• Post Category:Blog

The 12 Tips of Christmas

Join us for 12 days of Naomi’s favourite health and fitness tips!

How can I possibly start the 12 tips of Christmas without starting with the one thing that has literally changed my life and brought me to where I am today?

Back in 2011 I stumbled across LCHF and what an epiphany it was! All of a sudden, all the years of wondering why I couldn’t stick with a diet, why I struggled so much to lose weight and why I had to slog it out to lose one measly kilo, made so much sense.  There were tears of anger and frustration and then out of all the emotion came hope that finally I would find something that worked for me. Fast forward 6 years and the addition of our 4th child, I find myself in the peculiar situation of being in great health and great shape despite my love of cheese, meat, butter and cream – all the foods I had spent years avoiding because they were “fattening”.

So how is it possible to eat these foods and not gain weight? There are many theories surrounding why LCHF works so well but these are the main ones:

  1. Protein and fat have the highest satiety which means when you eat a meal that is high in protein and fat, you feel full and feel full for a long time.
  2. The possibility that ketones have a direct appetite suppressing action
  3. The positive effect on appetite hormones
  4. Reduction in lipogenesis (production of fats) and increased lipolysis (breakdown of fats)
  5. A greater metabolic efficiency in consuming fats
  6. Increased cost of gluconeogenesis (production of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources) and the thermic effect (increased metabolic pace) of proteins [1]

So what this all means is that the success of LCHF is not simply via creating an energy deficit but also rather by increasing satiety via fat, protein and possibly a direct action of ketone bodies, improving appetite control through improved hormonal signalling, improved metabolism of fats, increased fat burning and reduced fat storage along with an increased energy cost associated with making glucose.  So whilst it’s easy to argue that all of these outcomes work together to create an energy deficit (which I would agree they do) they also make the system that controls our energy intake and appetite regulation more sensitive and more functional. This ultimately results in less hunger. And as you all know, when you’re not starving, it becomes easy to stick to a “diet”.

However, I want to point out that it’s not just weight loss that results from this way of eating. Research has shown, and continues to show, that LCHF has many other health advantages. For over 90 years the ketogenic diet (a form of LCHF where carbohydrate is <50g/day) has been used therapeutically to manage epilepsy[1] and more recently it has been investigated as a co-therapy for certain cancers[2-4].  There is also substantial research showing that LCHF is as least as good as other diets for producing weight loss [5](but there is also much research showing it outperforms other diets for weight loss [6, 7]). LCHF also improves appetite hormones[8], it is superior in its ability to reverse insulin resistance and restore normal blood glucose levels [7, 9-12], it can reverse type 2 diabetes [13], reduce cardiovascular disease risk [5, 14] and so much more. Yet the public is still being told this diet is dangerous and that cardiovascular disease risk will increase, despite research showing exactly the opposite.

So my encouragement to you today is this: changing your diet is one of the SAFEST health interventions you can undertake. It is also one of the most potent. So increase your fats and drop your carbs, give it 6-12 months and see what happens! Want some help doing it? Why not try one of our programs?


  1. Paoli, A., et al., Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2013. 67: p. 789-796.
  2. Allen, B., et al., Ketogenic diets as an adjuvant cancer therapy: History and potential mechanism. Redox Biol., 2014. 2: p. 963-970.
  3. Zhou, W., et al., The calorically restricted ketogenic diet, an effective alternative

therapy for malignant brain cancer. Nutrition and Metabolism, 2007. 4(5).

  1. Chung, H. and Y. Park, Rationale, Feasibility and Acceptability of Ketogenic Diet for Cancer Treatment.Journal of Cancer Prevention, 2017. 22(3): p. 127-134.
  2. Foster, G., et al., Weight and Metabolic Outcomes After 2 Years on a Low-Carbohydrate Versus Low-Fat Diet. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2010. 153(3).
  3. Bueno, N., et al., Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition, 2013. 110(7): p. 1178-1187.
  4. Gower, B. and A. Goss, A Lower-Carbohydrate, Higher-Fat Diet Reduces Abdominal and Intermuscular Fat and Increases Insulin Sensitivity in Adults at Risk of Type 2 Diabetes1,2,3. The Journal of Nutrition, 2015. 145(1): p. 1775-1835.
  5. Sumithran, P., et al., Ketosis and appetite-mediating nutrients and hormones after weight loss.European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2013. 67: p. 759-764.
  6. Samaha, F., et al., A Low-Carbohydrate as Compared with a Low-Fat Diet in Severe Obesity. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2003. 348: p. 2074-2081.
  7. Noakes, M., et al., Comparison of isocaloric very low carbohydrate/high saturated fat and high carbohydrate/low saturated fat diets on body composition and cardiovascular risk. Nutrition and Metabolism, 2006. 3(7).
  8. Tay, J., et al., Comparison of low- and high-carbohydrate diets for type 2 diabetes management: a randomized trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2015. 102: p. 780-709.
  9. Westman, E., et al., The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutrition and Metabolism, 2008. 5(36).
  10. Feinman, R., et al., Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base. Nutrition, 2015. 31(1): p. 1-13.
  11. Dehghan, M., et al., Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study. The Lancet, 2017. 390(10107): p. 2050-2062.

Yesterday I told you about my love of low carb healthy fat (LCHF) but I would be remiss if I didn’t give you the full story. Over the last couple of years I have noticed that I have fallen more into a cyclic ketogenic style of eating. This was not a deliberate decision but simply more about my deep and unending love for potato. What resulted from this was that some days my carbohydrate intake was easily below 50g whilst other days it was up around the 100g. Now before I get thoroughly chastened by the low carb zealots, let me offer this disclaimer:

I, Naomi Ferstera, acknowledge that my love of potato works in my individual situation. I am not diabetic nor do I have metabolic syndrome or metabolic derangement and am very likely to be very insulin sensitive. I am also very fit and undertake high intensity weight training and cardio sessions every week.

Now that I have this little disclaimer out of the way, let’s get down to the business of discussing what carb cycling is and whom it might be useful for ;).

Carb cycling is essentially where you intermittently consume a higher amount of carbohydrate than normal, when following a low carbohydrate diet. As an example if you regularly consume 50g of carbs per day, on a higher carb day you may consume 100-150g. You also might choose to have 4 low carbohydrate days interspersed with 3 high carbohydrate days or two high carb with 5 low carb days – the choice is yours (how excitement). In body building worlds this is done, not only to increase carb content, but to also to increase overall energy intake. The reason behind this is pretty simple – long-term energy restriction is known to slow metabolism. This occurs via reverse T3 (rT3) blocking the action of the active thyroid hormone, T3 (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Factors that affect thyroid function


Therefore the caloric restriction is intermittently broken up by periods of higher energy to stimulate the production of T3 and lower the levels of rT3 (rT3 blocks the action of T3 and slows metabolism during periods of energy restriction).

Additionally, by intermittently increasing carbohydrate intake, hormone sensitivity (namely insulin) can be protected. This occurs via a process known as up-regulation (see figure 2). As carbohydrate levels are kept low, the need for insulin is also relatively low. Therefore, the body increases the number of receptors on a target cell for insulin (up-regulation). This ensures that all available insulin is captured and used by the target cell, which leads to what we call insulin sensitivity. However, this process works both ways as down regulation in the presence of high hormone levels. An example of down regulation occurs during the development of insulin resistance. In the presence of hyperglycaemia (elevated blood glucose levels) there is an abundance of insulin. Persistently high blood insulin (hyperinsulinaemia) ultimately leads to the development of insulin resistance. This is because when hormone levels are high, receptor down-regulation occurs. This leads to a loss in insulin receptors and contributes to the resistance (less binding sites = less action). However, hormone receptors are constantly undergoing a cycle of degradation and production, which means that the concentration of hormone receptors may change within hours.

Figure 2: Regulation of target cell sensitivity

A Low hormone level and up-regulation, or an increase in number of receptors. B High hormone level and down-regulation, or a decrease in number of receptors.

Source: Thibodeau GA, Patton KT. Anatomy & physiology. 6th edn. St Louis: Mosby; 2007.

Therefore the idea behind carbohydrate cycling (and insulin sensitivity) is this:

For insulin to be considered “sensitive” it needs to be able to bind to receptors and exert an appropriate physiological response (insulin resistance is where a given volume of insulin being produced is not causing an appropriate physiological response). Therefore, by intermittently increasing carbohydrate intake, and thereby stimulating insulin production; insulin receptors will be down-regulated due to the high circulating insulin. When insulin is then low again, more insulin receptors will be built. The constant cycling of high and low levels of insulin means that receptors will be broken down and subsequently rebuilt and with this process, any faulty receptors will be removed with healthy functioning ones replacing them.

So whilst carb cycling is useful for insulin and thyroid hormones, many others get the benefit of this strategy. It’s also worth pointing out that many people find carb cycling useful for preventing plateaus (both in performance and fat burning) burning along with improving adherence to a low carb diet.

This information is all well good but who is carbohydrate cycling actually useful for? First of all I would be reluctant to advise anyone with diabetes, metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular disease to undertake this strategy. In these cases, it is prudent to keep insulin load as low as possible until the insulin resistance has reversed (if it is able to be). But the following checklist is for people who I think it would be useful for (please note it is not an exhaustive list)….

  • women in general
  • athletes
  • people who undertake regular intense exercise (cardio and/or weights)
  • anyone who has hit a weight loss plateau
  • anyone who has been in long-term ketosis (this is more based on preference than hard science)
  • anyone struggling to stick with low carb

If you meet any of the above criteria, I would suggest trialling a really simple carb cycling protocol – simply alternate high and low carb days. This would give you 3 high and 4 low carb days per week. If the thought of this freaks you out, start with two high carb days each week separated by two low carb days in-between. In terms of what you can eat, it’s pretty simple stuff – the addition of sweet potato and potato into your meal plan will do the trick. Personally, I love buttery mash or potato bake and try to have these a few times each week.

Carb cycling really can be that simple so don’t over complicate it! Good luck and I would love to see how you go implementing this strategy – tag me into social media food photos @naomiferstera 

Want some help with your low carb living? Why not try one of our programs:

Intermittent fasting (IF) is the name given to the practice of abstinence from food for short periods of time. IF has been practiced by humans for thousands of years, for both religious and health reasons yet, in recent times, IF has been branded as dangerous, a fad and possibly providing a platform for eating disorders. So is intermittent fasting actually healthy?

Surprisingly there is a lot of research showing the intermittent fasting improves a wide array of health markers such as:

  1. Blood lipid profile – specifically reducing triglycerides and increasing HDL (high density lipoprotein) [1-4]
  2. Blood glucose – it’s no real surprise that abstaining from food for short periods of time will have a significant impact on blood glucose levels [5-8]
  3. Insulin – insulin is a very important hormone that is best known for its role in glucose haemostasis (blood glucose balance) but the sensitivity of insulin rapidly improves with fasting [5, 7, 9]
  4. Inflammatory markers – food is well known to be able to induce inflammation (namely grain, sugar, oxidised fats and omega 6) therefore removing these from your diet will significantly reduce inflammation [1-3, 10]
  5. Gut health – fasting has been shown to improve the gut biome (increasing the number and variety of healthy bacteria) [11]
  6. Hormone sensitivity – reduce inflammation and triglycerides in your blood and the happy result is more sensitive hormone [5, 6, 12-15]
  7. Cardiovascular markers – the cardiovascular system gets a big boost from fasting via reductions in inflammation, improvement in hormone signalling, reduction in blood pressure, improved blood lipids, reduced blood insulin and glucose and improved sensitivity of nitric oxide. [16, 17]
  8. Neurological markers – fasting has been shown to stimulate neuronal autophagy and make neurons (nerve cells) more resistant to ischaemic (lack of oxygen) injury. This potentially reduces the risk for strokes and promotes healthy brain aging. [1, 18]
  9. Body composition – fasting promotes fat burning (lipolysis) but also promotes the beiging of white adipose tissue (this is some very recent and exciting research).
  10. Autophagy – fasting stimulates autophagy (namely mitochondrial autophagy), which is like a cellular clean up. Old funky parts of the cell are broken up and recycled with shiny new parts replacing them. [19-21]

Want to know a bit more about each of the health benefits of fasting – like what the heck are mitochondria, what’s autophagy when its at home and is beiging the latest health fad…? Would you also like a weekly menu including recipes and a fasting routine? Then why not download our Intermittent Fasting eBook from our website for the ridiculously low price of $15!

Want some help on your low carb journey? Sign up to one of our programs today and beat the price rise!


  1. Mattson, M. and R. Wan, Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2005. 16: p. 129-137.
  2. Wan, R., et al., Cardioprotective Effect of Intermittent Fasting is Associated with an Elevation of Adiponectin Levels in Rats. J Nutr Biochem, 2010. 21(5): p. 413-417.
  3. Benli, A., et al., Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Serum Lipid Levels, Coagulation Status and Plasma Homocysteine Levels. Nutrition and Metabolism, 2005. 49: p. 77-82.
  4. Longo, V. and M. Mattson, Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications. Cell Metabolism, 2014. 19(2): p. 181-192.
  5. Nuttall, F., R. Almokayyad, and M. Gannon, Comparison of a carbohydrate-free diet vs. fasting on plasma glucose, insulin and glucagon in type 2 diabetes. Metabolism Clinical and Experimental, 2015. 64(2): p. 253-262.
  6. Reis de Azevedo, F., D. Ikeoka, and B. Caramelli, Effects of intermittent fasting on metabolism in men.RAMB, 2013. 59(2).
  7. Arnason, T., M. Bowen, and K. Mansell, Effects of intermittent fasting on health markers in those with type 2 diabetes: A pilot study. World Journal of Diabetes, 2017. 8(4): p. 154-164.
  8. Barnosky, A., et al., Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. In-Depth Review: Excess adiposity and disease, 2014. 164(4): p. 302-311.
  9. Halberg, N., et al., Effect of intermittent fasting and refeeding on insulin action in healthy men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 2005. 99(6): p. 2128-2136.
  10. Meigs, J., et al., Fasting Plasma Homocysteine Levels in the Insulin Resistance Syndrome. Diabetes Care, 2001. 24(8).
  11. Li, G., et al., Intermittent Fasting Promotes White Adipose Browning and Decreases Obesity by Shaping the Gut Microbiota. Cell Metabolism, 2017.
  12. Weigle, D., et al., Effect of fasting, refeeding, and dietary fat restriction on plasma leptin levels. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 1997. 82(2): p. 561-5.
  13. Hartman, M., et al., Augmented growth hormone (GH) secretory burst frequency and amplitude mediate enhanced GH secretion during a two-day fast in normal men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 1992. 74(4): p. 757-65.
  14. KY, H., et al., Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion and amplifies the complex rhythms of growth hormone secretion in man. J Clin Invest, 1988. 81(4): p. 968-75.
  15. Feizollahzadeh, S., et al., Augmented Plasma Adiponectin after Prolonged Fasting During Ramadan in Men. Health Promot Perspect, 2014. 4(1): p. 77-81.
  16. Brands, M. and M. Manhiana, Sodium-retaining effect of insulin in diabetes. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol, 2012. 303(11): p. R1101-R1109.
  17. de Luca, C. and J. Olefsky, Inflammation and Insulin Resistance. FEBS Lett., 2008. 582(1): p. 97-105.
  18. Martin, B., M. Mattson, and S. Maudsley, Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: Two potential diets for successful brain aging. Ageing Research Reviews, 2006. 5(3): p. 332-353.
  19. Meijer, A. and P. Codogno, Autophagy: A Sweet Process in Diabetes. Cell Metabolism, 2008. 8(4): p. 275-276.
  20. Liu, H.-Y., et al., Hepatic Autophagy Is Suppressed in the Presence of Insulin Resistance and Hyperinsulinemia

INHIBITION OF FoxO1-DEPENDENT EXPRESSION OF KEY AUTOPHAGY GENES BY INSULIN. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2009. 284: p. 31484-31492.


Over the years I have met countless people who, despite eating well and exercising, had not been able to make any significant changes to their body shape. However, when I asked about what they were drinking, it turns out they were having meals worth of energy in drinks alone. Energy drinks, juice, smoothies, ice-coffee, wine, alcohol all have significantly high volumes of both sugar and energy and will definitely be preventing body composition changes.

Therefore, if you’re serious about trying to lose weight, you have to stop regularly drinking anything that contains energy. There are a few reasons for this:

1) Most store bought drinks contain far too much sugar and as we all know, excess sugar consumption is associated with a number of very serious chronic health conditions [1-3]

2) There is nothing nutritive about sugar – it contains a LOT of energy and absolutely no nutrition to go with it

3) Sugar requires significant insulin control – insulin inhibits fat breakdown whilst simultaneously promoting fat storage. Additionally, persistently high levels of insulin also promote high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and metabolic derangement [1, 3]

4) Liquid generally doesn’t provide the same satiating effect as food so you’re likely to be hungry again, quickly

5) It’s easy to drink lots of energy whereas trying to eat food of the same energy content would be difficult

6) Not only does alcohol contain energy but it has recently been increases our appetite (hence why we hanker for cheeseburgers and kebabs during a big night out) [4]

7) Sugar also sets our appetite to “on” [5]

So the question then begs: what’s ok and what’s not?

On a day-to-day basis most of my fluids come from water but I also have:

  • long blacks
  • tea (occasionally)
  • soda water (very occasionally)

If I am having a drink, I will have vodka and soda but I’m not a big drinker and if you’re serious about trying to lose weight, you’d consider cutting it out too.

What you absolutely need to avoid are drinks:

1) that have large quantities of energy with little nutritive value

2) marketed as “low fat”

3) that are high in sugar

4) marketed as high protein but are less than 20g/100g

5) that will significantly increase your blood glucose and require insulin control.

This means that the following need to go:

  • juice (freshly squeezed or otherwise)
  • store bought smoothies (home made are fine if they have adequate fat and protein and are low in sugar)
  • energy drinks
  • store bought ice-coffees
  • soft drink
  • alcohol (generally speaking)

All of the above provide loads of energy, without any (or very little fibre), often with inadequate fat and protein which means that before you know it, you’ll be looking for something to eat on top of all the energy you just consumed.

It might seem a little boring but at the end of the day, it is very hard to go past water for our hydration needs. So if you’re drinking mostly water, you’re on the right path to good health.

I’d love to know what your favourite low carb beverage is!? Why not show us?! Tag us in your photo on Facebook or Instagram @naomiferstera

Want some help with your low carb journey? Join us at


  1. Castro, M., et al., Fructose-induced inflammation, insulin resistance and oxidative stress: A liver pathological triad effectively disrupted by lipoic acid. Life Sciences, 2015. 15(137): p. 1-6.
  2. Basciano, H., L. Federico, and A. Khosrow, Fructose, insulin resistance, and metabolic dyslipidemia.Nutrition and Metabolism, 2005. 2(5).
  3. Moore, B.J., P. Gunn, and B. Fielding, The Role of Dietary Sugars and De novo Lipogenesis in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Nutrients, 2014. 6(12): p. 5679-5703.
  4. Cains, S., et al., Agrp neuron activity is required for alcohol-induced overeating. Nature Communications, 2017. 8.
  5. Lowette, K., et al., Effects of High-Fructose Diets on Central Appetite Signaling and Cognitive Function.Front Nutr, 2015. 2(5).

There is a fantastic TED talk called “Own your body’s data” By Talitha Williams who is a statistician and makes a fantastic case for knowing our own body’s data (you can watch the video here). What I love about this video is the way she makes a completely logical (and funny) case for knowing minute details about ourselves.

I was so impressed with this video that I became much more interested in learning and listening to my body. So in the spirit of transparency, these are some of the things I know about myself and regularly keep track of:

  • how much I weigh
  • my current body fat percentage
  • my weight and body fat data for the the last 6 few years
  • my normal body temperature
  • my normal fasting glucose and my blood glucose response to a myriad of foods
  • my normal blood pressure
  • my fasting triglycerides and HDL
  • when is the best time to go to bed and get up for me
  • what foods aggravate my stomach
  • when and what I can eat before training
  • when I’m really hungry vs. when I’m bored, tired etc.

I’m particularly interested in how I feel post training and how I feel with trying different nutritional strategies around my training (i.e. fasted training, eating before vs. eating after weights etc.). I’m about to trial having a protein shake before bed on days I have done weight training due to research showing increased muscle synthesis that occurs in older men who consume whey and casein protein before bed[1]. I want to see if it improves my muscle mass and recovery rate. For me to know if it is working, I have to know my own data though.

What truly astounds me, is the number of people who simply know very little about themselves, of particular concern are those who are diabetic and could not tell me their blood glucose numbers or their HbA1c. They have absolutely no idea how food impacts their blood glucose or if there are foods they are regularly eating that are affecting this. From a disease perspective, knowing your body and knowing your data is vital to noticing abnormalities and possibly picking up something very early on. From a health intervention perspective, it’s also important to know your data otherwise how on earth will you know if anything is working? 

On a positive note, one thing I never get tired of hearing is how amazing people feel by changing their diet and starting an exercise routine. They realise that feeling crappy had become their new norm and it was only once they changed that they realised how awful they had been feeling.

So first of all watch the TED video by Talitha Williams. Then start tracking things that are important to improving and maintaining your health, such as hunger, when you’re full, energy levels, body fat, body fat distribution how foods make you feel etc. I promise you, it’s a fascinating journey!

PS Don’t forget to tag us in your photos on social media @naomiferstera

Want some help with your low carb journey? Join one of our programs at

  1. Kouw, I., et al., Protein Ingestion before Sleep Increases Overnight Muscle Protein Synthesis Rates in Healthy Older Men: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The Journal of Nutrition, 2017. 147(12).

Too many times I see people giving up on their goals because they didn’t lose weight fast or see results fast enough. It’s incredibly frustrating because as a health professional I know how long it really takes for things to happen and despite the many promises on social media, weight loss and body composition`n changes often take a lot longer to happen than most people realise.

Take for example my case of “mum bum”. Three pregnancies and four children have left me with some seriously lazy glutes. These bad boys are sooo lazy they’re giving my teenager a run for his money!! Not only do the lazy glutes look terrible, they’re creating pain problems for me. So I have embarked on a booty-building crusade! I am only a couple months into it and whilst there are definitely changes, I wish there were substantially more! But I recognise that this process is going to take 6-12 months and I will persist and continue to peer and scowl over my shoulder at the mirror until perky, strong glutes have been achieved.

So how do we stay on track, even when it feels like nothing is happening?

  1. Have goals that are not only aesthetic

Aesthetic goals are notoriously difficult to achieve! Those guys and girls you see in fitness magazines did not achieve their look overnight. Most have worked for years to achieve their physiques and it’s an ongoing, continual process. So to keep you going while you’re working on those glutes and abs, pick a fitness or health goal such as running a particular distance, doing a chin-up or push-up or improving your blood pressure.

  1. Set mini-goals that you are confident of being able to achieve

There’s nothing like ticking off some smaller goals to keep you motivated and on track

  1. Track your progress

Seeing how far you have come on days when you’re not feeling it is a great way to stay focused and determined.

  1. Have accountability

We all need that one person in our life who will smack the donut out of our hand and tell us off.

  1. Make a vision board

I’m a very visual person and nothing fires me up more than seeing images of people I admire or things I am trying to achieve.

  1. Do up a soundtrack

I have music that I put on when I don’t feel like training that pretty much psyches me up and gets my butt in gear.

  1. Change takes time

Keep reminding yourself that a lot of what you see on social media is smoke and mirrors. Real change takes time, consistency and effort. There are simply no short cuts to health and fitness.

What are your strategies to keep yourself on track? I’d love to see them! Tag us on social media @naomiferstera

Want some health with your low carb journey? Sign up to one of our programs at

Today’s tip is pretty simple and straight forward but it really changed my training. Using a heart rate monitor allows you to track your heart rate and assess whether or not you are working at the right intensity. As an example, when I prescribe the 4 x 4 program to my clients, I use 85-95% of their heart rate reserve and calculate a range for them to stay between. If I calculate it for myself, this equates to 165 – 180 bpm. This is pretty tough heart rate to sit at so I need to make sure that I am actually doing it. A heart rate monitor is the only accurate way to do this.

So why does it matter? For our body to adapt (change), there needs to be an appropriate stimulus. Take for example, sweating. When it hot, we sweat but it only happens once a particular temperature is reached. If it is not too warm you won’t sweat – as the stimulus is not high enough to induce a response.  The same is for our training. If you do not apply enough intensity (whether it be via weight, speed, time under tension etc.) then your body will not adapt to what you’re doing.

I really believe that one of the biggest reasons people don’t see results in their training is they are not getting their intensity right. Please note, this does not mean that people should train at a high intensity all the time. There is time for high and low intensity and a heart rate monitor will assist you in making sure you are working in the right zone. On days when you need to work hard, you can ensure that you are hitting the right heart rates but then on days when you are in recovery mode and are meant to be working low intensity; a heart rate monitor is a way of making sure you aren’t pushing yourself too hard.

There are a range of heart rate monitors available – Garmin, Polar, FitBit, TomTom etc. I am a creature of habit and keep going back to Polar but I have been eyeing off the rose gold Garmin for the bargain price of $1000 ;-). To be honest, for the average person wanting to get fit, most of the features on these watches aren’t necessary and drive the prices up to crazy town. All you need is a watch that, in addition to measuring your heart rate, also keeps time and possibly has GPS tracking so you can measure your speed and distance improvements. I have personally found that watching the changes in my heart rate, distance and speed highly motivating and keeps me pushing myself to achieve better numbers! And at the end of the day this is what it is all about – we are only in competition with ourselves and should only be trying to improve on what we did last time.

Do you use a heart rate monitor? I would love to see your photos on social media! Tag us at @naomiferstera

Need help with your low carb journey, why not sign up to one of our programs at

I cannot say how many times I have seen people profess that sugar is toxic. It is a common sentiment in many health circles but it is patently false simply because the first law of toxicology states “the dose makes the poison”.  This simply means, that nothing is toxic below its toxic dose and everything is toxic above its toxic dose. So, as an example, arsenic can be safe and water can be toxic. The next question then of course is; is there a toxic dose of sugar? I’d say very unlikely as I’ve never heard of anyone dying directly from sugar poisoning. Sure you might get sick if you eat a lot at once but that’s about it.

The idea the sugar is toxic has come from the role it plays in chronic illness. I absolutely do not dispute that sugar is something to be avoided most of the time but I do not think it is toxic. What I would say is this: sugar, when consumed in excess, can be pathogenic (meaning disease causing). How much is considered to be excess will depend on the individual person. Some people can eat more sugar than others due to variances in things such as their individual physiology, metabolic health, disease status etc. Therefore, just because someone is eating more sugar than you, does not necessarily mean that a) they are unhealthy or b) hurting their health or c) poisoning themselves. Each person needs to figure out how much sugar is ok for them. As a side note, from a dietary guidelines perspective, I think the added sugar guideline should be zero grams for every person regardless of age.

So whilst I am certainly in agreement that we need to be eating far less sugar, the idea that it is toxic has created a few issues. One being the undue stress this idea is placing on people who are now worrying over the most miniscule amounts of sugar. If you deal with the bulk of the sugar, you can in fact enjoy small amounts on occasion (or even more frequently, depending on your body). Another issue is now people are trying to make things like dessert, healthy. Dessert is not meant to be healthy.  We eat it because it tastes damn good and makes us feel good but it should be a treat. When you try to make what is patently unhealthy, healthy, you’re likely to run into some issues such as:

  1. Not dealing with your sweet addiction
  2. Overconsuming energy (it’s hard to only eat small amounts of high fat, sweet foods)
  3. Using questionable ingredients as substitutes (i.e. excess almond meal or artificial sweeteners)
  4. Hijacking your results as you think it’s healthy and eat lots of it

So if your diet is good and you’re only eating dessert as a treat (and you’re not bingeing), it is likely that you will not suffer any long-term health affect other than increased adherence to your otherwise healthy diet.

To briefly summarise:

  1. Sugar is not toxic
  2. You can enjoy sugar on occasion as a part of an otherwise healthy diet
  3. Stop trying to make desserts healthy
  4. Having some dessert occasionally can help you adhere to a long-term healthy diet

Do you have a favourite dessert? I’d love to see it! Tag us on Facebook or Instagram @naomiferstera

Want some help with your low carb journey? Head to to sign up to one of our programs today!

This tip is a bit of a no-brainer really (pun intended lol). There is so much misinformation in the health and fitness industry that you want to make sure your trainer is taking an evidenced-based approach. Unfortunately, there is so much “broscience” (the predominant brand of reasoning in bodybuilding circles where the anecdotal reports of jacked dudes are considered more credible than scientific research) that it can be hard to determine where the broscience ends and the real science starts.

The very nature of the health and fitness industry is that it is constantly evolving due to the volumes of research always being undertaken. Therefore, what someone learned in the classroom a few years back could well be superseded information now. This means your trainer needs to be doing his/her best to try and keep up to date with the latest in research. This is no small feat but it is possible to be widely read if someone wants to be.

So next time you see your trainer, open up a conversation about what they do to stay up to date with all the research and their ongoing education. Things you might like to ask about are some suggestions on who you should follow on social media or websites etc. you could go to, to read up on the latest in nutrition, health and fitness.

What is your favourite source of health and fitness news? We’d love you to share this with us! Tag us on Facebook or Instagram @naomiferstera

Want some help with your low carb journey? Why not try one of our programs? Sign up at

There is zero research to support the idea that a perfect diet is needed for good health, weight loss or muscle building. In fact, there is no thing as a perfect diet so trying to stick to one is a futile pursuit and can in fact cause serious harm. There are many reports of people who have developed disordered eating habits and food anxiety in their pursuit of the perfect diet. They have become unhealthy as a result of an obsession over health.

What we do know is that a diet that is unprocessed or touched by as few hands from the paddock to the plate, is what is best for us. Eating a wide variety of veggies, meats, poultry, seafood with some dairy (if tolerated) and fruit is where good health is at.

When it comes to health it has always been about making consistent good choices rather than trying to achieve perfection. The following is my philosophy when it comes to food:

  1. There is no such thing as dietary perfection. No-one can even agree on what constitutes a healthy diet let alone a perfect one so trying to achieve this sets you up for failure right from the start.
  2. I am all about longevity. I can’t stick to a restrictive diet for much longer than a few days so I needed to figure out how I was going to make LCHF work for me long-term. This means I stick with LCHF about 80% of the time with the other 20% being whatever I want. Having the flexibility has given me the longevity.
  3. I am sick to death of zealots making people’s health journeys harder not easier. Why put additional stumbling blocks in front of people? Why have so many rules and strict, rigid guidelines instead of just encouraging them to make some changes to begin with? It feels like so many people are stopped before they get going because they are stomped on for not doing LCHF “right”.
  4. I figured out that flexible dieting works for me. Just because I do it this way doesn’t mean you necessarily should too.

So yes, I occasionally eat junk BUT I have a few rules I generally follow: 
1) I don’t drink sugar
2) I eat very little sugar but when I’m going to have it, I try to make a big deal of it and I like to go for broke 😉 
3) I fast every day 
4) I train hard every week
5) I eat well most of the time

I know that for me to be ale to indulge sometimes, I have to be more strict with fasting and exercise. This is a trade off I’m happy with but as I said, this is what works for me. You have to figure out what works for you.

Please don’t let anyone dissuade you from what you’re doing if you’re finding it’s working for you. The whole point of changing your diet is to get healthy and find a long-term way of eating. So whilst you can have your cake and eat it too, you can’t have it all the time and you certainly need to be making other good, healthy choices every day!

Have you ever stood in front of the mirror and been absolutely disgusted with yourself? Have you ever called yourself terrible names or been super critical of everything you’ve ever achieved? Do you struggle to celebrate your achievements or pay yourself a compliment? If you said yes to any of these (and we’re all saying yes) now imagine saying these things to someone you care about. Horrifying, right?! And if we did ever speak like this to another person or be so continually negative towards them, they would rightly drop us like a hot potato. Yet we absolutely tear ourselves to pieces and think it’s perfectly ok to think these things of ourselves.

If you value something, you treasure it, protect it and care for it. When we speak to ourselves in such a horrible way, we are reinforcing that we are not worthy of being looked after and ultimately, we end up not caring for ourselves either directly, or by hijacking any attempts to improve our health. We are truly the masters of self-fulfilling prophecies – we try to change our lifestyle but before we even get going, we’ve already told ourselves it won’t work. Why do we do this to ourselves? It might seem a little hippy dippy, but there is much science behind the power of positive language and self-talk. Consider this form Psychology Today “Positive self-talk is not self-deception.  It is not mentally looking at circumstances with eyes that see only what you want to see.  Rather, positive self-talk is about recognising the truth, in situations and in yourself.  One of the fundamental truths is that you will make mistakes.  To expect perfection in yourself or anyone else is unrealistic.  To expect no difficulties in life, whether through your own actions or sheer circumstances, is also unrealistic. When negative events or mistakes happen, positive self-talk seeks to bring the positive out of the negative to help you do better, go further, or just keep moving forward.  The practice of positive self-talk is often the process that allows you to discover the obscured optimism, hope, and joy in any given situation.” So positive self-talk is not about just saying positive things without any truth to them or lying to ourselves but rather choosing to find the good in circumstances or situations and trying to learn from them. As an example, you may have started a health kick but given up along the way. Instead of focusing on everything you did wrong, why not focus on all the things you did right? In my program, I have regularly have people tell me about their “bad” days or weeks and we discuss it in our Facebook group. I always remind them that they have done so well for so many weeks, why are they focusing on few days that were less than desirable? Instead, how about focusing on all those days they nailed?! We are always so quick to recognise the bad and forget all the good we did!

Consider also this quote by Hafiz; “The words you speak becomes the house you live in”. Simple yet profound! So if all you’re saying to yourself is that you’re useless, fat, hopeless, you have no will power etc. then guess what? You might actually start believing it and what a tragedy if you do. The power of negative self-talk is evident before us every single day. Words are powerful! They have the power to motivate and inspire us or stop us in our tracks. Just imagine what we could achieve if we actually tried telling ourselves we are amazing and actually worth the effort? Think about it!!

I would LOVE to know who you think is amazing and worth the effort? Tag them into this post and share the love <3

Want some help with your health journey? Why not try one of our programs? Sign up at

The number one killer in Australia, and around the world, is cardiovascular disease (heart disease). It is currently being described as an epidemic. That’s absolutely shocking that we could be dying, in epidemic proportions, from a disease that is generally preventable and often due to poor lifestyle choices. Sadly, cardiovascular disease will kill more than 17 million people this year and this number is thought to blow out to 23.6 million by 2030.

From a disease perspective, it makes a lot of sense to use cardiovascular exercise as a means of both prevention and cure and the research agrees. Take this statement;

“Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is a more powerful predictor of mortality than body mass index or adiposity, and improving CRF is more important than losing body fat for reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. Data on reduced morbidity and mortality associated with increased CRF are strong and consistent. By contrast, data on intentional weight loss and mortality are uncertain, and weight loss-induced risk factor modification may be largely transient. Because weight loss maintenance is poor and considering the health risks associated with chronic weight instability (“yo-yo” dieting), we propose an alternative paradigm that focuses on improving CRF rather than reducing body weight. We contend that this is a safer alternative for management of obesity and the associated comorbidities. Exercise adherence may improve if clinicians emphasized to their patients the importance of CRF compared with weight loss in improving health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.” [1]

This is a very interesting statement and indicates that the primary intervention strategy for health should be improving fitness not weight loss. This is certainly not the only piece of research that suggests this. Barry et. al (2014) concluded that “Compared to normal weight-fit individuals, unfit individuals had twice the risk of mortality regardless of BMI. Overweight and obese-fit individuals had similar mortality risks as normal weight-fit individuals. Furthermore, the obesity paradox may not influence fit individuals. Researchers, clinicians, and public health officials should focus on physical activity and fitness-based interventions rather than weight-loss driven approaches to reduce mortality risk.” [2] What this statement means is that if you’re fit, your BMI does not matter. That’s hugely significant considering the obesity bashing that occurs in society. And not just in general society. There is a lot of arguing in academic circles whether or not there is such as thing as metabolically healthy obese or not[3, 4]. I think that when healthy habits are employed (eating well, exercising, sleeping well, keeping alcohol consumption low, etc.) BMI loses significance. Again, there is research that agrees [5]. There is also an amazing TED talk by Sandra Aamodt (video here) where she discusses the futility of dieting (and the harm that is often caused by them). During this talk, she shares a graph showing that when healthy habits are employed, BMI no longer is a risk factor. [5] This is powerful information!!

So if you are struggling with your weight, there are a number of things I would say:

  1. Obesity is strongly generically driven and it’s a difficult thing to reverse or change. There has to be a point at which you achieve a weight where you are happy whilst being able to manage it without dieting or exercise extremes. This weight may not be what you want it to be but you shouldn’t adopt unhealthy eating and exercise habit in the pursuit of an unrealistic goal.
  2. Get fit. It’s one of the most straight forward things you can do to help with your body composition. Fit people are generally able to utilise stored fat more efficiently and I have found that exercise promotes healthier eating habits. There are a number of components of fitness (strength, speed, flexibility, power etc.) and you should focus on improving all of them. You should do a mix of cardio and strength training to get the best results possible.
  3. Take time off exercise and dieting regimes. The recovery period is just as beneficial as the training/dieting period and the time off promotes longevity and full adaption to what you’re doing.
  4. Make peace with who you are. Your weight does not define you nor is it a moral failing to be overweight. Focus on what you can change, and let go of the rest.

This tip concludes our 12 Tips of Christmas and Rachel and I would like to thank you for all your support in 2017 and we hope to have your continued support in 2018. From our family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and safe and prosperous New Year.


  1. Gaesser, G.A., et al., Fitness versus Fatness: Which Influences Health and Mortality Risk the Most?Current Sports Medicine Reports, 2015. 14(4): p. 327-332.
  2. Barry, V.W., et al., Fitness vs. Fatness on All-Cause Mortality: A Meta-Analysis Progress in Cardiovascular Disease 2014. 56(4): p. 382-390.
  3. Stefan, N., et al., Metabolically healthy obesity: epidemiology, mechanisms, and clinical implications.The Lancet, 2013. 1(2): p. 152-162.
  4. Hamer, M. and E. Stamatakis, Metabolically Healthy Obesity and Risk of All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2012. 97(7): p. 2482-2488.
  5. Matheson, E., D. King, and C. Everett, Healthy lifestyle habits and mortality in overweight and obese individuals. J Am Board Fam Med, 2012. 25(1).
Close Menu