Corporate Health: Measurement and Tracking Weight Loss

Accurate measurement is important for your staff to understand their own bodies. And if they want to lose weight, keeping track of how they’re doing can offer continued motivation and can ensure that they’re doing it in a healthy, sustainable way.

This blog looks at different ways to measure weight loss, and the tools that you could suggest to your staff to help them.


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At Nudjed, we’re a bit wary of using BMI (Body Mass Index) to measure weight loss – it can be inaccurate, especially as it doesn’t account for the difference between muscle and fat. Why not suggest your staff measure weight loss using waist to height ratio instead? Here’s an explanation of why it’s great and how to measure it.


(MyFitnessPal)

Keeping track of the exercise they’re doing and the food they eat is a great way for your staff to stay focused on their weight loss goals. MyFitnessPal is a free app that tracks all of this and more – it even tracks different food groups, encouraging users to eat a healthy, balanced diet. No more cabbage soup!


(Lifehacker)

This great article from Lifehacker covers the issues many people face when trying to track weight loss, the best methods for dealing with those issues, and tips for staying motivated. Why not share it with your staff?


Nudjed Health Resources are collections of online content and tools that offer simple, low-cost ways to improve specific areas of health. To discover which areas of health are affecting productivity in your organisation, check out Nudjed Insights. 

Healthy Eating: It’s Your Time To Thrive

Susan Hay is the editor of Thrive Magazine. After a high-pressured career in the corporate world and her own challenging journey with food, she set up Thrive Magazine to help others learn about healthier options in eating and lifestyle. 

We asked Susan to share her thoughts on how to take the first steps to improving your health.

(Relished)


 

Being healthy can mean so many different things these days; having a healthy mind is just as important as being healthy and fit in body. In fact, I’m a firm believer that to have a healthy body you have to start with the mind.

It’s important to understand your own food journey and to get to grips with how you talk to yourself about food.

Our minds are unbelievably powerful and the thoughts we have day to day about food and our bodies have a direct impact on our health. That’s why it’s important to understand your own food journey and to get to grips with how you talk to yourself about food.

I don’t believe in using the words must, don’t or can’t when it comes to food – negative words and thoughts create negative feelings. If you have a negative relationship with food, you’ll always be battling against yourself.

Change the conversation around. When that little voice in your head says, “I want that cream cake but I’m not allowed it, it’s naughty,” change the dialogue and take back control. Switch it to, “I know I could have that right now, but I choose not to.”


 

Changing your health starts with small, achievable steps. That’s why diets don’t work – and if we’re honest, we all know it! As a society we’ve been dieting for centuries, and we’re now the most obese generation in recorded history – diets don’t work.

The key to change is to shrink your focus down. Have the main goal in mind, but concentrate on the small steps. We live in a society that can be overwhelming, and that constant feeling of bombardment makes us feel like things are impossible; and so we quit before we really try. The key to achieving your goal, whether it’s in health, fitness or even in business, is to shrink the focus down.

The key to achieving your goal is to shrink your focus down and concentrate on the small steps.

Be aware and mindful: the next small decision you make can take you a step towards what you want to achieve, or a step away.

And start eating. Yes, that’s right! The best way to ultimate health is to develop a healthy respect and excitement around food again. Food has the amazing ability to heal our bodies at a cellular level, and by choosing the right balance of healthy food types we can heal our cells, balance our hormones and nourish both our body and mind.


You can read more about eating for a healthy mind and body in Thrive Magazine, which is published quarterly both in print and online. Subscribe for £25 or buy single copies online here: www.thrive-magazine.co.uk

Thrive covers all aspects of health, nutrition and wellbeing. The perfect read if you’re on your own journey back to health!

Find more from Thrive on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

Get Inspired: From Health Warnings to Half Marathons

Sometimes, the biggest barriers to improving health are mental – lots of people feel like they’re just “not the sort of person” who goes to the gym, or eats salad, and so on.

Nudjed is on a mission to prove that anybody is capable of being as healthy as they want to be.

To inspire you, we’ve been following and supporting a group of runners as they train for the Cardiff Half Marathon. Below, two of our case studies talk about their experiences during training, their motivation for taking part, and the positive changes they’ve noticed since they committed to improving their health.


 

Alan

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Alan was diagnosed with diabetes 16 years ago. At the time he was overweight and self-conscious about his size, and his doctor told him that he needed to lose weight to avoid needing daily insulin injections.

I didn’t feel comfortable in going out [to run], the size I was, because I was 17 and a half stone at the time,” he told us. He started off by buying some exercise equipment for his home, gradually building up from walking short distances to running 5k over the space of six weeks.

“From there it was a case of, well, the nights are getting darker… I can probably let myself go out on the street once in a while now. The first time I did it I managed to do about 200 yards and it was like, ‘I’ve got to stop, I’m way out of breath.’ Running outside was totally different to being on the treadmill.”

Alan persevered, alternating between running and walking to build up his endurance, and began to see the resulting weight loss.

“I’ve lost around 3 stone 10 now, and it’s helped no end. It’s brought my sugars under control, and at my annual checkup with the doctor in June I found out that I’m a lot healthier overall. My cholesterol levels have never been better.”

Taking control of his health gave Alan the confidence to overcome other obstacles as they appeared.

“I was having some pain in my hips while running, and it turns out that I’d developed arthritis. So then it was a case of digging into the running world to find out how to cope with that – I had to change my stride pattern completely, but it’s gradually getting better. I’ve also taken up yoga, which has been really great for me. Since I started that, about 8 weeks ago, I’ve become a lot my flexible, especially in my hips – and the yoga stretches are great when I’m warming up or cooling down from a run.

My body has been getting stronger and more supportive – the more I do, the easier it gets. I did a 12 mile run on Sunday, and normally after that the backs of my legs and my quads are in agony, but this time I didn’t feel a thing!”

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Alan has gone from strength to strength since he started running, and has now completed races including the Newport Half Marathon and the Cardiff Bay 5 Mile Run. Through his running at these events, he’s raised over £500 for cancer and diabetes charities. And the health benefits aren’t the only positive outcomes – Alan says his friends, family and customers at work have all commented on how healthy he looks.

“My legs have gone from these things that looked like tree trunks to the point where I can see actual muscles! And I notice the little things, like having more energy to play football with my kids in the garden, where before I would need to stop for a breather every 10 minutes.

“My self-confidence has improved massively as well. Like I said, when I started I was too self-conscious to go out in public – now it doesn’t matter, I’ll stretch out in the front garden, I don’t care. Sometimes I do get heckled; the other day there was a group of kids shouting things, but I just turned to them and said, ‘Join me for 13 miles and then you can take the mickey.’ At the end of the day, I’m not doing this for anyone else, I’m doing it for me, and I don’t care what anyone says.”

Frances

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Most of us can probably relate to Frances – she’s always been conscious of her weight, and has struggled to avoid the temptation of overeating and drinking too much. Although she knew she should be eating more healthily, and tried hard during the week, she found herself spending weekends in front of the TV with wine and snacks. After having her third child, she decided she was fed up with the constant cycle of losing and gaining weight. Her fitness journey started with a classic New Year’s Resolution, and she signed up for the Pontypool Home Run 10k in February to motivate her to stick with it.

“I just started like you do every year, cutting out all the bad stuff, but I wasn’t really getting anywhere…I thought there was no way I was going to be able to do the 10k. I nearly didn’t do it by my husband said, ‘Come on, it doesn’t matter if you walk it or run it, let’s just do it.’ I was really nervous and anxious but I did it, and I actually did run all the way around – really slowly! There was a photographer, and seeing the pictures of myself I thought I looked huge; so the confidence boost from finishing the race, and the feeling that I wanted to look better, both motivated me to keep going.

Frances says that although running wasn’t something she found easy, it gave her a massive sense of accomplishment.

“It was really hard, and lots of times I felt like, ‘I want to stop now.’ But I feel so proud that I’ve stuck with it. Other runners are really friendly as well, they always say hi! Everyone’s on that same journey of trying to get better.”

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Alongside taking up running, Frances has been focusing on eating better and says that having a good diet has helped her both physically and mentally.

“I’m definitely on more of an even keel,” she tells us. “I’ve cut down on sugar, and it’s really helped my mood…I feel like a different person. I used to constantly be thinking, ‘What can I eat?’ Now I don’t really get cravings, just that genuine stomach rumbling when I’m really hungry, and then I know I actually need to eat. It feels good to know you’re being good to yourself – and now I can drink a glass of wine without feeling horribly guilty. I definitely think these are going to be permanent changes, because they’ve improved my life so much.”

Frances has now completed races including the Caerphilly 10k and the Bournemouth quarter marathon, and achieved her Personal Best time in the Blaenavon 10k recently.

“I did 10 miles the other day and it just feels like it’s actually doable now. When I finish a race, it feels so good. When I did the first one earlier this year, my husband was at the finish line and he ran towards me and I was actually crying – I felt like a bit of an idiot, but it was emotional.”


Frances and Alan are proof that anyone can improve their health – start by making some small changes, and figure out what works for you. The benefits you’ll gain are well worth it!

 

Change your cooking oil, change your life

Our friend, Chris Maddison at N Nutrition, wrote a wonderful article recently about cooking oils and we wanted to share the gist of it.


We all use oils to cook with, but how much do you know about yours?

Cooking with oil involves heating it to a very high temperature (180-230°C), at these temperatures, different oils behave in different ways.

Vegetable oils, some nut oils and seed oils produce a nasty compound called HNE when they are heated (anything much above 180°C). Oils have long been marketed on ‘smoke point’, which is not very informative nutritionally speaking, it just tells you when black smoke will begin billowing from your pan.


To improve the nutrition profile of your cooking oil, you need to forget about “Smoke Point”


There are some oils which behave rather better and don’t produce high amounts of HNE, these include:

  • coconut oil
  • avocado oil
  • light olive oil
  • butter (or ghee).

These oils contain more nutrients, and don’t produce HNE, but they are often more saturated so be sparing in their use.

Make sure you make the best choice of oil depending on what you are using it for.

Why should I choose unsaturated fats over saturated fats?

Fats are made up of groups of three fatty acids.


Each of those fatty acids is made up of a chain of molecules, just like carbs.

There are:

  • short chains (0-6)
  • medium chains (6-12)
  • long chains (13-21)
  • and very long chains (22+).

Three of these chains, attached to a glycerol, makes a fat.


The arrangement of molecules within each chain determines how saturated the fat is.

If there is a double bond in the arrangement then the fat is un-saturated.

The number of double bonds determines whether it is mono-unsaturated (1) or poly-unsaturated (2+), no double bonds and you’ve got a saturated fat.


What difference does it make if I choose a saturated fat over an un-saturated fat?

So let’s say we have the choice of two different fats for breakfast, sausage (high in saturated) or avocado (high in unsaturated).

It’s the world cup of fat, Sausage vs. Avocado.

  1. On first impressions, there is no difference, they all go down the same way and are broken up into fatty acids. They both contain 9 calories per gram. 0-0
  2. Whilst they can all be used for storage and energy, the avocado contains some essential fatty acids. 1-0 to avocado on quality of fatty acids.
  3. The sausage fat is associated with an increase in LDL and vLDL cholesterol, which are the types which carry fatty acids out into the bloodstream. On the other side, the avocado may increase HDL, which mops up excess fatty acids from around the body and bring them back to the liver to be disposed of. 2-0 to avocado for promoting a better HDL-LDL balance.
  4. High levels of circulating fat and high levels of LDL’s are associated with a higher risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and some cancers. In particular, LDL’s and circulating fatty acids are found in atherosclerotic plaques which block the blood vessels. 3-0 to avocado for potentially reducing the risk of cardiac events.
  5. Fats from fish, shellfish and plants (like avocado) contain more vitamins and minerals than the sausage. These help to fight against disease, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. 4-0 to avocado for providing more additional nutrients.
  6. New research shows that foods high in essential fatty acids are associated with better brain function and a reduction in the risk of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Can’t get that benefit from a sausage! 5-0.
  7. Unsaturated fats like those from the avocado are consumed in high amounts throughout the Mediterranean (Spain, Italy, Greece) where the average life expectancy is the longest in Europe, and almost the world (82-83 years). Countries consuming high amounts of saturated fat like the USA have a much lower average life expectancy (78 years). 6-0.

Final Score: Sausage 0 vs. 6 Avocado – I know which one I would go for.

Vitamins – How to eat them and what they do

Vitamins are classed as micronutrients. This is because we require smaller amounts of them than any of the macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, protein). However, they are no less essential! Ignoring any one of them would eventually lead to very serious health issues.


Vitamins are divided into two main categories according to how the body absorbs them; fat soluble, and water soluble.

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Water Soluble Vitamins

Water soluble vitamins are absorbed using water, with excess amounts being passed out when you pee. Water soluble vitamins are not stored, you must consume them every day.

The water soluble vitamins are:


Vitamin C – Ascorbic acid/Ascorbate

  • Essential for: Immune system, absorption of iron, antioxidant defences.
  • Good sources: Chilli peppers, bell peppers, citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, parsley, broccoli.
  • Deficiencies: Low immune system, scurvy (yes, like a pirate).

B Vitamins – Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxine, Biotin, folate/folic acid, B12

  • Essential for: Normal cell metabolism, huge number of essential processes.
  • Good sources: Wholegrains, lentils, beans, potatoes (skin on), chilli peppers, bananas.
  • Deficiencies: Metabolic disorders and, Beriberi (B1), ariboflavinosis (B2), pellagra (B3), acne (B5), microcytic anaemia (B6, B9, B12) and depression (B6), impaired growth in infants (B7), neural tube defects in babies, brain ageing (B9), peripheral neuropathy, memory loss, brain decline (B12)

Fat Soluble Vitamins

As you’d expect, Fat soluble vitamins need fat in the diet in order to be absorbed. So it’s worth taking them into account before removing too much fat from your diet.

The fat soluble vitamins are:


Vitamin A – Retinol

  • Essential for: Eye health/vision and a healthy immune system.
  • Good sources: cod liver oil, meats (especially turkey and liver), sweet potato, carrots, butter, kale, spinach.
  • Deficiencies: Poor vision, low immune response, blindness.

Vitamin D Cholecalciferol/ergocalciferol

  • Essential for: Absorption of minerals (especially calcium), and bone formation.
  • Good sources: Sunlight, mushrooms, fish, fortified cereals.
  • Deficiencies: Rickets, Osteoporosis.

Vitamin E Tocopherol/tocotrienol

  • Essential for: antioxidant defences, cell signalling
  • Good sources: Seed oils, avocado, broccoli, seeds, nuts, nut oils.
  • Deficiencies: Neurological problems

Vitamin K – Phylloquinone

  • Essential for: Blood coagulation.
  • Good sources: Kale, broccoli, cavolo nero, spinach, chard greens, brussel Sprouts.
  • Deficiencies: Anaemia, bleeding gums, linked to Heart Disease and Osteoporosis

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Blood sugar – How to manage your energy levels

The glucose in your blood is generally referred to as your ‘blood sugar’ level. Diabetics have to pay close attention to it, but understanding how it works will help anyone to regulate their energy levels better.


So how do you get sugar into your blood?

Glucose is a form of sugar that your body can rapidly turn into energy when it needs to. Carbohydrates from your food are all broken down into glucose during digestion before being used immediately, or stored away for later.

Glucose is generally stored as a complex carbohydrate called ‘glycogen’ in either the liver, or the muscle. For instance, if you start running, the glycogen is converted into glucose in your leg muscles. This in turn converts into energy, powering your legs.

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The body keeps an emergency level of glucose in the blood at all times, just in case it is needed in a hurry. Generally this is for your brain, which needs energy from glucose to work effectively (most people who start starving, make worse decisions due to the drop in blood sugar).


Managing your blood sugar to be healthy

Blood glucose goes up when we eat, and down again as it is stored or used. It is regulated by two hormones called insulin and glucagon.

Insulin helps to take glucose out of the blood, glucagon helps to put it back in again. It’s this regulation of blood-sugar that diabetics struggle with. They have a problem with their production or use of insulin and have inject it should their blood sugar rise too much.

Stored glycogen can only fuel your body for approx. 12 hours (or less if you’re very active). After it runs out, the body will start searching for other stored energies, i.e. fat. So if you’re looking to lose body fat, it’s important that you maintain enough blood sugar for your brain to work, but not so much that you don’t ever get to burn off your body fat.

Three good tactics to do this are:

  • Don’t binge on sugary snacks, swap to fruit, spread your consumption out to flatten the energy curve.
  • Pick slow release energy sources. Complex carbs like wholemeal bread have a lower Glycemic Index.
  • Don’t starve yourself. You’ll find you make worse decisions, that leave your brain craving fast release energy.

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Blood sugar can have a major impact on how you feel ‘in the moment’ as well as being a good way to manage your body fat for the whole of your life. Pay attention to the tips above and you won’t go far wrong.

Unsaturated – The better kind of fat!

Unsaturated fats are the healthiest type of fat you can consume and should form part of ANY balanced diet. Whether you’re looking to lose weight or not.


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The science of Unsaturated Fat

Fats are made up of fatty acids. They chain together to form different types of fats. Within the chain, there are different arrangements called bonds.

  • If a chain contains a double-bond then it is a mono-unsaturated fat.
  • If it contains more than one double bond it is a poly-unsaturated fat.
  • If it contains no double bonds at all then it is a saturated fat.

So what does Unsaturated Fat mean to me?

On packaging labels fats are divided into their different types. Unsaturated fats are divided into monounsaturates and polyunsaturates. The more saturated a fat is, the harder it is for the body to chop up and use. Saturated fats promote the formation of LDL (or bad) cholesterol. Whilst Unsaturated fats HDL (good) cholesterol.

“The more saturated a fat is, the harder it is for the body to chop up and use…”

Most vegetable oils are mono-unsaturated, whilst most seeds, seed oils and fruits (like avocado) contain poly-unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats also contain the essential fatty acids, which are essential (it’s in the name!) for your health.

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The bottom line – Pick poly-unsaturated fats and reduce you saturated fat intake, if you can. This will help keep you healthy and reduce your risks of Heart Disease and other related conditions.

Why high fat food is not a bad thing

Fats have acquired a bad reputation over the last few decades. But they are an essential part of any healthy balanced diet.


Fat contains 9 calories per gram, which is more than carbs (4), protein (4) and alcohol (7). This has contributed to their reputation as a ‘bad’ component of food. Which is not entirely true…


The Benefits of Fat

All fats provide insulation, help us absorb vitamins (A,D,E & K) and store energy. But some also provide essential fatty acids.

“Even saturated fat has more nutritional benefit than simple carbs.”

Though cutting fat out of your diet can reduce the number of calories you’re digesting, swapping out simple carbohydrates (like white bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and any refined sugars) could be a better option. Sugar and other simple carbohydrates, provide none of the. Even saturated fat has more nutritional benefit than simple carbs.


So why has Fat got a bad reputation?

The main reason that fats have had a bad reputation has nothing to do with the fat itself, but more our choice of where that fat comes from.

Since the invention of modern agriculture, we have started to eat more and more animals based foods. Animal products contain more saturated fats (because they are stored in the animal) and less unsaturated fats than our diet before this.


Limit Your Saturated Fat

Saturated fats are created in animals for long term storage. Eating a lot of saturated fat can increase the LDL (not so good) cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.

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Plants on the other hand, don’t need to store fats. When we eat plants we get the benefit of their unsaturated fats which are more useful to us. The same goes for fish, who also provide us with healthy fats.

The bottom line – pay attention to where your fat comes from. For a simple way to reduce saturated fat intake… Swap meat and dairy products for fish, olive oil, seeds, nuts and avocado and get all the benefits of fat, without the down side.

Fats – there’s more than one kind

Fats are an energy dense macronutrient and a source of the essential fatty acids. They can come from animals or plants and are used by your body as fuel for low intensity activities and storage.


Fats are made out of fatty acids, in the same way that carbs are chains of sugars, and proteins are chains of amino acids. You should probably include about 70g (for women) and 90g (for men) of fat in your diet. Ideally, you should get it from a range of sources. Fats are also important for insulation, absorbing some vitamins (A,D,E & K) and for healthy hair and skin.

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There are several types of fats, and not all are created equal:

  • Saturated fat – Usually from animals, limit your intake of this.
  • Mono-unsaturated fat – Usually from nuts, olives, avocado, some dairy, eat more of this
  • Poly-unsaturated fat – Usually from fish, particularly mackerel, herring, salmon, trout, and seeds, eat more of this
  • Trans-fat – A fat produced during processing that often turns up in fried foods and ready meals, avoid like the plague

The science behind fats

Fats are organised in groups of three fatty acids and one glycerol, called triglycerides. A triglyceride is made up of any three fatty acids in any order. The order determines what sort of fat it is. Each fatty acid looks different, and has different properties. Such as how many essential fatty acids it provides, and how saturated it is.


The bottom line on fats

To understand the fat content of foods you have to read the label. The traffic light system on the front of most packaging will tell you if a food is high in fat, but it’s worth checking the level of saturates and trans-fats present too. As they will impact upon your health.