To Snack Or Not To Snack…..

To snack or not to snack?  That is the question…..

Many people think they need to avoid snacks because they are afraid that snacks will contribute to weight gain or may get in the way of their weight loss plan. This is not always the case though.  It all depends on the type of snack you are eating and the rest of your calorie intake for the day.  If you go for a healthy snack, you can add micronutrients to your diet, complex carbohydrates for energy and protein to fuel your muscles and help keep your fuller for longer.  Ideally you should snack about halfway between meals to help keep your energy levels consistent throughout the day.  Although this is only the case if you eat a healthy snack.  If you choose a chocolate bar as a snack then you will get a spike of energy, followed by a crash and very little nutrients.  This snack can contain a lot of fat and calories too.

We tend to snack twice a day – between breakfast and lunch and then between lunch and dinner.  Here are a few of our go to snacks:

Nuts & Seed

These are the perfect on the go snack. No prep necessary and can be thrown in any bag. Be mindful of the amount you eat though as they can be high in fat and calories. They do however contain good fats, protein and fibre though.  And no, the yoghurt or chocolate covered ones aren’t included in this healthy snack option 😉

Greek Yoghurt & Berries

This is a delicious and nutrient dense snack.  It is a great source of calcium, potassium, protein and antioxidants.  It also gets rid of sugar cravings.  If you don’t like the taste of plain Greek yoghurt you could add some flavour drops or flavoured protein powder.  We love to add vanilla protein to ours and a sprinkle of nuts or seeds.

Apple/Pear & Nut Butter    

This one generally turns a few heads in the office, but it is delicious and filling.  This snack contains fibre, vitamins, minerals and protein. Make sure to choose natural nut butters though, without added sugar and don’t go too heavy on the nut butter due to it’s high calorie content.

Fruit

Fruit is always a good option for a snack. Fruit contains vitamins and minerals, are a good source of fibre and count towards your 5 a day. Plus, a lot of them are easy to eat on the go and easy to find when out and about.  Most shops and garages sell fruit of some sort.  Therefore no excuses 😉

Corn, Oat or Rice Cakes

These are a great snack to have at home or keep at your desk.  They don’t need to be kept in the fridge, they are low in calories and fat.  They offer a good base for lots of toppings.  Try them with nut butter & banana, hummus, low fat cream cheese or guacamole.

Raw Vegetables & Hummus

Raw veggies are a great way to add to your 5 a day count.  Carrots are an easy one and can be bought pre chopped if you are stuck for time.  Peppers and celery are good options too.  Dip them in hummus to add even more flavour.  The chickpeas in the hummus provide protein, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. There are even low fat versions of hummus available too.  If you are using store bought hummus, just make sure to check out ingredients and pick one with only natural ingredients.

Popcorn

Popcorn is a whole grain food that is high in important nutrients. This includes vitamins, minerals and high amounts of fiber. You can make your own or buy pre-packaged versions. Just note not all popcorns are as healthy as they sound.  Some brands contain a lot of salt, sugar or fat.  Make sure to check out the nutritional information.  We like Propercorn.  They do a lightly salted version or a variety of flavours.  Peanut Butter & Almond is one of our favourites.

Energy or Protein Balls

We regularly make our own protein/energy balls.  It doesn’t take very long and there are so many nice recipes out there to try.  Check out our social media posts to find our Chocolate Orange Protein Ball recipe. These little balls are packed full of seeds, protein, dates and a multitude of other goodies. If you are buying fresh protein balls in a store, just be aware they may have a high fat or calorie content.  A lot of people think that they can have a few protein balls at a time as they are “healthy”.

Good4U Snacks

We love these snacks.  They are easy to throw in a bag or keep at your desk.  We always bring some when we are travelling. There are lots of flavours to choose from and you can go for a sweet or savoury option.  They only use natural ingredients with nutritional benefits such as protein, fibre, energy-boosting magnesium and brain-boosting thiamine. Our favourites are the Cocoa Orange Energy Balls, Energise Cocoa & Orange Super Shots and the Smoky Bbq Crunch Super Shots.  We love that they are an Irish brand too.  They do a great range of kids snacks as well, which are perfect for lunch boxes.

Nakd Bars

These bars are also great for travelling, to throw into a bag or grab on the go. There are lots of flavours to choose from too. They are made from natural ingredients such as fruits and nuts which are ‘smooshed’ together for you into a handy bar. Gluten, wheat and dairy free, with no added sugars or hidden extras and they are all vegan friendly.

Egg Muffins

Eggs are a great source of protein, omega-3 fats, Vitamins A,B,D, E & K and contain a complete range of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Egg muffins are super easy to prepare and last in the fridge for a few days.  You can also add in vegetables for flavour and to get extra nutrients.  They are a great snack, especially if you are looking for a low carb option.

So, there you have it, 11 healthy snack options to try. 

Happy Snacking

Ali & Ant

THE IMPORTANCE OF RESISTANCE TRAINING

Now everyone knows we love a HIIT workout.  I mean, what’s not to love?  They are short, they torch calories (even after the workout is done), they improve your fitness levels and can pretty much be done anywhere.   

We can’t forget about resistance/strength training though. A good exercise plan will include cardio and resistance training.  Cardio is great for burning fat but if you are looking to get a nice toned look, resistance training is also necessary.  

Don’t worry ladies, you won’t get bulky or manly if you lift weights. Women’s bodies are built differently to men and biology won’t allow you to get huge muscles.  Testosterone is the main hormone that builds muscle and men’s testosterone levels are approximately seven to eight times greater than women’s levels. 

So, what is Resistance Training? 

Resistance is any force that makes a movement harder. This force is usually thought of as weights in the gym, be they free weights or machine weights but they only form a small part of what can be used. You can use anything from water bottles to bricks, from rubber bands to kettlebells. Even your body can be used. Think about it, a force you deal with every day is gravity, so we can use our own bodyweight to produce the results we want. 

Resistance training has so many benefits and we have listed a few below: 

1. Helps with Weight Management 

Lifting weights helps you build lean muscle tissue. Muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat so in turn burns more calories, even at rest.  This is because muscle requires more blood and oxygen supply than fat, which means the body uses more energy.  

2. Improves muscle strength and tone  

When you lift weights on a regular basis, you become stronger so everyday chores get a little easier too, such as carrying groceries, housework, gardening, carrying the kids, etc. You can also build lean muscle so aesthetically you look leaner and more toned. Women who don’t exercise can lose anywhere from 3 to 8% of their muscle mass each decade as a result of inactivity. 

3. Helps to protect your joints from injury 

Strength training also strengthens your ligaments and tendons.  This will help you continue to operate in peak condition and protect your body from injuries. Studies have shown that people with arthritis who lifted weights actually reduced their joint pain. By strengthening their muscles, they were able to cushion and protect the joints during impact activities such as walking. 

4. Improves mobility, balance and posture 

Exercise allows us to maintain muscle strength, coordination and balance which helps prevent falls and related fractures.  This is particularly beneficial as we get older.  As we age there is a decline in our motor ability.  We get slower and less confident in our movements.  Maintaining strength, mobility and balance will definitely increase our quality of life in later years. 

5. Increases bone density which reduces the risk of osteoporosis 

Strength training makes your bones stronger, which can help reduce or even manage osteoporosis.  Resistance training puts bones under stress which makes them grow stronger and increase in density to withstand the extra load and force.   As women age their oestrogen level decreases. Oestrogen helps with calcium production which means women’s calcium levels lower too. This is why bones can break easier when you age.   

6. Helps in the performance of everyday tasks 

The more mobility, flexibility, balance and strength you have, the easier your everyday life will be.  This is especially true as we age. 

So, have we convinced you to try out some resistance training? Remember, you are never too old to start. Our latest client is a 75 year old man who never exercised before. Start small with body weight exercises such as squats, push-ups, lunges and tricep dips.  Once you have mastered these, start to add weights such as kettlebells, dumbbells or resistance bands. If you are not comfortable with trying these at home, join a gym class or book in a session with a personal trainer or fitness instructor.  Most gyms offer a free assessment when you join. 

After reading the above you can now see how important resistance training is for your body.  Exercise shouldn’t just be performed for aesthetic reasons.  You shouldn’t exercise just to lose weight or to look good in a bikini (although if you are very overweight then it is better for your health to lose weight).  Exercise shouldn’t be used as punishment for what you have eaten.  You should exercise to feel good, feel happier, feel healthier, make every day activities easier, avoid stiffening of joints and to protect your future self from injuries and illnesses. 

Don’t just set goals that are weight related as you may have lost fat and gained lean muscle. Maybe set some strength goals or workout goals or work on an exercise you couldn’t do before like a push up or pull up. 

Now, who is off to pump some iron? 

Ali & Ant 

10 Weeks to Summer – Healthy Habits to Create Now

With the daylight hours increasing and an extra shot of vitamin D on the way due to the sun showing its face a bit more (hopefully), it’s time to revisit those goals you may have set at the start of the year. You may or may not have made any New Years’ resolutions, but with 10 weeks to summer, maybe it’s time to look at setting some goals now.

You should try to look at these goals as holistically as possible.  Take care of your Body & Mind.  Make it a lifestyle change, not just a quick fix. That being said, with the imminence of summer holidays, wearing less clothing and being outside more, tends to be a good motivator in getting started, or getting back on it after falling off the wagon since the new year and all those good intentions.

Make sure that the initial changes are slow and steady. Too much too soon and you may not stick with it. Habits need to be created and consistently adhered to in order to succeed. Master consistency….

Step 1: Make a Decision to Start

Set the alarm clock for 10 minutes earlier tomorrow and get up as soon as it goes off. No snooze button!!!

Step 2: Mindfulness

Spend 2 minutes sitting in silence, just breathing.  Breathe in and out.  Follow your breath as it travels in through your nose or mouth and travels down to your lungs or stomach and back out again.

Step 3: Practice Gratitude

Next, spend 2 minutes being grateful for what you have – the roof over your head, your loved ones, your health, having food and water, etc.  Simply, being grateful for being you. Easy, right?

Step 4: List Your Goals/Future Achievements

Next, it’s time to list your achievements.  Make a list of 3 things you want to achieve in the coming days, months or even a year or two away. Spend 2 minutes seeing them as if you have already achieved them, visioning them exactly how you want them to turn out.

Last step:

Finish with a mental run through of your day and how you want it to go, before completing 3 more deep breaths and getting ready to seize the day.

This should take between 5 & 10 minutes. And that’s you started. Like all things, it will only work if you keep it consistent. Every day, same routine. The weekend wake up time can vary by an hour or two but try to keep the times and the process the same. This will help adherence and the building of a positive routine.  These 5-10 minutes will have such an amazing impact on your quality of life and goal achievements but, you have to stick to it.

Once you have built the initial habit of getting up a little earlier for your mindfulness and gratitude, you can start to add in exercise.

Ant & Ali

Bums and Tums – Real Time Workout

This is a realtime workout video, which you can stream, and you will virtually be taking a real class with us.

This is a 10 minute workout for your Bums and Tums, split into a 5 minute block for Bums & 5 minute block for Tums.  You can add either block to the end of your workout or both.  Get ready to feel the BURN!!!

Here are the exercises that make up this real time workout:

2 x 5-Minute Rounds

Bums:
Single/Double Hip Raises – 20 Reps if doing doubles or 10 for each leg for singles
Side Kicks and Pulses – 10 Side Kicks & 10 Pulses (Each Leg)
And repeat the exercises for 5 minutes

1 Minute Break

Tums:
Basic Crunches – 10 Reps
One Leg Crunches – 20 Reps (10 each leg)
Flutter Kicks – 20 Reps
And repeat the exercises for 5 minutes

For all the best real time workouts subscribe to our Youtube channel //bit.ly/2AfMgcr

How To Stay On Track This Christmas Without Missing Out On All The Festive Fun

The Christmas season is generally a time for overindulgence in alcohol and food, but how about this year you don’t use it as an excuse to give up on your healthy eating habits and fitness regime. Remember how hard you worked to get to this level.  You don’t want to have to start from scratch in January, it’s a gloomy enough month as it is for a lot of people. Don’t use Christmas as an excuse to abuse your body.

Coming up with a plan of action can help you stay on track and help you balance eating well with indulging. Staying on track doesn’t have to mean perfection.  You don’t need to eat only chicken and broccoli and do hour-long workouts every day. You don’t need to avoid parties and nights out. It is all about finding a balance so you can enjoy your nights out and family gatherings with alcohol, desserts and selection box items 😊

Here are our top tips to help you stay on track without missing out on the festive fun:

  1. Be mindful of what you drink

Calories in alcohol, soft drinks and festive coffees can all add up.  It is so easy to consume hundreds of calories on liquids without realising.  Your gingerbread latte can contain over 250 calories. We suggest swapping full fat soft drinks for low calorie options. Learn how many calories are in your regular alcoholic beverage (we did a recent post on alcohol calories on Instagram which you can check out), which will hopefully make you drink less of them or swap them for a lower calorie option. If you drink gin and tonic, swap this for a gin and slimline tonic and save over 50 calories per drink.

  1. Keep Active

Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean you need to ditch your regular fitness regime and lie on the sofa watching Netflix and eating tins of Roses all day. Try get a workout in first thing so you have the rest of the day to do whatever you want. You don’t have to go to the gym. We have plenty of workouts you can do at home (check out our YouTube and Instagram). Go for a long walk or plan some activities with friends.  Not all social events need to happen in a pub.

  1. Stay healthy in the lead up to the Christmas period

If you have your food and exercise plan in a good place before Christmas, it will make it easier to stay on track over the period as you will be less likely to overindulge and undo your hard work.  You can also relax a little knowing you have worked hard in the lead up to Christmas. There is no need to feel guilty if you have some dessert, a few meals out or alcohol. Don’t beat yourself up if you do. Everything can be enjoyed in moderation.

  1. Plan Around Your Celebrations

If you know you have a big night out planned, keep the rest of your food healthy that day and try to get a workout in.

  1. Mindful Eating

Be mindful of what and when you are eating.  Enjoy the chocolates, desert and Christmas dinner. Just don’t overindulge out of habit or boredom. It is all too easy to sit down with a box of chocolates and eat 20 of them without even noticing.  Choose the ones you like and have 1 or 2 of each, rather than sit with the box of them, popping them in your mouth without even really tasting them. Don’t eat all of the dessert options offered to you. Only choose your favourite one. This way you still get to enjoy the treats and don’t feel deprived by saying no all the time.

  1. Portion Control

There is no need to have second helpings from a buffet or family meal just because they are offered to you. Stop eating when you are full.  The Irish mammy loves to overfeed, especially at Christmas 😉 If you keep on eating when you are full you only end up feeling ill and bloated, which is never a good feeling. It is okay to have some dessert but have a smaller portion than normal.  Once you have a taste of it, your craving should be satisfied.

  1. Eat Before The Party

If you are heading to a drinks party then make sure to eat before you go. It is a bad idea to go to a party hungry. Most hosts provide some form of finger food at these parties and if you go hungry you will eat a lot of it. This food is generally high in calories and fat, so when you add this to the calories in your alcohol, you will rack up more than your daily calorie allowance, which is what leads to weight gain. We all know how easy it is to make your way throw a bowl of nuts or crisps when you are standing beside it.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Sometimes when you think you are hungry you are in fact just thirsty.  Make sure to stay hydrated, which is at least 2 litres a day for women and 3 litres for men. Alcohol seems to be on offer wherever you go at Christmas time so ensure you drink plenty of water; not only to stay hydrated, but also to help aid the digestion of all the food you’ve been eating.

  1. Don’t Deprive Yourself

No food should be off limits.  Some food should just be enjoyed in smaller quantities than others. It is important to learn how to say “No” when it comes to treats.  Now we are not saying you should indulge every opportunity you get but it is important to have balance and know it is okay to say “Yes” sometimes.  You need to have balance when it comes to the food you eat. If you completely deprive yourself of foods you enjoy, it can lead to bingeing, which brings us onto the next point.

  1. Don’t Punish Yourself

If you do happen to have a binge, it can often lead to guilt or self-hatred. This guilt can then lead to more bingeing as you feel you have already failed so you might as well keep going with your binge. You are not a failure though.  You just slipped up a little. The decisions and choices you make post binge are what affect your weight.  Don’t give up over one little slip up. That’s like slashing all your tires because you have one that is flat. Move on and make healthy choices for the rest of the day and for tomorrow and so on. The worst thing you can do is self-sabotage and continue the binge. Don’t think “sure I will just wait till January and start then” as you are only making life harder for yourself.

And on that note, we want to wish you a happy and healthy festive period. We will be doing a live workout Christmas morning, if we have significant WIFI in Vietnam so hopefully some of you can join us. Enjoy yourself, but if you don’t want to weigh heavier in January than you do now, follow our tips above 😉