Fitness · How Lose Weight · Lose Weight

Should You Avoid Bananas If You’re Trying To Lose Weight?

Bananas are full of sugar, but does it matter?

One of the basic truths that everyone learns about healthy eating is that fruit is good for you.

So it’s kind of weird that many low-carb diets say that you should swear off bananas.

After all, bananas are a fruit, but they are starting to get a reputation as a sugar-laden, kilojoule-packed fruit.

More than 70 000 people Google “how many kilojoules in a banana” each month, and even celeb trainer Harley Pasternak recommends that dieters avoid bananas to lose weight. And eating bananas on a keto diet? Forget about it.

Why: A medium banana packs 27g of carbs, more than two slices of white bread, as well as about 14g of sugar.

That sugar occurs in the form of fructose, a simple sugar that the body digests rapidly and can lead to blood sugar and insulin spikes.

Why: A medium banana packs 27g of carbs, more than two slices of white bread, as well as about 14g of sugar.

That sugar occurs in the form of fructose, a simple sugar that the body digests rapidly and can lead to blood sugar and insulin spikes.

And, for the record, there are 439kJ in a banana.

But if you’re a banana fan, you don’t have to give up the yellow fruit just to shed a few kilos: Bananas aren’t going to make or break your weight-loss efforts, says Alissa Rumsey, founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness and creator of the free e-guide 5 Minute Mindful Eating Exercise.

“One food does not cause weight gain, just like one food doesn’t cause weight loss,” she says.

After all, while bananas do contain sugar, it’s natural sugar, which isn’t the same as added sugar, like the stuff you add to your coffee, and they are also a great source of potassium and contain fibre, vitamins C and B6, and inflammation-fighting antioxidants, points out Beth Warren, author of Living a Real Life With Real Food.

And that fibre can actually help you lose weight, she says. According to research from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, simply increasing your fibre intake to 30g per day leads to as much weight loss as full-fledged diets do.

One medium banana contains 3.1g of fibre, blunting the rapid spike in blood sugar that accompanies other high-sugar foods. That way, you don’t feel hyper after eating one… and then hangry 30 minutes later.

Eat your bananas with a little protein and fat from some almond or peanut butter, and you’ll give the sweet snack even more staying power, Rumsey says. Try eating them before or after exercise to help fuel your workouts and recovery, she suggests.

Bottom line: Bananas aren’t the enemy. If you’re trying to lose weight, focus on your overall diet and exercise instead of one fruit. It’ll get you so much further.


Fitness · How Lose Weight · Lose Weight

Can Certain Foods Really Burn Fat?

Let’s Take A Look At Green Tea, Cayenne Pepper And Chilli.

When we’re trying to lose weight and get into shape, the sound of “fat-burning” foods helping us along sounds incredibly alluring.

Green tea, chilli, pepper, dairy and fish have all been touted as “fat-burning” to aid with weight loss, but do these foods really burn fat, or are they simply over-hyped?

Let’s first understand what it means for a food to be “fat-burning”.

“When ‘fat burning’ is being referred to in relation to food, it’s looking at specific foods which have the potential to speed up metabolism,” Chloe McLeod, accredited practising dietitian and sports dietitian, told HuffPost Australia.

The key word here being “potential”.

“There is mixed science around the topic and some foods do appear to help to some degree, but having one fat-burning food in your diet and eating poorly the rest of the time isn’t going to work. It’s like the saying, ‘you can’t outrun a bad diet’. You still have to be ticking all of the other boxes.”

As with all things weight and lifestyle-related, there must be balance, diet and exercise, nutritionist Fiona Tuck explained.

“There is no magic pill to long-term weight loss, but nature has provided us some foods that may help, in conjunction with a good diet and regular exercise.”

1. Spicy Foods

Spicy foods such as chillies, cayenne pepper and black pepper may help you burn more energy and lose body fat, as well as increase fullness and prevent overeating. This is thanks to a compound called capsaicin.

“Thermogenic spices produce heat within the body and can speed up the metabolising process,” Tuck told HuffPost Australia. “Typical spices that help in fat absorption include chillies, cayenne pepper, black pepper and turmeric.

“There is some research that shows there is a slight increase in fat-burning ability in people, and it seems to be more in people who are overweight than people who are a healthy weight,” McLeod added.

“But there’s not enough research to say it’s definitely going to work. Even if it is effective, it doesn’t mean we can just eat poorly and have heaps of chilli.”

2. Green Tea

Although the research findings are mixed, in some studies green tea has been shown to increase fat-burning ability.

“This metabolism process is also helped by the caffeine content in green tea,” Tuck said.

However, it may not be its (potential) fat-burning abilities which makes green tea a worthwhile beverage to drink. Indirectly, drinking green tea helps keep us hydrated, which can help with satiety.

“Green tea has the benefit of being rich in antioxidants and it helps you to stay really hydrated. Sometimes when you’re dehydrated you overeat, so if you’re drinking green tea it can help from that perspective,” McLeod said.

3. Healthy Fats

“Olives, olive oil, seeds and nuts are all monounsaturated fatty acids which aid in nervous system function, absorption of nutrients, blood pressure and they also help prevent the fat that accumulates around the belly,” Tuck said.

In a study using fish oil supplements, the researchers found the subjects experienced a “significant reduction” in fat mass and a decrease in body fat percentage.

4. Dairy Foods

According to some studies, the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) found in dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese may reduce body fat mass.

“There’s been research showing that consumption of milk, yoghurt and cheese can help with weight management,” McLeod said. “It’s less about increasing metabolism and more about staying satisfied and providing nutrients, which can help with avoiding eating junk foods.”

5. High Protein Foods

According to Tuck, foods rich in protein, such as meat, fish, legumes, whole grains and tofu, decrease appetite and can boost metabolism.

“High protein foods that are especially good for fat metabolism include eggs, oatmeal and fish.”

Foods which may help boost metabolism:
-> Green tea
-> Chilli
-> Cayenne pepper
-> Pepper
-> Turmeric
-> Healthy fats like nuts, seeds, olives and olive oil
-> Protein like eggs and fish
-> Rolled oats

Remember, do take all this “fat-burning” talk with a grain of salt. It’s difficult to pinpoint if any food is fat-burning as there could be many other variables — you may be exercising more, generally eating more healthily, sleeping enough and so on.

“I wouldn’t be saying to go and eat any one particular food and you’ll suddenly be a Victoria’s Secret model. It’s a bit more complex than that,” McLeod said.

“For the best results, eat whole foods, mostly plants. Drink plenty of water. Make sure there’s plenty of fibre in your diet, which is mostly found in plant foods like vegetables, legumes and unprocessed whole grains.

“Include plenty of protein, whether that’s from plants like chickpeas and lentils, or animal sources, plus healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil. I know it sounds un-sexy, but follow a healthy, balanced diet.”


Exercise · Fitness · Health & You · Healthy Lifestyle · Lose Weight

How to lose weight like a pro cyclist

In a world of marginal gains, pro cyclists such as those in in the Tour de France focus on body composition to improve performance, and you can, too.

Bradley Wiggins is one of the riders whose weight loss has been well publicised in the past. During the 2009 Tour, Wiggins said: “Compared to the 2007 Tour, my weight loss means I’m carrying the equivalent of six bags of sugar less up a mountain. Shedding that weight is all that I can do to give myself the best chance on the climbs other than taking drugs, and I’m not going to do that.”

How do pro cyclists lose weight?

Many pros carefully count calories and weigh food to ensure they’re only taking in the fuel they need to perform well in training and race. One typical daily pattern is to eat a balanced breakfast, ride through lunch using energy products and then have an early main meal.
How to lose weight like a pro cyclist

Wiggins, on the other hand, trained hard before breakfast to speed up his metabolism for the day. He also avoided gluten for two months, and abstained from alcohol completely.

Whatever the chosen method, pros aren’t looking for overnight weight loss – it’s a gradual process over a period of many months, never losing too much weight too quickly.

There were reports in the press that Wiggins had a body fat of four per cent during the 2009 Tour and this would not be unusual for elite male cyclists. It could easily be imagined that others within the pro peloton have similar body compositions.

Consequences of weight loss

In professional cycling, power-to-weight ratio is very important, especially for those who want to climb well and win a Grand Tour. Any excess weight such as body fat will only slow them down.

Excess muscle on their upper body will also make climbing harder. When the margins between winning and losing are so small at the elite level, pro riders have to look at every advantage.

However, while excess muscle on a cyclist’s upper body is dead weight, it’s vital in other sports. So, if you like to run, swim or play team sports as well as cycle, don’t lose weight by just losing muscle mass, or you’ll notice a decline in your performance. Similarly, if you lose too much body fat, your health will be affected.

Weight loss requires careful consideration and should not be done on a whim. Remember, elite athletes like Wiggins will work with some of the best sport scientists in the world to make these changes.

What can I do?

If you’re thinking of changing your body composition ask yourself “is my body composition really stopping me from achieving my goals?” If you’re overweight, this is probably a symptom of poor nutrition, so tackle this before going on a fad diet.

For those who like to enjoy the off-season taking in a few beers and munching sweets, it’s likely your body fat will increase. A small increase in body fat is good and healthy during winter – after all, your body and mind need a rest. However, if you take it too far you’re going to have to get back in shape at some point.

Large swings in body weight can have a negative impact. A more controlled approach to losing weight is a better idea. Decreasing calorie intake by 500 kcal per day can lead to losing 1lb in weight in just a week. Lose them from calorie-dense, nutrient-poor sources first, as follows:

Saturated fat
Simple sugars
Other fats

Done slowly, this will have less of an effect on your training. However, cut calories for too long and your training may begin to suffer.


Fitness · Health & You · Healthy Lifestyle · Lose Weight

Can You Safely Lose Weight While Breast-Feeding?

“Make sure breast-feeding is established before starting any weight loss plan,” said Cheryl Lovelady, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, who studies postpartum weight loss. She encourages women to take time to recover from childbirth and check with their doctors first.

Studies show that exercise alone is not effective for postpartum weight loss for most women; it’s too easy to make up for calories burned by eating more. A better bet is to reduce calorie intake – along with exercise, which helps you lose more weight as fat and less as muscle. Exercise also improves cardiovascular fitness and metabolic health, and can be good for mental health.
Can You Safely Lose Weight While Breast-Feeding?=

“It’s very hard for me to recommend dieting alone,” Dr. Lovelady said. “You don’t feel good with dieting, but you feel good after a brisk walk.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like brisk walking or easy cycling) per week for postpartum women.

It’s safe to lose one or two pounds a week, studies led by Dr. Lovelady and others have found. But more rapid weight loss could cause a drop in milk supply and increased fatigue, the last thing a new mom needs. To be sure that the baby is getting enough milk, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises watching for changes in your baby’s weight gain, diaper output and feeding behavior.

For breast-feeding women trying to lose one pound per week, Dr. Lovelady suggests decreasing calorie intake by about 500 calories per day, with a total intake of at least 1,800 calories. The Department of Agriculture’s SuperTracker website is a good starting place for creating an individualized diet plan that takes into account calories needed for breast-feeding, and women can adjust their plan depending on their results.

Dr. Lovelady warns breast-feeding moms to avoid very low carbohydrate diets. You need dietary carbohydrates to make lactose, the sugar in milk. Otherwise, any dietary pattern can work, so focus on foods that you enjoy and that make you feel satisfied, not deprived. Plan snacks that are easy to grab and eat with one hand (the other being occupied by the baby), like an appetizing bowl of fruit and nuts on the kitchen counter.

Everyone, but particularly breast-feeding women, should use caution with weight loss supplements, said Philip Anderson, a professor of pharmacy at the University of California, San Diego. They’re poorly regulated, and they may be contaminated with harmful ingredients. Some herbal ingredients can also interfere with milk production or affect the baby’s health. “I would be very cautious with those,” he said.


Exercise · Health & You · Healthy Lifestyle · How Lose Weight

8 Weight Loss Rules You Should Give Up Right Now, Seriously

Now that spring is in sight, many of us are thinking about how to get back into shape after a long winter of endless brownies and pizza (not that there’s anything wrong with that, brownies and pizza are the best).

To achieve quick weight loss and get that ‘summer bod’, many people will turn to restrictive diets — no carbs, no fat, limiting calories, doing a juice cleanse… the list goes on.

However, not only is this unsustainable (seriously, no one can live without chocolate 100 percent of the time) but, depending on the strictness of the diet, it can also have a pretty big impact on our mental and physical health.

To help inspire you to get into shape in a healthy, sustainable way, we asked two health experts to share the weight loss myths and diet rules they wish would curl up and die.

Chances are you’re probably following one or more of these.

1. Myth: eating fat will make you fat
“The theory here is that since fat has 37 kilojoules (nine calories) per gram, compared to carbs and protein that only have 16 kilojoules (four calories) per gram, in order to lose weight, you should avoid fat. The reality is, fat is not the enemy,” Robbie Clark, dietitian and sports nutritionist, told The Huffington Post Australia.

“Diets that are high in fat and carbs can make you fat, but it’s not because of the fat. Although fat laden products can be full of calories, consuming a modest amount of healthy fat can help you feel more full since they take longer to digest, so you eat less overall.”

The healthy, unsaturated, plant-based fats include nuts, seeds, avocado, chia seeds and olive oil. According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, the ‘unhealthy’ fats include trans fats and saturated fats which are found in fatty snack foods, deep fried foods, muffins, pastries and cakes.

“Fat is also essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and phytonutrients such as vitamin A, D, E and K, which are essential for good health,” Clark said. “In fact, studies have shown that diets high in fat (but low in carbs) consistently lead to more weight loss than low fat diets.”
8 Weight Loss Rules You Should Give Up=
2. Myth: low fat food products are better for weight loss
Take a quick look in your supermarket and you’ll see ‘low fat’ everything: yoghurt, whipped cream, lollies, mayonnaise, chips and even peanut butter (we know what you’re thinking: leave peanut butter alone). However, this doesn’t make a food product healthy or good for weight loss.

“The theory here is that food products that are labelled low fat and low carb are considered to be healthier and better for weight loss,” Clark said.

“The truth is, these claims don’t always mean low calorie, and if you’re trying to lose weight, stocking up on these treats could actually undermine your efforts.”

The reason being is that when natural fat is taken out of a product, it is usually replaced with sugar to improve the taste of the food.

“It is this excess sugar that is extremely harmful to our health and waistline, while the fat naturally present in food is not,” Clark explained.

“If you’re tempted by a snack food that’s labelled ‘light’ or ‘low fat’, check the nutrition label. Look at how many kilojoules or calories are in the ‘per 100g’ column, then compare that number with the calories in a comparable product that’s not making the same label claim. And then consider having just a small amount of the real thing.”

3. Myth: carbs make you fat

While reducing your carbohydrate intake can assist in weight loss, completely cutting carbs from your diet — particularly without consulting a health professional — can be risky.

“Carb free means you may miss out on important B vitamins required for energy and stress support, as well as hormone balance,” nutritionist Pip Reed told HuffPost Australia.

“It can also increase hunger and cause overeating of other nutrient groups such as fats. Choose good carbs such as amaranth, quinoa, sweet potato, pumpkin and brown rice in small quantities.”

4. Myth: eating small, frequent meals boosts your metabolism
“The theory here is that if you skip meals throughout the day, your body goes into ‘starvation’ mode and will slow your metabolism, and therefore it’s better to eat smaller more frequent (5-6) meals per day,” Clark said.

“The truth is that the old notion of eating a meal every three to four hours to ramp up your metabolism isn’t exactly perfect advice. In fact, how frequently someone eats has little to do with the speed of their metabolism.”

This is not to say you should eat all your daily energy in one go. It simply means don’t count on eating smaller meals throughout the day to ‘speed up’ your metabolism. Eating this way, however, will help you stay full and satisfied, and keep your blood sugar levels steady.

“Eating frequently is popular for some because it helps them to keep a lid on both hunger as well as cravings. As a result, it allows for better portion and choice control,” Clark told HuffPost Australia.

“Certain individuals (those prone to cravings or with special dietary needs) may benefit from consuming multiple meals through the day. However, for the rest of us, the most important factors to consider regarding metabolism are the quantity and quality of the food we consume.”

5. Myth: counting calories is the best way to lose weight
Counting calories for every meal — constantly weighing, measuring and adding up — is burdensome and can completely remove the joy from eating food.

It can also leave out important parts of a healthy diet and may lead to obsessive restriction.

“Calorie counting is an outdated form of controlling your food intake,” Reed said.

“It does not take into account your micronutrient consumption and can cause fixation and addiction to the numbers instead of the quality and variety of food intake.”

6. Myth: checking scales regularly will keep you on track
Jumped on the scales one morning to find you’ve gained three kilos since yesterday? Don’t worry. There are a few simple reasons for this.

“When you start an exercise program, it is likely that you will increase your lean muscle mass. As a result, it’s possible that your weight could stay the same or even increase, even though you might be feeling and looking slimmer,” Clark told HuffPost Australia.

There are also other factors to consider when weighing yourself that can affect the scales, such as fluid retention (increased body fluid), whether you’ve been to the toilet or not, certain times of a woman’s menstrual cycle and time of day.

“Although it’s important to know how your weight is tracking generally, once a week or once a fortnight might be a better approach. Documenting how you’re feeling is a much better way to measure your progress,” Clark said.

“For people who jump on the scales daily, it can have a negative impact on your psychology and mood.”

7. Myth: pill, herb or juice detoxes will help you lose weight
However tempting they may be, Reed warns to avoid ‘cleanses’ or ‘detoxes’ in order to quickly lose weight.

“These uncontrolled diets are not only ineffective, they can also be dangerous,” Reed explained.

“They can result in a loss of fluid, which people often mistake for weight loss, and an increase in both cravings and weight storage when you do start eating again.”

8. Myth: avoid eating out to stay on track
If you’ve started a diet and promised yourself to never order takeaway, it’s probably doing more harm than good.

“Most people, when they are trying to lose weight, remove themselves from social situations that might lead them astray from their diet or because of a lack of willpower to stay diligent,” Clark said.

“This can also be detrimental to your mental health. Avoiding the situations that bring you joy because your focus needs to be on eating the right foods can create negative connotations and relationship with food, which you can end up resenting.

“Instead of avoiding restaurants and cafes out of fear you will opt for bad food choices, be in control of choosing the restaurant and plan ahead by familiarising yourself with the menu so you can make the healthiest food choice when you dine.”

For more tips on losing weight in a healthy and sustainable way, here are 15 simple, non-intimidating healthy eating tips from five experts. To get healthy meal inspiration, check out these easy meals and 10 breakfasts you can make in under five minutes.