Featured

Myth Busting

There are so many nutritional myths out there they could all have their own article but instead I thought I would take a small handful of the ones I come across a lot.

Does high insulin level prevent weight loss?

NO!! The myth is that if you eat a high carbohydrate diet (even if you are in a calorie deficit), it releases the hormone insulin which then makes your body store fat.  Its absolute tosh and has never been proven, ever! I understand why people believe it!  There are some very high-profile doctors out there promoting this theory, they say low carb is the only way.  They have only one agenda, to sell their book!

There are many studies that dis prove this theory but I will name one that categorically disproves the insulin theory.  In this study by Kevin Hall (Hall et al. (2015) Cell Metab) there were no significant differences in body fat losses when comparing isocaloric low carbohydrate and high carbohydrate diets in a tightly controlled metabolic ward. 

Let’s have a carb party 😊

Eating little and often speeds up your metabolism and helps you lose weight.

NO!  This one is a very popular myth and still well believed.

This meta-analysis (Schoenfeld et al. (2015) Nutr. Rev.) found no significant differences between meal frequency and changes in body weight.  There are lots more studies to mention and all have found no significant difference when eating lots of meals compared to eating 2 big meals a day for example.

The only times eating smaller meals more often can benefit you is for muscle gain and that’s more specific to protein feedings.

Eat what fits within your lifestyle without any stress over timings!

Does eating red meat increase the risk of cardiovascular disease?

NO!  Meat eaters will love this one and as this one has been around a long-time people find it hard to not believe but evidence is evidence.

This meta-analysis (O’Connor et al. (2016) Am. J. Clin. Nutr.) showed that consuming more than 0.5 servings of red meat per day did not significantly affect lipid-lipoprotein profiles or blood pressure, both risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Many of the studies that do show a link to red meat and increased risk of CVD are correlation studies.  What this means is that the people taking part in the study were also less likely to be physically active, more likely to be smokers, drink more alcohol, have a higher energy intake and have a higher BMI which are all related to CVD so how can you specifically blame the red meat.

Rather than focusing on reducing red meat you would be better off getting to a healthy weight, being more physically active, drink less alcohol and not smoke.  All proven to reduce the risk of CVD.

Red meat is actually extremely nutrient dense food containing protein, fat, iron, zinc and many other micronutrients.  Just saying.  Moderation!

Is eating more than 7 eggs per week bad for your cholesterol?

HELL, NO and thank god!!

There are many studies to refer to so I am going to pick the one with the most eggs consumed in a week.  This study showed that eating 21 eggs per week for 12 weeks resulted in no significant changes in ‘bad’ cholesterol and actually improved other blood lipid markers for health, including levels of ‘good cholesterol and triglycerides. (Mutungiet al. (2008) J. Nutr)

However, I should state that there are hyper-responders to eggs (as with everything).  If you do have high cholesterol then remove eggs for a while, change nothing else and get re-tested, if its still the same then change other lifestyle factors and keep the eggs.

I’m a big egg fan.  They are super nutritious and contain small amounts of very nearly all the essential micronutrients we need and they have up to 8g of Protein per egg.

I think that’s enough for now, I may do another next week with another 4.

Are there any myths out there that you are unsure about??

Featured

Things You Need to Know About Protein

Nearly every single client I see in the clinic is not eating enough Protein, both male and female.

Unless you are really into muscle gains most people don’t even know why we need it and what it does for us.  I have to try and change this as I think most Nutritionists would say it’s their favorite macro and we will prioritize it over the other macros, for good reason.

I’m going to try and keep the science bit to a minimum but do bear with me as its important you know.

What is protein anyway?

Proteins are large, complex molecules.  Proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids, which are attached to one another in long chains. There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to make a protein.  There are essential and non-essential amino acids that we consume through food.

But why do I need Protein?

Let’s clear one common misconception about protein.  You do NOT eat/drink Protein then turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger (if only).  We do need to consume protein from our diet to provide amino acids for growth and maintenance of tissues.  So, the amount you need really depends on your health and activity level.  If you have had surgery for example, eating higher protein diet will help your recovery.  If you are training hard with heavy weights you may need a higher protein amount to support the recovery of your muscles and help them grow.

If you are in a calorie deficit as you are trying to lose fat its important to keep your protein high so you do not lose muscle mass.

There are lots of other reasons that are not just muscle growth related as to why we need Protein, here are a few more and each one could have its own article!

  • Immune function support
  • It has a high thermic effect of food – which means you burn more calories metabolizing it
  • Supports weight loss – higher protein meals have higher satiety
  • Supports healthy nails and skin growth
  • Protein is also an energy source

Protein myths debunked

Myth 1 – You can only digest 20-30g of protein in one sitting – NOT TRUE
We digest all of our protein however you may not need more that 20-30g per sitting for muscle protein synthesis AKA muscle growth)

Myth 2 – Protein makes you fat – NOT TRUE
The only thing that makes you gain fat is a calorie surplus.

Myth 3 – To much protein is bad for your kidneys in healthy individuals – NOT TRUE
There is not one study that supports this statement. 

Myth 4 – Protein shakes are for body builders – NOT TRUE
Protein shakes are great if you don’t have time to sit and eat food, they are not better than food but a complete protein is a complete protein. 

So how much Protein should you be having?

The recommend amount is 0.8g per kg of body weight but evidence supports that we go higher than this.

I would recommend a guide of 1.2 – 2.7g for kg of body weight.

The 1.2 would be for a non-active healthy person, the more active you get then it should increase.  1.5 is a great start.  A 60kg female would need around 90g of Protein.

Why should your Protein come from?

We have complete and incomplete protein.  Remember those amino acids I mentioned at the beginning, well they are pretty important.  We need them to make up complete Proteins.

Complete proteins –They contain all the essential amino acids in adequate amounts

They are found in all animal-based protein sources

Incomplete proteins – which means deficient in at least one essential amino acid

Usually plant-based sources which can be difficult for vegan’s as they can’t have any animal products, its not impossible though.  Vegan’s need to be aware of how to combine their protein source to make up a complete one.  For example, mixing rice with beans.

Side effects of not getting enough Protein.

  • You are tired – your body isn’t recovering and its effecting your energy levels
  • Brittle nails
  • You are not making the progress you wanted in the gym
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Increased risk of bone fractures
  • Risk of infections and low immune, you keep getting sick

I think that’s enough incentive to check how much protein you are eating.  You may not even know that’s its low.  Take a look at your diet and see how much you are eating.

Tips to increase protein

  • Aim for 20g minimum per meal
  • Make your snacks high protein – tuna, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, eggs, lentils, chickpeas
  • Throw in a protein shake or bar if you are struggle to consume through food – you can add protein to your oats, smoothie or yogurt
Featured

Hold the Salt or Pass the Salt?

For as long as I can remember we have been told that salt is bad for us, it will give you high blood pressure and you will have a heart attack!

Turns out that this may not be the case.

Let me say that first, too much of anything is a bad thing, so keeping in mind throughout this post that I am not encouraging excessive salt intake.

What is salt?

Also know as Sodium chloride.  Salt is 40% sodium and 60% chloride.  You can get many different forms of salt.  Sea salt, Himalayan salt and the table salt we all know to well. 

Why do we need salt?

Aside from it may be making our food taste better we actually need salt!  The essential minerals in salt act as important electrolytes in the body. They help with fluid balance, nerve transmission and muscle function.

What we all thought we knew about salt.

That too much salt contributed to high blood pressure and heart disease. New studies are now showing that this is not quite the case.  This study (link below) found there was no actual link between salt intake, high blood pressure and risk of heart disease.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21731062/

What happens if we restrict salt?

Evidence in recent years is emerging that restricting salt is bad for us as we are not getting enough.  It can contribute to the follow.

Reduced hydration, especially in athletes
Muscle cramps
Higher risk of heart attack
Headaches
Weakness
Cognitive decline in elderly
Irritability
Sleep disruption

Wow hey, who knew!

Which one is the healthiest? 

They actually don’t differ a huge amount, but it seems Celtic salt is the king salt! 

Table salt – is heavily processed however the pro’s to table salt are that it has iodine added to it so we do not become iodine deficient.  Table salt has the least mineral content with the iodine aside.

Sea salt – its less refined that table salt with a slightly higher mineral content.  However, it’s said to have a higher metal content and to contain trace plastics.

Pink Himalayan rock salt – is rich in minerals, containing all 84 essential trace elements required by your body. Pink salt can assist in many bodily functions, such as reducing muscle cramps, promoting blood sugar health and promoting healthy pH in your cells.

Celtic sea salt – is an unrefined, unprocessed and sourced from clean coastal waters.  Containing unprocessed and naturally forming minerals contains a higher mineral content than Himalayan and even contains trace amounts of iodine, naturally.

Benefits of adding natural salt

  • Balances electrolytes and prevents muscle cramping
  • Helps you stay hydrated
  • Can Improve sleep
  • Supports a healthy nervous system

Recommended daily amount.

The government guild lines for an adult are 1 teaspoon a day (6g).  If you already eat a lot of processed food, then you will be getting more than enough (maybe too much) so don’t add extra salt to your food.  If you eat lots of fresh food adding some natural salt will benefit your health.

Take home message – moderation again!!

Featured

Should You Be Gluten Free?

Yes!!  If you have Celiac disease or non- celiac gluten sensitivity.

This really is one of the biggest myths.  The amount of times I have heard people say that something is gluten free so it’s healthy, or they have cut gluten from their diet and they feel so much better.

First of all, lets explain what gluten actually is.

Gluten is a group of proteins found in cereal grains. These proteins, called prolamins and glutelins, comprise 75–85% of the total protein in bread wheat.  It gives dough its elasticity and makes bread soft and chewy. 

In this day and age, for some reason and I cannot pinpoint when this happened, everyone started to blame their stomach issues on gluten.  I came across a study whilst looking at some research and it tested 336 people who thought they had a gluten intolerance and put them on a gluten free diet.  The results found that out of all those people on 27 of them had a gluten intolerance and 26 actually had celiac disease.  The others had issues because of a number of different issues.

Stomach related issues can be stress (huge one), Irritable bowel syndrome, a diet change, a wheat allergy or another allergy such as lactose. 

I have known many people remove gluten from their diet and have claimed that they feel better.  That’s great.  However, if you remove gluten from your diet you are also removing cakes, biscuits, all breads and other highly processed foods.  Of course, they feel better, they have removed all the junk from their diet and probably replaced it with fresh and higher nutritious foods than they were eating before. 

Other foods containing gluten are

Wheat
Spelt
Rye
Barley
Bread
Pasta
Cereals
Beer
Cakes, cookies, and pastries

Notice how most of these foods are the ones we tend to over consume?  Could this be why we feel so bloated and tired after eating them, because we ate too much?  Could it be not its not actually the gluten’s fault?

Are Gluten free versions better than normal versions of food?

Yes, if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  Otherwise absolutely not.  They are very expensive and usually have extra additives added to make then taste similar. 

If you do think you have a problem with gluten you should go to your doctor to be tested rather than just assuming it is gluten, you could be focusing your energy on the wrong problem when you could be fixing the right one. 

It is believed that 0.5-15% of the western population may have a reaction of some kind to gluten, its not as high as you would think.

Featured

Support!

This week has been one of the the harder ones in regards to being sober.

In Australia Melbourne cup is one of the biggest events in the calendar. We get to finish work early, we get super dressed up and head off to whatever venue has been booked for us. Its a really good day. The free drinks flow, the food is usually delicious and everyone gets hammered. I am usually the one who is most up for it. This year was different. I wasn’t drinking. I was determined to still enjoy myself and not dread the event.

I called the venue ahead of arriving to ask what non alcohol drinks they have, they had Carlton zero, I was happy as! It make a difference if people think you are drinking then you don’t have to explain yourself.

We arrive at 12.30pm, the race is at 3pm, I left at 3.30pm LOL! I have 3 Carlton zero’s, had a nice time but I started to feel the turn in the way people were acting and knew it was my cue to leave. The main reason of telling this story is the my manager didn’t drink and stayed with me the whole time. She wanted to support me, it meant a lot as I would never ask anyone too or expect anyone too. It helped.

I am finding that a lot of people are very supportive, more so than I expected. My best friend is great and really understanding as to why I am doing it. My work colleagues get it. My 8 year old daughter who obviously doesn’t understand the main reason behind it but I think is benefiting from me not drinking the most.

The biggest shout out needs to go to my husband. He is one of my 10 followers and reads every post. If you read my first introduction to the blog you will know that one of my fears was it affecting our relationship in a negative way. We think that our relationship is built on our love to socialise (as well as other things of course) which in turn means our love for alcohol and getting boozy. Nearly 7 weeks to not drinking and I am thinking how wrong that is that we think that. Ok so we are not out dancing the night away until 3am, we are not having drunken conversations that will mean nothing the next day or laughing hysterically at things that are not actually not funny but how often do we even do that anymore? I think the last time was a year ago when we had a night out in the city.

Instead and I hope he will agree we are probably in the happiest place we have ever been. I don’t know why. When I try to pin it down one of the things that come to mind is because I or even we are less irritable, my mood is better so I am more tolerant, I feel calmer, I feel good! He does too, he is drinking a lot less and making an effort to eat healthier. If I didn’t have his support or if he moaned about it then this process would have been so much harder. I am so grateful for him.

Its made me realise how important support is and surrounding yourself with those who do support you is a must.

Featured

FOMO

I don’t get it anymore. It probably stopped about a year ago for me. I used to get it bad. I never missed anything and said yes to everything. Every work event, every social event, literally everything.

When I first got to Sydney form the UK being invited out and attending was the only was to meet people and build relationships. You are not sure who you actually want to be friends with so you have to try them all out, right? So I would go out at least twice a week. They were all drinking events, some free and some not free, didn’t matter, all would end with me being drunk. There is a big bubbles culture here with groups of girlfriends. There’s constantly a bottle being bought by who’s ever round it is and your glass is always full. You cant monitor how much you drink therefore before you know it you’ve drank 2 bottle of prosecco and you are hammered!

After 2-3 years of this is Sydney I started to tire of it. Sick of the horrendous hangovers, bored of the bear fear and I would always get my self in trouble by talking to someone about something I shouldn’t to some I shouldn’t have said it too so would have constant anxiety.

I made some great friends along the way but if I look back I am confident I didn’t make them friends because they liked me wasted, surely it was because they actually liked me!

So yeah, I just got over it. I also know that after 9pm when everyone is sloshed no-one remembers anything anyway so i’m not missing out there.

These days I’m much happier staying in with the fam, movie nice food and bed at 10pm (if not earlier), or a nice meal with a friend, long walks or something active. S many people will say I am boring, that’s there problem, I couldn’t be happier doing those things.

So I think the new term is JOMO, joy of missing out. I love that.

The Basics Are Not Sexy!

There is a movement at the moment on social media, if you follow the right people then you will know that changing your mindset to know that health and fat loss comes down to some very simple basics.

If you follow the wrong people, you will continue to believe all the bull shit.  Cull all the bull shit now!!  But how do I know who I shouldn’t follow anymore I hear you ask?  Anyone who tries to sell you a fad diet or supplement, anyone who says one way is the only way, un qualified people in their field and anyone who doesn’t make you feel good.  I did this a couple of years ago, it helps.

The purpose of this post is to spell out the basics.  They are nothing you haven’t heard before but people are not listening because they are still buying keto drinks and skinny jabs and drinking celery juice and trying the quick fixes.  The basics are not magic or sexy but they work. 

If this is you, read this article and listen.  I promise if you do take it in and start this lifestyle you will have that balance you have been chasing for years.  Again, I did!

The basics.

  1. Energy balance – Oh yawn, all you hear is calorie deficit blah blah blah.  You have to understand this to reach you goal.  You just have to.  Read my post if you don’t. https://www.wholehealthwithemma.com.au/post/energy-balance
  2. Sleep – this is a big one.  If we don’t get enough of it then it effects a whole heap of stuff.  Hunger levels, concentration, mood, activity levels.  Look up some Matthew Walker podcasts to understand this further or read my blog. https://www.wholehealthwithemma.com.au/post/the-best-life-insurance-policy-you-can-give-yourself
  3. Activity – get moving at every opportunity you can.  If you have a sit-down office job like me the it can be hard to get those steps in but there are opportunities.  Another blog plug but read this to understand how important it is.  https://www.wholehealthwithemma.com.au/post/activity-level
  4. Nutrition – eat whole foods, base your meals around a protein source then lots of veg then add in your whole grain carbs and healthy fats, eat you fruit, limit your processed foods but still live your life, moderation, portion control, stay hydrated.
  5. Moderation – I think this deserves a spot.  A little bit of what you like is an old saying but its so right on!  We can still drink wine, eat chocolate, have a packet of crisps.  We don’t need to ear chicken and broccoli to be healthy.  We can have it all if we moderate it.
  6. Patience and consistency – you have to be patient.  It does not happen over night I’m afraid.  Its not realistic.  However, if you do implement these changes you will start to feel better every day.  Consistency is key.  You need to find a lifestyle that fits in with your lifestyle (if that makes sense).  Make small goals.  I wrote a post on non-negotiables which can help if you are not sure where to start. https://www.wholehealthwithemma.com.au/post/make-your-non-negotiables-today

So, in summary get a decent kip, eat food in moderation, get off your arse and move and make some small goals to work towards.

My New Website!

I am very excited today!

My website has gone live for my new business Whole Health with Emma. I have never had a website before and I really love it.

When I imagined my website I wanted something bright, fresh, easy to navigate, simple and informative. Jen (of Jennifer Mackinder Designs) captured everything I wanted. I really wanted to share it with you as some of you have been with me from the beginning of my journey.

Here is the link
https://www.wholehealthwithemma.com.au/

If you can open it on a desktop or tablet as I like it much more then mobile view 🙂

I hope you love it like I do.

Skinny Jab – does it work?

When I first heard about this, I was like oh no, not another fad, just like to skinny teas, detox teas and keto drinks, eye roll.  However, after looking into it and how it works, I could be a little on the fence on this one, let me explain.

Skinny jab (is actually the name of the company) hasn’t quite made it across the pond yet here in Australia, I have been seeing all over the people I follow socials in the UK.  I’m sure we will all be aware of it soon.

What is the skinny jab?

It is claiming that it is the miracle we have been waiting for, the revolution to weight loss.  It contains a drug called Liraglutide which is a commonly prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes, so it’s a medically recognized and safe drug.  It basically increases insulin secretion and slows down gastric emptying.  The drug reduces appetite. 

Science alert!  Insulin is basically released when food is consumed. Insulin will then be released from the pancreas, take the glucose (sugar) from our blood from the food consumed and pops it into our cells and the cells will use that for energy.  For people with type 2 diabetes who don’t get enough insulin released (insulin resistance) this drug will help that.   The presence of insulin signals that food has been consumed and it turns down the hunger signals.

A randomized controlled trial was conducted and the conclusion was that Liraglutide helps to induce and sustain weight loss in patients with obesity. Its efficacy is comparable to other available agents but it offers the unique benefit of improved glycemic control. Additional studies are needed to determine its long-term efficacy and safety profile.  See study below.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5358074/#

Ok, so we know that the science behind it does reduce your appetite which can be useful if you are looking to lose fat.

However, according to the skinny jab website, it will work alongside a specific food plan and exercise plan.  Ok, hang on, so basically you will be putting people into a calorie deficit too?  Isn’t this the basic principle of weight loss anyway?

So not only do you have to inject yourself daily you also need to actually cut back on food?  So, it’s not magic??    Ok, I hope you can hear my sarcasm.

It says this on the website – It is not just about the jab, it is about kick starting a healthier life style, banning bad habits, reaching your goal weight and most importantly, maintaining it.

Now, lets talk about cost. 

Skinny Jab Daily Programme (3-4 Weeks)- £249 ($500)

Skinny7 Weekly Programme (4 Weeks) – £350 ($700)

I mean wow!!

Not to be biased as I am nutritionist but you would do better to invest that money into a nutritionist, dietician or/and a PT, you wouldn’t need to inject yourself daily, you would be more supported and you would have a personal approach.  For $500 you could get a nutritionist plan and support for 3 months.

Is skinny jab worth it?

I think skinny jab has a place but not for the mass market.  Skinny jab uses Z list reality celebrities to prey on the general public, usually young girls who are looking for a quick fix and are usually not obese.  The general public do not need this kind of help, they just need some guidance on real nutrition and exercise.  They have maybe not even given weight loss a real shot.

I do think it can help people who have struggled with weight for years and have tried everything, some people find it very difficult to lose weight. 

Its not cheating.  People use supplements all the time in every day life.  Caffeine for example to help them stay alert, Creatine to help performance in the gym.

Take away – For the general public it is not worth the money and they would be better investing it in their health in other ways.  Overall, it is a safe medically recognized drug and could be useful for overweight people who really struggle to shift it.

The best life insurance policy you can give yourself is sleep

I’m not sure where to start, I didn’t want to write a post that we have seen a million times, we all know we supposed to get enough sleep but do we understand why?

I am no sleep expert however I have read, watched and listened to nearly everything by Matthew Walker, the world leading sleep expert.  I would urge you to buy his book why we sleep, or watch his TED talk on you tube, he also has done tons of podcasts (recommended the Joe Rogan one or a shorter version with Deliciously Ella)

The title of this article says it all and I’m going to try and explain why.

First of all, we are getting a lot less sleep than we used to.  In the 1940’s a study was conducted and the average adult was getting 7hrs 40 minutes a night.  This has dramatically decreased to 6hrs 22 minutes (UK).  Could this a big factor in why as an overall society we are suffering from higher levels of anxiety, stress, being less active, struggling with weight to only name a few?

We have to understand why we need sleep and how we sleep to motivate us to try and get that optimal 8 hours per night.

The sleep cycles

Our sleep cycle is roughly 90 minutes and each stage are as equally important as the next in terms of benefits.
Non-Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep – Stages 1-3 – stages 1 and 2 are light, you tend to be still and your blood pressure drops. Stage 3 is deep.

REM – dream sleep, shorter burst in the first half of the night and dreamier in the 2nd half of the night – as I said all stages are restorative but this stage is when a lot of the brain activity restores so if we are not getting it leads to mood imbalances. 

What does sleep do?

  • Recovery – it helps your brain, muscles and your whole-body recover.  Have you ever had a terrible night sleep and felt forgetful the next day?
  • Can help prevent Alzheimer’s – when you go into deep sleep your body wastes away a toxic protein called beta amyloid which have strong links to the disease.  So more deep sleep reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
  • Immune function – if you have a bad night sleep you will get a 70% drop in killer cells that are stopping you from getting sick.  Explains that run down feeling.
  • Improves blood pressure – deep sleep is the best medicine for blood pressure
  • Mental health – a good kip is a natural mood booster, gives you a clearer mind and more motivation.
  • Manages hunger hormones – ever crave carb foods when you are tired?  That’s because if you don’t get enough sleep your satiety hormones (leptin) goes down and your hungry hormone (Ghrelin) goes up.  We will eat more when we are sleep deprived.

How much sleep do you need?

Its recommended we get between 7-9 hours.  We all know someone who only gets 5 hours a night and they seem perfectly functional.  There are exceptions to every rule.  We are all very different.  This is down to our different lifestyles and also genetics play a role.  Genetics are heavily involved  if you are a night owl (stay up late and get up late) or an early morning lark (early to bed and up early).  The general rule is that less than 7 hours sleep is sleep deprived and can be when all the factors above are affected.

Factors that effect sleep and how we can increase the quality of our sleep.

  • Routine – go to bed at the same time every day and get up at the same time.  Our body likes routine.  Don’t have big lie ins at the weekend, it will mess with your body clock and potential make you feel jet lagged.
  • Caffeine – caffeine has a 6-hour life and a 12-hour ¼ life.  That means if you have a coffee at 12pm, 12 hours later you still have caffeine in your system at 12am.  Be mindful that caffeine is in tea, energy drinks, green tea, chocolate and pre-workout.  Caffeine can reduce your deep sleep up to 20%.
  • Naps – only have them if you don’t need them.  You would think it is the other way around.  If you are super tired you need get back into a routine of sleep and a nap will just mess with that.
  • Alcohol – classed as a sedative drug.  It may help you fall asleep but it will block your REM sleep.  That’s why we are so tired and emotional the day after a boozy night!
  • Stress and anxiety – meditation before bed is the best recommendation, apps like calm and headspace have been shown to be very helpful.  Writing a list of what’s on your mind before bed can help.  If its really effecting your sleep ongoing them CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) has had great results.
  • Room temperature – its better to be cold that hot.  Our body temp needs to drop by 1 degree so having a room around 18 degree is optimal.
  • Exercise – regular exercise can help with the deeper stages of sleep.  A good sleep will also motivate you to exercise and dramatically reduces the risk of injury.  The best time to exercise for performance is 1-2 hours after waking up due to our body temperate rising.
  • Don’t sacrifice sleep for exercise – its counterproductive.  If you are getting up at 5am but not going to bed until 11pm then it better for your health to skip that workout.  Either find a new time to work out or go to bed earlier.
  • Sleep trackers – there is a new condition called ortho-somnia.  People who get stressed about there quality of sleep so much that they are affecting their quality of sleep.  Know this – trackers are not very good at monitoring the quality and stages of sleep but they are a good guide to see how much sleep you are getting.
  • Technology – there are a few reasons why they are affecting your sleep.  The first is the blue light, try putting the phone away an hour before bed.  Another is the stress it causing, especially social media or work emails.  Don’t take your phone to bed with you, stop checking it in the night.

In summary sleep is one of the things I believe we need to try and get right.  If we do get enough quality sleep, we will only see an increase in our motivation, exercise performance, hunger levels for weight management and mental health. 

Read the list above and think about your own sleep pattern.  Do you have a coffee at 4pm and could that be the reason you are not feeling rested after a night sleep?  Are you checking your phone in the night, therefore never switching off?  Try leaving your phone in another room and buying yourself an alarm clock. 

These small changes make big differences.

What Are Your Non-Negotiables?

Non-negotiable meaning – not open to discussion

When you start to think about implementing changes that will help improve your health or achieve your goals, I believe you should have these non-negotiables.  This mean that unless something happens out of your control you will do these non-negotiables and eventually, they will become fixed into your routine, like having your morning coffee.

Here are some examples of mine

  • To walk 10,000 steps minimum every day
  • To eat protein with every meal
  • To wash my hair at least twice a week
  • Aim to get at least 7 hours sleep every night
  • To get some sunshine every day (weather dependent so not totally in my control)
  • To never drink coffee after 12pm

These are my non negotiables because they make me feel good, or happier and I know if I do them it’s only a good thing for my health.  These are all now habits that I have formed because I didn’t let anything get in the way of them.  I feel if at the end of the week if I have done all of the above its been a good week.

We can’t always rely on our motivation so if we make little tweaks like this until they become habits then we won’t need to rely on motivation so much.

Now, your non-negotiables need to be realistic but also not to easy.  For example, if I changed my 10,000 daily steps to 20,000 steps then I would be setting myself up for failure as I know that I just would have time in my day for that.  On the other side if I set myself a target of 5,000 steps then that wouldn’t require all that much effort for me personally, 10,000 steps with a sit down job requires effort on my part, it means that if I get to 4pm and I am only on 6,000 I will make sure I go for a walk to make them up, it’s my non-negotiable.

Uncontrollable and controllable

But what if I can’t’ because of blah blah blah?  I hear you say.

It’s not a test, no one will know if you don’t tick them off your list, only you.  So, make your non negotiables achievable and be honest with yourself.  This is for you only.

There will always be things out of our control but you need to be careful not to let them creep in an excuse.

An example – I’m not going for my walk as it looks like it will rain.  That’s an excuse not an uncontrollable.

A real uncontrollable would be – I can’t go for a walk today as I have injured my ankle.

Make your list now!

I really urge you to make 3 health related non-negotiables now and stick to them for a couple of weeks to how it goes.

Other examples can be

To eat 3 portions of veggies everyday (if you usually only eat 1)
To switch my white bread to whole meal bread to up my fibre intake
To drink 2l of water every day
To take 20 minutes a day for myself to do whatever I want

It can be literally anything but remember to make it a slight challenge.

To finish off I recently heard a quote that I thought was brilliant and it ties in with non-negotiables.

Giving 95% is so much harder than giving 100%

I didn’t get it at first.  In nutshell if you give 100% there is no room for error, its non-negotiable. It’s in your mind that no you just can’t.  If you give it 95% then you have all the intention of doing it but there is that 5% that leaves room for you to not quite do what you intended to do, to find a reason or excuse to not do it.  Therefore 100% is easier as you are not in a constant mental battle with yourself.

Go ahead and create new habits!

Should you be eating your carbs?

First there was low fat diets that was claimed to be the best way to lose weight, then it reversed and high fat diets were fashionable, remember Atkins!

In more recent years its been all about not eating carbs, for example the keto diet.

It’s changing again as more people are starting to realise that carbohydrates are not the enemy, in fact they can be our very best friends.  It’s becoming cool again to eat bread. (phew)

As more studies emerge about carbohydrates it remains a very debatable subject in the industry as to whether low carb is the best way to shed fat.

I’m not going to go into details about carbs otherwise it will be a very long post, I want to discuss the myths surrounding carbohydrates but here are a few facts about them in a nutshell.

  • Carbohydrates are not essential to life – unlike fats and protein we do not have to have them in our diets to live however we do need them for optimal health
  • They are the preferred source of fuel for our bodies and more importantly our brain
  • Carbohydrates contain fibre – we need fibre for gut health amongst other benefits.  To not eat them you are restricting vital vitamins and minerals too.
  • Carbohydrates can be complex or simple – simple are your processed or what we would say “un-healthy foods” and the complex carbs are what we should be prioritizing

Let see if we can bust some of those carbohydrate myths.

Low carb diets are best

Largely debatable and can be so confusing. Basically, cutting out a whole macronutrient of any kind will mean you eat less and eating less will usually create a calorie deficit.  You will lose weight if you cut carbohydrates out if you are in calorie deficit.  If you cut out carbs and are not in a calorie deficit you will not lose fat.  Its as simple as that. 

Now there is a reason why some people feel good cutting carbs.  Carbs hold onto more water than protein or fats so if you cut out carbs its likely after that first week you will have less water retention and this will show on the scales.  Its water loss not fat.

On the other hand, it can cause brain fog (remember I said the brain loves carbs), lack of energy and feeling deprived.

Is it the best diet for fat loss?  It’s just another method that some people find it easy to stick to and other don’t. 

Carbs are fattening

Carbs are only fattening if you over eat them and it takes you into a calorie surplus. Simple carbohydrates such as sweets, chocolate all those delicious foods we love are very easy to over consume. You can over eat anything, not just carbs.  You could be on the “cleanest” diet but you are eating in a calorie surplus you will still gain fat; believe me I have been there.  It’s not the carbs themselves that are making us gain weight it’s the over consumption.


Carrots, fruits, and potatoes are unhealthy because of the carbs

Now this one makes me sad.  I know people who avoid these lovely nutritious foods because of the carb content then they guzzle a bottle of wine at weekend without a second thought.  We really need to change this way of thinking.  Carrot, fruits and potatoes are all complex carbohydrates and are full of fibre, vitamins, minerals and they are delicious and have a place in a balanced diet. 

All carbs are sugar

Yes, they are but the statement is misleading.  The different types of carbs go through a different process in the body (there are molecules involved) but in the end yes, they end up as sugar, except for fibre which are not digested. That sugar is then converted in energy which is a good thing. 

What you need to know is that the simple/refined carbs are processed very quickly which is why they cause a spike, the complex (wholegrains, veg and whole fruit) and starchy (potatoes) kind go through a different process and are released more slowly.  This means you don’t get that energy slump and you will be more satiated from those foods.

Summary and take away from this post – Low carbohydrate diets will suit some because maybe they are not bothered about eating them and they find it easy to cut them out.  Adherence and consistency to any diet for fat loss is very important.  It wouldn’t suit someone who loves their bread, pasta, fruit and veg.  Nor would it suit someone who is aiming for optimal health or someone who has a high-volume training schedule. Its is not superior it’s just another method.

Emma x