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An Egg-cellent Idea!!

Hands up if you don’t eat eggs, and certainly not the yolk? You are not alone, people are always amazed when I tell them that eggs are a health boosting food that they should be including in their diet and that they are missing out on a whole lot of nutrients by opting for an egg white omelet at breakfast.  Let’s take a look at the nutritional benefits of the mighty (whole!) egg:

  • A whopping 6 grams of high quality protein per egg, an essential component of the diet that helps the body repair muscle, grow tissue, maintain skin, hair and nails, regulate hormones, control metabolism and defend against illness.
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids essential for brain health, reducing inflammation in the body and boosting heart health.
  • Eggs are a source of all the B vitamins that collectively play a role in the release of energy from foods, improve the body’s ability to withstand stressful conditions, produce hormones, form DNA, maintain normal functioning of the nervous system and improve circulation.
  • An excellent source of selenium that acts as an antioxidant to fight free radicals in the body that can cause premature aging, illness and disease. Selenium also reduces inflammation, supports the immune system and protects the heart.
  • Can aid weight management due to their high quality protein content that helps you stay fuller for longer while keeping you energized throughout the day.

So how many of you are reading this but thinking what about cholesterol? And quite rightly so, for years you’ve heard the bad reputation that eggs have been given, deeply scrutinized for raising blood cholesterol levels and contributing to heart disease.

Well worry no more my egg loving friends, scientists have now shown that the cholesterol in food and the cholesterol in blood aren’t as directly related as was once thought. A study in the University of Arizona by Dr. Wanda Howell and colleagues reveled people on a low saturated fat diet can eat up to 2 eggs per day without showing signs of their blood cholesterol raising.

There we go, several reasons for you to throw out the sugar-loaded breakfast cereals, break out of your shell, come on over to the sunny side and get eggs-cited about breakfast time again!!!

The Best Pre Workout Snacks

When it comes to kicking butt in your workout, what you eat before plays a vital role, eating too much too close can leave you at risk of feeling uncomfortably bloated but going in hungry won’t allow you to give it all you’ve got! Ideally you should look to consume a small amount of carbohydrates, protein and fats one and a half to two hours before your workout, with water to ensure hydration, to give you energy, power and strength. Check out these mouth- watering snacks that will set you up for a successful workout.

  • Smoothies: Smoothies are a great pre workout snack as they are easy to digest and allow you to fill up on nutrient dense ingredients; my personal favourite is almond milk, half a banana, handful of strawberries and a handful of spinach.
  • Nut Butters: Whether you chose almond, peanut or cashew, nut butters provide protein, fibre and a host of vitamins and minerals to support a healthy body and mind. Try spreading your nut butter of choice on slices of apple for a slow releasing nutrient dense snack before you hit the gym, particularly good as a small snack 30 minutes before a workout first thing in the morning.
  • Greek Yogurt: Pair the yogurt with a chopped banana and a sprinkle of chia seeds for a super food snack fit for any Adonis or Greek Goddess!

There are also things you should look to avoid before you work out that could really cause an upset stomach which could sabotage your workout or worse still force you to throw in the towel in the middle of your session. Stay away from anything you know causes digestive problems for you, any unfamiliar foods, high fibre foods and refined carbohydrates or sugary snacks that may cause a blood glucose drop during your workout.

Are You Over Training?

I am all for people getting up and doing more but rest is just as important if you are already training to ensure you do not burn out. Over training doesn’t necessarily mean too much training but too little rest and recovery, when we work a muscle the muscle fibres tear, with adequate rest and recovery those muscle fibres can repair themselves and grow stronger, if your body doesn’t have the opportunity to repair itself all your hard work during exercise can backfire and you are at more risk of damaging the muscles. Whether you are strength training to build muscle or training for a marathon, training for 6 hours a day, as some celebrities would allow you to believe they do, is actually counterproductive. Inadequate rest and recovery can result in both physical and psychological symptoms, take a look at the warning signs and see if you could be putting yourself at risk.

  • Tired, drained, lack of energy
  • Muscle soreness
  • Pain or soreness in joints
  • Insomnia
  • Increased number of colds, sore throats etc.
  • Decrease in training intensity
  • Moodiness or irritability
  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increase in injuries

If you think you are jeopardising your workouts and want to ensure your activities are safe and effective start by taking a few days rest, stay fully hydrated, refuel after your workouts and look to include regular sports massages into your training regime.

 

Time to Get Spicy

If you’re anything like me you might just throw in a teaspoon of whatever spices you have knocking about in the cupboard to your dish in the hope that it will add some flavor. Well the brownie points go to us, that little sprinkle, all be it a last minute thought, can actually boost the nutritional value of your food and even deliver some disease fighting phytonutrients.

Let’s take a look at what we can gain from simply adding a little spice at dinner time!

  • Turmeric: contains a powerful pigment known as curcumin that brings anti-inflammatory properties to this popular spice which could bring relief to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers as well as other inflammatory diseases and cancers.
  • Cinnamon: whether you add it to your pumpkin pie or homemade granola it can help prevent blood sugar spikes that lead to cravings throughout the day, long term the antioxidant properties of cinnamon can reduce risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.
  • Ginger: you may already be aware of the fact that ginger settles an upset stomach but it also reduces inflammation and pain, perfect if you suffer from exercise related muscle soreness, throw it freshly grated into a post workout smoothie.
  • Cayenne Pepper: this little fire cracker will bring a good source of antioxidants to your dish which help fight free radicals in the body that can lead to premature aging, illness and disease.
  • Nutmeg: is for life not just for Christmas! You can expect a host of benefits including detoxification of the liver and kidneys, pain and indigestion relief, healthier skin and better sleep by adding nutmeg to your day; try a pinch in your coffee or a sprinkle on your oatmeal to brighten up any morning.

So there it is every little helps! Try something different with your spices and let us know what you think.

Foods That Can Lower Blood Pressure

We know that uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to serious health problems such as heart attack and stroke, even more frightening is that you can have high blood pressure for years without showing any symptoms, so why wait? There are foods we can look to include in everyday life that can help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Here are my 4 favorites:

  • Spinach- Packed with potassium, folate and magnesium required for lowering and maintaining blood pressure. Throw a handful of leaves into your smoothies for hidden greens or simply add it to your regular lettuce for a salad fit for Pop-eye!
  • Beans- including kidney, lima and butter. Beans are great sources of fibre, magnesium and potassium, add them to your pop-eye salad or try out some exciting bean burger recipes just in time for the bbq season.
  • Bananas-another versatile source of potassium, try coating a banana with honey, topping with chopped almonds and grilling until crispy for a blood pressure lowering treat.
  • Beets- adding raw beets to your day could help lower blood pressure try it grated on your salad or make a juice with apple and carrot to reap the rewards.

Start today and see how hassle free lowering blood pressure can be and take a look at the health and fitness blog for more information on understanding blood pressure.

A message from the heart!

So we’ve all had our blood pressure checked at some point right? We’ve all heard numbers over numbers, but have you ever stopped and asked what those numbers represent? You might be aware that we should look to maintain blood pressure at 120/80 but have you ever questioned what exactly that means? Probably not, but don’t worry I’m here yet again with the science to help you understand those figures and what it all means in the bigger picture of health and wellbeing.

The top number in your blood pressure reading, the higher of the two, is known as the SYSTOLIC blood pressure. As your heart beats, it pushes blood through your arteries to the rest of your body; this force creates pressure on the arteries known as systolic blood pressure.

The bottom number, the lower of the two, is known as the DIASTOLIC. This indicates the pressure of the blood in your arteries between heart beats, when the heart relaxes between contractions.

There is a third figure given during your blood pressure reading and that is your pulse rate, it is the number of times your heart beats in a minute. Heart rate and blood pressure are not the same, heart rate is measured in beats per min (BPM) and blood pressure in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) so checking your pulse is not a way of monitoring your blood pressure, you should always check in with your doctor for your blood pressure reading.

Normal blood pressure is considered 120/80 mm Hg or less and hypertension (high blood pressure) is diagnosed at higher than 140/90 mm Hg, between these two readings would be considered prehypertension, this should be taken as a warning sign to make lifestyle changes in order to bring your blood pressure back down in to the normal range.

If you know you are due for a blood pressure checkup pop along to the doctor and be confident you know what the numbers mean now, if you know you have hypertension jump on over to the food and nutrition blog for my top foods to low blood pressure.

Kick Emotional Eating to the Curb!

I’m sure we can all put our hands up to reaching for the ice cream tub, Bridget Jones style, during a bad break up, but continually being unable to say no to cravings at low times can be detrimental to your weight loss goals.

Comfort eating and food rewards are habits that have been instilled in us from a young age; when we cried as babies our mothers gave us milk, as an infant we were given sweets or ice cream as a treat if we were good or a reward if we were hurt, so it’s no surprise that we look to food as a comfort or reward when we are older as we have learned over time, that this will make us feel better.

Comfort eating is a temporary fix that can result in weight loss havoc, but don’t despair there are steps you can take to regain control of your eating habits.

  1. ANALYSE YOUR DIET: Keep a food and mood diary. Try writing down everything you eat for a week and note how you were feeling before you ate it, try to pinpoint what it is you need and aren’t getting.
  2. PLAN AHEAD: You can’t eat the chocolate bar if it’s not there! Remove the temptations from the cupboard and keep the fridge stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables that are quick to slice up and enjoy.
  3. FIND A DIFFERENT COMFORT: If you are eating because you are bored, find another way to amuse yourself and step away from the biscuit tin. Exercise is a natural mood-enhancer with a double whammy as it will burn calories and it might even release some tension too.
  4. TRY WAITING: If you are really craving some comfort food, try waiting 15 minutes before you reach for the burger and fries. It will give you time to evaluate whether you really do need it and the craving may subside.
  5. DON’T DEPRIVE YOURSELF: Diets don’t work when you are left feeling deprived of foods you enjoy, this kind of deprivation can led to binge-eating, which will only make you feel more guilty. It’s about making a lifestyle change that finds healthy alternatives and including a little treat so you don’t crave and obsess over “forbidden foods”.
  6. INCLUDE GOOD MOOD FOOD: There is growing evidence that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, help the mind as well as the body; diets rich in fresh fish, oils, nuts and plenty of vegetables are common to people showing less signs and symptoms depression.

Try some of these simple tricks and say adios to comfort eating for good!

The Benefits of Resistance Training

I’m sure you are probably sick of hearing me say it, but I’m going to repeat myself yet again and stress that exercise doesn’t have to be about hammering it out on the treadmill for hours on end! Aside from getting a little boring at times this can actually be restricting the amount of calories that you burn. That’s right, lifting weights may offer you more bang for your buck in the calorie burning stakes!

Here comes the science! It’s actually got to do with the time away from the exercise; post resistance training metabolism actually lasts much longer than that of cardiovascular training. The more lean muscle you have the more energy is required to maintain it, so the more calories you burn outside of exercise.

But don’t worry it doesn’t mean you have to suddenly turn into the incredible hulk! Resistance training simply means training your muscles using an opposing force; that could be dumb bells, resistance bands, body bars, kettle bells and medicine balls to name a few and the theory works whether your goal is toning or building muscle.  Check out the list of benefits you can expect by simply incorporating resistance training into your current routine.

Improved body shape: Visibly firmer, leaner, toned muscle

Increased strength and power: Whether you are training for a sport or just to make everyday day tasks easier (functional fitness)

Improved posture: increased strength, flexibility and muscle balance improve your posture

Better bone health: weight bearing activity can maintain bone density and help delay the onset of osteoporosis

Increased metabolic rate: more muscle = more calories burned

I’m not saying that cardio doesn’t burn calories, of course it does along with its many other health benefits that we’ve already looked at, what we should look to do is find a happy medium of both, look to find a routine that you enjoy, keeps you motivated and allows you to maintain your specific goals.

Very Berry Snacking!

So we looked at the nutritional awesomeness of snacking on nuts, but it doesn’t stop there, oh no as variety is the spice of life mix your snacks up a little to really see the rewards of eating regularly.

When a snack attack occurs, look to include fresh or frozen berries for a super satisfying, guilt free nutritional boost to your day.

Here are some of my favourite berry treats:

Blueberries; an excellent source of antioxidants that help the body resist damage from free radicals that lead to premature aging.

Try fresh blueberries topped with a tablespoon of natural yogurt and a drizzle of honey, yum yum!

Strawberries; another antioxidant rich berry that’s also loaded with vitamin C which strengthens the immune system as well as increases the absorption of iron in the body.

Try a strawberry and almond milk smoothie for a delicious afternoon pick me up!

Raspberries; also packed with antioxidants and vitamin C as well as fibre, manganese and vitamin K that all together promote heart, brain and eye health, what a combination!

Try popping frozen raspberries into your regular glass of water to make your water intake a little more enjoyable and refreshing.

Cranberries; you might already be aware that these understated berries can help maintain a healthy urinary tract, but they are also a great source of antioxidants which may protect against disease including, heart disease and cancer. However the benefits are almost totally depleted when excess sugar is added, so stay away from artificially sweetened cranberry juice, try making your own juice and sweetening it with apple juice instead.

Goji; so you have probably heard of this nutritional powerhouse but not really sure what all the fuss is about, right? Well like the other berries it is high in antioxidants but also gets its superfood recognition from its beta-carotene, amino acid, vitamin C,E and B content, making it natures warrior protecting eye health, liver function, improving fertility, boosting immune function and circulation and really just supporting all round longevity.

Skip to It!

Who ever said skipping is for girls? I’m sure Mohammed Ali would have something to say on that matter! Seriously, skipping is an inexpensive simple exercise that can be performed anywhere and brings astonishing fitness benefits. Read on to see what you can expect from adding skipping to your current fitness regime and find yourself skipping to a new tune.

  • Weight loss

Skipping can burn between 300 and 400 calories in 30 minutes, couple that with a healthy balanced diet and you can expect healthy weight loss that is sustainable.

  •  Increased cardiovascular fitness

Improving your cardiovascular fitness strengthens your heart which let’s face it is the most important muscle in your body. Promoting cardio vascular activity will not only allow you greater ability to perform everyday tasks but will have a direct impact on your endurance and strength during your workouts.

  • Improved coordination

Skipping improves the coordination between our hands and feet which can assist with completing daily tasks as well as contribute to overall fitness, strength and injury prevention.

  •  Full body workout

Skipping obviously uses the muscles in your legs but it is also great for the muscles in your arms, shoulders and abdominals. What else do you need to hear!

  •  Improved bone density

As skipping is a weight bearing exercise it can help boost your bone density and delay the onset of osteoporosis.

What are you waiting for!  Grab a rope, find a space and give it a go, that’s all you need!

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