with a workout. You absolutely need the proper fuel to do this. Go for a high protein breakfast like eggs or even a protein shake. The amino acids will help your body recover better. Add a banana for the potassium to help replenish your electrolytes.
Get it done now!
Get your workout done in the morning (or whenever you happen to wake up). The release of endorphins will help you feel better so you can face the rest of the day. It would be a good idea to stick to a more moderate workout when working out with a hangover. If you go to hard you could end up feeling even worse.
40 can be a tough time if you’re trying to stay or get lean. Around the age of 40 we experience hormonal shifts that can make it feel like it’s impossible to lose weight. The good news is it’s not impossible – it just takes a bit more thought and effort.
Here are my top 5 tips for staying lean over 40:
Eat enough of the right stuff
When you suddenly find that you’re struggling to keep weight off it can be tempting to cut calories. Don’t do it! You need to fuel your body correctly and sufficiently or you’ll end up making things worse. If you don’t get enough food your body will slow its metabolism down in order to conserve calories and fat so it can survive.
A sedentary woman should not go below 1500 calories and a sedentary man should not go below 2000. If you’re conscious of your weight most likely you’re leading an active lifestyle. This means you need more calories. You can get a rough idea of how many by using an online calorie calculator.
It’s not as simple as just eating the correct amount of calories though! You need to eat the right amounts of the right foods. Cut out sugar and processed foods as much as possible – save them for your cheat day if you have to have them. Try experimenting with your macro-nutrients. A good place to start is 40% protein, 30% carbs and 30% healthy fats. Use My Fitness Pal to help you keep track.
You should also include a good probiotic in your diet. Most people are not digesting their food properly because their gut flora has been thrown off by sugar, processed foods and exposure to antibiotics. If you’re not digesting what you’re eating, even the healthiest diet will not result in optimum health. You can buy probiotics in capsule form or eat yogurt and/or other fermented foods.
Use a food journal!
For most people over 40 you can’t just estimate what you’re eating like you could in your 20s. You need to weigh, measure and track! I know it sounds like a pain in the ass (and it can be) but commit to at least one week of measuring and weighing. After a week you’ll become more familiar with what a proper serving size looks like and you may even find that you don’t mind weighing an measuring your food. I use My Fitness Pal to keep track and it’s been a game changer.
Strength train and do not over-do cardio!
If you don’t strength train, start now! Hire a trainer for a few sessions so you can learn how to do it properly. If you already strength train make sure you’re going heavy enough and mix it up every 4-6 weeks. Do heavy weights that cause momentary muscle failure within 8-10 reps. After about 4 weeks of that switch to lighter weights where you can do 12-15 reps. After that try adding some plyo moves to your workout…..the possibilities are endless! If you need help with a program I can help you 😉
Do cardio but don’t do too much. 20-30 minutes per session 3-6 days a week is enough. Do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). If you do too much cardio all you’re doing is training your body to store more fat. And, when you over tax your body with cardio your body may need to burn muscle for fuel. This is the last thing you want. Low muscle means low metabolism.
Hydration is key. A dehydrated body is a sick body. Did you know that when you’re dehydrated you won’t burn fat as efficiently? Aim for 3-4 litres per day. You can keep track of this on My Fitness Pal too.
Get your rest.
You need to rest. When you don’t get enough sleep your cortisol levels rise and this can lead to a cascade of events that will cause your body to store fat. If you have trouble sleeping try using melatonin or magnesium at night. You can also try meditation and making sure your bedroom is dark and kept at a cool temperature.
Being Over 40 Is No Excuse!
Don’t fall into the habit of blaming your age for your weight. You can lose weight and stay lean at any age, it just takes a bit more thought and effort. If it’s really worth it to you, you will be lean and healthy for the rest of your life.
I’ve tried many, many supplements in my day. My first one was some sort of fat burner that I ordered from an ad in a magazine. It think it was Dr. Sister’s fat burner or something. I was so excited when I got the free sample. On the sample it said 4 pills is all you need to start seeing results! The sample only had 3 and I was too young to own a credit card so I couldn’t order a full dose. I’m sure that was for the best.
Of all the many supplements I’ve tried I’ve settled on 4 which are my favourite. Here they are in no particular order:
For me protein powder is essential. I use it right after my workout and the convenience of it is perfect for a lazy girl like me. I use either Kaizen or Diesel. Both are made from New Zealand whey protein. The reason this is important to me is because New Zealand is held to super strict standards. Their cows are grass fed and raised without hormones or antibiotics. There’s more to it than that but that would be a new post in itself.
I tried A LOT of fat burners. The owner of the supplement store I bought them from called me his Guinee pig because I was in there trying something new so often. Some were good, some not so good. The one I’ve settled on is Onset by Diesel. I really like Onset because it gives me energy without making me feel jittery or nauseous. Also, when showed it to my coach she told me I could keep using it right up until my drug tested competition. This meant that there were no banned substances in it which is super important to me.
I’ve used creatine in the past and when my coach told me to start taking it again for my lean bulking season I didn’t even hesitate. Creatine is great for helping to build and maintain muscle. I’ve used creatine monohydrate before and now I’m using creatine HCL. Both seem to work great for me. I was told that creatine HCL doesn’t seem to cause the water weight gain that creatine monohydrate sometimes does. I’ve actually never noticed any kind of water weight gain with either.
I first tried exogenous ketones about a year ago and quite liked them. I seemed to have more energy and a clearer head. I only use it when my carb intake is super low though such as when I’m cutting. Right now I’m bulking which means I’m eating a lot of carbs. Exogenous ketones do not cancel out carbs – they assist you with getting in and staying in ketosis. If I were to take them now with my high carb diet I’d be throwing money away and ketones are not cheap!
Less Can Be More
As I mentioned, I’ve tried A LOT of supplements and used to take A LOT. Over the years I’ve found what works for me and stick with the tried and true and make sure that my lifestyle supports my supplement choices. It can be tempting to take a bunch of stuff that promises to make you lean and energetic but remember, people who come up with these miracle pills really just want your money. Be picky and if you’re not sure what you need, talk to a pro 😉
A lot of my clients complain that as they get older their belly seems to be getting bigger. Unfortunately, that’s a natural thing that happens to most people. They also complain that no matter how hard they exercise or how well they stick to their nutrition plan that belly just won’t budge. This actually isn’t entirely true though. It’s true that belly fat is hard to lose but it’s not impossible. As you decrease your body fat your belly is shrinking, just not as fast as the rest of your body is.
What’s The Deal With Belly Fat?
Fat burning is a two-step process. The first step is lipolysis which is when the fat cell releases fatty acids into the blood. The second step is oxidation which is the process whereby cells use those fatty acids for energy.
Lipolysis is stimulated by the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline which are catecholamines. The catecholamines enter your blood stream and then attach themselves to special receptors on your fat cells. Once these catecholamines attach themselves they cause the fat cells to release their fatty acids which can then be used by other cells in your body.
Sounds simple enough, right? Here’s where the frustration comes in. There are two types of receptors on your fat cells that the catecholamines attach to: alpha receptors and beta receptors. Beta receptors are the ones that trigger the release of fatty acids whereas the alpha receptors hinder it. It just so happens that fat cells in your belly and quite often hips and thighs have more alpha receptors than beta receptors making them resistant to your fat loss efforts.
You Are Not Doomed!
Now that you know the facts you can understand why certain areas of the body seem to resist fat loss. The good news is this doesn’t mean that you can’t lose fat from those trouble areas, it just means you need to do the right stuff and then be patient.
Tried And True Fat Loss Tips
Eat enough of the right foods
Do NOT be tempted to starve your fat away! This just backfires in the end. Make sure you’re getting enough calories to support your body and your activity level. You can either hire sports nutritionist or Google the info. Then you need to make sure you’re getting your calories from the right sources. Personally, I like to eat about 40% protein, 30% carbs and 30% fat. Depending on my training and my goals I find about 1800-1900 calories feels good. This just seems to work well for my body. I mainly eat clean whole foods and supplement with a high-quality whey protein shake and egg whites if I need to bump my protein up a bit. Everyone is different to be ready to experiment a bit and try to avoid going to extremes on anything. Your body hates extremes.
I cannot stress this enough! You must lift some heavy weights (especially as you get older) if you want a healthy body composition. A lot of women fight it but every single one of my female clients who I’ve talked into lifting heavy has at some point sent me a message thanking me because they’re finally seeing the results they want! If you’ve never lifted before you really need to hire a qualified trainer to show you proper technique. Heavy weight training is awesome when done right, dangerous when done wrong.
Stop doing so much cardio!!!
Are you one of those people who spends hours and hours a week doing cardio and feel frustrated with your results? I was!! That’s because too much cardio tells your body it needs to get really good at storing energy (ie FAT) so that it can fuel the long grueling cardio workouts you keep making it do. This is not to say that you shouldn’t do cardio, just don’t do marathon steady state sessions. Instead do HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is where you go as hard as you can for a short period of time, recover and then repeat. These workouts can be as short as 15-20 minutes including the warm-up. There are lots of studies that have been done to prove how effective HIIT is.
A dehydrated body is a sick body. All of your cells absolutely require a certain amount of water every day. Your kidneys need enough water to function properly. If you’re dehydrated your kidney’s can’t do their job of purifying the blood. When this happens, your liver has to help your kidneys out. Your liver’s main function is to metabolize fat. If the liver is having to help the kidneys do their job it can’t metabolize fat as efficiently. Aim for about 3-4 litres/day.
Don’t be tempted by the latest miracle pill that’s going to ‘melt the fat right off your body’. There are some great supplements that you can try but be sure they’re from a reputable company and be sure you use them as they’re meant to be used: AS A SUPPLEMENT. This means that you need to already have your nutrition and fitness plan dialed in before supplements can help you. There are some great fat burners but if you’re using fat burners without moving your body they won’t do a thing for you except make you super hyper and maybe a bit nauseous. Exogenous ketones can be a great supplement but only when used in conjunction with a keto or keto-like diet (in other words low carb).
Don’t Get Frustrated
I know it’s frustrating when you’re doing everything you need to do but your results are slow or even seem non-existent. The good news is you can lose that fat! The bad news is you’ll need to be patient and perhaps more diligent than you have in the past. Fall in love with the process and be consistent and persistent!
Have you ever lost weight only to gain it back plus more? Why does that happen and what can you do to avoid it?
Weight Loss and Metabolism
Metabolism is how much energy your body burns. You burn calories at rest, while exercising and while digesting food. Your metabolic rate will depend on your size, your activity level and your genetics.
Losing weight does in fact cause your metabolism to slow down because there is less of you to move around. This doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to gain your weight back though. You just need to adapt your life to your new size.
Here are some things you can do to help keep your metabolism running well:
Lose weight slowly.
Your body actually does not want to lose weight. When you lose weight your body sees that as a threat to your existence so it slows its metabolism down in an effort to conserve energy. If you lose weight fast using extreme measures your body will fight back even more. The trick is to lose it slowly by slightly decreasing your calories and adding a moderate amount of exercise to your plan. You should aim to lose about 1 pound per week.
Hit the weights!
Have you been doing a ton of cardio but the weight is just not coming off? Like excessive calorie restriction, excessive cardio will cause your body to slow it’s metabolism down to conserve energy. Back off a bit on the cardio and add some heavy weight training. Don’t worry ladies, you will not get bulky. Lifting heavy weights will cause you to gain muscle. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue which means it requires a certain amount of energy just to exist. This is why people who are more muscular burn more calories. You need to vary your strength workouts but aim to start with lifting enough to fatigue your muscles within 8-10 reps. Do 3 or 4 sets with about 2 minutes between sets to allow your muscles to recover and be able to get through the next set.
Change things up regularly.
Variety is the spice of life! The body is an amazing machine that can adapt to anything that life throws at it. This is great for some situations but not for weight loss. If you’ve been eating the same thing and doing the same exercises for a long time you have to switch it up. Have you noticed that you don’t get as sore as you used to from your workouts? Have you noticed that even though you haven’t changed your diet you seem to be gaining weight? This is because your body has adapted to what you’re doing and will no longer change. It’s up to you to provide a different stimulus for your body.
A dehydrated body will never perform optimally. Not only can dehydration affect your weight, it can also affect your mental health. Aim for 3-4 litres/day. Drink more on more active and/or hotter days.
You Are Not Doomed To Gain Your Weight Back
Even though your metabolism does slow down when you lose weight this does not mean you are doomed to gain your weight back. Keep in mind the 4 tips I gave you and realize that your new body needs to be cared for and treated differently than your old body. If you need help, that’s what I’m here for 😊
Last night I watched a documentary called ‘Fed Up’. It’s about what’s really causing the obesity epidemic: sugar. The information wasn’t new to me. I’ve been studying nutrition for years and I know first-hand the damage sugar can do. Watching this documentary got be pretty fired up though because it reminded me how the food companies are misleading people into eating foods that are not just making them too fat, but also slowly killing them. These food companies particularly like to go after kids because they’re an easy target. Let’s look at why you need to avoid sugar.
Why You Need To Avoid Sugar
Sugar causes insulin resistance.
When you eat a diet high in sugar/carbs it causes your body to overproduce insulin. Basically insulin takes sugar and turns it into fat for storage. If your body is overproducing insulin you’ll be storing more fat and also possibly develop type 2 diabetes.
Sugar causes heart disease.
I’ll bet you thought fat was responsible for heart disease. Well guess what? Too much sugar has been linked to fatal heart disease even in those who don’t appear to have a weight problem. By the way, skinny/lean does not equal healthy. There are a lot of skinny people out there who are struggling with the same health issues as obese people from eating a diet high in sugar.
Sugar affects your cholesterol.
There is significant evidence that sugar will lower your HDL (your good cholesterol). A high sugar/high carb diet will raise your triglycerides which is a better predictor of heart disease than total cholesterol.
Sugar causes tooth decay.
Bacteria loves sugar. If you’re eating a high sugar/high carb diet your feeding bacteria in your mouth that will cause cavities.
For the first time ever, kids are developing fatty liver disease. Normally fatty liver disease is a problem caused by too much alcohol. Not anymore. Fructose is fine when it’s consumed as fruit. Fruit contains the necessary fibre, vitamins and minerals to allow your body to process it for energy. It’s when fructose alone is added to foods that it becomes deadly.
Sugar is linked to cancer.
Cancer cells can only survive off of sugar. Eating sugar feeds cancer.
Sugar makes you more hungry.
Sugar causes you to release more insulin (basically the fat storage hormone) and less leptin. Leptin is a hormone that signals your brain that you’ve had enough to eat. It suppresses the release of leptin so your brain is unaware that you’re actually full and will drive you to eat more.
Sugar suppresses your immune system.
Sugar depletes your body of the nutrients it needs for a healthy immune system. It also reduces your body’s ability to fight infection.
Sugar can cause depression.
There is a direct link between blood sugar and mood. If your blood sugar is going through spikes and lows daily your mood is going to be affected negatively. A high sugar and therefore low nutrient diet will not provide the essential amino acids and vitamins you need for a stable mood.
Sugar affects your gut flora.
Sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your gut and kills the good bacteria. Your gut flora impacts your immunity, serotonin (your feel good hormone), allergies, bowel function, metabolic function and more. Sugar throws your gut flora out of whack causing a myriad of problems.
Sugar can cause macular degeneration.
Eat too much sugar and you’ll be needing glasses soon.
Sugar causes wrinkles.
Did that get your attention? Basically sugar attacks the fibres in elastin and collagen. Elastin and collagen is what makes your skin supple so if they’re being destroyed by sugar the result is wrinkled skin.
Sugar causes inflammation.
Inflammation is basically the root of all disease including cardiovascular disease, asthma, allergies, arthritis and many more.
Sugar can affect your child’s IQ
There’s evidence that children eating a poor diet high in sugar and therefore low in essential nutrients may be associated with reductions in IQ in later childhood.
Sugar can cause estrogen production in men.
Listen up men! MOOBS (man boobs) are on the rise! Don’t let it happen to you.
Sugar causes kidney disease.
Sugar damages the microvascular vessels in the kidneys. This affects your kidney’s ability to regulate excretion of harmful wastes among other important things that healthy kidneys do.
Sugar causes high blood pressure.
Most people blame salt for high blood pressure but in fact sugar is more strongly associated with hypertension.
Sugar promotes acne.
When you eat too much sugar more oil is produced on your face leading to acne.
Sugar can affect fertility.
Eating too much sugar can cause polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which can lead to infertility.
Sugar can cause a drop in libido in men.
Guys! Sugar can affect the ability for blood flow and cause nerve and hormone damage. These are common causes in erectile dysfunction (ED).
Sugar Is Sugar Is Sugar
The processed food companies are just as bad as big tobacco used to be. They’re producing and promoting a product that they know does extreme damage and may even cause death and their only concern is making more money. They’ll put a healthy spin on sugar by naming it cane sugar, natural sugar, agave nectre or whatever. In the end your body reacts exactly the same to any source of processed sugar. Get your sugar from your fruit and treat the processed foods like the poison they are. It’s time to take control and get healthy!