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: 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: Take Twenty mins

Tuesday Tip: Take Twenty mins ⏰

I know it’s hard to fit everything in and perhaps spending hours at the gym or meal prepping isn’t possible, but in just 20 mins you could still do something positive towards your goals.

#1 Go for a walk

Take a 20 min walk, either after lunch or as an afternoon or morning break. It will burn some calories, get you some fresh air (and maybe vitamin D if the sun is out), energise you and get any food you’ve eaten moving through your system. It helps to lower blood sugar levels and appetite, and reduce cravings. 

#2 Prep something

So you may not have time to make a full meal but prep things you can; prep veg for later, or boil up a batch of grain/potatoes etc for the rest of the week, make a big salad, roast veggies, or cook some fish or chicken fillets. Then later all you need to do is add dressings/herbs/ spices and reheat. So no excuse to reach for the takeaway if you’re back late.

#3 Do a workout

You don’t need to go to the gym to workout. Try a short hiit workout at home or work. This can be anything from combinations of things like squats, lunges, pushups etc, to more intense moves like burpees, jump lunges, jacks etc or just a bout of skipping?  Or even a short jog or some intervals (2 min jog, 1 min walk for the 20 mins) – something is better than nothing right! 

#4 Plan

Spend 20 mins and plan your meals for the week, schedule in your workouts, or write your shopping list – if you have a plan you’re far more likely to stick to it.

#5 Take time out

Take 20 mins and do something totally different, for you; read a book, sit in the sunshine, have a cuppa, catch up with a friend. These things are just as important as the food and exercise when it comes to sticking to your plan.

#6 Sort your cupboard/drawer

There’s something really cathartic about organising isn’t there? So sort through a food cupboard, bin the out of date stuff, pull things to the front that have been forgotten at the back, sort your tupperware etc You’ll feel much more positive about eating healthily if everything is easy to find and plus you might find some ideas for meals that you’d forgotten. 

Happy Tuesday 🤗 xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday tip: Portion Control

Tuesday tip: Portion Control 🥗

Portion control is super important for healthy eating and long term, sustainable fat loss but it’s one of the hardest things to master. Here are a few tips to help you naturally control portion sizes and develop healthy habits.

# 1 Aim for 50/25/25

Start by filling your plate half full of veg or salad, then a quarter with protein and the remainder with whatever starchy veg or carb you’re having (potato, rice, squash etc).

# 2 Set aside leftovers

If you plan to eat some for lunch tomorrow etc then set it aside at the start rather than after – that way you won’t be tempted to keep picking after you’ve eaten your portion.

# 3 Share

When you’re out at restaurants or cafes consider sharing with whoever you’re with. Portions are usually massive at restaurants so it can easily feed two, especially with things like potatoes or chips.

# 4 Smaller plates

Lots of studies have shown that eating from smaller plates leads to less calories being consumed (even when subjects are allowed to top up the plates). So choose side plates and small bowls to trick yourself into eating less. We’re conditioned to clear our plates, even when we’re already full, so this way you can clear your plate and not over eat.

# 5 Take a whiff

As well as our eyes our noses are heavily linked to feelings of satiety. Take time to smell the food you’re about to eat – breathe in the scent and savour it. Studies have shown this helps to limit the number of calories consumed by tricking your brain in to thinking you are more full than you are.

# 6 Don’t eat from the bag

Put your food or snacks out on a plate before eating then, rather than eating from the bag. Visually seeing your what you’re eating sends a message to the brain about the quantity you’re consuming and leads to less likelihood of overeating.

# 7 Put away distractions

When you’re eating focus on eating. If you’re distracted by TV, phones, etc then studies have shown you’re likely to over eat. Pay attention to what’s going into your mouth and you’ll be better able to recognise when you’re full and stop before you overeat.

Happy Tuesday 🤗

Xx