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Is Your Sugar & Fat Intake Out Of Balance?

fat and sugar intake

IS YOUR SUGAR & FAT INTAKE OUT OF BALANCE?

Can you See the Signs?

There are a lot of confusing ideas out there. Don’t eat sugar. Eat some fats, but not others. Don’t eat fat if you’re trying to lose weight. Don’t eat sugar, but fruit is good… Amidst all this conflicting advice, it can be hard to determine what exactly is right when it comes to eating fats and sugars. It’s not surprising that a lot of us are getting the balance wrong.

So, we thought we would do some research and see if we can’t pick from the clutter of advice some of the rights and wrongs and maybe even clear up some of the confusion.

First of all, fats and sugars are a necessary part of our diets. Cutting either out entirely is a bad idea. However, like most things moderation is key.

Some of the Common mistakes people make

Low-fat products

If you normally make a beeline for the low-fat section in the supermarket you may want to just pause. Often when manufacturers remove the fat they also end up removing lots of the nutritional value. And to supplement the lost flavours they often add in sugars or sweeteners.

So check the nutritional values and ingredients. Especially when it comes to the sugar content in things like natural yoghurt, you may be surprised.

Low sugar products

When manufacturers remove the sugar, they replace it with artificial sweeteners. It has been suggested that the use of artificial sweeteners may have a stimulating effect on appetite and therefore may play a role in weight gain and obesity. But research is inconsistent on this front. We suggest erring on the side of caution. Instead of buying low sugar products try cutting down on the amount of sweet foods you eat.

A lover of fruit

Fruits are a great source of vitamins and natural sugars. However, things like dried fruit, smoothies, and fruit juices are highly concentrated in sugar. The NHS advise you limit the amount of fruit juice or smoothies you drink to only 150ml a day as ‘crushing fruit and vegetables into juice and smoothies releases the sugars…which can cause damage to teeth.’

You’re Nuts

On the flip side you may be a nutty enthusiast and find yourself grazing on nuts and seeds throughout the day. Nuts are high in unsaturated fats which are considered one of the good fats. However, they aren’t particularly filling meaning you can end up consuming far more fat than your body needs.

Both nuts and fruits are healthy food choices. But we recommend mixing it up a little. Eat fresh fruits with a tasty selection of nuts to compliment the nutritional values of the fruit. But be aware and try and keep a good balance of both.

Your breakfast choices

Eating a nutritional breakfast with plenty of energy is important to getting a good start to the day.

Unfortunately there are a lot of cereals out there that aren’t all they crack up to be. Be wary of sugar content in cereals. Whilst they may be low in fats, they are often high in sugar content.

You love your red meat

Steaks are delicious. Red meat is rich in iron, zinc and B vitamins, but it’s also rich in saturated fats, which should be eaten in moderation. Choose organic and for red meat opt for grass-fed, which has a better nutrient profile and is higher in omega-3 fats.

Try eating more white meat and fish. Fish is high in omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins A and D and other key nutrients. There is a reason you always see gym junkies eating chicken and rice or fish

Conclusion

Moderation is key. As long as you are aware that some of the habits and foods you are eating are throwing your sugar and fat balance out of whack you can balance it out again by adjusting your diet.

We recommend you do some research of your own along these lines before making any major changes.

Our key points though are be careful of low fat foods that sneak more sugar into your diet. Similarly, be wary of low sugar foods that substitute artificial sweeteners.

 

Sources

https://www.healthy-magazine.co.uk/too-much-sugar-or-too-much-fat-7-signs-your-diet-is-off-balance/

https://www.healthy-magazine.co.uk/superfoods-that-wont-break-the-bank/

https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/5ADAY/Pages/Whatcounts.aspx

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good

https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/the-truth-about-artificial-sweeteners.aspx

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What Is Intermittent fasting?

INTERMITTENT FASTING

What is Intermittent Fasting?

There has been a lot of interest in the health world around intermittent fasting.

This is the practice of not eating for a certain number of hours a day, or not eating for two or three days out of the week.

The obvious result of this is limiting your calorie intake over the fasting period. If you look across a whole week intermittent fasting generally causes people to consume less calories than they otherwise would. The inherent result of this is going to be weight loss, which means without dramatically changing what you eat you can lose weight. This has made the idea of intermittent fasting very popular.

In the office both Niamh and Bobby have tried it. Niamh doesn’t eat anything before 2pm and claims her energy levels have never been higher.

Bobby tried fasting for 24hours and said he felt a little bit lightheaded and dizzy on the day but after doing it, he felt lighter, refreshed and less bloated.

This is not a particularly new concept. In fact there were several studies in the 30s and 40s that came to the conclusion that restricting calorie intake of certain animals led to those animals leading a comparatively longer life span.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

To understand how fasting works we need to understand how the body behaves when you eat food and when you don’t.

When you eat food your body spends typicaly 3 to 5 hours digesting and absorbing food. During this period it is typically hard for your body to burn fat because of the increased insulin levels.

After about around 8- 12 hours your body is no longer absorbing or digesting food which means your insulin levels are low and this makes it easier for you to  burn fat.

Because we don’t stop absorbing energy and food into our system 12 hours after eating, it is rare that our bodies are in this fat burning state.

By intermittent fasting you choose to force your body into this state which allows you to burn more fat than you otherwise would, without dramatically changing what you eat and how much you exercise.

The Effects of Intermittent fasting

1. Losing Belly Fat

The main argument for intermittent fasting is there is evidence that skipping the first meal of the day and not eating late at night, not only helps you lose weight, but helps you retain muscle mass and increases your energy levels.

2. Increased Energy

This is the main thing Niamh has noticed from her own intermittent fasting. She has more energy in the mornings, and to quote her, ‘no longer falls asleep at work.’

3.  Increased metabolism

Other purported physical benefits of fasting include:

1. Improved mental clarity and concentration.

2. Lowered blood insulin and sugar levels which may help with type 2 diabetes.

3. Increased growth hormone.

4. Lowered blood cholesterol.

5. You might even live longer

The Not so Good

As with any form of dramatic change for your body, there can be side-effects, especially if you don’t plan and structure your fasting properly.

1. Running low on nutrients

By altering your eating habits like this, you may find your body begins to get less of the good stuff that it needs because you aren’t eating properly.

2. Junk food becomes more tempting

Especially when you start, your food cravings may lead you to over indulge in junk food.

3. Not being able to exercise

Exercising without eating properly can lead to alarming fatigue, light-headedness and nausea.

Exercise requires you to massively increase your energy output. Burning body fat is an inefficient way to create energy; the potential energy in fatty tissue is stored as long molecules that are harder to break down than sugars.

However, Niamh, after daily intermittent fasting for nearly a month argues that she now has more energy than ever before!

3. Constipation

Less going in means less going out. You don’t need medications unless you experience discomfort.

4. Headaches

These tend to disappear after the first few times on fasts. Make sure you are drinking lots of water to help with this.

Other possible side effects include dizziness, heartburn and muscle cramps.

Eight tips for successful Intermittent Fasting:

1. Drink lots of water.

2. Stay busy and exercise.

3. Drink coffee or tea.

4. Hunger comes in waves, if you can ride them out you’ll find they quickly dissipate.

5. Don’t tell anybody who is not supportive that you are fasting. It can be mentally challenging to fast.

6. Give yourself one month. It won’t feel great to begin with. But stick with it and let the results speak to you.

7. Follow a low-carb diet between fasting periods. This reduces hunger and makes fasting much easier. It may also increase the effect on weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal, etc.

8. Don’t binge after fasting!

Getting Started

The first thing you need to do is decide what kind of fasting you are going to do choose something that will fit into your lifestyle.

Second, you then need to decide on the length of time you are going to fast.

Thirdly, plan! The key to a successful fast lies in the planning. What are you going to eat, and when? When are you going to exercise and for how long? Which days are going to be feast days? When are you likely going to be in social situations that require you to eat or drink? For example, is your friend having a bottomless brunch party for their birthday? You need to incorporate that into your plan so that you can still go about enjoying life as normal but still stick to your fasting schedule.

When you’re ready, start fasting. If for any reason this makes you feel unwell or if you have any concerns, stop and seek help.

Continue all your usual activities outside of eating. Stay busy and live normally. Imagine you’re “eating” a full meal of your own fat.

Finally, when you break your fast, do it slowly and gently.

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Perfect your Morning Routine for a Perfectly Productive Day

Perfect your Morning Routine for a Perfectly Productive Day

SETTING YOURSELF A SOLID MORNING ROUTINE WILL HELP YOU HAVE A PRODUCTIVE DAY.

For example, a standard morning without routine normally involves me hitting the snooze button four or five times, rolling out bed at the last minute, showering, dressing and running out the door because I’m inevitably late again.

First of all this is stressful, secondly, I’m normally still half asleep by the time I get to where I’m going and it’s not until the second coffee at around 10 – 11, that I really start to get into the swing of things.

There will always be nights when sleep eludes us and we wake up late and bleary eyed, wishing for a stopwatch that could control time so we could go back to bed. But just imagine how much more productive your day could be if you added a bit of structure to it.

I know there is certainly room for improvement in my own morning routine.

So, we thought we would put together a blog post to help you create the perfect morning routine so you can get the most out of your day.

EXAMPLE MORNING ROUTINE

  • Wake up 6.30
  • Exercise for 10 minutes, yoga, press-ups, a light jog etc.
  • Shower & get dressed.
  • Sit down with a coffee and eat a light breakfast.
  • Define your tasks and goals for the day.
routine (1)

IDEAS FOR YOUR MORNING ROUTINE

We have outlined a few things you might want to consider in your morning routine which should help set you up to have a great day.

WATER

Our bodies need to stay hydrated and you’ve just gone 8 hours (hopefully) without drinking anything at all. So it makes sense to start your day off with some water.

BREAKFAST

Your breakfast should contain healthy proteins and slow energy releasing carbohydrates. This will help you get nutrients into your system and gain some energy. You want to avoid things with lots of sugar in though as that can lead to you having a sugar crash around the middle of the day.
There are obviously alternative approaches though, like intermittent fasting which suggests you skip breakfast completely.

EXERCISE

Exercise helps get the blood flowing, meaning your muscles become more oxygenated and gain more energy. It also makes your brain release endorphins so will hopefully put a big smile on your face. Just a few minutes in the morning should really help you wake up and become alert and ready to tackle the challenges the days going to throw your way.

READING

I normally get a chance to read on my way to work on the tube. I find a good book stimulates my mind and makes me more receptive to fresh ideas and thoughts that come my way. Another thing to consider is flicking through the news and catching up on current events or events related to your industry. Anything that gets your brain processing new information will help.

WRITING

This should help you organise your thoughts. We aren’t talking about drafting up lengthy blog articles, more of a mind splurge so that you can organise your thoughts and begin to identify and prioritise tasks properly.
For me, the first thing I always do in the morning is draft up a list of thoughts and tasks for the day. Even if they are largely the same as yesterday it helps me give my day a structure.

On top of this, occasionally writing down my strange dreams when I wake up can be quite an amusing process.

MEDITATE

Focus in silence. Meditation in the morning is a great way to start your day stress free and prepare to tackle challenges. There are a number of guides you can use to start a simple meditation practice each morning.

SET YOURSELF GOALS

Nothing sets you up for a productive day than setting yourself something to achieve. Whether it’s something small like remembering to post a letter, getting a haircut or something bigger like closing a trade deal. Knowing what you want to achieve will help you get it done and doing it will then fill you with a sense of accomplishment.

 

WHAT’S IN YOUR MORNING?

Share with fellow HBBers in the comments section below how you get ready for a busy day.

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Dark Chocolate May Actually be a Superfood

chocolate could be a superfood

Dark Chocolate the Superfood

Despite ourselves we love chocolate in the HBB office, especially dark chocolate, maybe paired with a dark fruity red wine. And that got us to thinking, we’ve all heard the rumours about dark chocolate having health benefits. But if you ask anyone with they will always attempt to justify their cheeky indulgence.

As a writer I like to tell people that beer makes me more creative for example. It’s not true, but I still like to tell people this.

So, we decided to explore the possibilities, whilst we nibbled upon our Green and Blacks, that maybe, just maybe, dark chocolate truly was is the health food that chocoholics having been claiming all along.

6 Ways Dark Chocolate is Healthy… in moderation.

1. It’s helps you have a healthy heart

That’s right. When you eat dark chocolate it gets eaten by good bacteria in the gut which  “grow and ferment it, producing compounds that are anti-inflammatory.” said John Finley Ph.D., who led a recent study. “When these compounds are absorbed by the body, they lessen the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue,” this lessens arterial stiffness and helps prevent white blood cell adhesion, both of which are common causes of arterial clogging which can lead to strokes. If this doesn’t make it a superfood, we don’t know what will.

2. It’s actually pretty nutritious

A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains for example, on average contains:
11 grams of fiber
67% of the RDI for iron
58% of the RDI for magnesium
89% of the RDI for copper
98% of the RDI for manganese
It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium

However, we should probably point out that you really shouldn’t be eating that much chocolate a day. This 100g bar of chocolate also comes with upwards of 600 calories and a pretty hefty sugar count, the negative effects more than negating those nutritional benefits.

Learn about The Dangers of Sugar here

3. It technically counts as a “super fruit”

The cocoa bean is in fact a berry. And in a recent study it was shown to have higher nutritive value than superfoods like blueberries and acai beans with a high antioxidant level. Which kind of means your dark chocolate bar is a superfruit…

4. It Keeps HDLs up and LDLs Down 

In a controlled study, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL for those with high cholesterol. Basically what this means is it helps good cholesterol, and helps get rid of bad cholesterol. All of which means a reduced risk of heart disease.

5. It’s good for your skin

There are a couple of bioactive compounds in chocolate that are good for your skin. One of these is flavonols which can help protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration. Eating dark chocolate isn’t a replacement for sun cream though.

6. It may even help with insulin production

Good news for people with type-2 diabetes.

“The antioxidants in chocolate help the body use its insulin more efficiently to help control blood sugar,” says Anna Simos, CDE. “This in turn helps lower blood sugar levels naturally and actually helps your body use your insulin. As a result, it helps decrease insulin resistance, which we see in type 2 diabetes.”

According to an animal study published in the November 2017 issue of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, it’s the compounds found in cocoa called cocoa flavanols that appear to enhance certain cells’ ability to secrete insulin, the hormone that manages blood glucose. Another point for the superfood case.

chocolate could be a superfood

Conclusion

I suppose we should finish this article with a word of warning. Chocolate is high in sugar, so all consumption, even of the rich dark superfood that is dark chocolate should be consumed only in moderation. If you eat dark chocolate regularly, make changes to your diet by cutting out other sugary foods and calories to make sure you maintain a healthy balanced diet.

Want to learn more about balancing sugar in your diet?

That being said we are more than happy to inform you that yes, dark chocolate is healthy so i guess we have to prove that red wine is as well next…

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8 Reasons you Should Cut your Sugar Intake Today

Here’s why you should cut down your sugar intake today…

We were recently talking in the office about how much sugar you find in everyday food and drink. Things you consume without really thinking about it, like cereal or yoghurt.

Sugar provides the body with empty calories that give us energy without any nutrients. As a result, we eat more without feeling full or satisfied. This leads to an increased risk of weight gain, certain diseases, and a cycle of highs and lows in energy levels, which will leave you feeling tired and craving even more sugar!

We know that sugar isn’t exactly good for you, but at the same time we couldn’t agree on just how bad it is.

So, we did some research…

Your Recommended Daily Intake

The Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommends that our daily sugar intake should be less than 5% of our total energy intake.

This varies from person to person but as a rule of thumb that works out to be around 25 g for women, and 40 g for men.

To put this in perspective, a 330ml (small) can of coke contains 39g of sugar. That’s basically the suggested daily intake for men.

What does sugar do to your body?

Let’s start with the obvious ones.

Sugar can Cause Weight Gain

The SACN carbohydrates and health report found that the consumption of high sugar beverages and foods resulted in weight gain and increases in BMI.

Sugar supplies us with energy but no other nutrients meaning it is in no way satisfying for our bodies. This leads us to over consume. This means if you are able to dramatically cut down your sugar intake, losing those extra pounds will be much easier.

It’s bad for your teeth

We are all told this as children, it doesn’t stop us of course, but sugar rots your teeth and leads to gum disease. So, if you want that pearly white smile, best to avoid it as best you can.

Sugar contributes to diabetes

People with large sugar intakes are much more likely to develop type-2 diabetes.
The issues surrounding diabetes are complex. Sugar by itself is unlikely to be the direct cause of diabetes, however, it does contribute, you are much more likely to get type-2 diabetes if you are overweight. Other factors include genetics, and fatty foods.

It’s bad for your skin

We’ve all seen spotty teens running around and our first thought has been too many sweets. Well, we aren’t entirely wrong there. Too much sugar causes your insulin to spike which leads to inflammation through your body. This Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging skin and wrinkles.  Aside from increasing the effects of ageing, sugar can also exacerbate skin conditions like acne and rosacea.

Winter Skincare

It’s bad for your heart

“When glucose spikes after eating sugary food, our insulin increases to compensate for it, and this activates a part of our nervous system which increases blood pressure and heart rate.” High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, as is diabetes and obesity, both of which have been linked to excessive sugar consumption.

Sugar also increases unhealthy blood fats called triglycerides in the blood, which up the risk for heart disease and stroke. In one April 2014 study, those who ate the most added sugar were most likely to die from heart disease than their counterparts who consumed the least.

It makes you tired but won’t let you sleep

We all feel like we need a quick sugar pick me up sometimes. I personally keep some dark chocolate in my gym bag for if I over do it and start feeling faint. However, consuming sugar gives your body a sugar spike which then forces it to over compensate by producing more insulin. This means the sugar spike lasts only a short period of time and then you crash. You then crave more sugar, and you begin a cycle of sugar spikes which could be detrimental to your sleep.

Sugar could very well be addictive

Although the verdict is still out on this, you can’t argue with the withdrawal symptoms people suffer when they reduce their sugar intake. Nor can you argue with the cravings that lead us to over consume sugars. Both of these things are signs that sugar is addictive.

Sugar is bad for your liver

Like alcohol sugar is processed in the liver.  Too much sugar leads to fatty build ups around your liver. Some studies even suggest sugar is as bad for your liver as alcohol.

What can you do?

  • Cut out fizzy drinks. They taste good, but not only are they full of sugar, our body processes this sugar very easily leading to very quick energy spikes.
  • We’re sad to suggest it, but cut down on your desserts.
  • Exercise frequently. This will give you something to focus on that isn’t your cravings.
  • Check the sugar content of your food. Yoghurt for example often has surprisingly high sugar content.
  • Be careful of fruit juices and smoothies. Whilst they are often sold as ‘healthy’, they can contain huge amounts of sugar.
  • Breakfast cereals are another thing to be wary of. Some of my own favourite cereals like Crunchy Nut Cornflakes are hugely sugary.
  • Jamie Oliver offers some great healthy recipes and advice on sugar.

All images sourced from Unsplash

We are no experts on these matters so please feel free to share any knowledge you have in the comments section below.

Our main sources, which we have linked to at various parts of the article, are: