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    What Is The 30 Plants Per Week Challenge?

    Forget five a day, scientists have said getting 30 portions of fruit and vegetables a week is even better for your health – and that eating a large variety of plants is just as key. Yep, it looks like there’s a new mantra in town: 30 plants a week, also known as the ’30 plant challenge’ or ‘plant points’.

    What is the 30 plant challenge?

    The challenge comes from the likes of expert dietician and NHS Clinical Lead, Catherine Rabess (author of the book, The 30 Plan) who quotes a 2018 study that found people who ate a variety of plant foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, boasted better gut health. Led by the British and American Gut Project, and run by the University of California San Diego in the US alongside Dr Tim Spector of King’s College London in the UK, the study offered a new message: instead of “eat five a day”, they started saying “eat 30 plants a week.”

    The Results

    The advice to eat 30 plants a week is based on the project’s study of thousands of people (well, more specifically, their poop) and found those who ate a wider variety of plant foods – fruits and vegetables, but also seeds, nuts, whole grains and spices – had a more diverse gut microbiome. A wider variety of gut bacteria provides a basis for better overall health and well-being: greater resilience to withstand pathogens, better digestion and better brain function.

    “Don’t fall into the trap of eating the same meal every day, even though that makes life easy. At least have three different breakfasts, three different lunches and three different dinners and rotate them across the week. However ideally try the 30 plant foods per week challenge,” says Nutritionist Edwina Ekins. “Research shows that those that eat 30 different plant foods (compared to those that only eat 10) have a much more diverse and therefore healthier gut microbiota. A diverse gut microbiota is linked to a lower risk of many diseases including bowel cancer and diabetes.”

    Now, that’s not to say getting your five servings of fruit and veggies per day is a goal to discard; eating those foods still have incredible health benefits, helps to keep our bodies topped up with vital nutrients and much, much more. But the idea behind the 30 plants a week – also known as the ‘diversity diet’ – focuses more on gut health.

    How does the 30 plants challenge work?

    It works by assigning every individual plant you eat one “plant point”, even if you only eat a small amount of that plant, like a couple of carrot sticks or one strawberry. Herbs, spices and garlic also count, but only for quarter of a point.

    Then you have colours to consider: different coloured versions of plants, like red and yellow capsicums, count separately as a point each, since different coloured plants contain slightly different amounts of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. But some items don’t count at all – like white rice and potatoes (they spike your blood sugar too much, according to Spector, and contain less fibre and nutrients than other plants).

    “Eating 30 plants a week means eating 30 different varieties of plants, but this doesn’t prescribe serving sizes,” says Rabess. “It can seem tougher to achieve this if you are cooking for one, but remember that foods do not always need to be fresh. Tinned and frozen foods are my go-to, and they are extremely cost-effective and a great way to limit waste.”

    “Each different variety of plant that you eat counts as one plant point. Even herbs and spices are a quarter of a point each,” she adds. “So, if you eat a banana, an apple and a carrot, you would have earned three plant points. If you had porridge and sprinkled on cinnamon and nutmeg, the added spices would total half a plant point.”

    The more plant points you earn = the more diverse your diet is.

    What counts as a plant point?

    Vegetables such as:

    aubergine

    broccoli

    carrot

    spinach

    cabbage

    onion

    pepper

    tomato (okay, yes it’s technically a fruit but…)

    Fruit such as:

    avocados

    berries

    bananas

    oranges

    figs

    kiwis

    Some legumes such as:

    chickpeas

    lentils

    broad beans

    pinto beans

    soybeans or edamame

    Some grains such as:

    quinoa

    barley

    brown rice

    Some nuts and seeds such as:

    cashews

    almonds

    brazil nuts

    chia seeds

    pumpkin seeds

    walnuts

    pistachios

    Herbs and spices (whether they’re fresh or dried out) such as:

    mint

    basil

    parsley

    sage

    ginger

    nutmeg

    paprika

    saffron

    turmeric

    Do supplements count?

    According to Nutritionist, Edwina Ekins: not really. She says that many of the marketing claims around these products are exaggerated and that most supplements are best suited to people with deficiencies – not as part of an overall diet.

    “Greens powders are a hot topic at the moment: There are several on the market all claiming to have benefits for immune, energy, gut health and blood pressure, but the research is in its infancy, and we cannot support these claims yet,” explains Ekins. “In saying that, greens powders are packed with approximately 75 different nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, prebiotic fibres, probiotics and digestive enzymes. A greens powder may act as a “stop gap” when our diets are insufficient.”

    “These powders are certainly no substitute for real foods and we should continue to strive for two serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables per day, however, they make sense if someone doesn’t like vegetables, is travelling with limited access to fruit and vegetables and is suffering from energy issues despite having good sleep, drinking enough water and doing exercise,” she adds.

    “There is huge cost range in greens powders, and this is not necessarily reflected in the content so read the back of the pack of at least two and makes a comparison before you purchase. Again, greens powders are not suitable for everyone, especially those on medication or pregnant or breastfeeding. Many also contain inulin or other prebiotic fibres which for some people can upset your gut. So, in summary, you don’t need a greens powder but there may be certain times when taking a greens powder would improve energy levels.”

    More:

    The article by Nikolina Ilic appeared first on Women’s Health Australia. More

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    What’s Up With The Carnivore Diet Everyone’s Talking About?

    For meat lovers, typical diets can seem like such a drag (load up on veggies, opt for healthy fats, limit big juicy steaks and bacon, etc.).

    So when a diet actually encourages you to eat as much meat as possible, it might seem too good to be true. That’s the case with the carnivore diet, the newest eating trend that claims to help you lose weight and get healthier in the process.

    But before you toss out your leafy greens and stock your fridge with cuts of meat, there are a few things you should know about the carnivore diet.

    What does the carnivore diet entail?

    Get a load of this, bacon lovers: People on the carnivore diet eat only meat and animal products, and avoid all plant foods.

    “I call this a mono diet, which means you’re basically eating one food,” says Abby Langer, a dietitian and writer. “It’s meat, eggs and coffee. Some people will eat dairy, but most believe that the lactose in milk makes it off-limits, because that’s sugar. No plant foods are allowed, which means you can’t eat any grains, nuts, seeds, beans, fruits, or vegetables.”

    Although there don’t seem to be any official guidelines in terms of macronutrients, most proponents of the diet seem to recommend getting the majority of kilojoules from fat, not protein, which means choosing fattier cuts of meat.

    What do studies on the carnivore diet say?

    Studies are thin and in the medical community, conversations around the diet are fresh. Overall, experts feel that the diet is thin in nutrition and therefore, not the best.

    Surprisingly, a 2021 study of over 2000 people found health benefits when on the carnivore diet. All diabetics studied came off their medication and inflammatory markers (called CRP) decreased significantly. Added to that, participants lost an average of nine kilograms. It’s important to note that these findings were self-reported by the participants, meaning medical opinion was not necessarily sought.

    READ MORE: What To Eat To Avoid Colds And Boost Your Immune System, According To A Dietician

    So should I stock up on bacon and hot dogs?

    Nope, nope, nope.

    “There’s a reason [health experts] say to eat the rainbow,” says Amy Gorin, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition. “You need a variety of foods for optimal health. These include fruits and vegetables, healthy fats like avocado and olives, and whole grains like quinoa and brown rice. You get so many important nutrients from these foods—from vitamins and minerals to antioxidants—that are important for good health.”

    Langer agrees, as does, well, science. “You’re essentially cutting out foods that have been proven to be good for you and that have never proven to be harmful.”

    She also points out that, in addition to important vitamins and minerals, plant food contains fibre, which has been proven to promote weight loss, weight maintenance, improved cholesterol, and a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

    Plus, “fibre from plant foods are digested in the bowel by good bacteria… It improves gut health,” says Langer. On the carnivore diet, you’re missing out on all of these potential health benefits—and not only that, but you might start feeling pretty damn constipated from that lack of fibre.

    Is the carnivore diet low in fats?

    It’s also worth pointing out that the USDA and the American Heart Association say the best diets are composed of mostly plant foods and limited amounts of saturated fat—a.k.a. the opposite of the carnivore diet.

    “The Dietary Guidelines advise limiting saturated fat to no more than 10 percent of total daily kilojoules,” explains Gorin. “Too much saturated fat can increase your cholesterol levels. So for a 8,368-kilojoule daily diet, you should get no more than 836 kilojoules, or about 22 grams, of saturated fat.”

    Gorin also points out that if you were following the carnivore diet—say, by having a few eggs and a few slices of bacon—you’d get more than half of that amount for breakfast alone.

    Technically, it’s possible to eat meats lower in saturated fat, like skinless poultry, lean cuts of pork and fish. But the carnivore diet recommends fattier cuts of meat (a.k.a. cuts high in saturated fat) because most of your kilojoules on the diet should come from fat.

    “The claims of this diet are just so crazy,” says Langer. “Its supporters are saying that vegetables are horrible and that carbohydrates are toxic. None of this has ever been proven by science, and any studies they’re citing are not credible.”

    READ MORE: Are Wellness Shots With Turmeric, Ginger, Or ACV Actually Good For You? A Dietician Weighs In

    But what about those people who have lost weight on the carnivore diet?

    Here’s the deal: Any time you eliminate major food groups from your diet (or in this case, pretty much all foods except meat), you’re likely going to be eating less. Less food equals fewer kilojoules consumed, and eating fewer kilojoules than you need is how weight loss happens. Period.

    So, sure, you’ll probably lose weight on the carnivore diet in the short term. You’ll have to say no to office snacks, birthday cake and convenient on-the-go options like granola bars and trail mix.

    That said, the diet is pretty unsustainable and any weight you lose will probably come back as soon as you start eating a variety of foods again. “There are much healthier ways to lose weight that include making lasting lifestyle changes,” says Gorin. “It would be very difficult—and wouldn’t be healthy—to maintain an all-meat diet.”

    READ MORE: Your Ultimate Protein Pancake Recipe

    What about all of these claims that the carnivore diet cures chronic health problems?

    Bloggers and Instagrammers claim that, in addition to weight loss, the carnivore diet can cure a variety of ailments, from sinus and skin issues, to arthritis and depression (there are even #meatheals and #meatismedicine hashtags on Instagram).

    But again, those are all anecdotal claims—there are no actual studies on the carnivore diet, so it’s impossible to say for sure what the health effects are, good or bad.

    “It could be the placebo effect, but it also could just be the result of weight loss,” says Langer. “It literally has no logical explanation—it’s not based in science at all.”

    Langer also stresses that just because one person goes on the carnivore diet and has healthy blood vitals and reduced symptoms of a chronic condition, doesn’t mean that this will be true for everyone.

    “Some people can eat more saturated fats and be okay, so that could be a reason their blood pressure and cholesterol are within the healthy range,” she says. “They also may have neglected to mention that they’ve lost weight, which in itself will make your pressure and cholesterol go down. They also may just be lying.”

    READ MORE: 12 Of The Best Vegan Protein Powders You Can Buy Right Now

    So all of this means I probably shouldn’t try the carnivore diet, right?

    Correct. “Humans cannot subsist off of only meat and experience optimal health,” says Gorin.

    Langer also emphasizes the fact that the carnivore diet could really take a toll on your mental and emotional health.

    “You’re going to be isolating yourself from social situations and that’s just not okay,’” she says. “Mental and physical health go hand-in-hand in terms of their impact on your health and your life.”

    Bottom line: If want to lose weight or improve your health, it’s best to do it through sustainable lifestyle changes. Going HAM (literally) on meat or animal products is not recommended.

    This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com  More

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    4 Breakfast Swaps For Weight Loss You Should Try

    Few things feel as luxurious as a gorgeous brunch at a bustling restaurant where mouth-watering options abound. But when you’re watching your waistline, a little bit of discernment and a touch of inside knowledge go a long way. So to keep your brunch plans minus the extra calories, we’ve rounded up these breakfast swaps for weight loss. You’ll be surprised to see which options deliver the taste and satisfaction.

    Swap eggs benedict for scrambled eggs

    We hate to break it to you but spinach with your eggs Benedict does not make it healthier. Hollandaise sauce, made with butter and egg yolks, bumps up the total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol content. Keep your helping of bacon moderate – it’s a sodium bomb and, depending on the type, can be fatty too.

    Ask for fresh tomato slices and you’ll score one of your veggie servings for the day without the extra grease. For added flavour and folate, ask for a topping of fresh basil leaves.

    READ MORE: Exactly How To Pick The Healthiest Muesli For Breakfast, Per Experts

    Instead of an English breakfast, try French toast

    A good old English fry-up has its place, but pass if you’re watching your waist. Two fried eggs, bacon, sausage and tomato can contain more than half your daily kilojoule needs and more than 25g of heart-harming saturated fat. Bacon and sausage up the sodium levels to around 2500mg – more than the health guideline of less than 2300mg (six grams of salt) daily.

    Research shows that too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, increasing our risk of heart disease and stroke. French-style toast (at less than the calories) equals less sodium and only four grams of unhealthy fats. Ask for the golden syrup on the side and only add a trickle.

    READ MORE: Weight Loss Pills: We Delved Deep Into The Science To See If Any Actually Work

    Ditch croissants for a bran muffin

    Farewell for now, beloved buttery flaky delight! We’ll see you when we reach our goal weight. The croissant and cream cheese meal is hefty in heart-unhealthy fats (about 15g).

    Muffins contain a fair amount of fat and sugar, but the bran versions are usually lower in these and have more fibre than white-flour options. A standard bran muffin (about 60g) will give you roughly three to five grams of fibre. Go easy on the cheese and steer clear of those giant muffins.

    If you’re looking for omegas from salmon (in the croissant), rather get your omega-3 benefits from salmon at another meal. Grilled, steamed or as sashimi, accompanied with an unrefined carbohydrate and heaps of veggies. If you must have salmon at brunch, combine salmon ribbons with a poached egg on wholegrain bread, with fresh tomato slices and coriander leaves. Mission accomplished.

    READ MORE: How To *Actually* Lose Belly Fat With Diet And Exercise

    Sub your latte for a cappuccino

    A milky latte is delicious as a treat, but racks in more kilojoules than its cousin, the cappuccino, which is made with less milk. A short latte with low-fat milk comes in at around 720kJ; a cappuccino equals 350kJ.

    The best bet when sampling the fine javas from your favourite barista is to opt for skim milk – it makes a better froth, plus a cappuccino with skim comes in at around 200kJ in a small cup. More

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    “How I Went From Being A Party Girl To A Fitness Fanatic – And Lost 31kg”

    When it comes to a weight loss journey, breaking bad habits is not easy. But sometimes, having a bit of grit and loads of consistency can yield amazing results. This is how Liz Dumagude found her freedom and lost over 30kg.

    Liz’s Weight Loss Journey:

    What Led To Liz’s Weight Gain

    Elizabeth Dumagude, a “reformed party girl, ” loved eating and drinking. “I would go out every weekend and drink excessively, which led to me eating any and everything in sight,” she explains. “I would have a Steers Wacky Wednesday meal every Wednesday, multiple McDonald’s meals or pizza from Friday through Sunday, whilst mindlessly snacking on chips, chocolates and so on.”

    Eventually, her lifestyle caught up with her when she spotted a holiday picture of herself. She weighed 85kg and was unhappy. “I could hardly recognise the person I was looking at,” she notes.

    Things had come to a head: she felt uncomfortable in her body and was exhausted. “My clothes had tripled in size, and I kept eating my feelings,” she says. “I joined a gym the very next day.” 

    READ MORE: Here’s How Better With Balance Influencer Michaela Mallett Healed Her Relationship With Food

    How Liz Changed Her Life And Lost 31kg

    She’d found a small gym in Sunninghill and started attending their group fitness classes three times a week. “I would rotate between 45-minute high-intensity cardio classes, spinning and boxing,” she says. The biggest change? Elizabeth had stopped going out partying as much – which meant far fewer junk food excursions. 

    After some time, she decided to hire a personal trainer to really fine-tune her new nutrition. She’d also set herself a new goal: to venture into the weights section at the gym. (If this is your goal too, check out our beginner’s guide to weightlifting here).

    For breakfast, Elizabeth opted for oats, snacked on rice cakes and swapped out the burgers for stir-fried veg with rice. Her lifestyle had done a complete 180, too. “I swapped out all my sodas for sugar-free options, added sugar-free jelly, puddings and, sweets for my sweet tooth and opted for red wine or a gin and sugar-free tonic when I went out with friends,” she explains.

    READ MORE: How To *Actually* Lose Belly Fat With Diet And Exercise

    How Liz’s Transformation Changed Her Life

    Six years on, Liz has not only lost the weight (she now weighs 54kg), but has carved out muscle that enabled her to compete in fitness competitions. This year, she placed first as the 2023 IFBB SA Regional, National & Overall Wellness Champion.

    Mostly, she just feels so much better for it. “I am so much stronger and fitter; taking the stairs doesn’t feel like a chore anymore,” she says.

    “Now, I focus on how I look and feel, how my clothes fit and how I am progressing in the gym.”

    READ MORE: TikTok’s Viral 30-30-30 Challenge: Does It Work For Weight Loss?

    Liz’s Weight Loss Tips For Someone Starting Their Weight Loss Journey

    1. Be Patient

    “This is a weight-loss JOURNEY, you will make mistakes along the way, but keep going!”

    2. Eat In Moderation

    “You do not need to cut out any food groups to reach your goals.”

    3. Get Moving!

    “Find an activity that you love. You don’t need to be in the gym if that is not what you enjoy.” More

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    Does The ‘Watermelon Diet’ Work For Weight Loss? How It Works And If It’s Safe, According To Experts

    When you’re on a weight loss journey, it’s understandable to want to eat healthy foods that help you achieve your goals. If you want results fast, trends like the watermelon diet may sound particularly appealing. Watermelon has many health benefits, like possibly boosting your heart health and immunity, per a recent study. But what is the watermelon diet, exactly?

    It appears that the diet started trending after cheerleader Gabi Butler spoke about it on season two of the Netflix docu-series Cheer. On the show, she claimed that she ate only watermelon for three days and that it helped her “flush out anything sitting in [her] stomach.” After the three-day “cleanse,” she resumed her normal routine.

    Whether you heard about the watermelon diet on the show or perhaps saw it trending elsewhere online, you probably have questions. What does the fad diet involve? Does it work for weight loss? And more importantly, is it safe?

    Ahead, nutrition experts share the benefits and risks of the watermelon diet and whether or not it’s recommended for weight loss.

    Meet the experts: Keri Gans, RD, is a New York-based registered dietician and author of The Small Change Diet, a book about incorporating small changes and healthy habits to ensure a lifetime of good health. Samantha Cassetty, RD, is a New York-based registered dietician and co-author of Sugar Shock, a guidebook to reduce sugar intake and live a healthier life.

    What is the watermelon diet, exactly?

    The watermelon diet is a phenomenon that seemed to gain popularity in 2022 on social media and is not an official diet plan, says Samantha Cassetty, RD, a dietician and co-author of Sugar Shock. The origins of the diet are somewhat unknown and it appears there is no official “plan” to follow.

    However, it is often framed as a cleanse or “detox” in which users eat only watermelon for a set amount of time. Duration varies—some TikTokers eat watermelon consecutively for three days in a row, while others claim to have followed the routine for 30 days or more.

    Based on social media, it seems there are many ways to approach the watermelon diet. One TikTok user blended watermelon with lemon and fresh mint and consumed six bottles a day for seven days. Another user drank watermelon as juice for three days before returning to their regular diet and said they lost 1 kilogram in the process (they also called out how the diet gave them leg cramps, supposedly due to lack of nutrients).

    People are drawn to the watermelon diet’s detox-like effect, however, the idea that it cleanses your system, so to speak, isn’t necessarily accurate.

    “The idea is to clear toxins and kickstart weight loss without feeling too hungry, [but] you don’t need to consume a type of food to detox the body,” says Cassetty. “Your body is designed to eliminate toxins on [its] own—that’s what your kidney and liver do for you every day naturally,” she points out.

    Benefits Of The Watermelon Diet

    There is no scientific evidence to support a watermelon cleanse. That said, watermelon itself is a nutritious food packed with vitamins and antioxidants, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It contains vitamin A, which can help your vision and immune system, per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine—along with vitamin C and vitamin B6, which have similar immune-boosting benefits. Watermelon also contains lycopene, which has been linked to decreases in heart disease and certain cancers, per the USDA. Additionally, the amino acids in watermelon may help reduce blood pressure and support exercise performance, according to a recent study.

    Watermelon is a low-calorie fruit that’s made of approximately 90 percent water, per the USDA—so if you’re trying to stay hydrated and achieve a calorie deficit, it might be a helpful snack for weight loss. Daily watermelon consumption may help reduce body weight and body mass index (BMI), per a study published in Nutrients, and eating it regularly may help you lose weight due to its low sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol, according to a recent study.

    Risks Of The Watermelon Diet

    Despite its benefits, the fruit-forward fad diet can come with harmful side effects. “Drastically reducing calorie intake may make you feel dizzy, lightheaded and nauseous,” Cassetty says. Eating tons of fruit can also overwhelm your GI system and potentially lead to gas, bloating and diarrhoea, she adds.

    “[The watermelon diet] is not suitable if you are pregnant, nursing, or if you have a health condition, eating disorder, or history of disordered eating,” Cassetty says. It’s also not recommended if you work out a lot since watermelon doesn’t contain enough fuel for activity and recovery, she adds. The diet also negatively impacts your ability to respond to hunger cues, enjoy nourishing meals and can hinder your ability to learn what a well-balanced meal actually is, Cassetty says.

    Ultimately, this is an extreme diet that experts recommend you avoid. “Any diet that aims to restrict sets the user up for ultimate failure,” says Keri Gans. The watermelon cleanse focuses on a “quick fix” rather than introducing sustainable healthy habits to kickstart weight loss, which in itself is problematic, she says.

    Does the watermelon diet work for weight loss?

    By only eating watermelon (which, again, is mostly water), you’ll likely see weight changes within a few days. However, the watermelon diet is a short-term solution and is not a sustainable weight loss practice. “You will [likely] lose water weight, but once you start eating other foods, all your weight will come back,” Gans says.

    The trend can seem appealing for folks on a weight loss journey since it feels attainable and lasts a short time compared to other diet plans, says Cassetty. “[It] seems more approachable than other fasting protocols because it is very clear cut,” she says. “When eating feels overwhelming, having a clear plan feels doable.” But by eliminating other foods and only focusing on one, you aren’t learning anything about healthy eating habits, Gans adds.

    The bottom line? Watermelon may work temporarily, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you’re consuming for weight loss. “Even though watermelon is a healthy food, it is not healthy to exist on watermelon alone—and that would be the same for any single food, whether it’s cake or kale,” Cassetty says. By only focusing on one item, you’re eliminating vital proteins and healthy fats, which are essential nutrients for the body, she says.

    How To Jumpstart A Weight Loss Journey Instead

    If weight loss is your main goal, there are healthier options out there than the watermelon diet, says Gans. Experts recommend shifting your mindset away from restricting foods and instead focusing on what you should include. “You can start by adding a fruit to your breakfast, then adding a vegetable to your lunch and dinner,” says Cassetty. This is especially helpful since most people don’t get enough fruits and veggies in general, she says.

    Although Cassetty and Gans do not recommend the watermelon diet, eating the popular fruit could help accelerate weight loss if combined with other balanced food groups. For example, eating watermelon as a snack may help you eliminate cravings in between meals or function as a dessert substitute to help you cut back on sugar, they say. Ultimately, integrating watermelon into your diet can help with weight loss, but shouldn’t be viewed as the end-all, be-all solution.

    This article by Lauren Dresner was originally published on womenshealthmag.com. More

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    How One Woman Overcame Diet Pill Addiction And Reclaimed Her Life

    Monique Eloff has regained control of her body and eating habits and is now South Africa’s own Supreme Queen Global Earth Africa. But when she was 18, a bad breakup saw her struggling with diet pill addiction. Here, she tells her story to inspire and educate other women about the dangers of weight loss pills and how she regained control of her body – and eating habits.

    The impetus

    For four years, Monique had been battling with her weight and was trying to shed unwanted kilos. In 2005, when Monique was 18, a heartbreaking break-up sent her into depression and she tried to regain control by becoming fixated on losing weight. “My addiction started after going through a major relationship breakup and my inability to deal with the pain, the loss, the rejection and feelings of ‘not being wanted’,” Monique reflects. “I became obsessed with losing weight.” Monique visited a dietician but it didn’t work, mostly, Monique thought, because of a hormone imbalance caused by prolonged chronic stress that threw things out of whack in her body.

    The beginning of a diet pill addiction

    Thereafter, Monique tried an endocrinologist, but her treatment was expensive and she opted out.

    It was around this time that Monique discovered weight loss pills. “I was introduced to a substance called ephedrine. In year one, I mixed ephedrine with cayenne pepper to make my own weight-loss tablets,” she says. “That worked really well. I started to lose weight and I experienced increased energy levels and I also experienced higher performance at varsity and even better grades in my studies.” Unfortunately, Monique started building up a tolerance to the drugs and needed more to keep losing weight. To get there, she turned to ephedrine in its purest form. “At certain points, I even refined it for snorting,” she confesses.

    “One thing led to another. I could not sleep because of the adrenaline rush effect one gets using ephedrine. Then, I started taking sleeping tablets at night. I could not eat, because ephedrine is a potent appetite suppressant and I battled with fatigue and in turn, balancing my studies and my part-time work became extremely difficult. I was already on my way to complete burnout. My ability to cope, concentrate and perform was diminished,” she says.

    READ MORE: 10 Wellness Quotes By Miss SA Natasha Joubert (That We Absolutely Loved!)

    The turning point

    There were signs of the diet pill addiction that others could see – but she couldn’t. For one, she had limited self-control, talked a lot and experienced severe reactions to stress.

    On the inside, Monique was privy to extreme thirst, heart palpitations and shakiness. She felt depressed, anxious and sensitive. “Ephedrine certainly kept the weight off but the weight of the addiction literally crushed the life out of me and it left me feeling a great deal of shame, guilt and regret,” she says.

    Added to that, she was experiencing gastrointestinal disorders, mood swings and shortness of breath. Her central nervous system was beginning to shut down and Monique was forced to get help. “I had no choice; my body made the decision for me,” she says. In 2007, Monique was hospitalised and underwent treatment.

    READ MORE: Author Janine Jellars Shares Her Simple Wellness Routine

    The change

    “I received treatment that was aimed at opening up the receptors in my brain in order for the normal flight or fight response mechanisms to start functioning again,” Monique explains. “My body experienced inefficiencies in secreting adrenalin, serotonin and other key hormones. I had a complete imbalance in my body.”

    With treatment, Monique slowly started to improve, but the road to healing was long. “Diet and sleep played a crucial part in my recovery. I had to teach my body what a normal healthy intake of food consisted of and looked like, at frequent and consistent intervals,” she says. “Over time my mood and concentration levels improved. I could literally feel balance coming back to my body, and it felt amazing. The toughest part was the realization of how far I’ve taken my addiction and the damage it has done. The impact it had on my loved ones. What I’ve lost in the process and the fact that I had to drop out of varsity in my third year. I felt like a complete failure. I think my mental scars outweigh the physical scars, and for me, the biggest battlefield was my mind.”

    READ MORE: Weight Loss Pills: We Delved Deep Into The Science To See If Any Actually Work

    The glow up

    Through all this, Monique feels that she’s grown a lot as a person. “My mess has become my message and today I get to tell my story unapologetically. I still have feelings of shame, guilt and regret; however, it shows that I am human and that it matters to me,” she says.

    Now, 16 years later, Monique is at a happy weight and is taking things further in her life, earning her spot as the reigning Supreme Queen Global Earth Africa for 2023. “My wounds have given me great wisdom,” she notes. “This journey on earth is all about unbecoming to become, letting go of the things that are no longer serving you well.” More

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    It’s Possible To Reverse Type 2 Diabetes, According To One Woman Who Did It 

    Type 2 diabetes is often referred to as a lifestyle disease. Even so, it can be a lot to manage, with injections and closely monitoring blood glucose levels throughout the day, as well as closely managing food intake to make sure levels don’t go off-kilter. But is it reversible? Some say yes, with a healthy lifestyle and most especially, with weight loss. One woman managed to remove the disease from her life when she underwent bariatric surgery and lost weight in the process. Here, Jo-Anne Campbell’s story of how she could reverse type 2 diabetes.

    It started with tumours

    My journey started very strangely, with my sister having a dream in 2010 that I would die in January 2011. She has a foresight for these things. I put this dream of hers aside just to be confronted with a hard reality in January 2011. It was a very hot day as I remember and I decided to drink my husband’s last beer in the fridge. After falling asleep for a few hours, I woke up with pain in my abdomen and found that it had swollen significantly. I looked nine months pregnant.

    After seeing specialists and having tests and scans done it was determined that my liver was the issue. The scans showed my liver, which looked like pencil holes punched in it. It contained 43 tumours called adenomas in it. Each tumour has a possible 3 percent of becoming cancerous. One of the tumours had bled inside itself and became hard. It measured 5 by 7 cm in size.

    At this stage, I developed diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol. My specialist did not know what the tumours were exactly or how to treat them. Fortunately, I was referred to the best liver specialist in Africa. He could only remove four tumours – the liver and the tumours were fused together. There were just too many and because it was my hormones causing these tumours, I could not receive a liver transplant as my body would only make more tumours. The specialist did the surgery and it was successful. After one to two years, I managed to lose 20kg. I regained all and more weight over a span of five years and just accepted all the weight for another three years until I felt unwell again. I started eating increased portions and dropped all the exercise completely. That combination allowed the weight gain to increase. I weighed close to 110kg.

    Spiralling out of control

    With this increase in weight, my diabetes spiralled out of hand and no medication could help bring the sugar levels down. I was at this point very unhealthy and had to manage my increased blood pressure and diabetic medication. Every time the diabetic nurse saw me, she recommended to my doctor that they increase the insulin. In the end, I was on 120 units of insulin per day.

    I was plagued with exhaustion, not only physically but mentally as well. I became anxious when my sugar levels increased as well as my insulin medication at each visit with the diabetic nurse. That’s when I realized I was in a bad space regarding my health when one Sunday afternoon my left leg went numb and experienced heart palpitations. I thought I was going to have a stroke. That’s when I decided I was dying a slow death.

    The change

    I spoke to my doctor and told him I felt like I was dying and I knew I would not make it to 50 and my youngest child was only three years old at the time. With that, he gave me my last and most invasive option. Bariatric surgery, better known as a gastric bypass. That surgery happened in 2019 and has been very successful thus far. My diabetes disappeared within four days, as well as my high blood pressure and cholesterol.

    My lifestyle changed drastically after the surgery. I lost 35kg in ten months, a rapid change because of the reduction of my food intake and only managing to each certain food. After the operation, I could only manage a few tablespoons of soft foods a day. Then I could manage half a cup or 125ml three times per day. I drank a supplement most of the time. Now, I can manage about a 200ml of food but I must remember to eat slowly. I increased my exercise by two hours per day and started running.

    Jo-Anne Campbell who worked to reverse type 2 diabetes.

    The glow

    Now, I’m in a much healthier space. The bariatric surgery was by no means a quick fix. Life as I knew it changed drastically for me, especially after losing 35 kg in 10 months. I am able to do things like running, weight lifting and many other physical activities I never thought I would attempt.

    Today I feel like my past was a terrible dream that I woke up from. My confidence and energy levels have spiked instead of my glycaemic levels. I have a new love for life and have discovered that I should make the most of the health that I have gained during this time. I have no regrets about starting this journey as I can be alive to see my family grow and not have the fear of leaving them due to my health.

    Jo-Anne has written a book about her experience, called Memoirs of a Diabetic Survivor, available soon. More

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    TikTok’s Viral 30-30-30 Challenge: Does It Work For Weight Loss?

    Ah, another day, another viral TikTok challenge. This time, creators on the app are championing a novel approach to weight loss: the 30-30-30 challenge, which involves eating 30g of protein within 30 minutes of waking up, followed by 30 minutes of exercise.

    As with anything, there are merits and sticky points when it comes to the viral challenge. We spoke to the experts about the 30-30-30 challenge to see how it holds up against the tried-and-true weight loss approaches we know and (seem to) hate: consistent exercise paired with a varied, healthy diet.

    Meet the experts: Claire Julsing-Strydom is a registered dietician specialising in PCOS and weight loss at Nutritional Solutions. Martene Michael is a registered dietician at Nutri Dynamix and is currently completing a Master of Medical Science specialising in the impact of certain dietary patterns on the human body.

    So… What is the 30-30-30 challenge?

    Put simply, the 30-30-30 challenge involves three simple things. Wake up and within 30 minutes, eat 30g of protein. Then, do 30 minutes of steady-state cardio exercise. This exercise can be something very simple like bike riding or a walk. The aim is to keep your heart rate at around 135bmp (beats per minute) while being able to walk or read comfortably.

    This method was first seen in Timothy Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Body but was made popular by biologist Gary Brecka on TikTok. The idea is that this forces the body to burn fat, as opposed to burning lean muscle (lean muscle burns fat at rest).

    READ MORE: What Is The 75 Hard Challenge—And Is It Safe? Trainers Break Down The Pros And Cons

    What does 30g of protein look like?

    While you’re welcome to eat a combination of carbs and fats with your meal, in order to reap the benefits of the 30-30-30 challenge, your protein must be at 30g.

    This looks like:

    Three scrambled eggs with cheese

    A protein powder shake

    High-protein bread or flapjacks

    1 cup of Greek yoghurt with berries and peanut butter

    A tofu scramble

    What does the 30 minutes of exercise look like?

    Since you’d need to keep your body at 135 bpm, stick to steady-state cardio. This could look like:

    Walking

    Riding a bike

    Stepping

    Running slowly

    Dancing

    READ MORE: 3 High-Protein, Low-Carb Breakfast Recipes You’ll Actually Love To Eat

    What are the benefits of the 30-30-30 challenge?

    A high-protein breakfast is a win

    Experts agree that a filling breakfast is a slam dunk towards weight loss goals. “I think it’s a great idea to wake up, have decent protein for breakfast and then exercise,” says registered dietician Claire Julsing-Strydom. “As a dietician, I often see people do things like oats, but add no protein, or they have toast with avo, which is fat but no protein – and they find that their energy levels dip throughout the day, they get hungrier throughout the day. We know that protein does give us more satiety and it helps with glucose control, too.”

    Martene Michael, a registered dietician, agrees. “With intermittent fasting, eating breakfast has been a hot topic of debate for a while. This 30-30-30 trend brings back breakfast, and I am all for it,” she says. “Encouraging a nutrient-dense, high-protein breakfast may be helpful in improving satiety and in turn, helps to reduce the consumption of high calorie, nutrient-dense foods throughout the day. Research continues to find that eating a protein-rich breakfast may be useful in stabilising blood sugar levels, combats insulin resistance and assisting in long-term, sustained weight loss.”

    Pre-workout fuel is a great idea

    “We also know that exercising straight after a meal helps with glucose control so I think what we’re getting here is the better blood glucose control with the protein,” says Julsing-Strydom.

    We also know that fasted cardio might not be a great idea when it comes to fat loss. “In the popular TikTok video, Brecka discusses the dangers of working out in a fasted state,” notes Michael. “Exercising in a fasted state can lead to the depletion of glycogen reserves, which typically occurs around 20 minutes into a workout. Once glycogen stores are exhausted, the body may resort to breaking down lean muscle tissue to sustain energy levels. This process can compromise muscle integrity and hinder the overall effectiveness of the workout.” Added to that, says Michael, “Consuming protein before a workout can help to prevent muscle breakdown during exercise and can provide amino acids as a readily available energy source during exercise.”

    READ MORE: What Is Cozy Cardio On TikTok? Trainers Weigh In On The Comfy Workout Trend

    What should you watch out for while doing the 30-30-30 challenge?

    According to Michael, make sure that your pre-workout meal also contains some form of healthy carbohydrates.

    “Our brain and muscle’s primary fuel source is carbohydrates. Thus, rather than aiming to hit 30g of protein in a pre-workout meal, it would be advisable to aim to consume a balanced pre-workout meal, consisting of easily digestible carbohydrate and protein sources – such as a light protein shake, rice cakes with fat-free cottage cheese or a low fat/fat-free mini yoghurt with some berries, seeds or nuts,” she says.

    Not everyone can eat that early

    Per Julsing-Strydom, some women might find it difficult to eat a rounded meal within 30 minutes of waking. “If someone would struggle to get this amount of protein in the morning, we’d normally recommend a shake so overall I don’t think this is a bad thing,” she notes. If this is you, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to eat a bit later, says Julsing-Strydom. “I think we mustn’t get into rigid formulas like this – normally those are the ones that do well on social media for the new diet on the block,” she says.

    Steady-state cardio is great, but might not burn all the fat

    “While LISS cardio has its benefits, it is not a magical or exclusive method for fat burning. The perception of any exercise as a ‘fat-burning’ solution can be misleading, and it’s important to understand the broader context of weight management and body composition,” warns Michael. “LISS (low-impact steady state) cardio may be effective for certain individuals. However, for others who have a higher baseline fitness level, this type of exercise may prove to be ineffective. Thus the type of exercise recommended should be based on a personalised approach.”

    READ MORE: Here’s How To Make Weight Loss Goals That Will Actually Stick in 2024

    Overall, experts warn against being too rigid in your weight loss approach. The 30-30-30 challenge, while helpful and potentially healthy, does have a rigidity to it that might not work for everyone. “As with any trending diet, caution is advised, and consulting with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional can provide personalized guidance tailored to your specific needs and goals,” says Michael. “Ultimately, creating a sustainable and healthy lifestyle involves adopting practices that work best for your body to promote long-term health and well-being.” We couldn’t agree more!

    Michelle is the features editor at WH. She’s immensely curious about the world, passionate about health and wellness and enjoys a good surf when the waves are good. More