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Category Archives: SUGAR

Categories SUGAR

Gut Health Changes Lives

(Article 1 in a 3 part series examining the link between gut integrity and overall health)

Health is a journey and we all choose our own path. Whichever path that may be, the importance of good nutrition and a balanced lifestyle should always be considered, but unfortunately it’s often overlooked. Today, I talk to Jess Rath, Mother of 4 boys, teacher, fitness lover and blogger and I share her family’s journey with you to highlight just how effective nutritional intervention can be.

Prior to 2011, Jess’s family were like most other Australian families. Their diet typically consisted of toast, jam, cereal and milk for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, muesli bars and other convenient snacks to fill the gaps plus quick and simple meals for dinner. There were 3 children, a fourth on the way and Jess’s oldest son Brayden was 15 at this time. When Brayden was 6 years-old, he had suffered from hives; a common skin condition involving a rash that can itch and burn. He had grown out of it, but out of the blue, the hives reappeared suddenly with a vengeance on a daily basis. Even worst, every 3rd or 4th day the hives were accompanied by severe swelling particularly around Brayden’s mouth and hands. This in turn affected his breathing and the family found themselves in hospital for treatment up to two times per week. Medical professionals insisted that Brayden’s condition was Anaphylaxis but allergists confirmed Brayden was not allergic to anything. Eventually, via skin biopsy Brayden was diagnosed with Urticarial Vasculitis, an autoimmune condition characterised by inflamed blood vessels and usually idiopathic in nature (no known cause). The recommended treatment was long term, low dose steroid use and because neither Jess nor Brayden were keen on this, Jess was determined to try other treatment options first.

With a young baby only a few months old and 3 other children to look after Jess bravely took on overhauling the family’s diet. The first literature Jess came across was the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP); quite a change for the family at the time. Based on this, Jess started by eliminating gluten and most conventional dairy and also installed a chemical maze app onto the 3 older boys’ mobile phones. This enabled the boys to take responsibility for their own nutrition when they were away from the family home and they were not to eat anything within the ‘red zone.’ Within a month, Brayden’s hives appeared every 3rd of 4th day (instead of daily) and the swelling was no longer an issue. Within 6 months, the rash was appearing on a weekly basis only. 8 months after removing most processed foods, gluten and dairy the hives made an appearance only once every 4 weeks. Now, 4 years on, Brayden is 18, living out of home, but still following the same nutritional guidelines and has had 2 cases of hives in the last 12 months.

But the family’s journey doesn’t end there. At Christmas time 2013, Jess and Paul’s youngest son William had just turned 2 and Jess began noting some unusual behaviours. William had become very sensitive to noise and wasn’t maintaining eye contact even with family members. He had started withdrawing from social situations with other children and reacting strongly to mild situations. Jess is a school teacher and had been around children diagnosed with Autism before and she was concerned by William’s traits. After various observations by professionals including a paediatrician and an occupational therapist, William was diagnosed with Autism; he was 3 at the time.

Having had success with nutritional changes in the past, this was once again where the family started. Jess stumbled across the GAPS* diet and took on some of these principles, with a view to treat William from the inside out. Bone broths for gut healing become a daily component of the diet and grains were eliminated. Jess taught herself to cook with alternative sweeteners and flours and ensured that William had his own snacks and ‘treats’ at birthday parties and other celebrations.

Prior to these specific nutritional interventions, William was having meltdowns 3 to 4 times per day and each was lasting in excess of 45 minutes. Within a month, meltdowns were a once daily occurrence, lasting 10 to 30 minutes. These episodes reduced in severity and William was able to take himself to his own bedroom, calm down and come back to re-join the family.

With access to early intervention support, other therapies including Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology were introduced a couple of months after diagnosis. In addition, the family found a Chiropractor that also incorporated applied Kinesiology and acupuncture and this practitioner had experience treating kids with Autism. 18 months’ on, William is able to interact socially with other children and maintain eye contact well and he will be going into a mainstream school. His learning does not appear to have been hindered. William does take some specific nutritional supplements as well; these will be discussed in a follow up article.

As a Nutritionist I would like to stress the following about Jess’s story. Firstly, it is not unique – nutritional intervention as well as other allied health support is far more powerful than many people may think. Particularly when children are involved; please consider the size of their little bodies and the vulnerability of their systems – what we put inside their bodies is of upmost importance and lays the foundation for future health. Secondly, Jess worked with a team of professionals over a period of time to establish a path to long term sustainable health and wellness for her family –this was not an overnight success story and furthermore it was a collaboration of expertise from conventional medical professionals and allied health support. Thirdly, this story deserves both respect and gratitude; Jess chooses to share about private aspects of her family in the hope of benefiting others. Finally, I will add that this is not individual health advice and it does not replace the guidance of your primary care physician. If you are interested in exploring nutritional support or allied health services, a professional in any of these fields will work in with your current team and your path will not be the same as Jess’s as we are all individual.

You may now be left wondering ‘why’ and ‘how’ the food we eat and even the way we choose to live our lives can have so much of an effect on our health and wellbeing. I will be writing a follow up article highlighting the science and research that supports gut healing and it’s subsequent on mood and behaviour as this is largely relevant in this situation. I will be asking a number of different professionals to contribute to that article so stay tuned for part 2.

Jess now shares her recipes, her fitness ideas and her faith over on her website here. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram. Jess believes: “in order to be completely well we must first look after our faith, we must pay attention to the food we eat, and we must move our bodies every day.” Thank you Jess for sharing your story with the world.

Categories Diabetes, SPORT NUTRITION, SUGAR

Metabolic Efficiency For Athletes… A New World, An Endless Fuel Supply…

My last article ‘I ran a Marathon on a Coffee Bean’ sparked quite a lot of interest. My approach is not exactly conventional and the article was absent of many key concepts in traditional sports nutrition namely carb loading, gels and that magic number of ‘grams per hour.’ In fact, if we have a closer look at the current conventional recommendations listed here, my suggested daily carbohydrate intake is 360g per day. I was interested to see what these recommendations would actually equate to on a plate.  Firstly, I established that in order to meet these kinds of numbers, I would have to include what I refer to as ‘dirty carbohydrates’ from cereals, highly refined grains, low fat dairy, sugary yoghurts and the dreaded sports drinks.

This is what it could look like:

Breakfast: 1 and a half serves of Nutri Grain (40.5g) with 1 and a half cups of low fat milk (20g). Total carbs=60.5 grams

Snack: Smoothie consisting of 1 and a half bananas (34g) plus a cup of low fat milk (12g) plus a tub of low fat yoghurt (25g) and some protein powder. Total carbs =71 grams

Lunch: 1 sandwich with 2 slices of bread (35g) plus an orange (12g). Total = 47gcarbs!

Afternoon snack: 4 x Rice cakes (30g) with nut butter. Total carbs = 30g

Post training drink: Gatorade (30g). Total carbs = 30g

Dinner: ½ a cup of cooked rice (30g) with 2 potatoes (34g) plus meat and other vegetables (negligible). Total carbs = 64g

Supper: Milo 1 serving (12g) with 1 cup of milk (12g). Total carbs = 24g

Daily total of carbs = 326.5 grams (please note that this is for example purposes only and the numbers listed are averages of major brands).

I still haven’t quite hit my daily quota but I am sure you get the idea. I’m honestly convinced that if I followed these kinds of recommendations for just a few short weeks, my fairly consistent 60kg would soon be approaching 70kg and so on. Not to mention the belly bloat from this much wheat and gluten. In addition to daily carbohydrate recommendations, traditional sports nutrition indicates that during an endurance event, I may require up to 90g of carbohydrates per hour. So hang on, whilst I’m out there, pumping blood around my body in order for my legs and arms to carry me to the finish as fast as possible, I am supposed to EAT?

I find this advice difficult to swallow… pardon the pun. Here are just 3 major reasons why I don’t agree with these recommendations:

  • Firstly: In order to come anywhere close to the recommended daily carbohydrate intake, you must include a lot of highly refined carbohydrates from heavily processed foods. These sources tend to be high in gluten, additives, preservatives, artificial flavours, colours, sugar and unfermented processed soy. Every single one of these ingredients is inflammatory to the body, damaging to the gut lining and may inhibit the immune system. Furthermore, I really can’t imagine having much room leftover for essential fats and proteins if I am required to ingest this many carbohydrates.
  • Secondly: When carbohydrates are the primary component of every meal, blood sugar and insulin levels rise and fall like a rollercoaster ride. The constant need for these insulin surges; meal after meal, day after day, year after year; may lead to insulin resistance down the track. This is the pathway to other far more serious conditions including metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Yes, even athletes develop these conditions.
  • Finally: when we exercise, our heart works harder to pump blood to the extremities of the body, including the muscles which require nutrients and oxygen in greater amounts. The blood vessels to these outer extremities actually dilate whilst the vessels around the stomach and kidney become narrower. This makes the whole process of digestion extremely difficult. Last time you had an energy gel or a snack during an event…. How did it go down? Did it hesitate half way? Feel like it might come back up again? Is it any wonder?

met_inefficiencyOverall, we know that running a marathon, or doing a triathlon or any type of athletic event is physically stressful – the very process causes a great deal of inflammation within the body. So why then do we turn to copious amounts of highly refined foods that further exacerbate these responses?

Well, traditional sports dietetics is built on the premise that we use glucose (sugar) as energy. Specifically, we use up the glucose that is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver during endurance events. There is approximately 2500 calories worth of energy stored in the form of glycogen within our bodies and this is our ‘gas tank’ if you like during sporting events. The whole premise of ingesting carbohydrate as you move is to prevent the tank from running out of gas, otherwise known as bonking. But 2500 calories isn’t going to get you that far. Whilst we all burn calories at slightly different rates, a 70kg man running at 10km / hour will use up approximately 800 calories per hour. Do the math and this means that he’s got just over 3 hours of fuel in the tank…. Or 30km. Ever seen someone hit the wall in a marathon at 30km? I bet you have…. it’s an all too familiar state of affairs. And unless you have an iron gut chances are you aren’t going to keep up with your own refuelling requirements so there’s a high chance you’re going to bonkville too.

Good news – there’s an alternative. See, what we have been ignoring for such a very long time is that in addition to those 2500 calories of stored glycogen, we have another pretty nifty tool in (or around if you like!) our belt – literally –I am referring to stored body fat. And seriously, who is going to say no to burning off a bit of body fat during an endurance event? Not me. The cool thing is that even a lean athlete will have at least 100,000 calories worth of energy available within stored fat sources and we are able to train our bodies to tap into these reserves. It’s that simple!  Yes… THIS is what all the fuss is about!

fat v carbs for fuellingImagine the potential for athletes who have a continuous fuel source at their disposal? There are lots of athletes out there who are experiencing the benefits; Bevan McKinnon, Sami Inkinen, Bruce Fordyce, Jon Olsen, Zach Bitter and Karyn Hoffman are some of the big names living, breathing and succeeding with this method. But I believe that it is so much more than just performance. I believe that this approach is essential for athletic longevity. It promotes the inclusion of foods in their most unrefined state, with moderate amounts of protein and nourishing anti-inflammatory fats; both of which are essential for hormones, cells and life in general. Interestingly, these ‘real’ food sources are also the richest in nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. As athletes it is absolutely imperative that we are getting an abundance of good nutrition to promote fast recovery, support our immune systems and dampen down inflammation within the body.

Contrary to what critics may say, fat adaptation for athletes does not necessarily severely restrict carbohydrate intake. For some, nutritional ketosis may be worthwhile considering (more on that later, but this needs to be under the guidance of a qualified health practitioner), but for most people, fat adaptation is about retraining the body so that it becomes more metabolically efficient. In order to explain this effectively, let’s consider the Respiratory Quotient; a method of testing how much energy is coming from carbohydrates and how much is coming from fat, during an exercise session. An athlete with an RQ of 1.0 is solely relying on carbohydrates during exercise, whilst an athlete with an RQ of 0.7 is burning fat exclusively. Obviously intensity of output does play a part here, but can you see the benefits of sitting closer to the 0.7 score as opposed to 1.0 on this scale? An athlete who is able to tap into some of his or her existing fat stores is going to be capable of a higher output for a longer amount of time with less fuel. This is a win / win in my book. Achieving optimal metabolic efficiency for your own sport and your own individual body may make you ‘bonk proof’ and means that your nutrition is no longer left to chance.Tim Olsen

In addition, fat adapted athletes tend to experience advantageous body composition changes and may experience better recovery as a real food diet has superior nutrient density. The information in this article is just the beginning and serves as an introduction to fat adaption or metabolic efficiency for athletes. This is not a blanket approach to nutrition, it is simply a template. Just to reiterate, the absolute foundation of this approach is real food, as unrefined as possible. Once you switch to a real food diet, your carbohydrate intake will automatically lower and your fat intake will increase because this is how real food is designed… for a reason. Beyond that, there are many other concepts for you to consider such as the ‘train low, race high’ approach, nutritional ketosis, electrolytes and fluids and fasted training for adaptation. Start your research and see what you find. There is nothing scary about this approach to sports nutrition… unless you think throwing out the Nutri Grain and Ski D’Lite sugar laden yoghurt is a bad thing. Have you seen what I eat on my Instagram account? I’d take that food over processed, packaged stuff any day of the week.

This article is a thought provoker – I am prodding your mind and asking you to consider another way. If you want some more assistance you can Work with Me here. I can show you how simple real food living truly is.

Good luck on your quest for life long athletic longevity and your journey to bonk proof :).

Sami Inkinen
Sami Inkinen and his wife rowed from California to Hawaii in record time to raise awareness in the fight against excess sugar. Their quest was called the Fat Chance Row, and needless to say they are fat adapted athletes. Read about it here: http://www.fatchancerow.org/
Categories Diabetes, SPORT NUTRITION, SUGAR

I Ran My First Marathon… On Nothing But A Single Coffee Bean!

Before you commence reading, I would like to remind you that this is not individual advice and my own body and yours are very different machines. Please enjoy this post and realise that if your current sports nutrition approach is not working, there are other ways to explore and I can work with you to develop an approach tailored to you.

So Sunday morning the 12th of April arrived in cold, crisp but beautiful Canberra; it was the morning of the 40th Canberra Marathon to be precise! Now, those of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram know that it had been an epic week. My partner Carl had succeeded in completing the 2015 Anzac Ultra – a distance of 300km over tough terrain on the outskirts of the city. Running; yes that is 300km of running. I will write about his story soon, but this blog is all about me! So the week before, Carl had commenced running on Wednesday morning at 8am and completed the race at 2:51pm Saturday afternoon the 11th of April. Now, obviously I did not physically run the race with him, but mentally I was there all the way. I was his one and only crew member and if you have ever crewed for someone in an ultramarathon you will know how critical this role is. For that time, however long it take your runner to finish, you are there. 100%. You are the coach, the chef, the mindset master, the boss, the physio, the masseuse, mother, partner, teacher, counsellor, hugger. True success in an ultra really does depend on the dedication of both runner and crew and how well they understand eachother. So for 78 hours I was all of these things for Carl and while it was an epic experience I was… tired. To be diplomatic about it. I had slept a total of 11 hours over 5 days. I had showered twice in that time. And to add to this already disastrous marathon lead in, my longest training run in the preceeding 8 weeks had been a total of…. 18.5km. Hmmmm. For anyone who has run a marathon, this is not exactly textbook prep. Despite all of this, when I climbed out of bed on that fateful day I was quietly confident. I simply knew that I could do it. My aim was to come in around 4 hours 30 minutes and this is how the day rolled out:

marathon start....First I ate some breakfast. 2 eggs, scrambled with a bit of strong, hard cheese and some organic butter on a single piece of toast. Probably, if I had been home, I may have had the eggs with a side of spinach on a slice of vegie bread but what I had was fine. A good mix of anti-inflammatory fats (from the butter and eggs, rich in omega 3 and loads of other goodies), protein (also from the eggs, as well as the cheese) and some complex carbohydrates (dense toast). Let’s fast forward now to the race itself where I started slow (6:25am) and conservatively. I sat on about 6:15min/km and was hanging around with the 4:30 pacing crowd. This was a great group to be with and the pacer was Bruce Hargreaves aka Digger – a fearless leader in my own running group in Brisbane. I felt good…. great actually. I cruised the pace up a knotch around the 7km mark and rounded the 10km timing point about 4 minutes ahead of the 4:30 group. At this point, I had drunk a cup of water from 1 of the aid stations and that was it. My second 10km stint passed rather unremarkably. I remained on about 6:15km/hr and power walked up a couple of hills at the 15km mark and the 18km mark. I knew that power walking strongly up the hills would work well for me as a strategy – my couple of experiences doing trail ultraruns (including the North Face 50 and The Most Beautiful Thing in Borneo) had taught me this strategy. Just before the 20km mark I noticed that I was sweating… more than I thought I would to be honest, considering the cold. As I had consumed some more water from the aid stations I had my first cup (about 100ml) of Hydralyte at this point. I was really impressed that the electrolyte provided at the Canberra Marathon was hospital grade and sugar free…. if you don’t know my stance on sugar then you can read my article from a few weeks ago here. 

By the 25km mark I was feeling tired. Not physically (surprisingly) just mentally. I could have happily drifted off the road into a bush and gone to sleep. Exhaustion was setting in. But I had just the thing to help me along in my race belt…. 1 little dark chocolate coated coffee bean! I put that little morsel of magnesium and caffeine on my tongue and let it do its thing. I seemed to perk up a bit after that – it may have been a bit of a placebo affect, but hey it worked. For the next 8km I continued my strategy quite happily; walking up the few big hills in the course and steadily running the rest of it. The only difference I employed at this point was I stopped looking at my pace. I was no longer interested in sitting on a particular speed as I was well inside unknown territory by this point and my goal was to finish comfortably not to finish fast. I had my second cup of Hydralyte during this section of the course as well as some more water as my body indicated it wanted both.

Between 34km and 36km a couple of things happened. Firstly, the 4:30 group passed me, with Digger wishing me his best on the way. IMid runhad no problems with this – my current strategy was working and I was not losing energy, merely remaining conservative for the final 5. Secondly, my stomach felt a little queasy. Now, this did stress me for a moment as it has never happened to me before. I am certain I know why this occurred; it was my first time using Hydralyte for an electrolyte source. Violation of racing rule number 1: Don’t try anything new on race day! Had the lead in been different I certainly would have had my own electrolyte source but I couldn’t change that now. For about 600m I walked briskly, also looking for a bathroom. However, after this brief stint of slowing the pace, my stomach recovered quickly and I was able to continue on my steady jog, with another powerful lesson under my belt. The third thing that happened at this point was by far the most interesting, albeit it upsetting. I began to witness the infamous ‘marathon bonk’ unfolding around me. This is the point in the marathon where runners have used up their stored glycogen sources (around 2000 – 2500 calories) and they start hitting walls. Brick walls. Hard. It was nasty. Some people were struggling to even walk with one foot in front of another, I saw another throwing up off to the side of the race and quite a lot of people stopped around this point to stretch out some painful cramps. I passed many and offered words of encouragement which, understandably, were met with grunts. Whilst I felt a gut wrenching disappointment for the people suffering around me I was really celebrating my own metabolic efficiency. I realised that I really had nailed my nutrition strategy and my body was comfortably cruising along drawing fuel from its own existing fat sources. My energy was remaining steady and I was not contending with the glucose / insulin rollercoaster. Remember that to this point I had consumed 1 single dark chocolate coffee bean only.

By 38km I was on fire. I was inside the 5km to go and I was still feeling strong. This was the time to start picking things up. From 38.5km I ran steadily into the finish, walking only for a stretch of 100m on a final ascent into the ring road near the finish. In the last 600m, I picked up the pace to hit 5:30km/hr and ‘sprinted’ in to the finish – catching the runner in front of me (pictured). A good friend of mine, Sam was just ahead of me and it was great to see her smiling face just after I crossed that line. As I headed through the finishes shoot I collected another full cup of Hydralyte and some water.

sprint finish

Fast forward to 24 hours later and I climbed out of bed on Monday morning. Well, I am being completely honest here, although I know that many people won’t believe me. I felt fantastic. About the same feeling I have the day after a long training run (about 20km). A little stiff through the hamstrings, but the head was clear and I even felt mentally rested. The evening before I had taken some extra Omega 3 anti-inflammatory supplements as well as some high strength magnesium which would have aided this recovery. In addition, I was able to get through the marathon easily and avoid inflammatory fuel sources (sugars, soft drinks, gels) that so many runners rely on. My final time, by the way was 4 hours 39 minutes – not far off my ultimate goal on quite a hilly course. I honestly can’t wait to run my next race. And I can guarantee 1 thing…. from now on, every race I run, I will be sure to carry 1 lucky coffee bean with me along the way!

Disclosures:

  • As stated above, this is my story, my approach and my fuelling strategy that works for me. Your body is not the same as mine. Please do not attempt to run a marathon in exactly the same way as I did. Please consult a health professional if you would like to work out a specific fuelling strategy to suit your own requirements. I would love to help you. You can work with mehere.
  • Please note that I did have other fuel sources in my running belt as well. I was carrying some almonds and a Cliff bar (in case things got really nasty) in my belt.
  • Please do not try new things on race day….. I made this mistake and I could have paid a far bigger price.
  • Feel free to leave any positive comments below and share this story if you enjoyed it.

inspiration

Categories SUGAR, WEIGHT LOSS

What The Fat?

A couple of recent conversations have inspired this blog post today. It seems there is still a lot of confusion out there about macronutrients and the true meaning of real, whole foods. In the interest of your time and mine, I will keep this brief and I encourage you to send me an email or book a consultation if you are still confused about this topic.

Firstly, let’s revisit the basics. The low fat era has well and truly been done and it’s no place to revisit. The low fat era inspired a fear campaign which resulted in people moving away from foods in their natural state and instead turning to highly processed ‘food like substances’ with added sugars and chemicals – they had to add something for the sake of the flavour that was lost when all the fat was removed. This has resulted in imbalances in the diets of everyday people and I see this on a daily basis in clinic. For more information about the history of food manufacturing and the food pyramid specifically you should watch That Sugar Film and read Death by Food Pyramid.

Almost every client that begins working with me has the following characteristics in common:

-The majority of their diet (upwards of 80% of total intake) is from starchy carbohydrates such as breads, cereal and pasta. Most of these are struggling with weight management and have corresponding insulin resistance.

-Their sugar intake is above 20g per day and sometimes much higher (added sugar). This is usually a bit of a shock to them as they aren’t actually eating many sweets or lollies! The main culprits for this are yoghurts, snack bars and the dreaded cereal once again.

-They lack quality sources of protein and their overall intake is generally well below what is required especially the athletes that I see.

-Fat. There is no fat. Or very little. It is avoided at all costs. It is demonised. It’s a massive mindset shift when I suggest that this is the first thing that needs to be changed.

If you are still concerned about fat and its role in cardiovascular disease or obesity please review the following resources. You should note that sugar and excess refined carbohydrates are now being implicated in many chronic diseases :

Resource 1: See Christine Cronau’s page for a long list of studies on the importance of fat in the diet and what is truly at the heart of the issue: http://christinecronau.com/studies/

Resource 2: What if Saturated Fat is not The Problem? (By a professor of Biochemistry).

Resource 3: Pasta, Not Bacon, Makes you Fat Dr Joseph Mercola

You can also read about how an entire country have overhauled their nutritional guidelines in this article; “Sweden Becomes First Western Nation to Reject low Fat Diet.”

Please note that the majority of Australians are now deficient in the fat soluble vitamins which are essential for normal, healthy body functions. Of particular concern are vitamin D and vitamin K deficiencies. Hello osteoporosis.

Guess what our hormones are made from? Fats! (And proteins too). Signs of hormone imbalances may present in the form of weight gain, skin conditions, painful periods, low libido and mood swings. This can then lead to much more serious conditions like absence of period (Amenorrhoea), infertility and common gynaecological conditions such as Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  PCOS warrants special note here because it goes hand in hand with insulin resistance and increases ones likelihood of developing diabetes later in life (read more here). Managing PCOS well and minimising complications comes down to lifestyle and diet. Reducing starchy and sugary carbohydrate sources and including lots of good, healthy fats and moderate protein can turn this condition around. I know from both personal and professional experience.

On a more basic level, by including healthy fats in all meals your satiety will be greatly increased. This means you will be satisfied for longer; I can start my day off with a 3 whole egg omelette with vegetables cooked in coconut oil or organic butter and I’m good to go for up to 8 hours if I absolutely have to. In addition, by choosing to not ride the sugar / insulin rollercoaster, your energy levels will be far more stable throughout the day and your cravings will be curbed.

Let me return here to my non-negotiable = Real Food. Real food comes with fat, not without it. This is the way nature intended. Once you start removing fat, you also remove a great deal of nutrients and add back in a lot of nasties. Please note that ‘fortifying’ ‘lite’ foods with vitamins and minerals does not equate to the same bioavailability as these nutrients in their natural state.

Finally, if you want to continue counting calories, trimming the fat and unwrapping packets instead of washing and cooking real food, my style is not really going to help you. But rest assured, there are plenty of other companies out there providing just this. I on the other hand, am on a mission to help people count nutrients, not calories, eat intuitively and march to the real food drum. I don’t engage in coffee table chit chat about how many calories I am ‘allowed’ to eat every day and I certainly don’t want to hear about the low fat, non-fat, highly processed version of meat / yoghurt / milk / cereal / cake / snack bar or chocolate that you just discovered.

To end, remember that balance is key. I am not suggesting that every one of your meals from this point forward should revolve around bacon, merely that each food group has its place and we don’t need to be extremists to be healthy.

Got questions? Book your consultation here. Share this with anyone else in your life that needs a real food update.

Categories Diabetes, SUGAR, WEIGHT LOSS

Thriving With Diabetes

Meet Ray. According to the statistics listed on the Diabetes Australia website, Ray is 1 of the 960,000 Australians living with type 2 Diabetes. With over 280 Australians being diagnosed with diabetes every day, its no wonder its being labelled as an ‘out of control pandemic’ requiring urgent and immediate attention.

Ray was diagnosed over 10 years ago by his GP and was prescribed a mixture of medication to control his blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. For the next few years, things generally remained stable; the symptoms were managed, but their were no real improvements to his overall health. About 3 years ago, it seemed that things were starting to deteriorate. Ray’s weight and blood pressure were gradually but steadily increasing and so were his blood sugar readings. A stern warning from his GP that a more sustainable approach was required, prompted Ray to take matters into his own hands and do something to really address the underlying cause of his conditions. The alternative was pretty grim; if his health did not improve then he would be become insulin dependent.

Over the next 6 months, we began addressing Ray’s diet and exercise habits. Remember that Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance. In simple terms, this means the body can not control blood sugar levels and has major problems metabolizing glucose normally. Despite being directly related to diet, we don’t seem to focus on this aspect enough; many diabetics unfortunately don’t understand how to eat for their condition. The first switch was to a real food diet, with less starchy and sugary carbohydrates and some more protein and good fats to stabilize blood sugar levels. In addition, Ray began exercising consistently; walking every single day, sometimes up to 12km at a time. 6 months on, back in his GP’s office, he was bar  ely recognizable and needless to say, his Doctor was impressed. His medication was reduced as all of his health markers had improved.

The journey continued for another 18 months and still continues today. Ray has learnt through close self monitoring which foods he is able to enjoy abundantly and what he really needs to stay away from. We have more recently adopted a ‘low carbohydrate, higher healthy fat’ diet and all health markers continue to improve. With the use of some concentrated nutritional medicine supplements alongside his current medication his blood sugar readings are still coming down. His Doctor fully supports his desire to come off Metformin as he is now managing his condition with diet and lifestyle. His current dosages of Metformin are at the absolute minimum and in coming weeks he will be off this altogether.  His weight loss to date is over 30kg, he engages in hot yoga, brisk walking and some strength training for exercise and in June he will summit Mt Kenya in Africa.

The point of this post is to show you that a diagnosis of diabetes (or similar) is not a sentence. Its an indication that something isn’t working right and its time to re-evaluate. Medication has its place of course and is critically important. However, one must absolutely look beyond managing symptoms and also address the underlying cause. According to the Diabetes Australia website, “up to 58% of cases of type 2 can be prevented and we know that good blood glucose control and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can significantly improve the complications associated with diabetes.” If you or someone you know suffers from this condition and they are in need of some assistance to manage it long term, take a look at my Work with Me page because I’m committed to reversing the statistics. The risk factors for diabetes should also be noted: impaired glucose tolerance, high fasting blood glucose, overweight, belly fat, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, smoking, PCOS or PCO (females), high cholesterol and a poor diet in general. Prevention is better than cure in my view and its never to late to improve your health.

Categories SPORT NUTRITION, SUGAR

Sugar: Its Place In Sport

Attend any athletic event these days and there is one thing that is present in more liberal numbers than sweaty athletes themselves; GELS! These sugary little ‘life savers’ seem to have no end of uses- it’s fairly normal to see athletes down 1 or 2 before the race, several during the race at regular intervals and then polish one off at the end… with a Powerade to accompany it! I am both an observer and a casual competitor at such events and as a Nutritionist, I struggle no end with this concept. Consider a marathon or an Olympic distance triathlon; both are pro inflammatory in their own right and induce a great deal of physiological stress on the body. So why is it that in the last 30 – 40 years our fuelling strategies have evolved around the use of sports drinks, gels, energy bars and the overall concept of carb loading? This results in copious amounts of refined sugar, added sodium, flavours, preservatives, wheat and gluten being ingested, all of which further contribute to inflammation and are seriously damaging to our health.

In 1945, Willie Honeman (American cycling champion) remarked on the topic of race nutrition; ‘eat whatever foods appeal to you, but be sure they are of good quality and fresh. Avoid too many starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes, pies, pastries etc. Eat plenty of green and cooked vegetables.’ Fast forward to 1996 and the advice was very different; ‘Carbohydrate supplementation is essential to meet the needs of heavy training. Greater portions of pasta, potatoes and breads can help, but many athletes prefer concentrated carbohydrates found in high-carbohydrate drinks’ (Burke, E. Berning, J. 1996). And now, in 2015, you’re probably feeling a bit lonely if you are not following some particular diet. Determined to maintain an open mind and acknowledge that we are all still individuals, last year I began working closely with 14 open minded athletes who were keen to fine tune their nutrition to benefit their performance, but also improve their overall health. This was a 10 week self-directed study that culminated in the participant’s completion of the Tarawera Ultra Marathon; a moderately hilly and technical trail run held in New Zealand across distances of 60km, 85km and 100km. Whilst there were individual differences in diet accounting for people’s own taste preferences as well as their physiology, all participants had to eat only real and whole foods from high quality sources (i.e. no processed sources) as part of their everyday diet and whilst training and competing (obviously allowing for a 90/10 approach). As a result, the macrsonutrient ratio was different from a standard Australian diet; all participants observed an overall drop in carbohydrate intake and a significant increase in dietary fats (only full fat sources were recommended). Some participants did choose to experiment with nutritional ketosis. Here are some of the stand out observations noted during this process:

Those that experimented with nutritional ketosis (male only) very quickly adapted (within 2 weeks) and returned to peak performance in this short time. They noted more stable energy levels and were relieved of digestive discomfort during longer training and events.
Of the females who participated, 5 were at optimal body composition already whilst 3 had heavier builds. All 3 of these women experienced some degree of weight loss (3kg each on average) and a drop in measurements with one losing 6cm off her waist (note: this drop was also accompanied by a reduction in training volume and an increase in daily calorie consumption).
All participants reported more steady energy levels and better recovery. Finally, the most talked about benefit was the ability to simply ‘run longer and fuel less’ with more stable performance overall.
At the completion of my time with these participants, all of them indicated that they would be continuing with their new lifestyle because of the benefits they had seen both in life and in sport. Of course, this is just 1 study, on a very small sample size over a relatively short period of time. But in reality, no study is ever going to be able to isolate diet in terms of nutritional performance and longevity over a lifetime as well as answer all of the questions that we as health professionals and athletes are asking. Many athletes are still struggling with weight management, digestive dysfunction, unstable energy levels, hyper and hypoglycaemia, bonking, excessing injuries and poor recovery. Furthermore, we now see many people coming into the sport of running, cycling or triathlon because they are recommended to start an exercise program due to a health condition; commonly diabetes, obesity or metabolic syndrome. How do we balance the recommendations of the Australian Institute of Sport, who claim that 90g/hour of carbohydrates during long distance events is ideal (source: http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/factsheets/basics/carbohydrate__how_much, 2015), yet the World Health Organisation (WHO) has reduced its recommended daily sugar intake to 6 teaspoons (24 grams) for adults? Add to this the hefty evidence that excessive sugar is downright dangerous to our health. The answer, I believe lies with the foods that we have been consuming for many thousands of years; minimally processed nutrient dense whole food sources. The macronutrient ratio may vary from person to person, but it should always include a variety of natural fats whilst limiting pro inflammatory, highly refined carbohydrates. Whether you are an esteemed athlete or a newbie to your sport, getting your nutrition right could make the difference between a lifetime of healthy movement and a ‘yo-yo’ journey as far as performance, injury and overall health markers are concerned. My upcoming seminar will delve into these topics in greater detail. It may help health practitioners to better support their patients who are involved in heavy exercise programs. I will discuss ways to strip nutrition back to basics and then determine the best fuelling on an individual basis. And now back on the topic of sports drinks… Powerade is a sports drink manufactured and marketed by Coca-Cola. Gatorade is owned by PepsiCo. I rest my case J.