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 🤗

Xx

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 🤗

Xx

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 🤗

Xx

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 🤗

Xx

Recipes

Mushroom and Tomato Tofu Scramble

This is a great easy lunch, light dinner or brekkie option. It’s filling, high protein and low fat and so easy and quick to make. You can use any veg you like – I often put pepper and courgette in if I have it.

This makes a large serving at approx 245 cals or a smaller (enough for lunch) serving at only 123 cals! You can keep leftovers in the fridge to be re heated the following day. Best served on toast – either a nice bit of sourdough or if want to save on cals go for one of the sandwich ‘thins’ at only 100 cals per thin.

Tofu only tastes as good as the herbs and spices it’s cooked in so adjust these to your taste.

You will need:

1 packet of Silken tofu (approx 350g)

100g Mushrooms

100g tomatoes

Spices and herbs to taste. I used :

Worcestershire sauce

Paprika

Mixed herbs

Cayenne pepper

Salt

Pepper

Chop the mushrooms and tomatoes. Add a little oil to a frying pan and cook the mushrooms until starting to brown.

Add the tomatoes and cook them down.

Open the tofu and drain off any obvious liquid, then add to the pan and break it up with a spatula.

Add all the spices and herbs and cook through.

Continue to cook for a couple of minutes and then serve on a piece of toast!

Enjoy 🙂

XX

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

Recipes

Veggie ‘steak’ casserole

I spotted these quorn veggie steak strips in the supermarket so thought I’d whip up a quick casserole. This is a another easy weekday dinner option, perfect for the cooler evenings. I cook up a batch for the week and then it’s nice and easy to quickly heat it up for dinner (or lunch!).

I’ve used frozen veg for this one as I was running short on time. Never be afraid to use these sorts of frozen veg – they actually have more vitamins and minerals in than the fresh variety so you’re not doing yourself any harm and they’re brilliant if you’re busy and short of time. Obviously use fresh veg if you prefer. Also it’s worth noting that Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies so if you’re vegetarian then double check – Biona and other companies make one without the use of animal products and it’s widely available.

This serves at least 8 at about 223 cals per portion.

You will need:

2 pack of quorn steak strips (or any alternative vegetarian product you fancy)

1320g passata (2 bottles at 680g each, but just get approx the same amount)

1 kg mixed vegetables (either 2 packs (500g each) or 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 sticks celery, 2 peppers, 2 courgettes, 1 small aubergine)

1/2 tsp Paprika

1/4 tsp chilli powder (optional – adjust for taste)

1 tsp mixed herbs

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 vegetable stock cube

1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)

A dash of Balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp of sugar

Salt and pepper

If using fresh veg then prepare it and chop it up. Heat a little oil in a pan, add onions first and allow to soften, then the carrot and celery. Otherwise add the frozen soffito (onion, carrot and celery) mix and allow to soften.

Add the steak strips to the pan and allow to brown. Then add the pepper, courgette and aubergine (if using a pack then just throw it all in at once once the steak strips have browned).

Cook for a couple of mins until the veg start to soften and then add the passata. Stir well and bring to a slow simmer. Add the stock cube, all the spices, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and stir well. Add the sugar (this brings out a richer tomato flavour).

Bring to a simmer and allow to cook through for about 10-15 mins.

Serve on its own, with green veg and grains, or with a jacket potato etc.

enjoy 🙂

Xx