Nutrition and Calorie Tips

The ‘health’ halo effect ….

The ‘health’ halo effect 😇….

The “health halo” effect is something we all fall prey to. It’s the perception that certain foods are better for you than others due to their perceived health benefits. Usually terms like “organic”, “plant based”, “high protein”, “contains one of your five a day” are used on the packaging and there’s an assumption that this means they’re the best choice.

Now before anyone reacts – I’m not suggesting a Mcdonalds cheeseburger is a “healthy” option, nor am I suggesting it’s got more health benefits than the Biona Black bean and cashew burger. They’re both very different nutritionally, and they both taste very different too. But for many people trying to lose fat or weight they might naturally assume that instead of having a cheeseburger for lunch, they’d be better off having the Biona burger. However in actual fact that “healthy” burger has more calories and fat than the cheeseburger, and less protein. The cheeseburger is also lower in salt. The Biona burger doesn’t include the bun and other extras (including cheese) either so you’d be looking at perhaps another 300 or more calories on top (and the associated extra fat and salt).

So if you needed a quick lunch, and really fancied a cheeseburger, you’d be far better off just having one. I’m certainly not suggesting your whole diet be made up of “junk food”, but it’s important to be wary of these marketing ploys which make you perceive things as being “healthy” and therefore lower calorie and helpful for weight loss. At the end of the day, as always, it comes down to calories. If you want to lose fat or weight, then you need to be at a calorie deficit. And it’s important to still have foods you enjoy as part of an overall balanced diet. So have the cheeseburger for lunch if you want it, and then have a dinner with a range of whole foods and vegetables etc.

Be curious about what you’re putting in your body, look at the nutritional labels on food and don’t always assume the branded “health” food is the best choice.



Nutrition and Calorie Tips

‘It’s not worth recording…..’

‘It’s not worth recording…..’ ☕️

If you’re trying to lose fat and are working on reducing calories then you’re probably going to be recording your cals somehow. But are you really recording everything? It’s very easy to overlook some things because they seem so insignificant.

This is just an example of an average week for many people and where extra calories can sneak in. An extra spoonful of granola with brekkie every day (282 cals), a dash of milk in your tea or coffee (assuming 2 cups a day – 560 cals), a scraping of mayonnaise on your lunchtime sandwich (3 times a week – 300 cals), a slug of oil for cooking (3 meals – 360 cals), a sneaky spoonful of peanut butter because you’re hungry (237 cals), low sugar squash (a mere 18 cals for 100ml, but 3 litres of squash over the week – 540 cals), a few cashew nuts in the afternoon (a few every day – 221 cals), a squirt of ketchup with meals (5 meals – 172 cals), a drizzle of dressing on salads (3 salads – 540 cals), and finally gravy or similar sauces on your Sunday Roast (200 cals)…. That little lot totals 3, 412 cals over the course of a week. And let’s be honest for many of us we probably have even more of some of these….

But hey, they’re not worth recording right? Wrong! A sensible calorie deficit for fat loss is around 200 – 300 cals per day. With this little lot you’ve wiped out your weekly deficit without even noticing. All these little extras sneak in without really affecting how full we feel and without us noticing but they can really add up.

So if you are trying to lose fat, or your fat (weight) loss has stalled perhaps go back to basics and double check where some little extras could be coming in? And be a bit more mindful of these, or simply record them and have them within your daily calories. 🤗


Nutrition and Calorie Tips

‘The reduced sugar myth….’

‘The reduced sugar myth….’ 🍫

Sugar is often vilified as the cause of all health issues and as a result many companies have latched on to the idea that people are keen to reduce their sugar consumption. Now whilst sugar in excess amounts is undoubtedly not good (no nutrient in excess is) normal amounts of sugar in the diet are absolutely fine. However if you’re diabetic or trying to reduce your reliance on sugary snacks then it may be sensible to opt for some lower sugar options.

If you’re trying to lose weight (fat) then you may also decide to reduce sugar consumption. Many people equate lower sugar to mean lower calorie and would therefore go for the reduced sugar option in the belief that it would help them lose weight. In this example the actual difference is pretty insignificant.

A standard Cadbury Dairy Milk contains 534 cals per 100g, whilst the reduced sugar version contains 503 cals – a reduction of 31, which is unlikely to result in weight loss. Yes, every little bit counts, but the expectation would probably be that it was much lower and therefore you may eat a larger portion, or expect bigger fat losses from this small change.

Cadbury’s are undoubtedly aware of this as they’ve made their standard bar size for the reduced sugar option a smaller size – 85g rather than the usual 110g of a normal dairy milk. So at first glance you’d assume it was a lower calorie option. It’s not really – it’s just a smaller bar! Clever eh?

So if you’re trying to reduce your calories and are going for the reduced sugar versions of things you love just take some time to check the calories and portion sizes and see if there really is a difference. If you enjoy the reduced sugar option and it helps to keep you on track then go for it! But don’t pay more for a marketing ploy when you don’t need to. Enjoy the chocolate you like, in moderation, as part of a balanced diet 🤗


Nutrition and Calorie Tips

‘Bad’ fries or ‘good’ nuts…

‘Bad’ fries or ‘good’ nuts… 🍟

If you had snacked on a bag of small fries you would probably be feeling guilty that you’d chosen a ‘bad’ option. In contrast if you’d had 50g of Brazil nuts you would probably be polishing your halo for having such a ‘good’ snack.

Now before anyone jumps down my throat I am not suggesting Mcdonald’s fries are healthier than Brazil nuts. From a nutritional point of view the Brazil nuts are definitely a better choice. They’ve also been shown to reduce HDL cholesterol levels amongst other benefits. They contain heart-healthy fatty acids, such as polyunsaturated fats, and are rich in antioxidants, minerals, and fibre. They are the best source of the mineral selenium which is essential for the immune system, thyroid and cell function. They are calorie dense though.

McDonald’s fries on the other hand have no redeeming features other than the fact they may taste good. They’re not a nutrient dense food.

However they are lower calorie than the Brazil nuts.

So if your goal was fat loss and you decided to just replace those fries you have every Saturday afternoon with the Brazil nuts because they’re ‘good’ you’d actually be consuming more calories. Thereby not helping your goal.

Am I suggesting you should choose fries over Brazil nuts? No of course not! But if you enjoy occasional bags of fries then have them. If you like Brazil nuts then have them. But just educate yourself on the number of calories and consume them within your total calorie goal. Blindly choosing foods just because they’re perceived to be ‘good’ isn’t a sensible approach. No foods are inherently good or bad – they just have different costs and benefits. The Brazil nuts give you lots of great nutrients, the fries may help you stay on track and give you some pleasure – both are fine!

Enjoy 🤗xx

Nutrition and Calorie Tips

‘Lunch isn’t great, I tend to have a sandwich…’

‘Lunch isn’t great, I tend to have a sandwich…’ 🥪

Something I hear a lot from my clients is that ‘their lunch isn’t great as they just ended up having a sandwich’….. There’s a perception that a sandwich is an inherently bad choice when it comes to lunch. Often this stems from the idea that carbs (aka bread) are bad or ‘dirty’ and should be avoided. I hear them berating themselves for going for the sandwich option.

In contrast something like the Pret Californian salmon salad is viewed as a great option – because it’s ‘clean’ and therefore ‘good’. The fact that it’s a salad helps to create this image, and the fact that it’s loaded with protein and good fats from the salmon help too.

In reality both are great lunch options. The salmon salad does contain lots of great nutrients and will certainly fill you up – but with the dressing it’s a hefty 541 calories. The tuna and sweetcorn sandwich on the other hand is only 329 cals, is also loaded with protein and good fats and will also keep you full. It’s also a lot cheaper and more widely available.

So if you have the calories and want the Pret salad – go for it! If you prefer a sandwich, or just find the sandwich a more convenient cost effective option then go for that! It’s a perfect package of carbs, protein and fats to keep you satisfied.

Foods aren’t ‘dirty’ or ‘clean’, or ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – they’re just foods. Aside from fuelling you they also have to fit in to your lifestyle. As part of a balanced diet you can have both of these – totally guilt free!

Enjoy 🤗 xx

Nutrition and Calorie Tips

How weight loss actually works….

How weight loss actually works….

Most people measure their fat loss progress by stepping on the scales. The scale can create an all or nothing mentality and can impact not only your happiness but your behaviour. If the scales don’t go down when you’ve been ‘good’ then what’s the point? You may as well throw the towel in and enjoy that cake!

But scale weight isn’t a great measure of progress, mainly because it can’t differentiate between muscle, fat, water or anything else. It just measures the relationship your body mass has with gravity. Sometimes body composition can change without any weight change, e.g. if you gain additional muscle, lose bodyfat and improve hydration you could see minimal weight change. Fat and muscle weigh the same but 1kg of fat is approx 4 times larger than 1kg of muscle, meaning you could very well be smaller and heavier.

Your weight also fluctuates wildly every day. Between morning and afternoon your weight can fluctuate up to 6kg depending on what you eat and drink, and how you exercise. If you drink 2-3 litres of water a day that’s up to 3kg. Then how much do you pee, sweat and breathe out over the day? It’s impossible to measure. Our bodies are mainly water so changes in hydration cause significant weight fluctuations.

In addition a bowel full of food, fibrous or salty meals, and hormonal changes can all influence weight and cause greater daily fluctuations so real change can be hidden. For example, I weighed myself Saturday night, then first thing Sunday and again at 1pm – there was 2kg increase overnight, but a 3 kg loss during Sunday morning! I obviously didn’t put on 2kg overnight or lose 3kg of fat in 6 hours. Depending when I weighed could massively impact how I felt about myself and my progress.

We’re conditioned to focus on weight but instead try to use other measures e.g. items of clothing and how they fit, or cm measurements etc. If you really can’t help stepping on the scales then look at averages over time rather than individual daily variations and focus on trends the long term. 🤗 xx

Nutrition and Calorie Tips

‘I’m trying to lose weight so I’m avoiding carbs ….

‘I’m trying to lose weight so I’m avoiding carbs ….’ 🍞

There is a common misconception that carbs are inherently ‘bad’ and that in order to lose weight you need to cut them out or avoid them completely. This usually means people cut out bread, pasta, rice, potatoes etc.

However they continue to eat fruit and veg without thinking twice when many actually contain more carbs. For example compared to a slice of bread a small Banana contains more calories, 3 times as many carbs and 15 times as much sugar! Now that doesn’t make the banana bad either – but why would you avoid the bread if you like it, yet happily eat the banana if you’re trying to avoid carbs?

In reality there is no reason at all to cut carbs from your diet. You can lose weight with or without carbs – it’s all about calories. Now obviously some people have medical reasons to avoid things like bread (coeliacs etc) but for the majority of people these foods are fine. The reason you may see weight loss when cutting these sorts of carbs is simply because you’re reducing your overall calorie intake. However unless you never want to eat carbs again then you’re not really setting yourself up for sustainable, long term weight management.

Obviously different carbs have different pros and cons – complex carbs will keep you fuller longer, whilst simple carbs (fruits mostly) will provide a faster hit of energy, you’ll get different nutrients from the different types too.

It’s important to have a balanced diet – including a range of carbs from bread to fruit. What works for you may not work for someone else and you may prefer to reduce consumption carbs, but it’s important to be informed about what’s actually in the food you’re eating before you make that choice. Cutting out whole food groups is never a sensible or sustainable approach though.

Personally I enjoy all sorts of carbs – from bread, to fruit, to pasta, to potatoes – to doughnuts! Eat the carbs you like and enjoy and just be mindful of the calories! 🤗