Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Activity Tracker Caution

Tuesday Tip: Activity Tracker Caution ⌚️

Fitness trackers and smart watches are a brilliant tool to help get you moving, to track your activity and steps and to give you an idea of the intensity of your workout BUT they’re not a great tool for measuring calories burned.

The assumption is that these expensive watches are fairly accurate at measuring your calorie expenditure during exercise / daily life. The reality is most of these haven’t been tested at all and vary hugely in accuracy. A 2016 study found that whilst some trackers were only up to 8% out when sedentary they overestimated activity (including walking) by up to 40%. A further study in 2017 found some trackers overestimated exercise calorie expenditure by up to 93%!

This is why if you’re eating back your calorie burned from your tracker (or even just eating back half of them) you’re likely to be eating any calorie deficit you’ve accrued and may find you’re not losing weight/fat. So if you do have an activity tracker don’t use it to measure the calories you’ve burnt so you can go and eat them! You can however use them to measure your relative burn to see how ‘hard’ you’re working or how used to your workout you’re becoming by using it as a relative measure of effort

and by using the heart rate data. You can also them to measure steps (again accuracy varies a bit but they’re still great for seeing how active you are).

As I’ve said before – separate the exercise from the food side of things. Exercise for mental and physical well being, NOT to earn food.

Happy tracking! 🤗

xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Targeted Fat Loss Myth

Tuesday Tip: Targeted Fat Loss Myth 🔍

A common thing I hear from people is that they want to lose fat from one particular area, usually stomach, thighs, butt or arms. Often they’re trying to achieve this by focusing exercise on that area; so if it’s belly fat then lots of ab exercises, arms – loads of bicep and tricep work etc. You also see people advertising fat loss diets that will supposedly target the belly etc.

There’s just one problem: it’s impossible to target fat loss! Spot reduction (i.e. losing fat from specific areas) is a myth. You can’t magically lose fat from a specific body part just by doing exercises on that area. Our bodies can only lose fat from the entire body as a whole and where it comes off first is down to genetics and can’t be changed. Some people lose fat first from their thighs, others from their belly etc. No workout or exercise, or magic slimming drink can change this.

What does happen is that the muscles underneath get worked and get stronger, so when you do lose fat from that area you will look muscular/toned/ shapely etc. So ab exercises will target your abdominal muscles, but not the fat that sits above them. Recent studies confirm this and found that doing ab exercises had no effect on abdominal fat. Another study on professional tennis players looked at the impact on fat of the extra use of one arm and found no difference between the playing and non-playing arm.

So if you can’t spot reduce fat what do you do? You lose fat from your whole body! At some point the fat will also come off from the body part you wanted to lose fat from in the first place. Sadly you can’t influence when that happens. How do you lose body fat? By eating fewer calories or burning more calories (or a combo of the two) – all you need is a calorie deficit and you will lose fat. So you can stop those hundreds of sit-ups and focus on the food side of the equation instead!

Happy Tuesday 🤗

xx

Nutrition and Calorie Tips

Sugar is bad!!… or is it? …

Sugar is bad!!… or is it? … 🥣

I often hear and see people claiming that sugar is bad! Clients will tell me that they are “cutting back on sugar” for example. When asked what foods they mean specifically it usually includes things like biscuits, chocolate, cakes, ice cream etc. But these foods aren’t just “sugar” – they all contain significant amounts of fat too.

As you can see from this comparison – 100g of sugar contains nothing but sugar. It’s 99.9 g of carbs – no fat, no protein etc. All of those carbs are sugar. The biscuits on the other hand contain around 62g carbs, of which only 28g is actually sugar. It contains almost as much fat, other carbs and some protein etc. These foods that people commonly associate with sugar are a mixture of sugar, fat and salt which make them hyper-palatable. That means they’re designed to taste really good – which encourages you to eat more. Eating 100g of pure sugar in one sitting is actually not a pleasant experience (try it – I dare you lol!) and it isn’t something most people would do. Eating 100g of biscuits though – well thats super easy and is only 4-5 biscuits in most cases. To consume the same amount of actual sugar as pure sugar you’d need to eat 350g of biscuits in one sitting (which is over 20 biscuits!).

So this combo of sugar, fat and salt is what makes biscuits and other snacks so easy to over eat. That’s not to say biscuits are bad but they have the potential to derail you from your goals because they’re calorie dense (i.e. more cals in a smaller package) and as I said they taste great so you’re likely to eat more. So it’s not the sugar thats causing this – its the combination of ingredients in these products. So vilifying sugar is pointless and a misunderstanding of where the real issue lies. In fact sugar is actually an important nutrient and the brain’s main fuel source.

In sum, sugar isn’t “bad”, it isn’t causing you to gain fat in itself. If your diet contains a range of whole foods and is balanced overall then having the odd “sugary” snack like biscuits/cakes etc is fine – just account for it in your calories.

🤗

Xx

Recipes

Cherry Tomato Soup

We had a massive glut of cherry tomatoes in the garden this year, so I thought I’d use them for a nice, light soup! You can actually use any tomatoes you like but cherry ones do lend a lovely sweetness.

I used almost all of ours – which was around 1.5kg but you can use fewer – just reduce the other ingredients to compensate. This makes at least 6-8 bowls and it’s ridiculously low calorie – under 100 cals per bowl!

You will need:

1.5kg Cherry Tomatoes

1 large onion

2 Carrots

2 Sticks of Celery

3 tbsp Tomato Purée

1 litre vegetable stock (2 stock cubes)

1 tsp oregano or mixed herbs (to taste)

1/2 tsp Celery Salt

Dash of Worcestershire sauce (or vegetarian alternative)

I/2 tsp sugar

Salt and Pepper

Chop the onion, carrot and celery into small pieces. Depending on the size of the tomatoes cut them into halves or quarters.

Add some oil or oil spray to a large saucepan and once hot add the onions, celery and carrots. Sauté them for around ten minutes until soft and slightly coloured.

Add the tomato purée and stir well

Add the tomatoes, together with the sugar and herbs and spices. Stir to mix everything, then put the lid on the pan and let the tomatoes cook on a low heat for around ten mins. Check occasionally and stir to prevent sticking.

Once the tomatoes have started to release their juices after around ten mins, add the stock and Worcestershire sauce if using. Turn up the heat as high as it will go and wait until everything is bubbling, then turn the heat down to low again and put the lid back on the pan. Cook gently for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Depending how much liquid the tomatoes produced you may want to keep boiling a little longer to reduce it down – you can decide how thick you want your soup. (You can also add a little cornflour – mix a couple of tbsp in a bowl with cold water and then whisk that into the soup to thicken it).

You can leave it as it is if you want but I prefer to blend it. Wait for it to cool a little and then using a stick blender blend to the desired consistency. At this point you can also boil again to reduce it down if it’s still too thin for your taste.

You can freeze this for quick lunches or dinners. Serve as it is with a crusty loaf, or you can add a dollop of greek yoghurt for added creaminess!

Enjoy 🙂

Xx

Nutrition and Calorie Tips

Why diets work…

Why diets work… 🥗

There are lots of diets out there that claim to be better than any other. But what do ALL these diets have in common? And why do they work?

It’s nothing to do with any special properties of specific diets. For ANY diet to work it has to result in a calorie deficit. For some people certain diets will enable them to achieve this more easily and therefore that diet will work for them. But behind these diets are the simple maths of calories in vs out. However the issue with many diets is that they don’t educate you on the mechanism behind them and are therefore short term fixes.

Keto / low carb : omits or reduces carbs, which may reduce calories.

5:2 : limits calorie intake for 2 days a week, which may create a calorie deficit on average.

Intermittent fasting/ 16:8 : restricts the window of time you can eat in, which MAY reduce calories.

Diet clubs : assign points or values to certain foods and restrict food types, so MAY reduce calories

Shakes / Supplements : replaces meals or promotes excessive bowel movements etc which result in water loss, and a possible calorie deficit from meal replacement.

Juice cleanse/ detox : replaces whole foods with juices, resulting in fewer calories and rapid initial water loss.

Body type/blood type diet : restricts foods based on blood or body type, which may result in a calorie deficit

Spot the similarities? Many involve omitting food groups which will result in a calorie deficit. Calories can’t tell the time so methods involving not eating on certain days/times only work if you don’t overeat on others. Diet clubs help with accountability (regular weigh ins and rewards) but hide calories behind points or labels which lock you in to their method.

All of these diets can result in fat loss, but how many of them are sustainable long term, educate you on managing energy intake or build new habits? Some are actually damaging; laxative supplements and fasting can cause bowel damage, kidney damage and development of silent acid reflux etc, as well as promoting disordered eating.

So it doesn’t matter which ‘diet’ you choose, as long as it works for you – but make sure you understand WHY it works 🙂

xx