Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Are BCAAs worth it?

Tuesday Tip: Are BCAAs worth it? 🥤

This week’s tip may seem a bit specialist but I’ve had lots of people asking me about these. BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), the supposedly vital pre-workout supplement (usually taken as a drink) which helps muscle recovery and building – are they actually worth taking?

In general – No. Why not?

#1 They don’t build muscle

BCAAs contain leucine, valine and isoleucine, 3 of the 9 essential amino acids for muscle growth/repair. You need all of them, not just those 3. There are also recent studies showing they can actually inhibit muscle growth. Taking them on their own creates competition with other amino acids for absorption, making it harder for the body to use the other “building blocks” to form new muscle tissue.

#2 but…

But “I read that BCAAs increased muscle protein synthesis!” Maybe, but most of these studies have serious limitations, including being conducted by the companies that make them! They’re often compared to water in these studies which isn’t a fair comparison. When compared with other protein sources BCAAs show no benefits.

#3 They don’t reduce muscle soreness.

A recent study showed no reduction in muscle soreness by taking BCAAs which is one of the many benefits proponents of them claim.

#4 They’re empty calories

They’re not zero calories. Think about it – how can they be no calories if they’re amino acids and used for muscle synthesis? Of course they have calories (check the packet!). So you’re taking on extra calories for zero benefit.

#5 They can make you eat more

Recent studies have found BCAAs actually increase your appetite and make you eat more. They also have no impact on fatigue or tiredness. Many reports of this are anecdotal – in most actual studies they have no impact at all.

BCAAs have no nutritional benefits. Unless your diet is devoid of protein, BCAAs will do nothing to help you look better, feel better or perform better. So rather than wasting money and calories on BCAAs just because someone at the gym or on Instagram said they’re ‘vital’ simply have a balanced diet, with normal amounts of protein instead.

Happy Tuesday 🤗


Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: It has to be a priority

Tuesday Tip: It has to be a priority 🙌🏼

You want to lose bodyfat and get fit but you just can’t seem to find the time? I understand that completely – it can be really tough, especially if you’re working, or have a family to look after etc. You don’t have to devote your life to diet and exercise, but unless it’s one of your priorities then you will the sad truth is you will struggle to see any changes.

That doesn’t mean you need to love exercise, it doesn’t mean you need to workout every day for hours in the gym or become a running addict. It doesn’t mean you need to spend your free time meal prepping and eating boiled chicken/tofu and green veg and sipping protein shakes. You don’t need to fall in love with fitness, it helps if you enjoy what you do of course which is why it’s important to try to find exercise you love, but it doesn’t have to be your passion.

It does have to be a priority though. If it isn’t you won’t make time to go and work out, you won’t choose to walk up the stairs instead of taking the lift, you won’t be thinking about what’s on your plate before you eat it, you won’t make changes to what you eat and drink to reduce calories. In short – it won’t work. You have to make a change.

If you’re telling yourself you’re too busy or don’t have time to put any attention on your diet and fitness, then you’re right – you don’t – but that’s not because you don’t want to, it’s because it’s not enough of a priority right now (for what may be very valid reasons). Once it becomes a big enough priority or you choose to make it one then you’ll find you do in fact have time.

The reason you do have time is because it’s not about all or nothing. If all you can manage to do right now is go for a few walks more than you do, and cut your alcohol intake down to 2 instead of 4 days a week – then start there. Something is always better than nothing.

So figure out if you really do want to make the change and if you do start to prioritise it – in any small way you can!

Happy Tuesday 🤗


Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: You Can’t Out-exercise Diet

Tuesday Tip: You Can’t Out-exercise Diet 🏃🏼‍♀️

‘I bet you can eat anything you want’ – I hear that at least once a week! Well I am a perfect example of how you can’t out-exercise diet. I teach 27 classes a week, and I’m on my feet all day with pt clients etc. I average 120,000 steps a week, so I’m pretty active. You’d think I could eat what I wanted … sadly not…

If I eat over 1700 cals I put on fat… Why? because the body is very good at adapting to physical stress. It’s extremely hard to out-exercise diet for any normal person i.e. not an olympic athlete on a training regime of several hours in the gym a day.

Think about how hard you have to work to burn 400 cals – a tough 45 min spin class maybe? Then think about how fast you can eat them back… one portion of chips… done! And as you do more exercise and get fitter your calorie burn will decrease, e.g. I’m now pretty “spin fit” – my body is used to it and I’m lucky if I burn 200 cals (yep it sucks!). The only exception to all this is if you are suddenly dramatically increasing your exercise levels from a low starting level – then you will find you burn quite a lot initially but it will eventually tail off.

Also most of our activity trackers (particularly wrist based ones) are inaccurate. So if it tells you you’re burning 600 cals, you’re probably burning far less. A recent study compared calories from activity trackers for various workouts (cross trainer, spin, treadmill etc) and found they over estimated calories burned by as much as 40%!

So does this mean we shouldn’t bother working out? No of course not! Workouts and general activity (energy burned from daily life activities) all help to increase the calories we use, build lean muscle, keep our hearts and lungs healthy etc so it’s vital! What you shouldn’t be doing is eating these back. They’re a bonus; an additional help towards that calorie deficit. Track them, log them, but don’t treat them as a green light to eat what you want. Also look beyond workouts and increase overall activity;the time spent outside the gym burns more cals than that 45 min workout so try to maximise that time- get up, walk about, fidget etc

Happy Tuesday 🤗


Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Burning fat or just burning cash?

Tuesday Tip: Burning fat or just burning cash? 🔥

Fat burners – you’ve seen them on social media, you know people taking them, you may even have taken them yourself. But do they work and are they worth the money?

Fat burners are combinations of food based natural or chemical products which claim to burn fat/increase metabolism. Common ingredients include caffeine, green tea extract, green coffee extract, ginseng, pepper, capsicum etc. More dangerous ingredients include bitter orange, yohimbine, garcinia etc (linked to risk of stroke, heart attack). They claim to increase fat oxidation, induce thermogenesis, affect fat burning hormones/enzymes, etc. In reality they do none of that.

There is limited evidence that SOME fat burners may help reduce hunger (for people in bodybuilding competition prep where calories are unsustainably low), though they’re linked to gastrointestinal distress so not a great option. They usually contain caffeine so provide a stimulant effect but a study in the journal “PLoS one” found that coffee has exactly the same effect on exercise performance and endurance (i.e. an instant coffee an hour before you workout).

They increase metabolism slightly, in the short term (increasing heart rate) but in terms of increasing BMR i.e. calorie burn at rest, which is what is needed to burn more calories (and hence fat), the effect is negligible. A 2017 study found an increase of 65 cals in BMR. This is a tiny increase over the day and won’t lead to increased fat loss. Green tea extract has been shown to increase fat oxidation (i.e. fat burnt by the body) BUT this only leads to fat loss IF you are in a calorie deficit, as fat stores are simply restored the moment you eat. Another study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found no difference over 6 weeks between fat burners and a placebo in fat loss (or muscle mass).

Bottom line – if someone is selling you fat burners stop, think and reconsider. Aside from the potential health risks, you’re throwing money down the drain. Make yourself a coffee or green tea and enjoy the same effects with less risk for less money.

Happy Tuesday 🤗


Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: why you’re not losing fat

Tuesday Tip: why you’re not losing fat 😆

Sometimes we feel like we’re doing everything right but we just don’t seem to be losing fat. In my experience it comes down to 4 main reasons.

# You’re not aware of what you eat

Are you tracking your food? If not then how do you know if you are over eating or not? Studies show that people underestimate the number of cals they think they’re eating. Easy solution – track what you eat, weigh your portions, add up those calories.

# You’re less active than you think

Studies also show we usually over estimate cals burnt and how active we are. Even if you’re working out every day you may not be as active as you think if you spend the rest of the day sat down. NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) is vital – it’s the cals burnt through every day life (fidgeting, walking, cleaning, etc). If this is low then you’re probably not as active as you think you are. The solution – get an activity tracker and measure your steps to see how active you actually are. Also don’t be tempted to eat those calories back – even the trackers over estimate the cals burnt, so treat them as bonus cals rather than something to eat back.

# You’re sleeping badly and/or stressed

Lack of sleep and stress in themselves won’t make you gain weight, but they impact on your cal requirement, energy levels, hormone production, and ability to make good choices. If you’re tired you’re likely to crave sugar etc. So get to bed in good time, turn off your devices etc, try to reduce stress, look for alternative ways to cope (adult colouring books, have a bath, walk etc).

# You’re not consistent

Consistency is key. It’s not about perfection, there will always be blips etc. Being 100% only 40% of the time won’t get you results, but being 80% compliant 100% of the time will. You may have the odd bad meal etc but if you don’t let it derail you you’ll get to your goal. e.g. if you end up having a pizza as there’s no low cal options you could write off the whole day and over eat, or you could enjoy a slice of pizza, and eat normally the next day…Focus on nutrition, be as consistent as you can, track and stick to the plan whenever you can.

Happy Tuesday 🤗 xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Boost your metabolism

Tuesday Tip: Boost your metabolism 🙌🏼

We’ve all seen products which claim to boost your metabolism and whilst things like caffeine, Green tea, black pepper do increase metabolism it’s only short term. There are however a few other things you can do to maximise longer term metabolic benefits

# sleep cool

A recent study found that participants who slept in cool bedrooms (<18 C) doubled their amount of brown adipose tissue (tissue that actually burns cals). More brown fat means an increased BMR all day.

# Eat carbs

During exercise your muscles use stored glycogen. If you don’t consume enough carbs glycogen levels will be low and you won’t have the energy to exercise as intensely and you’ll burn fewer calories during and post-exercise. So include carbs with every meal.

# Slow weights

Weights based workouts are essential for building lean muscle and increasing bmr but if you’re rushing the reps you’re missing the benefits. It’s important to be slow and steady in the eccentric phase (lowering) as well as the lifting. Eccentric movements are more muscularly damaging and require more cals to repair. Studies have shown an increased fat burning of 5-9% just by focusing on the eccentric phase.

# Eat fat

Eat fatty foods particularly polyunsaturated fatty acids (e.g. walnuts, sunflower seeds and oil, fish etc). These enhance the activity of genes that control fat burning. Just be aware they are calorie dense so have a small portion.

# Hiit it

Include high intensity interval training in your workouts rather than just steady state cardio. Studies show increased fat loss due to greater post exercise oxygen consumption ie greater post workout calorie burn

# Get salty

Include table salt (which contains iodine) in your meals (or iodine rich foods such as seaweed, shrimp, cod and eggs). Iodine is essential for the thyroid gland which modulates metabolism. You only need 1/2 tsp salt per day.

# Hello sunshine

Exposure to daylight is linked to lower BMI. It regulates your circadian rhythm, controlling your sleep, how much food you consume, how much energy you burn—all essential components of a healthy metabolic rate. So get outside!

Happy Tuesday 🤗 xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Calorie tracking 101

Tuesday Tip: Calorie tracking 101 📝

When people tell me “calorie counting doesn’t work for me” I’m a bit skeptical… why? because the ONLY way to lose weight/bodyfat is through a calorie deficit. So if you’re counting your calories and not losing fat then something is going wrong somewhere – and unfortunately that’s usually human error.

The most common problems are either not tracking consistently (or not doing it for long enough to see an actual result) or not tracking accurately. Consistency is fairly self explanatory – you’re either being consistent or you’re not – and if you’re not well then you know exactly how to change that. The accuracy though is slightly trickier.

It’s actually very easy to make errors in tracking calories. Now for things like fruit and vegetables if you’re estimating cals then it’s no big deal. But for foods like nuts, seeds, oil, avocado, hummus – and other high cal food then small errors can impact massively on your calorie intake.

So if you’re trying to count calories then it’s really vital you are weighing and measuring your food – using digital scales. As well as ensuring you’re eating as much as you think you are, it will also help you learn what portion sizes actually look like which means when you HAVE to guess you’ll be much better at it.

Do you have to weigh your food forever? Not if you don’t want to. You’ll get to the point where you don’t need to. I don’t anymore – but every now and then I go back and recheck my portions to make sure they’re still what I think they are. But if you’re trying to lose fat sustainably with a modest deficit each day then I’d definitely recommend you weigh as much as poss.

Happy Tuesday 🤗 xx