Lose your unwanted belly fat with coconut oil!

Coconut oil is one of the most weight loss-friendly fats in the world. Rich in a combination of fatty acids, it promotes optimal metabolism function which ultimately helps with weight loss!

Several studies show that by simply adding coconut oil to your diet, you can lose fat – especially the “dangerous” fat in your abdominal area, which has been linked to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

To learn more about how coconut oil can help you lose weight and belly fat, keep reading!

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Four ways that coconut oil helps with fat loss

#1: Coconut oil boosts your energy levels

Coconut oil is comprised mainly of medium-chain triglycerides AKA MCTs and lauric acid. This essential fatty acid metabolises differently in comparison to other saturated fats, such as those you find in dairy and meat products.

Your body doesn’t store MCTs as fat, but instead transports them directly to your liver, where they’re quickly converted into energy. So what does this mean for your weight loss efforts?

By adding two or three tablespoons to your daily dietary regimen, you’ll boost your energy levels by an average of 5% for a full 24-hour period! I find that adding coconut oil to my morning smoothie is the best way to get my energy kick for the day.

#2: Coconut oil decreases hunger and curbs pesky cravings

You already know that MCTs go directly to your liver during digestion. Not only does this provide your body with a natural energy boost, the processing of MCTs also forms keytone bodies, which have the added benefit of reducing hunger and curbing cravings.

I recommend enjoying two to three tablespoons of coconut oil each day to feel fuller for longer and to kick the habit of snacking on unhealthy foods between meals. You can enjoy the oil in tea, coffee, smoothies or directly from the jar!

#3: Coconut oil burns fat amazingly fast

Are you looking to reduce your daily caloric intake and lose weight faster without compromising your health? Well, then, you’re in the right place. Coconut oil enhances your body’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients so that you can eat less without feeling unsatisfied, tired or weak all the time.

Plus, because coconut oil is a natural mood enhancer, eating it daily will help you reduce your stress levels and feel more motivated to partake in heart-healthy activities, which will only help you burn off persistent fat stores even faster – bonus!

Consuming coconut oil regularly will power up your body’s fat-burning potential – especially for losing stubborn belly fat. It will also regulate your appetite, improve digestion and just make you feel great!

#4: Coconut oil helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels

Because your body absorbs coconut oil easily without the need for digestive enzymes, your pancreas is less stressed and able to produce insulin more effectively. Plus, as a saturated fat, coconut oil makes it easier for your cells to bind with insulin during digestion.

When your body has the required amounts of insulin, your cells get the glucose (or blood sugar) that they need to fuel your daily activities. So how exactly does this translate into belly fat loss?

A daily serving or two of coconut oil will help your body maintain healthy blood sugar levels by promoting the efficient use and production of insulin. As a result this will provide your cells with more glucose to give you energy and help you lose fat.

PS: Just remember – coconut oil is high in calories, so it’s important that you use it in moderation. I recommend limiting your intake to one or two tablespoons a day to avoid unwittingly sabotaging your weight loss efforts. Good luck!

Six things that help me conquer my sweet tooth over the festive season

Are you high? Before you say no, think about what you’ve put in your mouth lately. If it includes anything from thick, creamy milkshakes and rainbow-coloured cereal to chicken nuggets and cold cuts, there’s a pretty good chance you’re riding a sugar high right now.

 

Don’t feel bad – you’re not the only person buzzed with a sugar addiction right now. In fact, research shows that nearly a quarter of one’s daily caloric intakes – 325 calories on averages – comes from foods like baked goods, soft drinks, fruit juices and desserts. In other words, from sugar.

 

I find that year-end is the toughest time of the year to try and take control of your sugar cravings. Do you agree? Here are seven tips that help me take control of my sweet tooth that really work!

 

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Six ways to curb your sweet cravings this December

#1: Eat a decent breakfast every day

Did you know that 90% of sugar addicts skip breakfast? That’s right. They wait and get a big hit of sugar at around 10am. When you eat breakfast, you prevent the drop in blood sugar that makes you crave sugar later in the day. A hearty, nutritious breakfast doesn’t have to take you long to whip up – try a delicious low-calorie smoothie or avocado baked eggs.

#2: Choose fruit whenever you can

Satisfy your sweet tooth with bananas, apples, and berries; all of which temper natural sugar with fibre and loads of antioxidants. Dried fruit and fruit juices will also do in a pinch. Just be aware that they pack far more calories than fresh fruit. I limit myself to a quarter cup or less of dried fruit or one cup of fruit juice each day. Frozen fruit smoothies are another great healthy way to get your sugar fix.

 

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#3: Never cross the 150 calorie line!

So you’re at a Christmas party or a dinner and you simply can’t say no to a chocolate or a cupcake. Let’s be realistic – this happens! But when it does, be sure to stick to 100 to 150 calorie portions and 16 g of sugar or less.

#4: Plan your indulgences for right after dinner

You can’t toss out or give away all the sweet treats you get given for Christmas, I know. So the trick is to indulge in them at the right time – after dinner. Late-night sweet fixes give you a pure, unaltered sugar rush. Treat yourself right after dinner instead and you’ll reduce (though not counter) the insulin-spiking effect.

 

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#5: Cut out “overt” sugars as far as possible

Tackle the worst offenders first: Sucrose-laden treats! Yup, I’m looking you right in the eye, frappuccinos. If you drink sugary drinks like these every day, try get into the happen of having one every other day instead.

#6: Enter a sugar rehab

You’re an addict. Therefore, you need to detox before you can fully recover. It takes five days to fully overcome your cravings for sugar, and you’re bound to feel awful for about three of them. Prepare to be edgy and irritable while you resist temptation for the first three days. By day five, you’ll feel like a whole new person – I promise! And, you’ll have learned that a little sugar goes a much longer way than you previously thought.

I hope these tips work well for you. Good luck!

Five secrets to blending up creamy and delicious low-fat smoothies

Nothing sounds better on a hot day than a rich, creamy, fruity smoothie… Am I right? If your mouth waters at the thought of smoothies but the fitness freak inside you says too many calories!, don’t despair!

 

Smoothies, when done right, can have the texture of a double thick milkshake but the calories of a lunchtime salad. When done poorly, they can add to your waistline much faster than you think!

 

Here are my top tricks to blending up tasty low-fat smoothies.

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Five low-fat smoothie tricks

#1: Opt for fat-free dairy

The first secret behind a low-fat but rich and creamy smoothie lies in the use of low-fat or fat-free milk and yoghurt, which is often the base of creamy smoothies. This will give your low-calorie smoothie a creamy consistency without any fat or sugar. You can also use skim milk for a richer and more drinkable texture.

#2: Add shaved ice

Adding shaved ice to your drink will give it a lovely smooth consistency, minus the calories! This will give your smoothie a more drinkable texture.

#3: Use sugar substitutes

To further lower the calorie intake, you may also consider adding sugar substitutes. I personally love honey or stevia in my smoothies.

#4: Substitute yoghurt with juices

Adding juice instead of milk or yoghurt can also add to the texture of your smoothie. However, I recommend that you pass over the pasteurised type and stick to the juices made from fresh fruits. If you love smoothies and intend on making these diet drinks daily, then investing in a quality blender or juicer is the way to go.

#5: Use frozen fruits

My last secret to achieving low-fat yet creamy smoothies is adding frozen fruits to the drink. This will help you add more crunchiness and reduce the unpleasant texture. It’s easy to put in the wrong ingredients and end up with an almost undrinkable puree instead of a smoothie! Frozen banana and berries, for example, almost assure a velvety and rich concoction. Yum!

Happy blending!

Twelve things you can do to take back your health and lose weight at the same time

Are you looking to take back your health and lose weight at the same tips? Then I have just the tips for you. Prepare to sleep better, for your energy levels to climb, for your skin to glow, and to enjoy your meals, all while your excess weight melts away!

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Twelve effortless ways to melt away excess weight

#1: Start your day with a mug of warm water with lemon

This will help keep your digestive juices flowing. It also aids in morning hydration. To kick it up another notch, add apple cider vinegar for compounded health benefits like improved blood pressure and regulating the pH of your skin.

#2: Tune into your body and listen

Tune into your body and listen to it. Only eat when you feel hungry.

#3: Keep hydrated throughout the day

I recommend glugging down lemon water with a pinch of cayenne pepper. It’ll help your body flush out toxins. Aim to drink at least eight glasses a day.

#4: Make green smoothies your go-to breakfast

Have a green smoothie for breakfast four or five times a week. Here’s a recipe I like: 1 cup kale, 3/4 cup pineapple, 1 tablespoon hemp, 1 cup coconut water and ice. Starting your day with something green is a fantastic way to get nutrients early in the day.

#5: Balance out your meals

Balance your acid-forming foods, such as proteins like meat and eggs, with green vegetables. For example: If you’re having eggs for breakfast, have veggies too. There’s nothing better than scrambled eggs with parmesan and spinach (try this recipe of mine) or an omelette oozing with cheese, peppers, spinach and mushrooms. Yum!

#6: Drink a green juice every day

I highly recommend flooding your body with green juice! Ingredients like kale, cucumber, lemon and ginger will plant chlorophyll into your blood and body, which has remarkable anti-inflammatory and detoxing benefits.

#7: Limit or omit packaged and frozen foods

Snacking on whole fruits or vegetables, seeds and nuts is what I suggest instead. Packaged and frozen foods are loaded with colourants, sweeteners and preservatives. No thanks!

#8: Add iodine-rich vegetables into your diet

Sea vegetables are rich in iodine, which is great for your overall health. When you’re making soup, add seaweed. Otherwise, snack on nori chips. Yum!

#9: Limit your intake of animal protein

Swap out animal protein a few nights a week for pumpkin seeds, lentils and avocado.

#10: Make Sunday a soup day!

Make a batch of vegetable soup every Sunday and freeze leftovers for the nights that you might not have time to cook. Try out my filling, low-calorie detox soup – recipe here.

#11: Connect with nature every day

Try spending some time outside. Get your feet on the grass or on the earth, and you’ll positively affect your vibration. I call this “earthing”. Lying down with your head on the grass is another way to connect with the earth. It does wonders for both the mind and body.

#12: Dry-brush your skin before baths and showers

Use a soft skin brush to dry-brush your skin before every bath or shower. This will help remove dead skin cells and toxins that are escaping your body through your largest organ: Your skin.

Carbohydrates may be the single most important food to eat for weight loss! Wait, what?

Traditional thinking suggests that carbohydrates are bad for you – especially if you’re trying to lose weight.

 

But here’s something that might go against everything you’ve ever heard: Carbs might be the single most important thing you can eat for weight loss and overall health! This goes according to Dr Mark Hyman, an American doctor and New York Times best-selling author.

 

In fact, Dr Hyman recommends eating a high-carb diet. But, wait, don’t carbohydrates contribute to heart disease, insulin resistance and other health concerns?!

 

Yes, some do. But the truth is more complicated than that, apparently. I’ll tell you more…

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There are different types of carbohydrates

Turns out, the world of carbohydrates encompasses a huge category. A chocolate sundae and cauliflower both fall into the “carbs” category – yet they’re entirely different foods.

In fact, almost all plant foods fall into the carb category. These are what are known as “slow carbs” by Dr Hyman – low-glycaemic carbs that don’t spike your blood sugar. According to him, eating a cornucopia of high-quality, plant-based carbs provides multiple benefits, including high levels of vitamins and minerals, dietary fibre, and special plant compounds with healing compounds known as phytonutrients.

Unfortunately, though, most people don’t choose these healthy “slow” carbs. They eat quickly-absorbed carbs from sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and white flour, which the body very efficiently turns into belly fat.

The important difference is in how carbs affect your blood sugar, Dr Hyman says. Calorie-wise, sugar is different from calories that come from fat, protein or non-starchy carbs. Sugar scrambles all your normal appetite controls so you consume more and more, driving your metabolism to convert it into lethal belly fat.

High-fibre, low-sugar carbs, on the other hands, are slowly digested and don’t lead to blood sugar and insulin spikes. These carbs I speak of include cauliflower and broccoli, for example.

So that’s the key difference, according to Dr Hyman. Slow carbs heal rather than harm.

The benefits of eating slow carbohydrates

Ideally, about 75% of your carbohydrate intake should come from non-starchy vegetables and low-glycaemic foods. When you focus on these low-glycaemic plant foods, you reap the following benefits:

  • Weight normalisation
  • No sugar crashes
  • Reduced risk for numerous diseases

How to make optimal choices when it comes to eating carbohydrates

Let’s go beyond the are-they-bad-or-good confusion and classify carbs into four simple categories using traffic light colours to help you make better choices when adding this food group to your diet:

  • Green carbs: Eat all you want here! Slow-burning, low-glycaemic veggies like kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, asparagus and Brussels sprouts should be the basis of your diet. Seaweed is another smart choice.
  • Yellow carbs: Eat these moderately. These include whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat. They’re all nutrient-rich.
  • Red carbs: Go easy here. These include starchy, high-glycaemic cooked vegetables like peas, potatoes, corn, squashes as root vegetables. Portion these out and use them as treats rather than dietary staples.
  • Forbidden carbs: Skip carbs like dried fruit, gluten-containing grains and processed foods altogether, or use them very sparingly.

So is a low-carb diet never beneficial?

After reading about all of this about carbs for weight loss, you might be wondering if low-carb diets are ever beneficial. Especially if you’ve done well on one. The answer is yes.

While nearly everyone does well with slow carbs, there are some cases in which a very low-carb diet can be beneficial, Dr Hyman says. For people with type 2 diabetes, high blood sugar or lots of excess weight, you may need to restrict or cut out good carbs, even starchy fruit and veggies, for a period of time before returning them to your diet.

According to Dr Hyman, the trick involves gradually introducing slow carbs. As insulin sensitivity improves, you can increase your consumption of slow carbs like yams, fruit, lentils and whole grains from time to time.

Ten unique strategies to help you beat your chocolate cravings (yes, really!)

Halloween is only a few days away – will you be able to stop yourself from reaching for the sweet treats? Here’s a dose of reality that might have some effect on you: Studies show that people gain 2.5 kg or more during the holidays, and that they hold onto that weight…

 

Though the “holiday season” typically applies to the festive season, many people start indulging when the pumpkins come out – and don’t stop until the 1st of January! So, allow me to become the voice of reason right now: Those few minutes of sugary, gooey bliss aren’t worth the inevitable toll on your health, waistline and sanity.

 

These unique battle-tested tips will help you crush your cravings and avoid holiday weight gain!

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Ten effective ways to curb your chocolate cravings

#1: Keep the enemy out of the house!

This is rule number one. Know your enemy, which is chocolate in this case, and keep it out of your house, car, glove compartment, desk and anywhere else it will be a temptation.

#2: Pinch your nose or earlobes for ten seconds

This is an ancient acupuncture secret. Acupuncturists believe that pressure points restore balance in your energy, as imbalances and blockage of energy cause cravings.

#3: Use brighter bulbs in your dining room

Dim lights lower your inhibitions and let you feel better about eating more. 100 watt bulbs work well – just be sure your fixtures can handle them.

#4: Add vinegar to your diet

Apple cider or organic red wine fit the bill. Vinegar improves digestion by keeping food in your stomach longer, reducing the hunger hormone known as ghrelin. The result? You’ll feel fuller for longer!

#5: Up your magnesium levels

Intense chocolate cravings can be signs of magnesium deficiency. Eat more leafy green vegetables – they’re packed with this mineral. Otherwise, consider a magnesium supplement.

#6: Light a vanilla-scented candle

There’s a theory that the scent of vanilla reduces sugar and chocolate cravings, as immersing yourself in a scent all day will desensitise you. Reader’s Digest called it the “Christmas Dinner Syndrome” – when the person who’s been cooking doesn’t eat as much as their guests because they’ve been smelling dinner all day.

#7: Brush your teeth

Minty toothpaste cleanses your palate and will kill the taste of anything you crave. You’re fat less likely to snack if you’ve just brushed your teeth – anything you try will taste awful!

#8: Cut out sweeteners in your coffee

Sweeteners spike your insulin levels, which leave you with a huge drop later, causing you to crave more. If you must use a sweetener, try stevia.

#9: Eat balanced meals

You have cravings when you’re malnourished or stressed. If you’re nutritionally satisfied, your less likely to suffer intense cravings in the first place. Eat protein with every meal, and you’ll find yourself craving less unhealthy stuff throughout the day.

#10: Wait ten minutes

All – yes, all – cravings pass. If you can distract yourself for 10-15 minutes with a short burst of exercise, you’ll burn calories and release some endorphins while forgetting about that chocolaty treat! Try a brisk walk around the block, do 20 push-ups, or climb a few flights of stairs.

Here’s to a slimmer waistline this holiday season!

Here are four tricks for ordering a diet-friendly breakfast

No one wants to be that person eating egg whites while everyone else is tucking into French toast drenched in syrup and berries. I don’t know about you, but if I overdo it at Sunday breakfast, I usually wake up on Monday with serious food remorse.

 

To enjoy yourself at breakfast or brunch without going overboard, use these savvy strategies of mine!

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Four tips for ordering up a healthy breakfast

#1: Limit yourself to only one splurge

At breakfast, extras can add up quickly. A croissant with a smear of butter, a strip of bacon from your friend’s plate, a macaroon with your tea… You know what I mean. Before you know it, you’ve eaten your way into a serious calorie surplus.

Next time, plan in advance. Limit yourself to just one treat, like a few bite of your boyfriend’s hash brown. Then, savour it and stop there! Sure, it’s not as much fun as indulging in the yummiest things on the menu, but at least you won’t be totally depriving yourself.

#2: Make omelettes your go-to

Omelettes might not feel all that “diet-y”, but they kind of are. Put it this way – you can customise them to be lean. Nix cheese and bacon. Eggs alone have plenty protein, so no need for adding any extra. Add plenty of veggies like spinach, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms. You can even add avocado for some healthy fat.

Most restaurants serve omelettes with toast, which is okay, as long as it’s just one slice. If they serve you two, leave the other slice behind to avoid carb overload. Otherwise, if you can, swap the toast for a side salad.

#3: Order a side of fruit

Having an array of berries, cut watermelon or the like in front of you can keep you from digging into the muffin basket – and you’ll save a ton of calories! In addition to being chock-full of nutrients and fibre, fresh fruit is water-rich, which means there are fewer calories per bite compared with dry, pastry-type goodies.

Case in point: Just one mini blueberry or banana muffin contains around 100 calories, while a cup of cut sweet melon (about a tennis-ball size portion) packs only 50.

#4: Order a glass of bubbly instead of a mimosa

A glass of straight champagne actually has more calories than juice (125 versus 109), but cutting out the orange juice will slash your carb intake by about 5 g – from 8 g to 3 g. That’s significant!

Since you’ll be eating other starchy foods at breakfasts, and you may be lounging around after your meal rather than working out, you won’t want those excess carbs, which your body will end up storing as fat.