Top 5 Behavioural Weight Loss Tips

If I were to ask you “what do you need to do to lose weight?’ I think you would be able to tell me several things that you need to do in order to achieve this. But why is it that most people do not actually carry out the things required to make a long-lasting change? I am going to give you my top 5 behavioural tips that will help you achieve your weight loss goal. They require effort but with persistence they will become habit with much less effort needed.

Only recently I was at the gym and I weighed myself. I was 55kg and I had a moment of reflection and just thought “I’ve come along way”. In University I used to weigh from 60kg up to 63kg at my heaviest. I still had a healthy BMI but I was very unhappy with my figure. I was always dieting and I would lose weight for a while but I could never sustain it and I’d regain the weight I’d lost. No, I didn’t find the perfect diet that we are all striving for but as I started to learn more and more about nutrition my mind set changed. I started to view food in a more positive light and I started to make small changes that over time has got me to the point where I don’t obsess about my weight and when I do gain weight, for example at Christmas or on holidays I know that once I get back into my normal routine I will easily lose this weight again. This is mainly because I’ve made behavioural changes. I know I’m not perfect and I still want to get leaner; your goal may be quiet different to mine but this is what continues to help me achieve mine and it can also work for you.  

  1. Realistic Goal:

 Do you want to drop 5kg in two weeks or would you like to drop 10kg over 3 months? Losing 5kg in 2 weeks means severe diet restriction with the likelihood of regaining all the weight lost.  This situation is something I see time and time again and of course I have done this myself in the past! A client or someone I just meet tells me how they were doing so great and lost weight but after the holiday or wedding they regained the weight and even gained more weight. They share their so close but so far moments and often have feelings of shame or guilt for not keeping up with it. The problem with this strategy is that at the start of the diet you are motivated and even enjoy the food you are eating. But after a little while motivation may dwindle, you become bored with the limited food choice and your battle with hunger wins. You are really setting yourself up for failure and there will be hunger pangs, tiredness and maybe even dizziness. This is something that diet magazines or new wonder diets that promise 5kg weight loss in 14 days do not tell you! The other important thing here is that all those dramatic changes you made just cannot be sustained because they are just not habits yet. We only continue with things in the long-term that become a habit. Whereas a goal of losing 10kg over 3 months is more achievable as you can do it without severe restrictions. There will be changes but these can be made more gradually and once they become habit it will mean you are more likely to keep the weight off in the long-term. 

  1. SMART Changes:


SMART changes follows on from realistic goals. SMART changes mean you decide on some actions that will help you achieve your main goal. These are like mini goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic (and relevant) and Timely. I’ll give you an example, I could say “I’m going to eat healthier”. But there is no plan in place here; I need to know how I am going to do it. I must specify what I am going to do, how often and for how long I am going to do it for, and I need to make sure it’s attainable and realistic so it can become a habit. So instead, one of my SMART goals could be “I am going to make sure I cover half my lunch and dinner plate with vegetables Monday to Saturday”. This way you become accountable and can monitor how you are doing on a weekly basis. If you want to lose weight and keep it off then this is the way to go. Once you have the first three SMART changes made and you are comfortable with them you can add on more. This way you are starting to accumulate good habits and over time these pay off. Also if you have an indulgent day once in a while you can try to include at least one of your changes in that day as a way of still feeling confident in knowing that tomorrow you will get back to normal!  It’s a bit like training for a marathon you do not just become a runner overnight, you need to have small goals that over time makes you fitter and capable of running longer distances.

  1. Portion Size:

This may sound so basic but even if you start to include more healthy foods into your diet you will not reduce your body weight if you are eating large portions. We all need slightly different portion sizes based on our own metabolism (taking into account lean body mass, height and weight etc). It sometimes frustrates me that my boyfriend can eat and needs a much larger portion than me, but that’s just the way it is and I need to work with this. Things that help me include using a smaller plate, smaller lunch containers and sometimes when I use a spoon I opt for a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon. This is so simple but it works. It is all about perception..!

The other aspect of portion size is food shopping. Unless you are someone who can eat one chocolate biscuit and leave it at that, then you should only buy snacks/treats in a small portion as and when you really want them. Do not be tempted to bulk buy because you are saving money or you think you’ve got it right this time and will not want any more than one at a time. More often than not you will eat them all in a short space of time and you may even start to think to yourself “I just want them gone so I can start eating healthy again”. This is something I’ve heard and done myself all too often. Why create temptation for yourself?

  1. Use your Higher Brain Center:


Sometimes I get a craving for a chocolate bar or something along that line; instead of just going along with my craving I try to assess why am I craving this now? Is it because I just seen an advertisement on TV or am I stressed with something? Sometimes we just do things without truly thinking and go on autopilot. This is helpful when driving a car but not when you have created unhelpful habits over the years. Have you ever eaten three too many biscuits and then immediately afterwards have feelings of regret and say to yourself “why did I do that?” Our emotions sometimes overrule our logic. When we try to assess these emotions or instincts we are bringing in our pre-frontal cortex which is important for rational thought, free will and assessing the consequences of our actions. Depending on how strong the craving is I’ll say to myself “Ok I can have this tomorrow if I really want it” or if it’s a really strong craving I’ll say “Ok, if I’m still feeling like this in 10 minutes I’ll have it”. This usually work but sometimes I still want that chocolate bar after the 10 minute period and I have it but over time it has become less and less frequent.

  1. Non Food Rewards:


Stop using food as a reward. Instead swop your food rewards to ones that are helping to create a better you or at least not contradict your weight loss goal! My favourite is booking a massage or a facial but simple things like allowing yourself time to read a book, watch your favourite series, a new film or a match, hang out with some good friends or just go for a leisurely stroll. This also applies to your children. Telling your child that he or she can have sweets if they are good is creating associations that being good means they deserve to eat sugary sweets. Later, in adulthood when you feel like treating yourself you turn to these sugary treats. This is really setting up unhelpful habits. I know it is easy for me to say and sometimes when you’ve exhausted all other options you may end up using this but just try to limit it to when you really have no other options or at least use a healthier alternative like a piece of fruit as the reward.

My last bit of behavioural advice is to believe in yourself and in the words of Mahatama Gandi

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”

I hope you enjoyed the read, please like my facebook page for more updates and interaction!

Getting Fat Adapted


I hope you enjoyed my last blog! This week I am looking at fat adaptation for weight loss and sport performance. Weight loss is one of the most challenging topics because we live in an obesogenic environment with unhealthy and as much as I regret to say this, often tasty foods around us! No wonder everyone wants a quick fix because to lose weight takes long-term discipline and quite frankly it can be extremely hard. What works for one person may not work for someone else. This is why I want to discuss fat adaptation; it may be a good option for one person and not for another, and I’ll explain why. I’ll also share my own experience in becoming fat adapted.

Likewise, I’ll discuss why fat adaptation may be a useful tool in sport and I’ll also explain the challenges that come with it.

Disclaimer: I do not recommend ketogenic diets for the general population but aim to discuss why it is being considered as a weight loss option and a sports performance tool. If you have a medical condition, e.g. diabetes I do not recommend starting this diet without consult from your GP and dietitian/experienced nutritionist.

What is fat adaptation?

Fat-adaptation involves eating a high fat, low carbohydrate (carb) diet in order for your body to use a greater amount of fat as fuel. Once your carb stores (glycogen in liver and muscle) are low your body then starts to produce ketones in a process called ketosis. Ketones, mainly beta hydroxybutyrate are produced from fatty acids and can supply our brain, organs and muscle with fuel so we don’t need to rely exclusively on glucose anymore as the main fuel source. So basically you re-train your body to use fat as the key fuel source. Fat adaptation can occur within a few days if you go with a very low amount of carbs (25-30 g per day [a small scoop of mash potato is around 10g] or you may opt for a longer time frame in which you allow yourself more carbs (less than 50 g per day).1 Once you are fat-adapted you can then experiment with adding in some extra carbs in order to develop your own tolerance level. There will be some trial and error and the longer you follow a higher fat lower carb diet the greater your ability to dip in and out of ketosis without it affecting your fat burning rate.

So what does this mean to me?

Weight loss:

Burn fat and manage blood sugars

Becoming fat-adapted means you can burn fat at a greater rate, which can be great for weight loss! You do not necessarily need to reduce calorie intake and it also helps to stabilise blood sugars with no dramatic increase in insulin and blood glucose. (I discussed insulin resistance in my last blog).

 Feel satisfied

There is generally a greater feeling of satiety with high fat foods.


If followed appropriately, a higher fat lower carb diet can supply your body with large amounts of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (substances in plant foods that have an extensive list of health benefits!). This way of eating also produces less free radicals than a high carb diet.1-3 People who are always trying to lose weight with low calories diets followed by intermittent weight gain when they indulge on unhealthy treats are often lacking important vitamins and minerals. However, you can also follow this diet in an unhealthy way with large amounts of processed meats and fats, which is not good for you in the long-term. This is a really important point to note-not all high fat low carb diets are the same!


Metabolic flexibility

Sports athletes can benefit as they become metabolically flexible i.e. they can burn fat at a greater rate during exercise.1 This avoids ‘hitting the wall’ which often happens in endurance events such as marathons, triathlons and iron man. This is because we only have a limited amount of glycogen and without adequately timed re-fuelling during the event you end up crashing! If you are fat adapted there can be an added advantage of having some carbs just before or during an event/competition. You can then use this sugar at times when it is really needed (high intense spurts).1

Prevents muscle wasting

Being able to burn fat at a greater rate means that when your carb stores are used up there is less of a tendency to breakdown muscle (protein) as a way of supplying glucose.1

Performance Tool

I was sceptical about this aspect as it takes a longer amount of time  to burn fat than it does to burn glucose (fat has to be mobilised from fat stores and then travel in the bloodstream to muscles) so my first reaction to this was well would this not slow you down if you are relying on fat as the predominant fuel?! What has been observed is that once you are fat adapted your body works as a carb sparing tool when needed; at low intensity training you burn a greater amount of fat than if you were non-fat adapted, but once a sprint is on you use your carb stores for instant energy. So for example, at a comfortable running pace you can burn a greater amount of fat to carb but let’s say you run up a hill, sprint to the end of a race, or go on a run in soccer/rugby you can then rely on your carb stores!1-3 So overall this means you avoid running low on carb. There is still a place for adding in extra carbs before a race or during a race to top up your blood glucose, but this needs to be tailored to what suits your body. Also you need to be well fat adapted before you consider this as a performance tool.1 There still needs to be more research into this and again it’s a matter of trying it out and if you feel good after a few weeks and are beating your PB then keep going with it and if you are going the other way then maybe this way of eating is just not for you!

Replenish glycogen stores with less carbs

A recent 2015 studied found that fat-adapted endurance athletes were just as good at replenishing their carb stores than athletes who were not fat adapted and ate a lot of carbs.2

Less Inflammation

Exercise creates inflammation. This is normal and it is important for muscle growth. But if your body is constantly in an inflammatory state it can cause fatique and ultimately affect performance.1 A higher fat diet, especially one high in omega 3 can help to minimise inflammation (see my last blog on fat).


The other potential advantage of fat adaptation to an athlete is that you avoid consuming large amounts of low nutrient refined carbs that is required to carb load. Up to 2 days prior to an event it is often recommended to carb load by eating low fiber foods such as white bread with jams, processed cereals and sugary drinks in order to achieve 8-10g of carbs per kg of body weight ( e.g. 560-700g per day for a 70kg individual). This is fine once in a while but when carried out on a regular basis it can lead to sub-optimal vitamin and mineral intake along with a lot of gastrointestinal discomfort such as gas and bloating.

Other possible benefits include a greater pain threshold, faster recovery and greater immunity.1

Are there any side effects?

There can be side effects during the initial period known as the “keto-flu” or CHO withdrawal symptoms.1 These can range from light headedness to cramps, diarrhea or in extreme cases increased heartbeat. There is good research out there on fat adaptation in sports athletes but there needs to be more studies that show more conclusive and reproducible evidence on the long-term effects of fat-adaptation. If we start to follow a really high fat diet there may be negative consequences to our health in 20 plus years that we hadn’t even considered; just like what we are seeing now with over-consumption of carbs. Fat adaptation is a relatively new approach and it needs to be individualised, what works for one person may be quiet different to what works for someone else.

My experience

A few months ago I underwent a 20 day fat-adapted (ketogenic) diet as part of research undergoing at Auckland University of Technology. I volunteered for this study as I wanted to see if I would find it difficult to follow and if I would experience any beneficial or negative effects.

Over the last few years I’ve realised that my body feels better when I eat only small amounts of complex carbs (like bread, cereals, rice, and potatoes). I try to have a portion of these either at lunch or dinner. When I eat these at every meal I tend to gain weight even though I’m still only eating the recommended servings (6+ servings; 1 serving being a slice of bread or 1 cup of cooked rice/pasta).

So for the next 20 days I followed a high fat low carb diet. At each meal I aimed to eat around 20 grams of fat and less than 10 grams of carbs. Below is an example of what I ate in one day (Table 1). I also had 2 tablespoons of oil with each meal as part of the study.

Table 1: One day food intake:

Breakfast A large handful of mixed nuts with strawberries and blueberries or 2 eggs & sautéed spinach


Lunch Salmon, mixture of spinach and mesclun salad, avocado, sprinkled with pumpkin seeds, and a homemade olive oil based dressing


Dinner Chicken with stir fried broccoli, roasted peppers, topped with toasted almonds.


I have to admit, it did feel strange freely pouring oil onto the pan or a salad. My dietetic instinct came in “what about the calories!!” Each morning I measured my blood glucose and ketone levels. We normally produce ketones after an overnight fast but to get into full ketosis you need to have a ketone level of greater than 0.5 mmol/l, but usually a reading between 1-3 mmol/l works best.1 As you can see from table 2 it took nearly 6 days to get into full ketosis! The first few days were fine but on day three I had a football match and I felt really tired and slower than normal. It’s interesting as at this point my glycogen stores were nearly all used up but I wasn’t fully in ketosis, so no wonder I felt tired! From then on things were good up until day 9 when I had a craving for a chocolate brownie (it was really good too!!). The reason for this craving may be because my blood sugar was only 3.7 mmol/l the day before, and I think this could be down to a lower total calorie intake than normal. The next day I went on a wine tasting tour and as expected I came out of ketosis (ketone level was 0.3 mmol/l). What I found really interesting was that my blood sugar went up a lot after I had some extra CHO post drinking (5.4 and 5.8 mmol/l). I often feel tired for a few days after drinking alcohol and I can now relate this to a physiological response in my body; increased blood sugars!

Table 2: Daily glucose and ketone levels

Day Glucose




Symptoms over last 24hrs
1 4.5 0.1 All good
2 4.5 0.1 Ok, did 16km hike
3 4.1 0.4 I played a Gaelic match. I felt tired and slow.
4 4.3 0.3 Good
5 4.7 0.8 Good
6 4.1 1.3 Good
7 4.1 1.7 Good
8 3.7 1.7 Good
9 4.1 0.8 I had a chocolate brownie which I was craving!
10 4.8 0.3 I went on a wine tasting tour…!
11 5.4 0.1 I had a match & decided to eat extra carbs as I wasn’t in ketosis and needed energy
12 5.8 0.5 Good just a bit tired
13 5.2 0.3 Good
14 5.1 0.9 Good
15 4.4 2.1 Good
16 4.8 0.6 Good
17 5.1 0.1 Good
18 5.3 0.8 Good
19 4.5 1.6 Good
20 4.5 1.4 Good


My overall view of fat-adaptation

  • I found getting into ketosis relatively easy. I also enjoyed following the diet plan but I think most people may find calculating the right amount of carbs and fat challenging; as a nutritionist and dietitian it is easier for me to gauge the amount of carbs and fat in foods.
  • I was rarely hungry and weight started to come off my stomach which is normally the last place to go if I try to lose weight! I also had excellent concentration levels. You could argue that this is what would happen when you follow an unprocessed healthy diet for a few weeks, and that it is not down to the diet being high in fat and low in carbs. This could be true but the best thing about it is that I didn’t feel hungry!
  • Having the ketometer was great but if someone didn’t have this it may be hard to figure out if you are in ketosis or not, particularly at the start.
  • When I did the study there were lots of low carb fruits in season such as blueberries, strawberries & avocadoes. It can be harder to find fresh low carb fruits in winter.
  • Near the end I had cravings for kumura chips (New Zealand sweet potato) and starchy foods. It was manageable in the short-term but I think it would be extremely difficult to sustain. However, once you are well fat-adapted (around 6 weeks) you can then experiment with adding in more carbs.
  • Overall, I think it was a good experience. I didn’t continue with fat adaptation as I don’t like creating severe restrictions around food. Instead I continue to follow a modified version of the plan with lots of good fats and occasional grains, potatoes and bread. I love experimenting with lower carbs choices i.e. making cauliflower mash, zucchini spaghetti and healthy bliss balls!

                      Tomato based Shepherd’s pie (cauliflower mash) ready for the oven!

Tips for fat –adapting

  • Think about it: If you think this dietary approach is for you then do some more reading and visit a nutritionist/dietitian and then decide on the best approach.
  • Plan ahead: Try to start it at a time when you are not overly busy and have time to food shop and prepare meals. Mentally be prepared for keto flu symptoms.
  • Carbs: Become familiar with the amount of carbs in grams in different foods. Once you get an idea of a few foods it becomes a lot easier to gauge your carb intake.
  • Monitor: I recommend buying a ketometer which takes readings for both glucose and ketones in your blood. The ketometer itself is inexpensive but the strips become costly. If you are serious about following this approach it is really useful at the start as you learn how your blood levels can reflect how you feel.
  • Total calories: In regard to weight loss you also need to bear in mind your overall calorie intake and make sure you keep your protein intake as normal. Likewise for an athlete; if you consume more protein than your body needs excess will be converted to glucose which prevents ketosis.
  • Disordered eating: I wouldn’t recommend this for someone prone to disordered eating or who has an existing eating disorder. This way of eating is restrictive particularly in the initial phase. It can be hard to follow and may create feelings of guilt when you eat carbs or it could even spiral into carb binge eating. I will cover disordered eating in one of my next blogs.


  1. Schofield, G; Zinn, C., Rodger, C. What The Fat? Sports Performance: Leaner, Fitter, Faster on Low-Carb Healthy Fat. (Kindle Locations 3107-3109). The Real Food Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.
  2. Volek, J.S., Freidenreich, D.J., Saenz, C. et al. (2015). Metabolic characteristics of keto-adapted ultra-endurance runners. Metabolism Clinical and Experimental, 65:100-110
  3. Volek, J.S, Noakes T, and Phinney S.D. (2015). Rethinking fat as a fuel for endurance exercise. European Journal of Sport Science 15:1, 13-20.

More fat less carbs..?

Hello There!

I am one year living in New Zealand and I’m delighted to be back into the flow of nutrition! I was previously working as a medical writer in Singapore and I am now working as a tutor in a nutrition college in Auckland.

I really love  to share and discuss what I’ve learnt from my masters in nutrition, training and work as a dietitian and of course my own personal experiences! I am always trying to find simple ways of improving my diet and obtaining better overall health and fitness.  A lot of my work involves developing lecture content and my goal is to share some of this information along with my own experiences with you! There is so much contradictory information available online and it frustrates me when the media zones in on snippets from research articles without actually showing the true context of what the findings actually really mean! Most of us don’t have time to read full research articles and instead rely on these random and often contradictory pieces of info.

It’s been awhile since I wrote a blog so I’m going to start with the most common question I get asked and it’s about fat..!

More fat less carbs..?

This week I am looking at fat and carbohydrate (carb) balance. For years it has been recommended to follow a low fat diet because fats have a greater calorie density than carbs or protein and because some fats eaten in large amounts are considered unhealthy. There is now a shift towards increasing fat and lowering carbs in the diet. Below I outline some of the reasons why.

Essential fatty acids

Fats provide essential fatty acids; that is omega 3 and omega 6. We cannot make these two families of polyunsaturated fatty acids in our body and we rely on food sources. These fatty acids are important for the structure and fluidity of cell membranes that surround every cell in your body. So if you want supple skin you need a good supply of these fats! They are also important for hormone and neurotransmitter function, and they even affect how genes are expressed! 1

Omega 3 and omega 6 are commonly found in the same types of foods but the ratios of each can vary. Good sources of omega 3 include oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, eggs, dark green veg and nuts and seeds such as linseeds, chia, and pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. There are more widespread sources of omega 6 and it is commonly found in meat and processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, and fried food. This is because the main oils used (vegetable oils such as sunflower and corn oil) in these processed foods are high in omega 6 but lack omega 3.

The other important function of these essential fatty acids is in relation to inflammation. Omega 3 helps to dampen down inflammation, whereas excess omega 6 can enhance inflammation. When your body is in a pro-inflammatory state you are more prone to free radical damage and disease risk. At the moment most of us eat a diet that has a 15:1 ratio in favour of omega 6; whereas it should be a ratio of around 4:1.2 A high carb diet is also considered to cause more inflammation in the body.3

Omega 3 foods also supply EPA and DHA, which are essential for brain and cognitive function. So basically we do need to eat fat and more specifically we should be eating more nuts, seeds, and if you are not vegetarian/vegan oily fish!



Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are found in foods that contain fat. Vitamin A and E are key antioxidants in the body. They help to protect our cells from free radicals. Free radicals are produced in our body all the time but if we have enough antioxidants they are neutralised and cause no harm. If you don’t have enough vitamin E in the diet then every cell in your body becomes vulnerable and can be badly damaged by these free radicals. Key sources of vitamin E are vegetable, nut and seed oils. If you buy highly processed oils then vitamin E and other nutrients are removed, and this makes these oils more susceptible to damage by oxygen in the air. That’s one of the reasons why you should buy oils that are minimally processed, that is, cold pressed or extra virgin. Names such as pure, light, and virgin are often used in the marketing of oils but these contain varying amounts of unrefined oils, which results in a lot less antioxidant protection and nutrient value.4

Vitamin E’s job is also enhanced by selenium which is found in nuts (particularly brazil nuts) and seeds. Sesame seeds are a great source of vitamin E. If you like tahini or eat hummus then you will be getting a good source of vitamin E.

Tastes good and keeps hunger at bay for longer!

Although fats have higher calorie content they provide a greater sense of satiety. Nuts and seeds were not a major part of my diet growing up and as I started in college I actively avoided them because they were considered calorific. “Why waste my calories on nuts and seeds when I can eat a big bowl of salad and then have a treat later” I thought. I did have those treats because I was left feeling hungry and unsatisfied. When I look back I can’t believe this was my thought process. I now incorporate nuts, seeds, good oils and lots of oily fish in my meals. Result: I’m less inclined to what to eat something else later!

Stabilising blood sugars for weight loss and reducing your risk of disease down the road.. 

High blood sugars over time cause weight gain, insulin resistance and diabetes. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas after eating carbs. It helps glucose (sugar) in your blood to be taken into the cells so it can be used for energy. Resistance occurs when the cells are unable to use insulin effectively. So insulin is produced but glucose is not taken up by the cells properly, and then sugar builds up in the blood. Insulin resistance is increasing and many people have it without even knowing! People who are overweight/obese or regularly eat refined and processed foods often have problems handling their blood sugar, and as this continues they become pre-diabetic. They may become ‘hangry’ regularly and experience irritability, reduced concentration and a drop in energy level.  Then one day they may visit their GP complaining of things like tiredness, dry mouth, increased thirst and urination, or even blurred vision. Their GP does some tests to check blood sugar levels and low and behold they are pre-diabetic or diagnosed with type 2 diabetes! Previously, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes were mainly seen in adults but these days both are occurring in children and adolescents. There is something seriously amiss as this is preventable through diet and lifestyle changes!

A higher fat, lower carb diet can help stabilise blood sugars. For some it may be a temporary, in an attempt to re-set the ability to manage sugar and for others it may be more of a long-term approach. It may also help with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) as women with PCOS have elevated insulin levels and often rely on metformin (a diabetes drug). Refined carbs such as biscuits, sugary cereals, and white breads cause a sharp rise in insulin, and likewise many low fat/low calorie sugary foods marketed to be healthy and supportive of weight loss have a similar effect. It is good to also be aware that large portions of healthy carbs such as potatoes, wholegrain breads, cereals, rice and pasta eaten at every meal can also lead to insulin resistance over time. So the moral of the story is to not fool yourself by snacking on pre-packed convenience foods and watch your portion size….carbs particularly processed/refined carbs or even large portions of unrefined carbs cause a lot of insulin to be released! If you feel tired and bloated after a meal you have likely eaten too many carbs!

What about Saturated fat?

Saturated fat is a type of fat found in animal products such as meat, milk, yoghurt, cream and chesses, butter and eggs and it is also found in some plant foods such as coconut oil and macadamia nuts.

Both Dr Robert Lustig (USA) and Dr John Yudkin (UK) for years researched and argued that sugar especially excess fructose (fructose corn syrup) was more to blame for obesity, diabetes and heart disease than fat. Whether their views and research were disregarded because of food industry influence or insufficient evidence is debatable. The view that saturated fat increases low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol which then causes heart disease is too simplistic. Heart disease and cholesterol levels are influenced by many things. LDL cholesterol is used as a marker of heart disease risk but there are also other biomarkers such as homocysteine and an inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein (CRP) that can give us insight into our risk of heart disease.


I don’t doubt that an excess intake of saturated fat may have some negative effects in the long-term but there is no reason why saturated fat should not be included as part of a healthy balance diet. The other thing about saturated fats is that they are less susceptible to damage by oxygen and can maintain stability at higher temperatures than unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fat can be converted to trans fat at high temperatures and we all know that trans fats are just really bad for you! This is why you are better to use a tablespoon of coconut oil are butter when frying at high temperatures.

Final note….

The key message is don’t be afraid of fat. Low fat products are unnecessary but if you are having more fat in your diet make sure you also think about the overall amount of calories you are having each day. You will not do yourself any favours if you take half the message and eat more fat and continue to eat everything else! For most people a little bit more fat with less carbs keeps you satisfied without the need for extra snacks.


The first step should be cutting out refined carbs like cereal bars, cakes, biscuits, sugary cereals, white breads and replace them with vegetables, nuts and seeds! According to the New Zealand Herald the All Blacks appreciate the benefits of eating more healthy fats such as nut butters and coconut oil, and limiting sugary foods! My next blog will look at the pros and cons of becoming fat adapted as a tool for weight loss and in sport.



  1. Gropper, S., Stepnick, A., & Smith, J. L. (2013). Advanced nutrition and human metabolism. (J. L. Smith, Ed.) (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Belmont, CA : Wadsworth/Cengage Learning c2013.
  2. Dunford, M. & Doyle, J.A. (2015). Nutrition for sport and exercise. (3rd edition) Stamford, CT: Cengage:
  3. Schofield, G., Zinn, C., Rodger, C. What The Fat? Sports Performance: Leaner, Fitter, Faster on Low-Carb Healthy Fat. (Kindle Locations 677-680). The Real Food Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.
  4. Consumer. Now you Know. Available at: Accessed on 25th November 2015



Top 5 Healthy and tasty CBD lunches in Singapore

When I first moved to Singapore it took a lot of trial and error to find some really healthy and tasty places to go for lunch. I wanted to share these places so that it may help anyone who has just moved over, passing through or who is working in the CBD area and wants to have healthier lunches! All the places I recommend have two things in common – Plenty of veg with good protein sources! This results in eating a lot of salads but after 2 and a half years I’m still not bored of them!

1. Wheat Baumkuchen, Asia Square, Tower 1 Food Garden, 8 Marina View, 02-02, Tel 64433391   


This is my favourite place to go for lunch, mainly because the salmon is so good! For about 9SGD you can get delicious salmon with salad, brown rice, or soba noodles (buckwheat noodles- buckwheat itself is gluten free but if you are on a gluten free diet then ask if theirs is gluten free as sometimes wheat flour is added). If I am going for dinner after work I stick to salmon and salad but if I am going to a fitness class/run I go with brown rice or soba noodles to keep me going for longer. I try to get this twice a week; salmon is a fantastic source of omega 3 and it can be difficult to get the required amount from nuts/seeds/oils alone. It is served with yuzu sauce which has a very strong kick but if you don’t like it then ask for it on the side. I also love the lava option (ramen curry, chicken, potatoes, carrots and salad). This is a great comfort food option to have once in a while. The curry even tastes similar to the curry that’s served back in Ireland – random! There is also another outlet at One Raffles place, B1-23.    

2. Cedele71 Robinson Road, 01-01, 068895, Tel 65349581  

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If you have been in Singapore for more than a week you will have probably heard about this place. It has fantastic salads and you can pick and mix your ingredients in most of the outlets. For about 9 SGD (if you go for a lettuce base or ~10 SDG if you go for a spinach base) you can get a really filling and satisfying salad. Beetroot and smoked salmon are always really fresh and you can also get a descent bowl of soup. Most places offer free flow bread but I usually avoid having any or I just have a small slice to avoid the afternoon slump! They also have great wraps, sandwiches with a great choice of breads and there are also cakes and pastries for the occasionally treat! I mainly go to the one on Robinson Road and MBFC Tower 3 but there are Cedele restaurants all over the city.

3. The Salad CornerAmoy Street Food Centre, 01-41, Tel 9853409  


This is my third favourite place, mainly because it is great value (~5SGD), has a good mixture of salad options and of course it is tasty! When I come here I usually keep it vegetarian as the meat/fish are mostly processed. For protein I opt for a mixture of egg, red kidney beans/chick peas, with a topping of sunflower/pumpkin seeds. You can ask for dressing to be separate but sometimes I just ask for a small amount of balsamic vinegar and olive oil (as you can see in the photo covering some of the broccoli). I have only ever been to this salad corner but there are others at Market Street Food Centre 01-10, 03-20, and Tanjong Pagar Plaza, 01-04.                 

I came here a lot with my work colleagues and it was my saviour among a lot of unhealthy places. When I say unhealthy I don’t mean bad places just that they are places I don’t want to eat at on a daily basis but you can get a great green thai curry and there is an amazing Costa Rican food stall called Macacitas, 01-50 which serves a great Chimichurri avocado salad and it can be made healthier by requesting no added sauces or fried bread on top.

4. Thunder Tea Rice Food stall, Lau Pat Sat, 048582, Tel 97669543


Thunder Tea Rice is a bit like marmite, you’ll either love it or hate it but thankfully I LOVE IT! Thunder Tea Rice is a mixture of brown rice, diced vegetables and tofu with toasted peanuts and anchovies and to add to this you get a bowl of tea soup which you pour on top of it!! It may sound strange, especially if you have a Western palette but somehow it just works and it is amazing! It is definitely worth a try!

There is a Macacitas food stall in Lau Pa Sat and another food stall called Wok Ok serves a good stir fry but my only issue with this place is that there is a lot of salt/MSG added, and every time I ask not to add any it just doesn’t happen so I’ve stopped going there. There are a few food stalls such as Jason that have Yong Tau Foo – here you choose your ingredients and put them in a bowl and they are then cooked for you. Yong Tau Foo can be made super health by going mainly for heathy ingredients such as broccoli, mushrooms, eggs etc and avoiding the battered/breaded ingredients. It can be served dry or as a soup. I don’t love it but that’s personal choice and it is worth a try as you can experiment with the ingredients.

5. Sarnies, 136 Telok Ayer Street, 068601 and My Awesome Cafe, 202 Telok Ayer Street, Tel 62222007 

I couldn’t decide between these two so I had to put them both up as they are equally amazing!! The reason why they are not higher up in the rank is because the salads are pricier than the others (~16-19 SGD). Sarnies, have great salad options that range from Moroccan chicken, chicken pesto, haloumi, and a paleo steak salad. They also have bullet proof coffee that is made with coconut oil and butter. It tastes pretty good and I like a cup if I am meeting someone for a long lunch and want to order something after! My awesome vegetarian salad is packed with peppers, eggplant, egg, tomato, avocado with brie or goat’s cheese. it is served with a small piece of pesto covered crusty bread. It is the best vegetarian salad I can think of here and is a really big portion size! There are lots of other meat salads and sandwich options too!

One other place I have heard great reports about is the Daily Cut located at One Raffles Place. It is just a bit too far from where I work but my friend sent me this photo and it looks pretty good – steak, sweet potato, avocado, edamame beans with a sous-vide egg, yum!


So that’s my round-up and I really hope this gives some good tips on places to go for lunch!