Terrible title – cringe. Here we go though, straight forward stuff:
What does your typical breakfast consist of?
Are you an eggs and toast breakfast master? A grab-and-go breakfast bar muncher? A cereal and milk monster? Do you really look at the things you’re eating?
How many of you chose a “healthy” option for breakfast (or any other meal for that matter) based on the claims on the box?
Do you know what these claims actually mean? Do you know how to read a label?
Now, this is not a post about advocating pre-packaged foods. Not at all; where possible, eat real, whole food for the best results on your health and well-being. This post is about making sure that YOU, as the consumer, know what you’re really eating.
The whole thing that got me thinking about this was when a client explained their shock to me that a colleague of hers was having Breakfast Biscuits” as part of her “healthy eating”. I looked up these breakfast items and I am shocked at the nutritional content to say the least. Here it is (per 1 x 12.5g biscuit):
Carbs: 8.2g of which sugars: 3.5g
The biscuit also contains 30% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin E, Thiamin, Magnesium, and Iron (based on an average adult with a daily intake of 2000kcals).
If I break the above information down it looks like this:
One biscuit is made up of 15% fat, 66% carbohydrate, 8% protein, and 7% fibre. If you look at ONLY the sugar content of this “healthy” breakfast biscuit, it is made up of 28% sugar – MORE THAN QUARTER OF WHAT THE BISCUIT IS MADE OF IS SUGAR – WHITE, REFINED, GET-READY-FOR-THE-CRASH, SUGAR. You eat these for breakfast, spike your blood sugar levels, then crash mid-morning. This company have biscuits for that too…
What I was more shocked at was when I was looking at some calorie controlled ready meals and analysing the nutritional information. I’m going to explain what it’s made up of and then make sure you can work out what the labels mean on these things so you can judge for yourself too.
So, a chicken tikka and basmati rice microwave meal
359kcal per 380g pack
Carbs: 46.0g of which sugars: 7.2g
Now, if you’re like me you’ll be like “Hold on a minute, that doesn’t add up to anywhere near 380g”. This was my first thought… The total weight of the macro-nutrients actually only equates to around 22% of the total meal weight.
Fats are at 2%, carbs at 12.1%, and protein at 6.4%, not to mention that you’re getting over 1/5 of the recommended maximum amount of salt intake for the day in one meal.
Where is the other 297g of the dish? 78% of your meal is made up of water; yes water is good for you but sure you want to be eating food that’s going to keep you full? As someone who loves to eat, and who likes to feel satisfied by lunch, I would be needing many of these to satisfy my hunger but guess what?? That means I would be taking in 2-3 times the calories!
Want to be able to work this stuff out for yourself? It’s not too difficult you’ll be pleased to know.
On every pack you will get the nutritional label on the back which covers what is in the product. To get a gauge of how much of the product has nutritional value just scan down the “per 100g” column and add up the fats, carbs, proteins, and fibre – forget the subtitled bits about saturated fats and sugars for now.
Whatever it adds up to is also your percentage of how much nutrition is in the product. So if the fats, carbs, proteins, and fibre add up to 92g, it’s also 92% (this is why we’re going off the per 100g column, nice and simple).
You can also gauge the macro-nutrients easily from here too; the fat, carb, and protein content. Lets say that from the 92g we got above it was made up of 30g of protein, 45g of carb, and 12g of fat (leaving 5g of fibre). This means the product is 30% protein, 45% carb, and 12% fat.
The main thing I would check next is the sugar content – Under the carbohydrate content, the label will state “of which sugars” this is both natural and refined sugar (if sugar is one of the first 5 ingredients listed on the product I wouldn’t even entertain it, find something else). Because we are working on the same per 100g column whatever the number in grams will also be the percentage; so if “of which sugars” it then states 30g then uh-oh, 30% of the item you are looking to eat is made up of sugar. Not ideal.
Anyway, I’ve kind of lost the point. Oh yeah, even if you only have a basic knowledge of what is in the foods you choose to eat you will be able to make better choices for yourself.
Ideally, meals made from scratch, from raw, fresh ingredients are what you want to be consuming as often as possible. It’s not always possible though, so try taking an few extra minutes to read and break down the information that’s available and IGNORE THE HEALTH CLAIMS on the front of the pack.
I’ll talk about blood sugar levels another day, I’v mentioned it a few times in here and how it spikes but will detail about keeping it stable another day.
1200 is an awful number!
1200 calories that is.
Why do so many people think that they need to restrict their calorie intake to such minuscule amounts of food to lose weight!?!
The body needs a certain amount of calories each day just to carry out the vital functions, if it does not get these calories from diet then it can start to break down it’s own tissues for energy. Tissues being muscle; the heart is a muscle…
What side effects can you expect from a 1200, or less, calorie diet:
- cold intolerance
- irregular menstrual cycle
- irritability (hanger; hungry anger)
- long term damage to metabolic rate
The metabolic rate – this is the bit that you need to pay attention to:
Low calorie diets force your body to take energy from other sources – you are more likely to burn muscle than you are to burn fat as the body needs protein. Burning off muscle reduces your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories) and makes it more difficult to lose weight. Chances are, you will not stick to a low calorie eating plan for long, you’ll go back to your normal eating patterns and all the lost weight is re-gained. The yo-yo-diet is in play.
“Diets” are fads – short term, non-maintainable plans which make you miserable and, let’s be honest, a bit of a bitch!
What you needs is a healthy lifestyle and to really consider what you are feeding your body with. Real food, nothing processed, nothing pre-packed; when you’re looking for a meal or a snack try and put nutrition first, think “Is this the best thing I could be feeding my body with?”. If it’s not, change your choice.
As far as how much you need to eat each day goes, a very basic method of working out your daily calorie needs is:
body weight (kg) x 24 (female) or 25 (male) = the number of calorie your body needs each day just to perform the vital functions (RMR)
Take the RMR and multiply by the following based on how active you are:
- 1.2 not active
- 1.5 moderately active
- 2.0 very active (daily vigorous exercise)
This gives you the number of calories your body needs each day to maintain weight when you are completing your day-to-day life (BMR).
For weight loss: BMR – 500
This is just very general, and a basic way to start looking at weight loss. Apps such as myfitnesspal can be helpful in tracking calories.
If you’re not into counting check out my Calorie Control Made Simple post.
I love the gym, I like that I know that I go there and there’s a job to be done. There’s a purpose, there’s a goal, and then there’s the achievement. But it’s not for everyone.
I tend to work with women a lot in Personal Training role, and guess what; for many of these women, GYM’S ARE SCARY, especially mixed sex gyms.
So what can you do it you don’t want to go to the gym? Go for a walk? A run? A cycle?
Why not workout from home. There’s an abundance of workouts on youtube which are filmed in real time so you can work along to them – personally I love to follow along a Yoga workout, I can do it when it suits me and I don’y have to wait for a class (or be around other people; I love my own space for these types of activity).
Depending on what you want to achieve, along with your experience, likes and dislikes, will determine the type of training you want to follow. I would always advice strength training (especially for women) at least twice a week, more if you can. It will not make you big, or bulky; it will make you lean and strong, AND able to eat more [real food] without gaining weight (erm… BONUS!).
Follow the link for a four move workout that hits the whole body. There’s also progressions to each of the exercises so as you get stronger you can continue to challenge yourself: WITHOUT CHALLENGE THERE IS NO CHANGE.
Hey guys, here’s a super simple, food group list to work alongside my previous post about using the hand to measure your portion sizes. Enjoy!
- Steak / Beef
- Beef Mince
Always go for the leanest cuts of meat.
- Rolled Oats
- Brown Rice
- Wholegrain Rice
- Wild Rice
- Sweet Potato
- Wholegrain Bread
- Wholegrain Pasta
Veggies (List of some, but not exhausted)
- Bell Peppers
- Mixed Salad Leaves
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Salad Onions
Fruit (List of some, but not exhausted)
- Coconut Oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Natural Peanut Butter (or other no added sugar nut butter)
- Nuts (raw and unsalted)
Seasoning & Spices – Add a little flavour to your meals, it doesn’t have to be boring (add to meat, wrap in foil and oven bake for really juicy flavoursome meals)
- Tomatoes (chopped, canned can be used)
- Sea Salt
- Black Pepper
- Stevia (to sweeten yogurt/fruit if necessary)
- Vanilla Extract
- Water, 2-3 litres a day
- Coffee, max 2 cups, not after 4pm (we’ll explain why in a later post)
- Herbal tea
- Green tea – not after 4pm
If only I liked coffee…
Coffee is an ideal pre-workout supplement to get you in the zone for training. Unfortunately, I hate the stuff. The taste makes me sick. So instead, I use a pre-workout for the days I’m feeling a bit “blah”.
MusclePharm assault, it does as the name suggests and jolts you into action. It gives you the “furry face” feeling as I like to call it when you feel the ingredients kicking in. It might just be physiological – knowing that I have had something which is meant to make me feel more energetic, but even so, it definitely makes me work harder in my sessions.
So, calorie control is a major contributor to weight loss. I mean it’s pretty obvious – eat more than you need and you’ll gain weight, eat what you need and you’ll maintain, and eat less than you need to lose weight.
Actually, I’m going to start this again. And, I am going to start it with this:
WE ARE ALL REGULAR JOES… (mostly)
What I mean is – We’re not top athletes striving for performance or minimal body fat; we don’t need gram specific denominations of certain food groups. We are regular people, with regular jobs, that need REAL FOOD (nutrition), in an easy way.
REAL FOOD: If you can’t fish it, pick it, or shoot it; don’t eat it. OR, if it comes in a plastic wrapper; don’t eat it.
Real food is made up of PROTEIN, CARBOHYDRATE, and FATS (Carbs and Fats; WTF!), I’ll post later with a simple list of what food you get eat of these macronutrients (ooh, fancy) from. There’s veggies to throw in there too.
What you want to know is portion control, so check out this link to Precision Nutrition: Calorie Control in the Palm of your Hand, it’s super easy to understand and implement using only your hand!
Let me know how you get on. Xx
I’m Holly, a fitness instructor, personal trainer, and pre and post natal exercise specialist.
Born and raised in rural Northumberland I am passionate about the outdoors, health, fitness, and general wellness. I believe it is important to look after body through exercise and nutrition, and finding “me-time” to look after your own physical and emotional well-being.
Along side providing health and fitness advice, I also offer coaching and lifestyle advice; helping clients work through their stresses and reducing daily pressures through coping mechanisms which are easy to access and perform.
As I come to add content to this blog, you will get to know me through everything from the food I eat, the exercise I do (and don’t do), the books I read, how I like to spend my free time (yes, free time!), and probably a lot more along the way.
I’ll be sharing more information shortly but for now, I wish you a very enjoyable day!