SUGAR ALCOHOLS

WHAT DOES THE 'SUGAR ALCOHOL LOOPHOLE' MEAN FOR OUR MACRO TRACKING AT FAT LOSS GOALS?

Sugar alcohols (also termed non-nutritive sweeteners) can be used in foods to enhances flavor without the need for them to contribute to the total carbohydrate content on food labels because they can't be technically categorised as a carbohydrate. Thanks to a cheeky food labeling loophole. However, they do need to be included on the ingredients list, and their energy (Calorie) content does contribute to the Calorie amounts listed on food labels. On the ingredients list, they're often identifiable through words that end in 'ol', such as mannitol, or erythritol. 


The cool thing about sugar alcohols is that they can enhance taste for fewer Calories (on average), than straight carbs or sugar, but they're not Calorie-free. They do still contain Calories, ranging from basically nil, to 4.3 kcal per gram. So on average, we'll call it 2 kcal per gram. 


So what does this mean for your OCD  level My Fitness Pal tracking? 

Basically, all it means is that the label might be confusing because the total reported protein, carbs and fat content won't match the reported total energy (Calorie) content listed on the label. 

For example, using macros to equate Calories a portion of food with 10g protein, 2g fat and 10g carb would be equated via the following calculation. 
Protein: 10g x 4 = 40 kcal
Fat: 2g x9 = 18 kcal
Carbohydrates: 10g x 4 = 40 kcal
Total Calorie content = 98 kcal

However, if some of the carbs on the above portion of food were swapped for sugar alcohols the label might report 98 kcal, but the equation of Calories using the macros might not equal 98 kcal because of the fact the reported carbohydrate content will be much lower than 10g allowing the food to be marketed as 'low carb'.  


But that doesn’t really matter because the Calories are accurately labeled. 

The total Calories of the food reported on the label still need to take into Calories coming from sugar alcohols. So the thing that actually matters will still be accurately represented on the label. It might just leave your reported, tracked or perceived ratio and amounts of carbs a little off compared to the actual amount of carbohydrates consumed. 


Given the above, should you be worried if your diet isn't low carb anymore? 

Carbs will not stop you from losing weight and you don’t need to go low carb to lose weight either. After protein and Calories are matched the ratio and amounts of carbs to fat within your diet becomes a non-factor. What matters is whether you're in an energy (Calorie) deficit or not.


Should we avoid sugar alcohols?

Considering you can still accurately report Calories and the fact there aren’t any indications that sugar alcohols are bad for human consumption they’re fine to consume. But in a practical sense they can only be consumed to a certain point because...


Sugar alcohols 'smash your guts'. 

While individual tolerances and the effects of individual sugar alcohols in ‘gut upset’ related symptoms vary. Any above norm/high-ish level of sugar alcohol consumption can and will almost certainly 'get things moving'. This is why 'may cause laxative effect' needs to be reported on the food label. 


But up to that point, the only potential negative of consuming them in logical amounts is that you might be eating more carbs than you think and your My Fitness Pal carb intake indications might be under reality. But as mentioned, and explained IT DOESNT MATTER. 


Sugar alcohols are almost certainly never the deciding factor of whether you're able to create a Calorie deficit & achieve weight loss. As always focus your attention on nailing the basic's, the factors of the greatest magnitude, and impact towards results before you worry about the little things that don't really matter. Big rocks, before pebbles folks!

PROTEIN BAR REVIEW

I love protein bars. Yes they don't taste as good as a real cookie, or chocolate bar. But knowing they're providing protein towards my daily totals and somewhat lower in Calories compared to something really 'naughty' just makes them taste that much sweeter to the point I am willing to admit I sometimes enjoy them to the level of a legitimate cookie.

In combination with that, protein bars can be a great snack than can almost serve as a meal replacement which is perfectly fine provided the overall healthfulness of the diet is good, whole foods are high, and fruit and vegetable requirements are met. They're a useful tool for buys people as an alternative to reaching for the office kitchen cookie tin.

I'd consider myself a 'protein bar connoisseur'. I've been buying and trying protein bars for a while now and have even had streaks of 'must try all the flavors'. I don't think there would be many protein bars on this planet I haven't tried. So I think I'm a pretty good person to make a few recommendations.

So over time, I've developed a bit of a top 'hit-list'. Here it is.

But before I dive in, IMO the factors that make a protein bar great are as follows.
1. Calories per bite
2. Protein content
3. Taste & texture
4. Prevalence of stomach upset.
5. Quality of ingredients.

Typically protein bars lie on a spectrum of 'full of low quality protein and ingredients that will likely upset your guts', through to 'fake health hipster bars' (the 'raw-natural' kind) that are no better than the 'unhealthier' ones despite the fact they're marketed as being 'natural', and free from 'bad things'.

So here is my pick of the bunch

ALL-TIME NUMBER 1: Smart Protein Bars
Uncooked and free from sugar alcohols making them easy on the guts. The protein quality and content is great and the Calories per 60g bar are the lowest I've seen. The fact they're hard to find and have a questionable texture isn't enough to rid them of my number one spot. They're also not the best tasting bars, but it's a small trade-off and I think they still taste pretty damn good. Unless it’s the coconut flavor, certainly avoid that one.

Number 2: MRE bars.
Probably my favorite tasting bar with fantastic ingredients that are easy on the guts. Only second to the SPB because they're slightly higher in Calories which would be okay if protein content was the same, but unfortunately, they match the SPB at 20g protein meaning the additions in Calories are coming from carbs and fats. Not really a bad thing, but a lower Calorie bar means you can eat more other stuff later on.

Number 3: ONE bars
Up there in taste, not too bad on the Calories but can and do cause some gastric distress. Also, get a point off as they're not available in Australia as far as I understand. If they were they'd be a fair few points in front of Quest bars.

Number 4: Quest bars
Probably the brand that defines the protein bar, they're common, easily obtained, taste pretty good, are decently low in Calories and provide the upper industry-standard of 20g protein. However they can be a little rough on the guts, so proceed with caution. They're very close IMO to the ONE bars but are slightly edged out due to taste. The best part about Quest bars is that they're available almost everywhere!

PS before you ask... ATP collagen protein bars are probably bottom 3. They suck, don't buy into their scumbag marketing.


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CHOBANI vs COYO

Now I love the idea of a vegan or at least a vegetarian diet. My own diet is far off being vegetarian these days and I really enjoy vegan food (especially in Bali). But what I don't love about 'veganism' is some of the dumb shit that, lesser-educated, potentially bias vegans say.

Whenever I see dairy yogurt getting slammed because of it's 'bad saturated fat content' only for Coyo to be proposed as a healthier alternative I really scratch my head.

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Like hello guys, the Coyo you push as a 'healthy' alternative, is not only worse off in terms of Calorie density and protein content. But it's basically all saturated fat.


It's worth noting that saturated fat is not bad in small to moderate amounts. But too much is almost certainly not a good idea and unsaturated fats should almost certainly make up the majority of our total fat intake. But that aside... The balance of robust evidence shows dairy is not only fine for health, but it's also actually been associated with better long term health. [4,5,6,7] and most importantly dairy might help you get a bit more jacked, and maybe a bit leaner. [1,2,3]
So considering the above, unless you avoid dairy yogurt for ethical or preference reasons, Coyo is far from a 'better' or 'best' alternative.

To become more aware of current nutritional diets, fads and trends whilst understanding the principals required to help you achieve your goals, contact us today.



[1] Tang et al; (2009), [2] Hartman et al; (2007), [3] Abargouei et al; (2012), [4] Kratz et al; (2013), [5] Elwood et al; (2004), [6] Mahshid et al; (2018) [7] Lago-Sampedro et al; (2019)

#dairy #Chobani #yoghurt #vegan #plantbased #coconut #health #fatloss #wellness

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting seems to be gaining in popularity and some people have been getting great results with it. There are a number of different strategies, such as; eating regularly for 5 days of the week and eating next to nothing for 2 days, or fasting for 16 to 20 hours of each day and only eating in a short window of time.



There are no magic tricks though, some people just find it easier to eat less in a day (or overall in a week) when they have set times when they can and can’t eat. The most important thing in terms of our weight is how much we are eating and drinking each day, not the actual times we are eating. The underlying principle of body weight management is energy balance. The amount of energy we consume in a day versus the amount of energy we burn in a day. It is totally fine to look at energy balance with a weekly average too. Calories are the unit of measurement for energy. Weight loss requires a Calorie deficit (consuming less energy than we burn) and weight gain a Calorie surplus (consuming more energy than we burn). 



Intermittent fasting, whether we are talking about fasting for certain days of the week or certain periods of each day, can be beneficial for many people aiming to create and sustain a Calorie deficit for weight loss. However, reviews of numerous research studies conclude that whilst fasting is a viable strategy for weight loss, it is not superior to creating Calorie deficit through other means, such as monitoring Calorie intake but eating throughout each day. 



Having rules around when one can and can’t eat might help people eat a little less each day, especially if they are prone to snacking/grazing. It means the window in which they allow themselves to snack is much shorter. It can also help to show people that dealing with a bit of hunger is possible and we don’t need to be eating at all points of the day.



However if you eat the same amount of food between 12pm and 7pm as you would between say 8am and 7pm it will not make any difference to your body weight.



Fasted cardio is another linked strategy which is believed to be a winning combination for weight loss. Not eating anything before doing some form of exercise in an aim to burn more body fat. Again, through scientific research, we see that fasted cardio is not superior to simply managing the amount of energy being consumed and burned each day. When study groups consumed the same amount of Calories, it made no difference to fat loss whether the first meal was before or after exercise. 



There are also conflicting ideas about when is the best time to eat when using a fasting strategy. There is research showing greater weight loss when most food intake is in the morning. However there is equally as much research showing greater weight loss when food intake is skewed towards the evening. The greatest influence on the results appears to be personal preference and to what an individual can adhere. Tuning into your appetite can help you develop the best strategy that works for you. If you are not often hungry in the morning, but feel ravenous in the evenings, it would likely suit you to eat most of your food in the evening. And if you are hungrier in the mornings than evenings, the same applies in reverse. 



There are some loud voices in the nutrition world encouraging everyone to practice fasting due to improvements in autophagy (turnover of cells), inflammation and other markers of health. However research has shown that weight loss by any means improves these markers and the maintenance of a healthy body weight is just as influential. Again, finding the best strategy for you personally, to reduce and maintain a healthy body weight long term is the key. 



With any nutritional strategy, we believe it’s important to consider whether it is a sustainable long term approach. Do you see yourself continuing with his strategy for years, even lifelong? If the answer is no, then it might not be the best strategy for you. 



You can practice intermittent fasting without having hard rules about the times you can and can’t eat. If you are not hungry in the morning, you don’t have to eat. Some days you might be hungry and choose to eat earlier than other days. Some days it might suit you and your body more to eat in the morning, especially if exercise performance is a consideration. If you can listen to your appetite and eat accordingly, this may mean that you actually fast some days whilst other days not. 



For muscle building specifically, intermittent fasting is likely to be sub-optimal. To optimise muscle growth, we ideally want to spread protein intake throughout the day. By restricting times in which we are consuming a protein rich meal, we may not be optimising our muscle growth potential. Current recommendations from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN) are to spread protein intake across at least 4 meals to maximise muscle growth potential. To do so whilst restricting the times in which we eat through fasting is unlikely to produce optimal results. 



In conclusion, consider your goal, your preferences and how you like to eat. Fasting absolutely may suit you personally and even if not completely optimal for your goal, might still work in your favour if it helps you maintain a consistent eating schedule and consume the appropriate amount of energy for your goal. 



Not sure if you can do it forever but are interested? By all means try it. We just suggest that you don’t give yourself rules which are too strict and encourage you to try fasting in conjunction with listening to your appetite and developing a way of eating which you enjoy. 



If you’ve tried fasting but it didn’t work for you, don’t feel like you failed. It was the strategy that failed you and there are plenty of other viable fat loss strategies.



If you would like to learn more about nutrition and how you can find a way of eating that suits you, contact today.


F.N.C COACH MACKENZIE'S NON-TRACKING MINI CUT RESULT

WHAT HE DID & HIS RETROSPECTIVE OBSERVATIONS.

After 9-ish months of ‘maintenance eating, various trips including an NYC/LA food tour. I wanted to get a little leaner before Bali which is now 3 days away. I told myself I’d stop when it got too difficult, or I reached 74kg. This morning I was 74.0 and things were getting a little hard so the ‘diet’ ends today. This is the 4th time I’ve done a mini cut but the first without any Calorie tracking. This result took place over a 35-day non-tracking fat loss period with zero Calorie or macro tracking. In total, about 3.5 kilograms was lost via what was honestly very sub-par adherence levels.



WHAT I DID

-Chose more filling, low-Calorie-per-bite wholefood options and ate almost exclusively in that way.

-Ate to conservative hunger satisfaction. Slowing things down helped.

-Aimed to be aware of internal hunger cues. Drank zero/low-Calorie liquids if unsure.

-Implemented a few strategies to drive hunger and food focus down.

-Encouraged activity by choosing to walk more when the option was available.

-Ensured I ate a decent dose of a protein-dense food 3-4 times a day.

-Kept lifting weight like normal.

-Swapped one of my meals with a protein bar.

-Weighed portions of when I remembered / could be bothered.

-Did 2-3 day refeeds by simply eating more carbs from mostly the same foods when I felt things got hard enough and/or my mannerism became slightly zombie-like. (Did this mostly to self-experiment I will discuss this further below)


OBSERVATIONS & THOUGHTS

-It was easy. But an informed understanding of food and dieting is required for this approach to work.

-Pre diet perceptions of ‘enough food to feel normal’ become false once you are a few days in.

-I honestly wasn’t actually that compliant. Not having any numbers or tracking made staying adherent harder and created many non-adherence opportunities where I did slip up.

-It’s a far less invasive, more convenient way to diet and achieve fat loss.

-Using food selection and all of the above to control energy balance is absolutely effective.

-My daily scale weight fluctuations were vast compared to past diets I’ve done. Not sure if the fact this diet had zero tracking was at play. Trusting the process and objectively looking at trends over time helped me stay sane.



THOUGHTS ON THE REFEED SELF-EXPERIMENT THING.

I’m not a fan of short refeeds, or any form of Calorie cycling, high-low days etc and this little text further cements that stance. I prefer consistent energy intakes over a week. But in the name of ‘testing’, I thought I’d play with doing a multi-day refeed whenever... 

1. I felt cravings and hunger start to notably affect me.

2. I felt like my spontaneous activity levels dropped from diet-induced lethargy.

I ended up doing my first 2-3 day refeed at day 21, then once a week thereafter. Totalling 3 refeed instances over 35 days.

-I did notice cravings drop the during and one day after the refeed.

-I noticed a feeling of more energy during and one day after.

-But these positive effects only lasted 24 hours at most after the refeed was over.

-I felt doing the refeeds created a negative headspace despite my best logic.

-I didn’t think the short 2-3 day refeeds were worthwhile. I don’t believe any physiological benefits occur unless it’s for more than say a week. But I do think they may offer some psychological/mental benefits in certain people.

My stance on short refeeds remains the same. I still prefer to keep on dieting, therefore reaching the goal sooner, so the diet is shorter and maintenance eating can resume sooner. With that strategy maybe I would have finished at 25 days instead of 35.

All in all this was a great little experiment. It’s truly liberating to know I can not only maintain weight but also achieve great fat loss without any Calorie tracking business especially because I’ve had a history of disordered eating behaviors.


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Sign up for the next intake of the FNC Macabolic Mini Cut starting August 11th


MYTH: Artificial Sweeteners are Worse than Sugar

But what about the artificial sweeteners? What about the chemicals? 

There are many calorie free or low calorie sweeteners on the market now as a way of replacing sugar or calorie dense sweet ingredients.


Common examples are:

Aspartame 

Saccharin

Acesulfame-K

Sucralose

There are also sugar-free sweeteners or sugar alcohols known as polyols that  occur naturally in plants but can also be produced commercially. 

These include sorbitol, xylitol and more.


Their main purpose is to reduce the calorie content of beverages and other sweet treats to help control energy intake and assist in weight loss.



They are 200-13,000 times sweeter than sugar so minimal amounts are needed to create that sweet taste and potentially satisfy a craving or desire whilst also helping reduce caloric intake.



There also seems to be a myth circulating that they are worse than sugar itself.

Studies have been done to refute this idea in both weight loss and health aspects.



So what do the studies say about artificial sweeteners? 



  • Replacing caloric sweetened beverages with low calorie sweetener alternatives reduced BMI, Fat Mass and Waist Circumference

  • There was no consistent evidence that intense sweeteners cause insulin release or lower blood sugar in healthy individuals

  • For weight loss, replacing caloric foods/drinks with low calorie sweetener alternatives works. No strong evidence for the effects of sweeteners on health

  • Using foods and drinks sweetened with aspartame instead of those sweetened with sucrose is an effective way to maintain and lose weight without reducing the palatability of the diet.




It can be a way to implement a small change in an individual's diet that has a significant impact.

Example. Replacing 2 cans of full sugar coke 362 calories) to 2 cans of coke zero drops their calories by 360 calorie, helping with their energy intake and helping them move towards a calorie deficit needed for weight loss.


Adding sugar free cordial may also be an extremely low calorie strategy to encourage and increase water consumption whilst also satisfying a craving for a sugar sweetened beverage.


Safe limits of diet soft drink consumption are up towards 18 cans per day. 

*An issue to note may be on the sugar alcohols effects on an individual perhaps causing gastric distress but that is not common across all consumption. 



So next time you craving a sweet carbonated beverage or feel like adding some artificial sweetener to your coffee, don’t be scared. At the moment there is no research to suggest it is worse for your health or body composition than sugar or full sugar beverages.

Our FNC Favourite Low Calorie Beverages are:

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If you would like to learn more about nutrition and debunk some common myths in the process, reach out to us today.




NUTRITION FOR BUSY PEOPLE

In reality, there aren't many 'rules' to a good fat loss centric day of eating. People have this massive list of 'important diet things', which only makes 'eating well' and achieving weight loss, seem out of reach and unattainable. Perceptions that 'eating veg with every meal', 'eating 6 times a day', and 'cold chicken & veg for lunch', matter are all incorrect concepts. It's these sorts of things that don't matter and only make your life harder for no benefit. All you really need to worry about is Calories, protein, and plants which all tie into one another once practically applied.

The above is an example of what would be perfectly fine and appropriate for the individual whos working hours are an absolute mess of work and stress where 'eating & food' is a low priority. It's not going to work for everyone who has busy jobs/days, but I've found that taking 'food thought' away at appropriate times over the day as a useful strategy for my busier, clients. (think corporates)


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Breakfast
The protein and plants focus is achieved through the non-fat yogurt and fruit. A small-ish amount of whole grains and healthy fats are added as extras.

Lunch
Too busy to think about eating, but want to crush that drive towards the work office cookie jar? Protein bars are a perfectly okay protein dense food in the context of an overall healthy diet that can sit in your desk drawer, and satisfy those peckish snack food workplace cravings. Bulk the meal up with some filling plants (fruit) that you picked up on the way to work, to fill out your daily fruit requirements.

Dinner
You're back at home, a little more relaxed and keen for a big bowl of food volume. Start with a lean protein and a whole days work of vegetable needs via mixed ingredients. Top it off with a little carb via some high fibre grains, potato or beans. Enhance it with herbs, spices, low-Calorie sauces or passata.

'EAT FAT TO BURN FAT' - TRUE, BUT NOT 'BETTER'.

Many of the common diet trends, myths and ideas are derived from an element of truth that gets misinterpreted by the time it trickles down through to the general population. Companies will often twist the message of research to promote and sell their product.

A classic example is the concept of 'eat fat to burn fat', which in the past and still continues to form the promotion basis of products or diets that align with the high fat, low carb, keto trend.

It's true. If you increase the proportion of fats within your diet your body will indeed increase its propensity to utilise fats as a greater predominance of fuel. 'You burn what you eat'! [1]

But! Fat loss and fat utilisation/burning are not the same thing. Fat utilisation, commonly termed 'burning' just refers to fuel source predominance. For fat loss, or getting leaner a Calorie deficit still needs to be present over time with the ratio and amounts of carbs and fats after Calories, and protein being matched doesn't really matter.

In addition to the above. Predominately utilising fats is not 'better' for sports performance and/or fat loss.

So whilst the idea of 'eat fat to burn fat' is true, and being able to use fats are a fuel source in the absence of glucose (carbohydrates) is a good thing, it's not necessarily better and isn't an outcome that should be specifically sought after.

It's briefly worth noting that training in states of low glucose (carbohydrate) availability may be a good idea for optimising endurance training adaptations, but not in instances where best performance is required such as race day. Most often for most sporting, training endeavors and/or optimisation of the appearance of ones physique the question is 'what is the quantity of CARBOHYDRATES, required to fuel the activity?' Very rarely is that question asked with fats.

If you’re like more clarification on common nutritional trends and terms along with the individual guidance on how you can implement certain strategies to improve your training, recovery, overall health and body composition; reach out to us by clicking the button below and telling us more about yourself, current nutrition and your goals.



[1] Diet, Muscle Glycogen and Physical Performance

FAT LOSS VERSUS 'FAT BURNING' & WHAT CARNITINE SUPPLEMENTATION REALLY DOES.

First off, fat loss and 'fat burning' are not the same things. In the context of definitions within this blog post, fat burning refers to fat utilisation or fats being the primary fuel source of the body at a given time. This does not equal fat loss!

If you're ingesting more energy (Calories) than you expend over time you will not achieve fat loss or the lowering of your body fat percentage. Period.

Carnitine is a popular supplement often marketed towards fat loss. However it in actual fact is a perfect example of how supplement companies mislead their customers and twist research to increase sales.

The reality of supplements and fat loss is that there are no well-researched supplements that have consistent definitive evidence to show they work, that are also legal to buy and poses.

Caffeine: it's worth mentioning.
With that said an argument for caffeine can be made as a thermogenic aid which just means it increases your energy expenditure making that 'Calorie deficit' everyone talks about more likely. If you think about it logically it makes sense. Caffeine is a stimulant and stimulants make you move more. Move more and you'll expend more... ENERGY! So it's not magic.

The point being with this blog is that fat loss supplements are a scam, and that certainly applies to carnitine.

Carnitine may promote 'fat burning', not fat loss.
That's right it won't promote fat loss, but it may promote fat burning. It may increase your capacity to use fats as a preferential fuel course over glucose (carbohydrate) [1]. It's worth noting that preferentially burning fats isn't better or best for the most part. If you take part in a sport that works at high intensities a.k.a something that is more 'sprinty', or 'quicker burst' focused that endurance, steady-state activities then glucose (carbohydrate) utilisation is your best friend.

However, if you're an endurance athlete...
Encouraging fat utilisation as a preferential fuel source has it's potential benefits as fueling activity with fats spares the use of glycogen (fancy name for stored carbohydrates) for when higher intensities are required at which point there will be ample stored carbohydrate reserves to tap into.

So the instances where carnitine may be useful are not common. To make the case for carnitine even worse. For an effect to be noted consistent co-ingestion of carnitine with a decent amount of rapidly digesting carbohydrate (sugar) over several months is needed to see the said effect. [1]

Even still supplements, if they do work (which is rare), the magnitude of effect they'll have is minimal at best. So for almost all folks, thought, attention, effort and money is better dedicated elsewhere.

The final word on carnitine supplements.
For those looking to maximise endurance performance, carnitine supplementation may be a worthwhile consideration. For everyone else, it's a classic example of supplement company 'scamery'.

At FNC we want to educate our clients and wider community on the principles that work and that are going to give you the most “bang for your buck”. Supplements are a little rock, a one percenter that tends to be a waste of time, effort and energy in the grand scheme of things. We try to help our clients lay a strong foundation of nutrition and educate our clients on how to move towards their goals in the most effective manner.

To learn more about how we work with our clients, contact us.

NON-TRACKING DIET METHODS

A DIETING METHOD THAT WORKS FOR THOSE WHO PREFER NOT TO WORK WITH NUMBERS AND DATA. 

If you're someone who just doesn't mesh well with numbers and data, tracking Calories and macros probably isn't a viable option as a longer than short term dieting strategy. Not everyone can get away without tracking anything, but looking into a non-tracking method of dieting might be a good idea if the aforementioned sounds like you. 

There are many non-tracking dieting methods out there that can be used in combination. Using food selection to manipulate automatic Calorie intake is easily one of the most prominent methods. 

So what is it, and how does it work?
Focusing your food selection mostly on 'low-Calorie-per-bite', voluminous or filling foods allows you to eat a filling portion of physical food for not a lot of Calories. The high food volume, surface area or mass you're able to ingest will stimulate greater appetite satisfaction for fewer Calories than more Calorie dense options. The result being an automatic reduction in Calorie consumption with very little to no impact on meal hunger satisfaction. This automatic reduction in Calorie consumption will often place a dieter in a Calorie deficit leading to weight loss outcomes. 

Typically these filling foods present themselves in the form of plant matter being fibrous fruits and vegetables. But the idea of low Calorie per bite food swaps extends further to meats, dairy and grains. 

Practical examples that reduce Calories per bite and encourage a lower consumption of Calories include the following:
Fatty steak ➡️ lean steak

Full fat yogurt ➡️ nonfat yogurt 

Pasta ➡️ potato 

White rice ➡️ kidney beans 

Olive oil ➡️ avocado 

Noodles ➡️ ‘zoodles’

Coke ➡️ Diet Coke 


You can also change the ratios of ingredients within single meals to reduce the Calorie density. An example would be increasing the fruit to oat ratio in your morning protein oats.


Typically speaking edging towards a lower fat, higher plant, higher fibre approach to food selection will result in reductions in the Calorie content of your food without really changing the physical amount of food you can actually eat. 

It’s worth considering if you want to diet but don’t prefer the idea of tracking numbers and data and/or are suffering from heightened hunger levels during a period of intended Calorie restriction. 

To learn how to use non tracking methods to help you move towards and maintain your goals, click the button below

Health is more than your body fat percentage

Health is more than just your blood work or your body fat percentage. Total health encompasses many factors like social, economic, and mental health. 

Often to improve one aspect focus will need to be dedicated to one area in the short term at the expense of another. 

For example, if you have a high-level dieting goal in mind, your social health will almost certainly suffer as your freedom to eat and drink is reduced through the process aligning with the goal. 

Or if you seek a promotion at work, your physical health might suffer as your working hours become extended leaving little room for training as much as you'd like. 

Of course, nothing comes for free of trade off's, and it's all part of achieving something worthwhile doing. But knowing when to stop and have a maintenance phase at balance is the key important for long term health and happiness. It's easy for one area of health to get taken too far, and all of a sudden another area is in desperate need of attention. 

Setting logical time frames, expectations and having a plan to go back to 'balance' after the dedicated phase of focusing on one area is important to long term total health and happiness. 

FOOD CRAVINGS ARE TELLING YOU SOMETHING

Ever felt food cravings? Maybe you are someone that feels like your cravings control the outcome of your nutrition?

Chances are your cravings are a direct result of something you are unconsciously are doing to your nutrition and appetite.


Cravings can teach us a lot, for example:

Inadequately supplied nutrition: A common cause of cravings is poorly timed or inadequate sources of fuel, particularly when it comes to cravings feeling compulsive. Often we blame this on willpower or lack of discipline when really it could be that you are unsatisfied and undernourished. Often we deprive ourselves of carbohydrates, but isn't it normally high carbohydrate treats that we end up craving and succumbing to? Checking up on your carbohydrate intake, as well as having a good balance of all three macronutrients is important.

Food insecurity: We typically associate food insecurity with people who don’t have access to enough food. While that’s true, it could also be self-inflicted through dieting or restrictive mindsets. When you feel like food isn’t going to be there tomorrow, it could absolutely affect your thoughts and behaviors today. Giving yourself unconditional permission to eat will decrease the power food has over you. Being in control by having food rules is actually an illusion because those rules are actually controlling you.

Emotional hunger: eating outside of hunger due to our emotions is a completely normal thing, and happens to all of us. Consistently using food as the only way to meet your needs is leaving the body confused and lacking in the confidence it needs to take care of you. Like all things we need (rest, connection, movement, love and variety) food is important,   If you feel like something is lacking, it could be easier to distract or numb with food instead of leaning into what it is or how you’re feeling. In this case, working to become more emotionally aware would be worthwhile to you. This could be done through journaling, therapy or some other form of self-reflection.


Variety: Have you been eating the same thing over and over again? Our bodies want and need a wide variety of foods to function optimally. It’s physically and psychologically unsatisfying to eat the same foods day in and day out. Building more flexibility into your meals and snacks will likely help you feel less preoccupied with food.


Medical concerns: Some cravings — like salty foods, for example — may indicate a medical issue. If you find these cravings to be very intense and very frequent, it may be necessary to seek medical advice.


Lastly, be sure you aren’t confusing hunger, appetite or food preferences with cravings. It's normal to get hungry and want something satisfying to eat, which may vary from day to day. Remember to listen to your body. If you're craving pizza, then a salad may not do. If you want a treat, fruit may not cut it. While it's good to be aware, don’t waste too much of your time overthinking cravings. Most of the time it’s best just to honor it and move on.

To gain a greater understanding of nutrition for your individual needs and goals, contact us

THE 4 FACTORS OF A GOOD DIET, HOW TO EVALUATE IF YOUR DIET IS 'GOOD'. 

A very common question, that is easily answered via a self-assessment using the following 4 criteria / questions. 

Whether the following criteria are adhered to via a tracking or non-tracking / mindful eating method doesn't matter. Tracking might make assessment easier, which may be a needed to eliminate variables if tight control is required and/or if mindful eating dieting methods are not yielding progress. 

1. Calories. 
Is roughly the correct amount of Calories being consumed on average over time? For the goal of fat loss, this will be a deficit relative to energy expenditure, also terms an energy deficit, Calorie deficit or nagative energy balance. 

2. Sufficient protein
Is a sufficient amount of protein being consumed access a daily basis? For the tracking crowd anywhere between 1.4-2g/kg per day will suffice. 

3. Sufficient plant fibre
Current recommendations stand at 15-18g per 1000 Calories consumed [1]. Of that 80% should come from plant matter. Current recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake start at around 300g, & 400g respectively [2]. 

4. Mostly wholefood food selection. 
Most of your diet should come from minimally processed whole foods with the general rule of thumb being 80%+. 

So before you message every Insta diet guru (most of which don't know much about much) just self asses 'the diet' in question against the above. There you will find your answer.  

Bonus factors. 

1. Post diet transition to maintenance eating. 
Sustainability of a diet is surprisingly not a factor here as doing something slightly unsistainable is perfectly fine provided someone has the ability to healthfully, and effectively transition into the post diet maintenance free from rebounds, development of disordered relationship with food etc. For this to be obtained often basic diet know-how, autonomy and education is required. Which begs the argument of another important factor of a successfully diet being; education & autonomy. 

2. Ratios & amounts of carbohydrates & fats. 
Are sufficient carbohydrate amounts being consumed to meet needs? For most 'general-pop' folks who have low levels of activity, and low/ if any training volume and intensity carbohydrate needs are low so how you fill the rest of your Calories after protein has been covered doesn't really matter, so use preference. 
For high-level athletes or those with high training demands carbohydrate needs may be hugely elevated compared to the typical so a carbohydrate bias ratio is almost certainly the best idea with fat intakes only meeting minimum requirements of about 1g/kg of body weight, or 20% of total intake. Typically speaking there are more benefits to learning towards a carbohydrate bias in most situations. Your "body type" is not a factor to consider here.

3. Meal frequency, meal timing, and nutrient timing. 
Again for most people the number of meals you eat, when you eat them and when you time certain macronutrients (Protein, carbohydrates, and fats) relative to the day or training doesn't matter so dedicate your stress elsewhere. 
For high-level sports, or physique athletes and/or goals, or those who are very lean looking to get leaner timing of meals but more specifically protein feedings matters. Ideally, protein should be evenly spread across waking hours in even dosages. Carbs should be emphasised around training to promote best training performance for sports progression and/or optimal muscle growth / retentive stimulus. Timing of fats doesn't matter a whole lot, but I see value in going on the lower end of fats in the pre training feeding window. 


[1] Dietary guidelines for American 2015-2020

[2] Australian dietary guidelines  

Creatine: FAQs and Myths

In high school, there was one gym bro who took creatine. At the time we all 'gave him crap' for being on steroids (we thought creatine a steroid at the time). 

Turns out creatine firstly isn't an illegal substance, but it's actually the most well studied and confirmed effective sports supplement there is. 

Fundamentally the powerhouse of the body is ATP. Intramuscular stores of creatine help fuel the re-creation of more ATP during high-intensity bouts of activity to maintain the presence of ATP. However, creatine supplies are limited and do run-out as we use them up. While we can get some creatine from our diet, supplementation is required to ensure levels stay 'topped-up'.  

We know creatine helps you perform better in sport and exercise, which obviously matters if you're an athlete wanting to beat everyone else. But this increased performance also means a more appropriate stimulus to enhance the adaptive response to training. Creatine can also help recovery which allows more 'quality' training stimulus to be provided over time again leading to greater adaptations. 

What might surprise you is that creatine does more than just 'get you jacked'. The benefits of creatine are not exclusively sports related, with evidence showing use in lessening the development of chronic illness and disease.

So we know it works. Now down to the practical stuff.

Is creatine safe? 
Studies have shown a needlessly high dose of more than 10 times optimal requirements for 5 years to be safe in multiple population types and ages. 

Will I gain weight and get bloated?
You'll almost certainly gain weight. The key word being 'weight' and not fat. Creatines mechanism of action is increased intramuscular phosphocreatine, glycogen and hydration which all contribute to mass but not fat mass. The weight gain is a by-product of the means by which creatine is effective and don't worry this won't make you look 'puffy'. 

What type of creatine is best?
Just good old cheap monohydrate does the job, there is no need to purchase any more expensive, 'fancy-named' ones. Monohydrate is most commonly used in creatine research with other forms being no better or potentially ineffective. 

How much/ whats the dose?
You can load it to saturate stores faster, but for the sake of simplicity 3-5g a day does the job, but it might take several weeks to see any notable improvements/ effects. Timing across the day also doesn't matter.

How do I take it?

Add a scoop to your morning water, pre or post workout shake, in a smoothie or even in your oats or yogurt.

Creatine, it's good for sports performance, it's good for getting jacked, it's good for recovery, it's good for health and it's damn cheap. Cheap enough that if new research came out drinking all existing creatine research proving it to be ineffective it wouldn't matter a great deal, and the placebo would be worth it anyway.

To learn more about how nutrition can improve your performance in the gym or would like us to bust some supplement myths, contact us:

https://www.fortitudenutritioncoaching.com.au/contact


[reference] International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine    

Post Workout Caffeine

You might hear a PT say, "don't drink coffee after training because it will stimulate the release of stress hormones and stop you from recovering from training, which is bad because you want rest and digest mode". 

While there may be an element of truth to this. There are a few things wrong with it. 

The level of difference is so small it's not worth even mentioning in almost all situations. If you train first thing and like a coffee after, go for it! You have bigger things to worry about. 

We know consuming caffeine pre-training is a good idea to drive better training outcomes leading to 'better' adaptations. However, caffeine takes several hours to clear the blood levels after ingestion. So even if you didn't drink a coffee after your morning workout, the one you drank before it is still lingering for after you finish well into the 'post workout window'. 

Post-training caffeine might be a good strategy for athletes. Caffeine has been shown to promote greater rates of glycogen resynthesis after exercise when ingested with carbohydrate. Basically, this means if you train hard, then drink coffee and consume carbohydrates together you'll store more glucose in your muscle and at a faster rate. While this isn't massive for training adaptations and certainly not important for most folks. It is worth noting for best recovery, especially if you're doing repeated bouts of hard competition level activity within very close time proximity of each other. [1,2]

Take home points. 
Drinking coffee, and consuming caffeine after training isn't something to be afraid of. It may even be a great idea for certain situations.  

If you want to learn more about nutrition around training, contact us: https://www.fortitudenutritioncoaching.com.au/contact

[1] High rates of muscle glycogen resynthesis after exhaustive exercise when carbohydrate is coingested with caffeine.

[2] Caffeine ingestion does not impede the resynthesis of proglycogen and macroglycogen after prolonged exercise and carbohydrate supplementation in humans.

Carbohydrate Requirements for Athletes

High-level athletes are often the most disciplined people you'll meet.

6 hours of training 6 days a week isn't an uncommon thing, and it's often accompanied by a 'laser focus' style of strict nutrition. 

Because the energy requirements of such high amounts of training are so great. You'll need to eat a lot of Calories and a lot of carbs to avoid states of low energy availability relative to requirements in order to perform your best and not impact your health. 

So what are these requirements, how much carbs do you actually need to eat if you train multiple hard hours day?

5-8g of carbs per kilo of body weight per day. [1] 
For a 75kg athlete, the range is 375g- 600g of carbs a day

Once you know what 600g of carbs looks like in terms of physical food. You'll realise that achieving such high requirements through exclusively 'clean foods' isn't viable.

To consume 600g of carbs you'll need to eat...  

6.2 kilos (raw weight) of sweet potato. [3]
Or
1.2 kilos of (raw weight) rolled oats. [3]

... I think it's safe to say that's not really viable on a consistent daily basis. 

So if you're training 6 hours a day and eating only 'clean carbs' to hunger satisfaction or even fullness. It's logically doubtful you're getting even a small portion of your carbohydrate requirements on a regular basis. You're likely in a state of chronic low energy availability which can have massive implications. This state and it's negative outcomes is termed RED-S (relative energy deficiency in sport) [2]

Health consequences of RED-S include bone, metabolic, endocrine, menstrual, cardiovascular, immune health and more. 

Performance consequences of RED-S include injury risk, impaired judgment, cognition, strength endurance performance and more. 

The magnitude of the above consequences can be utterly shocking. 

So if you want to perform your best and not negatively impact your health you might want to eat some 'junky' carbohydrate dense foods. There are many ways to easily consume high amounts of carbs. Typically calorie dense, super tasty, low fibre foods are great. 

For example, 680g of Coco Pops will give you 600g of carbs. 

While still a massive amount. It's far less than the aforementioned 'clean carbs', and you need to consider taste, and the fibre content to get a better idea of actual ease of consumption comparisons. 

So if all of the above is relevant to you. You might want to consider;

Swapping the oats for white rice, and putting honey and jam on top of that. Drinking fruit juice and full-calorie cordial with your meals. Swapping the whole grain bread for bagels with jam, and maybe having a full tub of sorbet for dessert. 

Thinking you 'need to eat only clean' might not only be causing you to perform sub-optimally but it might be seriously harmful to your health. 

Want to learn more about how to improve your performance in training?

Click the link and tell us about yourself: https://www.fortitudenutritioncoaching.com.au/contact


[1]  https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-018-0242-y  

[2]  https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/52/11/687

[3] http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/science/monitoringnutrients/afcd/Pages/foodsearch.aspx

Inaccurate Tracking Methods and Solutions

“I eat 1800 Calories”… but I’m not losing weight

It’s important to question how true a reported intake is because there is often a discrepancy between perceived/reported intake and ACTUAL intake. Research shows that even dietitians under-report their intake, with even greater inaccuracies in the general population. [1]

Why is this?

  1. Reporting and tracking methods are unreliable. Apps like MFP are full or inaccurate data entries. 

  2. People are not as good at tracking as they think they are. Properly, accurately and reliably tracking is a skill that takes time with practice and learning. Most folks don’t have the time and patience to learn it to the level required. 

  3. People aren’t honest with MFP and themselves. The little things you ‘didn’t think of’, or ‘forgot to enter’ add up resulting in your intake being far different to what you report. 

With the above in mind. It can be a big red flag for unknowing non-adherence when you hear “I eat (insert very low intake relative to requirements), and I’m not losing weight”.

Well, the reason why you’re not losing weight is that you’re not in a deficit. But it might be because you’re massively under-reporting your intake. 

So how can you improve the accuracy of your macro/Calorie tracking to reduce the risk of misreporting.

1. Weigh individual ingredients - It may seem neurotic and often it's not required, but in the game of minimising variables weighing foods as opposed to 'eye-balling' will be worthwhile. Doing so will also allow you to enter ingredients into your preferred tracking app under grams instead of 'a portion'. 'A chicken breast', 'a small apple', or a handful of nuts' are all examples of loose subjective terms that can carry much inaccuracy.

2. Reliability of data - As mentioned a massive pitfall of apps like My Fitness Pal is the accuracy of data. Searching for a particular food will often result in hundreds of versions all with different macros per a given amount. To combat this use the barcode where possible on packaged foods (but still check against the package), and use reliable entries of fresh produce and meats which brings me to point 2a.

2a. Use NUTTAB - When searching a food, search for (insert name of food) followed by 'NUTTAB'. NUTTAB is a government database containing reliable food data. If the food has been entered under the brand name NUTTAB, chances are it contains accurate data with the Calories, macros, and fibre being correct. However, it's a good idea to check and compare by searching for the particular food in the foodstandards.gov.au website yourself.

3. If the food you wish to track isn't in MFP, or you can't find a reliable entry. You can manually add foods to the MFP database yourself. Use NUTTAB to obtain reliable data and enter said foods under the brand name of 'NUTAB' so other users can use your entry in the future. Once a food is saved it's in your history, so you can easily re-enter it often with one click. This is really helpful for foods you eat on a regular basis.

4. Be aware that eating out will never be anything better than 'ballpark' - Eating out with friends plays a vital part in social health. This isn't to say eating out is 'bad', it's simply saying accurate tracking is difficult when you can't prepare and weigh all ingredients yourself. For a high-level goal where variables need to be tightly controlled and/or lack of result troubleshooting is required then moderating eating out for a period of time may be required for accuracy purposes.

5. Raw weight v cooked weight - One or the other isn't correct. What matters more is whether the data entry reflects either raw or cooked as well. When seeking best accuracy raw weight and tracking is best, as cooking method is a big variable that can change the content of a food. So where possible weigh raw, track using raw food entries, and then cook and serve.

If you would like more guidance on tracking your intake or would like to learn about our tracking and non tracking methods used with clients, head to this link to tell us more about yourself and your health and fitness goals.

https://www.fortitudenutritioncoaching.com.au/contact

References:

[1] Energy intake and energy expenditure: a controlled study comparing dietitians and non-dietitians

Shifting Away from "Burning Calories"

'BURNING CALORIES/FAT' IS NOT AN ACCURATE PURPOSE OF TRAINING. SHIFT YOUR TRAINING MINDSET ELSE TO BETTER FAT LOSS

Fundamentally fat loss or weight maintenance is a game of energy consumed through food and drink versus the energy expended through living, lifestyle, and activity. 

Training with weights has it's benefits, purpose and plays an integral part of fat loss for health, human function and muscle retention with a strong argument, and reasoning behind why it should be prioritized over cardio style training...

But you won't burn a whole lot more Calories doing it...

Therefore there is a strong argument that weight training to 'burn fat or Calories' is not an efficient approach, as the amount of extra energy you'll expend isn't anything requiring great attention at least ahead of diet and general activity levels. [1] 

If you had to unblock a river, it would make sense to worry about removing the big boulders before the little pebbles right. If we apply this mindset towards fat loss, it's not the say weight training deserves less thought and that it's effects aren't worthwhile or vitally important. It's just to say that diet and general activity deserve more emphasis, and the why behind training for a fat loss goal should be shifted away from 'burning Calories', and focused towards muscle retention, health, and function. With food and general activity being the primary factors of Calorie/energy balance focus and magnitude of impact.

TDEE-02.jpg

Low Calorie Food Swaps

Understanding and considering 'calories per bite' when selecting foods can be a great 'bang for buck' way to help facilitate a reduction in calories for the goal of fat loss. 

If pasta is something you love but you struggle to fit a 'satisfactory' amount within your calorie allotment and/or are looking for easy ways to reduce your intake without impacting the amount of food you can actually eat. Then swapping pasta for zucchini is a great idea. 

Swapping from 250g of cooked pasta (cooked amount to keep things unbias) to 250g of zucchini, yields a Calorie saving of 369. 

This food swap also provides about 3 servings of vegetables (1 serve = 75), therefore assisting in meeting a sufficient intake of plant fibre, vitamins, and minerals, while mitigating the effects of hunger that can impact your ability to adhere to a fat loss style of eating

zucchini pasta-02.jpg

Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport

YOU FEEL CRAP, AND YOU’RE NOT LOSING WEIGHT DESPITE ‘EATING VERY LITTLE’. YOUR METABOLISM ISN’T BROKEN, BUT IT MIGHT NEED FIXING.


The idea of a permanently ‘damaged’ metabolism after periods of dieting in a lower calorie state known as ‘metabolic damage’ has been debunked among the nutrition space.

Acute downregulations of metabolism known as ‘metabolic adaptation’, or ‘ adaptive thermogenesis’ is now widely accepted to be true. It’s widely accepted that basal metabolic rate will return to a healthy, ideal baseline as any dieting induced down regulations or ‘slowing’ of metabolism are only acute in nature.

However, when large durations and great severity of low-calorie availability environments are considered, the idea of RED-S (relative energy deficiency in sport) comes in, and it might be the reason for someone not losing weight despite eating what is perceived as ‘very little.

RED-S refers to the physiological effects of chronically low energy (Calorie) availability, relative to requirements, which includes large reductions in resting metabolic rate and severe health implications [1]. While derived from athletes especially females in sport. I think this situation can have some relevance to society as a whole.

Now, it’s vital we acknowledge that most of the “I eat 1000 Calorie a day, and I’m not losing weight” situation, is almost always down to lack of adherence.

But in instances where severity and duration are so massive, these acute metabolic adaptations can be so severe that the “it’s my metabolism” may hold some truth through the currently unpopular concept of RED-S.

If and when through testing, a large disparity between actual resting metabolic rate and ‘healthy’ metabolic rate is identified. The course of action to solve it, is much the same as correcting normal post dieting adaptive thermogenesis. You need to eat at ideal weight maintenance calories. Going straight up to weight maintenance calories is almost always the way to do it with no need for a slow reverse. But for RED-S levels of severity, slowly reversing under the guidance of a qualified medical professional may hold some utility.

Bottom line; if you feel like crap, you’re showing signs of poor health and struggling to lose weight despite ‘eating so little, I must be in a deficit’. Yep, it’s probably just a lack of adherence, but we shouldn’t immediately throw the concept of a ‘metabolism that needs fixing’ out the window. Although I think confirmation via testings is required before you can use the “it’s my metabolism” card.

[1] International Olympic Committee (IOC) Consensus Statement on Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S): 2018 Update