We spoke to Ken Stirrat, one of our winners last year’s Clean & Lean Challenge, as he shares his experience with us. The Clean & Lean Challenge is a holistic program that would help equip you with the tools to reach your goals – be it fitting into your clothes better or having more energy throughout the day. Read on to learn more about Ken’s journey on the challenge!
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.
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
- Rich in vitamins and minerals
- Detoxification support
- Antioxidants and phytonutrients galore
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:
- 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!
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
- 1 whole cauliflower
- 3/4 almonds (ground)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 3 eggs (beaten)
- salt & pepper
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Clean eating has been getting mixed press lately, and like anything in life, taking things to an extreme can make it bad for us. Being too restrictive with our diets and paranoid about what we eat can cause more issues than it solves.
At UFIT our approach to clean eating is much less harsh and more exclusive, it’s about taking things back to a more simplistic way of eating and as fresh and whole as possible. Here are some simple tips to eat cleaner:
1. Load up on fresh produce
When it comes to vegetables, most of us aren't getting enough. We should be aiming to get in six portions of vegetables and one of fruit each day.
Eating more vegetables can significantly reduce your risk for a number of chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cancer. The fibre in whole produce also helps keep good bacteria in your tummy happy, which can reduce your risk for autoimmune diseases, fight off pathogens and infections and even improve your mood.
Get those greens in over Christmas, it should be easy with seasonal greens such as Brussel Sprouts everywhere.
2. Whole grains are our friends
Carbs are not the enemy, it’s about getting the right type with the highest amount of nutrition. The best whole grains are the ones that have been touched the least by processing. Think whole grains that look most like their just-harvested state—quinoa, wild rice, oats.
Don't get duped by "whole-grain" claims on labels though, to eat clean, packaged whole grains you're going need to take a closer look at the ingredients. Whole grains should always be the first ingredient, the ingredient list should be short and recognizable, and it should have minimal (if any) added sugar.
When you swap out refined carbs (like white pasta, sugar, and white bread) for whole grains you'll get more fiber, antioxidants and inflammation-fighting phytonutrients.
3. Pick the right processed foods
Not all processed foods are really bad, look at amazing ranges such as The Whole Kitchen products.
Technically when we chop, mix and cook at home we are processing foods. The problem is that so much processed food at the supermarket is processed beyond the point of recognition. Keep an eye out for anything with lots of sugar and refined grains, super-long ingredient lists with foods you don't recognize and anything with partially hydrogenated oils.
Clean processed foods exist like plain yogurt, cheese, grainless granola, seed crackers and nut mixes. Just be sure to read the ingredient list and know what you are buying.
4. The biggest “rule” of Clean & Lean - limit sugar
Most people eat too many added sugars. The Singaporean Health Board recommends no more than 8 to 11 teaspoons of sugar a day for adults. The average person gets about 2 to 4 times that amount per day. To clean up your diet, cut down on added sugars by limiting sweets like soda, candy and baked goods.
But it's more than just desserts—keep an eye on sugars added to healthier foods like yogurt (choose plain), tomato sauce and cereal. Look for foods without sugar as an ingredient, or make sure it's listed towards the bottom, which means less of it is used in the food. We usually recommend no more than 5g of sugar per 100g of product
5. Consider the environment
Clean eating is better for you and the planet, and eat seasonal and locally grown foods where possible. Foods that are transported not only increase our carbon footprint but also will need to be preserved for the journey. The longer the shelf life of the food the shorter our shelf life.
So how to take clean eating to an effective, safe step to a healthier you? The next UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge starts 13 January 2018, where under Wendy Riddell's guidance you will learn how to detox safely from sugars and eat clean, healthy food to start new eating habits to sustain you and your family for the rest of your life!
Start up your 2018 on Clean & Lean 18 - our 18th challenge - by signing up right here:
Once again - the results from the latest UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge have been amazing.
Well done to our overall male winner Guillaume Augustin who lost a staggering 9.38% body fat, and female winner Hang Nguyen who lost an outstanding 6.88% body fat! What a truly fabulous effort, hard work and consistency always pays off. The runners-up were not far behind, with Bryan Shon losing an amazing 8.41% body fat and Jennifer Gillespie losing an exceptional 6.55% body fat! What a great start to the Christmas holiday season!
Regardless of the results, we are proud of all our participants in our Clean & Lean Challenges this year. Even the smallest changes count, like thinking twice about what you eat and drink, and embracing healthy new foods that keep the weight off and help you feel great.
This leads us to the Silly Season, it’s called that for a reason! The Head of UFIT Nutrition’s Wendy Riddell shares with us her tips for staying relatively Clean & Lean over the holidays:
- Watch your drinks - go for wine (red or white) or spirits with soda water, and don’t bulk up over Christmas with beer and sherry. Champagne and cocktails also have lots of sugar in them and it's best to avoid those drinks if you can.
- Don’t overindulge on a daily basis, plan your events diary and don’t use Christmas as an excuse to go off the rails for the full 31 days. If you do get off the program get back on it the next day
- Try using the phrase “I don’t eat/drink that” instead of “I can’t” and be strong by choosing what you want to have and not what's forced on you
- Load up on proteins and salads first, what's not to love about great turkey and ham combo or a fab bit of salmon! Then have some carbs if you have room. Start with the good stuff, not on the boring old bread sticks
- Pick one dessert and own it! Don’t keep going back and trying everything till you feel nauseous, have that one special something and make it last
- Enjoy the festive period! Don’t blow a whole year of gains on a week off excess, but in the same breath have some fun too
- Stay active with your fitness over the holidays - try to make time for it as much as you can.
- Remember to sign up for the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge 18 starting 13 January to get the new year off to an amazing start.