Tag Archives: fad diets

Nutrient Rich vs Energy Rich

When reading food labels, calorie content is usually the first thing that we look at. Yes, calories in food are important if we’re trying to lose weight. The weight loss equation is simple (or is it?) –

energy in < energy out

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Technically speaking, ANY diet that creates an energy deficit will result in weight loss**. You can eat Maccas all day errrrday AND still lose weight if you are burning more than you consume. *I AM NOT SAYING YOU SHOULD DO THAT! LOL!*

**This is a very generalised statement which does not consider long term sustainability, health effects, metabolism and hormone levels. ALL of which WILL affect your weight… eventually**

BUT! (there’s always a BUT :P)

There are also other important things that we should look at, ie: NUTRIENT content and the overall QUALITY of the diet.


High in Nutrients

We should aim to eat foods that are high in NUTRIENTS. Whole fresh foods: fruits, vegetables, lean meat, legumes, whole grains, dairy, nuts and seeds are all rich in many different nutrients that are SUPER good for you. Nuts and seeds may be HIGH in energy (calories) but they provide the body with healthy fats and a unique mix of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

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I love munching on fruits and vegetables. They are rich in fiber and water content, making you feel fuller for longer. This means that you are less likely to reach for sugar loaded snacks.

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What you eat also affects your hormones. And that could affect how your body stores fat, hunger levels, mood and the development of chronic diseases. It is NOT as simple as simply looking at “calories”.


High in Energy

It is difficult to grasp WHAT exactly is “energy rich”. A simple concept would be to look at the caloric density. This takes into account the weight of the food. When comparing between foods, those that are higher in energy per 100g are considered more energy dense.

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This image PERFECTLY depicts HIGH energy nutrient POOR foods vs LOW energy nutrient RICH foods.

Let’s say the total energy you need in a day is 1600Kcal. You can eat either the left or the right AND still lose weight. But of course, the right would provide SO MUCH MORE nutrients and you can eat A LOT more in terms of amount. On the left, you’re basically consuming empty calories and would probably need another meal to feel full! Also, what you eat can affect your hormones and how you feel.

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Empty Calories

We’ve all heard of the term “empty calories”. What does this actually mean?

Empty calories refer to a food offering ENERGY with LITTLE to ZERO nutrient value.

Examples: fried foods (chips, fries), sugary drinks and foods (chocs, lollies, jelly), alcohol, high fat foods (cakes, muffins, baked goods, biscuits, ice cream, processed meats) etc.

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Not only are these foods nutrient poor, they are also usually highly processed. This could lead to inflammation and are usually associated with chronic diseases (heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, obesity).


Ultimate Balance

We all need ENERGY and NUTRIENTS to survive. Energy fuels the body and nutrients provide the body with the materials needed to maintain and regulate body processes.

We are all at different stages of life (childhood, youth, adults, elderly, sick, pregnant, athlete etc), plus the fact that we are all genetically unique, we have very different  nutrient requirements.

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The Australian Dietary Guidelines 2013

There is NO one-size fits all. To ensure that we are meeting the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for nutrients, aim to eat a wide variety of foods from the 5 food groups:

-Fruits: Vit C, potassium, vit A, fibre, folate, antioxidants etc

-Vegetables: Fibre, Vit A, C, potassium, iron, magnesium etc

-Grains: Carbs, protein, vit B1, iron, folate, fibre, iodine etc

-Lean meats and alternatives, legumes, nuts and seeds: Protein, iron, zinc, phosphate, copper, vitB12, vit E, omega 3 etc

-Dairy products: Milk, yoghurt, cheese: Protein, calcium, magnesium, vitB12, vit D, niacin, ribo, fats, potassium etc

Just remember, WHOLE FOODS over PROCESSED FOODS. And of course, a little treat here and there WILL NOT HURT! As long as you’re eating well MOST of the time. 🙂IMG_2705


The NEXT time you decide to try a new “diet”, think of these points:

-Am I cutting out FOOD GROUPS?

-Am I getting ALL of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals to function OPTIMALLY?

-Do I feel better?

-Will it provide enough ENERGY, PROTEIN and FATS?

-Will it be sustainable? What is the point if it isn’t?

-Will I be HAPPY?


  I hope you’re a little more informed and EMPOWERED to make YOUR own decisions about WHAT to EAT!

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Love Ya’ll! <3

Does Gluten Free = Healthy?

The term “Gluten Free” (GF) has been plastered all over food packages, menus and health websites. It is as though gluten has become the biggest health enemy that everyone should avoid.

Does gluten free = healthy?


Miracle Health Claims

I’ve read/seen/heard countless of times about the miracle health claims of going gluten free. So many promise exaggerated health outcomes that it makes me sick in the stomach.

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Weight loss and improved energy levels (sound familiar) are among the most common “health claims”. FYI, there is no evidence. 😀


 

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat and some grains like oat and rye. In cooking, it helps the dough to rise and contributes to its texture. Gluten becomes a problem only if you are truly intolerant towards it (Celiac Disease).

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune condition that destroyes the lining of the small intestines (reaction to gluten), leading to malabsorption of nutrients from food. Symptoms include pain, extreme fatigue, diarrhoea etc. For them, avoiding gluten is necessary.

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The symptoms can be vague. Sometimes,  irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is the triggering of sensitive nerve endings in the gut, is mistaken for gluten intolenrance. Recent research has shown that IBS might be caused by the malabsorption of fermentable sugars found in wheat such as fructans (and not gluten). It could also be other things like food additives, soy or dairy. You would have to do a restriction/elimination test to find out (before blaming it on gluten)!

This does not mean that these foods are bad for health. Avoiding gluten when you do not have a problem may be unnecessary. In fact, they may be unhealthy.

WHY?

-Cutting out gluten would mean that you are avoiding a lot of wheat based products, which are good sources of B group vitamins, FIBRE, calcium and iron.

-Some gluten free products are HIGH in SUGAR (added during the food manufacturing process) as it makes them more palatable. (Weight loss? Maybe not)

-Could lead to a negative change in the bacteria composition of the gut. The right composition of gut bacteria is essential to the immune system.

Fun Facts:

-Gluten Free products are extremely expensive. Don’t waste your money.

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-My GF friends despise GF foods. They miss the normal taste of CAKES. Be THANKFUL that you do not have a problem with gluten. So, EAT YOUR GLUTEN. ;P


Take home msg: If you do not have a problem with gluten, think twice before reaching out for a gluten free product!

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If you are caught up and confuzzled by all the health/nutrition jargon, the healthy and safest approach would be to focus on consuming from ALL the FOOD GROUPS.

FRESH. WHOLE. NATURAL.

It is THAT simple and you can never go wrong. 🙂