What is it & how does it work?

Appetite is a very useful evolutionary adaptation that compels us to consume nutrients and energy, the lack of an appetite (seen in elderly and sick people) would result in a lack of compulsion to eat, which ultimately leads to weakness and decline, it makes sense then, that the biological strive to survive axioms have led us to 21st century living, where our super sensitive hunger mechanisms, combined with dizzying levels of distraction and hyper-palatable and calorie dense foods, and a general increase in self-indulgence, have culminated in mass obesity and overweight globally. Appetite is frequently cited as a root cause of indulging or overeating.

This makes sense, as it is incredibly hard to ignore hunger, and the low blood sugar, temper and general lethargic feeling that can come with it. That being said, a simple understanding into how our appetite is regulated from a physical point of view, and a psychological point of view, can help us easily tame this beast.

Let’s look first at what appetite specifically means, a desire to eat (not always from hunger) or a lack of desire to eat i.e. lack of appetite, both are flipsides of the same mechanistic control. Let’s look at the control center for biological hunger, which is the hypothalamus (more specifically, the infundibular nucleus). From this segment of your brain, a whole variety of hormones are released, which either stimulate or suppress your appetite.

The main players in making you feel hungry are the neuropeptides Neuropeptide Y (NPY) & Agouti related – peptide (AgRP), both of which are stimulted via ghrelin release. Ghrelin is released from the mucosa of your stomach and into the brain via blood-brain barrier, when you haven’t consumed food in a number of hours, and blood sugar levels begin to decrease. This trio of compounds results in a decrease in leptin circulation and activity, which is the hormone resulting in us feeling satiated. This tends to happen in tandem with glucagon secretion and decreased insulin secretion, which makes sense, as these are hormonal responses to lower blood sugar levels.

On the flip side, there are two main neuropeptides that inhibit our appetite and make us feel full, which are effected by a large amount of circulating hormones. Pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) and Cocaine & amphetamine – regulated transcript (CART) are the big players in making you feel full, these are enacted on by leptin & insulin (note that these rise when we eat, in tandem with blood sugar increases), and suppress NPY, AgRP and ghrelin. Other players in this game include incretins (CCK/GLP-1/GIP). all of which are secreted by your GI tract when you eat, CCK reacts mostly in response to consumption of fats & proteins, and inhibits feeding desire, GIP aids insulin action and results in better energy storage capacity, GLP-1 delays gastric emptying and inhibits glycogen breakdown – soe research shows that simply thinking about eating can stimulate the three prior hormones. There are a number of other minor appetite effectors that work at appetite suppression and NPY inhibition.

Slowing down gastric motility, making us feel full, gastric emptying rate, aiding insulin secretion and suppressing our hunger hormones, these are all important elements to remember for the follow on article.

This is the hormonal basis for appetite regulation, though there is also a psychological basis too, and an illness effect. Being chronically sick can result in leptin release, this often happens with chronic diseases and cachexia (inflammatory state resulting in weight loss via appetite suppression). Our mind can also have a hindering or enhancing effect in our appetite, stress can cause cortisol and glucocorticoid release, and can result in increased appetite, whereas anxiety can stimulate our fight or flight response, shutting off digestive processes to favour vital functions and blood flow to muscles (this makes sense as fight or flight is an evolutionary response to threats, and prepares us to flee quickly from predators). The final aspect of the psychological and non-homeostatic appetite regulation is boredom, and hedonism.

In the 21st century, it is not uncommon to have multiple screens on the go, to multitask and alongside the general deifying of being busy all the time, it is no wonder that we are not good at being bored, or relaxing. These are typically the scenarios where we may experience cravings and a desire to eat, though not necessarily hunger, which is an important distinction. When we have a gap in the typical level of stimulus we are used to, i.e. when we relax or slow down, we feel uncomfortable, and we are conditioned to fill this gap with any form of food, usually junk food, which kicks off the pleasure centers in our brains, making it the perfect antidote to being bored, or stressed, or frightened etc…

The next article will look at the practical aspects of what we can do with this information here, a lot of which will be based on slowing down digestion, how we can suppress appetite, how to maximize leptin levels and how we can deal with comfort eating once and for all.

For an in depth look at how you can control your appetite, and how you can integrate this knowledge into your dietary approach, why not sign up for online coaching and finally stop being a slave to your diet and weight today.

Till next time.

E

What are the factors that drive this forward?

Knowing exactly how and why iron deficiency happens and slip slides into anemia is important in preventing it’s occurrence. Knowledge is power in a scenario like this.

Presuming you have read the last article outlining a background on iron requirements and digestion, you should now have some background understanding and context for this segment, if you haven’t read it, get it here.

Simply put, given that our body loses approximately 2mg (0.002g) of iron per day, and our body can store between 1-3g, you can do the math and see how not consuming any iron rich sources (or bioavailable sources) can lead to a gradual drop in iron stores. Just to clarify prior to getting into this article, there are two ways that anemia can occur (three, technically), the first one is anemia of chronic disease, which arises from chronic inflammation resulting in increased hepcidin expression, the second is genuine dietary insufficiency. Third is massive blood loss, as blood contains red blood cells and iron, if you have a heavy periods and shorter cycles, that increased bloodloss will result in drops in storage and iron levels, however, this is being classed as a technicality in my books, as female athletes have higher intake requirements as it stands, to counteract this.

The vast majority of people develop anemia from sub-optimal diets, elite athletes during more intense blocks of training may have inflammation related increases in hepcidin, which may have a degree of an effect, though this is unlikely to be as strong as an deficient diet, and the effect of hepcidin in this scenario is more transient in nature, whereas a poor diet is a constant. Let’s look at a number of measures that are looked at when we take iron status into account, and which help with diagnosis, and providing medical professionals and dietitians with a plan of action for intervention.

  1. Haemoglobin (Hb): The protein molecule that carries iron and oxygen around the body. This is the most used marker to test for anemia, low Hb signifies anemia presence. For adult females levels are typically 12-16g/dL, for men its 14-18g/dL.
  2. Haematocrit (Ht): A measure of the thickness of the blood, as red blood cells are large molcules, measured the volume of red blood cells against total blood volume. Female ranges normally 36-44%, whereas men are typically 40-50%. (Fun fact, levels above 50% may begin to be used as a cut off for blood doping in lieu of drug testing in the future).
  3. Ferritin: This is your storage iron, and can vary greatly, this will be the most telling read of iron deficiency, if stores are low but Hb is normal, an individual is iron deficient, but not anemic, and may not even feel any symptoms, ranges are 30-300ng/ml for men and 10-200ng/ml for women.
  4. MCV: Mean corpuscular volume, this is essentially a emasure of the average size and volume of your red blood cells, the normal range is 80-100fL, below this is called microcytic, in range is normocytic, above range is macrocytic. Most microcytic anaemia is caused by thalassemia or iron deficiency, resulting in smaller red blood cells, whereas macrocytic anemia is usually due to B vitamin deficiency resulting in irregularly large red blood cell production at DNA levels. Normocytic anemia means your blood cells are normal, but that you have very few of them, this can be caused by a range of diseases.
  5. TIBC & Transferrin saturase: Total iron-binding capacity is a measure is how much iron is bound to transferrin transporters, transferrin saturase is essentially another way to measure this. Normal ranges are 240-450mcd/dL for TIBS. The higher this number, the harder your body is working to absorb iron from your intestines.

If we think about it a little, it would make sense that pre-menopausal females are going to be at higher risk of iron deficiency, due to menstrual cycles, having a plant based diet due to lower bioavailability of the iron and a high degree of inhibitory phytates and oxalates, competed in a sport with chronic foot striking like running due to red blood cell rupturing and haemoglobin loss as a result. There a couple of factors that come into play also when it comes to food choice, pushing to lose weight and lower fat diets can tend to push individuals to avoid iron rich sources, social and cultural norms such as food trends and aversion can effect intakes (red meat aversion, vegan propaganda, judgement, religion, finance, personal preference to name a few). We must also acknowledge that adequate intakes of B-vitamins (folate and B12 specifically need to be taken), as they are co-factors in iron metabolism and DNA production, these are found in most animal products, poultry, dairy, grains and nuts, Celiac disease or IBD would be more likely to cause deficiency here than one’s actual dietary provision of said vitamins.

Other inhibitory factors to iron absorption include chronic usage of antacids and PPI medications, high dose divalent minerals (Calcium/Zinc/megnesium), tannins in teas and coffees (the amount of people who was down iron medication with these is super annoying…)

If you made it to now, you could see how this issue might progress forwards, having a poor diet with a lot of inhibitory factors, a poor awareness of where you can get iron from combined with inadequate overall dietary intakes. If we factor in a menstrual cycle and intensive training blocks, it really isn’t a surprise that so many female athletes are developing iron deficiency and anemia, with a good proportion of male athletes suffering too.

Up next, how can an athlete bolster themselves against iron deficiency, what to look out for and how not taking care of this can have disastrous effects on your performance!

Until next time,

E

This article is going to be the first on the topic of iron, how much we need, the roles it plays, how it’s used, digested and how our body’s maintain our iron stores, and how athletes are more prone to having lower iron stores. This will all result in a final breakdown of anemia or iron deficiency development, and it’s effects on athletic performance.

Iron is found in our diets in both plant and animal products, and it is found in it’s elemental (ferric) form. Human’s need to consume iron on a daily basis, as we can store between 1-3g in the body, in various forms, but we lose iron all the time via intestinal cell recycling (enterocytes), sweat, menstrual cycles and loss of skin cells. These losses account for approx. 1-2mg per day. Iron is used to carry oxugen around the blood and in the muscles, it is also used ot make red blood cells in bone marrow and is stored in the liver mainly as ferritin, this is your back up store, inadequate iron will result in poorer oxygen transport, saturation and breathing difficulties, it can also lead to extreme fatigue and cognitive impairment.

Although iron is found in both plant and animal products, animal sources are typically more bioavailable, as they contain heme iron (hemoglobin + myoglobin), which is absorbed better than the non-heme iron found in plant products, due in part to the high level of phytates found in plant foods, which impact on absorption. The absorption rate of heme iron is around 15-35%, whereas non-heme iron absorbs at rates of 2-20%. The varied rates of absorption are down to the bioavailability, transporter acitivity and inhibitors – Calcium, Zinc, Magnesium, Polyphenols and tannins (things that give tea & coffee colour) will all impede on iron absorption. It is recommended to get between 10-20mg per day, people following plant based diets should aim closer to 20mg, whereas standard diets can aim between 10-15mg. Unless an individual has iron deficinecy anemia, classified as low ferritin stores, haemoglobin, increased transferrin and TIBC, supplements are not recommended. Iron shouldn’t be taken in a prophylactic manner, to prevent deficiency, in certain cases, it is warranted, but this is not applicable to 99% of poeple reading this. Interestingly enough, your body actually down-regulates iron absorption rates when your stores are adequate or high, to keep it in or bring back to range.

It should be noted however, that consumption of vitamin C with iron rich foods, over rides any absorption inhibitors, as it is acidic, and helps activate the ascorbate ferrireductase transmembrane protein along cytochrome B, transforming the ferric iron into ferrous iron. Ferrous iron is then shuffled byt DMT1 into the intestinal cells (enterocyte). Heme iron has the distinct advantage of being absorbed directly by heme transporters, whereas the ferric iron must be reduced into ferrous iron first.

The vast majority of iron absorption occurs in the duodenum and the jejunum, these are both sections of the small intestine, and both are in close proximity to the stomach. This is likely due to the fact that iron requires an acidic environment (remember vitamin C a.k.a. ascorbic acid) to be better absorbed. Iron absorption is typically somewhere between 1-2mg per day, we do not absorb all of the iron from our diets, this is a good thing, as our bodies have no real excretion mechanism, it simply leaves our body when cells die, or with blood loss. Iron absorption is closely controlled by ferroportin and tranferrin, ferroportin is essentially the door that allows iron out of the intestinal cells into the blood, and transferrin is what carries it around the body to the liver, muscles or bone marrow. When iron levels get too high (there are reference ranges fro men and women), the body releases hepcidin, which blocks ferroportin, essentially trapping iron in intestinal cells, thus rendering us unable to absorb iron. Haemochromatosis is a genetic condition, where individuals have defective hepcidin, and the iron can build up to limitless levels. High levels of serum iron are neurotoxic, and cause a lot of redox and tissue damage, alongside providing a perfect growth medium for infectious bacteria.

That’s requirements and absorption in a nutshell, our bodies have an easier time absorbing heme iron sources, but it is still possible to get your needs via a plant based diet (harder to do), and there are things that will impact on our iron absorption, which is lower than you may have thought. Your body is very clever and resourceful at managing iron levels, and will exude a series of responses including changing ferroprotin, transferrin and intestinal ferric reductase activity, and hepcidin levels, in order to maintain tight control of our iron levels.*

*In a healthy person

Next up, how anemia and iron deficiency occurs, followed by a final article on anemia & athletes.

There had been a LOT of hype in recent times due to the coronavirus outbreak on the links between nutrition, health & immune function. A lot of this information has been poorly supported by evidence, misleading or simply false. Such claims include ketogenic diets preventing you from catching COVID, or certain supplements boosting your immune system.

Let’s just clarify something before we get into this, there is essentially nothing you can do to prevent you from catching a virus, the healthiest people in the world can get a virus, if your immune system is in proper order, you will have a better chance of fending off the virus, or simply experiencing milder symptoms. In individuals who are immunocompromised or with underlying illnesses, the ability of the innate immune system is not as strong as it is in normal healthy adults. So to clear the nuance, you can be immunocompromised or have immune dampening, for a variety of reasons, but you CANNOT boost your immune system or have a supercharged one. It’s not like a see saw.

So, what are some things you can do maintain a normal healthy immune system?

1. Eat adequate calories, especially if you are active and exercising. Depleted glycogen stores can dampen immunity and exaggerate stress response to exercise. Excess weight loss or prolonged hypocaloric dieting can result in decreased white blood cell production. A good rule of thumb would be 45kcal/kg/day.

2. Eat your protein. Remember, protein is the material for everything in your body, you need protein to build white blood cells. Loss of muscle mass in clinical scenarios results in increased susceptibility to infection, poorer recovery and decreased ability to fight illness. To note, this level of muscle loss is not typically seen in normal adults, this is more appropriate for elderly or ill folks, who may have mobility issues, or difficultly swallowing food, so make sure your elderly or more vulnerable relatives do get a good source of protein. Nutrient reference values are 0.6-0.8g/kg/day for normal healthy adults.

3. Drink up. Mucosal secretions are one of the first barriers of defence in illness. Staying hydrated will help keep mucus thin and easier to shift. Thick mucus congealing sinuses or in airways can help infection spread and worsen. 35ml/kg/day will keep your sinuses happy.

4. Eat your fruit, veg & nuts. Superfoods aren’t real, but you do need micronutrients and vitamins for proper immune function, and certain antioxidants will help immune function. Hit your 5 a day, aiming to get 5 different colours, a portion of veg is approx 80g, or a handful. The most important vitamins and minerals are vitamin D, C, Iron & Zinc. A handful of nuts will help this, they are like nature’s little multivitamins.

5. Sleep adequately and regularly. Get your 7-8 hours a night, try cut out the phone or screens beforehand, limit caffeine about 6hrs pre bed. Poor sleep makes you less resilient to everything.

6. Stay active and exercise moderately, this helps keep your immune system ticking over – intense exercise and overtraining will do the opposite, exercise has a hormetic zone in terms of beneficial immunity & health effects. WHO recommends 30mins/day of moderate activity.

Stay healthy,

E

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but it doesn’t need to be the season to ruin all of your health & fitness ambitions.

If you are like me, and all of the clients I ever had, or, you are just a normal person, then this topic will probably concern you, year in, year out. So what can you do to make sure that you don’t have to sacrifice fitness goals for festive celebrations, or vice versa. I am not one for ruining Christmas, so I looked closely to figure out some surprisingly easy things we can do on a day to day basis to manage weight, health and social life. I think it’s possible to do it all, so that everybody wins, here’s how to do it.

#1

Don’t buy those boxes of Roses or Celebrations, these are diabolical for weight management and general health. If you don’t have them in your house, you don’t eat them, simple, the mantra “out of sight, out of mind” rings true here. Three Roses sweets contain 160 calories, need I say more?

#2

Don’t binge blindly, or inefficiently. Indulging has become part and parcel of Christmas, go for seasonal treats, not treats that are readily available all year round. If you selectively opt for treats, you will be less likely splash out.

#3

This one is simple but useful, if you drink spirits, go for clear ones and try mixing them with water, sparkling water or sugar free soda options. If you are a beer drinker, make every 2nd drink non-alcoholic, or make it a sparkling water. These small decisions add up, and gain compound interest over a month of heavily socializing.

#4

Under no circumstances should you get a takeaway after a night of drinking. For a myriad of health reasons, including the fact that alcohol acts as an organic solvent, enabling frying chemicals like acrylamides to get into your circulation (really not good), you are adding North of 1000 calories on to night of liquid calories. One night like this is enough to undo 5 days of “good behaviour”.

#5

Just because it’s Christmas time does not mean you have to be a slob. Whip out your smartphone and aim to hit 10000 steps per day, research shows that this is the amount of activity that can positively impact waistline and general health. Try get to the gym or pool before a night out, to help somewhat balance out the calorie intakes.

#6

Try actually chewing your food. This one gets a lot of people. You are supposed to chew your food 20-30 times per bite, nobody does that (certainly not me), aim for 10-15 chews per bite, cutlery down between bites and sip some water or sparkling water with your dinner. I guarantee you won”t finish what a normal portion is for you.

#7

Eat your veggies first, then your protein, then your carbs. Just try it, you are less likely to go for seconds, order of eating actually can alter appetite, consumption amounts and how your body reacts to your meal after eating it.

#8

Don’t go mad on the sauce – metaphorically and literally. Keeping gravies, white sauce, cranberry sauces and dips to a minimum will really drop your calorie and sugar intake.

#9

Stop using oil like an Irish person. If you are roasting something, use 1kal spray oil, you’ll get the effect you desire, olive oil and the likes are meant to be freshly added to a cooked meal, not used as a cooking medium.

#10

Head over to my social media pages to get some useful tips & tricks, you can find my Facebook by clicking here, Instagram here and Twitter here.

#11

Get some peace of mind and sign up for January online coaching by clicking here, or booking a 1-2-1 consultation, which are all on special offer for the month of January.

Merry Christmas, and looking forward to helping you smash your New Year’s goals!

E

Are you happy with your sleep?

What does sleep hygiene really mean?

Gary Burke – B.Sc, M.Sc, SENr

36% of UK adults struggle to get to sleep on a weekly basis, while almost 1 in 5 have trouble falling asleep every single night. Everyone has experienced it at some stage of their life – a poor night’s sleep will more than likely leave you less productive, reduce the quality of your work and put you in a worse mood overall. 

Some of you may be familiar with the term ‘sleep hygiene’ – it refers to habits & practices that can be used to help improve the quality of your sleep. Sleep hygiene isn’t all about giving yourself a caffeine curfew or what you do in the lead up to bedtime. Various other factors can contribute to a better sleep and I hope to shed some light on these below. 

Consistency

It’s been shown that having a consistent sleep schedule is more important than how long you sleep for (within reason). Having a set wake & sleep time each day (and not deviating from this by too much at the weekends) will help you fall asleep faster, improve the quality of your sleep, and help you feel less groggy in the mornings. 7-9 hours is best but if your schedule means you can’t manage that much, try to at least make it consistent.

Light

You may already know that screens can negatively affect your sleep through both the light of the screens and stimulation from what’s on the screen. It’s best to put the screens away in the hour leading up the bedtime if you want to optimise your sleep and minimise your morning grogginess. Reading a book or meditating before bed have both been shown to make it easier to fall asleep & improve quality of your sleep.

It’s best to avoid all bright light sources in the hours leading up to bedtime, not just blue light from screens. Bright light exposure late in the day suppresses your body’s production of melatonin – a hormone that makes us feel sleepy – making it more difficult to fall asleep and reducing the quality of your sleep when you finally doze off. 

In the mornings, it’s best to do the opposite: exposing yourself to bright light as soon as you wake (and over the first 2 hours of wakefulness) will both speed up the waking process by increasing alertness and make it easier to fall asleep that night. The sun is best – it’s much more intense that any artificial light source you’ll find have. The sun can be up to 400 times brighter than the average lightbulb! 

Temperature

Your body temperature has a natural cycle correlating with your body clock, peaking just before noon and falling again from late evening until it reaches its lowest point a couple hours before you wake up. You can adjust your body clock by facilitating a rise or a fall in body temperature, depending on the time of day.

Aligning your body clock & sleep/wake cycle is very important for getting good quality, replenishing sleep – incongruency between the two is a major reason why you may struggle to get to sleep at night and wake up feeling groggy and unrested.

Activities that lead to a drop in body temperature in the hour or two before bed will help – something that warms your body like light exercise or showering/bathing will lead to a subsequent drop in body temperature that coincides with your body’s daily temperature cycle, naturally making you sleepy. This is why keeping your bedroom at a cool temperature is important for getting a good night’s sleep.

In the morning, the opposite is true – practices that lead to an increase in body temperature can actually help you get to sleep faster that night. Cold showers – as well as being shown to increase productivity by improving dopamine levels – can help adjust your body clock so that you start to naturally feel sleepy at your usual bedtime. 

Exercise 

Exercising early in your day adjusts your body clock slightly earlier, making you naturally want to sleep earlier that night and makes your body more likely to wake up naturally around the time your alarm usually goes off. Some people often feel sluggish exercising early in the day – if you can manage to schedule some exercise in regularly, your body will adapt to make it feel easier.

Take-Home Points to Improve Sleep

  • Have a consistent sleep schedule, even over the weekend if possible
  • Avoid bright lights & screens in the hour before bed
  • Read a book or meditate before bed 
  • Light exercise or warm/hot showers close to bedtime
  • Exercise or cold showers in the morning make it easier to fall asleep that night

Glaister & Gissane, 2018.

doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2017-0312.

It is widely acknowledged that caffeine is the most consumed drug or psychoactive substance throughout the globe, mainly via the medium of coffee, the world’s most popular beverage, with north of a billion cups being sold daily, in saying this, in recent years the way in which caffeine is consumed has changed with the development of pre workout formulas & energy drinks. Much research has been done into the topic of just how caffeine impacts sports performance, and what we know for sure is that it has a net positive impact, exactly how this is achieved is still debated.

This blog is mainly going to focus on the paper published in the journal of human kinetics in 2018 which looked at the effects of caffeine on physical parameters of sports performance, with one or two other factoids making an appearance along the way. Before we get into the nitty gritty I just want to point out some general things in relation to the usage of caffeine as an ergogenic aid (a substance that enhances sports performance). It is accepted that typical doses of caffeine to see a benefit in any sport, whether it be long steady state, field sports or repeat sprint efforts, is accepted as 3-6mg/kg, to put this into context, an 80kg man would have to consume the equivalent of a triple espresso to have any tangible benefit on his sporting performance (that’s a lot of coffee), caffeine takes about 45mins to peak in your blood stream if consumed as a drink like coffee, and as little as 15mins if consumed as caffeine gum or powder, which tend to be dosed in around 150-200mg per serving.

Consuming in excess of 500mg daily can lead to negative health consequences (this is about 6 coffees) whereas getting above 600mg daily may trigger a positive doping test. The sweet spot from a health perspective is not necessarily noted for caffeine itself, but for coffee, it is 3 a day for maximal protection against all cause mortality, liver fat buildup and dementia. Back to the task at hand.

You have likely done the maths in your head already and figured out how much caffeine you might need, and when you should be taking it, if you are satisfied and are not interested in the science, go forth and caffeinated yourself. If you are a habitual coffee drinker, and are wondering (as I am always asked this) if that will make caffeine supplementation less effective for you, the answer is no, caffeine supplementation at higher doses equally effects those who do and do not consume caffeine, with no difference in terms of enhancement of performance between those who drink the equivalent of one weak cup and those who drink 2-3 stronger cups daily. Now really, back to the research paper.

This study was a meta analysis, basically this means it pooled together a bunch of studies on the topic of caffeine supplementation, amalgamates all of the results to make broader conclusions, in most cases this is seen as the highest form of evidence, though it is not always ideal for nutrition based studies. 26 double blinded studies were included, with the most common dosage being 5-6mg/kg, which is the first caveat, as this is an uncommonly high ingestion rate, and for many it’s unrealistic from a tolerance point of view (and safety depending on weight), with the most common ingestion time being 60mins pre workout. The majority of the studies were done in cyclists and runners, with the exercise intensity ranging from 60-85% VO2max, or steady state aerobic range.

The findings of the study were as follows:

  1. No difference in effect between males & females
  2. Prior habitual caffeine consumption appeared not to be an issue in it’s effect
  3. Caffeine versus placebo saw significant increases in minute ventilation, blood glucose levels & blood lactate levels
  4. Caffeine versus placebo saw significantly lower ratings on the perceived effort scale
  5. There were no differences in heart rates or fat oxidation rates

The interesting thing that this study posits is that the subjects using caffeine were breathing heavier and at a higher rate per minute (minute ventilation) but were perceiving the exercise to be lower in it’s effort to complete it. There are still some unknowns about the mechanisms by which caffeine exerts it’s effect, what is thought to be a possibility is that adenosine (which is displaced by caffeine as it binds to adenosine receptors instead) can disrupt glucose clearance and glycolysis levels, having a clear impact on blood glucose levels. With blood glucose levels rising this would posit a logical basis to point to the cause of the increased lactate levels in the blood.

The final piece of the puzzle is that caffeine changes how sensitive chemoreceptors are to CO2 buildup in the bloodstream, prompting a higher minute ventilation rate versus placebo to lower this (you do not want high levels of CO2 in your blood), possibly accounting for the mismatch between minute ventilation rate, fat oxidation and blood glucose levels. This data is mechanistic in nature and has a number of hypothetical elements yet to be fully elucidated in the research.

Just for reference, a bottle of coke is about 40mg of caffeine, a cup tea is about 40-60mg, an espresso shot is about 80mg, a double is 160mg & an aeropress can be anywhere from 140-200mg depending on brew time and amount of grind used. Lighter roast coffees tend to give off high caffeine contents.

Brass tax – caffeine works, we just don’t completely know how yet.

Enjoy your cuppa.

E

healthy eating recipe Evan Lynch for weight loss

Healthy eating recipe: Low calorie cauliflower soup

Soups are one of the best meals you could have at dinner when following a healthy diet plan. Are you looking for some healthy soup recipes? Then, here I have one of the healthy and creamy soup recipes for your dinner. This soup has minimal ingredients and more flavors. This soup is ideal for anybody looking to stick to a lower calorie option and is also ideal for low carbers or athletes on rest days, cauliflower is a massive vitamin C source, but is also a FODMAP so may cause issues for those with irritable bowel syndrome. I hope you enjoy the recipe, I am an Irish weight loss & sports nutrition expert currently based in Clonmel, if you want to chat to me about your diet, why not book yourself in for a session in my online clinic, from the comfort of your own home at a time that suits you. Click here to get to my online clinic booking page.

Let’s see how to cook this healthy soup for your dinner, if you like this recipe you can see more at my cookbook right here, and use FITNUT10 for 10% off. If you want more recipe ideas you can click here to follow me on Instagram!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  •  Cauliflower – 1 large head (1.5 kg)
  • Onion – 1 large (roughly chopped)
  • Garlic – 1 (chopped)
  • Chicken or vegetable stock – 800 ml
  • Whole milk/ heavy creamy –  ¼ cup
  • Salt – as per taste 
  • Black Pepper – 1 tsp.
  • Cumin powder – ½ tsp.
  • Olive oil – 2 tbsp.
  • Greens/thyme – (finely chopped) for garnishing

Instructions/Method:

  • First of all, wash the cauliflower and cut it into small florets.
  • Take a large and open pot, add olive oil, and heat it over medium-low flame.
  • Add garlic and stir it until light brown.
  • After that, Add onion or cook it unit they are soft.
  • Add cauliflower and cumin; stir it for 5 to 7 minutes until soft.
  • Now, add vegetable or chicken stock and cook it for 10 minutes.
  • Once the cauliflower is soft or cooked, blend the soup using a hand blender until a smooth mixture.
  • After that, add heavy milk or cream, salt, pepper, and mix all the ingredients well.
  • You can adjust the thickness of the soup by adding more stock.
  • At this point, you can taste or adjust the spices as per your taste or choice.
  • Turn off the flame and Pour the soup into a bowl, garnish it with some greens.
  • Your healthy and creamy soup is ready.
  • Enjoy!

Recipe Note:

  • You can also use brush olive oil on fritters instead of using olive oil spray.
  • If you are going to blend it in blender jag or jar then, you will have to let it cool down first.
  • You can store the leftover in an airtight jar or container in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days. 

Nutrition Facts:

  • Calories – 176
  • Carbohydrates – 14g
  • Fat – 8g
  • Saturates – 3g
  • Protein – 8g
  • Fiber – 6g
  • Sugar – 10g
  • Sodium – 520mg

healthy zucchini pancakes recipe for weight loss Evan Lynch sports nutritionist & weight loss expert

BAKED ZUCCHINI FRITTERS

Are you looking for healthy recipes for weight loss? Then, here I have the best recipe for snacks for you. Most of the time, zucchini dishes are fried, but we will keep them healthy and bake these zucchini fritters. You will enjoy the perfect crisp even after baking them. These fritters are healthy, easy to make, suitable for anyone on a low carb diet, they are gluten-free.

Now let’s see how to prepare this healthy snack. For more recipes like this you can check out my recipe book here and if you want to get some professional insights into how you can easily lose weight (without having a miserable diet), why not book into my online nutrition clinic at a time and date that suits you, by clicking right here.

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 7 to 8 Fitters

Ingredients:

  • Zucchini – 2 large
  • Onion – 1 small (finely chopped)
  • Salt – 1 tsp. /as per taste
  • Black pepper – ½ tsp. /as per taste
  • Egg – 2 large
  • Olive oil spray
  • Garlic – 1 tbsp. (minced)
  • Almond flour – 1 cup ( finely grounded)
  • Coconut flour – 1 tbsp.

Instructions/Method:

  • First of all, peel out the zucchini and wash it.
  • Now, grate the zucchini using the grating attachment of your food processor.
  • Take a large and open bowl and set a strainer atop of it. Place all the grated zucchini in the strainer and add ½ teaspoon salt in it.
  • Mix it well and let it drain for at least 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, press the zucchini with the spoon to extract all the extra liquid. 
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. cover the baking tray with parchment paper and spray it with some olive oil.
  • Now take a large and open bowl and transfer the drained and grated zucchini in it. 
  • Add chopped onions, garlic, salt, freshly grounded black pepper, coconut flour, almond flour, and eggs.
  • Mix all the ingredients well.
  • Now take a scoop and scoop out the zucchini fitter’s mixture into the already prepared baking tray. While using the back of the spoon, lightly flatten the fitters and shape them into rounds.
  • Once you set all the fitters in the baking tray, spray the tops with some olive oil.
  • Now, set the tray in the oven and bake the zucchini fritters until they are wonderfully fragrant or golden brown. It will take 10 minutes on each side. 
  • Flip the side after 10 minutes and spray some olive oil again.
  • Once they are done, place or transfer the zucchini fritters into a plate. The crispy, healthy, and low in carbs snack is ready to eat.
  • Serve immediately with your favorite sauce or yogurt.
  • Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts:

  • Calories – 260 (2 fritters)
  • Carbohydrates – 12g
  • Fat – 20g
  • Protein – 10g
  • Fiber – 6g
  • Sugar – 4g
  • Sodium – 289mg

Healthy chicken & pasta recipe for weight loss by Evan Lynch, sports nutritionist

Tomato penne with chicken

Are you a fan of pasta? But you can’t have it because of your strict and healthy diet plan. Then here I have an amazing, light, and healthy recipe for you. The best thing about this delicious pasta recipe is that it is full of flavors with fewer ingredients. This penne pasta with tomatoes and chicken is the best recipe for your lunch or dinner. Let’s see how to get after this quick and easy dish, if you like this and want more, you can get my recipe book, complete with over 30 recipes (including their calorie + mark breakdowns) by following this link here. If you are looking to manage your weight a little better or looking to include healthy recipes like this into your diet, why not book a consultation with me here in my online clinic?

See recipe nutrition facts down below along with methods!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • Penne pasta – 180 g
  • Boneless chicken – 1 cup (diced)
  • Olive oil – 2 tbsp.
  • Garlic – 2 cloves (minced)
  • White onion – ½ small (diced)
  • Tomato puree – 4 tbsp.
  • Cherry tomatoes –  4 (cut into 4 pieces)
  • Salt – as per taste
  • Black pepper – ½ tsp.
  • Green onion – 1 (chopped)

Instructions/Method:

  • Take a large and open pan, add 4 to 5 cups of water and boil the pasta as per packet instructions.
  • Once the pasta is done, drain and keep it aside.
  • Now, take an open frying pan, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil and heat it over medium-low flame.
  • After that, add minced garlic and stir it until light brown.
  • Add chicken to the pan stir it for a minute.
  • Now, add chopped onion and cook it with the chicken. 
  • After that, add salt and pepper as per your taste.
  • Mix all the ingredients well and add tomato puree.
  • Now cover the pan and cook the chicken until it’s softened.
  • Once the chicken is done (it hardly takes 1 or 2 minutes), add boiled pasta and cherry tomatoes.
  • Mix all the ingredients well.
  • At this point, you can taste and adjust the salt and pepper.
  • Your penne pasta with tomatoes and chicken is ready to eat.
  • Serve hot and garnish it with some green onions.
  • Enjoy!

Recipe Note:

  • You can use whole wheat penne to make it healthier.
  • You can also add different freshly chopped vegetables such as carrot, bell pepper, or any other favorite vegetable of yours.
  • If you are a fan of cheese, you can also sprinkle some cheese on pasta.
  • Avoid the garlic & onion if you have IBS and opt for garlic infused oil instead to keep the flavour!

Nutrition Facts:

  • Calories – 232
  • Carbohydrates – 20g
  • Fat – 8g
  • Protein – 20g
  • Fiber – 3g
  • Iron – 2mg
  • Sugar – 6g
  • Sodium – 684mg
Evan Lynch healthy recipe sports nutrition

Mixed berry smoothie bowl

Are you tired of eating the same breakfast every day? Then here I have a delicious and healthy recipe for you. It will keep you energetic and active for the whole day. A smoothie bowl of raspberries and blueberries is one of the most satisfying breakfast dishes with different fresh fruits. This is also going to be the best breakfast for your healthy diet routine. This bowl of fruits is going to be the best start to your day. It will give you the feel of silky and smooth ice cream.

We will use frozen and fresh fruits in it that is a perfect combination for a perfect smoothie. We will use honey instead of white sugar to make it healthier. We will use plain yogurt and almond milk to enhance its flavors and to adjust the consistency. 

If you are looking to manage your weight or your diet, why not book a consultation in my weight management clinic here to get a helping hand? If you would like to find out more, you can simply contact me here and we can chat!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Servings: 1

Ingredients:

  • Frozen raspberries – 1 cup
  • Frozen blueberries – ½ cup
  • Sliced banana – 1 medium
  • Plain yogurt – ½ cup
  • Almond milk – ½ cup (unsweetened)
  • Honey – 1 tbsp.
  • Ice – 3 tbsp. (crushed)

Toppings:

  • Fresh blueberry – 7 to 10 
  • Fresh raspberries – 5 to 7
  • Low-fat granola – 2 tbsp.
  • Chia seeds – 1 tbsp.
  • Few Mint leaves – for garnishing

Instructions/Method:

  • Add frozen raspberries, blueberries, raspberries, and banana in a blender.
  • Now, add yogurt, milk, honey, and crushed ice in the blender.
  • After that, blend all the fruits or ingredients.
  • Blend it well until the thick and smooth mixture.
  • Now, you can taste it and adjust the sweetness as per your choice.
  • By adding some more milk, you can adjust the thickness or consistency of the smoothie.
  • Now pour the smoothie into an open bowl.
  • Add toppings like fresh raspberries, fresh blueberries, chia seed, and granola.
  • Garnish it with few fresh mint leaves.
  • Your yummiest and healthy smoothie bowl for breakfast is ready to eat.
  • Enjoy!

Recipe Note:

  • If you want to use fresh berries instead of frozen, you can increase the quantity of ice.
  • In this recipe, we used honey to keep it healthier, but you can also use white sugar.
  • You can also use flavored yogurt instead of plain. Soya yogurt is fine if you are lactose intolerant or plant based!
  • You can also top your smoothie with some nuts.

Nutrition Facts:

  • Calories – 360
  • Carbohydrates – 63g
  • Fat – 7g
  • Protein – 23.9g
  • Fiber – 11g
  • Sugar – 27g
  • Sodium – 191.5mg

Note:

The nutrition facts mentioned above may differ as per the freshness of used fruits or ingredients. 

This is the final part of the series relating to iron, and will focus predominantly on how this effects athletes, when it’s time to supplement, symptoms to look out for and how you can keep yourself healthy. If you haven’t read parts I & II, covering how iron is absorbed, digested and regulated in the body, you can get part one here, and part two here.

Many people supplement blindly with an iron supplement, assuming that it is a silver bullet and flawless plan for treating and preventing anemia and iron deficiency. There are a number of drawbacks to using iron supplements, including the potential for gastric upset and the ease at which they can lead to toxicity levels. So what, then, can or should an athlete do to keep anemia at bay?

Just to reiterate the fact that there is a difference between iron deficiency and anemia, the former being a depletion in storage iron in the liver, spleen and bone marrow – resulting in depressed stores, decreases in decreased transport and an increase in TIBC, eventually leading to decreasing serum iron (see previous article if that doesn’t make sense). Iron deficiency starts to turn into anemia when ferritin levels drop below 12ug/L and your haemoglobin starts to fall out of range. Taking an iron supplement before this point will have no impact on performance, and one should wait until they are down near this 12ug/L range before supplementing with iron. Until you get to this stage, the best thing to do is to bolster your diet with foods rich in haem-iron and fortified products such as grains and cereals.

How can you tell if you are iron deficient or anemic? The simple and most effective answer is to get a blood test, it is a good idea to this annually anyway, or bi-annually if you are an elite athlete or in the at risk demographic (female endurance athlete). That really is the only definitive way to draw a distinction and place you in a distinct spot on the continuum of iron deficiency, but if your like me, you hate needles, and you won’t get a voluntary blood unless it is absolutely vital, what else can you do to keep tabs of your iron? There are a few physical and clinical signs you can look at, that may point you towards a conclusion.

Having pale skin, thinning hair, kyphosis (spoon shaped fingernails), pale conjunctiva (the red bit behind your eyelids) and noticing a decrease in training performance, by becoming short of breath much quicker and having a decreased exercise tolerance. Whilst this is useful info, it is important to note, that clinical and physical symptoms don’t usually precipitate until you are anemic or borderline. Alongside this, ferritin depression without drops in serum iron or haemoglobin, doesn’t actually impact on your ability to perform on the track, on the road or on the bike, as your oxygen transport capacity isn;t effected until your haemoglobin levels drop.

So, right now, what you can do is book a blood test (maybe wait until COVID has relaxed a tad), and ensure you get adequate iron intake, and pay special attention to the rich food sources and inhibitors, and start emphasizing this on a day to day basis. The biggest thing is to swap to wholegrain products over white options, getting your green veggies, pulses and nuts in on a day to day basis, consuming vitamin C with all these examples and if it’s possible, include lean red meat or offal 1-2 times per week, liver if you can hack it (I cannot).

If you would like some help with nailing your diet, click here to sign up for online coaching, and nail much more than optimizing your iron intake, or, if you just want a 60 minute session with a dietary analysis to get some quick and effective pointers, then click here to book a session in the athlete clinic, at a time that suits you, from the comfort of your own home!

I hope you enjoyed this three part series on iron, it is a vital nutrient for any athlete or sportsperson to optimize in their diet, and can very easily and quickly unravel an athlete’s sporting ambitions. I would love to hear your feedback, if you found it useful or helpful, and if you think others can benefit from it, please share it!

Happy trails,

E