fbpx

My Healthy Snacks

Sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration to stick to healthy eating. We all know nutrition plays a big part into weight loss and health and snacking can easily become unhealthy. So let’s get inspired and take look into some of my favourite snacks that are healthy, easy to make and satisfying.

 

Muesli Bars:

Muesli bars and nut bars are a convenient on the go snack. However, many brands pack them full of sugar, so much that eating one bar would be the same as eating a slice of cake! The nice and natural range of protein nut bars have one of the lowest sugar contents on the market. The salted caramel flavour as pictured has the lowest sugar of the range at <2g per 100g.

Rice cakes:

Rice cakes are low in calories and when topped with nutrient dense foods, create a wholesome snack.

There are endless options for toppings, but here are a few ideas:

  • Nut butter and banana/apple slices
  • Avocado and tomato
  • Hummus and chicken
  • “Healthy Pizza” – Pizza sauce, melted cheese, olives, basil
  • Curried eggs
  • Tuna/salmon
  • Ham and cheese
  • Cream cheese and smoked salmon

Healthy berry and chocolate yogurt:

Greek yogurt is high in calcium and probiotics which aid in bone health and a healthy bacterial balance in the gut. However, plain Greek yogurt can be bitter tasting. The following recipes spruce up plain Greek yogurt to make it a little tastier.

 

Vanilla berry yogurt:

Start with some plain Greek yogurt and mix in the following:

  • Low-calorie sweetener e.g. stevia or agave
  • Vanilla essence
  • Optional: Vanilla protein powder
  • Warmed frozen berries
  • Add a handful of nuts & seeds on top for some crunch

Healthy chocolate yogurt:

Again, start with some plain Greek yogurt and mix in the following:

  • Low-calorie sweetener e.g. stevia or agave
  • Vanilla essence
  • Cacao power
  • Optional: Chocolate protein powder
  • Optional: Cacao nibs (healthy chocolate chips)

Sweet potato fries:

Sweet potatoes are a great source of fibre and well as containing an array of vitamins and minerals, especially B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, calcium and selenium.

Cut up a sweet potato into thin slices. Toss the fries in approx. ½ a tablespoon of cornstarch before adding 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bake in the oven until crispy. If desired, add seasonings such as pepper, garlic powder, or mixed herbs.

Banana oat cookies:

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of oat flour (can blend regular oats in a food processor/blender to reach flour consistency)
  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips or raisins
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Low calorie sweetener to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Mash the bananas into a puree type consistency. Mix in the oat flour, rolled oats, cinnamon, and chocolate chips/raisins.  If desired add in a low-calorie sweetener such as stevia or agave to taste. If the sweetener is a liquid add 2 tablespoons more oat flour to bind the mixture. This mixture will not spread while baking so form into the desired cookie shape, arrange on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes.

These biscuits can be eaten on there own or with some Greek yogurt for a filling snack or even breakfast.

Banana Pikelets:

If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare then these are a perfect sweet, yet low sugar treat!

Ingredients:

  • One medium banana
  • One egg
  • ½ cup of your choice of flour – whole meal, gluten free, almond, coconut etc. personally I prefer buckwheat flour as it has a high protein content!
  • ¼ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon of baking powder
  • ½ cup of any type of milk (cows, almond, oat etc.)
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon

Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until a smooth consistency Is achieved.  Fry in a pan cooking both sides. These can be eaten plain or topped with yogurt, berries etc. and can easily be packed in a container for an on the go snack.

 

The Science of Coffee – Friend or Enemy?

Arguably the world’s favourite beverage, coffee is frequently in the headlines for both positive and negative health effects. This can be confusing when new research constantly gives conflicting opinions. So, let’s take a look at the big picture and conclude whether coffee is our friend or enemy.

The Good

Improved Energy levels and Intelligence – Coffee contains a stimulant called caffeine. After drinking coffee, caffeine absorbs into the blood and travels to the brain where it binds to adenosine receptors. These receptors are involved in promoting sleep and when caffeine is bound, sleep promoting effects are inhibited – thus resulting in feelings of wakefulness.

Can help burn fat – Several studies show that coffee can increase your metabolic rate by 3-11%. However, other studies have shown these effects may be diminished in long-term coffee drinkers.

Can improve exercise performance – Caffeine increases adrenaline levels in the blood and release fatty acids into the blood to be available for fuel – these effects can improve physical performance. The best pre-workout aid around.

High in Antioxidants – Coffee contains high levels of antioxidants which are known to reduce oxidative damage in the body. This may be why some studies have found lower risks of liver cancer in coffee drinkers.

Contains Essential nutrients – Coffee contains small amounts of some vitamins including B1, B2, B3, B5, and B9 (folate); and minerals potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.

May protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia – Healthy eating and exercise are the main preventative measures for these diseases, but coffee may be effective as well. Studies have shown up to 65% lower risk of Alzheimer’s in coffee drinkers.

May lower risk of type 2 Diabetes – Observational studies have associated coffee with a decreased risk of diabetes. However, conflicting research has shown that in diabetics and those with insulin resistance coffee spikes insulin levels which worsens these conditions.

 The Bad

Elevated Cholesterol – High consumption of unfiltered coffee has been associated with mild elevations in cholesterol.

Heart Disease – Some studies have found two or more cups of coffee per day may increase the risk of heart disease

Caffeine Dependence – Another downside is that people may become dependent on the energy boost from coffee, rather than the bodies natural energy.  “Withdrawal” symptoms can include headaches, irritability, and fatigue

Stress – The caffeine in coffee increases catecholamines – your stress hormones.

Digestive issues – The acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, heart burn, and imbalances in your gut microbiome.

Decreased serotonin – Caffeine can disrupt serotonin synthesis in the brain – a hormone which controls mood, sleep, and energy levels.

Decreased both health – Studies have shown elevated excretion of calcium, magnesium, and potassium in coffee drinkers – these minerals are important for bone health.

The Verdict

Like all foods and fluids that we put in our bodies, everything is okay in moderation. It is clear that coffee has a multitude of health benefits, but, over indulging in too much coffee does have negative side effects. The New Zealand Nutrition Foundation recommends a limit of 3 coffees per day or 300-400mg of caffeine. Pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to less than 200mg per day as pregnancy slows the rate that caffeine is metabolized in the body and has been linked to low birth weight. Breastfeeding mothers should also be aware that caffeine may have stimulating effects on their child. Children should not consume coffee or any caffeine as it has been linked to irritability, sleeping problems, aggression, and attention issues.

If you choose to drink coffee be sure to have it as part of a healthy balanced diet.

If you are dependent on 2 or more coffees per day to feel energized, you may need to implement some healthy habits into your routine to boost natural energy levels:

  • Make sure you are drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day, and instead of going straight for a coffee in the morning try having a glass of water as soon as you wake up.
  • If you are tired allow more time for sleep for a natural energy boost – if you have trouble sleeping see our blog on sleep for tips on getting to sleep naturally and the benefits of a good sleep.
  • Include a variety of fruit and vegetables in your daily diet. Vitamins and minerals all play a role in natural energy production in the body.

If you have lost motivation over these colder months, come book in for a complimentary revive appointment and we can sit down with you and set some new goals. Hope to see you in the gym soon!

Hannah x

Big Butts: How to grow your glutes

Hi ladies, Lauren here! I unfortunately did not win the genetic lottery when it came to my butt, and was blessed with a bit of a flat pancake (thanks mum and dad!). Looking through social media, big butts seem to be very on trend at the moment, and while some people may think it’s great and want to grow their glutes, others may not, and that’s perfectly okay, everyone has different goals for their bodies! But if you’re looking for some tips to grow those glutes, keep reading.

Anatomy of the glutes

The Glutes are made up of 3 muscles, the gluteus minimus, the gluteus Medius, and the gluteus Maximus. Each play a different role, so you want to ensure you are working all three, just like you would train the front and backs of your legs. The glute max is one of the largest muscles in your body, and is the most superficial (close to the surface) of your glute muscles, which means that this is the muscle that will give you some shape. The glute med is located on the sides of your butt, and your glute min lies underneath both of these muscles. The glute med and min work with the glute max, to provide stability, and assist with simple tasks like walking and running.

Why should you train your glutes?

It’s not just about getting a Kim K butt (although, I’m not convinced hers is 100% real…!) I personally would love to have bigger glutes, not only to have a bigger butt, but also because inactive glutes can lead to injuries in your hips and knees. A sign of inactive glutes can be knee pain, tightness in your quadriceps, or excessive fatigue in your quadriceps to name a few. Bear in mind that inactive glutes are not the only cause of these injuries, and you should always get these issues checked over by a doctor or a physiotherapist.

What a glute-focused leg day looks like for me/Key glute building exercises:

My glute focused leg days have the same 3 exercises always. These exercises are:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Hip thrusts

I then add in two or three more “specialized” exercises, such as:

  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Hamstring curls
  • Curtsey lunges
  • Donkey kicks
  • Crab walks

I use the first three exercises every single leg day (I do 2 a week), this is because they are compound movements, meaning they train a range of different muscles and joints, which will overall help you gain strength everywhere. This is different to a hamstring curl, which is an isolated/specialised exercise, which targets the hamstrings alone. After having done my fair bit of research, I believe having a majority of your exercises be compound exercises, and throwing in some isolation exercises at the end of a workout are the best way to overall gain strength (and lose fat!)

Resistance bands and glute activation:  

Glute activation is something I’ve only learnt about in the past year. When it comes to squats for example, you should be able to feel your glutes working, but there was a long time where I really didn’t feel them working, so I stopped doing them. Now that I’ve learned to activate my glutes, I never fail to feel them working! A lot of us are sitting constantly, whether we are at school, uni, or an office job. This means that our poor glutes get next to no use, which causes them to be inactive, so when it comes to doing your squats, your butt may not activate.

You can activate your glutes by using a resistance band (we have them hanging up by the dumbbells). You want to make sure that the resistance band is tight around your thighs, just above your knees. There are a number of exercises you can do to warm up your glutes, such as squats, clams, glute bridges, donkey kicks, and fire hydrants. If you’re lost on what sort of exercises to do, there are a lot of YouTube videos to help you get started! It should take you about 5 minutes to warm up your glutes, you don’t want to tire yourself out before you’ve even started your workout!

How long will it take to grow my glutes?

This will depend on genetics, how often you train, and what you eat. In order to gain muscle, you want to be eating in a calorie surplus. You can still gain muscle on your normal number of calories or even in a deficit, but it will take longer. While eating in a surplus, it is said to take around three months to really grow your glutes and see progress, however genetics also plays a part, for some it will take a lot less time, and for some (including me ☹) it will take a little longer. By adding some of those compound and isolated exercises to your next leg day, I’m sure you’ll start to see some results soon!

If you have any questions about glutes or want some ideas for exercises, don’t hesitate to let us know and we’ll be sure to help you out!

See you ladies soon!

Lauren 😊

The Truth About Abs

Different parts of the abdominals, how to get a flat stomach, how to strengthen your core…

We’ve all heard or tried to crunch our way to a six pack! But I’m sure you soon realized that no matter how many you did, that six pack never showed! The truth is there is more and better ways to effectively workout and define your abdominal muscles which also includes your diet. Before we begin talking about how to define the abdominals it is best to understand how the muscle group is made up.

The four main muscles within the abdominal muscle group are:

Rectus abdominus – the long strap of muscle that extends the entire length of the abdominal wall (the muscle that is associated with the “six-pack” look). This muscle is responsible for all your movements which involve flexing or extending the spine e.g sit ups.

Internal & External obliques – these are considered your side muscles with your external oblique being the most superficial (closest to skins surface). In simplified terms external oblique runs downwards from the posterior part of ribs to your abdomen and pelvis. Internal obliques lie underneath running from your pelvis/abdomen up towards the ribs (work in opposite directions). These muscles are responsible for any twisting, side flexion or rotating of the torso e.g bicycle crunches.

Transverse abdominus – is the deepest of the muscles with fibers running horizontally anteriorly across your middle. This muscle helps to compress the abdomen and stabilize the pelvis (known as the corset muscle as it provides the corset effect).

The core of your body

Abdominals play an important role in overall posture, balance & stability, good back health, and everyday tasks. The abdominals are the literal core of your body so it is important to train your abs for strength not only the idea of a flat stomach. When you have a strong core, you are less likely to put pressure on your lower back and reduce the chances of back pain as you get older. A strong core also helps to prevent injury throughout your everyday life by keeping your posture in check and giving you the support, you need to carry out things during the day.

The unfortunate thing with abs is no matter how hard you train them unless you’re eating a healthy diet and losing overall body fat your six-pack won’t show. That’s not to say that doing a lot of core exercises isn’t beneficial as you will be improving your core strength however, you will not be able to spot reduce your stomach fat to show off your strong core with thousands of crunches. The key to improving your core definition and strength is to incorporate a range of core exercises into your everyday workout routine as well as losing overall body fat. People store excess body fat in all different places whether it be their stomach, hips, thighs, back etc, which can also affect the amount of hard work you will need to put in to get a strong visible six-pack.

Before you think it’s going to be a never-ending battle between you, the gym and your diet… Here are some of my helpful hints to get you closer to that six-pack and overall stronger core!

  • Engage your core throughout the day! When you’re sitting at your desk all day try and take a moment every so often to adjust your posture and activate your core. This means sitting upright and squeezing your tummy muscles together. If you do this enough times it will begin to feel natural.
  • Focus on compound movements that involve your core throughout your whole workout. In fact, almost every exercise you should be engaging and activating your core in order to stabilize your movement. Such as during pushups – squeeze the core, front weighted squats – squeeze the core, shoulder press – squeeze the core. This is all beneficial to your posture, preventing injury and executing the exercise correctly.
  • Try adding a 5-10-minute ab routine to the beginning of every workout. Often people save their ab exercises to the end of their workout and then choose to skip them out because 1. You’ve ran out of time or 2. You can’t be bothered. Adding abs to the beginning of your workout will help fire them up to remain engaged for the rest of your workout.
  • Understand your gut! Checking your stomach out in the morning is always so much more satisfying than later in the day because our tummy’s bloat. Bloating is completely natural and you cannot stop it from happening however, you can help reduce it by understanding what works for you. Certain foods may cause you to bloat more than others. Try and figure out what makes you bloat the most and control your portion sizes to prevent that 5-month-pregnant feeling.
  • Get up and move! The more energy you expend each day the better for not only your overall health, mood, gut and energy levels but also helps aid in fat loss by burning more calories.
  • Focus on your core – when you are exercising your core, really focus on those muscles and practice proper engagement. This is the best way to really feel that burn!

Come chat to us about booking in for a complimentary personalised program and we can show you some of our favourite ab exercises. There is much better exercises than the traditional crunch or sit ups.

See you all soon,

Sam 🙂

5 ingredient ‘Nutella’ fudge cake

Ingredients

150g coconut oil
3/4 cup cacao powder
6 eggs
1 cup rice malt syrup
1 cup hazelnut meal

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius and line a circular baking pan with baking paper.
  2. Place coconut oil and cacao in a saucepan and stir until combined and melted.
  3. In an electric mixer, combine eggs and rice malt syrup.
  4. Add hazelnut meal and the chocolate mix to eggs and rice malt syrup and fold lightly until combined.
  5. Pour into the baking pan and bake for 35 minutes. Let cool, dust some cacao powder over the top and enjoy!

About My Clean Treats

Jess Lirosi is the creator of healthy dessert blog My Clean Treats. Featuring simple, guilt-free recipes, from chocolate cacao cake to traditional white chocolate and raspberry jelly slice, Jess’ desserts are made with no refined sugars or plain flours as she makes natural alternatives to her favourite treats.

You can find more of Jess’ clean treats at mycleantreats.com or follow her on Instagram @jess_mycleantreats, like My Clean Treats on Facebook or Twitter @jeslirosi for more healthy sweets.

Staying on track over the festive season

During the festive season a lot of us tend to fall off the band wagon and lose track of our healthy eating habits and regular exercise routine. Whilst it is perfectly okay to overindulge at your family Christmas BBQ or drink a little too much champagne over the New Year, you don’t want to lose sight of your end goals completely.

A common excuse at this time of the year is that you will start over in the New Year so everything you do now doesn’t count. Using this excuse to slack off your routine makes it that much more difficult to get started in the New Year and can often come with a lot of dread when you notice your favourite summer dress is a bit tighter than usual. Staying on track and enjoying this silly season doesn’t have to be a big task and doesn’t have to stop you from doing the things you love at this time of the year.

Here are my top tips to staying on track whilst still having a good time:

  • Drink plenty of water in between all the festive treats and alcohol! Staying hydrated will help to reduce overindulging, feeling sluggish and that hangover feeling the next day. If the idea of having a glass of water doesn’t appeal to you throughout the day, mix it up! Pour yourself a glass of sparkling water in a champagne glass and add a slice of lemon and some mint leaves! No one will know the difference!
  • Try all the salads and grilled veggies! Rather than loading your plate up with garlic bread, potatoes and meat, give some of the salads a go! Put the salads/vege on your plate first so you bulk your plate up with goodness before the carbs. Add your meat or protein source and then with the small room left take your garlic bread. You might discover a new salad recipe you love for summer
  • Stay away from the nibbles table when possible! At your family events or BBQ’s, try to strike up a conversation with someone out of reach of the nibbles. This way you can’t just sit there, mindlessly snacking the whole time. Enjoy the nibbles by going up to the table, grabbing a few things and walking away again.
  • Keep as little festive treats in your house as possible! If its not available to you, you can’t eat it. I’m sure during the festive season you will be indulging in treats at Christmas and New Year events so you don’t need the extra treats lying around your house for you to snack on.
  • Get outside and enjoy the sunshine! Going to the gym might not be doable for you at this time and that’s perfectly okay. However, try make the most of the longer summer days and get outside for walks with your friends, play cricket on the beach, kick a ball around or swim at the beach! Anything that keeps you active and expending some of that extra energy you’ve got!
  • Enjoy summer fruit! Instead of reaching for a candy cane or chocolate bar, snack on a piece of fresh fruit. Have the fruit prepped and ready to eat in the fridge so it is the first thing you see when you open the fridge. I like to chop up my pineapple and watermelon ready to grab and go.
  • Get creative with your favourite festive baking! Try find some healthy alternatives to your favorite recipes and create your own healthy version that works for you! There are so many small ingredients swap you can do to make your recipe a bit healthier!

Don’t restrict yourself form your favourite foods and don’t feel guilty for not making it to the gym like you usually would. The most important thing is to find balance in your lifestyle that works for you. Do your best and enjoy your holidays!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Sam x

Getting back on track after the Winter slump

The dark mornings and nights, and the moody weather of Winter can cause motivation to be at an all-time low. Now that spring is here and the days are looking a little brighter here are a few tips to help you get back into your gym routine.

Set Your Next Goal

Organising your next significant goal is one of the best ways to keep you on track. With a challenge planned for the near future, you will be less likely to give in to the urge to skip a session.

Here are some examples:

  • Harcourts Cooper and co Takapuna Beach Series (Every Tuesday starting  5th November) – 5km beach walk/run, 7km Coastal Run, Ocean Swim and Stand up paddle board.
  • Eukanuba Tails & Trails at Riverhead Forrest – Take your dog with you for this event and complete either a 5km or 10km trail run/walk
  • Tough guy and girl challenge. An obstacle course-based run in Auckland. (29th June 2020) – One to train for over Summer and just some great muddy fun!
  • Womens half marathon – Villa Maria Estate (19th Jan 2020)
  • Coastal Challenge – (22nd Feb 2020) Run walk/ wade and rock hop down the North Shore coastline – 6km/11km/17km/22km/22km relaz/33km/33km relay

 Plan tomorrow, tonight

Spending a few minutes at the end of each day thinking about what you’re going to do tomorrow, and physically writing it down, increases your likelihood of completing the task.

  • Plan your workout
  • Plan what time you will train
  • Write a mini goal for your session
  • Have everything you need laid out and ready to go – gym gear/clothes, alarm set, food and snacks prepared etc.

Train with Others

Making a commitment with a friend or a group not only makes the workouts more fun, but also keeps you accountable. Knowing that your meeting someone will make you less likely to skip the gym. Convince a friend to join with you and take turns at planning your workouts to keep things interesting. Joining a group fitness class is also a good way to make friends at the gym to keep you accountable.

Change your workout routine

Repeating the same routine and exercises can become boring and contribute to motivation loss. To avoid this, try out a new workout style, new exercises, or a new group fitness class. By switching things up you’ll keep your mind and body engaged. Doing the same routine continuously will also result in your body adapting, and slow your progress. “Shocking the body” with a new gym routine is a great way to see results. Come see us for a new complimentary personalised weights program for the gym.

Treat yourself to some new gym gear

A term called “enclothed cognition” refers to the psychological influence that clothing can have on us. It suggests that “dressing for the part” subconsciously changes our behaviors and attitudes. Basically, if you’re dressed for the gym, you’re not only more inclined to be active, but you can feel more confident in your abilities, leading to improved focus, motivation, and gains. So yes, this is your excuse to go buy some new gym wear that you feel good in 😊