There has been a great debate amongst health professionals and the role of fruit in a weight loss program. There are many weight loss diets that don’t contain fruit at all but then we constantly hear how important it is for general health and well-being. So what is the truth here?
Fruit intake is vital in a well-balanced diet. Fruit contains many nutrients including vitamins, fibre and antioxidants. Fruit contains vitamins such as potassium, folate and vitamin C – all which contribute to good health. For example the potassium found in many fruits can help to lower your blood pressure, whilst the vitamin C found in fruits can assist with growth and repair of body tissues. Dietary fibre found in fruit helps to reduce blood cholesterol as well as promotes healthy bowel function. Fruits are naturally high in powerful antioxidants that protect the body from aging and chronic diseases.
The problem arises when people eat too much fruit. Fruits themselves will not make you fat if you eat a balanced amount of them on a daily basis (2 pieces per day). Because people believe that fruit is healthy there is the tendency to over consume them. Fruit like other foods still contains calories and an excess of calories will lead to weight gain. Fruit is also naturally high in fructose (fruit sugar) and this is not very good for regulating your appetite. Have you ever found yourself eating piece after piece of fruit and still feeling hungry? This is because fruit doesn’t trigger an insulin response. The release of insulin is our body telling us that we are full. Without this trigger we then have the capacity to overindulge.
So what is the right approach to consuming fruit? If you are looking to maintain your current weight then aim to consume 2 pieces a day as part of your meals or snacks. Include the calories as part of your overall calorie intake. If you are looking at lowering your body fat then aim to limit the intake to following fruits: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, lemon, lime and honey dew melon. They are not as high in fructose and are still nutritionally packed with vitamins and anti-oxidants. You can still enjoy the odd apple or banana but just be wary of over consumption.
It’s a condition that is all too common for many of us…the 3pm slump. Surprisingly, making smart food choices can make some dramatic differences if you suffer from the 3pm slump. Firstly, you need to maintain an overall healthy diet – meaning fresh fruits, vegetables, protein, complex carbohydrates, nuts and grains, healthy fats, water and all in the right portions. Remember, food is what gives the body energy and without the right foods in your diet, your body simply won’t function at its best. Many people feel fatigued and also hungry when their blood sugar levels become low. So include some complex carbohydrates (such as oats, brown rice, potatoes) in your lunch, as they are slowly digested and help to maintain your blood glucose levels. Also, pick foods rich in protein (such as almonds or low fat natural yoghurt) for a mid
afternoon snack over sugar rich biscuits and cakes. The additional protein will help to stabilise your blood sugar levels and keep you feeling fuller as well as more alert and awake.
Lastly, consider your daily intake of caffeine. Although caffeine stimulates your body and initially makes you feel awake and focused, over use of the substance can lead to adrenal exhaustion, higher secretion of stress hormones and ultimately more fatigued then you previously were.
We are eating more than we have ever done so in the past.
In fact Australian Intake surveys have found that we are now eating over 200 calories per day more than we did 20 years ago!!
So why is this? One of the main reasons is that food portion sizes have gradually been increasing as a result of clever marketing. Manufacturers simply want us to eat more of their products and one of the easiest ways to do this is to make the products bigger (and therefore more expensive!)
Check out how some snack foods have increased over time;
Average serve size
20 years ago
Average serve size
These bigger serving sizes have happened gradually so for most of us we haven’t even noticed. In addition the original smaller sizes have been phased out to make room for the more profitable ‘king sized’ packets. So for most of us these ‘king size’ foods are now just the norm. As a result it is not surprising that most of us don’t know what an actual ‘standard serve’ is.
By learning to measure appropriate portion sizes you will be able to control your kilojoule/calorie intake much better as well as meet your nutrition requirements more appropriately.
What is a Standard ‘Serve’ – Measure your portions
Grains & starchy vegetables (600kJ/150calories per serve)
2 slices of bread; 1 medium bread roll; 1 cup cooked rice; ¾ cup cooked rice or rice noodles; 1 cup cereal; ½ cup muesli; 1 medium potato or 1 corn cob.
Non-Starchy Vegetables (100kJ/ 25 calories per serve)
½ cup cooked vegetables; 1 cup salad
**This group contains minimal kilojoules/calories so if you are hungry you can definitely have extra of these.
Fruit (300kJ/ 70 calories per serve)
1 medium piece of fruit e.g. apple, banana or orange; 2 small pieces of fresh fruit e.g. apricots, kiwifruit; 1 cup canned fruit; ½ cup juice; 5 dried apricots; 1 ½ tbsp. sultanas
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, legumes (600kJ/ 150 calories per serve)
100gmeat or chicken; 150g tofu; ½ cup mince or casserole; 2 small chops; 2 slices of roast meat; ½ cup cooked legumes; 130g fish; small tin of tuna/salmon; 2 eggs
Healthy Fats & Oils (150kJ/45 calories per serve)
1 tsp of margarine; 1 tsp oil e.g. olive, canola, flaxseed; 20g avocado;10g nuts;½ Tbsp LSA; 8 olives (no oil)/ 6 with oil; 1 tbsp seeds (eg sunflower, chia, pumpkin)
We have a special blog this week as we have a video blog. Coastal Bodies founder ‘Dan Henderson’ has had incredible success with a number of clients losing significant amounts under his guidance. Check out his ‘5 Biggest Nutrition tips for Fat Loss’.
Keeping a food diary is an extremely powerful tool in optimising your diet and changing your life for the better. It is a task that can initially seem arduous and monotonous but can deliver outstanding results in a short space of time.
The first question we must ask ourselves is ‘what is a food diary?’
A food diary is used to record everything you eat and drink.
It should include the following information about what you consume:
1. The type of food/drink
2. The amount of food/ drink
3. The calories of food/ drink
4. The activities carried out while eating/ drinking
5. Your thoughts and feelings before eating/drinking
The last two points are very important in identifying certain behaviours or habits when eating. After utilising a food diary it may become apparent that you eat too much when watching TV or that you eat a lot of foods high in sugar when you are tired. Look for patterns that are present that lead to the intake of too much food or the intake of unhealthy foods. For example, if you find that you are eating a chocolate bar regularly at 4 pm because you are tired, replace this with a food that is healthier and will provide better energy, i.e. an apple.
Constructing a food diary is easy. Just purchase a cheap exercise book and copy in these headings across the top of the page: Food Eaten, Amount Eaten, CaloriesActivities while Eating, Thoughts & Feelings
It is really this simple! Tally up your total calories at the end of everyday and check that this is a healthy amount for your age, height, weight and dietary goals. If more specific information is needed on your calorie intake, then contact us.
Now if you are really diligent, you can also add protein, carbohydrates and fat columns and record the breakdown of the food in these columns. This is a great way of checking that you are getting the correct nutritional breakdown.
The food diary will provide some great realisations. You will quickly become aware if you eat too much, or you too little vegetables or if your morning teas are full of sugar, etc.
Accountability is key to making the food diary work; show your food diary regularly to someone you trust. Let them know what foods you’re aiming to eat and what you’re avoiding. This will give you good motivation and ensure you keep your food diary regularly.