Nutrition and Calorie Tips

‘Just a quick festive drink…’

‘Just a quick festive drink…’ 🥤

At this time of year all the coffee shops bring out their range of festive coffees and hot chocolates. You’re out Christmas shopping, or meeting up with friends and family, so you just grab a quick festive drink to enjoy and get you in the festive spirit. You’ll drink it in minutes, and possibly have a snack with it, without really thinking or noticing. But that’s ok, because it’s just a festive hot choc, and it’s Christmas….

These drinks do vary but are all pretty high calorie. This particular example is a Cafe Nero hot grande salted caramel hot chocolate – with skimmed milk (not even semi or whole milk) and comes in at over 500 cals and almost 60g sugar.

On the other hand that selection box contains 5 chocolate bars, with less calories and sugar. Now whilst I’m sure you could eat a selection box in one sitting (I certainly could) most people probably wouldn’t . You’d probably spread it over a few hours or possibly days, rather than eating it all in one go and certainly wouldn’t have it with a snack (unlike the hot choc).

Christmas is definitely a time to relax a bit on calories and certainly a time to focus more on sharing memories and happy times with people you care about. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of the calories in some of the treats you are having.

Knowledge is power so being aware of the calorie content of things, and also of our own perceptions of the things we consume is always a good thing.

If you want the festive drink – have it and enjoy it. If you want to eat your way through a selection box in one go then go for it. Just be aware of the calories so you’re making an educated choice!

Merry Christmas 🎄


Nutrition and Calorie Tips

Estimating amounts is hard…

Estimating amounts is hard…. 🥪

I’m always telling my clients to try to be as accurate as possible when they’re tracking their food and calories. This means actually weighing things – particularly anything that is calorie dense.

Very often people tell me that they’re “pretty good” at estimating the amounts they’re having, that they have the same thing each day so they know what it looks like now, that they can estimate pretty well etc. I’m sure some can, but I know I can’t. I can at first but then often amounts creep up without you even realising it.

In this example on the left is 5g butter on an 80 cal slice of white toast, on the right is the same toast with 15g butter!

As you can see they look pretty similar to the naked eye, yet the calorie difference is significan. It would be very easy to assume you were using around 5g butter but actually be using closer to 15g or more! It may not matter now and then but these calories do add up. And if that’s just butter, what about other things? With less calorie dense foods it won’t matter as much but with calorie dense foods (e.g. nut butters, spreads, cheese, avocado etc) when you get it wrong you’re adding a large number of calories. This is also why measure like “a scape of butter are no good – what’s a scrape? my scrape may not be your scrape etc

So if you are trying to lose fat/watching your calories maybe it’s time to go back and get those scales out and double check those estimates and see if you really are as good as you think you are.



Nutrition and Calorie Tips

A healthy snack of dried fruit…

A healthy snack of dried fruit… 🍇

Fruit makes a great healthy snack and we’re encouraged to swap chocolate and biscuits for fruit instead… but be careful about the fruit you’re actually having.

Many people will happily snack on dried fruit thinking it’s a great way to lose weight. Now whilst there’s nothing wrong with dried fruit at all, as it’s full of fibre and vitamins, it’s also much higher in calories (mostly from sugar) than fresh fruit. And you’re far more likely to over eat it. It’s easy to eat a whole packet of raisins for example but you’re a lot less likely to eat an entire bunch of grapes (and in fact you could eat 4 bunches and still be consuming fewer calories.

The reason the raisins are so much higher in calories is because they’ve lost 95 percent of their water content leaving mostly sugar and fibre, in a much smaller package. This ramps up the sugar and calorie content, so 100g of dried fruit can be more than 4 times more calories than fresh fruit, and less filling.

So if fat loss is your goal consider the type of fruit you’re snacking on, and be mindful of how much dried fruit you’re consuming and don’t be afraid of fresh fruit.



Nutrition and Calorie Tips

Swaps to save calories….

Swaps to save calories…. 🥤🍟 🍫

When I’m working with clients for sustainable fat and weight loss one of the big things I try to encourage is making some ‘easy’ swaps that they can incorporate into their diet. to save calories. It’s not about replacing something you love with something you hate (that will never work and will make you feel like you’re deprived) but there are some swaps you can make which you may not even really notice. Or they may be compromises which you’re willing to make.

This is a selection of some of the common ones and although individually some of the calorie savings may seem small it’s amazing how they all add up. Some involve similar tasting but lower calorie products, others are a portion size thing too. Obviously there are loads more – but I have tried to present a few of the main ones that my clients have used and enjoyed. Let me know about your own swaps too!

Here’s the list:

⁃ Oven chips (100g) 157cals vs 100g potatoes and oil spray (ten sprays) 83 cals

⁃ Lean beef mince (250g) 313 cals vs meat free mince (250g) 225 cals

⁃ 15ml olive oil 125 cals vs fry light olive oil spray 1 cal per spray (so even using 25 sprays is still a massive saving)

⁃ Bacon rashers (3) 180 cals vs Turkey Rashers (3) 72 cals

⁃ Cheddar cheese (20g) 85 cals vs babybel light (20g) 42 cals

⁃ Kettle Chips Small bag 205 cals vs pop chips 94 cals

⁃ Ben and Jerrys tub 1125 cals vs halo top tub 320 cals

⁃ Mars bar 228 cals vs curly wurly 118 cals

⁃ Grab bag Haribo 649 cals vs 3 mini bags 162 cals

⁃ Medium whole milk latte 237 cals vs skinny Americano 25 cals

⁃ Gin and tonic (single) 93 cals vs Gin and slimline tonic 64 cals

⁃ San pellegrino Lemonade drink 71 cals vs 7up zero lemonade drink 0 cals

⁃ Pint of London Pride Ale 199 cals vs Michelob Ultra 95 cals

Remember as part of a balanced diet it’s not a problem including some lower calorie options, especially if they mean you actually stick to it! If you want any help with making swaps just shout!



Nutrition and Calorie Tips

Just a walk…

Just a walk… 🚶🏼‍♀️

I shared this back in the summer but as this second lockdown progresses I’ve noticed a lot of my clients are beating themselves up over not doing “enough exercise”. In many cases they’ve been trying to work from home again, and run the household etc. Some days they’re managing to fit in a workout, others they’re not and they’re feeling guilty about it, and worrying about the loss of those activity calories they “should” be burning.

During this time one thing most people are can manage is to walk more, making the most of the allowed outdoor exercise. This is often not viewed as something which contributes to those activity calories, but it’s actually doing more good.

It’s natural to associate cardio workouts with burning loads of calories; you feel sweaty and breathless so you feel like you’re working hard. A 45 min HIIT for example is very tough and regardless how hard you’re working you’re going to be feeling it. However, it may be hard to motivate yourself to commit to a 45 min session at home when there are so many other things shouting for your attention (children (literally!), work, house chores etc). In contrast an hour’s walk doesn’t feel particularly strenuous, it may be something you do anyway to walk the dog, get the shopping or get out the house for bit, and it in fact burns more calories than the workouts.

I did this experiment on myself back in the summer so the numbers will vary according to your age, height, weight and fitness levels but the principal is the same (independent studies show this too). A one hour walk a day will burn significantly more calories than a 45 min HIIT workout. So if you’re not managing a workout every day – don’t stress, especially if you’re managing to go for a walk. In addition 7 days of HIIT workouts is actually NOT a good idea – studies have shown these workouts impact negatively on sleep if you’re doing too many a week. Obviously there are cardiovascular and health benefits to the HIIT workouts which are equally as important as calories burnt so don’t ditch them completely but my point is that you shouldn’t feel guilty if all you manage is a walk on some days.