Pasta VS Rice

Last week 7 news showcased a study completed which determined pasta is better than rice; and you know what, they actually have it right for once!

There are a few reasons as to why which I will discuss below.

  1. Lower carbohydrate content per gram weight.

100g of cooked White rice contains 36g of carbohydrate and pasta contains only 25g, which is less than two slices of bread or equivalent to an extra large banana

  1. Wholemeal pasta is higher in protein and full of vitamins and minerals:

Pasta wholemeal

  • 6% Iron (helps to promote red blood cell formation)
  • 15% zinc (increases energy levels, immune system, growth and development)
  • 10% phosphorus (assists with muscle mass growth and repair)
  • 23% of RDI of Vitamin B (increase energy levels)
  • 3% of required iodine (works on increasing your metabolism)

Brown Rice

  • 6% Iron
  • 12% zinc,
  • 9% phosphorus,
  • 15% of RDI of Vitamin B to increase energy levels,
  • 2% of required iodine content to speed up your metabolism.

White Rice

Has around 5% or less of any nutrient!!! AVOID white rice unless there is no other option.

One stand out style type of rice is doongara rice. It comes in both a white and brown rice version. It is packed full of protein and has a higher iron, zinc and phosphorus count than brown rice. So again nutrient wise, if looking for a good quality rice; doongara is the way to go.

  1. Pasta doesn’t create insulin spikes. It keeps your energy levels stable.

Pasta is a low GI food, which basically means the carbohydrate is broken down slowly within the blood stream. The slower the break down the more sustained our energy levels are. White and Brown rice are high GI foods; which means the carbohydrate will be broken down quickly and around 45minutes to an hour later you will be left feeling tired, lethargic, or even looking for more food or coffee.

The only type rice that does not provide an energy spike and drop is doongara rice, again the one packed full of vitamins and minerals J It is a low GI rice and will keep your energy levels stable and prevent cravings! Basmati rice is a close second so if you cannot find the doongara rice, ensure you pick basmati!

However if you are thinking, well Amie, I feel more tired after eating pasta or I find it makes me gain weight, have a think about your portion size? One serve size of pasta equates to around 2/3 C, which is amount smaller than your fist. How often are we served a such a small portion size? The same goes if you feel pasta leads to weight gain – how much are you consuming? Are you actually measuring out one serve? Test it out for a meal and see what happens?

Cons – only one???

The most significant issue I find with pasta  is a number of people are Coeliac (allergic to gluten) or intolerant to wheat.
If you are, then YES choose doongara rice or basmati rice. Otherwise pasta is definitely the better choice. Just remember, be careful of your portion size!

Happy Eating!

Veggie Patties

 1 carrot, peeled

 1⁄2 medium onion

 3 garlic cloves

 2 cups cooked green or brown lentils

 1⁄2 cup cooked chickpeas

 2 large eggs

 1⁄2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

 Handful fresh coriander, optional

 1 teaspoon chili powder

 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

 1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce, sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)

 1⁄2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 *Oat flour (can be easily made from oats, see step 1) or flour of choice, for dusting

 High quality vegetable oil or extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan

  1. *Before you get started, will you need oat flour? If so, blend up some oats in your food processor using the S-blade. Blend until the oats have a fine, flour-like texture. Transfer the oats to a bowl for later.
  1. To make the burgers: Grate the carrot and transfer to a bowl for now.
  2. Cut the halved onion into a few slices before adding the onion and garlic cloves to the food processor. Pulse until the onions are roughly chopped, but no more
  3. Add to the food processor: towel-dried lentils and chickpeas, eggs, oats, handful of herbs (optional), all of the spices, salt and black pepper. Process only until the mixture has the consistency of a chunky hummus (err on the conservative side here). Stir in the grated carrot.
  1. To prepare the burgers: Divide the lentil mixture into 6 portions and shape them into patties about 1-inch thick (if your mixture is unmanageably wet, stir in a couple tablespoons of oat flour first). Dust the patties lightly with flour on both sides.
  1. To cook the burgers: Heat a thin layer of oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, cook the veggie burgers in batches. Cook until the burgers are crispy on the bottoms and the mixture holds together, about 41⁄2 to 5 minutes. Flip the burgers carefully with a spatula and continue cooking until the second sides are firm and brown, about 41⁄2 to 5 more minutes. Transfer the burgers to a plate, then add more oil to the pan and repeat with the remaining burgers until they are all cooked through.

Serve with salad or a couple vegies. If you want carbs with it, ensure you are eating the right ones at the right time of day with this meal. I have served mine with portebello mushrooms or even chunk pieces of sweet potato.

Oats – Winter warmer

My favourite oats recipe which is nice and simple for a non training meal.

1/3 C of raw oats
1/2 C of low fat milk  (lactose free in intolerant) (allergies – can use unsweetened almond milk or almond and coconut milk)
1 tsp of honey or 1/2 C of berries or 2 tsp of sultanas
1/2 scoop of protein powder

Place the oats and milk in a medium sized bowl and cook for 2 minutes.

Stir and  add in sultanas/honey if chosen sweetener and cook for another 30 seconds.

Add in the protein powder or berries and cook for another 30 seconds.

Feel free to add an extra splash of milk to make it slightly runnier if desired.

If you are a male and the meal isn’t quite enough, increase to 1/2 C of raw oats and 2/3 C of low fat milk.




Fuelling an Elite Athlete

Last week, Brent Fikowski – Crossfit Athlete won the West Regional and is now training to compete at the Crossfit Games in Carson in July!! I have worked with Brent for the last 3 and a half years and what a journey it has been tweaking his meal plan to ensure he is recovering from training, maintaining a good body weight and low body fat percentage in order to train at 100%. This year all his hard work paid off and I am looking forward to seeing this amazing athlete compete to his full potential at the Games!!

So what does it take to fuel this athlete??

On a general training day, Brent consumes between 4100-4400 calories, 220g of protein, 190g of fat and around 350g of carbs. The carbohydrates increase/decrease according to his training day. Additionally, because Brent can eat so much food to maintain his body fat, all his vitamins and mineral targets are easily met!

His daily diet consists of oats, eggs, vegies, fruit, mixed nuts, organ meats, bone broth, dairy and rice, along with his current supplements.

For Regionals the macronutrient break down was completely different!

Brent consumed between 5000 -5200 calories each day to fuel his way to a win. He consumed approximately 265g of protein, 125g of fat and 655g of carbohydrates! His Carbohydrate content significantly increased to ensure he was properly fuelled for every workout. It was quite low fat to prevent any delay in digestion of any protein or carbs and ensuring his recovery was perfect.

So what did Brent’s Regionals Nutrition Plan look like?

Breakfast every day was – 3/4 C of oats with a piece of fruit + 3 eggs, a slice of lean bacon and some vegies

Morning tea – fruit and 3/4 Cup trail mix
Both breakfast and morning tea has a good portion of carbs, protein and fat.

Pre Event meals: 1/2 C of muesli (oats, sultanas, dates, coconut), 200g of plain greek yoghurt + 1 tb of honey

Post Event meals: Protein/Carb shake, banana, 3-4 dried dates and then half an hour to 45 minutes later – 200g of chicken breast, 1 -1.5C of cooked white rice + 1 C of vege

Both the Pre/Post event meals – moderate protein and very high in carbohydrates to ensure recovery!!

Dinner – was either 200g salmon or chicken + 1 C of rice and sweet potato + as many vegies as desired.

Before bed to ensure Brent’s Glycogen stores were topped up and to assist with recovery he had:
1/2 C of oats with honey (Refuel glycogen stores) and 100g of quark or cottage cheese (casein protein assists with muscle recovery over night)

A couple other extras that I found worked really well was Brent had a carbohydrate and caffeine gel prior to a couple events, which really helped push him over to compete at his full capacity.

This competition plan has stayed pretty similar over the last 2 years for any major competitions for Brent. The break down of meals pre and post change depending on how intense, long or make up of the workout. The above plan is not exact for each day but is quite similar.

The same goes for a normal training day – this type of training is varied, and as a result so should his nutrition. Longer workouts require more carbs, shorter more intense ones require less again it changes depending upon strength days. Tailoring your nutrition around your workouts will ensure proper recovery, good energy levels and less body fat gain.

Never underestimate the necessity of a well fuelled diet plan to see great results!! Bring on CARSON!!

If you want to ensure you are fuelled well for training and competition, contact me at or on 0413 684 215



Speed Up Your Metabolism with your Circadian Rhythm

Our Circadian Rhythm is our body clock and is affected by environmental cues such as the rising and setting of the sun. Our circadian rhythm is critical for the keeping our metabolism regular and our energy levels high. Why is this so important? Because the faster the metabolism is, the greater fat loss will be. There is emerging evidence suggesting that if our circadian rhythm is constantly disrupted, it can increase the chances of cardiovascular events, and obesity.

So what affects our circadian rhythm for us to see such adverse reactions??

  1. Eating meals too far away from each other.

Carbohydrates are our primary fuel source and without them we our energy levels can be quite low and cravings through the roof. After we eat a meal that has a good quality carb source in a right amount for your body, the glucose (carbohydrate) is broken down in the blood stream and is carried to the body’s cells. After 4 hours of eating this good source of carbohydrate our blood glucose levels significantly drop. As a result your body goes into a crave or hunger mode. However rather than the individual only have a normal portion size, because they are so hungry the portion sizes increases along with the waist line.

2. Eating too often

Eating too frequently can also affect our circadian rhythm. If an individual picks at food every time they walk into the kitchen or past the tea room at work the calories can count up very quickly. But then once the habit sets in it is very hard to change and the struggle to stop is too hard.

So what are our strategies to change :

  1. Set an alarm to eat every 3-3.5 hours – a meal of good quality protein, a carb source and a small portion of fat – e.g. 2 eggs and a piece of fruit or 1-2 slices of wholegrain/light rye bread.
  2. If know that you tend to binge when at home, again set the alarm and try and hold yourself off until that 3 hour mark. If you still want to binge – binge then only. But still try and work into it being within your circadian rhythm. Occasionally you may find, the craving is not as intense by the time you get to the three hour mark and you may not eat as much.
  3. From there decrease the size of the binge.

This is all a learning process – these things take a long time to be able to change, so be patient, not hard on yourself, because it will only make matters worse and decrease your own confidence in yourself. One step at a time 🙂

Sleeping Patterns

Did you know our sleeping patterns also affect our circadian rhythm?Our sleeping patterns can significantly impact our circardian rhythm and which in result will impair metabolisms and increase glucose intolerance. But this about it if you are a person who normal gets 8 hours sleep, and one evening you only get 5.5-6hours. What happens to your body the following day? How do you feel? I know for me, if I don’t, I am grumpy, frustrated and feel completely out of routine. When feeling like this what happens to your motivation to eat well? The motivation to prepare food, pick the right options decreases. The quick option is what is most readily reached for. Not only this but because you have been awake for a longer period of time, your body requires slightly more calories to be able to function, and the cravings can set in.

So trying to get a good night sleep consistently will help balance your circadian rhythm and prevent any disruptions to your metabolism!

Coconut oil – Is it all it is cracked up to be?

Coconut based products are everywhere you look, online, health stores and even now the supermarket, all trying to hang onto such claims that it is a superfood, burns fat faster and is the best type of oil out there. Many clients are telling me that coconut oil is there favourite choice and ensuring I am aware of that. So what do you think? Is coconut oil really as fabulous as they say or is it just a fad?

Coconut is derived purely from the coconut flesh with no processing, which is fantastic. Many oils like canola, safflower, sunflower, rice bran oils all go through a significant amount of processing in order to produce this oil. It is only the fat component of the coconut and it does not provide any protein, carbs or fibre, and has no vitamins or minerals. Nor does it contain a number of polyphenol antioxidant compounds – these neutralise free radicals and reduce inflammation. Coconut oil is found to only provide a very small boost in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), however it also raises our LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).

What is different about coconut oil is it has a different fatty acid profile to that of any other fat based product/nut. Normal tree nuts are very high in unsaturated fats (Good fats), where coconut oil is higher in saturated fats (bad fats). This is the reason why for Australia many years ago, coconut oil was put on the list to eat sparingly. So where have these health claims come from that it is so great?

Well as new evidence has come out about coconut oil in the last few years; it has found coconut oil is very high in Lauric acid, which actually has a good effect on our blood cholesterol. Coconut oil has a couple medium chain fatty acids in our body that are burned more readily as fuel in our body – however, this does not mean adding more coconut oil to your day will miraculously make you burn more fat, because you will still have to burn off all the extra calories consumed! So these few points are beneficial in comparison to other oils like canola, rice bran etc, however there are still many things to learn.

There is one other oil that is definitely proven to be the best oil in the world over and over and has more evidence put together than coconut oil, which is EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL (EVOO). Not just plain olive oil but extra virgin! There is a difference! EVOO significantly raises HDL cholesterol (good), and lowers LDL (Bad) cholesterol. EVOO also contains an abundance of beneficial polyphenols and a significant amount of Vitamin E – again which I mentioned above that coconut oil does not have. It also helps prevent cancer and heart disease, again which coconut oil is not proven to do.

Many people have said though, olive oil Is great to use on salads, but if you cook with it, it will turn into a trans fat. This is only true if you recook it over and over as maybe our parents or grandparents used to do. Once cooked it loses around 20% of the antioxidants in the product, but the levels will always outweigh that of coconut oil and every other oil that do not have this antioxidant quality.

So what should I choose?

EVOO over Coconut oil will always be the better choice as it has been proven over and over. Coconut oil can be used every now and then for cooking or baking, but it should not be your primary choice of fat. Also, opt for the flesh of the coconut which actually does provide you with good nutrients!

I hope this helps you make your decision!

Is Full Fat milk better than Skim??

This week I wanted to discuss the theories about full fat vs low fat or skim milk.

The first theory

Processing adds more sugar to skim/low fat milk. This is completely untrue, for flavoured milks, but for skim milk, completely different.

Let me show you two nutrition panels.










Look at the ingredients that are written. Full fat or skimmed milk – no additional ingredients have been added other than vitamin A and D, which I will discuss why in the following theory.

What is different is the fat/protein/carb content. As the fat has been taken out of the product both the protein and carbohydrate (lactose) will increase as a result (by 2g), thus increasing the protein and carbs in serve. This is why both protein and carbohydrate has slightly higher.

Number one busted! There is no additional sugar added to milk!

The second theory

The next one I want to address is full fat is healthier option than skim milk. Well it depends what your goal is, for me, when I break down the nutritional content of the diet, I look at all vitamins and minerals including the protein/carbohydrates and fats per meal.

For FF milk, Vitamin A & D are fat soluble vitamins which are stored in the fat content of the milk. When the milk is skimmed, these nutrients are removed from the product, but the manufactures add the Vitamin A & D into the product. Even for the minimal losses, typically these are found in consuming a good diet of fruits and vegetables and spending 10 minutes a day outside in the sun.

I Look at it as, if you are not looking to lose body fat, then go ahead and consume Full fat milk. However if you are looking for weight loss, cutting out the fat from the product takes out a good portion of calories which could be used elsewhere.

Not only this, if milk is in the post workout meal in a smoothie for example, the fat will slow down the digestion of the protein and carbohydrate. Post exercise, we need the protein as fast as possible to help begin the muscle repair process, and the carbohydrates are needed to fuel that process. So it is vital that the body digests these proteins/carbs as fast as possible. As a result, fat is not the best nutrient at this time of day.

Skim milk is also lower in saturated fat (bad fat), which if consumed in quite a large/excessive amount each day, then may not assist in maintaining healthy triglyceride/cholesterol levels. However, if you only consume milk in small amounts each day, you should be fine, unless your diet is significantly high in other animal proteins.

Pre Training Nutrition

Fueling your body appropriately around training can make quite a difference on your training, recovery and stamina throughout the training session. So today I want to discuss nutrition prior to exercise.

Prior to training, I always focus on a combined protein and carbohydrate source around 1 hour before the session begins. Why? Well think about it this way. Say you decided to drive from Brisbane to Sydney, and you decided not to fill up your car with fuel, how far do you think you would get? Probably not a very far away! The same goes for training, if you haven’t eaten anything in a few hours, or if you did eat and it was something low in carbs. I guarantee you will only hit your training session hard for a very short time period, maybe one or two movements of your strength work, or get halfway through a cardio piece and feel like giving up? Does that sound familiar?

If you do not fuel your body and prepare it for your exercise a couple things will happen.

  1. You will not burn as many calories on a full tank of food rather than empty. The more energy you have the longer the intensity of the session will remain. The faster you will run, concentrating will become easier, weights will not feel as heavy because you have a greater capacity to move it.
  2. The harder you work the more muscle cells you will damage. This means when you refuel your body post training you will have the opportunity to increase muscle mass and it will also be of a better quality. The more muscle mass you have the faster your metabolism will be and the more you can eat 😉 WINNING!

The types of food I like to suggest prior to training are typically Low GI, which means the carbohydrate is digested slowly in order to give the body a nice sustained fuel source.

For example:

  • Muesli (carbohydrate) and Chobani (protein) plain yoghurt – add a tsp of honey if you do not like the tart taste of the yoghurt
  • Tuna/salmon/chicken breast (protein) sandwich – wholegrain (carbohydrate)
  • 1-2 Raisin toast + 100g of low fat cottage cheese
  • Homemade protein balls – protein, dates, nuts and fruit
  • Oats with sultanas, honey, low fat milk and small serve of protein powder
  • Large piece of fruit (mango/banana/apple/pear) + a protein shake or

If you are someone who trains first thing in the morning – try a piece of toast or piece of fruit! Last resort drink your carbs instead (100% juice/coconut water/smoothie)

Pick an option that works for you, have it an hour prior to exercise if you can and I guarantee if you do not normally have much prior, you will see a big difference in your training session!

Chow Mein Mince

1 tbl olive oil

1 brown onion, sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 small knob ginger, crushed

100g snow peas, sliced

1/4 – 1/2 small head green cabbage, shredded

500g chicken mince ( turkey breast/extra lean beef mince)

1.5 tb fish sauce

4 tsp curry powder

salt, pepper

1 spring onion, sliced, for garnish



Prepare all vegetables as directed. Heat the olive oil  in a large frying pan or a wok over a high heat until hot. Add the onion, carrot, garlic and ginger and sauté for 3-4 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the cabbage and cook for 3-4 minutes more.

Add the mince and the snow peas and continue cooking for around 5 minutes, stirring regularly to break up the mince. Add the curry powder, and fish sauce and continue to cook, stirring for another 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Garnish with the sliced spring onion and enjoy!!

Makes 5 serves – add some extra salad or lettuce if you wish – if you have exercised prior, add 1/2 C of egg noodles or 80g of vermicelli rice noodles per serve


Higher Carbohydrate options

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The muesli bars are good options for before exercise only. The wraps and bread is great for lunches or breakfast. Good option cereals, rice and noodle options. Again be careful of your portion sizes with some of these products (rice/noodles/cereal) in particular.