Anyone picked up a magazine or newspaper this month to find it’s not mentioned weightloss? No me neither. January is the most popular month for embarking on health, fitness and weight management regimes, closely followed by the late Spring/early Summer pre-bikini season.
So what do the media make of all this?
We’ll if their predictions are accurate here’s a rundown of what’s going to be popular in 2014 in the world of nutrition and fitness. Of course, being ‘hot news’ does not make it scientifically accurate, effective, or even healthy, so I’ve given you my tuppence of thought on each ‘trend’.
- Quinoa and its use in place of rice and pasta, as well as to make porridge, puddings and in baking. TFMF SAYS: Quinoa is a great alternative as it is much higher in protein and fibre so does not impact blood sugar so quickly. It is still very high in starchy carbohydrates though, so is best eaten in combination with other protein sources.
- Gluten and wheat-free diets. TFMF SAYS: There is much controversy surrounding the topic of whether our digestive systems are designed to eat grains. Whether you choose to (or can in that they don’t cause a reaction) or not does not discount the fact that they are high in starch and so will impact blood sugar levels, causing energy fluctuations in some people. Choose higher fibre and protein versions, and eat smaller portions.
- Kale, and lots of it. TFMF SAYS: Low starch, low calorie, high fibre, high water content, and very high in vitamins and minerals. In season over the winter months so get your fill now!
- Healthy fats from seeds such as chia and flax, added to puddings, baking, salads, cereals and more – sales are rising. TFMF SAYS: These pack so much goodness into such small portions that everyone would do well to add some to their food and recipes where possible. Their protein content makes them especially beneficial to vegetarians.
- Coconut oil, water, milk, and anything else you can extract from this tropical fruit. TFMF SAYS: So many uses and products make this nutrient packed tropical fruit very useful indeed. It can be a healthy substitute for anyone avoiding dairy, and the saturated fats in coconut are different to those from animal sources in that they are more readily used as energy.
- Intermittent fasting such as with the ‘5:2’ diet. TFMF SAYS: Some people find they burn that last bit of stubborn fat more effectively when working out in a fasted state e.g. first thing in the morning, but there is no need to fast the rest of the day in order to do this. Much of the overall effects on weight are due to the calorie restrictions in that you will eat less over the week. There are people in the fitness world who swear by intermittent fasting, however since most of our clients are Mums and women with busy, demanding lives, I personally wouldn’t recommend it.
- Paleo eating – taking it back to the pre-agricultural basics of meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, vegetables and fruit, with no grains or dairy. TFMF SAYS: This way of eating can eliminate many digestive and inflammatory complaints in some people. In addition, it tends to be fairly high protein and low carb purely due to the restrictive nature of it, which can benefit muscle tone and help burn fat. Some people opt for a modified version that includes dairy and some grains such as oats, known as ‘Clean Eating’.
- Less low fat, more low carb. TFMF SAYS: Fat is being seen less as the evil culprit of obesity, and people are beginning to point the finger at starch and sugar, which are both carbs. Carbs are easy to overeat for some people so who are we to argue? Fats are essential to our health, whereas sugar is proving to be the real problem in today’s typical diet.
- Cauliflower used as an ingredient or alternative to mash, rice, and even to create a pizza crust – this versatile veg is gaining popularity. TFMF SAYS: Go for it! A favourite Fit Mum swap, cauliflower is much lower in starch than potatoes, but can be used in many of the same ways, making everyday recipes and meals fat-loss friendly with just one simple change.
- Eco-conscious eating; local, organic, sustainable, especially in the case of meat and fish. TFMF SAYS: You can still eat unhealthily whilst being eco-friendly; a cake is still a cake right?! But locally produced products are usually made in small batches with fresh ingredients like you would at home, produce is grown with fewer chemicals in less nutrient-deprived soil, and livestock tend to receive better welfare. Try to eat ‘friendly food’ when you can.
- Smaller portions in restaurants for a lower cost – people are fed up with massive portions that are either unhealthy or a waste when only half if eaten. TFMF SAYS: Again you can still choose unhealthy foods, but eating less of them is a step in the right direction, if nothing else then for your bank balance!
- High protein breakfasts – Greek yoghurt, eggs, and nut and seed spreads are all gaining in popularity. TFMF SAYS: Our methods use reduced starch, higher protein and fibre foods that are way more filling and keep you going longer in the morning. We can only back this ‘trend’ wholeheartedly.
- Allergy awareness – more gluten, dairy, and soy free products, as well as on restaurant menus, with clearer labelling. TFMF SAYS: ‘Free From’ foods are not necessarily healthier – often the substitute ingredients are worse than the original versions. Better labelling will help people trying to avoid certain foods, but better to stick to those which are naturally devoid of allergenic substances rather than eat processed alternatives.
- The Soda stream returns – in a backlash against sugar and/or artificial sweeteners, people will start making their own, using fruit juice, herbal teas, and natural extracts. TFMF SAYS: Staying clear of fizzy pop, whether full sugar or diet, is a fantastic idea. But fruit juices and other natural sweeteners such as maple syrup are high in natural sugar so stick to low sugar options and avoid spikes in blood sugar levels.
- Body weight and resistance training; crunches, squats, lunges, burpees, push ups, pull ups, and sit ups. TFMF SAYS: These are what are workouts are based on – they tone muscles, burn fat, and boost the metabolism in much less time than lower paced cardio exercise like jogging, and these effects last for hours even after you’ve finished working out! Perfect for busy people who can’t commit to hours of exercise. Sundried has a good resistance band (use code TFMF for 50% off)
- Chilli Con Carne – the most searched recipe of 2013! TFMF SAYS: We love a good chilli! Lean mince for protein, beans for filling resistant starch, preferably homemade but failing that a good quality low fat and salt sauce, and metabolism-boosting thermogenic chilli. all served up with some cauliflower rice to lower the calories. Yum!
- Flexitarianism – occasional meat eating instead of every day. The Office of National Statistics says there are 1.2 million vegetarians in Britain, but many people are opting for a more flexible approach. TFMF SAYS: There’s nothing wrong with choosing to not eat meat or only eat occasionally if that’s what you want, whatever your reasons. However good muscle tone requires adequate protein intake, so alternative vegetarian protein sources must be included as a priority.
- Game console use in exercise, such as with Wii, Xbox Kinect and similar interactive ‘games’. TFMF SAYS: If it gets people active they can only be a good thing. Some have sensors that monitor how hard you are working and set to motivate you and push you further as a result. We’d recommend primarily resistance based workouts, with a bit of yoga or pilates thrown in for stress relief.
- Sprouts – beans, lentils, seeds, pulses, and grains can all be ‘sprouted’ by soaking in water, rinsing, draining and placing in a dark space, where they produce a shoot. TFMF SAYS: Once sprouted, these foods are more easily digested, so cause fewer digestive troubles associated with these foods in some people, and more of their nutrition content is absorbed. They can be bought in many supermarkets ready sprouted, but making your own is very easy.
- Natural ‘functional’ drinks, such as those that provide an energy boost, immune support, and any other number of benefits you can think of. TFMF SAYS: Companies are starting to embrace naturally nutritionally dense substances in place of caffeine, sugar, and artificial ingredients, which can only be a good thing. The quality and efficiency of these drinks as ‘functional’ is debatable with so much variation in quality and ingredients, but as a rule stick to low sugar (preferably sugar free ones) and most of them will at least be a healthier and tasty alternative to fizzy drinks.
If you want to learn more, you’ll have a plethora of TV viewing this year – predictions are that TV doctors, chefs, personal trainers and dieticians will have even more presence on our screens an on the radio that they already do! Plus more blogs, websites, DVDs, smartphone apps…..you get the idea, we’ll all be experts someday whether we like it or not!