Clean and Lean Challenge

Overcoming Insomnia Through Better Gut Health, by Sasha's Fine Foods

Overcoming Insomnia Through Better Gut Health, by Sasha's Fine Foods

As our CLEAN & LEAN CHALLENGE 22 approaches, there’s no better chance to learn how to detox sugars and refined carbs.

We wanted to share Sasha’s own experience of kicking insomnia and ‘foggy brain’ into touch by improving gut health, which is a fascinating insight into how, if you want to fix your health, you must first fix your gut.

Reboot your lifestyle with the Clean & Lean Challenge

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"If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you."

We recently spoke to Lee-Ann Sullivan and Leonard Leong, the female and male winners of the recent 28-day Clean & Lean Challenge on their amazing efforts and how it has transformed their lives.

Lee-Ann is a mother of 2, and has lived with type 1 diabetes for over 30 years. Through the challenge, she discovered the objectives of diabetic management and the Clean & Lean Challenge were in sync – a clean and lean lifestyle means a better control of her diabetic condition, and less insulin required as a result. A win-win for her! She lost 6kg (9.45%) of body fat in the challenge.

Leonard Leong is a Clean & Lean alumni, having participated in 3 previous editions of the challenge. After 2 years, he wanted a refresher to recalibrate his lifestyle and eating habits, to feel better and learn how to listen to his body. Leonard lost 3.8kg (4.78%) of body fat in the challenge.

 Lee-Ann and Leonard feeling great inside and out after completing the challenge!

Lee-Ann and Leonard feeling great inside and out after completing the challenge!


What was your motivation to join the Clean & Lean Challenge?

Lee-Ann: My motivation was to lose stubborn body fat that I just couldn’t seem to lose, even with regular weekly physical training sessions. I knew my diet was not what it should be, causing my type 1 diabetes to be challenging to control, and not allowing me to achieve a healthy consistent lifestyle.

Leonard: For me it was to get back to good health by reducing my body fat. Since participating in the last Clean & Lean Challenge 2 years ago, bad eating habits had formed due to work stress. Despite keeping a moderately healthy lifestyle, my body fat had still gone up. Knowing that the challenge has previously worked for me, I decided to commit 4 weeks to re-learn and reset my body.

Lee-Ann, was having diabetes a concern for you going into the challenge?

Lee-Ann: I have had diabetes for over 30 years.  Personally I was not concerned about embarking on the challenge as such, although I was very much aware of the danger areas to be mindful of when making substantial changes to my eating habits. My insulin doses did reduce dramatically. Ensuring that my blood glucose levels were being continually tested and closely monitored, and that my medication was being adjusted accordingly, meant that the risk of hyperglycaemic episodes (when my blood glucose levels are too low) were reduced.

 Female winner Lee-Ann and her very supportive kids.

Female winner Lee-Ann and her very supportive kids.

What was the hardest part of the challenge for you?

Lee-Ann: The hardest part for me was the low energy levels. During the initial 2 weeks, I was unaware that I was severely iron-deficient. The program offered complementary iron panel test, which prompted me to have my levels checked out. Luckily an iron infusion solved that issue immediately. My energy levels returned, but I did still have to consider how much physical training I was doing, and when to reintroduce some complex carbohydrates into my diet. Head nutritionist Wendy and her team were very helpful and provided ongoing guidance and attention to my needs throughout the challenge.

Leonard: Finding Clean and Lean compliant food during my business travels was my biggest challenge. I spent almost half of the 4-week challenge travelling to 2 separate countries for work. Both countries I have never been to, and hence find compliant food was a mammoth task to say the least!
 

And what is the best part of the challenge?

Lee-Ann: I really enjoyed hearing about other participants’ journey through the Clean & Lean app. It provided all the weekly information you need, such as nutrition advice, healthy recipes, and daily food challenges. The weekly information sessions were great, covering topics that I found very relevant, such as cardio versus strength training, the type 3 diabetes warning, and the importance of getting enough sleep. The recipes provided are simple, tasty, and easy to follow.

This program is different to other nutrition programs I’ve tried. It gives you all the tools to succeed, and also gets you to rethink about your lifestyle, listen to you body, and learn how to make positive changes to your eating and exercise habits. So you can continue this clean and lean lifestyle even when the challenge ends.

Leonard: Head Nutritionist of the Clean & Lean Challenge Wendy Riddell! She's keeps things going through the 4 weeks with good humour, and her big heart in encouraging everyone to stick to the program, especially in the first 2 weeks when it was the toughest.
 

How do you feel now? Has taking this challenge change your perception about nutrition and wellness?

Lee-Ann: I have more energy now and feel much healthier. My diabetes is easier to manage and well-controlled with very little if any insulin required for meals, and a 20% decrease in my basal insulin requirements.

I also have a much more positive relationship with food. Previously it was a love-hate relationship...loved chocolate, but hated how it made me feel. Now I don’t have cravings for foods high in sugar or simple carbohydrates anymore.  If anything, my body craves healthy foods, lots of greens, seeds, protein, some complex carbohydrates, and of course Clean & Lean bread! I also listen to my body more when it comes to what I am eating. I think part of Clean & Lean is a discovery, or experiment, to find out more about your body and what works best for you. For example, I've discovered that cow's milk in my coffee makes me feel unwell!

Leonard: I feel healthier and more aware of the food choices I'm making. The challenge has definitely got me re-acquainted with my kitchen. Cooking healthy food doesn’t mean boring, tasteless, and cold. It can be as delicious as you want it to be! All you need is the knowledge to read nutrition labels. I've also learnt to regulate my carbohydrates intake in accordance to my workout schedule. 

It is all about the 80/20 rule. Eating clean 80% of the time, with 20% set aside for cheat meals (especially in social gatherings). Plan a week ahead to identify the time I eat clean, and when it is about having fun - wine included of course.

 Leonard has done 3 Clean & Lean Challenges prior, but needed a lifestyle reboot after 2 years.

Leonard has done 3 Clean & Lean Challenges prior, but needed a lifestyle reboot after 2 years.

 Head Nutritionist Wendy Riddell was a big source of motivation for Leonard and the community.

Head Nutritionist Wendy Riddell was a big source of motivation for Leonard and the community.


What advice do you have for newbies who are thinking about taking up the challenge, but is concerned about the difficulties to stick to it?

Lee-Ann: I would suggest using the Clean & lean app to its full benefit. The discussions, advice, and information provided are valuable when things get hard, and actually makes the whole experience more enjoyable. You soon realise that everyone is feeling the same way as you do, and the tips and tricks shared to get through the difficult times are great. Preparation is key. have all your “approved” snacks ready so when times get tough, you’re prepared. Listen to your body, and talk to the Clean & Lean nutritionists for guidance, they’re a great support. And have fun exploring new ways of cooking, and discovering food that are on the “approved list”, you might amaze yourself with what you can come up with!

Leonard: Planning is crucial. Think ahead about what you are having for your meals. For example, if you are ending your day at the gym, know what are the options available around the vicinity. When you are low in energy levels, you want to take out the guess work and frustrations that come with it. Learn how to break your goals up into small achievable steps. Instead of thinking that you have X days to the end line, try to focus on just the day ahead. Having a friend to join you on the program also helps!


Clean & Lean gets an exciting new look!

The last 18 editions for Clean & Lean saw over 3,000 participants take part in a grueling but rewarding four-week nutrition program. Most success stories from each season have a recurring theme – losing weight gets easier with a strong support system and a solid nutrition plan in place.

From the next instalment of the program, Clean & Lean 19 will see a new fitness app integrated into your fitness journey.

Embrace, encourage and get connected with like-minded individuals over the next four weeks with the brand new Clean & Lean app: 

Accessible

There’s no more excuses not to see results with Clean & Lean when you have immediate access to our highly qualified nutritionists on your smartphone!

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Don’t be shy to share your struggles with us. The team is ready to help you overcome any obstacles you face and get back on track!

Social

Share your food photos and discover new recipes with your Clean & Lean family while developing healthy habits through community empowerment.

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Embrace your support system and remember to be kind to yourself. Sticking to a detox program can get challenging at first and it might feel like a lonely quest. But remember the Clean & Lean community is always around to give you the support you need to achieve your goals.

Remain accountable with our meal tracking system.

Sometimes, it gets hard to track your macros when you dine out with friends and family.

  Photo by Clean & Lean 18 participant Diana Teo

Photo by Clean & Lean 18 participant Diana Teo

Take advantage of the saying “The Camera eats before you” and track your food on the go with the “Food Tagging System” by taking a snap of what’s on your plate. Get tagging and never lose a social moment again. Now there’s more to tag than just your friends on social media!

Motivational

With our weekly digestible lesson plans and daily nuggets for nutrition, you will have more resources at your fingertips to eat for successful weight loss. Take on daily challenges to maximise your Clean & Lean journey!

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There’s nothing sweeter than the science of food composition

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The gift of Cauliflower

So are you a carb fiend? Can you simply not imagine having your meals without rice or mashed potatoes? Yet your love of carbs is ruining your goals, and you're always chasing that weight loss, six-pack or less bloating. Well we have a solution for you!

There’s a little, cruciferous vegetable in Singapore that can be substituted into virtually any dish. This food turns pizzas low-carb, and garlic mash into heaven.

Say hello to our new best friend the cauliflower. 

 
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This sometimes overlooked vegetable gives the potato and rice a run for their money, and those with a restricted diet will relish the possibilities cauliflower presents. Once you discover cauliflower’s life changing powers (might be overselling it a tad there but it is amazing), you won’t be able to imagine eating any of your favourites dishes again without it.

So why is cauliflower so amazing? Other than being a great substitute for our main emotional carb crutches it has some pretty amazing health benefits:

  • Helps fight cancer
  • Boosts heart health
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Detoxification support
  • Antioxidants and phytonutrients galore
 
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And yes it's safe to say that cauliflower wasn't always the sexiest vegetable on our supermarket shelves, but since it revealed itself as a versatile veg that can solve many of our “replacement” problems it's gone up in popularity.

If you're trying to lose weight, have gluten intolerance or just unexplained bloating, here's why you need a head of this white cruciferous vegetable ready to go at all times:

  • It's low in carbs: One of the reasons we've majorly fallen for cauliflower is because of its low carb count. It easily subs in seamlessly for so many of our favourite comfort foods 
  • It offers Omega-3s: Cauliflower is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can improve the body's response to insulin by stimulating the secretion of leptin. Leptin is one of the hormones that helps regulate body weight and can also increase metabolism by decreasing our hunger (telling us we are full).
  • It's high in fibre: Healthy digestion is essential to beat bloat and support weight loss. Luckily, cauliflower is a vegetable that's naturally high in fibre.

Here are some of UFIT's favourite Clean and Lean dishes:

 Photo by www.LiveGourmet.com

Photo by www.LiveGourmet.com

  • Cauliflower garlic mash
  • Cauliflower fried rice
  • Cauliflower sushi
  • Cauliflower hummus
  • Cauliflower crust pizza (see recipe below by UFIT Nutritionist Becky Brake)
  • Cauliflower and bacon soup
  • Cauliflower curry
  • Cauliflower bread
  • Cauliflower tortillas
  • Cauliflower tabbouleh.

If you only thought cauliflower was for cauliflower cheese, think again!


 Photo and recipe: Becky Brake, UFIT Nutritionist

Photo and recipe: Becky Brake, UFIT Nutritionist

Cauliflower Pizza Recipe

By Becky Brake, UFIT Nutritionist

TOMATO BASE (will make more than needed for this pizza)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 x 400 g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Begin by heating the oil in a saucepan with the onion and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper.
Lower the heat, cover and gently simmer for about 20 minutes.
Either use straight away or leave to cool and store in a container

PIZZA BASE

  • 1 whole cauliflower
  • 3/4 almonds (ground)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 eggs (beaten)
  • salt & pepper

TOPPINGS - 

Use what you fancy! – in this pizza I used:

  • 1 zucchini (chopped and pre-steamed for 10 minutes)
  • 4 broccoli florets (pre-steamed and then chopped)
  • 1 small red onion (roughly chopped)
  • small amount of goat’s cheese (chopped roughly)
  • pea shoots (roughly chopped). 

1.     Preheat the oven to 200 c and line a large oven try with baking paper.

2.     Place the cauliflower florets into a processor and blitz until finely chopped.

3.     Then place the cauliflower into a large bowl with the ground almonds, dried oregano and beaten eggs and mix together.

4.     The mixture will be fairly sticky (this is normal!).

5.     Transfer this mixture onto your baking tray and using your fingers sculpt and flatten into your desired pizza shape

6.     Place into the oven to pre-cook for 20 - 25 mins (until a nice golden color)

7.     Take the pizza out the oven and spread on some tomato base. Then scatter on your chosen toppings! (there are no technical skills needed here!)

8.     Place back in the oven for a further 10 mins before seasoning with some salt and pepper.

9.     Finally – ENJOY - Sit yourself down at the table and get eating!

Lose weight with Clean & Lean

The UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge is much more than a controlled diet program. It's a major milestone towards a changed lifestyle. It will enhance the detoxing processes in your body, introduce you to better ways of eating and better food choices, and help you become leaner.

Importantly, as you begin to enjoy the taste of real food and the feeling of it in your body, you will develop new eating habits before you know it. We are creatures of habit after all. 

Our most important guiding principles are to base our food intake on fresh products, as close as possible to their natural state. It includes lots of vegetables, good sources of proteins, good fats, limited carbohydrates and no refined sugar whatsoever. On top of that we encourage you to challenge yourself with physical activities and fun fitness.  

 Photo: Sofia bon Foster

Photo: Sofia bon Foster

 Photo: Vincent Chan

Photo: Vincent Chan

The changes you see in the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge are amazing. After overcoming sugar withdrawal symptoms and detoxing side effects such as tiredness, grumpiness and headaches, you will suddenly feel so much better.

YOU WILL START NOTICING THESE IMPROVEMENTS IN YOUR WELLBEING AND APPEARANCE:

  • Your blood sugar levels will stabilise - Drastic changes in blood sugar levels are caused by excessive consumption of carbohydrates, which in turn are responsible for food cravings, drops in energy and mood swings. At first, when we reduce our carbohydrate intake we might feel tired, hungry and grumpy, but after a few days once the sugar levels are low and the body has the opportunity and ability to use fat storage to create energy, all the symptoms will have disappeared.

  • You'll feel less hungry - You will control your food intake and the food will not control you!

  • You'll have much more energy throughout the day - Stabilised energy all day long, without massive energy drops and need for stimulants.

  • You'll have more energy during your training sessions - Once your body is trained to create energy from fat storage, it can do it faster and more efficiently, prolonging long term energy throughout your training sessions.

  • You will feel more balanced emotionally - Mood swings are often affected by our sugar ups and downs. At the beginning of the process, the limited carbs might lower your serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for our happiness. However, when your body gets used to lower sugar consumption you will experience a much more balanced emotional state.

  • Your weight will drop - At the beginning of the process your weight loss will be mainly due to loss of fluids, as carbs attract fluids. After a few days you will experience real weight loss, mostly from fat storage.

 Rob, before and after Clean & Lean 16  - he lost 11kg - the first time  in over 15 years he weighed under 100kg                                     

Rob, before and after Clean & Lean 16  - he lost 11kg - the first time  in over 15 years he weighed under 100kg                                     

  • You'll lose body fat and become leaner - Once insulin levels drop, the body will burn fat to create energy. We aim to lose body fat as opposed to losing body mass.   

  • You'll notice your skin is clearer and your eyes brighter and whiter - You might experience some skin rashes during the detox period, but once this phase is over your skin and eyes will shine.

  • You'll experience improvements in your blood lipids and blood pressure - Lower triglycerides, higher HDL cholesterol for example.

  • You'll learn more about your body - The clean diet will help you eliminate foods that are suspected to cause indigestion, gassy stomach, heartburn or any other problems. It is a good way to learn which foods suits you the best.

 Photo: Melanie Lim

Photo: Melanie Lim

 Sweat it out Sunday at Tanjong Beach Bootcamp

Sweat it out Sunday at Tanjong Beach Bootcamp

Finally, at the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge, you'll meet great people and form a supportive team, sharing ideas, recipes, difficulties and achievements.

You'll also have a set deadline to achieve your goals within, and get great ideas and support from our community via the closed community Facebook page.

This will help you to be accountable and stay on course, and eventually help you achieve your goals.  

There is no better way to kick-start your new year than with the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge - starting Saturday 13 January! Sign up right here.