The Skinny on Getting Slim: Get Wise to the Whys!

Want a seriously hot body? Personal Trainer Libby Babet shares the answers to 10 very important health and body questions

Cyndi Lauper may have chirped that ‘girls just want to have fun’ but let’s be honest, all we really want is to feel good and look downright amazing!

But the overload of info out there on what we should and shouldn’t be doing when it comes to our health can lead to a serious case of brain and body drain.

To help you get your best body yet, here are the answers to 10 seriously good-to-know WHYS that will help you create your best body yet.

Why drink full fat over skinny?

Not only does skim milk have more sugar (a girl’s worst enemy), the fact that it’s not a whole food product and has nutritional ‘gaps’ means it will just send your body little messages to crave even more sugar and nasties throughout the day. Full fat dairy is less processed and helps to activate leptin – the fat-burning hormone! Remember that yoghurt is a much better choice than milk (it’s fermented and therefore more easily digested) and to always reach for the plain kind, set in the pot (we love Jalna’s organic range).

Why is it sugar, not fat, that makes you fat?

Fat will not only keep you fuller for longer, it’s less processed (sugar that we eat in sweets etc has to be extracted, while fat can be found naturally in the food we eat). Healthy fats (nuts, avos etc) protect our cells, replenish our bodies and help to flush bad fats from your system, helping you to score a flat tum! Sugar, on the other hand, does little more than guarantee a big ol’ energy crash, as the sweet stuff speeds through your system and sends your hormone levels rollicking! Did we mention that sugar also leaches your body of important nutrients and encourages dehydration and (eek!) wrinkles to set in? Good fats, however, pave the way to clear, youthful looking skin.

Why shouldn't we drink soy milk?
Heavily processed and often coming from genetically modified crops, soy (like tofu and soy milk) can inhibit thyroid function, increase estrogen to unhealthy levels (which can lead to weight-gain in the hips, thighs and chest region), affect fertility and mess with your digestion. So, instead of soy milk opt for rice or even better, almond milk (which is super easy to make at home, just Google it!) and instead of tofu go for fermented, less refined versions of soy like tempeh, natto, salt-reduced tamari or miso.

Why can magnesium help fight the fat?:
The magic of Magnesium is that it not only helps our bodies when we’re stressed (and stress often results in the hormone cortisol going haywire, contributing to weight gain around our middles), it also supports our metabolism and helps our bodies to absorb nutrients - which means they don’t keep ‘thinking’ they need more food, so we feel satisfied. Magnesium also helps to prevent insulin resistance (which is essentially when the body stops processing sugar effectively and starts storing it as fat). Most Aussies are deficient, so make sure you include a magnesium supplement in your daily routine – evening is the best time to take it.

Why are green veggies a big bottomed girl’s best friend?:
Phytochemicals found in cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, spinach, brussels sprouts and green cabbage are good friends to bottom-heavy ladies as they help to flush excess oestrogens from the body, which is a HUGE help in shifting weight from your thighs/butt. Load up on as many green veggies as you can (even at brekky!) and avoid any heavily processed or oestrogenic foods that may undo your good work (think anything packaged or with preservatives, as well as soy products). You’ll be more celery than pear in no time.

Why is coconut the new king?

Dubbed a super sports drink without the kilojoules and artificial nasties, coconut water is rich in antioxidants and electrolytes, including magnesium and potassium. For this reason it’s a really great way to rehydrate naturally after sport, replenishing the body with lost minerals and fluids.

Why do short, sharp, cardio workouts beat long, slow ones?: Researchers from the University of NSW and the Garvan institute have recently released the results of a study showing women who exercised for only twenty minutes per day at a high intensity lost three times more weight than those who exercised for forty minutes at a moderate pace! So it’s actually a brilliant idea to hit that snooze button for an extra 20 minutes… you’ll still see amazing results.

Why is cereal (yep, even the fancy pants $25 variety) a bad way to start the day?:
Basically, if the first thing you put into your body in the morning is carbohydrates (which immediately spike your blood sugar), you set yourself up for a day of energy spikes and crashes, meaning you’ll end up craving energy dense foods as your body hankers for a pick-me-up (if you’ve ever raided the snack machine at 3pm, you’ll know what we’re talking about). Instead, you’re better off choosing a high protein, low-carb brekky that provides a slow release of blood sugar levels and kick starts your metabolism. If you need more convincing, the amino acids found in protein-rich food (think meat, eggs, avocados, nuts) are great mood boosters, so you’re setting yourself up for a happy day.

Why can you enjoy your coffee guilt-free at this time of the day?:
Having your coffee half an hour before you exercise can actually improve your performance and aid weight-loss. The caffeine hit gives you a burst of stamina and having it shortly before you exercise means the body will use all that excess energy in an effective way, giving your metabolism a boost and helping you to burn excess fat. Having your caffeine hit POST workout however, will have the opposite effect, contributing to weight gain around your middle, so make sure you sip your favourite brew at the right time of day.

Why weights bulk you up?

This is one of the biggest questions I get asked as a PT and no matter how many times I tell women weights should be their best friend, most women are still afraid of weights. So, don’t take my word for it; The University of Pennsylvania decided to do a study to look at how women’s bodies are affected by weight training. After 6 months of training the 31 ladies involved saw a 2.2% decrease in body mass, a 10% decrease in fat mass, and 2.2% increase is soft tissue lean mass. What this means is: after completing the 6 months training, the ladies had shed 10% of their body fat, put on the tiniest bit of muscle; and overall lost weight and toned up!

Why can yoga complement any exercise?

Yoga is about developing a deep relationship with your body – becoming more aware of how it feels and what it needs. And getting in tune with our bods can only be a good thing, right?! It means we’ll listen more to what our body and bellies need, rather than just trying to fill an emotional hole or pushing ourselves to breaking point. We start to become more intuitive in terms of how we eat and exercise and what works for our bodies. On top of this, yoga is a great complement to other forms of exercise, because if you’re strong it will help you to become more supple and stretchy and if you’re already a rubber band, you’ll gain strength.

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Posted by ANdrewReport
Libby, do you know that 1 cup of skim milk has 12 grams of sugar, while 1 cup of full fat milk has 11.8 grams. The skim milk also has half the kilojoule content, and 20 times less saturated fat. Do you still think the full fat is the best choice?
Posted by Report
Can you please explain your thinking behind this comment : "your caffeine hit POST workout however, will have the opposite effect, contributing to weight gain around your middle"
Posted by NancyReport
Cyndi Lauper sang 'girls who want to have fun' not Madonna :)
Posted by BecReport
what a brilliant article. thanks Lib