Veganuary: Nutrient Considerations

Veganuary is an annual challenge run by a UK nonprofit organisation that promotes and educates about veganism by encouraging people to follow a vegan lifestyle for the month of January. Since the event began in 2014, participation has more than doubled each year. 400,000 people signed up to the 2020 campaign (1). A vegan dietContinue reading “Veganuary: Nutrient Considerations”

Raspberry, Oat & Coconut Muffins

These quick and simple muffins make a great snack – balanced with carbohydrates and healthy fats and fruit to add to your 5-a-day. These would also be great as a breakfast on the go. Makes approx 10 muffins Ingredients 135g oats  100g frozen raspberries  185g Greek yogurt  60ml milk  60g desiccated coconut  1 tsp bakingContinue reading “Raspberry, Oat & Coconut Muffins”

Is a Calorie a Calorie?

This post was written for Talia Cecchele Nutrition learning hub. See the original blog here and more about the TCNutrition Clinic and how to reach out for support here. We’re constantly bombarded with messages to limit the number of calories we eat to be healthier, manage weight and reduce diseaserisk such as diabetes.  We see calories listed on food labels and front of packages often instatements such as “less than 90 calories per serve.” They’re mentioned everywhere we look. But what do statements like this even mean? Is health all about calories? Does eating less equal better health? What is a calorie? A calorie, put simply is a unit (measurement) of energy. You might see them displayed as kcal or kJ (one calorie equals 4.2 kilojoules). More specifically, a calorie is the amount of energy required to increase the temperature of 1 litre of water by 1 degree centigrade at sea level. Calories (kcal) are measured empirically using a unique piece of equipment called a bomb calorimeter. A sample of food is placed into a ‘bomb’, a sealed container that is pressurised with oxygen. This container is added to a known volume of water which is heated and burns the food. The change in water temperature is measured which tells us how many calories there are in that food. Are calories accurate? The bomb calorimeter can tell us about the actual calories in the food which is great, however it’s not thatstraightforward. We eat food, not calories. We are humans, not machines (or bomb calorimeters). Calories from the food we eat are absorbed and used by humans. How many calories are absorbed depends on several factors, for example, what we are eating (carbohydrates, fats, protein or fibre) or digestion and excretion (removal of waste products). Back in the 19th century, a scientist named Wilbur Olin Atwater proved that different types of foods contain different amounts of energy. He created the Atwater Factor, which simplifies the amount of calories in the main macronutrients. He found that (1): Fats contain 9 calories for every 1 gram of fat Carbohydrates contain 4 calories for every 1 gram of carbohydrates Proteins contain 4 calories for every 1 gram of protein Alcohol contains 7 calories for every 1 gram of alcohol This is how the calorie values of foods are calculated today. However, there are several issues with this method, including: Variability in how the percentage of protein in food is calculated  The method is outdated (more than 100 years ago) The Atwater factor is over-simplified as the number of calories on the side of a packet is not equal to the number of calories we digest or absorb Are all calories equal? Let’s consider this… 200 calories of chocolate is twice the amount of 100 calories of chocolate, in the same way 200g of chocolate is twice the portion of 100g. But we would not compare 100g of chocolate to 100g of carrots, because they are different foods and made up of different nutrients. This is exactly the same with calories. Our body processes foods differently, depending on what the food is andthe nutrients it contains (2). There are a number of factors which may impact this, let’s take a look. The type of food and nutrients we eat There are two nutrients which stand out when we think of the effect they have on digestion and calories: 1. Protein High protein diets are often recommended because we feel fuller for longer when we consume protein. Protein is the most complex macronutrient because it takes the longest to digest. This means hormones arereleased which signal to the brain to say it’s full.  The complexity of protein also means there’s more work to be done to metabolise the nutrient. For example, if we eat 100 calories of protein, we spend around 30 calories metabolising it, so we are already 30% down on the calories listed. 2. Fibre Fibre is a type of non-digestible carbohydrate, meaning that the body cannot break it down. Instead, it passes through our gut into the large intestine and into our stools. As a result, we excrete some of the energy from fibre in our stool. Food ProcessingContinue reading “Is a Calorie a Calorie?”

What is Vitamin D and why is it so important?

The winter months bring lots of talk around Vitamin D. It can be confusing as to why this vitamin gets so much airtime and what the importance of supplementing really is, and why we discuss supplementing around this vitamin so much? Let’s take a deeper look.  What is vitamin D?  Vitamin D is technically notContinue reading “What is Vitamin D and why is it so important?”

Should you be training on empty?

We often hear that it is important to eat carbohydrates before a workout in order to have enough energy. But we also hear that training fasted can have benefits from improving performance to helping with weight loss. So which camp should we believe?  What is fasted training?  Fasted training is exercising with low stores ofContinue reading “Should you be training on empty?”

Is snacking all that bad?

Snacking often gets demonised for being ‘unnecessary calories’ or ‘a waste’ of calories and the temptation to stick to ridged meals is glorified. But snacking is a very important part of regular eating and serves an important purpose of the diet.  Snacking can help to: Maintain concentration levels  Maintain blood glucose levels  Maintain energy levels Continue reading “Is snacking all that bad?”

Why You Don’t Need to Earn your Christmas Dinner

Research suggests a large percentage of the population are concerned about weight gain during the festive period and social media posts, blogs, articles, and news all gear towards how to ‘burn’ your Christmas dinner off with exercise or which diets to follow to undo it.  The truth is, you do not need to earn yourContinue reading “Why You Don’t Need to Earn your Christmas Dinner”

Let’s Ditch Diet Culture This Christmas

Christmas is here! But with all of the festivities comes conversations around food, dieting, restricting, overeating, food guilt, avoiding weight gain, and so much more. But it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be this way. Christmas is a time for relaxation, excitement, memories, love, happiness and treasuring what is most important to us. Food can be aContinue reading “Let’s Ditch Diet Culture This Christmas”

What’s In Season – December

Vegetables   Beetroot  Brussel sprouts   Cauliflower  Celeriac  Celery  Chicory  Horseradish Jeruselem artichoke  Kale  Kohlrabi  Leeks  Parsnips  Potatoes (maincrop)  Salsify  Shallots  Swede  Truffles  Turnips  Wild mushrooms  Fruit Apples  Clementines Cranberries Passion fruit  Pears  Pineapple  Pomegranate  Satsumas Tangerines Nuts  Almonds  Brazil nuts  Chestnuts  Hazelnuts  Walnuts Meat  Duck  Goose  Grouse  Quinea Fowl  Hare  Mallard  Partridge  Pheasant  Rabbit  Turkey  Venison Continue reading “What’s In Season – December”

The Keto Diet – Pros and Cons

The ketogenic or ‘keto’ diet has been floating around the internet for a few years now, and it’s pretty well known for being the diet that restricts carbohydrates. The diet favours protein and fat and has been used by many as an experiment to lose weight, increase energy, improve health and even cure disease. ButContinue reading “The Keto Diet – Pros and Cons”