Fat-burning foods to fire up your metabolism

From chilli to complex carbs, these fast foods will speed up your metabolism and make weight loss more achievable.

Making the choice to lose weight and sticking to a strict diet as a result can prove to be a challenge at times. So if there are foods out there that are going to make achieving your health goals easier, then you would be crazy not to start implementing fast foods into your diet. And by fast foods, I don’t mean fat-saturated takeaway food. I’m referring to calorie-burning foods that will give your metabolism a jump start and make weight loss more achievable.

 1. Complex high-fibre Carbohydrates
Always aim to include a small portion of complex carbohydrates in every meal you have. Yes, carbohydrates! They are extremely beneficial at helping your body burn up calories and increase your metabolism; since they contain fibre which provides an extended energy boost so you stay active. This energy will help convert food into usable energy. Good carbs include non-starchy vegetables, beans and whole grains such as brown bread, brown rice, oatmeal and whole grain cereals.

 2. Lean protein
Consuming lean proteins such as chicken, turkey breast, red meat egg whites, fish or game meat will boost your metabolic rate since the digestion of protein increases the amount of chemical reactions occurring in your stomach. In a nut shell, the amino acids found in protein are stimulating cellular activity, so your metabolism will rise within the first hour until three to 12 hours post-meal.

 3. Spices
Your metabolic rate will instantly shift into top gear upon consumer hot spicy foods like chilli, jalapenos and cayenne peppers. Capsaicin is a chemical found in hot peppers which stimulates the release of extra stress hormones including adrenalin. This increases the body’s ability to burn more calories.

 4. Garlic and ginger
Garlic and ginger both go beyond adding flavours to a meal and boosting your immune system to prevent cold and flu’s. They have an innate ability to raise your body’s temperature so fat burning mechanisms are stimulated.

 5. Green tea
A powerful antioxidant called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) increases your metabolic rate, making fat oxidation more efficient since it triggers thermogenic properties to occur around the body.

 6. Lemon and Vinegar
Adding a dash of fresh lemons, apple cider vinegar or red/white vinegar will drive up your metabolism. This is due to their high acidic levels which slow down the rate of starch digestion; ultimately keeping your insulin levels balanced and lowering blood sugar levels.

Are you getting enough iron?

Iron deficiency is becoming a widespread problem for Australians. We need iron for energy, brainpower and to strengthen our immune systems. It’s what assists us to get through a long, gruelling day. Yet interestingly, many people mistake subtle iron deficiency symptoms as just being a little busy.

If you’ve been experiencing tiredness, a lack of energy, poor concentration, irritability or frequent infections lately, then it’s definitely worth checking if you’re meeting your daily iron needs. A simple blood check at your local GP can confirm this.

In the meantime, here are some of the best ways we can keep our iron within a healthy range and prevent iron deficiency:

Eat iron-rich foods

Regularly include iron-rich foods in your diet to maintain healthy iron levels. Iron in foods with high concentration are absorbed by the body differently since there are two types found in food: Haem iron and non-haem iron. Haem iron is very easy for the body to absorb. It’s present in red meat, pork, chicken, fish and offal (kidney and liver).

While non-haem iron isn’t at greatly absorbed by the body, it’s still essential to consume. It’s found in eggs, nuts, iron-fortified breakfast cereals, wholemeal pasta and bread, and dark green leafy vegetables. Vegetarians can increase their iron intake levels by leaving the skin on baked potatoes and increasing bean intake.

Maximise iron absorption

Combining iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods can dramatically maximise iron absorption. Berries, tomatoes, oranges and capsicum are just some examples of vitamin C-rich foods you can benefit from eating.

Consider iron supplements

If you’re experiencing iron deficiency, your doctor may prescribe an iron supplement to encourage your iron levels to return to normal. Though, they should only be used until your iron levels return to normal because iron supplements can interfere with the absorption of other essential nutrients such as zinc. Large doses are also known to cause constipation and an iron load can be detrimental to your overall wellbeing.

Remember, iron is an important dietary mineral that is needed to assist various bodily functions; especially transporting oxygen in blood around the body to cells and the brain. Low iron levels can lead to anaemia. So make it a habit to eat iron-rich foods regularly.

Do you have a cheat day?

Do you have one day where you eat what you want? Because contrary to popular belief, spiking your calories at least once a week can actually increase fat loss – since it maximises your metabolism.

We all know that there is no quick fix to weight loss. In order to lose weight and successfully keep it off, you need to have an eating plan that you can follow long-term. Diets that deprive us of what we love don’t last very long. That’s why it’s okay to eat a few high calorie/carbohydrate food options one day of the week. Let’s call it your “cheat date”.

Cheat days are beneficial in several ways. They satisfy those hard to resist cravings and welcome you to splurge on the food you avoid every other day. The best thing of all is that you never go more than six days without eating one meal you truly enjoy. And another plus is that this short break from dieting also spikes your metabolism.

Losing weight is a science that revolves around how many calories you consume versus how many calories you burn off in a day. Day by day your body is adhering to your strict, low-fat diet. A calorie spike works by eliminating starvation more and naturally tricking your body into entering an extreme level of fat burning for one day by creating a large daily deficit. So the calories you consume on this day will be fast burnt; given that you regularly undertake physical activity.

Cheat days are key to a successful diet since they not only keep your metabolism in check, but the calorie spike restores glycogen levels which will fuel great upcoming workouts. Cheat days also give people control over their diets, weight and cravings. You’re less inclined to go all out during the week if you allow yourself one piece of cake or a chocolate bar on the weekend.

The funny thing is a healthy physique is 80 percent diet, yet you can still eat what you like on your cheat day if you’re smart about it. On your spike days, learn how to make your favourite foods even healthier. Eat pizza, pastas, hamburgers, tacos or whatever it is that tantalizes your tastebuds. Your choices of sauce, breads and amount of cheese, butters and extras are going to dramatically impact calorie consumption. So on your cheat days, it’s wise to not go overboard with calorie spiking, but simultaneously enjoy the fact you’re indulging in a treat.

Eating healthy when other’s don’t

Sometimes when you’re a good eater, you’re not always your worst enemy. The people you live with or constantly hang around may be major hindrances to your strict diet. It’s hard enough to resist eating high-calories foods when you’re keeping your diet lean, so it’s understandable that you can be swayed when you see your friends eating junk all the time.

What do you do when your colleagues want to do a KFC office run or when your friends want to meet at the bar? What about when your flatmate cooks another heat and freeze meal or your partner prepares are tantalising Italian dinner that will definitely sabotage your daily calorie intake? It’s times like these where you ought to stick to your guns and choose the healthier options so your hard work doesn’t go to waste. Here’s how:

Bite size is alright
When you’re feeling pressured in a social setting, remember to portion control. Appease the crowd by telling them you’ll try a bite. This is better than saying no and is less likely to cause offence. At the same time, you’re not consuming a massive amount so you’re not endangering your diet. 

Serving yourself

If your partner or flatmate has gone to the effort to cook a yummy, but fatty dinner, it’s okay to serve yourself. Why not half a very small serving and eat vegies for the remainder of the meal? If you’re in control of your plate, it’s easier to adjust portions. If preparing your plate isn’t an option, politely ask for a smaller portion.

Monitor your pace

When you’re having a good time and are caught up in great conversation, you’re subconsciously on autopilot and prone to fill your face with whatever’s on the table. That’s why it’s a good idea to eat a little bit before a scheduled meal so you aren’t as hungry and are less inclined to make bad food choices.

Preparation is key

If your diet has succumbed to peer pressure of late, make it a habit to not cave in again. This is best done by preparing what you’re going to eat in advance and also how you’re going to respond to foods that tempt you.

Create a focus

Dinner or lunch doesn’t have to be the highlight activity of the day. You can ardently suggest a walk after dinner or schedule a movie or board game as the new focus.

Can I eat carbs at night?

Should we listen to Hollywood and refrain from eating carbs at night?

Hollywood has been telling us since forever that a low-carb, or even no-carb diet, is the best diet. Is this really the case? Are we just starving ourselves to lose weight or perhaps there is a better time to eat carbs.

The truth is carbs are good for you and we need to eat them in order to maintain a balanced diet. On the other hand, you will put on weight if you eat carbs or any kind of food the wrong way. The old saying goes: Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper. When it comes to consuming carbs at night, definitely eat less and cut out the starchy kind (pasta, rice, bread) after 6pm.

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Are you really ready to get results?

While there are more fitness facilities, information resources, health professionals and low fat foods available to us than ever before, our society continues to get fatter and unhealthier. Overweight and obesity rates are climbing at epidemic proportions, which if not stopped, will place enormous economic and health burdens on our future generations.

If you are concerned about your own health or your family’s health and want to lead a long-term healthy lifestyle, this book is for you.

Send an email to admin@visionpt.com.au to order a copy or go pick up a copy at your local Vision Personal Training studio.

Boosting your immune system

Eat immune system enhancing foods to fight off infection

It’s that time of the year when cold and flu symptoms are peaking. Look around the office, at the shop or while commuting and you’re bound to see people coughing and splattering away. If this is something you consider undesirable, why not boost your immune system by eating certain foods? It’s your best bet to fighting spreadable sicknesses.

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Eating healthy at work

Start making new eating habits instead of snacking away calorie-packed food at your desk. 

Most Australians work nine to five, are constantly on-the-go and therefore find it a challenge to eat healthy food. They’re either snacking at their desk, skipping meals to meet deadlines or are buying a pie at the local deli. Little do they know that implementing new diet habits will dramatically change the way they feel and perform.

Do you skip breakfast? You shouldn’t. It’s the most important meal of the day. It will increase your metabolism and also improve your alertness, concentration, productivity and your chances of needing to do overtime to make up for the work you could have otherwise completed if only you had eaten breakfast. If you can’t stomach food so early, try a fruit smoothie instead. You will feel fuller throughout the day.

There’s a common assumption that healthy food can’t be yummy. If it’s good for you, it’s going to taste horrid. This couldn’t be any more further from the truth. Low-fat dairy products such as yoghurt or light cheeses are great to eat in small portions. Yoghurt is also great to top over a small bowl of fruit and muesli for added taste and to balance out the meal.

If you’re a fan of eating biscuits, why not skip them and combine wholegrain crackers with a can of light tuna or lean chicken instead? High-protein meals combined with carbs are easier for the body to digest and absorb the nutritional benefits. If you like snacking while working, have some nuts or sesame thins readily available on your desk. These are much better choices over calorie-packed muesli bars or chocolate.

Similarly, coffee is a key contributor to adding on the pounds. Ask yourself how many coffees do you consume each day? Most people can’t stop at one and rely on three. If this is you, wean yourself off it by cutting back slowly. And when you order your next coffee, opt for skim milk and say no to the sugar if you can.

By avoiding sugary, high-fat and calorie-saturated foods and beverages, you are already cutting out a large portion of calories in your daily intake. The key is not to cut out food completely or eat less, but rather choose healthier options. That way you’re still eating the same amount, but fewer calories; a much easier way to keep your waistline in shape.

Lastly, come lunch time, try and get out and move around instead of eating at your desk where you’re more inclined to over eat. Get involved in the lunch time soccer game with colleagues or go for a quick stroll and get some fresh air so you feel rejuvenated.

My Bodybuilding Preparation Eating Plan

Many people have asked what I ate each day in preparation for the Natural Body Building comp I did in May 2009. It was pretty simple really: the key is to just stick to it.

Black coffee before training each day

Breakfast = 50grams of oats with 6 egg whites and one yolk

Morning Tea =50grams of oats with 2 scoops of Vanilla Vision protein powder

Lunch = 100 grams of grilled chicken breast with mixed salad

Afternoon = 100 grams of grilled chicken with mixed salad

Dinner = 200 grams of chicken / beef or salmon with broccoli, zuchini and beans

Supper = Rice cakes with Natural Peanut butter

8 glasses of water each day.

During the final 8 days leading up to the comp, I also Sodium loaded and depleted.

Saturday              4000mg

Sunday                 5000

Monday               6000

Tuesday               7000

Wednesday        8000

Thursday             8000

Friday                    500

Saturday              500

Sunday                 250

Cut water at midday Saturday (ice cubes only)

I also manipulated my carb intake in the final week leading up as follows:

Monday to Thursday      Normal food intake (do not panic)

Friday – 250g (Oats with water, rice cakes, water based carbs)

Saturday - 300g (Oats with water up til midday, rice cakes after midday)

Sunday - 300g (Dry oats, Honey, peanut butter, banana, rice cakes)

Follow the sodium loading, carb loading and dehydration plan and watch yourself get ripped by Sunday morning!

Are you slowly being killed by trans-fats?

Trans fatty acids are the most harmful fats in the human diet and should be avoided at all costs.

Trans fatty acid (TFAs) is the abbreviated term for unsaturated fat with trans-iomer fatty acids. Basically it is fatty acid coupled with glycerine. And although they are unsaturated, they do not behave like the good fats found in vegetable oils and fish. Rather, they behave similarly to saturated fats in the body and produce similar health effects. Therefore, they are the most harmful type of fat found in the human diet and should be avoided at all costs.

TFAs are contained in both natural and manufactured products. Naturally, you will find them in certain animal products including cheese, butter and meat. Manufactured, or artificial TFAs, occur when liquid vegetable oils are hardened during the industrial processing stages of making margarine, cooking fats and pastry doughs for baking, crackers, biscuits, candies, salad dressings, chips, granola bars, fried foods and more.

What makes TFAs so dangerous is that they increase the amount of bad cholesterol in our blood and can reduce the amount of good cholesterol. Exhibiting harmful levels of bad cholesterol is a key indicator for heart disease and TFAs are also associated with many heart complications. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) has set a recommendation of consuming no more than 1 per cent of our daily kilojoules from TFAs. Postponed

Despite the countless health hazards to humans, it is not mandatory for food manufacturers to declare TFAs on product labels. However, manufacturers can provide statistics voluntarily. They are only required to declare TFAs if a nutritious claim regarding saturated, trans fats, cholesterol, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated or omega-3, omega-6 or omega-9 fatty acids is made.

This is quite concerning, considering the only valid use of TFAs for food companies is higher profitability. When vegetable oils are converted to solid fats by adding hydrogen atoms (hydrogenation), the shelf life of foods is extended. Flavour is also enhanced, which means more calories in your mouth. So really, it’s just not worth consuming TFAs in large amounts if they taste good, yet increase the level of plaque build-up in arteries.

What’s more is there has also been research conducted by Harvard School of Public Health which suggests TFAs may raise the risk of acquiring diabetes. That’s why it is important to make smarter diet decisions and choose heart-healthy fats such as avocadoes, nuts, peanut butter and TFA-free margarines. Don’t forget to check the number of calories per serving on product labels and compare saturated fats and TFA information if available.