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​Why Do High-Protein Diets Make You So Constipated?

We’re here to help you get things moving again.

There’s no doubt that cutting back on carbs while loading up on protein has definitely helped plenty of women shed kilos. “Protein is great for anyone on a weight-loss mission. Since it’s digested slower than carbs, it helps you to stay full and satisfied after your meal,” says registered dietician, Torey Armul.

That said, one common downside of going high-protein is that it can also leave you a bit, ahem, stuffed up. The good news is you don’t have to grin and bear down if constipation is an unpleasant side-effect of your high-protein diet.

Here’s what’s going on below deck and what to do about it.

The Poop Problem

If you’re feeling stopped up, it’s what you’re not eating that’s messing with you. “It’s not the protein but a lack of fibre that causes constipation,” says Armul. “People eat less fibre on a high-protein diet since they’re more focused on eating animal proteins, which don’t have any fibre at all.”

Fibre, which is found mostly in fruits, veggies, and grains, adds bulk to your stool, drawing water and waste through your GI tract. That, in turn, helps ensure the foods you eat move more efficiently right on through. “By keeping things moving, fibre keeps you feeling good, reduces bloating, and removes any potential irritants in the GI tract,” says Armul. In short: Fibre is bae.

How To Solve It Now

Your best bet is to make sure you chow down on high-fibre foods on the regular. To get the biggest bang for your nutritional buck, Armul recommends munching on plant-based proteins like lentils, chickpeas, edamame, black beans, and kidney beans. “It’s double-whammy. You’re getting protein, but you’re also reaping the benefits of fibre,” she says.

That said, if you’re going uber low-carb and generally avoiding legumes, which have more carbs than animal protein, it is still possible to stay regular by filling up on lower-carb veggies. Keep your count the lowest by choosing produce that’s highly water-based, says Armul. Good options include dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are nutrient powerhouses), zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, green peppers, and broccoli. Asparagus is an especially good pick since a cup of the stalks also have about three grams of protein, she adds.

Seeds and nuts like chia seeds, flax seeds, peanuts, almonds, and walnuts are another smart choice because they offer a heavy dose of fibre and protein with few carbs.

As for fruit, you’ve probably already heard it’s good for keeping you regular, though you might be steering clear because it’s also higher in carbs. But consider adding a regular dose to your diet. “I tell my clients not to worry about the natural sugars in fruits because they contain a lot of fibre that’s satiating,” says Armul. However, she says a good rule to follow for a low-carb, high protein diet is to pick fruits with a higher ratio of skin-to-pulp (like blueberries). These have a lot more fibre and less carbs than other fruits sans skin (like watermelon).

READ MORE: 7 Constipation Remedies Worth Trying When You Can’t Poop

Staying Regular On The Regular

To keep from getting constipated, aim for about 25 grams of fibre per day (spread out evenly between each meal). Ideally, filling half of your plate with veggies, a quarter with an animal protein (chicken, beef, fish, etc.), and a quarter with a high-protein grain or legume (like quinoa, chickpeas, or lentils). Since one cup of leafy greens has around five grams of fibre, a robust salad at lunch loaded with spinach, peppers, and tomatoes should get you halfway there.

At the same time, make sure to chug more fluids. “Fibre pulls water from your body, so up water intake as you eat more of it,” says Armul “I recommend carrying a water bottle throughout day.” Eight cups of water per day is a good place to start, but increase from there if you feel thirsty or constipated. The best indicator that you’re drinking enough is the colour of your urine: If it’s light like lemonade, you’re good to go

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9 Homemade Protein Bars That’ll Stop You Snacking – For Good!

Feel like all you’re ever doing is snacking? These nutrient-dense, protein-packed bars will stop mindless eating in their tracks!

Snacking is a slippery slope: while snacks to stave off hanger offer major weight-loss benefits, if you’re constantly reaching for fillers in-between meals it could be detrimental to your diet. The key: a snack so packed with nutrients and satiating protein that you only need one. Whip up a batch of these babies and you’re set for days…

1. Hunger-Busting Butter Bar

hunger busting protein bar

Makes 10 bars

The low-fat low-down: 782kJ | 0.7g sat fat | 13.6g sugar

You’ll need: 140g rolled oats; 115g almond butter; 8 Medjool dates, pitted; 2 tbsp chia seeds; 2 tbsp flaxseed flour; 60ml water

Method: Grind the oats in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to form a dough. Line a 20x20cm pan with parchment, place the mixture in and press down. Chill in the fridge for about an hour, then cut.

BONUS: Scoffing one of these could make you eat more healthily for the rest of the day: fact. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that a mid-morning snack of almonds increases satiety and, in turn, lets you make healthier food choices. Magic.

2. Let’s-Make-A-Date-Bar

date protein bar

Makes 10 bars

The low-fat low-down: 957kJ | 5g sat fat | 20g sugar

You’ll need: 12 Medjool dates, pitted; 200g chia seeds; 1 tsp raw cacao powder; 2 tsp cacao nibs; 4 tbsp coconut oil

Method: Pulse the dates in a processor until they form a paste. Mix in a bowl with the chia seeds, cacao, nibs and oil to form a thick dough. Press into the bottom of a 20x20cm baking tray and cut into squares. Eat right away for a more doughy treat or place in the freezer for one hour for a chewier texture.

BONUS: The dates pack a slow-release carb punch to fuel you through your weights session. Plus, they contain vitamin B6, which helps regulate mood, so you’ll sweat happy.

3. You-Look-Soy-Good Bar

soy protein bar

Makes 10 bars

The low-fat low-down: 1 400kJ | 4.1g sat fat | 2g sugar

You’ll need: 100g sesame seeds; 200g each sunflower and pumpkin seeds; 50g flaxseeds; 3 tbsp dark soy or tamari; 2 tbsp olive oil; 2 tbsp honey; 1 tbsp wheatgerm

Method: Preheat the oven to 200°C. Put the seeds in a bowl and stir in the soy and oil. Spread on a tray and toast in the oven at 200°C for five minutes, until the pumpkin seeds are puffed. Leave to cool. Combine in a bowl with the honey and wheatgerm. Line a 20x20cm baking tray, put the mixture in and smooth down. Freeze, slice… You know the drill.

BONUS: Wheatgerm is a good source of vitamin E, which can boost immunity and keep skin and eyes healthy. Essentially: eat and glow.

4. Sunflower Power Bar

sunflower protein bar

Makes 24 bars

The low-fat low-down: 786kJ | 3g sat fat | 6g sugar

You’ll need: 135g hazelnuts; 135g almonds; 50g sunflower seeds; 70g rolled oats; 5 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked; 70g Brazil nuts; 55g pumpkin seeds; 55g sesame seeds; 2tbsp tahini; 2 tbsp quinoa; 3 tbsp coconut oil; 3 tbsp honey; 2 tbsp maca powder; 90g goji berries

Method: Set your oven to 100°C and dust off your food processor. Put the hazelnuts and almonds in the oven for two minutes, adding the sunflower seeds midway. Blitz the oats, dates, nuts and seeds. Add to a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix by hand then press onto a tray. Freeze for one hour.

BONUS: Research found goji berries speed up recovery from sunburn by reducing inflammation. They’re also antioxidant-rich!

5. Hearty Breakfast Bar

breakfast protein bar

Makes 6 bars

The low-fat low down: 1 463kJ| 4g sat fat | 8g sugar

You’ll need: 140g rolled oats; 50g sunflower seeds; 100g pumpkin seeds; 30g each almonds and walnuts, chopped; 50g dried cherries, chopped; 3 ripe bananas; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 1⁄2 tsp salt; 1⁄2 tsp cinnamon

Method: This seed bar takes the longest to make as it requires baking time. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 20x20cm baking tray. In a large bowl, mix the oats, seeds, nuts and dried fruit. Blend the bananas, vanilla, salt and cinnamon until smooth. Pour the purée into the oat mixture, stir and press into the tray. Bake for 30 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges. Cool, then slice.

BONUS: A study found that the oil in walnuts reduces risk of heart disease.

6. Chocs-Away Energy Bar

chocolate protein bar

Makes 14 bars

The low-fat low-down: 1 739kJ | 14.7g sat fat | 15.5g sugar

You’ll need: 400g sesame seeds; 175g raisins; 50g dried, shredded coconut; 65g flaxseed flour; 115g tahini; 115g coconut oil; 120ml maple syrup; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 3⁄4 tsp sea salt. For the topping: 2 tbsp each coconut oil, maple syrup and raw cacao

Method: Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, then fold in the rest. Press all that into a rectangular tray. Cover and freeze for 1 hour, cut into slices. For the topping, melt the oil and syrup in a pan, add the cacao and mix until a thick liquid forms. Dip half of each bar in the chocolate. Cool then refrigerate for one hour.

BONUS: Epicatechin, a compound in cacao, can up energy levels as much as exercise. The possibilities!

7. Flax-Your-Muscles Bar

flax protein bars

Makes 15 bars

The low-fat low-down: 627kJ | 4g sat fat | 8g sugar

You’ll need: 65g flaxseed flour; 65g hemp powder; 140g rolled oats; 175g cranberries; 115ml coconut milk; 115g unsalted peanut butter; 175ml maple syrup (or agave); 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method: Mix the dry stuff and chuck in a food processor. Stir the wet stuff in a bowl. Now combine wet and dry to become one happy family. Line a 20x30cm baking dish with baking paper and spread the mixture evenly. Leave in the fridge overnight to set, then slice. No midnight snacking – sorry!

BONUS: Both flax and hemp seeds are bursting with omega-3, which a Clinical Science UK study found increased muscle- protein levels. Hello, guns.

8. Chia Up, Coconut Bar

chia protein bars

Makes 16 bars

The low-fat low-down: 957kJ | 6.4g sat fat | 8g sugar

You’ll need: 160g Medjool dates, pitted; 150g desiccated coconut; 175g blanched almonds; 60g macadamia nuts; 60g walnuts; 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds; 1 tbsp chia seeds; 1 tbsp wheatgrass powder; 1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract; 1⁄2 tsp matcha powder

Method: Place all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until they form a dough. Line a tray, press the mixture in, smoothing over the surface. Sprinkle on the coconut. Freeze for an hour, cut into squares, store in mouth, erm, fridge.

BONUS: Compared with regular green tea, matcha has as much as 137 times the concentration of EGCG – a powerful antioxidant. And you don’t even have to faff about with the kettle.

9. Mac-My-Night Bar

macadamia protein bars

Makes 10 bars

The low-fat low-down: 1 547kJ | 7.5g sat fat | 7.2g sugar

You’ll need: 100g ground almonds; 100g sunflower seeds; 100g flaxseed flour; 100g pumpkin seeds; 2 tbsp chia seeds; 2 tbsp maca powder; 90ml maple syrup; 60ml coconut oil; 75g almond butter; 1⁄2 tsp sea salt

Method: Place the dry ingredients in a bowl. Put the wet ones in a pan on a low heat until melted, mixing well. Add to the dry mix. Line a 20x20cm pan with baking paper. Spread in the mixture and pack down tight. Place in the fridge for an hour to set. Behold your chilled aphrodisiac. #LibidoLife #Winning

BONUS: Research from Northumbria University has shown that maca can up male sex drive. Oh, yeah! At worst, he’ll at least have the energy to clean the dishes…

Here’s Exactly How Much Protein You Should Be Eating Every Day

Protein. These days it feels like the word that begins and ends all things. (What are you eating? Protein. What’s your secret for losing weight? Protein. How was your weekend? Protein.)

“Protein is an essential nutrient that builds and repairs tissues including skin and muscle, and also and makes hormones and enzymes,” says Barbie Boules, a registered dietitian in Illinois. So yeah. There’s a reason why we should be eating it.

But in a land of Whole30 challenges and keto diets, how much protein should you actually be eating? Boules says it’s a question she gets all the time.

Unfortunately, it’s an answer that requires some math (I know, I’m sorry!). That’s because it’s not a fixed number. Claire Martin, co-founder of Being Healthfull, says the RDA (recommended daily value for protein intake) is about 0.36 per boy weight pound (or 0.8 grams per body weight kilo).

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

Meaning…if you weigh 63.5 kilos, then you should be eating 50 grams of protein daily.

protein

However, that protein number is a variable that depends on your health and fitness needs, Martin says. For example, if you are exercising and trying to lose weight, then Martin says she would increase protein intake to about 0.5 grams per current pound of body weight (or 1.1 grams per current kilos of body weight). So for 63.5 kilos, that protein RDA goes up to 70 grams per day.

On the other hand, people hoping to lose weight and see muscle gain can increase protein intake to between 0.8 grams and 1 gram of protein for every 1 gram of bodyweight, Martin says. Otherwise, you won’t see muscle gains.

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

This is where supplemental protein (powders, bars, etc.) might come into play, Boules says. If you are very physically active (e.g. a marathon runner or extreme sports participant) or aren’t getting an ample amount or protein from foods, then you might want to try a powdered supplement made from pure protein with no additives or sugar that can be added to a daily beverage.

In general though, Boules advises sticking to whole food sources of protein, like lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and grains. She likes a balance of 50 percent carbs (1/2 from starches and 1/2 from fruits and veggies), 25 percent healthy fats, and 25 percent lean protein for most meals. “This is not perfect for everyone, but merely a general guideline,” Boules says.

The bottom line: Get your daily protein intake (at least 0.8 times your body weight) from whole food sources where possible, and

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

This eating plan will blow your mind!

We’re easy to spot. We’re the ones with plastic beakers in our bags, empty save for a pile of powder at the bottom. Our freezers are jammed full of pre-portioned chicken breasts. And come mid-afternoon, we’re tucking in to our second hard-boiled egg of the day. It’s a diet once associated with bodybuilders and elite athletes. We’re neither. But we have earned ourselves a less comfortable moniker: “protorexics”. The term refers to those who rely on lots of protein while avoiding carbs to control weight and fuel workouts.

My obsession with the much-loved macro

Two years ago, after joining the gym in the hope of losing my stomach paunch, I began chugging on protein shakes at the behest of my PT. At first, I found that a pre-workout shake upped my stamina and killed my hunger. So I started subbing one in for breakfast.

Soon, as I became more interested in how protein could fuel my training – and the inevitable flip side: how carbs could be hindering my results – every meal became based around it. Eggs for breakfast, lunches involving packets of cooked chicken slices and the strict rule that at least half of my dinner plate was protein. An inevitable part of the process was that carbs were all but banished from my diet, bar the odd oat biscuit or Sunday roast.

READ MORE: “I Tried Drinking Plant-Based Protein Shakes After Every Workout”

I shrank from a size 14 to a 10 within six months and went from pull-up virgin to smashing six sets. No complaints. Except the good times don’t always last. Which is why, a couple of months ago, I ended up at the door of personal trainer and sports nutritionist David Arnot. I’d hit a fitness plateau and had gone, I suppose, looking for answers – armed with what I’d thought was my exemplary eating plan.

My eating plan

6:45am Protein bar
9:30am Handful pistachio nuts
10:30am Boiled egg with smoked salmon and spinach
11:30am Half a protein bar
12:30pm Tinned tuna, salad
2pm Half a protein bar
3:30pm Protein shake
4:30pm Greek yoghurt with protein powder
6:15pm Half a protein bar
7:30pm Grilled salmon with stir-fried veg
10:15pm Greek yoghurt with half a protein bar

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

My nutritionist’s verdict?

He’d never seen anyone with my sort of exercise regime eat as few carbs as I did. That was to blame for my lack of fitness gains. And he also pointed to a few other issues – my struggle to focus at work and generally being so knackered by the end of the day that I rarely have the energy or inclination to catch up with friends. When I revealed that each evening my husband cooks two different meals – a regular version for him, a carb-free version for me – Arnot began to shake his head.

He broke down the stats for me: by the time I flop into bed, I’ve consumed more than 150g of the magical macro, which means I’m getting through about 2.5g per kilogram of my body weight.

READ MORE: 3 Signs You Need To Incorporate More Cabs In Your Diet

According to Dr Duane Mellor of the British Dietetic Association, that’s far too much: “We advise adults to eat around 0.75g per kilogram of body weight daily to get the necessary benefits of protein, which includes building lean muscle mass, aiding digestion, regulating nutrient absorption and removal of waste.”

Arguably, I could get away with totting up a little more than this as I clock up between five and seven workouts a week, but I’m still way over the mark. Sports and exercise nutritionist James Collins recommends aiming for something between 1.2g and 1.6g per kilogram of body weight, but warns an intake of more than 2g can do more harm than good. (Think: hormonal imbalances, high cholesterol, exacerbation of existing kidney problems, chronic dehydration, weight gain…)

READ MORE: “I Tried HIIT Training For 3 Months – This Is What I Learnt”

Arnot’s proposed eating plan

8:30am Porridge with low-fat milk
10:30am Apple, handful cashews
12:30pm Chicken with ratatouille and 125g brown rice
2pm Biltong or 1 protein bar
7:30pm Red meat/fish with green veg and sweet potato
10:15pm Handful granola, yoghurt, honey and berries

The last word…

“Nobody’s denying how important protein is,” Arnot says. “But the message has become misunderstood and carbs have become demonised in the process. So I see lots of carb-phobic women eating so much more protein than is necessary. What they often don’t realise is that kilojoules from protein aren’t used as efficiently for energy as kilojoules from carbs because they can’t be oxidised quickly enough to meet the demands of high-intensity exercise. The fixation on pre- and post-training protein means many aren’t getting the most out of their workouts.” Arnot agreed to devise a personalised 10-day eating plan for me to follow without leading me into a kilojoule surplus. Meaning? More carbs, less protein equals more energy, no weight gain. I’ll eat to that.

This 4-Minute Workout Will Burn Fat Like Crazy!

Rev your metabolism to burn fat long after you’ve left the gym with this high-intensity workout. All it takes is four minutes .

Tabata training is the hipster of the fitness world. Pioneered by Dr Izumi Tabata, it had athletes doing high-intensity intervals long before they were cool. How it works is simple: You do 20 seconds of all-out effort, then rest for 10 seconds. You repeat this pattern eight times, which takes you to four minutes. Then you find a quiet corner to curl up and cry because it is that intense.

Burn Fat Like A Furnace

Since Izumi Tabata first published his findings back in the mid-90s, numerous studies have confirmed that Tabata’s super-short, intense workouts improve cardio fitness and help you burn fat by revving your metabolism for hours after you leave the gym. In fact,  test subjects following the Tabata Protocol consistently get better cardio fitness gains than control groups doing steady-state cardio. But don’t try and train like this every day – your body needs time to recover from working so intensely, so two or three times a week max.

How It Works

While the treadmill or stationary bike are obvious choices, you can use Tabata Protocol with any exercise that lends itself to intense repetitions. The trick is you have to go all out for those 20 seconds – no holding back. “This is HIT, high-intensity training – there’s no second ‘I’ in there, you don’t get rest intervals,” says Ceri Hannan, national product development manager at Virgin Active. We tested this Tabata bodyweight circuit as part of Virgin Active’s Grid Test class. The exercises are based on the seven primal movement patterns for humans, so you’re not only getting a killer cardio workout, you’re also

Do It

You’ll need: A timer, a TRX suspension trainer or low bar, a box, a grid marked out on the floor (about 2m x 1.5m). Set up all your equipment in advance, so you can move between stations quickly.

Do the exercises in order. For each exercise, do as many reps as you can for 20 seconds. You then have 10 seconds to get to the next station and in position. Once you’ve completed all exercises, you’re done – literally and figuratively! Count your reps and try to do more next time.

Your Moves

1 Bodyweight Row

Hold the bar or handles of the TRX with an overhand grip, palms down, arms extended. Tighten your tummy and bum cheeks to keep your body in a straight line and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull your chest to your hands. That’s one rep. TIP: Use a rowing machine instead and count calories burnt as your score.

2 Hand Release Push-Ups

Get in the top of a push-up position, hands in line with your shoulders, tummy and bum cheeks tight. Lower your chest all the way to the floor and briefly lift your hands. Push back up to start, keeping that body straight. That’s one rep.

3 Grid Corners

Starting in one corner of your grid, sprint to the diagonally opposite corner and touch the ground. That’s one rep. Continue sprinting between corners.

4 Box Jumps

Stand in front of a box that’s about knee height. Lower into a half squat and swing your arms for momentum as you jump, landing with both feet simultaneously on the box. Drop into a squat as you land, then immediately stand up in a full extension. Step back to start.

5 Hand-Release Burpees

From standing, squat down and put your hands on the floor, then jump or step your feet back into push-up position. Lower your chest to the floor, briefly release your hands, then reverse the movement back to start. That’s one rep. Aim for a fluid, continuous movement.

6 Grid Sprints

Standing on one line of your grid, sprint across the opposite line, then jog backwards across the line you started on. That’s one rep.

7 Split Squats

With hands on your hips or holding weights at your sides, take a big step forward with one leg. Keeping your tummy tight and torso upright, bend your knees to lower your body until your back knee touches the ground. Push back to start. That’s one rep. After 10 seconds, swap legs.

8 180-Degree Jumps

Straddle one line of your grid. Jump up, twisting in the air so you land facing backwards. That’s one rep. Reverse the movement back to start.

11 Small Daily Habits That’ll Seriously Speed Up Your Metabolism

These easy actions ensure you’ll burn fat 24/7…

1. When You First Wake Up

Eating breakfast helps jump-start your metabolism – especially if you do it within one hour of waking up. “Your metabolism went into rest mode over night, so your first meal of the day revs it up again,” says Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet. To work the kick-start effect to the max, choose foods high in fibre and protein, like whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk and berries.

2. During Your Commute

Parking further away from your office may sound like a small step, but it can actually boost your metabolism in a big way because it forces you to move more. “Getting your heart rate up for a short period of time keeps it elevated afterward, which boosts your metabolism overall,” says Doug Barsanti, a strength and conditioning specialist. Another good idea? Take the stairs to get to your floor.

3. When You First Get to the Office

Go ahead and grab a cup of coffee. Research shows that caffeine boosts your metabolic rate, albeit mildly, says David Katz, author of Disease Proof. Just watch all the caramel-cream-whatever concoctions – those are so sugary that they’ll negate coffee’s benefits.

4. At Work

We hereby grant you permission to schmooze with your colleagues – as long as you don’t do it over Whatsapp. “Moving more at every opportunity, even if it’s just to get up to go to the bathroom, keeps your heart rate going and therefore boosts your metabolism,” says fitness instructor Shirley Archer. Try walking across the office to talk to colleagues rather than emailing them.

5. When You’re Buying Lunch

Pick the right foods and you’ll stoke your metabolism. “Nothing beats a chicken sandwich on whole-grain bread with lettuce, tomato and mustard and a piece of fruit on the side,” says Gans. “The protein-carb combo will give you energy to get through your day without dragging.”

6. At the Water Cooler

When it comes to water, colder is better. “Your body burns more kilojoules in colder temperatures because it has to work harder to keep you warm – so by drinking cold water, you end up burning more than if you guzzled room-temp H20,” says evolutionary biologist Lisa Gain. (Sadly, the same does not hold true for ice cream, which is too high-kilojoule to get the effect.)

7. During Your Workout

It’s all too easy to get into a cardio routine and stay at the same pace for your entire workout, but don’t! Intervals are your friend, says Barsanti. “Short, high-intensity exercise boosts your metabolism. So when you’re on the treadmill or elliptical, sprint for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds, and repeat this pattern for 10 minutes.” Pro tip: Make a playlist with fast and slow songs to help you vary your rhythm without even thinking about it.

8. Post-Workout

Good news for chocolate lovers! Drinking chocolate milk post-workout helps keep your metabolism going strong. “When you exercise, your body loses glucose,” says Gans. “You need to restore it right away to keep your metabolism on track.” Chocolate milk is ideal because it has the perfect combo of carbs and protein. Sweet.

9. At Dinner

Some studies suggest that eating spicy foods may boost your metabolism – so top your meals with chilli peppers and Tabasco. Bonus: Spices are naturally fat-free, so there’s no need to stress about kilojoule counts.

10. In the Evening

Take a minute to relax and your metabolism will thank you. Why? “When you get stressed, your body releases cortisol, and too much cortisol slows down your metabolism,” says Archer. To prevent this, do whatever relaxes you most, like yoga, talking to a soothing friend or meditating.

11. At Bedtime

Sleep is key to boosting your metabolism. “Your body needs it to fully restore and recover from the day and keep your muscle mass and hormones circulating properly,” says Archer. Aim for seven to eight hours a night to keep your metabolism in tip-top shape.

5 Weight Loss Rules From Nutritionists That You Should Break

Most of the time, nutritionists are full of brilliant ideas that help you eat healthier, stay slimmer, and live longer. But every once in a while, food gurus forget that the rest of us have limited time, funds, and willpower. So we collected seven of the hardest-to-swallow expert suggestions and replaced them with equally healthy tips that a normal person can actually use.

The advice: Chug eight glasses of water a day

Why it’s useless: Peeing every 20 minutes seriously interferes with life.
The real deal: Believe it or not, the eight-glass quota isn’t etched in stone. Yes, we need to be well-hydrated, but if your urine is clear or close to it, you’re probably getting enough fluids. If it’s neon yellow, lighten things up by adding one or two glasses a day. Once your body adjusts to getting more fluid, add another, says dietician Karen Benzinger. And don’t forget that all liquids – including tea, juice, even the tonic in your vodka drink – help keep your body sufficiently saturated.

The advice: Don’t drink juice – it’s a sugar bomb

Why it’s useless: Juice is a breakfast staple, and it’s essential for smoothies.
The real deal: There’s a big difference between 100 percent juice and a bottle of sugar water with a few cranberries squeezed into it. Yes, juice has a lot of the sweet stuff, but a 150ml glass of 100 percent juice also counts as a full serving of fruit and delivers many of the same vitamins and antioxidants, making it worth the occasional sugar rush. As long as you drink 100 percent juice (from concentrate is fine) and limit yourself to one 150ml to 250ml glass a day, you’re not breaking any rules of good nutrition.

The advice: Shut the kitchen down after 7pm to prevent weight gain

Why it’s useless: After a long day at the office and a trip to the gym, you either eat dinner at 9.30pm or starve.
The real deal: The no-food-right-before-bed rule was meant for the night-time nosher who mindlessly munches on Ouma rusks while watching CSI: Miami. If you get home long after dark, a late dinner is perfectly fine. But do keep your evening meal light – along the lines of a chicken breast, steamed broccoli and brown rice. Too much chow will keep you up at night: to break down all that food, your stomach has to churn like a cement truck.

The advice: Put half your entrée in a takeaway box before you start to eat

Why it’s useless: You know you have portion-control issues, but that doesn’t mean you want everyone else at your table to know it too.
The real deal: A better way to cut back on restaurant binging is to pretend the breadbasket is sprinkled with cyanide and to double up on veggie sides instead of ordering chips. Also effective: putting your fork down between bites, which gives your stomach and brain time to register that you’re full (which takes about 20 minutes).

The advice: Have just one bite of dessert

Why it’s useless: That’s like telling an addict to have just a little crack.
The real deal: There’s nothing right about eating malva pudding, so just revel in how deliciously wrong it is. A smarter strategy: before you begin the debauchery, plan for the extra kilojoules – skip the appetizer, the bread, or (ouch) the booze. “If the dessert is really that good, it’s worth the sacrifice,” Benzinger says.

10 Power Breakfast Recipes Every Active Girl Needs In Her Life

Even if you’re one of those disgustingly lucky morning people – the kind who never seem to suffer a second of cranky, whiny, leave-me-the-hell-alone grogginess – a healthy breakfast can do a lot to prep you for the day ahead. Studies show that filling up before you leave the house can reduce your risk of heart attack, help keep you slim and increase your brainpower. To boost the benefits of breakfast even more, we created 10 recipes using ingredients proven to soothe or prevent common health complaints. Every one is easy to make and take with you, and they all taste delicious going down.

1. The PMS tamer

If your cycle is cramping your style, whip up this breakfast sandwich. Vitamin B6 combined with magnesium – both found in salmon and avocado – relieves monthly mood swings. And eating fish and cheese helps replenish vitamin D and calcium, which your period can deplete. Finally, according to the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, a high-fibre diet eases PMS by expelling excess oestrogen.

— 2 slices multigrain bread, toasted
— 1 tbsp low-fat creamed cottage cheese
— 1/4 avocado
— 28g (about one large piece) smoked salmon
— Freshly ground black pepper
— Small handful bean sprouts or one leaf iceberg lettuce

1/ On one slice of toasted bread, spread cheese and layer avocado and fish.
2/ Finish with pepper and sprouts. Place second piece of bread on top.

Per serving: 1 839kJ, 18g fat (2.5g sat), 460mg sodium, 47g carbs, 9g fibre, 7g sugars, 30g protein

READ MORE: 3 Protein-Packed Breakfasts That Totally Taste Like Dessert

2. The anxiety soother

Big days spark big worries. But British researchers found that food containing tryptophan, the amino acid found in dairy and oats (yup, the one that’s known for inducing naps), reduces anxiety by boosting the feel-good hormone serotonin. The carbohydrates in this sandwich’s bread will also help soothe frazzled nerves, experts say.

— 2 slices oat and honey bread (Sasko makes a low-GI variety)
— 1/2 ripe tomato
— 1 slice low-fat Emmental cheese
— 1 leaf romaine lettuce
— 1/ Slice tomato while bread is toasting.
— 2/ Layer cheese, tomato and lettuce between bread.

Per serving: 1 379kJ, 11g fat (5g sat), 440mg sodium, 46g carbs, 5g fibre, 9g sugars, 18g protein

3. The mood lifter

Don’t self-medicate with chocolate brownies when you’re down – opt for this healthy comfort food (which will also satisfy a sweet tooth), featuring walnuts with omega-3s and yoghurt with vitamin B12. The University of Pittsburgh
Medical School recently reported a link between omega-3 fatty acids and improved mood, while Finnish researchers found that B12 helped depression patients recover faster.

— 1 pear
— 1/2 cup Greek-style yoghurt
— 3 tbsp walnuts, roughly chopped
— 1. tbsp pitted dates, finely chopped (optional)
— 1 tbsp honey
— 1/ Chop or slice the pear, top with yoghurt, then the walnuts, dates (if using) and honey.

Per serving: 1 756kJ, 17g fat (3g sat), 35mg sodium, 64g carbs, 8g fibre, 48g sugars, 13g protein

READ MORE: Are You Making This Breakfast Mistake?

4. The sniffle stopper

To keep that bug from bringing you down, try this oat dish. The apple skins contain quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that researchers in India found protects lungs from influenza. The selenium from instant oats boosts the immune system by increasing flu-fighting macrophages, and the zinc in nuts has been proven to help curb a cold’s development. Finally, drink that orange juice – multiple studies confirm that good old immune-boosting vitamin C will help keep you above the weather.

— 1 small apple, cored and chopped, skin intact
— 1/4 cup orange juice
— 1 packet instant oats
— 1 tbsp almonds, chopped and toasted
— Cinnamon

1/ Place apple and juice in a small saucepan and simmer on medium-low until fruit is soft (about 10 minutes).
2/ Meanwhile, prepare oats.
3/ Spoon fruit mixture over oats and sprinkle with nuts and cinnamon.

Per serving: 1 087kJ, 7g fat (0g sat), 80mg sodium, 48g carbs, 8g fibre, 23g sugars, 6g protein

5. The heart saver

This fibre-rich cereal will keep your ticker kicking and your stomach happy. Just remember to drink lots of water with and after your meal – staying hydrated helps your body process the fibre. Warning: this breakfast has almost all the fibre you need for the day. So if you’re new to the bran game, skip the raspberries at first, then add them later as your body adjusts.

— 1/2 cup high-fibre bran cereal
— 1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
— 1 cup plain organic yoghurt (contains more fibre than milk)
— 1/ Pour cereal in a large plastic cup and top with fruit and yoghurt.

Per serving: 1 296kJ, 1g fat (0g sat), 320mg sodium, 67g carbs, 25g fibre, 12g protein

READ MORE: 6 Oat Recipes That’ll Kickstart Your Day!

6. The metabolism starter

Antioxidants in green tea may give your digestive fires a boost by increasing the speed at which fat is burnt, according to the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition. Spicy chillies from the capsaicin family, such as jalapeños and serranos, can perform similar feats, Japanese researchers say.

— 1 English muffin, split and toasted
— 1 tbsp canola oil
— 2 medium eggs
— 1/4 cup tightly packed baby spinach leaves, stalks removed
— Salt and pepper to taste
— Chilli sauce
— 1 cup green tea

1/ While muffin is toasting and teapot boiling, heat oil in a small pan.
2/ In a bowl, whisk the eggs, then add spinach, salt and pepper. Pour contents into pan and scramble gently until the eggs are set and the spinach wilted.
3/ Place eggs on muffin and douse with as much chilli sauce as you can handle!
4/ Wrap sandwich in foil, put tea in thermos and go.

Per serving: 1 505kJ, 15g fat (3g sat), 1 510mg sodium, 39g carbs, 6g fibre, 19g protein

7. The muscle maker

Pushed it a little too hard in spinning class and now regretting it? US researchers found that vitamin E – in nuts, apricots and oats – helps speed muscle recovery by fighting off the free radicals that multiply when you work out. Make a batch of these on Sunday and enjoy them for the rest of the week.

— Non-stick cooking spray
— 3 cups plain oats
— 1/2 cup almonds and hazelnuts
— 1/3 cup sesame seeds
— 1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
— 1/3 cup honey
— 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
— 1/4 cup canola oil
— 2 tbsp orange juice
— Dash of salt

1/ Preheat the oven to 150°C and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2/ In a large bowl, mix oats, nuts, seeds and apricots. In a separate bowl, stir honey, sugar, oil, juice and salt together.
3/ Combine the two mixtures and spread on the baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until evenly browned. Let cool.
4/ Cut into pieces and divide among six airtight ziplock bags for easy storing.

Makes six servings. Per serving: 1 547kJ, 19g fat (2g sat), 250mg sodium, 47g carbs, 4g fibre, 6g protein

READ MORE: This Protein-Packed Egg Muffin Breakfast Is Actually All You Need

8. The energy source

To stay perky all day, experts suggest small, low-kilojoule meals rich in vitamin C, iron, complex carbs and protein. This two-part breakfast fits the bill. The juice and fruit provide lots of vitamin C, which promotes absorption of iron – critical for beating fatigue. Enjoy the smoothie first, then have the sandwich midmorning.

A: Super smoothie
— 1/2 cup orange juice
— 1/2 cup soya milk
— 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, stems removed
— 1/ Blend ingredients on high for one minute or until smooth.

B: Jolt sandwich
— 1 slice wholewheat bread
— 1 tbsp peanut butter
— 1 tsp honey

1/ Spread peanut butter on half the bread and drizzle with honey. Fold over.

For both servings: 1 421kJ, 13g fat (1g sat), 270mg sodium, 48g carbs, 6g fibre, 11g protein

9. The memory booster

Leading the office in some Powerpoint fun today? Eat Nigella’s jammy blueberries on toast while you review your notes. Antioxidants like those in blueberries and lemons are especially effective at preventing memory loss by reducing age-related stress on the brain, as is vitamin E, found in sunflower seeds. The zinc in wheat bread helps improve short-term memory, since the memory-making hippocampus in the brain may be fuelled by zinc.

— 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
— 1/4 cup maple syrup
— 1 slice seed loaf

1/ Add the maple syrup and blueberries to a small pot, bring to the boil and simmer for two minutes.
2/ Lightly toast the slice of seed loaf, transfer to a paper plate and top with the blueberries.

Per serving: 1 463kJ, 2g fat (0g sat), 200mg sodium, 84g carbs, 4g fibre, 58g sugars, 6g protein

10. The bone builder

This calcium-rich meal provides just under half the 1 000mg recommended daily allowance for women aged 19 to 50, thanks to the ricotta, which has 419mg. The mango adds nutrients like boron and magnesium, both of which help the body process calcium.

— 1 cup ricotta cheese
— 1/2 mango, diced
— 2 tbsp honey

1/ Place a third of the ricotta in a disposable plastic cup, then add half the fruit and honey.
2/ Repeat, ending with a layer of cheese.

Per serving: 2 341kJ, 24g fat (16g sat), 260mg sodium, 59g carbs, 1g fibre, 41g sugars, 32g protein

This weight-loss breakfast tastes like chocolate pudding! Plus: The superfood breakfast bowl worth waking up for…

5 Weird Signs That You Need To Eat More Protein

In case you haven’t noticed, our culture has become obsessed with consuming protein, which means few of us are skimping on the stuff. 

Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet says: “These days, most of the hot fad diets are very pro-protein.” But despite our preoccupation with protein, some of us are still slipping through the cracks – namely vegetarians or people who tend to under-eat, says Blatner.

Problem is, it can be tricky to identify what’s considered “not enough” since the recommended intake of protein is a broad range, rather than one hard number. “If somebody is eating an 8000kJ diet, it could be 50 grams to 150 grams of protein per day,” says Blatner. (Things like activity level and weight influence where your ideal intake falls.)

Afraid you’re short-changing your system? Forget crunching numbers – just look for these signs that your body is begging for protein:

1. You Crave Sweets

One of the first signs you’re low on protein: You start craving sweets and feel like you’re never quite full, says Blatner. You’d think a protein shortage would trigger an urge for steak and eggs, right.

2. You Lose Focus

But one of protein’s most critical functions is keeping your blood sugar steady, which means if you’re lacking, your glucose levels will be all over the place, encouraging you to reach for a quick fix like candy. “If all you ate in the morning was a handful of cereal, you’re going to get energy right away, and then your energy is going to wane,” she says. “That up-and-down is where cravings come in.”

Balanced blood sugar is essential for staying focused. So when you’re protein-deprived and your glucose levels are fluctuating constantly, Blatner says you may feel a little foggy – like you can’t quite get with the program at work, for example.

Why? Because you don’t have a steady stream of carbs to fuel your brain. Protein at meals helps time-release the carbs for steady energy rather than up and down spikes.

If you’re relying only on “fleeting foods,” such as crackers or bread, you’ll only experience short bursts of mental energy, followed by the fog.

3. Your Hair Starts Falling Out

Protein is the building block of all of your cells – your hair follicles included.

“If your hair follicles are strong, they keep your hair on your head, despite the tugging we do all day and the wind going through your hair,” says Blatner.

But if you’re chronically skimping on the scalp-stabilising nutrient, you may notice that your strands start thinning (although, keep in mind, this can also be a sign of other conditions, like thyroid trouble).

4. You Feel Weak

We all know that protein is essential for building muscle. And if you don’t get enough of it, your muscles may start to shrink over time, says Blatner.

As a result, you may feel weak and unable to do the exercises you once excelled at.

5. You Keep Getting Sick

Your biceps aren’t the only thing that protein reinforces. “Protein is needed to build all the compounds in our immune systems,” says Blatner.

So if you seem to catch colds or infections more often than everyone else – and you’re otherwise in good health – a protein deficiency may be to blame.

Another sign: You constantly get hangnails. “Our skin is a huge immune organ because it protects us from the environment,” says Blatner.

If your skin isn’t strong due to a shortage of protein, you may start to notice cracks and tears (like hang nails), potentially exposing you to pathogens and leading to infections.

Looking fore more info on protein? These five foods have more protein than an egg (yes, believe it!) 

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