I approached the subject of calories recently with a client and the reaction I got boarded on tears. The problem being that the word calorie is bandied around so often that everyone has heard it, but the reality is how many of us really understand it? If you are guilty of quietly smiling and nodding through a calorie centered discussion in the hope that no one will ask your opinion, read on, below is a simple explanation.

Calories are a unit of measure used to gage the energy that our body uses for fuel. Our bodies are a furnace which burns calories all the time, even when we are sleeping. Calories power our bodies processes such as; breathing, digestion, movement and just about anything else you can think of.

Calories come from macronutrients found in the food and beverages which we consume. Macronutrients are; carbohydrate, protein and fats. There are many theories on what the ideal amount of calories per macronutrient is optimal, depending on the latest research or fad diet, finding a balance is the key.


Where to find it


Grains such as bread, cereal, rice, pasta, Vegetables and Fruits


Low fat dairy, Nuts, Seeds, Oils, Avocados, Olives, Fatty Fish


Meat, Poultry, Fish, Cheese, Milk, Nuts and Legumes
The body uses calories from macronutrients differently i.e. calories from carbohydrate are used by the body primarily for energy, calories from protein are used for growth and tissue repair, and calories from fat are essential for cell, nerve tissue and  hormone production.

How many calories your body needs is determined by your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) x Activity Level.

If you consume more than your BMR x Activity then the result is weight loss, should you consume more than your BMR x Activity then it would stand to reason that your weight will increase.

Formula for calculating BMR

Women = 655 + (4.35 x weight (lbs)) + (4.7 x height (inches) – (4.7 x age (years)

Men = 66 + (6.23 x weight (lbs)) + (12.7 x height (inches) – (6.8 x age (years)

Formula for calculating your Activity Level

Sedentary = little to no exercise 1.2

Lightly Active = Light exercise on 1 – 3 days per week 1.375

Moderately Active = Moderate intensity exercise on 3 – 5 days per week 1.55

Very Active = High intensity exercise 6 -7 days of exercise per week 1.725

Extremely Active = A very physical job + high intensity exercise 7 days per week 1.9


Hopefully this sheds a little light on what a calorie is by definition.

For those of you who have reached for the calculator to tally up how many calories you should be consuming please remember that this is only a base figure, other factors may play a role in your ability to lose \ gain weight.

For further information contact your local GP, health advisor or fitness professional.


Happy Training,


Celebrations call for food, and lots of it, especially in the form of a pot luck or buffet style meal. Whilst this is a great solution to ease the stress on the wallet it can have quite the opposite effect on the belt buckle. Sometimes will power is not enough to avoid the dessert table 6 times, a solid plan needs to be put in place before hand.

Below are some tips to help you avoid the buffet binge;

Vegetables First

Start the loading process with as many vegetables as possible. Aim to fill your plate with at least ½ vegetables and green salads. Note to self; yes potato is a vegetable, but NO, potato bake is not the type of vegetable salad I am referring to, neither is the creamy pasta salad, regardless of the amount parsley in it which gives it some form of greenery. Aim for salads with no potato, rice or pasta. This is a great starting point. Now you have a ¼ of your plate left for the complex carbohydrate of your choice (potato, pumpkin, kumera, pasta or rice) and a ¼ of the plate for meat or protein.

1 Trip

Apply the 1 Rule. That is, 1 trip to the mains table and 1 trip to the dessert table only. There is no need for a second round to see if you missed anything the first time. Chances are you did miss it, but there is an even greater chance that you don’t need it, that is unless your planning on running 10km that afternoon to burn it off. Don’t torture yourself by returning to the buffet.

Hit It and Run

Hit the food bar and run, to a seat as far away as possible, with your back to the food serving area is an even better idea. Take with you a group of friends who eat extremely healthy. By surrounding yourself with people eating healthy you will remove the visual cues for junk food. With some distance created between you and the food bar temptation is now lessened by distance.

Celebrations almost always revolve around food, this relates back to the cave man days when there was such a small amount of food available, luckily these days we do not have that problem. Try and focus on the main reason you are at the event, to celebrate something special i.e. a marriage, a birthday an anniversary or some colossal achievement. Socialise, mingle and leave feeling much lighter by not doing 5 rounds with the buffet table.

Happy Training


Last week’s article touched on the process of reading nutritional labels on packaged food products. With any luck this kept you busy in Foodies this week. Hopefully you are feeling a little more confident in examining the sugar content of food. This week’s article takes a look at the fat content as labeled on food products. I will use the same label as last week to make things a little easier.

Step 1. Find the section of the food label titled Fat, Total. Under this will appear a breakdown of the sorts of fat that the total fat content is made of (not all fats are created equal). Below is a brief description of each sort of fat.

  1. Saturated – from a health perspective these are the fats to consume least of as they are the main cause of high cholesterol and heart disease. Saturated fats are found in animal products, including meat and dairy, and certain plant oils such as palm, palm kernel and coconut oils.
  2. Trans – these are man-made “hydrogenated” oils which are often used in fast foods and can be found in solid oils such as margarine. Due to the artificial nature of these fats they are best avoided altogether.
  3. Polyunsaturated – Often referred to as a ‘good fat’ or ‘unsaturated fat’ polyunsaturated fats have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower instance of heart attack. You can find polyunsaturated fats in nuts, seeds, fish, algae, and other leafy greens. For health benefits always select whole food sources, as processing and heating may damage these types of fats.
  4. Monounsaturated – Another one of the ‘good fats’ monounsaturated fat, like polyunsaturated fat can help lower total blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. Found in natural foods such as red meat, whole milk products, nuts, olives and avocadosOlive oil is contains around 75% monounsaturated fat, and canola oil approximately 58%. Other sources of monounsaturated fat include macadamia nut oilgrape seed oil, peanut oil, sesame oil,  popcornwhole grain wheatcerealoatmeal, safflower oilalmond oilsunflower oil, and avocado oil.


So how do you apply the above information when reading nutritional labels on food products?

With the exception of vegetarians, most modern diets contain a high amount of meat and dairy products, all of which contain high amounts of saturated fat. Therefore the consumption of saturated fats from other food items needs to be kept minimal to ensure good health.

For label reading ease we are just going to look at the 2 rows labeled Saturated fat and Trans fat. When purchasing products try and limit the saturated fat content to less than 6 grams per 100 grams. Try and avoid Trans fats altogether, but if unavoidable keep to an absolute minimum.

If Trans fats are not listed on your packaged item, don’t worry that Is probably a good sign there are none lurking anywhere.

Happy Training,



In any industry there are certain things you have to know in order to do your job, some of these are trade secrets, some, the whole world knows about. In the fitness industry there are too many trade secrets in my book. Things that we as fitness professionals know should be readily available to the public, but often it is a case of knowing where to look. Food labels are a great example. I had always assumed that knowing how to read the nutrition information on the back of a package would be common knowledge, however, it has come to my attention that there are many people who have never been taught how to do this, regardless of the number of diets they have been on. With this in mind I thought would share with you some basics of label reading –

For those food label novices any item of packaged food, be it in a tin, plastic wrapper, jar, container, can, you name it, should carry a food label advising of its contents, and the calorie breakdown. Most brands place this on the back of the packet so as not to interfere with their branding. Note – this does not include home made products.

Step 1. Check the ingredients. Is there anything on the list you are allergic to? Good examples are eggs, nuts, milk and other dairy products, artificial sugar, and some preservatives. On the label shown there is a section titled Allergen Advice however this is not standard. Often food manufacturers sneak in a May contain traces of… and that is it. If you have food allergies always read this part of the packing.

Step 2. At the top of the Nutrition Information table is information regarding the number of servings per pack and the serving size. In the example below there are 4 serves. I always advice my clients to stick to the serving size, there is a reason the portion is that small, and it not just for entertainment at how small most portions really are.

Step 3. Now that you know how big a portion size is you can refrain from eating the entire packet, but more importantly you will notice in the table below that the break-down of food is done in one column per serving and in the second column per 100gm. When analyzing the nutritional value of food always read per 100gm, it is the only way to compare products as serving sizes will vary between brands.

Step 4. Refer to the section of the label which says Carbohydrates, under this is the word Sugars. Go to the 100gm column and analyse how much of the product you are consuming is made up of sugar, in particular man made sugar. In this example it is 0.3gm per 100gm, which is a low sugar content. I advise my clients where possible to limit their sugar intake from processed foods to less than 10% or 10gm per 100gm. This can be hard in items where the main ingredient is fruit, as this is a natural sugar, however, in items that do not contain fruit this rule should be applied.

I am going to leave you this week with the 4 things listed above, that will keep you busy enough in the supermarket, next week we will tackle fat and other items on the list. If in the meantime you have any queries please feel free to email me.

Happy Training,



Its winter and if you feel like curling up on the couch with your favourite piping hot bowl of comfort food, you are not alone. The average person gains 2.5 – 4.5 kilos over the winter months as a direct result of overeating and under training. There are many theories as to why we overeat during the colder months, below are some common theories and how to put some strategies in place to prevent too many unwanted rolls taking up residence on your waistline over the cooler months.

  1. S.A.D

SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a depression associated with a change in season. In most cases this occurs during the winter months, but in some cases it is evident over summer. Also known as the winter blues this can cause cravings for calorie dense foods in large quantities. Studies suggest that these foods can cause a feeling of contentment and happiness. In order to prevent overeating and weight gain, portion control all meals, incorporate good healthy fats such as fish into your diet and swap white products with little nutritional value such as potato, bread, pasta, rice for their more beneficial counterparts kumera, brown rice and wholemeal pastas and breads.

  1. Biology

Probably the most common theory as to why we overeat and weight gain during winter is our biological make up that triggers our primitive impulses to stockpile for the winter months ahead. In previous times scarcity of food over the colder months meant that this was a necessity to survive. These days modern day manufacturing processes means that there is very rarely any reason to go without, however, centuries of habits are hard to break. Review your portion size, continue to exercise and incorporate a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet to keep weight gain to a minimum.

  1. Traditional Winter Food

Seasonal vegetables available over the winter months are naturally higher in calories and starch, think potato, kumera, pumpkin and other root vegetables. Then there is the way in which we prepare food in winter. During the summer months most of us are happy with raw vegetables and a little grilled meat, in winter we like a cooked meal that is warm. Winter treats include roast dinners with a decent serving of gravy, casseroles (full of sauces), pasta dishes, and one pot meals bulked with startchy vegetables. If you feel like something warm opt for soup and skip the bread. Most soups have ample quantities of carbohydrate to keep your body fuelled, especially during the winter months when it is unlikely you are going to exercise outdoors.

You do not need to put on a couple of extra kilos just because of the change of season. With a little planning you can still enjoy some winter warmers and keep your body in Spring condition.

Happy Training


A week late but finally here, I apologise for the delay I jumped a plane last week for a weekend getaway to escape the chaos, torrential rain, and cold for some much needed sunshine in Brisbane. A quick trip, but well worth it. However, back to the topic at hand – cholesterol. There are some things which may lead to high cholesterol which are beyond your ability to control, these are;

  • Your age (45 years or older for men, 55 years or older for woman)
  • Genetics (a family history of heart disease)

There are also those things that are within your means to control. Consider making some healthy lifestyle changes in order to reduce your likelihood of developing high cholesterol.

  1. Reduce your saturated fat intake.

Your total fat intake on a daily basis should equate to no more than 20 – 25% of your daily caloric intake. Of this your saturated fat should make up less than 5 – 7% of your total. Some ways to reduce your saturated fat intake include;

  • Swap high fat dairy products for low fat options
  • Remove the skin and \ or fat from meat before eating
  • Cook meat by grilling, steaming or using a non stick pan
  • Swap high fat meats for their leaner version
  1. Exercise

Exercise has favorable effects on most aspects of your life, especially in maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol and blood pressure. If you haven’t already introduced moderate exercise into your lifestyle now is a great time to do this to prevent cholesterol issues. Most studies on the benefits of exercise as related to cholesterol refer to cardiovascular exercise, or anything which elevates your heart rate. Think tennis, cycling, squash, swimming, golf, walking, kayaking, jogging, surfing, karate, aerobics classes, and many more. Start with 30 minutes of aerobic activity on 4 out of 7 days to maintain a healthy heart and healthy cholesterol levels

  1. Maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight range, and optimal body fat for your height, age and gender will increase the efficiency of bodily functions, and reduce the amount of stress placed on your body as it performs its day to day activities. In order to maintain a healthy weight incorporate a healthy diet which is low in fat and high in fibre with at least 4 days exercise. If you are unsure of what a healthy weight range is consult your doctor.

Some risk factors for high cholesterol are beyond our control however, you don’t need to let these factors stop you from putting strategies in place to control those items which you do have some say over.

Happy Training,


three things you can do to prevent quitting this week

I posted a quote on the Form Health Facebook page this morning “If you are tired of starting over, then stop giving up”. No truer words were spoken. How many times have you started a journey only to find the going gets tough, other things take priority and you quit? Before you know it, well it’s Monday again and you are starting all over on your health and fitness resolutions.

For some reason we have this insane belief that a significant lifestyle change is going to be easy. The truth of the matter is that it is going to be hard work, but on the flip side it is going to be worth it.

Below are three things you can do to prevent quitting this week;

  1. Adjust Your Attitude

Anything worth doing takes time and effort, stop expecting it to be easy. When starting a new exercise routine chances are the first week or two you are going to be tired, and a little bit tender in places you never knew existed, but guess what, so is everybody else. Suck it up and keep going, this will phase will pass, however, in order to get to the next phase you need to give your body time to adjust to the new load.

  1. Plan Ahead

Another great quote – “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail”. Plan your meals ahead of time so that you are not tempted by the snack box. Plan the times that you have available in the next week to do your workouts, then schedule them in just as you would a hairdressing appointment or dinner with friends, that way you will be less likely to run out of time to fit them in, or be thrown by an unexpected event.

  1. No Excuses

If you look for an excuse not to exercise you will find one; I don’t have enough time, it’s cold, its dark, it’s raining, I can’t afford a gym membership, etc… All of these excuses add up to you giving yourself an out. Make this the week to say NO EXCUSES, get on your bike and get moving. You may be surprised to learn that walking \ running cycling in the rain won’t actually kill you.

There are always plenty of reasons not to work out and eat healthy. On the other side of the coin there are many more reasons why you should make it a priority.

Happy Training


Le Webb Director \ Trainer Form Health and Body Management formhbm@gmail.com, 0064 21 543 804