Fats – there’s more than one kind

Fats are an energy dense macronutrient and a source of the essential fatty acids. They can come from animals or plants and are used by your body as fuel for low intensity activities and storage.

Fats are made out of fatty acids, in the same way that carbs are chains of sugars, and proteins are chains of amino acids. You should probably include about 70g (for women) and 90g (for men) of fat in your diet. Ideally, you should get it from a range of sources. Fats are also important for insulation, absorbing some vitamins (A,D,E & K) and for healthy hair and skin.


There are several types of fats, and not all are created equal:

  • Saturated fat – Usually from animals, limit your intake of this.
  • Mono-unsaturated fat – Usually from nuts, olives, avocado, some dairy, eat more of this
  • Poly-unsaturated fat – Usually from fish, particularly mackerel, herring, salmon, trout, and seeds, eat more of this
  • Trans-fat – A fat produced during processing that often turns up in fried foods and ready meals, avoid like the plague

The science behind fats

Fats are organised in groups of three fatty acids and one glycerol, called triglycerides. A triglyceride is made up of any three fatty acids in any order. The order determines what sort of fat it is. Each fatty acid looks different, and has different properties. Such as how many essential fatty acids it provides, and how saturated it is.

The bottom line on fats

To understand the fat content of foods you have to read the label. The traffic light system on the front of most packaging will tell you if a food is high in fat, but it’s worth checking the level of saturates and trans-fats present too. As they will impact upon your health.

Essential fats

Essential fats are ‘essential’ because your body cannot make them. These we need to get from our diet.

There are two essential fats, they are:

ALA or Omega 3

Alpha linolenic acid (ALA) belongs to a group called the omega-3’s. We get ALA (omega 3) from seafood and oily fish (mackerel, salmon, herring) and some seeds. We don’t eat enough of these.


Improving consumption of omega 3’s in particular has been shown to help with brain function, reduce inflammation and lead to a higher level of general health.

LA or Omega 6

Linoleic acid (LA) belongs to a group called the omega-6’s. We get LA (omega 6) from seed and vegetable oils, and generally, in western countries, we eat plenty.


In fact, the amount of omega 6 compared to omega 3 in our diet is a problem. Some nutritionist recommend we redress the balance by cutting back on our use of vegetable and seed oils and increasing intake of oily fish.

Saturated fat – don’t eat too much of it.

Saturated fat is a kind of fat found in animals and the products they produce (milk, butter, cheese). Too much saturated fat is unhealthy, but if you’re eating meat, you’ll struggle to avoid it.

Saturated fats are created in nature for long term storage, they are what keeps animals (including humans) warm. By historical standards, we now eat quite a lot of meat and as such, probably too much saturated fat.

The science of Saturated Fat

Fats are made up of fatty acids. They chain together to form different types of fats. Within the chain, there are different arrangements called bonds.

  • If a chain contains a double-bond then it is a mono-unsaturated fat.
  • If it contains more than one double bond it is a poly-unsaturated fat.
  • If it contains no double bonds at all then it is a saturated fat.


The Risks of Saturated Fat

Eating a lot of saturated fat can increase the LDL cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is usually caused by a build-up of fatty deposits on the walls of the arteries around the heart (coronary arteries)… The fatty deposits, called atheroma, are made up of cholesterol and other waste substances. – National Health Service Website

But why worry about heart disease?

Well, according to the British Heart Foundation Website :

  • Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the UK’s single biggest killer
  • Nearly one in six men and more than one in ten women die from coronary heart disease
  • CHD is responsible for almost 74,000 deaths in the UK each year, an average of 200 people each day
  • There are nearly 2.3 million people living with coronary heart disease in the UK

What can I do?

Heart Disease is a big problem, but, it’s relatively simple to decrease your risks. Just follow these 3 simple bits of advice and you’ll be significantly less likely to suffer from it:

  • Give up smoking. Smoking doesn’t just affect your lungs. It’s bad for your whole body.
  • Reduce your cholesterol, by reducing your saturated fat intake. Swap animal fats for vegetable and fish based fats and you can’t go far wrong.
  • Take regular exercise. It will flush your system.
  • Be a healthy weight. Obesity which is linked to type 2 diabetes will increase your risk. Swap simple carbohydrates (like white bread/pasta/potatoes and sugar) for fresh vegetables and wholegrains to help do this quicker.

The bottom line – Saturated fat is not a bad thing (we all use it to keep warm) we just don’t need very much of it in our diet. Keep saturated fat to a minimum and you won’t be going far wrong. Though that might mean cutting down on the amount of animal products you eat!

Protein – The building blocks of you.

If you thought that protein is only important for those who are looking to ‘bulk up’, then think again. Proteins are the building blocks of all human life.

Proteins are the second most abundant molecules in your body (second only to water). They are made up of amino acids and are used to build and repair tissues as well as a variety of other tasks, including:

  • Building and repairing muscles.
  • Transporting oxygen in your blood cells.
  • Repairing your Brain and Nerves.
  • Making Enzymes, critical to every chemical reaction in your body.
  • Creating Antibodies and all of your Immune System.


Your body doesn’t store proteins in the same way it does fat. So you need to consume it regularly, to ensure good health. Sources of protein include: meat, fish, insects (yup!), dairy products, eggs, pulses, legumes, soy, fruits, nuts and seeds.

High and low quality protein

Some proteins are of higher quality than others. High quality protein is judged by the number of amino acids that it contains. You need the whole suite of amino acids to function properly. So less amino acids, means less quality.

This doesn’t mean that the low quality protein isn’t useful. Just that you need to ensure you eat the right mixture of them to get all the amino acids. This is the challenge that a lot of vegans face, as you can see from the list of high quality proteins, half come from animals.

High quality proteins include:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Chickpeas
  • Quinoa
  • Black beans
  • Pumpkin seeds

The bottom line is, that you should pay attention to where you get your proteins from. Make sure you consume them regularly, to make sure your body has the building blocks it needs to repair itself.

Yoga – Downward Facing Dog

Downward facing dog is a resting pose, ideal for recovery during an intense routine. It stretches the legs and back and is a great pose to try after a long day sat by a desk.

Yoga Instructions - Downward Facing Dog

Spread your feet shoulder width apart ensuring your weight is evenly balanced and spread your toes.

Keeping your back straight, bend forward from your waist and press your palms flat on the floor, fingers pointing forward and spread apart (You can bend your knees if you need to).

Step each foot back so you’re in a push-up position, arms extended, hands beneath your shoulders, palms flat on the floor.

Slowly raise your hips toward the ceiling keeping your hands and feet in position. Your body should make an inverted ‘V’ shape.

Gently push your chest toward your knees. Try to keep your eyes on your toes and press your heels toward the floor.

Breathe deeply, holding the pose for up to a minute. As you exhale, move more deeply into the pose.

Yoga – Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose is one of the most basic Yoga poses. Simple and solid, it’s the start of many Yoga routines. Here we explain how it’s done in 7 detailed steps.

Yoga Instructions - Mountain Pose

Whilst standing with you feet together, close your eyes. Imagine that you are planted to the ground, like a mountain.

In a gentle motion, rock back and forth from the balls to the heels of your feet, finding a strong, even resting point. Attempt to spread your toes slightly, to give yourself an even stronger base.

Open your eyes, keeping your head level. Softly bend your knees and then straighten them to Loosen your leg joints. Make sure your knees are directly over your ankles.

Curl out your pelvis and try to straighten your spine as much as possible. Try to imagine the alignment between your spine, hips, knees and ankles. This helps to minimise pressure on one area.

Lift your chest away from your stomach, extending your spine. Then relax your throat and lengthen your neck, as if a cord is being pulled directly up, on your head.

Press down evenly into the floor with your feet and slowly raise your arms above your head.Think about pushing down with your feet, whilst stretching your finger-tips above your head.

Keeping your gaze straight ahead breathe deeply. Try to retain your balance (this may take a little practice), and hold the pose for 30 seconds.

Toning Up – The Science

Here is the complete guide to everything you need to know about toning up.

  • What is toning up?
  • How can you tone up?
  • Can you tone up in different areas?

What is toning up?


Toning up is a common thing many of us want to achieve through various tummy, arm or bum exercises. But what exactly is it?

It often get’s misused as a standalone concept, away from fat loss and muscle bulking. However, without a combination of the two toning up wouldn’t be an option.

Toning happens when you remove layers of fat between the muscles and the skin. It is here that your muscles can then be become more noticeable, firm and refined, giving you a toned look. Overall, when you tone up you are essentially losing fat and gaining muscle.

How can you tone up?

We can get more noticeably leaner, more trimmed and firm by undertaking a combination of 3 activities.






Weight lifting

Weight training is the perfect way to lose weight and develop leaner looking muscles, without bulking them out. As you push your muscles gradually with weights, they get stronger.

If practised regularly, your muscle cells then start to develop leaner protein that is noticeable. This is good because your growing muscles will continue to require more energy than fat cells, pushing up your metabolism rate to use more energy from the fat stores. Ultimately, your fat cells then shrink leaving you looking more toned.

To find out how to lift check out our blog and challenge sections.


70% of your weight loss comes from the right diet. To shed pounds and get a little more toned, you have to choose foods which are full of nutrients, making it harder for body to break these nutrients away from one another. This prevents sugar highs and sugar lows during digestion. As a result, your body is not desperately seeking any more food, reducing sugar fluctuations in the blood and making you feel less hungry for longer. You have not consumed any excess calories, so less of them get stored as fat.

Getting a good balance between the combination below is important for achieving tone:

  • Leaner proteins
  • Browner carbohydrates
  • Healthier Fats

To find out more about these visit our relevant blogs and challenges here to get more nutrition into your diet.

Interval training

To counteract the weight gain through any excess calories consumed, it necessary to use them up through physical activity. We can do this efficiently by having the perfect cardiovascular combination of high to low intensity workouts.

Interval training is well known for its “afterburn effect”. After only 20 minutes of a cardiovascular workout, you can still be burning fat when you’re sat on your sofa.
This is known as “excess-post-exercise oxygen consumption” (EPEOC). The more exercise you do, the more oxygen you consume. This causes your metabolic rate to be higher because the more you are using up energy and hence calories. This energy is taken from the quick breakdown of fats as they are more calories dense, leading to fat loss.

To find out more about interval training, check out our challenges and blog.



Can you tone up in different areas?

Let’s firstly dispel the myth that you can tone up in certain areas, otherwise commonly known as “spot reduction”. There are loads of tummy, bottom and thigh “tone up” exercises out there to chose from.

Here’s why they don’t work:

1. The muscle areas that you work upon does not reflect the fat areas your are trying to lose to tone up and look leaner

Fat cells are made up triglycerides which cannot be directly converted energy for the muscle cells to keep functioning. Fat loss occurs through the breakdown of triglycerides into free fatty acids and glycerides. these fat components are then let loose into the bloodstream and are then used as energy.

Forget about the specifics, research shows that fat loss can come from any part of the body leading to a reduction in your total body fat.

2. Many of the spot reduction tone up techniques do not allow you to burn many calories compared to other workouts.

To lose fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume within your food. If you cannot exceed the calorie levels of your food, then you will either stay at the same weight or even gain weight. Calories are the energy components of your food that if left unspent during inactive times are stored as fat within your cells.

Wholegrain – The Science

When you wander down a supermarket bread or cereal aisle, have you ever wondered what ‘Wholegrain’ means? Well wonder no more. This article explains what it is and why you should care about it.

Wheat is a grain crop that we used to make things like bread and cereal. The wheat grain is made up of three parts: the bran, the endosperm and the germ.


As you can see, each layer of the grain adds it’s own benefits, from Fibre (which helps you to feel fuller for longer), to Vitamin E (which helps maintain your cells structure by protecting cell membranes).

But not all grains are processed equally…

When wheat is turned into flour for products like bread the flour can either be ‘Refined’ or left as ‘Wholemeal’. The refined flour undergoes a series of treatments that strips the bran and germ, taking a significant portion of the fibre, protein and vitamins that naturally occur, with them.

Originally chose for it’s milder flavour and lighter texture, this type of processed grain is usually referred to as ‘White Flour’. White flour is the type used in most white breads, pastas and pastries.

When wholemeal is made, the layers of the wheat grain are left intact and so the nutritional value of the grain has remained the same. This results in a slightly heavier and stronger tasting product.

One last twist…

In recent years, grain producers have managed to create wheat plants that have a lighter flavour without the need for processing. This has given rise to the ‘best-of-both’ ranges of bread products.

This grain has no significant gap in nutrition to traditional wholegrain (as the whole of the grain is still used). However, it is usually more expensive (due to high demand) and it’s definitely worth reading the label to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want!