Why consume dairy in smaller amounts?

While doing my PT studies, they keep reinforcing that exercise without the correct diet is.. well, pretty much pointless. Like my dear Norwegian Tonje said yesterday, you need to fuel a car to drive it. And for some reason, that comes as a surprise to many. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – you can’t out-exercise a shit diet.

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Probs taken with 3 months between each, the first in November 2012, the last one in May 2013.

When I was visiting Norway in June/July (can you believe it’s November already?! I feel as if I was drunk at a Norwegian festival last week) we did tests for my diet. Everything was really good, part from… the dairy. Do you drink a lot of milk?, they asked. No, I said. Cheese? Not that much. Yoghurt? Ehhhhhhhhh, sort of maybe possibly greek yoghurt with apples and cinnamon every day as a snack. Yeah, you have to quit that, they said. Not just once, but several times, was my intolerance to dairy pointed out. So I had to go cold turkey and just end it all. No more greek yoghurt. Yeah I consume dairy now and then still, and it usually makes me feel sick, but it’s never the base of any of my meals.

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  • Cow-milk does not reduce fractures or strengthen your bones, there exists no scientific proof for it being a benefit – research has actually linked the consumption of dairy to a possible 50% increase in fractures. Countries with lower rates of dairy consumption also have the lowest occurrence of osteoporosis, whereas countries consuming the most dairy (Europe, Australia and USA being the worst) have the highest rates of hip fractures in the world. Researchers explained that animal protein, unlike plant protein, increases the acid load in the body. An increased acid load means that our blood and tissues become more acidic. The body does not like this acidic environment and begins to fight it. In order to neutralize the acid, the body uses calcium, which acts as a very effective base. This calcium, however, must come from somewhere. It ends up being pulled from the bones, and the calcium loss weakens them, putting them at greater risk for fracture. Vitamin D is way more important than calcium in terms of preventing fractures (however, calcium supplements alone – aka no dairy, have a proven effect on reducing the risk of colon cancer).
  • Dairy is linked to cancer and heart disease. It may, in fact, increase the risk of prostate cancer by 30-50%. In order to increase milk production, cows are given the bovine growth hormone (rBGH) – a man-made or synthetic hormone which increases blood levels of the insulin-growth factor 1 (IGF-1) which promotes inflammation and the higher the level of IGF, the higher the risk of developing cancer. Dairy is also high in saturated fat and cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart attacks (and adds unwanted cellulite to your body).
  • Dairy also contributes to other health problems, such as allergies, sinus infections, diabetes 1, acne, ear infections, anemia in children ++.

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Science agrees that it is better to obtain calcium, potassium, fats and protein  from other potential food sources, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, seafood etc, as our bodies aren’t made to digest milk regularly.

Again, I’m not saying you have to quit anything. I’m not saying you should substitute everything dairy for soy (because too much soy is for sure not good either). But maybe give a couple of dairy-free weeks a go, and see how you feel? I dare bet that you’ll feel a difference once you try dairy again.

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Simple tips for staying healthy every day

I keep thinking that everyone are aware of what the healthier option of different kinds of food is nowadays, but when going grocery shopping I tend to realize that that isn’t the case. Seriously, the amount of shit food people buy is amazing. Most of you probably do know what I’m about to tell you, but for those who don’t – here you go;

  • Choose the complex carbs. Eating white rice, pasta, bread, cereal etc is like eating paper – there is no nutritional value at all WHATSOEVER. The high glycemic value (GI) makes your insulin levels spike quickly, only to let them drop again and you feel low in energy and just as hungry. They are high in empty calories and do not help your digestive system in any kind of way. Wheat has no benefits.

Let me show you the difference between Australian bread and Norwegian bread.

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So choose whatever contains the most fiber. Or bake your own bread or Norwegian Knekkebrød (crisp bread). Choose oats (WITHOUT ADDED SUGAR) over any other processed cereal. Wholegrain pasta still contains a lot of wheat, but is better than the normal white pasta. If you wanna go crazy (like me), choose buckwheat or quinoa pasta. Wholegrain rice, black wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat, couscous (now and then), lentils, chickpeas, beans, POTATOES instead of white rice.

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  • Eat more vegetables. Make vegetables the main ingredients of your meal. You can pretty much eat unlimited amounts of greens for any meal, as they are low in calories and high in everything else.
  • Think lean. Choose lean protein options. Sure, pepperoni is amazing on anything, but it’s not particularly healthy in terms of fat, salt or.. content. Make chicken, turkey, fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel, basa fish, scampi) and lean red meat your protein source.
  • Be creative in your protein choices. Soy-products like tofu and quorn, greek NATURAL yoghurt (any yoghurt with added flavour is also packed with sugar), cottage cheese, beans, chickpeas, lentils, eggs (eggs are great!), nuts, parmesan cheese.. They all contain protein. In fact, there’s a little protein in pretty much everything that is natural.

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  • Increase your omega-3 intake. In other words, eat fish. Fish has fat that will help your skin, nails and hair look good, it’s low in calories, it’s filling, it’s high in protein and vitamins. Fish is high in Vitamin D, which is needed for your body to take up calcium (if you drink milk/eat dairy, this is particularly important as your body will need the Vitamin D to use the calcium to its benefit – otherwise you’ll be left with brittle bones). I know that this is one of my struggles, so in addition to attempting (all we can do is try) to eat fish at least once a week, I take omega-3 supplements twice a day.
  • Reduce your refined sugar-intake. Avoid food containing things you have no idea what is. Don’t eat biscuits, ice cream, canned fruit, candy, cake etc on a daily basis – those are meant to be an occasional snack, not a part of your diet. Don’t buy juice, soda or cordial, they’re all packed with sugar. Eat at least 5 different kinds of fruit a day to combat your sugar-cravings and provide your body with the needed vitamins.

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  • Eat the right fat. Olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil (the body does not take up the saturated aka bad fat from coconut oil), avocado, nuts (unsalted, preferably not peanuts), fish, etc. NOT chips, anything containing palm oil, or anything high in saturated fat. We don’t want blocked veins, right?
  • Hydrate! Your body needs enough water to carry out all its responsibilities and functions. If your body doesn’t get enough water, it will re-use whatever water is left in your already digested food – and we don’t want ‘contaminated’ water helping the regulations of the body, do we?

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  • Swap your daily caffeine for green tea/herbal tea. Green tea contains heaps of antioxidants and doesn’t stain your teeth. Drinking one coffee with milk and sugar every day on top of your daily intake of nutrition can make you gain about 5 kgs in a year (due to the milk and sugar, obviously).
  • Cook your own food. It’s not hard. It doesn’t require much energy. You can control what you put in your body. And you’ll have leftovers to eat for lunch or to freeze.

Remember to EAT ENOUGH. If you store good food – you will choose to eat the good food. It’s easy.

Oh, and should you wanna know what happens whenever I eat crap food. This is the result of three pieces of brownies. Not cool.

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How to stay on track on vacation

So I’ve just been away on vacation. My God, I forgot what having beach hair and tan-lines was like. Gotta say I’m feeling slightly blessed being able to get on a plane for two hours and leave 12 degrees and heavy rain, to end up in sunny heaven and a penthouse apartment. Life just sometimes goes perfectly in the direction it is supposed to.

My “abs” have obviously gone a tad astray the past few weeks, and I have therefore planned on doing measurements in another three weeks to motivate myself and stay on top of things. Anyway, despite being on vacation, my workout week turned out like this:

Monday – 4 x 4 intervals + favourite upper-body circuit with weights in the gym

Tuesday – Rest (spent pretty much the entire day traveling)

Wednesday – 30 minute run on the beach followed by 12 x 4 sets of pushups, 10 x 3 sets of triceps-pushups, 12 x 3 dips on a bench

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Thursday – Legs and abs on the beach.

Yes it is possible, we made a circuit of:

3×12 superset of squats + jumping squats (a superset means no rest between the combined sets of exercises – increases your heart rate)

While Tonje did walking lunges, I used my elastic band to do a variation of “cable kick-backs”

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Various isolation exercises forcing you to connect with your glutes, inner thighs and quads

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12×3 sumo squats (everyone should be looking this happy when having a leg-day by the way)

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3 sets of jumping sumo squats in a circle

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1 minute isometric squat (holding a squat-position for as long as possible)

10 x burpees (found out that I really suck at doing burpees)

20 x 3 calf-raises in stairs

1 minute plank

30 sec side plank on both sides

Plank to pushup, ten on each arm

Other variations of planking (and maybe playing) in the sand

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Friday – 1 h morning walk in the sand

Saturday – 1 h morning walk in the sand

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Sunday – Back, shoulders and abs in the gym

I love the ocean so much that I can’t picture my future life not living by the ocean, so I’ve of course been swimming (scaring myself thinking about sharks and jellyfish) and whatnot everyday too.

When it comes to eating, I dare say I’ve been following my suggestion of 80/20 pretty well. A vacation is a vacation and I’m not killing myself for having had a few frozen yoghurts, an ice-cream made with nitrogen (!!!) nuts, dried fruit or coronas, but my main meals have stayed true to what I believe in. Eating healthy on vacation is easy and cheap, I actually think I spent less money away than what I do during a normal week in Melbourne. Luckily we had our own kitchen, so I had my usual breakfast of oats, eggs and a banana every morning, and brought lunch in a box to the beach. Always bring a lunch-box, it is genius for leftovers, fresh fruit etc.

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I bought sliced turkey breast, vegetables for salad (spinach, tomato, avocado), fresh fruit, pumpernickel bread (yes, the black, compact bread no one in Australia would ever touch) and eggs, and made some sort of a salad out of this everyday. So good, so fresh, protein-packed and very very easy. Not to mention that it saves loads of money. I also bought detox-juice consisting of beetroot, carrot, celery, apple and ginger quite often, so good. We cooked dinner at home most nights and I had taco-salad, homemade tomato soup (which costs about 3 dollars to make…) and kangaroo-burger with oven-roasted vegetables. When eating out I chose a grilled, very mild fish (I hate the well-known fish taste) with veggies. Easy and healthy.

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I guess what I’m trying to say is that if there is a will, there is also a way. If you want to work out on vacation, you will. It is of course perfectly fine to rest when traveling, but why not use the amazing opportunities of nature if you can? You don’t have to go all in and burn 900 calories in a workout, what matters is that you get up and do something. And enjoy an occasional ice-cream or whatever you do crave, but bring a lunch box, keep your main meals clean and eat lots of fresh fruit in-between meals. No one is forcing you to choose the unhealthiest option on the menu, no one is forcing you to buy that chocolate bar in the supermarket and no one is forcing you to eat lollies everyday. It is your choice. Willpower and planning is the key.

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