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May 17, 2022by ben.g.differ

Creating A Positive Relationship With Food

In partnership with Dineamic

 

What is mindful eating?

Mindful eating involves focusing on the present moment, whilst acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. – which pretty much means we need to register that we are eating…. so no eating at your desk or in front of the TV! 

Fundamentally mindful eating involves eating slowly and without distraction,  – and we all know how distracting your fav show is – listening to hunger cues and feeling full, engaging your senses – what colours are on your plate, what does it smell like, coping with negative feelings of guilt towards food, eating for health, and appreciating your food!

Why is mindful eating important?

In the world we live in we are constantly distracted by technology that’s at our fingertips, buzzing on our wrist or on the screen in front of us. This applies at meal time too, meaning our brains are less likely to register that it’s meal time! So eating has become a mindless act, you’re probably thinking well I don’t need my brain to eat, that’s my stomach’s job! Mmm if only it was that simple. Mindful eating allows your whole body to tune in and register that you are eating, helping with hunger and fullness cues therefore can avoid overeating or undereating. 

Being mindful and having a positive relationship with food are so important in both your physical and mental well being, because in this diet-obsessed, media-crazed, comparative society we live in, it’s easy to see how negative relationships with food started. We’ve been fed misleading information, shown unrealistic body shapes and sizes, focused on numbers, and labeled food groups. Potentially allowing us to lose sight of the importance of food to us physically and mentally, damaging our relationship with food. This relationship is one that holds so much to our happiness, as eating is one of the few things that brings humans pure pleasure and should be taken seriously. 

So do you have a positive relationship with food? don’t rush this one, have a long hard think and while you ponder on this question, have a read over 9 aspects that create a healthy relationship with food.

  1. Understanding food for your physiological and emotional needs

To create a positive relationship with food, we firstly need permission to eat. Diet mentality has taken away this permission, disconnecting us from our mind and body. We need to eat for our physiological needs first, listening to our body’s cues when we are hungry. And then consuming appropriate macro and micronutrients to meet the recommended daily intake and then finish eating when the body and the mind are satisfied. Secondly, we need to meet our emotional needs, as food isn’t just power for our bodies but pleasure and is the gateway to positive experiences and feelings.

  1. Positive self talk

Don’t be a bully, beating yourself up doesn’t help anybody and it leads to anxiousness and stress. Positive self-talk is an important part of life and is equally important when it comes to food. It has benefits for yourself and those around you. With this, we need to unlabeled food groups, as it leads to feeling guilty. We need to make good choices for our bodies and trust that our bodies know what to do with this food. 

  1. Relaxed eating and mealtime

Creating meal times reinforces to your body and mind that you are eating. This allows us to relax while we are eating, meaning we can be attuned to our hunger. This gives us the ability to listen and satisfy our hunger, allowing pleasure and absence of guilt. Relaxed eating allows us to eat when we are hungry and stop when we are satisfied. Mealtime for many people is slowly being lost – with busy lifestyles, people throw it out the window first. This decreases our appreciation for the food we are eating and not allowing our bodies to recognise that we are eating.

  1. Satiety vs feeling full

Once we are relaxed we create the opportunity to be in tune with our body, listening to cues from our bodies that we are satisfied. There is a difference in satiety vs feeling full, slowing our eating and taking time to understand this difference can help with overeating. 

  1. Emotional eating

Are you hungry or are you tired or stressed? Before you walk to the pantry, take a minute to think and listen to your body, remember the natural feelings of hunger do they match? Humans have been using food as comfort for years, we use food as a tool for numbing what is happening around us. This leads back to food bringing us pleasure which is great, but this is a short term fix. The real question is why are you stressed and why are you tired?

  1. No rules!

Rules are made to be broken, meaning dietary restraint is temporary. When we sign ourselves up to a FAD diet, we are briefed on foods to eat that don’t always satisfy, but we consume as a tool for weight loss. Leaving us in an unfulfilled or empty state of mind, leading to relapse. It’s why FAD diets don’t stick. We have to be realistic to ourselves, and set goals that are achievable long term. This will lead to a dietary lifestyle that works for you, “everything in moderation” makes sense as there is a place for everything you are eating. 

  1. Be flexible

With no rules, we can be flexible! Because realistically we are going to be in situations we want to indulge or where our ideal meals aren’t available. Being flexible means you let go of food “labels” and allow yourself to make different choices, indulge in food and not beat yourself up or feel guilty. It allows you to be spontaneous and live in the moment. 

  1. Don’t compare

Us humans are constantly comparing ourselves to others, including our plates. We are unique individuals who have different emotional and physiological needs when it comes to food, what works for us doesn’t always work for others. We have to let go of what our friends are doing and do it for ourselves.  

  1. Food + Body + Self 

This is a three-way love triangle that we have to pay more attention to, we need to take ourselves seriously and look after our bodies. Fill it with as much goodness as possible to thank them for working so hard for us every day.

With these tips we hope you can answer this question to yourself truthfully, allowing you to reflect or re-evaluate your relationship with food. We hope you can battle obstacles, celebrate wins and be positive, but most of all we wish you and your relationship with food a happy ever after.

 


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May 17, 2022by ben.g.differ

If you exercise regularly then you are no stranger to discomfort or soreness post workout. This may come in the form of tightness or as delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS as we know it). This is particularly common for those who are new to exercise or are returning to working out after a long absence.

 Everyone experiences different levels of soreness and some might wonder, is it ok to continue to exercise when you’re sore? When should you rest? When should you recover? This would all depend on the severity of soreness you’re experiencing. There are benefits to working out when sore and if programmed right, active recovery may actually help with the soreness.

Before you dive straight into your next session though, it’s important to understand the difference between muscle soreness and injury. Discomfort or DOMS after a workout usually subsides after around 48 to 72 hours. Other symptoms that don’t seem to decrease after this time, such as swelling, pain, bruising, tingling or numbness and a loss of function to that area, may imply something more is going on and should be assessed.

 

What are the benefits?

Stretching out sore muscles, and doing some cardio to increase the blood flow around sore areas can help to ease some of the pain and discomfort, that is, as long as you’re not over stressing the same sore muscles.

If you are going to continue to exercise when sore, it’s important to focus on working different muscle groups in your next workout. For example, doing a lower body workout the day after a cardio session or an upper body weights session. Allowing ample recovery time for sore muscles ensures you’re giving your body enough time for all the adaptations to occur, and not running the risk of possibly causing damage to those muscles.

A great way to stay active and keep working out while sore is to change up the focus of each workout you complete. The rule of thumb is to allow 48 hours between working out the same muscles. So, if you’re doing an upper body weights session on one day for example, aim to go for a run or do a cardio session the next day.

Functional training programs, such as our Body Fit Training sessions are designed to alternate between lifting weights and doing some high intensity cardio, and therefore allow for ample recovery time.

Take caution!

Although it is OK to continue to workout while sore, caution must be taken. If the discomfort hasn’t subsided over 48-72 hours it would be wise to allow your body to recover for a little longer before jumping into another session. You want to be sure you’re not causing any damage to your muscles or risking injury by not allowing your body to fully recover.


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March 24, 2022by ben.g.differ

As this 8-week challenge comes to a close, you may be wondering what the future holds in store for you. While you can achieve a lot in 8 weeks, weight change and body composition are something you may wish to continue working on long term. Will you be able to keep up your good habits from the challenge without the ‘structure’ and support provided? Or will you slowly slip back into bad habits?

We hope the former! And we have some tricks to help you continue your healthy eating habits post-challenge:

 

Continue to follow the BFT meal plans post challenge
The BFT meal plans and shopping lists you have been following will continue to be available on your challenge portal, until a few weeks prior to the commencement of our next challenge. If you thrived on these plans, and enjoyed the structure and variety, why not continue to follow them? Start back at week one, and off you go! 

Some ingredients, particularly seasonal fruits, may be unavailable – simply swap them with an equivalent portion on other fruits (i.e. swap one peach for one pear, and 2 figs for 1 orange). Alternatively, you can use frozen fruit to replace fresh fruits, where available (i.e. mango).
OR, continue to practice healthy habits and skills learned during the challenge

If you’d prefer to let go of structure, that’s ok too! Instead, you may wish to continue some of the healthy practices you adopted that make the healthy choice the easy choice.

For example, the practice of planning your meals and shopping lists in advance. This habit may help you avoid impulse purchases at the supermarket, and poor food choices during the week due to lack of fresh ingredients at home. You can use your favourite recipes from the BFT portal, plus your own recipes, to plan as many meals as you like during the week. 

Another healthy habit you learned during this challenge is meal prep. Meal prep – particularly for lunches and dinners during the week, can save you time AND increase your chances of consuming healthy, portion controlled, home cooked meals (as opposed to running out of time and consuming convenience foods, takeaway, or poor food choices). You can follow the meal prep structure set our during the challenge (i.e. bulk cook your work-week lunches, and cook two portions of each dinner meal), or create your own meal-prep routine to best suit your lifestyle.
Continue to use your BFT nutrition resources

Your BFT portal includes many excellent resources that you can use to inspire food choices post challenge. For example, our ‘healthy snack’ guide, and our ‘easy meal ideas’ guide. And, of course, we recommend continuing to follow our ‘being treat wise’ guidelines for flexible eating, eating out, and alcohol intake.
Keep setting goals 

Setting small targets to reach is extremely motivating, and keeps you accountable. It also breaks up the larger journey, making your goals seem more tangible and achievable. Set yourself targets post challenge for the next 8 weeks (or beyond) with a new target each fortnight, or each month. These may be weight/body composition specific targets (i.e. you may wish to continue EVOLT scanning), exercise-specific targets, or food specific targets. 

If you reach these targets, great! If you don’t, make sure you assess why, and try to find a solution. This may mean speaking to your BFT team, or us – The Nutrition Code – for some extra assistance.
Continue to avoid temptation 

If you survived in a house without Tim Tams for the duration of your challenge, do you need to bring it back now? If you know you can’t resist temptation, bringing your favourite treats back home is asking for trouble. Continue to stock your pantry with the foods you enjoyed during the challenge, and if you need more variety, use the skills you learnt from the challenge to search for healthy alternatives.
Stay accountable 

One of the main benefits of participating in a challenge, and one of the reasons why they are so successful, is accountability. This includes accountability to your BFT trainers, your BFT team members, and your friends or family participating with you/supporting you throughout the challenge.

In fact, studies have shown that when participating in a weight loss program, those who tackled the journey in pairs or teams up to 20% more likely to complete the program and up to 42% more likely to maintain the weight loss, compared with those who flew solo.

The challenge may be over, but try to keep that ‘accountability effect’ going. Grab a friend or friends from your BFT challenge team, and commit to regular times each week to attend a BFT class. Discuss your goals with your BFT trainers, and ask them to check in with you frequently. If you need more accountability from a nutrition point of you, reach out to The Nutrition Code team for personalized advice.
Congratulations on an incredible effort, we can ’t wait to see your transformations.

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March 17, 2022by ben.g.differ

Historically, humans have survived and even thrived with thanks to processed foods. For example, there is evidence of ancient civilizations using salt curing for preserving food – necessary for surviving winters, weather changes, and long journeys.

In 1810, Frenchman Nicolas Appert invented ‘canning’ (at the time, a glass jar sealed with a cork), allowing Napoleon Bonaparte to sustain his armies on the road with long-lasting food. Refrigeration and freezing for food preservation were introduced in the early 1900’s, allowing perishable foods to be transported ‘unspoiled’ across large distances, feeding growing populations.

In recent years more advanced food processing methods, including the introduction of food additives, allowed suppliers to produce mass quantities of food whilst preserving taste and shelf life. However, the impact of these processing techniques on health was not widely researched or shared with the public. 

However, in 2009 a team of Brazilian researchers from the University of Sao Paulo, headed by Carlos Monteiro, famously linked a global increase in obesity and chronic disease to food processing practices. In 2016, Monteiro developed the NOVA classification system, which categorizes foods according to the extent and purpose of industrial processing.

The four categories outlined include:

01. Unprocessed or minimally processed foods:

Unprocessed ‘wholefoods’ include raw, edible parts of plants (fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds) and animals (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk). Minimally processed foods include natural foods altered to remove inedible parts or for preservation, without the addition of salts, sugars, fats or additives. For example, milled oats, polished rice, flours, pasteurized milk, dried fruits and vegetables, dried pasta, fermented dairy (i.e. yoghurt), roasted nuts.

02. Processed culinary ingredients:

Includes butter, salt, oils, sugar, honey, vinegars. May contain additives for preserving, such as antioxidants.

03. Processed foods:

Includes wholefoods prepared by adding sugars, salts or fats, primarily for preservation. Includes fresh bread, cheese, salt-cured and smoked meat and fish, canned fish, canned fruits and vegetables, good quality dark chocolate. May contain additives for preserving, such as antioxidants.

04. Ultra-processed foods (UPFs):

Industrial formulations with five or more ingredients, including added sugars, fats, salts, preservatives and a host of things that ‘grandma wouldn’t recognize’ (i.e. artificial flavours, artificial sweeteners, stabilizers, preservatives, emulsifiers and more). Often, the proportion of ‘real food’ is very small, and/or modified from its original state (i.e. instead of wheat, there is maltodextrin). Additives are used for taste, flavour and appearance, not just for preservation.

 

What are the health implications of UPFs?

Firstly, they are often high in ‘empty calories’ – i.e. they are high in refined sugars, fats and/or non-nutritive substances, and low in vitamins, minerals, fibre and beneficial nutrients. This is concerning, especially when UPFs replace nutrient rich foods (i.e. choosing a diet mousse instead of an apple). Furthermore, enhanced flavours and a low satiety factor may drive appetite, excessive eating and food addiction (think Pringles – once you pop you can’t stop!).

Secondly, studies show that we absorb more energy from UPFs compared with unprocessed foods (i.e. peanut butter VS whole peanuts), supporting the theory that all calories are NOT equal. One reason for this – processing breaks down ‘bulky’ nutrients into smaller parts, and removes fibres and other compounds that might block absorption in the gut.

Considering the above, it’s not surprising that observational studies have linked diets high in UPFs with obesity and diabetes. Also, a recent French cohort study of over 100,000 middle-aged adults, whose dietary habits were followed from 2009-2017, showed that every 10% increase in consumption of UPFs was linked to a 12% increase in cancer risk. Although these studies cannot prove ‘causation’, most experts agree that high consumption of UPFs is not great for your health.

Furthermore, scientists are still researching the effects of individual food additives on health. For example, the impact of artificial sweeteners on gut microbiome, appetite, and sugar cravings. Artificial colours, flavours and preservatives (i.e. sulphites) are also known to cause allergy, intolerance and behavioral side effects in some adults and children.

Last but not least, food processing changes the structure of nutrients, so that they behave differently. For example, naturally occurring soluble fibres, such as beta-glucans in oats, work together with naturally occurring antioxidants to reduce LDL cholesterol. When similar soluble fibres are extracted and added artificially to UPFs, this benefit is lost or reduced significantly.

 

Benefits of a short term ‘detox’ from UPFs:


A single Mars bar is unlikely to kill you. And, banning UPFs altogether, forever, is as unnecessary and it is unrealistic. But, as you can see, there are convincing arguments for cutting back. A short term ‘detox’ can help to reduce your intake in the long term by:

  • Retraining your brain and your tastebuds to enjoy the natural flavours of wholefoods, and reduce your cravings for ‘enhanced’ flavours. For example, reaching for fruit rather than lollies to satisfy your sweet tooth, and appreciating the flavour of natural rather than sweetened yoghurt.
  • Establishing new healthy habits, such as preparing your own meals, snacks and condiments from scratch.
  • Having positive outcomes, such as fat loss, improved energy levels and a general feeling of wellness. This may convince you that cutting back on UPFs is worth the sacrifice!

How to cut back on UPFs:


As discussed above – UPFs are packaged foods with long ingredient lists, including compounds that you wouldn’t normally find in your kitchen. It can sometimes be tricky to separate ‘processed foods’ from UPFs, but as a general guide, if a product has more than five ingredients and/or any ‘numbers’, put it down. This includes most diet foods, artificial sweeteners including stevia, and formulated supplementary foods (i.e. protein powders and bars).

Vegans and dairy-free members may have unflavoured, fortified plant milks (which may have a long list of ingredients due to essential nutrient fortification), and ‘clean’ protein powders in order to meet protein targets (i.e. RAW Amazonia, Bondi Protein).

If you are following the 8WC meal plans, you won’t need to change a thing – it has been designed to keep consistent with the ‘no processed food’ mini challenge.If you are following your own healthy eating plan, we suggest using the sample table below to guide you in choosing wholefoods, and cutting out processed foods. We suggest referring to the 8WC meal plans and recipes for inspiration. You can also check out the search engine, which offers a health ranking of foods, including whether or not it is  ‘ultra-processed’  at https://world.openfoodfacts.org/

For further support, or if you have a question about cutting back on sugar, contact The Nutrition Code dietitians

Further reading:

 

CEREALS

Ultra-Processed – Avoid

  • All processed cereals, flakes, granolas and flavoured quick oats

Wholefood or minimally processed – Include

  • Rolled oats
  • Natural bircher muesli (just oats, nuts and seeds, dried fruit)
  • Weet Bix

BREADS & GRAINS

Ultra-Processed – Avoid

  • Most supermarket breads
  • Refined crispbread (i.e. Savoy, Ritz, Salada)
  • Instant noodles
  • Ravioli, tortellini and processed filled pasta
  • Instant rice and flavoured rice pouches

Wholefood or minimally processed – Include

  • Authentic sourdoughs with or without grains from a bakery, or GF alternatives
  • Fresh or dried plain pasta
  • Wholegrain crispbread (i.e. Vita Weat, Ryvita)
  • Raw rice, quinoa, cous cous, freekeh and wholegrains
  • Wholemeal, spelt, buckwheat and other wholegrain flours

FRUIT & VEGETABLES

Ultra-Processed – Avoid

  • Fruit snacks, including straps
  • Reconstituted Juices
  • Vegetable chips

Wholefood or minimally processed – Include

  • Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables fruit (canned fruit in natural juice only)
  • Sun-dried fruit and vegetables
  • Fresh juices
  • Olives

DAIRY & DAIRY ALTERNATIVES

Ultra-Processed – Avoid

  • All flavoured, sweetened yoghurt
  • Sweetened plant milks
  • Ice cream, custard and dairy desserts
  • Processed cheese (i.e. singles slices, stringers, cream cheese)
  • Processed dairy dips

Wholefood or minimally processed – Include

  • Unsweetened Greek or natural yoghurt
  • Unflavoured milk
  • Unsweetened plant milk*
  • Natural and pasteurized cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, babybel

PROTEINS

Ultra-Processed – Avoid

  • Processed, packaged meats – sausages, deli meats, hamburger patties, nuggets, schnitzels
  • Fish fingers and frozen, crumbed fish
  • Flavoured tofu and tempeh
  • Meat substitute products (i.e. vegan sausages, patties etc)

Wholefood or minimally processed – Include

  • Fresh, lean meat, chicken, fish and eggs
  • Smoked fish (i.e. smoked salmon)
  • Organic smoked meats – check to see how many additives
  • Unflavoured Tofu and tempeh
  • Fresh whole roast chicken (stuffing removed)
  • Plain Quorn mince (vegan)

SNACK FOODS

Ultra-Processed – Avoid

  • Trail mix with chocolate and sugar-sweetened fruit
  • Sweet and savory biscuits
  • Novelty chocolate and chocolate bars
  • Muesli bars
  • Lollies
  • Chips
  • Popcorn
  • Savoury snacks (grain waves, bagel crisps)
  • Protein bars and powders
  • Diet snacks (i.e. mousses, bars)

Wholefood or minimally processed – Include

  • Raw or roasted nuts and seeds
  • Homemade bliss balls, muesli bars, muffins and slices using wholefood ingredients
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Good quality dark chocolate (i.e. Lindt 70% Noir)

SAUCES, FLAVOURINGS & CONDIMENTS

Ultra-Processed – Avoid

  • Tomato sauce, barbeque sauce and American mustard
  • Pasta sauces and recipe bases
  • Gravies
  • Asian Sauces (i.e. oyster, teriyaki, sweet chilli, kecap manis)
  • Sriracha and sweet chilli
  • Mayonnaise – full and low fat
  • Jams
  • Traditional peanut butter, vegemite, Nutella and other processed spreads
  • Salad dressings
  • Dips
  • Stocks and stuck cubes

Wholefood or minimally processed – Include

  • Fresh and dried herbs and spices
  • Natural Mustard (i.e. Dijon, wholegrain)
  • Tinned tomatoes, tomato paste and tomato passata
  • Soy sauce, Miso paste
  • 100% nut/seed spreads
  • Avocado
  • Vinegars
  • Curry paste and pesto – check to see additives
  • Lemon and lime juice
  • Honey and pure maple syrup

CANNED, FROZEN & PRE-MADE MEALS

Ultra-Processed – Avoid

  • Baked beans and tinned spaghetti
  • Instant noodles
  • Frozen and canned meals
  • Most canned soups and condensed soups

Wholefood or minimally processed – Include

  • Plain tinned legumes, vegetables, olives
  • Tinned tuna in oil or springwater
  • Fresh vegetable soup pouches and some long-life pouches (i.e. La Zuppa)

BEVERAGES

Ultra-Processed – Avoid

  • Soft drinks and energy drinks – sugar and artificially sweetened
  • Iced Tea
  • Cordials, vitamin waters and sports drinks
  • Reconstituted fruit juice
  • Flavoured milk, hot chocolate, smoothies
  • Sachet and powder drinks (i.e. Jarrah)
  • Alcoholic cocktails

Wholefood or minimally processed – Include

  • Water
  • Unsweetened tea and coffee
  • 100% fresh fruit and vegetable juice
  • Smoothies made with whole ingredients
  • Wine, beers or straight spirits
  • Soda water
  • Protein shake made with unflavoured protein powder and whole food ingredients

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March 4, 2022by ben.g.differ

 

 

Like many of you, we enjoy starting my mornings with a comforting cup of coffee – strong oat latte, please!

Based in Melbourne, it’s no secret that we have a top-notch coffee culture, which is admired worldwide. We’re here to answer some coffee related queries, you may have been brewing over (pun intended).


Does coffee contain antioxidants?

Coffee is shown to contain large amounts of several powerful antioxidants, including hydroxycinnamic acids & polyphenols, and is one of the highest dietary contributors of antioxidants in the western diet due to the amount we consume compared to other antioxidant-rich foods. 1, 2, 3.

Hydroxycinnamic acids are potent antioxidants that are great at fighting free radicals 4, while the polyphenols in coffee have shown to help fight a range of diseases 5, 6, 7, fight free radicals, protect your skin from UV radiation, and promote brain health 8.

Does coffee “burn fat”?

Coffee contains a range of active ingredients, with the big one being caffeine. These active ingredients can boost metabolic rate and the oxidisation of fatty acids in the body 9, 10, both of which can promote fat burn in the body 11, 12, 13.


Can drinking coffee reduce the risk of disease?

It may surprise you that yes, this is true! Various studies have linked the consumption of coffee to a (sometimes significant) reduction in the risk of developing a range of diseases including;

  • Type 2 diabetes 14, 15, 16, 17
  • Liver cirrhosis 18, 19, 20
  • Colorectal & live cancer 21, 22
  • Heart Disease & stoke 5, 23, 24, 25
  • Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s disease 26, 27, 28, 29

Before you start guzzling coffee like its water, it does still come with some negative effects! Excessive consumption of caffeine has been linked to adverse effects such as impaired sleep, anxiety, restlessness, heart palpitations and even impaired fine motor control 30. We all have varying caffeine tolerances, but if you want to avoid experiencing these negative side-effects, it may be best to stick to 1 or 2 cups a day. If you don’t want to cut coffee completely, use this mini caffeine free nutrition challenge to cut back your intake and see how it works for you.


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March 3, 2022by ben.g.differ

Are you a caffeine obsessed, ‘don’t talk to me before coffee’ type of person? Would you even go as far to say, you’re ‘addicted’ to it? And – is that a problem?

A daily dose of caffeine – are there any benefits?

When it comes to coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages, the news is not all bad. In fact, some studies have suggested that coffee drinkers live longer. For example, two large studies conducted in Europe and the USA demonstrated that participants who drank two or more cups of coffee per day were 7-18% less likely to suffer a premature death from heart disease, cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes and kidney disease.

However – were these positive findings related to caffeine? Or something else?

In both studies, decaffeinated coffee yielded the same results, meaning that the health benefits of drinking coffee are more likely a related to antioxidant activity, not caffeine. Coffee is rich in polyphenols, the same antioxidants found in extra virgin olive oil, dark chocolate and red wine.

So – are there any benefits specific to caffeine?

If you’re a new or non-habitual drinker, caffeine can support improved physical performance, endurance and exertion by reducing your perception of pain. Caffeine also increases adrenaline and dopamine signalling, which can benefit mood and concentration – if taken in moderation (high doses can cause ‘overstimulation’, blurring your senses). Furthermore, some studies have shown that 200mg caffeine in ‘novice’ drinkers (i.e. two espressos) can lead to a minor increase metabolism.

However, these effects are only short lived. Habitual users of caffeine will develop a tolerance to it, to the point where the only benefits you will achieve reliably are ‘wakefulness’ and ‘alertness’. And, you may find yourself needing more and more caffeine in order to achieve even that! In fact, regular caffeine intake can downregulate your dopamine production, meaning that you needyour cuppa in the morning just to achieve a ‘normal’ level of focus.

Are there any downsides?

The most common consequences of regular or excessive caffeine intake are insomnia, and ‘see-sawing’ energy levels. It’s a tricky situation, because the more tired we feel, the more often we reach for a coffee… which gives us a buzz followed by a slump. So – we reach for another, but it’s too close to bed and now we can’t sleep, we wake up tired…  what a vicious cycle!

Other signs of too-much caffeine include:

  • Anxiety and a rapid heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Heartburn and reflux
  • Stomach upset
  • Frequent urination

Perhaps you are experiencing these symptoms, but are yet to identify caffeine as a collaborator or trigger?

When discussing caffeine and health, it’s also worth mentioning the impact it can have on our calorie intake and food choices. For example, do you drink your tea and/or coffee with added sugar, syrups, or dare we say – butter (i.e. ‘bulletproof coffee’)? Do you have a full cup of milk with it (i.e. a latte?). Do you have a biscuit or pastry alongside it? And do you get sugar cravings after the caffeine ‘buzz’ wears off? And, if your ‘poison of choice’ is caffeinated energy drinks, think about the sugars or artificial sweeteners involved. How do these nutrition outcomes affect your BFT challenge goals?

Why should you consider a caffeine ‘detox’?

A two-week break is enough to reduce your caffeine ‘tolerance’. Afterwards, you can expect to enjoy all the benefits of caffeine without needing to consume as much. This is especially useful if you suspect caffeine is having side effects, and/or negatively affecting your nutrition.  In fact, experts regularly recommend caffeine detoxes, and/or caffeine ‘cycling’, for these very reasons.

How it works:

For this two-week ‘no caffeine’ mini-challenge, we will focus only on drinks and supplements. These include:

  • Coffee: espresso and café style, instant, sachets
  • Tea: all black tea and black tea blends (including English breakfast, earl grey, chai), green tea
  • Energy drinks: V, V No Sugar, Red Bull etc
  • Pre workouts or sports supplements with caffeine

You are able to have decaffeinated versions of the above, and herbal teas.

We understand that simply ‘quitting’ caffeine is difficult to do! Here are a few tips to help you succeed and minimise withdrawal effects:

  1. Prepare in advance: You should be notified of this upcoming mini challenge prior to it’s start date. We suggest slowly cutting down on your caffeine intake in advance. Slash your intake by 50% each day for the first few days, and then by 50% again. For example, if you consume x2 coffees per day, first cut back to x1 coffee per day for 3 days, and then cut back further to only x1 coffee every second day. The following week, you may be ready for a complete detox.
  2. Ease yourself into it: If you haven’t prepared in advance, consider following the guidelines above for the first week of the mini-challenge. For the second week of the challenge, you may be ready for a complete detox.
  3. Prioritise sleep: Many of us coffee-drinkers are in the habit to combat fatigue. If you prioritise sleep for these two weeks, hopefully the urge to grab a latte on your way into work will be less?
  4. Eat well and stay hydrated; If you; a) cut back on sugar; b) eat a balanced diet that includes lean protein, low GI carbohydrate, plant fibre and healthy fats,and; c) drink enough water, this will help to stabilise your energy levels and ward off caffeine cravings. If you are following our 12WC meal plans, you’re all sorted!
  5. Fake it till you make it: Switch to decaffeinated versions, if that helps!

For further support, or if you have a question about cutting back on caffeine,  contact The Nutrition Code dietitians via Facebook or email ([email protected])

For further reading:

https://examine.com/nutrition/science-behind-caffeine/

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/coffee-health-benefits-longer-life-2017-7?r=US&IR=T


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February 24, 2022by ben.g.differ

What is a recommended weight loss / fat loss?

The recommended/realistic rate of total weight loss is from 0.5kg to 1kg per week.

The recommended/realistic rate of body fat percentage loss is approximately 0.25-1% 

Small losses in lean muscle may occur, but the goal is to lose more body fat than lean muscle.

Weight loss encompasses both body fat and lean muscle. Sadly, it’s very difficult to lose body fat only. However, if you keep your total weight loss within the range above (i.e. slow and steady) and your calorie deficit is limited to 250-500 calories per day, combined with adequate training and protein/macro intake, you are less likely to lose body muscle and more likely to lose body fat.

What is a recommended rate of muscle gain?

The realistic rate of lean muscle gain per month for men – beginners: 1 – 1.5% body weight

The realistic rate of lean muscle gain per month for men – intermediate: 0.5 – 0.75% body weight

The realistic rate of lean muscle gain per month for women – beginners: 0.5 – 0.75% body weight

The realistic rate of lean muscle gain per month for women – intermediate: 0.25-0.375%

Small increases in body fat may occur, but the goal is to gain more lean muscle than body fat

Just like fat loss will come with small decreases in lean muscle, lean muscle gain will come with small increases in body fat and total body weight, due to the overall calorie surplus. However, if you keep your calorie surplus controlled to a maximum of 250-500 calories per day, combined with adequate strength training and protein/macro intake, you can minimise body fat gain and maximise lean muscle gain.


Trends and predictability

It’s worth noting that weight, body fat and lean muscle changes are rarely linear. They fluctuate from day to day and week to week. The goal is to see an overall trend over time, according to your goals and the above targets. For example, weight/fat loss may be faster at the start of a challenge for some people, especially if this your first attempt at weight loss with diet and exercise. This usually slows down the leaner you become, giving rise to plateaus. For some people, no weight loss is seen at the start, and then ‘bang’ – 2kg down at week 3! 

Compared to weight measured in kgs, results for % fat and % lean muscle can be slower to pick up – taking at least 1 month, if not longer, so be patient! Also, body composition measures are more prone to machine error in calculations, so bear this in mind when reading your scans. If you ‘feel’ like your body composition is changing towards your desired goal, it probably is – so have faith!  

 

Results explained: Total weight loss and body fat loss are less than expected

Here are some broad reasons why you may not have lost as much weight/body fat as expected:

Your calorie intake is too high, or you have reached a plateau on your current calorie intake

We are fortunate to have EVOLT for estimating calorie and macro requirements. However, like any machine estimate, it can be prone to errors and inaccuracies. So – if you selected a meal plan or calorie target based on your pre-challenge scan, and didn’t achieve the results you expected, you may need to change plans or adjust your targets to something lower. Alternatively, you may have reached a plateau and require a lower calorie plan to break through it.

Inaccurate estimation of foods consumed, portion sizes and calorie counts

In general, we are not too good at judging how much we’re eating. We tend to think we eat less, and underestimate our portion sizes, sometimes by as much as 50%. Research has shown that we under-report what we have eaten, not necessarily because we’re lying but because we genuinely don’t remember all that we have eaten. If we don’t count the extra biscuits, the kids’ leftovers, or even the 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil added in the cooking process, we can significantly underestimate our daily energy intake.

Lack of consistency / Too much time ‘off-road’

You may feel as if, most of the time, you are eating healthily and following the BFT plan/ a lifestyle pattern that is conducive to weight/fat loss. 

However, when making this assessment, it’s easy to forget your relaxed weekend behaviour, special occasions, holidays, ‘that time of the month’ for women, and the occasional treats (which may happen more than occasionally!).

 For those simply trying to achieve a healthy balance, these inconsistencies in your eating patterns may work (i.e. the 80/20 rule of moderation). But in order to lose weight/body fat – greater consistency and attention is required – perhaps a 90/10 rule!

Eating outside of the home

Meals eaten outside of the home are often more energy dense than meals made at home. This can even apply to meals that appear ‘healthy’. For example, portion sizes may be larger, more oil and/or sugar may be used in cooking, etc. Even just one meal out a week can increase your average energy intake enough to prevent you losing weight/body fat (if you go overboard!). And if you’re tracking your calories in – it’s difficult when you don’t know exactly how your food is prepared!

Non-hungry eating

For the average person, ‘non-hungry eating’ accounts for 20% of food calories consumed each day. It may be having seconds at a main meal, snacking in front of the TV at night, or chowing down on chocolate after a stressful day. Most of us recognise that these behaviours may result in exceeding our body’s fuel requirements, preventing weight loss, or even leading to weight gain. Yet despite being so simple to understand, it is such a perplexing and complicated area to manage. 

 

Also – your body may be adjusting to your new eating and workout routine!

Our bodies are smart – when we make changes to our lifestyle to lose weight (i.e. reducing caloric intake and increasing exercise), the following occurs:

  • We expend less energy in digestion because we’re eating less, 
  • Our resting metabolic rate goes down because we weigh less  
  • We burn less calories through exercise because we weigh less, 
  • Digestion slows down, causing us to absorb more energy from food

The body also adjusts hormonal feedback and signalling loops:

  • The appetite and hunger hormones go up
  • The satiety hormones go down
  • Thyroid and sex hormones go down (these are involved in metabolic rate) 

If you have attempted to lose weight/body fat previously, or if you were already losing weight prior to commencing this challenge, all of the above ‘adaptations’ may already be in play, slowing down your current rate of loss. 


What can I do to boost my weight and body fat loss for the next six weeks?

  1. Your calorie intake is too high, or you have reached a plateau on your current calorie intake: A good place to start is reducing your current intake by 250 – 500 calories per day. This may mean dropping to a lower meal plan stream, or cutting out 1-2 snacks on your current meal plan. Alternatively, you may wish to explore intermittent fasting on your current meal plan. The Nutrition Code can assist you with this.
      
  2. Inaccurate estimation of foods consumed, portion sizes and calorie counts: If you are following the meal plan loosely, or not at all, consider being ‘stricter’ with it. Otherwise, you may wish to use a calorie/macro counting app, such as Easy Diet Diary, to track your food intake according to your nutrition targets. This process will keep you more accountable, and highlight the ‘extra foods’ creeping into your diet.
  3. Lack of consistency / Too much time ‘off-road’: Same as above. Also, we have created the ‘token system’ to assist with managing treats, eating out and alcohol. For more information, look at the ‘Being Treat Wise’ resource, on your BFT portal.
  4. Eating outside of the home: Same as above. Use the token system, and also check out our recommendations for meals out, listed in the ‘Being Treat Wise’ resource.
  5. Non-hungry eating: This is a tricky one. First identify what emotions drive your non-hungry eating (i.e. stress, boredom, fatigue), then create a list of strategies to address that emotion ‘in the moment’ and globally. For example, if your emotion is work-related stress, you may wish to have a hot shower instead of reaching for chocolate ‘in the moment’. Globally, you may manage your stress at work by delegating tasks, creating lists, getting in early to complete tasks on time etc. The Nutrition Code can help you address this.

If you are following the meal plans to the letter, and you feel that none of these reasons apply to you, perhaps your body is ‘fighting against’ weight loss – as discussed above. If this is the case, perhaps a more realistic target is 0.25 – 0.5kg of total weight loss, and/or 0.25% body fat per week. Or, you may have already reached your ‘most healthy body composition’, with further weight/fat loss requiring unsustainable, unhealthy restrictions. The Nutrition Code dietitians can speak with you about this, and what to do from here. 

 

Results explained: Rapid weight loss with lean muscle dropping more than body fat?

If you have lost significantly more weight than 0.5-1kg per week, and your EVOLT scan shows a significant drop of your lean muscle mass (i.e. >1%) and/or greater losses in lean muscle than body fat, you may be:

  • restricting your nutrition intake too heavily, creating a deficit of greater than 500 calories per day
  • not consuming enough protein for your needs
  • including too much cardio and not enough resistance training for your needs

During rapid weight loss, it is more efficient to burn body protein stores than it is to burn body fat. So, your weight might be going down, but that’s mostly due to lean muscle loss. Remember, you are probably doing more exercise compared to your pre-challenge routine. So, if you are still following your pre-challenge diet, your calorie deficit may be too great. 

 

What can I do to lose weight safely, preserve lean muscle mass, and prevent gains in body fat %? 

We suggest adding 1-2 high protein snacks from our suggested snack list (i.e. boiled eggs, protein shake, high protein yoghurt), available on the BFT portal, OR jumping up to a higher meal plan. A good target – aim to add 25g protein to your daily intake. The Nutrition Code can assist you with this. Your total weight loss in kgs may slow down, but hopefully, you will switch to preserving muscle mass and losing body fat instead! In the long run, this will help you maintain your results, and help you feel strong and fit throughout your journey. 

Also, make sure you include enough resistance training in your routine, by speaking with your BFT trainer.

Results explained: Body fat increasing and lean muscle dropping?

These results can be explained by a few things, according to your overall trend in weight.

Rapid weight loss

As described above, during rapid weight loss your body switches to burning lean muscle, as this is a more efficient way of generating energy compared with burning body fat. Follow the tips above to add more calories/protein to your daily intake, and prioritise resistance training.

Weight gain/neutral

If you have also gained weight in kilos or remained weight neutral, your total calorie intake may need to increase or decrease according to your goal, and you may need to increase your protein whilst decreasing your fat and/or carbohydrate intake. Also, your resistance training may be insufficient +/- your cardio being too high.

If your goal is to lose body fat and preserve lean muscle, we suggest following the tips above: ‘What can I do to boost my weight and body fat loss for the next six weeks?’ to ensure a modest calorie deficit, and prioritise high protein snacks. If your goal is to gain muscle, and you have remained weight neutral, increase your total calorie intake, particularly your protein intake, by choosing a higher meal plans and/or switching some of your snacks to high protein options (i.e. swap and apple for 2 boiled eggs, swap a latte for a protein shake etc. If you have been gaining weight, all you require is a change in macros – by increasing protein and reducing carbohydrate and fat intake. Some good targets are – add 25g of protein, cut back 25-50g carbs and 7-15g fat. 

The Nutrition Code dietitians can provide specific help with this. Also, make sure you include enough resistance training in your routine, by speaking with your BFT trainer.


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February 24, 2022by ben.g.differ

We all know and appreciate that BFT follows scientific programming principles. Our training  progresses from week to week, we often notice ourselves feeling fitter and stronger as the weeks progress. But, have you ever noticed the time periods where you feel sluggish? Even with all the training you’ve been doing, you feel fatigued and for some reason, can’t maintain or progress the weights you’ve been working so hard to build? This is where recovery comes in!

Just as rest within our sessions allows us to perform each consecutive set and exercise with the same amount of intensity as the first, rest and recovery between our training sessions allows for absolute muscle recovery and a return of physiological homeostasis. Homeostasis is the process by which a constant internal physiological environment is maintained. Everytime we train, we stress the biological processes of homeostasis as the body’s control systems work overtime to maintain a constant internal environment. Incremental increases in body temperature, Heart Rate and Oxygen delivery across the duration of your training session affect homeostasis, as our internal control systems are unable to keep up with the external stresses that we are eliciting, as we push for that final rep or spike our Heart Rate. “Improved exercise performance following exercise training is largely due to training adaptations that result in better maintenance of homeostasis” (Powers and Howley, 2014 page 34). “Recovery between training sessions is the period of active biological processes in which adaptation (the desired outcome of training) ACTUALLY occurs” (Powers and Howley, 2014 page 262). This allows you to return to a baseline greater than where you started.

In short, recovery allows us to adapt to training and continue to progress across a period of time. 

So how can we incorporate recovery into our training? You’ve probably heard your trainers mention a training deload which is programmed into each training block. Deload is a recovery technique allowing training load to be decreased systematically to reduce accumulation of fatigue quicker than adaptations will dissipate, improving performance outcomes. Periodised into a progressive training program, it has been proven to induce improvements in cardiorespiratory and metabolic functioning, as well as increases in strength and power output… which is exactly why we do it! But deload is only one recovery method. Have you ever wondered why there are no sessions on Sundays? RECOVERY!!! Having a complete rest day is exactly what the doctor ordered. Remember all that stuff about homeostasis that we mentioned earlier? Well, your rest day allows this all to happen. 

 

There are many other ways that you can incorporate recovery into your training; hydration, good nutrition, easy walks, stretching, foam rolling, massages, saunas, the list goes on. There is no right or wrong when it comes to recovery, different methods are more effective for different people and you need to find what works best for you. It must be noted, however, that for an activity to be considered recovery, it must be undertaken at an intensity lower than your training intensity. 

If you’re still unsure what effective recovery looks like, have a chat to your trainers and see how you can best incorporate different techniques into your routine. 

 

Evans J. W. (2019). Periodized Resistance Training for Enhancing Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength: A Mini-Review. Frontiers in physiology, 10, 13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.00013

Kellmann, M. (2002). Enhancing Recovery: Preventing Underperformance in Athletes. United States: Human Kinetics.

Powers, S. & Howley, E. (2014). Exercise physiology. Australia: McGraw-Hill Education.

Theofilidis, G., Bogdanis, G., Koutedakis, Y., & Karatzaferi, C. (2018). Monitoring Exercise-Induced Muscle Fatigue and Adaptations: Making Sense of Popular or Emerging Indices and Biomarkers. Sports, 6(4), 153. doi: 10.3390/sports6040153

 


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February 18, 2022by ben.g.differ

Week three of the challenge is upon us and from a training perspective this next 2 week block is critical in setting yourself up for success. The hardest part is over with weeks one and two complete where you have had to make lifestyle changes and adjust your training and nutrition to accommodate the challenge and the goals you are chasing. I’m sure there are some tired legs and sore muscles? Stick with it as your body is adapting to the changes and is beginning to transform.

 

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One question I constantly get asked is, “How do I get better results?” Members love to hear stories about AFL athletes and how hard they train and want that gold nugget that is going to help them transform and take their own training to the next level. Whilst there are a lot of lessons to be learnt from the practises and approach elite athletes take, there is one really simple rule that will get you results and elevate you to the next level…Stick with the program! This covers all aspects of the challenge including your training and nutrition. 

Injury and exhaustion are the outcome of over-training and will hinder your success, and under training will result in poor performance and results as well. The beauty about the BFT Challenge is that the programs and nutrition are done for you… Just stick to it! I’ll leave the nutrition to Sam and Jess at the Nutrition Code and focus on the training. 

Have you got a Heart Rate monitor? If you are doing the challenge and in the running for prizes the answer will be yes! Next question is, are you using it every session and paying attention to it?

You should have noticed that on our screens we prescribe an “indicative” HR zone for you to be in. If you do anything at all, take note of these HR icons on the exercise tiles and match them set by set to your Heart Rate tile colour on the Heart Rate screens. If your colour is below where prescribed you need to lift your game. It is ok to be above, but keep an eye on it and make sure you are not way, way above (I’ll talk more about this later!).

How will this benefit you? Let’s take the two hand kettlebell swing (KB Swing), a favourite at BFT!! The KB swing is a great conditioning exercise, engaging the larger leg muscles, your core muscles and larger back muscles. Great for maintaining lean mass and burning calories. If you have KB Swings in a power program you might get 5 – 6 reps out whereas in a Strength Endurance Class you might get 12 reps out in a set. As a result, we are going to see a very different Heart Rate response to the different programs. This is great, but it is only great if we are “sticking with the program”. What I mean by that is that the reps now dictate the load you are lifting and the load will dictate the heart rate response (along with your rest period). 

Eg: If you are an 80kg male, for the 5-6 reps of the KB Swing you should be swinging a 36+kg Kettlebell. For the same 80kg male for 12 reps you might swing a 24kg or 28kg kettlebell. If you decide to use the same weight for both rep ranges in the different programs you will not be amplifying your training and getting the results you are after. You may get the results from the Strength Endurance session, but you will get little benefit from the Power session. 

In the example above, the 5-6 rep range will take 4+ sets to get your heart rate above 80% of your maximum, whereas the 12 rep range will likely take 1-2 sets to get you there. Neither is better than the other and both programs are designed to get different outcomes. The key point here is choosing the appropriate load for the program you are being prescribed. If the Exercise Tile shows the Heart rate icon as 80-89% and you are in 70-79% or below, the solution is simple…..Work harder!! I will put a caveat on this and say that you can work harder by increasing the load (lift a heavier weight) as long as you have good technique! If you are unsure, please ask your trainer. 

Sticking to the program is something athletes do really well. Increasing and decreasing loads and intensity effort to suit the program of the moment. 

Now some of you will be saying surely if I just go flat out all the time, I will get better results? No! The above example is a good one. If you lift the appropriate size kettlebell for the 6 reps, in theory you could do one more rep with good form and then you’re done. We call this a 6RM, RM standing for Repetition Maximum. If you are truly working at your maximum you won’t be able to “go flat out” for the whole 50mins as quite simply it is humanly impossible. If you don’t believe me, I will ask you to consider why it is that marathon runners run their fastest 5km split time in the last 5km’s of the marathon? Haven’t they been running as hard as they can?

Amplify your training and work at your true RM and you will get better results! If you work at your true RM you will be at the indicative Heart Rate prescribed intensity on the BFT Screens or just above and you will get better results! *Hot Tip: Use your BFT Metrics calculator in the BFT app to calculate the weight you should be lifting in line with each program. 

Some of our sessions will have easier sets at the start and these will get progressively harder set on set for your exercise station. This is really important to take note of, especially as the session duration goes on and you are getting more tired and you are taking longer to recover. Use these early sets to actively recover if your heart rate is too high. What active recovery means is that you are still moving but you are allowing yourself to lower your heart rate in preparation for the upcoming harder sets. We don’t want your heart rate always sitting at 80 – 90% (steady state). Doing this for the 50mins will absolutely give you a good sweat… What it won’t do is allow you to Amplify your training and go to the next level. Allow your heart rate to come down when it is prescribed so that you have enough recovery (energy) to really push harder in the last sets where potentially you want to hit 90%+++. When I say hit 90%+++, I mean it! We are talking 97, 98, 99%!! That’s Amplifying your training and going to the next level. It is really hard to achieve this level of intensity if you are “going flat out” all the time. Going flat out all the time is fine if you want to stagnate your training and get ok results. 

Stick with the program, have some structured recovery or even active recovery and enjoy the benefit of being able to push your body to the next level. Experience the benefits of proper recovery and you will experience the undeniable benefits of the higher intensity training on your results. 

Amplifying your training and using the heart rate technology combined with our screens to assist you is not limited to resistance training as in the examples above. This also applies to cardio training. 

Over the next two weeks I am challenging you to up your game and amplify your training. If you are unsure when it comes to the safety of some lifts, please always ask your BFT trainer first. 

Go hard, amplify, and have fun!