My Daily Diet

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This post is for all the lovely girls who ask me what I eat & how much of it! Unfortunately it’s quite hard for women to know how much we should eat, what and when particularly if you’re trying to lose weight. Women’s media has reported for so long that if you eat a low calorie diet, you’ll be skinny. While it’s largely true that if you burn more calories than you take in, your weight will drop; eating half the recommended daily allowance isn’t the answer for most of us.

I didn’t realise how little I was eating until I started using MyFitness Pal to log my food and count my macros. I was really low on energy when I started training regularly and would crash out as soon as I got in from the gym. It was difficult to start eating my recommended daily calories, it felt like my stomach wasn’t big enough and I had to remind myself to make time to eat actual meals instead of my 1 meal a day and a bunch of snacks. I think this is the case for so many women and a lot of girls who contact me about diet & workouts are confused about why they don’t look how they want to when they’re hardly eating. Even if you don’t want to count macros all the time, it’s a good starting point to make a habit of it for a few months, until you build up an awareness of what to eat, how much and how often to make yourself feel healthier and stronger. Diet is absolutely integral to reaching aesthetic goals & building a basic understanding of nutrition is really important if you’re looking for optimum results from your workout. Training and diet is a vital partnership, results won’t be at their best if you have one without the other. Once you’ve built a foundation, you won’t have to log and count everything unless you want to, or you’re training specifically for something.

It took me a while to start to recognise the nutritional profile of certain foods and when I did I found I was eating more or less the same thing all the time just to hit macros. Now, I try and vary it and try new things by substituting the standard rice and chicken for other grains and lean meats like quinoa or turkey. Still, there are certain things I order every time I shop and I’ll do a post later in the week about what they are and why I rely on them.

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This is a typical food diary for me, I’m 5’5″, weigh 56kg with 17% body fat and eat 2200-2300kcal a day, with a macro split of approx 241g carbs, 165g protein and 64g fat. Sometimes I switch it up so it’s lower carb & higher fat, but try to stick to weekly macros, including if I decide to have a cheat meal.

Breakfast Calories Carbs Fat Protein Iron Sugar
3 Egg Omelette with spinach 210 1 15 19 0 1
210 1 15 19 0 1
Lunch

Chicken & Cashew nuts with broccoli

Sainsbury’s – Chicken Diced Breast, 150 g 236 0 6 45 0 0
Small Handful – Cashew Nuts, 25 g 146 6 11 6 0 2
Sainsburys – Brown Rice, 60 g uncooked 212 43 2 5 0 0
594 49 19 56 0 2
Dinner: Herb crusted grilled chicken w/sweet potato mash, kale & spinach
Mashed Sweet Potato (W/o Skin, Boiled), 250 grams 190 45 0 5 4 0
Sainsburys – Chicken Breast Fillet Portions –  150 g 207 0 3 46 0 0

397 45 3 51 4 0
Snacks
Cnp – Pro Peptide protein shake 1 X 3 Scoop Serving, 3 Scoops 230 6 3 45 0 3
Sainsbury’s – 1% Fat Milk, 350 ml 151 17 4 13 0 17
Petit Filous Strawberry – 50g Pot, 100 g 96 13 2 5 0 12
Blueberries – Raw, 25 g 14 4 0 0 0 2
Metcalfe’s Skinny Topcorn – Sweet N’ Salt Popcorn, 25 g bag 115 18 5 2 0 5
Green and Blacks Organic – Mini Chocolate Bars, 15 g bar 84 7 5 1 0 0
Sainsbury’s – 1% Fat Milk, 200 ml 86 10 2 7 0 10

792 78 21 73 0 49
Intra Workout
Haribo – Tangfastics, 40 g 136 31 0 3 0 24
136 31 0 3 0 24
Totals 2,129 204 58 202 4 76
Your Daily Goal 2,200 248 61 165 100 77
Remaining 71 44 3 -37 96 1
Calories Carbs Fat Protein Iron Sugar
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Life lately – a month in pictures

I’ve been super busy at work recently, so haven’t been blogging anywhere near as much as I’d like. As it’s getting a bit quieter again until September, I’m really looking forward to getting back into it. I need to get my Instagram up and running properly, but until then, here’s my month in pictures! I love the quote in the middle, I’ve set it as my phone background so I remember to take a step back and get outside whenever things get a bit stressful. Easier said than done sometimes, but even the words ‘Log off’ inspire a sense of calm, don’t you think?

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Spring pea & bean salad with mint and feta

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In the warmer weather, I always crave fresh, green, light food that’s nutritious and full of summer flavour. I love small dishes and make this Spring Salad a lot for my vegetarian friends as part of a tapas table. It’s a great lunch or solo supper with wholemeal pittas and hummus cut with creme fraiche and paprika.

If you’re a carnivore, it’s a fantastic accompaniment to grilled chicken and won’t be out of place at a BBQ either.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can white beans (I use Canelleni)
  • 1 cup/ 300g broad beans (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup/300g peas (fresh or frozen)
  • large handful mint
  • large handful corriander
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • glug extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 squeezed lemon
  • crumbled feta
  • Wholemeal pitta breads and creme fraiche mixed with hummus & paprika to serve

Method:

Drain and rinse the white beans and add to a large bowl. If using frozen broad beans and peas, simmer on the hob for approx. 3 mins, drain and immediately tip into a bowl of ice water to blanche and keep the vibrant green colour. Drain again and add to the bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, except the mint. This will turn black in a few hours, so keep it until you want to serve. Season to taste & preferably eat al fresco!

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Nutri-Dictionary #2: Sugar & Sweeteners

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Sugar – the devil word in 2014. The press is completely saturated this year with reasons to quit the sweet stuff, but those of us who have tried it know you that half the battle is finding your way through the maze of alternate options.

Quitting sugar cold-turkey is hardcore. I did it for the whole of January and limited sugar to fruit only in effort to see if my hard-earned results in the gym would increase. After two weeks of what my colleagues refer to as the ‘hellish bitch phase’ I slowly saw the merits of quitting. I’ve slowly reintroduced it but have relied on various sweeteners since, to try and replace a lot of the sugar I’d use in baking or on porridge for breakfast. Here’s the low down…

Stevia: A plant native to Central and South America that can be processed to produce a sweetener 3 times sweeter than sugar, with 0 calories. Hard to imagine but boy, is this stuff sweet. Easily utilised in baking where other sweeteners fail, Stevia is widely used and regarded among nutritionists as the best sugar substitute. The downsides are that widely available brands such as Truvia cost £5 a tub, although a little goes a verrrrry long way!
Best used:  To replace sugar in baking or hot drinks, weight loss

Xylitol: Due to the similarity in sweetness to sugar, xylitol is the most popular sugar alcohol and provides only 2.4 calories per gram compared to 4 calories in sugar. It sounds like Russian, but if you’ve ever eaten sugar free gum or sweets, chances are you’ve had your fair share of Xylitol. It’s perfect in these products because it has a slightly minty-fresh edge to the taste, meaning it’s not ideal in recipes or drinks. However, it’s a great product for diabetics as it doesn’t stimulate insulin production or increase blood sugar levels.

Best used: For a sweet confectionary fix when you need it

Agave Nectar: Agave nectar contains more calories than sugar (20 calories per teaspoon compared to 15 calories in sugar) and is 90% fructose.  However, since agave is significantly sweeter than sugar, less is needed when used for substituting.  Unlike other sweeteners, agave contains iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Not preferable to Stevia if you’re wanting to lose weight, but good in baking and desserts.

Best used: On porridge with banana and cacao nibs

Sweet Freedom Syrups: My personal favourite, these syrups are a combination of fruit sugars from apples, grapes and carob. Although the syrups have a high level of fructose, their taste is fantastic – similar to honey or golden syrup. Sweet Freedom do a light and dark syrup and a ‘Choc Shot’ with only 14 calories per tsp. Ideal for baking and desserts, this stuff was a saving grace for me when I quit sugar and continues to keep my Carb macros on track today.

Best used: On pancakes, in hot chocolate, or as a replacement for honey

 

HIIT girl!

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Sometimes it’s good to change up your workout. Your body gets used to the same ol’exercises and when your brain and muscles know exactly what to expect your results can plateau.

I’m not a big fan of cardio, I prefer strength training because I feel a greater sense of achievement in lifting weight and find it easier to set myself goals. I try to do around 60-90 minutes of cardio a week, including one HIIT session (High Intensity Interval Training).

HIIT burns major calories, keeping your metabolism going at a faster rate for longer than steady state cardio. Rather than going for a long run, HIIT requires short bursts of sprinting as fast as you can (for 60-120 seconds) followed by 3 mins of slow jogging or walking. You can do the same on a bike or cross trainer. Other benefits include greater lung capacity, lowering rested heart rate (and better physical fitness levels) and better protection of muscle tissue than a long, slow run can provide.

There is no debating that HIIT is a killer, there really is nothing like it for making you sweat. BUT, if you’re short on time and looking to lose weight, cut or improve fitness levels and cardiovascular health, you can’t beat it. You can get a decent HIIT workout done in 20 minutes, which is major motivation for cardio-haters like me!

I’ve been trying to find more interesting ways to incorporate HIIT, as I’m fed up with treadmill sprints. Earlier today I legged it up St Catherine’s Hill, Winchester, using the steps as my sprint (a stairway to hellll), collapsing at the top, sprinting round the hill while trying to distract myself with the view and continuing this pattern on the way down. It took 30 mins altogether and was so much better than gym-based cardio. It was great being in the beautiful Hampshire countryside, breathing air which wasn’t plagued with other people’s sweat…Speaking of which, next week I’m trying a spin class…gotta keep this HIIT varied!

 

 

Nutri-Dictionary #1 : Coconut

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Welcome to my weekly feature, Nutri-Dictionary! Every week I will devote a little column to de-busting the hype around certain nutrition crazes – God knows there are enough of them. First up – coconuts!

Coconut oil – The holy grail of health products in 2014. The least chemically altered of all cooking oils, this thick, lard like substance is a really high quality fat that you can cook with, consume raw, rub into skin and hair, it even removes mascara! Prices start at £6.50, but a little goes a long way.

Usage: Take 1tsp mixed into espresso for a killer pre-workout kick. Also fab for raw treats – see my raw chocolate brownies

Coconut water – This is the liquid from young, green coconuts. It’s full of electrolytes so provides the body with natural energy and unparalleled hydration (many athletes use it instead of sports drinks). The market is saturated with brands such as Zico (by Coca Cola) and Vita Coco, of which there are many with added flavours. My favourite is GoCoco, which is less chemically altered and has a sweeter, more natural coconut taste.

Usage: Great in smoothies or protein shakes instead of milk or water. Also a fab hangover cure!

Coconut milk – A fragrant, dairy alternative often used in thai cooking to add a smoothness to sauces

Usage: Thin your curries with a good splash of this. It adds a slightly sweet, creamy dimension.

Coconut cream – The thick cream left from the process of soaking the coconut fruit to produce the milk. Excellent for many of the same purposes; curries and sauces are the most common.

Usage: Try a coconut rice pudding for a healthy but comforting supper.

Coconut sugar – This sugar is derived from the coconut palm tree and is touted as being more nutritious and lower on the glycaemic index than sugar.

Usage: Try replacing usual sugar or sweetener in baking and puddings. Also ideal for dusting the rims of cocktail glasses.

 

Spicy Tuna Burgers

tuna burgers

If you’re a gym rat then you’re likely chugging tuna quicker than John West can catch it. If you’re not then you should be. Tuna is one of the richest sources of protein available and a standard tin gives you about 45g of the stuff. If you’re new to training or nutrition, that’s pretty decent. A high quality whey/casein shake would give you about 55g, so for a natural source, tuna is the one.

Eating a diet high in protein will keep you fuller and more satisfied for longer. On top of that, if you’re looking to build muscle (including ‘toning’, girls, it’s the same thing), protein is the macro nutrient that will help you do that. Lifting breaks down muscle fiber and protein helps rebuild muscle. So, you work in the gym to break down the muscle, you work in the kitchen to build it back bigger. As a high protein diet helps aid recovery, you won’t be as sore the day after a hard session. What’s not to love?!

Well unfortunately, tuna gets boring really quickly. These tuna burgers make it a little more interesting and are simple to make. It’s an adapted recipe from my absolute favourite gym resource LDN Muscle and I’ve just added a bunch of herbs and spices to liven them up a bit.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

+ 2 tins tuna

+ 2 eggs

+ small bunch coriander, roughly chopped

+ 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped

+ 1 red chilli, finely chopped

+ 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

+ salt to season

Method:

Drain the tuna & put it in a large bowl. Heat a large frying pan on a high heat, with 1-2tbsp oil in. Beat the eggs and add to the tuna bowl, combining. Add everything else and mix well.

Shape the tuna mix into balls (meat ball size) then flatten. Fry in the pan until crispy (about 2 mins per side) serve with salad and wait for the gains!

Spicy & Salty Edamame Beans

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Asian inspired food is amazing if you’re on a health kick or getting bored with the same old snacks. Edamame (or soy) beans are like the crack of the vegetable world, but also insanely nutritious with a decent protein content (17g protein per 125g serving)

The ginger, soy and vinegar in this recipe gives the edamame a salty, sour depth to the initial chilli hit and the combination of flavours makes them ultra satisfying.

Great for vegetarians or for a post workout snack, the high protein, high fibre and low fat content makes them ideal for gym rats & clean eaters. I like these on leg day with a salmon fillet to help build muscle!! They take about 5 mins to prepare and are crazy delicious. After you’ve made them once you can alter the ingredient quantities to suit your taste.

Ingredients:

+150g edamame beans (Wholefoods or Waitrose snack aisle if you’re not near an Asian supermarket)

+1 red chilli, finely chopped

+1 1.5cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped

+1 clove garlic, finely chopped

+1tbsp balsamic vinegar

+ few good glugs of soy sauce

+1tsp Sweet Freedom syrup, or honey

+ sea salt flakes to serve

Method:

Heat a small frying pan on a medium heat and add a tsp oil (ideally coconut but any works).

Add the ginger, chilli and garlic and keep moving in the pan. After 2 mins, add the beans and stir well. Add the soy and balsamic and syrup and increase heat to high.

After 3 mins or so, when marinade has reduced slightly, put the beans in a serving bowl using tongs. Pour over remaining marinade and add a tbsp of sea salt flakes.

Serve with kitchen roll!!!

Kicks & Kit!

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My essential gym kit!

Clockwise, L-R

Nike sports bra – I love a bright sports bra, totally cheers up your workout and this one is reversible pink & orange to match my trainers…unintentionally of course…

Rubber resistance band – these are great for leg lifts and hip abductor exercises, you can also use them for various rows and shoulder mobility. My workout teacher gave me this one, but check out Amazon for similar.

Adidas neon leopard print leggings – I’m obsessed with patterned leggings and running tights, these are my current faves. They’re not specifically for the gym though, for performance and flattering comfort (and leg days when I know I’m gonna sweat hard) you cant beat Nike Legends.

Triangl Bikini – This Australian brand are right on the money with their hipster-hit bikini’s. On every InstaG fitspo blog at the moment, they’re worth every penny of the $90 price tag. It’s so hard to find a great bikini that lasts longer than a few decent swimming sessions and as they’re made from neoprene (wetsuit material), they’re up to the task with a great minimalist, sporty look.

Nike Total Core trainers – No they’re not Nike Free Runs! Or Roches! I love my Total Core’s, they’re sleek enough for classes and cardio, but supportive enough for free weights. A seriously underrated trainer.

Nike performance vest – Because British girls prefer more than a sports bra…flattering, breathable, sucks up sweat before you even know it’s there, it’s worth paying a bit more for a decent vest.

Adidas Stella McCartney hoodie – If I could afford it, I’d buy everything gym related from Stella. The clothes are really high performance, insaaaanely flattering and in amazing colours. This hoodie was a Net-A-Porter sale bargain and has seen me through many winter runs. It’s seriously warm, yet incredibly light and the tight fabric is very form fitting, but doesn’t gather or cling. Worth It.

PhD Diet Whey Protein Powder – 2 scoops of this with some water after a workout really supercharge you back to full energy and help reconstruct muscle fibre to ensure all those weights give you some visible results! Protein does not bulk you up unless you’re shooting testosterone and steroids in crazy quantities, or are just a man. This tastes pretty good as far as whey goes and isn’t calorific and full of sugar and chemicals like most brands. Keep an eye out for my ‘demystifying supplements’ post later this week!

Sports Direct skipping rope – This cost about £1.99 at the till and is a total winner! Can really cheer up a HIIT routine and is a full-body cardio workout. Boxers often skip for coordination and concentration, not to mention it’s waaay more fun than the treadmill!

Strong is the new skinny

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There’s a lot of buzz around at the moment about ‘strong being the new skinny’. Type ‘fitspo’ into Tumblr and you’ll find a myriad of images of toned, tanned beauties with dumbells in their hands or contorted into seriously advanced yoga positions.

I’m all for getting younger girls to work out, especially with all the obesity warnings we’ve been hearing recently. Exercise is so important for my physical and mental wellbeing and if images like this promote that for other people, then brilliant. The danger is that the women in these images are often at least at an intermediate level, if not professional athletes, or have been working out consistently for years before their bodies look that good. On top of this, they’re often photoshopped.

It takes years of commitment and perseverance with clean eating, regular cardio and lifting to sculpt a body like many which are shown on Instagram and Tumblr. Trying to adopt a routine like this overnight and expecting to see changes within a month is naive and potentially dangerous. While it’s healthier than starving yourself or crash dieting, exercise is addictive and it can create similar habits and obsessions.

Everyone’s motivation is different and personal. It has to come from within and be about a desire to adapt your lifestyle for the better. Comparing yourself to others is natural, but rarely healthy. While ‘strong is the new skinny’ does promote a healthier body image, I hope it doesn’t mean replacing one unrealistic and unhealthy goal for another. True strength is about mindfulness, self-respect and progress; if ripped abs come from this then you’ll love them even more.