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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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5 Common Back Problems And How To Fix Them

Five Common Back Problems And How To Fix Them

Looking after your back is an important part of life no matter how young, fit or flexible you are.

Our modern lifestyles are culprits of a huge array of potential back threats. One of the biggest is the chairs we sit in.

But other things, like heavy bags, bad shoes, even too tight trousers can, over time, lead to a series of complicated and even agonising problems.

In this article we outline 5 common back problems faced by the modern person and how we can start to address them.

#1 Slouching in your chair

Humans are not designed to sit for long periods of time. However, the majority of people find themselves sitting for over 10 hours each day.

So, good posture whilst seated is important.

People often slouch unconsciously, as sitting upright requires engaging a number of core muscles. Over time this places strain on the muscles and soft tissue in your lower, and upper back as well as your neck and shoulders.

What to do:

Begin by being aware of your posture. When sitting, keep your back straight, shoulders back and abdomen tucked in. At first this will be uncomfortable as your muscles aren’t conditioned to work like that, but keep at it!

Stand up and walk around every half an hour or so, even go so far as to do a few stretches by your desk.

Exercises to help:

  • Plank/ Side plank
  • Hip thrusts
  • Lunges
  • Seated row

(Scroll to the bottom of the article to see more details on these exercises.)

 

#2 Flat Back

A flat back causes you to stoop. It means your back is straight instead of naturally curved with the pelvis pushed forward.

This can make it difficult to stand for long periods of time, adding all sorts of aches and pains to our back muscles.

Spending long periods sitting down can also contribute to a flat back.

What to do:

Flat back is likely an indication of weak core strength, so you are going to want to start doing regular core strengthening exercises.

  • Plank/ Side plank
  • Leg raises
  • Chest stretches
  • Seated row
  • Pull-ups

The opposite of this is anterior pelvic tilt which causes an excessive curve to the spine. This can be helped with many of the same exercises.

#3 Standing on one Leg

If you’ve been standing for a while you will likely find yourself leaning on one leg, maybe shifting between the two. It may feel more comfortable to do this than standing firmly planted on two legs.

However, when you do this you place extra pressure on the side of your lower back and hip.

If this is something you do a lot, perhaps you work standing up, this can lead to muscle imbalances and muscular strain in the lower back and buttocks.

Other guilty culprits that cause bad lower back and hip problems are things like carrying a heavy bag over one shoulder.

What to do:

Wear a backpack with both straps, distributing the weight evenly. Also, don’t overfill it. If you want a single strap bag, our Healthy Back Bags are specifically designed to contour to your spine, spreading the weight evenly across your shoulders and down your spine.

Strengthen your glutes and lower back.

Do frequent stretches to stretch out those tightening muscles.

Exercises to help:

  • Plank
  • Sidelying leg raises
  • Lunges
  • Squats

#4 Hunching/ Text neck

If you spend your days bent over your keyboard peering into your screen then you might often catch yourself hunching and aches will begin to appear in your back.

Hunching indicates weak upper back muscles and a tight chest.

This type of posture can cause you to develop a rounded upper back with shoulder and back stiffness.

As well as this, when hunched over your keyboard or bent over your phone screen, you may find yourself poking your head forward which can further this problem of tight shoulders.

Correcting a poking chin involves improving your sitting habits and exercises to correct your posture.

What to do:

  • Gently lengthen your neck upwards as you tuck in your chin
  • Seated rows in a gym or pull-ups
  • Chest stretches

 

#5 Rounded shoulders

Rounded shoulders are when you naturally stand with your shoulders rolled forwards. To test this face a mirror and relax. If your knuckles are facing forwards it indicates you have tight chest muscles and a weak upper back.

Rounded shoulders are typically caused by poor posture habits (like slouching), muscle imbalances and focusing too much on certain exercises, such as too much focus on chest strength while neglecting the upper back.

What to do:

Strengthen your upper back and stretch your chest muscles:

  • Plank
  • Seated rows in a gym or pull-ups
  • Chest stretches

 

The Exercises:

Below are just a few exercises you might want to try. If you are unsure how to do any of the exercises, we suggest you ask a professional. Some incorrectly performed exercises can be more damaging than helpful.

#1 Plank and Sideways Plank

Lie on your front propped up on your forearms and toes. Keep your legs straight and hips raised to create a straight and rigid line from head to toe. Don’t allow your lower back to sink during the exercise. Your shoulders should be directly above your elbows.

Alternatively, balance on one side, again keeping the part of your body touching the floor in line with your shoulder and your body rigid and straight.

Focus on keeping your abs contracted during the exercise. Hold this position for as long as you can.

#2 Side leg raises

Lie on your side with one arm tucked under your head. And raise and lower your leg slowly in a controlled fashion.

 

#3 Seated Row (Rowing machine)

This is one of our personal favourites as it works your legs, core, arms and upper back.

Remember to keep your back straight as you move through the motions.

#4 Pull-ups

These require a fair bit of upper body strength. However, you can do assisted pull-ups using various machines in the gym or resistance bands.

#5 Chest stretches

Various yoga poses are excellent for this such as upwards facing dog.

A good stretch to try is standing with your back to a wall, then with your arms at 45 degrees press back against the wall.

#6 Lunges

Step into a lunge lowering one knee to the floor and then moving back into a standing position.

Repeat this with alternating legs ten times (each side).

#7 Squats

With your feet firmly planted on the floor shoulder width apart, lower yourself down as low as you can go without lifting your heels.

Keep your back straight and stay as upright as possible. You should feel like your are about to fall backwards.

A good trick for beginners is to place a chair or box behind you, gently touch the chair or box and then stand up again back up again. This will stop you from tipping backwards.

Alternatively, put something under your heels to tilt you forwards, allowing you to drop further into the squat.

You can find more detail on many of these exercises and on dealing with back problems online in places like the NHS health blog 

 

Share your knowledge of dealing with back pain in the comment section below.