Big bellies – Understanding weight gain…

To lose weight you need to understand what makes you fat, what gives you that peculiar and unsightly ring around you abdomen, that ‘beer belly’… what is it and how do we get rid of it?

So as I have mentioned in one of my previous posts sugar & other killers, artificial sweeteners such as High Fructose Corn Syrup; found in fizzy drinks will cause metabolic damage, obesity, diabetes and will increase the risk many other life threatening conditions such as heart disease. But its not just the artificial refined ingredients or sugar we consume on a daily basis you need to be aware of!

Weight gain can be blamed on so many factors that influence what we eat or how little calories we burn because of our sedentary lifestyles, but some people watch what they eat, consume their recommended levels of vitamins & minerals, exercise regularly and either stay the same weight or even continue to gain weight..

Why do we STILL gain weight!? What most people do not understand is that FAT does not necessarily make you fat what makes you fat is predominantly sugar. So now your thinking but I don’t drink fizzy drinks or eat sweets, which is great because your most probably at less risk of diabetes, heart disease, digestive and cognitive problems than someone who does consume fizzy drinks, sweets and other sugary loveliness.

The big problem with our modern day diet, is the highly glycemic carbohydrates we consume day in day out. All carbohydrates can be measured on The Glycemic Index, The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels (University of Sydney, 2014).

So if we eat a carbohydrate such as a baked white potato without the skin, we are reaching a glycemic index of 98 (University of Sydney, 2014). At a glycemic index of 98 our blood sugar levels go way way up, and whatever goes up has to come down right? Highly glycemic foods STRESS the process of insulin release so when our blood sugar level starts to drop, it drops further than the start point; leaving us feeling drained. To compensate for this fluctuation in blood sugar level we eat more highly glycemic food; by eating highly glycemic foods which cause high blood sugar levels, we release the hormone insulin from the pancreas to help stimulate the transfer of glucose (sugar) from the blood into the cells of our muscles; this is a fantastic process BUT, insulin also STORES carbohydrates as FAT!!

To recap on that last paragraph; we eat highly glycemic foods (white potato, bread, pasta etc) – blood sugar levels rise rapidly – we release insulin to push the glucose (sugar) into cells and store the carb as FAT – blood sugar levels drop after 2 or so hours – we feel tired and depressed – we eat more highly glycemic foods – the cycle starts again… so we get FATTER & FATTER.

But surely Bread is ok? Wholemeal (whole wheat) bread has a glycemic index rating of around 70-90 depending on the brand, a Snickers bar… the chocolate covered nutty, chewy caramel delightful snack bar has a glycemic index rating of 43. So if you eat the same portion size of bread & snickers bar at different times, the bread would actually raise your blood sugar levels nearly double that of the snickers bar!… Shocking I know!

You are what you WHEAT! As I have mentioned in a previous post ‘what are we wheating for? Sickness?‘, wheat can be somewhat held responsible for the obesity crisis we are currently in. In my blog post about wheat there is a link to the ‘Grainstorm rant’ about how wheat has changed over the past 40 years, which explains how we have accepted that eating this so called ‘modern wheat’. “This thing being sold to us called wheat – it ain’t wheat. It’s this stocky little high-yield plant, a distant relative of the wheat our mothers used to bake muffins, genetically and biochemically light-years removed from the wheat of just 40 years ago” (Davis 2011)

The American Diabetes Association & The United States Department of Agriculture promote the eating of wheat the words ‘eat more whole-grains’ may seem familiar, but if we eat more wheat surely we will get fatter and fatter? Not to mention the dangers of Gluten (protein found in wheat, barley, rye). All of which is discussed in the book or audio book ‘Wheat Belly’ written by William Davis, 2011… Most definitely worth reading, especially if you suffer from obesity, diabetes, any cognitive problem such as schizophrenia, autism, or any auto immune and problems such as celiac disease, crones disease, arthritis.          

So what the hell can we eat!? Well cutting out all of the fizzy drinks, high sugar content foods, artificial sweeteners, and anything containing High Fructose Corn Syrup or Aspartame seems pretty simple because we choose to eat these foods knowing they are bad for us. Wheat Bread on the other hand is pretty much the staple of our diet, we eat bread every day, breakfast toast, lunchtime sandwich, dinnertime pasta… I assume. So reducing our wheat consumption may be found difficult BUT there ARE alternatives!

Bread: It is now possible to buy bread made from rice flour, and you can buy millet bread.. usually available in the ‘hulled’ variety. Pasta: you can buy pasta made from rice flour and Buckwheat pasta is now an option. Biscuits: A selection of rice cakes, maize biscuits. Cereals: anything made from raisins, corn flakes, rice flakes, banana chips, coconut chips and other dried fruit are all good alternatives to wheat. Porridge made from rice flakes and Millet is also available.

You may see foods labeled ‘gluten free’, which does mean they do not contain gluten, but the gluten is replaced with something, normally potato starch which has a high glycemic index! So go for the alternative grains I mentioned above.

If your wanting to avoid highly glycemic foods, which you should, but can’t think of alternatives, eating highly glycemic foods with a good source of fat slows down the rate of digestion, which therefore blocks the big spike in blood sugar levels; meaning you wont secrete as much insulin (fat storing hormone). So if you eat a slice of bread with some peanut butter (3nut butter is amazing, have a try for yourself) you will slow down the rate of digestion, giving the bread a lower glycemic index. Again, if you eat some avocado (healthy fats) with your white potato… the same effect.

Hope this has helped you understand weight management and I hope you can use this to your advantage, let me know what you think…

Harry Clarke

Daily Mail . (2014). The Alternatives to wheat. health . 1 (1), 1.

University of Sydney . (2014). About Glycemic Index. Available: Last accessed 10/10/2014

William Davis (2011). Wheat Belly. Rohdale


What are we wheating for? Sickness?

Recently I have become aware to the dangers of wheat, yes WHEAT… or what we consider ‘wheat’ to be! The 10,000 year tradition, cultivating wheat is now a multi billion dollar profit industry… for all the wrong reasons. We have mutant seeds, grown in synthetic soil, bathed in chemicals. They’re deconstructed, pulverized to fine dust, bleached and chemically treated to create a barren industrial filler that no other creature on the planet will eat. And we wonder why it might be making us sick? (Grainstorm, 2014)

I couldn’t word it better myself, please educate yourself about the dangers you put yourself through when consuming ‘modern wheat’ and other refined and modified grains; a great place to start is

I would also recommend reading the phenomenal, best selling, life saving book by William Davis, MD “Wheat Belly”.

Both of these informative sources provide alternatives to consuming modern wheat and other harmful grains.

PLEASE read further into this, IT’S SHOCKING what we put in our bodies…and then complain about sickness.

Harry Clarke

What on earth are calories? How much do we need?…. Back to basics!

Okay so in today’s lecture in nutrition we focused on calories, how they are categorized and how much we need of each type. I was surprised because even though I am constantly thinking and talking about calories and everyone’s calorific intake, I knew very little about actual calories! So this is a little bit of knowledge to refresh my memory and yours…

Lets start of with a the fact that a calorie is actually the amount of energy (or heat) it takes to raise the temperature of 1gram of water by 1degree Celsius, and 1 calorie is equal to 4.184 joules of energy.

Enough of the physics though, lets talk about actual food! So the calories we see on food labels are actually measured in kcal (kilo-calories) so when you say for example; 90 calories you actually mean 90,000 calories because there are 1000 calories in a kilo-calorie…it’s just to save on 0’s!

Splitting them into food groups can cause confusion when ‘calorie counting’ for dietary requirements, because the density of calories differs in different food groups…Carbohydrates contain 4kcal per 1gram. Fats contain 9kcal per 1gram. Proteins contain 4kcal per 1gram… So if we were to work out someones Basal Metabolic Rate (bodyweight in kg x 25 kg) to find out they need 2,000 kcal per day to maintain body weight, then add on that calorie expenditure due to being moderately physically active (50% of BMR) we would get 3,000 kcal.

Time to split this up into food groups; according to Recommended Daily Allowances you need 15% PROTEIN, 55% CARBOHYDRATE, 30% FATS (remember fats don’t necessarily make you fat) so lets work this out the amount of food (g = grams) needed hit these caloric percentages, then divide that by however many Kcal per gram to find out how much we need to eat!…

PROTEIN 15% of 3,000kcal = 450kcal                                 450kcal / 4kcal = 113g

CARBOHYDRATE 55% of 3,000kcal = 1,650kcal                1,650kcal / 4kcal = 413g

FATS 30% of 3,000kcal = 900kcal                                         900kcal / 9kcal = 100g

You can see exactly how many grams of each food group this client would need to maintain weight while living a ‘moderately active’ lifestyle. If the lifestyle is sedentary (little physical activity) we only add 20% of their BMR, and if their lifestyle is highly active we add 100% to their BMR.

This was all a blur to me and I am sure it is to some of you, I hope this helps to clear a few things up considering Calories… Kcal’s I mean!

Time for a change!? Where to start…Detoxification!

Living in this chemical world of ours has had a profound effect on our nervous system, endocrine system and over all our health has been abused. So we have some serious healing to do, so what do we do to implement this change!?

I have recently been fascinated by how our world has changed from a natural environment when we worked with nature to deliver our energy and nutritional supply, to producing over 75 thousand synthetic chemicals to ‘better’ our living! I believe we need to change this by reintroducing those natural foods back into our diets.

The human body needs to protect its self against these irritating chemicals we are pumping into ourselves and every living organism on this earth we so love, to do so the body either produces more mucus to surround the chemicals to reduce irritation OR it produces and retains more fat because most of these chemicals are lipophilic; meaning they are fat loving, they don’t dissolve in water but they do dissolve in fat. So if you try to workout to burn fat when your body is full of chemicals, you may burn fat but all your doing is freeing up these chemicals from the fat, so in turn MORE fat is produced to protect your organs etc from the irritating chemicals you previously released from the fat you burnt.

A great place to start! So after years of abusing our bodies by ingesting these chemicals/toxins we need to make some changes. Our body loves to heal, the body can detoxify itself but we need to help to create that perfect environment for detoxification to take place. The obvious foods we need are green vegetables or any chlorophyll rich foods, the chlorophyll acts almost as an internal deodorant that was actually used in hospitals to rid the body of horrible smell causing toxins. The less obvious ones are gelatinous plant foods like Chia seeds, Aloe Vera and the seaweeds because when they get wet they secret gel, so when they move through our body’s intestine they grab on to these toxins that the liver is trying to get rid of by absorbing them in the small intestine where they are dumped by the liver, then they are passed out instead of being re-absorbed by the body. Parsley is also a fantastic one to include in any detoxification programme; not only does it give you fresh breath but it cleanses your whole blood system. Coriander (cilantro) binds to heavy metals, many people are getting a large amount or mercury through the fish that we eat, and as mercury is a highly toxic neurotoxin; you don’t want that mixing with your brain cells right!?

I’m not saying this is all you can eat from now on, but by reducing the amount of chemicals and toxins we ingest to the point where we are getting rid of more than we ingest the body will cleanse itself and while we are doing this we can reintroduce the foods we love but just make sure they are from a natural source and are not pumped full of chemicals, its nothing but common sense! If your like me, I struggle to eat vegetables, especially green chlorophyll rich ones (the dark green ones) why not try juicing? Just blend up one or two cups full of vegetables every day; easily digested and delivered to your cells within 15 minutes and it gets it over and done with! Don’t cut out all solid veg though… need to keep the digestive system working hard!

Detoxification isn’t hard, your body was built to heal itself, you just need to help it!… and find out where you can buy real Aloe Vera and Chia Seeds, but if your not lazy that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. So cut out all of the refined sugars, refined fats, chemicals, toxins, fried & barbecued foods and any other rubbish sold to you in an evil marketing scheme ‘diet drinks’ etc. Replace them with high water and nutrient content organic foods and watch the benefits start to unfold!

Your skin is the biggest giveaway sign of a healthy human being, after a week or so of starting a detoxification programme and reintroducing healthy natural foods you will notice the broken blood vessels, aging lines and spots will all fade away and you will be left with plump colorful skin which is a great sign that your body is in a cleansed state suitable for fat loss!


Harry Clarke

Diet drinks/meal replacement drinks… good or bad?

Most people find themselves being sold these drinks by personal trainers trying to earn some extra cash, they are also available in most supermarkets and are a very popular purchase online. The customer tends to buy these products with the intention of loosing weight, so are these products worth it or not? Well…

If you look at these Meal Replacement drinks, they are designed to use a calorie deficit to promote weight loss while delivering you the nutrients you need! Which seems to make sense right?…less calories, less weight! The main problem I have with them is that they damage the digestive system (Metabolic Damage). If your drinking these drinks instead of eating your solid foods you will begin to down regulate the production of the enzymes in the pancreas, this is simply because if we cut out a food source then the demand for the enzymes responsible for breaking down that food is no longer there, so the need for the enzymes is no longer there! In the case of the Meal Replacement drinks; if we are to cut out all solid food for a considerable amount of time and replace it with these drinks then we down regulate the production of these enzymes, so when we do come to eat solid foods, we wont be able to digest them efficiently and therefor gain weight, which is not the wanted result right! However this doesn’t mean that enzyme does not exist or cant be up regulated again, by slowly introducing the food groups we were missing out back into our nutritional spectrum, we up regulate the enzymes, problems occur when this is done too fast, the pancreas needs time to adjust!

Enzymes are also present in foods themselves, in natural foods that is! Not in these meal replacement drinks, so eating natural foods not only maintains a steady flow of enzyme production from the pancreas, but they help with digestion by providing enzymes themselves! Natural is always best… hence the McDonald’s non-ageing burger example; because the ingredients they use are so refined, preserved, additives added and the enzymes are extracted, the burger looks exactly the same 14yrs down the line!!

One benefit of these drinks is the nutritional value they have, they are packed full of essential nutrients… bet yet again they are artificial refined concentrated nutrients, natural is always best! If these drinks were just marketed as ‘nutritional drinks’ they wouldn’t be so much a of a problem, because they would be delivering nutrients in a convenient way, all though artificial, they would still have their place in the market! Its the fact that they advertise them as a meal replacement to people who are completely unaware of what damage they are doing to their digestive systems that infuriates me and so many others!

Sorry about all the What NOT to do’s! Next post will be What TO do!

Harry Clarke

Sugar and other killers…

Biscuits, cake, soda, chocolate are all examples of feel good foods. This feel good feeling you get just after consuming these foods is momentary… unfortunately! So how do we get around this problem, we just buy and consume some more, simple!… And we keep the big companies happy, everyone’s a winner right?..

A friend of mine consumes up to 2 liters of diet coke per day! And I am sure he isn’t the only one, apparently nothing else satisfies your brain quite like a diet coke, so why is this? Well if you look on the ingredient label of a diet coke you will find the words Aspartame and Caffeine, together these produce a blend of excitotoxin which KILL brain cells, but before killing brain cells it excites your brain giving you that buzz you crave everyday! Aspartame is not only in diet coke, it is in many other products we consume daily including breath mints, cereal, chewing gum, coffee syrups, Meal replacements, protein drinks, fat free yogurt, juice drinks…. just to mention a few! The side effects of consuming this horrific chemical are astonishing; migraines, impaired vision, cognitive problems and can eventually lead to different types of cancer.

‘Drink diet coke to reduce weight gain’  not only are statements like these laughable but also scary that they are accepted with open arms by society! The adverts you see on television with the classic fit and healthy person drinking diet coke and other sodas are so misleading they should be illegal! According to the Yale Journal of Biology “research studies suggest that artificial sweeteners contribute to weight gain” this statement relies on the fact that artificial sweeteners cause cause carbohydrate cravings, so when someone consumes a diet drink such as Diet Coke, and they wonder why they are still gaining weight and still having carbohydrate cravings its because these drinks are chemically engineered to make you buy more! The big companies producing these drinks are not interested in your jean size or health, they want to make more and more money!

Zero calories in Diet Soda, RIGHT?  Yes but due to the artificial sweeteners and chemical engineering that goes in to the production these drinks; if you start drinking them and change nothing else concerning your diet, within a couple of years you WILL be fatter than when you started!

Oh, okay so normal soda is fine, yes? Not at all! if it doesn’t contain these artificial sweeteners (found in diet soda and many other products) it most probably contains High Fructose Corn Syrup, which leads to diabetes and obesity! Why? well because High Fructose Corn Syrup is a concentrated nutrient, refined from corn. Corn is perfectly harmless, but eating the highly refined, concentrated and chemically manipulated version (High Fructose Corn Syrup) of something that is found in corn in the quantities we do, can cause a whole load of problems with metabolism which leads to obesity(mentioned in previous article) and increased risk of heart disease!

So what about normal sugar? Although you may think this would be the better option because it is ‘natural’ you would be wrong in thinking so! This white Chrystal like powder is not natural whatsoever, just like High Fructose Corn Syrup it is the purified sucrose extracted from either beets or sugar cane, its a refined substance and yet again an isolated nutrient which when consumed at the level we are now consuming it causes an in-balance in the body by promoting the secretion of insulin, which is the hormone responsible for producing FAT!… yet again.. Obesity, Diabetes, Heart disease… the list goes on!

Fructose is now the number one source of calories in the United States, fructose is highly addictive! The level of fructose consumed by the average person in the last century has risen from 15grams per day to 70-80grams per day!  Natural foods enter the body as a nutrient complex (a mix of nutrients) not as one isolated nutrient, by ingesting these isolated nutrients such as the above we cause an in-balance among nutrients in the body which leads to so so so many problems.

Oh okay, so I don’t eat sugar!… yes you do! You may think your sugar free but that bread or any other fluffy carbohydrate such as pancakes and muffins turn into sugar as soon as they enter the blood stream! If your familiar with the Glycemic index you will know that the higher the Gycemic index given to the carbohydrate the higher the level of glucose within the carbohydrate, so when you eat these high Glycemic carbohydrates your effectively eating SUGAR!! Sugar makes you FAT…but what would i know, i’m just a student!

Hope this educated a few of you, let me know if it helped!

Harry Clarke

Why do we gain that unwanted weight!? …Metabolic damage?

So, in the past gaining weight was blamed on what you’ve eaten in the last few days. Due to research over the past few years, the terms Metabolic Damage and Metabolic disorders are being used to explain a gain in unwanted weight, time to get engaged, through no fault of my own this may get a little wordy… blame the scientists! 

Metabolic disorders can be simplified as abnormal chemical reactions within the body, it is these abnormal chemical reactions that disrupt the metabolic processes. Metabolic processes are basically all biochemical processes that go on in your body to maintain life; the breakdown of food for the provision of energy is one of these processes! Its an increase or decrease in activity of an organ that controls the amount of chemical released, which is managed by hormonal activity.

30-40 years ago people became more concerned about what they were eating, the popularity of these fad diets was on the rise! These diets were mainly concerned with calorie restriction; drop the calories, drop a jean size…! One of the ways people dropped their calorie intake was the well know Low Fat diet, probably the most popular still to this day. Dietary fats and body fat are thought to be the same thing by most people, ‘fat will make you fat’…the science says otherwise, fats are responsible for cell permeability (the ability to access a cell) if the cell cant be accesses the process breaks down! Fats are often associated with cholesterol, if we don’t have cholesterol in the diet we can’t produce hormones.

Confused yet? indeed! So basically when we reduce fats or cholesterol not only are we no longer producing hormones that regulate the amount of chemical released from an organ (enzymes) in this case which are essential for the breakdown of food, but we are also missing out on Glucercortociodes (big word, I know) and many other essentials. Glucercortoeciodes are responsible for the metabolic breakdown of carbohydrate, which is very important to anyone reducing fats; when someone reduces fats they eat more carbohydrate. If its not broken down your going to gain weight!!

I’ve just touched on the fact that cutting out a source of food completely is not the answer for loosing excess weight, I used fats as the example but the same applies for carbohydrates because if we cut out carbohydrates or lower them significantly we down regulate the enzymes responsible for breaking them down and in turn increase something called insulin sensitivity . Insulin sensitivity increase means that if we do then consume carbohydrate are body can not handle the sudden spike in insulin and therefore the carbohydrate is stored, and yet again weight is gained! The wrong kind of weight! don’t get me wrong most of the time lowering carbohydrates is normally the answer but we need to keep them balanced with the other foods such as fats and proteins so that this metabolic damage does not occur.  

Butter or Margarine? (natural or low-fat?) additives and preservatives that weren’t in food centuries ago affect the gut in a nasty way! bacteria and parasites from these unnatural sources cause the gut to no longer be able to digest food and in turn we gain weight! Junk food is an enemy!