So you want to eat more..

So you want to eat more..

‘How do you eat so much? How do you eat all that?’

Common questions a lot of girls get asked (including me!) when they post certain photos of food…

Now I bet you’ve wondered how some people can eat so much more than others and thought there’s no way I can eat that without gaining weight but the truth is you can! And there are ways to fix your metabolism if you’ve been eating so few calories for a significant length of time.

Our metabolism’s are clever, when we reduce our calories significantly we cause something called metabolic adaptation; this works both ways, when increasing and decreasing caloric expenditure and feeding.

I wont go into this too much but if you’d like to read/watch more about it look up Layne Norton (my hero) as he has so much good scientific information surrounding this topic.

The reason this topic is so close to my heart is because a few years ago, I was there, eating so few calories and not seeing results anymore, almost reaching a point of despair.  It’s so important to remember that everyone is unique and that genetics, muscle mass, activity levels etc etc all play a MASSIVE role in this too!

But I want to share with you what worked for ME and what actually (scientifically proven!) works for a lot of people.

STEP 1;

Lifting weights in order to build a greater muscle mass.

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Why does this increase your metabolism I hear you ask? By changing your body composition, building more muscle and loosing more fat, you will burn more calories at rest. You will increase what is known as your BMR- Basal metabolic rate.

This is the amount of calories you burn by simply being alive.

BMR contributes to TDEE, your Total daily energy expenditure, along with your PA (physical activity), your NEAT (Non exercise activity thermogenesis) and TEE (Thermal effect of eating).

When reducing calories, these 4 elements all adapt in order to stop you going into ‘starvation mode’ and essentially keep you alive. These elements all suffer when you eat too little;

You’ll have less energy to perform physical activity, therefore burn fewer calories overall, you’ll have less energy to move around, you’ll be consuming less food therefore reducing TEE anyway.

So how does one reverse this?!

STEP 2;

Slowing INCREASING your caloric input .. REVERSE DIETING

I know, this may sound totally alien to you especially as you’ve been trying to eat LESS in order to loose weight and society is constantly throwing this ridiculous fad diets our way, telling you to eat less and less but stay with me a second,

It doesn’t have to be a lot and it doesn’t have to drastic, it is a slow process by which you ADD calories in over a long space of time, quite literally the reverse of any diets we adopt.

The reason you don’t add a crazy amount at once is because your metabolism is already adapted to such a low number that introducing too much too quickly will more than likely cause fat gain as you will be overwhelming your metabolism; it simply won’t be able to process such a large amount all at once.

So by reverse dieting, you’ll be eating more, therefore have more energy, therefore lifting heavier, building more muscle, changing your body composition, adapting your metabolism week by week.

Does the cycle make sense? 

STEP 3;

Your mental attitude.

Think of food as performance fuel, as a wise Ben Coomber once said, do you not be afraid of it. The most important thing you can do is repairing your mental attitude towards food. Building a healthy relationship. Not one food is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ certain things are simply more nutrient dense than others.

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What helped me do this is by adopting flexible dieting/ IIFYM (if it fits your macros) looking at foods as simply numbers to hit rather than coining them ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

But that’s a topic for a different day as I could talk about the benefits forever ..

So you’re reading this and thinking okay, I want to try this, i’m fed up of eating so little but where do I start?!

The first step is writing down or tracking your diet for about 5 days so you can gauge a rough idea of the calories you’re currently consuming (if you don’t know already) then use this at your starting point.

Different people will argue the actual amount to this but you can simply start by a 10-20% increase every fortnight.

Monitor your progress, go as slow as you need too. Find what works for you whether that be counting and increasing macros or simply focusing on increasing overall calories.

You may choose to increase by 10g Carbs and 5g Fat each week or each fortnight, remember to keep your protein consistent- if you want to know how much protein you should be eating then; CLICK HERE  

Even though you will look the same, you will be heavier due to the increase in muscle mass you have gained. This is why the scale should be ignored! This is so important for your mental health too, you may feel uncomfortable and you may feel ‘heavier’ but listen to me when I say, you are MORE than just a number, body fat and the number on the scale does NOT define you nor give you self worth.

This process is so important for your health, eating so few calories for a long period of time can really be detrimental to your health and hormones therefore you really just need to be strong and stick with it.

You can do this, I know it may feel like you’re going against everything you’ve ever known at first but trust me, a few years from now you’ll be SO happy you gave it a chance and stuck with it.

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Let me know what topics you’d like to read more about within this article and please share your thoughts with me as always.

All my love,

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Monday Motivation

A little bit of Monday Motivation

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Something a little bit different from me today..

I know I’m not perfect by any means but I have had a few questions asked of me repeatedly so I thought I’d answer them here 🙂

When people ask when I train and why I train, and I tell them I do it in the morning before clinics, the follow up questions I get are ‘how do you get up so early?’ And ‘how are you so motivated?’

Here’s the thing guys, getting up early and training before I start my day isn’t a chore to me 🙂

It’s the one hour in the entire day totally dedicated to ME, MY goals, MY passion and MY hobby.

Because you know what? I’ve found what I enjoy doing, I’ve found something which excites and motivates me and pushes me to do better

I tried running, I tried classes, I tried bodybuilding and you know what? My heart really wasn’t in any of it as years on, I didn’t stick to any of those types of exercise.

Transitioning into powerlifting is the best thing I ever did, for ME

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I focus on strength, I no longer chase aesthetic goals because to tell you the truth, if you’re always focused on appearance, will you ever truly be satisfied? I don’t think I can and admitting that is totally okay!

So why am I rambling on about myself?

Because I want to tell you it’s OKAY to do what you love!

It’s OKAY not to do what ‘everyone else’ is doing!

Ignore the voices/people/ articles telling you ‘you should be doing this/that…’ because actually no, you shouldn’t . You’re unique, you’re human and you should be doing what works for you and what you can sustain.

Take time to find something you’re deeply passionate about and you won’t need to ‘find’ motivation to do it. The motivation will just be there because it will make you happy!

So what steps can (not should) you take to be happier/ more motivated?

1. Do what makes YOU happy!!! Stop trying to fit a certain mound or live up to anyone’s expectations. It’s okay to be different, it’s okay to have a passion for something that not everyone does or understands. It’s YOUR hobby, your way of moving, your way of getting endorphins.

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2. Wake up earlier (if you can)! Trust me on this, your hormones will thank you and you’ll find you’ve utilised your day so much better. How much do you value your time? Learn to value it more. We all have the same 24 hours in the day and how you choose to utilise them ultimately comes down to how much you value your time and self worth. You’ll even find you sleep feeling much more satisfied and accomplished. Which will overtime, boost your self worth even more.

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You’re special and you deserve to feel that way.

3. Spend more time with people who believe in you, make you happy and bring out the best in you. Invest time and energy in those relationships. This is not selfish either and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be around those who push you to be the best version of yourself. These people may not have to understand nor share the same passion you have for what you do, my closest friend and I couldn’t be more different at times but you know what? We celebrate and respect one another’s achievements and dreams- that is the most important thing.

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4. Finally, eliminate negativity. This may be people you feel bring you down, are unsupportive or discouraging about what you do. This may be negative comments, thoughts, etc. You can and do have the power to eliminate this from your life. It takes a lot of strength but once you achieve it, you will feel much happier at more at peace. Trust me.

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So there you go, no secrets there just steps to make you more happy and motivated within your own life and goals!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and find out things that work or don’t work for you 🙂

You know where to find me if you’d like to chat

All my love,

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Not another protein post..

Protein Pt II

the which, where and why..

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After the amazing response from my first post explaining why or why not you may need to introduce protein into your diet, which you can read here if you haven’t done so already:

‘Won’t Protein Make me Manly?!’

It would only be fair to write this follow up blog as promised!

So in the post i’ll be explaining the different types of protein out there to help you all out as it can all be a little too overwelming, especially if you’re just starting out and don’t even know where to begin!

I know for me personally, if i’d read something like this when I first decided to try protein powders it would have helped big time- i’ve been using protein powders for the past 4/5 years so I really have tried ALOT of brands and flavours!

Just a little disclaimer before I start, I am not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned nor do I gain anything from mentioning them in this post and all these views and opinions are my own 🙂

Vivo Life UK

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So i’m going to start off with a protein brand that’s the most universal as it’s a vegan one (so by default anyone can have it regardless of dietary preferences)

VivoLife are a vegan brand who sell a range of vegan products but are best known for their amazing protein

Their vegan perform protein provides 25g of raw plant protein (you can read about the significance of this here), as well as digestive enzymes AND amino acids, it’s sweetened with stevia (natural plant protein) and contains organic raw cacao which is a nutrient powerhouse containing antioxidants and iron  (specifically the cacao flavour- my personal favourite!)

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Now the reason I love this protein is the fact that not only can vegans eat it, but if you’re dairy intolerant it’s perfect for you

Their protein is actually a blend of different plant proteins and it has digestive enzymes in it which really help its break down- you don’t get any uncomfortable bloating and it ensures the protein is fully digested and absorbed.

The problem with vegan proteins (i’ve found) is that they all taste ‘earthy’ which is absolutely fine is you enjoy that taste, but this is where Vivo Life stand above the rest, their protein genuinely has a delicious sweet flavour and i confirm this having tried both drinking and eating it 🙂

I urge you to read more about them and everything they stand for on their website:

https://www.vivolife.co.uk/pages/our-approach 

They really do have the best morals and beliefs and I truly admire what they preach. The team behind the brand really are the sweetest and most lovely people too- it’s been a pleasure getting to know them over social media! PLUS they’ve just released a brand new Salted Caramel flavour, I know I know.. 😉

Now a perfect protein if you’re only interested in something for baking and cooking purposes is Protein Pow’s natural whey

It’s brilliant as it only has 1 ingredient- yep only one!

100% Natural whey protein with a surprisingly delicious creamy flavour too 🙂

So this is perfect if you want ‘blank canvus’ to start with if you will, obviously as it only contains one ingredient is it gluten free and free from any artificial flavours/sweeteners/ hidden nasties! Whats more- it’s super easy to digest and definitely the most versatile to use in well, just about anything really!!

Now let’s get on to some of my all time favourite flavours and brands!

For those of you who’d like to splash out and get some incredible flavoured protein I can only recommend one brand:

PEScience

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This is a huge american brand and yes may seem a little pricey but honestly, once you hear about and try the flavours they do, cost will not come into the equation- trust me!

My absolute hands down favourites are

1.Snickerdoole (think cinnamon brown sugar)

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2.Peanut butter cup (legit tastes like a liquid Reeses cup)

The great thing about PEScience is that it is a blend of protein- so it contains whey and casein which makes it perfect when you want to bake because whey alone in baking can cause things to become very dry (which you may have already noticed if you’ve tried making anything with it alone).

These flavours are amazing, for drinking, mixing in yogurt, mixing in oats- anything you can think of, I’ve tried with them!

So whats the difference between whey and casein protein?!

Both forms come from milk hence are both dairy proteins however the only difference is the way in which they are broken down:

Whey is broken down very rapidly by the body (within an hour) where as casein takes 3-4 hours to digest. This is why whey is the preferred protein of choice directly after exercise and casein is preferred as a ‘pre-bed’ protein because the slower digestion if it keeps you fuller for a much longer period of time.

My favourite whey protein alone (which you’ll definitely have noticed if you’ve followed me on Instagram for a while) is Dymatize (specifically the birthday cake flavour)

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Dymatize whey protein is a 100% hydrolysed, lactose and gluten free isolate meaning it is the highest quality whey protein available to you (others include concentrates which aren’t as pure)

This whey protein is also great for drinking, mixing into oats, yogurt etc- when baking with it just be sure to add some fruit puree or butter for moisture 🙂

There is no other flavour out there quite like this one and I guarantee you’ll be hooked once you try it too!!

This brand also do a range of casein puddings and proteins if you’re looking for something sweet to have before you go to sleep that will also satiety you and help with muscle recovery..

My favourite of their Casein range is the gourmet chocolate

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It’s SO rich, thick and creamy (as well as being really filling); the perfect pre-bed protein treat!

Another massive company which i’m sure you will have heard of by now are Muscle Mousse

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The team behind muscle mouse are the nicest and most genuine bunch- they also have a range of products but on the topic of casein, i’m going to talk about their famous protein mousse dessert!

Their protein mousse is a blend of whey and casein which is prepared by simply shaking together with milk or water and leaving to set in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Due to the large proportion of casein in it, it forms the perfect slowly digested pre-bed sweet protein treat which so many people use a base for a completely ‘guilt-free’ treat!

Just check out their instagram page and you’ll see exactly what I mean:

https://www.instagram.com/musclemousseuk/

You’ll notice it’s also incredibly versatile and can be used in baking, in oats, to make pancakes etc

But most importantly, let’s talk flavours 😉

My top 3 have to be:
1. Peanut Butter Cup
2. Chocolate Peanut Caramel
3.Mint Chocolate Chip

(I’ve made recipes using all these flavours too which you may have come across on my website already!)

Now I know we’re not all made of money (me included) and sometimes you just need a simple quick budget go-to protein brand, for me that has to be Bulk powders.

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Their whey and caseins are incredibly cheap; especailly when taking into consideration the quality of the protein you’re getting.

Personally, they are the best online budget brand- cheap and cheerful and they do the job. Especially if you want simple flavours like chocolate/vanilla/banana.

If you’re new to the whole ‘protein scene’ and don’t want to splash out on something just yet then this is a great place to start!

Really hope this article has helped you all, please don’t hesitate to message or comment me if you have any questions; i’ve tried most brands and flavours over the years so I really do know good protein and good flavours 🙂

Lots of Love,

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‘Won’t Protein Make Me Manly?’

‘Won’t Protein Make Me Manly?’

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Ah yes, the question commonly asked whenever the topic of ‘protein’ comes up ..

For those of you on a January health kick and are thinking about buying protein because it seems like the logical next step to take, STOP AND READ THIS FIRST!

And for those of you who are simply terrified of the idea of protein anyway, well you might want to carry on reading also..

I’m here to educate and remove the stigma of the topic surrounding protein- i’m going right back to basics here so feel free to ask me anything you’d like answered further too 🙂

I often get approached by women who just aren’t seeing the results they want. They spend hours in the gym whether it be doing cardio or strength based exercises yet are unhappy with their progress. Nine times out of ten it comes down to their nutrition and a lack of education surrounding this topic mainly due to what they’ve read/seen on the internet

There seems to be a stigma and fear relating to post workout protein, that it makes you ‘bulky’ and ‘manly’. This may be due to a lack of understanding about how important protein really is and what it does..

Protein is absolutely crucial in our bodies, not just to repair and rebuild broken down muscle but it participates in practically every living function our body performs.

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The reason we associate protein with bodybuilding is because the people participating in this sport do consume more than those who are less active because they NEED it..

In times of extreme sports your body’s demands for protein increases because your muscles are under more strain than someone who doesn’t exercise. Your muscles are breaking down and rebuilding at a rapid rate in comparison to a static individual as it’s very adaptive.

For example; someone weightlifting or training for a marathon will be using their muscles far more than someone who take lights walks or doesn’t exercise at all.

It is however, the most specific of all the macronutrients as you consume- specific to you, your body weight and your activity levels

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So how much do you need? 

Different studies argue different amounts but a general rule to go by is;

0.75-1.5g of Protein per Pound of bodyweight

This range has shown to be most superior in both recovery, repair and bodybuilding

Like I said, this is totally personalised and you may choose the lower or higher end of this range dependent upon your activity level.

Let’s get a little technical.. 

During your workout, whether it be cardio or strength focused, you’re breaking down muscle tissue via a process known as catabolism to supply you with energy. Now, remember the notion ‘skinny fat’… well lets explain just how it happens. Some women spend hours breaking down muscle, leave the gym, don’t refuel properly and therefore end up in a state where they have in fact LOST muscle mass and kept their fat mass the same  because it’s actually easier for our bodies to resort to muscle break down over fat. Our bodies enter a state of gluconeogenesis (muscle breakdown) before ketosis (fat breakdown) and, especially in women, this is due to our in built survival instinct to conserve fat for pregnancy and times of starvation as it is so energy dense.

Why people drink protein shakes…

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The most commonly consumed protein you may see people taking after a workout is known as whey protein. This form is most rapidly absorbed by the body and transported to your muscles to repair and help re-build mass that has been broken down during your workout. A standard serving will supply you with approximately 20g of protein, an amount which will in no way make you ‘bulky’.

Think of it in terms of chicken, an average chicken breast supplies you with 25-30g protein, a tin of tuna is 30g protein.

So what exactly is the difference here and why do people drink protein?

A post workout protein shake will supply you with essential amino acids (mini building blocks) that your body cannot produce by itself. It will kick start your muscle repair and recovery. But most importantly, it will take you out of that catabolic state rapidly- It’s simply a convenient way of getting some essential amino acids straight to your muscles without physically eating anything.
Alternatively you could quite literally just eat a chicken breast!

So whats the point of protein I hear you ask?

Sheer convenience!

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You can throw a scoop into a shaker /blender and consume as you finish your workout, you can combine it to make a delicious smoothie, you also may have noticed its a fab thing to use in baking!

As you’ll have already come across in many of my recipes 😉

It replaces ingredients which essentially change the nutritional profile of the meal into a much more nutrient dense one (and you can get some pretty amazing flavours out there too!)

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So ladies and gents, do not be afraid of protein! With the correct post-workout nutrition you’ll actually start to see that your muscles appear more defined and you’ll feel more ‘toned’. You’ll recover much more efficently and find that you can actually workout more. You will become more efficient at breaking down fat and you’ll start to feel stronger and fitter.

With the right amount of protein for YOU, I guarantee you’ll find yourself feeling healthier, less fatigued and may even notice that your hair feels much thicker and grows faster.

Do you need it? absolutely not

Could you benefit from taking it? Absolutely

(especially if you find it hard to get enough that you require via the means of food only)

Will you get manly and bulky? Absolutely not

And ladies don’t forget, one of the main hormones needed to build muscle to appear ‘bulky’ (Testosterone) are actually produced in the testicles so we simply don’t have the the means by which to produce it at a large level to cause such an effect.

I will be following this up with a post about different sources of protein especially for those who are vegan and vegetarian

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I hope you found this useful- please do let me know what your thoughts are too 🙂

Lots of love,

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Addicted to Endorphins

Addicted to Endorphins

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Are you hooked too? Have endorphins replaced our addiction to sugar, to alcohol?

Are they the crack cocaine of the fitness world?

So ask yourself this, what is it you truly exercise for?

Do you have goals- whether they be aesthetic or strength goals?

Or do you do it for you? For the rush and feeling of euphoria after a long run or workout?

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Personally, I hold my hands up and say yes, I am well and truly hooked to the high. To the rush, feeling of power and invincibility I experience after a truly good lift.

Yes i’m driven by strength, by the goals I have to push the weights of my lifts but what gets me through is the feeling I know that’s waiting for me when I finish it.

We’ve all heard of the ‘Runner’s high’– this is supposedly what runners feel after prolonged periods of exercise,  I sure felt it when I used to do a lot of running a few years ago (before I damaged by knees).

So what exactly are endorphins?!

Endorphins are a teeny tiny little chemical released from an area of the brain known as the pituitary gland.

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They are released in response to a number of things;

-eating/drinking
-exercise
-sex
-stress

And have a variety of effects on the body including..

Boosting mood:

They induce feelings of euphoria, pleasure and happiness. They essentially put us on a natural ‘high’ in the same way the drug morphine does, in fact, one variety called beta-endorphins has been found to be stronger than morphine in its effects on the body (a shocking 48 times stronger!), so you can appreciate how it’s possible to become addicted to this internal chemical.

When they bind to receptors in the brain, they inhibit the release of GABA resulting in an excess of dopamine production; Dopamine (another neurotrasmitter similar to endorphins) also stimulates the feeling of pleasure in our brain.

 

Which is why…

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They relieve stress:

When you’re stressed out, a boost of endorphins can make you feel more relaxed by reducing levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).

It is believed to do so by inhibiting its release via the pituitary gland and hence acting as a stress reducing agent.

In addition to stress, endorphin secretion is triggered by the consumption of  foods such as chocolate and chilli. The release of endorphin caused by chocolate is believed to play a role in its often being turned to as a ‘comfort food’

They also enhance and boost your immune system:

It has actually been shown that endorphins increase immune function such as increasing antibody production and cytoxic capacity of lymphocytes (your white blood cells) so basically making them more powerful! That’s pretty amazing don’t you agree?

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So clearly, the release of endorphins is beneficial to us in a multitude of ways, but back to increasing levels of it through exercise specifically..

What we need to remember is that there are millions of different ways one can exercise.. Just because people around you ‘go to the gym’ does NOT mean you have to.
You do NOT have to follow the latest workout trend thats splashed all over social media (in the same way you don’t have to follow the latest diet trend!)
Do what YOU enjoy..

-Walk

-Run

-Try home workouts

-Swim

-Try new exercise classes

-Experiment with boxing/ judo/ kickboxing

-Even yoga/ ballet/ pilates

Hell, anyway you choose to challenge yourself, as long as you’re moving your body, you’re exercising as far as i’m concerned!

One thing I do want to touch upon are benefits of exercise in the morning ..

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  1. A positive start to the morning sets the tone for your entire day
  2. You’ll feel less stressed when you get to work
  3. You are likely to have the most energy after a good nights sleep
  4. Your metabolism will be revved up for the rest of the day (sadly, time of day has no effect on fat burning but that’s another topic for a different blog post..)

 

To summarise; endorphins are wonderful little chemicals that are definitely under-utilised. Their multitude of benefits really are amazing and can be accessed simply by moving our bodies!

Find out what YOU enjoy and what works for YOU because at the end of the day, that’s what you’ll stick to 🙂

But don’t forget to keep this in mind;

take-care-of-your-body-decal-30-x-11One of my all time favourite quotes by Jim Rohn. Be kind to yourself, exercise should make you feel healthy and happy- it shouldn’t be a chore, and it shouldn’t stress or strain you.

Thank you for reading, do share your thoughts, I love hearing what you guys have to say 🙂

Comment below or contact me on any of my social media platforms as always,

Lots of Love,

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References:

https://academic.oup.com/cercor/article-abstract/18/11/2523/291108/The-Runner-s-High-Opioidergic-Mechanisms-in-the

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3104618/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2981735

Is your diet killing you?

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What’s up guys, time for a little serious talk.

Grab a cuppa, sit back and have a read about a topic I feel very strongly about. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts with me and get involved in this discussion!

Let’s start with the word ‘diet’ what does it mean to you?

Correct me if I’m wrong but shouldn’t your ‘diet’ be purely your lifestyle, the way you live day to day?

Have you ever searched the different types of diets out there?

Paleo
Vegan
Low carb
Low fat
to name a few…

it’s no wonder we’re all so confused we’re inundated with so much information!

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How many of you have crash dieted for an event or a holiday then wondered why you piled the weight back on straight after, did you ever stop to think of the long term effects this has on your body?

Don’t get me wrong, i’m not bad-mouthing any particular diet, i’m talking about diet’s as a whole, about cutting and restricting something from your life in order to follow a particular fad. I’m talking about going to an extreme length, going through crazy measures desperately searching for a quick fix for what really is and should be a lifestyle change.

Let’s talk about extreme low calorie diet’s

A common misconception is that the easiest way to shed a few pounds is simply being very low calorie- to an extent where your body is practically in starvation mode. I’m talking silly low calorie here, calories that no one should ever be on.

Whats really going to happen?

Well firstly, it isn’t sustainable, you will ‘come off’ the diet sooner than you think. You’ll most likely binge and restrict once more as your body is begging to be fed.

Secondly, as soon as you do start eating again, not only will you gain the weight back, you’ll gain more than you lost previously- this has been shown in study after study with restrictive low calorie dieting.

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But why does this happen?

In order to keep you alive, your body has essentially gone into starvation mode; it’s slowed down your metabolism so much in a desperate attempt to keep you alive.

This is known as metabolic adaptation and happens every time you diet.

It starts to cling on to every bit of fat you have for energy, every calorie you consume..

It starts to break down your muscle because muscle has a high energy expenditure from a metabolic point of view, it breaks down bone to release calcium, to keep your heart beating. Your body is so starved of nutrients it breaks down and releases it’s own stores in order to keep you alive. You experience electrolyte imbalance, fatigue, increase your risk of osteoporosis..

Am I painting a picture here? 

More is NOT better, especially when it comes to weight loss, and if weight loss IS your goal then slow and steady is sustainable and healthy

And just a side note; happiness is NOT measurable by a number on the scale

This yoyo dieting results in a damaged metabolism and hormonal changes which studies have shown never truly return to normal post-dieting

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 So if you’re reading this and thinking, you know what, enough is enough, i’m tired of being on a diet, i’m tired of cutting out gluten or dairy or carbs – I just want to be happy and healthy.

The truth is, we should make smaller behavioural changes towards a balanced, healthy, happy lifestyle which is sustainable and becomes second nature- it becomes the way you live day to day without even thinking about it.

You need to change your mindset from ‘fad dieting’ to fixing your relationship with food; eating for health, eating for performance, nourishing your body AND mind with foods that not only make you feel good but that you enjoy

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Do you respect your body enough to nourish it? Just ask yourself that.

Surely eating well if a form of self respect no?

What you should realise is that you don’t NEED to be on any particular diet; just LIVE, enjoy life, everything in moderation.

”There is no one size fits all” I’m sure you’ve heard that before

Whatever approach you take, if you cant see yourself doing it 10 years from now then you need to question whether it really is for you.

If you want to be vegan, great, do that. If you want to practise flexible dieting, then great do that. If you don’t want to follow anything- then don’t either!

Most importantly, do what makes YOU happy; you are unique and there is only one of you.
Focus on that, focus on YOU!

There is so much more to life than diet’s and aesthetics, I really cannot stress that enough.

It’s time we all started focusing on our own health and happiness and stopped worrying about the choices of others around us.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your side of the discussion
Comment me below or click away to find me on any of my social media platforms.

Lots of Love,

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Creatine, isn’t that a drug?!

Creatine, isn’t that a drug?

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So like the entire fitness industry itself, if you’re new to this world, it can definitely seem daunting!

A lot of questions I get asked are about supplements- which do I take, which do I need, what do they even do?!

Whenever I mention creatine to those who aren’t too familiar with it- most people look at me blank faced, ask what it is or assume it’s some sort of steroid..

My favourite response of all time has to be; ‘Creatine.. isn’t that a drug?’ definitely made me giggle 😛

As it is such a massive topic, i’m going to do a short and sweet post with all the basics for you!

So what actually IS creatine?

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Creatine is a naturally occurring acid in all our bodies, It is mainly produced in the liver from the amino acids glycine, arginine and methionine (building blocks if you will), it then travels in the blood to the muscle cells.

So what exactly does it do?

Creatine helps produce ATP which is basically a small molecule in our body which provides energy, think of it like the ‘energy currency’ of the human body.

Why is it beneficial?

Creatine is beneficial in a number of ways;

1.It increases energy to muscles during contraction, therefore reducing fatigue

2.It reduces the build up of lactic acid in your muscles by acting as a ‘buffer’

3.It also increases what’s known as ‘anaerobic capacity’ which you may understand as oxygen-less exercise (high intensity bursts etc)

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Who should take creatine?

So that’s all well and good, it sounds like something incredibly beneficial right? The truth is however, only a small minority of us actually really need it– bodybuilders and strength endurance athletes. The fact is, unless you’re pushing your body to the absolute extreme during your training, lifting the maximum weight you possibly can, doing powerlifting/weightlifting style training, your average gym-goer has enough creatine within their body naturally to tide them over.

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So I shouldn’t take creatine?

I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t take creatine as a supplement. What i’m explaining is simply why it benefits the body and how it may or may not be of benefit to you and your training. If you’re someone who trains hard- incorporates powerlifting style movements or participates in crossfit style training then yes, I would 100% recommend creatine as part of your sports nutrition. It will help with power, recovery, energy and strength- all of which studies have proven over and over.

On the other hand, if you’re someone simply exercising and enjoying the gym as part of a healthy lifestyle, then no, you absolutely do not need it nor will see any major benefits from taking so except maybe enhanced recovery however, good rest and nutrition will also ensure that happens also!

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Why I take creatine

The reason I personally take creatine is because I love powerlifting style training; anyone who knows me knows that this is the style of training I choose to do daily. As I am training a compound lift in every lifting session (compound lifts being squat, deadlift or bench) I definitely notice a difference in energy, strength and recovery.

How to take creatine?

The beauty of this supplement is that originally, it was speculated you needed to ‘load’ the powder and only have it before or after your workout however, now we know this is not the case. It does not need to be loaded;

A female typically should take around 3g per day

A male, 5g per day

It is also totally personal whether you choose to take it pre, intra or post-workout!
For convenience, many take it with their post-workout shake, I personally take it intra-workout, that way I ensure I have it whilst I train along with keeping hydrated in my workout 🙂

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Some final points to note..

You may start looking up more about creatine and notice different ‘forms’ exist, if you’re unsure- stick to Creatine Monohydrate, this is the best source for us to consume

Most importantly, creatine has been associated with water retention therefore it is ESSENTIAL you drink plenty of water daily to avoid this!

So it seems it’s not a drug/ steroid after all..

Male or female, training depending, it can potentially be of some benefit to you!
Like I said, this is a very simple introduction to a massive topic within the fitness indstry, I hope it is of some benefit to you and if you have any further questions, you know exactly where to find me 🙂

Lots of love,

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References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC155510/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17685691

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14636102

Cravings?!

Cravings, we all get them, whether that be for food or drink or even sleep

But have you ever stopped to think that maybe our clever bodies are craving something for a reason?

Believe it or not, when you have a craving, it’s because your body is in genuine need of something..

But what do cravings mean and should we be giving into them?!

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Let’s take sugar for example, when it hits that evening slump and all you can think about is demolishing some biscuits or chocolate its because of 2 things:

A– Your body has probably used up a fair bit of its glycogen stores by this point

B– It genuinely needs to replenish and restore both liver and muscle glycogen that you’ve been running off all day

In fact, we are always subconsciously preparing for starvation- clever huh?

In the same sense… when you drop your calories TOO low, your body will actually slow down your metabolism so much so it can hold on to as much fat as possible because it has gone into what’s known as ‘starvation mode’.

Hunger may be controlled by our stomachs, but it’s hormones and the brain that are in control of our cravings 😉

Chocolate cravings

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Let’s talk about chocolate 😉

According to research, chocolate is actually the most craved food (especially in America) endorsed by 40% of all women and 15% of men.

It has been described as a stimulant, relaxant, euphoriant, aphrodisiac, tonic and antidepressant with regards to the effects it can have on our mood. It has long been recognised that chocolate interacts with neurotransmitters that contribute to mood modulation and appetite regulation.

In essence, it can release serotonin; the happy hormone 🙂

But why might we actually crave it?

Studies suggests that dietary deficiencies in Magnesium are one of the main reasons we crave chocolate (see, I told you our bodies were craving certain things for a reason 😉 )

So should you ignore it or give in?!

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Well, both really. I’m not saying yes, head to Tesco and buy the biggest bar of chocolate you can find then justify eating it because you read you were magnesium deficient. BUT what you can do is;

-Have some raw cacao – I personally love using Kaizen Living to make my own chocolate or include it baking goods!

-Have a few squares of dark or raw chocolate (the darker the better)

-Have some nuts; cashews, almonds and pumpkin seeds are all fantastic sources of Magnesium

It all comes down to moderation NOT deprivation, suppressing or tabooing foods will only result in stronger cravings, may result in binges, feelings of guilt etc

After all, we all know chocolate is good for the soul right 😉

Another massively craved food is actually cheese believe it or not..

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But the reason why we crave it is actually still disputed.

See some Doctors argue it’s due to a Calcium deficiency where as others argue it’s actually due to a Fatty acid deficiency- so here’s where it definitely gets personal.

If you eat a diet low in essential omega 3 fatty acids, you may not each fish for example, then you would most likely be craving cheese due to this specific deficiency. 

But if you do find yourself eating fish regularly, especially fish rich in omegas then it may be due the fact you’re lacking in Calcium.

So what can you do to combat this?
Experiment with your cravings, make a note of what you’re craving and what types of foods you’ve been eating recently- the more you cut out the more you’ll crave.

If you’re not a massive fan of fish then try chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds and even flaxseed oil for fantastic sources of Omega acids.

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Don’t neglect your Omega essential fatty acids, they are vital for your hormones, preventing clotting and reducing inflammation 

So what about Calcium sources if you’re not fussed on cheese?

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Look at at these alternative (non dairy) sources of foods rich in Calcium- chia seeds have cropped up again too.
If you’re not sure how to use them in your diet then I could write an entire post on it to help 🙂

So this was just a little taster on the massive topic of cravings …

Stay tuned for part 2 where i’ll be delving further into some other weird and wonderful cravings you may have never even considered. I’m also going to have a little guest input from a lady very special to me..

Do you get food cravings? If so which ones?

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References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16546266 

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/3/835S.full

Iron; one for the ladies

Iron; one for the ladies

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In a society obsessed with counting calories, macros and focusing too much on the number on the scale- we’re moving away from the most importance aspect of all; HEALTH.

Remember this:

‘The fitness industry is not the health industry’ 

As important as eating towards your specific goals are, what’s even more important are micronutrients which enable your body to function at its most optimum in order to utilise the energy and nutrients obtained from food in the first place.

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Todays micronutrient of choice is Iron, why?

Because I personally believe it is one of THE most important minerals in the body. I’ve chosen to talk a little bit more about this topic in women because ladies, like it or not, when you’re menstruating, you need to ensure you get even more Iron in your diet (sorry to the gents out there reading this) but I do believe this topic really isnt spoken about enough!

So why is Iron important in the first place?

I could sit here and list an abundance of roles that Iron is essential for in the body however I think i’ll save your sanity and simply mention a few;

-It carries oxygen from your lungs all over your body

-It is an essential constituent of enzymes imperative to normal health 

-It contributes to the maintenance of your immune system

So pretty important roles really…

And that is why, insufficiency in dietary Iron will result in;

-Fatigue
-Lethargy
-Frequent and persistent infections 
-You will eventually become anaemic 

Look at the diagram below for a summary of what happens to the Iron you absorb:

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As a female, your iron levels fluctuate because of your menstrual cycle; it is one of 3 main periods of your life when your requirements increase; along side pregnancy and lactation.

Now although pregnancy is associated with a temporary cessation in menstruation, your requirements close to double for physiological processes to meet the developing foetus and placenta (but that’s a whole other topic for a different day..)

A women between 18-50 years‘ RDA of Iron per day is currently around 18mg

Compare this to a woman over 50 and it significantly reduces to 8mg 

Whereas a pregnant woman needs almost double at 29mg per day!

Men, on the other hand only need about 6-7mg their entire lives, they always have it easier than we do right 😛

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There are actually two different types of Iron found in food:

1- Heme Iron (found only in meat and is well absorbed in the body)

2- Non-Heme Iron (derived from legumes, fruits and veg & is generally absorbed much more poorly within the body)

As each type is absorbed differently, there are steps you can take to ensure you maximise absorption..

-Keep your levels of Vitamin C high

-Avoid tannins when eating Iron (found in tea/coffee)

-Reduce your consumption of soy proteins

Okay so that’s all well and good- but where can you find the highest and most available levels of Iron?

For all you meat-eaters out there:

  • Lean beef
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Tuna
  • Pork
  • Liver

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Vegetables (in order of highest to lowest amount):

  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Lentils
  • Mushroom
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds (and butter)

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Not forgetting sources of grains also:

  • Rice bran
  • Sorghum
  • Wheat flour
  • Corn flour
  • Oats
  • Millet

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I’ve included this incredibly handy nutrient calculator supplied by the Ministry of Health where you can plug in your details and it will show you recommended daily nutrient requirements specific to you:

https://www.nrv.gov.au/node/add/nutrients-energy-calc 

I hope you found this article useful, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic so feel free to tweet me or comment below 🙂

As always, I am open to questions/ advice if you need it also!

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References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3999603/

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2796.1989.tb01409.x/abstract;jsessionid=6BFABE1AD36BC0B88FBF1A603392A3FB.f04t03

Rest, Recovery & ZMA

Rest, Recovery & ZMA 

 

So you’re slaving away in the gym, you’re cutting your calories, you’re sleeping less and feel fatigued and run down.

You don’t understand it, you’re sure you’re doing all the right things by exercising more and eating less but its having adverse affects- and worse, its affecting your sleep.

Ask yourself this- am I giving myself enough rest? When was the last time you took a rest day?

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Did I sleep for at least 8 hours last night? Or was I stressed about something else?

One of the biggest training mistakes in women especially is over training and there are classic signs associated with this.

Ever wondered why you cant run, cycle, lift as much as you used to? Your body is trying to tell you something. Your muscles are overworked, fatigued and exhausted.

A key sign of overtraining is waking up at night, but why does this happen?

 Your body is stressed and your levels of cortisol are elevated.

Cortisol is the commonly known ‘stress hormone’ which is released under both physical and mental stresses to the body.

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Cortisol will raise your blood pressure, start breaking down muscle and bone to supply you with energy, suppress your immune system and halt any possible tissue growth.

When cortisol is raised for prolonged periods it also reduces the building blocks available for other hormones to form- testosterone and growth hormone levels decrease which is exactly the opposite of what you want during recovery and growth.

This explains why you simply will not see any changes in your physique regardless of how hard you keep pushing yourself. Cortisol reduces protein synthesis and so your muscles do not fully recover which is why you won’t be able to perform to your usual standard or run as far and fast as you normally can.

The effect that recovery has upon your hormones and central nervous system is crucial, In order to optimize muscle repair and growth you simply must learn to relax in order to drop those cortisol levels and increase those growth hormone and testosterone levels.

Put more simply, overtraining will also result in injury, some of which may take months to heal which can be extremely frustrating.

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So what can you do to make sure you’re rested and getting good quality deep sleep?

It’s not just the hours, it needs to be good quality sleep of which the hours between 12am and 5am are most important.

Find and make time to wind down- we’re all different so do what works for you whether that be a long bath or indulging into a favorite book

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 –Avoid drinking too much before you sleep

Cut down on the amount of caffeine you consume during the day- add up how much you’re actually having

Stop scrolling through social media pages (I know we’re all guilty of this)

Invest in relaxing scents such as lavender

Consider supplementing with ZMA capsules- A common misconception is that this supplement is only for men however both men and women can benefit from its effects, women simply need a smaller dose.

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ZMA contains minerals zinc and magnesium and vitamin B6 which when combined, promote a healthy deep sleep. Zinc has also been found to be critical in the processes stimulating muscle repair and growth as well as promoting a healthy immune system.

Magnesium is known for promoting muscle growth as well as supporting central nervous system function. It plays a huge role throughout the body ensuring the function of many organ systems.

Now, vitamin B6 is there not only to help you absorb both zinc and magnesium efficiently, it helps in the production of hormones such as melatonin which encourage a natural deep sleep.

Together, these minerals form a fantastic supplement which can support your healthy testosterone levels and reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

You’ll soon find this becomes a staple in your supplement draw as you’ll wake up feeling much more rested and refreshed, having fallen into a deeper sleep.

You can buy ZMA from most good supplement companies, my personal favourite are MusclePharm which I buy from Cardiff Sports Nutrition as they contain Melatonin too!

To maximize its effects, it is best taken 30-60 minutes before you sleep and preferably on an empty stomach!

So ladies, learn to listen to your bodies- REST and RECOVER– its part of the program! I guarantee you’ll find yourself feeling stronger, running further and lifting heavier by giving yourself enough time to simply relax and enjoy deeper better quality sleep.

Wishing you all a peaceful and deep sleep,

Love

Vee

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