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

Nutrition and Calorie Tips

‘Just a banana…’

‘Just a banana…’ 🍌

Bananas make a fab snack option or addition to your breakfast or lunch. They’re full of carbs for energy and a reasonable amount of fibre and are a great source of potassium. They’re also easily portable and have their own in build packaging so are handy for when you’re on the go.

However, if you are trying to lose fat/weight and watching those cals then it’s worth just being aware that bananas can pack a punch when it comes to calories and they also vary wildly. If you’re using a calorie tracking app you’ll often find entries like ‘one small banana’ or ‘one medium banana’ with the associated calories. You’d probably just enter that and assume you were pretty much right. But how small is small? What exactly is ‘medium’? Small to me may be medium to someone else and the calorie differences are pretty large!

The difference between these two bananas is nearly 100g and both are sold as ‘bananas’ – not small or large. So if you were regularly snacking on the larger one you’d be taking in almost 80 extra calories every time. That may not sound like much but over the course of a week or month that will add up. I’m not suggesting you stop having bananas – they’re fab! But just have a go at weighing the next banana you have and see exactly how many calories it does contain.

Knowledge is power right? And if you’re trying to lower that bodyfat then every calorie counts! The more aware you are of what goes in to your mouth the better!

Enjoy 🤗

Xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: How to Get a Flat Stomach

Tuesday Tip: How to Get a Flat Stomach 🙌🏼

Everyone wants a flat stomach or visible abs right? Social media is full of pics of 6 packs selling miracle supplements, teas, exercise programs, or ‘waist’ trainers which can supposedly make you lose belly fat. But sadly there’s no quick fix – if you want a flat stomach it’s going to take more than some magic tea or a load of ab exercises.

First off; everyone has abs – the muscles may be tiny or weak but that 6 pack is there. They’re just hidden under a layer of fat for most people.

Fat does NOT turn into muscle; they are two different things. You could have strong abs, but if they are buried under fat no amount of exercise will give you a flat stomach or a 6 pack, because it doesn’t address the fat on top of your muscles.

A flat stomach only appears when you have a low enough bodyfat percentage.

But ab exercises and magic teas are a lot more exciting to market than ‘eat less, move more’ … so it’s not surprising there are so many products out there making these claims.

So if you’re punishing yourself with endless sit ups every day – stop – it’s not going to give you a flat stomach. You can’t target or spot reduce fat from anywhere. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work those muscles, it’s important to work the ab muscles to protect your back etc.

So how can you lose belly fat? Everyone loses fat from certain parts of their body in different orders depending on age, weight, sex, genetics etc. You can’t control where it goes from first. Women will tend to hold more fat in their belly, hips and thighs, whilst men tend to store more in the belly and butt. You may not lose it from those areas first; it may go from your arms or legs etc.

All you can do is aim to lose bodyfat generally and once you lose enough of it you will see it go from everywhere eventually! The only way to do this is to consume fewer calories than you currently are. So track your calories, find out how many you’re currently eating and then reduce it! And stick with it for weeks or months (not just 5 days!). If you’re at a calorie deficit you will lose fat and at some point that fat will come off your belly too!

Happy Tuesday 🤗

Xx

Nutrition and Calorie Tips

How weight loss actually works….

How weight loss actually works….

Most people measure their fat loss progress by stepping on the scales. The scale can create an all or nothing mentality and can impact not only your happiness but your behaviour. If the scales don’t go down when you’ve been ‘good’ then what’s the point? You may as well throw the towel in and enjoy that cake!

But scale weight isn’t a great measure of progress, mainly because it can’t differentiate between muscle, fat, water or anything else. It just measures the relationship your body mass has with gravity. Sometimes body composition can change without any weight change, e.g. if you gain additional muscle, lose bodyfat and improve hydration you could see minimal weight change. Fat and muscle weigh the same but 1kg of fat is approx 4 times larger than 1kg of muscle, meaning you could very well be smaller and heavier.

Your weight also fluctuates wildly every day. Between morning and afternoon your weight can fluctuate up to 6kg depending on what you eat and drink, and how you exercise. If you drink 2-3 litres of water a day that’s up to 3kg. Then how much do you pee, sweat and breathe out over the day? It’s impossible to measure. Our bodies are mainly water so changes in hydration cause significant weight fluctuations.

In addition a bowel full of food, fibrous or salty meals, and hormonal changes can all influence weight and cause greater daily fluctuations so real change can be hidden. For example, I weighed myself Saturday night, then first thing Sunday and again at 1pm – there was 2kg increase overnight, but a 3 kg loss during Sunday morning! I obviously didn’t put on 2kg overnight or lose 3kg of fat in 6 hours. Depending when I weighed could massively impact how I felt about myself and my progress.

We’re conditioned to focus on weight but instead try to use other measures e.g. items of clothing and how they fit, or cm measurements etc. If you really can’t help stepping on the scales then look at averages over time rather than individual daily variations and focus on trends the long term. 🤗 xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Fake News

Tuesday Tip: Fake News 📰

We’re all busy, we almost all have smart phones, and there’s so little time in a day that it’s very easy to just scroll through facebook or Instagram for information and it’s all too tempting to take it at face value.

But according to a recent survey social media is the no. 1 source of nutrition and fitness misinformation.

There is zero control over what people put up on social media – design a funky graphic, tap in to a common fear or desire, and you can pretty much say anything and some people will believe you – eggs are bad, eggs are good, eggs cure cancer, eggs cause cancer… eggs contain lysozyme! (Long word, sounds scary, must be bad…… it’s not 😆) … I could go on!

That’s not to say you can’t trust anything you see on social media but just be a bit critical of what you see. Anything fear-based, food shaming or more about what not to eat than what to eat, or claiming some incredible effect of a specific food is likely to be something to be wary of. Social media can be a great source of information but check where that info is from – who is posting it? Are they qualified? Do they have a fitness or nutrition qualification? Are they quoting scientific, peer-reviewed, studies to back up their claims? Are they trying to sell something – if so that’s often a red flag, or at least a reason to investigate a bit more.

In general it’s mostly about balance and moderation – yes we can make grand claims about the awful effects of one food, or the amazing benefits of another – but it usually comes down to quantity. Having a takeaway once a week – not that bad, having it for 2 meals every day – probably not a great idea!

So be critical guys – it’s your body, read the advice, question it, ask for more info if you want – go and do a pubmed search online and find the research…. and yes I’m totally aware of the irony in me posting this on social media, but I’m very happy to chat through the research behind anything I post, and engage in healthy debate about it – any time!

Happy Tuesday 🤗

Xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Combat Slowing Metabolism

Tuesday Tip: Combat Slowing Metabolism 💪🏼

I am often asked how to combat a slowing metabolism as we age. Metabolism (basal metabolic rate – BMR) is the number of calories your body needs to carry out basic bodily functions at rest (breathing, circulating blood, cell repair, hormone balancing etc). Contrary to popular believe your metabolism doesn’t slow down as you age. What actually happens is that physical activity reduces and lean muscle mass is lost. This means a lower BMR giving the effect of a slowing metabolism. So how can you prevent this happening and keep your metabolism firing?

# 1 Be more active

Work activity in to your day – walk more, stand more, try new classes/exercises etc.

# 2 Resistance training

It’s important to build and maintain muscle so ensure you are doing some resistance training in the form of a class (e.g. pump) or in the gym itself.

# 3 Avoid fad diets

Extreme dieting can cause a down regulation in metabolic rate which can persist for years after the dieting ends. Cutting calories is fine but do it in a steady and sustainable way, in conjunction with physical activity, to help preserve muscle mass.

# 4 Find your motivation

Find what motivates you; is it the form of exercise? the social aspect of classes? the feeling of getting stronger? fitting in to your jeans? being able to run around with your children or pets? Whatever it is find that thing that keeps you going – write it down and keep it somewhere you can see it.

# 5 Get good habits

Find some healthy habits that work for you; track your food, exercise regularly, find alternatives to eating when you’re stressed (adult colouring books, reading, a bath etc), and measure your progress. Studies show those who measure their progress regularly are more likely to lose fat and keep it off long term.

# 6 Get hungry

Listen to your hunger signals and learn how to tell when you’re really hungry vs bored/emotional. A little hunger is a good thing; train your body to recognise actual hunger, Practice mindful eating – pay attention to what you eat, and when you eat, to help avoid boredom or stress eating.

Happy Tuesday 🤗

Xx

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