Unsuccessful Fat Loss

All too often, we (the media, ill-educated ‘fitness professionals’, and probably your favourite health bloggers) target incredibly specific aspects of nutrition, deeming them responsible for ineffective fat loss.

Consider the image below:

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How many times have you heard someone blame one of the above reasons (other than number one) for their inability to lose weight?

The truth is, gluten isn’t making you fat. Sugar, likewise, cannot be solely responsible for weight gain (unless of course you’re eating in a calorie surplus, and 100% of those calories are obtained from sugar alone).

Nine times out of ten, if a member of the general public ‘cuts out gluten’ or ‘goes sugar-free’, they will lose weight. Why? Because they are simultaneously (and subconsciously) cutting out a huge portion of their usually stodge-ridden diet, and likely replacing it with a less calorie-dense alternative. Does this mean that gluten/sugar were directly responsible for making them fat? No, no, no. But the daily cakes, sweets, take outs that contain gluten/sugar (which the subject has now renounced)?  Now we’re talking.

Demonising specific food groups, in itself, demonstrates a lack of awareness on the subject, and it’s a practice that instils unnecessary scaremongering relating to certain aspects of nutrition.

Likewise, blaming basic bodily/hormonal functions for poor weight loss is (in the vast majority of general population cases) just plain stupid. Sally down the road isn’t overweight because she’s insulin-resistant, and your colleague Jeff isn’t piling on the pounds because he skipped breakfast, and his body is subsequently operating in ‘starvation mode’.

Let’s look at the reality…

What Sally didn’t tell you about her diet, is that she spends her afternoon snacking on ‘just a few’ biscuits in the office, which easily total 400 calories every day. Over the course of her five-day work week, that’s an extra 2000 calories. Consider that figure per month – a hefty 8000 cals on biscuits alone. But they were just a ‘little snack’, right?

Jeff, on the other hand, forgot to mention that he makes up for his lack of breakfast by ‘treating’ himself to a sausage roll from the bakery in the afternoon. And we all know that sausage roll tastes better served up with a full fat cola.

Both Sally and Jeff are, of course, completely metaphorical in this instance. But, I hope you can start to understand my point: people are all too quick to seek a ‘reason’ for being overweight, in order to excuse themselves.

Fat loss comes down to consumption and expenditure. We’ve been over this before (if you missed it, read more about the energy balance equation here).

The more you eat, the more calories your body takes in. If an increase in consumption is not met with an increase in expenditure, the energy balance is somewhat out of whack. In simple terms, the excess of calories will be stored as fat.

So, what’s the point in going over the same ol’ nonsense again, Char?

My point is this… We NEED to stop targeting specific food groups, hormones and everything in between, and get to the facts on fat loss. As fitness professionals, it’s our duty to address false claims, marketing ploys and downright stupid theories on the human body.

So, my message is the same as always…

  • If you want to lose weight, stop eating like an ass.
  • Consume good, wholesome foods: a varied, naturally colourful, fresh dietary intake.
  • Base your meals around lean, high quality protein sources.
  • Eat treats to maintain your sanity, in whatever way works for you. Personally, I advocate little and often, as I feel this is the most realistic and reliable approach.
  • Move. Every damn day. However you want. Just move.

One day, it’ll start to sink in. Promise.

Peace xoxox

Recipe – Chickpea and Spinach Salad

This is an incredibly easy vegetarian recipe, which can be adapted to vegan if you substitute the cheddar for vegan cheese. It’s perfect for lunch, a light dinner, or even a side salad. You could also double the recipe and serve it as a sharing plate alongside your main meal.

When I was making this dish, I hadn’t intended to post it online, but it was just too yummy not to! I also can’t stress enough how simple it is to make, which is perfect for those of you with a hectic schedule.

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Chickpeas are an amazing source of protein and, as we know, protein is essential in aiding muscle recovery and cell growth/repair. Chickpeas also contain a high level of fibre, which contributes to digestive health, and helps leave you feeling fuller for longer after a meal.

Below is a list of other vitamins and minerals found in chickpeas, and why these are beneficial to your health:

  • Iron: aids transportation of oxygen around the body, and acts to combat fatigue
  • Manganese: supports bone development and collagen production
  • Phosphate: helps to build/repair bones, and contributes to efficient nerve function
  • Folate: aids cell growth
  • Calcium: essential for bone health, whilst also assisting consistent communication between the brain and the rest of the body
  • Zinc: regulates the immune system

Of course there are plenty of other wholesome ingredients in this recipe, including spinach, avocado and red onion. These nutrient-dense products are sure to leave you feeling fresh, satisfied and fuelled for anything.

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The Recipe:

Vegetarian (or vegan if adapted)

Gluten Free

Refined Sugar Free

Ingredients (always use organic products where possible):

  • Half a can of chickpeas
  • Two handfuls of spinach
  • Half a red onion
  • Half an avocado
  • Around 15g of cheddar cheese, or vegan alternative
  • Two teaspoons of olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar, to taste

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  1. Empty the chickpeas into a colander, rinse with fresh water and leave to drain, before adding to a mixing bowl
  2. Rinse the spinach in the colander, leave to drain whilst you prep the other ingredients
  3. Skin and roughly chop the red onion
  4. Scoop the avocado out of its skin, removing the stone. Chop into chunks
  5. Finely grate the cheddar cheese
  6. Add all prepped ingredients into the mixing bowl, along with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  7. Combine with salad spoons, ensuring the dressing has covered all of the mixture
  8. Serve, and enjoy!

Handy tip: I like to top mine with lots of black pepper, but you could also add dried chilli seeds, for an extra kick!

Recipe – Iced Coffee Protein Smoothie

You wake up in the morning ready for your daily caffeine fix, and all you can think about is heading to the local coffee shop to grab yourself a sweet, creamy iced coffee.

A Frappucino doesn’t sound too bad for you, right? Wrong! The traditional recipe is full of refined sugar and artificial flavourings; just not what your body needs to fuel your day.

What you really need is a balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats (for more information on this, see How to Fuel Your Body in the Morning). Who knew it’s possible to achieve this combination in a homemade Iced Coffee Protein Smoothie!?

With a little organisation, you can stock your cupboards with fresh and nutritious ingredients and satisfy your cravings the healthy way. So many people say that they ‘don’t have time’ to eat breakfast, but with this recipe, that’s not an excuse – it takes less than 5 minutes to make!

So next time you’re feeling tempted by a shop-bought, ice cold sweet treat and you’re just not ready to surrender your morning caffeine fix, why not try making this simple recipe at home instead? It’s SO much better than the original, and full of goodness that your body will thank you for.

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The Recipe

Vegan

Gluten free

Dairy free

Refined sugar free

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Ingredients (Always use organic products where possible):

  • One small cup of double strength coffee, cooled
  • ½ cup of natural dairy free milk. I use Rude Health almond milk because it’s delicious and free from chemicals
  • Two frozen bananas
  • Two scoops of protein powder. I use unflavoured Pulsin Soya Protein because it’s completely natural, but a vanilla or chocolate protein would work equally well
  • Two heaped teaspoons of nut butter. I use Meridian cashew nut butter
  • Two heaped teaspoons of raw cacao powder. I use Organic Traditions
  • ½ teaspoon ground vanilla seeds or pure vanilla extract (without ethanol)
  • One/two cups of ice, depending on how slushy you like your smoothie
  • If you prefer your smoothie extra sweet, you can add two medjool dates

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Preparation – The Night Before:

  • Brew the coffee and leave to cool, before storing overnight in the fridge
  • Peel the bananas and chop into chunks, before placing in the freezer in a tupperware

Creation – In the Morning:

  • Remove banana chunks from the freezer and place in the blender, along with cooled coffee
  • Add all remaining ingredients to the mixture
  • Blend until smooth
  • Enjoy!

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The great thing about this recipe is that it’s really versatile. Here, I’ve served mine as a smoothie bowl, topped with crushed pistachios, but you can also bottle it and take it on the go – perfect for those busy mornings.

Recipe – Mixed Berry Smoothie Bowl

Smoothies are one of my all time favourite things. They’re a great source of essential vitamins and nutrients because they’re packed with raw fruit and vegetables. Creating smoothies made with wholesome ingredients will leave you feeling satisfied and energised.

One of the many health benefits of smoothies is that they’re easy to digest. The ingredients are broken down during the blending process, which eases the burden on your digestive system.

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This recipe contains both strawberries and blueberries, which are packed with antioxidants. These help your body to fight against free radicals, which multiply in the body as a result of factors such as air pollution, smoking and alcohol. Free radicals have the potential to damage healthy cells, so antioxidants play a crucial role in preventing this process.

Berries have a particularly low sugar and calorie content in comparison to other fruit. They also act to decrease inflammation in the body, and their high level of phytonutrients aid in fighting disease.

Smoothies are a great way to up your daily fibre intake, which contributes to good digestive health. Fruit contains soluble fibre, which can be digested in the body, helping to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Fibre leaves you feeling fuller for longer, aiding in the prevention of those dreaded cravings.

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The Recipe

✓ Vegan

✓ Gluten free

✓ Refined sugar free

Ingredients:

  • One cup of strawberries
  • One cup of blueberries
  • A banana (can be frozen if you have a high powered blender but this is optional)
  • One large teaspoon of natural nut butter. I like Meridian
  • Half a teaspoon of cinnamon, plus an extra sprinkle to garnish (optional)
  • Half a cup of water or natural dairy free milk of choice. I like Rude Health Almond Milk
  • One cup of ice
  • Handful of nuts/seeds of choice to garnish. I’ve used chopped walnuts

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  1. If you are freezing the banana, peel it and chop into small chunks. Store in the freezer in a sealed tupperware. I like to do this the night before to ensure that the banana is frozen properly
  2. Remove the stalks from all strawberries
  3. Wash the strawberries and blueberries in a colander, before placing in the blender. I use a Blend Active by Breville because it’s high powered and inexpensive
  4. Remove banana from the freezer and place in the blender along with all remaining ingredients
  5. Blend until desired consistency is achieved
  6. Pour into a bowl, before topping with nuts/seeds of choice and sprinkling with cinnamon
  7. Grab a spoon and enjoy!