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

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Pre-workout coffee?

Tuesday Tip: Pre-workout coffee? ☕️

Coffee as a pre-workout is something that’s often recommended social media and fitness blogs but does it really help?

A recent study found that consuming even a small amount of caffeine before and during exercise can help people exercise almost a third longer. A study tested found that those who consumed caffeine whilst cycling were able to keep going for longer than those who drank water, delaying fatigue by up to 60%. The only drawback is that caffeine is also a diuretic, so it can cause dehydration. Other studies have however shown the dehydrating effect to be minimal and the consensus is that moderate consumption of caffeine is ok.

Other studies have shown that caffeine can trigger muscles to start using fat as an energy source, but this is only occurs when other energy sources are depleted. In endurance athletes for example, caffeine is used to get extra energy out of the body’s reserves during an event So in isolation it won’t magically burn body fat for you sadly.

Researchers have also found that caffeine can help reduce muscle pain. The study in The Journal of Pain found that caffeine (compared to a placebo) reduced thigh-muscle pain during exercise (which can mean being able to continue for longer) .

So overall caffeine does indeed enhance performance and makes it ‘easier’ to put in more effort during exercise. These effects are more noticeable during endurance exercise (over 90 mins). Caffeine also plays a role in helping contribute to clearer thinking and greater concentration. The effects are greater in those that rarely have caffeinated drinks as tolerance is built up, and the effect varies wildly from person to person.

So do you need to start necking an espresso before you workout? Probably not, but it could help on days when you need a little extra boost to get through your workout. However, caffeine can also have unwanted effects and its use can result in caffeine jitters, headaches, upset stomach or insomnia, and excessive consumption can have serious health risks, so best to use it only if you’re already a caffeine drinker.

Happy Tuesday 🤗

Xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Eating out, on track

Tuesday Tip: Eating out, on track 🍽

With restaurants reopening I know a lot of people are heading back our for meals etc. So I thought it would be useful to go over a few tips to help you stay on track, when when eating out.

Look up the menu in advance and decide what you will have, or a few options that you fancy. Then reverse engineer your day around it – log the meal, and fit your other meals around it.

You may want to prioritise lean protein for your main course e.g. steak and salad. But be mindful that restaurant portions are 2-3 times bigger than those you’d have at home, so consider a doggy bag.

Try to choose 1 or 2 courses rather than 3 if you can. Remember you’re the customer – if you want starter and dessert, or 2 starters, or even 2 desserts you can do that! You don’t have to go for starter, main and dessert.

Avoid extras – bread, olives, nibbles, oil, dressings etc. Ask for sauces on the side and you can decide how much you want to use. Ask for your veggies without butter etc too and be mindful of liquid calories (both alcoholic and non alcoholic).

Choose your indulgence – perhaps it’s booze, or the dessert, or the bread basket – whatever it is (for me it’s always dessert!), rather than having them all! It’s ok to enjoy a meal out but if you want to stick to your calorie targets then you can’t have it all.

Focus on the company and conversation – that’s what you’ll remember from the meal. It won’t be the food or that glass of wine, it will be the laughs and stories with your friends or family that you remember in months and years to come, not whether you had dessert or not!

Happy Tuesday 🤗

Xx