UFIT Clean & Lean

Say goodbye to sugar and hello to a Clean & Lean body

Since the low-fat food guidelines came in at the end of the 1970s, the amount of sugar in processed and commercially produced food increased hugely. The main reason for this is that when fat is removed from food it doesn’t taste, smell or look as appealling. So as an enhancement sugar was added to foods to make them more edible. Sugar is highly addictive, so products high in sugar sold well. In short the current generation is very addicted to sugar in comparison to our grandparents' generations. 

Sugar is a natural product, found in a variety of natural foods such as fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes and dairy products. Its benefit is that it breaks down quickly and supplies the brain and muscles with instant energy to function. However, too much sugar will cause us to gain weight. Studies show that the average person consumes around 22 teaspoons of sugar a day from food, snacks and drinks. This is about 3 to 4 times more than the recommended intake advised by the American Dietician Association.

The damage caused by consuming too much sugar over time is wide and does not stop on the scale. Much of the problem is due to the consumption of white sugar and the corn or fructose syrup added to our processed food and drinks. Even though it has been well known for many years that these products are damaging our health, the consumption of processed food and sweetened drinks keeps increasing.

Why should we limit our sugar consumption?



Sugar (sucrose) as well as corn syrup contain fructose. Consuming too much will create a burden on the liver, that has to convert fructose into glucose, which our cells use for energy. The excess fructose will be stored in the liver and around it as fat cells. Fatty liver is damaging the liver functionality and long term this might cause cirrhosis.


Insulin is a hormone that regulates human metabolism. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas whenever we eat something that contains sugar. The Insulin hormone sends a signal to the cells that they should put transporters for glucose onto their surface, thereby allowing glucose to get into the cells where it can be used to generate energy. When we eat sugar, glucose levels rise and Insulin levels rapidly increase in order to absorb the glucose from the bloodstream and into the cells.

However, when too much fat is accumulated, especially around our internal organs, our cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. In response, the pancreas will secrete even more insulin in order to insert the glucose into the cells. The problem is that insulin has additional functionality. One is to send signals to our fat cells, telling them to pick up fat from the bloodstream, store it and to also signal the fat cells to avoid burning the fat stored in them. Unfortunately, this is a vicious cycle, as it will generate more fatty cells and worsen the cell’s resistance to insulin.

Because of the resistance to insulin, the glucose doesn't enter the cells properly and fat storage doesn't break down into energy as well and we feel lack of energy and hunger. As a result we eat more and gain more fat.

Consistent resistance to Insulin will lead eventually to Type 2 Diabetes.


Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar to be too high, and in time might damage other vital systems in the body. Type 2 diabetes is caused by combination of genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In addition, a diet high in sugar from any source contributes as well. Research has proven that drinking sugary/sweetened drinks is linked to type 2 diabetes.


Studies show that excessive consumption of sugar damages the ability of our body to signal the brain that we are not hungry any more. The reason for that is that high levels of sugar in our bloodstream cause our brain to become intolerant to a hormone called Leptin. In a normal healthy situation, Leptin is secreted by fat cells when they become bigger. When the brain senses the increased Leptin levels, it signals to our body that we are full and we have enough fat stored for rainy days. When the brain develops resistance to Leptin, it doesn't get the message that the fat cells are full of fat. This situation leads to increased food intake and decreased fat burning.


Blood lipids such as LDL and HDL cholesterol are markers of the biological processes that impact cardiovascular disease. When we think about the impact of food on blood lipids, dietary fat typically comes to mind. Yet a new study shows that dietary carbohydrate, specifically high-fructose corn syrup, can have a large impact on blood lipid markers of cardiovascular disease risk. Researchers noticed that "bad" cholesterol and triglyceride levels spiked in those people who consumed more sugar then others. One of the assumptions for this phenomenon is that the sugar damage to the liver, causing the liver to produce more cholesterol than needed.


Excessive consumption of sugar increases the blood lipids in the arteries, which raises blood pressure and increases the chance of having a heart attack or stroke. In fact, 65% of the people suffering from unbalanced type 2 diabetes, die from heart attack or stroke.


New study proves that there is strong correlation between high consumption of sugar and the increased risk of Alzheimer’s. The study shows how the decreased ability to produce energy from glucose has negatively affected brain metabolism and created damage to the brain neurons. It has been referred to and named as "brain diabetes".


Sugar affects the brain in a similar way to drugs such as opiates, alcohol and other legal and illegal drugs. It affects the pleasure centre of the brain by increasing the serotonin, dopamine and endorphin levels. As a result, the body develops tolerance to glucose in the same way it does for other drugs. In time, in order to feel good, we will need more of the sugar. Studies conducted on rats showed serious withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and tremor when the rats were banned from sugar. No wonder so many of us find it so hard to reduces the intake of sugar in our daily diet.


Sugar makes you more alert and energetic for a short period of time. However, this energy does not last for longer than 30 minutes. Thereafter the energy level drops significantly and you feel exhausted and drained, this is referred as ‘sugar rollercoaster’.


Sugar cause insulin levels to spike, which leads to a burst of inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin. Digested sugar permanently attaches to the broken collagen through a process known as glycation. The result is sagging skin, wrinkles and higher sensitivity to the sun. Aside from increasing the effects of aging, glycation can also exacerbate skin conditions like acne and rosacea. 


The UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge is based around the premise of cleansing your body of sugars and reducing carbohydrates - under the controlled guidance of our nutritionist Wendy Riddell - and re-introducing limited healthy sugars at the right time, whilst getting nourishment from a balanced diet of healthy fats, proteins and vegetables. 

Whether you are new to the Challenge or have done it before - the benefits of stripping sugars and eating Clean & Lean are endless:

  • Reduced body fat

  • Reduced weight

  • More energy

  • Clearer skin

  • Brighter whiter eyes

  • Reduced cholesterol

  • Reduced blood pressure

  • Increase training health

  • Zero blood sugar crashes

  • Reduced hunger & cravings


And even better - with the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge you're not alone. You get the expert guidance of Wendy Riddell, a supportive community of others sharing the same experience, an online community to meet and get inspired by, and an e-cookbook with delicious healthy recipes to try. And - the excitement of knowing you are giving your body the love and attention it deserves. 

Sign up here for the next Challenge starting 13 January 2018. 

Why I'm doing UFIT Clean & Lean twice a year

We asked Jason Sykes - one of our regular Sentosa Bootcampers - why is he coming back after losing 3.5% body fat at a previous UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge ...


What made you decide to do the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge?

After signing up for UFIT Bootcamps I decided to take on the Challenge after a couple of friends had taken part with impressive results.  A good friend of mine, Ben Wheeler, actually won it and he convinced me to take it up.  I have a fairly clean diet but the approach to cutting out sugar is taking things to a new level and eye opening as to how it affects your body.


How did you find the Challenge?

It was tough, especially the first week.  I generally felt weak and lethargic with cravings for foods cut out of my diet such as milk, fruits, pasta and sauces.  One thing is for certain, you have to plan your meals and it isn’t something you can just take for granted, especially if you have full intense days at work. 

After the first week my body adjusted and the body shock started to ease off and towards week three I had more energy than before although intense exercise (bootcamps) were really tough without the carbs for energy.  I actually suffered from severe cramps in week three in my legs and even jaw (!!) so took magnesium and zinc which helped calm them down. 

Week four is like running the last part of a long distance race – you just want it over with but the line is in sight and weigh-in just a few days away to keep motivation! The UFIT team were great throughout with the weekly talks and the Facebook group so any questions are quickly answered throughout the four weeks.


What results did you get?

I lost around 3.5% body fat which was a good result for what I wanted to achieve.


What has made you decide to do it again?

I’m not overweight but C&L doesn’t necessarily have to mean losing loads of weight – it can be, but it can also act as a great detox program.  So for me it is just about getting rid of any of the excesses of the last few months and cleansing the system!


What are my goals for the future?

My goals are to remain aware of what I eat and how it affects my body. Foods that you may strongly believe are “healthy” may be loaded with sugar which may be adding to your weight or reducing your energy levels without you realising the cause. I was very surprised to find out that an average banana contains 14 grams of sugar! 

I will maintain a PT program with UFIT combined with the diverse bootcamp options and sign-up for the C&L twice a year from now on.  Overall I can highly recommend the C&L program to anyone considering taking this on, and as always, the UFIT team will support you through the 4 weeks which is challenging but ultimately very rewarding.

Next UFIT Clean & Lean challenge open now! Sign up here: www.ufit.com.sg/clean-and-lean

Clean & Lean - it's a long term thing

Finishing the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge is just the beginning. Aoife NicLochlainn tells us about her Clean & Lean journey, and how she's sustained healthy habits one year on ...

What made you sign up for Clean & Lean?

I took part in Clean and Lean 11 one year ago. I had already been working with Wendy on weight loss for a few months at this point and was really enjoying the results I was getting. However, my motivation was starting to slip, and I had to tweak my diet and was starting to forget what was a tweak and what was my original plan. I had also gotten into a rut of eating the same thing every day so I was starting to get a bit bored with myself. I messaged Wendy to explain I was having a bit of a crisis and she suggested that the group aspect of C&L might be just what I needed. I’m so glad I signed up. It was a great kick to the system!

How was your first week?

As I was already eating a low sugar diet I didn’t find the first week too bad. Also being part of the Facebook group really helped motivate me in that first week. Veteran Clean and Leaners shared their recipes and I tried some lovely things. I think having the extra support really helped. It was good to see that others were struggling too, and that we all had our vices that we needed to throw off.

Did you sign up with a friend or by yourself?

I signed up by myself. I was so nervous walking in the first day as I didn’t know what to expect, and I am quite socially awkward. But everyone was super friendly, and we were free to interract with others as much, or as little, as we wanted. The workouts after the talks each week were great and I enjoyed chatting with others who were facing similar struggles.

How did you feel each week?

I just felt better and better. My mood in general improved, I felt “clean” on the inside. I didn’t really feel deprived at all. I attended the Formula 1 weekend right in the middle of my 4 week challenge and with a little bit of prepping and some nice seeds in my bag I was easily able to navigate it. The old me would not have been able to handle all that temptation at all, but again, the Facebook group came up trumps and we were all able to post sightings of compliant foods, and keep each other motivated. To be honest, the hardest part of the whole challenge was making the decision to start.

How did you feel at the end of it all?

Great!!! I felt so good, and got great compliments. Even though I’d been on a weight loss journey for a few months, I think the sudden jump because of C&L made people notice.

I was very happy with the kgs lost. Again, as I was already following a similar plan I thought I would still be stuck in my plateau, but this really took me out of it. Also, my hair, skin and mood drastically improved. I loved it so much I signed up for Challenge #13.

What's motivating about it?

The group in general, the team at UFIT especially Wendy, and the Facebook group. And - being able to participate in big events like the Spartan Sprint in Bintan, which I could not have done if it were not for Wendy and Clean & Lean. And then following up with the Spartan Super event six months later has made me super motivated to do the Challenge again.

How has the Challenge become part of your lifestyle now?

One year on I found that Clean & Lean is more than just a 4 week challenge. It helped me to gain a greater understanding of my body in general and how it reacts to different foods, and of course alcohol. Here in Singapore a lot of us have hectic social lives. And life is all about balance. So I've learned that if I have a few hectic weekends around Christmas or holiday time I have the ability to just pull myself back together and jump back on the C&L wagon.

It's easy to just refer back to the notes again. Or sign up for another Challenge if you need a refresher and like the moral support. I've taken part in challenges 11, 13 and plan on signing up for 15 starting soon.  What I found great was it doesn't feel repetitive at all. The talks each week were different and so engaging and have helped me to make changes that I hope to keep up! I'm definitely a C&L convert for life!

Before and after for Clean & Lean (Start 80.7kg - 36.4% body fat. End 75.8kg - 30.73% body fat)

What a difference a year makes - this time last year, versus now (down 20kg thanks to Wendy)


Next UFIT Clean & Lean challenge open now! Sign up here: www.ufit.com.sg/clean-and-lean

No sugar for a month... are you kidding? Game on! 

UFIT Marketing Manager, Lizzie, takes on Clean & Lean to fight her addiction of what some days consisted to be of four Twix's a day (well that was the latest obsession).

No sugar. No booze. No fruit. For four weeks. But can you really commit to achieving your goals? I hear it every day from friends and family, 

"But I've got that birthday event"
"I've got this wedding I can't do it."
"I have friends in town" 

Sound familiar? 

Too many excuses flood the end goal, and you have to decide how much you want that to get that Beyoncé ‘butt’, or those toned arms and rock hard abs. Or even having that "feel good feeling" about eating real food. Well, in my case enough was enough. I'm pretty head strong so I was up for the challenge as the sugar issue started to get way out of hand. I already fell off the bandwagon twice over with the last Clean & Leans; The sugar highs were just too damn good. After a full on year with a new job, home, and shake up I made the decision 2017 is my year to rein in my sugar addiction. 

So here goes. Third time lucky to make that commitment. Was I serious; Of course I was! As Marketing Manager I think it's integral to understand each and every part of UFIT. After two previously failed attempts due to my insane sugar addiction, a bet with the boss got me signed up for the challenge; $200, let's see if it's worth it! To get the ball rolling I enrolled my partner in crime to make the journey with me and smash our body goals (it makes it easier to say yes when there's two of you). For those of you unfamiliar with the Clean & Lean Challenge UFIT run in Singapore, it's a four week nutrition cleansing program whereby we see a large amount of people join for a number of reasons including weight loss, getting lean, reducing their cravings to sugar and processed foods. It's a journey for learning how to appreciate the real foods that are right in front of you.

Week One - Cauliflower is my new best friend

Dealing with no sugar was a test in itself for week one. No fruit in the mornings, just green veg, meats, and my soon to be best friend... cauliflower. The key to getting through this first week let alone the whole four weeks was having my buddy do it with me. We were able to help remove temptations from each other, have chilled nights in, and when we did go out we were a team, ordering together our Clean & Lean approved dishes. 

The first day was a Saturday, everyone in our friendship group ordered five large pizzas and a tray of Krispy Kreme's (are you serious guys?). We jumped the first hurdle with our green spinach chicken pancakes and avocado... YUM! I was still hungry though but wouldn’t admit it! The point of Clean & Lean is whilst you cut out the bad you replace it with the good and lots of it. You get hungry and you eat, surely isn’t this the case? For me the struggles started when it came to exercising. My body was telling me no, my head was telling me train, keep your training up. I gave in and listened to my body! The next step was the food. To get through I knew it was all about the planning and that's when FitThree came into the equation. All approved of course. I was set for my five dinners a week and just had to prepare the yummy lunches courtesy of @Soff.it delicious recipes. This was the week we realised that we had endless recipes we could make with cauliflower and zucchini focaccini. The rest was history and week one started to get easier with occasional sugar cravings but no chocolate in sight. 

Week Two - Red pepper never tasted so amazingly good!

With a week of just greens, cauliflower, protein, protein and protein it was time for an addition to the menu. I don't think I've ever realised how tasty and sweet a red pepper was going into week Two; They’re super sweet and full of flavour. We continued our FitThree's, prepped our lunches and snacks on the Sunday. Thank goodness for the introduction of coloured vegetables. Did you know one red pepper can contain a teaspoon of sugar. All natural sugars of course, but the journey is learning about the good sugars, the good fats and oils to put into your body. 

Connecting with real food and tasting the real flavours was something else. Doing it alongside 270 other people was another. The power of people and seeing their results after two weeks was so inspiring. With everything going well I still wasn't able to train after feeling quite weak, but that was about to change when Fran and I signed up to trek up Mount Kinabalu with no sugar and carbs - OMG!

Week Three - Trekking up South East Asia's highest mountain; Mount Kinabalu!

It goes without saying this was seriously tough. Without two weeks of training, no sugar and carbs we had a number of people saying we were crazy, and were not confident we could do it. Probably a little mad, but if we're doing one challenge, why on earth not do two? Trekking is one of my all-time favourite things to do and I wasn’t about to bail on this amazing trip.

To cut a long two days short (full blog coming soon), Fran and I did a great deal of preparation before the trip. We had these amazing cacao coconut protein balls, with nuts introduced which helped fuel us the most and then some super tasty True Protein dark chocolate flavour shakes (life saver). The first hour of the trek kicked in hard; Out of breathe, the midday sun and hours of uphill climbing… but still smiling. The only way was up (pretty vertical). The packed lunch was not the best as we could only eat chicken, a slice of cucumber and an egg. We were expecting to starve the whole trip, but thank goodness for eggs, meat and vegetables which saved us from noodles and rice. 

After a night of no sleeping, acclimatising and hearing a couple of people vomiting it was time to get up and ‘nail’ this climb. For fuel we drank our protein shakes, ate a couple of handfuls of nuts and had our eggs. We made it! 4095m secured! With no carbs and sugar our recovery was something else. When walking for three days afterwards, with a lack of the right nutrients in our bodies, was agony. 

Week Four - On the home straight

Sustaining Clean & Lean for four weeks was tough, but manageable. As soon as I set my mind to the challenge the rest was history. Week four was a breeze. I prepared my protein balls, my lunches, ordered my dinners in advance and I was ready to go. I’m a few weeks on and still keeping up with Clean & Lean week four with one cheat day a week, therefore sustaining a realistic lifestyle and falling under the 80% healthy - 20% eat whatever tasty treats I want… I’m only human after all!

If I could give you anything to walk away with these five key tips, the first would be to get your ‘butt’ into gear and stick to your goals:

1. Determine how badly you want it… 

Are you serious about change and getting the end result? At the end of the day it's your choice. Take control of your life,  make your mindset strong and surround yourself with people that just ‘get’ you. Social events, and holidays etc will come and go so you've just got to make it work! 

2. Get yourself a partner in crime

They have your back, you can enjoy social occasions together and take a stance with your friends that just don't get it. Achieving similar goals with someone else is empowering as you share the ups and downs, and it makes you forget about the four weeks’ timeline. It just naturally continues to become your way of life. 

3. Get planning and prepping

Don't skip the corners, or you’ll suffer. Get ahead of yourself with your breakfast, lunches and dinners and how it fits best into your schedules. Mine was a Sunday session spending a couple of hours getting everything made for the week. 

4. Make it sustainable and be realistic

We can't be perfect 100% of the time so give back to yourself and give yourself a guilt-free treat, you deserve it! 

5. Get your ‘butt’ into gear.

Pick up your training again. Strength training to be exact. Yes - it's known for weight-loss, toning up those muscles, preventing illness and realising those happy endorphins. There’s nothing better than breaking a sweat and earning your body!

I’m pretty happy with my results, but now the real journey starts with carb loading and increasing my strength training to build on muscle tone. Overall I lost 1.66% body fat, 1.6kg and lost 4cm around my waist. I am so guilty of sharing the far right picture after my firs tCrossFit session and getting my muscles working. The lighting was better - guilty. But I now want to show you the slight difference lighting and posing can make to a set of photos. We all have our good and bad days! Now time to train and build my muscle tone back with phase 2 - bring on the strength training.

You’ll find there's always a tomorrow, there's always another Monday or next month. So the question is what are you going to finally achieve this year? Take the first step and if at first you don't succeed just try and try again. 

Fitter, Leaner, Stronger!

The 2017 Clean & Lean sessions are happening on March 11 – April 8 (4 weeks), May 20 – June 17 (4 weeks), September 2 – 30 (4 weeks), November 4 – 25 (4 weeks).

UFIT is Singapore’s largest independent fitness community that offers a 360 approach to health and fitness island wide. For more information, visit our website.

The benefits of UFIT's Clean and Lean Challenge

We all want to eat tasty food and feel satisfied and happy. We want to be healthy, feel energetic, have a lean good looking body, be free of cravings and forget about counting calories. Most of all, we would like to avoid the guilt and the self-hatred feelings over the food consume. Feelings that prevent us from fully enjoying our meal can often lead us to making the wrong food choices.

That is why we created the Clean and Lean Challenge, which has been running successfully in Singapore for several years. It has helped thousands of people to change their lifestyle, achieve their personal goals and become healthier, happier and confident people.

The Clean and Lean programme is much more than a physical fitness programme to achieve your desired body goals. It is a major milestone towards a changed lifestyle. It will enhance the detoxing processes in your body, educate you about better ways of eating, provide better food choices for you and it will also help you become leaner.

Our most important guiding principles are to base our food intake on fresh products, as close as possible to other 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 challenging yourself with physical activities that will help you to achieve your personal goals.  

The benefits of the Clean and Lean program 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 changes in your wellbeing and appearances:

  1. Your sugar and insulin levels will be more balanced - Drastic changes in the blood sugar levels are caused by excessive consumption of carbohydrates, which in turn are responsible for our food cravings, drops in energy and mood swings. At first, when we reduce our carbohydrates 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.

  2. Your hunger level will be reduced and you will have less and less cravings - You will control your food intake and the food will not control you!

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

  4. You will 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.

  5. 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 create low serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for our happiness. However, when your body gets used to lower sugar consumption you will experience much more balanced emotional state.

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

  7. You will 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.   

  8. You will notice that 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.

  9. You will experience improvement in your blood lipids and blood pressure - lower triglycerides, higher HDL cholesterol for example.

  10. You will 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, joining our Clean and Lean programme you will meet great people and form supportive team, sharing ideas, recipes, difficulties and achievements. This will help you to be accountable and stay on course, and eventually achieve your goals.  


Noa has been practicing as a Clinical Nutritionist for the last ten years. Her specialties include weight loss, Celiac disease, digestive system problems and metabolic diseases.

Noa focuses on providing the right moral support for all her clients, combined with a customised nutritional program. Through this, Noa assists her clients to change their lives for the best – improving their health, energy levels, sleep, and overall wellbeing. 

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For more information for UFITs Nutrition programs get in touch with us here. Join our next Clean & Lean Challenges that we run 5 times a year providing you with the opportunity to change your healthy habits into a lifestyle.