Running, but not losing weight?

Nutrition Chat

It’s important for me to share before I dive in, the fact is if you choose to lace up and run, then you’ve got a stamp of love from me. There’s no wrong or right in my mind, who am I to judge you?

When I first started running, my soul objective was to lose weight, of course it turned into something far deeper than that (phew!). But the fact is, I’m far from alone with this starting point and rather than discouraging movement. I’d like to share some points on how to make improving your running AND working towards weight loss can actually work together and not against one another.

A good starting point is…

Understanding that the modern world of sports watches and heart rate monitors, can only give you an indication of the energy used during the physical activity. Therefore, if you’re tracking your daily expenditure using this metric, you need to keep in mind it could be up to 40% incorrect. Plus, studies show that most people are not tracking calories correctly, do you often find yourself “forgetting” the odd latte, nibbling leftovers, eyeballing servings of peanut butter? – Welcome to the club, it’s called “Being Normal” but it could be these little habits that are moving you out of a deficit and into maintaining your weight or even a surplus.

Then, we add in the fact that many of us fall into the trap of I’ve been for a run, therefore I can eat whatever I’d likeand whilst no food should be off limits. It’s important to understand that as you build a stronger, fitter body, it also becomes more efficient and uses slightly less energy during these activities. Alongside this, if you lose weight your “Basal metabolic rate” (BMR) reduces, because in extremely simplistic terms, the lower your body weight, the less energy you’ll expend at rest.

My kit was kindly gifted by Adidas

Which leads me to say that running lose weight can be a hugely stressful experience, the whole concept of inputting data, fitting workouts in around your life, and monitoring the highs and lows? – It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, it’s easy for me to say be kind to yourself. But sometimes it’s that’s not always the answer.

Before we continue, ask yourself “How active am I after my run?” because if you’re anything like me, you’ll run first thing in the morning and then spend the rest of the day seated. It’s no crime to stay still. But it might be worth pro-actively focusing on more movement during the day, where and if at all possible. I lap the living room or break up the working day with a brief walk and an opportunity to listen to a podcast to move my body and free my busy mind.

But what’s the answer?

In all honesty, I don’t believe that there’s a “One size fits all” answer, because it depends on so many personal variables. Such as age, weight, current training, job, lifestyle and the fact we’re all so wonderfully unique, a cookie cutter approach just isn’t the right solution…

Which is why I recommend, making a plan…

*Firstly, establish where do you want to be with your running? Is it distance? Speed? An event?

*How can you safely and realistically reach that goal? Should you use a plan? Have you allowed yourself enough time? Are you lifting weights and making time for mobility?

*Now you need to establish how many calories you need each day to maintain your weight with this level of activity? Then look to subtract 50-100 calories each day, the next step is to allow yourself least 3 consistent weeks and then review your progress.

*Take an honest look at your lifestyle and habits, where do you find yourself going off track? Are your expectations realistic? Are you helping yourself or over complicating matters? Are you tracking honestly?

*Ask yourself – “What can I add in?” Rather than “What can I take away?” for example you might add in another rest day or a lay in once a week. You might add in another serving of vegetables or increase your daily protein. It could be that you schedule a sports massage once a month, or the addition of a weekly yoga class.

*Finally, how do you FEEL? Are you tired? Sluggish? Hydrated? In need of a health MOT? If you find that you’re constantly under the weather, I do recommend checking in with your GP to make sure nothing is underlying and considering what you can do to supplement your health.

*The overall objective is to make your life better, to implement changes that create joy and well-being, whilst helping you along the way towards your goals. Sadly, many of us have been brainwashed to think that cutting calories and running endless miles is the only solution to weight loss. I’ve spent years being frustrated by this cycle and trust me when I say that it doesn’t often lead to long-term, sustainable results.  

If you’d like some advice, guidance and/or a virtual cheerleader – I’m accepting a small number of clients for cost effective, supportive and personalised coaching.

Feel free to drop me a line – amisupposedtoeatthis@gmail.com

Katie x

Chocolate Bars For Around 100 Calories

Nutrition Chat

Some real talk for you now, it’s absolutely fine to include chocolate in your diet. Sure you might want to basis your primary meals around nutritious choices, but for long term happiness? Chocolate has its place and for me, it’s a daily thing.

When it comes to lower calorie chocolate bars, marketing can play not only an expensive and also confusing part of making a suitable choice. Whilst, I’m in no way shape or form here to tell you not to buy what you enjoy and/or suits your budget. I’m always keen to remind people that the bar that’s heavily marketed as the “Healthy Option” might not be any nutritionally different to just buying a smaller version of your favourite brand.

Here’s some of my favourite choices and I’ve snuck in a few chocolate biscuits too, because why the hell not?

KitKat – 106 Calories

Dairy Milk Little Bars – 96 Calories

Cadbury Freddo – 95 Calories

Kinder chocolate bars – 71Calories

Mars, Snickers and Twix – All now have 99 calorie options available.

Blue Riband biscuit = 99 calorie

Cadbury Curly Wurly – 118 Calories

Milkyway – 117 Calories

Mini Cadbury Buttons Bag – 76 Calories

Mini Milkybar Buttons Bag – 65 Calories

Breakaway Bar – 99 Calories

Club Orange Bars – 116 Calories

Tunocks Tea Cakes – 106 Calories  

Twix Top Chocolate Biscuit Bars -106 Calories

Cadbury Flake 20g Bar – 104 Calories

Kinder Happy Hippo Cocoa Cream – 122 Calories

Kinder Surprise Egg – 110 Calories

Cadbury Mini Fingers Snack Bag – 98 Calories

Toffee Crisp Chocolate Biscuits – 99 Calories

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Katie x

Confusion about ultra-processed foods?

Nutrition Chat

The term ‘ultra-processed foods’ is increasingly used in research on diet and health, with headlines suggesting consuming these foods leads to increased risk of disease. Yet, a new survey from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) suggests that people find it difficult to distinguish between foods classed as ultra-processed and other processed foods.

The survey, undertaken by YouGov on behalf of BNF, reveals that 70 percent of British adults had not heard of the term ultra-processed food before taking the survey, but 36 percent state they are trying to cut back on some kind of processed foods.

The new BNF research aims to analyse people’s understanding of processed and ultra-processed foods and the role they play in the diet. The term ultra-processed foods is usually based on a food classification method called NOVA which defines ultra-processed foods as those made by industrial processing and that often contain additives such as colours, flavours, emulsifiers or preservatives.

More than one fifth of the survey respondents (21 percent) say that a healthy, balanced diet shouldn’t include any ultra-processed foods, however the survey reveals a lack of understanding of which foods are included in the ultra-processed definition. When given a list of foods and asked which they would classify as ultra-processed, just eight percent selected canned baked beans, nine percent low fat fruit yogurt, 12 percent ice cream, 19 percent pre-packaged sliced bread from a supermarket, 26 percent ready-made pasta sauces, and 28 percent breakfast cereals with added sugar, despite all of the above being classed according to NOVA as ultra-processed.

Sara Stanner, Science Director, British Nutrition Foundation, comments: “There’s an increasing amount of research on ultra-processed foods and health, and the term is being used more than ever. But most people still have not heard of the term and are not clear about what it includes. Many foods that would be classified as ultra-processed may not be recognised as such and, while many ultra-processed foods are not healthy options, this isn’t always the case. As well as less healthy items like crisps, cakes, sweets, chocolate and sugary drinks, which many of us need to cut back on, ultra-processed foods can include sliced wholemeal bread and vegetable-based pasta sauces which can be a useful part of a healthy, balanced diet.”

69 percent of those surveyed say they agree with the statement that it’s better to cook from scratch than use processed foods but 53 percent agree that a healthy, balanced diet can include some processed foods and 49 percent say that processed foods can be convenient and help save time. 26 percent agree with the statement that it is not possible to cook all their meals from scratch.

Stanner continues: “There can be a very judgmental attitude towards processed foods, implying that you cannot be eating well if your diet is not made up entirely from ‘real food’ that is cooked from scratch. But, most foods we eat are processed in some way and processed foods help a lot of us to prepare meals within the limited time and budget we have. And just because something is homemade does not necessarily make it a healthy option – recipes vary widely from the very healthy to the very indulgent. What we should really be concerned about is how healthy a food is overall, and the balance of our diet as a whole.

The survey reveals that 43 percent of men and 51 percent of women agree that checking the nutrition label on processed foods can help them make healthier choices.

Stanner adds: “Some ultra-processed foods, such as confectionary, fried snacks, cakes and sugary drinks, are already recognised by nutrition professionals as foods to limit, however this does not mean that all processed foods should be demonised. Looking at food labels, in particular at sugar, salt and saturated fat content, can be valuable in helping us to make healthier choices. In addition, we need to encourage food manufacturers to produce foods that are healthier, ensuring that healthier food choices are easier, more convenient and affordable for people to make.”

Should you want to read more on the topic and find out about the BNF’s work, funding and governance, this can be found here.

Help! I’m running but not losing weight…

Nutrition Chat

*Long Read*

Running and weight loss is a topic I generally shy away from; regardless of this I feel it’s important to explain it was one of the key reasons I started running. Coupled with the fact I was so desperate to be part of this community of people, the ones who called themselves “Runners”.

It’s important for me to share before I dive in, the fact is if you choose to lace up and run, then you’ve got a stamp of love from me. There’s no wrong or right in my mind, who am I to judge you?

On the other hand, I’ve recently started to try to educate myself on the more scientific side of our bodies, functions, fluctuations and weight loss. I’m absolutely fascinated by the subject, the more I learn the more in awe of our bodies I become. It would be easy to underestimate the complexity of weight loss and weight gain, because there are so many different factors that come together for the end result.

A good starting point is…

It’s important to understand that we all have a set-point for our weight, we eat thousands and thousands of calories each year (quick reminder – calorie is a term used to measure energy, it’s not as simple as good or bad). We need the energy to function, even if you just laid in bed for a week not eating or doing a thing, you’d still be burning energy.

So, now we’ve established the absolute basics it feels right to move onto the fact that many of us completely over estimate our energy burn and under estimate our energy intake. Just a quick reminder, that includes me – Hey, I’m human too!

With sports watches and heart rate monitors, they can only give an indication of the energy used during the physical activity. Alongside this, if you lose weight your “TDEE” (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) reduces. Because in extremely simple terms, there’s less of you and less energy used. Which means, I could completely simplify things and say something along the lines of – “unless the energy you burn during the day, continues to increase and your energy intake decreased you won’t lose weight”.

But hang on, it’s not really that simple is it?

No, because this is often how a disordered relationship with eating starts, soon it becomes almost impossible to keep up these defects. Alongside that, your body has evolved to protect you from starvation and then the more you exercise and burn energy.  The more your body will naturally try to compensate this by altering your metabolism, your body is trying to look after you, and it doesn’t want you to starve.

Is this why I’m so hungry all the time?

Well, as we’ve already addressed, I’m absolutely not an expert and there can be so many reasons why you feel this way. But vigorous exercise can lead to dehydration, which is so easily confused with hunger. Also, in some cases exercise could stimulate the part of our brain which craves a reward, if you’re anything like me that reward is likely to be food.

It’s okay, we’re only human, and although professionals might say we shouldn’t view food as a “reward” or a “treat” who cares if we do? Most people with a formal university degree in Nutrition or Diet will recommend a diet that includes everything in moderation.  

Let’s touch on our body mechanisms/hormones/our behaviour…

Our bodies are incredible and so much more complex than most of us could ever understand, to think that we stand in front of the mirror and point fault with something so incredible, blows my mind.

We’ll start with Leptin…

“Leptin is a hormone predominantly made by adipose cells and enterocytes in the small intestine that helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger, which in turn diminishes fat storage in adipocytes.” – Source

However, when you’re obese, chances are that you’ll have a decreased sensitivity to Leptin which means in simple terms it’s so much harder for you to detect “fullness” despite reaching a point of satisfaction.

But it’s so important that we understand Leptin because this hormone has a huge impact on hunger, food energy use, physical exercise and energy balance. 

What about Cortisol…?

It’s important to understand that Cortisol is linked to “Stress” and this hormone can have an impact on your blood sugar regulation and metabolic system.

“Sustained stress can lead to high levels of circulating cortisol (regarded as one of the more important “stress hormones”[36]). Such levels may result in an allostatic load,[37] which can lead to various physical modifications in the body’s regulatory networks” – Source

Trying to lose weight can be a hugely stressful experience, the whole concept of inputting data, fitting workouts in around your life, and monitoring the highs and lows? – It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, it’s easy for me to say be kind to yourself. But sometimes it’s that’s not always the answer.

It’s been reported that there is now scientific studies to show that when HIIT Training can leave your metabolic rate high for a longer period of time after working out. There’s actually not set data yet, as these theories take years of testing.

This is why, it’s worth taking a different approach too, and ask yourself “How active am I after my run?” because if you’re anything like me, you’ll run first thing because you’ll spend the rest of the day seated.It’s no crime to stay still, but it might be worth pro-actively focusing on more movement during the day, where and if at all possible. I lap the living room, which is hardly noteworthy but it keeps me mildly entertained and moving.

Running all the miles and not losing weight?

If you need help…

Please, think really carefully about what you consider a “valued source” of information because there’s so much data on the internet without any tests to back up these claims. I’ve spent years following the advice of people with absolutely no medical background and I think it’s so easy to fall into that trap. A good starting point might be your Doctor if you feel that there might be underlining physical or mental issues. Or, if you’re really serious about your diet, please think very seriously before taking advice from a PT, unless they have full credentials and are fully regulated.

Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law, and are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard. – Source

Not everyone can afford access to advice from a Dietitian, so if you do look to seek advice online try to find plans which are approved by professional’s.

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I hope you’ve found this interesting, again this is only based on my own personal research and not expert advice.

Katie x

Reverse Diets – The Basics

Nutrition Chat

Until 2020, the term “Reverse Dieting” was completely unheard of to me; I understood disordered eating, I knew that I was a binge eater and I always felt that to “Diet” you needed to eat less. With this in mind, how on earth did I finish the year over 8kg lighter, eating more, no longer bingeing and on a “Reverse Diet”…?

Let’s start with the basics, what is reverse dieting?

Reverse dieting is a way of eating which involves, very slowly increasing your daily calorie intake over the course of weeks or months. It focuses on eating great food, increasing your energy and boosting your metabolism.

So, how does this work and who would this suit?

It’s really important for me to mention that I have no qualifications in the field of nutrition or diet, therefore it’s almost impossible for me to say that this would work for everyone (or anyone) reading this article. From my personal journey, I started reverse dieting after gradually reducing my daily intake down to 1,800 calories a day, re-working my relationship with food and changing the way I trained.

So, by using my journey and statistics as an example, I’ll talk you through my experience:

May – 2020 – I weighed 70/71kg, I was working out, eating around 2,000 calories a day, experiencing regular binge/restrict cycles and paying no attention to my macronutrients.

June 2020 – I started with my nutritionist and we kept my calories at 2,000 but significantly increased my protein and fat intake. Within two weeks my energy levels had increased and I was losing weight at a steady/sustainable rate. As a result of this, I managed to complete 3 weeks without a binge, which felt like a huge personal achievement.

July/August 2020 – We started to slowly reduce my calorific intake down, with a steady reduction of -30/50 calories every one or two weeks. I focused on eating wholesome food, there were weeks when I the occasional binge. However, as an overall result, I was in a much better place with my relationship with food and my body.

September 2020 – I had hit my goal weight of 64kg and was thriving from the incredible high of reaching my goal weight. I had lost 13 inches, my body fat had reduced, and I was running faster than I had in around 4 years. All with a relatively minor reduction in calorific intake, because in many cases, reducing (or adding) calories too quickly can cause weight to regain and a cycle of yo-yo dieting. 

September/December 2020 – We gradually started increasing my daily calories, by small increments of around 30/50 calories each week. By building up on a steady week by week basis and focusing on hitting around the same numbers daily, regardless of activity or rest. I continued to lose weight by eating more. My body has settled at around 62/63kg and I’m currently eating 2,400.

December onwards – I’m going to keep building my calories I’m not yet sure of my natural maintenance number. My number one objective is to continue feeling well and energised. Alongside building my strength, speed, and avoiding eating binges.

I feel strong, I have a great little fuel tank of energy. I’m happy with how my body looks and feels and I can fit all foods into my diet. I strive to eat a realistic, sustainable diet that includes all types of food. For example, bread, pasta, cheese, peanut butter, and chocolate. For me, this is a lifestyle choice and after years of setting “food rules” I feel freer around food than ever.

How do I know if this is the right plan of action for me?

It’s incredibly important for me to add that this might not be the solution for everyone, the overall result is impacted by so many different factors. For example, my lifestyle is very active. I also think a long-term focus on calorie control and “food rules” can be mentally damaging and not always sustainable.  

A reverse diet might be suitable if you’re returning to maintenance after a diet. Or if you’re looking to build muscle or finding that regardless of how low your calories are, you can’t lose weight. Or even, if you enjoy structure and/or are interested in trying this process as part of your recovery from a disordered pattern of eating. But, without sounding like a stuck record. If you do feel stuck in a disordered eating spiral, support from a professional is worth considering.  

What are the downsides?

Firstly, you will still need to track your daily intake and understand that this isn’t an excuse to finish a weight loss phase. Then pack in as much junk food as possible. It’s also important to understand that a reverse diet takes time, effort, and consistency. Alongside that, everyone has a different maintenance level and would require a unique balance of carbs, protein, and fat. It’s easy to head over to YouTube or Instagram and follow what works for someone else. The chances are, copying someone else’s diet won’t provide the results you dream of.  

On a longer-term basis, eating intuitively would be my personal goal, but right now I’m not actually yet in that mind-set. From my extensive research over the past 6 months. It would appear that most Dietitians recommend eating intuitively as the most sustainable long-term approach towards food too.

How do I establish my Macros/Calories?

Truth be told, I’m always hesitant to suggest online calculators as they often suggest that my maintenance calories are around 1,800 a day. Which, actually turned out to be my weight loss calories. Alongside this, I would NEVER recommend using the entirely generic calories suggested by My Fitness Pal. Pushing my personal opinions to one side for a moment, I did spend some time and compared a few different online calculators and favoured this one the most.

Another starting point would be to HONESTLY track your intake for a week or so and work out an average. Just to note, when I say honestly, I mean weigh your food, count in the odd biscuit or couple of crisps here and there. So many people misunderstand their daily intake and requirements because they eyeball servings or only track what they remember. This could easily lead to over or undereating, therefore, it goes without saying, if you want a correct overview, then you need to track.

Finally, if you’ve been dieting for a long time…

Please, try to make peace with food and your body. I understand what a huge undertaking this is and I’m still fighting my own battles. When I started to increase my intake, there was a huge looming fear of losing control, gaining weight, or eating junk food daily. When actually, I found new meals to nourish myself, accepted that I might have to eat an omelette, veggies AND oats for breakfast. I also found that I wasn’t tempted to lose complete control and that I felt more sustained and happier than I had felt in a long time.

Disclaimer – This is a post detailing my own personal journey, food intake is an entirely personal thing and there’s no “One size fits all”. If you feel that you’re struggling with your relationship with food, then it’s definitely worth taking advice from a professional. As tempting as it might be to take advice or copy someone else online, that might not be the best route for you. First Published On Cakevsscales.com

Can I build muscle on a plant-based diet?

Nutrition Chat

Over the years diet trends come and go, whilst I follow an 80/20 approach to eating, I cannot deny that the biggest growth seems to be those adopting a vegan diet. Which has seen a surprising 700% rise in the UK alone over the past year and has no signs of slowing as consumers move away from animal products completely.

Because of the move away from animal products to plant-based products, nutritional supplement manufacturers are now offering a range of plant-based protein alternatives for those who want to train, workout and gain muscle without consuming animal products. 

Protein is an important nutrient for the body and is a key building block for body tissue. It can also serve as fuel and is especially adept in the growth of muscles. Taking protein powder after training or working out can help you to recover faster, grow muscles and serve as a fuel source for the body.

Here, Scitec Nutrition talks us through how to build muscle on plant-based diets and what nutrients and vitamins we should be consuming.

Can I build muscle on a plant-based diet?

In short yes, you can build bigger muscles, at the same rate as people who are eating animal products on a plant-based diet. However, it does take a bit of preparation and planning to get right. Research is key to maintaining and growing muscle while consuming only plant-based food, but as you learn what foods provide the right nutrients and vitamins, it will become second nature.

The Rise Of The Vegan Diet & Plant Based Protein Sources

Here are some tips for those looking to transition to a plant-based diet:

  1. The number one factor to consider is whether you are getting enough calories. Whether you are bulking up or losing weight, making sure that you are consuming the right amount of calories is key to reaching your goal.
  2. Because plants usually contain lower calories than animal products it is important to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Not only will a good mixture of fruit and veg provide your body with a variety of vitamins, but it will also provide antioxidants to help keep your immune system strong.
  3. Legumes are a great source of protein and eating a range of soy, beans, and peas alongside grains such as buckwheat, rice, and quinoa help to ensure that you get the essential amino acids your body needs.
  4. Make your plates colourful. A good rule of thumb to follow is to make your meals as colourful as possible. A mixture of natural greens such as broccoli and kale, reds from tomatoes and peppers and yellows from sweetcorn and beans complement each other perfectly and provide a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats for your body to use
  5. Nuts are a great source of fat and are proven to provide a long-lasting form of energy just when you need it. Eat a handful of nuts before your workout to boost your calories and provide energy, or sprinkle some onto your breakfast to keep you going till lunch.
  6. Depending on your goals, your lifestyle and your diet, in general, you may want to look into supplements to complement your plant-based diet. Tracking what you eat on an app or website will give you a good insight into the vitamins and nutrients that you may be lacking, meaning that you can add more into your diet. Many nutritional supplement manufacturers now offer plant-based proteins, BCAA’s and multi-vitamins to help you reach your nutritional targets.
The Rise Of The Vegan Diet & Plant Based Protein Sources

As with any training or diet regime, having a healthy, balanced diet is key to performing well and recovering faster. These supplements are designed to help you reach your goals, but are not intended as a sole source of nutrition.

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Katie

Disclaimer – First published on cakevsscales.com