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Ep. 6 | Your FAQ's Answered: Why You're Not Losing Fat, Oat Milk, Yoghurt & Pizza

Why Can't You Lose Fat? Intermittent Fasting, Oat Milk, Yoghurt, Food Budgets & How To Really Enjoy Your Pizza

This is a transcript of a podcast episode for any of you who prefer reading! Click the buttons to listen to the audio. Listen to Ep. 6 | Your FAQ's Answered: Why You're Not Losing Fat, Oat Milk, Yoghurt & Pizza

Welcome to the podcast! In this solo episode, we'll be diving into your frequently asked questions (FAQs) that have come in over the past few weeks. It's exciting to see the curiosity and interest in health and nutrition, as it reflects the need for knowledge in today's world. Our environment isn't always designed to promote healthy choices, but we can empower ourselves by learning and making informed decisions.

Why You Can't Lose Fat

Many people come to me wondering why they can't seem to lose fat, despite their efforts with various diets and exercises. Based on my experience in holistic nutrition, epidemiology of obesity, and working with clients, the primary reason is often consuming carbohydrates that need to be burned before your body can tap into its own fat stores. This might sound complicated, but let's break it down.

Throughout the day, you might make seemingly healthy choices like having oats in the morning, oat milk, cereal, toast, sushi, wraps, crackers, or carrots with hummus. While these foods are generally considered healthy, they are primarily composed of carbohydrates. When these carbohydrates enter our system, they turn into glucose, similar to table sugar, and need to be processed by the liver.

If you've been physically active, the glucose is used to replenish muscle glycogen. However, for those who aren't highly active, the liver converts the glucose into insulin, also known as the fat storage hormone. For many people, this leads to the storage of triglycerides, a type of fat, in the bloodstream or as body fat. It's essential to understand that our bodies aren't working against us; they are merely trying to store energy for later use.

Should You Be Counting Carbohydrates or Sugar?

A common question revolves around whether to count carbohydrates or sugar. While many sources have emphasised the importance of monitoring sugar intake, it's crucial to note that carbohydrates and sugar are processed similarly once they enter our bloodstream. Whether you're consuming Ben and Jerry's ice cream or a couple of slices of bread, the processing mechanism remains the same.

Instead of fixating on sugar, it's more helpful to focus on carbohydrates when monitoring your intake. The percentage of carbohydrates in a food item is often indicated in the "per hundred gram" column on food labels. Foods high in carbohydrates might show around 80 grams per hundred grams, indicating they are 80% carbohydrates or sugar. Additionally, paying attention to portion sizes is essential, as they often differ from what we typically consume. For example, a couple of slices of toast might contain around 30 grams of carbohydrates, equivalent to approximately seven or eight teaspoons of sugar.

Intermittent Fasting Mistakes

Intermittent fasting has gained popularity, and many individuals wonder if it's still effective even when they are not seeing desired results. While intermittent fasting can be beneficial, it's crucial to approach it with a balanced perspective. Personally, I don't label it as intermittent fasting, but rather as refraining from eating between 7 p.m. and 9 or 10 a.m. on most days. This aligns with the natural pattern of eating before moving in the morning, as observed in ancient hunter-gatherer tribes.

However, it's essential to consider what you break your fast with. If you consume a carbohydrate-dense meal immediately after fasting, such as a sandwich, chocolate, or liquorice, it can quickly spike glucose levels and halt fat burning. To enhance the effectiveness of intermittent fasting, choose a breakfast rich in protein and fat, such as bacon and eggs. Throughout the day, aim to keep carbohydrate intake relatively low to sustain fat burning and make fasting more manageable.

Milk and Yogurt

When it comes to milk choices, it's important to consider the type of milk and its impact on your health. Nut milks, like unsweetened almond milk, can be suitable alternatives for those with dairy intolerance. However, it's worth noting that these milk alternatives are highly processed despite their healthy image.

For individuals who tolerate dairy, whole cows milk remains a balanced option, providing protein, fat, and natural carbohydrates. On the other hand, oat milk, which has gained popularity, is high in carbohydrates. Drinking oat milk is akin to consuming a bowl of oats, and its high carbohydrate content can leave us feeling unsatisfied, as our brains don't register it as a substantial meal. Additionally, some oat milk products on the market contain added sugars, making them less healthy than they appear.

Yogurt is another topic of interest, and it's crucial to scrutinise the labels. Opt for unsweetened yogurts with low carbohydrate and sugar content. Some yogurt brands may claim to be healthy or natural but still contain high amounts of sugar, often disguised as ingredients like apple juice concentrate, which is a processed form of fructose.

Food Budgets

Many people express concerns about the cost of maintaining a healthy diet. While it's true that some healthier food options can be more expensive, it's essential to consider the long-term consequences of compromising on quality. Instead of solely focusing on the flashiest and trendiest health products, it's advisable to prioritise nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods.

Certain budget-friendly alternatives can help optimise health without breaking the bank. For instance, beef bones or beef shin bones are affordable options that can be slow-cooked and enjoyed as snacks, providing protein and other essential nutrients. Preparing meat at home rather than relying on processed deli meat is another cost-effective and healthier choice.

Marketing budgets play a significant role in shaping our food choices. Many products heavily marketed as healthy or packed with added nutrients may not always deliver as promised. Basic, unprocessed foods like eggs, steak, spinach, and mushrooms rarely require flashy labels and are often more nutrient-dense per cost. By focusing on these simpler options, we can make better budgetary decisions without compromising our health.

Delicious Dessert: Pizza, Donuts & Fries

Indulging in delicious treats like pizza, donuts, and fries is part of life, and it's essential not to beat ourselves up for enjoying these foods occasionally. However, it's crucial to understand how these choices can impact our bodies.

Pizza, for example, can lead to temporary weight gain due to the water-retention properties of grains. The body retains approximately four times its weight in water when processing grain-based foods, which might be reflected on the scale the next day. Moreover, the added salt in restaurant or fast-food versions of pizza can further contribute to water retention.

Some individuals may experience digestive issues or discomfort after consuming pizza or similar foods, especially if they have a slight gluten intolerance or are sensitive to certain ingredients. It's vital to listen to your body and recognise the effects different foods may have on your overall well-being.

The environment in which we consume these foods also plays a role in their impact on our bodies. When we eat in a relaxed setting, enjoying the moment and savouring the food, our bodies process it differently than when we eat under stress or feelings of guilt. Cortisol, the stress hormone, can interfere with digestion and fat metabolism. So, it's advisable to savour these treats in a relaxed atmosphere rather than hastily consuming them in a stressed state.


As we approach this Matariki weekend, a time for reflection and fresh starts in the New Zealand calendar, let's consider our health goals and make small changes that align with our priorities. Remember, healthy choices don't have to start on specific dates or follow strict rules. We can choose better at the next meal, focus on nutrient-dense foods, and create a balanced approach to intermittent fasting, milk choices, and food budgets. And when we indulge in delicious desserts, let's savour them in a relaxed environment. Wishing you a wonderful weekend filled with good food, family, and self-care.

Any questions on this topic, or if you would like to be a guest, please do let me know.

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