Most of us have a habit of over indulging over winter – eating unhealthy options, exercising less regularly and hiding under winter woollies. But spring has sprung, so VP of Education and Nutrition at Atkins Nutritionals, Colette Heimowitz, explains how to shake off the winter habits and shares her top tips for your best-ever healthy body.
Go low carb
Studies show low-carb diets encourage faster fat loss – but that's not all. A recent Harvard study revealed they can help retain lean muscle mass, which helps speed your metabolism, plus they help you feel satisfied for longer. Clients consistently notice how low-carb living banishes belly bloat – which is perfect feeling your best this summer. And for those with a sweet tooth, Atkins has even created low-carb sweet-tasting snacks to help satisfy without widening your waistline like the Atkins Advantage Fudge Caramel bar, and Atkins Endulge Milk Chocolate bar. Delish.
Pack in protein
Including protein with each main meal will help you feel full for longer, as well as boosting lean muscle mass. Ideal protein sources include eggs, lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu, beans, nuts and seeds. Add an egg at brekkie and between 110 and 170 grams at both lunch and dinner and you'll notice the difference.
Don't fear fat
Contrary to popular belief, fat is your friend. Healthy fats help you feel satiated, keeping cravings and overeating under control. Good oils and fats are also fab for your hair, skin and complexion.
Some examples of healthy fats are olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, butter or ghee, nuts/ seeds and their butters.
Load up on veggies, sprinkle some low-sugar fruit
Veggies are packed with fibre and nutrients. Atkins encourages consuming 8 to 10 serves of low-carb vegetables each day. Great choices include capsicum, tomato, broccoli and spinach, along with one serve of low-sugar fruit such as blueberries, strawberries or rockmelon.
Drink like a fish – water that is
Without enough water your metabolism will slow down – and so will your weight loss. Fire it up with at least 8 glasses a day, even more in warmer weather. And if you find it a little bland, add a dash of fresh lemon or lime to spruce it up, or swap a glass or two for hot or cold herbal tea.
Hit the sack
A good night's sleep allows your body to perform at its best. Being well rested also means you'll have more energy for exercise, plus, tiredness triggers hunger which can lead to overeating sugar and carb-laden foods… so hit the hay instead!
Test your tolerance for carbs
Everyone has their own unique tolerance for carbs – the amount we can consume without putting on weight. Discovering it is the key to long-term weight maintenance, keeping you in shape through summer and beyond. The Atkins program has been designed to help individuals uncover their own carb tolerance. To find out yours log onto www.atkins.com where you can register, access personalised meal plans and support – all for free.
Question: What is the Atkins program?
Colette Heimowitz: Scientifically formulated for safe and effective weight loss, weight management and healthy lifelong eating, Atkins is an easy to follow, flexible four-phased program (start at the phase that best suits you) that helps you build a diet around whole foods rich in vitamins and -good carbohydrates' including low sugar fruits, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, dairy, good fats, and protein (fish, poultry, meat and tofu) – while at the same time helping you eliminate highly processed carbs such as white flour and sugar.
The Atkins approach four phases are:
• Induction - which restricts most carbs with the exception of lots of colorful vegetables, promotes eating protein at every meal and three servings of added fat per day and typically lasts around a fortnight;
• Phase two (balancing) - which increases the daily carb allowance and adds nuts, seeds , soft cheeses as well as Greek Yogurt, and low glycemic fruits such as berries to the allowable foods;
• Phases three and four (reaching goal and maintenance) - focus on maintaining your goal weight and re-introducing a wider variety of fruit, whole grains, and starchy vegetables.
Question: How will Atkins get our bodies in summer shape?
Colette Heimowitz: Atkins is not just about going low carb but is a total programme of healthy lifelong eating, drinking lots of water, and getting plenty of rest. By emphasising the consumption of real food and eliminating refined carbohydrates, Atkins participants cut out plenty of empty calories and added sugar. Here are Colette's top tips for a healthy Summer body:
1. Go low carb
2. Get your 3 servings of protein each day
3. Don't fear naturally occurring fats
4. Load up on veggies, sprinkle some low-sugar fruit
5. Drink like a fish – water that is
6. Hit the sack
7. Test your tolerance for carbs
Question: Is the Atkins program a long-term maintainable option?
Colette Heimowitz: By choosing a diet plan that encourages eating readily available whole foods, such as fish, poultry, lean meats, colourful vegetables, low-sugar fruits such as berries, Greek Yogurt, and wholegrains, Colette believes followers find it easier to stay on track. 'It's important to stay fortified with meals that are satisfying, and easy to prepare, so you'll be less likely to crave sugary snacks, or blow it all at the burger bar when it gets too tough," says Colette.
Question: How is the Atkins program different to a Paleo diet?
Colette Heimowitz: The Paleo diet can be very restrictive – cutting out many staples that are permitted on Atkins, such as: dairy, legumes, and low carb convenience foods. Paleo focuses solely on quality of carbohydrates, but neglects attention to quantity. On Atkins an individual will focus on both quantity and quality of carbohydrate intake.
Atkins allows for an individual to identify their own personal carb intake level. By focusing on low glycemic vegetables in the early phase of Atkins, individuals reintroduce higher carb foods slowly in order determine their own carb level to manage health and weight loss goals.
Question: Why is it important for women to not cut carbs completely?
Colette Heimowitz: Everyone has their own unique tolerance for carbs – the amount and types we can consume without putting on weight. Discovering it is the key to long-term weight maintenance, keeping you in shape through summer and beyond. The Atkins program has been designed to help individuals uncover their own carb tolerance.
Atkins allows for an individual to identify their own personal carb intake level. By focusing on low glycemic vegetables in the early phase of Atkins, individuals reintroduce higher carb foods slowly in order determine their own carb level to manage health and weight loss goals. As someone gets closer to their goals, higher carb foods such as fruit, starchy vegetables and whole grains can be enjoyed in small portions.
Question: How have the Atkins Advantage and Atkins Endulge bars changed, recently?
Colette Heimowitz: There have been no recent changes to the Endulge recipes but here is a full list of flavours:
Caramel Nut Chew
Milk Chocolate Mint
Question: Why does protein make us fill fuller for longer?
Colette Heimowitz: Eat 4–6 ounces of protein at each meal, depending on your height and gender. A petite woman may be satiated by 4 ounces; a guy may need 6 ounces. A very tall guy may even need a bit more. But eating too much protein"or eating only protein and not vegetables"or conversely, skimping on protein, will interfere with weight loss and/or leave you hungry and subject to carb cravings.
Protein is an important part of any balanced diet, as it makes us feel fuller longer, preserves muscle mass, and is an important nutrient for our bodies.
Question: How much healthy fat should we be adding to each meal?
Colette Heimowitz: It may sound crazy, but replacing sugars and refined carbs with natural healthy fats (as you do on a low-carb diet like Atkins) may help you lose weight, and keep it off. As long as you are controlling your carbs, the calories from fat are used directly for energy and are unlikely to be stored in places like your belly, hips and thighs and anywhere else you would rather not carry extra kilos.
Our bodies are actually designed to burn carbs and fat for fuel! When following a low carb diet, like Atkins, your carb intake is low enough that your body naturally switches to the backup fuel system of fat burning metabolism. It burns through stored body fat, as well as the fat you eat for energy. We recommend 2-4 tablespoons of added fat each day from sources like olive oil, butter, and salad dressing. The rest of your fat calories will come from natural food sources like avocados, dairy, nut sand their butters, and protein sources.
Question: Why is sleep so important to our health journeys?
Colette Heimowitz: A good night's sleep allows your body to perform at its best. Being well rested also means you'll have more energy for exercise, plus, tiredness triggers hunger which can lead to overeating sugar and carb-laden foods… so hit the hay instead!
Interview by Brooke Hunter