Have yourself a happy, healthy Christmas

Have yourself a happy, healthy Christmas

There are plenty of traditions associated with Christmas and a good few of them revolve around food. Is yours a turkey or ham sort of household? Then what’s for dessert? Mince pies, Christmas pudding with brandy butter, Tunis cake? And that’s before you’ve even thought about all the little chocolates and nutty snacks that seem to flow so freely at this time of year. The song is quite right, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, and we all deserve to kick back, relax and treat ourselves a little. But if you’ve spent the past 12 months getting in shape, the last thing you want is for all that effort to go to waste in one big Christmas backslide. Bitesize Christmas chunks That sort of fear is understandable when you read the terrifying statistics on just now much weight some people put on over Christmas. However, according to nutritionist to the stars Gabriela Peacock, a little over-indulgence shouldn’t do any harm to your overall health, fitness or weight management. Gabriela told Grazia magazine: “Christmas only lasts a few days so doesn’t need to jeopardise your good intentions.” Therein lies an important point. Those who find themselves a stone heavier by twelfth night are the ones who started on the pretzels, chocolates and cheesy footballs in early December and are finally coming off a month-long binge. Gabriela recommends breaking things up and ensuring you return to normality between Christmas and New Year: Set yourself up with a healthy, hearty breakfast; cut back on the gluten, sugar, caffeine and alcohol; make sure you are properly hydrated and try to get...
Focused Nutrition Powering Katherine For The Long Run

Focused Nutrition Powering Katherine For The Long Run

Focused Nutrition is delighted to announce that it will be supporting endurance runner Katherine Wood with fuel and encouragement! Katherine is working towards her dream of representing England, with an ultimate goal of selection to take part in the Commonwealth Games. Staying fuelled up with the right nutrition is absolutely vital for distance running success. We are pleased to be in a position to assist Katherine in a practical way by providing nutritious flapjacks to keep her going. We caught up with Katherine to discuss her journey so far. Can you explain to the uninitiated what endurance running entails? Endurance running is any distance of three kilometres or more. I specialise in half marathons, full marathons and ultramarathons. An ultramarathon is a distance that’s longer than the standard 26.2 mile marathon distance, and includes things like the 50K and 100K. That sounds absolutely terrifying. Where and how do you train? I live in Manchester and I’m a member of Sale Harriers, Running with fellow club members is what it’s all about, but that is only part of my training regime. I’m lucky enough to have an amazing coach in Liz Yelling. She represented the United Kingdom in the marathon at both the Greece and China Olympics, as well as bringing a medal home from the 2006 Commonwealth Games, so she’s a great inspiration. My training plan is very intense. As well as a mixture of long tempo runs, interval and threshold sessions and easy recovery runs, I also do a lot of cycling, swimming, weights and strength and conditioning work. Oh, and Pilates, too. Tell us about your achievements...
Keeping you fuelled for the long run

Keeping you fuelled for the long run

A recent article in the Independent newspaper reported that there are some two million people in the UK who run on a regular basis. These range from those who are just starting on a fitness journey with a gentle jog round the block each morning to serious long-distance athletes to the thousands who fall somewhere in between. As well as rapidly becoming the nation’s most popular way of keeping fit, running is also a method of choice when it comes to raising essential funds charity and at Focused Nutrition, we are always eager to support worthy causes. But wherever you run and for whatever reason, our nutritious snacks are just what’s needed to keep you going. Let’s see where they fit into your body’s broader fuel needs when you are planning on hitting the road, track or trail. Understand your needs When you run, your body burns approximately 100 calories per mile. So if you’re running 20 miles per week, you’ll need to increase calorie intake by about 2000. Of course, if the idea is to lose a few pounds, you might want to decrease that slightly, but don’t overdo it or you simply won’t have the energy to perform. Don’t try running on empty There’s nothing like a run first thing in the morning to blow away the cobwebs and get you ready for the day. It can be tempting to leap out of bed and into your running shoes and get out there to cover some miles before breakfast. You’ll certainly work up an appetite, but “running on empty” in this way is not going to do...
Cooling but nutritious food ideas to survive the summer heatwave

Cooling but nutritious food ideas to survive the summer heatwave

As the UK takes a deep breath after one of the hottest July heatwaves in memory, it’s worth remembering that there is still plenty of summer still to come. In hot conditions, your body is placed under increasing strain. We all know the importance of hydration, but it’s also vital to keep your nutrition levels up if you want to stay alert and at your best. After all, tempting though it might be to take an afternoon siesta in a shady spot, it’s a luxury few of us can afford, so it is vital to do all we can to avoid that 2PM slump. The problem many of us face is that as well as being energy-sapping, hot weather can also give the appetite a hit. When the mercury hits the 30s, the last thing on most people’s minds is a big plate of food. Here are some tips for keeping nutrition levels up from morning till night. Rough up your smoothie for breakfast When there’s a scorching day ahead, few breakfast options look more tempting than a smoothie. Cool, hydrating, delicious, light and full of vitamins and minerals – what’s not to like? The only downside to a smoothie for breakfast is that you are likely to be feeling hungry again an hour or so later. Here’s a cunning trick from those in the know. Oats are a breakfast staple, but enjoying them doesn’t have to mean diving into a bowl of steaming hot porridge. Try adding some to your smoothie to give it a little more substance and texture. You will find that you stay comfortably full...
Healthy and nutritious oatmeal ideas

Healthy and nutritious oatmeal ideas

If the idea of oats conjures up images of a steaming bowl of porridge to set you up for the day on a winter’s morning, it might not be the first thing on your breakfast list as we head into June. However, perhaps you should think about that again. The nutritional properties of oats make them the perfect ingredient, not just to start the day, but also to give you a boost when you need it most. Oats help you to burn fat and lower cholesterol, while providing your body with essential vitamins and minerals like potassium and folate. Getting your fix of oats doesn’t have to mean chowing down a bowl of porridge on a summer’s morning – although given the vagaries of the British climate that might sometimes be a tempting idea, even in June. But here are some other ways to enjoy oats whatever the weather. Make your own muesli The trouble with pre-packaged muesli is that it tries to cater to all tastes. Inevitably, this means some find it too sweet, while others might object to the raisins or some other ingredient. Making your own could not be simpler. Use rolled oats as your base, and continue from there. Try adding chopped walnuts, banana and cinnamon to give your breakfast natural sweetness and just a hint of spice. Try baking Some people shy away from oats because they don’t like the texture. If this sounds like you, a baked oatmeal product, such as this oat flapjack could be just the thing. The recipe for this one is a closely guarded secret that has taken years...
Winter is coming – are you getting your oats?

Winter is coming – are you getting your oats?

The evenings are drawing in, the paths and roads are full of fallen leaves and the supermarkets are throwing us all into confusion as they reorganise the aisles to make way for the festive range. There’s no avoiding the fact: winter is coming. With it come various changes in our daily routine. Coats and heavier shoes are being pressed back into action, the central heating is back in daily use and that yoghurt and fruit that seemed like the perfect breakfast just a month or so ago is no longer quite so tempting. A steaming bowl of porridge is just the thing to set you up for the day. Those of a certain age will remember the TV ad campaign showing the glowing boy heading off to school with the tagline that described a certain well known brand as “central heating for kids.” Pure advertising spiel? Not exactly. In fact, the slow releasing energy that oats deliver do indeed act as an internal heating system and are precisely what we all need. What’s so great about oats? Oats are rich in beta-glucans, a soluble form of fibre that slows the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream. This delayed digestive process damps down the spikes in insulin levels and blood sugar that we so often see with other energy-giving foods. On top of that, oats are a great source of magnesium. This is also important for giving energy, and is key to enzyme function. Magnesium has been proven to reduce the likelihood of strokes and heart attacks, as it relaxes the blood vessels, aids the heart muscle and regulates blood...