Topics: Food & Recipes
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Topics: Food & Recipes
By FFF Founder, Jared Beaumont Williams
Topics: Fitness & Training
TOP NUTRITION TRENDS
Macro focused and Paleo meal plans continue to reign strong. Animal based proteins still have undeniable advantages for amino acid profiles, yet plant based diets are one of the fastest growing trends. A key example of this is world renowned gym Equinox. Their NYC studios stock vegetarian-only cafes in all of their NYC sites and they are not the only ones jumping aboard the meat-free bandwagon. Popular cafe Pret saw huge wins with their plant-based meals and snacks in the last two quarters and have even introduced ‘Veggie only’ Pret cafes. The same trend is only going to grow faster in the supplement industry, Glanbia (parent company to O.N and BSN) have just purchased Amazing Grass launching towards the end of this year in the UK to complete their offering and ride this trend.
Not only is this trend beneficial for our planet, but depending on your goals, this could be the solution! FFF offers a delicious veggie menu, calorie controlled and tailored specifically to your health and fitness goals.
Trend 2: The word 'Protein'.
The laws around packaging and branding from a nutritional POV are quite strict. You cannot make certain claims unless your product has been government tested or has a specific amount of certain ingredients, for example, ice-cream must have at least 10% cream in it before it can be called 'ice cream'. There is no such law around the word ‘protein’…yet! Despite this lack of information, it is a term that has quickly become linked with ‘good health’. Pret has been quick to bring out 'protein pots' and the market is always offering new 'protein' meals or snacks. We’ve even been exposed to ‘protein mars bars’ in recent months. Meanwhile, ‘'The Protein Bakery', makes protein brownies with 19g of carbs, 6g of fat and only 6g of protein per serving, with their top ingredients being sugar and butter. Does this scream health to you?
Consumers need to be educated on the fact that 'protein' does not necessarily mean ‘good health’. Secondly, we need to be aware of what else is contained in the meal and how much protein it actually contains. It’s also worth noting there have been several studies exploring how much protein our bodies can actually digest in one sitting, so is an incredibly high protein content really that beneficial after all?
FFF meals are often high in quality protein sources, as we design your meal plans to hit a bespoke protein target. It’s the total daily intake of each of your ‘macros’ together that counts and supports the healthy goals of each individual.
Trend 3: Convenience and streamlined integration.
The travel industry are leading this trend and have been for a while now. Seamless travel experiences are easily booked using clever websites or apps and can include your plane ticket, airport transfers, car hire and hotel all-inclusive booking deals. One of FFF's key USP's has always been our ability to seamlessly link into people's daily lives by providing the ultimate convenience of daily delivery before 6am. This trend will continue across the fitness industry through creative packaging (single serve protein sachets), new apps ( Rigfitness launching soon) and online training platforms such as the PoshPT who offer PT via Skype. Studios, such as Ride Republic are jumping aboard too with easy online booking systems and ‘before sunrise’ sessions.
Following trends and looking at the competition is important, but to summarise this piece far better than I ever could:
'If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses' Henry Ford
Caspar Rose - FFF CEO and Chief Fresh Foodie
THE IMPORTANCE OF STICKING TO YOUR MACROS UNTIL THE BITTER END
As the WBFF worlds are approaching fast, many competitors will be in the final stages of their competition preparation. Having been there myself, I know how tempting it may be to ditch the diet in the final few days. However, even a few days of cheating will certainly have an impact on your physique, and you run the risk of undoing all the hard work you have already put in. Sticking to your macros right up until the very end is wiser and here’s why;
During competition prep, there is no good time be flexible with your calories/macros, and even if there was a good time, it would certainly not be in the final few weeks!
Towards the end of your prep, it’s common for calories to be reduced to the absolute minimum. Less calories to eat means less calories to play around with, as you still need to get all your micronutrients, essential fatty acids, and protein that your body needs to function.
An energy deficit causes stress on the body, therefore hitting each of your macros is vital. For example, ensuring you have the correct intake of Omega 3’s is of paramount importance. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation (which is especially important with the increased training you will be doing), and have a positive influence on many processes in the body. They are also essential, meaning that your body cannot synthesise them itself, and therefore these must be obtained through dietary intake.
Furthermore, with weight loss, it is not only ‘excess fat’ which is lost. Some of the weight loss will be due to lost muscle tissue which is undesirable for the physique competitor. Ensuring that we are consuming the correct amount of protein helps prevent the loss of muscle tissue so it’s therefore important to hit your protein requirement every day and not to “waste” calories on nutrient poor foods. It’s much easier to hit your protein and fatty acid requirements on a 2500 calorie diet than on a 1500 calorie diet.
TIP: The use of structured refeeds/‘cheat meals’ is a different discussion but if you have to have one, go for pre-packaged foods. This may sound like a controversial bit of advice coming from a nutritionist, but this makes the cheat more measurable and it’s easier to action ‘damage control’. Steak and chips in a restaurant may be more enjoyable and I would definitely prefer this in the early stages of prep, but there’s no way of knowing what happens in a restaurant kitchen. What is added to your food, how is it cooked and what are the exact quantities of each ingredient used? These things are impossible to know if you’re eating out. A tub of ice-cream on the other hand, can be weighed and measured exactly to the amount of calories/macros you need as you can read the exact macronutrient breakdown on the label. You can then balance the rest of your meals for the day and make sure you still hit your macros!
Peak week revolves around hitting macros
During the final week before getting on stage many athletes use carbohydrate and water loading strategies to make sure they look their best on stage. If timed/measured incorrectly it can cause the athlete to get to stage bloated and looking soft. Nothing is worse than putting months of work in, but feeling as though you do not look your best on the day. Not sticking to your macros can ruin months of hard work.
Your body is the most resistant to fat loss
Competition prep is essentially a form of controlled starvation.
The leaner you get, the more resistant your body will become to losing any more body fat.
Hormonal changes and a slower metabolism make the body far more resistant to fat loss than during the earlier stages of prep. This means that you may have to work much harder to lose the last few grams of fat than the first kilogram.
Even at an elite level the tiniest difference can be the difference between placing or not, therefore, sticking to your macros in these final stages is a must!
TIP: Competition prep is more of a mental challenge than anything else. Finding strategies to deal with cravings and temptations is part of the process. During the final few weeks of prep, I found it easier to stick to my diet than in the first few weeks. I applied a strategy to deal with something that is referred to as ‘ego depletion’ in social sciences.
Ego depletion is the idea that you have a limited “amount” of willpower per unit of time, for example per day. Once this resource is used up self-control tends to be low. Resisting temptations in the form of prep-unfriendly foods reduces the amount of self-control you have and if it is completely depleted, it may result in you cheating on your diet. The more you tell yourself “no” in one day, the more this amount is reduced, depleting your willpower or self-control to stick to a diet. So rather than telling myself “no, you can’t have this food”, I told myself “I can, just not right now”, thereby not reducing my willpower ‘stores’. If you can tell yourself that you can have this food in a week as opposed to next month, it makes the process far easier! It’s the final stretch and it’s important to realise you won’t be on prep forever, even though it sometimes feels like that.
So stick to your macros
To summarise, towards the end of the prep you have less flexibility with your diet as you still need to hit your (micro)nutrient requirements but you have less calories to do so. Remember , every calorie is important! At the same time your body is more resistant to further fat loss, which means you need to work harder than before to lose the same amount of fat. Even though cheating on your diet just before competition may not instantly ruin your hard-earned physique, it is important to stick to your macros until the end, as this can be the difference between making it to the podium or not. If you’ve made it all the way to the final weeks, you can keep it up for a few more days. We believe in you!
THE IN'S AND OUT'S OF THE CHEAT MEAL
A cheat meal is most commonly viewed as a high calories meal that often incorporates foods types deemed unclean or unhealthy by the consumer.
In my personal opinion there are two types of these…
The standard cheat meal
This is a planned cheat, consumed on top of the individuals usual calorie intake offering a refuge from their normal (most likely bland) diet. It usually consists of foods that have no played part in this persons diet day to day, and therefor something they have been craving. Its used an excuse to indulge once every week to 10 day period. There is generally no real structure around the cheat meal and calories are not really a concern. An example of a standard cheat meal might be a large dominos to go served with a healthy dose of Ben and Jerry’s!
Strategic re-feed meal
This is slightly different to a cheat meal in that it is macro specific and adapted to the individual with regards to timing of the reefed and specific amounts.
An example of a re-feed meal could be:
Taking a male on a linear 2500kcal 250g P/200g C/77g F to introduce a meal of 700kcal 30g P/70g C/33g F, every 4-10days (depending on the individual and results).
Weight and BF calliper readings would be taken both before and after, as well as 3 days post the re-feed meal. If things are progressing (e.g. weight/calliper site readings down) then most likely the re-feed has been a success and you have hit the nail on the head! If the individuals progress has seen to stagnate or specific calliper readings have increased, likely hood is you’ve over shot it. Next time you would decrease the amount of carbs/calories and try again. Unfortunately there is no real formula to work out your specific macros for a cheat meal, its simply a case of a trial and error.
Science Behind a Cheat/Refeed Meal
Asking any human being (no matter how strong their will power) to stick in a calorie deficit plan for months is just cruel. It’s also not viable! Don’t fear, in amongst the low calorie and high volume there is a place for both cheat meals and re-feeds. We’ve even got the science to prove it!
You have two main hormones in your body that have been recognised to have a major influence on energy balance.
Leptin – Anorexigenic hormone that is produced by the fat cells regulating appetite and energy balance. In essence, it suppresses food intake by sending the message to your brain telling it you're full and satisfied. It stimulates the use of energy, or calories inducing fat loss.
Grehlin – An orexigenic hormone that is produced in the stomach to initiate the hunger feeling. It informs the brain know your stomach is empty and needs feeding.
Obese people often suffer the onset of leptin resistance meaning they never really feel full/satisfied, even though their level of circulating leptin is high.
As Leptin is produced by the fat cells, the leaner you get, the less leptin is produced. As a result the longer you follow a calorie deficit diet, the lower your levels of circulating leptin become.
A high calorie meal, especially one full of carbs and fats can substantially increase the levels of leptin and decrease the levels of grehlin during a state of progressive calorie deficit. This therefore decreases hunger and increases energy (calorie) utilisation.
Another point to note is that a low calorie diet will cause the body to conserve energy. One way it will do this is by decreasing the level of thyroid hormones (T3/T4) present to help regulate metabolism. A cheat or re-feed meal will also help to raise the T3/T4 levels, increasing your metabolic rate and core temperature. ‘Meat Sweats’ sound familiar?
What Will Work Best for me?
There are a few things to consider when planning a cheat or re-feed meal…
- 1.Firstly, understand the the basic science behind a cheat meal. (Hopefully we’ve helped a little with this!)
Know YOUR reason for incorporating a cheat meal
- 2.Do you really need a cheat meal? If you’re achieving the desired results you may not be in need of one. If you are able to create a negative energy balance through intelligent training and keeping around your maintenance calories, you may be in a good enough position without the need for a re-feed. For you, a cheat meal meal may simply be a way of reducing cravings.
If you are in a low calorie diet, likely hood is you will need a cheat or re-feed meal at some point to stimulate both your leptin and thyroid hormonal levels.
- 3.What sort of ‘cheater’ are you?
Are you a controlled person? Do you see food as fuel? Or are you constantly craving ‘slutty foods’? If you are the type of person that views food as fuel, then the makeup of your cheat meal would really not make much of a difference, and you are unlikely to be tempted to turn your cheat meal into an all out binge! If you are constantly craving junk food during a diet, and you incorporate a standard cheat meal into your week, likely hood is this will turn into an episode of Man Vs Food. You would be far better to plan a re-feed meal based around specific macros, have it on a plate, sit down to eat, and once it’s done so are you.
- 4.Plan your meal (when and how much)
You have all heard the phrase ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. Well in this instance the phrase resonates. The better you plan your cheat or re-feed meal, the less likely you are to cheat your cheat meal. Also tracking your results based on your cheat or re-feed meal will give you a good indication as to whether it is benefiting you, or possibly holding you back.
- 5.Meal Timing
My preference for a cheat or re-feed meal is just before bed! This way there is much less chance of you picking or snacking after your meal. If you start off the day with a massive cheat meal, likelihood is you will continue cheating throughout the day due to you feeling sluggish and heavy. It’s all a bit of a mind game.
- There is no warrant for a cheat meal when you are in a calorie surplus.
- There is no specific formula, it’s a matter of trial and error. My advice would be start off small and increase if needed.
My preference would always be a strategic re-feed meal rather than a cheat meal. I’m not saying a re-feed meal cannot contain so called ‘slutty foods’ but you should have a set calorie and macro count, and ensure your meal fits (roughly) into those boundaries.
JUICING AND MICRONUTRIENTS
To reiterate and further summarise a main point from the previous blogs, there should be no generic answers to questions regarding nutrition or exercise. In my opinion there are way too many “organisations” out there looking to capitalise on arguably one of the worlds biggest issues, human health. Whether we admit it or not, we all care about how we look and with “shortcuts” being discovered in the form of supplements or a fancy new way of dieting, people are investing their time and money into something that doesn’t really seem sustainable for long term health.
Just like your meal choices, each type of snack chosen should fit into your daily kcal/macro and micro nutrient needs. As previously explained, factors like daily activity levels, health conditions, body types, economical and environmental determinants will all have an impact on what is preferable for you to eat. Each individual will react differently to certain macro nutrient groups. Statistically certain body types prefer either fat, protein or carbohydrates as the majority of their food consumption, due to metabolic differences. The best bet is to try different groups and see what works best for you.
Foods like nuts, cured meats or fruit are simple yet effective ideas, baking healthier treats or being creative with combinations of foods will keep your nutritional choices interesting. Prepare in advance or know your surrounding to keep yourself on track.
Eat according to your bodies needs, train with purpose don’t just exercise and have the knowledge to adapt to your surroundings. In my opinion this is what each person can and should be aiming to do. If you read my previous blogs, you have probably gathered that each meal is arguably just as important as the next and that snacking in between meals is just as essential. Simply put, a lot of health problems/improvements can be soothed/supported by eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with adequate snacking in between. Don’t be mislead, give your body what it needs.
Topics: Food & Recipes
- 50g Almond meal
- 50g Desiccated coconut
- 15g honey
- 1 tsp Spirulina
- 25g Protein powder
- 1 orange (zest and juice)
- Add almond meal, coconut, lemon zest, lemon juice and spirulina to a mixing bowl.
- Slowly add the almond milk, a little bit of a time and began to mix until a stiff consistency forms.
- Divide up, and roll into balls.
- Place in fridge for 20 minutes to set.
Check out the video here: https://youtu.be/ED3X3tTQvpY
Topics: Food & Recipes
SUGAR: GO UNREFINED
Refined sugar receives the greatest criticism due to its links with obesity, diabetes and increased dental cavities.
We’re all partial to a sweet treat or two, but do we know the effects our food choices are having on our bodies?
Refined sugar comes from sugar canes or beet which are processed to extract sugar. Chemical processes are used to remove impurities and coloured compounds. It is typically found as sucrose.
During the refinement process, sugar is stripped of its nutritional components. Therefore, refined sugar is essentially ‘empty’ calories as it provides no nutritional benefits.
Unrefined sugars are those such as honey, agave nectar and maple syrup and those found naturally in fruit and even dairy. On occasion, they are subjected to slight heating, but this heat processing is nowhere near as extensive as with refined sugars. Unlike refined sugars, sources of unrefined sugar can contain an array of vitamins and minerals, all of which have beneficial effects on the body.
What is the body’s response to your choice of sugar?
Whether you consume white sugar in your coffee or drizzle your yoghurt with runny honey, your body processes the sugars in the same way.
However, refined sugars are broken down by the body at a far quicker rate compared to unrefined sugars. As a result, refined sugars cause insulin and blood sugars levels to skyrocket! Prolonged consumption can cause the pancreas to overproduce insulin, in turn leading to too much sugar being removed from the blood – hypoglycaemia. In the long run, this will negatively impact on the function of the liver, pancreas and adrenal glands.
Your brain will also react to the sudden influx of sugar by producing serotonin, which acts as a sleep- regulating hormone. An afternoon slump is far from ideal when you’re in the middle of a working day.
In addition, insulin impacts leptin production (hunger hormone). Therefore, the higher your insulin levels go, the hungrier you’ll feel (regardless of whether you’ve just eaten a large meal). Your body will be forced into a state of simulated starvation mode and begins to start storing glucose as fat. This leads to weight gain in the long run.
On the flip side, unrefined or natural sugars are usually accompanied by fibre or other nutrients which slow down metabolism and therefore do not produce the same spikes and crashes in insulin and blood sugar levels. Fruit, for example, raspberries and apples are rich in sugar, but due to their high fibre content, the sugar is metabolised at a slower rate. In addition, they’re both packed with health-boosting vitamins and minerals, meaning they’re not only delicious, but also nutritious!
Should you make the swap?
Opting for unrefined sugars is a no-brainer!
At FFF, our menu is free from refined sugar. To add sweetness to our meals we use honey, maple syrup, dates and cocoa powder. As a self-confessed chocoholic, I was originally sceptical as to whether FFF’s sweet treats would hit the spot the same way chocolate does. Let me tell you, they do! They range from protein Oreos to tiramisu pots, all of which are equally as delicious.
Tasty treats do not have to be processed and packed with refined sugar to tickle your taste buds.
Refined sugar’s bad reputation is supported by a growing body of evidence. We can also see the impacts first-hand, namely on our mood and energy levels. Whether you take steps to reduce your consumption of refined sugar or cut it out completely, your body will undoubtedly thank you in the long run.
Although the thought of eliminating refined sugar from our diets completely may seem daunting, we’ve provided you with some fun alternatives below to kick-start your reduced refined sugar journey!
Our smart swaps
- Ice-cream : chop up two bananas, pop them in the freezer for 3-4 hours. Once frozen blitz in the blender, along with peanut butter until smooth. Voila, homemade ice-cream.
- Ketchup / BBQ sauce : make your own sauces / dressings using honey, lemon and herbs. Could also be used to glaze meat for summer BBQs.
- Flapjacks: instead of reaching for readymade flapjacks, make your own with dried fruit (raisins, sultanas or cranberries), oats and honey.
During the summer months, what better way to cool yourself down then by reaching for a thirst-quenching juice. Not only are they refreshing and tasty, but they can also be highly nutritious and boast numerous health benefits.
Juices are a convenient way to consume an array of different fruit and veggies on the go while enabling us to pack in much larger quantities of micronutrients than we would usually be able to eat.
Do's and don'ts
Juices are all the rage and are commonly found on café menus and in most food stores. However, fruit juice is an easy way to crank up your sugar intake unknowingly.
It is essential to know which type of juices to go for and which to steer clear of. Most juices claim to be bursting with health benefits. However, more often than not, shop bought fruit juice is packed full of sugar.
When choosing a juice, opt for cold-pressed juices which contain up to 5x the nutrients of a regular fruit juice and are not made 'from concentrate'. Try to select juices which are primarily vegetable-based (with small amounts of fruit for added flavour). Although it is essential to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables, fruit can often contain lots of hidden sugar, and it is best to avoid consuming them in excess.
Here at Fresh Fitness Food, we love adding in a juice to complement our meals for the day. We believe they are a quick and easy way to pack in the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to keep you functioning optimally, especially when we are all so busy!
To give you an idea of the sorts of ingredients we are referring to, we’ve rounded up 5 of our favourite ingredients to add to our juices, so that you can add them to yours too!
Spinach is extremely iron-rich. Diets rich in iron have been linked to increased oxygen capacity of the blood, which in turn can help to improve cardiovascular performance and reduce fatigue. Not only that but spinach is packed full of Vitamins A and C which have immune-boosting effects. This is just what we need to keep us fighting fit throughout the last of the long summer evenings!
An apple a day really can keep the doctor away! Apples are rich in important antioxidants and flavonoids. Flavonoids are a type of phytonutrient. These are compounds which protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are linked to causing cardiovascular and inflammatory disease, and cancer.
Apples are also high in fibre, which slows the digestion of food through the gut, keeping you feeling fuller for longer and less likely to reach for the afternoon ‘treats’!
Beetroots are incredibly nutrient-dense. They contain a high level of nitrates which have been shown to increase oxygen uptake by the body. Increasing oxygen levels in both the lungs and the muscles has been shown to improve athletic performance and stamina.
Beetroot also effectively aids with the prevention/reduction of water retention as it helps to flush water from your system, therefore, reducing any bloating, you may experience, and effectively aiding weight loss.
Ginger has a wealth of beneficial qualities. Not only does it aid digestion, soothe menstrual pain, and boost nutrient absorption, but it also supports stable blood sugar levels.
Also, it is thought to reduce the dreaded post-exercise aches (aka DOMS), by speeding up the recovery of muscle post-exercise.
Not only that but if you’re looking for a spicy kick – ginger is the perfect addition for you!
Mint has been used for thousands of years to soothe the digestive system. It is also thought to reduce the symptoms of IBS. Mint stimulates the digestive enzymes that absorb nutrients from food and consumes fat turning it into usable energy and therefore aiding effective weight loss results.
Juices can be packed full of goodness, but be sure to choose wisely!