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I’m sure we’ve all been there:

Browsing the inter-web looking for the latest tips, tricks and shortcuts to getting in shape, and fast.

Speaking of fast, something you’ll have probably come across is the ever-present dietary art of intermittent fasting (IF).

Now, when it comes to losing weight, most of us are aware that it naturally involves eating a wee bit less. But what about not eating at all?

At least, not eating at certain times of the day.

The most common method used for IF is the classic ‘16:8’ daily routine, so to speak.

In layman’s terms? Skipping breakfast and loading up on larger meals later in the day.

As with the majority of classic diet fads, it’s heavily restriction based – more from a timeframe point of view, in this instance.

But, when it comes to our eating habits, intermittent fasting works quite well for a few different reasons.

Let’s jump into it’s pros and cons.

Intermittent fasting and biscuits

One of the main reasons IF works for so many is the inclusion of the rather sociable hours surrounding lunchtime and dinner.

This gives any ‘fasters’ the freedom to enjoy meals out with their mates and perhaps even a cheeky dessert or a larger portion of steak.

Sounds like the ideal fit, right? No more sugar restrictive approaches and the chance to indulge on your favourite larger dishes. Salads? Bugger off.

No such thing as ‘bad’ foods anymore, only poor timings, as they say.

IF also plays into the age-old conundrum of late-night snacking.

We’ve all done it, perhaps more than we’re willing to admit. A hard day’s work and a chance to unwind by the telly. Dinner comes and goes, and we’re left with the ever tempting cupboard full of biscuits.

Alas, no more ‘after eights’ of any description if you’re fasting. Once 8pm rolls around, that’s you clocked out, whether you like it or not. “STEP AWAY FROM THE COOKIE JAR.”

That said, for many, the ease of working with existing habits before the cut-off point (good or bad) is a handy tool, as it lowers the effort required to make positive changes.

Just the very ‘shortcut’ to losing weight that so many crave.

The caveman approach?

Something you’ve no doubt come across is the idea of our bodies are very similar to those of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. That’s right, cavemen.

Whilst this is true in many regards, think about those endless benefits of staying active or Neanderthal courting techniques seen out and about on a Saturday night, there’s more than meets the eye.

IF supporters argue for the circadian basis of such a strategy. If you think about it, tribes would often hunt during the daytime and unwind in the evening, enjoying the fruits of their labour, quite literally. It makes sense then that we, as humans, continue this pattern to maximise performance.

Studies have indicated relative success with long-term fasting, for both general health and weight management in particular.

But, naturally, we no longer live in dense rainforests, indulging on the carcasses of wild animals. We live in cities, communities where food is readily available, where a Big Mac sits wrapped and ready to go no matter the time of day.

This is one of the arguments many use to discredit the paleo approach. Sure, our bodies may be more primed for minimally processed foods and designed to eat more nutrient rich sources but the reality is: the bigger picture matters.

When it comes to the root of nutrition, energy balance will always win.

I don’t know about you but give me 30 minutes in my local China Buffet King and I’ll sure as hell meet my daily energy requirements (and then some).

Stop being so hormonal

Another large part of the IF argument is the ever-demonised hormone insulin. Many argue it’s a direct component of fat gain but, as always, the devil is in the detail.

Coming back once again to our good old friend, the randomised clinical trial, results have suggested a certain benefit to glucose regulation for type 2 diabetes. Skip breakfast and skip a trip to the doctor, they claim.

What’s more, insulin can only increase the amount of fat stored if the body is in a caloric surplus.

The best part? Your body doesn’t care what time of day it is. If you regularly consume more than you expend, you will inevitably pack on the pounds.

“But I can’t possibly eat that much in eight hours, I hear you say.” Once again, context is key.

During this window, many fall into the trap of simply filling up on junk.

For any dietary approach, there’s more at play than simply quantity or calories. Sure, it might be easier to stick to a reasonable number of calories if you reduce the time available for eating but, naturally, takeaway pizza orders aren’t going to do you any favours.

Eat less, weigh less?

The majority of IF ‘literature’, if we can call it that, is heavily-based around the drawbacks of eating more meals per day.

Whilst the ‘metabolism boosting’ benefits of breakfast have been somewhat disproven, it still has its place for many in our day-to-day activities.

Once fed, the body supposedly can’t burn fat due to the presence of insulin, required to balance our blood sugars.

Of course, this hypothesis may be true for that timeframe but, once again, we have to consider the whole day’s intake.

Studies have shown, time and time again, that the energy we consume for the whole day is what truly matters.

I guess it comes back to our good old friend, correlation and causation. If you think about it, the likelihood of sticking to a diet or eating slightly less will definitely increase if the time you have to eat is reduced.

Similar to cutting out whole food groups (definitely discouraged), the ease of maintaining a deficit of calories per day will always increase.

I’m no mathematician, but the amount of meals you can squeeze into 8 hours versus 16 is probably going to be slightly lower.

But how about socialising?

Something to consider is the idea that sustainability is key. As cliché as it may be, doing something you enjoy is definitely important.

This absolutely applies to our eating habits. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy the occasional evening out with my mates and, as you can probably imagine, we often stay out way beyond the 8pm curfew.

When it comes to any approach to health, socialising is definitely a key focus.

No-one wants to be the lone ranger who says no to a slice of cheesecake having checked their fasting schedule.

Happiness, for me, is absolutely centred around friendships and enjoying the food we share with others.

Why leave yourself out in the cold when you can enjoy the comfort of good company, good food and a balanced approach to all things nutrition based.

Can you stomach it?

A perhaps more concerning issue is the movement towards larger meals which can over stretch our stomachs in the long term.

What does this mean for our hunger levels?

Think of it like a wage. If you’re an employer and offer a large raise to your staff, they’ll naturally be pretty pleased.

Our stomach is similar in many ways, our levels of satiety are very much based on volume as opposed to pure calories.

Once you provide a certain level of food intake, your body naturally raises its expectations.

A movement towards a more conventional eating pattern can leave you feeling somewhat short-changed.

Cue periods of over consumption and back to the drawing board we go.

It’s as simple as in and out

A post shared by Scott Baptie (@scottbaptie) on Dec 7, 2017 at 12:05pm PST

To take a balanced view, IF does work for many. It’s a handy tool to reduce the often-unavoidable anxieties a lot of us face when it comes to losing weight.

But here’s the kicker: it doesn’t have to be so hard.

Something I love about learning is the fact that you never forget the fundamentals.

As a Chemist I can absolutely vouch for the importance or even simplicity of thermodynamics.

Don’t worry, I’ll save you the nitty gritty, but nothing will ever change the fact that energy in and out is a universal truth.

Not even ‘fake news’ can argue against that.

I suppose the age-old conundrum we face is that selling the idea of balance and being sensible will never make front page news.

People enjoy a sense of controversy and the ever-alluring idea of a quick-fix or the demonising of certain foods or rouines.

We live for the next trend or instant satisfaction.

But something you can’t possibly replace is sustainability.

Sure, I have to be consistent with what I’m eating and how much I’m eating, but put some birthday cake on my plate and you can bet on me taking my slice.

This is the beauty of nutrition, it can be whatever you want it to be.

Sure, we have a few rules to stick to, but like most things, the basics will serve you well.

Think of it as a foundation.

If you build a strong base of healthy habits, sound knowledge and a willingness to adapt, you’ll go far.

But jump into the next fad every month and you’ll be out on the streets in no time.

A cheeky pudding?

So there you have it, a wee bit more to fasting than perhaps you realised.

Can it work for you? Sure thing. But it definitely isn’t the be all and end all that many claim it is.

I don’t know about you, but ‘breaking-the-fast’ is always something I look forward to. Call me old fashioned, but a hearty bowl of oats to get my day started is all I could ever wish for.

That’s not to mention sharing a chocolate knickerbocker glory with your partner either, some things just have to be done.

Perhaps the phrase ‘live fast, die young’ really is true after all.

Let’s face it, life really is too short to spend half the time starving ourselves to a certain degree.

Impatient, perhaps, but I’d much rather fill up my tank before I run out of gas.

Not so much in the fast lane anymore.

The post Intermittent Fasting – What’s It All About? appeared first on Food For Fitness.

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“The pain you feel today, will be the strength you feel tomorrow.”

“No pain. No gain.”

“Go hard or go home.”

Ah, who doesn’t love a stereotypical fitness quote?

Short, punchy sentences that will have you believe that if you want to make real changes to your body and fitness then the only thing you need to focus on is going all out in the gym, pushing your limits and embracing the burn.

Right? Kinda.

Whilst it’s true that to change your physique you’ll have to go outside your comfort zone (20 heavy squats anyone?), it’s important to remember that you should only train to an intensity that you’re able to fully recover from.

It’s all well and good downing a pre-workout as you walk into the gym ready to ‘destroy’ a set of 30kg dumbbells or ‘smash’ your HIIT routine – but without sufficient recovery protocols in place this approach will eventually (likely sooner rather than later) catch up on you and your body.

Take it from somebody that knows first-hand.

Yup, me.

Recovery is crucial

Back in my early twenties, like most other guys that age, I thought I was invincible when it came to lifting weights – my recovery didn’t even get an afterthought.

At the time I had a deadlift PB of 140kg but I was desperate to join the 200kg club.

So, I decided to do this by adding 10kg to my deadlift every four weeks (if you’re shaking your head at me at this very moment, don’t worry, so am I).

The first two months went as planned.

140kg shot up to 150kg which then stuttered its way up to 160kg the following month.

It was time for the 170kg attempt.

I loaded up the bar for my new personal best and stood over it feeling strong and powerful. I reached down, gripped the bar with all my mite, took a breath into the depths of my stomach, locked into position and drove my feet hard into the floor. I pulled the bar up and…

Snap. Crackle. Pop.

No, I wasn’t thinking of my favourite childhood cereal.

That noise came from my lower back.

It was at this point I knew I had to focus on training smarter, not harder, and start making recovery a priority.

Pushing your body to its limits in the gym is great and is needed in order to progress and build muscle. However, you need to be careful that all your hard work isn’t just getting washed down the drain along with the dribbles of your post workout protein shake.

It’s vital that you take the appropriate measures to recover from the stress that you put your muscles under in the gym to, ultimately, avoid injury.

The last thing you want is all your progress to come to a dead stop from a deadlift gone wrong.

So, to help you on your way with actually looking after your body, I’ve put together a list of seven things you can do that will help with your recovery. Just quickly, before we get into it, it’s worth mentioning…

The misconception about muscle growth

It’s a common belief amongst gym-goers that they’re getting stronger and bigger whilst pumping iron in the gym.

This is often due to “the pump” they feel, which gives you a bigger appearance because your muscles are flooded with blood. In actual fact, you’re technically getting weaker.

When you put your body under stress it’s not used to, it causes little micro-tears in your muscle fibres. In that very moment, it reduces your strength – but it’s ultimately what gives your body a reason to grow.

And it’s outside of the gym that this growth occurs.

Recovery leads to results

You may have heard the term “over-training” before but, for most of us, what is likely happening is a case of “under-recovering”.

So, how exactly do you go about recovering properly in order to maximise your results and gym performance?

Let’s get stuck in. Here are my top seven tips to rapidly increase your recovery.

1. Incorporate de-load sessions into your programme

De-loads are when you drop the volume of your workouts so that your central nervous system (CNS) gets a break and some time to recuperate from previous sessions.  It’s important, however, not to confuse a drop-in volume with a drop-in intensity. You should still put 100% effort and concentration into your de-load workouts.

This isn’t an excuse for a day off.

De-loads are typically factored into training programmes every four weeks but they can be included as and when you feel you need them. Learning to listen to your body is a skill you should definitely master.

As a good rule of thumb, incorporate a de-load week into your programme when your training starts to plateau.

You can lower the volume of your workouts by:

  • Dropping the number of sets performed for each exercise
  • Decreasing the number of reps performed per set
  • Lifting a smaller percentage of your 1 rep max
  • Increasing rest periods between sets
2. Start foam rolling

Now, I can’t go through an entire article about recovery without talking about DOMS. Oh yeah.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the by-product of inflammation in the muscles due to those micro-tears we talked about. They’re caused during training and it’s what gives you that sore, stiff sensation in the days following training.

Though it might give you a sense of pride, for having hit a workout hard, DOMS can be as enjoyable as having your 4th plate of plain chicken and rice in a single day, so it’s a good idea to try and reduce it the best you can.

One study has shown that foam rolling can help decrease the effects of DOMS and speed up the recovery process, with the biggest benefits seen 48-hours post-exercise.

Either before or after your workout – both ideally ­– grab a foam roller and spend 10-15 minutes working the tension and knots out of your muscles.

It can be uncomfortable at times but bear with it and reap the benefits over the following days. Obviously, if you’re crying in pain then stop foam rolling and go see a doctor…

3. Get plenty of sleep

This is probably the most overlooked aspect of recovery.

In fact, it could be the most overlooked factor for good health in general because, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t get the chance to fully recharge, physically or mentally.

It’s when you’re sleeping that your body kicks into recovery mode and starts to repair the damage you caused to those muscle fibres during your workout.

In general, you want to aim for around 7-9 hours sleep per night. The optimal number of hours varies from person to person, it’s really just a case of finding out what works best for you.

Here are some tips to help you get a good night’s kip:

  • Put away your phone/screens 1-2 hours before bed and STICK TO IT
  • Write down your thoughts to clear your head
  • Minimise your coffee intake after 3pm each day
  • Drink plenty water throughout the day
  • Black out your room, natch
  • Start to unwind 1-2 hours before bed – try reading or listening to music, not TV
  • Keep bed time consistent
  • Have naps, when possible, if you struggle to get a full night’s sleep
4. Get your nutrition right

If sleep has the starring role for recovery then your nutrition plays best supporting actor.

Not only is it important to mind how much you’re eating but also what you’re eating.

To recover properly, you need to make sure you eat enough calories each day. How many calories exactly? It depends on your goal. You can use a macro calculator to easily find out your calorie targets, whether your goal is to build muscle, lose fat or just maintain your weight.

When the goal is fat loss, however, you want your deficit to be as small as possible whilst still yielding fat loss results. This will give your body the best chance of repairing itself and will provide enough energy to get you through tough workouts.

When it comes to what you eat, the goal should be to focus your attention on whole, nutrient-dense, high-volume options. To put it simply: ‘clean’ foods, #cleaneating.

For a full and quick recovery, it’s vital to give your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and function properly. Your body can only work with the fuel you put into it, so make sure your giving it what it needs.

The other key aspect of nutrition is making sure you stay hydrated during the day.

Drinking plenty of water before, during and after your workouts will mean your body can regulate its temperature and properly lubricate your joints.

And all those nutrients you’re going to be taking in? Well, you need water to transport them around your body.

Fail to keep your body hydrated and you risk tiredness, a drop in physical output, muscle cramps and digestion problems. Not a lot of fun.

How much water you actually need will differ from person to person but a good goal to set is around two litres per day.

5. Nail your post-workout meals

Its long been believed that, to recover after a hard workout, you need to neck a protein shake immediately afterwards so that you don’t miss out on the “anabolic window”.

B*llcks.

This just isn’t the case, especially if you’ve had a meal 2-3 hours beforehand.

Thankfully you can be a lot more relaxed about when you eat after your workout but it’s advised you have a meal that puts both protein and carbohydrates (simple or complex) on the plate. This helps with the muscle repairing process and replacing glycogen stores, your muscles’ main energy source.

That said, feel free to have a protein shake post-workout if you aren’t hungry after training or if it’s a more convenient way to help reach your overall protein targets for the day. Just know it doesn’t have any miracle effect on muscle growth or recovery.

6. Stay active on rest days

If you’re anything like me you will hate having rest days away from the gym. Unfortunately, they are an essential part of the recovery process.

This doesn’t mean you have to sit around all day watching the clock tick by, waiting for your next opportunity to pick up a barbell.

Staying active on your rest day is a great way to flush fresh, nutrient-rich blood into your muscles, helping them to recover quicker.

I also find it helps to reduce the effect of DOMS, which can leave you feeling tight and stiff if you sit around for too long.

Try simple activities such as walking, running or a few straightforward bodyweight exercises or stretches at home to keep yourself moving and mobile.

7. Be smart when programming your routines

A well-designed workout plan will do wonders for helping you recover fully.

For natural trainees, it’s recommended to work each muscle group at least twice a week. But workouts need to be planned so they don’t train the same muscle group on consecutive days, which wouldn’t allow enough time for recovery.

When you break down muscle tissue, your body repairs itself through a process called ‘protein synthesis’. This process lasts for around 48-hours before the body reverts back to normal and stops the process of repairing and building muscle.

In layman’s terms, this means we want to allow at least 1-2 days’ rest before training the same muscle group again.

Depending on how many days a week you train, a programme made up of two full body workouts, one upper body and one lower body workout, spaced evenly throughout the week, is a good place to start. For example:

Monday – rest day (get walking!)

Tuesday – Full body

Wednesdays – Lower body

Thursday – Rest day (stretches?)

Friday – Upper body

Saturday – Full body

Sunday – Rest day

Invest in rest

Unfortunately, it often takes a serious injury or total burn-out for us to realise how important the recovery process is for training and for being in good health overall.

But, remember, progressing with your physique and fitness isn’t just about what you do during the one hour in the gym, it’s what you do with the other 23 that really counts.

Do you have any of your own tips for recovery? Share them below.

The post 7 Easy Tips That Will Fast-Track Your Recovery appeared first on Food For Fitness.

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Most people think curry dishes aren’t exactly healthy because of the amount of ghee (clarified butter) or cream added to the curry sauce. Not to mention how they’re usually paired with mounds of rice, piles of naan bread and washed down with a few pints. However, as the following recipes will show, you can enjoy a quick, flavorful, and healthy curry dish by swapping out some ingredients with healthier alternatives.

1. Lou’s Lush Lentil Curry

Via Lou’s Lush Lentil Curry

Louise is one of our awesome team members and she’s quite the dab hand at vegetarian cooking. This is one of her epic curry recipes that is extremely easy to make, it’s ridiculously tasty and it packs less than 200 calories per serving.

2. Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk

Via Skinny Taste

A classic, easy chicken curry recipe with a twist. Swapping out the usual cream with coconut milk makes this curry healthier and adds a unique South Indian flavor.

3. Chickpea Curry

Via Jamie Oliver

This flavorful chickpea curry is easy and inexpensive to make. What’s more, the chickpea substitute is both healthy and packed with protein.

4. Cambodian Turkey Curry

Via Cambodian Turkey Curry

This Cambodian Turkey Curry is the business. Ok, so turkey may not be a common ingredient in Cambodian cookery… in fact it’s probably not used at all but let’s face it, we all get bored of chicken every now and again, right?

5. Curried Lentil and Vegetable Stew

Via Cooking Light

If you don’t have hours and hours to stew a curry, try this recipe. This filling curried lentil and vegetable stew only takes 20-30 minutes to make and has an unexpected secret ingredient.

6. Quick Lamb Curry

Via Taste AU

This lamb curry with coconut milk is rich and filling, but only takes a few minutes to make. Great for those nights when you don’t feel like slaving a hot stove for hours.

7. Quick & Easy Prawn Curry

Via Quick & Easy Prawn Curry

This is a very easy recipe for a tasty, light, flavoursome prawn curry that would go down a treat if you’re looking for an easy mid-week meal.

8. Salmon and Spinach Curry

Via The Happy Foodie

A perfect seafood recipe to add to your weekly meal plan, this light yet filling fish curry uses salmon as the main ingredient. You also get more greens in your diet with the added spinach.

9. Curried Quinoa

Via The Lean Clean Eating Machine

Although quinoa is a great replacement for rice for curry dishes, you can make curried quinoa as a stand-alone meal.  Adding veggies to this recipe makes it even more filling, so you won’t have to make another dish to pair this with.

10. Prawn Dhansak

Via Super Golden Bakes

Whether you’re using fresh or frozen shrimp, this dhansak curry recipe is fast and easy to prepare. Any seafood lover will enjoy this spicy main dish.

11. Beef Masala Curry

Via Gastro Senses

When it comes to quick and satisfying meals Beef Masala Curry has to be at the top of the list. Fragrant spices and tender meat can be on the table in less than an hour. This is one of those outrageously delicious curries, which will make you mop your plate clean and ask for more.

12. Fast Thai Chicken Curry

Via Jessica Gavin

A fast and easy Thai chicken curry with coconut milk loaded with exotic flavors and healthy vegetables that you can enjoy any day of the week.

13. Vegetable Coconut Curry

Via Minimalist Baker

This simple curry has all the vegetables you need for a filling meal. The light coconut milk makes the dish rich and creamy without the added saturated fats.

14. Mushroom Masala and Fenugreek

Via Cook Republic

Mushrooms give a meaty taste to this vegetarian meal, while fenugreek or methi adds a pleasant but slightly bitter astringent taste to the dish.

15. Peanut Butter Pork Curry

Via Taste of Home

This dish a little rich but you can cut down on the fat by using light coconut cream or milk, or low fat or home-made peanut butter. Either way, this is an amazing recipe for a main dish that’s super-fast and easy to make.

16. Curry Vegetable Cutlet

Via Cook Pad

Got some leftover vegetable curry? Make some cutlets or patties out of them and serve as a starter. If you can, of course, make the curry from scratch.

17. Squash & Lentil Curry

Via Healthy Food UK

You can get fresh squash all year round now. Butternut squash adds a lovely sweetness to this vegetable curry. It’s filling and makes a perfect main dish.

18.Vegan Red Thai Coconut Curry

Via Lauren Caris Cooks

This creamy Vegan Red Thai Coconut curry is full of delicious veggies and covered with a thick, coconut sauce. It’s the perfect winter warmer for these cold evenings!

19. Beetroot Curry

Via Olive Magazine

Wow your friends and family with this vibrant, purple curry. Not only is it colorful, it’s also packed with flavor. It’s an easy vegetarian meal that you can prepare during the weekdays.

The post 19 Healthy Curry Recipes to Spice Up Your Next Meal appeared first on Food For Fitness.

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Food addiction is a phrase that has become more common in recent years.

This is, in part, because our understanding of addiction has got better, from both a behavioural and neural perspective.

That’s on top of the startling increase in obesity in recent decades.

In 1960, 1 in 7 US adults were obese.

By 2010, that number had increased to 1 in 3. Not good. At. All.

In an attempt to understand the causes of obesity, some scientists are now investigating whether we’re getting addicted to certain foods available on supermarket shelves.

But are we really addicted to food?

1. There’s no universally accepted definition of what food addiction is, or how we measure it

Before we delve into the research on whether food addiction is a legitimate phenomenon, we need to establish what food addiction actually is.

Food addiction is a term first used in the 1960s, and it was suggested that foods like milk, eggs and potatoes may have ‘addictive properties’.

More recently, researchers have investigated the similarities between how we eat (and the reward we feel when we eat) and drug addiction.

Drug addiction is defined as a disorder with symptoms including drug-seeking behaviour, loss of control to limit intake and a negative emotional state (like anxiety or irritability) when the drug is taken away.

One study found that changes in central nervous system signalling occur and involve chemicals with rewarding properties when it comes to addiction. These chemicals can be released by external substances (such as drugs) but also by our own behaviour (such as gambling).

As some (mostly tasty) foods can make the food reward parts of the brain light up like a Christmas tree, it’s an attractive hypothesis to say this is a sign of addiction.

But, in reality, it’s not obviously clear that we can be addicted to certain foods just because we enjoy eating them.

Also, measuring food addiction isn’t that clear.

The Yale Food Addiction Scale is used to assess food addiction, based on criteria for other substance dependence, such as drug addiction. It uses 25 questions to assess eating habits over a year, and lists tasty foods like ice cream, chocolate, doughnuts, sweets, fizzy pop etc.

In other words, the tasty stuff.

But, although they all have this in common, the differences between them could make the diagnosis of ‘food addiction’ slightly trickier…

2. We don’t know what foods we could be addicted to

When people discuss food addiction, they generally focus on the idea that we’re addicted to a substance in foods.

Some people focus on sugar. People are adamant that we’re addicted to sugar, and that sugar is the cause of obesity.

Other people think we’re addicted to fat, and use mouse studies to back it up.

There’s even a (fairly limited) argument for salt addiction, in some cases.

And this is probably where the Yale Addiction Food Scale I mentioned earlier falls down slightly – it doesn’t help us identify which substances we might be addicted to.

For example, one poll showed that only 20% of the British public eat five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

Clearly we’re not addicted to ALL food.

The question is, what are the substances in certain foods that we might be addicted to?

Sugar? Fat?

Are there other reasons that these are the foods we want to eat?

3. We are hardwired to look for food

This is quite a big consideration for the food addiction argument. Humans, like other animals, are hardwired to seek certain things.

Like the need to reproduce, a place that makes us feel safe or physical comfort. Along with these things, we need food and water for basic survival.

More specifically, the body has innate preferences for sweet, salty and ‘meaty’ flavours – mighty meaty Dominos anyone?

Seriously though, all of those things tell the brain they are valuable foods, high in calories. This was crucial for our ancestors survival.

Some research suggests that even after we feel full eating one type of food, we can still seek other types of foods – come on, we’ve all been stuffed after dinner but then found room for dessert!

This is known as sensory-specific-satiety; feeling full but only to foods that have the same properties (like salty foods).

Likewise, some biologists believe we seek food that’s as high in calories but doesn’t take much effort to find (er, back to that Dominos?) – a concept called the optimal foraging theory.

For our ancestors, this likely helped them decide whether the calories they would spend hunting for an animal would be worth the calories they’d gain from eating it.

Therefore, it’s unlikely food addiction is the issue but the evolutionary drive to seek out food to avoid starving.

The only difference is that, in the today’s world, we often have easy access to the food we want, without having to expend many calories to get it.

4. Your cravings disappear when you have access to food (and eat it)

Research has shown that when rodents are deprived of sugar and then given access to it, they show ‘addiction-like behaviours’.

This is seen as ‘evidence’ that food addiction may exist in humans too.

However, it’s worth noting that when the rats are given ad libitum access to sugar (the freedom to eat as much as they desire, much like us humans have), they don’t show addictive behaviour.

Interestingly, when rats are given their normal meals (chow) alongside intermittent sugar feedings, they eat less chow to compensate for their sugar intake – this helps to stop weight gain.

If we limit nice foods, it’s generally only a matter of time before we announce that we ‘crave’ the food that we’re restricting and must, MUST have it.

Think of all the people that you know who said they’d give up chocolate – and how it lasted about two days.

We often think we might be ‘addicted’ to a certain food, based on our cravings for it.

We also often restrict eating nice foods to try and control our weight and health. This makes that sexy bar of fruit and nut even more appealing, and it pre-occupies more of our thoughts.

But, the thing is, food cravings differ dramatically to drug cravings.

Importantly, the duration, intensity and frequency of food cravings are all completely different.

Food cravings don’t last long, and often cease after a few hours or if we can distract ourselves. This isn’t true with drug cravings – they increase in intensity, duration and frequency if the user goes cold turkey.

5. Something called ‘food devaluation’

Food devaluation involves the addition of a substance that will induce sickness, to see whether it is still sought out.

For example, when rats are given addictive drugs that are laced with something that makes them nauseous, they will continue to seek out the drugs, despite being sick.

However, if you do the same with food, rats will stop eating.

This does indicate that if we’re able to develop an addiction to food, it’s very likely that it isn’t a particular substance in food that we’re addicted to.

6. You don’t sell your possessions to buy food

On a more practical note, let’s think about comparisons between addictive drugs and ‘addictive’ food substances, like sugar.

It is not uncommon to hear stories in the media of strange and terrible things that people will do to facilitate their drug dependencies.

People sell their bodies, steal money from friends and family and rack up large amounts of debt.

The estimated cost of crime related to drug addiction is £13.9 billion.

The average heroin user spends £1,400 per month on drugs – more than 2.5 times the average mortgage.

All in all, it’s clear that people will go to great lengths to get access to the drugs they are addicted to.

The question is – how many people do you see doing that for a bag of Tate and Lyle?

How many people are selling their possessions, running up debts, wasting savings?

Throwing it all at sweets and cans of coke?

Nobody.

Because we’re not addicted to substances in food.

7. You’re not a rat

D’uh.

My point? Even after ALL of the arguments I’ve presented to you for food addiction, it may not matter or apply to you anyway.

Because, if you’re reading this, then I’m going to take a giant leap and presume that you’re not a rat.

That might be dangerous territory in the social media age (there’s probably someone, somewhere, going absolutely mad that I’m depriving them of their right to self-identify as a rodent, and who am I to assume their species, etc etc.) but, when it comes to food addiction, the most convincing research we have is in rat models.

And even that research isn’t the most convincing.

A lot of the research on rats showing addiction-like behaviour only does so because of the specific study environment – if you deprive rats of sugar intermittently, they’ll eat more when they have access to it.

8. Even if you were a rat, the evidence in rats isn’t completely convincing

Just for arguments sake, let’s say you’re a rat.

EVEN THEN you’re not likely to be addicted to food.

There is no overwhelming research that shows rats are addicted to food. In fact, there’s a fair amount of research which shows that they might not be.

As I mentioned earlier, one area of research against food addiction is the devaluation of food.

Another study shows that when you put sugar in water, rats will drink more – but only up to a point.

When sugar concentration gets beyond a certain point, they will actually drink more plain water than sugared. If sugar was addictive, then rats would continue to drink more of the sugar water, even if the concentration is increased.

9. What benefit would we gain from branding people as having a food addiction?

If we were to establish a definition for food addiction, would it be helpful?

Unlikely.

For one, researchers suggest that if we were addicted to food, it wouldn’t really change much in terms of health policy.

We’d still recommend regular exercise, eating enough fruit and vegetables.

Eating more calories than you expend would still cause obesity.

A further argument would be that it will leave people feeling powerless when trying to limit energy intake, lose weight or prevent weight gain.

One researcher summarised:

‘Believing that one’s impulse to eat, for example, ice cream or cake, is due to food addiction, implies that the impulse is uncontrollable, making it less likely that the ice cream or cake can be resisted.’

The research on food addiction is currently very limited – it’s unlikely it’ll be helpful to start describing, diagnosing and treating food addiction until there is a clearer picture of exactly how (or whether) food addiction may occur.

10. ‘Eating addiction’ might be more accurate

A behavioural addiction is much more likely than a particular food substance addiction.

There’s a fairly convincing case that it’s unlikely we’re addicted to particular substances in food, and that ‘food addiction’ is probably not an accurate description.

However, an argument for ‘eating addiction’ has been made.

If we look at the rise of obesity over the past few decades, many people will point out that sugar intake has increased.

But if we look at other data, so has our fat intake.

It’s clear that we’re not just addicted to eating one particular food source.

We overeat the nicest tasting food – the foods that have the right combination of sugar, fat and salt.

Eating addiction may be a better fit as it avoids a focus on individual substances and recognises the difference between behavioural and substance addiction.

Although eating addiction emphasises the behavioural aspect of food addiction, it’s important to stress that there’s also very limited evidence that eating addiction exists, and more research is needed.

So there it is.

There isn’t really enough research to suggest that we’re addicted to certain types of food, or eating in general.

Think I’ll go order that Dominos now.

The post 10 Reasons You Don’t Have A Food Addiction, Backed By Science appeared first on Food For Fitness.

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Here 19 high-protein quinoa recipes you’d surely want to add to your diet.

1. Berry Quinoa Salad

Via Two Peas and a Pod

Looking for a healthy dessert that also tastes great? Give this recipe for Berry Quinoa Salad a try. Enjoy the sweetness of strawberry, blueberry, raspberry and blackberry mixed together with 2 cups of dry red quinoa for that protein content you are looking for.

2. One-Pot Chicken, Quinoa, Mushrooms & Spinach

Via Cookin’ Canuck

With a protein content of 29 grams and calorie count of only 277, you won’t go wrong with this chicken, quinao, mushroom and spinach dish. It takes but a short time to cook too, making it an ideal “instant” comfort food for your family or friends.

3. Crockpot Italian Chicken & Quinoa Soup

Via Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Vegetable lovers and meat eaters alike will surely want to get a taste of your delicious crockpot soup. This soup is loaded with chicken, and everyone’s favorite vegetables together with, of course, protein-heavy quinoa seeds.

4. Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bites

Via NatureBox

Chicken is already the food to go especially for gym buffs looking to load up on muscle-building protein. This one simply adds the protein in quinoa seeds and eggs into the mix. Dip the bites into the equally tasty dipping sauce made out of Greek yoghurt, blue cheese and garlic powder, among others.

5. Cheesy Quinoa Waffles

Via Smart Nutrition

One thing about this quinoa is that it’s simply an improvement over your normal waffle. It adds in quinoa, eggs and lentils into the waffle batter and finishes off the taste with cheddar, cottage and feta cheese.

6. Savory Pesto Quinoa Breakfast Bowls

Via Simply Quinoa

This breakfast bowl is a powerhouse. It is full of protein thanks to the eggs and quinoa seeds, loaded with complex carbohydrates for energy and healthy fats from the avocado.

7. Greek Quinoa Zucchini Fritters

Via Delish Knowledge

Fried is dried, so they say, and thus fried food generally loses nutritional value. These fritters, however, are full of nutrition, thanks to the combo of zucchini, quinoa and flour. Just make sure to fry at high temperature so the oil doesn’t eat away all the nutrients!

8. Spinach Salad with Quinoa

Via Happy Healthy Mama

If you’re looking for a quick salad fix, then you can build this Spinach salad. This recipe puts in a creamy avocado dressing to complement the salad, which contains dry quinoa, chickpeas, avocado oil and tomatoes.

9. Red Quinoa Burgers

Via Coffee & Quinoa

You said burgers are unhealthy? You only need to add quinoa seeds, egg, cannellini beans and one large egg to your hamburger patties, and you have a burger that packs a lot of nutrition.

10. Quinoa Granola with Coconut & Chia Seeds

Via Vegangela

You don’t have to avoid sweets even if you’re keeping to a diet. This healthy but delicious granola is made up of quinoa flakes, chia seeds, coconut shreds, and raw almonds, among others. Agave or maple syrup contribute to making it taste like the granola you love!

11. Quinoa Chowder with Spinach, Feta, and Scallions

Via Chowhound

This is the vegetarian way of making chowder. It replaces seafood toppings with a mix of vegetables, feta and quinoa. It also does away with cream as well.

12. Spicy Thai Coconut Quinoa

Via Chowhound

This quinoa dish brings together all the great stuff about coconut milk, peanut sauce and vegetables. Anyone can cook this in their own kitchen, so go ahead and give it a try!

13. Cranberry Quinoa Scones

Via Cannelle et Vanille

These quones are made out of mixture of quinoa flour and cranberries. They’re very easy to make, and takes just a short time to prepare. You only need to make the dough, set it in the oven and you just wait for the final product.

14. Quinoa-Crusted Cauliflower Steak

Via The Vintage Mixer

This looks like tasty meat steak, but is actually cauliflower covered in thick quinoa crust. This goes well with vegetable salad too.

15. Baked Quinoa Empanada

Via The Latin Kitchen

This one is for the vegetarians. Simply replace shredded meat that you usually find in empanadas with dry quinoa, goat cheese, white onion, carrots and beaten egg yolk, among others.

16. Pork Fried Rice With Quinoa

Via Fit Bottomed Jeans

You like Asian pork friend rice? Then you will certainly love this recipe. It’s a very flexible dish, whose ingredients you can easily change to suit your limitations.

17. Cheesy Quinoa Cakes

Via Spoon Fork Bacon

This quinoa dish is not only delicious, but it’s also very easy to prepare. If you have lots of quinoa seeds lying around and some ingredients, you can quickly make some as a snack for surprise visitors!

18. Black Bean & Quinoa Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Via Lauren Kelly Nutrition

That’s not spaghetti, but healthy squash that has been roasted for 60 minutes in the oven. It also has quinoa seeds in vegetable broth and topped with creamy cheddar cheese.

19. Lentils, Beef & Quinoa Soup

Via My Colombian Recipes

Soups don’t always have meat, and thus they have protein value. This one, however, make full use of quinoa, lentils and beef so you get your protein together with other health benefits of soups.

The post 19 High-Protein Quinoa Recipes to Help You Build Muscle, Fast appeared first on Food For Fitness.

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The deadlift. In weightlifting circles, it’s often referred to as the ‘King of Exercises’.  It’s one of the most demanding lifts on the gym floor and it can build a ton of muscle all over your body. Piqued your interest?

Deadlifting will add quality muscle from your traps all the way down to your hamstrings. And, given that resistance training stimulates the production of all sorts of beneficial hormones, like testosterone and the growth hormone, nailing this lift is only going to make you feel bigger, better and much, much stronger.

It is a B0$$ lift.

I’d put it above squatting – yes, you heard me right – as the single best exercise for developing whole body strength. It engages all of the body’s major muscle groups. For me, personally, it has to be one of the key movements in all training programs.

One of the best feelings in the gym is being able to lift a heavy barbell off the floor. The feeling of simply stepping up, grabbing the bar and pulling until you’re upright, whilst fighting the huge amounts of tension going through your body.

I believe everyone should be able to lift objects off the ground and if you can’t, you should be making it one of your top priorities in training.

But what muscle groups are involved during the deadlift? Should you include it on back day? Or is it a lower body exercise? Or is it something else entirely?

Let’s dive in and have a look.

When should I do deadlifts?

Before there was internet, you would get your training routines from the most recent issue of Muscle & Fitness or, of course, the bible: Arnie’s ‘The Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding’.

Back in the day, all my workouts focused on body part splits with high volume for hypertrophy and strength. The best place to learn about fitness and bodybuilding routines – apart from the magazines – was from more experienced bodybuilders who trained in my local gym.

We all wanted to look like Claude Van Damme or Arnie. Natch.

I remember deadlifts being used mostly on back day. Then I might change training partner and they would include them on leg day.

So, what gives? It was all down to personal preference.

I used to do deadlifts after heavy back squatting which, now, would be a big no-no as my central nervous system would be smoked after the squats.

Ultimately, it’s completely up to you where your deadlifts sit within your weekly routine. For me, everything changed when I discovered the way Mike Boyle and Gray Cook train, after I had qualified as a PT.

Understanding deadlifts: Functional training

I don’t know if Mike and Gray were the first to come up with the phrase but I certainly got it from them:

‘Train movements, not muscles’.

The theory is that the body has fundamental movement patterns that we can create exercise programs from. These are programs that not only improve our strength, but also co-ordination, balance and skill level. Ultimately, they move us towards our aesthetic goals whilst enhancing our daily lives as well.

The fundamental movement patterns are: knee dominant, hip dominant, pushing and pulling – both in a horizontal and vertical plane – anti-extension, anti-flexion and anti-rotation.

These movements are called different things by different fitness experts but, whatever the name, they all refer to the same movements. Most of the exercises that fall into this bracket are commonly called ‘functional exercises’.

They are generally all multi-joint exercises that work the body as one unit and recruit a large amount of muscle to perform. They also help you to move better in daily life, for example if you need to lift a heavy box.

It’s all about the hips

Now before I go any further there is nothing wrong with training muscles in isolation.

If you want to focus on developing a specific body part or are going to compete in a physique contest, you’ll have to shuttle training volume into specific body parts. I love a Friday ‘dessert’ session and a huge arm pump as much as the next gym bro.

However, most people I train use exercise to lose weight or feel better. Improving movement skills can address both those needs whilst, at the same time, keeping the training session more varied. We use dynamic movements as opposed to traditional static machines. And that’s waay more fun.

As I began to read more about movement patterns, I discovered that the deadlift was classed as a ‘hip dominant’ or ‘hinge movement’ pattern. This was different than the way I had been taught years ago as my deadlift was a squat but the load was in a different position.

I think Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline’s Easy Strength best describes the difference between the squat and the deadlift. Pavel and Dan make the distinction of a deadlift having, “deep hip movement with minimal knee bend,” and squats having, “deep movement of the knees and hips.”

In other words, a hip dominant movement is a deadlift, and a knee dominant movement is a squat. Another example of a hip dominant exercise using Dan and Pavel’s description would be the kettlebell swing, one that I see a lot of people using their knees for far too much.

Proper deadlift technique needs tension

I had to go back and re-learn the way I was deadlifting. It was hard. It was humbling.

I had to really drop the amount of weight I was lifting and get to grips with new technique. The deadlift looks simple – but there is a massive difference between something being simple and something being easy.

For the first time, ever, I was feeling the hamstrings and glutes work hard during the movement. And I was no longer getting a sore back which was something I used to experience after performing it.

In fact, whilst poor deadlift technique can cause back pain, one study showed that deadlifts can actually improve low back pain if executed properly.

One of the fundamental skills I had to incorporate with the new technique was making sure my body was tight enough, so my form didn’t fall apart as soon as I started lifting the bar.

Especially through my back. Tension is everything.

Some people would call it, ‘taking the slack out the bar’ –  but I prefer Greg Nuckol’s phrase, ‘pulling tension into your body’.

Also, there would be no more jerking the bar as hard as I possibly could on the first rep. If you’re not tight enough, this sudden jolt tends to round your back and your hips shoot up. That potentially puts your spine, and especially your lower back, in a bad position for the rest of the lift. And, boy, my back used to hurt for days after a deadlift session.

Safety is the number one priority when deadlifting. You should already be pulling so hard on the bar when it’s still on the floor that adding just a tiny bit of extra force will get the lift moving.

The role of your lats

When people think of training their back they automatically think of the ‘latissimus dorsi’ muscle – or the ‘lat’ to you and me.

It’s one of the widest muscles in the body and lots of people love having a wide set of lats as it gives you that classic tapered ‘V’ shape.

Now, lats are super important in the deadlift as engaging them properly will allow you to potentially lift more weight. And the lats have a vital role in keeping the upper back tight.

BUT – they are not prime movers during the lift.

The title of prime movers belongs to the hamstrings, glutes (with help from the adductor magnus on the side of your thigh), spinal extensors and a little bit of quads.

The primary function of the lat is ‘adduction’ of the arm (moving your arms from out like plane wings down to your sides). This is used when performing a pull-up or chin-up or when pulling a heavy object down from a shelf above your head. Another function of the lat is extension of the arm, as in swinging the arm toward the back.

None of these movements are required for a deadlift.

Yes, lat tension keeps the back tight by keeping your shoulder blades locked into position but it’s not only the lats that are stopping the back from rounding. The lats don’t create much spinal extension as they don’t attach to multiple vertebrae.

The ‘erector spinae’ do – a muscle group that runs parallel on both outer sides of the spine, extending from the lower back of the skull all the way down to the pelvis.

That doesn’t mean that you should forget about your lats altogether because you want a strong set of lats in your deadlift. Get training them with heavy rows, pulldowns and banded isometric holds in a hinge to practice your position. However, I would recommend trying to perform these exercises on a different day than when you deadlift as your back will be completely fatigued after it.

If you’re not sure how to engage your lats in a deadlift, a little tip is to focus on pointing your elbows toward the wall behind or trying to bend the bar.

More tension = more lifts

Tweaking your deadlift technique requires a lot of practice and, over time, creating the right tension for your deadlift pull will become second nature.

Go out of your way to create as much tension as possible throughout your whole body by slowly pulling harder and harder on the bar, like turning the volume knob on a car stereo. When the bar feels like it’s about to start moving, this is when you shift into the next gear and break the bar off the floor.

By doing this, you’re tapping into the principle of muscular irradiation – when you maximally contract a muscle, its neighbouring muscles also contract to create an even greater force.

A simple example of this would be during a bicep curl. Next time you’re ‘pumping the guns’ and getting pretty close to ‘failure’, squeeze your hands, glutes and abdominals as hard as you can and you will probably find you’re able to carry out a few more reps. Neat.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

The deadlift, or the hip hinge, is a movement people struggle with more than any other.

You might not be able to get your body into the right position to lift safely for any number of reasons. Making progress varies massively from person to person. Some people need to pull heavy every week to improve, while others only need to use heavy weights once a month to make gains.

Some people will use the deadlift as a back exercise and some as a leg exercise. There’s no real right or wrong – deadlifts come in all shapes and sizes and can be used for a variety of training goals.

But the one thing we can all agree on is that it’s a hinge movement pattern.

Learn to hinge, generate tension throughout your whole body, get powerhouse muscles like the glutes and hamstrings involved and watch those deadlift numbers slowly creep up.

It won’t be easy – but it’ll be worth it. Trust me.

The post The Key To Performing The Perfect Deadlift appeared first on Food For Fitness.

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In this article, we’ve rounded up 17 high-protein breakfast recipes for the calorie and protein counter.

1. Protein Pancakes

Via Food For Fitness

Fed up with oats or eggs for breakfast? Try this recipe for high protein pancakes. This recipe for protein pancakes is free of added sugar and made with muscle-repairing, craving-busting protein. This simple recipe for protein pancakes takes minutes to prepare and is a great way to kick-start your day with a protein boost!

2. Scrambled Eggs with Basil, Spinach & Tomatoes

Via BBC Good Food

Sure, toast is delicious but it’s not exactly healthy either. This healthy alternative, however, still comes with scrambled eggs, plus fresh tomatoes and spinach for a healthy meal to start the day.

3. Easy Kale Feta Egg Toast

Via Well Plated

This Easy Kale Feta Egg Toast recipe is a wholesome and Instagram-worthy dish that takes just 20 minutes to prepare. The combination of an egg, kale, and feta cheese jacks up the protein content without adding too many calories.

4. Tomato & Zucchini Frittata

Via Love and Lemons

The frittata is one of my favorite things to throw together because, really, anything you need to use up can go into a frittata. This one is made of every vegetable I had on hand last week – a variety of tomatoes, zucchini and some really lovely sweet potato greens.

5. Lemon Poppy Seed Protein Pancakes

Via Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

Who doesn’t love pancakes? This pancake recipe is packed with protein thanks to the combination of poppy seeds, eggs, and protein powder.

6. Poached Eggs with Tomato, Swiss Chard, and Chickpeas

Via Pop Sugar

This protein-rich take on the popular Middle Eastern dish shakshuka is the perfect post-workout breakfast or hearty dinner. Make it as spicy as you like to perk you up for a new day.

7. Simple Vegan Omelet

Via Minimalist Baker

This vegan-friendly breakfast recipe tastes just as good as it looks. The secret vegan ingredient? Protein-rich silken tofu.

8. Chickpea Scramble Breakfast Bowl

Via Well and Full

Chickpeas are a vegan-friendly substitute for eggs that are also high in protein. Paired with green leafy veggies, you have a hearty and very affordable breakfast bowl.

9. Mediterranean Style Egg and Cheese

Via Men’s Fitness

Egg and cheese are staples in a high-protein diet, and this recipe is proof of that. The addition of tomatoes ensures you get your recommended dose of lycopene, an antioxidant that’s good for your eyesight and immune function.

10. Strawberry Breakfast Cake

Via Healthier Steps

Whoever said you shouldn’t have cake for breakfast hasn’t come across this protein-packed cake. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too.

11. Quinoa Cakes and Poached Eggs

Via The Healthy Foodie

The yellow and runny yolk of the egg might as well be a delicious sauce when paired with the crispy quinoa cake of this dish. It’s proof again why quinoa truly is a dieter’s best friend.

12. Customizable Protein-Packed Oatmeal Cups

Via The Healthy Maven

Bake over the weekend, keep in the fridge, and pop in the microwave before you shower. Each oatmeal cup is packed with 11 grams of protein, making it the perfect breakfast meal on the go.

13. Protein-Packed Breakfast Burritos

Via Fit Foodies

A burrito for breakfast without the guilt? Yes, it’s possible. And the best part? You can make these over the weekend to last you all week long.

14. Morning Power-Up Energy Shake

Via Skinny Ms

If you’re the type who doesn’t like to start the day with a heavy meal, this protein-rich smoothie is for you. It’s also packed fats, fiber, vitamins, calcium, and potassium—what more could you ask for?

15. Peanut Butter and Jelly Overnight Oats

Via Eating Birdfood

Of course, no list of high-protein breakfasts would be complete without the obligatory overnight oats recipe. Simply add your protein powder of choice and/or Greek yogurt to increase the protein content in your oats even more.

16. Vegan 3 Ingredient Chocolate Cereal

Via Beaming Banana

This vegan-friendly chocolate cereal recipe is made from ground oats, cocoa powder, and blended dates, formed into small balls and served with milk. It’s gluten-free, naturally sweetened, and absolutely healthy.

17. Savory Tempeh Breakfast Sandwiches

Via Connoisseurus Veg

This healthy sandwich recipe replaces a chicken filet with pan-friend tempeh drizzled in a rich sauce, sandwiched between an English muffin, baby spinach, and avocado.

The post 17 High-Protein Breakfast Recipes to Help You Power Through the Day appeared first on Food For Fitness.

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Not so long ago, fat was the dietary super-villain.

Fat, we were told, caused obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol – practically anything terrifying and bad for your health was linked to fat.

In response, we flocked to supermarkets to buy low-fat everything; milk, cheese, yoghurt, salad dressing, even cereal.

However, the risk of these diseases kept increasing – and obesity worldwide continued to balloon (pun-intended). Then scientists started to understand the role of fat a bit better and they started to get a wider picture on the interaction between diet and disease.

Of course, there’s always the conspiracy version:

“High-carb food companies paid off everyone who had anything to do with science, so they could pin the blame on fat whilst selling high-sugar foods to millions of people worldwide.”

Either way, the tables have turned and now sugar has the spotlight.

As lots of us have begun to raise concerns about high-sugar intakes, the rise of social media has provided the arena in which to do it. More often than not, our feeds are full of folk spouting pseudoscience about how sugar is ‘toxic’, why they have gone ‘keto/paleo/vegan/zone’ (delete as appropriate) or why you should detox from your sugar diet with their new detox product.

*Sigh*

So, we know that sugar is really bad for us and that we should probably go sugar-free.

But should we?

Is everything we hear about sugar accurate? Is it really that bad?

You’re about to find out. Here are seven outrageous sugar myths – and the real science behind them.

1. Sugar causes weight gain

This one is still being ‘debated’ by some scientists.

And the argument is based on some basic physiology, involving the hormone insulin.

Insulin is released after we eat carbohydrates, and it regulates blood sugar by allowing it to be stored in your liver, muscle and fat cells.

It also hinders fat burn (breakdown of fat) and encourages fat storage.

The logic is that if sugar increases insulin, insulin stops fat breakdown AND stimulates fat gain, this will increase body fat and lead to obesity.

Except it isn’t that simple, for one reason:

Insulin is only increased in response to a meal.

The changes in fat burn and fat gain only happen in the hours after a meal. In between meals, and when we’re asleep, fat breakdown exceeds fat storage. In other words, we’re burning fat while we sleep – bet you like the sound of that. Over 24 hours, this evens out.

If you’re in a calorific deficit, you’ll lose weight – regardless of sugar intake.

This has been shown in multiple weight loss studies.

One study compared two groups that ate/drank either 5% or 10% of their daily calories in sugar. Bingo – both groups lost weight, with no difference between the two.

The authors concluded that:

These results provide no justification for the exclusion of added sucrose in a weight-reducing diet.

Another study looked at four groups, who ate/drank 10% or 20% of their daily calories in sugar (either sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup).

What happened? Same results:

In conclusion, similar decreases in weight and indices of adiposity are observed when overweight or obese individuals are subjected to hypo-caloric diets with different prescribed levels of sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup.

A further study showed sugar had no effect on over 300 participants when calories, protein and fibre were the same.

As if this wasn’t enough evidence, how about this – I’ve saved the best until last.

Two diets comparing getting 4% of energy from sugar vs. 43% (11.8g vs 121.2g) found NO DIFFERENCE IN WEIGHT LOSS.

Regardless of sugar intake, diets that allow for a calorific deficit (expending more energy than we take in) will result in weight loss.

2. Sugar causes diabetes

Type-2 Diabetes is a disease that leads to someone’s blood sugar being too high for a long period of time. It can have serious consequences, including blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputations and cardiovascular disease.

Now, as the disease is predominantly focused on high-blood sugar, a common belief is that diabetes is caused by high sugar intake.

In reality, it’s much more complicated than that.

Insulin allows sugar (glucose) to enter your liver, muscle and fat cells. High blood sugar in diabetes is due to a lack of, or decreased function of the hormone insulin.

Obesity is often associated with diabetes, with 90% of Type-2 Diabetics also reported to be obese. Obesity makes the body less sensitive to insulin and makes it difficult for the body to regulate blood glucose.

Not exercising is also a risk factor for diabetes – 80% of blood glucose is absorbed by our muscles.

So if we’re not working out in some way, which helps to maintain and grow muscle, there is nowhere to store blood glucose. It remains in the blood and can cause various health problems.

Research suggests that sugar consumption alone isn’t a risk factor for diabetes. A study on 355 overweight and obese individuals showed no difference in diabetes risk factors when consuming either 8%, 18% or 30% of their calories in added sugar. This was supported by a study showing no difference in diabetes risk when comparing getting 9% and 18% of daily calories from sugar.

Diabetes is a complex disease, and is affected by several risk factors. Sugar alone does not cause diabetes (or obesity, as mentioned above), and so isn’t a direct cause of diabetes. However, if eating too much sugar leads to a calorific surplus, long-term weight gain and obesity, then it might have an indirect effect on the risk of diabetes.

So, proceed with caution.

3. Sugar makes us hyperactive

This is a really popular belief that lacks the evidence to support it.

An analysis in 1995 looked at 23 studies on sugar and hyperactivity in children. Studies were only included in the analysis if the amount of sugar was measured, and if parents, children and the researchers were unaware of whether the children had been given sugar or not.

Contrary to popular belief, the study showed that sugar intake did not have any effect on behaviour or cognition in children.

This may be due to the belief of parents.

When parents were told that their child had been given a large dose of sugar, they rated them as significantly more hyperactive than if they were told they’d been given a placebo (a non-sugar drink).

BUT:

None of the children received a sugary drink – they were all given the placebo.

Cheeky.

Despite none of the children being given sugar, mothers who believed their children had been given sugar rated them as significantly more hyperactive.

The link between sugar and hyperactivity may be more to do with mum’s expectations and beliefs than changes in their kid’s behaviour.

On top of this, children often stuff their faces full of sugary things at birthday parties and special occasions. What do you get at those sorts of events? Excitement, being around friends, new environments – perhaps those might lead to hyperactivity, rather than sugar intake itself.

4. We are ‘addicted’ to sugar

The idea that we can be addicted to sugar is likely a result of two factors:

One factor is rodent studies showing possible addictive behaviour towards sugar.

The second is people attempting to shift the blame for their weight gain.

“It’s not my fault I put on weight, I’m ‘addicted’ to sugar – it’s a real thing!”

Those that argue for the existence of sugar addiction usually point to a study in rats, where cocaine increased levels of dopamine, a hormone involved in feelings of reward, to similar levels seen in food reward.

A review study stated that when rats (selected to have a preference for sugar) were denied sugar for 12-16 hours, and were then given full access to sugar for 8-12 hours, they DID produce bingeing behaviour indicating addiction.

ANOTHER BUT:

When rats are given ad libitum (as much as desired) access to sugar (like normal conditions for humans), they show NO SIGNS of addiction.

Other research indicates we aren’t addicted to sugar.

If a substance is added to addictive drugs to make a rat sick, it will still seek out the drug, even though it makes them sick. Do they do same with sugar?

Rats stop eating.

We don’t overeat because the food is sugar.

We overeat because IT TASTES NICE.

The foods that we often overeat on are rarely solely sugar – think cakes, chocolate, donuts…

They’re a (very tasty) combination of sugar AND fat, that make our food hyper-palatable (food tastes really bloody good).

I’ll leave the sugar addiction myth with this one (very succinct) quote on whether we are addicted to sugar on its own:

“If sugar is addictive, why don’t you see people on street corners selling their body for a bag of Tate & Lyle?”

5. Don’t eat fruit because it contains sugar

For years, we’ve been told how important it is for us to eat five portions of fruit and veg per day.

And, more recently, we’ve been told that this number should actually be 7 – or maybe even 10!

Despite this message, there has been some backlash from some about these recommendations, particularly the role of fruit.

Fruit contains sugar (fructose) and, as many people now believe sugar to be the devil incarnate (see above for details), it was only a matter of time before the low-carb diet clan went after health professionals everywhere for recommending fruit as a healthy option.

So, we should avoid fruit because it has sugar in and will make us fat.

Right?

Wrong.

Fruit is a valuable part of our diets for several reasons.

Eating more fruit has been associated with lower risk of death from any causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Also, despite being high in sugar, fruit IMPROVES insulin response and blood glucose control in obese men and women, particularly when you eat mangos and blueberries.

Scientists think this is because of certain phytochemicals in fruit, which help to regulate how we digest carbohydrates, and control our blood glucose.

Finally, eating fruit has repeatedly been shown to improve body weight and protect against obesity.

This is probably for a variety of reasons:

  • Reduced calorie intake
  • Improved feelings of satiety
  • Phytochemicals
  • Changes in the gut microbiota

Most people need to eat more fruit, not less. Now where’s that banana…

6. Sugar causes cancer

Something that the sugar-free mob will often try and push is a link between sugar and cancer. A quick Google search will come up with reams of information, informing you that sugar is ‘food for cancerous cells’, ‘cancer’s dinner’ etc, etc.

The logic for this is simple.

Cancer cells are fairly energy-demanding, as they grow and multiply rapidly. Therefore, they need (amongst other things) a fair amount of glucose. The reasoning is if we cut off the supply of glucose to the cells, then we stop them growing or developing.

However, glucose is also used by healthy cells, with no real way of differentiating which cells get the fuel and which don’t.

Cutting out a whole food group, such as carbohydrates, can also reduce the quantity of fibre and vitamins from the diet.

It also SUCKS.

Poor nutrition from restrictive diets could contribute to weight loss, which is often seen during cancer treatment, and restricting the diet could affect recovery.

Cancer risk is determined by a variety of factors including environment, lifestyle and genetics.

Poor diet and lifestyle choices certainly play a part in cancer risk – the World Cancer Research Fund estimates that 33% of common cancers could be prevented through lifestyle changes, like working out and maintaining a healthy weight.

But, when it comes to sugar, there is currently no evidence that a sugar-free diet reduces the risk of cancer. One study concluded this:

“We found no association between dietary sugars and the risk of colorectal or any other major cancer.”

7. You should eliminate sugar from your diet

Hopefully, all of the myths that have been dispelled up here will give you an idea of why sugar isn’t necessarily the cause of all pain, suffering and misery experienced by the human race.

It’s worth noting that some people DO eat too much sugar, and it would probably be prudent for them to decrease their sugar intake slightly.

But the bottom line is if you are not in a calorie surplus (eating more calories than you burn), then your sugar intake isn’t likely to be too much concern.

That’s providing you’re nailing other important dietary habits like eating enough protein and getting at least five portions of fruit and veg per day. If you’re nailing eight Mars bars a day and nothing else, well, take a look at yourself.

If you do find yourself putting on weight and your snacks are high in sugar, reducing said sugar might be a good place to start. I say might.

It is.

The post 7 Outrageous Sugar Myths And The Real Science Behind Them appeared first on Food For Fitness.

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There are few places in today’s day and age where the division of the sexes is still so apparent than at a chain gym.

Here the men dominate the weights room and the women monopolise the cardio area, pounding every treadmill as far as the eye can see, counting down the minutes – and the calories – until it’s all over.

If you do happen to love cardio that’s great! Keep at it. Yet having asked a lot of women if they even like running, the answer nine times out of ten is, “no…not really!”

Yet they continue to slog it out. Why?

They seem to stick with it because of the persisting myth that you have to do cardio to achieve fat loss.

Either that, or they’re too intimidated by the weights room to venture in. However, things are changing. More and more women are taking up powerlifting – let’s take a look at why.

Goodbye treadmill, hello squat rack

Heard of #thisgirlcan or #strongisthenewskinny?

There is a movement happening, and it’s a very good one. Women in gyms everywhere are finally freeing themselves from the shackles of the treadmill and making full use of that gym membership. They’re getting in the squat rack, lifting heavy and enjoying their training.

It’s no surprise then that the number of women training in strength sports, like powerlifting, has sky-rocketed in recent years.

Type the hashtag #girlswhopowerlift into iInstagram and it returns over 900,000 results.

And the number of women deciding to compete in British powerlifting competitions has also risen by five times in the last five years, according to the British powerlifting website.

Elite female powerlifter Louise Sinniah-Burr (Senior Under 52kg English Champion 2017 no less) explains why:

“Female powerlifting, and the standard of it, is growing massively in Britain. I think this reflects a positive change in mainstream views on what women who lift heavy look like.

“They’re strong, healthy, happy, and confident. One of the great aspects of strength sports – whether you compete or not – is that the discipline and strength developed results in a strong body and mind, empowering athletes in all aspects of their life. All reasons for why I love the powerlifting lifestyle!”

So, what is powerlifting?

Powerlifting focuses on the three BIG lifts: the squat, the bench press and the deadlift.  The aim is to perform each lift once with as much weight as possible (a one rep max).

The winner is whoever ends up with the biggest total in your category (i.e. the combined weight of each of their best lifts).

When it comes to competing, it’s all about relative strength.  You will be competing against your own gender, weight class and in some cases your age group which means anyone can get involved.

The powerlifting community is a friendly and inclusive one and, although competitions are a great way to meet likeminded people, you don’t have to compete or even focus on one rep maxes to reap the rewards of nailing the three big lifts.

Your fat burn power-up

There are girls all over Instagram performing an alarming array of intricate and creative moves involving bands, cables, ankle weights and the smith machine.

Variety is great! BUT…

If your aim is to burn fat and tone up then the bread of butter of your training should centre around some form of squat, bench press or deadlift. You could even throw in an upper body pull.

As the big three are compound moves, your whole body is involved in the movement and you’ll get more fat burn for your buck.

The more you can lift, the more muscle you will likely build. This can help to increase your resting metabolic rate in the long term which means you’ll be burning more calories, even whilst you catch up on Survival of the Fittest later that evening.

Yet more significantly, as you get stronger, you’ll be able to move more weight around and therefore burn more calories within your workout.

Plus, if you enjoy it, you won’t be tempted to skip a workout. And as we know, consistency is key for fat burn. Regular weight training beats a once-in-a-blue-moon, half-hearted plod on the treadmill every time.

Your future self will thank you

As we age, we become more prone to muscle loss (sarcopenia) and bone loss (osteoporosis).

Studies have shown that weight bearing activity can greatly help retain bone density and protect against muscle atrophy (loss) as we get older.

No matter what age or level you’re at, you can get strong and build muscle.

With a few sessions to focus on technique, lifting is perfectly safe. The one thing that isn’t safe is being weak.  If you want to avoid hip replacements in later life, the sooner you start lifting the better.

It’s a great confidence builder

The media and society seem to focus solely on weight loss when it comes to women. Constantly telling us that we should diet. Shrink ourselves. Burn off the calories and burn ourselves out.

The great thing about weight training is that it forces you to change your mindset from what your body ‘should’ look like to what it can actually do.

And that’s an awesome feeling.

For Louise, it completely changed her perspective:

I first started lifting simply because I wanted to look and feel stronger. After committing to a bodybuilding competition on a whim (after seeing a friend compete), I had no choice but to throw myself into the process.

But it wasn’t the moments of success that kept me lifting, even after bodybuilding. It was the realisation that, through lifting, I could literally morph my body and mind into anything I could articulate or visualise.  My parents instilled strong, independent, feminist values in me but lifting provided proof, completely changing my perspective on life and expectations of myself.

The lessons I take away from winning, failing, injuries – all the experience and learnings that come from building a passion into a lifestyle – make me a more resilient person, which feeds into all aspects of my life, including my career.”

The focus in powerlifting is a positive one – on growth – rather than a negative one on becoming less.

No matter how you feel about your body, once the weights on the bar start going up and you see yourself getting stronger, then no-one, not even your inner critic, can take that away from you.

Don’t worry, you won’t get hench

You won’t.

Even if you really tried to.  Even if you trained regularly and in a calorie surplus for years, you still wouldn’t look like a man.

Women don’t have the same hormones as men for that kind of natural growth. Instead you’ll be adding tone to your shape.

Plus, rather interestingly, you can still increase your strength without increasing your muscle mass.  This is largely due to getting better at the skill of performing the lifts, and neural factors enabling increased level of muscle activation.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at some elite female powerlifters. The best thing is that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg and, as the sport gathers popularity and becomes more competitive, it’ll be fascinating to see what the true potential of female strength is.

Is powerlifting for you?

Sure, you might start lifting because you want to get ‘toned’ but sooner or later you’ll start paying more attention to the weight on the bar, than the weight on your bathroom scale.

You’ll start getting curious. You’ll wonder how much more weight you could lift and what your potential might be.

Aesthetic goals might be what get you started but hitting performance goals are what keep you hooked.

 Powerlifting for beginners

Ready to give it a go? Here’s a simple program to get you going if you’re new to lifting.

Simply aim to stay within the RPE range (the rate of perceived exertion) – in other words, how difficult you find it out of 10. For example, if the RPE is seven then you should pick a weight that you could comfortably perform another 3 reps with.

There are three days in the programme and you’ll repeat the program for four weeks, each time aiming to add a bit more weight to the bar every week or two.  Ensure you rest at least one day between training days. Here it is:

Day 1: This is your hypertrophy day, meaning you’re working with higher rep-ranges, aiming to build muscle.

Day 2: This is your power day. You’ll be lifting heavier than the hypertrophy day, but for less reps. The aim is to perform the reps with force, so the bar should be moving speedily.

Day 3: This will be your strength day. The weights will be heavier than the other two days and you might be slower at performing the moves. That said, your technique should never break down.

Day 1
Exercise Sets Reps Rpe
Back squat 3 8 6 to 7
Bench press 3 8 6 to 7
Romanian deadlift 2 6 6 to 7
Lat pull down 3 8 6 to 7
Day 2
Exercise Sets Reps Rpe
Back squat 3 3 7
Bench press 3 3 7
Deadlift 2 4 7
Seated row 3 5 7
Day 3
Exercise Sets Reps Rpe
Back squat 3 4 8 to 9
Bench press 3 4 8 to 9
Deadlift 3 4 8 to 9
Military press 3 5 8
A few powerlifting tips

To go with the plan, here are some tips from me: 

  • Try investing in a session with a PT or powerlifting coach who can correctly show you how to perform each exercise and how to set up the squat rack.
  • Focus on your form first, over the amount of weight on the bar. Don’t let ego get the better of you!
  • Make sure you write down (on paper or on your phone) the weights you’re lifting for each exercise, so you can track your progress.

If you’re interested in competing, then make sure you’re performing the lifts according to IPF rules:

  • Squat – you need to squat deep enough so that your hip crease is below the top of your kneecap.
  • Bench press – you must have your bottom and shoulders on the bench, your heels on the floor and the bar has to touch your chest motionless before you then press it up.
  • Deadlift – once you’re upright, you must be in a lock out position, where your shoulders are back, hips are forward, and knees are straight.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a few more words from Louise. I think they represent how the whole female powerlifting community feels:

Competing – or completing a programme designed to help you achieve specific goals – means overcoming so many fears: fear or underperforming, fear of not getting the result, fear of losing or not being up to the standard required.

Lifting is a truly accessible way to overcome these fears every day. The bad days are just as valuable as the good ones when you decide to approach them as an opportunity for improvement.

No matter what gender, weight, race, shape or age you are, your limitations are only those you choose to believe in. And when you succeed in lifting something heavy – you feel unstoppable!

The post Here’s Why Women Everywhere Are Taking Up Powerlifting appeared first on Food For Fitness.

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We’ve put together a list of 17 healthy and protein-packed vegetarian recipes you can try right now.

1. Curried Falafel with Kale Salad

Via Food Network Canada

This curried falafel recipe packs a protein punch thanks to the addition of chickpeas and chickpea flour. Bake, slather in curry sauce, and enjoy with a side of kale salad.

2. Vegetarian Lentil Chilli

via Lentil Chilli Recipe

This is a quick and easy recipe for a delicious vegetarian chilli using lentils and kidney beans to power up the protein.

3. Quinoa with Acorn Squash & Pomegranate

Via A Food for Thought

Quinoa is the superfood that vegetarians and vegans’ dreams are made of. Not only will this recipe keep you full, it’s also teeming with all kinds of nutritional goodness. Make a large batch to enjoy together with friends and family for lunch and dinner.

4. Great Big Vegan Salad

Via Delish Knowledge

This BIG salad packs 30 grams of protein thanks to the addition of lentils and tempeh. It takes just minutes to prepare and is guaranteed to be more exciting than your usual bland lettuce and carrot salad.

5. Braised Leeks & Muscovado Lentils

Via Sprouted Kitchen

Sweet lentils may not be the most exciting vegetable out there, but the braised leeks in this recipe perfectly complement their natural sweetness.

6. High Protein Veggie Burger

Via AMLA MIAMI

‘Vegetarian burger’ may seem like an oxymoron, but this vegan-friendly take on the classic burger is out to prove you wrong. Not only is it bursting with flavor, it’s also rich in protein thanks to the combination of brown rice and black beans.

7. Mango Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

Via Oh My Veggies

If you want a healthier take on the tortilla wrap, this recipe has you covered. The protein-rich tempeh serves as the meat substitute, complemented by the fresh flavors of mango, lime, and cucumber.

8. Easy Vegan Chili Sin Carne

 Via Wallflower Kitchen

Make a big pot of this recipe and freeze it into smaller portions—you’ve pretty much taken care of a few days’ worth of meal prep. With 25 grams of protein per serving, this recipe is proof you don’t need meat to up your protein intake.

9. Teriyaki Tofu Stir Fry

Via Vegetarian Gastronomy

This one-pot Teriyaki Tofu Stir Fry is the perfect vegetarian dish the whole family can enjoy. It doesn’t hurt that it only takes a few minutes to prepare.

10. Lou’s Lush Lentil Curry

Via Lou’s Lush Lentil Cury

This is a delicious low calorie lentil curry that is suitable for anyone following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

11. Vegan Tempeh BLT Wrap

Via Peaceful Dumpling

Yes, it’s another tempeh-based recipe, but what else can you do when tempeh is such an excellent meat alternative? Season according to your taste and you’ve got yourself a healthier but just as delicious take on the popular BLT sandwich.

12 Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Via I Heart Vegetables

If you’re trying to reduce your carbohydrate intake without sacrificing your love for pasta, this popular carb swap should be just what you need. The best part? Each low-calorie serving has 18 grams of protein.

13 Peanutty Quinoa Bowls with Baked Tofu

Via Oh My Veggies

If you’re still on the fence when it comes to tofu, baking it may change your mind. Add your baked tofu to a bowl of quinoa and vegetable, slather with peanut sauce and enjoy an indulge dish with over 20 grams of protein per serving.

14 Sesame Soba Noodles with Tempeh Croutons

Via Veg Kitchen

Noodle fans will love this gluten-free noodle dish that combines the Asian flavors of soba noodles, collard greens, and sesame seeds and oil. The tempeh is icing on the cake, upping the protein content of this recipe.

15. Wasabi Pea Tofu with Red Cabbage and Leeks

Via My Recipes

The combination of wasabi pea tofu, red cabbage, and leeks, makes this a succulent protein and nutrient-dense recipe.

16. Spinach and Refried Bean Quesadillas

Via kitchn

Spinach pretty much goes with everything—soups, sautéed side dishes, smoothies, you name it. This recipe substitutes the usual cheese and meat found in quesadilla dishes with the protein richness of spinach.

17. Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Seitan

Via Epicurious

If you don’t know what seitan is, don’t worry it tastes a lot like tofu. More importantly, it has just as much protein, giving this recipe a generous 20 grams of protein per serving.

The post 17 High-Protein Vegetarian Recipes to Help You Reach Your Protein Goals appeared first on Food For Fitness.

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