What is protein?
Protein has had quite a lot of hype in recent years. When you think protein, you may think of gym goers drinking protein shakes and boiled chicken or fish. Protein helps repair and build muscle which is why it has been linked with the gym and big bulging muscles. However, protein also helps aid with weight loss as it is satiable and keeps us feeling fuller for longer. It is an important macronutrient when trying to lose fat as it will help to preserve lean muscle mass which can be lost while in a calorific deficit. When protein is eaten, it is broken down into amino acids. These amino acids are critical for all metabolic processes within our bodies. These amino acids are supplied to us by the food we eat as we cannot produce them naturally within our bodies. There are roughly 20 essential amino acids. Now to get scientific! Amino acids combine in different combinations and each combination will create a different structure. There can be thousands of different combinations! Our bodies require a variety of different protein sources to give us an adequate amount of these amino acids every day. This isn’t to say that we need a variety of protein at each meal, however it is good to be aware that a variety through the day is advisable.
There are complete proteins and incomplete proteins. Complete proteins contain 9 essential amino acids, typically from animal sources. Some examples of complete proteins from animal products are, Dairy (Milk, Yoghurt, Whey protein), Eggs, Meat & fish. There are some plant sources of complete proteins too, for example Quinoa and Soya.
Incomplete proteins are plant based proteins that do not contain the 9 essential amino acids or do not contain an adequate amount of the amino acids, therefore these needs to be combined with other plant proteins to provide an adequate amount. Some examples of incomplete proteins are nuts & seeds, legumes (lentils, beans, peas), grains, vegetables. Some examples of these food combinations that create complete amino acid profiles are, oats and nuts, salads with both beans and nuts, brown rice and beans and peanut butter on whole meal toast.
Benefits of adequate protein.
1) Protein can increase muscle mass and also muscle strength. This is beneficial when trying to increase your muscle size and performance in the gym. It is also beneficial when trying to lose weight as it will help preserve muscle loss.
2) Protein can help keep you fuller for longer and reduce your levels of hunger.
3) It can help you keep fit and help with the consequences of the inevitable reduction in muscle mass as we get older.
How much protein do we all need?
Based on the UK government Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) the guidelines for adults are 0.75g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. For example, if you weigh 70kg your intake should roughly be 52.5g per day. The elderly need more protein as our bodies become less efficient at utilising protein, up to 50% more than the recommendations.
Something that has come to light recently (about time!) is the call for social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and twitter to ban celebrities from advertising 'health' and 'weight loss' products. Some examples of these products you may have seen (z list) celebrities endorsing while your scrolling are, Boombod, Skinny Coffee, Fat burners/Weight loss pills and Appetite Suppressants. Keep in mind which celebrities are actually advertising these. The criteria usually involves them being off a reality tv show, famous for no real reason, that have large followings of both young impressionable men and women looking up to them. These "celebrities" (and i hate calling them this) are looking for a few quid and obviously do not care about the lies they tell to mislead their followers. They know full well these products don't work, just look at Lauren Goodger's recent post where she openly mocks her followers as they believe that she got fit and healthy from the product she was endorsing. Convenient how that ad is no longer there!? Unfortunately these celebrities are idolised and looked up to by impressionable people, and they have a huge impact on how people feel about themselves and how they live their lives. Don't their followers deserve some respect? Many of these young people will already have issues with body image and now they see their favourite celebrity advertising quick fixes to get skinny, your own set of six pack abs or a smaller physique! These adverts usually consist of a 'before' and 'after' photo (that are quite obviously only 2 seconds and an outfit change apart). The before usually shows the celebrity hunched over in an unflattering pose with no make up and a solemn look on their face. Then the 'after' is them standing with good posture, angling their bodies in flattering light, with a smiley face and make up on. You probably have seen many of these will scrolling, but if you haven't, now you can be aware.
These products do not work! These companies that are getting these Z listers to promote their products know how to manipulate the media and they know exactly which type of celeb to approach. It is adding more confusion around health, weight loss and wellbeing, selling a quick fix that does not actually educate people about sustainable healthy weight loss. No one is overweight because they haven't been drinking skinny coffee. No one is overweight because they are not taking their daily sachet of Boombod and honestly, why are we wanting to suppress our appetite with a lolly? Hunger is natural we don't want to suppress this with a sweet, its adding more issues and confusion to what health is and demonising hunger. These are not the issues. These companies are praying on your insecurities to make themselves money. The underlying issue (in its simplest form) is you are consuming to many calories for what your body needs (calories in V calories out). Yes people have perceived barriers to weight loss, bur trust me when i say these products are adding to the problem. They are most definitely not the solution.
So, I do hope that these social media platforms do implement this ban of celebrity endorsements of these products. Being unhealthy and overweight are major issues in this country, so surely these celebrities with mass followings owe it to their followers to be completely honest with how they are staying healthy and fit? Exercise and a well balanced diet will always win over faddy diets and products. There is no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to health. If you have become unhealthy or overweight i'm sure it didn't happen in 14 days, so improving health is not going to be that quick a solution either. You deserve to not be misled by these celebs and companies and you deserve these ads to be banned.
Diet culture has us believing that cutting something out of our diets is the only way to lose weight and be the healthiest, happiest versions of ourselves. We are led to believe that carbohydrates, refined sugars, gluten, meat, dairy or fat are the issues to all our problems. We’re told that if we want to be healthy or lose weight, cutting something out of our diet is the best way to do it. Unless we have allergies, intolerances or just don’t like something then we do not need to cut certain food groups or types of foods out of our diets. Granted, too much of one thing is not going to benefit us however, moderation allows for variety, it allows for balance, it allows for sustainability with our food choices.
Diets often work for most of us for the short term as cutting a major food group or type of food out of our diet will allow for a calorie deficit in disguise (they don’t want us to know that!). Diet companies want us to be strung along believing this is the only way I can lose weight. Allowing us to believe it must be ‘this/that’ that is causing me to be overweight or unhealthy. But no, there is not one lone food group that is extremely bad for us and causes us to be overweight, likewise there isn’t one food group that is the better then all the rest. Do not be fooled by the term ‘superfood’. Allowing ourselves to enjoy everything in moderation will truly be the healthiest, most sustainable way to eat. It will provide us with an array of nutrients that our bodies need and to satisfy our souls.
So instead of thinking about what we can cut out (and as a result more than likely crave), think of what foods we can add to our diet to nourish our bodies, excite our taste buds and find new foods and flavours to experiment with. Allow yourself everything in moderation, enjoy your food and do not lead a lifestyle of restriction.
The Welsh Government published a revised version of a study conducted by the Food Standards agency (Originally published in 2013) in 2017 with findings stating that 78% of adults between the ages 18-65, 77% of adults aged 65 and over and 94% of children aged 11-18 years of age did not meet the 5 a day recommendation of fruit and vegetable consumption per day. And the Health Survey for England has published their findings on consumption of fruit and vegetables of adults and children in England. They found only 29% of adults and 18% of children aged 5-15 ate their 5 portions. This highlights the extremely low consumption of our fruit and vegetables in both Wales and England.
The UK’s ‘five-a-day’ guidelines were developed based on a World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that consuming 400g of fruit and vegetables per day can reduce risks of chronic diseases, e.g. heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. The guidelines state that everyone should eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. The advice is that children should eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day.
So, what counts as for your five a day, I hear you say?
1) 80g of fresh, tinned or frozen fruit and vegetables count as one portion. However, be careful with tinned as these will have higher sugar/salt content!
2) 30g of dried fruit count as one portion.
3) 80g of beans and pulses count as one portion.
4) 150ml fruit, vegetable juice or smoothie. (Be careful of sugar content. Juices and smoothies are higher in sugar and contain less vitamins and nutrients once the fruit/vegetable is blended).
If you feel you are not consuming enough fruit and vegetables, here are a few helpful tips on how to consume more daily.
1) Add fruit to your cereal, porridge or yogurt. Banana’s, apples and berries are great with these.
2) Why not add grilled (or lightly fried) mushrooms, tomatoes or spinach to your scrambled egg on toast?
3) Add salad such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers into your lunchtime sandwich.
4) Why not try a vegetable soup for lunch?
5) Chop up your favourite vegetables into sticks to dip into hummus, cottage cheese or tzatziki as a snack.
6) Make a fruit salad and store in your fridge. You are more likely to fancy some fruit if you see it all chopped and looking beautifully prepared in your fridge when you open the door.
7) The obvious! Having a side dish of vegetables or salad with your main meal e.g. peas or broccoli with Sheppard’s pie or a with some salmon or roast dinner. (Remember you will have a portion of veg in your Sheppard’s pie if you use carrots and onions in the recipe).
8) Choosing a tomato based sauce for a meal rather than creamy or cheesy sauces.
9) Add vegetables to your pizza e.g. sweetcorn, peppers, mushrooms and to your favourite burger.
10) Add beans or lentils to soups and stews.
I have recently had many people ask me, ‘how do you always have motivation to exercise?’ so I thought I would write a little blog post to hopefully shed some light on motivation.
Motivation is ‘a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way’. When thinking of having motivation to train, most people believe it is waking up every morning, excited and determined. Yes, most of the time I feel this way and the reasons I believe for this are:
1) I have found a genuine love for exercise (Both resistance and cardiovascular)
2) I love the way I feel after I have finished my session
3) It not only makes my body feel better, stronger and more functional, but it also clears my mind
4) After having a baby recently, I love the way it makes me feel I am taking the time to look after myself
5) I love seeing improvements in strength and cardiovascular performance
6) I like to feel good in my own skin
However, there is no secret to being motivated, motivation isn’t always there. Some days I wake up and I really cannot be bothered. I don’t want to put my gym kit on, I don’t feel like pushing myself or I don’t feel like moving off the sofa but I do it, regardless of what my mind is telling me (disclaimer if you are ill/injured you should listen to your body). I could find a million excuses and just sack it off, but I don’t, I push on through, do the session and don’t look back. It has become a habit! This is key! Once exercise becomes part of your lifestyle and routine you will do it regardless. Like I always tell my clients, I know many of us may not feel like doing it but I don’t know anyone who looks back after a session and thinks ‘I wish I didn’t do that session’, but we are more than likely to wish that we did it.
HIIT is an abbreviation of ‘High Intensity Interval Training’ is defined as a short, intense burst of physical activity with short intervals of recovery periods. You should aim to work at 80-95% of your HRM (Heart Rate Max) when doing HIIT training and the recovery period may last as long as the work period. During the recovery period, you would be working around 40-50% of your HRM. This type of training is intense and burns calories at a higher rate for up to 48-72 hours later, known as the ‘afterburn’. HIIT can be performed anywhere and often does not need any equipment. It can be modified for all levels of ability and fitness.
Steady State Cardio
Steady state cardio is defined as a cardiovascular workout that is continuous and is a steady state of effort throughout. For example, a run for 30 minutes at a speed of 7kph an hour, keeping your heart rate the same throughout the session. A heart rate of between 60-80% is a good target. Steady state can be performed anywhere, outdoors or in the gym and you can perform this without any equipment. Steady state examples are, running, walking, incline walking on a treadmill, cycling, swimming etc. Steady state can be done by any ability and any fitness level.
Which is better?
Both HIIT and Steady State training are highly versatile, safe and convenient ways to increase your cardiovascular fitness. Steady state is aerobic, meaning it requires oxygen and is mostly fueled by our fat stores (when we work at the right pace), whereas HIIT is anaerobic, meaning it doesn’t rely on oxygen and is fueled mainly by our stored carbohydrate stores. Both types of training help blood pressure drop, increases VO2 maximum uptake and improves your metabolism. Both forms of exercise will allow for fat loss. As stated before steady state uses your fat stores predominantly for its energy source when exercising, however it may take a longer time to perform a steady state session (and some people find it boring and repetitive). HIIT burns a lot of calories in a short space of time and creates an ‘after burn effect’ which means you continue to burn calories after your session as your body is working hard to rebuild any muscle lean muscle mass broken down during the high intensity session, however is a harder session if you are unmotivated to work at a high intensity.
As both have different benefits (aerobic and anaerobic) we should incorporate both into our training regimes. I personally feel that there is a place for both in our training programmes. Steady state predominantly uses our fat stores and improves our aerobic capacity and function which in turns improves our overall health and works the heart and lungs improving cardiovascular fitness and stamina, and HIIT burns calories in a short space of time (this is great if you have little time on your hands), improves our anaerobic capacity and allows us to burn more calories after the session due to elevated metabolism.
So, which ones better? I say we should do both!! Ultimately, if you are doing SOMETHING I am happy!
January is a time of year when diet companies really take advantage of people! Everyone wants to lose weight quickly and as you may have seen already this January many different diets are flooding our social media, televisions and magazines all promising one thing! Easy, quick weight loss!
I watched a programme last night, many of you may have watched this too, it put different diets to the test trying to find out which one is best, which one helps you lose the most weight and which is the easiest to follow. I can understand that this programme is trying to show us what diets and weight loss gimmicks are a waste of time and money and gives the viewers an idea of what each diet entails. However I feel that programmes like this just should not be allowed, we should not be telling the general public to follow diets as it is harmful. None of these diets are healthy, none of them work for the long term and you are more likely doing more harm to yourself (body and mind) by following them! Restricting a whole food group out of your diet can be extremely detrimental (Unless you have a genuine medical condition), reducing your calorific intake to next to nothing will leave you feeling tired, hungry and miserable and diets that state 'eat cereal for two meals a day to lose weight' are just plain crazy, how is this healthy? You need to ask yourself, where does this information come from? Unfortunately watching programmes like this on television and knowing it has been viewed by hundreds of thousands really makes me anxious as it is sending out the wrong message, that we should be following diets to lose weight and that we are just waiting to find the 'magic one'. Yes these types of programmes show people to be loosing a substantial amount of weight in relatively short periods of time, but what they don't tell you is where that weight has come from. The majority of weight lost will be water and muscle weight, as most of the diets do not contain much protein, you probably haven't lost much fat at all, and this is the stuff we want to shift. We should be promoting healthy eating and exercise not fad diets to help people reduce their weight and burn fat.
I think anyone who has been properly educated in human nutrition and studied nutrition at a high level will agree with me on this one, diets are a waste of time, a waste of money and are not going to fix your weight issues. Weight loss/fat loss only happens when you truly want to make some real lifelong changes to your diet and lifestyle. Ensuring you eat a broad range of foods, including fruit and veg, complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and fats and drink plenty of water every day along with becoming more physically active is the key. This is the only way you will lose weight/fat in a healthy, sustainable way and keep it off for the long term without depriving yourself of the benefits of all macronutrients and micronutrients we need in our diet to stay healthy. The truth is there is no magic pill or supplement, no trick of the trade and health doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on the newest trendy 'health food'. I can completely understand how health and nutrition can be so confusing with all this misleading information but it doesn't have to be. If you really want help with changing your lifestyle please contact someone who is properly qualified and don't fall into the hands of the next fashionable diet out there.
We have all heard the, "new you" new year’s resolution! This is a great resolution to have if you want to make a permanent improvement to your current unhealthy lifestyle or lack of exercise and physical activity and with a genuine want for a long-term life overhaul. But don't be fooled, there is no such thing as a quick fix!!! Do not be fooled into believing in the latest detoxes and FAD diets promising you unrealistic and often unhealthy things like weight loss of "7lb in 7 days", or weight loss companies promising you, "thier" gadget is the only thing you need to lose weight. Please remember people and companies focusing your attention solely on weight loss and seeing the numbers on the scales going down are not the way to go. A healthy lifestyle does not only focus on the numbers on the scales and certainly does not promote detoxing your body!! I mean what even is a detox!? The body doesn't need a special drink or pill to be detoxed! Their is just no such thing, you may as well be throwing your money away. Once you start positively changing your lifestyle you will start to feel healthier and fitter the natural way! Hard work, determination and will power is the key!
The majority of people who take out a new gym membership and try to eat healthily or give themselves unrealistic weight loss goals and exercise regimes will end up quitting within a few months due to a lack of motivation, knowledge and guidance. You will slip back into your old ways because it is the easiest option. This new year, your, "new you" resolution is only worth your while if you're truly invested in changing your lifestyle permanently. Like i say.....Its a lifestyle!!!
If you are someone who has been caught up in this new year’s resolution many times before and feel you just don’t know where to begin, why not try seeking out some help from a qualified exercise instructor, personal trainer or registered nutritionist to guide you on your new journey. Having some guidance from professionals in this field will help you get started the right way and help keep you on track to achieve realistic goals and get you to where you want to be. It can take roughly two months for a new behaviour to become a habit! A new healthy lifestyle will become second nature after a while and a natural part of your everyday life before you even know it, especially once you start to see and feel the benefits!!!
Many women feel that taking part in any form of exercise during pregnancy may be harmful to their unborn baby. Often one of the main anxieties for newly pregnant women is the fear that exercising will cause a miscarriage. However, ‘there is no real evidence evidence that exercise is linked to miscarriage’ as stated by Bruce K. Young, MD, co-author of Miscarriage, Medicine & Miracles (Bantam) and professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at New York University School of Medicine. For the majority of women, exercise is perfectly safe during their pregnancy as long as it has been modified for pregnancy and you have been cleared by your midwife/gyno/doctor. You should always consult your GP before taking part in any exercise. Pregnancy certainly isn’t a time you should be pushing yourself to the max and training to exhaustion, but light to moderate exercise is more than acceptable.
Changes to your body when your pregnant!
Us women are amazing! Our bodies have the abilities to grow a new human being inside of us and I mean if that’s not enough the baby uses our body to feed when in our womb and once the baby is born we produce a milk that has all the essential nutrients for our baby to grow and develop. I mean its mind boggling really! When a woman is pregnant, her body goes through many major changes. Some of the most common changes are (obviously) the big baby bump, sore larger breast, sickness and dizziness and fatigue. Alongside this, we produce more of the hormone ‘Relaxin’, which does what it says on the tin! This hormone is produced by the ovaries (all the time) and the placenta and (when pregnant). Its purpose is to relax the the soft tissue and ligaments in the body, preparing your body for the pregnancy and for the birth of your baby. Women’s blood volume also increases during pregnancy, so relaxin relaxes the arteries as well sot that the body can deal with the increased blood flow. It’s not only physical changes, but women will also go through some emotional changes as well due to the cocktail of hormones surging through the body. Women may feel both ‘up and down’ throughout the pregnancy. You have to remember that your brain is taking on a lot of new important information so you may feel unsettled or anxious at times! With all this in mind it is obvious that tailored exercise from a suitably qualified health practitioner is paramount. Exercise is completely acceptable, as long as it has been adapted and takes into account your changing body!
Benefits of exercise during pregnancy
So now you know that exercise during your pregnancy is safe you may be wandering about the benefits you will gain from doing so?
Recommendations for exercise
If you exercised regularly before becoming pregnant you should be able to carry on with most activities or training styles as long as you modify certain exercises/ reduce weight or intensity etc. If you are new to exercise start off with some light exercise. Exercise’s when pregnant:
Exercise to avoid
There are some types of exercise and training that you should avoid when pregnant. Here are a few.
When should I stop exercising?
When exercising you should continuously consider how you are feeling and monitor any signs of potential problems. If you are working with a Personal Trainer, they will monitor any signs and will regularly ask you how you are feeling. If you have any of these symptoms you should cease exercise immediately and go and see your GP straight away.
I have been awaiting confirmation for my accreditation to the Association for Nutrition (AFN) register and I am pleased to say I have been accepted and am now a fully Registered Associate Nutritionist!
The AFN governs the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) to distinguish nutrition practitioners who meet rigorously applied training, competence and professional practice criteria. Its purpose is to protect the public and assure the credibility of nutrition as a responsible profession.
Anyone can ‘call themselves a nutritionist’ so it is important you know you are getting correct, up to date, scientific based information. Knowing your nutritionist is accredited to the AFN you can relax in the knowledge they have studied nutrition to a degree level and have been trained by leading professionals.