The Top 3 Industry Recommended Diet Tips that Actually Work!

When you’re weight-conscious, you find yourself reading all sorts of advice and information about nifty ways to drop the kilos.

There’s so much information out there that it’s really quite overwhelming.

One source says red wine is good for you while another says it’s bad.

One says white bread is the devil while another says that all bread is.

One says chocolate should be avoided at all costs, unless it’s dark, in which case it will keep you slim as long as you suck it while humming the national anthem and standing on one leg…

It’s exhausting.

Everyone you know and every magazine you buy is keen to offer you one tip or another on some easy-fix-short-cut to getting in shape.

The truth is that there aren’t any.

There are, however, medically backed, professionally approved diet tips that really do work. At Curves, we’ve developed a program that’s filled with them.

Here are just 3 that we, and the health industry, recommend:

1. Don’t go ‘low-carb’

For years beauty magazines and celebs have been endorsing low, or even no-carb diets and because they all look so effortlessly gorgeous, we believe the hype.

However, behind every promising headline sit groups of people with live-in dietitian, coaches, personal assistants and air-brushers.

You don’t have those luxuries and when you eat well, you don’t need them.

Low or no-carb diets don’t work. There’s plenty of quality research which shows that your body needs carbs. They give it the physical, emotional and psychological fuel it needs to function properly.

Look after your body and stabilise your weight by including vegetables, pulses and wholegrains in your diet and cutting out biscuits, cakes and fizzy drinks.

2. Control your portions

You really can have too much of a good thing.

If you’re eating plenty of good foods and exercising but failing to shift those clingy kilos then it may be down to portion control.

Some foods, like nuts and dried fruit are good for you but only in moderation. Absent-mindedly grazing on them can lead to you consuming hundreds of extra calories without even noticing that you’re doing it.

3. Eat breakfast

We see a lot of new members who’ve been skipping meals in the hope that by just eating less, they’ll weigh less.

It seems logical but the human body just doesn’t work that way.

When you limit the amount of food you eat, your body clings to it and stores it, causing your metabolism to slow down and burn far fewer calories than it could.

Eating breakfast changes that and sets you up for a day of successful dieting. A study of 4,200 people found that those who ate breakfast had fewer weight issues, were more likely to exercise and ate less calories throughout the day, than those who skipped it.

If you were looking for instant-fix, overnight success diet tips here, you might be feeling a bit disappointed right now, but honestly, there aren’t any.

The only way to lose, stabilise and maintain a healthy weight is to manage your diet and do regular exercise, always.

We know it’s hard but we can help you do it. For lots more diet tips that work, become a member of Curves and we’ll help you to attain the slim, healthy body you’ve always wanted.

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5 Easy Lifestyle Changes You Can Make to Benefit Your Health, Today

Simple lifestyle changes that can improve your health today!”

If you’re looking for some simple lifestyle changes that can improve your health today, then these five easy steps should be the first ones you take on your journey to a fitter, happier, healthier you:

Eat

Eating a healthy breakfast sets you up for the day. It kickstarts your metabolism and nips those mid-morning munchy cravings in the bud.

Opt for something which is low on the Glycaemic Index (GI), because these foods in particular release energy slowly to help see you through to lunch without snacking, stabilise your blood sugar levels and help your body to deal with fat more efficiently.

You can find inspiration with personalised meal plans from Curves Complete.

Drink

When you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy balance, it’s easy to focus on your food intake and overlook the calories you consume in your drinks.

Staying well hydrated is vital for all aspects of your health so try to drink plenty of water, and don’t waste your money on the bottled stuff, our tap water is delicious!

Carry a bottle with you and flavour it with a squeeze of fresh lime, lemon or orange juice. This will make it easier to avoid picking up carbonated drinks or fruit juices which are high in sugars when you feel thirsty.

Having a bottle of water handy will also help you to avoid snacking; thirst is often misinterpreted as hunger so before you have a nibble, have a drink.

Exercise

If you commute to work, get off one or two stops before you need to and walk the rest of the way, and if your building has stairs, use them instead of the lift.

If you don’t commute on public transport, cycle instead of drive and if that’s not possible, park your car a ten minute walk away from your house or workplace. This makes it really easy to squeeze in an extra 30 minutes of exercise a day and will save you money on transport costs too.

Rest

Taking care to get plenty of rest is an easy way to look after your physical and mental health. Sleeping well is proven to improve your memory, creativity and concentration and can help with weight loss too.

Researchers from the University of Chicago found that people in weight-loss programs who slept well lost more fat than those who were sleep deprived, and they found it easier to stabilise their food cravings too.

When you’re properly rested, it’s easier to maintain your focus and motivation on long-term weight loss goals and stick to them.
Sign up to Curves!

Losing weight is always easier with support, and when you join Curves, you get the benefit of expert coaching from our professional and friendly team as well as the encouragement of the Curves community which is full of people just like you!

If you really want to be fitter, stronger, slimmer and healthier, don’t put your healthy ideals off until tomorrow, sign up as a Curves member and benefit from great advice and support, today.

The benefits of Protein

What is protein?

Protein is one of three macronutrients which provides us with energy and is necessary for our bodies to function efficiently. Protein is important because it is one of the body’s building blocks for muscle, bone, skin and other tissues.

Without protein, our body would not be able to function effectively. Protein is made up of 20 amino acids. While some of these amino acids are made by the body, others we must obtain through diet.

Can protein really help to lose weight?

Ensuring adequate protein intake is important for helping people to lose weight and also maintain a healthy weight. Protein helps to increase satiety, which means when we consume a meal high in protein; we tend to feel full more quickly and for longer, resulting in fewer calories being consumed overall.

In addition, it is believed that protein may also help to lower the hunger-stimulating hormone and therefore reduce our appetite following a meal. Protein is also relatively low in kilojoules (or energy). 1g of protein provides 17kj of energy.

Protein for active women

When we are taking part in regular physical activity, protein becomes particularly important. Performing resistance exercise causes tiny tears to form in our muscles.

Protein is necessary to help repair these tears and to also increase strength and growth of muscle tissue. Building lean muscle is important for anyone wanting to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight as it can help to speed up your metabolism. This is a good thing!

Even while you rest, muscle burns more kilojoules than fat. Research shows the best time to deliver protein is immediately following exercise. But more isn’t necessarily better – only 10 to 20 grams of protein is needed to provide essential amino acids to muscles.

How to incorporate protein into my diet?

Getting adequate protein is easy! Simply ensure you are including a rich source of protein with every meal and always have a small snack after intense workouts that include both protein and some carbohydrates to help build and repair muscle tissue and to replace glycogen stores that become depleted during your workout.

Great options include low fat Greek yoghurt and berries, nuts, trim milk, legumes, or why not try a Curves shake with skim milk – The perfect combination of protein and carbohydrates!

5 Tricks To Prevent Overeating At Your Next Cookout

Oh, the backyard barbecue—so delicious, so much fun, so dotted with pitfalls for the dieter: big bowls of chips, piles of potato salad, plates of meat. So hard to resist and even harder to keep from munching too much, especially when you’re mingling with friends and family and not thinking about what you’re putting in your mouth. Been there, done that, right? Who hasn’t? You need a strategy to help you avoid overindulgence.

We consulted with Brian Wansink, PhD, founder and director of the food and brand lab at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. His research shows that we’re surrounded by imperceptible but irresistible cues that affect what we eat, when we eat, and how much we eat. Unfortunately, many of those cues push us to eat too much. But there’s good news: With some simple tricks, you can defuse the triggers of overindulgence. Here’s what Wansink suggests:

Beware big plates.

Believe it or not, the size of your plates and bowls can add or subtract calories to or from your meal. “Environmental cues tell you how much you should serve or eat,” says Wansink. A big plate makes portions look smaller, he explains, so we tend to load it up with more food. Use medium bowls, and skip the hubcap-size paper plates in favour of something smaller; plates around 20cm in diameter are a good fit for most meals.

Consider colour.

Amazingly, it seems the colour of your plates can also influence how much you eat. In a 2011 study, Wansink’s team found that people dished out and ate more pasta with marinara (red) sauce if they were given red plates. Ditto for Alfredo (white) sauce served on white plates. The reason: Portion sizes look smaller than they are if the food blends into the background. So plan for contrast. Think about what you’ll be serving—traditional potato and pasta salads along with those burgers and dogs on a bun? Pick out dark-coloured plates at the supermarket. Going for healthy greens, grilled veggies, and salmon? Classic white is perfect.

Assess your glasses.

When kilojoules come in liquid form, every glass you raise could be a toast to a bigger waistline. To stay trim, choose slim glassware. Wansink’s research shows that we tend to pour more into glasses that are short and wide, compared with tall and narrow, even if both hold the same volume. Taller things look bigger to us, so we’re less likely to overfill a tall glass. “Even professional bartenders pour about 30 percent more into a short, fat tumbler,” says Wansink. In fact, his study prompted some restaurants to switch to taller glasses as a cost-cutting measure.

Downsize your serving spoons.

The cutlery you eat with doesn’t seem to influence intake, but serving spoons and other utensils you use to fill dishes for yourself or others will have an effect: Big utensils make serving sizes seem smaller, so you’ll tend to dish out more food.

Keep your distance from temptation and put healthy food front and centre.

If you’ve put a bowl of chips out for your guests or you made your mum’s favourite potato salad, position yourself at a distance. Consider setting up a separate table for high KJ – fat-laden foods or serve small portions and send the rest inside. The hassle of having to head into the house for another scoop of macaroni salad will likely kill that craving. But you don’t even have to go that far. Wansink and team found that just under 2m of distance kept people from overdosing on chocolate kisses. So for absentminded healthy nibbling, keep salads and healthy vegetables close by and place the waistline wreckers where it’s not so easy to reach them. And when it comes to desserts, don’t bring them to the table until everyone’s finished the main meal. You’ll likely be too full to eat too much; still, serve sweets on your smallest plates.

By planning ahead and putting these simple strategies into place, unhealthy mindless eating can be eliminated, and you’ll be able to enjoy your backyard barbecue without worrying what the scale will reveal tomorrow.

THE TRUTH ABOUT SUGAR

Some sugar occurs naturally in foods like fruits, grains, vegetables and milk. And these foods are good for you! But the sugars found in foods like sweets, cakes, cookies, cold drinks, energy and sports drinks all contain added sugars. Unlike foods with naturally occurring sugar, these foods don’t provide any nutritional benefit to your diet.

If you’ve ever heard the term “empty calories” that’s what these foods provide – no nutrition and lots of calories. As an example, both milk and cold drink contain sugar, but milk contains a natural occurring sugar called lactose as well as bone building calcium and Vitamin D, while cold drink provides nothing more than calories.

What is the effect of added sugars to our health?

• Your Weight: As a society, the amount of sugars we are consuming is increasing and so is our waistline. Did you know that South Africa is placed third in the world obesity ranking, being the first developing country on the list? In sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa was found to have the highest overweight and obesity rate. We’re a game changer in the global obesity epidemic, proof that fatness doesn’t have to be an exclusively first world problem. This excess weight increases risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other health problems

• Your Heart: Too much added sugars can increase your triglycerides, a type of fat found in blood. Having high triglycerides can increase your risk for heart disease

• Your Energy Levels: Have you ever experienced a sugar low – feeling dizzy, hungry, shaky, irritable? Foods with a lot of added sugars tend to cause a sharp rise and fall in our blood sugars, or blood glucose levels (i.e. high GI foods). This translates into a sharp rise and fall in our energy levels leaving you grumpy, tired and hungry for more sugar

• Your Cravings: Do you ever feel like once you’ve had a piece of cake, you can’t say no to another cookie, sweets or chocolate? Foods with added sugars tend to make use crave more and more sugar. Emerging research shows that foods that have added sugars also tend to more hyper-palatable – this means it becomes hard to fight off those cravings once you’ve had some of these foods

Reading Food Labels

Finding added sugars can be tricky on food labels because sugar on food labels per 100g or portion include both naturally occurring sugar and added sugars (stated as total carbohydrates). To find added sugars, you’ll have to read the ingredient list. Keep in mind, ingredients are listed by weight. The ingredients listed first thus make up the majority of that product. Therefore, if you see added sugars at the beginning of the ingredient list, it would be wise to choose another option.

Added sugars also have different names – so you’ll need to also do some investigating too. Here are some common terms that indicate your product contains added sugars:

• Brown Sugar
• Cane Juice and Cane syrup
• Cane Sugar
• Corn sugar or syrup
• Dextrin or maltodextrin
• Fruit Juice concentrate
• Fruit nectars
• High Fructose Corn Syrup
• Honey
• Malt Syrup
• Molasses
• Raw Sugar
• Sugar
• Words ending in “-ose” – glucose, maltose, dextrose

How much sugar is “safe” for me?

The American Heart Association recommends that we limit added sugars to 2 tablespoons each day – that’s only about 100 calories (400 kJ) from added sugars. One sports drink usually contains an average of 12 teaspoons of added sugars! Drinking just one drink a day puts you three times over the limit!

How can I reduce my intake of added sugars?

Research studies estimate that most people get more than 22 teaspoons of added sugars each day. That’s about three times more than the recommendation! For weight loss and disease prevention, reducing added sugars is crucial. Some ideas on how to decrease your intake of added sugars:

• Swap energy drinks, sports drinks and cold drinks for water or unsweetened tea. Flavour your water naturally with fresh fruit and herbs

• Swap sugar sweetened cereals for whole grain, low GI cereals. Be careful, even cereals that sound healthy aren’t necessarily a whole grain – read the ingredient list. If sugar is listed near the top of the ingredient list, reconsider. Instead, add your own fruits and nuts

• Purchase plain products and add your own fruit, honey or natural sweeteners, such as xylitol. The amount you add will be much less than what manufacturers add.

And finally, the best way to reduce your overall intake of added sugars is too choose more whole foods. This is the best way to ensure your consuming only the natural sugars Mother Nature intended for you to consume. Sugar is not necessarily bad, but we do have to be careful about the type of sugar we consume.

3 Ways To Reward Yourself For Meeting A Fitness Goal

“Fitness goals don’t necessarily have to be related to weight loss”

Setting goals for yourself is a good way to help get into shape. But fitness goals don’t necessarily have to be related to weight loss. For example, riding your bike to work or working out 16 times in a month are all trackable goals that are important to your overall fitness. And because these results can be measured, it’s easy to reward yourself when you’ve reached those predetermined benchmarks. Meeting with your coach for your monthly weigh and measure is a good way to keep track of your progress.

Here are some great ways to treat yourself that make working towards your fitness goals more gratifying and fun.

New clothes and accessories

Who doesn’t like new clothes? For most of us, wearing something new puts a spring in our step and a smile on our face. Remember that first day of school when you got to pick out your favourite new outfit? Those new clothes somehow made us feel more confident and proud…like we could take on the world and come out a winner. It’s similar to the feeling we get when we accomplish our fitness goals, whether we worked up to walking several miles a day or just completed our 100th workout at Curves. So why not reward yourself with a new pair of jeans or those trendy sunglasses you’ve had your eye on? They’ll not only remind you of everything you’ve accomplished so far but encourage you to keep working towards new goals.

Take an adventure trip

Do you like to travel? If so, you probably have a list of places you’d like to see. Accomplishing your fitness goals is a great excuse to check some travel adventures off your bucket list. If you’re creative, you can even work your next fitness goals into your reward. How about hiking up to that remote waterfall in the mountains or challenging yourself to an overnight canoe trip in the wilderness? Whatever you choose, rewarding yourself with a couple days away from home is a great way to celebrate meeting your goals.

Curves products

Curves is more than just a place to go exercise. It offers a fun, safe environment where members can get in shape, meet like-minded people, and develop healthy, life-long friendships. Consider Curves products as a badge of honour for your hard work and dedication. With a variety of fitness-related products to choose from, you can find something appropriate to reward yourself for any of your newly-accomplished fitness goals.

Whether you’re aiming for a certain number of circuit visits in a month, or simply striving to improve your resting heart rate, setting interim fitness goals is a good tool for success. And once you accomplish those goals, don’t be shy about rewarding yourself for a job well done. You deserve it!

By Cherri Megasko