Category Archives: breakfast

Why Flexible Dieting is a FAD

“Flexible Dieting”, “If It Fits Your Macros”, “IIFYM”, “Macro-Tracking” – call it what you want and say what you want about it, but it’s a diet.

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Before we go any further, allow me to explain what Flexible Dieting/IIFYM is.  Within food we have 3 macronutrients – carbs, protein and fat.  All foods contain these macronutrients or ‘macros’ in varying amounts.  For example; things like bread, oats, fruit and vegetables will tend to have more carbs; meat, fish and eggs tend to have more protein; and things like avocado, oils and butter will be have more fat.

The idea of tracking macros is that you input food into an app – such as the incredibly popular MyFitnessPal – or simply write it down and take note of how much of each macronutrient you eat throughout the day – being careful not to exceed your pre-calculated limit for the day.

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Some of you who have been following me for a while will know that a couple of years ago I tracked macros religiously – I was the flexible dieting queen.  I swore by it.  So I feel like I can talk from experience when I say how damaging it can be – rather that just being opinionated about something I haven’t even tried.  I also know how responsible I have been in the past for advocating tracking macros but you know what – I was wrong.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for tracking macros.  I currently work with athletes and know that in some sports, especially those that are weight categorised (such as rowing or powerlifting) or require an extremely low body fat percentage (such as bodybuilding) tracking macros can be essential for improving performance.  I also think it’s great to have an idea of what different foods comprise of  – but you do not need to track macros in order to do that.

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However, tracking macros should not be for the average Joe.  And here’s why:

Firstly and most importantly: 9/10 times it leads to an unhealthy relationship with food.  Gone over your macros for the day?  Ah well, might as well blow it and binge on everything you can find in the house.  Hungry in the evening?  Sorry, you can’t eat anything else because it won’t fit your macros.  It can lead to complete obsession with food; constant thoughts about food, when and what you will eat next, planning ahead to see what you can “fit” into your daily intake.

Sure, people make results when tracking macros – any diet that restricts your intake will lead to you losing weight and, in some cases, becoming extremely lean.  However, you can see what tracking macros does to people’s bodies but you can’t see what it’s doing to their mind.  

Tracking macros can often be a precursor for disordered eating and even eating disorders.  And in some cases, it’s a way for people previously suffering from eating disorders to mask that they are still suffering – weighing yourself, weighing food, preoccupation with bodyweight and size, tracking every morsel of food – see any scary similarities?

Tracking macros can also put you completely out of tune with your own body.  You forget how it feels to be hungry or full and instead eat because it’s what you’ve planned for your daily intake.  You end up losing some satisfaction from food because you eat things that “fit your macros” rather than something that is filling and satisfying both physically and mentally.

Some could argue that tracking macros is also mostly completely pointless as there is so much room for error.  From errors in tracking the actual food to errors in working out your macros in the first place.  There are calculations we can use to estimate how many calories we need a day, which in itself is pretty inaccurate.  To be more accurate you could measure your Resting Energy Expenditure via direct or indirect calorimetry.  But even still, this is never going to be 100% accurate.  The truth is, our bodies need differing amounts of fuel on a daily, weekly, monthly basis because things are always changing internally and externally – the human body is far more complex than we can imagine.  We don’t know exactly how much food is being digested, absorbed and utilised in each of our bodies because we are all individual, and this can change every day depending on a number of factors.

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For a large proportion of people, tracking macros takes the focus away from health, especially when taking a “flexible dieting” approach.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you can’t enjoy your favourite foods – I do on the daily, but I don’t feel the need to track it.  Tracking your favourite foods is just allowing yourself to eat things you like without guilt – but guess what, you can do that without tracking what you eat!  People often end up eliminating things from their diet that are perfectly healthy because they don’t “fit” (e.g. not having fruit because of the sugar content) but will happily eat something less nutrient-dense because it’s “macro-friendly”.

It’s not something you can keep up forever – imagine having a partner and kids and still tracking what you eat.  It certainly doesn’t promote having a good relationship with food to your kids (or anyone else around you) and is so time-consuming – honestly, who can be arsed for that?!  We need to start thinking of our health and fitness in terms of longevity and enjoyment – its not about being the most shredded or even being the strongest or fastest.

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One of the problems is that we are so dissatisfied with how we look these days that we go to extreme measures to get the body we want.  Well guess what – I tracked macros, became extremely lean (to a near dangerous point) and still wasn’t happy with my body (not to mention how unhealthy I was).  Now that I’m much less lean and have started to accept my body for how it is and what it can do, I enjoy eating and exercising for how it makes me feel, I am so much happier and healthier.

Tracking macros is still dieting, even though some swear it’s a lifestyle.  What kind of lifestyle doesn’t allow you to eat in the evenings when you are hungry because you’ve “used all your carbs up for the day”?  Or stops you going out for food with friends out of fear that you “don’t know what the macros are”?  Or means that you turn down your Grandmother’s homemade cake because it “doesn’t fit your macros”?  Certainly not a lifestyle I want.

 

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Frittata

I recently discovered how to make a frittata.  It’s pretty similar to an omelette but is easier to make & ensure that it is cooked through (and it tastes a little better in my opinion!).  It’s a favourite low-carb, protein-packed breakfast, lunch or post-workout meal of mine.  It’s so simple to make & you can use any vegetables that you like to tailor it to your taste!

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Courgette, pepper & spinach-filled Frittata topped with feta cheese & sweet potato fries!

RECIPE

  • 2 whole eggs OR 1 whole egg + 1 or 2 egg whites
  • Vegetables of choice.  My favourites are peppers, red onion, courgette, tomatoes, spinach
  • Coconut oil (or other oil of your choice) for frying
  1. Chop up your choice of vegetables into small cubes.
  2. In a small frying pan, heat some oil over a medium-high heat.
  3. Fry your veg in the oil until soft.  Remember to put things like peppers and courgettes in first as they take longer to soften, but things like tomatoes, onions and spinach in a little while after, as they will take only a couple of minutes to soften.  Season with black pepper/herbs.
  4. Whisk your eggs/egg whites together with a little black pepper.  I usually use 1 whole egg & 2 egg whites to ensure that my frittata is packed full of protein!
  5. Once your vegetables have softened, add your beaten eggs to the frying pan and allow the bottom to cook.
  6. Once the bottom has cooked, take your frying pan and place it under a pre-heated grill on a medium heat for about 3-6 minutes to allow your frittata to cook through.
  7. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn on top, but when it starts to turn golden, it’s ready!

This is great to eat on it’s own or I sometimes like to top my frittata with some Total Greek Yoghurt, low fat Quark or feta cheese.  You could also add an avocado for some extra healthy fats or some sweet potato fries afterwards for some complex carbs.

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If you make any of my recipes, be sure to take a photo & tag me in it on Twitter or Instagram! Enjoy!

Overnight Oats – Blueberry & Almond

I LOVE breakfast, and I always make sure that I make time for it every morning, even when I’m up early for work.  It’s essential for kick-starting your metabolism for the day & keeping you fuelled.  You’re also a lot less likely to gain weight (and more likely to lose it) if you eat a nutritious breakfast as it stops you craving carby, sugary foods later in the day & hence having a big 10931538_10152635935387151_3684292868654134880_nbinge on anything that you can get your hands on to fill the gap!

However, I know that sometimes it is difficult to get up in time to make a good breakfast, and that having an extra 10 minutes in bed sounds a lot more appealing.  So, here is a solution to help you have that extra sleep AND a healthy breakfast!

Introducing the amazing, quick, easy, tasty breakfast phenomenon that is – Overnight Oats!  For those of you who have never heard of this recipe, it’s basically porridge which you leave to soak overnight and then eat in the morning!  There is no cooking involved and it literally takes no longer than 5 minutes to prepare the night before: perfect for you busybodies who are short on time in the mornings – you can even take it with you on the go!  There will be no need to skip breakfast ever again after trying this recipe!

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RECIPE

  • ⅔ cup (about 60g) Oats
  • ⅔ cup (about 160ml) unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup blueberries*
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

*I would advise using frozen blueberries as they defrost overnight and all the juices release into your oats and it’s just totally amazing.

Simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and then transfer to an airtight container (I use a jar) and place in the fridge overnight.  All that’s left to do is to take it out of the fridge in the morning and eat!  You may want to add a little more milk in the morning to loosen it up if you prefer a runnier texture and you can top it with your favourite foods to make it even more delicious.  My favourite toppings for this flavour are Greek yoghurt and microwaved frozen blueberries (soo good!).

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Be sure to let me know if you try this out; details of where to get in touch are on my Contact Me page.  Enjoy!