Nutrition and Calorie Tips

Reasons to go low carb… or not……

Reasons to go low carb… or not…… 🍞

Carbs are often demonised in the media. Like any nutrient they can indeed cause weight gain, if over consumed. But as I mentioned in my article last week, they don’t inherently cause weight gain – unless you’re eating over your daily calorie allowance. In fact a recent review of studies show no significant differences in fat loss in a low carb vs normal carb diet (with protein and calories controlled for).

The foods most people associate with “carbs” are high sugar, often also high fat, foods. These are often very easy to over eat so often diets high in these foods result in less weight/fat loss or even weight gain. However it’s the surplus calories, not the carbs themselves causing the gain.

People will often avoid carbs because they’ve been led to believe that insulin will lead to increased fat storage. As carbs are the main driver of insulin elevation they are often blamed for weight gain/ lack of weight loss. However the studies simply don’t support this. In the studies mentioned above high carb diets do not cause more weight gain than any other diet (when protein and calories are consistent), despite having higher insulin levels. So diets low in sugar /carbs or a keto diet (low carb) don’t automatically result in weight loss UNLESS overall calories are lower and you are in a deficit.

Having said that for some people reducing carbs helps them achieve the calorie deficit. I would never recommend going very low carb, as usually it is unsustainable. But if you find that focusing on higher protein/fat options and reducing some carbs helps to hit your calories then that’s fine – IF that’s your preference. If most of your calories come from high carb junk food then removing some of the will definitely help! If you find your snacks are generally high carb/sugar based and that they don’t fill you up, leading to more chance of over eating later, then it’s worth considering swapping these out. Obviously if you don’t like carbs or have been medically advised to reduce them then go for it!


Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Don’t Avoid Carbs

Tuesday tip: Don’t Avoid Carbs 🍞

Many people believe that cutting carbs is the answer to weight loss. Whilst cutting out carbs can work for some people, it’s the reduction in calories that may accompany it that provides the benefit, not the avoidance of carbs per se. This is usually because avoiding carbs has resulting in avoiding highly palatable, calorie dense foods which are often high fat too e.g. pizza, chips, pasta dishes etc. So rather than focusing on carbs as a food group, you’re better off focusing on the high calorie, low nutrient quality, easy to over eat, aspects of your diet and work on reducing them rather than focusing on carbs.

But don’t low carb diets and keto diets result in better fat loss? No actually they don’t. A recent review of studies looked at studies where food was controlled – so participants were given specific foods to eat (ie a tightly controlled study). Comparing diets with the same calories, same amount of protein but different proportions of carb, and fats found that there was NO difference in fat loss, weight loss or energy expenditure. These were lab conditions so any confounding factors were reduced. There was a small difference between the low fat diet and low carb diet – showing that low fat was marginally better for fat loss but the difference was so small that it isn’t enough to make a real difference to overall weight loss.

So what does this mean? It means you shouldn’t avoid carbs – they’re good – we need them for energy and brain function. However there are certain types of food we tend to associate with ‘carbs’ that it is worth reducing or having in moderation if you’re trying to lose fat. These include restaurant meals/takeaways, fancy coffees, alcohol, ‘junk’ food snacks etc. These can all be included in your diet but you may wish to reduce the frequency or quantity to help with fat loss.

Keeping carbs in your diet will keep you happy and if you’re happy you’re far more likely to stick to it. If you stick to it it will be sustainable and that’s what we want!

Happy Tuesday 🤗


Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Low carb diets aren’t magic

Tuesday Tip: Low carb diets aren’t magic 🌟

Low carb (or keto) diets are ALL the rage, and for some people they do seem to work….but not because they magically make you burn fat. Here’s what actually happens

#1 A reduced carb intake leads to almost immediate loss of water weight, hence sudden drops in weight at the start. It’s not fat. It will come back once you eat carbs again.

#2 They involve eating more protein, which is important for hunger control. So you’ll feel fuller and eat less calories overall, and be in calorie deficit. Calories, not carbs, dictate fat loss and gain.

#3 Protein also plays a vital role in muscle preservation, and has the highest thermic effect of any nutrient (i.e. takes the most cals to metabolise). So you’ll be burning slightly more cals each day, contributing to the deficit.

#4 They also mean more veggies. These are high in fibre and water making you feel fuller, slowing digestion and less likely to eat as many cals.

#5 More fats are also consumed, another key for staying fuller for longer and slowing digestion. So once again you’re far more likely eat less.

#6 They revolve around reducing the amount of carbs; the biggest portion of people’s diets. AND most calorie dense junk foods are carb-based so you’d be cutting those out. When you remove a food group you’re removing calories too, so you end up in a deficit.

SO how do these diets work? By getting you to do things that lead to consuming fewer calories, whilst telling you it’s nothing to do with calories and all about magic low carbs….

Does this mean you should do it? If it works for you then sure! Do I think it’s sustainable? Nope. Avoidance of food groups creates a poor relationship with food leading to binges or blow outs. It can also lead to fatigue, health risks of increased fat intake, regaining water weight when you go back to carbs, etc and of course it will only work if you have a high refined carb-based diet anyway.

My advice – everything in moderation. We need carbs as much as we need protein and fat. If you want a long term sustainable diet then just focus on reducing overall calories by whatever means works for your lifestyle.

Happy Tuesday 🤗


Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Are protein shakes necessary?

Tuesday Tip: Are protein shakes necessary? 🥤

Protein shakes – all the rage, essential gym kit eh? But are they really necessary?

Protein is definitely essential, especially for maintaining and building muscle, so i it helps with recovery and is also great at keeping you feeling full. But the reality is most people’s diet includes more than enough protein as it is. Average daily recommended intake is 55g for men and 45g for women’s (with heavy exercisers needing a bit more: 1.2 – 1.7g per kg body weight). It’s not hard to get that in your meals e.g. 1 egg: 6g, 1 chicken breast: 20g, 30g cheddar cheese: 7.5g, 1 serving cooked beef mince: 18g, 1/2 pot cottage cheese: 18g, 1 tin of tuna: 25g, 1 serving Greek yogurt: 18g etc. So it’s pretty easy for most people to eat the required amount, with no shakes or powders required.

Of course, the issue comes when you factor in timing. In an ideal world you want to get some protein in within 30 mins of a strenuous workout. So that could be a reason to grab a shake… but you could save some pennies and instead go for something simple like a glass of milk (dairy milk contains 8g protein, soya milk contains 7g), or one of the best post-workout recovery drinks – chocolate milk (perfect carbs: protein ratio).

Aside from saving money you will also be protecting your health. Recent research shows that too much protein in the diet can increase your risk of osteoporosis amongst other health issues. Plus if you’re already eating a good diet then all you’re doing is taking on extra calories you don’t need – which could stall your weight loss attempts. They’re also not ideal as a meal replacement – unless you combine them with other ingredients. For example as an on the go brekkie option they’re great – when combined in a smoothie with banana, milk, etc to give you a range of nutrients and a good balance of carbs too.

So if you’re eating a balanced diet, and working out at a normal level (i.e. not an Olympic athlete!), then don’t stress about protein shakes as they’re really not necessary at all! Save your pennies!

Happy Tuesday 🤗


Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Protein isn’t magic!

Tuesday Tip: Protein isn’t magic 🔮

I talked about carbs last week – the devil food 😉 so now I thought I’d touch on the supposed super star – protein. Eat more protein and you’ll lose weight – right? That’s the rhetoric out there isn’t it? Well I’m sorry but protein isn’t magic – I wish it was, but it just isn’t!

The idea that eating more protein will magically alter the laws of thermodynamics and make you lose weight regardless of how much you eat is just silly. There is a basic law of physics at play here – to lower fat content of the body (i.e. to lose weight), you have to reduce the calories consumed, or increase the calories burned – where these calories come from makes no actual difference. In fact it’s been clearly disproved in many studies – in one study from Columbia University they fed participants liquid meals of fixed calories, some with vastly more protein, some with more carbs, some with more fat – but all contained the exact calories required for the participants to maintain their weight. Guess what – they all maintained their weight… even those eating more protein…

Now that’s not to say protein isn’t super important and a useful factor to consider though. There’s no denying that higher protein foods tend to keep you fuller and more satisfied for longer (especially when combined with fats), and as I’ve mentioned before there is a small increase in the calories used to digest protein (very small and not enough to really influence overall weight loss), it’s also full of vital amino acids for muscle repair and building. If you’re a body builder and looking to put on large quantities of muscle in a short time then yes def prioritise protein (but you’ll be over eating anyway as your goal is muscle gain… not weight loss). If you struggle to stick to your calories because you’re always hungry then yes definitely consider upping your protein and fats a bit in your meals – but not at the complete sacrifice of carbs (otherwise you will crash and burn).

So there it is – yes protein is great, but no it isn’t magic! So no need to fret over it too much!

Happy Tuesday 🤗 xx