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Fat burning supplements: do they REALLY work?

Fat burners are the supplement industry’s fave buzz word, but do they work and are they safe?

Supplements in the stimulants category may enhance fat oxidisation depending on the goals of the exerciser (and who you’re talking to).

According to personal trainer David Bayens (, “The benefits of caffeine are well known for fat oxidation and training drive. Green tea extract is also excellent as well as anything that supports the thyroid such as iodine.”

Consider your overall health

If you do choose to use supplements, consider what they’re doing for your overall health, not merely your fat-burning capacity.

According to Mark Ottobre, owner and director of Melbourne’s Enterprise Fitness, supplements should be viewed within the context of optimising body systems that domino into fat burning.

“You improve someone’s health; you improve their ability to burn fat. You’re balancing a deficiency in something that is required for so many functions in the body. Why would the body worry about burning fat if you’re not healthy?” Bayens says carnitine can help to ferry fatty acids into muscle tissue to be used as energy during training.

Be wary of excess calories & sugar

Maston, on the other hand, does not recommend supplements. “…The increase of fat oxidation is minimal and negated by the fact it makes people hungrier and anxious,” she says.

Supplements nested in shakes and gels can also counteract a fat loss goal. 

“Some of the supplements have calories in them adding to the total intake for the day. Supplements like this also often consist of sugar or artificially sweetened ingredients that also contribute to fat mass,” Maston warns.

Pre- and post-workout protein shakes

According to nutritionist Rosie Mansfield, fat burning can be manipulated with a strategically chosen pre- and post-workout protein shake.

The optimal shake to prime the body to burn maximum fat is “a low-protein blend of soy isolate and whey protein”.

Dietitian Duncan Hunter says intake timing also affects how much fat gets burned.

“The best time to have a protein drink is within 30 minutes of finishing exercise (for example, a full body workout or weights). If it is an easy walk, it is best just to go for a whole food snack or just eat your next scheduled meal if it is within the next hour or so.”

To ensure you’re not cancelling out your workout with calories, 
keep each shake to 
around 480kJ.



5-day ‘mindful eating’ meal plan

Choosing to be mindful with your food not only prevents absent-minded overfeeding, but increases satisfaction levels as well. Here’s your 5-day diet plan.

5-day 'mindul eating' meal plan - PICTURED - Women's Health & Fitness

Day 1

Traditional oats porridge with sliced fresh fruit such as kiwi fruit or strawberries

Grainy bread sandwich with plenty of salad and tuna, salmon or lean meat

Spaghetti bolognaise made with kidney beans on their own or with lean mince


Day 2

Raisin toast with a thin scrape of margarine

Wholemeal pasta salad with 4-bean mix

Chickpea and chicken stir-fry with plenty of vegies


Day 3

Grainy English muffins with a thin scrape of 100% fruit jam.

Chunky vegetable and barley soup.

Hearty pumpkin soup with red lentils.



Day 4

Baked beans on grainy toast

Lentil pattie with fresh salad

Lean lamb casserole with cannellini beans and chunky vegetables


Day 5

Smoothie made with half a cup low fat milk, half a cup natural yoghurt and soft fruit like banana

Sweet potato and chickpea couscous

Fish and lentil curry served with basmati rice.

NEXT: Fasting – is it sustainable long term?



11 reasons to lose weight


Struggling to lose weight? Here are 11 reasons to drop a dress size.

The pros of weight loss extend far beyond being able to flaunt your new look in skin-tight jeans. Think:

  1. Glowing skin
  2. Relief from arthritis
  3. Improved moods
  4. Better memory
  5. Improved sleeping patterns
  6. Decreased risk of type 2 diabetes
  7. Lower risk of dementia
  8. Depression prevention
  9. Improved breathing
  10. Lower cholesterol levels
  11. Increased libido

The cons? You might have to go shopping for some fabulous new clothes to suit your smaller frame.

NEXT: 15 ways to burn more fat>>




5 liquid meal myths

Not all protein shakes and smoothies are created equal. Here are 5 liquid meal myths disproved!


1. They are lower in calories than ‘real’ food
Really? Would you use an entire avocado on your toast or eat six bananas in one sitting? Probably not, but once you get blending, super-sizing quantities can be pretty easy to do. Try measuring your ingredients as you add them to your blender. Think of what you would actually eat if you were sitting down to a meal and keep your portion sizes under control.

Tip: mix your choice of milk 50:50 with some chilled water – you won’t taste the difference but it will help with your calorie intake.


2. They are better for you
Not always! By the time you throw in all of your health foods, the taste may not be as you expected. In goes some honey or chocolate sauce to sweeten things up, then an extra scoop of nut butter…pretty soon you’ve got a chocolate thickshake disguised as a health drink.

Tip: try using baby spinach as the base of your liquid meal. Add one to two cups of spinach as the first ingredient and watch your portion control of each extra ingredient. Remember, liquid meals can be savoury as well as sweet!


3. They will keep you fuller for longer
Sure they can – if they have the right ingredients. Whizzing some fruit, water and a teaspoon of maca probably won’t do the trick. Make sure you add a protein source to your fibre and water to keep you going until your next meal. Try nut butter, an egg or some good-quality protein powder. If you are going savoury, some steamed and cooled shredded chicken or beef can work too.

Tip: add some steamed (and cooled) sweet potato or pumpkin to bulk up your liquid lunch.


4. You can’t add vegies to a smoothie
Vegies go with everything – sweet or savoury! Adding vegies to a blender or NutriBullet will ensure the nutrients and fibre of your vegies are kept intact so you are still getting all the benefits (as opposed to juicing). Good vegies to add, thanks to their nutrient density and disguise quotient, are spinach, kale, cos lettuce and watercress. Or try a superfood addition in powder form – spirulina, maca powder or a greens powder such as Passion Projects. Why not go one step further and make it savoury? Add some spices and enjoy a soup.

Tip: add last night’s vegies to the blender with some stock or water to whizz them into an easy vegie soup. Zucchini, pumpkin, capsicum, peas and carrots all work well. Alternatively, place them in a bowl and use a stick mixer to make a soup.


5. You’ll need something to eat as well
Poppycock. If you don’t have time to sit down for breakfast, grab your go-to bowl ingredients and throw them in the blender together. That includes your usual oats (raw), milk, berries and cinnamon. If you tend to add yoghurt or protein powder, throw that in too. Decant it into a shaker and take it in the car or on the bus or train.

Tip: whizz up breakfast the night before, place in a jar or bottle with a secured lid and leave it in the fridge. In the morning, shake it up and drink while ironing your shirt or waiting for the train. You can even add a teaspoon of coffee and make it a real all-in-one!

NEXT: Smoothie recipe for fat loss>>



Eco-Atkins Diet (vegan)

Looking for vegan diet plans? The high-fibre Eco-Atkins diet could help boost weight loss and curb heart disease.


A vegan take on the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet could induce weight loss and curb heart disease by up to 10% per decade by lowering bad cholesterol LDL, suggests research published in British Medical Journal Open.

It sideswipes criticisms levelled at the copious animal protein in standard low-carb diets, which may raise cholesterol. Participants in a six-month study lost two more kilos on the high-fibre Eco-Atkins than a cohort on a high-carb low-fat diet. Keen to try?


Aim for 26% carbohydrates, 31% proteins and 43% fat (primarily vegetable oils).


Carbs: oats, barley, low-starch vegies (okra, eggplant)

Protein: soy, nuts, cereals (think quinoa)

Fats: nuts, vegetable oils, soy products, avocado




8 strength training snacks

High protein snacks with that will refuel your body after a heavy strength training session.

Protein bar - post workout snacks - PICTURE - Women's Health & Fitness

Protein bar

Protein bars (65-80g) help boost your recovery after a heavy gym session,

Milk for protein - Post workout snacks - PICTURE - Women's Health & Fitness


Milk provides the protein needed to maximise muscle adaptation. It also contains the optimal amount of the branched chain amino acid leucine to promote muscle building after exercise.

Milkshakes - high in protein - PICTURE - Women's Health & Fitness

Fruit milkshake

Use milk, yoghurt and fresh fruit for an excellent mixture of protein, carbohydrate and antioxidants.

Yoghurt - high protein - PICTURE - Women's Health & Fitness


Choose plain yoghurt after a strength workout or fruit yoghurt after an endurance session lasting an hour or more. Both contain high-quality proteins that will accelerate muscle repair; fruit yoghurt has added sugar containing the ideal 3-to-1 carbohydrate to protein ratio for speedy glycogen refuelling.

Whey protein for recovery - PICTURE - Women's Health & Fitness

Whey protein shake

Made with water or milk (look for one containing 20 g protein per serve and whey for fast delivery).

Almonds or cashews - high protein snacks - PICTURE - Women's Health & Fitness

Almonds or cashews plus yoghurt.

Nuts provide about 20 per cent protein and B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, phytonutrients and fibre. Yoghurt is similarly high in protein while the fat in the nuts may reduce insulin slightly but will not affect muscle building.

Greek yoghurt - high in protein - snacks - PICTURE - Women's Health & Fitness

Strained Greek yoghurt.

This is perfect after a strength workout because strained Greek yoghurt contains around twice the protein of ordinary yoghurt.

Milkshakes - high protein - PICTURE - Women's Health & Fitness

Ready-to-drink milkshake

This should contain around 20g protein.

Tip: include 20g of protein for muscle building.

Source: Food For Fitness by Anita Bean (Bloomsbury)




4 exercises to blast cellulite

Learn how to reduce the appearance of cellulite on your thighs and butt in time for summer. Here are 4 home exercises you can do right now.

Stair-climbing | Exercises to blast cellulite | PICTURE | Women's Health & Fitness

Image: Nikki Fogden-Moore

Did you know, according to a study in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, nearly 85% of women over the age of 20 have cellulite? (And yet, only 10 per cent of men are prone to cellulite). However, just because it’s common, that doesn’t make us crazy about wearing swimmers with dimply thighs on show. The key to removing cellulite is to decrease fat deposits.

1. Stair climbing

If you’re stuck at work and don’t have time to get to the gym, take advantage of the office staircase. Sure, you’ll look a bit strange to begin with, but by upping your movement on the stairs you’ll automatically target areas prone to cellulite. Simply walking up and down stairs burns at least 10 calories a minute according to the National Wellness Institute.

Squats | Exercises to blast cellulite | PICTURE | Women's Health & Fitness

Model: Angela Jackson

Image: The Picture Box Cairns

2. Squats

Squats not only burn calories, they also produce muscle. By doing squats you will work all of the leg muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings and lower leg muscles.

You can add dumbbells to traditional squats to intensify this exercise further.

Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold dumbbells (optional) down by your sides, palms facing in. Keeping your back straight, bend from the knees and hips as though you are sitting down. Don’t let your knees move forward over your toes, then return.

Perform 1-3 sets of 8-15 repetitions, depending on your fitness level.

Lunges | Exercises to blast cellulite | PICTURE | Women's Health & Fitness

Model: Hayley Roper

Image: Matthew Parkes

3. Lunges

Both walking and stationary lunges target all the lower-body muscles.

Start by taking one large step forward and lower your body so both of your knees form 90-degree angles, keeping your front knee over the ankle. Return to the starting position.

Aim for 8-12 reps on each leg.



Surfer-burpeeModel: Valeria Ramirez

Image: Blake Pearl

4. Surfer burpee

A surfer burpee will not only challenge you physically, but will also improve mobility in your hips and back.

Bend over or squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you, just outside of your feet.

Jump both feet back to a plank position.

Drop to a push-up—your chest should touch the floor. You can also drop to your knees here to make it easier if required.

Push up to return to a plank position while jumping feet to your left side (pictured), aiming to land on your mat standing side on, like you would on a surfboard.

Don’t worry if you land off the mat, your challenge is just to eventually get there. Just keep practising!

Jump back into a plank position and repeat on the other side.

Repeat for 10-15 reps on each side.

NEXT: 5 easy home workouts (video)





Healthy fats are KEY to a good diet

Healthy saturated fats are KEY to a good diet, says doctor Anastasia Boulais.

Didn’t you get the memo? Fat is officially back. Anastasia Boulais is a medical doctor and spokesperson for the Ancestral Health Society of New Zealand, which considers healthy saturated fats to be important within a good diet.

“I prefer to steer people away from focusing on a single nutrient and encourage them to concentrate on real foods,” Boulais says.

“For example, eggs are vastly superior in nutritional value and keeping you full compared to industrially processed products like cereal.” According to Boulais, here’s a day’s healthy diet – non low fat-style.


Smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and avocado


Omelette with ham, tomato and spinach

Morning/afternoon tea

“I believe that if you need snacks between meals you are not getting enough nutrition with your main meals,” says Boulais. “In no point of our evolution did our ancestors eat five to six meals a day. The reason why you are hanging out for your morning-tea office break is because you had high-sugar cereal and low-fat milk for breakfast.


Beef mince fried in coconut oil with a side of green vegetables tipped with butter


Leftover dinner meat with roast vegetables


Baked fish with kale chips baked in coconut oil and salad


Lamb chops with sweet potato mashed with butter and two other vegetables

NEXT: 3 more reasons you should eat fat.