Fruit drinks can contain just as much sugar as soft drink
We know a 600ml bottle of soft drink can contain up to 16 teaspoons of sugar, but did you know fruit drinks can contain just as much? Fruit drinks are often promoted to children as a healthy option, but they may have up to 7 teaspoons of sugar in a 250ml serve, which is equivalent to the amount in a similar volume of soft drink.
Over half of Australians are consuming too much added sugars, with the average intake being about 14 teaspoons (or 60 grams) each day. This is over twice the recommendation from the World Health Organisation of approximately 6 teaspoons per day for adults. Having a diet high in added sugar can lead to excess energy intake and poor dental health in children, overweight and obesity which increase the risk of developing diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Check the label of drinks to find those high in sugar but remember the best drink of all is plain water – cheap, accessible and good for you!
Multivitamins are no substitute for fruit and veggies
Fruit and veggies are complex sources of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (plant chemicals), working together for the benefit of our bodies. So by eating a wide variety of foods, including fruit and veggies, you obtain added benefits of fibre, vitamins and minerals in different forms, water and enjoyment!
Some people will have a genuine need to take a vitamin or mineral supplement, e.g. before or during pregnancy, people on restrictive diets, aged or frail people, or those with a limited exposure to sunlight.
So before reaching for a vitamin or mineral supplement, check out your current eating and drinking behaviours and seek help from a health professional or Accredited Practising Dietitian if you are uncertain whether you need a vitamin or mineral supplement.
Women need to do muscle strengthening activities just as often as men
Australian guidelines recommend all adults – not just the men – do muscle strengthening (also known as resistance training) exercises on at least two days a week, and most of us aren’t achieving this.
But why should we all be doing these activities? Regular muscle strengthening will help manage blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels; prevent and control heart disease and type 2 diabetes; improve posture, mobility and balance; reduce the risk of falls and injury; and maintain your ability to do everyday tasks like carrying groceries. Strengthening activities involve ‘pushing’, ‘pulling’ or ‘lifting’ activities, in which the muscles work against some form of resistance.
Standing does burn more kilojoules than sitting
There’s a lot of talk at the moment about standing desks and the benefits of being up on your feet, and the truth is, it does make a difference. If you could look inside your body while you’re standing you’d see all sorts of things going on. For starters, you’re not actually standing still, but making hundreds of tiny movements each minute, and then firing muscles in your back, legs and abdominals to correct for these small movements. That’s why just standing can burn up to 21% more kilojoules than sitting. Plus there’s all the postural and circulatory benefits from standing. Read more about it here.
Avocados and olives are full of healthy fats
Conventional wisdom says we should stay away from fat, however some fats are essential for heart health and general wellness. These are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (as opposed to saturated fats which increase risk of heart disease). Both avocados and olives are naturally packed with these healthy fats (which includes foods such as guacamole and olive oil). Just watch your serving sizes because while they are healthy fats, they are still high in kilojoules. Try some of these healthy avocado recipes.
White sugar, raw sugar, honey, golden syrup… they’re all sugar products and they all pack kilojoules
There’s a huge range of sugars and sweeteners available today including white sugar, raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, coconut sugar, rice malt syrup and molasses. Certain types are often promoted in the media or by celebrities as being healthier than others. However, it doesn’t matter whether the product is touted as being raw or less refined or sugar free. The bottom line is that all of these products provide energy/kilojoules and not much else in the way of nutrients. And while artificial/intense sweeteners such as stevia, aspartame, saccharin or sucralose often found in ‘diet foods and drinks’ do not contain kilojoules, they also do not provide any nutrients. These artificial sweeteners are far sweeter than regular sugar and may lead to a reliance on a sweet taste.The best thing to do is have as little as possible of all sugars and sweeteners. Check out some of these recipes for how to keep it delicious and healthy.
Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain
We all know that lack of sleep can make us tired and grumpy, but it can mess with our weight as well. Studies have shown that people who sleep less than seven hours a day tend to gain more weight and have a higher risk of becoming obese than those who do get seven hours of shut-eye. The reason, it’s believed, is that sleep-deprivation leads to reduced levels of leptin (the chemical that makes you feel full) and increased levels of ghrelin (the hormone that stimulates hunger). One way to improve sleep is with regular physical activity, here’s a workout you can do in your lunch-break.
Every bit of physical activity counts
Every day we consume energy from food and drink. Some of that energy goes towards keeping us alive and in balance. Some of it goes towards moving our muscles. The excess is stored in the body, usually as fat. Since every bit of movement we do requires our muscles to burn energy, every bit of movement can make an impact on those excess kilojoules. Sure, a walk to the water cooler isn’t the same as a fifty minute walk (we should be aiming for 10,000 steps each day), but it all helps. Read more about it here.
Losing weight is easier than keeping it off
Many people find it easier to lose the first few kilograms when focusing on losing weight. It feels great. Keeping that weight off, however, now that’s the tricky part. Mostly this is because the things you do to lose those first kilograms are doable for a few weeks, but you can’t keep them up long term. If you are overweight, focus on making moderate, realistic and life-long changes to your current eating and activity patterns. To maintain any weight loss you need to focus on sticking with your new healthier eating and active lifestyle, whereby you balance the energy (kilojoules) you eat and drink with energy you use through physical activity. For help staying motivated with physical activity, try this.
Big plates are one of the common reasons people overeat
It’s such a simple thing. We tend to fill our plate to near the edge, then we tend to eat what’s on our plate. The bigger the plate, the more we put on it, the more we eat. Without even realising it! It’s known as ‘portion distortion’. In fact, research has proven that bigger plates and glasses lead us to unconsciously eat and drink more than when smaller plates and glasses are used. Luckily it’s an easy one to address with smaller plates and glasses, and taking our time to eat mindfully. Read more about mindful eating here.
Losing too many kilograms in a week is not healthy or sustainable
Many diets and weight loss programs claim to help you ‘drop a dress size in a week’ or ‘lose 5kg in two weeks’, which you may achieve but these crash diets can affect your physical and mental wellbeing. You are also more likely to put the weight back on when you revert back to normal eating habits. For weight loss to stay off, you need to create a lifestyle where the kilojoules you consume from food and drink are in balance with the kilojoules your body uses. It’s best to lose weight gradually – aim for a maximum of ½ – 1kg per week. One way to make a lasting change is to plan your meals.
You don't have to sweat and puff to benefit from physical activity
Just move. That’s the advice of a lot of experts right now. Sure you can put on the lycra and join a boot camp if you’re up for it, but any movement is better than none. Playing with the kids, mowing the lawn, standing during the ad breaks, gardening… you don’t have to sweat bullets – anything that gets you moving, makes you breathe a bit quicker and gets your heart beating faster is physical activity. And it all come with benefits. Physical activity not only burns excess kilojoules, it reduces stress, protects you against all sorts of ailments and helps you sleep better. Of course, the more active you are the more you will benefit, so visit the Move section to get tips and advice to get more active.
Premix alcoholic drinks are a double whammy
We all know that sugary drinks are loaded with kilojoules and can contribute significantly to weight gain. You know what else can? Alcohol! That’s right, each gram of alcohol packs 29 kilojoules, which is quite a punch. So you can imagine what happens when you combine alcohol and sugar into pre-mixed alcoholic drinks – double trouble! To give your weight and health a fighting chance, limit the amount of sugar and alcohol in your diet. Here you can find some other tips that might help you when you’re out and about.
Eating well doesn't mean you can eat as much as you want
We all know that certain foods are considered healthy, while some are considered unhealthy. Even if you eat the ‘healthy’ options, it’s not a green light to eat as much as you can. Firstly, it’s important to eat a range of foods, and eating too much of any one food exclusively – even if it’s healthy – is not good for your body. Secondly, even healthy foods will lead to weight gain if you eat enough of them. Eat when you are hungry, and eat slowly and mindfully so you can gauge when you are full. To understand more about balancing your energy needs, start with this video.
It gets harder to lose weight as you get older
Over 65 and overweight? If you are trying to lose weight, yes it is harder because your energy requirements are less than when you were younger. You tend to eat and drink just as much (or more), but your body is using less and less energy, so your muscle mass (or muscle strength) decreases … and muscle mass is one of the things that drives your body’s need for energy. The trick to is to stay active to maintain muscle strength and be aware that you don’t need as many kilojoules as you did when you were younger. Try the Health & Fitness Age Calculator to see how you’re tracking.
A sports drink can contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar
An average 600mL sports drinks contains over 600kJ and nearly 40g or 10 teaspoons of sugar. This can be useful to replace lost energy if you’re running a marathon or doing heavy exercise for over 60 minutes. If you’re not, though, it’s just adding empty kilojoules to your day. Compare it to water, which is excellent for hydration and contains… let’s see… absolutely no kilojoules or sugar at all! Find out just how many kilojoules you need each day.
Eating lots of protein won't give you huge muscles
There’s no doubt that protein plays a critical role in increasing muscle mass, but merely consuming lots of it won’t help you bulk up. Firstly, the body can only use a relatively small amount of protein at any one time, so any excess will be wasted and can even be stored as fat. Secondly, you need the right strength training program to build muscle, and part of that is making sure you get enough energy in your diet to power it. A non-active person needs to eat about 0.8g of protein/kg body weight per day, with athletes or people wanting to build muscle needing about double this (however you should not have more than 2g of protein/kg body weight a day). For optimal use of protein by the body, athletes should spread their protein intake over the day and not eat it all at one meal. Speak with a dietitian for more individualised advice – to find one, click here.
All the exercise in the world won’t make up for a poor diet
The most important thing for weight loss is to eat and drink fewer kilojoules than you use. Our bodies use a certain amount of kilojoules for everyday functions like breathing and pumping blood but the rest depends on how active you are. Here’s the thing, though; if your kilojoule intake is mostly from discretionary foods like sugary drinks, takeaway foods, biscuits, cakes, pastries, chips, chocolates and lollies all the exercise in the world won’t burn all those kilojoules. But if you choose foods from the five building blocks of food you’ll be choosing food that provide the most nutrients without the extra kilojoules. Find out more here.
Alcohol has nearly as many kilojoules per gram as fat
They don’t call it a beer gut for nothing. Whether we like it or not, alcohol equals kilojoules. Each gram of alcohol packs 29 kilojoules, which is getting up towards a gram of fat (37kJ) and is way ahead of carbohydrates and protein (17kJ per gram). And that’s before we even factor in things like soft drink mixers. What’s worse, unlike fat or carbohydrates, alcohol (or ethanol as it is also known) has no nutritional benefit for the body. That’s why you’ll often hear the energy from alcohol referred to as ’empty kilojoules’. Do the Health & Fitness Age Calculator to see what role alcohol plays in your health.
Portion sizes are getting bigger
Soft drink. Pizzas. Muffins. Fast food meals. Popcorn. Does it ever seem like they’re getting bigger and bigger? Well, they are and it’s called ‘Portion Creep’. Soft drinks are now 600mL rather than 300mL. Cupcakes are three times larger and are now giant muffins. And a medium hot chips was previously considered a large. With bigger portions it’s easier for excess kilojoules to sneak in. The average energy intake has increased significantly for adults and children since the 1990’s. Try our portion size quiz to see what we mean.
Walking will flatten your stomach more than sit ups
It’s true. The reality is we’ve all got abdominal muscles, but for most of us they are hiding under a layer of fat (the unflat tummy). The trick to reducing this fat is to balance your diet and do enough physical activity so that you are burning more energy each day than you are consuming through food and drink. Doing sit ups is good for the strength of these abdominal muscles, but we can only do sit ups vigorously for a short period of time. Compare that to the total amount of energy we can burn from walking or other ‘aerobic’ exercise that we can do for much longer. Of course combining some strength exercises like sit ups with aerobic exercise like walking, is the best of both worlds. Check out a range of workouts here.
Low fat foods may actually be full of sugar
While limiting the amount of fat in your diet is good, you have to be careful you don’t end up with more sugar. Many foods, such as yoghurt, flavoured milk and peanut butter, have low fat options, but when you take the fat out of food it often means a loss of taste and different ‘mouth feel’. One way to make up for this is to add sugar. In some cases, a lot of sugar. It’s important to check the label and choose the product with the lowest amount of added sugars. Also check the ingredient list, because sometimes manufacturers have sneaky ways to hide sugars by calling them by their other names, for example corn syrup, maltose, glucose, fructose and sucrose. Get tips for reading food labels here.
Dried fruits can contain high concentrations of sugar
Dried fruit has most of the original water content removed by drying in the sun or using specialised dehydrators. Removing water concentrates the natural sugars in the fruit, making it more energy dense, which can contribute to weight gain if it is eaten in large amounts. This is why it’s not recommended for regular consumption. In fact, the recommendation for dried fruit is just 30g (for example, four dried apricot halves or 1½ tablespoons sultanas). As well as being high in kilojoules, dried fruit can stick to teeth and increase the risk of dental decay. Choose dried fruit every now and then as a treat and stick to fresh or canned fruit for everyday consumption. Here’s some inspiration.
Your body doesn't care what time you eat, it's how much you eat
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about when you should and shouldn’t eat, for example don’t eat carbs after 9.00pm. The reality is, your body doesn’t care what time it is. The most important factor for weight loss is the total amount of kilojoules you eat. To lose weight, you need to eat and drink fewer kilojoules than you use. There are no hard and fast rules about when you should eat and everyone will find a pattern that suits them best. However, planning your meals and snacks and spreading your intake across the day means you’re less likely to eat extra serves or discretionary foods (like soft drinks, cakes, chip and chocolates) that you just don’t need. Click here for a guide to how many kilojoules you should be aiming for each day.
Tomato sauce has as much sugar as soft drink
We all know that soft drink is high in sugar, but you’d be amazed where else you’ll find sugar in high concentrations. Think yoghurt, pasta sauce, kids’ cereal and, yes, tomato sauce. While soft drink is up to 10% sugar, tomato sauce, barbecue sauce and sweet chili sauce can be loaded with up to 54% sugar. Moral of the story; check the labels, ease up on the sauce and think about some alternatives like a veggie salsa. For tips on reading labels, click here.
Beans and legumes are great for weight loss
There’s no ‘wonder food’ for weight loss, but beans and legumes (like kidney beans, baked beans, cannellini beans and chickpeas) come pretty close. Not only are they a good source of dietary fibre, they contain low glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrate which means they release their energy more slowly in the body. For these reasons, they can help you to feel fuller for longer. They’re also a source of protein and a cheap, tasty way to save money on your grocery bills. Here’s some bean-spiration.
Cutting out carbs is not the answer
Carbohydrates have copped a hard time recently at the hands of fad diets, celebrity chefs and Hollywood stars. What the science says, though, is that carbohydrates are an essential source of energy and vital nutrients for your body and brain. It is the type and quantity of carbohydrates that is important. Foods high in carbohydrate include breads, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, fruit, vegetables and legumes as well as refined sugar, jams, biscuits and cakes. Choose wholemeal and wholegrain foods because they provide the carbohydrate with more dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. Limit the amount of refined foods and don’t forget to add plenty of vegetables, legumes, salad and fruit! Also keep a check on the quantity you eat and what you add to carbohydrate foods. Here’s some inspiration.
Eating slower works because it can take your brain up to 20 minutes to realise you're full
Ever tucked into a meal and later wondered – why did I eat so much? Well, there’s a lag time between swallowing food, the food hitting your stomach, and your brain actually registering that you’re full. This can take up to twenty minutes. So eat slowly, savour your food and avoid eating past when you’re full. This is referred to as ‘mindful eating’. When you eat mindfully you enjoy your food more, are more aware of what you eat and generally eat less. Find out more about it here.
Some people put on weight more easily than others
This is true, and genetics do play a role… but only to a point. When we’re born, we’re genetically programmed to conform to a body type. The three basic ways to categorise these body types are; ectomorph (slim), mesomorph (muscular) and endomorph (rounder). While it’s true that endomorphs tend to store fat more easily than ectomorphs and mesomorphs, the biggest factor by far for any body type is diet and physical activity. The reason why most people gain weight is due to energy imbalance whereby small increases in kilojoules over time are not used for body functioning or physical activity. Additionally, there are genetic disorders like Prader-Willi syndrome that affect development and growth, however these are relatively rare. Read more about body types here.
A fast food meal can pack over 4000kJ of an adult's 8700kJ daily intake
Just about everything we eat and drink provides our bodies with energy and the average adult consumes about 8700kJ a day. What’s interesting is that the size of the food and drink we consume often doesn’t equate to how many kilojoules it packs. Food and drink high in saturated fat or added sugar can be loaded with way more kilojoules than you’d think. Take a fast food meal for example; the chips and meat are high in saturated fat, the soft drink is full of sugar, even the tomato sauce and buns are sugar-rich. The result is that one meal can account for almost half of your daily energy intake and any excess kilojoules you don’t burn off will be stored in the body as fat. A healthy diet is the best way to make sure you feel full without overdosing on kilojoules. Try this article for a few tips on how to eat healthier when you’re dining out.
Milk is just as effective as a protein shake for muscle building
If you want to increase your muscle mass, you need a well-designed training program and a healthy eating plan. This plan requires an increase in overall energy (kilojoule) intake that is rich in carbohydrate and contains quality protein. You don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive bars and shakes to get that extra energy. Instead, make use of everyday nutritious foods, such as fruit and nut mix, high fibre cereal and milk, sandwiches with lean meat and salad, and fruit toast. You can also make your own shakes which provide similar nutrients and energy to pricey liquid meal supplements. Try reduced fat milk and yoghurt with your choice of fruit, and a scoop of skim milk powder for added energy. Even plain reduced fat milk can help give you the extra energy you need. You still need to keep your general health in mind, though. so don’t use bulking up as an excuse to indulge in nutrient-poor junk food (e.g. sugary drinks, muesli bars, muffins, pastries, salty snacks, fried foods and chocolate).
Hot chips do NOT count towards your vegetable intake
Yes, potato is a vegetable, but you didn’t really think you’d get away with it did you? Fried hot chips can be high in saturated fat and added salt compared to the more humble steamed, baked, boiled or roasted potato. They are considered a discretionary or junk food rather than a core food and don’t count towards your vegetable intake. A serve of only 12 hot chips provide about 600kJ so just think of how the extra kilojoules could add up with your burger or fried fish! If veggies really aren’t your thing, here’s some sneaky ways to get them on your plate.
Coconut oil is not the healthiest type of oil
There’s no doubt that coconut oil is popular right now, but the health claims just don’t stack up. While there are some small health benefits, coconut oil isn’t recommended for everyday consumption because it is extremely high in saturated fat – about 92% (compared to 15% in extra virgin olive oil). It means that coconut oil raises total blood cholesterol (both healthy High Density Lipoprotein or HDL and unhealthy Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL). High LDL cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease. Coconut oil is something to use only sometimes and in small amounts. Use healthier oils like olive and canola as your main cooking oil. Here are some tips on checking food labels for things like saturated fat.
Physical activity is proven to reduce stress
Many studies have shown that physical activity has significant mental health benefits. It reduces stress as well as the risk of anxiety and depression. It also improves concentration, cognitive function and is associated with an increased sense of self-esteem. Partly this is due to the release of ‘feel good’ chemicals when physically active, but also due to factors such as improving the ability to sleep. For tips on how to get more active, click here.
Running does not cause osteoarthritis
It’s a common myth that running causes osteoarthritis in your knees. Osteoarthritis is genetically determined. Regular running at any age doesn’t increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis in your knees and studies have also shown that running might actually protect against the condition by thickening the cartilage and strengthening your knee. But if you do already have osteoarthritis, running may make it worse. To reduce your risk of injury to knees and other joints when running, ensure you are wearing proper foot wear, gradually increase your running time/duration, and mix up your routine with other forms of exercise. If you do have any concerns then it’s always best to check with your GP first. Also, check out these must-dos to avoid exercise injury.
Putting on weight can lead to snoring
Sounds weird, but it’s true. Being overweight by just a few kilograms can lead to snoring or sleep apnoea. Fatty tissue around your neck squeezes the airway and prevents air from flowing in and out freely. Tips to prevent or treat snoring include: A healthy weight and diet, limited or no alcohol, quitting or cutting down on smoking, regular physical activity and limiting screen time. Do the Health & Fitness Age Calculator to see how your lifestyle stacks up.
Eating dairy will not make you fat
Yes, you read this right! Recent evidence suggests that eating dairy foods (milk, yoghurt and cheese) is not associated with weight change or risk of obesity in adults. This is particularly good news because dairy foods provide other benefits like reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. These dairy foods are an important source of calcium and other minerals, protein and vitamins including B12. It’s recommended that adults consume at least 2.5 serves of dairy food each day (amounts vary for children). Choose mostly reduced fat varieties and cheeses that are lower in salt. For more on dairy, click here.
Kilojoules and Calories are like Kilometres and Miles
Kilometres and miles both measure the same thing – distance. It’s the same with kilojoules and calories, except instead of measuring distance, they measure energy; the energy in the food and drink we consume, and the energy our bodies need for bodily functions such as breathing, digesting food and moving. ‘Calories’ is the old unit and it’s still used in some countries like the USA. ‘Kilojoules’ is the new unit, and that’s the one we use here in Australia. For the record, 1 calorie = 4.2kJ and 1kJ = 0.2 calories, so 200 calories is the same as 840 kilojoules. We are all of different age, height, weight and physical activity levels, so need a different amount of kilojoules each day. To see how many kilojoules you should be aiming to get from food and drink each day, click here.
Skipping breakfast is not good for weight loss
Breakfast helps ‘break your fast’ after a long period of not eating (often 12 hours or more!). Many people who skip breakfast find that they are so hungry by mid-morning, they reach for a quick, high fat and/or high sugar snack (also high in kilojoules). You may have developed a habit of not being able to ‘stomach’ breakfast. If this is the case, try hard to break this ‘fasting habit’. It may help to get up earlier and do some physical activity to get your appetite ready for breakfast – walking may do the trick! For ideas for a simple nutritious breakfast check out the Healthier. Happier. light breakfast recipes.
You need to walk over an hour and a half to burn off a large chips
Everyday we consume energy (from food and drink) and burn energy (from breathing, repairing cells, moving muscles etc…). Any energy that isn’t burned off gets stored in the body, usually as fat. Foods high in saturated fat or added sugar are called ‘energy dense’, meaning they pack a lot of energy into a small amount, like chocolate muffins, soft drinks and… hot chips. The more energy we consume, the more activity we need to burn off the excess. For example the 2155kJ of energy in a large chips, would need around 100mins of walking. Watch this video on the secret to weight loss to find out more.
All oils contain kilojoules, but some oils are healthier than others
When it comes to weight loss, all oils are ‘energy dense’ meaning they are high in kilojoules per gram – 1 gram of oil is 37 kilojoules which is the same for healthy and unhealthy oils – basically a splash here and there is okay, but don’t go overboard. Choose oils such as olive, canola, rice bran and sunflower that are high in the ‘good fats’ that protect you from heart disease, and minimise oils such as coconut oil and palm oil that are high in the saturated fat that increases risk of heart disease. Check out the healthy way to oil veggies here.
Frozen and tinned veggies can be as healthy as fresh
Veggies are great! They’re tasty, nutritious and low in kilojoules, so you can enjoy them without worrying about your weight. Whether they’re fresh, frozen or tinned, they stay much the same – low in kilojoules, high in nutrients. Just check the ingredient list and choose varieties of tinned vegetables without added salt. And don’t forget fresh, frozen and tinned fruit are all suitable foods too. Go for tinned fruit in natural juice rather than in syrup, as they are lower in sugar and better for your weight and your teeth. For inspiring ways to use them, check out our recipe section.
A sports drink only helps if you're doing over 60mins hard exercise
Sports drinks have been shown to improve sports performance in higher intensity activities undertaken over prolonged periods (more than 60 minutes). For example, running a marathon or doing a triathlon. Most of us don’t need a sports drink when exercising. Plus if you’re trying to maintain or lose weight, a sports drinks can actually give you extra kilojoules that your body just doesn’t need. Stick to the original thirst quencher instead – water! Water is also a better choice for keeping your teeth healthy. For tips on the best food for exercise, click here.