The Nutrition Coach Blog London Nutritionist The Nutrition Coach offers advice on healthy living, nutrition and diet issues such as IBS, bloating, gluten intolerance and more.

Calories on the menu!

March 25, 2011

Most people agree that by putting calories on the menu, it will encourage people to eat healthier when they are trying to choose what to eat from their favourite restaurant. (See article page 2, The Times, 17 February, 2011) Although this seems like a stunningly good idea  some of those restaurants who were involved in a voluntary pilot group the government put together were surprised to note that people did not seem to make their choices according to calories.  It seems that the people who are already aware are aware enough to make the choices naturally, and those that don’t make choices according to calories, dont care anyway!   I really do find this very hard to believe, espcially for those  involved as  professionals looking to “educate” the public but many people are simply going out to eat to have a good time and not to be preached at.

Just putting the calories on menus can miss the point too -  for example some fats (and therefore calories) can be beneficial (eg  Omega 3 fat in Salmon) An avocado sandwhich can have a huge amount of calories but is full of good fats whereas some fat is not the kind that is benefical to humans, like huge amounts of saturated fat.

Whilst it is a good idea to watch how many calories consumed in a day of course,  the calorie story on its own does nto put the food into context.  It is important to know what the mirco nutrient content is too (vitamins and minerals).  It is possible to have a low calorie meal which has not contributed to over all health, and left the person starving and digging into a cream bun later on in the day.

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Combat Weight Gain And Ageing: Metabolism

March 8, 2011

1. Nutrition-reduce obvious & hidden sugars

If you want to lose weight it’s very important to eliminate obvious sugar from your diet. We’re not just talking about obvious forms found in desserts and processed foods, but also to reduce our consumption of hidden ones in foods most of us consider to be healthy. Hidden sugars are also found in carbohydrates such as grains which break down to simple sugars and can contribute to insulin resistance. What is insulin resistance you may ask? Well, the cells in our body need a continuous supply of glucose (or sugar) for their energy requirements. Glucose, however, cannot penetrate the outer membrane of a cell without the assistance of insulin, a hormone which acts as a gatekeeper, allowing glucose to enter cells. Insulin stimulates the body to convert excess glucose (or sugar) which our cells don’t need (i.e. think too much chocolate etc) into fat and then helps to block the breakdown of this stored fat for energy production, making weight loss difficult.

For various biochemical reasons, the body may become less sensitive to its own insulin and compensates by producing more. Higher insulin levels not only make your body store even more fat, it also makes it more difficult to lose weight by blocking the release of fat from the fat cells so it can be burned for fuel. This explains why so many people have problems losing weight.

2. Exercise- high-intensity interval training & weight lifting

High-intensity interval training done 2-3 times weekly can boost your metabolism and increase fat loss, but is also a potent “anti-aging” strategy, as it will naturally increase your body’s production of human growth hormone (HGH).HGH promotes muscle, effectively burns fat and plays an important role in promoting overall health/longevity.

Weight lifting is another essential part of a programme for kick-starting your metabolism. Having more muscle is one of the best ways of burning fat you will ever come across because it helps you burn more calories, without you having to actually “do” more.

This is because muscle is metabolically very active and requires energy just to sit on your frame – even when you sleep. For every pound of muscle that you gain, your body will burn approximately 50-70 calories more per day, and burning more calories leads to a reduction of excess fat.

3.  Are you getting enough sleep?

If you aren’t getting between 7-8 hours of sleep daily, you are disrupting your biological processes, including those regulating your metabolism. Your biological rhythm of sleeping and waking, also known as your circadian rhythm, is intricately tied to your metabolism and cannot be overlooked. In order to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, it’s important to have consistent regular exposure to day light during the day and sleep in absolute darkness at night. This means turning off all the lights in your room, including night lights and perhaps investing in blackout blinds.

In addition, sleep deprivation has been shown to affect levels of hormones called leptin and ghrelin, which are linked with appetite and eating behavior. When you are sleep deprived, your body decreases production of leptin, the hormone that tells your brain there is no need for more food. At the same time it increases levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger. This leads to decreased satiety and increased hunger pangs.

If you would like to know more about combatting Weight Gain & Ageing contact us for further information or check out the brilliant Courses designed to get you fighting on the right track .

Wishing you the best of health


The Myth Of The One Size Fits All Diet

February 20, 2011

Most of us realise that a “good diet” is important for our well-being and many of us think we are eating healthily. But what is a “good diet”? We are bombarded with newspaper, television, and magazine stories about the latest nutrition research or fads, which are often conflicting. When following this advice, many people then find that it does not result in improved well-being, as expected. Thus, while such sources of information are certainly useful in some ways, they often also leave us confused about what we should be eating and present a challenge to people wanting to improve their nutrition and overall health.

Confusion arises partly because the concept of a “good diet” assumes that we all have the same nutritional needs. We don’t. We all have different health profiles and life circumstances and therefore unique nutritional requirements. There is no such thing as a universal diet which suits everyone.

Nutritional Therapists have long-recognised the importance of individual lifestyles and  biochemical make-up and thus the potential flaws present in transferring dietary guidelines designed for the general population to dietary recommendations for optimising individual health.

So why not call one of our expert Nutrition Coach team members to find out if your diet  is right for you?

Wishing you the best of health


Beat the January blues with protein

January 31, 2011

If you’re feeling depressed or low in motivation it may be that you don’t have enough feel-good chemicals in your brain.  We need sufficient levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin to help us feel happy and enough noradrenalin to keep us feeling motivated.  By eating a diet rich in the right nutrients you can boost levels of these neurotransmitters and therefore boost your mood naturally.  

Serotonin is produced from the amino acid tryptophan and therefore eating foods rich in tryptophan is an important first step in raising serotonin levels.  Excellent sources of tryptophan include oats, tofu, eggs, fish, beans, turkey and chicken. 

Noradrenalin is produced from the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine, and therefore eating foods rich in these amino acids are ideal for helping to raise noradrenalin levels.  Excellent food sources include almonds, butter beans, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, oats, fish, eggs, meat, soya and poultry.

Therefore to help keep the January blues away, try to increase your protein intake with these amino acid rich foods, so that you can bounce out of January and into February!


Don’t crash diet

January 6, 2011

You ate, drank and made merry all through the festive season. “So what?” you thought, “it can wait till January. Well, January has come, and now, what a hangover! And not the boozy kind, either. I’m talking about what’s drooping over the top of your (once skinny) jeans.

If you want to shape up in a healthy way and keep your New Year’s resolution for longer than a week, don’t make the most common diet mistakes I’ll share with you over the next couple of weeks.

Diet Mistake Number 1: Crash Diets

Yes, it does sound tempting, losing six pounds in four days! If you can stick to that juice or soup or three-bowls-of-cereal-a-day diet for a couple of days, you’ll be even fitter than before Christmas.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work this way. If you follow a crash diet where you cut out major food groups (e.g. carbohydrates or fats) or only concentrate on a small variety of foods, you are not only missing out on vital nutrients for optimum health and well-being, but are very likely to:

a) end up developing cravings for those foods you cut out which probably means you’ll

b) stuff your face uncontrollably in the evening or at night or any social events.

You are also likely to put back on all the weight you lost (and more) when you go back to eating normally (yo-yo affect anyone?). You will also probably be hungry, grumpy, and low in energy most of the time you are following that specific crash diet. And is January not depressing enough as a cold, dark month?

What you might not know is that your body doesn’t realise you are dieting and instead thinks there’s a famine, resulting in your metabolism slowing down based on your calorie intake. This will make it even harder for you to lose the weight and even easier for you to put it all back once you go back to your normal eating behaviour.

The key is to make healthy changes to your diet that will automatically provide you with more nutrients to balance your blood sugar levels and keep your metabolism up. Think swapping your juice for an actual piece of fruit, your sugary cereal for porridge, or your potatoes for brown rice.

My first tip for achieving your New Year’s Resolution: Start a food diary and write down everything you eat and drink throughout the day. It’ll help you to understand your eating behaviours, strengths and weaknesses, and show you where you can make some positive changes in your diet.

Now go out and by that diary! You’ll find them in the sale, and you’ll be surprised at what they uncover.

Here’s to a healthy and happy 2011!

Best wishes,


Banish the hangover this Christmas

December 22, 2010

Did you wake up with a throbbing headache, a general feeling of physical misery, a tiger in your bathroom (?) and a bit of left over turkey on your shirt?
Guess my advice from my previous column on here’s the city didn’t quite make it to the bar with you. But before you choose to finish that cold turkey or opt for the bloody mary, try these tips instead:


Alcohol is a diuretic – a chemical that kicks your urinary system into overdrive, and unless you managed to alternate your alcoholic beverages with water in between (which never works does it?), your post-drinking symptoms are most likely due to dehydration. Rehydrating is key when it comes to recovering from a hangover and cannot be stressed enough. But I’m not talking coffee, Red Bull or hair-of-the-dog here. Caffeine is an acknowledged stimulant, and while you might hope caffeine can perform its miracles of giving some much needed focus and alertness, it’s another diuretic. Red Bull isn’t much better (and requires another column), and choosing the hair-of-the-dog option would only be advisable if you want to pass out to forget what you’ve done the night before. Coffee will not help your stomach either, so the best option is water at room temperature. You may add some fresh lemon or fresh orange juice to give you additional Vitamin C for energy, and for soothing your upset tummy.

Top Up

When you drink excessively, you lose a lot of key minerals and vitamins including potassium, magnesium and B-Vitamins, all of which need to be topped up. Bananas are a great hangover food; they are like nature’s own little hangover cures. Not only are they full of fructose (natural fruit sugar) to help with energy, they contain a nice amount of potassium. Bananas are also natural antacids – which will help your nausea and stomach pain – and they also contain magnesium, which helps to relax pounding blood vessels in your head. Have a banana on toasted wholegrain bread (for the carbohydrates and B-Vitamins) with organic peanut or almond butter (great sources of magnesium and protein), and you get a good dose of all those key minerals and vitamins you lost the night before. Drinking vegetable bouillon soup or coconut water are two other good sources of vitamins and minerals, and easy for a fragile stomach to digest.


Do eat. Yes, it might be the last thing you want to do, but you will undoubtedly feel a lot better the minute you get your blood sugar levels up after having had some food. There is no one-and-only hangover food cure, but I’ve heard from many of my friends that you can’t beat a good fry-up. It gives you the greasy fat to coat your stomach, and the bread and eggs will give you the carbohydrates and protein for energy and blood sugar support. All I can say there is no perfect food cure for a hangover, so if you’ve found one that works for you, stick to it. My advise, though, would be to opt for a well-balanced meal, including all groups of macronutrients: complex carbohydrate, lean protein and healthy unsaturated fats. A toasted wholegrain bagel with cream cheese and salmon is another good option, and so is porridge with natural yoghurt and strawberries, giving you enough fibre for blood sugar balance, selenium to boost liver function, and Vitamin C for energy and soothing your tummy.


But for the best cure of all (and if you have the luxury of not having to get up), go back to bed after your breakfast and sleep it off.

Wishing you a wonderful and nutritious Christmas!


Nutrition coach
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