Author Archives: Michela DiTocco

Body Trim Diet- what’s it all about?

Over recent years there has been lots of information about many new diets and nutrition options. Today we are going to look at one of these diets, the Body Trim program.

Body Trim has been touted as a revolutionary weight loss system which educates you on how to lose weight quickly, easily and naturally without the aid of pills, tonics or shakes. It is an educational program, which is designed to help you understand how to eat, and guarantees permanent weight loss. It will also help to eliminate cravings, stop weight loss plateaus, convert your body into a fat burning machine, show you a permanent long term solution to weight loss, and increase your energy levels. It has been designed by Geoff Jowlett (former Personal Trainer of the year), along with dieticians and doctors.

The program is based around the 3 W’s – what to eat, when to eat and why. It promotes being able to still enjoy the foods you love, while being easy to follow and understand, and is tailored to help you achieve your weight loss goals.

The entire premise of this program is to consume 6 meals a day: 3 main meals and 3 protein snacks. The program is broken down into 3 phases:

Phase 1- This is a 3 day carbohydrate-free phase, where you are essentially detoxing. You are only allowed to consume protein for the entire 6 meals and there are many options provided to you to choose from.

Phase 2 – This is the weight loss phase and is targeted towards your personal weight loss goals. This phase is continued until you reach your ideal weight and allows you to eat 3 main meals (consisting of protein and salad or vegetables (not potatoes or starchy options), and 3 protein based snacks. You are allowed to consume 1 slice of bread for breakfast or lunch only. This is followed for 6 days and then you are given a free day. This is where you are allowed to eat whatever you like (within reason, watching your fat and sugar intake). After these 7 days you continue the cycle again, with Day 1 being a protein only day and days 2-6 mainly protein and vegetables.

This diet focuses primarily on what you eat, not on strenuous exercise; however, they recommend you must complete 10,000 steps each day (including a 30 minute walk).

Overall, this program has received very positive reviews from people who have taken up the offer and adopted this new way of life.

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Caffeine and Its Effects on Sports Performance

Caffeine and sports performanceCaffeine is considered one of the most commonly consumed products throughout the world. It is considered a drug in sport, due to its effects on our body’s nervous system; however, it is not illegal. As we know, the most common effect caffeine has is its ability to stimulate us, and keep us awake and alert. It also has many other effects which make it a popular sports aid.

Caffeine is not a prohibited substance in sport (as yet), and its use will vary across different sports, depending on the intensity of the activity and the athlete’s body-weight. The standard recommendation for caffeine intake is 3-6mg/kg of body-weight, normally taken one hour before endurance activities or high-intensity sports; this ensures adequate absorption by the body. Tolerance of caffeine must be considered while taking this as a sporting aid; regular coffee drinkers may need to take a break from caffeine in order for it to have its full effect during sporting activities. Those individuals who do not regularly consume coffee may need a lower dose, due to its stimulatory effects.

There are many sources of caffeine available to us, including coffee (the prime suspect), teas (black and herbal), cocoa, cola drinks, OTC (over the counter) tablets, and high energy drinks and sports drinks, which both contain guarana (a derivative of caffeine). All of these products should be taken under the supervision of a doctor, if you are on other medications (prescription or alternative), as they can interact.

Now let’s look at the effects caffeine has on sports performance. An average dose of 5mg/kg, taken 3-4 hours before intense exercise, will stimulate the oxidation of free fatty acids. This means it allows more glycogen to become available for your working muscles; however, this is thought to be limited to the first 15 minutes of exercise. The other effects caffeine has on sports performance include increased blood-flow to the central nervous system, giving you that feeling of alertness and awareness. Your body will also increase its adrenaline released through an increase in caffeine levels. This adrenaline will stimulate your muscles and improve your performance.

As it is widely published, caffeine also acts as a diuretic on our bodies. During short, intense activities this should not have an effect; however, during long endurance exercises its use can have a negative effect. Therefore adequate hydration techniques must be used.

Finally, it must be made clear that an excess amount of caffeine can have detrimental effects on your body and its performance. For example, an intake of 13mg/kg of body-weight or greater is considered dangerous to your health, as the risk of side-effects also increases. Such side-effects can include gastric distress, anxiety attacks, heart palpitations, and headaches.

Overall, taken in moderation for short or intense activities, caffeine can have some beneficial effects on your body’s performance. Carefully monitored, your body can improve its performance, agility and intensity during the activity and you can excel at your chosen sport or event.

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The Importance of Carbohydrate Eating for a Sporting Event

Foods, especially carbohydrates, play an important role in helping your body work at its optimal level when training or competing in a sport or event. The type and amount of carbohydrates, as well as the timing of your meals, can improve your performance and postpone fatigue and also improve recovery. To achieve the best carbohydrate fuelling in sport, there are 3 important phases: pre-event, during the event and post event. The timing of carbohydrate intake is important to glycogen stores, especially after exercise when the body is replacing lost glycogen.

Before the event

Before competing in a sport or an event you must ensure that your muscles are fully loaded with glycogen by ensuring you have had a sufficient carbohydrate intake the day before. Eating balanced meals the day prior to the sport or event is a great place to start; however, the final full meal before the event should be eaten 3-4 hours prior to the start. This is to allow for complete digestion and to allow for the carbohydrate to be broken down and absorbed into your body. The next important step before an event or sporting game is to consume 100g of a carbohydrate beverage 3 hours prior to the start; this is also to ensure that your muscles are completely loaded with glycogen. Finally, a snack can be eaten (if needed) 60 minutes prior to the start of the game or event (any closer and it can reduce your performance levels during the game/event). Remember to stay well hydrated leading up to the start of the event/game and finish your fluid 20 minutes before starting (as this is the time needed to allow your stomach to empty its contents). Each individual will have a different food intake to replenish their muscle glycogen stores. However, as a rough example, a 50kg person training 2 hours a day would require approx. 300g of carbohydrate per day. Simple carbohydrates are not recommended before an event to load glycogen levels; complex carbohydrates are important and if necessary professional sports fuelling products are acceptable.

During the event

Carbohydrate intake during an event is even more important, especially where the participant has had inadequate intake before the event. It has been shown that sipping a carbohydrate fluid while competing (where possible) can improve performance, rather than fruit juices, due to their high levels of fructose which can be hard for the body to absorb and like solid foods may cause gastric distress (an upset tummy) for some people.  It’s important to remember that fuelling during an event should be well practised: you should know which foods/fluids provide the best fuel source, which foods your body can tolerate while still competing, and how much is ideal for you.

After the event

Refuelling and replacing lost glycogen stores occurs in 2 phases: firstly a rapid phase and following that a second slow phase. The first phase occurs in the first 4-6 hours and is important due to the low, depleted muscle glycogen levels. After this initial phase a slow phase of 24-72 hours occurs to replenish the muscle stores. Where gastric distress is apparent after exercise it is recommended that you commence with water, then on to a carbohydrate fluid, followed by some fruit and then working up to a recovery snack. It has also been found that low GI foods are best for glycogen replenishment.

There are many great carbohydrate food options when training for an event. Some low GI foods include: fructose (from fruits), vegetables, soy beans, kidney beans, lentils, sweet potatoes, whole grain rice and pasta, oats and brown bread.  Some great ideas for recovery snacks include: professional hydration fluids, healthy snack bars, sandwiches, smoothies, fruit, crumpets, fruit bread, toasted sandwiches, vegetable soup and a roll, a bowl of cereal, fruit salad and yoghurt, or baked beans on toast.

Overall, it is important to understand these concepts when training, especially if you want to get the most out of your body during a game/event. Hydration also plays an important part in your performance and recovery and should be looked at also. Remember to eat carbohydrate-rich foods which will best meet your refuelling goals and train hard.

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Benefits of Fish

Fish is considered an important food that we should include in today’s diet and it has many positive benefits for our body. Most recent research has found the many health benefits fish has in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Fish can be described as rich in ‘brain selective’ nutrients such as omega-3 polyunsaturated fats (DHA & EPA), iodine, zinc, copper, iron, and proteins. Omega-3 is important in many functions of the body, including the production of blood platelets and red blood cells, improved blood clotting and blood vessel functioning, developing the retina, and brain development.

It is also believed that a diet rich in fish will help with circulation, concentration, memory, healthy eyesight and skin, and the prevention of some diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, coronary heart disease and stroke, Crohn’s disease and even some cancers.

It is recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia that men consume around 610mg of omega-3 per day and women around 430mg of omega-3 per day. Consuming this quantity of omega-3 through fish products is achievable through the many varieties of fish we have on offer at the fish markets. The higher the fat content of the fish, the more omega-3 is available per 100g. There are many excellent sources of omega-3, predominately found in fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, fresh and tinned tuna, flounder, cod, mackerel, swordfish and halibut, to name a few.

Overall, we should be eating fish 2-3 times a week, if not more, and cooking it in a healthy manner (not fried). This way we ensure that we are consuming adequate amounts of protein, omega-3 and other vital minerals our body needs to function at its optimal level, and are maintaining a well balanced diet.

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The Dukan Diet – Why The French Love It.

This is a diet devised by a French nutritionist Dr Pierre Dukan and has been around for over 10 years. It has been followed by many celebrities and for many people is a new way of life. This program allows you to lose weight and stabilise your weight loss in 4 stages, which are completely natural and simple.

The diet begins with a short attack phase, which is where you eat nothing but proteins (meats, poultry, fish, eggs and non-fat dairy). This sets the nature of the diet for your body and kick starts the initial weight loss in this stage, where you’ll see quick and immediate results (you can lose up to 3kgs in 5 days). This phase lasts anywhere from 1 day to 10 days (depending on your personal weight loss goals). The more weight you need to lose, the longer you need to stay in the attack phase. The main foods you eat during this initial phase include, lean beef, veal, rabbit, chicken, turkey, offal, ham (low fat), all fish varieties, shellfish, eggs (2 per day), non-fat dairy products (milk, yoghurt and cottage cheese). It is important to avoid all oils and butters, drink at least 1.5L of water per day, limit your tea/coffee intake, exercise at least 20 minutes every day and consume 1 ½ tablespoons of oat bran daily (as porridge, with yoghurt, or as a pancake).

The next phase is known as the cruise phase and is the main phase where you will gradually lose the weight (around 1kg per week) until you reach your goal weight. This is where you will alternate your days between pure protein, and protein and vegetables. This allows for more variety in your diet and continual weight loss results. The vegetables you can eat include: asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, eggplant, green beans, onions, pumpkin, lettuce varieties, spinach, and tomatoes, to name a few. They can be eaten either raw, boiled, steamed or baked. There are also some vegetables to avoid, like starchy potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, lentils, beans and avocado. Still during this phase you are to drink at least 1.5L of water per day, eat 2 tbspn of oat bran and exercise at least 30 mins each day.
Once you have reached your ideal weight the final stages begin, the consolidation phase. This is the period between dieting and normal eating and is where you re-introduce a few indulgences. Fruits, breads, cheese and starchy vegetables are allowed once again, and it is also advised in this stage that you have 2 free/unrestrained meals per week. You still also have one day of pure protein (every Thursday for example). It is still important to exercise at least 30 minutes every day and continue with your 2 tbspn of oat bran. During this stage you should not gain or lose any weight; it’s about managing your current weight and consolidating all the work you have done to achieve this new ideal weight.

Once you have completed the consolidation phase of the program, the permanent stabilisation phase begins. This is the phase where your body is in its new form and as long as you follow a few simple rules the weight will stay off and you can enjoy your new life. You can go back to eating other foods, prior to commencing the Dukan diet; however, use the principles from the consolidation phase to help you stay on track and still have your indulgence meals twice a week. Continue to have one pure protein day a week forever, drink at least 2L of water per day and continue to exercise 20 minutes every day (even a brisk walk is sufficient). If you get through the 4 stages and stick to this program you will definitely see the results. It’s not easy to change your eating habits, but in the long run your body will thank you for it and you will be healthier than ever.

The Acai Berry – The New Weight Loss Superfood

By Michela DiTocco
The Acai berry is a fruit from the Amazonian palm tree located in the Brazilian rainforest. It has been well publicised of its antioxidant effects, which are much greater than a lot of other fruits and berries available. It is naturally lower in sugar than some other fruits and can be consumed alone or in juices, smoothies or as a dietary supplements.  The Acai berry has 10 times more antioxidants than the average red grape and 10-30 times more than the flavenoids found in red wine.
The Acai berry has been known for its weight loss benefits and can be a great weight loss aid. This berry has a great composition of essential fatty acids (EFA), amino acids, fibre and phytosterols, which are important in increasing your metabolism, enhancing digestion and reducing appetite.  The EFA are needed by our body to maintain proper health and the Acai berry is rich in Omega 3 & 6 which the body can use to improve your metabolism. The amino acids found in the berry are the building blocks for proteins and your body uses these to build and regenerate muscles from resistance training and other exercises. The fibre is important in cleansing your digestive system and improving the absorption of nutrients in the body, while phytosterols are the body’s building blocks for cell membranes which help strengthen our digestive tract. All of these properties will help your body function at its optimal level and help your body lose weight through increased metabolism, increased energy levels and acting as an appetite suppressant.
This little berry does a lot more for you than its proclaimed weight loss effects. It also provides you with a sense of energy and well being. Many nutritionists claim that this berry helps to improve digestion, cleanse the intestines, support cardiovascular health, increase mental clarity, reduce insomnia, enhance vision, slow down the aging process, building muscles, improving the immune system and circulation, increase fat loss, improve injury and workout recovery, and finally increase energy levels. It is even believed that the high potency antioxidants found in this berry can possibly prevent certain forms of cancer.
As not all the health claims made about the Acai berry have been scientifically proven, there are no specific guidelines as to how to include this berry into your diet. Also the weight loss benefits are not equal to every individual and this product is sometimes difficult to obtain and can be expensive. There isn’t a specific “Acai berry weight loss diet” that you can follow. However, including this superfood with a well balanced diet will assist in your weight loss or improved general health, whichever you desire.