If you hang around the sports nutrition world you'll see there's a lot of fuss about beetroot juice, which has recently been promoted to a Grade A supplement by the Australian Institute of Sport. Whether you are trying to improve your exercise endurance, improve your blood pressure or just add more veggies to your diet - check out my beetroot smoothie.Read More
Presenting my mid week mojito...
- 4 peppermint tea bags
- 1 cup mint leaves
- 2 limes, juiced
- plenty of ice
- maple syrup (optional)
- Add the teabags to 1 litre of boiling water and leave to steep in the fridge for 2 hours
- Half fill a jug with ice, mint leaves and the lime juice. Add the cooled tea.
- Stir through 1 tab table syrup if you like it sweet
- Enjoy in the sun!
Over the last few years A2 milk has become a significant player in Australia and New Zealand. It has recently expanded into the UK and US markets too. If you suffer from bloating or an upset stomach after drinking milk, it might be worth giving A2 milk a go.
WHAT IS A2 MILK?
All regular cows’ milk brands today contain a combination of two main types of beta-casein protein, namely A1 and A2. The A2 milk company has developed a genetic test to choose cows which don’t produce the A1 protein. The farms that produce the A2 milk use only cows which produce the A2 protein. The rest of the A2 milk process is no different to the production of any other milk - it doesn't use genetic engineering or a special technological process.
IMPROVED DIGESTION IN SMALL STUDIES
There have been 2 small human studies looking at the effect of A2 milk. The first study was conducted on a small group of 41 people, of which 10 reported an intolerance to dairy milk. In this trial after drinking A1 protein only the study participants reported softer stools than after drinking A2 milk. It is thought this was due to an increase in gut inflammation caused by consumption of the A1 protein.
This second study on 45 people compared common commercial milk that contained both A1 and A2 milk proteins and to milk containing only A2 protein. This study found that consuming A2 milk did not cause an increase in unpleasant digestive symptoms (for example, bloating and flatulence) usually associated with milk consumption in those who were lactose-intolerant.
These studies were both very small. Currently Monash University is conducting a larger trial which will have results published in December.
SO SHOULD I TRY IT?
With only 10% of Australians consuming their recommended 3-4 serves of dairy each day I am a big fan of any product that helps people drink more milk. Dairy products are a rich source of a wide range of nutrients including calcium, protein, iodine, vitamins A, B2, B12 and D, and zinc. Improved dairy intake has been linked to weight management, reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, and provides one of the best dietary sources of calcium for bone health.
If you already drink milk with no tummy upsets, there is no advantage in switching to A2 milk, and it does cost nearly twice the price of regular milk. However if you do suffer from digestion issues after drinking milk then it's certainly worth giving A2 milk a go.
Note that A2 milk is not lactose free, so will not solve medically diagnosed lactose intolerance. However, if you have diagnosed lactose intolerance but would still like to try a2 Milk™, you can add a lactase enzyme supplement (such as Lacto-Free) to break down the lactose milk sugar making it possible for you to enjoy dairy.
if you do want to try A2 milk, make sure you buy the labelled A2 milk and don't be tricked by other milk that "contain A2 protein" as it's the A1 protein you want to avoid.
I am a big fan of Jalna A2 yoghurt which is a reduced fat yoghurt made from A2 milk. While all yoghurts contain starter cultures, not all have probiotics (live bacteria that survive digestion and colonise in the gut). The strains in all Jalna Yoghurt are: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus Casei. These cultures have been shown to survive in sufficient numbers to reach the large intestine, where they multiply and colonise. These cultures have been demonstrated to provide gastrointestinal and immune health benefits.
My Facebook feed at the moment of tips and tricks of how to "survive" the holiday season as if celebrating with friends and family is something to be dreaded. I love a party and I'd hate to think of people depriving themselves but it's worth knowing some tricks and tips so you can enjoy the party without that stuffed full feeling.
Here's my 6 top tips to enjoy 6 weeks of the silly season.
Try not to turn up to the party ravenous - make sure you've had a really good lunch with plenty of veggies and protein. If you're still hungry mid afternoon have a snack - say an apple and some nuts with some chopped up veggies. You'll feel much more in control and not dive straight into the bowl of chips and dip
Choose the food & drink you really love. I love a beautiful french champagne and some rich creamy St Agur cheese. But I can leave cheap Sauvignon Blanc and deep fried canapés. Savour the experience of eating good quality food rather than high fat snacks that leave you feeling bloated and heavy afterwards.
Practice your mindful eating "gap" by asking yourself "do I really feel like eating this?" - this simple question is often enough to help you control the amount of food you are eating. Another simple trick is to limit yourself to just 3-5 canapés at any one event and say it out loud to yourself before you go into the party.
Count your drinks - Try to have at least two alcohol-free days each week to give your liver a break and make every second drink at the party water. You can offer to drive sometimes too.
Christmas is one day not two months - you don't need a mince pie in November. Try to differentiate “special” occasions from run of the mill drinks and parties with work colleagues and acquaintances. This way you can indulge when there is a truly special occasion but keep on track with healthy habits the rest of the time.
Offer to bring a plate. Everyone loves it if you go to the effort of providing a whole lot of veggie sticks and homemade dips, and they are always eaten, after all we're all grownups and most people don't really want the deep fried food. Here are some of my favourite plates to share.
Do you need help getting your healthy eating back on track? My 6 week customised nutrition program was specially designed to help you establish healthy eating habits, lose weight, or recover from the diet cycle. Find out more here.
Rachel is a university qualified Clinical Nutritionist based in Balmain. She is also the busy working mum of two teenagers, so is practical and realistic with her advice . Rachel offers private consultations to improve your family's health and well-being. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram for more healthy tips and tricks.
Intermittent Fasting diets have been popular for a few years. Recently researchers from Austin Health and the University of Melbourne compared the results of the popular 5:2 intermittent fasting diet with a standard kilojoule reduced diet. The 5:2 diet involves eating only 2,500 kilojoules (or 600 calories) on two non-consecutive days a week and then eating normally on the other five days. Both diets demonstrated similar weight loss and reduction in body fat and girth over a 6 month period.
Often clients ask me whether an Intermittent fasting approach would work for them. My answer is - it depends. It works well for some people. If you are like Client A who has a busy job, not really into food, happy to fast for 2 days because they forget to eat much at work anyway and don't feel the need to "feast" on the non fasting days an intermittent fasting approach might work.
However for client B who works from home, prepares the family meals, who gets a lot of hedonistic pleasure from planning and enjoying meals (this is me by the way) - going 2 days with only 500 calories ("what does that equate to anyway?!") would find intermittent fasting a challenge.
Client C might be a strict "If it fits your macros" gym-bro who isn't afraid to sacrifice meals, avoids "cheating" when a goal is near, and is used to restrictive eating might be able to persevere with intermittent fasting while they get results and then might move on to the next thing if intermittent fasting non longer works for them.
Really, any approach that involves eating less and moving more is likely to get results. However with any way of eating before you commence it you need to think about whether you can imagine doing it for the rest of your life because that's ultimately the plan that will work for you.
I'd prefer people to tune in to mindful eating, where they notice and enjoy food and recognise hunger and fullness cues. I'd love to see more families cooking at home and eating together with parents modelling a balanced, healthy approach to food. You can find out more about mindful eating here and my coaching approach here.
If you do decide to try intermittent fasting make sure you talk to your GP first. There have been concerns around risks for some people on certain medications or with particular medical conditions – fasting might make some conditions worse. If you're on medication for high blood pressure or type II diabetes, you may need a different medication regime on that day or a whole change of medication. Also in some susceptible people, it can stir up their liver as the fat starts emptying out of it. This can actually make the liver more inflamed and trigger liver disease. A similar thing can happen in the gallbladder, too.
Mindful eating is all about focusing our attention on the act of eating. It means eating with awareness and using all the senses - sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.
image source: eatingmindfully.com
I love this image from the guru of mindful eating - Susan Albers. Before you start eating take a few deep breathes and truly concentrate on the taste of food. Savour the flavours. As you progress in your meal you might notice that the pleasure in eating decreases and the speed at which you are eating increases. When the food is not giving you pleasure it might be time to put down your knife and fork.
Here are some of my favorite ways of bringing mindfulness to mealtimes:
It’s a good idea to remind yourself (and your family) that mealtime isn’t a race. By eating slower you are more likely to notice when you are full. S lowing down and chewing food properly helps you digest your food and helps prevent food-baby tummy aches we get from eating too quickly.
REMOVE the phone. TURN off the Telly.
do you see a spot for your mobile? I don’t either
Our lives are full of distractions, and often families eat with the TV on or with someone playing with their iPhone. Try making family mealtime an electronics-free zone. I’m not saying you can’t ever eat pizza in front of the TV, but if you do want to do that - make it a deliberate choice.
Pay attention to flavor
The tartness of lime, the spiciness of chilli flakes, the crunch of a pizza crust — paying attention to your food can be a great way to eat mindfully. When you eat on the go or get through your meal in five minutes, it can be hard to notice what you are actually eating, let alone truly savour all the different sensations of eating.
Mindful eating can be a simple commitment to appreciating and enjoying the food you eat every day. It can be practiced with salad or ice cream, an apple or a piece of chocolate, and you can practice it at home, at work, or even as you snack on the go -though you may find yourself doing this less often.
When the focus becomes how you eat, rather than what you eat, you might find what you want to eat changes too.
If you'd like to learn more about MINDFUL EATING and be supported along the way with lessons and recipes click here
As a nutritionist people often come to see me for weight loss, glowing skin or extra energy. These might be a measure we can see on the outside but I believe it is far more important to invest in your internal health and do everything you can to reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes, including silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. I wrote about pre-diabetes and insulin resistance here. With more than 100,000 Australians having developed diabetes in the past year it is likely that you know someone living with diabetes.
I first came across Hit100 when researching a university assignment looking at strategies for managing diabetes and insulin resistance. Hit 100 is a meal delivery service catering specifically for people living with diabetes. The meals have been developed by dietitians and prepared by chefs and are aimed at improving blood sugar levels. Hit100 were kind enough to offer me a few frozen meals to try.
chicken tikka marsala
hearty beef stew
pumpkin and ricotta lasagna
There are plenty of other choices on the hit100 website including some great looking breakfast and lunch options like corn fritters and oat and berry pikelets.
What are they?
The Hit100 meals are based on the latest healthy eating guidelines containing non-starchy vegetables, good quality carbohydrates, healthy fats and lean proteins. These are the guidelines we all should be following - whether or not we have insulin resistance, diabetes or not.
If you have diabetes you don't need to avoid carbohydrates - carbohydrates play an essential role in your diet as they are the main source of energy your bodies rely on to function optimally. Many carbohydrate based foods are also a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals, which all act together to keep us healthy.
How did they taste?
I heated the dishes in our oven (microwave for 5 mins is also an option) for 35 minutes and tried the meals with my two teenage kids. We enjoyed all the meals with the favourite being the hearty beef stew closely followed by the chicken tikka marsala. What I loved was the generous serve of veggies on the side. I was concerned that the veggies would not heat up well in the oven but they had a delicious lemon salsa on them and were all eaten up.
I liked that the meals had a decent amount of protein (17 for the lasagne to 29 for the beef stew) and you could see real pieces of chicken and beef. The sodium levels are less than 120mg/100g which means they are considered as low in salt. The portion size was ideal for a woman, an active teenager or man might like these for lunch or need some extra veggies at dinner.
When would I use these?
While I am a big fan of cooking and believe you can put together a quick healthy dinner in less than 20 minutes, I realise not everyone likes cooking and also sometimes even 20 minutes is too much to ask. These are a great option to have in the the freezer and much much healthier than takeaway pad-thai. I also think they would be a great option to get for an older parent or friend who might not enjoy cooking for themselves.
Want to know more?
You can head over to the Hit100 website and try an introbox.
Want to know more?
Enter coupon: ‘racheleagleton10’ at checkout to receive this exclusive $10.00 discount (valued at $79.95)!
* As mentioned Hit100 provided these meals free to me for my review. I only post reviews of products that I like and am happy to use. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely mine. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.
Could you have insulin resistance or pre-diabetes? Insulin Resistance is a silent condition which occurs when cells in your body stop responding to insulin. Insulin is produced in response to blood sugar sugar - it tells the cells to metabolise the sugar by burning out for energy or storing. Insulin helps keep your blood sugar levels stable so that sugar can be used as a fuel source in your muscles and liver.
People with insulin resistance have normal blood glucose levels, which is why it is hard to diagnose. However although the blood sugar levels are being controlled, more and more insulin is required. The presence of all this excess insulin in the body is thought to be linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, fatty liver and even some cancers as well as type 2 diabetes.
Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with prediabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and CVD, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
A new client of mine came to see as she had a health scare. Her blood sugars were on the high side. She was sent for a fasting glucose test which found Impaired Glucose Intolerance with a level of 8.3 (normal range is 3.6-7.7). My client saw a diabetic consultant who was helpful but was still confused about an eating plan that would suit her and her lifestyle. Here's what my client said:
"What I love most about Rachel is she is very positive and encouraging. She kept telling me that there is nothing I cannot eat, but just to watch the amounts. Rachel had me keep a diary of the meals I had everyday for a few weeks. InitiallyI did have my doubts and worried about keeping to a diary. But it is not difficult. My family and I even took a holiday to Spain and Singapore in June and I was worried about the foods but it was no problem.
2 weeks ago, I had another blood test for the sugar level and it is now only 4.9, with fasting. Am overjoyed and knew that the plan on the right foods worked. My specialist told me if I stick to this, I will never be diabetic. Anyone can do this.
I highly recommend Rachel Eagleton."
I was overjoyed with my client's results. While weight loss, glowing skin or extra energy might be a measure we can see on the outside I believe it is far more important to invest in your internal health and do everything you can to reduce the risk lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Want to know more about designing a way of eating that works for you to manage your goals? Read more here
Are you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes? Take this test and talk to your GP
Read more about insulin resistance and pre-diabetes here:
It's the early days of winter here in Sydney and the chemists are full of pills and potions designed to help you avoid catching winter colds.
Can you boost immunity - and would you want to?
The idea of boosting your immunity is appealing, however the immune system works as a whole. There are many cells in the immune system that respond to different microbes in different ways. Which cells should you boost and in which number? Athletes that engage in blood doping to increase their number of blood cells run the risk of stroke.
That said maintaining a healthy immune system is always important, especially during colder months when we’re often indoors in closer contact with germs. The link between strong immunity and nutritional intake is clear - more whole foods, fewer processed foods, and a balanced intake of essential vitamins and minerals can keep you, and the people around you, from getting sick.
What you can include in your diet
Why: A powerful antioxidant that aids in the production and function of white blood cells, helps prevent cell damage, and is needed for the function of essential enzymes.
Where to find it: Citrus fruits and drinks, and vegetables like red capsicum
Did You know? Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient, meaning it is not stored in cells. Excess amounts pass through the body, so vitamin C can be consumed throughout the day. It is pretty easy to meet your Vitamin C RDI of 45mg if you eat fruit and veggies, for example, one medium kiwi fruit contains about 64mg vitamin C or ½ a cup of broccoli will give you 40mg.
Why: A mineral required for essential proteins and antioxidants that play a major role in maintaining immunity. Zinc also enhances the function of T cells, which detect and eliminate infectious and abnormal cells in the body.
Where to find it: The best sources include red meat, poultry, seafood and smaller amounts in nuts and seeds
Did you know? The recommended daily intake for Australian adult men and women is 8 and 14mg respectively. 100g lean red meat will give you approximately 12mg of zinc or 30g pumpkin seeds provides 3mg. A 2012 systematic review suggested that "zinc formulations may shorten the duration of symptoms of the common cold", but that further research was needed and that possible adverse effects needed to be studied.
Why: Bacteria for your digestive tract that stimulate the production of antibodies and T cells and help cells communicate as they fight off infections.
Where to find it: Yogurt. Check labels for “contains active/live cultures.” Also raw sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and other fermented foods.
Did you know? In contrast to antibiotics, which means “life-killing” in the Greek etymology, probiotics means “for life” because they are organisms that stimulate growth.
Instead of wasting your money on random immunity supplements at the chemist - which are not clinically proven to enhance immunity - spend that money on seasonal fruit & veg, some yoghurt and soap to wash your hands.
Are you training for the Blackmores Running Festival, Trailwalker or the City to Surf? Not sure if you need to take gels? Looking for a gentler alternative?
Recently Fletch from Running Science gave me a couple of Huma Chia Energy Gels to try. Of course being a nutritionist, the first thing I did was to go straight to the Nutrition Information Panel to see what I was getting:
So what’s in a Hüma Chia Energy Gel?
Pureed fruit. Sea Salt. Water. Ground Chia seeds. Brown Rice Syrup. Evaporated Cane Juice. Citric Acid. Coconut Water. I could see that I was getting 24g carbs, 100 calories and a good range of electrolytes. From a macro and micronutrient point of the Chia Energy Gel was very similar to a GU. Fantastic. So I set off on my run.
What does iT taste like?
I tried the Strawberry Lemonade flavour and I have to say - it is absolutely delicious and such a great change from the normal overly sweet taste of most energy gels that I have tried. It had a very strong limey taste - like Lime Marmalade. If you suffer from "flavour fatigue" towards the tail end of a marathon this would be fantastic to add in.
I was concerned I would have tiny bits of chia seeds floating around my teeth but the chia is milled very fine and not noticeable. The consistency was slightly thinner than a GU gel but not watery.
When would I need this product?
If you are running or cycling for more than 75 minutes you will benefit from ingesting approximately 30-60 grams of carbohydrates every hour. The use of a mix of Glucose (short and long chain) and Fructose increases carbohydrate absorption which is important in multi-hour events.
If your stomach doesn't handle traditional gels or sports drinks you might find the Huma Gels gentler on your stomach.
Several of the the Huma Chia Energy Gels contain caffeine, and caffeine is proven to reduce the perception of fatigue with the ideal dose being 1-3mg per kilo of bodyweight. The Strawberry Lemonade flavour had 25mg of caffeine so for a 60kg runner you could take several of these over the course of an event (assuming you are used to the effects of caffeine). If you don't react well to caffeine there are caffeine-free flavours.
Don't forget to always consume your energy gel (regardless of brand) with water so that your body can process the gel.
Where have you heard that word before? If you've read Born to Run you'll remember the Tarahumara - a tribe of Mexican Indians who regularly compete in epic 100+ mile races as part of their culture. To fuel themselves on these ultramarathons, they use a special chia seed blend. You can't read Born to Run without getting inspired to run on chia!
Are you training for an endurance event? Did you know that using a scientific approach to nutrition in a marathon takes, on average, nearly 11 minutes OFF an amateur runner's finish time? My 8 week Endurance Nutrition program focuses on supporting your marathon training with making nutritious food choices a priority so that you can get to the start line feeling great. On race day you will be armed with well trialled strategies that work for you and will help you run your best fuelled marathon, half marathon or triathlon.
If you are interested in trying Huma Gels drop in to Running Science and check them out.
Although I'm a Nutritionist I'm also a massive nerd, which is why I'm finishing off the last few units in my Masters of Human Nutrition. I've just submitted my latest paper towards my Masters and the topic I chose to write about was managing obesity via high protein diets. After reviewing many random control trials and meta-analyses it is pretty clear that increasing dietary protein in the place of refined carbohydrate is a useful tool for reducing and maintaining weight. This is because protein is satiating, increases your metabolic rate and also appears to affect the hormones that stimulate appetite. Higher protein diets also tend to be easier to stick to long term.
I'm not suggesting that you need to become a body builder (in fact amounts in excess of 2g/kg body weight are difficult for the kidneys to process). In fact most people in Australia consume enough protein in their day. What does go wrong is that people don't tend to eat enough protein at breakfast and lunch leading to them overeating at dinner.
So what should a serve of protein look like and how much do you need?
WOMEN AGED 30-50 NEED 3 SERVES OF LEAN PROTEIN AND 2- 3 SERVES OF DAIRY EVERY DAY
A good guide to estimate a serve of lean protein is that it should be the size of a deck of cards.
Dairy is another excellent source of protein and women aged 30-50 should include 2-3 serves of dairy or calcium rich substitutes each day:
I love the Easter break - we usually head to Canberra for some gorgeous Autumn weather and have an easter egg hunt in my parent's garden with the other grandchildren. You might be surprised that I like to enjoy nibbling on a chocolate egg myself, I'm not in the corner enjoying a "guilt free" paleo bliss ball or other such nonsense. Indulging in festive treats with your family is part of normal, healthy eating. Easter can be a tough time for those on a self-imposed ‘diet’. Here's my top tips for enjoying Easter mindfully with your family and friends so that you can manage your weight, energy levels and mood:
Choose good quality dark chocolate that you really enjoy. Savour it. Don't eat it in front of TV or Facebook. Think about how much you are enjoying that piece and when your pleasure diminishes put the egg away.
Don't waste your calories on tiny little choc eggs that are full of fillers. Psychologically with the little eggs you don't realise how many calories you are actually consuming and a small bag can set you back 800 calories or so
If chocolate isn't your thing perhaps your gift from loved ones could be a new running top, a great book or movie tickets
Use the Easter break as an opportunity to fit in more exercise, either with your family or solo. We are planning some parkrun tourism as a family, I am heading to the gym before we leave tomorrow morning for a strength workout and I'll be slotting in a long solo run on Monday. Take your kids for a bike ride or to the park for a game of footy.
Save the Hot Cross buns for Easter Sunday, they are a treat - you don't need them late April when I can guarantee they will still be on sale. I buy the mini buns or bake them myself
Tune into your body's signals of hunger and fullness. The answer to the question "how much chocolate is too much" is feeling uncomfortably full or sick or no longer enjoying the food while eating it.
Give away or toss any low quality extras after Monday - if they are in the house you or the kids will eat them eventually
Good quality dark chocolate has been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and improved exercise performance. The health benefits are due to the flavenols in the cocoa which are full of potent antioxidants. Don't forget though that flavenols are also contained in fruit, vegetables, red wine and tea.
Consider Mindful Eating over the Easter break by making more conscious food choices, paying attention to how you eat, and practicing self-acceptance. Happy Easter!
Do you need help getting your healthy eating back on track? My 6 week customised nutrition program was specially designed to help you establish healthy eating habits, lose weight, or recover from the diet cycle. Find out more here.
Canned Tuna, the staple of many a quick lunch. Did you know though that some varieties only contain about 40% fish, leaving you with a rumbling stomach an hour later? Here are some good options:
Sirena La Vita Lite
This taste wise is my favourite. Contains 17g of protein with 2.3g of fat (95mg of Omega 3). It is Pole & Line caught which is Greenpeace's preferred method. It does have 480mg salt per 100g which puts in the moderately salty category.
I also like Sirena's "tuna & beans" which contains 28g of protein and 7g of fibre and 333mg of Omega 3. Again a bit high on salt.
John West Tuna & beans is very similar nutritionally to Sirena's tuna & beans.
What to avoid - stay away from tuna in spring water. While it is low in fat you miss out on the essential fatty acids. Also avoid the flavoured tuna like John West Tuna Tempters which only has 42% fish.
We do need to be mindful of mercury levels when eating fish. It is generally safe for all population groups, including pregnant women, to consume 2-3 serves of any type of tuna or salmon a week, canned or fresh. Canned tuna usually has lower mercury levels than other tuna because tuna used for canning are smaller species that are caught when less than one year old.
If you like the flavour, tinned sardines trump tinned tuna in terms of nutrition. The fish bones are a great source of calcium and the essential omega3 fats are about 3 times as high as tinned tuna. King Oscar, Fish 4 Ever and Brunswick are all good. Because they are a small fish sardines also have low levels of mercury.
I think by now we've all realised that sugar is a big part of the obesity epidemic and cutting out soft drinks is a great way to improve your weight and with that reduce your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and prevent certain types of cancer. So are diet soft drinks a better option? Well, no.
Diet soft drink appears to contribute to weight gain also. A recent study of 66,000 women over 14 years found an increased risk of type 2 diabetes for consumers of diet drinks. A study published in Diabetes Carefound daily consumption of diet soft drinks was associated with an increase in metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
The research into the effects of diet drinks on humans is still in its early days and the reasons for the associated weight gain are still not fully clear however it is thought that because artificial sweeteners are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar our genetically-programmed preference for sweet taste is activated. The diet drinks make your metabolism think sugar is on its way which causes the production of insulin which causes your body to store fat.
Diet drinks also seem to affect bone strength and risk of fractures. One 2014 study found that each daily soft drink (diet or non diet) increased the chance of hip fracture by 14% for postmenopausal women.
Instead of soft drinks chose water or green tea. In summer I use our soda stream to carbonate cold water and add a few slices of lime, cucumber or a crushed handful of mint. Cheers!
As I enter the taper period for my fourth marathon I thought I would write down how to carb-load successfully. I remember all too clearly the feeling of hitting the "wall" from my first half marathon where I just wanted to lie down and have a nap at the 17k mark. Fast forward 12 more half marathons, 3 marathons and a sports nutrition qualification, it turns out carb loading is much more than a bowl of pasta the night before a race.
For races lasting longer than 1.5 hours such as a marathon or half marathon, it’s beneficial to “carbohydrate load” for the 2-3 days before your race. The carbs are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. During the full or half marathon you will burn both fat and glycogen stores for energy, but it is harder for your body to convert fat to fuel. The goal is to arrive at the start line with your body’s glycogen stores full from carbohydrates to delay fatigue and performance decline. A full tank of glycogen and regular carbohydrate and fluid intake during the race will help you avoid hitting “the wall”. For it to work properly the carb load needs to be combined with an exercise taper as well.
Start your carbohydrate load 2-3 days before the race. You can’t fill your muscles with glycogen from just one meal, so a big pre-race pasta is not enough. For a Sunday marathon, I start on Thursday. For a Sunday half marathon I start on Friday. Carbohydrates should become about 70% of your diet. You don’t eat more during the load, you just replace protein, fibre and fat with carbohydrate. Be smart about your choice of carbs - although lasagne is delicious it’s very high in fat and protein so you’d be better off choosing pasta with a tomato based sauce. I prefer to make my dinner smaller and my lunch bigger on the day before the event so I have plenty of time to digest it.
You should be targeting between 8-12 grams of carbohydrate per kilo of body weight over the carb load period. So a 60 kg runner would need to consume between 480 and 720 grams of carbs over the day. As a guide 2 slices of white toast contain about 50 grams of carbs. Personally I can only manage to get in closer to the 8 grams per kilo target, the 12g/kg guide is more for ultra endurance events like ironman. If it’s your first time carb loading I’d suggest sticking to the lower end of the range. I add in some Gatorade and fruit juices to help top up my stores as I struggle to eat enough carbs otherwise.
The carbs you choose should be low in fibre to reduce the chances of getting an upset stomach during the race. This is the time to choose white bread, rice or pasta over wholemeal. You can go back to your quinoa after the marathon. You can also enjoy some of the foods you might not normally eat such as a crumpet with honey.
You might find you gain some weight, this is because the glycogen stores water with it, which helps ensure you are well hydrated to start the race. You’ll use this water during the race so don’t worry about the water weight - think of yourself as a camel! Your pee before you start the race should be light in colour to show that you are adequately hydrated.
The AIS website is very useful in terms of figuring out how many carbs are in a serve.
The following diet is suitable for a 60kg runner aiming to carbohydrate load:
This sample plan provides approximately 10,153 kJ, 427 g carbohydrate, 74 g protein and 42 g fat. This is not an exact plan, you might need to consume more or less depending on your weight, sex and training volume.
Wishing you all the best on your 42.2 kilometre victory lap - you’ve done the work, now enjoy the run!
Want to know more about how to fuel properly for your next endurance event? Check out my 8 week endurance nutrition program here.
Bourke, L (2010) Clinical Sports Nutrition 4rd edition. Mc Graw HillAustralian Institute of Sport Carbohydrate Loading Factsheet
Meal plan calculated on Foodzone
Every where I look, the supermarket, the deli, the coffee shop - cold-pressed juices are front and centre of the display, and they are expensive - $8 - $10 a bottle. Should you be buying them? The marketing spin is that the cold press crushes and squeezes rather than damaging the nutrients through the heat and oxygen used by a standard juicer. Sounds legit, right? However the marketing hype has rushed ahead of the science. Even if there are more nutrients, can our systems absorb them? The average Australian diet already contains more than enough Vitamin C, and any excess just ends up down the toilet. The way your gut absorbs nutrients depends on what else you are consuming. For example, the extra virgin olive oil that you dress your salad with helps your uptake of some of the vitamins in your salad.
Chewing your food, rather than drinking it signals to your brain that you are getting full, it's easy to miss the satiety cues when drinking your calories.
All that said, the typical Australian diet does fall really short on getting in at least 5 serves of veggies every day. Drink cold-pressed juices if you enjoy them and can afford them, but be sceptical about the claims on the bottle. So you don't end up with a meal's worth of calories make sure they contain no more than one fruit and the rest is vegetable content. Some of the juices for sale contain 88% fruit juice which is a significant source of sugar and calories.
I like to make my own green juice if I've not been getting enough veggies. I use the thermomix so I can retain the fibre - here's my recipe.
- 250ml coconut water, water or chilled green tea
- 1 apple
- 2 cucumbers
- 2 celery stalks
- thick slice of lemon
- 2 large handfuls of baby spinach or kale
- Put all the ingredients in a high speed blender like a thermomix or vitamix. Process for one minute. Enjoy straight away.
I was reading this very interesting article by Susie Burrell (below) and it made me think about how I was able to shift 10 kilograms of post baby weight with a mindset change about 5 years ago.
My rules are:
1. Make an appointment for exercise. Yes I would rather be meeting my friends for a coffee after school drop off but they know that's when I get my run or weights in. It's an appointment in my diary that I prioritise.
2. Avoid wasting calories. I think this is one of the reasons that the 5:2 diet and other intermittent fasting models work. For me a weekday lunch where I am grabbing something quick on my own I make it a salad with protein or a salad packed wrap and protein. I save beautiful sourdough bread, aged cheddar and ham off the bone for weekend lunches with my family. This is similar to what Susie is mentioning about avoiding the cheap office birthday cake.
3. I always make myself/pack something to eat for 3 or 4pm before I get really hungry. I grab a corn thin with ricotta and tomato, some almonds and grapes or some veggie sticks and humous. If I do this I don't start hunting for food at 530pm and eating two dinners.
4. I don't have packaged biscuits in the house (otherwise see point 3)
5. I try to only have wine with company. My husband is away a lot for work so I don't drink unless he is at home too. I also skip wine at school P&F meetings and the like. But not book group - when I'm having a nice night out with friends it is lovely to share a beautiful bottle of wine.
One of the subjects that I'm studying at uni this term is Food Behaviour, I am finding it fascinating so far.
POSTED BY SUSIE BURRELL / DIET, FOOD, PLANNING
Did you know that we are presented with more than 200 food decisions every day? Is it any wonder that with our brains already overloaded that we struggle at times to make good choices? Research suggests that the brain can handle a certain amount of control and restraint but once it becomes overloaded, it can be challenging to maintain this control. This would somewhat explain why individuals have no issues sticking to certain regimes for short periods of time but find it challenging once other aspects of life require attention. To make things simpler, rather than subjecting yourself to more and more food decisions, developing your own set of guiding dietary principles that guide your food decisions every day can make things a lot easier. Here the brain is not pressured and you have a default set of guidelines that help you to make default diet decisions and keep your diet on track. Each and every one of us will have different rules that fit into our lifestyle but here are some ideas to get you started.
I only eat sweet foods in the evening
Relenting to sugar cravings throughout the morning or after lunch can leave your sweet tooth stimulated and see you overdo the high calorie biscuits, chocolates and snack food. Keep your diet filled with more savoury flavours for most of the day – Greek yoghurt; nuts; cheese and proteins and notice how much more in control of your calories you are throughout the day.
I only eat treats on special occasions
Forget the office cake or afternoon chocolate run, separating out your work and social life means that you leave higher calorie indulgent treats to your personal time for close friends and family events rather than wasting them on a cheap office cake for a birthday of a person you hardly know.
I only drink alcohol on these nights
Your rule may be one glass per night or only on certain nights each week but this makes the nightly debate of whether you should have a drink or not much clearer.
I only have this many coffees a day
It may be one in the morning or 2 piccolo cups per day but cutting back on your coffee calories from milk based coffees is a good guide for all of us.
I only eat this after dinner
You may be able to limit yourself to 2-3 squares of chocolate or to a single ice cream or you may need to ban snacking after dinner altogether but having a set reference will help you to take control and stop the after dinner binge.