5 ingredient ‘Nutella’ fudge cake from My Clean Treats

Ingredients

150g coconut oil
3/4 cup cacao powder
6 eggs
1 cup rice malt syrup
1 cup hazelnut meal

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius and line a circular baking pan with baking paper.
  2. Place coconut oil and cacao in a saucepan and stir until combined and melted.
  3. In an electric mixer, combine eggs and rice malt syrup.
  4. Add hazelnut meal and the chocolate mix to eggs and rice malt syrup and fold lightly until combined.
  5. Pour into the baking pan and bake for 35 minutes. Let cool, dust some cacao powder over the top and enjoy!

 

About My Clean Treats

Jess Lirosi is the creator of healthy dessert blog My Clean Treats. Featuring simple, guilt-free recipes, from chocolate cacao cake to traditional white chocolate and raspberry jelly slice, Jess’ desserts are made with no refined sugars or plain flours as she makes natural alternatives to her favourite treats.

You can find more of Jess’ clean treats at mycleantreats.com or follow her on Instagram @jess_mycleantreats, like My Clean Treats on Facebook or Twitter @jeslirosi for more healthy sweets.

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Coke Vs Coke Zero… sugar free drinks for the win?

Hi Ladies!

Coca-Cola is a prime example of a high calorie, sugar packed fizzy drink that has very little nutritional value (vitamins and minerals). Many of us are already aware of this, and opt for Coke Zero instead. But, is this really the healthier option?

The main difference between coke and coke zero is the sugar content. When drinking coke zero as opposed to regular coke, you are consuming significantly less sugar which a positive for weight loss and reducing the risk of weight-related diseases. A study by the American institute of nutrition found that consumption of high sugar drinks was positively associated with progression of insulin resistance and prediabetes, but no correlation was found with diet sodas.

Regular coke has a direct effect on our health and weight due to its excess sugar and calorie content. However, diet coke may not be the best alternative. Research suggests that diet coke may have indirect effects on our body that leads to weight gain and other adverse health effects.

Several studies have indicated that diet sodas my increase appetite stimulating hormones such as ghrelin therefore increasing hunger. The artificial sweeteners in diet coke may also alter gut flora leading to reduced blood sugar control. Additives such as citric, malic, and phosphorus acid are present in both coke and coke zero, and have been linked to tooth erosion. Some research has also linked diet sodas to health conditions such as increased risk of high blood pressure, osteoporosis, heart and kidney disease.

Coke

Maybe we need to consider why we actually crave fizzy drinks in the first place?

The most common reason is dehydration – have a glass of water firstly, and see if your fizzy craving is reduced.

A less prevalent reason is a calcium deficiency. The phosphoric acid in carbonated drinks can leach calcium and magnesium stores out of your bones, which momentarily increases the calcium in the body but then creates a continuous cycle of depletion. This is the reason high soda consumption is linked to osteoporosis, as the leaching of minerals reduces bone density and increases the risk of fractures. It is important to have a good intake of dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collards, bok choy, and broccoli. As well as quality dairy sources such as milk and Greek yogurt.

It is clear that there are negative aspects to both diet and regular coke. So, to maintain overall health sticking to good old water is the best bet. Both diet and regular coke should be consumed in moderation as a very occasional treat.

See you in the gym soon!

Hannah 🙂

 

 

 

What is the importance of stretching/flexibility?

Hi Ladies,

Lauren here. I wanted to talk about stretching and flexibility as i think its a really important aspect of fitness that often gets neglected.

We have all heard the trainers harp on about stretching after exercise and we often think it’s not important or you don’t have time. We all know if we  are one of the guilty ones who just doing a quick 5 second stretch (or nothing at all) and running out the door.

Benefits of stretching more:

  • Posture. You know, that thing that most people struggle with (especially if you have a desk job)? It’s not as easy as just “sitting up straighter”. Bad posture can come from tight muscles, and stretching therefore can prevent these muscles from getting so tight. Bad posture can lead to tightness which in turn can give you pain and cause injuries.
  • You will become more flexible. This is a pretty obvious benefit of stretching, but vital, daily tasks like bending over to tie your shoe, or throwing a ball for your dog, all become easier when you are more flexible.
  • Improved circulation. As you stretch, you increase blood flow, which allows your body to transport nutrients, and get rid of waste, faster.
  • Faster recovery. By stretching your muscles, you promote more blood to the area. The more blood flow, the more nutrients it will bring to recover and fix your muscles faster.
  • Better Coordination. This may seem like an average point, but coordination is so important, especially as you get older, as having this improved coordination and balance will prevent as many falls or accidents.

stretch pic

Should I stretch before I exercise?

Definitely! Before jumping into the weights or cardio, make sure you warm up and then do some dynamic stretches before the main part of your workout. Dynamic stretches are moving stretches that aim to put the join through its full range of motion and gets blood flowing to the right areas. An example of this is a lunge, swinging one of your legs back and forth or ankle, shoulder circles This warms up your muscles safely. If you try a static stretch, such as touching your toes, this actually cools the muscle down and can use up too much muscle energy performing this stretch, and then have a poor workout due to your muscled already being fatigued!

How often should I stretch?

The American College of Sports Medicine (some very important, knowledgeable people!) recommend that each big muscle group should be stretched at least twice a week. They also recommend holding every stretch for around 60 seconds for maximum benefits, however they claim holding a 15-30 stretch is very beneficial as well. The American College of Sports Medicine also recommend static stretching after every workout.

How should I perform static stretches?

  • Try to be symmetrical. You want both sides of your body to be at the same level when it comes to stretching. This is especially important for those with injuries.
  • Don’t bounce in your stretch (I’m guilty of this one). Hold a stretch smoothly, and don’t aim for pain, aim for tension. Pain can be a sign you have gone too far, and you should release your stretch a little bit. I used to bounce in my stretch to go deeper, to be as flexible as I possibly could, but I would often end up with very sore muscles the next day.

What about yoga?

Yoga is amazing for flexibility, it helps you strengthen and lengthen your muscles in a safe and effective way. You don’t have to be “naturally flexible” in order to do yoga. Yoga helps your body stretch in new ways, and it is also a great way to relax as well.  In saying that, you don’t have to practice yoga to become more flexible or to do a great stretch session.

Flexibility and stretching can greatly improve some aspects of your life. It can make day to day activities easier, improve your posture, prevent injuries and may even reduce stress. An excellent benefit of stretching is your performance. By being more flexible, you can increase range of motion in your exercises which in turn recruits more muscle fibers which can make you faster, stronger and fitter. You may think that is only important to athletes or people who play sport. However, it can help the weekend warrior or even keeping up with the kids a little easier.

Try incorporate more stretching in your weekly routine and you will feel the benefits in no time!

Lauren 😊

Importance of a good breakfast

Hi Ladies! Sam here. Many of us find excuses in the morning for skipping a good breakfast whether that be you don’t have time, you can’t eat that early in the morning or just not having food available. However, these are all excuses we should work on changing because starting your day off with a nutrient filled breakfast comes with so many benefits! With health trends continuously changing we often over complicate the things as simple as breakfast with fasting, no carbs before lunch and juice cleanses etc. When it comes down to it as long as you’re not eating sugary crap (a lot of common cereals!) or a gas station pie you’re most likely fueling your body with some of the nutrients it needs.

What is breakfast?

Breakfast broken down means break the fast. Overnight when you are sleeping your body is in a phase of fasting which gives your body time to digest, replenish and restore blood sugar balance. Breakfast in the morning breaks this fast and gives your body energy to carry out the new day. When you skip breakfast your body basically has no fuel to run on and this can lead to overeating, sugar cravings and low energy.

Importance of a good breakfast

  • Breakfast helps to set up your day by providing your body with nutrients it needs. In the morning your body blood glucose level is low from fasting through the night. A good breakfast in the morning helps to increase your blood glucose level which gives you energy to start your day.
  • Breakfast can help with preventing weight gain. This is because fueling your body in the morning and giving yourself energy for the day can help maintain your hunger levels so you will often snack less. Excessive snacking because you have not eaten a substantial meal is a common cause of weight gain.
  • Nutritionally balanced meals for breakfast helps to maintain high brain activity more than skipping out on breakfast or drinking a high sugar drink. This can lead to improved concentration throughout the day and make it a lot easier to remember the small things we often lose track of.
  • There has been a lot of research done around whether skipping breakfast can increase your risk of diabetes and there has been a fair bit of evidence supporting this. When you start your day with a nutritious meal you increase your insulin levels which have decreased overnight. Increasing your insulin levels with a meal when you first wake up can help to prevent an insulin spike later in the day when you have lunch. Continuous insulin spikes can be bad for your health and can induce prediabetes.
  • Having a good breakfast in the morning helps to ensure you get the right amount of nutrients in the day. Quite often people do not get enough fruit and vegetables in their diets, so beginning your day with some fruit or vege will make a good contribution to your 5+a-day!

Healthy breakfast. Yogurt with granola and berries

Healthy breakfast ideas

Eating a good breakfast doesn’t need to be complicated!! Here are some of my favourite breakfast ideas that can be quick and easy!

  • Homemade granola served with Greek yoghurt and blueberries (or any other fruit). This is super simple and can be prepared the night before and kept in the fridge to grab and eat on the go.
  • Scrambled eggs with a slice of wholegrain toast. Scrambled eggs can be super quick, whisk them with a fork and a bit of milk and either cook on a frypan or in microwave on low heat for a few minutes. Even better is mixing in some spinach for extra goodness.
  • Overnight oats topped with nuts and seeds. This is a great source of fiber and made the night before makes it easy to grab and go.
  • Chia puddings with berries. Just like overnight oats made the night before! Mix a bunch of chia seeds with milk of choice and milk in some berries, leave in the fridge overnight and it will be like a little pudding.
  • Smoothies! Smoothies are a great way to get your fruit and vege in because you can throw everything in and often the fruit will make the smoothie sweet enough to enjoy. Add in some protein powder too and you have yourself a great breakfast that’s super easy.
  • Omelette loaded with vege can be such a filling breakfast if you have a bit more time in the morning. My favourite is filled with baby spinach, red onion, capsicum and cherry tomatoes and basil pesto.
  • 2x boiled eggs to grab and go

See you in the gym soon!

Sam 🙂

 

How to beat the Christmas binge

Christmas is just around the corner, and as we know this means the opportunity to gorge on delicious foods! This is the time of year to spend with family and friends and it is completely okay to treat yourselves. However, we may end up feeling a little sluggish and unmotivated after a multitude of family lunches and dinners. Overeating may knock our confidence and leave us feeling frustrated but this doesn’t have to be the case. I am going to share a few tips and tricks to help you bounce back to a healthy routine.

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Pre- Christmas:

1. Stay hydrated – It is important to keep drinking water on a hot summer’s day. Often if we are dehydrated our body mistakes this for hunger. In a study of 24 overweight adults it was found that when 500ml of water was drank before eating, the energy they consumed was significantly lower than those who had no water before eating a meal.

2. Load up on the veges and meat – Sweet and sugary snacks won’t fill you up for long so make sure you have a good meal that includes veges and meat, then enjoy your treats. Including lots of veges in your meals will give you the range of nutrients your body needs to feel great. Vegetables are also high in fiber which promotes feelings of fullness. A good source of protein will also help satiation.

3. Enjoy Your Food – Tip number one is to not worry about overeating. Christmas is a time of joy and family and it is completely fine to have some yummy treats. Worrying about what you can eat or can’t eat can lead to a toxic relationship with food.

Post-Christmas:

4. Don’t skip meals – It may be tempting to skip breakfast or lunch the day after, but this will only make us hungrier and put our metabolism out of whack. It is best to start with a filling but healthy breakfast. Including a source of healthy fats such as avocado or eggs will keep you fuller for longer throughout the day. Of course, listen to your body and go about your normal day – if you’re hungry eat, if you’re not hungry then don’t.

Breakfast Ideas:
– Wholegrain toast, nut butter, and chia seeds
– Omelette loaded with veges
– Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

5. Go for a Walk – Walking is a great way to stay active and get things moving after a big meal. You may not feel like getting straight back into an intense workout so a light walk can do the trick to keep your body moving.

Merry Christmas everyone! Enjoy your time with friends and family and see you all in the New Year.

Hannah 😊

Protein Powder – Should i take it?

Hi Ladies! Today we’re looking into Protein Powder. A common question we get at the gym is if protein powder is recommended, and does it make us “bulky?”.

Use of Protein Powder

The purpose of Protein Powder is for people, whether athletes, bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts, or just your average joe, to up their protein intake in the easy form of a powder. Protein Powder exists because of pure convenience, because you may not always be in the position to roast a chicken, pan fry some steak, or boil up some beans. Protein Powder is often lower in calories than a “standard” source of protein. It is recommended that you eat 1-1.5g of protein per kg of your bodyweight, and while most people think they get enough, they may not.

Some examples of this (using calories just as a comparison for how much protein you get for the number of calories you consume) are as follows:

  • Boiled Egg: 6g of protein (140 calories)
  • A Tank Lemon & Herb Chicken salad (My favourite!): 24g of protein (222 calories)
  • A thin slice of shaved ham: 2.9g of protein (30 calories)
  • 2 Roasted Garlic Bean Supreme Vegetarian Sausages: 8.4g of protein (153 calories)
  • ½ cup of Lentils: 9g of protein (200 calories)
  • A tin of Watties baked beans: 10.8g of protein (220 calories)
  • 1 glass of milk: 3.4g of protein (130 calories)
  • 10 almonds: 2.5g of protein (149 calories)
  • Milo “Protein Clusters” Cereal: 5.5g protein (191 calories for one 45g serving)
  • 2 scoops of Horley’s 100% Whey Vanilla protein powder: 18.6g of protein (and only 98 calories! This is the protein powder I have used in the past, it tastes great in my opinion, the vanilla one with half a banana and lots of ice tastes just like a good old banana milkshake/smoothie with vanilla icecream!)

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Why protein is important in our diet.

Protein IS NOT just about building muscle and only needed by body builders. Protein is one of the three macro nutrients (the other two being fats and carbohydrates), which means your body needs it in a relatively large amount, and is obviously vital to the body. This is because your body uses protein to repair and build tissues. Protein is also a building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, hair, and nails! Fats and Carbohydrates are stored in your body, but Protein is not, which means it needs a fresh supply every single day, and it’s up to you to provide your body with this supply. Even if you don’t exercise, your body still needs protein to regenerate and repair different cells in your body.

Will I get “bulky” from eating more protein?

If you are eating 1 to 1.5g per kg of your bodyweight, you will not gain muscle, as this is the recommendation to keep your body happy and healthy.  Remember that females do not have the same amount of testosterone as males to get that “bulk”.

 

When should you use protein powder?

Whenever you want! Protein shake for breakfast, or morning tea, or afternoon tea, or for dessert! That’s the great thing about protein powder, its quick, easy, and versatile! You can have it alone with water, make it a smoothie by adding some berries or half of a banana, or you can even put it in some yoghurt and make a thick mousse!

 

At the end of the day you don’t NEED protein powder. There are many foods high in protein that would let you reach your goal easily! However, Protein powder is usually lower in calories, super tasty (if you find the right one!), and convenient! If you think you need to up your protein intake and want the convenience, definitely give protein powder a try! Some health food stores sell single sachets of a variety of protein powders, and we have single sample sachets of Horleys, Sculpt for sale at the gym!

Lauren  😊

Weight loss – Weights or Cardio?

The biggest question when beginning your weight loss journey is ‘what style of exercise should I do, cardio or weights?’ The answer to that question is not so simple. If you want to optimize weight loss you should incorporate a combination of both cardio and weights into your exercise routine. And here is why:

Let’s start with weight training (resistance). Weight training is often overlooked when it comes to weight loss as a lot of women don’t want to become “bulky” and believe they need to spend hours running on a treadmill to shred the kilos off. However, weight training has got amazing weight loss benefits which include burning fat when you’re not even exercising!!

  • Weight training builds lean muscle mass when done regularly. And before you worry about becoming “too bulky”, women do not have high enough testosterone levels to bulk up from regular weight sessions unless specifically training to do so. By increasing your lean muscle mass, you are basically creating a calorie-burning powerhouse. Muscles require energy from the carbohydrates and fat stored in your body in order to carry out muscle contractions. More lean muscle mass means more energy is required to contract the muscles so if you have a higher muscle mass your body will be burning more energy throughout the day without you doing anything extra.
  • Weight training helps to give shape to your body. Not only will it help with the weight loss but it will also help to give definition to your figure. Often when you lose a noticeable amount of weight from cardio you have lost both fat and muscle mass. However, when you build muscle mass through weight training you are adding muscle mass and losing fat so your body figure will have more natural feminine curves. This can often be seen as more of a significant body transformation.
  • Weight training also is what helps to develop your strength which is extremely important as we get older as well as carrying out daily activities.

We’ve all heard about cardio and how beneficial it can be at getting rid of the winter warming layer around our waists but do we really know why? Cardio can be many things such as a long walk, run, cycling, HIIT session, swimming… the list goes on! Cardio can be done many ways and certainly contributes to overall weight loss.

weights v cardio pic

  • When doing a cardio style workout, you are burning a lot more calories during that exercise session than you would in a resistance session. However, the calories are only really burnt throughout the session not afterwards like weight training. This means for optimal weight loss through cardio you want to opt for long duration sessions such as a long walk or a low intensity long distance run/cycle/row etc. When beginning your weight loss journey starting off with long walks or light jogs can be great at shedding the first few kilos before beginning a more intense program of weights and cardio.
  • Cardio is great for the health of your heart. When you exercise for long duration you help to improve your overall heart endurance which will in turn increase your stroke volume which is the amount of blood pumped by your heart with each contraction and decrease your heart rate which means your heart does not need to work as hard. This help to decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure.
  • Cardio is the cheapest form of exercise and the exercise you can do pretty much anywhere with no equipment. If you can’t afford to get to a gym or you’re away from the gym and want to get some exercise in, going for a walk or run is the easiest thing to do which will help contribute to your weight loss.

Both cardio and weight training have their pros and cons but when it comes down to it incorporating a bit of both in your regular exercise routine will only benefit you along your weight loss journey. Mixing up your workouts and challenging your body with different styles of exercises like high intensity cardio or heavy muscle fatiguing weights are what will help with overall health benefits which can be even more important than weight loss. My biggest piece of advice would be keeping your body on its toes! Your body will begin to adapt to a regular exercise routine which can lead to a plateau in results unless you’re mixing it up regularly.

Enjoy your exercise routines!

Sam

Sleep Yourself Fit?

Hi Ladies, Hannah here!

We are regularly told to get 8 hours of sleep per night. However, in today’s modern world with our busy lifestyles it is often difficult to achieve this. It may seem like we can get away unscathed on minimal hours rest.  However, sleep deficiency has been linked to many chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, obesity, and depression. Research also shows that getting enough quality sleep is vital for our physical health, mental health, and quality of life. There are hundreds of benefits of sleep, but let’s talk specifically about how getting enough sleep can help you on your fitness journey.

Enhance Muscle Gain and Athletic Performance

  • Have you ever wondered why newborns sleep so much? It’s because they are taking advantage of the benefits of growth hormone which is released during sleep. Growth hormone allows our body to repair any minor tears in our muscles and build up our tissues resulting in muscle growth.
  • The brain also recharges while we sleep. Sleep is therefore the key to having a good workout as a rested and recharged brain is more motivated and focused.
  • A study by Stanford University found that basketball players that increased their sleep by at least an hour each night had faster sprint times, improved shooting accuracy, and reported to have more stamina.

Good Sleep to Reduce Weight Gain

  • Studies show that sleep-deprived individuals tend to eat more. This is because poor sleep can disrupt the proper secretion of appetite hormones. This may cause higher levels of ghrelin (appetite stimulating hormone) and lower levels of leptin (appetite suppressing hormone) which may result in eating more.
  • Sleep deprivation also dulls the activity in the brains frontal lobe – the part responsible for decision-making and self-control. It makes sense, being sleep-deprived and running low on energy makes it harder to say no to that sugary snack!

Tips for better sleep

  1. A relaxing bedtime routine 60-90 minutes before bed is a must! Try dimming lights, turning off the electronics, stretching, meditation, or taking a hot shower or Epsom salt bath.
  2. Stop consuming caffeine by the early afternoon.
  3. Going to sleep at a consistent time each night has shown to increase sleep quality.
  4. Exercise and sleep go hand in hand. Exercise can contribute to a more sound and restful sleep, and whilst we sleep the body is repaired which can enhance physical performance.
  5. Magnesium – This mineral has hundreds of roles in the human body including our sleep! Insomnia is also a common symptom of magnesium deficiency. Try including magnesium rich foods in your diet like dark leafy greens; nuts and seeds; dairy products; whole grains; meat; and all vegetables.

 

Hannah 😊

What do you mean by toning?

Hi Ladies!

Sarah here. The most common goals I hear in the gym, are the notorious three: 1. Lose weight 2. Tone up 3. Get fit. These are great goals but I always find it interesting that we always use the word, “tone”. What is this tone we all want to achieve?

We often think of toning as doing lots a lots of repetitions with a small 2kg pink dumbell and only eating salads. Let’s get rid of that rubish right now. Toning is actually two things. Increasing muscle mass and decreasing body fat. Nutritionally these are actually two conflicting goals. To increase muscle mass we need to eat in a calorie surplus (more than you are expending) and to reduce body fat you need to be in a calorie deficit (eating slightly less than you burn each day).

You can focus on one of these goals at a time or do both together, it is really up to you. To build muscle you need to make sure that you are resistance training and challenging your muscles. Ladies, don’t be scared to lift heavy! If you do not challenge and stress the muscle it won’t change. Remember that the more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate is (resting metabolism).

Now you need to make sure you are trying to shed that layer of fat that is covering your muscles. Ultimately you need to be eating slightly less than the energy you are expending each day but there are things that you can do to also help:

1. Adding some cardio to your routine.

2. Keeping your heart rate up during  your workout to burn more calories (think HIIT, circuits, supersets etc).

3. Doing ‘bigger’ multi-joint exercises (Burpees 👌, squats, deadlifts, lunges etc).

4. Keeping your rest periods short to keep your heart rate elevated.

5. Moving for at least 20 minutes a day.

Just remember if you have built muscle but not shed the fat on top, your measurements will increase.

See you in the gym soon!

Sarah 😊

Which diet is best for me?

Hello Ladies!

Common questions that we get asked are often about what particular diet you should be following. They are usually questions like, what do you think of this diet? Does [insert famous person here] weight loss plan work? Should i cut carbs from my diet? Or what diet should I be on?

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At the end of the day you can lose on pretty much any diet, as they have one common goal. To reduce calories. By reducing calories you go into a calorie deficit and use fat stores for energy.  I strongly believe the best diet is one that works for YOU, by being sustainable. You need to be able to stick to it. There is no point forcing yourself to stick to a Paleo diet if you love carbs and no reason you should jump on the keto wave, if you can’t tolerate that much fat in your diet.

In saying that  your old diet of coffee and toast is obviously not going to ideal for your body to function and perform optimally. Try to think about food as a fuel source that can energise and heal the body.

Key things to remember:

Love your fruit & veg! (5+ a day).

Try to eat 1g – 1.5g x your body weight in protein daily.

Low GI “good carbs” will keep you more full.

Everything in moderation.

A balance meal is Carbs, protein, fats (include fruit and vegetables as good carbs).

Don’t drink your calories! (Fizzy drink, juices and energy drinks are big causes of weight gain).

If you are missing something from your diet, then you should look at supplementing .

Sarah 😊

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