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I am on a weight loss plan, should I eat fruit?

Fruit and weight loss

Sometimes, short stories help to paint the picture, so here I go… one fine Saturday morning at our local cafe in Coogee after a very enjoyable ocean swim…

Friend: May I get the muesli fruit salad and a freshly squeezed apple juice please…

Me: Uh?? What happened to the big brekkie and long black you always order?

Friend: This is the new me mate… I need to drop a few kilos so I’m on a health kick!

I order an omelette and congratulate him on his new found enthusiasm for his health kick and weight loss plan. At this point I have two options:

A) I could sound like a food nazi and tell him my thoughts on what he just ordered… or B) Keep my mouth shut and wish him the best of luck.

I choose the latter… the last thing I wanted to do was dampen his spirits with my thoughts with weight loss and fruit, so I thought I’d put into a blog post instead and mail it to him…

Sugar, Fructose & the Forbidden Fruit

Whether you follow a Paleo lifestyle or you are some kind of fruitarian, fruit is fruit. So lets take a look at my friends muesli fruit salad first.

I noticed there was a fair bit of banana in there, I’m guessing half of one.

So the first thing that pops in my head whilst eating my omelette is this:

Weight loss & fruit hot tip No. 1

i) A banana contains approximately 40-60g of carbohydrates (4-5tsp’s of that is sugar). I’ve found over the years, for effective weight loss, many peoples daily carb’ intake needs to come in under 150g per day minimum (& that’s mainly veggies).  One banana and you’ve almost hit a 1/3rd of your quota!

ii) To burn off that banana it could take up to 1hr of fairly intense exercise. In my friends case 1/2 hr.

Remember, he’s trying to lose weight here, not maintain his weight. And is he training intensively often? Not likely (sorry mate)…

Then there is the other fruit in the bowl, but more on the fruit itself in a sec’. Let’s take a look at the muesli.

Weight loss & fruit hot tip No. 2

I) Muesli is usually 40-45% sugar content! (yes even your ‘healthy’ ones).

II) Dried fruit (which is in the muesli) is simply a sugar hit, it’s not nutritional. Look at it this way… If you ate enough raisins to cover the palm of your hand you have just consumed roughly 10 tsp’s of sugar! Yes, 10 tsp’s!

Then there’s the chopped up fruit on top of the muesli along with the half  banana. Let’s say for arguments sake it equals one piece of fruit. There’s another 4 tsps’s of sugar.

So far my friend is up to approximately (I’ll be conservative here) 12-15 tsp’s of sugar.

The next question he should ask himself is if his muesli fruit salad is nutritional?

I’m not going to mention the rolled processed oats here, I’ll keep that for another post, let’s just stick to the fruit.

Have you ever wondered how fruit can stay fresh for so long?

Imagine having a apple tree in the back garden. When the fruit falls from the tree onto the ground, how long does it last there? Would it be fair to say a few days or week at most before it begins to rot?

If you are a major food corporation this would cause a problem. When delivering fruit to the retailers, by the time it’s transported, shelved and then sold, this process can be a considerably long time.  Then think how long it lasts after you purchased it and have it sitting in the fruit bowl or the fridge. A little bit different to your apple tree in the back garden don’t you think?

For it to stay ‘fresh‘ for so long they coat the fruit in a waxing mineral oil, which retains the moisture. This is waterproof, so washing your fruit won’t help it either. A quick search on the net and you’ll find different information about this and the waxes they use, which vary the longevity of the fruit.

In the food industry, where it may be called “wax”, it can be used as a lubricant in mechanical mixing, applied to baking tins to ensure that loaves are easily released when cooked and as a coating for fruit or other items requiring a “shiny” appearance for sale - Wikipedia

From my understanding, the problem with this is that the fruit cannot breath. Combine this with stored refrigeration and the fruit will slowly begin to ferment. The sugar content goes up and the nutritional value goes down.

Personally, I’m not too keen on the idea of eating fruit coated in waxing mineral oil, which is months old and has little nutritional value.

I still find this amazing! Does anyone have more thoughts on this? Would love to hear more on this…

Last but not least, let us take a look at my mates freshly squeezed apple juice:

Weight loss & fruit hot tip No. 3

i) Juicing fruit removes a lot of the nutrients (what’s left of them anyway with waxing & storage) by taking away the pulp and fibre. This makes for a much more concentrated dose of sugar water. You are much better off eating the pulp instead!

ii) Let’s say it takes 3-4 apples to make his freshly squeezed apple juice. One piece of fruit equals 4tsp’s. There’s 12-16 tsp’s of sugar right there!

iii) A glass of freshly squeezed apple juice is the equivalent to drinking a can of coke! Those apples can be organic and blessed by a Tibetan monk, it would still equal a can of coke. All you are really drinking is flavoured sugar water.

180 Nutrition Fruit Sugar Guide

But isn’t the Sugar in Fruit Different?

The sugar in fruit is fructose. This is a little different to your regular table sugar as fructose has no immediate effect on your blood sugar levels. The reason for this is that it is metabolised almost exclusively by the liver. Even though there is no immediate effect, it has plenty of long term effect.

The liver has never evolved enough to the kind of fructose load we are starting to have in modern diets. When we flood the liver with fructose, our liver responds by turning much of it into fat shipping it off to become fat tissue. This means that this is the carbohydrate we can convert to fat most readily! If this is done over many years along with other sugars and processed foods, you are seriously asking for trouble.

In my mates case, he’s had a big hit of concentrated fructose from the juice and the fruit muesli. Along with long term storage of fruit and wax, the question he needs to ask himself is – by eating this kind of breakfast am I helping my health kick and new weight loss plan?

“The medical profession thinks fructose is better for diabetics than sugar,” says Meira Field, PhD, a research chemist at United States Department of Agriculture, “but every cell in the body can metabolize glucose. However, all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. The livers of the rats on the high-fructose diet looked like the livers of alcoholics, plugged with fat and cirrhotic.”[59] While a few other tissues (e.g., sperm cells[60] and some intestinal cells) do use fructose directly, fructose is almost entirely metabolized in the liver.[59]

“When fructose reaches the liver,” says Dr. William J. Whelan, a biochemist at the University of Miami School of Medicine, “the liver goes bananas and stops everything else to metabolize the fructose.” - Wikipedia

Conclusion

I don’t want to make out that fruit is the villain here, but I do feel smarter choices are needed regarding fruit. When you think that over 60% of our daily calories in the typical western diet includes – cereals and grains, sweetened dairy products, vegetable oils, dressing and condiments, sugar, bars and sweets – Rewind the clock and look at a Palaeolithic human existence, humans would not have derived any of their energy from these things. If you are eating many of the above foods and then compound it with fruit and more importantly fructose, surely this is only fuelling the problem with ones weight?… but more importantly health?

Do I eat fruit?

Yes I do, but not a great deal of it and I buy organic when possible. I’ll usually use a few strawberries or dessert spoon of berries in my 180 protein smoothie in the morning along with a fresh coconut for breakfast. This is simple to prepare and non processed. I’ll also have a 180 protein smoothie with a banana in after an intense workout. I’ll have the odd apple or orange if I feel a bit parched. So I’ll end up having at least 1-2 pieces of fruit in my daily diet, but keep in mind I’m a pretty active person and I’m usually doing some kind of exercise, whether it be gym or play six days a week.

I don’t drink fresh fruit juices, if I do have a juice it’s vegetable based – spinach, celery, cucumber, capsicum etc. I usually sweeten it up with a yellow grapefruit and a lemon. This makes for interesting taste but I honestly don’t mind it. I find things taste very different when you have hardly any sugar in you diet. At the very least go for 30% fruit and 70% green based vegetables.

To sum it up:

  • I eat organic fruit when possible
  • I mainly eat berries, strawberries & raspberries
  • If I’m training fairly intensely I’ll also eat bananas
  • I generally eat 1-2 pieces of fruit per day
  • I often have a high fat smoothie instead of high fruit

So the next time you see me eating an omelette for breakfast in the local cafe…  you know why!

Eating Nuts… Will They Make Me Fat, How Many, Which Ones? End The Confusion Here.

health benefits of nuts

Guy: If ever there was a post that needed to be written for our blog, I think it would be this one. Even though eating nuts can come with some great benefits, there is often much confusion and misinterpretation too. From fear of making us fat to the newly converted clean eater who has taken up ‘paleo’, who eats nuts by the bucket load as they’ve ran out of snack ideas, this post covers the do’s and don’ts of the nut world.

So if you are wanting the low down nuts, that take five minutes and enjoy this post by naturopath Lynda Griparic. Over to Lynda…

Lynda: Are nuts really that healthy? Can they be eaten on a weight loss program? What about phytic acid? Are nuts too high in omega 6? Are nuts too high in carbs? How much is too much?

These are questions I get asked all the time. Let me pre-empt this article by saying that this is a broad view. You may need to tweak your nut consumption to suit your individual needs. At the very least I hope to reduce your fears and confusion about these multicultural babes.

In general, most nuts;

  • Support cardiovascular health
  • Extend your lifespan
  • Improve lipid profile;lower low density lipoproteins (LDL) and improve high density lipoproteins (HDL) levels.
  • Reduce risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Improve antioxidant and nutrient status
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Contain a moderate amount of protein
  • And for the most part are a good source of fibre

Before we get nut specific let’s chat about phytic acid (aka phytate). Phytic acid is found in many plants, especially the bran or hull of grains, nuts and seeds. Unfortunately humans cannot digest phytic acid which is a problem because phytic acid binds to minerals such as iron and zinc in food preventing their absorption. Phytic acid disrupts the function of digestive enzymes such as pepsin, amylase and trypsin. These enzymes are required for the breakdown of proteins and starch in our food. A diet rich in phytates, such as grains can cause mineral deficiencies. Some of the phytic acid content can be broken down by soaking and roasting. On a more positive note phytic acid may have anti-cancer properties and can be converted to beneficial compounds in the gut.

How many nuts can I eat a day?

A loaded question that depends on a few factors;

  • your metabolic health and weight
  • your mineral and general health status
  • if you have any serious digestive issues
  • your nut preparation: soaking, dehydrating, roasting before consumption

Those with serious digestive issues may do better avoiding nut flour and nut butters. Even though nut flour does not contain much phytic acid because they are made from blanched nuts and phytates are found in the skin, many find it hard to digest nut flour in large amounts. Nut butters are often made from unsoaked nuts, making their phytic acid levels relatively high.

For most people with a low phytic acid diet, a handful of well prepared nuts daily would be a great addition, providing many amazing health benefits as you’ll soon see.

Which Nuts Should I Invest In?

Here is a list of the most popular nuts along with their pros and cons. If you are simply looking for weight loss tips, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Macadamia Nuts

macadamia nutsI must start with my all time favourite nut, the macadamia. No doubt, many feel the same. For starters macadamias simply taste amazing. They are buttery in texture and flavour, are amazing in raw desserts and offer much goodness such as healthy fats mostly monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), followed by Linoleic acid (LA), Alpha-linolenic acid ALA and saturated fats (SFA). They are low in carbohydrate, harmful Omega 6 fats, phytic acid (no need for soaking) and pesticide residue and contain Vitamin B1, copper, iron and a fair whack of manganese (think bone and thyroid health). Great for those creaky knees. They are worth every pricey penny. Just be mindful of overconsumption. I find these guys slightly addictive. Stopping at a handful may be tricky :)

Interesting fact: Macs have been shown to improve lipid profile; reduce total cholesterol, low density lipoproteins (LDL) as well as increase high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels and may reduce inflammation and prevent coronary heart disease. Macadamias have around the same amount of the health promoting monounsaturated fat, oleic acid as olives.

Almonds

AlmondsAlmonds in moderation are amazing. They contain quality protein, fibre, healthy fats, namely MUFA, LA and SFA. They are rich in vitamin E, B2, copper, l-arginine, magnesium and manganese. The downside to almonds aside from our inability to control the amount we consume is their high phytate content. Soaking for around 12 hours and or roasting can help reduce these levels or purchase skinless almonds where possible.

Interesting fact: almonds and almond skins are rich in fibre and other components which support your gut flora (microbiome) and act as a prebiotic. Almond consumption can improve lipid profile, reducing total cholesterol and LDL. Almonds may also improve blood sugar balance and reduce appetite when eaten as a snack. The l-arginine content in almonds offer many cardiovascular health benefits. The almond skin is typically rich in antioxidants (polyphenols, flavonoids). In fact approx 30g of almonds have a similar amount of polyphenols as a cup of green tea or steamed broccoli.

Brazil Nuts

Brazil NutsSeriously great tasting, slightly sweet nuts that are mostly known for their selenium rich bodies. Per 30g they are comprised of 88% selenium. They are a good source of healthy fats (MUFA, LA, SFA). Are low in carbs and rich in other nutrients such as copper, magnesium, manganese and B1. A little bit goes a long way with these nuts, which is just as well because they are not the cheapest nut out there. A modest brazil nut or two a day will give you a good dose of selenium. Selenium is an extremely important antioxidant essential for thyroid health and for a healthy immune and cardiovascular system. It’s worth mentioning that Brazil nuts are high in phytates however eating small amounts to get your selenium and nutrient dose should not cause a problem.

Interesting fact: at small doses these nuts can improve selenium levels in the body. They are also a great anti-inflammatory food with the capacity to improve lipid profiles.

Cashews

Cashew NutsAnother dangerously delicious nut, creamy and sweet in texture and flavour. These nuts do not have as amazing nutrient profile as some of its nut colleagues but alas they do make for a great cheese substitute. Think raw cheesecake.

They are a little higher in carbs than the other nuts averaging around 8.6g per 30g. They contain healthy fats, quality protein, B1, copper, manganese, iron, magnesium and zinc. These guys are notorious for being over consumed and causing allergic reactions. You can soak cashews for 2-4hours.

Chestnuts

ChestnutsChestnuts are in a little league of their own. They are quite starchy in comparison to their fatty friends containing around 22 g of carbs per 30g. They are low in fat and protein and contain copper, manganese, Vitamin B6 and folate.

They are however low in phytates and are quite flavoursome raw, roasted or steamed. I would treat these guys as you would a starch and have them in moderation.

Hazelnuts

HazelnutsHazelnuts, also known as filberts, are not a popular nut, unless you consider Nutella your hazelnut source. God knows why, because roasting these and sprinkling them onto salads makes for an an amazing experience. They might be worth your attention though given their nutrient profile. Hazelnuts are rich in healthy fats (MUFA, LA, SFA), manganese, copper, vitamin E and have a decent amount of magnesium and iron. Hazelnuts have moderate levels of phytates and can be soaked for 8-12 hours.

Interesting fact: Hazelnut skins are rich in antioxidants (polyphenols) with total antioxidant capacity richer than dark chocolate, espresso coffee and blackberries. As most nuts they have the capacity to improve cardiovascular health, lipid profiles, reducing LDL and may have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Pecans

Pecan nutsPecans are an underrated, under-consumed nut and another favourite of mine. These quirky looking nutrient giants are packed full of antioxidants, healthy fats (MUFA, LA, SFA) with a decent whack of fibre and nice dose of protein, manganese, copper, B1 and Zinc. Apparently pecans have the highest level of antioxidants of any nut. You can soak pecans for 6 hours.

Interesting fact: aside from their impressive antioxidant status, whole pecans are fantastic for reducing inflammation and oxidative stress and improving lipid profile. Try them in your salads, have them raw or activated. Pecans are the nuts that make my raw brownies a healthy signature dessert. CLICK HERE for Healthy Pecan Chocolate Brownie Recipe.

Pine Nuts

Pine NutsPine nuts play a starring role in any good pesto and taste amazing, raw or toasted on salads. They are rarely eaten as a snack and are a wee bit pricey due to the labour intensive harvesting process. As most nuts, pine nuts contain healthy fats and other vitamins and minerals namely manganese, vitamin B1, copper, magnesium and zinc. You can soak pine nuts for a few hours.

Interesting fact: Pine nuts may suppress the appetite and lower LDL levels. Some may be prone to “Pine mouth”, a condition caused by pine nut consumption that makes everything you eat taste bitter and metallic.

Pistachios

Pistachio nutsPistachios look aged and strange and often come with a barrage of complaints such as “there is not enough nut-meat in the shell” and “the darn shell won’t open”. I dare say though that they are worth the effort for both taste and benefits. They are low in phytic acid and you can soak them for up to 8 hours.

Interesting fact: Pistachios act as a natural prebiotic (even more so than almonds) because of its non-digestible food components such as dietary fiber. This fibre stays in the gut and feeds our good bacteria, stimulating their growth. They also contain phytochemicals that have the potential to positively improve the balance and diversity of your gut microbiome.

Pistachios are also an excellent source of vitamin B6, copper and manganese and a good source of phosphorus and thiamin. Pistachios have the potential to significantly improve lipid profiles and blood sugar status so are a great addition to those individuals who already have or want to prevent diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Walnuts

WalnutsMany primal eating folk have ditched the walnuts concerned that they are too high in Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAS) and contain unstable linoleic acid. You may want to un-banish your banish though as walnuts really do have an impressive nutrient profile and eaten every so often can be a valuable and delicious addition to the healthy diet of most.

Walnuts are a good source of copper, manganese and magnesium. They also contain protein, iron and as mentioned before are quite high in PUFA but if your diet as a whole has a significant amount of Omega 3’s and is relatively low in Omega 6 from other sources (seed oils etc) you should be fine. They are moderately high in phytates and can go rancid quite quickly so buy small quantities from a trusted supplier and store unshelled walnuts in the fridge or freezer. You can soak walnuts for around 4 hours. If you are feeling adventurous and do not mind the somewhat bitter taste eat the skin as up to 90 per cent of the antioxidants are found there.

Interesting fact: Walnuts are capable of supporting cardiovascular health by improving lipid profile (reducing LDL) and reducing blood pressure.

Peanuts

PeanutsIt would be fair to say most people reading this post has got stuck into a bowl of salted peanuts in their time! Would you believe these guys are actually legumes? Sadly there are a few things going against this legume/peanut. For starters peanuts are a common allergen for people. They contain aflatoxin (harmful to the liver) and are often heavily sprayed with pesticides.

The salted variety of peanuts are also a domino food. Very easy to over consume if you’re not careful! I would avoid regular consumption.

Conclusion (& weight loss tips)

In a nutshell (Oh yes I just went there). Given the extensive positive research out there, I believe that a handful (around 2 heaped tablespoons) of well prepared, good quality nuts daily would be a valuable part of a healthy diet and in most cases support fat loss, cardiovascular health and blood sugar irregularities. In fact studies have shown that nut eaters tend to be leaner, more physically active and non smokers.

The problem is stopping at a handful. If you struggle with self control when it comes to nuts try the following to avoid overconsumption.

Weight Loss Tips

If your goal is weight loss and not just health maintenance, then you should bare in mind the following tips.

- Be selective with which nuts you choose to stock: choose nuts with a decent amount of fibre and low carb such as almonds and pecans and stay clear of cashews.

- Avoid nut butters: they are ridiculously good and rarely do we stop at a tablespoon, let’s face it.

- Leave the skins on. Its where you may find protective antioxidants and fibre.

- Buy nuts with shells. If it takes time and effort to de-shell you are more likely to consume less.

- Buy small quantities to avoid temptation. This also ensures your stash does not go rancid too quickly.

- Rather than have a handful, get your quota by popping them on your salads, on top of fish and other meals.

- Chestnuts: probably not a nut to eat by the handful given their starchy profile. Treat them as you would starchy vegetables in your diet.

- They are small snacks. Treat nuts as you would snacks not a main course.

Did you enjoy this post or find it helpful? Do you eat nuts? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below…

lynda griparic naturopathThis article is brought to you by Lynda. She is a fully qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist with over 13 years of experience in the health industry. Lynda specialises in detoxification and weight loss. She has extensive experience in running healthy, effective and sustainable weight loss programs and has expertise in investigating and treating the underlying causes of weight gain and metabolic problems.

If you would like to book a consultation with Lynda, CLICK HERE

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