Forget fads, get retro to fight flab

Q: What do you get when you cross a donut with a croissant? A: Fat.
Q: What do you get when you cross a donut with a croissant? A: Fat. 

Years before Hunter S. Thompson died and Johnny Depp blast his ashes into the Colorado sky through a cannon, he penned a quote I love: "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

OK, I doubt that between drug binges Hunter S. went pro with CrossFit or marathons. But in 2013, this quote is more applicable than ever in the health and fitness industry. Three things in the news lately make me worry that the future of health and fitness is looking bleak … and fat.

1. The cronut

I thought the hotdog-wrapped-in-pizza-crust was a new low, but chefs are taking it to the next level so that waistbands stretch even further around the globe. Meet the cronut.

When a croissant has sex with a donut, out comes a cronut. In New York City, Frenchman Dominique Ansel is the entrepreneurial pimp, er, chef, who takes three days to make 200 to 250 cronuts which sell out in an hour. Wall Street gluttony lives on, and even in Sydney, our famous Adriano Zumbo started making "zonuts".

Pastry chefs around the world are jumping on the craze … and to avoid trademark (yes, cronut is trademarked in numerous countries) infringement, they call them craynuts, doughssants, and doissants. How creative. Crap food has gone hybrid, and it's serious (even legal) business.

2. AquaSpinning

Yes, the weird have gone pro - and hybrid on their bike, as well. Popular in Europe and making its way into the US, AquaSpinning (riding a stationary bicycle in the water) is all the rage. You heard that right – it's a bike. In a pool. Didn't Bono already cover that when he sang "... like a fish needs a bicycle…"? Let's keep it simple with bikes on the road and swimming in the pool.

3. Belviq

If you eat too many cronuts, and your bike rusts in the pool, don't worry because this past week the US Food and Drug Administration has just approved the first weight loss drug in over 10 years – Belviq. The results? A 3.7 per cent weight decrease in a year. When I first read that, I thought: "Ummmmmm, is that it?"

According to their website: "Belviq is believed to decrease food consumption and promote satiety by selectively activating serotonin 2C receptors in the brain. Activation of these receptors may help a person eat less and feel full after eating smaller amounts of food. The exact mechanism of action is not known."

Belviq's warnings and adverse reaction list is too long and scary to note here. A global weight loss cure? I doubt it.

Hybrid pastries, hybrid exercise … and pills, pills, and more pills. I officially throw my arms up and worry about the future, especially when the answers all lie in the past, and are usually simple.

Whether you are a derivative-trading desk jockey or work on the assembly line, when things get complicated, a back-to-basics approach usually provides the answer. Here's two ways you can take your food and fitness retro and get the weight loss results you want:

1. Quinoa

Quinoa is a gluten-free grain and has been eaten for thousands of years in South America, and it's a must in any healthy diet. Why? Three reasons:

a) Amino acids are important for energy, muscle gain, and weight loss. Quinoa is a protein-rich food that contains the nine essential amino acids. For you protein drinkers out there, a meal of quinoa and steak (or salmon, chicken, pork, lamb) has more protein grams than you can ever suck through a straw;

b) You can replace unhealthy white rice (polished and stripped of its nutrients) with quinoa. It's tastier, and it's a healthier, nutrient dense option; and

c) Quinoa is full of fibre. Fibre is healthy. Fibre makes you poop. Enough said.

I don't care that marketers call it a superfood or supergrain. All I know is quinoa tastes superb, and it's great for my health. I'm late to the quinoa party, as all the green smoothie hippies have been on this stuff for years. Go on, you can bust my chops. But if today's column gets just a few readers off the white rice and protein drinks, then Boot Camp has done its job.

2. Running

Each morning, I leave my abode and head down to Sydney Harbour, and I'm amazed at how few runners (sometimes none) I see compared to warmer months. A chilly morning run elevates your metabolism for the day, increases your energy … and so much more. It will change your day, and maybe your life.

The simple message is this: running still works. Push-ups still work. Squats, sit-ups, lunges, pull-ups, and all the basic bodyweight movements … still work! Add some healthy food, and I guarantee they provide results far greater than 3.7 per cent with a splash of side-effects.

Quinoa and running: ancient, time-tested weight loss solutions. I'll brand my hybrid, antique solution 'Health-tique'. Get it? Watch out Monsieur Cronut. I'm coming for you.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn … Health-tique. Spread that quote if you like, and please spread some quinoa around your fleshy protein.

I won't send you cronut recipes, but if you fancy my Health-tique quinoa recipes that have changed my breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the good, drop me a note at You'll love it.

What's the one HEALTHY food you couldn't live without?