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 🤗

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Snack Triggers

Tuesday Tip: Snack triggers 🍪

Snacking can be a real issue when trying to lose fat. Being aware of the triggers can help to keep it in check.

# 1. Social Media

A recent study showed that socialising online with friends (via Facebook, Instagram etc) causes more snacking. It temporarily raises your self esteem, which lowers your self control, leading to increased snacking afterwards.

# 2 The News

Another study showed a link between watching/reading ‘bad’ news and high calorie snacking. The survey found that contemplating economic hardship and being subconsciously primed with messages to ‘live for today’ makes us seek out higher calorie foods.

# 3 Environment

The environment can trigger food cravings. A study showed that moviegoers would eat the same quantity of popcorn regardless of whether it was fresh or very stale, simply because they were ‘at the cinema’. In the same way sofa time after dinner can trigger snacking on chocolate or crisps etc.

# 4 3.23pm

3.23pm is the most likely time we are to snack, usually due to boredom, stress, and a dip in energy levels. To combat this have a balanced lunch (with protein and fats), plan in a healthy snack and save more enjoyable tasks for after lunch if you can.

# 5 Stress

Lower levels of serotonin when stressed also lead to carb cravings. Salt inhibits the body’s responses to stress. Craving salty food is the body’s way to cope with stress, so a salty, carby snack can help.

# 6 Lack of Sleep

Lack of sleep reduces your self control and willpower, and stimulates production of the hunger hormone ghrelin and lowers leptin levels (the satiety hormone). Studies found that those who are sleep-deprived eat 300 more calories per day.

# 7 Red 

The colours red, yellow and orange are appetite stimulants, making you snack and eat more. Research shows that eating in a blue room reduced calorie consumption by 33 %. So try going for bluer hued lighting, blue crockery etc.

Being aware of the possible triggers can help you to not only recognise why you’re snacking more than you want to, but make changes to prevent it.

Happy Tuesday 🤗

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

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: How to feel fuller

Tuesday Tip: How to feel fuller 😋

One of the best ways to stay on track is to keep excessive hunger in check and make sure you’re feeling full. Here are some tips to help increase fullness without increasing calories.

# 1 Focus

If you’re chatting, watching tv, even listening to fast music studies have shown you’re likely to feel less full. Focus on the food itself and remove distractions if you can.

#2 Sniff and chew

Sniff your food; smell and taste both switch on our satiety signals and help you feel fuller. Also chew more – it causes hormones that send satiety signals to be released

#3 Go for bulky and moist

The more air or water in a food the quicker it fills you up. Things like vegetable soup are a great option, or popcorn instead of crisps, or grapes instead of raisins etc.

#4 Fats and protein

Higher fat foods keep you fuller but it takes longer for the feeling of satiety to come from high fat meals compared to high protein meals (but the feeling lasts longer). Ideally combine fats and protein to maximise fullness.

#4 Sleep

If you’re sleep deprived your body produces more ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and less leptin (the appetite suppressing hormone). So try to prioritise sleep if you can.

#6 Drink

The brain often confuses thirst signals for hunger so have a glass before your meals. It will also help keep you feeling full.

#7 Small plates

We’re conditioned to fill our plates and to clear them. The empty plate is a signal to feel full and conversely a plate with food on it overrides the satiety signals and keeps us eating. Go for a smaller plate and you’re likely to feel full regardless.

#8 Fiddly foods

Choose foods that take time and effort to eat, this gives the body time to recognise that it’s full e.g. corn on the cob, fish with bones, fruits with pips or skin to peel etc.

#9 An Apple a day

Research has shown eating an apple 20 mins before a meal promotes feelings of fullness and reduces the amount of food consumed.

#10 Load up the veggies

The fibre and water content of veg will fill you up, and also slows you down, increasing feelings of fullness. Aim for half a plate of veg like broccoli, peas, green beans etc.

Happy Tuesday 🤗

Xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Tips for Eating out within your calories

Tuesday Tip: Tips for Eating out within your calories 🍽

If you’re trying to lose fat/weight then frequent restaurant meals can be a challenge. Here are some tips to help reduce those extra cals.

#1 Sauces on the side

Ask for sauces/dressings on the side. Choose tomato-based sauces, and avoid cream based ones. This can save over 300 cals.

#2 Stand your ground

Don’t feel pressured to go for higher cal options just because others are. Its your body, not theirs, so choose what you want. It should be about the company, not what’s on your plate.

#3 Check in advance

Check the menu in advance, choose your meal and log the cals ahead of time. You can then make it fit into your daily target. You’ll also be less likely to be swayed by whoever you’re with.

#4 Avoid the nibbles

It’s an obvious one but just avoid the pre dinner bread, or olives etc You don’t need them, you’re about to have a full meal!

#5 One course

Most restaurant main courses will be 650 – 1500 calories so you really don’t need more. Ideally go for one course, especially if eating out several times a week.

#6 Starter for main

Try going for a starter as a main and then bulk it out with a side salad or veg. This is also a great tactic if the people you’re with are having 2 courses – you can have a starter and a starter!

#7 Food choice

For starters opt for salad or soup (avoid cream-based ones), then fish (white fish is best) or chicken for main, grilled or baked. Vegetarians beware of cheese-based dishes and consider asking for the vegan options. For pud; a sorbet or fruit based dessert is best.

# 8 Limit the booze

Booze is extra cals so try to avoid it, or alternate with tap water and try to choose lower calorie options (e.g. slimline gin and tonic).

#9 Don’t starve yourself

Don’t starve yourself before a meal out as you’re likely to lose self control and overeat. Instead adjust your other meals to save 100-200 calories on the days before and after to help buffer it.

#10 It’s not about the food

When you look back at these events it won’t be the food you remember – it will be the shared stories and laughs, with the people you’re with. Take the focus off the food.

Happy Tuesday 🤗

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

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Is a calorie just a calorie?

Tuesday Tip: Is a calorie just a calorie? 🍫

This is a very common argument when talking about calories, calorie deficits and which foods you use to meet your daily calorie goal. Often people will say ‘ah yes but a calorie isn’t just a calorie, some calories are better than others’. People will claim 100 calories of nuts isn’t the same as 100 calories of chocolate for example…

So is that true? Are some calories different?

Well technically – no – a calorie really is just a calorie. A calorie is simply a unit of measurement – it measures energy. So yes, 100 calories of nuts are exactly the same as 100 calories of chocolate in terms of the energy they provide.

However, food is not just food and the composition of those calories is where differences can arise. Different foods do have different metabolic effects. Some foods are easier and quicker to digest, some require more energy to digest (e.g this is the thermic effect of food – but don’t get too excited – the difference is pretty small so unlikely to make a massive difference to calories burned etc).

Different foods also have different effects on satiety (how full they make you feel). The nuts for example are more likely to leave you feeling fuller as they’re higher in fat and protein than the chocolate. Foods that take longer to eat will also affect fullness levels.

Also don’t forget that foods have different emotional and psychological effects too. Humans are very much driven by emotions and whilst nuts may theoretically leave you fuller there will be times when no amount of nuts will stop you wanting that chocolate bar. In those cases you’re far better off going for the chocolate bar!

Ultimately it’s about balancing all of these things in a way that lets you stick to your calorie goals. So sometimes that will mean going for the more filling option of nuts and sometimes it will mean going for the chocolate you actually want, but being aware that you may feel more hungry later and being prepared for that.

So yes, a calorie is in fact just a calorie, but food is not just food!

Happy Tuesday 🤗

Xx