More stories

  • in

    This 17-Day Eating Plan Will Help Get You Back In Shape

    Are you feeling a little off track with your mid-year goals? Get ready to jumpstart your fitness journey and bid farewell to those stubborn kilograms. This 17-day slim-down plan from WH’s nutritional advisor will have you zipping up your cocktail dress in record time.

    This eating plan contains mostly whole, minimally processed foods, limiting processed, high-salt foods and added sugars.

    Reduce Bloating

    To reduce the risk of bloating, typical gas-forming foods like beans, cabbage, onions, peppers, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and dried fruit have not been included. Also avoid raw apple, watermelon and chewing gum that contains sorbitol if these make you bloated.

    READ MORE: 28 Easy Food Swaps That’ll Help You Lose Weight

    How The Plan Works

    Build your own meals according to your preferences by choosing one of the five to six options provided for each meal and snack.

    You can have the snack whenever it suits you. If you prefer not to snack, you can add it to one of your three meals.

    During the 17-day period, avoid caffeine: caffeinated coffee, tea (except rooibos), chocolate and energy drinks.

    READ MORE: 5 Ways To Measure Healthy Portion Sizes Without A Scale

    Get the WH Eating Plan

    Download the meal plan and follow these tips for a new you in just 17 days!

    To maintain your new size, incorporate these eating tips into your diet going forward, or use this eating plan as a basis for creating a new, sustainably healthy way of eating.

    Extra Motivation

    Small Undated Wellness Diary

    Track your wellness and weight loss journey with one of these diaries from Typo. Inside you’ll find guides, calendars, quotes and tracking slots

    MyFitnessPal: Calorie Counter App

    Use this app to track your daily meals and activities during the 17 days. Plus, you can scan barcodes from local products and it has all the nutritional information.

    HS Motivational Water Bottle

    This 1L water bottle features motivational quotes and markers along the side, reminding you to stay focused, hydrated and determined throughout the day. More

  • in

    Why Drinking Diet Coke Won’t Help You Lose Weight

    Picture the scene: lunch has come and gone and, in offices across the land, Tupperware once home to prepped-ahead sweet potato, chickpeas and spinach lie empty. The sweet craving-fuelled temptation to attack a brownie is oh-so-real. But rather than blow a few hundred calories on a handful, women nationwide reach instead for so-called ‘guilt-free’ cans of chemically sweetened diet Coke.

    Are they ill-advised self-saboteurs for following healthy, totally ‘grammable meals with a diet fizzy drink? Perhaps – which makes it all the more tricky to admit I am one of them. A health editor who knows her nutrition – and should know better – but can’t get enough of the stuff.

    Another is Georgia Scarr. Glance at her Instagram and you’ll see all the healthy-girl hallmarks.

    Bird’s-eye view of eggs atop kale and roasted vegetables? Check. One lithe, toned body contorted into impressive yoga positions? Check again. But one lifestyle ritual that doesn’t make the edit is her diet cola habit.

    ‘I have a sweet tooth, but I don’t make a habit of eating junk food or sugary snacks,’ she says. ‘I monitor my calories, and I want them to be filled with something more nutritious than sugar. So if I can get that sweet taste via a calorie-free fizzy drink, that is kind of a win/win.’

    The enduring appeal of calorie-free fizzy pop might jar with the current ‘it’s a lifestyle, not a diet’ healthy eating zeitgeist. But Jane Ogden, professor of health psychology at the University of Surrey and author of The Psychology of Eating, isn’t surprised.

    ‘So-called “diet” drinks still appeal because, though people may package it as “eating well” or “looking after yourself”, many of us are essentially still dieting.’ And while our goals are more rippling abs than thigh gap, she is right in that the majority of us want to keep our body fat low.

    The problem with diet drinks

    ‘The word “diet” carries powerful connotations of being lean, healthy and in control,‘ Professor Ogden adds. ‘So while we continue to aspire to those things, “diet” labelling will draw us in – even if we’d rather not admit it.’ Put in those terms our fondness for diet drinks doesn’t seem so outdated.

    But are diet drinks actually helpful when you’re trying to get – and stay – lean? Bosses at Slimming World appear to think so.

    The organisation (offering weight loss help) classifies diet colas as a ‘free’ food – along with water and green vegetables – meaning that its members don’t have to track the amount they consume.

    But when you take a look at the evidence, this permissive attitude to drinks sweetened with chemicals such as sucralose and aspartame could be unhelpful.

    In one study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists found that participants who drank one litre of a diet fizzy drink daily gained 1.5kg after six months. The group who drank full-sugar soft drinks gained 10kg, so the diet option had less of an effect. But, if researchers were adding zero calories and zero sugar into their daily diets, why did the participants gain any?

    As it stands, there is no evidence-based answer. But Robert Lustig, professor of endocrinology at the University of California and leading anti-sugar campaigner, has a possible explanation. Essentially, that consuming artificial sweeteners can significantly alter your biochemistry and predispose you to gain fat.

    Insulin and weight gain: the link

    ‘The diet soft drink group gained weight not because they were increasing their calories, but because they increased their levels of insulin,’ he says. Made in the pancreas, insulin is a hormone that allows your body to use sugar (or glucose) from carbohydrates in the food you eat for energy – or store it for future use. ‘The more insulin you have in your blood, the more calories you will store as fat,’ adds Professor Lustig. ‘So anything that makes your insulin go up will make you gain weight.’

    Because they don’t contain any actual sugar, artificially sweetened drinks shouldn’t spike insulin. But in one study in the journal Diabetes Care, researchers split their study participants in two groups and supplied half with a diet soft drink. They then tested their glucose and insulin levels afterwards. They found 20% more insulin in the blood of those who had drunk the fake sugary drinks.

    Why? It’s all down to the fact that the body is primed to detect sweetness. So, when something sweet hits your tongue, specific receptors send messages throughout your system.

    ‘First, they send a message to the brain to say that sugar is coming. Then the brain sends a message to the pancreas telling it to expect the sugar, so it prepares to release insulin,’ explains Professor Lustig.

    But when you drink an artificially sweetened drink? The sugar never comes and the pancreas sends out the message that you need to seek out more glucose.

    Sugar vs sweeteners: What does the science say?

    Yasmin, 25, drinks several cans of diet cola weekly to help her stick to a ‘no-sugar lifestyle’.

    ‘I eat healthy fats through things like almonds and avocado – and I don’t count calories. I love having a can of diet cola because it means I can have the sweet taste without consuming any actual sugar.’

    Yasmin is confident that she will be keeping to her method. She’s down 12kg, wearing jeans for the first time in years. And she’s hitting the gym for strength and cardio sessions four times a week. ‘If these drinks help me stick to a plan that is definitely working for me, I don’t see it as a problem with it.’

    And yet, Professor Lustig warns that Yasmin may be making life hard for herself.

    ‘Drinking artificially sweetened drinks when you’re not eating actual sugar is self-defeating,’ he says. ‘The point of a “no-sugar lifestyle” is to de-sensitise yourself to sweet foods. But if you are regularly consuming sugar-free fizzy drinks then you are re-sensitising yourself daily.’

    Indeed, researchers at the University of Sydney found that adding artificial sweeteners to the diets of rats and flies resulted in an ‘imbalance in sweetness and energy’.

    After the brain realised it had the sweet taste without the dense calorie load it was expecting, it sent signals encouraging the animals to eat more – so it could reap the energy it had anticipated.

    ’What’s more, consuming the sweetener regularly actually increased the intensity of the natural sugary taste,’ says study author Dr Greg Neely. ‘So this increased the overall motivation of the animals to eat more.’ But, as before, more research – in humans – is needed.

    Beyond weight loss, are diet fizzy drinks healthy?

    There is still much we don’t know about how artificial sweeteners are linked to disease risk, too.

    While a recent study did show that people who drank diet drinks had an increased chance of developing cancer or strokes, lead author Dr Matthew Pase cautions that this is early observational research – so it is impossible to tease apart cause and effect.

    As for the claims that sweeteners such as aspartame could be cancer-causing? ‘The balance of evidence is that artificial sweeteners are safe for us to eat,’ says clinical dietitian Rick Miller.

    ‘Some small experiments on mice demonstrated a link between aspartame and the growth of cancerous tumours – but it is not clear if we can directly relate these results to humans.’

    Miller’s message for us habitual drinkers: don’t freak out, but do cut down – on all colas, be they ‘diet’ or full-sugar.

    ‘Regular and diet varieties contain phosphoric acid, which research suggests can reduce bone mineral density,’ he says.

    How to quit diet coke and other fizzy drinks

    Ready to consciously uncouple with your fizzy vice? Follow these three R’s.

    1/ Recognise

    ‘Next time you’re craving a fizzy diet drink, think about the context in which you drink it. Do you really want what is in the can or, instead, do you just want some fresh air – or some time to pause?’ says Ogden.

    Nail that, and you’ll be more able to see what you need – and one step closer to getting it.

    2/ Remember

    Think of your parting ways with artificially sweetened soft drinks like that break-up with your ex who you knew wasn’t good for you.

    ‘You’ll feel like you’re missing something, but it is not because you don’t have something that you need – you were fine before,’ says Ogden. ‘You feel like this because you created a space for something and it’s not there anymore.’

    3/ Replace

    That space needs filling will something else, but don’t expect tap water to effectively plug the gap.

    ‘Brew a herbal tea, or infuse a jug of water with chopped cucumber and mint,’ suggests Miller.

    Or, you know, have a snack. Something with essential antioxidant vitamins, fill-you-up healthy fats and sustaining fibre. which if you’re getting hungry between meals, you probably need.

    And let’s be clear – a stress fracture caused by weak bones is going to have a more detrimental impact to your aesthetic and athletic goals than a few mini chocolate brownies.

    Still, I can’t promise that I will have developed a willpower of steel and won’t have had a sneaky sip of my old poison by the time you have read this.

    But if I do choose to crack open a can, it certainly won’t be done mindlessly. Because, while a part of me may still be bought into the zero-sugar, zero-calorie promise, there is a big chance that my body is not.

    This article was first published in More

  • in

    These Are The 20 Best Healthy Snacks For Weight Loss

    If you’ve ever snacked your way through a jar of peanut butter in a day, you’re probably pretty damn convinced that snacking is your worst enemy when it comes to weight loss. But yeah, no. Snacks (you know, the healthy, well-portioned kind) can help ensure you don’t get so damn hungry you just say “screw it!” and give up on your whole diet. Still, whipping up your own perfectly portioned snack is way easier said than done. (Honestly, who knew a serving of peanut butter was only two measly tablespoons?!) Make things a whole lot easier on yourself and whip up these nutritionist-approved best healthy snacks for weight-loss snacks instead.

    1. Trail mix

    “My ideal healthy snack combines a little of each of the macronutrients—protein, carbohydrates and fats,” says dietician Kath Younger. “I love to rely on the combination of nuts and fruits, either fresh fruit or dried fruit for a longer shelf life. A small handful of trail mix is one of my favourite snacks that won’t spoil my appetite for my next meal.”

    Make it: Combine equal parts unsweetened dried fruit and unsalted roasted nuts (sorry, no M&Ms this time). Reach for a quarter cup of the mixture when you need a boost.

    Per serving: 682 kilojoules, 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 19 g carbs, 13 g sugar, 3 mg sodium, 2 g fibre, 5 g protein.

    The Master Trail Mix

    This mix, with pumpkin seeds and cranberries, will keep you going.

    On The Go Trail Mix

    Cashews, cherries and chocolate drops add sweetness to this nourishing mix.

    Woolworths Trail Mix

    This nut-based trail mix delivers nutrients and trace minerals.

    2. Yoghurt with nuts and berries

    Younger adds a sprinkle of nuts to protein-rich fat-free yoghurt for some satiating healthy fats. A small handful of berries or another chopped fruit will add texture and sweetness, plus filling fibre. It might sound basic, but it’s a classic snack for a reason.

    Make it: Combine 1/2 cup Greek yoghurt, 2 tablespoons chopped nuts, and 1/2 cup berries in a bowl.

    Per serving: 858 kilojoules, 11 g fat (0 g saturated), 13 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 43 mg sodium, 1 g fibre, 16 g protein.

    3. Sliced tomato with a sprinkle of feta and olive oil

    This savoury dish will make your taste buds happy. Tomatoes pack umami flavour, while feta adds tang and a little bit of salt.

    Make it: Slice 1 medium tomato (or slice up 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes), and top with 28g feta and 1 teaspoon olive oil.

    Per serving: 556 kilojoules, 11 g fat (5 g saturated), 5 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 265 mg sodium, 1 g fibre, 5 g protein.

    4. Shrimp and cocktail sauce

    Shrimp are a great source of lean protein, and it’s easy to find them pre-cooked in any supermarket. (Plus, it makes snack time feel way fancier!)

    Make it: Combine eight cooked, peeled, deveined shrimp with 1/4 cup cocktail sauce for dipping.

    Per serving: 527 kilojoules, 1 g fat (5 g saturated), 16 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 432 mg sodium, 1 g fibre, 14 g protein.

    5. Baby carrots with hummus

    Carrots and hummus are great snacks as is, but adding a sprinkle of seasoning will make your taste buds extra happy.

    Make it: Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of seasoning on top of 1/4 cup of regular hummus. Eat with 1 cup of baby carrots.

    Per serving: 987 kilojoules, 12 g fat (5 g saturated), 27 g carbs, 12 g sugar, 416 mg sodium, 10 g fibre, 6 g protein.

    6. ‘Banana split’

    Dietician Robin Plotkin suggests a healthy version of the classic dessert by halving a banana, then topping it with yoghurt and nuts. It’s a delicious combo of carbs, protein, and healthy fat—more importantly, it’s super fun to eat.

    Make it: Slice a small banana in half vertically. Top the open banana face with 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yoghurt and 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts.

    Per serving: 1013 kilojoules, 10 g fat (1 g saturated), 33 g carbs, 18 g sugar, 23 mg sodium, 4 g fibre, 10 g protein.

    7. Egg on toast

    This healthy snack is great for breakfast lovers—it’s as satisfying as a meal, but the slightly smaller portion size won’t weigh you down. Plotkin recommends using hard-boiled eggs for convenience, which you can make ahead or buy. If you have access to a stove, you can also opt for a scrambled or fried egg.

    Make it: Toast a slice of whole-grain toast. Top with one egg, cooked to your preference.

    Per serving: 761 kilojoules, 6 g fat (2 g saturated), 20 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 221 mg sodium, 3 g fibre, 11 g protein.

    8. Chocolate milk

    This might seem like just something for kids, but it legit is a pretty great snack—especially for replenishing post-workout thanks to the simple carbs from the chocolate and the milk’s lactose.

    Make it: Stir 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup into 1 cup 2 per cent milk.

    Per serving: 728 kilojoules, 5 g fat (3 g saturated), 25 g carbs, 21 g sugar, 134 mg sodium, 1 g fibre, 8 g protein.

    9. White beans and olive tapenade

    “Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Kalamata olive tapenade,” says dietician Kendra Tolbert. “It’s a great combo of fibre, fat, protein and resistant starch that’ll keep you full and satisfied.” Tolbert eats it by the spoonful, but you can also scoop it up with a few whole-grain pita chips or cucumber slices.

    Make it: Mix 1 teaspoon tapenade with 1/2 cup canned white beans (drained and rinsed).

    Per serving: 728 kilojoules, 4 g fat (0 g saturated), 20 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 121 mg sodium, 6 g fibre, 6 g protein.

    10. Dates and pistachios

    “It’s the usual fruit and nuts combo, but a little more sophisticated,” says Tolbert. Dates have a honey-like sweetness, which combines with the strong flavour of pistachios into a snack that feels like dessert.

    Make it: Combine 2 pitted dates with 2 tablespoons pistachios.

    Per serving: 891 kilojoules, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 40 g carbs, 33 g sugar, 35 mg sodium, 5 g fibre, 4 g protein.

    11. Edamame with sea salt

    Plotkin loves sprinkling edamame, in its shell or out, with a bit of sea salt. In addition to plant-based protein, you get fibre and a good dose of potassium.

    Make it: Drizzle 1/2 cup shelled edamame with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

    Per serving: 586 kilojoules, 8 g fat (1 g saturated), 8 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 481 mg sodium, 1 g fibre, 8 g protein.

    12. PB-chocolate apple ‘nachos’

    This sounds crazy-indulgent, but it’s actually a well-balanced snack, says Plotkin. You’ll get protein and lots of fibre, which will help slow the digestion of the little bit of added sugar from dark chocolate (preventing a mid-afternoon crash).

    Make it: Thinly slice a medium apple, then drizzle them with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter and 15g melted dark chocolate.

    Per serving: 1058 kilojoules, 13 g fat (4 g saturated), 35 g carbs, 25 g sugar, 74 mg sodium, 7 g fibre, 4 g protein.

    Buttanutt Peanut Butter

    This creamy nothing-but-nuts mix smooths over everything from oats to crackers.

    Simple Truth Smooth Peanut Butter

    This roasted peanut butter has no sugar added.

    Faithful To Nature Crunchy Peanut Butter

    This crunchy peanut butter adds texture, taste & plant-based nutrients to your meals.

    13. Microwave egg taco

    Get creative with your microwave and make a tasty snack with enough protein to carry you to your next meal.

    Make it: “Crack one egg into a microwave-safe mug and cook for 90 seconds,” says Plotkin. Immediately stir in 15g shredded cheddar, then serve inside a small whole-wheat tortilla.

    Per serving: 761 kilojoules, 10 g fat (5 g saturated), 11 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 360 mg sodium, 3 g fibre, 11 g protein.

    14. Roasted chickpeas

    “If you’re craving something salty and crunchy, roasted beans are a much better option than chips thanks to their combo of protein and fibre, says dietician Jessica Levinson.

    Make it: Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas, then toss them with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever spice you want. Roast at 400° F for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then eat. One batch makes three servings.

    Per serving: 669 kilojoules, 8 g fat (1 g saturated), 17 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 292 mg sodium, 4 g fibre, 5 g protein.

    15. Almond butter crackers

    “Peanut butter crackers serve as a quick option for people on the run, but the pre-packaged snack can have many hidden ingredients and kilojoules,” says dietician Shamera Robinson. DIY it instead.

    Make it: Spread 1 tablespoon almond butter (or any nut or seed butter) between 28g whole grain crackers.

    Per serving: 974 kilojoules, 12 g fat (2 g saturated), 23 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 227 mg sodium, 5 g fibre, 8 g protein.

    16. Homemade popcorn

    “Popcorn is a great snack to fill up on,” says Robinson, thanks to all the fibre. And you don’t have to stick with the plain stuff, either. “Try sprinkling garlic powder and dried rosemary (or Italian seasoning) for extra flavour,” suggests Robinson.

    Make it: Pop 3 tablespoons of popcorn kernels in 1/2 Tbsp canola oil in a large saucepan on the stove. Top with your favourite herbs or spices.

    Per serving: 674 kilojoules, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 28 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 15 mg sodium, 5 g fibre, 4 g protein.

    17. DIY tzatziki dip with veggies

    Greek yoghurt is a great high-protein snack that is usually sweet. However, you can easily turn that into a savoury snack by making tzatziki.

    Make it: Add grated cucumber, salt, pepper, crushed garlic and lemon juice to 1/2 cup low-fat Greek yoghurt. Use 1 cup carrot or cucumber sticks for dipping.

    Per serving: 594 kilojoules, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 18 g carbs, 9 g sugar, 395 mg sodium, 4 g fibre, 9 g protein.

    18. Cottage cheese with almonds and honey

    “This creamy-crunchy-sweet combo is second to none,” says Robinson. The cottage cheese is rich in protein, while almonds add crunch and healthy fats. And a hint of honey makes things sweet without going overboard on added sugar.

    Make it: Top 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese with 2 tablespoons slivered almonds and 1 teaspoon honey.

    Per serving: 820 kilojoules, 10 g fat (2 g saturated), 12 g carbs, 10 g sugar, 363 mg sodium, 2 g fibre, 17 g protein.

    19. Biltong with raisins

    “The ideal snack is portable and packed with satisfying lean protein,” says dietician Nicole Rodriguez. Biltong fits the bill, and most brands pack a good amount of protein for less kilojoules. Look for lower salt varieties. Pair with raisins for some energising carbs and filling fibre.

    Make it: Combine 28g biltong with 2 tablespoons raisins.

    Per serving: 615 kilojoules, 1 g fat (1 g saturated), 19 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 390 mg sodium, 1 g fibre, 15 g protein.

    20. Pear and stringy cheese

    If you love fancy cheese plates for their combination of sweet, salty, and creamy flavours, you’ll love this less-fussy snack. Pears have natural sugar and lots of fibre, while stringy cheese (you can get it at Woolies) is an easy way to get some satiating fat and protein in on the go.

    Make it: Slice one medium pear. Eat with one low-fat stringy cheese.

    Per serving: 761 kilojoules, 6 g fat (4 g saturated), 27 g carbs, 17 g sugar, 172 mg sodium, 6 g fibre, 8 g protein.

    This article was originally published on More

  • in

    “Here’s How I Lost Over 20 Kilos And Regained My Confidence”

    One woman, powered by research and a strong resolve, lost over 20 kilos in just two years. Here’s how Carol did it.

    When 40-year-old Carol Mgenge was young, she thought that being big was natural for her body, taking the cue from her big-boned family. “I think it was [in] high school where I realized that no, it’s not normal for me to be this size,” she recalls. During her time at school, she started becoming interested in fashion but felt left out when clothes didn’t fit the way they were supposed to. “So I tried in school to get into sports, but I couldn’t get into any sport because of my size,” she says.

    She kept struggling along, trying different forms of exercise to lose weight. “I tried weightlifting, [but] nothing worked, actually,” she says. As time went on, she started accepting her weight but wasn’t happy with it. “And then I started realizing ‘No, you know what, maybe they are right. Maybe I’m born this way and that’s that,” she says.

    The turning point

    At the age of 36, Carol finished her studies and was about to graduate. As is custom, she wanted to look her best on stage, so she sought out the perfect graduation dress. “There was this pretty dress that I wanted and it couldn’t fit me,” she recalls. “I was so broken.” Carol resorted to asking someone to custom-make the dress for her, but it wasn’t what she wanted. She resorted to going back to the gym to try and shift kilos, but it took her two years to lose only two kilograms.

    “I wanted to quit but I said to myself, ‘You know what, let me just do this and break the myth that says that in my family, we are big’,” she explains. From then on, Carol made more of an effort and started doing research. “You’ll be surprised by all the wrong information you are given online,” Carol notes. She tried different diets in an effort to really shed some weight, even opting for something called the egg diet, where she ate tiny portions, including an egg and lots of citruses. While it worked, it wasn’t sustainable and once she stopped, the kilos piled back on. “I started doing my research and going for 20-minute walks every day, then doing park runs on Saturdays. But I was not losing any weight,” she says.

    The Change

    Carol, like most of us, scrolls through Instagram and follows weight loss and wellness pages as inspiration. It was there that she came across a Women’s Health live workout. Carol joined in and was struck by something the trainer said at the end. “You don’t have to be strict on yourself; put yourself under pressure for weight loss. Just take your time,” the trainer had said, adding, “80% of weight loss is down to what you eat and the other 20% is exercise.” This stuck out to Carol. At the time, she realized that she’d been eating lots of junk food for comfort. She decided to try something new. She opted for healthier, nourishing meals and stocked up on protein sources. “It works for me. I eat lots of protein now,” she adds. “I started watching what I each and followed the recipes that are published in Women’s Health magazine, which help me a great deal and improved my cooking as well.”

    Carol opted for filling smoothies for breakfast, then a healthy snack at around 11 am, like avocado. She’d have fish for lunch and get more exercise. Dinner would be protein-packed, with veggies. She also loves weightlifting and adds in cardio and dancing.

    Carol Mgenge’s weight loss results

    Over the course of two years, Carol lost more weight than she’d ever lost before. When she started, she weighed in at 98kg. Now, she weighs 74kg and can fit into clothes she couldn’t wear before. “I now wear a size 36, and I’d never worn a size 36 in my life,” she marvels. Now, Carol is training for a marathon. She also established a positive dialogue with her body. “Another thing I discovered is that your body talks to you. If I need water, my body tells me, and I drink water, not cooldrink,” she notes.

    To her, her journey is as much about weight loss as it is about demystifying cultural norms. “When you are a big, thick woman, they give you this impression that that’s how a woman is supposed to be,” Carol says. “And then you forget about what you want, how do you feel? And then how is going to affect you in the long run especially when you are a teen, going into womanhood.” Carol says her journey has impacted her life in many ways, including boosting her confidence. She’s now able to stand up in church and speak more confidently in ways she didn’t before. “I got into leadership; I’m able to stand in the pulpit and say something and I’m more comfortable now,” she says. And what better reward is there than that, really? More

  • in

    Um, People Are Using Sea Moss For Weight Loss But Does It Work?

    There is seemingly no end to what we’ll try to keep trim: down spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar and even combine coffee with lemons. Now, enter the new It-Girl of weight loss: sea moss.

    The spiny plant, which grows abundantly in the ocean, has been used for ages as a thickening agent, because of a compound called carrageenan. Now, people are eating spoonfuls of the stuff in the hope that it’ll shift kilos, clear up skin and boost their health.

    What is sea moss?

    Sea moss is a sea vegetable that’s used commercially to thicken foods. Scientifically, it’s known by the name Chondrus crispus, and it’s a type of algae that grows along Atlantic coasts. It’s also known as Irish Moss. It grows in different colours, from purple, white and green, and each have their own benefits.

    What are the benefits of sea moss?

    “Up until recently, sea moss had not been extensively studied, but its benefits are believed to be like those of other seaweeds,” says registered dietician Cally Frost of Nutritional Solutions.

    They contain a few vitamins and minerals that have escalated their status from overlooked seaweed to certified superfood. Per the USDA, sea moss is low in calories and has a moderate amount of protein, while being high in fibre. It’s also high in calcium, iron, magnesium, copper and zinc. Because it’s a sea veg, sea moss supports thyroid health because it’s high in iodine, a micronutrient that’s clutch for healthy thyroid function. They’re also touted to be imbibed with live bacteria, which supports a healthy gut.

    “There are, however, many factors that can reduce the bioaccessibility and bioavailability of seaweed components and further randomised controlled clinical trials are required in large human cohorts.,” says Cally.

    Sea moss also supports your immune system, since they’re rich in bioactive compounds like proteins, peptides and amino acids. These “are responsible for imparting various health benefits and immune system support,” says Cally. But they’re not the Holy Grail.

    “Whilst these elements are important, it is by no means superior to supporting your immune system through a healthy lifestyle such as eating nutrient rich food sources, regular exercise, cessation of smoking and alcohol etc,” Cally cautions.

    So, does sea moss work for weight loss?

    It might. But that’s only due to a few factors, the biggest of which is its high fibre content. Fibre isn’t digested in the gut, which leads to a feeling of satiety for longer, making you eat less in the long run. But tons of foods are high in fibre, like lentils, beans and complex carbohydrates. So filling up with those could mitigate the need to add sea moss into your diet.

    Next, sea moss is full of a compound, fucoxanthin, which some studies in rats have found can help with fat metabolism and could prevent the absorption of fat. But we need more studies to understand this process more fully in humans.

    “By adding sea moss to the diet, a person may inadvertently be improving other factors of their diet at the same time, which may contribute to weight loss,” says Cally. “There are currently no scientific articles or research to support the claim that sea moss directly facilitates weight loss.”

    What are the downsides?

    Before using any product, it’s important to do your research and see if the ingredient list stacks up. Since it’s a key contributor of iodine, you’d need to make sure you don’t take too much, especially if you’re struggling with hyperthyroidism or take thyroid medication. Then there’s the issue of heavy metals. “Seaweeds possess the risk of accumulating heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury and lead. This depends on where it has been harvested from,” Cally notes.

    “There is still so much to learn about the efficacy and safety of sea moss, and it is important to be aware of the potential risks and to not get caught up in the hype of the next trend, especially if the source of information is not coming from an accredited health care professional.” More

  • in

    5 Easy Eating Habits That’ll Help You Lose Weight And Get Healthier

    It’s time to ditch the fad diets and embrace the power of simple, healthy eating habits. These habits may seem small, but they can have a big impact on your overall well-being. By adopting these righteous rituals, you can change your body for the better and feel your best. And the best part?

    These habits aren’t complicated or time-consuming. They can easily be integrated into your daily routine without much effort. So, whether it’s swapping out sugary drinks for water, adding more veggies to your plate, or eating mindfully, these gastronomic good deeds should be at the top of your to-do list today.

    Habit 1: Say yes to beans

    Top your salads with half a cup of black beans or kidney beans. Legume eaters have smaller waistlines and a 22% lower risk of obesity than bean shunners.

    Faithful to Nature Black Beans

    Woolworths Split Red Lentils

    Komati White Kidney Beans

    Habit 2: Squeeze in goodness

    Squeeze a lemon wedge into every glass of water you drink. One lemon provides just 63kJ, but more than 45 percent of your daily immune-boosting vitamin C (and it costs a lot less than flavoured bottled water).

    Habit 3: Garlic for the win

    Use crushed garlic when cooking vegetables. It slashes your risk of everything from food-borne illnesses to heart disease and the common cold.

    Habit 4: An apple (or two) a day…

    Eat two apples as an afternoon snack. They act as nature’s energy bar and, if you leave their skin on, two of these crunchy gems help you meet 20 percent of your daily fibre quota for just 500kJ. They also deliver loads of the antioxidant vitamin C and the mineral potassium, which reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease while soothing feelings of anxiety, irritability and stress.

    UCook Curried Chicken & Butternut Recipe

    5. Ed’s tip: UCook Meal Kits

    One of the biggest saboteurs of healthy eating? Time.

    Try the UCook meal kits or frozen dishes to take out the hassle of planning dinner tonight. They offer restaurant-quality meals planned, packed and delivered to your doorstep.

    Opt for the Veggie and Carb Conscious options.

    Women’s Health participates in various affiliate marketing programmes, which means we may get commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. More

  • in

    22 Simple Tips To Help You Lose Weight Safely—They Actually Work

    Are you tired of constantly trying to lose weight and failing? This is often due to bad desperate decision-making. Yes, we are looking at you bread-hating diets and you torturous Cleanse diet. It’s time to break the cycle and make healthy habits that’ll stick.

    Losing weight by improving your diet and lifestyle is without a doubt the healthiest way to go. All you need is practical tips on how to incorporate simple, easy and healthy choices so that you can not only shed those extra kilos. They’ll help you transform your relationship with food and exercise and embrace a happier, healthier version of yourself!  These tips hold true for most across the board — and they’re theories that you can put into practice today. Let’s get started!

    1. Do Some Aerobic Moves

    Not the Jane Fonda kind, but aerobic exercise. It refers to the exercise you do ‘with oxygen’ (think: cardio), and it used to be considered the best exercise for burning fat, as you use a higher percentage of it for energy. But it’s the anaerobic kind (short bursts of intensity, like HIIT – more on that later) that burn more energy over time.

    2. Burn Brown Fat For Weight loss

    The fat in your body is made up of different colours. Surprised? We know! White fat is the standard fat that stores energy and gathers around your body. Too much of this white fat can cause obesity. Brown fat is a type of body fat that regulates your body temperature in cold conditions. Brown fat also burns calories and generates heat, as does the less potent but more plentiful beige. Regular prolonged cold exposure fires up both helping you to slim down. Turn your air conditioner down to 19 degrees.

    3. Work The Deficits To Slim down

    If you are looking to lose body fat, you’ll need to be in a calorie deficit, explains sports nutrition expert Dr Emilia Thompson. “That means, simply, that you’re burning off more calories through exercise than you’re taking in.” Not a fan of tracking every morsel? Thompson recommends ruling out post-dinner snacks as a low-effort way to stay within your caloric budget and, ultimately, maintain your deficit.

    4. Watch Your Environment

    By which we mean factors that influence you to eat more and move less. This covers everything from eating the leftovers straight out of the pot (portion size) to a commute that consists of walking to your dining room table (sedentary jobs) and medicating a bad mood with an entire box of Astros (stress).

    5. Choose Foods That Keep You Full

    Or satiated. The goal is to choose foods that keep you comfortably full, for a while – and not to the point where you need a nap. The protein-rich yoghurt, fibrous fruit and fatty flaxseed in this breakfast parfait from performance nutritionist Liam Holmes will reduce your levels of hunger hormone ghrelin and raise levels of satiating peptides.


    150g Greek yoghurt (or a vegan alternative)

    A handful of berries

    1⁄2 banana, sliced

    2 tbsp flaxseed

    METHOD: Dollop half the yoghurt in a jar or bowl. Add half the fruit and flaxseed. Repeat. Eat.

    6. Watch The Junk

    In a Stanford study, we cited subjects who lost significant amounts of weight without counting calories by eschewing processed foods for the whole, real and satisfying kind. Guess what? They ate fewer calories without number-crunching. Quantity and quality both have an impact.

    7. Check Your Intentions

    Ensure that you’re trying to lose weight for the right reasons. If you think you can reduce deep sadness by slimming down or control a scary situation by controlling the number on the scale, that’s anything but healthy and could tip you over into disordered eating territory. Address the emotional issue first.

    8. TRY A HIIT Workout

    Want to torch excess fat in an expeditious fashion? Welcome high-intensity intervals into your weekly workout schedule. Try this no-gear, no-excuses circuit. Warm up, then go hard on each move for 45 seconds, resting for 15 in between. Build up to three circuits, giving yourself a minute after each round to get your breath back.

    01 | Push-up

    02 | Squat jump

    03 | Bicycle crunch

    04 | Close-hand push-up

    05 | Jump lunge

    06 | Bicycle crunch

    07 | Staggered-hand push-up

    08 | Split squat jump

    09 | Bicycle crunch

    9. Drink More Water

    Animal studies indicate that H2O may facilitate fat breakdown, while human trials show that if you drink more, especially before meals, you’ll eat less, as it helps you distinguish thirst from hunger. Another reason to hit your 2L target.

    10. Go Slow And Steady

    Your metabolism slows as you lose weight, stalling progress – or even reversing it. Former contestants on the diet show The Biggest Loser came away burning up to 800 calories per day fewer than average. Why? Because their bodies had adapted by going into starvation mode, doing all they could to cling to fat stores. Go slow and steady: aim to lose no more than 1kg a week.

    11. Axe Keto

    Touted to being the queen of weight loss. Think again. If you’re unfamiliar with “Atkins on steroids”, it’s essentially forgoing carbs (and fun) to get your body into ketosis: a state in which it burns fat for fuel. But once calories are matched, other diets are as effective for weight loss and superior for exercise performance and retaining muscle. Is it really worth forgoing fruit, veg, fibrous grains and beer? Didn’t think so. Should you need more convincing, two words: keto breath.

    12. Say No To Stress

    Stress triggers cravings and may leave you too strung out to buy and prepare healthy foods. It can lead you to eat poorly, mindlessly and irregularly (by disrupting hunger signals) or emotionally. Plus, you lose out on sleep. Dial it down with meditation, yoga or this breathing exercise by Michael Townsend Williams, founder of Do Breathe (

    01 | Sit somewhere comfortable and, ideally, quiet (or wear headphones).

    02 | Breathe deeply from your belly and through your nose, feeling the air passing through you.

    03 | Count to five on each inhale and exhale. Repeat three to five times.

    13. Get Some Light

    We kid you not. Yes, we’re talking about the UV kind. The sun’s rays shrink white fat cells, while studies have linked bright morning sunlight exposure to lower BMI because it signals that it’s time for your metabolism to get moving. Meanwhile, vitamin D from sunlight, salmon and eggs stir the fullness hormone leptin. Go for an al fresco brunch, basically.

    14. Stop Overeating

    Just don’t do it. Only eat when you feel physical hunger (gradual and in your stomach), not emotional (sudden and for a specific food). Ask yourself if you’re thirsty or bored. And be sure to stop before you’re full – as opposed to 10 minutes after.

    15. Work Your Quads

    Write this down: One of the two prime movers in a squat, a move that burns the most calories of all the common lifts. Read again, ‘burns THE MOST calories of all the common lifts’. Strength training while losing weight retains and even adds muscle, which raises your metabolic rate.

    16. Be Pro Probiotic

    Yes, the gut. You’ve been there, done that and brewed the kombucha. But did you know that gut bacteria also affect calorie extraction? Grow your own probiotics in your gut by eating plenty of garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, cabbage and oats. All contain prebiotic fibres that “good” bacteria go crazy for.

    17. Try Tracking

    Pretty self-explanatory, this. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a useful way of monitoring your dietary intake. Whether you use an app or pen and paper, give as much detail as you can about where key health markers – sleep, digestion, mood – are that day. It’ll help you see how lifestyle tweaks are affecting you.

    18. Reward Yourself

    The odd treat (not “cheat”) doesn’t affect your metabolism substantially but can refuel your staying power. But if weight loss is your goal, keep within your deficit, or all that discipline will be in vain.

    19. Eat More Consciously

    You eat more when you’re distracted by screens or music. So, contemplate what’s on your plate with mindful eating: bring your awareness to what you’re consuming, slow down and savour the smells, colours, textures and flavours. Om (nom nom).

    20. Eat More Veggies

    Eating less is hard – so eat more. According to a Penn State study, subjects trained to monitor portion sizes still ate however much was in front of them, but they consumed fewer calories by filling up on low-calorie, high-fibre veg. Devote half your plate to a variety of vegetables and you’re good.

    21. Add Yoga To Your Regime

    Regular practice can support weight loss for reasons beyond a raised heart rate. In a 2016 study, yogis who had lost weight credited the discipline with reducing cravings and stress eating. It’s also been proven to aid sleep.

    22. Get More Zzz’s

    Insufficient shut-eye causes you to sleepwalk towards a bunch of weight loss-sabotaging behaviours: eating bigger portions, selecting food impulsively, consuming more calories and expending less energy overall. It disturbs your hormones and gut bacteria to boot. So, remember: if you don’t adequately snooze, you don’t lose. More

  • in

    The Alkaline Diet: Can This Unusual Viral Method Seriously Help You Shed Kilos?

    By dietician Karen Ansel

    The Alkaline Diet, or so-called pee strip diet, is having a moment. According to the New York Post, celebs like Kate Hudson and Jennifer Aniston are fans of the plan, which requires you to monitor your pH levels by peeing on a strip of paper that tests your urine. Fun right? It’s also doing the rounds on TikTok, with advocates touting its many health benefits, from weight loss to more energy.

    The Alkaline Diet theory

    Certain foods (and not always obviously acidic ones like lemons and tomatoes) are said to produce acidic by-products when digested. These can throw off your pH balance and lead to weight gain, according to fans of the diet. There’s also the theory that these foods produce mucous in the body, which fuels disease by allowing them to thrive.

    Proponents of the diet say you should swap acid-forming eats like meat, eggs, dairy, processed foods and most grains. Instead, opt for high-alkaline fruits, vegetables, beans, tofu, nuts and seeds to correct your body’s pH and magically torch fat.

    In order to create an alkaline environment, you’d need to cut out acid-forming foods and introduce alkaline foods. In order to make sure your body is in an alkaline level, you’d need to pee on a strip to test.

    But does it work?

    While it’s a no-brainer that switching from fatty meats and processed carbs to a low-kilojoule produce-and-legume regimen will help you drop kilos, there’s zero evidence that your body’s pH has anything to do with it – or even that a certain diet can affect pH at all.

    “If our diets were able to drive the pH of our blood outside of the body’s normal range, people with lousy diets would be falling into comas and dropping dead left and right,” says nutritionist Tamara Duker Freuman, a registered dietician. Alkaline diets can be nutritionally sound but often lack many of the nutrients that vegan diets do. That’s not to say the alkaline diet hasn’t been praised by vegans on TikTok, since the diet focuses on raw foods, like cucumber noodles.

    Plus, while your pH in urine can be influenced by food, your blood should stay in a normal pH range, which is already slightly alkaline, with a pH of 7.36–7.44. Your stomach, on the other hand, should be acidic, which is key for digesting food. It could be fatal if your blood’s pH goes out of balance. This happens when you drink too much alcohol, are diabetic or during starvation.

    The Conclusion

    While the alkaline diet encourages you to focus on whole foods, leading to a healthier body overall, studies can’t guarantee specific health benefits. Any weight loss would result from cutting out whole food groups, leading to a calorie deficit. Since the science isn’t up to scratch, you’re better off focusing on whole, healthy foods, rather than trying to alkalise your body.

    This article was originally published on  More