What's Making Us Fatter?

By Sandra Prior

A simple tomato sandwich has around 240 calories. A teaspoon of table sugar has only 15 calories. To use up this small amount of energy, all you need do is sleep for 20 minutes or take 10 minutes styling your hair. Or just reading this article should burn up a spoonful. Add playing the piano for 10 minutes and taking a quick shower and you will have used up most of the calories from the table sugar the average person consumes in a day.

Why then is obesity on the increase and reaching epidemic proportions? The main cause of weight gain is a lack of perspective. Weight gain is a result of eating more food than we can use up living, laughing, loving and working. Put quite simply, no particular food can be singled out as the culprit, although it probably helps to point out that a gram of fat has twice the calories of a gram of table sugar. But it gets more interesting. An ever increasing body of scientific research on table sugar shows that some of it in the diet actually helps to curb cravings, helps prevent bingeing sessions and aids adherence to healthier, low fat diets.

Table sugar is just a natural carbohydrate, nothing more, nothing less. It is nature’s own sweetener, made up equally of fructose, and glucose. It has been used to make good food more palatable and fun for hundreds of years in exactly the same form as today.

Build a Better Breakfast

Before your next ‘well balanced’ breakfast of oats and fresh fruit, ask yourself this, ‘where’s the protein and fat?’ After all, with the exception of eggs and sausage, typical breakfast foods – cereal, fruit, toast, pastries and juice – provide you with almost nothing but carbohydrates, often in the form of sugar. That means more morning meals are highly unbalanced.

Most bodybuilders’ already know they need high quality protein – the kind found in meat, eggs and dairy – to nourish and build muscle. But fat is important at your morning meal too. That’s because, along with the protein, it slows the absorption of carbohydrates into your bloodstream, providing you with a steady supply of energy – instead of a quick sugar rush (often followed by a sugar crash). And by keeping you full longer, this protein/fat combo can also help shrink your midsection.

In a recent study, researches found that when people had eggs for breakfast, they ate 1050 fewer kilojoules during the rest of the day than when they had a bagel instead. Of course, you don’t need a written article to tell you how to make scrambled eggs. So here are some new ways to fill your belly, feed your muscles and energize your body first thing in the morning.

Toast with Tuna

Think of it this way. You’re simply trading high sugar jam for high protein tuna salad. It’s easy to make ahead of time, and by tweaking the conventional recipe to include cranberries, you get a hint of jam sweetness.

1170 can solid tuna, in brine

2 tbsp dried cranberries, roughly chopped

onion, minced

1 tbsp mayonnaise

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together. Serve a scoop on a piece of toasted wholegrain bread. Makes 2 servings.

Berry High Protein Yoghurt

With this recipe, you control the ingredients, the manufacturer doesn’t. And that means you can ensure it’s free of hard to avoid added sugar, while nearly having triple the protein of most ready to eat yoghurts.

450g plain yoghurt

2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened mixed berries

4 scoops (about 80g) vanilla or strawberry whey-protein powder

Sweetener to taste (optional)

Line a two cup mesh strainer with a paper coffee filter and place it over a mixing bowl. Fill the filter with the yoghurt, cover with a clean cloth or waxed paper, and set the bowl (with strainer inside) in the fridge for several hours. Much of the liquid from the yoghurt will drain into the bowl, resulting in thicker yoghurt. In a blender, puree the berries along with the whey-protein powder and sweetener. Once the yoghurt has drained, place it in a large bowl and stir in the berry puree. Serve in one cup portions and store for up to three days. Makes 4 cups.

Almond Pecan Waffles

These high protein waffles boost the protein and fat intake, while dialing back the carbs. You can make almond flower by chopping slivered almonds in a food processor.

1 cup almond flour

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1 cup whey protein powder

1 tsp baking powder

110g low fat plain cream cheese, softened

6 eggs

1 cup whipping or fresh cream

While your waffle iron preheats, combine the almond flour, pecans, whey protein powder and baking powder in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the cream cheese and two eggs until smooth. Add the remaining eggs one at a time and whisk thoroughly after each. Mix in the cream, then stir in the dry ingredients. Spoon about a third of the cup of batter onto the hot waffle iron and cook for about three minutes, until golden brown. Top with low sugar syrup (recipe below), peanut butter or fresh fruit. To let them cool, place in a zip lock bag and freeze. When you ready to eat one, just pop it into the toaster. Makes about 6 18cm waffles.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

These pancakes are not only packed with high quality protein, but also lighter and fluffier than the classic versions. Serve with a bit of butter and five milliliters of low sugar syrup and cinnamon for each pancake. Using sugarlite cuts the kilojoules by nearly two thirds.

Low Sugar Syrup

500ml Sugarlite (Hulletts)

2/3 cup fat free milk

Combine ingredients in a pot, stir occasionally, bringing it to the boil. Stir continuously till it reaches the thread stage, remove from stove and pour over pancakes.


1 cup cottage cheese

2 eggs

1 cup of butter

1 cup milk

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg (optional)

In a large bowl, stir together the cheese, eggs, butter and milk. Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and nutmeg, and blend lightly until just mixed. Grease a griddle with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Put a large scoop of batter on the griddle and use the back of a spoon to spread it out evenly. The pancake is ready to flip when you begin to see small air bubbles form, about three to four minutes. Flip and cook for another minute or two. Makes about 12 10cm pancakes.

Mocha Custard

A 350ml frappuccino contains 44g sugar and a hefty dose of caffeine, but hardly any nutrients. And really, should you ever spend R15 on a glorified cup of coffee? Instead, try this custard alternative. It will provide you with a jolt of java, a 21g infusion of protein and a hefty dose of coconut fat, which contains a healthy type of saturated fat (called lauric acid) that boosts immunity.

1 430ml can coconut milk

2 cups strong coffee (regular or decaf)

3 eggs, beaten

3 scoops (about 60g) chocolate whey protein powder

Sweetener to taste

Pinch of salt

In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, coffee, beaten eggs, whey protein powder, sweetener and salt. Whisk to mix well. Gently cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken and lightly coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, pour into a covered pitcher, and cool quickly by placing the pitcher into an ice water bath until it’s half submerged. Serve chilled in one cup portions for a quick breakfast. Or blend it with crushed ice until smooth and thick for a frozen mocha treat. Makes 4 cups.

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