When you pick up a bottle of vitamins or supplements they are invariably listed in order of weight, beginning with the one that has the highest content. Sometimes however, these labels are not so easy to read as they may well include items which are not vitamins or supplements at all and are simply required to help make the tablets, e.g. fillers, sugars, coatings. Also, vitamins are sometimes listed with their chemical name making it even harder to work out. The following is a short table listing those chemical names and the correspoinding vitamin for your reference.
Continue reading "Deciphering The Vitamin Code" »
Fibre: We're often being told we should eat plenty of it or more of it. As a child I remember being told by my grandfather I should eat my potato skins on my jacket potatoes as that's where all the fibre was. But what exactly is fibre? Why should we be eating it? Where do we get it from (apart from potato skins) and how much is enough?
Continue reading "Fibre? What, why, where and how much?" »
So, last Friday I attended the first of a few Christmas "dos" this year, and true to form I found myself sharing a table with a chap who was heard to say, not once, but twice, my personal favourite of nutritional titbits, "Of course, you shouldn't eat any fruit really, it's full of sugar."
I resisted the temptation to run screaming from the room, or indeed to get on my soap box. To be fair, I was a couple of pints down and stuffing my face full of Balti and naan bread so any nutritional lesson from me at that time would be a bit rich, but I did resolve to write a short article this week explaining why fruit, sugar packed or not, is not evil!
Continue reading "Not all sugars are created equal" »
So you have been converted. Your meal plate is perfectly balanced. Achieveing your five a day is a walk in the park. You have even made huge progress in converting your other half to your healthier lifestyle and food choices. But what about the kids? Now there's the real challenge! Here are some of our favourite tips for getting the children into healthier eating habits.
There is a world of confusion surrounding nutrition these days. This is in part due to new research conflicting with old almost as soon as the previous article is published; but it's also perpetuated by half baked ideas, Chinese whispers and unsound advice from those who should take the time to know better.
In this brief article I'll try and cut through five of the more common carbohydrate fallacies out there.
There is a multi billion pound industry with a vested interest in selling us the myth that fat loss is achievable without effort. It's largely made up of miracle tablets containing all manner of allegedly fat burning ingredients from the deepest darkest swamps of the world's hardest to reach places. It also includes low quality fitness DVDs promoted by pop culture's latest "famous for being famous" conveyor belt celeb, and of course shelves upon shelves of additive enhanced meal replacement options. And we mustn't forget the growing variety of home fitness equipment with preposterous claims of spot fat reduction, implying 6 pack abs in a matter of weeks only to end up at the local car boot sale the following year.
One of the first motivations behind Fit2BFit was to make fitness more accessible for the average Joe (or Joanne) in whatever format they prefer to pursue it, i.e. fitness classes, martial arts or dance. Regardless of which route we take, and our personal motivations, it's fair to say that the majority of us start down the path with a view to becoming more active and to shed a few or more extra pounds. It only seems right therefore, that I start our new blog with my attempt at shattering some of the myths put about by those with less than pure motivations. Fat Loss Myth 1 - "Spot reduction" It doesn't matter how many sit ups, crunches, leg raises, etc. you do... you'll never see that six pack if it's under a layer of fat. Exercising a specific area of the body will not lose fat from that area of the body faster than from any other area. The muscles concerned will likely get stronger, more toned and maybe bigger, but in all likelihood they will still be sitting under a spare tyre. A lot of people comment that when they gain weight it usually goes straight to a particular part of their body first before spreading elsewhere. While it's not true for all people, in general terms you will lose fat on a last in first out basis. Fat Loss Myth 2 - "Celery burns more calories that it contains No it doesn't. While it's true that celery is low in calories, is quite good for you and has a higher thermic effect than is typical, you still gain more than you lose in digesting it. Bridget McKevith of the British Nutrition Foundation is quoted as saying "Our bodies are well adapted to extracting energy from food and even components such as fibre which we can't digest are fermented by the bacteria in our digestive system; releasing energy." Negative calorie foods don't exist! Fat Loss Myth 3 - "Cutting out snacks helps lose weight" Well yes, it will if your snacks are mostly made up of crisps, sweets, chocolate, cake or a donor kebab. However, a better alternative is to switch your snacks for healthier options. Eating little and often by incorporating a snack between meals increases metabolism and helps you feel fuller longer, reducing the need to reach for the biscuit tin later. Fat Loss Myth 4 - "Eating healthy costs more" Even the cheapest of pre-packaged high fat, high salt ready meals can be made for the same price if you buy fresh ingredients and make it yourself. It's fair to say that this takes more time and you may attribute a cost to that. However, in the long run it's financially cheaper and a lot healthier. Furthermore, if you cut out expensive items from your shop such as biscuits, sugary drinks and convenience options you can use the savings to buy organic ingredients to make your meals even tastier and more nutritious. Fat Loss Myth 5 - "Low fat/reduced fat labelled foods are healthier choices" Not always. While foods labelled as "low fat" have to meet legal criteria, foods labelled as "reduced fat" just have to be lower than the full fat alternative. Furthermore, foods labelled as either are often full of sugar and additives which are little better than the original full fat version. If you can make it yourself from natural ingredients that's always the healthier option. Failing that, always read the label and learn about what you are putting in your body.
So there we have 5 myths about fat loss. I could go on as there are many more, but let's look at some Fat Loss Truths instead to get us back on the right path.
Fat Loss Truth 1 - "Burn more than you consume" The only way to lose weight is to consume less calories than you burn. 1 lb of fat equals approximately 3,500 calories, so if you eat 500 less calories per day or burn 500 more per day you should lose 1lb per week. Fat Loss Truth 2 - "Be patient" 1lb a week may not sound very much, but it's actually the amount most health and fitness professionals would recommend for sustainable fat loss. That's 4lbs to 5lbs a month or over 3.5 stone a year. Now if I told you that you'd be 3.5 stone lighter in 12 months time you'd likely be pretty happy with that, especially if you didn't put it back on again. Fat Loss Truth 3 - "You need to exercise" Exercise prevents the loss of muscle mass and helps to ensure you are losing fat instead. You will hear fitgeeks talk a lot of stuff about thresholds, optimum heart rates, nutritionally timed training and so on, but you only really need to understand the basics which is this. Aerobic (or low to moderate effort cardio) based exercise helps burn calories while anaerobic (resistance/short burst/intense) training increases and maintains muscle mass, which in turn helps you burn more fat! So do both. Fat Loss Truth 4 - "A healthy balanced diet will always beat fad diets" Fad diets are not to be trusted. They work by either severely restricting your calories or by cutting out whole food groups. These types of diet are difficult to sustain and often lead to an overall weight gain once the diet stops. They can also cause some unpleasant side effects. Eating a balanced and healthy diet with good portion control is the way to go long term. In fact try not to think of it as a diet. Think of it more in terms of a lifestyle change which you will keep going with forever. You're not dieting. You're just eating healthily. I'll be writing a lot more about how to go about that in later articles. Fat Loss Truth 5 - "You will be more successful if you have support" I'm not saying you can't do it alone. Many people can, and indeed some people prefer it that way. But most people need support, motivation, encouragement, companionship, affirmation and so on to keep them on the right track to their goals. That support can come from a number of areas. Family and close friends is a great place to start as long as they are genuinely supportive. So talk to them first to explain what you are doing and why. Friends and work colleagues can also be called upon for support, perhaps to help you change your lunchtime habits or to join you on your quest. Of course, if you have someone that always tries to drag you down the pub for a pint at lunchtime you may want to change who you lunch with if they are unwilling to understand your personal goals. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are great ways to hook up with like minded people and follow positive and inspirational trainers and nutritionists. If course you can Follow Fit2BFit on Twitter and Like Us on Facebook too to get up to the minute class news and fitness and nutrition tips. And we would be very remiss if we didn't mention the best way of getting support while adding another great tool for burning that fat. Join a class, join two or three or more! Try something new. Try something again. There is something for everyone out there and the great thing about classes is that most people are there with a common goal. They are a great place to make friends, get support, get tips and ideas and of course lose calories! So get to a class, be active, eat right, sleep well, drink plenty of water and keep training.