Easy Peasy Healthy Ice-cream

 

 

Like most of the recipes on this website, I use this one a lot, and it definitely lives up to the Fast Fit Food ethos. It uses 3 of the basic ingredients that I always have a stock of: natural yogurt, frozen berries and bananas. It is perfect as a pudding or as a snack, and it’s one of the recipes I give to my athletes for pre or post workout as it contains great amounts of protein and carbohydrates.

Benefits: yogurt provides good bacteria for the digestion as well as calcium and protein,   the berries and banana provides fibre; potassium and healthy carbohydrates from the bananas, antioxidants from the berries…..I could go on! 

I try to use nice ripe bananas – they are sweeter and easier to digest that greener ones. If you can buy yellow ones with brown specks, or allow them to ripen in the fruit bowl, then there is no need to add any extra sweetness e.g. from honey.

The type of natural yogurt you use is up to you: I usually use full fat for my kids as it gives a thicker creamier texture. If you are watching your weight, then use a low fat natural yogurt which usually Unknown-10276994has about half the calories. Contrary to popular belief, low fat natural (plain) yogurt does not have any added sugar or sweetness. If you are trying to increase protein in your diet, then go for Total which have twice the amount of protein as standard natural yogurts. Liberte has the advantage of having some fruit added, without too much sugar. All of them have the healthy bacteria!

If you are lactose intolerant, simply swap the natural yogurt for lactose free yogurt. Vegan? then go for soya or coconut yogurt.

Healthy, easy ‘ice-cream’images-3

Ingredients:

  • 500g pot of natural yogurt
  • 2 frozen ripe bananas (peel before freezing)
  • handful of frozen IMG_0905berries/any frozen fruit

 

Method:

  1. images-3Chuck the ingredients in to a blender and whizz up until smooth.
  2. To make more ice-creamy, you can put the mixture back in to the freezer for a few hours, then give it a good stir before serving.

 

4 no effort meals

Most of my sports clients struggle to put the theory of macronutrients, calories, protein and carb grams in to practical day to day meals and snacks. Unless they have a special interest in nutrition, the last thing any player or athlete in training wants to do is to analyse food labels for carbs/protein/fat, or search for the hottest ‘superfood’ ingredient. Passing out on the sofa is mostly what is needed!

So here are four easy, no effort meals using food you can get from any supermarket. All are balanced for protein, carbohydrate and healthy fats, not forgetting important vitamins and minerals from veg. (Quantities depend on the individual, your S & C coach/nutritionist or I can help with that).

Meal 1

4002359642685_LMeatballs, tomato sauce, pasta, broccoli. Cook the meatballs in a frying pan with some olive oil until brown on the outside, add the Dolmio, simmer for 10 minutes. Cook pasta, broccoli: boil/steam in microwave. 600kcal meal: 6 meatballs in the sauce provides 30g protein, a mug of cooked pasta 50g carbohydrate.

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Meal 2

Ready cooked rice, roasted chicken/grilled or stir fried chicken breasts, mixed veg, humous/chilli sauce to dip. Frozen veg can be defrosted/heated in the microwave or boiled in water for a few minutes.

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Meal 3

Rice noodles, baby veg stir fried (add olive oil, soy sauce, ginger puree, garlic puree), chop up 1-2 salmon fillets add to stir fried veg. Salmon can be tinned/fresh/ready cooked.

already cooked, just add to stir fried veg

rice noodles – already cooked, just add to stir fried veg

ready cooked salmon

ready cooked salmon

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Meal 4

1 or 2 jacket potatoes or tortilla wraps, tin of tuna, tablespoon mayonnaise/natural yogurt, 1 whole chopped up red pepper and 2 chopped spring onions mixed in.

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Microwave in 5 minutes

Tuna wrap

Tuna mayo wraps with pepper & spring onion

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Just mix the tuna, chopped pepper, spring onion, mayo and natural yogurt together, and fill the potatoes/wraps.

Refuelling for Tournaments

Keeping the body fuel at it’s peak for training and matches can be challenging enough, so how do you ensure that you are reaching full throttle during events that have multiple games or rounds?

It is typical for the athletes, players, and believe it or not, coaches to turn up to events like football, rugby or swimming tournaments with no fuelling strategy in place. If peak performance is the objective, this is utterly absurd and an inexcusable oversight.

Here’s why:

  • muscle fuel stores will decrease during each game or event. Water or rehydration drinks are not enough to replace this energy so muscle fuel stores will become depleted, affecting muscle power output, speed, balance, injury risk etc.
  • carbohydrate is required for the brain cells to function optimally, essential for making quick and accurate decisions on the field

Be prepared, stock up on food supplies before the journey to the event. Don’t ‘wing it’ by hoping that there might be food available when you get there.

3-4 hours before:

Normal meal: consisting of plenty of carbohydrates (bread, potatoes, rice pasta etc.) protein (meat, fish, eggs, chicken etc.) and ideally fruit/veg. Fluid.

1-2 hours before: easily digestible food, high carbohydrate, low fat, continue to drink plenty.

  • energy bars Unknown-2Unknown-3
  • muesli bars
  • banana or any fruit
  • fruit smoothie
  • low fibre breakfast cereal with milk e.g Rice Krispies or Cornflakesimages-1
  • Scones
  • Sandwiches made with white bread
  • low fat fruit yogurt
  • Scones

    Scones

    imagesbetween heats:

  • 200ml diluted fruit juice/smoothieUnknown-4
  • Energy gels
  • Carbohydrate Drinks e.g. Lucozade Sport
  • Handful of jelly sweets e.g. jelly beans/babies (Haribo are quite chewy so hard to eat enough!)
  • Scone/fruit bread
  • Ripe banana

Know what works for you, and don’t try something new on the day. For example, some people find that energy gels give them stomach cramps and feel better with a ripe banana.

If you suffer from diarrhoea before or during an event, there are a number of foods that you should avoid for 24 hours before. ‘Trigger foods’ typically include lactose (found in milk/yogurt), gluten (found in food containing wheat flour), and ‘prebiotics’ (look for inulin or oligosaccharides on food labels – often in sports energy bars and drinks). Confused? Then just ask a sports dietitian who can help you.

Supplements in Sport – which ones work?

Unknown-1The use of supplements by athletes is almost universal, and used correctly and appropriately, can help to achieve optimum performance.

However, clever marketing by supplement companies often exaggerates or invents nutrition claims. The use of pseudo science is common, using seemingly impressive words and phrases.

Unfortunately, many professional and recreational athletes rely on information from unreliable websites, or are advised by unqualified and inexperienced nutritionists (there are some fabulous nutritionists out there, however, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist as it is an unregulated title). Without the correct training, it is easy to misinterpret and misquote published scientific evidence and come to the wrong conclusions.

It is common for athletes to be motivated by celebrity endorsements, a big selling point for a product, “If x uses it it then it must work!”. Additionally, there is the fear that colleagues or competitors are taking a supplement, and if they do not, then they will be losing out on having ‘the edge’.

All this results in money being wasted on products that simply do not work, and at worst can cause physical harm. Importantly, supplements are a distraction from the factors that can really enhance health, recovery and performance.

It may not seem exciting or cutting edge, but the sound foundations of good nutrition need to be

Balanced meals with protein, vegetables and whole grains

Real food with protein, vegetables, healthy fats and whole grains

firmly in place (focusing on real food and getting quality nutrients from carbs, protein and healthy fats). These, coupled with optimum timings of nutrient intake is the basis for ultimately achieving the best performance in training and competition.

There are a select few supplements, however, that have a good amount of evidence behind their effectiveness:

  • Recovery shakes – Carbohydrate & Protein powders for use after exercise. Carbs allow glycogen replenishment of the muscles and help to shuttle protein in to the muscle for repair and growth. Although carbs and protein can be sourced from food or milk, sometimes it is more convenient to take as a supplement (20-30g protein, approx 60-90g carbs). For higher protein needs of resistance training, whey protein is quickly absorbed and can be a more convenient and often cheaper way to achieve requirements than from solely high protein food (up to a total of 1.7g/kg/day of protein from food and supplements)
  • Caffeine – Sound evidence exists that caffeine enhances endurance and provides a small but worthwhile enhancement of performance over a range of exercise protocols. Caffeine also improves mental sharpness. Avoid if it gives you the jitters, and for many people it acts as a gut stimulant causing diarrhoea (70-200mg taken before and during exercise. A cup of instant coffee has approx 70mg, one ProPlus tablet 50mg)
  • Creatine – for about 80% of people, creatine can increase muscle mass, strength and high intensity exercise performance. Effective for sports involving short periods of maximal intensity and repeated bouts with intermittent rest periods. The quickest way to “creatine load” is to take large doses (20-30 g per day) for around 5-7 days. Typically, these doses are split over the day e.g. 5g, four to five times each day. Eating a large amount of carbohydrate (about 70-100 g) with each dose increases creatine uptake via the stimulatory effects of insulin.
  • Nitrates –  Dietary nitrate has become increasingly popular as an ergogeimages-3nic aid, with a $T2eC16dHJGoFFvPOJJ3UBR0ZfTsjj!~~60_35number of recent studies finding benefits to sports performance. Nitrates increase blood flow by causing blood vessels to dilate. High nitrate foods include beetroot, beetroot juice, celery, spinach, lettuce, rocket, leeks and parsley (preferably non-organic).
  • Vitamin D – there is a direct relationship between vitamin D levels in the body and muscle power, force and velocity. Vitamin D deficiency increases risk of muscle injury. In a recent study (2014) one third of American college athletes were deficient in vitamin D. There aren’t many good food sources of vitamin D, therefore for those who are deficient, supplementing with 1000IU is advisable. Severely deficiencies may require higher doses.

    A selection of supplements.......

    A selection of supplements…….

  • Omega 3s – anti-inflammatory, also protects against heart attacks and strokes, may also benefit memory and general mental performance. If no oily fish is eaten, then 500-1000mg daily of EPA & DHA is a good amount to take.
  • Probiotics – maintains gut function and health, preventing the immunosuppressive effects of intense exercise, and reducing susceptibility to illness. Also appropriate to take if travelling abroad for competition to avoid traveller’s diarrhoea. The specific strain of probiotic supplement needs to be carefully selected.
  • Multivitamins – when you can’t guarantee that your diet is always a healthy and balanced one.

A dietitian can carry out an assessment and advise on the most appropriate supplements to take (if any), dose and timings*. Advice is tailored to take in to account factors such as specific sport, training goals and food intake.

*Dietitians do not sell nutritional supplements and do not have a commercial interest in promoting them.

 

10 top foods for recovery

You may feel that you have worked out to the max during your sessions burning 100s of calories, so does it really matter if you have some crisps, chocolate, a danish pastry or chips? Time and time again, research shows that the answer is “yes”. Replacing calories isn’t the only objective of recovery.

Between each workout, game or race the body needs to adapt to the physiological stress that has just been applied, so that it can recover and become fitter, stronger and faster. Whether you are a triathlete, a gym addict, or your child is playing in a weekend rugby tournament, optimum recovery nutrition can help you to perform better in the short and long term.

There are many ‘recovery drinks’ and powders marketed for refuelling after exercise. While

Real Food

Real Food

these have their place, they are not necessarily the best option. It can be argued that real food is the best fuel for recovery, providing everything that a recovery drink can, as well as all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals etc that simply cannot be bottled or made in to a powder.

What’s happening during recovery?

  • refuelling of muscle and carbohydrate stores
  • replacing fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat
  • manufacturing new muscle protein and blood cells
  • allowing immune system to manage damage caused by exercise

 

What are the recovery ‘rules’?

  • multiple daily exercise sessions – if less than 24 hours until next session e.g. professional athletes, weekend rugby tournament, compulsive gym exercisers: recovery nutrition after your session ASAP, ideally within an hour. If next session starts within an hour, recovery drinks or anything low fibre and low fat to help with faster digestion (lasagne not a good option!)
  • more than 24 hours between exercise sessions – generally no need to eat soon after exercise, try to have your next usual meal. consisting of some protein and carbohydrate. If trying to gain muscle, then you can add a recovery snack to fuel this catabolic process. If trying to lose weight and hungry after training, be careful not to increase overall daily calorie intake. Have something light to eat e.g. yogurt.

 

Why carbs & protein are important

Immediately post exercise, good recovery nutrition will consist of protein & carbohydrate. Aim for 1g carbohydrate per kg of body weight, and approximately 25g protein (a chicken breast is about 25-30g, a mug full of rice is about 70g carbohydrate). Unfortunately, eating lots of extra protein does not make bigger muscles.

Carbs and protein work together: carbs help to shuttle protein in to the muscles, and protein helps to stimulate faster muscle glycogen replacement. Low fat helps the food to be absorbed more quickly, as does low fibre (so don’t be too concerned about choosing ‘healthy’ whole grain carbs like whole wheat bread). Fruit & veg can be included in the next meal to provide antioxidants.

If you don’t feel like eating food or don’t have the time or facilities, then recovery drinks or shop bought milkshakes can be useful. Here is a more in-depth look at some of the most popular commercial recovery drinks. If you are trying to lose weight, then watch the calories……..don’t increase overall calories through the day.

 

10 snack foods for fast recovery:

330ml Milkshake – e.g. Yazoo, Frijj, For Goodness Shakes

Homemade recovery smoothie

Post exercise shakes have their place, but watch the extra calories!Large skinny latte & handful of nuts

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Bagel with peanut butter

Milk: perfect recovery protein & carbs

Breakfast cereal with milk e.g Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Cheerios

2 Eggs on 2 white toast

Sandwich/roll/wrap/pitta: filled with chicken, fish or eggs

Jacket potato with cottage cheese/tin of tuna/Baked Beans

Banana or yogurt

Yogurt & Banana

Homemade Seriously Healthy Flapjacks

Mud, Muscles and vitamin D

The days are closing in as autumn and winter approach. For many athletes, this means moving workouts and training sessions indoors. Even when training outside during the colder months, the low sun, cloud cover, and wearing clothes prevent our bodies from converting sunlight to vitamin D.

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Fran was unlikely to get his vitamin D dose from the sunshine today

At the London Irish training ground in Sunbury, rain or shine, rugby and fitness training takes place out on the pitches. Muddy, wet, and cold may not be pleasant, but it prepares everyone for real game day conditions. I’m all for a bit of mess, until I get a muddy mountain of washing dumped in the laundry basket at the end of the day. In winter it’s not just shorts, T-shirts and socks, but tracksuit bottoms, tops, Skins and jackets. Would it be unreasonable for me to politely suggest a laundry room at the new training ground at Hazelwood?! So to my point…..when covered with clothes (and mud!) any small amount of vitamin D provided by the sun in winter, won’t reach the skin.

For those training near the equator, sunlight and vitaminD aren't such a problem

For those training near the equator, sunlight and vitamin D aren’t such a problem

The importance of sunlight and sports performance has been known for centuries, but it is only recently that the science behind the physical benefits have been investigated. We are still in the early days of discovering the tiny details of how vitamin D affects muscles. Other benefits of vitamin D have already been established e.g. for the prevention of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

Scientific studies are slowly piecing together how vitamin D affects muscle. This is what we know so far about vitamin D and involvement with muscle:

  • muscle contraction – calcium and phosphate are essential for the muscle fibres to move, and vitamin D may help this mechanism to work. Vitamin D may also be important for the actual parts of the muscle that make the contraction work (actin and myosin)
  • muscle repair – after exercise, there will be damage to the tiny muscle fibres. Vitamin D may help to repair this damage
  • muscle building – vitamin D stimulates new muscle, and the blood vessels feeding the muscles

In real life?

Although studied at a cellular level, there aren’t many studies yet on vitamin D and how levels in young, healthy athletes affects performance. However, in elderly people, low vitamin D has been shown to result in poorer muscle function and muscle loss.

Should I supplement?

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Vitamin D spray

There are very few good food sources of vitamin D, it comes mostly from the sun. Some foods, like breakfast cereals have vitamin D added, and if you take a multivitamin it may contain some vitamin D.

I advise to take a daily supplement of vitamin D during the winter months (October – May). Unless otherwise advised by your doctor, up to 1000IU per day is safe for adults. It comes in tablet, drops or spray form.

If you aren’t sure how much vitamin D you are getting, I can perform a nutritional analysis of your current diet and the supplements you are taking, and advise you on improving your diet. You can get in touch using the contact form.

Information from Nutri-facts

London Double Header – WAG (!) perspective

The annual London Double Header has come and gone. For those not familiar, this is the first game of the rugby season where the four London premiership teams come together to play at Twickenham Stadium. This year, my husband’s team, London Irish, played Saracens. Saracens won.
That’s my match analysis.
For as much as I am a fan of rugby and enjoy watching a game, if you want rules and tactics, I’m not your woman. It just doesn’t ‘click’. Rugby is in the

Family at a 1939 IRFU dinner

Grandfather at a 1939 IRFU dinner

genes, my grandfather and great uncles played for Ireland and were presidents of the IRFU. From this generation my cousin played for London Irish and Ireland. From an early age, in our family the 5 Nations was an annual event holding all the excitement and anticipation of Christmas (well, maybe just for the adults!) It was a fabulous year if Ireland beat England.

These days I’ve one eye on the pitch, and one eye and hands on the 3 children. They are a welcome distraction, as the nerves of watching London Irish and Dec can be hard to bare!
On Saturday, I could feel the tension really start to heighten after disembarking the train at Twickenham. The mass of bodies is quite spectacular, filling the streets and funnelled by police on horseback towards the stadium. The feeling of immense pride and excitement is one that I will never forget. The girls are bursting to shout to everyone that their Daddy is playing. When we see the match programme with his grinning face on the front they are giddy with excitement. As am I to see him smiling, and not the usual Grumpy Dec grimace!
The, ahem, WAGS (that was actually printed on our ticket!), were lucky enough to have a box with seating outside. This allows the children to entertain themselves inside playing together, colouring in etc. while the mums try to watch the game. I say ‘try’ as with Conor in an ‘adventurous’ phase, he needs to be watched like a hawk. There was a hairy moment when he was gleefully drawing a purple Crayola moustache on Martin Johnson (who leaves a pile of signed England framed pictures stacked in the corner?!) Embarrassing crisis avoided with baby wipes applied to the glass.
After the game, Dec came pitch side for our annual Danaher photo (mammy is imagea little camera shy so happily plays photographer). The stewards can get a bit twitchy about us handing children over the barrier, which is fair enough as they are just doing their job. But we have to be bold and just fire the children over before they can put a stop to our disobedience.
After his shower and change, we met Dec at the Powerday barbecue gathering in the car park (thanks Mr Crossan for the hospitality), then it was a charge down to Twickenham station for the Danaher Clan to catch the train before the hoards from the Wasps/ Harlequins game descended. An hour later, with 3 tired children we were home in Kingston. With the wee ones in bed, Dec and I had a bite to eat.
I was gobsmacked to witness the first ever vegetarian meal Dec has ever eaten. Don’t worry folks, it was the perfect balance of carbs and high value protein for recovery. A massive plate of egg fried rice with peppers and spring onions.
Game day nutrition:
Breakfast 7am : porridge, half bagel with peanut butter and jam
11am: small portion of pasta, smaller portion of bolognaise –
Pre kick off 2pm: sipping on carbohydrate drinks
Post game: slice of pizza, recovery drink (carbs and protein)
Meal at home 7.30pm: egg fried rice
Ingredients: 3 eggs, big cup of cooked basmati rice, 3 spring onions, one pepper.
Ideally, the pre game meal should be something fairly light and easily digested. I would have veered away from the fatty red meat in the bolognaise, as fat and protein take longer to digest. Low fibre carbs, some lean meat and plenty of fluid are the priority. However, each player has his routine and should know how they react to eating pre event. Some eat large amounts, while some eat very lightly. When nerves are high, the last thing anyone wants is the re appearance of Spag Bol on the pitch!