The Perfect Pancake

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I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but these are by far the best clean pancakes I have ever tasted! They are the perfect combination of fluffy, moist, and sweet (but not too sweet!). They are also a blessing to cook – they don’t take too long, don’t stick to the pan, and were nice and easy to flip! Made from simple ingredients, these are a great breakfast that feels like a cheat but isn’t! Happy tummy, happy thighs 😉
Ingredients (Makes approx 3 pancakes; serves one)

40g rolled oats (note for a lower carb version you could substitute for almond meal)

14g coconut flour

2 egg whites

60 ml unsweetened almond milk

50g mashed banana (the riper the better)

a pinch of bi-carb soda

Toppings

50g Chobani 0% Greek Yoghurt

75g blueberries

10ml sugarfree maple syrup
Macros (not including the toppings) – Cals: 229 P:17g F:5g C:46g

Method:
1. Blend the oats and coconut flour in a blender or food processor for a few seconds until it forms a powder.

  1. Transfer dry ingredients to a bowl and add the almond milk, egg whites, mashed banana and a pinch of bi-carb soda, stirring until well combined.
  2. Heat a little bit of organic butter or coconut oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
  3. Add 1/3 of the mixture at a time to the pan, using a spoon to ensure it is spread evenly.
  4. Cook for approx 2-3 minutes or until the underside of the pancake has firmed, then flip and cook for a further 1 minute.
  5. Transfer pancake to a plate and repeat with the remainder of the mixture.
    TIP: Keep cooked pancakes covered with a plate or aluminum foil to keep them warm while making the rest of the pancakes.
  6. Top pancakes with greek yoghurt, blueberries and sugar free maple syrup or toppings of your own choice.
  7. Enjoy! 🙂
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MEXICAN LETTUCE TACOS

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One of my passions is making clean versions of my favourite naughty meals. This recipe is quick, low-carb, clean, and still gives you the satisfaction of all your favourite Mexican flavours!

Ingredients: (makes two tacos – serves one)

For the Tacos:

120g chicken breast

½ tbsp coconut oil

1 carrot

½ brown onion

Ground cumin

Chilli powder to taste

1 tbsp oregano (dried)

A dash of tamari

Lime juice

2 lettuce leaves

Coriander

For the Guacamole:

1 avocado

Juice of ½ a lemon

¼ red onion (finely chopped)

For the Salsa:

½ punnet cherry tomatoes (diced)

¼ cup passata

¼ red onion (finely chopped)

Crushed garlic to taste

Chilli powder to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Dash of water

Method:

  1. Heat the salsa ingredients in a saucepan on low heat until tomatoes have softened and it has formed a salsa consistency. Set aside to cool.
  2. Smash the avocado with the lemon juice and red onion using the back of a tablespoon. Set aside.
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a pan with chicken and brown onion until chicken is cooked through
  4. Remove chicken from heat and shred with a fork.
  5. Return chicken to pan and add the carrot, cumin, chilli powder, oregano, and lime juice and heat for two minutes. You only need enough lime juice to give it a little bit of moisture. Add as much chilli as suits your preference, but use plenty of cumin as it gives it that Mexican flavour 🙂 I usually add a dash of tamari as well when I’m not preparing for comp.
  6. Carefully remove individual leaves from the lettuce, making sure you don’t tear them (or else your taco filling will be falling everywhere when you try to eat them!). I find it helps to slice across the bottom of the leaf with a knife then peel the leaf off.
  7. Fill the lettuce cups with the chicken mix, salsa, and guacomole. Top with fresh coriander leaves and serve.

Other delicious additions to these tacos would be black beans, kidney beans or corn if you want to add a carb source to the meal.
Enjoy 🙂

With love,
B. xx

Clean Eating vs IIFYM – Which will work best for you?

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Two of the biggest eating trends for improving body composition are ‘Clean Eating’ and ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ (IIFYM). They are two very conflicting ideals, yet they have both helped people to achieve their weight loss, fat loss and muscle growth goals. In this post I explore the advantages and disadvantages of both lifestyles, so you can determine which will best suit YOU.

Clean Eating

The idea behind clean eating is to eat as close to nature as possible. This means eliminating processed and refined foods, and only eating foods that are free from artificial additives and preservatives. There are varying degrees of clean eating, with the most strict only eating meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruit. Some people will only eat paleo foods, whereas some will eat vegan, gluten-free or sugar-free. Other ‘clean eaters’ eat packaged foods, provided all the ingredients listed are all ‘clean’.

Advantages

  • It focuses on eating healthy, natural foods – We all know that eating natural, unprocessed foods is better for our health. Eating clean is a way of eliminating processed foods, which are generally high in sugar, fat, and/or artificial additives, which are toxic to the human body.
  • There is no calorie restriction – You can eat as much food as you like, provided it’s all ‘clean’. This means no starving yourself – you simply eat when you’re hungry.
  • It’s structured and simple – it’s clear what foods are off-limits and easy to follow without the need to count everything.

Disadvantages

  • You need to be moderately savvy with food labels – Reading food labels will be a must. You need to look at the ingredients list on the back of the packet (if you choose to include packet foods) to ensure that all the ingredients are clean. You will need to be able to recognize trick word like “Natural Flavouring”, which is generally not natural at all. You can’t fall for the “all natural” claim on the front of the packaging – you really need to analyse the ingredients list of what you’re eating. A good rule of thumb to follow is if you can’t recognize all the ingredients, and if you can’t go and buy each individual ingredient in the supermarket yourself, then you shouldn’t buy it. Where can you buy a bottle of Natural Flavouring? You can’t.
  • Not all ‘clean’ packaged foods will help you reach your goal – Clean eaters love their date based bars, fruit and nut bars bound with honey, clean muesli bars etc. but these foods are often high in sugar, despite boasting a ‘clean’ ingredient list. If your goal is weight loss or fat loss, then you need to watch the amount of sugar you are consuming in these kind of products.
  • It restricts the food groups you can eat – Most people find it challenging to cut out all the junk food from their diet. Some can also become fixated on the idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, which can lead to an unhealthy obsessive mindset. If you choose to eat clean, it’s okay to have a cheat meal each week where you indulge in ‘dirty’ foods and don’t feel guilty about it.

IIFYM

IIFYM allows you to eat anything, provided it fits within your daily macronutrient requirements, as pre-determined by a ‘macro-nutrient calculator’. Some people also track micronutrients and dietary fibre.

Advantages

  • There is freedom of food choice – You can literally eat anything (including a whole block of chocolate), as long as you don’t exceed or fall below your macros for the day.
  • Flexibility can make it easier to adhere to – eating out is easier, because you can account for it in your macros for the day. You can still eat foods you enjoy like the odd chocolate, protein bar, or ice cream. The benefit of eating in this way is that long-term adherence is easier when your eating is less restricted.

Disadvantages

  • You have to calculate everything – Firstly you need to work out how many grams of protein, fats and carbs you need per day to achieve your goal. Then you need to work out how much of those things is in everything you eat for that day.       Although it sounds easy, 100g of chicken is not 100g of protein. It contains about 31g of protein and 4g of fat. You need to work this out for everything you put in your mouth, which involves a lot of weighing, counting and research. Although this gets easier as you go and start to learn the macronutrient content of your regular foods, every day will be focused around counting. It’s a time consuming process.
  • It’s not necessarily healthy – Just because you can eat chocolate bars all day and still hit your macros doesn’t mean you should. They are still highly processed, full of sugar and fat, and contain toxic additives. Using IIFYM as an excuse to eat junk fund while ‘getting shredded’ will still have consequences on your health. It’s so important to get enough vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables. If you fill up your macros with junk food, you’re missing out on certain nutrients vital to your health. Some people will track their micronutrients as well, but again that is a time consuming process.
  • It can be overly tempting – Although the norm is not to fill your macros with junk, when the options are open, some people struggle to resist temptation. Eating foods high in sugar causes your blood sugar level to spike and then drop, which results in you craving another sugar hit to give you energy again. This can become a vicious cycle of cravings and sugar hits, which is not a good thing to have when you’re on a diet where you can technically eat anything. Another problem people may have is if they indulge too much early in the day, forcing them to ration their macros for the rest of the day. Leaving yourself to go hungry because you already used up your macros is not healthy physically or mentally.

What works for me?

I personally prefer the clean eating approach. I care a lot about eating highly nutritious food and avoiding toxins in my lifestyle, especially in what I eat. Eating clean is an effective way to minimize exposure to toxins and maximize intake of vitamins and minerals. I love healthy food because it makes me feel more energized and happy. Junk food always makes me feel sick or groggy. I’m human and get cravings that I occasionally succumb to, but because eating clean makes me function so much better it motivates me to ignore my cravings and eat well. I like having foods I can and can’t eat, and having rules to adhere to. For me, that kind of structure is easier to follow than an IIFYM approach, where I would be tempted by the wide variety of foods I could eat and get slack on my meal prep. I also hate the idea of counting my food and working out my macros every day – I’ve always hated maths! I still have my cheat meal once a week, filled with ‘dirty’ foods. I do think that it’s important to have a cheat meal to keep you balanced, enjoy a meal out with friends, or just to keep you sane. We are all human and there is a lot of temptation, so it’s nice to be able to give in to them sometimes. But overall, I love eating healthy foods and clean eating works well for me.

What will work for you?

You need to work out which approach will be most convenient, manageable and thus sustainable for you and your lifestyle. What will allow you to stick to your eating plan? Do you like to have rules about what foods to eat and what to avoid? Do you feel better eating clean foods? Perhaps you have food intolerances and clean eating is the best way to manage them. Or do you enjoy having flexibility in your diet to have some treats? Do you love eating out a few times a week, and are not willing to sacrifice that? If you had flexibility in your diet, would you have the willpower to still eat healthy foods the majority of the time? The reality is both methods can help you achieve weight loss, fat loss, or muscle gain – you just have to find the one that best suits you. No two people are the same, and thus no diet will work for everyone. Experiment, work out what you find sustainable, and stick to that, because it is consistency that is more important than which lifestyle you choose to follow.

With love,

B. xx

Image: sabotagetimes

6 Every-Day Habits that may be Compromising your Health and Weight Loss!

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Many people don’t realize the consequences little things have on their health. But when you do these little things every day, it starts to add up and can compromise your health and weight loss efforts. Check out these 6 every-day habits that may be acting to your detriment.

1. Your coffee

Coffee is one of the crops most highly sprayed with pesticides. This means that your coffee beans, although seemingly innocent, may be leeching chemicals into your body.

How do you avoid this? Buy organic! Find a local coffee shop that has an organic blend. If you buy instant coffee, also switch this for an organic one. I use ‘Republica’ organic coffee (available from Coles), which tastes better than most instant coffees I’ve tried and it’s better for you.

How you drink your coffee could also be taking its toll. Do you enjoy a latte or a cappuccino? Everyone is mildly sensitive to lactose, and drinking a full cup of dairy won’t do you any favours. Dairy also causes inflammation within the body, so it can stop you getting that lean and ripped effect. Drink your coffee black. You get used to it.

2. Your ‘healthy’ breakfast

Do you sit down over morning with your bowl of natural muesli, banana, yoghurt and honey and applaud yourself for being so healthy? Unfortunately there is more than one reason why this isn’t a good way to start your day. Here they are:

  • If you buy your muesli, it is probably full of preservatives, sugar, sulphites in the dried fruit, and other nasties.
  • Even if you make your own muesli or have found a packet one which you believe to be free of artificial additives, starting your day with a big bowl of carbs is only going to cause a big spike in your blood sugar levels, which when they plummet, will lead to sugar cravings later in the day and potentially an afternoon crash.
  • Banana, honey and yogurt may sound healthy but they too are full of sugar and will cause the same spike in blood sugar/ sugar cravings/ afternoon slump.
  • There is little protein in the meal. Even if you are using a high protein Greek Yoghurt, it’s not the same as eating meat or eggs for breakfast.

The best way to start your day is with a high protein, low carb meal instead – like a vegetable omelette. A savoury meal as opposed to a sweet meal will stop you craving sugars later in the day by avoiding that initial spike of your blood sugar. Meat and veg is a great breakfast too, if you can stomach it at that time of day. I know I can’t, but if you can I would definitely recommend eating meat for breakfast.

3. Your job/ Your study

Do you have a high-pressure job or study load? Stress is a huge factor in body fat, due to the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is released when you stress, and leads to the storage of body fat. Unfortunately we all have stress in our lives, but the way you cope with it will play a role in your body fat storage. This is particularly the case with fat around the stomach. I am a massive stresshead, and tend to fill my days to the absolute brim, causing myself more stress. I’ve managed to decrease this slightly by supplementing with Magnesium, practicing meditation, and just generally taking ‘me’ time. Your body will benefit from cutting the stresses out of your life, or at least learning to manage them.

4. Your vegetables

Vegetables are healthy, right? Well unfortunately in this day and age where farmers are more concerned with the yield of their crop than the quality of it, we are being sold vegetables laden with chemical pesticides. The best way to avoid this is to buy organic vegetables. There are some vegetables where this is more important than others – you can find lists online of the vegetables that are most highly treated with pesticides and thus should always be bought organic.

5. Your beauty routine

Toxins make their way into your body not only through your food but through your skin. I tend to harp on about this a lot, so if you follow my blog you probably already know that! Toxins cause the storage of body fat because they slow the detoxification process of the liver (basically because it has more work to do), so it can’t adequately remove all the toxins from the body. This causes the toxins to be stored in the body (in the form of fat and/or inflammation). The best way to limit this is either trying to wear less make up, or wear it less often, and switch to certified organic products. One of my favourite beauty products is coconut oil. You can use it as a moisturizer, and even as an eye make-up remover!

6. Your cooking methods

Many people still cook with olive oil or vegetable oil. Cooking with olive oil is a bad idea because when you heat it beyond a certain point, it loses all its nutritional value. Even worse – heating it actually releases harmful, carcinogenic compounds. Vegetable oils shouldn’t be used as an alternative because they are full of trans fat. Instead, it is best to cook with extra virgin coconut oil – it’s good fat, it tastes delicious, and it doesn’t become carcinogenic once heated.

Changing these few things can make a big difference to your health. I hope you learnt something by reading this 🙂

With love,
B. xx

PROGRESS UPDATE NO. 1 – “Strive for Progress Not Perfection”

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The results from my first five weeks of training are IN! And I’m pretty stoked! I felt like I was getting leaner, but seeing the result in numbers is very motivating.

I started off my journey on 8th September at 18.5% body fat. My results from yesterday, the 15th of October showed I have decreased this to 16.2% body fat – a total loss of 2.3% in five weeks. Inevitably I have lost some weight and some of my lean muscle mass as well. The goal is to stay the same weight on the scale but increase the muscle mass and decrease the fat percentage. My trainer said it’s common with the first phase of training, but as the training gets harder my muscle mass will increase again.

My main problem areas that we noted in the initial assessment are my hamstrings, calves and stomach. On all of these areas I have lost 3-4mm in five weeks. My trainer said he couldn’t ask for a better result in that time frame – so I must be doing something right!  I’ve also lost 3mm off my quads and 1-2 mm off most areas in my upper body (which is not as much of a priority at this stage).

Although these stats indicate overall body fat loss, they also show that I have been able to make positive changes in the way my body functions. My calf measurements were showing that I had poor sleeping patterns, which I have able to fix through supplementation. Getting a better sleep has not only made me feel amazing during the days, but it is reflecting in my body composition. Also, the decrease in my hamstrings shows that I have been able to decrease my exposure to environmental toxins and/or improve the detoxification process in my body. I have probably achieved this through strict clean eating and switching a majority of my beauty and skin care products to certified organics.

Overall, I’m happy with the results. I have been pretty disciplined with my diet and training, making sure I commit fully to every session, so it’s good to see that what I’m doing is working. 🙂

I also started my next training phase yesterday! This phase is much harder – I’m starting to decrease reps and increase the weight. There are also more big compound movements like squats, dead-lifts and chin ups. I LOVE this kind of training so I’m really looking forward to this phase. And another plus side of increasing the intensity of training is… more carbs! I now get two carb meals a day, pre and post workout. Can’t say no to that!

I think the first phase of training has taught me to not be too hard on myself. No one is perfect. We’re all going to have slip ups. I tend to be a perfectionist in a lot of things, and my diet and training is no exception. But it’s important to strive for progress, not for perfection. We’re all human after all. I’ve had some amazing results so far, so I can be assured that I’m on the right track 🙂

With love,

B. xx

“You don’t make friends with salad” – my experience with vegetarianism and body composition

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I want to share what I have learnt about the relationship between vegetarianism and body composition. This is a subject close to my heart, as I was a vegetarian for 8 years. Ethically, I would still prefer to be a vegetarian. However after discovering early this year that I am allergic to gluten, I found being vegetarian and gluten-free too difficult and restrictive. A lot of the protein substitutes I was eating contained wheat, and so I made the tough decision to incorporate some meat into my diet to replace the lost protein. It was tough at first, but with the amount of training I was doing, I knew it was important that I consumed adequate protein, and found that including meat was the best way to do this. I have found that my decision has enabled me to grow muscle and improve my fitness in a way that wasn’t possible when I was vegetarian.

The photos on the left are from when I was a vegetarian. I still ate a lot and exercised regularly by playing sport, running and going to the gym, however as you can see I was very skinny and had little muscle tone. The photos on the right are both within the last month. I have been eating meat for 6 months now, and I go to the gym 5-6 times a week. Although I’m still petite, you can see I now have visible muscle definition and I look healthier. There is about 9kg difference in weight between the photos.

From my personal experience, I don’t believe that a vegetarian or vegan diet can lead to optimal body composition (by which I mean a low body fat percentage and high lean muscle mass). The reason for this is largely protein. Protein is the building blocks of life, and you certainly need it to build muscles. As a vegetarian it is difficult to meet your protein requirements and furthermore, the vegetarian protein sources are absorbed by the body differently and are not ideal for supporting muscle growth.

I was actually very conscious of my protein as a vegetarian. I made sure I ate protein with every meal. I trained hard in the gym and ate a lot of food, but it still took me a long time to put on muscle. Inevitably, this also meant it was harder to lose body fat, because the more lean muscle mass you have, the greater your ability to metabolize fat. As soon as I started incorporating meat (I still only eat chicken, turkey and some fish) I noticed a big difference in my ability to build muscle and lose fat. I feel stronger, leaner, and healthier.

I see all too often people choose to be a vegetarian or vegan to be ‘healthy’. They believe meat is not healthy, and so cutting it out will be better for them. Well, I agree there are things about meat that can be unhealthy – such as not choosing free range or grass fed meats. However, simply cutting meat out without replacing it with other protein sources is not good for your body. I can’t stress the importance of eating protein enough, even if you aren’t trying to build muscle. It is still has an important role in replenishing and repairing your body’s cells. If you are a vegetarian and you don’t eat enough protein, chances are you are not healthy. The chances that you have flaky nails, brittle hair, dry/dull skin or you get sick or tired all the time are pretty high too. These are NOT signs of good health. These are signs of deficiencies.

Being a vegetarian is hard work. It is not simply cutting out meat. It requires the careful management of foods to meet your macronutrient requirements, when there are restricted options for you to choose from. I honestly believe it took me 5 years to perfect my vegetarian diet to the point I no longer got sick all the time. Even still, my flaky nails didn’t go away until I started eating meat several times a day. If you are a vegetarian or vegan and you’re meeting your protein requirements and living healthily then I commend you – it really is hard.
What I’ve shared in this post is just my personal experience. I know there are several bodybuilders out there who promote that they have achieved their physique on a vegetarian or vegan diet. I think what they’ve done is amazing -but they are the minority. Being naturally petite, I don’t think I could have achieved the body composition I have today (or the physique I am still striving to achieve) if I had remained vegetarian. No matter how hard I trained and how much I ate, I was only able to see significant increases in muscle tone after introducing meat.

I don’t discourage the vegetarian or vegan diet, but it is important to do it properly by monitoring your protein and other nutrients. And depending on your goals, it may be the one thing getting in the way of you achieving them. It certainly was for me.

With love,
B. xx

Note: Any negative comments on vegetarians or meat eaters will not be approved – this is a positive space. However if you have any questions, feel free to get in contact with me  🙂

Lean, Green, Clean Eating Machine!

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Just a check in on where I’m at with my training. It’s one month into my program and I’m feeling like a lean, green, clean eating machine! I had a beautiful weekend enjoying the weather with friends and indulging in my cheat meal at Yochi.  This week is my last on this cycle of training, and I get to see my results so far and get a new training program!

One thing I’ve learnt is maintaining balance in your life on this kind of diet is tough. I spend a lot of time cooking, training and rehab-ing, and there isn’t much time for social activities. If I do want to go out with friends I have to bring my own food, unless I can plan my cheat meal around it.

I went down to a friend’s holiday house on Saturday to spend the day at the beach with some friends. I took all my own meals and ate at regular intervals. It didn’t really impact on my weekend at all – I still had a great time catching up with the girls. It’s awesome that my friends are so supportive of what I’m doing, and didn’t make me feel like a weirdo for eating my chicken and veggies while they nibbled on crackers and dip!

I’m now ready to throw myself into the last week of training I have before the next body fat screening. I’ve worked pretty hard and been disciplined with my eating for the past month.  I certainly feel leaner, but I’m looking forward to seeing the numbers on how my body has changed. I am motivated by measurable results! Wish me luck 🙂

With love,
B. xx