How to Get 30 Minutes of Exercise Each Day

Physical inactivity is the second highest lifestyle related cause of disease and illness in Australia.

Running

As part of our Healthy Lifestyle Challenge, participants must consistently do 30 minutes of moderate intensity, ‘huffy puffy’ exercise each day.

What is ‘huffy puffy’ exercise?

‘Huffy puffy’ exercise is any movement that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat. You should be out of breath and unable to hold a conversation in full sentences.

The National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend accumulating 2.5 – 5 hours of moderate intensity or 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous intensity exercise each week. In an ideal world, you’re aiming for a combination of both.

Benefits of exercise

Getting 30 minutes of ‘huffy puffy’ exercise in each day can be easier than you expect. Besides, the benefits are totally worth it! Getting vigorous exercise in each day will help:

  • Optimise your mood, memory and brain function

  • Increase your blood flow, oxygen and nutrient supply to your body

  • Reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis

  • Assist with managing your weight

Here are 3 fun and easy ways to get puffed in 30 minutes:

1. Circuit Training

Circuit training is one of the most efficient ways to enhance cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance. It’s easy to create a short, sharp session at home using different exercises to target different muscle groups and body parts. Try incorporating upper body exercises like pushups, tricep dips and chin ups with lower body exercises like squats, lunges, calf raises and stair climbs. Throw in some crunches, planks and leg raises to finish off and work your core. With minimal rest cycles you can easily make this a high intensity session and tick off your 30 minutes easily.

2. Interval Training 

Steady state exercise like going for a long run, ride or row at a slower speed are great, aerobic, huffy puffy exercises, but if you want to boost the overall intensity, try adding interval training. This style of training mixes high and low intensity (or active rest) exercise for great metabolic results.

Instead of going for a slow run, try sprinting for 30 seconds at maximum effort and then scale back the intensity to an easy jog for 1-2 minutes of active recovery. Repeat 8-10 times. Varying exercise intensity can help your body adapt to exercising for longer and at higher intensity levels.

3. Skipping

Skipping rope is a fun, total body way to break a sweat. Using a skipping rope strengthens both your upper and lower body, gets your heart rate pumping and builds coordination and balance. If that’s not enough to convince you – a skipping rope costs less than $5 and is light and transportable so you can take it with you anywhere.

All 3 of the above exercises are great ways to incorporate ‘huffy puffy’ exercise into your favourite routine or use them on their own as a serious heart pumping activity. Don’t be afraid to mix up your cardiovascular exercise – any activity that helps you get your sweat on is perfect! 

Healthy Eating for Men

When men think of healthy eating for some reason, they automatically think they have to eat salad. But we’re here to tell you, you can be healthy without having to resort to boring rabbit food!

healthy eating for men

Men and women aren’t that different when it comes to daily nutrition. Yes, men tend to have more muscle mass which increases their requirements compared to a female. But nutritionally speaking, men still need a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to tick along each day. If you’re a ‘skip the veggies, pile on the meat’ type of guy, don’t worry we’re not about to suggest you turn your phone off and lock yourself at home eating chicken, broccoli and rice to meet your goals!

 

We surveyed all the men in our lives and found some common themes when it came to eating habits. Based on these findings, here are our Top Tips to Eating Healthy as a Dude while still balancing life and the bro-code.

 

Common Man Trend No. 1 – Skimping on the veggies

Veggies just get in the way of meat right?! Well depending on your age, 5-6 serves are recommended each day for men. This equates to 3 cups of vegetables or 6 cups of salad which we know can be hard to meet at times.

Hot Tip 1

Our biggest advice here is to try and add a serve or two to breakfast. Throw some spinach, tomato, mushrooms into the pan while you’re cooking your eggs and add some baked beans on the side. Or if you’re partial to something sweet for breakfast, give our carrot cake porridge a go! It’s far easier to meet your serves each day when you start early with 1-2 already ticked off before morning tea.

 

Common Man Trend No. 2 – Forgetting to trim the fat

Just because it’s attached to your steak doesn’t mean you should eat it! Leaving meat untrimmed can more than double the fat content and add over 500kJ to your meal. It’s also not a fat we need any more of in our diets.

Hot Tip 2

Try making a visual connection between the fat you’re eating and the energy it provides. That 500kJ is the same as an extra ½ cup of rice, a slice of bread, or a tub of yoghurt. Always trim the fatty rind off BEFORE cooking or avoid the temptation altogether and swap that rib-eye for a nice eye fillet without the fatty rind and heavy marbling to start with.

 

Common Man Trend No. 3 – Making it all about the meat

Overconsumption of protein, in particular red meat, is one of the most common downfalls for Australian men. It seems to stem from the common misconception that more protein equals more muscle mass. But in fact, excess protein is simply a waste, not to mention problematic for our health. High meat and in particular, red meat intake is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer (1). High meat consumption also leads to an increased intake of energy and saturated fat that over time can cause excess weight gain and a build-up of LDL (bad) cholesterol in your body.

Hot Tip 3

There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a good BBQ and red meat 2-3 times per week. The World Health Organisation recommends keeping red meat intake to 500g/week or less to decrease the risk of cancer. A great way to include red meat while not going overboard with 450g rumps is to make your own burger patties. Try our delicious homemade recipe for beef burgers HERE, they’re delicious!

 

Common Man Trend No. 4 – Falling into the cycle of after work drinks

It can be easy to fall into the habit of having ‘one or two’ drinks (or at least that’s what you tell your partner) after work each day to wind down, or perhaps a few more when catching up with friends over the weekend. Unfortunately, this common habit can negatively impact your health by increasing your energy intake, appetite and altering the way your body metabolises fat.

Hot Tip 4

Our advice is to enjoy one beer, or one glass of wine with a meal, but be careful not to let this become a daily event. If you’re joining your colleagues after work for a drink then try and opt for something non-alcoholic (just don’t tell them), or a choice that has a lower alcohol content like light beer so the overall quantity of the toxin entering your body is less. Avoid getting yourself into rounds as you lose all control when you’re part of the pack.

 

Common Man Trend No. 5 – Not adjusting your intake to reflect your activity

Most guys eat the same thing every day. But as your training load changes, so should your daily energy intake. It can be easier to remember to increase your intake on a heavy training day, as your body gives you hunger cues. But it’s the other way around that can be forgotten.

Hot Tip 5

If you didn’t end up going for that long run like you’d planned, or if you got too busy with work to get to the gym, think about scaling what you’re eating. We’re not saying starve yourself – but perhaps swap that large roll for a wrap or your rice out for potato. This will help you adjust your intake to reflect your activity without having to resort to rabbit food.

 

Common Man Trend No. 6 – Ignorance is bliss!

If you are unaware of recommended serving sizes for different food groups, then it becomes increasingly easy to miss the mark and either be eating too little or too much! Unfortunately, this strategy isn’t going to help you hit any training or nutritional goals.

Hot Tip 6

Try using visual measures of the food on your plate based on the following serve sizes:

  • Protein – aim for approximately the size of the palm of your hand

  • Carbohydrate – aim for approximately 1 fist on your plate for lunches and dinners

  • Salad/Vegetables – aim for 2 fists serves on your plate. 1 serve of veggies = ½ cup of cooked veg, 1 cup of salad. Remember you need 5-6 each day

 

Final Word

Life is about balance and we’re all about enjoying food. We firmly believe healthy eating shouldn’t be HARD or BORING. We challenge you to give our 7 hot tips for Healthy Eating for Men a go and see how you feel. We’re not asking you to eat rabbit food, just make some conscious decisions for your long term health. 

Comment below if you give any of these strategies a go! 👇🏼

 

References

(1). Cancer Council Australia (2013). Position Statement: Meat and Cancer Prevention. Retrieved from Cancer Council NSW https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/1752/cancer-prevention/diet-exercise/nutrition-diet/other-foods-nutrients/meat-and-cancer-3/

Eating for Entrepreneurs

Our Top 5 Tips for Mental Performance

Eating for Entrepreneurs.jpg

As busy business owners, eating well can often take a back-seat when there’s tight deadlines and a million other things to do! But when you’re busy, stressed and time-poor, it’s even more important to eat well to get the most out of your day.

Food is fuel for our bodies and our brain, so if you want to maximise your mental performance and get even more productive, try implementing our top 5 tips today:

1. Choose low GI, whole grains (avoiding white)

Choosing lower GI carbohydrate sources such a wholegrain breads and cereals, brown rice, legumes etc. slows the release of glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream and your brain. This avoids those sugar highs and lows, instead drip-feeding the release of fuel to your brain so you can focus better, with more clarity for longer.

2. Include oily fish at least 3 x per week

Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel are a great source of omega-3 fats which are critical for brain function and development. Don't like fish? Try taking a daily fish oil supplement to enhance your memory, learning and brain cell communication. Easy.

3. Meal prep a protein-rich lunch

Spend 30mins on the weekend setting your week up for success with a batch cooked lunch. Choose a lean protein source such as red meat, chicken, fish, eggs or tofu and serve with salad or veggies. Keeping carbohydrate to a minimum at lunch will help you stay awake for the afternoon and prevent 3:30-itis.

4. Caffeinate with strategy

Coffee or what we like to call 'Productivity Juice' is the worlds most socially acceptable stimulant. But too much can have negative effects. Excessive caffeine consumption can reduce your ability to focus on the one task, irritability, heart palpitations, hormone imbalances and insomnia. If you're a caffeine lover, aim to stick to a maximum of 2-3 x espresso shots/day. If you’re currently having double (or triple) this, work your way slowly back down by decreasing a shot a week until you’re back within an acceptable limit.

5. Avoid junk food

It's the high sugar load in junk food that will give you a quick pick-me-up (read: rapid rise in blood sugar), but then a massive crash 20-30minutes later. If you want to maximise your brain power, don't eat junk when you're trying to be productive. Pick yourself up with a quick walk around the block during a phone call instead to pump blood to your brain. Remember we want brain fuel drip fed throughout the day, not big spikes and crashes.

Take home message

Spend a little time on food preparation and organisation for the week to set yourself up for success. It only takes an hour or two on your “day off” but can save you many more hours during the chaos of the week. Try scheduling 1-2 hours in your calendar for planning, shopping and meal prep each week and set this to repeat. It doesn’t matter what day, as long as it’s there and it works for you. This will set your whole week up for success so you don’t have to think about what to eat, you just grab and run and keep your brain firing on all cylinders.

If these tips have helped you in any way, please share your experiences in the comments below 👇🏼

For more great #DietitianApproved tips, join the crew HERE

Eating for Immunity

Now that the colder months are upon us, it’s time to be proactive with our nutrition for the best immune system defence. 

For active people, immune function plays a role not only in fighting off infections, but also in promoting tissue repair to recover from exercise and injury1. To function properly, the immune system requires lots of nutrients – both macro and micronutrients. For an athlete under heavy training load, requirements are even higher putting you at risk of a supressed immune system if you’re not meeting your needs.

To help you stay well over the colder months, we’ve put together a few key points to keep you firing on all cylinders this winter!

1. Rest and Recovery is Key

Regardless of the type or intensity, exercise places stress on the body – meaning your immune system has to work harder to build and repair damaged tissue1. Moderate training loads can be protective against illness by boosting the immune system. Whereas heavy training loads, particularly with high intensity sessions, compromise the immune system. Our immune system is down for up to 72 hours following high intensity training, making this a key time for susceptibility, especially if you train outside where you’re more likely to pick up bacteria from the road3.

This is where rest and recovery is key to prevent unwanted illness and the decreased performance and sick days that follow! Although these effects are transient in the majority of people, if you’re doing continual intense exercise with minimal rest, your immune system can be compromised long term. Sometimes it’s hard to stop, but don’t ever underestimate the importance of rest days!

2. Avoid Low Energy Availability

Energy Availability refers to the amount of energy left available to support regular body functions, (like your immune response), once energy has been expended on exercise1. When we don’t have enough energy available to meet our daily demands, we’re fighting an uphill battle already. Even before injury or infection occurs. If you then pick up a bug, the body is not adequately equipped to fight it off and chances are you’ll get sick.

Endurance athletes in particular need to ensure their energy intake matches their energy expenditure – a true skill where training volumes fluctuate across the week, months and year. You shouldn’t eat the same thing each day unless you’re training is exactly the same each day. Boost your immune function by scaling up on heavier training days and having some strategies in place to eat appropriately for a rest day. A Sports Dietitian is your best point of call for how to do this for your program.

3. Carbohydrate is Protective

Carbohydrate contributes to meeting our daily energy needs but is often the first thing to be thrown out the window when trying to lose weight. However, training in a carbohydrate depleted state, or not refuelling properly can be a contributing factor to impaired immunity.

After sustained exercise there’s an automatic release of stress hormones. These hormones in excess (think cortisol) suppress the body’s immune response immediately following a training session, leaving us susceptible to infectious agents2. When training in a glycogen depleted state (low carbohydrate stores), this stress hormone release is markedly increased2. But by ensuring we have enough carbohydrate in our diet to support the demands of training, we can blunt the release of stress hormones and reduce the stress placed on the immune system2. If you’re constantly getting sick, consider adding carbohydrate during some of your aerobic exercise sessions as this can help to reduce inflammation, support the immune system and decrease recovery time2.

If you are unsure of your individual carbohydrate requirements, meet with a sports dietitian to calculate the correct amount and timing for your training schedule.

4. Eat the Rainbow

Fruit and vegetables contain a wide range of different micronutrients with varying roles within the body. Many of which are involved in immune function such as iron, vitamin C and D, and zinc1,2. Athletes with even mild deficiencies in any of these micronutrients can have an altered immune response1.

The easiest way to ensure you’re getting enough micronutrients is to consume a wide variety of different fruit and vegetables. Eat the rainbow! If you find yourself always reaching for the same two or three varieties, it may be time to change it up! If you’re in need of some serious inspiration, check out our earlier blog on how to make veggies tasty!

5. Prevent dehydration

Unfortunately it’s not only food you need to watch out for, being dehydrated can also contribute to a compromised immune system. During the colder months it’s easy to forget to drink but it’s just as important. One of the front line defences of the immune system is immune proteins in our saliva. When we’re dehydrated, the levels of these proteins decreases, meaning our initial defence to bacteria entering through the mouth is also decreased1,2. So don’t wait to feel thirsty before you drink up, carry a water bottle with you (everywhere!) and keep sipping throughout the day.

Take Home

Like everything else, there’s no magic pill to boost your immunity. Plan rest days and some lighter training weeks, eat a variety of fruit and vegetables, and ensure you’re meeting your energy and carbohydrate requirements. Sleep well, wash your hands before eating and stay well this winter.

Happy training!

 

References

(1) Burke, L., & Deakin, V. (2015). Clinical Sports Nutrition (5th ed.). North Ryde, NSW: McGraw-Hill.

(2)  Gleeson, M., Nieman, D., & Pedersen, B. (2004). Exercise, nutrition and immune function. Journal of Sports Sciences, 22(1), 115–125. doi:10.1080/0264041031000140590

(3) Seher Çağdaş Şenişik. (2015). Exercise and the immune system. Turkish Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(1), 11–20.

(4) Nutrition and the Immune System. (2018). Nutrition Health Review. 118(1), p13.

 

The Different Stages of Sleep

Many of us think of sleep as a time when the mind and body shut down, but in fact what happens when our head hits the pillow is quite the opposite. Sleep is a dynamic process – our brain changes its state many times as we pass through the five stages of sleep in approximately 90-minute cycles. The first four stages of sleep make up our non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and the fifth stage is when rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep occurs.

Across NREM sleep we move from very light sleep during Stage 1 to very deep sleep in Stage 4. It’s very difficult to wake a person who is in Stage 4 sleep. Typically, our eyes do not move during NREM and we have low muscle activity, although all of our muscles are still able to function.

                Stage 1 – Very Light sleep: We drift in and out of sleep and can be awakened easily.

                Stage 2 – Light sleep: Where eye movement ceases.

                Stage 3 & 4 – Deep sleep: We’re difficult to wake and have no eye movement or muscle activity.

                Stage 5 – REM sleep

During Stage 5 or REM sleep our brain waves are as active as when we are awake and breathing becomes more rapid. The limb muscles are temporarily paralysed, our body does not move, eyes can dart rapidly in all directions and we dream vividly.

A typical night under the covers isn’t simply four to six of these 90-minute sleep cycles pieced together. In the first two to three cycles of shut-eye we spend most of our time in deep Stage 3 and Stage 4 (NREM) sleep. During the final two to three cycles we enter more REM sleep which is accompanied by some lighter NREM sleep. 

Cycling through the sleep stages is important for preventing tiredness and irritability the next day and maximising the benefits of sleep. Next up, we’re taking a look at how sleep can boost performance. Stay tuned!

The Negatives of Alcohol

Yeah yeah, we’re the fun police, we get it. Take it or leave it, but at the end of the day, alcohol is a toxin. Here are three major reasons why alcohol is not your friend.

Increased energy intake

Pure alcohol is energy dense, containing 29 kilojoules per gram – almost equalling fat which contains 37 kilojoules per gram. Alcohols kilojoules are known as ‘empty kilojoules’ as they fail to provide nutrients that our body requires to perform important physiological functions. These kilojoules tend to stack up quickly because they are consumed in liquid form – liquid kilojoules don't elicit the same feeling or level of satiety as kilojoules from food. Because our hunger is not suppressed by alcohol we don’t compensate by reducing our food intake and our overall energy intake can increase significantly.

Altered brain chemistry

When we consume alcohol, our brain responds by releasing the feel-good chemical dopamine into our brains reward centre. The brain typically uses dopamine to reinforce healthy behaviours, however, alcohol triggers the release of very high amounts of dopamine. Excessive levels of dopamine block the expression of our negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, stress or insecurity and as a result, we feel relaxed and uninhibited. Because our inhibitions are lower, assessing our appetite and restraining from unhealthy food choices isn’t a priority. This is why after a drink (or six) you feel more comfortable reaching for a handful of chips or saying yes to that 2am dirty kebab. Far more comfortable than you did before drinking.

Increased appetite

To make matters worse, alcohol is an excellent appetite stimulant. The body reacts to ethanol as a poison, prioritising its breakdown and removal over the metabolism of carbohydrate and fat. Breaking down alcohol is a demanding task that requires the full attention of the liver. This means that the liver ceases to perform other important jobs such as the release of glucose to maintain our blood glucose levels. Eventually, our blood glucose levels dip and we become hypoglycaemic (low blood glucose levels) – triggering intense feelings of hunger.

The combination of alcohols high energy content with its un-inhibiting and appetite-stimulating effects often lead to weight gain in the short and long-term. Reducing your alcohol intake is a small but realistic change which, when combined with healthy eating and regular exercise, will promote weight loss.

Our advice…

Drink in moderation and enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with friends in a social setting. If you drink every night sitting at home, perhaps explore why you reach for alcohol at the end of the day. Our Healthy Lifestyle Challenge will help you learn what habits you’ve trained yourself to have in this space.

Role of Water in the Human Body

Our body is made up of approximately 60% water. Our brain is ~85% water, blood is ~80% water and approximately 70% of lean muscle mass is water. Water plays an important role in all of these major systems and without water, they don't function efficiently. Even a mere 2% reduction in body water can decrease performance, affect short-term memory, focus and increase fatigue. 

Some of the most important roles of water in the body include:

Maintaining blood volume, nutrient transportation and waste removal

Water is the main component of blood and essential for transportation of nutrients and removal of waste in the body. Blood delivers nutrients such as glucose, sodium, potassium and amino acids to our tissues for cell life and function. Blood also carries toxins and waste products away from our cells to our kidneys and liver for filtration and removal. The kidneys regulate how much water we excrete or conserve to maintain blood volume and concentration.  

Chemical and metabolic reactions

Water participates in hundreds of important metabolic reactions that occur in the body known as ‘hydrolysis reactions’. These reactions break down the carbohydrates, fats and proteins in our food so that our body can use them for energy and create the building blocks of life.

Protects tissues and joints

Water helps keep sensitive tissues such as your eyes, nose, mouth and brain moist. It also functions like a lubricant and cushions joints like your spine and knee so they can easily move against each other.

Temperature regulation

Water has a large heat capacity which helps control body temperature and allows us to adapt to changes in environmental temperatures. If the environmental temperature increases above body temperature, the body begins to sweat. Sweat evaporates off the skin surface which releases heat and cools the body down efficiently.

Stay hydrated

Consuming water regularly throughout the day is important to prevent dehydration. We lose water through sweat and breathing (insensible losses) and of course, urine. The insensible losses account for ~50% of the total water turnover.

The average adult requires roughly 2-3L of water per day to maintain water balance and keep the body systems functioning efficiently. This will of course vary with different environmental conditions, physical activity and your individual metabolism. 

For ideas on how to drink more water, check out our 7 tips.

Why Diets Don't Work

Diets come in all shapes and sizes.

A ‘diet’ is a restrictive eating program used temporarily to lose weight. Diets are often gimmicky or have a certain theme such as the elimination of particular food groups or assigning points to foods. Some diets can be nonsensical, unscientific and downright dangerous – detoxes or juice cleanses anyone? *facepalm. Yes, these diets are restrictive, yes they may produce short term results, but why don’t they work long term?

We see so many clients with a history of yo-yo dieting. They’ve tried everything! Only to fall off the bandwagon, gaining more weight than they started with in the first place! It’s a shame they only come to see a Dietitian AFTER years of trying and failing at all of these programs…

Weight loss is based on the first law of thermodynamics:

“Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, but rather transformed from one state to another”

More affectionately rephrased as “calories in, calories out”. This, in theory, is true. When we consistently consume less energy than our body uses each day, weight loss follows. 

So why don’t diets work?

The human body is smart. It thrives on balance or homeostasis. Our body has inbuilt appetite and weight regulating systems which constantly strive to restore the balance.

The role of hormones in hunger

There are two hormones responsible for regulating our appetite: ghrelin and leptin.

Ghrelin is our appetite stimulating hormone; it is released into the stomach and sends hunger signals to the brain to produce ‘hunger pangs’.

Leptin is our appetite suppressing hormone, it is released by our fat cells after eating to send the signal that we’re full.

When we restrict our intake to lose weight, leptin levels plummet and ghrelin levels rise meaning our appetite soars. You’re up against strong feelings of hunger and it can become very difficult to resist extra snacks (or meals). Especially if you’re constantly thinking about what you can’t eat.

The role of metabolism

Our metabolism is clever and highly adaptable. It will respond to how much energy (calories or kilojoules) we consume. When our energy intake is high, the speed of our metabolism increases to ‘keep up’ with its energy workload. When our energy intake is reduced – our metabolism slows. One of the major reasons why metabolism slows relates to the effects of dieting on our body composition…

Losing weight on the scale doesn’t mean you’re only losing fat

Our body relies on energy from the macronutrients in our food (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) to perform lots of everyday body functions such as breathing and digesting. Stripping kilojoules from our diet forces the body to utilise fat from our fat cells to fuel some of these physiological functions – hence the term ‘burning fat’. But poorly planned and restrictive diets can go too far and deprive the body of energy to take care of day-to-day tasks. This forces the body to increase the activity of catabolic hormones and break down muscle reserves to produce energy instead. So while the weight on the scales may go down, this can be a combination of a reduction of fat tissue AND muscle tissue – not ideal. Lean body mass or muscle tissue is very energy-demanding and losing lean body mass decreases your metabolism significantly.  A dietitian can help you with a meal plan to ensure you’re only losing fat with weight loss and not valuable, metabolism driving muscle.

The outcome

When we inevitably fall off the bandwagon due to our insatiable appetite or stop the diet, our metabolism is sluggish and we can gain weight quickly, typically as fat. Cue the vicious cycle of dieting, weight loss, weight re-gain and back to dieting again which leaves most people feeling defeated.

But it’s not all doom and gloom!  Take a more holistic approach to your health which can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight long term. Enter the Dietitian Approved Healthy Lifestyle Challenge! A challenge designed to put in place consistent, daily habits for overall health. Nothing to do with dieting. People do lose weight on our challenge, which is a by product of these healthy habits.

Here are a few tips for more holistic and sustainable weight loss:

  1. Ditch the food rules and concepts of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods. Incorporate a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, lean meat, fish, dairy, legumes, nuts and seeds into your diet and allow yourself to eat foods which you enjoy in moderation mindfully.
  2. Become more aware of your hunger and satiety cues and allow these cues to guide when to begin and stop eating. If you’re full, stop eating. You don’t need to finish what’s on your plate despite what your mother may tell you.
  3. Be patient and take your time. Everyone wants to lose 5kg yesterday. Losing weight slowly is not only more maintainable, it prevents your weight loss from plateauing and allows your metabolism to adapt to its reduced energy workload. It's also far more socially enjoyable than severe restrictions. 

Move More: Tips to Increase your Incidental Exercise

Incidental exercise is the movement you perform as part of your everyday life that makes up your daily activities. These movements can be simple – from walking to the mailbox to gardening to playing with the kids – but together these bite-sized chunks can add up to a significant portion of your total daily physical activity. Physical activity has excellent health benefits and forms the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. It raises your daily energy expenditure and helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Sitting is the new smoking. Here are some handy ways to boost incidental exercise:

  • Set an alarm on your phone or watch to move hourly from your desk or chair
  • Invest in a standing desk
  • Take regular breaks to grab another glass of water
  • Take phone calls on your mobile and do laps around the office
  • Don’t install a printer at your desk, walk to collect printing
  • Catch up with work colleagues or friends over a brisk walk instead of sitting down at the office or coffee shop
  • Always use the stairs over the lift or escalators
  • Jump off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way
  • Multi task – instead of sitting down in front of the television, do chores like washing, ironing and folding.
  • Park further away from the shop entry
  • Leave the TV remote on the coffee table and get up to change the channel

 

Exercise to manage stress and mood

It is well known that exercise increases your fitness and improves your overall health and well-being. Exercise is also an effective way to manage your mood and stress levels.

Virtually any form of exercise from weight lifting to running or even yoga, has powerful ‘mood-boosting’ effects. Exercise can help:

·       Decrease stress and anxiety levels

·       Ward off feelings of depression

·       Boost confidence and self-esteem

·       Increase productivity

·       Improve sleep

So how does exercise work it’s magic?

Endorphins. Endorphins are feel-good neurotransmitters or chemicals. When you perform any type of physical activity your body responds by releasing these neurotransmitters. The endorphins interact with your brain’s opiate receptors and trigger feelings of euphoria and general well-being. They also suppress your ability to feel pain.

Although a demanding schedule sounds like the perfect reason to for-go exercising, setting aside some time to move every day helps turn your daily physical activity into a healthy habit. The current recommendations for healthy adults is 150 to 300 minutes of moderate or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Try breaking exercise up into smaller chunks, mixing up the intensity of your physical activity and alternating between morning, lunch time and evening activities to fit around your busy days. Whatever you do, don’t think of exercise as another chore – it is actually the key to de-stressing after a hectic day! 

Why Alcohol is the Hand Break on Your Weight Loss Goals

No-one likes a hand brake. 

Yet consuming even moderate amounts of alcohol has detrimental effects on weight loss. The biggest problem with alcohol is not simply its energy density, it’s also how alcohol effects our body’s metabolic processes. Most importantly, its capacity to metabolise fat.

The reason why alcohol impacts our metabolism is linked to the way in which ethanol is processed. Ethanol is a toxic molecule and our body doesn’t have a storage place for it. Unlike fat, which is deposited into fat cells or carbohydrates which are stored as glycogen in our muscles and liver. Essentially the body has no choice but to prioritise the breakdown and removal of alcohol over all other macronutrients.

The major processing site for alcohol in the body is the liver. Up to 98% of alcohol consumed is transported to the liver where the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase converts alcohol to acetaldehyde. This molecule is then transformed into acetate, producing a sudden increase in blood acetate levels.

The body prefers to burn acetate over fat because it is more efficient. Acetate is a very readily available fuel source so the body doesn't have to do much metabolic work to use it. Our body suppresses fat oxidation (fat burning), sometimes by up to 73% (!), until the acetate is burned off. This means that for the subsequent hours after drinking, your body is in unable to utilise fat stores and any plans you had for fat loss come to a grinding halt.

But wait, there is more bad news…

When we drink heavily for an extended period of time, our body recognises alcohol as a consistent energy source and adapts to use it more efficiently. The body activates a system known as the ‘microsomal ethanol-oxidising system’ in order to redistribute and remove excess alcohol and promote body fat storage. The most common site of fat storage is around your mid-section (hence why lovers of alcohol usually sport a "beer gut").

If you’re a part of our Healthy Lifestyle Challenge, these are just a couple of good reasons why alcohol intake scores so poorly. While for some it may be hard to avoid, it wouldn’t be called a ‘challenge’ if it wasn’t challenging, right? We only have your health at heart. Plus it’s only 30 days out of your whole life – you’ll thank us for it later. 

 

 

7 Tips to Drink More Water

For some, drinking enough water each day is easier said than done. Maybe you dislike the taste, get too busy or just plain forget about drinking until bedtime, when chugging eight glasses is highly impractical (and not advised!). To help you drink more water, we’ve put together 7 tips you can use to develop this healthy and essential habit.

  1. Buy a water bottle (and use it)


    Invest in a high-quality, stainless steel or heavy duty BPA free plastic water bottle and take it with you everywhere! If you regularly forget to drink water, find ways to keep your water bottle visible. Keep it on your bedside table, on your desk and in the car. Increase your availability of water and opportunity to drink and chances are you will.

  2. Add sugar-free flavour


    If plain water isn’t your thing, try flavouring it with fresh fruits and herbs. Try these tasty combinations:

    Cucumber and mint
    Fresh lemon or lime wedges – squeeze some of the juice into your water first
    Frozen berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries. These also double as ice cubes and are great for summer
    Fresh lemon and ginger root
    range slices & blueberries
    Watermelon and mint
    Rosemary and grapefruit
    Kiwi and cucumber

  3. Switch things up and go for a sparkling mineral water

    Soda streams are all the rage at the moment and are a cheap way of making your own bubbly water without the wastefulness of buying numerous bottles from the supermarket.

  4. Add water to your daily routine

    Adding water into your morning and night time routine is an easy way to ensure you drink at least two glasses of water each day. Get into the habit of drinking a glass of water before you have breakfast and another right before you brush your teeth at night.

  5. Turn your water bottle into a timer


    You can create drinking goals and mark them on your water bottle to hit targets by certain times of the day. Use tape or a permanent marker to mark how much water you aim to drink by a particular time. This is a helpful way to keep track of whether you are going to hit your goal water intake (or not). You can also buy motivational water bottles pre-marked or even fancier products with inbuilt computers that track your water consumption.

  6. Create mental triggers


    Identify some mental prompts to drink water. For example, if you feel hungry opt for a glass of water before eating. Not only will this keep you hydrated it will could also possibly curb your hunger.

  7. Be active


    We lose water in sweat which needs to be replaced during and after exercise. If you're struggling to drink, go for a brisk walk or do some exercise in the gym. This will help drive thirst as your body works to restore its hydration balance or homeostasis.

Happy drinking!

 

3 Benefits to Eating What’s in Season

Fruits and vegetables naturally grow in cycles and ripen during a certain season each year. Purchasing your fruits and vegetables when they naturally ripen is called ‘eating seasonally’, and eating with the seasons has some serious perks to it. 

1. Bang for your buck

Choosing seasonal produce can help you get the most value out of your dollar. Fruits and vegetables picked during their season are in peak supply and this means the cost of growing, harvesting and transporting produce is much lower. If your produce is sourced locally from Australian farmers, the cost of transporting and storing the crops is reduced too. All of these savings are passed on to you, the consumer. For example, buying berries when they are in season is much friendlier on the wallet than buying in their off season when prices can double or even triple!

2. Tastier

Non-seasonal produce typically must be harvested before it is ripe, cooled to stall ripening, stored and transported significant distances to where it will be sold and consumed. The ripening process is then controlled by hot rooms, humidity and ethylene to cause even, uniform ripening. The other way seasonal fruits and vegetables are farmed in Australia is with the assistance of green houses. While there are no food safety issues with either of these methods, seasonal fruit and veggies are naturally ripened on the plant, tree or vine and harvested when they are in their prime. This means tastier, crispier vegetables and sweeter fruits. Strawberries are a great example of how sweet and delicious in-season varieties are.

3. More nutritious

Buying out-of-season fruits and vegetables can mean your food has travelled thousands of kilometres with controlled aging in that time. This can affect nutrient density – particlarly some antioxidants. Green leafy vegetables like spinach are rich in folic acid which decays over time and the vitaminc C content of spinach can decrease by up to 90 percent! In-season produce is fresher and this can mean it’s higher in nutritional value. 

How to Make Vegetables Tasty

Hopefully we don’t need to sell you on the fact that vegetables are good for you. We’ve all heard the nutrition pitch on their micronutrient density, high fibre and low energy content. But for some of us, eating vegetables feels like an unpleasant chore. Luckily there are many ways to prepare, cook and serve veggies which makes getting your ‘five a day’ surprisingly enjoyable.

Use different cooking methods

Adding tasty veggies to your diet could be as simple as changing how you cook them! Sometimes the vegetable you don’t like boiled, taste amazing roasted, grilled, steamed, sautéed or stir-fried. Roasting is a great method because the roasting process caramelises the sugars in vegetables, enhancing their flavour and making them sweeter. Virtually every vegetable, from potatoes and parsnips to broccoli, carrots and Brussels sprouts can be roasted. Try chopping up a variety of different coloured veggies (e.g. eggplant, capsicum, zucchini, red onion, sweet potato), tossing in extra virgin olive oil and seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Bake in the oven on a foil-lined tray at 180-200°C for 30-45 minutes and voila! Crispy, sweet and delicious vegetables!

Add herbs and spices

Using herbs and spices to season your vegetables is a great way to enhance their flavours. Here are 10 quick herb/spice and vegetable pairings to try:

  1. Asparagus with dill, marjoram, nutmeg or rosemary

  2. Broccoli with sage, oregano, thyme, rosemary, garlic, marjoram or nutmeg

  3. Carrots with parsley, basil, curry, chives, sage or thyme

  4. Zucchini with garlic, basil, parsley or oregano

  5. Eggplant with garlic, parsley, mint, sage, curry, basil, rosemary or oregano

  6. Leeks with mustard, parsley, dill, bay leaves, thyme, paprika or celery salt

  7. Mushrooms with ginger, pepper, cumin, parsley or thyme

  8. Peas with tarragon, mint, parsley, nutmeg, sage, marjoram or basil

  9. Potatoes with garlic, nutmeg, paprika, pepper, rosemary or thyme

  10. Tomatoes with basil, tarragon, garlic, chives, dill, mint, oregano, paprika, fennel, parsley or thyme

Flavour with healthy dip

Eating veggies as a snack on the go or at the office is an easy way to get your ‘five a day’. If eating raw vegetables doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you need to try veggie sticks and dip. Dips are super easy to make at home in a food processor or you can purchase from a supermarket. Pair tzatziki, hummus, guacamole or white bean dip with capsicum, celery, carrots, snow or sugar snap peas. Try making your own dip using Chobani yoghurt* as the base for a high protein and nutrient rich snack.

*not sponsored

Try soups

An easy way to get extra veggies into your day is to include vegetable soup!

All you need to do is boil or slow cook whatever veggies you like with a little water or stock, then blitz with a stick blender or eat chunky as is.
Pumpkin soup is always a fave, with pumpkin, potato, onion, leek and garlic. Check out our recipe HERE. Or pea and ham, beef and vegetable, chicken noodle, lamb shank and pasta, Moroccan carrot, sweet potato and chickpea. The flavour combinations are endless! 

Hide the veg!

If all else fails, hide vegetables in meals to mask the taste or texture to sneak them in. Vegetables can be added to almost every meal, even the ones you might least expect. Grate or puree veggies into sauces, mince dishes, soups and casseroles. Greens like kale, zucchini and baby spinach are easily disguised in a berry smoothie. Load omelettes up with finely diced onion, capsicum, mushrooms, spinach and cherry tomatoes. They will be tastier and are a whole lot more filling.

For more recipe ideas…register for our monthly newsletter in the footer below! 

2 Fruit 5 Vegetables - What is a Serve?

As part of our Healthy Lifestyle Challenge, participants strive to include 2 fruit serves and 5 vegetables serves into their diet each day. So what exactly is a serve?

Fruit

1 standard serve of fruit is approximately 150g (350kJ)

1 serve = 

  • 1 medium piece of fruit e.g. 1 apple, orange, pear, small banana
  • 2 small pieces of fruit e.g. 2 kiwi fruit, apricots, plums, nectarines
  • 1 cup diced fruit e.g. fruit salad, melon, berries, pineapple

Fresh is best but occasional sources include:

  • 30g Dried fruit e.g. 1.5 tbs sultanas, 2 dried apricots
  • 125ml Juice (100% juice, no added sugar)

These should not constitute your fruit serves of a daily basis but are OK to include occasionally.

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Vegetables

1 standard serve of vegetables is approximately 75g (100-350kJ)

1 serve = 

Non-Starchy Vegetables:

  • ½ cup cooked vegetables
  •  1 cup raw salad vegetables

Starchy vegetables:

  •  1 medium potato
  • ½ cup corn kernels
  • 1 small sweet potato

We challenge you to use at least 4 of your serves from the non-starchy veggies each day, leaving 1/day for the starchy variety.

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Only 6% of Australians get enough vegetables each day - we're hoping to change that, one challenge at a time!

Pour me a Standard Drink

Although they sound the same, one drink doesn’t always equal one standard drink....

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Why?

An alcoholic drink is not pure alcohol – it is a solution which contains varying amounts of ethanol (pure alcohol) and other ingredients. Some alcoholic drinks are stronger than others because they contain a greater amount of pure alcohol (ethanol) in the same volume. The higher the concentration of ethanol in the drink, the stronger the drink and the more standard drinks it will contain.

For example, mid-strength beer is 3.5% alcohol while spirits are approximately 40% alcohol.

What is a standard drink?

A standard (STD) drink is a unit measure of the amount of pure alcohol (ethanol) in your drink.

In Australia, 1.0 STD drink = 10g Ethanol

Below are some examples of typical drinks and how many standard drinks each contains:

For more information on alcohol and standard drink serves, visit www.alcohol.gov.au and  d  ownload the standard drinks chart   HERE

For more information on alcohol and standard drink serves,
visit www.alcohol.gov.au and download the standard drinks chart HERE

To further complicate matters, no matter where you go alcohol is served in different glasses, jars, bottles and jugs. Next time you’re out, take note of the size of the glass your drink is served in – don’t assume that a glass holds one standard drink. A standard restaurant pour of wine is in fact 150ml, while 1.0 standard drink of wine is 100ml.

When keeping track of alcohol intake it is more reliable to count the number of standard drinks you have had, than the number of glasses.

If you're a part of our Healthy Lifestyle Challenge...

You lose points for each alcoholic drink you consume. Deduct -10 points for each 1.0 Standard drink you consume. So if you had 150ml of wine, that's 1.5 standard drinks and means -15 points. ouch!

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Happy gut for a happy life! Boost your mood through food

Feeling sad, moody or a bit low? We all do from time to time. Especially for us if we haven't done any exercise! 

Did you know your gut can have a role in your mental health? 

A number of studies have confirmed a close link between our gut bacteria and our brain; ever heard of the gut-brain axis? The gut microbiota (bacteria) greatly impacts our brain physiology, influencing behaviour and responses to stress. Research shows that a plant-rich diet high in probiotics and prebiotics helps to increase the richness and diversity of our gut microbiota and therefore aids in our stress responses and mental health.  

How can you eat for a happy life?

To promote balanced moods and feelings of well-being:

  • Focus on a plant rich diet including a wide variety of fruit, vegetables and legumes. Aim to fill half of your plate with salad and veggies at lunch and dinner.

  • Include wholegrains such as brown rice, quinoa, wholemeal pasta, couscous and grainy bread.

  • Keep your plate portions of animal protein rich foods to 1/4, not 1/2. These include lean meats, eggs, poultry, fish and seafood. Most people overeat protein.

  • Choose healthful, unsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado 

  • Get adequate calcium by including 2-3 serves of high calcium dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt and cheese

To promote healthy gut bacteria, combine the balance above with:

  • Probiotic yoghurt, such as Greek yoghurt with live active cultures

  • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, pickles, kimchi

  • Kefir and kombucha

  • Sourdough bread

  • Cultured soymilk if dairy is not for you