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We’ve all heard about fasting diets or variations of them. Some advocate eating a healthy balanced diet all the time but cutting calories to about 25% of required maintenance energy for 2 days of the week. Others preach the benefits of fasting for 16 hours a day and eating for 8 hours only.
Some believe that these fasting diets replicate the way we evolved to live as cavemen, a point which we have not yet gone beyond; stone age man would have gone for periods of fasting while hunting and gathering, then feasting on the rewards.
Recent studies have shown that this can lead to weight loss, correct hormonal balance, improved sleep and improved blood markers. Blood markers are signals that show levels of growth hormones, which can be lowered by feast/fast diets. When growth hormones are lowered, the body moves from “growth” mode to “repair” mode. This in turn leads to a lower risk of disease, a longer lifespan and healthy weight levels.
Variations of the feast/fast are the 5:2 (probably the most well known), the ADF diet (alternate day fasting) and the 16:8 as described above.
However, as there have, as yet, been few studies on feast/fast diets, scientists are loath to recommend them for fear of liability. But now they say they have developed a five-day, once a month diet that mimics fasting and is also safe and effective. In a new study funded by the ational Institute on Ageing in the US, participants who intermittently fasted for a period of three months had reduced risk factors for an amazing variety of issues: ageing, cancer, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease.
The scientists behind the study likened mimic fasting as a way to “re-boot” the body, cleaning out damaged cells and regenerating new ones. So how does it work? For 25 days a month those in the study ate normally. Some good, some bad, some mediocre. Then on day 26 they ate only 1090 calories consisting of 10% protein, 56% fat and 34% carbohydrate. Then on days 27 through to day 30 calories were reduced further to 725; 9% protein, 44% fat and 47% carbohydrate. On these low calorie days they consumed 54 to 34% of their average daily maintenance calories. Foods typically eaten during this stage were vegetable soup, kale crackers and chamomile tea.
The participants in the study completed 3 cycles (or 3 months) of the mimic fasting, after which researchers measured them, finding lower bio-markers and risk factors for disease – with no side effects.
Petronella Ravenshear, a nutritional therapist in London, said that the new diet “is less of a stressor on the body than complete fasting.”
“It supplies most of the carbohydrates in the form of vegetables which are packed with phytonutrients and minerals and positively good for us, rather than grain-derived carbohydrates which don’t supply much except sugar,” she said.
Read more about mimic fasting here.
If you would like your children to eat their greens you really need to start early, says a study released last week by University College London. It shows how to make babies like vegetables – if they are fed them in the first 15 days of weaning. For the study, researchers asked mums to introduce their babies to a variety of vegetables (five a day) over the course of 15 days during weaning. Then, after a two week Hiatus with no vegetables, they were then fed an unfamiliar vegetable, artichoke puree. The artichoke puree was also fed to an opposing control group who’s babies had been weaned on baby rice.
When the scientists measured how much of the puree the babies had eaten, and asked the mums how keen their little ones were on the puree, on a scale of 1-9, they found that the veggie babies had eaten twice as much as those who had previously been on the baby rice. The mums of the vegetable group also said that their babies had “quite liked it”, with an average score of 6.7/9. Those in the other control group only scored their babies 4.3. So as soon as weaning starts, start the veg – this is how to make babies like vegetables
Many people will also agree that what you are given at a young age influences what foods you like when you grow up. So start them early, be patient, and you will reap the rewards!
Good news chocolate lovers. A new study by scientists at the University of Aberdeen shows that eating up to two chocolate bars a day could lower the risk of both heart disease and strokes. Cardiovascular disease was found to be 11% lower in chocolate eaters and the risk of associated death was reduced by a whopping 25%.
The study, whose results have just been published in the medical journal Heart, followed 25,000 people in Norfolk over a period of 12 years. During the study period, 14% of those studied suffered an episode of fatal or non-fatal heart disease or stroke. Those eating chocolate however were the least likely to suffer from either of the two diseases. Higher chocolate intake was also found to correlate to lower levels of inflammation, lower blood pressure and lower body mass index.
The researchers did comment that the results were”somewhat surprising”, especially as the good results were not just associated with those eating dark chocolate, but were a,so found in candidates who ate milk chocolate too, despite its high sugar content.
Protein is one of the major, or macro nutrients that we must have in order to stay alive, healthy and functioning properly. If we do not get enough protein then our muscles will begin to atrophy or waste (keep in mind that the heart is a muscle) and general functioning of the human body will be impaired.
In terms of weight loss, protein is essential in maintaining lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass is one of our key metabolic drivers, using energy even when you are not active (unlike lazy fat) and the higher our metabolic rate, the more energy we need every day so the easier it is to lose weight on a calorie controlled diet. More output gives you leeway with input or eating.
It also plays a key role in keeping us feeling full and preventing overeating. Protein contains the lowest amount of calories per gram (along with carbohydrate) at 4calories/gram, so we can eat a lot of it without taking in excess energy. It is also more difficult for our gut to turn into energy than carbohydrates. Thus eating protein does not effect blood sugar levels min the same way as a carbohydrate does, leaving us feeling fuller for longer. It also takes more energy to digest than other macro-nutrients, further boosting your metabolic rate.
How much protein?
A good guide as to how much protein you should have is 1.0g – 1.8g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day. If you are very active try to consume the higher amount, if you are aiming for weight loss try for the lower end of the scale.
When should I have protein
Ideally you should include protein in every meal. Even if you are eating some starchy or sugary carbohydrate, the inclusion of protein will moderate the insulin response to these easily-digestible doors. This means that you will have more even blood sugar levels and feel less hungry during the day. Most importantly. you should aim to have at least 30g of your daily protein dose at breakfast. That’s two eggs and some cottage cheese. After fasting all night, fuel in the blood and liver will be running low, so your body may start drawing on lean muscle as fuel if you don’t replenish its protein stores first thing. Studies have also found that protein rich breakfasts help to regulate your appetite all day.
Is all protein the same?
No. Although nuts and seeds contain protein, they also contain lots of good fats. Although they are healthy therefore, they are very calorific, and so should be treated with care if you are looking to lose weight. The most “efficient” proteins are usually found in animal sources; these have the best ratio of protein to calories. That is what our list covers today. Nuts and seeds fall just outside the top 10 because of this high calorie content.
What if I’m vegetarian?
Although a bit more difficult, getting enough protein as a vegetarian is not impossible. Combining two foods that are incomplete proteins to make complete proteins works week. Beans with toast, brown rice and beans, are both good examples. Most low calorie cheeses are good sources of protein, as is tofu, hemp seed, buckwheat and quinoa.
What if I’m on the go?
It may not be practical to carry multiple chicken breasts around – although having a ready made chicken salad in a tupperware box is great, so try these portable protein snacks:
Top 10 best sources of protein by protein/calorie ratio
1 – Egg whites.
|Protein in 100g||1 cup (245g)||Protein to Calorie Ratio|
|13g||26||1g protein per 4.4 calories|
2 – Fish (Tuna, salmon, Halibut).
|Protein in 100g||3oz Fillet (85g)||Protein to Calorie Ratio|
|26g||22g||1g protein per 4.5 calories|
Other fish high in protein per fillet(3oz or 85g): Tuna (22g), Salmon (22g), Halibut (22g), Snapper (22g), Perch(21g), Flounder and Sole (21g), Cod (20g)
3 – Lean chicken breast.
|Protein in 100g||3oz serving (85g)||Protein to Calorie Ratio|
|18.3g||16g||1g protein per 4.6 calories|
Other chicken and turkey: Chicken Leg (69g) provides 18g protein. Chicken Thigh (37g) provides 9g protein. 3oz serving of Turkey Breast (85grams) provides 26g protein.
4 – Low fat cheese.
|Protein in 100g||1oz Slice (28g)||Protein to Calorie Ratio|
|32g||9g||1g protein per 4.7 calories|
Other cheeses: Low-fat Cottage Cheese (5g), Low-fat Swiss Cheese (8g), Low-fat Cheddar (6g), Parmesan (10g), Romano (9g). Protein per 28g serving.
5 – Pork chops
|Protein in 100g||1 Chop (134g,~5oz)||Protein to Calorie Ratio|
|25g||33g||1g protein per 5.2 calories|
Other pork: Sirloin Roast 3oz (28g) provides 23g of protein, Ham 3oz (28g) provides 18g of protein, 1 slice of bacon (8g) provides 3g of protein.
6 – Beef and veal.
|Protein in 100g||3oz Slice (85g)||Protein to Calorie Ratio|
|36g||31g||1g protein per 5.3 calories|
Other beef and veal: T-Bone Steak 3oz (28g) provides 19g of protein, 1 Piece of Beef Jerky (20g) provides 7g of protein.
7 – Tofu
|Protein in 100g||3oz Slice (85g)||Protein to Calorie Ratio|
|7g||6g||1g protein per 7.4 calories|
8 – Beans (Soy)
|Protein in 100g||1 cup (172g)||Protein to Calorie Ratio|
|17g||29g||1g protein per 10.4 calories|
Other beans high in protein per cup: Kidney Beans (17g), White Beans (17g), Lima Beans (15g), Fava Beans (14g), Black Beans (15g), Mung Beans (14g)
9 – Whole eggs.
|Protein in 100g||1 Large Egg (50g)||Protein to Calorie Ratio|
|13g||6g||1g protein per 12 calories|
10 – Yoghurt, milk, soya milk.
|Protein in 100g||1 cup (245g)||Protein to Calorie Ratio|
|6g||14g||1g protein per 18 calories,|
It’s all good and well having your PT help you to eat healthily, sort out your kitchen and weekly shop so that you are all prepared to eat well, but when you go out it can be easy to undo a weeks’ good work in just one meal.
However you can make healthy choices when eating out; it will still be tasty and you will still have fun, but with less calories.
Here are five points with some concrete examples of how to make healthy choices eating out.
1 – Be prepared to tailor-make dishes. Remember that you are the customer, so be prepared to be just a little awkward and ask for things to be changed – cooked differently, things added or taken away and so on. So if a dish comes with roasted potatoes, ask if they can do some sweet potatoes or brown seasoned rice instead. If something is fried, ask if it can be grilled. Always have dressings on the side – and just add enough to taste. Quite often a salad can be made very calorific by adding lots of dressing.
2 – Always order a salad based starter, even before considering the main course. This way you will already be feeling less indulgent when you chose the main and will be less likely to have desert. Scientists at Pennsylvania State University discovered that volunteers who ate a salad before the main course ate fewer calories overall than those who didn’t have a first-course salad. Olives and nuts are good too, but don’t have too many as they are quite calorie dense.
3 – Check the menu before you leave home. Nearly all restaurants now have a menu on their website. By looking through it you will be ready to make good choices rather than arrive hungry and mentally switched off. It’s in these moments of relaxation that bad things can happen.
4 – Avoid breads. It’s ever so easy to go for some garlic bread, pate and toast or some sort of bread selection with olive oil. The latter is a oil songs soaking up a hugh amounts of calories from the oil and delivering them in a starch wrapped meal that will spike blood sugars and cause more eating later on. The same goes for the pate and the bread selection. Have salad and protein if possible.
5 – Swap foods.
Exchanging one food for another is a crafty way of eating out healthily.
Therefore some great restaurant-specfic guides on the cooking light website, one of our favourites.
Elderly people who eat spinach and other leafy greens stay smarter than those who do not, shows a new study. Just one to two helpings a day can give you the brain power of someone eleven years younger. Scientists believe that the natural colourings lutein, beta carotene combined with vitamin K and vitamin B9 are behind the brain-protective properties of spinach.
The researchers, from Rush University in Chicago, studied 950 people with an average age of 81. By looking at their nutrition and then performing rigorous mental tests every year for ten years, they discovered that the brains of those eating even small quantities of leafy greens on a daily basis aged more slowly. The effect was marked, showing a brain age 11 years younger than counterparts who did not eat leafy greens as much.
Dr Martha Morris who led the research said: ‘Losing one’s memory or cognitive abilities is one of the biggest fears for people as they get older.
‘Since declining cognitive ability is central to Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, increasing consumption of green leafy vegetables could offer a very simple, affordable and non-invasive way of potentially protecting your brain.
‘With baby boomers approaching old age, there is huge public demand for lifestyle behaviours that can ward off loss of memory and other cognitive abilities with age.
‘Our study provides evidence that eating green leafy vegetables and other foods rich in vitamin K, lutein and beta-carotene can help to keep the brain healthy to preserve functioning.’
Along with spinach, vitamin K, lutein and beta-carotene are also found in kale, tomatoes, carrots and peppers. So even if you are not as fond of spinach as Popeye, there are other options!
It’s often the case, especially for those that work odd or late hours, that you get the hunger attack late on before you go to bed. Although this is not the best time to be eating – eating while activity levels are low means that you are much more likely to store this energy as fat – there are some steps that you can take and things you can eat that will help avoid weight gain. So here are some healthy late night snacks.
Of course the first thing to do is to try and not get hungry in the evening in the first place. When we eat our blood sugar levels rise. This energy is then either used for activity, or if you are relaxing, insulin is released, instructing the cells to store this energy; some of it in the muscles and liver, but some of it as fat. It’s better, therefore, to try and match food intake to energy levels. So try to eat earlier in the day when activity levels are higher.
Planning also helps. If you can make healthy food to have during the day (or when you are most active) this will avoid any skipping of meals and then the late night hunger attack.
The second pointer is to give yourself at least an hour before eating and going to bed. Again, this makes it less likely that you will store energy taken on as fat.
Try not too have too much sugar or refined and processed carbohydrate either. This is very easily processed by the gut into blood sugar.
The final rule is to try and keep below 300 calories. Anything more and you will be in an energy surplus-fat-storing-state.
1 – Berry yoghurt shake. A natural yoghurt (Greek has the lowest sugar content) blended with berries contains a low GI fruit, oodles of vitamins, protein and fat to fill you up less calories than crackers.
2 – Frozen blueberries with cream. Use whipping cream to keep the calories low. Low in sugar, high in nutrients, with a bit of fat and protein to boot.
3 – Humous with crudités. made from chickpeas, homous contains a bit of protein, lots of complex carbohydrate and very little sugar. Dip with vegetables or fruit like cucumber and carrot batons.
4 – Scrambled eggs. Not just for breakfast, but quick and filling anytime. Add chillies, green and red sweet peppers and even some cheese for extra interest.
5 – Low GI fruit. Avocado and coconut (ok, it’s a nut) are healthy and filling and won’t spike blood sugar. But berries and even a green apple will work too.
Not only are eggs a great source of protein, helping you to maintain lean muscle mass and tempering high blood sugar levels that may be caused by a carbohydrate-only breakfast, but they may also make you a nicer person. Having an egg for breakfast may also damage your wallet..but in a good way. This is the interesting conclusion of a new study which has found that people are far more likely to give money to charity after a triple egg omelette.
As well as containing plenty of clean protein (and not as many calories as you would think) eggs are full of amino acids and every vitamin that we need, with the exception of vitamin C. Researchers in the Netherlands now think that a particular amino acid – tryptophan, or TRP – also plays a key role in the production of serotonin, the “mood” hormone that makes people feel happy and generous.
In the research, 16 subjects were given powdered TRP in a dose equivalent to three eggs. The other 16 people in the study were given a placebo powder. All of them were given €10 as their fee for taking part and were then asked if they would be willing to donate some or all of the money to charity. Donation boxes for well-known charities including the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and Unicef were provided for donations. At the end of the study those who had eaten the TRP gave exactly twice as much as those on the placebo.
Eggs are a great alternative to the usual processed starchy foods that are traditional at breakfast time in the western world. They are filling due to the high protein content, and you can also use them as a good way of getting some of your 5 a day greens and vegetables. An omelette with two whole eggs, some green peppers, onions and chillies (if you like that sort of thing) would have under 200 calories in it, but lots of protein, vitamins and minerals. The high protein content will also ensure that you stay fuller for longer too!
By Adam Atkinson
As we head into 2015 we may have started an exercise regime and might even be thinking about eating a bit better. In the weight loss battle food is actually the most important factor. We can huff and puff in the gym until we are quite red in the face, but if we are still on the sugary, starchy dinners then it will remain difficult to lose weight.
It is also always better to make food yourself. Yes there are lots of healthier options now in the form of lighter or calorie counted ready meals, but home made is still better. So here are our 8 best picks for the best healthy cookbooks in 2015.
1 – The clean and lean diet cookbook
Celebrity personal trainer James Duigan’s book contains lots of healthy recipes that are simultaneously filling but also lean. Protein rich lean meats will help you lose weight while not feeling like you are missing out. His recipes will also help you to lower the CRAP – Caffenie, refined sugar, alcohol and processed foods. www.bodyism.com
2 – The medicinal chef – this accessible book contains easy recipes that target areas of health that you might want to improve, from bones and joints to digestive to heart health. Each dish has a code at the top letting you know what it will benefit and this is cross-referenced in the conditions index at the back where you can find recipes to help with a particular ailment.
3 – Total Greek yoghurt cookbook
Greek yoghurt is the personal trainer’s go-to snack, with only 3g of sugar/100 and a good blend of both fats and protein. These recepies draw on author Sophie Michell’s Greek roots and all contain the best selling brand of Greek yoghurt, Fage. http://uk.fage.eu/recipes
4 – Hummus Bros
This book contains many snack recipes containing…yes…humous. It teaches you to make snacks and mains with a healthier middle eastern feel, containing less sugar and starch, but with plenty of protein, fibre and nutrients. www.hbros.co.uk/new/home.php
5 – Honestly Healthy Cleanse
This book is based on the principle that too many acidic foods are bad for us; acidic juices, meat, grains and dressings can irritate the stomach, upset the endocrine system and cause weight gain. It looks instead at recipes promoting Alkaline eating instead. http://honestlyhealthyfood.com
6 – Itsu: the cookbook
This popular Japanese restraint chain has released this book, a must have for anyone thinking of trying the 5:2 or those who come in late from work and need a healthy light dinner. All the dishes are 300 calories or less and take less than half an hour to make. www.itsu.com/cookbook/
7 – The Natural Food Kitchen
Chef Jordan Bourke’s recepies are influenced by global cooking and this book is a great all rounder; the recepies are indulgent but guilt free, using all natural ingredients and provide realistic alternatives to sugar, dairy and wheat. http://www.jordanbourke.com/#!book/c1xnk
8 – Plenty More
Chef Ottolenghi’s vegetarian recipes can be a little exotic, so you might have to do to a specialist herb shop for some of the items but once this is done, the dishes are both special, enough to impress dinner party guests and healthy! http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk
As we enter the new year here is our 2014 health and fitness review – both the good and the bad. From the uselessness of vitamin supplements to the benefits of standing up, we learned a lot in 2014.
Although generally frowned on by your GP, the fasting diet, where calories are drastically lowered for a couple of days a week, were found to have a remarkable effect on the immune system, we were told in June. In tests on both humans and mice, fasting for two days a week triggers a “regenerative switch”, making the body produce more white blood cells. These blood cells fight illnesses, so fasting could be used by the elderly or those with damaged immune systems (from chemotherapy, for example) to generate a new one. Source – The University of Southern California
Standing is a great idea if you want to have a pert bottom said a study in April by the University of Tel Aviv. When fat cells are subjected to “chronic, sustained pressure” they expand by 50%, becoming both bigger and heavier. This is what happens when we sit for prolonged periods, so try to stand and walk, even in the office, at least every 20 minutes.
Although not technically good for us, these previously “vilified” fats do not have the negative impact on health as previously thought. For nearly half a century the consensus has been that saturated fats raise the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. The NHS still advocates reducing intake to around 25g a day. But researchers at the University of Cambridge conducted a “mega-study” covering 600,000 people in 18 countries, and found that there is no “clearly supportive evidence” to support the NHS advice. The study showed that although trans fats increased a person’s likelihood of getting heart disease, saturated fats made little difference.
Many parents worry that endless hours in front of computer games is addling their childrens’ brains. But a study released by Oxford University in August showed that this worry may be misplaced. Involving 5000 children aged from 10 to 15, the research showed that those who spent up to an hour a day playing were happier, more sociable and better behaved than those who did not play computer games. Even playing for up to 3 hours a day was found to have no harmful effects (apart from the obvious effect on fitness). The study concluded that the games provided cognitive and social stimulation to a much greater extent that their TV based counterparts.
These were found to be a waste of time and money by a team at the University of Johns Hopkins in the USA. In January they declared “case closed” on a long running debate as to the effectiveness of vitamin supplements. Reviewing more than 25 studies involving 500, 000 people the University concluded that over the counter supplements had no benefits for “well nourished adults” and should not be taken for health benefits or disease prevention.
Known to be bad for us in excess for a long time, the year saw further dammning evidence for drinking. A decade-long study of 7,00 people found that boozing in middle age appeared to accelerate cognitive decline. Those that drank the equivalent of 2 ½ pints a day were found to have the verbal fluency, memory and mathematical ability of a 70 year old – when they were just 60. Moderate drinkers (1 pint a day) were unaffected.
These were given the thumbs down when research in September found that sweeteners in diet drinks can fool the metabolism, causing blood sugar levels to rise and making people overweight. There was also found to a mental factor too; those an diet drinks felt that they had more leeway in other areas of their diet and so ate more sweet treats.
Fruit juices, fizzy drinks and cordials.
The sugar in fruit juices and smoothies was labelled bad in February, when a study suggested that those who get their sugars from drinks with added sugar (as opposed to natural sources) were 1/5th more likely to die of a heart attack or stroke. British children consume 40% more added sugar that the recommended maximum, and the biggest source of thus was found to be fizzy drinks, fruit juices and cordials.
By Adam Atkinson