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7 Things That Can Happen To Your Body On A Restrictive Diet

On a diet? Be careful. According to Irene Labuschagne, a dietician at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences’ Nutritional Information Centre of Stellenbosch University (NICUS), the information available on nutrition is often perceived as contradictory, which makes it difficult to distinguish between fact, misinformation and fiction. “People are constantly looking for that magic bullet approach to losing weight, wanting a quick fix,” says Labuschagne.

“These diets can come at a price. Not just a financial cost, but there can often be a cost to health if these diets are followed over a period of time,” Labuschagne explains.

Labuschagne notes that healthy diets should be easy to adhere to over time. “An eating pattern for life should be the one that one can stick to and it should include enjoyment, a rich variety of foods in appropriate portion sizes and moderation.” You should consider what changes you should make in the long-term to not only lose weight, but to keep it off.

The Cost Of An Unhealthy Diet

Labuschagne also emphasises that restrictive diets may be counterproductive and may even cause emotional distress and unhealthy eating patterns.

“All of us know someone who is on a diet. Unfortunately, for many women, being a dieter represents not only something that they do, but may also be an important aspect of how they see themselves.”

Restrained eaters (chronic on again-off again dieters who are concerned about their weight) are primarily women who are (or feel) pressured to conform to the thin ideal, who see themselves as too fat (even when their body weight is normal/healthy), and who define their self-worth on the basis of their perceptions of their weight and shape. This leads to a lot of women and to abuse to the restrictive diets and to suffer eating disorders.

Other Negatives?

Inadequate nutrient intake.
Nutrient deficiencies.
Unhealthy food and body preoccupation.
Repeated cycles of weight loss and weight gain.
Distraction from other personal health goals and wider health determinants.
Reduced self-esteem.
Eating disorders or disordered eating.

So How Do You Spot A Fad Diet?

Outrageous claims of success: Diets that claim rapid weight loss should be viewed skeptically. In reality, on a healthy weight-loss diet, people will lose about 1-3 kilos per week max, depending on their current weight, fat percentage, and other variables.
Testimonials: These can be very compelling, but most of the time are not true or based on any real evidence. Celebrities are often linked to fad diets too.
The diet has a ‘secret’: Fad diets often claim to have ‘the secret’ or ‘key’ to weight loss. Claims and language such as “unlocking the secret,” “hacking the body” or “unleashing the genetic code” are often used.
They demonise a food group: These diets advocate specific food recommendations and restrictive menus. This often goes hand in hand with the concept that there are also magic foods that should be encouraged.

Bottom line?

According to the Nutritional Information Centre, healthy adults should follow a diet high in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in low- and fat-free dairy products and alcohol; and a small amount of red and processed meat.

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7 Fat-Melting Supplements You Need To Include In Your Diet

You can lose weight without starving yourself or drastically restricting your food choices. You can eat reasonable portions and put in reasonable workouts at the gym, and you can shed fat while you do it.

How? It all comes down to eating the right combination of foods — foods that will shift your body out of fat-storage mode and into fat-melting mode. Specific vitamins and nutrients can actually help to flip an internal switch that signals cells throughout your body to burn more kilojoules, wasting many of those kilojoules as heat. Without these important nutrients, the opposite happens. Your body holds onto fat. Your metabolism slows and your weight-loss efforts become an exercise in futility.

Optimise these critical fat-melting nutrients so you can finally drop those stubborn kilos and keep them off for good. In this way, you can still consume reasonable portions and put in a reasonable amount of exercise. Yes, you still have to watch your portions. Yes, exercise is still important. But fat-melting foods work in your favour so you can eat and move in a way that is reasonable, effective, and realistic for life.

VITAMIN D

How It Melts Fat: Study after study shows that vitamin D helps to ensure body cells listen and respond to insulin, a hormone secreted from your pancreas. One of its jobs is to help glucose get into body cells, which burn glucose for energy. How well insulin pushes glucose into cells is called “insulin sensitivity.” The more sensitive your cells are to insulin, the better. The less sensitive they are to insulin, the more likely the kilojoules you eat will end up in your fat cells.

When levels of D are low, levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH) rise. Higher than normal levels of PTH trigger a series of reactions that eventually lead to fat cells converting sugar into fat and hoarding fat rather than releasing it to be burned, explains Dr. Michael B. Zemel, director of the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

A lack of vitamin D may also interfere with leptin, a hormone that signals your brain to stop eating. Your body doesn’t know when it’s full, so you continue to eat.

CALCIUM

How It Melts Fat: Calcium is a mineral that works in tandem with D to help you shed fat. Calcium is stored in fat cells, and researchers think that the more calcium a fat cell has, the more fat that cell will release to be burned. Calcium also promotes weight loss by binding to fat in your GI tract, preventing some of it from getting absorbed into your bloodstream.

PROTEIN

How It Melt Fat: In addition to keeping hunger in check, eating protein at every meal helps to keep body composition — the amount of fat relative to muscle — in better proportion. Along with calcium and D, protein helps you to preserve muscle mass as you drop kilos. A recent study out of the University of Illinois found that women who consumed protein twice daily lost 3.9 percent more weight than women who consumed less of it on a diet. They not only lost more weight, they also got stronger as they did so, with their thigh muscles alone ending up with 5.8 percent more protein at the end of the diet than before.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS

How They Melt Fat: omega-3s enable weight loss by switching on enzymes that trigger fat-burning in cells. They also help to boost mood, which may help reduce emotional eating. And omega 3s might improve leptin signalling in the brain, causing the brain to turn up fat burning and turn down appetite. Fatty fish like salmon (which are also high in vitamin D) are one of the richest sources of this fat. Other foods, such as some nuts and seeds, contain a type of fat that can be converted into omega-3s after ingestion.

MONOUNSATURATED FATTY ACIDS (MUFAS)

How They Melt Fat: One Danish study of 26 men and women found that a diet that included 20 percent of its kilojoules from MUFAs, a type of fat found in olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, peanut butter, and chocolate, improved 24-hour kilojoule burning by 0.1 percent and fat burning by 0.04 percent after 6 months. Other research shows that MUFAs zero in on belly fat. Specific foods that are high in MUFAs — especially peanuts, tree nuts, and olive oil — have been shown to keep blood sugar steady and reduce appetite, too.

CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACID (CLA)

How It Burns Fat: CLAs are potent fat burners that are found, along with D and calcium, in dairy products. They are fatty acids that are created when bacteria ferments the food in the first part of the stomach of cows, sheep, and other ruminant animals. The CLA that is created through fermentation then makes its way into the meat and milk of these animals.

When we consume these foods, the CLA helps blood glucose enter body cells, so CLA can be burned for energy and not stored as fat. CLA also helps to promote fat burning, especially in muscles, where the bulk of our kilojoule burning takes place.

Note: There’s a downside to this fat melter. Most of these studies involving CLA were performed using huge amounts of CLA — amounts that you’d only be able to consume if you ate 18 kilos of beef at once. (We don’t know about you, but we certainly can’t eat 18 kilos of beef for dinner.) While you might not be able to consume enough of it through food alone to melt off a huge amount of fat, but you can consume enough of it to help nudge your metabolism into a fat-burning state. And when you add it to the other fat melters — especially the D, calcium, and protein — you will create the perfect environment for total-body fat burning.

POLYPHENOLS

How They Melt Fat: Polyphenols are the antioxidants that give green tea its health-and metabolism-boosting punch. Research shows they boost resting metabolic rate by up to a whopping 17 percent, helping the body to burn more fat. One recent study done on rats found that EGCG, the polyphenol in green tea, blocked weight gain and prevented metabolic syndrome when rats were fed a high-fat diet. You can actually feel this effect after you drink the tea. Your body will literally heat up as your cells waste kilojoules as heat. Green tea is a great winter elixir for that reason. Drink a cup whenever you feel chilled and are tempted to eat even though you are not really that hungry. The tea will warm and soothe you, reducing hunger and cravings.

Which Is Better For Weight Loss: Vegetarian Or Meat-Based Protein?

Is your go-to protein source actually the best one for your goals?

Hunger is a major reason why weight loss is so hard, but a high-protein diet has been associated with better appetite control.

Most studies on high-protein diets have used meat-based diets, but there is concern that these diets result in negative changes in the gut microbiome, by increasing hazardous metabolites and decreasing levels of cancer-protective metabolites.

READ MORE: 5 Foods You Won’t Believe Contain More Protein Than An Egg

Vegetarian vs meat

The authors of this study wanted to know if a high-protein vegetarian diet was also associated with good appetite control. If so, following a vegetarian high-protein diet might have the potential to assist with weight-loss and still maintain gut health.

READ MORE: “I Cut Out Everything And Only Ate Protein – This Is What Happened”

In this small study, 20 obese men followed either a meat-based high-protein diet or a vegetarian high-protein diet for two weeks before switching to the opposite diet for two more weeks. Weight loss, objective satiety and biomarkers of satiety were measured. There were no significant differences in weight loss, subjectively rated hunger, preservation of lean body mass, or loss of fat mass between the two diets.

And the winner is…

The authors conclude that, because appetite control and weight loss were similar for both high-protein diets, a vegetarian diet is as effective as a meat-based diet during weight loss. Please note: this is a small study that only lasted a few weeks. Larger, longer studies are needed to find out how vegetarian high-protein diets really affect appetite and weight loss.

5 Day Healthy Eating Plan That’ll Reboot Your System

Detox diets can do more harm than good, so why not try this sane strategy instead?

How’s this for insane? One in 20 women would rather give up a limb than be obese, according to a study in the journal Obesity. So it’s pretty much a no-brainer that hordes of rational women desperately want to believe in the power of a detox diet. “These diets are so popular because people think they’re a quick fix for shedding kilos,” says dietician Jennifer Ventrelle.

As nice as it is to think you can simply flush fat away by drinking so much liquid you spend half your day in the bathroom, the reality is that some of these diets are not just literally hard to swallow, but they may actually be bad to swallow.

Recipe for danger?

The concept of fasting – drastically reducing kilojoule intake or following a liquid diet – isn’t new. The modern-day detox has existed since at least the Thirties, with the first grapefruit diet fad.

Today, most commercial detox diets tout an unhealthy formula of minimal kilojoules and nutrients along with some key – usually foul-tasting – ingredient that has supposed fat-melting power, like cayenne pepper or vinegar. But no science backs the idea that following a specific diet for a week or eating only one food will get rid of “toxins”. Your body has the power to do that all on its own: that’s why you have a liver, kidneys and a digestive system.

READ MORE: Are Detox Diets And Cleanses Good For You?

What’s worse, “none of the ‘detox’ supplements on the market have been approved by the FDA or even the Medicines Control Council in South Africa. They are unregulated, which means they’re potentially harmful as they haven’t gone through any medical testing,” says dietician and Women’s Health’s weight- loss advisor Charlene Giovanelli-Nicolson. “They are dangerous because they’re low in kilojoules and contain diuretics which flush the body of essential minerals such as potassium and nutrients.”

And with these very real risks come minimal rewards. Much of what you’re losing on this kind of extreme diet is water weight, which lasts only until you refill on fluids. If you see a more permanent drop on the scale, chances are it’s muscle, not fat, that’s missing. Without adequate protein (and a liquid diet doesn’t offer much), your body retrieves it from its most available source: your own muscle tissue.

Not good. Muscle is your built-in kilojoule furnace, torching those muffin-top makers even when you’re not moving. And the more muscle you have, the more kilojoules you burn, which is why dramatically slashing kilojoules can actually slow your metabolism in just a few days. “Your body thinks you’re starving and panics,” explains nutritionist Dr Marc Hellerstein. “Your metabolism slows down to preserve your muscle and basic bodily functions.” So when you go back to eating normally, you gain weight faster and from fewer kilojoules.

Detoxes debunked

There’s no question that detox diets slash your kilojoule consumption. But research has found that after just a few days of skimping on kilojoules (even a very petite woman needs at least 5 000), your body stops producing a crucial growth hormone called IGF1, and reduces thyroid and other hormones as well as insulin levels. Over time, all of this can lead to problems such as bone loss and menstrual disruptions.

Even fasting every other day, which a 2009 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found may benefit obese men and women, hasn’t shown promise for those who are looking to lose only a few kilograms.

And then there’s the quality-of-life issue. “When you eat that little, your sex drive disappears, you feel tired all the time and you’re always hungry,” Hellerstein says. And what good is a hot body if you can’t summon the energy to use it?

A healthier head start

That’s not to say every cleanse is bad. Done in a healthy (read: sane) way, detoxing “can feel like an intervention, a fresh beginning,” Hellerstein says.

“The majority of the population consume more food and larger portions than is needed. Overeating predisposes one to being overweight, and also puts a huge strain on the liver and kidneys,” says Giovanelli-Nicolson.

Not only does a healthy detox give your digestive system a break, but by eliminating added sugar, saturated fats and alcohol, it also rids your diet of things that can exacerbate health issues, Ventrelle says. “Plus,” she notes, “you’ll probably cut kilojoules in the process.”

A good plan provides enough kilojoules and nutrients to sustain you (the average woman needs 5 000 to 7 500kJ) and includes fibre and lean protein. With that  in mind, Giovanelli-Nicolson created a 5 800kJ plan exclusively for Women’s Health. “This plan is packed with fruit and vegetables, and the food is high in fibre, rich in antioxidants, heart healthy and low in kilojoules,” explains Giovanelli- Nicolson. That means your body will have a sustained energy release throughout the day, and you shouldn’t have any cravings or binges. Stick to your exercise routine (or start one up – we have loads here) and use this eating plan to kick-start your weight- loss programme. As a guide, follow the plan for six weeks, advises Giovanelli-Nicolson.

Because you’ll eat often – at least every four hours – and drink as much water and decaffeinated tea as you want, you’ll beat bloat while keeping your blood sugar steady and your energy high. This means you’ll be able to cut back without feeling cranky, exhausted or hungry. And you won’t have to force down a single glass of vile-tasting liquid.

5 Best Alcohols To Drink If You’re Trying To Lose Weight And Stay Healthy

Between year-end functions, Christmas parties, family gatherings and the impending New Year, our social calendars are jam-packed! The other thing that gets jam-packed? Our liver. Our kidneys. Our bellies.

READ MORE: This Is The Best Alcohol To Drink If You Want To Lose Weight

But not all alcohol is equal. If you’re going to be indulging, try stick to choices that will give you some benefits too (and like with anything, keep it in moderation):

1. Bubbly

Call it Champagne, MCC, bubbly… it’s all the same thing with a whack of nutrients. The phenolic acid in bubbly has been proven to help improve memory in the long run and the polyphenols can help reduce blood clots! MCCs also contain far less sugar than wine, but if you’re looking for a super-low sugar alternative, look out for brands that say Brut Zero.

2. Red Wine

Our most-fave tipsy tidbit: red wine is actually good for you. Yes. Thanks to its antioxidant resveratrol. Try drink lighter styles, such as Pinot Noir, and keep it slightly chilled for summery refreshment.

READ MORE: Everything You Need To Know About Alcohol And Weight Gain

3. Vodka

Vodka is lower in kilojoules than other spirits – sorry gin! To stay away from excess sugar, mix your vodka with sparkling water and fresh lime or orange juice. This way you stay hydrated and you the fruit takes away some of the sharp alcoholic flavour.

4. Light Beer

Our go-to fave is Windhoek Light because it’s light in alcohol and kilojoules at only 300kJ per bottle and 2.4 percent alcohol. Castle Lite is the next best bet at 4 percent alcohol and 413kJ.

5. Tequila

While we’re not suggesting you down a bucket load, if you’re going to be doing shots, choose tequila over those sugar-packed coffee-chocolatey flavoured spirits. And we mean real 100-percent agave, like El Jimador. The agavins lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Just remember to drink enough water in between and don’t go drinking on an empty stomach!

Can You Eat Peanut Butter Every Day And Still Lose Weight?

Because what’s life without peanut butter?

Many of the foods that can spur weight loss are pretty obvious. (Hello, veggies! ) Others, not so much.

Take peanut butter: it’s nutritious, delicious, and goes with everything, but because a single serving (two tablespoons) contains a whopping 794 kilojoules—602 of those from fat—it’s easy to assume that it should be off-limits.

Sure, watching your fat intake is important, but adding peanut butter to your repertoire can be helpful when trying to shed kilos. A review published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that nuts can help curb appetite and control hunger, while a Purdue University study showed that long-term nut and nut butter consumption can actually help maintain weight loss. Peanut butter, for the win!

“In the past, fats earned a bad rap because one gram of fat contains double the amount of kilojoules than the same amount of carbs or proteins,” says Lisa Booth, registered dietitian and health coach for 8fit. “But if you skimp on fat, it’s likely you’re not giving your body the kilojoules and energy it needs, which can slow down your metabolism.”

READ MORE: This Is EXACTLY How To Use Peanut Butter To Lose Weight

Besides providing more protein than any other nut (seven grams per two tablespoons), peanuts are a good source of fibre (two grams) and healthy, plant-based unsaturated fats (16 grams). This nutritional trifecta makes peanut butter digest in slow-mo, keeping you full and satisfied for longer stretches, so you’re less likely to snack or succumb to hunger cravings throughout the day, says Rebecca Lewis, registered dietitian at Hello Fresh.

Think of noshing on PB as an investment in future kilojoules saved, says Boston-based registered dietitian Sheri Kasper. If you stir a half tablespoon of peanut butter (roughly 209 kilojoules) into your morning oatmeal and that helps keep you full until lunch—and from reaching for a higher-kilojoule snack mid-morning—you’re actually consuming fewer kilojoules over the course of the day.

Plus, peanut butter is super-decadent and adds excitement to your diet. “One of the biggest reasons people fail to meet their weight-loss goals is because they feel bored and deprived,” says Kasper. “No one wants to eat dry salads and plain chicken every day.” Enjoying what you eat is important, and PB can help with that.

READ MORE: 6 Foods That Fire Up Your Metabolism And Burn More Fat

Use PB to Your (Waistline’s) Advantage

“Although peanut butter contains a variety of nutrients, it’s also a kilojoule-dense food—and those kilojoules can add up quickly when you’re trying to moderate your intake and lose weight,” says Edwina Clark, head of nutrition and wellness at Yummly. Try to limit your peanut butter intake to one serving per day (two tablespoons), and make sure to count those 794 kilojoules toward your daily kilojoule quota.

Ideally, you shouldn’t consume more than one tablespoon per meal and one teaspoon per snack. Otherwise, you could easily hit your body with more kilojoules than it actually needs for fuel in a given feeding, Kasper says. (Using legit measuring spoons to scoop out your servings can help you stay mindful of exactly how much you’re consuming each day.)

Plus, because of its rich flavor profile, you don’t need a full serving of peanut butter to nix feelings of deprivation, says Kasper. One teaspoon can make even the most ho-hum health foods taste like a treat—apple slices, celery sticks, whole-grain english muffins—and keep you satisfied until mealtime.

“Many companies now have single-serving pouches of peanut butter that are easy to carry in your bag or stash at work,” says Lewis, which can help you keep it together (as in, not hoover an entire jar) when cravings strike. (Hey, we’ve all been there.)

READ MORE: 5 Foods That’ll Give You A Major Energy-Boost Before A Run

If you have a hard time keeping your servings in check, give powdered PB a try. It tastes crazy similar to the real deal, but a two-tablespoon serving contains a mere 188 kilojoules.

When you’re shopping for PB, the fewer ingredients it contains, the healthier it usually is, with the ideal peanut butter containing only peanuts. “A lot of peanut butters contain less-than-healthy additives like refined sugar, salt, and artificial flavouring,” says Booth. Don’t be fooled by reduced-fat peanut butters—typically, when the fat is taken out, higher levels of sodium and sugar are added in, adds Lewis.

When you open the jar, it’s a good sign if the oil separates from the peanuts. This usually means the PB is free of pesky additives such as partially and fully hydrogenated oils (code for trans and saturated fats) or high-fructose corn syrup, which can all put a damper on your weight loss, says Booth.

Here’s The Super-Simple Way To Count Kilojoules For Weight Loss

Count kilojoules without losing your sanity. 

The mere thought of tracking, counting, calculating and tallying kilojoules is a drag that takes the joy out of burgers and fries so much, you’d actually rather ditch it. And every time you have a brownie with your coffee or grab a pie for lunch, it feels like a flashing balance sheet pops up above your head, as if every kilojoule over your daily requirement proves you’ve failed. Install Our Mobile App To Help you in Your efforts to workout and weight loss, Click HERE.

The (Very Basic) Math

The rules of weight loss are simple and finite: “You need to create and maintain the kilojoule deficit over time in order to bring about weight loss,” explains dietician Dr Celeste Naudé. And it’s not a once-off deficit, either. After you eat something, your body takes days to process the nutrients that are burnt for fuel, and then stores excess kilojoules as fat. According to Dr Michael Jensen, who focuses on endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism, the largest part of your kilojoule intake (25 percent) goes to your muscles – so the adage “muscle mass burns more kilojoules” really makes sense. Only two to three percent is portioned to fat cells, which also explains why, over time, lean people gain less fat than obese people despite taking in the same number of additional kilojoules.

READ MORE: The 4 Easiest Ways To Cut Kilojoules — Without Counting Them

Exactly How To Create A Kilojoule Deficit

So what’s the golden number? “The general recommendation is to aim to lose 0.5 to one kilo per week. Although it seems simplistic, this advice comes from the following rationale,” explains Naudé. “Half a kilo of fat equals 14 700kJ. To create a deficit of 14 700kJ in a week, you would need to cut 2 000kJ from your daily kilojoule input through healthy and sensible food choices and portion sizes, and by upping your energy usage with exercise.” Simply put, taking in 2 000kJ less per day should help you lose 0.5kg of fat in a week. Considering 30 minutes of a spin class can burn 1 400kJ and half an hour of gentle yoga stretches 500kJ, including activity in your routine will help you reach the kilojoule deficit required. Sounds simple enough?

What Not To Do

If you’re trying to seriously ditch the kilos, eating 14 700kJ of chocolate a week isn’t going to be a nutritious or sustainable way to ditch the kilos. Plus, you’d probably struggle to keep up with your workouts because your body isn’t getting muscle-building, fat-torching nutrients. Sorry, but your body wants spinach. According to a study published in the Abstract Journal of the American Dietetic Association , healthy grazers who ate two or more snacks per day ate more fibre, fruit and vegetables. The key, according to lead study author Dr Anne McTiernan, is limiting healthy snacks to just 840kJ. FYI, that’s half an apple with a teaspoon of PB, or a quarter-cup of almonds, cashews or pistachios.

 

Are You Making This Huge Weight Loss Mistake?

“Torch 3 300 Kilojoules in 60 minutes!” “Congratulations, you just burned 2 000 kilojoules !” For some women, few things are more motivating than leaving your bootcamp or hopping off of the treadmill knowing they just incinerated the kilojoule equivalent of a Big Mac.

However, paying too much attention to kilojoule-burn claims, whether on your treadmill display or health club’s website, can seriously sabotage your weight-loss progress. That’s because most fitness trackers, kilojoule counters, and estimates of kilojoules burned use ridiculously inaccurate methods for measuring kilojoule burns, often leading you to believe that you torched way more kilojoules than you actually did.

And if you don’t burn more kilojoules than you eat in a given day, you’re not going to lose. You might even gain.

READ MORE: The 4 Easiest Ways To Cut Kilojoules — Without Counting Them

Bad Math

For example, a new study published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine reveals popular fitness trackers, including the Apple Watch and MIO Alpha 2, can be significantly off in their kilojoule estimations as often as 93 percent of the time. Each fitness tracker utilises its own proprietary algorithm to calculate kilojoules burned, according to Stanford Medical Center, which doesn’t always jibe with the individual wearing it, researchers say.

That partly explains why your bootcamp is so far off on its “burn 2 000 kilojoules in 30 minutes” claim: Oftentimes, classes come up with kilojoule burns by simply having an instructor wear a fitness tracker during the class, Rebold says. “Then they take that information and use it to promote that exercise class they’re unfolding at their club,” he explains. Problem is, there are an insane number of intrinsic variables that will always impact how many kilojoules you burn during a given exercise, ranging from your sex, age, weight, to your muscle mass, says Church. In other words, you won’t burn the same number of kilojoules as your 6’2” male instructor. So don’t expect to.

Others classes, meanwhile, refer to average intensity rates from the 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities to estimate kilojoules burned during class, says Dr. Tim Church, professor of preventative medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University and chief medical officer of ACAP Health, a workplace wellness consulting firm.

However, when it comes to the number of kilojoules that you burn during any given class, exercise intensity is the greatest player. Take your average indoor cycling class as an example: If someone is on a bike pedalling at a faster pace or a higher resistance, they’re going to burn more kilojoules than someone who’s just going through the motions,” he explains. How intensely you’re able to pedal will depend not only on how fit you are, but also factors such as the sleep you got last night and what you ate for breakfast. So while average intensity rates will ring true for a small subset of class-goers, they are going to be ridiculously off for everyone who isn’t “average.”

So, odds are, you’re not burning the 3 300 kilojoules that exercise class advertised, says Dr. Michael Rebold, department chair of the integrative exercise science program and assistant professor of integrative exercise science at Hiram College in Ohio. In reality, you may burn anywhere from 2 500 kilojoules at the low end and 3 700 kilojoules at the high end, he adds.

Meanwhile, research shows that you can’t depend on those kilojoule counters on your favourite pieces of cardio equipment, either, according to ABC News. In one oft-cited experiment, University of California – San Francisco’s Human Performance Center pitted the kilojoule counters of four different cardio machines against a VO2 analyser. On average, the machines overestimated kilojoules burned by 19 percent. Among the four machines, the elliptical machine was the worst offender, overestimating kilojoules burned by 42 percent. So, for instance, it could say you burned 400 kilojoules when you actually only burned 240.

READ MORE: 5 Workouts That Burn More Kilojoules Than A Spin Class

Your No-Math Solution to Weight-Loss

In the end, however, the problem isn’t the kilojoule-burn totals in and of themselves—it’s using them to calculate exactly how many kilojoules you’ve “earned” or “worked off.”

After all, if you follow the whole, “I just burned 2 500 kilojoules, so now I can go out and eat 2 500 kilojoule,” you could easily end up gaining, not losing weight, Rebold says. The more your class, elliptical, or fitness tracker overestimated your kilojoule expenditure—and the more you depend on those numbers to determine what you do and don’t eat—the more you stand to sabotage your own efforts.

So instead of relying on a likely-inaccurate number to tell you how much you can eat, trust your body’s built-in kilojoule counter: your hunger cues, recommends Denver-based registered dietitian Kendra Glassman.

On a scale of one to 10, with one being absolutely starved and 10 being what Glassman calls “Christmas-dinner-full,” eat when you reach a three or four (you feel a tinge of hunger), and stop when you’re at a six (comfortably full).

20 High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Foods Everyone Should Be Eating

When you first embark on a low-carbohydrate diet, it feels like freaking EVERYTHING has carbs—leading to a lot of Regina George-level questions. (Don’t worry: Butter is not a carb.)

Yes, it can be super confusing. But this nutritionist-approved high-protein, low-carbohydrate foods list can make your next shopping trip a little bit easier.

In general when building a high-protein, low-carbohydrate meal, fill half of your plate with non-starchy veggies (like leafy greens), a fourth with lean protein, and a fourth with whole grains or beans with healthy fats (like avocado or nuts), says Lauren Harris-Pincus, registered dietician and author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club.

“Add a few fruit servings per day and some low-fat dairy products, and your diet will be appropriately balanced and lower in carbs than the typical diet,” she says.

Choosing the right types of carbs for your high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet is key. “If going low carb is important to you, make sure to use your carb grams wisely and pack in plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and low-fat dairy,” she says—that way you’ll still get a balanced amount of nutrients.

So, what are these high-protein, low carbohydrate foods you’ll want to stock up on? Dietitians share their top 20 choices:

Black Beans

“Black beans boast some of the same antioxidants that give blueberries their superfood status. They pack 60 percent of the daily recommended value of fiber per cup, and provide a source of vegetarian iron and plant protein, as well as a modest amount of calcium,” says Maggie Moon, registered dietician and author of The MIND Diet.

Per 1-cup serving canned beans: 912 kilojoules, 0.7 g fat (0 g sat), 40 g carbs (23 g net), 0.5 g sugar, 922 mg sodium, 17 g fibre, 1 g protein. Buy Black Beans HERE

READ MORE: These Foods Will Help You Stay Full Longer—And They’re Not All High In Protein

Snacking Cheese

Mini Babybel is Harris-Pincus’ go-to snack. “Mini Babybel offers 100 percent real-cheese snacks in a convenient and fun little package. One creamy cheese round provides at least four grams of protein and zero grams of carbs for 292 kilojoules or less,” she says.

Per cheese stick: 209 kilojoules, 2.5 g fat (1.5 g sat), 1 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 160 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 4 g protein. Buy best Snacking Cheese HERE

Pistachios

“Pistachios make an excellent snack, with 30 nuts providing only 418 kilojoules and five grams of carbs,” says Harris-Pincus. These little nuts can also help aid weight-loss efforts.

Per 1/4-cup serving: 719 kilojoules, 14 g fat (2 g sat), 8 g carbs (5 g net), 2.3 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 3 g fibre, 6 g protein. Order best PISTACHIOS  HERE

READ MORE: Which Is Better For Weight Loss: Vegetarian Or Meat-Based Protein?

Fish

If you’re on a high-protein, low-carb diet, fish is your best friend. “Fish is a brain-healthy lean protein, and fatty fish in particular helps you get the essential omega-3 fatty acids that are important for healthy arteries, reducing inflammation, and keeping the brain healthy,” says Moon. And each serving generally has 15 to 20 grams of protein (depending on the fish), with zero carbs. Order best FISH  HERE

Per 85 g serving (salmon): 740 kilojoules, 11 g fat (3 g sat), 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 50 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 17 g protein.

Greek Yogurt

There are many lower-sugar Greek yogurts on the market now, some with just a touch of sugar and others sweetened with Stevia to keep the carb content down without use of artificial sweeteners, says Harris-Pincus. “On average, these yogurts range from 376 to 502 kilojoules with 12 to 15 grams of protein, 11 to 15 grams of carbs, and some with higher fibre counts as well. Look for varieties containing nine grams of sugar or less, and add in nuts or berries for added fibre,” she says.

Per one 200 g container (plain, low-fat): 610 kilojoules, 4 g fat (3 g sat), 8 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 68 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 20 g protein.

READ MORE: What’s The Difference Between Good Carbs And Bad Carbs?

Ricotta

Plant-based cheeses are a unique way to add protein and healthy fats to the day. “Ricotta made from almond milk, using traditional cheese-making methods, has nine grams of plant protein per three ounces, and is completely plant-based, and therefore cholesterol-free,” says Moon.

If you’re not into the idea of a non-dairy ricotta, don’t fret. A half-cup serving of low-fat ricotta has 14 grams of protein and six grams of carbs, making it a great low-carbohydrate, high-protein food.

Per 1/2-cup serving (part-skim): 715 kilojoules, 10 g fat (3 g sat), 6 g carbs, 0.4 g sugar, 123 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 14 g protein.

Eggs

One large egg is enough to provide a good source of hard-to-get vitamin D, which can improve bone and tooth health, says Moon. “It also provides an excellent source of choline (20 percent daily value), an under-recognised nutrient that is important for memory,” she says.

Per one whole, large egg: 300 kilojoules, 5 g fat (2 g sat), 0.4 g carbs, 0.2 g sugar, 71 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 7 g protein.

READ MORE: “I Cut Out Everything And Only Ate Protein — This Is What Happened”

Avocado

“Avocado is a nutrition powerhouse,” says Harris-Pincus, thanks to its high amount of fibre and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. “For a low-carb snack, roll up a slice of avocado in a piece of deli meat. Super easy,” she says.

Per avocado: 1 347 kilojoules, 29 g fat (4 g sat), 17 g carbs (3 g net), 1 g sugar, 14 mg sodium, 14 g fibre, 4 g protein.

Broad Beans

In need of a crunchy snack that’s high in protein but low in carbs? Ditch the bag of chips and roast beans instead. “Roasted broad beans are so versatile and delicious. They are portable, non-perishable, and a terrific snack for your desk, car, or gym bag,” says Harris-Pincus.

Per 1-cup serving (canned): 761 kilojoules, 0.6 g fat (0.1 g sat), 32 g carbs (22 g net), 3 g sugar, 14 mg sodium, 10 g fibre, 14 g protein.

READ MORE: Exactly How Many Carbs You Should Eat If You’re Trying to Lose Weight

Cow’s Milk

Good old-fashioned cow’s milk is actually a protein powerhouse loaded with great nutrition. In addition to the high amount of protein you get per cup, “cow’s milk provides potassium, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin A, and vitamin B12,” says Elizabeth Shaw, registered dietician and author of Fertility Foods.

Per 1-cup serving (low-fat): 422 kilojoules, 3 g fat (1 g sat), 12 g carbs, 12 g sugar, 106 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 8 g protein.

Seitan

If you’re vegetarian and looking to try a low-carb, high-protein diet, seitan is your answer. “Made from wheat, seitan is the gluten proteins that remain after wheat flour has been ‘washed,’” says Shaw. “You can use this in stir-fry, sandwiches and really, any meat-based recipe that you are looking to turn vegetarian.” It does tend to be high in sodium, so be mindful of adding tons of extra salt or seasonings like soy sauce to it. And of course, if you have Celiac’s, steer clear.

Per 70 g serving: 376 kilojoules, 1 g fat (0 g sat), 4 g carbs (3 g net), 2 g sugar, 340 mg sodium, 1 g fibre, 17 g protein.

READ MORE: 5 Weird Signs That You Need To Eat More Protein

Edamame

“There’s a reason this crunchy high-protein, low-carbohydrate snack is appearing all over the snack food aisle,” says Shaw—it’s packed with vegetarian protein and iron. You can easily toss this into a salad, stir-fry, or soup.

Per 1-cup serving: 786 kilojoules, 8 g fat (1 g sat), 14 g carbs (6 g net), 3 g sugar, 9 mg sodium, 8 g fibre, 18 g protein.

Mozzarella Cheese

With tomato and basil, who can resist this high-protein, low-carbohydrate snack? “A one-ounce serving of mozzarella provides eight ounces of high-quality protein with only one gram of carbohydrates,” says Shaw.

Per 30 g serving (part-skim): 300 kilojoules, 5 g fat (3 g sat), 1 g carbs, 0.3 g sugar, 175 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 7 g protein.

READ MORE: The Best Whole Grains That Don’t Taste Like Cardboard

Almonds

Along with pistachios, almonds make a great high-protein, low-carb snack. “Research suggests that eating nuts like almonds regularly is linked to longer lifespan, less belly fat, improved brain health, and more,” Moon says.

Per 1/4-cup serving: 866 kilojoules, 18 g fat (1 g sat), 8 g carbs (2 g net), 2 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 5 g fibre, 8 g protein.

Lean Deli Meat

“Lean deli meat makes an easy lunch or fast snack,” says Harris-Pincus. “Spread on one tablespoon of hummus and create roll-ups for an additional 104 kilojoules, one gram protein, two grams of carbs, and one gram fibre,” she says.

Per 60 g serving: 259 kilojoules, 0.5 g fat (0.1 g sat), 2 g carbs (1.7 g net), 2 g sugar, 440 mg sodium, 0.3 g fibre, 12 g protein.

READ MORE: What Is The Keto Flu And Why Does It Make Me Feel Horrible?

Chia Seeds

“Chia seeds are a secret weapon on any diet plan. They absorb about 10 times their weight in water, helping to keep you full,” says Harris-Pincus. What’s more, the high-protein food is also rich in healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower inflammation. “Add them to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, and much more,” she says.

Per 30 g serving: 577 kilojoules, 9 g fat (0.1 g sat), 12 g carbs (2 g net), 2 g sugar, 5 mg sodium, 10 g fibre, 5 g protein.

Peanut Butter

Here’s more reason to open up a jar of peanut butter for a low-carb, high-protein snack or pre-workout fuel. “Peanuts have the highest protein content among nuts,” says Harris-Pincus. And if you’re concerned about kilojoules, try powdered peanut butter—which has comparable protein with way fewer kilojoules.

Per 2-Tbsp. serving: 744 kilojoules, 12 g fat (2 g sat), 13 g carbs (11 g net), 3 g sugar, 194 mg sodium, 2 g fibre, 10 g protein.

READ MORE: The 12 Best Foods To Burn Fat And Build Lean Muscle

Pumpkin Seeds

“Pumpkin seeds are fantastic with yogurt, cottage cheese, smoothie bowls, soups, and salads,” says Harris-Pincus. They are also a rich plant-based source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, too, much like those chia seeds.

Per 30 g serving (roasted): 681 kilojoules, 14 g fat (2 g sat), 4 g carbs (2 g net), 0.4 g sugar, 5 mg sodium, 2 g fibre, 8 g protein.

Biltong

“Biltong is back as a portable snack with many trendy, flavoured varieties on store shelves,” says Harris-Pincus—but not all are created equal. “The nutritional content varies widely depending on the brand and the flavour. Some are much higher in carbs and sugar than others,” says Harris-Pincus.

However, if you find one that isn’t heavily sweetened, you’ve got yourself a low-carb and high-protein snack.

Per 30 g serving (beef): 485 kilojoules, 7 g fat (3 g sat), 3 g carbs (2.5 g net), 3 g sugar, 506 mg sodium, 0.5 g fibre, 9 g protein.

READ MORE: 9 Foods That Are Naturally Gluten-Free

Lentils

Lentils are a versatile and delicious high-protein food. “Add them to salads, soup, pasta, chili, veggie burgers, and so much more. They are incredibly satisfying and can help to stabilise blood sugar and lower cholesterol,” says Harris-Pincus.

Per 1-cup serving (cooked): 962 kilojoules, 0.8 g fat (3 g sat), 40 g carbs (24 g net), 4 g sugar, 4 mg sodium, 16 g fibre, 18 g protein.

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