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!

Higher Carbohydrate options

308 312 311 309 299 293 281 279 276 266 275 325 326
















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.



If you want to add sauces to salads etc. Here are the better options. Key word better! Always pick the most salt reduced products available.

I have an example below of two different soy sauces – have a look at the difference between the sodium contents. Soy sauce is definitely not the best option so please try and avoid if possible.


337 334 320 318333



The Following are a couple alright drink options. However water should always be priority one!

303 314313

Snack options

Below are great snack options that I promote for everyday consumption. However please do be careful of your portion size. It is easy to consume more than needed 332 331 330 329 328 315305 302 301 300 292


Who needs dieting!?!

This week I want to show how just making a few simple changes to the different cuts and brands of foods can make a huge difference to the amount of calories consumed in one day! I find most people tend to consume good types of foods. So today I want to show you what food really looks like to ensure you are eating the right food at the right time.

By making a few simple changes of the different types of brands, cuts of meat and types of cheese, your total calorie intake could be completely different. Option A provides an extra 415 calories than Option B. The portion sizes have not changed, only the cuts and brands. That is an enormous amount of calories this person will save!!

For example:

  Option A Option B
Breakfast 2 eggs and 2 toast 2 eggs and 2 toast
Morning Tea 100g of gippsland yoghurt with some fruit 100g of chobani yoghurt with fruit
Lunch 100g Lamb and salad wrap 100g Chicken breast and salad wrap
Afternoon Tea 4 Corn thins and 40g full fat cheddar cheese 4 Corn thins and 40g of low fat cottage cheese
Dinner 100g of Chicken thigh and vegies 100g Pork fillet and vegies

So lets break this down.

From below you can see that different cuts of meat can vary in calories and protein significantly. What I look for in meat cuts is a high protein content, a low calorie and fat content. Blade, porterhouse and sirloin steaks, chicken breast, and pork steak/fillet provide the perfect amount of protein for a low calorie and fat content.

Per 100g

Cut of meat Cal Protein Fat (g)
Pork Steak/Fillet 100 22 1
Chicken Breast 104 22 2
Blade/porterhouse/sirloin 140 24 4
Drumstick 158 17 9
Pork Belly 160 21 9
Lamb 190 20 12
Rump, Round, topside 200 35 7
T-bone 210 22 14
Wing 218 16 17
Thigh 224 15 18
Fillet 240 37 11g

Yoghurts can vary also dramatically depending upon the brand bought. What I look for is again a low calorie and fat content (<3g) and also a high protein content ~10g per 100g. Carbs content I look for less than 10 per 100g. If the protein content is not high enough but the other work within range – add in a small serve of protein powder.

Per 100g Cal Protein Fat (g) Carbs
Chobani plain no fat 60 10 0 4
Jalna low fat 100 6 3 8
Chobani flavoured 110 8 0 12
Tamar Valley 114 5.5 2.5 17
Ski – most flavoured yoghurts 122 6 2 18
Jalna Full fat 128 4 10 6
Farmers Union 133 5 10 7
Gippsland 149 5 6 17


The following information is based off 40g of cheese. Again, what I am looking for is a high protein content and low fat content. Low fat cottage cheese, cheddar, and ricotta cheese are the best type to consume. If you enjoy cottage or ricotta cheese, go for 100g of the low fat variety. Or enjoy 40-50g of reduced fat cheddar cheese.

Type Kcal Protein Fat
Cheese, Ricotta reduced fat (5%) 44 5 2
Cheese, Ricotta 47 3 3
Low fat cottage cheese 47 6 2
Cheese, Cheddar, reduced <10% fat 75 10 3
Cheese, haloumi 98 9 7
Cheese, goat 106 7 8
Cheese, feta 111 7 9
Cheese, cream 130 3 13
Cheese, edam 139 11 11
Cheese, pecorino 142 11 11
Cheese, romano style 149 13 11
Cheese, swiss 152 11 12
Cheese, parmesan 159 14 12
Cheese, Cheddar (mild, tasty and Vintage) 164 10 14


Night time eating – what should you be having?!

Have you heard of the tale of you can’t eat carbs past 8pm or eat anything late at night because it will make you gain weight because you are inactive and you won’t burn off the calories? In reality it isn’t that simple and it can be somewhat true but also completely wrong at the same time.

It all comes down to the type of meal you have and also whether you have exercised or not!

Night time meals usually consist of a large portion of meat (beef/chicken/pork/fish and a carbohydrate (pasta/rice/couscous/quinoa/potato/sweet potato/bread etc) and only a couple vegetables. This type of meal if you have been sedentary all day and then again come home and are even more sedentary at night usually sitting in front of the TV  just before you go to bed will more likely see weight gain. At this time in the evening, you don’t really require a high level of thinking, or energy to get through the rest of the evening, so sticking with vegies and maybe a small piece of potato/sweet potato is all you need! Remember anything outside of the portion size you need at one time will be stored as fat.  So in this case for a sedentary person, large volumes of pasta, rice, quinoa, cous cous, potato or sweet potato will be too much carbohydrate at night time and most likely will lead to weight gain. However, if you have a more active job, then more carbohydrates at dinner are required!

For the next case, which is for those who exercise at night time, require more carbohydrate at their dinner. Some may not get home from training until 8-10pm at night. Muscle mass will have been damaged, glycogen stores (energy stores) will have been used up. If these muscles and energy stores are not fed properly then recovery will be poor, muscle mass gain is highly unlikely. So depending upon the type of exercise and duration you do, ensure you refuel your body – it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, nutrition for your muscles is of high importance! Well that is if you want to get stronger, more agile or just feel better in general! J

So now that I have broken down night time eating, there is something else I want to discuss called casein. Casein is a slow releasing protein found in dairy products. The reason why it is called a slow protein is because it generally forms a solid in the stomach more slowly and in a time released fashion.  The body stays in an anabolic (muscle building state) overnight.  At night, testosterone (a muscle building hormone) is naturally elevated, so taking advantage of this by consuming a slowly digested carbohydrate and protein is a great option. For example, low fat/skim milk and milo, greek yoghurt and berries or with protein powder. If you find you bloat or have wind from dairy products, try lactose free products and see if it disappears. Black swan yoghurt is great. I use liddels or zymil lactose free milk! Try it out!!

Not only will this help for muscle mass growth, but also if you train early morning, the small hit of carbs can help with performance in the morning.

So in reality eating at night is a win for muscle building! Don’t be afraid to eat J just learn the best ones to have!

How do I measure my success?

On Monday night I attended a Branch meeting for all Sports Dietitians in Queensland. One of the ladies was recapping a seminar that she had attended in Melbourne. The speaker discussed how we as Dietitians are to measure our success, and also defining what it means to me to be successful in my field.

I have had to ponder on this for a few days to figure out what it really does mean to me. As a dietitian my ultimate success would be one that thrives off Olympic Weightlifting. Personally, I do not just want to focus on how a person looks on the outside and provide information on how to do that; but become a true Sports Dietitian. One who focuses on nutrition for training at 100%, muscle recovery, maintaining the correct body weight and nutrition for competition.  I personally want to become solely an Olympic weightlifting sports dietitian and thrive off this. This is what I will class as successful and I know it is what I want to do.  However, I do not just want to be the one who just tells them what to eat and when. I want to experience their athletic career with them, and I want them to know I am with them 100%.

I was talking with my coach Miles Wydall one morning and how the first few years of coaching his goals were to go to the Olympic games, commonwealth games as a coach. Once he had done that, it was more of the goal of seeing his athletes compete and the joy they get from competing. The same goes for me, I want to be there for my clients on the rollercoaster rides they take. The bad training days or lifting sub-optimal lifting in competitions, the days they hit PB’s, when making weight becomes easier and easier. I want to be the one who can go to the Olympic/Commonwealth Games, Oceania’s to be able ensure athletes are eating exactly what they need to. I want them to know I care and am here to see them perform at 100%.

The question of how do I become successful has not only affected how I approach my own business, but also my personal life. How can I measure my success as a person? What do I need to do to feel like I can be successful in myself and what does that mean?!

I want to be successful in my own nutrition choices, my own training, how I talk to or about people or whether I am a person that others can approach. The elements which affect my own mental health and wellbeing which are the aspects I personally feel I struggle with.

I struggle to keep my nutrition consistent, sometimes I just give up and say screw it, I am over watching portion sizes and I just want to eat for training. Then the struggle with how I feel and look. I am just alike 80% of the population out there and struggle frequently. You would think I would be able to put my own advice into practice, but sometimes I just can’t mentally. But sometimes I think admitting what is wrong is just the beginning of the process to change. I have struggled for the last 8 years of disordered eating. When I have goals I am focused and centred. But when I don’t, life gets messy and I relax.

I am slowly finding the happy medium and am getting better and better each year. I know I will get it one day, but it is all a process. I will not give up and it is something I ask you to do. Don’t give up just because you struggle.  Be a role model to your kids, and family who may be also struggling with their own body weight. Be their inspiration and motivation and help them.  Every single person influences another in one way, so take advantage of it for the better.

I guess what I am starting to realise, is that life is such a journey, I can look back at what I have done and learn from my struggles and set backs, and decide what step forward I am going to take next. What small thing I can take control of and be proud that I have changed.

That is what I want to ask you? What one SMALL thing can you change for your health and well being? Email me and let me know, truly have a think of what you want to be most successful in and one is one thing you can change now to take one step in that direction.