Sunday, 23 September 2018

Are 'protein packed' foods really what they seem?

We all need protein in our diets and often we want to find a quick and easy way to grab some.  Our ‘go to’ idea might be a supermarket style ‘protein bar’.  A quick look at these might make you change your mind.

For example – Special K protein blackcurrant and pumpkin seed bars – at 3.9 g protein per 28 g bar are just about entitled to be called a ‘source of protein’ (govt regs is that at least 12% of the energy value of a food needs to come from protein). However, that’s not enough protein to make a real difference and of course there is more sugar than is good for you!  (5.6 g per bar) 

And Nature Valley protein peanut and cholate bars have 10 g of protein per 40 gm bar – so just about in the ‘high protein’ category but again loads of sugar – 6.2 g per bar this time. 

So, I got to wondering just how much protein we actually need a day. tells us that the average sedentary man needs 56 g protein a day and a sedentary woman about 46 g a day.  (Based on needing 0.8 g protein per kilogram of body weight).  You can see that protein bars should only be an occasional boost or your blood sugar will go through the roof. 

How about adding in a bit of natural protein?  Go for a mixed diet rich in eggs, milk, yoghurt, chicken and fish and you won’t go far wrong.  Add in nuts and seeds as a snack and you will hit your daily protein requirements. 

However, Steve says; if you are aiming to build big muscles you will need extra protein – in fact you will need 1.5 to 2.2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight for intense training, (the sort of training when you put up your weights once a week and sweat the CV) and the Oats and Whey protein bars he uses have 23 g protein per bar and only 3.9 g sugar.  If you fancy some of these just let us know or order from Myprotein and use the code STEPHEN-RACV to get a 30% discount when spending £35 or more.
Take home message?  We all need protein but if you are working out really intensely you will need more.  Most of us can get all we need from a well-balanced diet and avoid the high sugar ‘little bit extra’ (expensive) bars.  If you need a boost go for the ‘big boy stuff’.  

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Heart Health

Heart Health

I’ve just taken the NHS heart health check.  Now I count myself as pretty healthy, and my Fitbit says I’m ‘excellent’.  But the NHS website puts my heart age as higher than my biological age.  But, as I don’t know my cholesterol, its made a guess and has suggested that I go to my GP and get my cholesterol checked.  Oh dear.  The test doesn’t even have a section to fill in to say how much exercise I do and what my daily step counter is like.  It doesn’t ask me about alcohol intake, sleep or stress.  Cholesterol levels are complicated and need to be understood in the context of naturally occurring levels and those brought about by food.  There are criticisms of the studies of cholesterol and heart health (‘Nourishing Traditions ‘ by Fallon & Enig New Trends publishing 2001 p 133) so what are we to do?

An article in The Guardian on 8th Sept suggests that lifestyle changes can make a big difference to your heart age.  Here goes:

Diet - keep your refined sugar intake as low as you possibly can, avoid added salt and eat a good selection vegetables everyday.  Eat fat in moderation, those that are unrefined and unprocessed.  In fact, avoid processed food as far as you can.

Exercise (well, we would have to include this!) – go for 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week and strength training at least twice a week.  So, walk fast, run, bike, swim, get your heart rate up.  Then lift some weights – ask one of us if you don’t know how to do this safely. 

Smoking and drinking -  Smoking triples the risk of a heart attack – so don’t.  Alcohol is less clear but new evidence is suggesting that you are better off without

Pollution - has been shown to have a bad effect on heart health.  I am guessing that living in the Fens means we have less car fumes and manufacturing fall out to deal with.  Unless muck spreading counts?!!

Stress - not good for your heart – and not easy to eliminate – but get some down time – enjoy the moment.  Learn how to meditate, breathe deeply, look up and enjoy the view.  Oh – and get some sleep!

So, I haven’t immediately improved my heart health – but I’m working on it and I know that if I keep at it I will feel healthy and keep going well for as long as I can