Nutrition and Calorie Tips

Why you shouldn’t eat back your exercise calories….

Why you shouldn’t eat back your exercise calories…. 🏃🏼‍♀️

Many of us use activity trackers / fitness watches; they’re fab tools to monitor activity and motivate us to get fitter, but they can also cause some issues.

The main issue is the figure they provide for calories burned, particularly when linked to food logging apps. Apps like myfitnesspal give you a daily calorie target or budget to spend, based on your current stats, goals and activity levels. If you have a tracker linked then it automatically adds any calories burned to this figure e.g if your goal is 1700 cals and you burn 500 cals in spin it gives you 2200 cals to ‘spend’ (eat).

Great! So you can eat more right? Wrong! You shouldn’t be eating back those exercise calories. Aside from the fact that you have already accounted for your activity level in the daily calorie goal, the main issue is that the tracker is overestimating calories burned. Recent studies found that, despite being pretty accurate for heart rate readings, devices overestimated calories burned by 27 – 93% ! If we assume a 40% error rate you can see on the graph how much it overestimates (blue is actual burn, red is the tracker reading) e.g. a long walk burns 1500 cals on the tracker, but if you ate those back you’re actually over eating by 300 and 1450 cals!

This is why if you’re eating back those exercise calories you could easily wipe out the calorie deficit. Best-case, it slows progress, worst-case you overeat and put on weight. Also, as you get leaner and fitter the calories burnt in general activity and exercise decreases, so you’re burning even fewer calories than the device is reporting.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t record workouts and steps; it’s a great way to look at your relative effort and fitness. Use them as a way to encourage more activity but not as a reason to eat more. In the paid version of myfitnesspal you can choose not to add those extra calories, or simply un-link your tracker so it no longer gets that info.

So if you workout as a way to increase your calorie expenditure, that’s fine, just don’t eat back those calories, as it defeats the entire point of increasing activity in the first place.

🤗 xx

Nutrition and Calorie Tips

Being ‘good’ and having the weight watchers digestive biscuit instead of the ‘bad’ normal version…

Being ‘good’ and having the weight watchers digestive biscuit instead of the ‘bad’ normal version…🍪

Most people would assume that the weight watchers (or other weight loss brand foods) are automatically a more virtuous choice of biscuit. Whilst tucking in to a couple of normal chocolate digestives would be considered ‘bad’. In reality they’re almost the same in terms of overall calories per 100g and have similar sugar levels. The main difference is the price and the actual serving size itself. The weight watcher’s biscuits are much smaller – so you get less calories per biscuit BUT it’s so noticeable that you’re likely to end up having more biscuits to compensate. So it’s just a way to trick you in to thinking they’re better. The other major difference is price – over twice the price for the weight watchers biscuits!

So if you really love a chocolate digestive you’re probably better off getting the real ones, enjoying one or two, within your calories and feeling like you’ve had what you actually want. If you actually like the weight watchers ones then obviously go for it, but don’t automatically assume these weight loss branded foods are always the better option. Sometimes they’re the same or worse than other brands. If you enjoy them then definitely have them, but if you’re only having them because you think they’re ‘good’ then think again.

Read the labels and look at the calories and then make your choice.

No foods are good or bad, enjoy the ones you actually want to eat, and just be aware of the calories! 🤗xx

Nutrition and Calorie Tips

Cereal offenders…

Cereal offenders… 🥣

We are often told that higher protein is a better option when it comes to healthy food choice. Recently brands have been capitalising on this by marketing their products and releasing new products as high in protein or as a ‘protein’ version.

There is evidence that higher protein can help with weight management – but only because it helps to make you feel fuller, which therefore makes you less likely to consume more calories later. The end result is hopefully that you stick to your calories and are able to maintain or lose weight. Total calories are however the most important factor.

Cereals are one of the latest foods to fall victim to this. There are several brands out there now producing ‘protein’ cereals – Special K, Weetabix, Shreddies etc. You’d be forgiven for assuming the protein enhanced cereals were better for your health and to help you achieve your fat loss goals.

In reality the ‘normal’ cereal contains only 145 calories and 4.4g of protein. The protein enhanced cereal contains more calories at 182 per portion and 6g protein. So yes you are getting more protein of course, but the marginal gain in protein really isn’t worth the added calories and cost. That 1.4g of protein is not going to make a significant difference. You’d be better off having the cereal you want, and if you’re keen to increase protein levels then either add some Greek yoghurt instead milk, or have a snack of something that’s higher in protein later on (e.g a light mini babybel for 42 cals with 5g protein). The bonus of having the babybel or adding Greek yoghurt is that you’ll also get more fat which helps to keep you fuller for longer when combined with protein.

So if you’re a cereal lover then I wouldn’t waste your money or calories on these protein enhanced cereals (unless you actually enjoy the taste of them more of course). Either way read the labels rather than being swayed by the ‘protein’ label and make an informed choice xx 🤗

Nutrition and Calorie Tips

‘Too Much sugar….’

‘Too Much sugar….’🍬 🍎

Sugar – so often vilified as something to be avoided, something bad, the root of all our health problems… yet is it really?

The simple answer is no. We need sugar – it’s a great source of easy energy and it also tastes great. Sugar is made up of two components, fructose and glucose. The molecular structure is the same no matter where they come from. Fruit contains fructose, glucose and also some sucrose (a combination of fructose and glucose). Sweets will tend to be higher in sucrose.

Once digested the sugar from 40g of haribo has the same effect in terms of calories as the sugar from an apple. It’s not worse, and no better. There is a however a difference in how it’s metabolised – fructose is metabolised in the liver so doesn’t produce the same blood sugar high and insulin response – fruit is therefore a better choice in that respect.

In the case of the haribo you’re getting mostly just sugar (and a small amount of protein), with an apple you’re getting the sugar, fibre, vitamins and minerals. The fibre slows digestion making it more filling (and good for your gut heath). This means you’re less likely to want to eat more later, and it’s better for your blood sugar levels. So objectively the apple is a better choice health-wise.

However, foods also provide other things – such as pleasure, convenience etc. So if you’re trying to watch your calories, and you really fancy some sweets you’re better off just having them. If you’re rushing and need a quick burst of energy before a run you’re also better off going for sweets. In terms of the impact on weight/fat loss there will be no difference as long as you stay within your daily calories and are aware they will be a less filling option. And in terms of sugar content the apple is actually higher.

I’m not suggesting sweets are better than apples for you, nor that you swap all your fruit for haribo. I’m just suggesting we recognise that no foods are ‘bad’, and that as part of a balanced, healthy diet you can have both! Sometimes the haribo will be what you need, sometimes the apple!

Enjoy 🤗

Xx

Nutrition and Calorie Tips

‘Just a banana…’

‘Just a banana…’ 🍌

Bananas make a fab snack option or addition to your breakfast or lunch. They’re full of carbs for energy and a reasonable amount of fibre and are a great source of potassium. They’re also easily portable and have their own in build packaging so are handy for when you’re on the go.

However, if you are trying to lose fat/weight and watching those cals then it’s worth just being aware that bananas can pack a punch when it comes to calories and they also vary wildly. If you’re using a calorie tracking app you’ll often find entries like ‘one small banana’ or ‘one medium banana’ with the associated calories. You’d probably just enter that and assume you were pretty much right. But how small is small? What exactly is ‘medium’? Small to me may be medium to someone else and the calorie differences are pretty large!

The difference between these two bananas is nearly 100g and both are sold as ‘bananas’ – not small or large. So if you were regularly snacking on the larger one you’d be taking in almost 80 extra calories every time. That may not sound like much but over the course of a week or month that will add up. I’m not suggesting you stop having bananas – they’re fab! But just have a go at weighing the next banana you have and see exactly how many calories it does contain.

Knowledge is power right? And if you’re trying to lower that bodyfat then every calorie counts! The more aware you are of what goes in to your mouth the better!

Enjoy 🤗

Xx

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.

🤗

Xx

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. 🤗

Xx