Tag Archives: fat

Trying to lose weight? Change your approach with these nourishing principles

admin-ajax-php

Every Body is Different – Calories v’s Nutrients

The world of weight loss can be a confusing and overwhelming place; with so many different diets all claiming to be the new best approach. The problem is that every body is different and the biological needs of one person wont be the same as the another, and that needs to be taken into account when embarking on any weight loss plan. Many people can got through their adult life following diet after diet and getting no where, or losing some weight but then gaining it back again when they return to ‘normal’ eating, because lets face it, most of these ‘diets’ are difficult (and no fun!) to follow long term. When it comes to diets and calorie restriction many people could be wreaking havoc on their thyroid and adrenal gland health. We need to provide the body with the right environment for it to start burning fat.

Here are 3 principles that I hope will change your approach to weight loss.

1) Switch the focus to nourishment rather than calories

Focus on food that nourishes your body, giving it what it needs to thrive, burn fat and balance your energy and mood. Huge improvements in health and wellbeing can be seen from switching the focus over to nourishment from real whole foods, containing good fats, quality protein, and plenty of vegetables, and good quality carbohydrates, rather than counting calories. This shift will leave you feeling more satisfied, and help you to think more clearly and be more productive, because our brain needs to be nourished. You will probably end up eating more calories than you would think you should or ever have before, but once you see the old stubborn fat coming off and you start to feel great, and your cravings diminish, you will see that calorie counting wasn’t the key after all. For some people, restricting calories does indeed lead to weight loss, but this isn’t usually true fat loss, more water and muscle, and the loss is almost always unsustainable unless and not to mention unhealthy, the weight usually piles back on with a vengeance. Calorie restriction usually signals to our body that we are in some state of famine or distress and our bodies are very cleverly designed to deal with this.

Let me explain more – If we are highly stressed, or we are simply just under eating, the body goes into fat preservation mode. It does this to protect you and help you, only when we are desperately trying to lose weight/body fat we don’t really appreciate this, and unknowingly we are causing this to happen. It’s usually at this point that we blame ourselves and conclude that we’re not working hard enough i.e. we’re not restricting calories enough and exercising hard enough – we either give up or we start pounding the pavements more often and for longer, and eating less. This just makes the situation a whole lot worse, not to mention how bad it feels! The key is to provide the body with the right nutrition for it to feel safe and not perceive famine or stress, which just knocks hormones out of balance and triggering your body to hold onto your fat stores.

2) Understand how your body reacts to different foods, irrespective of their calorie content

For example, when you eat a bowl of Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes or a can of Fanta, the body absorbs the sugars quickly which raises the level of sugar in our blood stream to above its ideal level (which is about 1 tsp at any one time). This calls upon the hormone insulin to move the excess sugar out of the blood stream. Insulin looks to our body’s cells when moving the sugar, and it heads mostly our fat cells around our middle, insulin has an important job to do but it is a fat storing hormone. This scenario will increases inflammation in the body, raises triglycerides (fat in your blood), and blocks the appetite controlling hormone leptin. Leptin is a hormone that tells the brain when we are satisfied i.e. that we’ve eaten enough food. If the brain can’t receive this message then the body will most likely continue to feel hungry and we will continue to eat. So, can you see how calories have no relevance here? If this scenario of high sugar food choices is then repeated many times throughout the day, it will lead to weight gain (and stubborn midriff fat stores) and most likely lead to disease, seeing as inflammation, and fat in the blood will continue to rise, and leptin will continue to be blocked.

3) Make a shift away from the wrong carbs, but understand why

Carbs come in all shapes and sizes. The important thing to know is which carbs to avoid and which ones to include. The majority of people today are eating a low fat and carb heavy diet, and whilst they think they might be doing the right thing (according to mainstream media), they’re not. The government ‘Eatwell Plate’ is extremely out of date and incorrect, with its suggestion to keep fats low and have a third of our plate made up of bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, or other starchy food. This will only increase the scenario mentioned in point 1 above (fat storage!). The BANT wellness plate is much more up to date and supported by up to date research, you have a look at this here. It suggests that a quarter of our plate should be made up of whole grains and root vegetables, a quarter should be leafy green vegetables, a quarter of other veg, and a quarter of it protein making fish, poultry and eggs your principal sources of protein. Most people who eat a diet low in fat and high in carbohydrates (as per the government Eatwell plate) may feel like they’re never really full or satisfied long after eating, this is probably because leptin is having trouble getting through to the brain (see above). Instead of bread, white rice, white potatoes and pasta use whole grains like rye, quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, and oats, use root veg like sweet potato and beetroot, plenty of vegetables with lots of dark green leafy stuff, and use low sugar fruits like berries, apples and pears. These types of carbohydrate foods do not spike blood sugar levels in the way that starchy and refined carbs do, plus they offer a whole heap of vitamins and minerals that we so desperately need on a daily basis. Snack on nuts and seeds, hummus, avocado, cottage cheese, rather than carb heavy snacks like bread, cakes, biscuits and muffins etc.

If we stop focusing on calories and we focus on eating whole, real foods that nourish the body we are much more likely to be and feel healthy and keep our weight under control. The body has an in-built system that controls our appetite but by eating refined foods high in sugar, and keep fats low, we are messing with this system. Some foods that are highest in fat and calories are the most nourishing of foods that work WITH our system not against it, supporting our metabolism, rather than slowing it. These foods are much more likely to promote weight loss and decrease our risk of heart disease and diabetes, such as avocados, which is a fantastic example.

So, if you have trouble with weight around the middle then take a look at your approach to your diet, are you counting calories rather than nourishment? Is your diet high in sugar and carbs and low in fats? Is it high in hidden sugars coming from refined carbs like wraps or white bread, sauces in jars or packets, regular cereals we see advertised on TV? Check labels to look for the ‘of which sugars’ content and know that 1 teaspoon of sugar equates to about 4.4g of sugar, so if the label tells you there is 16g of sugar in the portion of that food you’ll eat then that’s a out 4 teaspoons in one go, that’s only going to spike your blood sugar and call upon insulin. ‘Low fat’ usually means high sugar/high insulin spike, so be aware! Keeping insulin at bay, and supporting the body’s natural hormonal system is a whole lot more effective than any calorie counting.

I hope you found this useful and it helps to steer you in the right direction :-)

You’ve just got to love EGGS!

admin-ajax-php-10

Eggs!! They really are a wonder food in my book, but so many of us think we should avoid them because they are “high in fat” or “don’t they raise cholesterol?”. After years of being given the wrong advice from our government and health officials, its time we turned things around and started including all the great foods we’ve been told to avoid, and start to become a healthy nation!

Some questions you might have are “how many eggs should I consume in a week?”, “What about my cholesterol?”, “Should I discard the yolk?”

Let me help you get some answers.

Eggs are a great source of a complete, high quality protein with few calories (although we don’t count those here ;-)). One whole medium size egg has around 5-6 grams of protein and contains all the 9 essential amino acids, making eggs perfect for muscle growth,repair and recovery. They are a ‘nutrient dense food’ and one worth having on the menu for breakfast, snacks, lunch, or dinner!

Eggs are rich in choline, which is an essential nutrient that the human body can indeed make itself in small amounts but it still needs to be consumed in the diet to maintain good levels. Choline is important for our brain, nervous system and cardiovascular system.

Eggs contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health as they can help prevent macular degeneration. These 2 nutrients are more readily available (absorbed better) from eggs than any other foods.

The white of the egg has about 57% of the total protein in an egg, which is why some people like to load up on whites, and they usually discard the yolk due to its fat andcholesterol content, let’s look at this in more detail.

Ok, so yes it’s true that egg yolks contain cholesterol, fat and saturated fat. But, only 1.6g of the total 4.5g fat in an egg yolk is saturated fat, so the rest is the good type of fat that our bodies and brains need so desperately, and we are most likely not getting enough of. These good fats are also needed to help our body burn fat. Some saturated fat in the diet is fine, and necessary, its trans and processed fats that we should be avoiding. There are also some really important nutrients in the egg yolk that we are depriving our body off if we discard the yolk such as essential fatty acids and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E, essential fatty acids, then there is the 2.7 grams of protein you’d be leaving behind too.

The table below (taken from the USDA) compares the nutrients of the egg white with the yolk, and shows the percentage of total nutrition found in both. You can see from this that the yolk is the most nutritious part, so please please don’t leave it out! 

Nutrition of Egg Yolks V’s Egg Whites

Picture-110

New research shows that moderate consumption of eggs does not have a negative impact on cholesterol(1). ‘New’ is the key word here. Mainstream media and parts of the NHS are still clinging onto outdated research (which was very much flawed in the first place(2)), it’s important to keep up to date with research when making dietary recommendations and claims to the masses that may even be damaging their health rather than improving it. Recent studies have shown that regular consumption of two eggs per day does not affect a person’s lipid (cholesterol) profile and may, in fact, improve it, and suggests that it is bad fats and overconsumption on sugar that raises cholesterol rather than dietary cholesterol such as that found in eggs.

So, hopefully by now you are happy to include (whole) eggs in your daily diet (unless of course they cause you digestive upset of any sort). When buying your eggs always go for free range and organic if you can, you can also look for the ‘omega 3 enriched’ kind. Free range and organic ensures you’re eating the eggs from healthy happy chickens that roam around free and are fed the right food so they can produce great eggs. Eggs from battery farmed (caged) hens are a no-no, so don’t go for the cheapest option as these are most likely to be from caged hens, always read the label!

On a typical day, I have 2 whole eggs, but sometimes more, and I’ve been doing this for many years now. I love them scrambled with smoked salmon and spinach on a crunchy piece of rye toast with some real butter, or poached with some grilled asparagus, or boiled and mixed into a salad or as a snack during the day. My cholesterol levels are fine and I don’t struggle with my weight (not since about 10 years ago). Even if the dietary cholesterol in egg yolks DID, have an effect on the cholesterol levels in your blood it would be very minimal. Enjoy eggs and enjoy everyday! They are a handy, practical, and healthy addition to a whole foods healthy diet.

I hope this has been helpful, for further reading on the subject of cholesterol and food have a read of this insightful book, and also this one, sometimes you have to take your health into your own hands and dig a little deeper.

Francesca x

 

 

 

 

Make fat your friend! It isn’t the cause of weight gain!

admin-ajax-php-17

Before I became a Nutritional Therapist I used to believe, like most of us still do today, that foods containing fat simply made us fat, and unhealthy. I would be forgiven for believing it because since the 1950’s, when research came out linking saturated fat and cholesterol with heart disease mass media (and medical industry) have been pushing that message every single day and when you walk into any supermarket you are bombarded with ‘low-fat’, ‘zero % fat’ and ‘fat-free’ products with the low fat food industry flourishing around us. It’s so deeply ingrained in us that most of us cringe at the thought of using lard, and even butter! Some of us even avoid avocados and nuts for fear of getting fat!  And we never touch the skin on the chicken!

To totally avoid fat has to be some of the worst heath advice we’ve had over the years! Sadly the message we’ve been given is wrong, that research from the 1950’s that started this whole thing off has been invalidated and saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease, nor do healthy fat foods such as nuts, avocados, butter, full fat yoghurt, etc, make us fat. In fact, low fat diets have been shown to reduce levels of ‘good’ (HDL cholesterol) and increase triglycerides, which are risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. This is likely due to our over-reliance on carbohydrate foods whilst on a low fat diet as well the hidden sugars in low-fat products.

Since we all started cutting fat from our diets obesity, heart disease and cancer rates have all increased with heart disease being the number one killer in men and women. The rate of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly is increasing and children are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes younger and younger, and all this is despite cutting out fat from our diets. In actual fact low carb diets have consistently shown better results for weight loss than low fat diets and this is because eating lower carbs and not excluding fat has a balancing effect on your blood sugar which means that your metabolism is supported and will work more efficiently for you, burning fat rather than storing it.

So should we all start eating higher fat diets again?

Yes, fat does not make us fat or sick; it is necessary for our health, and for weight management. Make peace with fat not war! 

The body simply works better when we allow fat in. One of my aims as a nutritional therapist is to help people to understand this and most of all to accept it, embrace fat, eat it every day, with every meal and snack, and lose the fear!

Sugar and refined carbohydrates makes us fat! Every time we eat a carbohydrate food it turns into sugar in the bloodstream. Our pancreas then secretes insulin (our fat-storing hormone) to bring the sugar to our cells so that we can use it as energy. If we have excess sugar in our body (which we most likely will after any high sugar or refined carb food we eat), it gets stored as fat.

Protein and fat act as carbohydrate “buffers” by keeping our blood sugar level from spiking to high too quickly (which is what causes excess sugar in the blood), and allowing our pancreas to secrete glucagon (the fat-burning hormone). So fat/weight gain isn’t a result of consuming too much fat—it’s a result of too many carbohydrates in too little time, too often. We need carbohydrates so I’m not saying to cut them out, I’m saying to consider your types of carbs, for example you should focus on low sugar fruits such as apples, pears and berries, and vegetables, as your main carbohydrate sources and include whole grains only like brown rice, quinoa, rye bread, and oats, but consume your carbohydrates with a protein and a fat source. This combination helps keep blood sugars stable, allowing those extra fat stores to be burned and the weight to come off. Excess body fat doesn’t stand a chance of being burned if we eat too much or the wrong types of carbohydrates, and don’t include fat and protein everyday.

However, fats are not equal, there are good and bad ones (see below), it’s just about knowing which ones we can and SHOULD eat everyday and which ones we shouldn’t.

Here are some reasons why we must lose the fear of fat:

Fat keeps us full and reduces cravings. Fat is highly satiating and energy giving, it sends a signal to our brain that we’re full which helps us in our quest not to overeat. As mentioned above it helps to slow the release of sugar into the blood stream from a carbohydrate food and therefore helps to balance blood sugar levels, this in turn as a positive impact on reducing cravings.

When fat is removed from a product, sugar (or artificial sweeteners, which are no better) is added to replace it. ‘Low fat’/’zero % fat’/’fat free’ such as milk and yoghurt, has had its nutrients stripped out along with it’s fat, the absence of the fat has now made the (naturally occurring) sugars more readily available to the blood stream, causing a higher spike of sugar in the blood stream, go for the full fat option, plus it tastes so much better. So all this restricting of fat in favour of low-fat products has just increased your intake of sugar massively, unknowingly for most people. In turn this has added to our cravings for more sugar as once the sugar has been moved from the blood stream we just want more to pick us up again. Little did a lot of people know that low fat and zero % fat products have just put us on a blood sugar, fat-storing, sugar-craving, low energy roller coaster for years!

In our calorie-counting culture fat is the first thing to be removed from the diet in a quest to lose weight because it’s higher in calories than carbohydrates or proteins. But, the whole ‘calories in, calories out’ theory is a myth because if it were true why on earth would so many people be struggling to lose weight or get the body they want? We’d all be slim, toned and healthy if it was as simple as that. When we eat fat, we send a signal to our brain that we’re full and can stop eating. Low-fat diets leave us feeling deprived, hungry and often times with intense food cravings.

Adding fat back into your diet can cause your sugar cravings to disappear. It really is that powerful! Always go for the full fat instead of the low-fat or fat-free version, please trust me!

Fat supports our brain. Our brains are made up of 60% fat, so it needs fat for fuel! When we eat a low-fat diet we are not giving our brain the raw materials it needs to function at its best. You may have noticed that when you cut out fat you’re not able to think as clearly, feed your brain the fuel it needs.

Fat reduces inflammation. Inflammation is at the root cause of all chronic diseases. We’ve been told for years that saturated fat causes heart disease, but new research shows that saturated fat is not the problem and actually never was. Its things like refined carbohydrates, sugar, trans-fats, processed oils, constant stress, lack of sleep and over-exercising that can have the biggest impact on our overall health. When we have inflammation, our body focuses on healing that inflammation instead of doing what we want it to do — like rid the excess weight. Fat helps the body heal the existing inflammation and helps to get the body onto a good metabolic path.

Sources of good fats, to include a source with every meal and snack, these types of fat help heal your body and support your metabolism the most:

  • Avocados
  • Real butter
  • Coconut oil and butter
  • Cheese
  • Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel
  • Hemp seed and hemp oil
  • Flaxseed/linseed
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Nut butters
  • Olive oil
  • Cream

Sources of bad fats, these are the ones that cause damage and inflammation in our body:

  • All trans fats (referred to as ‘partially hydrogenated’ or ‘hydrogenated oil’ on the product info label)
  • Refined/processed oils such as soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, sunflower, or vegetable oil
  • All margarine, yes even the ones that say they reduce cholesterol and have a lovely picture of a heart on the label.
  • Shop bought baked goods such as biscuits, cakes, buns, donuts, some types of crackers etc
  • Deep fried foods
  • Crisps and chips

The Scoop on Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fats

These fats are ‘essential’ because the body cant make them itself, so we need to provide them in our diet. Both 3 and 6 should be in balance but the trouble is its much easier for us to obtain omega 6 fats (mainly from vegetable oils, margarine, and animal products) from the diet than it is omega 3 fats (mainly from oily fish, and some nuts and seeds).  This has resulted in an increase in the ratio of omega 6:3 fats so they’re not in balance in our bodies. If this ratio gets too high it can result in inflammation in the body, which is a pre-cursor for most disease and obesity, and not to mention the havoc it plays on our hormones!

So what should you do?

Make sure you’re getting enough omega 3 fats in your diet. The plant sources like flaxseeds, chia and walnuts for example, have to go through a rather complex conversion process in order to become EPA & DHA omega 3 fats, the form of omega 3 that the body can actually use. So look more to oily fish like sardines, mackerel, salmon, trout and if you aren’t eating enough of these or you’re vegan or vegetarian then consider taking a good quality EPA and DHA supplement.

Here are some tips on how to incorporate good fats into your day:

  • Add butter to your vegetables or melt a good tbsp of coconut oil over them and your choice of seasoning
  • Use half an avocado in a smoothie, with your scrambled eggs, in salads, or make guacamole yourself to have with oatcakes or as a side
  • Cook with unrefined virgin coconut oil, light olive oil (NOT extra virgin), lard, butter, goose/duck fat (imagine roast potatoes in goose fat, yum!)
  • Add coconut cream, tbsp of nut butter or coconut oil and coconut butter to smoothies
  • Use nut butters like cashew, almond, hazelnut, mixed nut etc, have on oat cakes, rye bread, in smoothies, mixed with coconut yoghurt eg COYO or just eat off the spoon for a quick pick me up.
  • Use cream in your morning coffee instead of sugar-loaded and processed coffee creamers.
  • Use coconut milk for your smoothies. I like to add 2-3 parts water to one can of full fat coconut milk and store in the fridge for my smoothies.
  • Cook your eggs in butter, use about a tbsp. (the real stuff). The processed stuff is detrimental to health, and does not favour weight management.
  • Treat alert! Add half a banana, some coconut cream, and 1 tbsp of raw cocao powder as an anytime snack. Also try half a frozen banana with ½ an avocado and 1 tbsp of raw cacao powder for some super healthy chocolate ice cream
  • Drizzle olive oil and or hemp oil over salads, greens, or any other dish you want to add oil to! Keep it cold though never heated, or you damage the delicate bonds the oil is made up of and turn them unhealthy.
  • For a healthy tuna mayonnaise mix eggs with olive or hemp oil then add to tinned tuna or salmon and serve with mixed green leaves.
  • Enjoy cashews, pistachios, brazils, almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts etc, great with sliced apple or pear

We have to overcome our fear of fat make friends with it, everyday—you will be surprised how much better you feel as well as the positive effects it can have on your weight!

My favourite tip is to add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your morning coffee or cup of green tea to kick start fat burning for the day.

One last thing…..coconut helps our body to burn fat!

Coconut oil is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which is a type of fat that is digested quickly and known for it’s great energy and metabolism-boosting effects. Lauric acid is the main form of MCT in coconut oil. It has been shown to be antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral and increases HDL cholesterol (the good kind). It can promote healthy thyroid function, blood sugar regulation, and help fight off yeast, candida, and fungus.

Basically coconut oil can boost your metabolism and give you more energy. It can reduce inflammation, which as mentioned above is the route to all evil including weight gain.

I hope this has been helpful and you take some of the points on board and start to feel great :-)

Get Your 4 Step Guide to Sustainable Fat Loss, Health & Happiness

Sign up for the free pdf guide