Posts Tagged 'Australian Guide to Healthy Eating'

Weight Loss 101: Cut the Nonsense and Get Back to Basics

Working in the Australian health and fitness industry, I find it quite concerning the amount of weight loss nonsense that gets promoted by many supposed ‘experts’. This often leaves the consumer frustrated, confused and lighter in the wallet.  So here are my updated and foolproof weight loss steps. Best of all they are not tainted by self-interest. I don’t have any supplements to sell you, don’t mind if you have a trainer already and couldn’t care less if you say thank you.

STEP 1: First throw out all the stupid diet books, pills and shakes that the fruitcake Naturopath / Clinical Nutritionist / Nutritional Medicine hippie at the health food store sold you. Also, unless you are pregnant or have a specific medical issue it is unlikely that you need to take vitamin or mineral supplements. And incase you are wondering, this includes the Juice Plus+ supplement you were tricked into buying for you and your family.

STEP 2: Ignore anyone spruiking a very restrictive diet regime. These people are often found at your local gym where they preach the supposed benefits of their latest diet. Their enthusiasm for their regime ebbs and flows, depending on how convinced they are that they have found the silver bullet they were looking for. Unfortunately much like Santa the silver bullet does not exist.

STEP 3: Start keeping a food diary until you get your diet under control. Write down everything that goes in your mouth, if it is food or drink it has to be written down.  Make sure you write down everything you consume as you do it. If you wait to the end of the day you WILL forget or underestimate how much you had.

STEP 4: Examine your food diary and aim to improve your diet gradually. Eating well isn’t hard but it takes a little commitment. Start by reducing portion sizes, increasing fruit and vegetables, cutting out high sugar/ high fat foods, reducing alcohol consumption and drinking more water. If you are unsure how to go about healthy eating and need some specific guidelines see the Federal Government’s Healthy Eating website.

STEP 5: Get off your butt and get moving! It doesn’t matter what you do, the best exercise is one that you enjoy and will keep doing in the long run. Start slowly and gradually increase the frequency and intensity of your exercise sessions.  If you have not been physically active recently or have any health conditions I recommend you consult your doctor first.

Best of luck and let me know how you go!

– Chris Vavakis

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Not all Oils are created equal

I was recently interviewed by a journalist from In Good Health newsletter on the topic of oils in the diet. Unfortunately the newsletter is members only, so I’ve decided to post the questions and my answers here on the blog. Have a read of my answers on this very important topic and let me know what you think.

1. What types of oils are better for your health? Why?

Health authorities recommend that we choose oils that are comprised predominately of mono-unsaturated and / or polyunsaturated fat. Dietary fats are named according to their structure. Each type of fat has a different structure and because of this, the effect each fat has on the body can differ.

Mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can both have a positive impact on health. Mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can result in a lowering of blood cholesterol when they replace saturated fats in the diet. The positive effect of polyunsaturated fats is marginally greater than that of mono-unsaturated fats.

Oils that provide predominately mono-unsaturated fat: Olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil

Oils that provide predominately polyunsaturated fat: safflower oil, sunflower, corn and soy oils


2. What types of oils are worse for your health? Why?

Research shows that saturated fats contribute to the risk of heart disease by raising low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood. It is recommended that the consumption of these fats via oils or food products be kept to a minimum.

Oils that provide high levels of saturated fat: coconut oil and palm oil.

Food products that provide high levels of saturated fat: high fat fast foods, commercial biscuits and pastries, butter, lard and shortening.


3. Typically, how much oil do you recommend we have in our diet?

 The ‘Australian Guide to Healthy Eating’ recommends that for good health and to help maintain a healthy weight we should limit saturated fat and moderate total fat intake. Consuming polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated oils in small amounts will help meet this recommendation. It is important to note that oils that are predominately mono-unsaturated fat and / or polyunsaturated fat will still contain some saturated fat.


4. Do you recommend any alternatives to oil?

Predominately polyunsaturated or mono-unsaturated margarines can be used as alternatives to oil. Examples would include margarine derived from canola, sunflower seeds or olives.


5. Is there anything else you would like to add?

A number of manufacturers like to promote their plant-based oils as ‘cholesterol free’. Consumers should note that only animal products contain cholesterol. Therefore all plant-based oils will be cholesterol free regardless of whether the manufacturer promotes it or not.


– Chris Vavakis


Image: http://assets.curbly.com/photos/0000/0010/5837/how-olive-oil-works-3.jpg