Category Archives: health

Guest post: 4 Ways To Improve Your Running Speed

Whether you run for the joy of it or are prepping your 11th marathon, sooner or later, you’re going to want to boost your running speed—to shave off seconds, or even minutes, from your personal best.

Improve Your Running Speed

If you’ve reached that point, then today you’re in the right place.

In this article, I’ll unravel four training strategies for taking your running speed to the next level.

Let’s lace up and dig in.

Hill Reps

The extra resistance of going up a hill puts a much greater demand on your body and cardiovascular system than running on a flat surface—the more challenging, the better.

Although hills come in various sizes and inclines, the main idea is the same—You run up the hill as fast as you can with good technique, then jog or walk down for recovery.

Here’s how to do them right. Start by locating a hill that’s roughly 150 to 200m in length with an incline that’s enough to test you but not to the point where your form goes south.

Improve Your Running Speed

Then following the warm-up, run up the hill at your 5K pace, or a little bit faster.  Once you get on top, jog down at a very easy pace to recover, then repeat the process for 15 to 20 minutes.

Make it a goal to maintain the same effort level as you climb you the hill. Engage your core, keep your shoulders loose, and gaze straight ahead.

Go Plyo

Plyo training consists of high-velocity, explosive exercises that depend on the power produced through the stretch-shortening cycle by often performing bodyweight jumping movement.

These are an awesome way for you to increase your power output and athletic performance.

Again, don’t take my word for it. A study published in the Journal of Strength And Conditioning Research reported that middle and long-distance runners who did plyometrics for six weeks improved their race results by up to 4 percent.

Just like sprinting, a few minutes of plyometric can go a long way.  Try doing 5 to 10 minutes after completing an easy run or as a part of your weightlifting sessions.

Just make sure to push your body to the max. Here are some of the best plyo moves for runners:

  • Jump roping
  • Box jumps
  • Burpees
  • Med ball toss
  • Jumping lunges
  • Jumping squats
  • Skipping drills
  • Standing long jumps

What’s more?

Typical plyo moves are technically more demanding and call for good form for making the most out of them while staying injury-free. To err on the side of caution, consider hiring a personal trainer to evaluate your form or filming yourself so you can assess your form. 

Strength Train

Not all the steps required to improve your running speed are running steps. Your cross-training activity—as in, non-running workouts—can also greatly impact your ability to crank up the speed and maintain it. One of these favorite cross-training options is strength training.

A regular weight lifting routine achieves the following:

  • Helping run faster by improving power and neuromuscular coordination.
  • Preventing injuries by but not only strengthens muscles but also joints, bones, ligaments, and tissue.
  • Enhancing running economy by promoting stride efficiently and coordination.

Here are some of the strength moves that are the most beneficial to runners.

  • Pushups
  • Planks
  • Back squats
  • Front squats
  • Lunges
  • Deadlifts
  • Nordic curls
  • SB hamstrings curls
  • Russian twists

 To build your routine, feel free to either focus on one area (upper body, lower body, or core) or pick a couple of exercises from each area for a total body workout.

Improve Your Running Speed

Avoid Overtraining

Don’t assume that giving it your all every day will make you better a runner—in fact, push your body too much too soon, and you’ll be asking for injury and burnouts.

When you exercise, especially when you push your body hard, you create micros tears in your muscles. The only way to let those micro-tears and damage heal by letting your body rest.

As a rule of thumb, don’t perform back-to-back days of intense training—at the very least, give yourself one recovery day per week.

How do you know it’s time to ease off?

Here are some of the signs that you’re running your body into the ground.

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic aches and pains
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Inability to focus
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Poor athletic performance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling like you’re getting sick
  • Poor sleep

Conclusion

There you have it. In order to improve your speed, you simply need to put the following tips into practice. Then it’s just a matter of time before you start reaping the results of your hard labour. The rest is just details, as the saying goes.

What about you? Do you have any favorite speedwork you’ll love to share with us? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

About the author:

David Dack is an established fitness blogger and running expert. When he’s not training for his next marathon, he’s doing research and trying to help as many people as possible to share his fitness philosophy. Check his blog Runners Blueprint for more info.

Guest post by David Dack
Images purchased by David Dack from Fotolia

Ditch the Tube with Reco Ecofriendly Toothtabs

Disclosure.  This post is a review of  a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Time to talk about another eco product. I’ve received a packet of 62 toothtabs from Reco, free to review, enough for a whole month. Their mantra is #SingleUseSucks, Ditch the Tube, Zero Paste, Zero Waste which sounds fab to me.

Reco ecofriendly toothtabs

Regular followers of my blog will know that I am passionate about the environment and sustainability and may have seen, via my series of posts about my own personal journey towards zero waste, that I have been trying to avoid toothpaste tubes. These are notoriously hard to recycle, being mixed materials made from a combination of plastic and aluminium, so most tend to end up in the rubbish bin. Terracycle have introduced a recycling scheme but there is no collection point locally.

I have tried a few types of plastic-free toothpaste now, so was very interested to see how these would compare. Reco toothtabs are toothpaste tablets which contain fluoride. My dentist has stressed that fluoride is essential, so this is a definite plus point for me, since some brands of plastic-free toothpaste that I have tried don’t have fluoride. At my age, I’m sure my enamel is wearing thinner, so thumbs up for the fluoride to help with my dentall health and oral hygiene.

So let me tell you how to use the toothtabs. Pop one tablet into your mouth. Chew it to form a paste. Wet your toothbrush under the tap and then brush your teeth as normal. Simple.

Reco ecofriendly toothtabs

I was pleased with the minty taste, as some others that I’ve tried haven’t been too great in the taste department. This is definitely my joint favourite along with one that I have purchased from my local zero waste store. However I must mention that the packet indicates they are not recommended for children.

Reco state that their toothtabs are free of artificial preservatives and stabilisers normally found in toothpaste. See their website, for full details on each ingredient. They are also vegan and cruelty free.

Also I am pleased to report that the packaging is 100% recyclable, biodegradable and home compostable. The toothtabs come in small paper bags, with a label that Reco say has been printed on 100% recycled waste paper. And Reco also say that the mailing envelopes are made purely from sustainably sourced paper.

I’ve cut out flying myself, but these toothtabs are ideal for your hand luggage when going through airport security. Dry, so no need to be separated into a see-through plastic bag and you only have to pack the number you need for your trip.

I’ve popped mine in a handy tin that I already had, but if you subscribe to their regular 3 month delivery service, they will throw in a storage tin for free, plus you get a 5% discount. The delivery will easily fit through your letterbox, and you can can pause or cancel your subscription at any time.

Reco ecofriendly toothtabs

Plus I have a special offer to share with my readers of a 31 day trial pack of toothtabs for £3 (including free delivery) so that you can try them out for yourselves. Just visit this page for a toothtab trial pack.

And I’ve been browsing around the Reco website and have seen that they sell other brands that I already buy. There is Kitenest who I helped crowdfund and Pokito who I bought a collapsible cup for my son to keep in his school blazer pocket. And there is rCup, which we used to have until my other half accidentally left it behind after a race. I’ve got my eye on some of their other products too like the soaps, natural deodorant and vegetable loofah scrubber.

I’d love to hear what is your favourite product from Reco or your suggestions for additions to the range. And don’t forget to check out the Reco blog too where you can even discover 37 Hacks for an Old Used Toothbrush.

So join Reco and me in the mission to help our society switch from a single-use mindset to a multi-use one!

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Guest post: When should I replace my running shoes?

“When should I replace my running shoes?” This is a common question all runners have. But why should you even consider swapping your running shoes?

Here’s the truth. Even if your shoes feel as valuable as gold, they won’t last you forever.

As you log in more miles, the cushy foam starts to get compressed under the weight, and the outsoles begin to go bald. Once your shoes are past their prime, they can no longer protect your body from the repetitive pounding, leading to soreness and injury.

That’s why it’s always vital to know when to replace your shoes.

old running shoes

To help you make the right decision, I’ve compiled a list of tips and signs to help you decide when your shoes are indeed done. This guide will show you how long-running kicks typically last, the telling sign of a worn-out pair, and when to replace your running shoes.

Sounds good?

Let’s get started.

The Exact Range

Estimates on how long running shoes should last vary, but the rule of thumb says to look for new ones every 400 to 500 miles. This means if you average 15 miles per week, you’ll need new kicks every six to eight months.

Of course, I guess you could keep running in worn-out shoes, but just like driving a car on bald tyres, the risks of something going wrong increases each time you stride the ground.

However, the 400 to 500 miles rule is not cast in stone. It’s simply a rough estimate. The exact mileage depends on many factors, such as your body weight, running style, training intensity, and more importantly, the surface on which run.

So, for instance, if you run on tough terrain or trails, you’ll need to swap your trainers for a new one sooner than if you primarily stick to softer surfaces.

The Signs to Check for

Here’s what you need to do to make sure that your sneakers don’t run you into the ground.

Keep track of your Shoe Miles

It’s often hard to tell just how many miles you have logged in your shoes, especially when you are not following a detailed running plan, or rotate through many shoes.

Here’s how to make it easier.

Use a permanent marker to write down the date of first use on a part of your trainers that won’t get worn off, then keep track of your mileage in a diary to know when it’s time to swap them out.

You should also consider using running apps such as Strava that let you monitor your mileage in different pairs of shoes. Some apps may even inform you once you’re past that 500-mile mark and suggest that you start looking for a new pair.

Check the Outsole

The outsole consists of the rubber part of the shoe that gets in contact with the ground from heel to toe. It plays an essential role because it offers the clearest sign of wear and tear.

The outsoles of your running shoes are equipped with treads, just like car tyres, which helps reduce landing’s impact and grip the road. As you log in more miles, the rubber on the bottom outsole begins to wear away.

Look for any bald spots on the outsole of your trainers where the rubber has broken down.  This is especially the case if the tread is entirely gone or the outsole is completely white.

You’re Feeling Pain

Wear, tear, and mileage aside, one more thing to check whether you need to ditch your shoes is your own body.

When your sole-mate no longer offers ample support and protection as they did when you first started using them, it usually leads to pain.

If you’re starting to experience annoying little pains, especially aching arches, sore soles, painful knees, tender shins, and other small nuisances, then it’s time to assess your shoes.

running shoes

Conclusion

There you have it! The above guidelines are all you need to make sure you know when it’s time to turn off the switch on your running shoes and look for new ones. Just make sure to head to the nearest running speciality store when looking for new sole-mates. That way you make sure you make the right decision both for your wallet and running enjoyment. The rest is just details.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep running strong.

About the author:

David Dack is an established fitness blogger and running expert. When he’s not training for his next marathon, he’s doing research and trying to help as many people as possible to share his fitness philosophy. Check his blog Runners Blueprint for more info.

Guest post by David Dack
Images purchased by David Dack from Fotolia

Guest post: How does the Ketogenic diet work?

Guest post by Ricard Ponsi of Workout-Temple

Nutritional ketosis is a dietary protocol whose objective is to improve our metabolic flexibility when using fatty acids as the main energy substrate. For this, the intake of carbohydrates is limited, depending on the individual, approximately 50 g net per day.

With this we generate low levels of insulin in plasma and, subsequently, a reduction of glycogen levels in muscular and hepatic reserves. In the absence of the main fuel of our body (glucose) the ketogenesis process is activated, where the liver will produce ketone bodies to feed the different tissues and cells.

KETOSIS is a NATURAL state that human beings have experienced since the beginning of time. Therefore, we are evolutionarily adapted to use both energy substrates (ketone bodies and glucose), which means that past civilization may have consciously sought a state of fasting or induced ketosis. This is why, evolutionarily speaking our physiology seeks an alternative mechanism to glucose as it is the only source of energy.

ketogenic diet

Photo source: https://pixabay.com/

Nutritional ketosis and metabolic flexibility

We can define the metabolic flexibility as the efficiency of our body when using energy substrates depending on demand such as walking, running or sprinting. Remember that, although our glycogen reserves (both muscular and hepatic) are limited, the same is not true of our fat stores, the latter being able to represent a much greater amount than the former. So… Why doesn’t our body use fats? What happens is that in a traditional diet based on hydrates (and not always from the best sources) our body always finds plasma glucose and glycogen stores full. Therefore, it does not need to look for any other energy source. Our body has simply ‘forgotten’ how to use fats as energy. It is here when the ‘low carb’ or ‘ketogenic’ guidelines are an interesting tool.

Adaptation to a new fuel

It is the process called Ketoadaptation, which we could define as the process through which human metabolism adapts to the use of fats optimally as the main source of energy. In the beginning a drastic change it can condition sports performance and your daily life, but in most of the cases the symptoms are diluted after the first week.

Symptoms of Keto-adaptation:

– Fatigue
– Worse sports performance
– Dizziness
– Cramps
– Constipation
– Palpitations

Once past the moment of adaptation we will see how the symptoms disappear, signal that our metabolism works optimally and achieving efficiency in both our sports and personal performance.

Very important considerations

Ketosis is NOT a pathological state. And I must emphasize this because, in a still very widespread way, nutritional ketosis is often confused with diabetic ketoacidosis.

Many symptoms may be due to a lack of electrolytes during the beginning of the ketosis process. There is a reduction in glycogen levels and, as a consequence, also a loss of water associated with this glycogen. With this loss of water there will be a ‘drag’ of electrolytes that we should know and replace, with special emphasis on 3 of them.

Sodium DRI = 5000 – 7000 mg
Potassium DRI = 1000 – 3500 mg
Magnesium DRI = 300 – 500mg

I must emphasize that nutritional ketosis is NOT a hyperproteic diet, but moderate or protein-adjusted. The amount of protein is maintained at constant values depending on the objectives of the subject, and can range between 1.4 to 2.0 g / kg body weight.

Ketosis and sports performance

Resistance discipline: In this type of activities there are promising investigations and cases of ketoadapted athletes where the fat / glycogen use ratio is optimized, which positions as a great tool to maximize performance. Nutritional ketosis improves fat oxidation and metabolic flexibility, which is vital in long-term efforts where the main energy system is aerobic.

Discipline of strength: In disciplines where the main component is strength and power, the dominant energy substrate is the path of phosphogens, which is not impacted by a nutritional ketosis.

Hypertrophy training: This modality seeks to increase the total volume (series and repetitions) so the glycolytic pathway is a very important metabolic pathway. Since nutritional ketosis reduces muscle glycogen levels and also circulating insulin, it makes sense to think that it is not the optimal state to build muscle mass.

Conclusion on keto diet

In my opinion, the ketogenic diet can be an interesting strategy to introduce in periods of 6 to 10 weeks (a couple times a year) and benefit greatly from its effects.

During the intervention time there are very notable improvements in fat loss (extensive benefits proven), while maintaining the muscle mass and keeping performance levels measured through RM in different exercises.

Guest post by Ricard Ponsi and Pere Coll
Originally posted on the Workout-Temple website here.

Guest post: Four Ways Your Behaviour Affects Your Child’s Development

There is no doubt that children are little sponges. Even though it seems like we spend most of our time trying to get them to listen to us and pay attention to what we ask them to do, they are there, absorbing what we say and do. Anyone who has ever turned beet red with embarrassment after our child uttered an unfortunately-timed swear word can testify to the fact that children are paying far more attention to what we do than they let on.

Recent research even confirms this, finding that our behaviour can influence every part of our children’s development, from social skills to physical health to moral development. While children often look up to celebrities, athletes, and super heroes, as a parent, you are your child’s first and most important role model. Here are four key ways that your behaviour can affect your child’s development.

Body Image
How we see and talk about our bodies can directly impact how our children see themselves. Children even as young as three can begin to develop negative body images, and although it tends to impact female children more than males, some male children do develop a poor body image.

As a parent, if we are constantly talking about dieting or complaining that our stomach is too big or our butt isn’t perfect or we are afraid to get into a swimsuit because we feel we don’t look good enough, our children can begin to believe that there is such thing as a perfect body and that only perfect bodies are worthy of love and acceptance. On the contrary, when we practice accepting our bodies and making choices becuase they are healthy rather than because they help us look better in a bikini, we are teaching our children to respect and honor their bodies and make choices to be healthier.

Substance Use
If you are a child of the 1980s or 1990s, you likely remember the famous anti-drug PSA where a father is asking his son where he learned to do drugs. The son looks into his father’s eyes and says “I learned it from watching you”. Whether we like it or not, our children’s decision to smoke, drink, or use drugs is intricately tied to our decision to use those substances. Addiction is generational and children of parents with substance abuse disorders tend to use drugs as teenagers or adults. Likewise, parents who don’t smoke, drink or use drugs send the message to their children that life can be enjoyed without using dangerous substances.

If you do happen to suffer from drug abuse or alcoholism, the best thing you can do for you and your child is to seek help. In doing so, not only will you save your own life, but you will be able to be a better parent. In addition, you will be a great role model for your child, showing them that sometimes we face hard things in life but we can make the choice to work hard and overcome obstacles. You will also show them that mistakes don’t define you – it is what you do to overcome them that will.

Work Ethic
Researchers from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business found that the single most significant factor in determining our work ethic is the work ethic of our parents. Children who see their parents as hard-working, able to solve problems, and in a career they love learn to see work as fulfilling and meaningful. They also learn to solve problems using critical thinking and hard work rather than assuming that difficult problems just can’t be solved.

Likewise, parents that complain about their jobs day in and day out or who tend to back out of committments teach their children that hard work is a hassle, something to dislike, or perhaps even something to avoid altogether.

Kindness and Manners
Finally, as the key people in our children’s lives, we are responsible for teaching our children how to interact with those around us. Parents who are aggressive or violent in their relationships teach children to respond to others similarly. Likewise, children learn to respect others by watching their parents. Moreover, children learn who is worthy of respect by watching their parents. If you treat your restaurant servers, trash collectors, the person in a wheelchair at the store, and the homeless man on the street with kindness and respect, your children will learn that all people have value and are worthy of respect. If you yell at a server because your order is wrong or use hateful language to describe a religion, disability, culture, sexual orientation, or way of life, children will grow up replicating that behaviour.

As you can see, your behaviour has an important impact on your children and the way they navigate the world. This is good news though – if we want our children to do good in the world, we have the power to model that behaviour for them. When we look at our children, we can truly “be the change you want to see in the world”.

Author Bio:

Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

Patrick Bailey

Guest post by Patrick Bailey

Vaccine Science Revisited by James and Lance Morcan

I have received a free e-copy of the book Vaccine Science Revisited: Are Childhood Immunisations As Safe As Claimed? by James & Lance Morcan to review. You may find out more about the authors on their website.

Vaccine Science Revisited by James and Lance Morcan

Here is the book blurb.

An unbiased, neutral, fact-based investigation that simply allows the science to do the talking on childhood vaccinations. Written by father and son investigative journalism/research team Lance & James Morcan, with a foreword by medical laboratory scientist Elísabet Norris, VACCINE SCIENCE REVISITED is possibly the most well-referenced work yet to explore this contentious healthcare subject.

This exhaustively-researched book avoids all rumor, conjecture and anecdotal evidence, and steadfastly focuses on what the latest medical studies actually reveal about vaccines listed on the immunization schedule. One by one the ingredients of the vaccines being manufactured today are put under the microscope by comparing peer-reviewed, published studies.

By collaborating with a professional medical advisory team and utilizing investigative journalism methods, the Morcans have painstakingly sifted through the world’s best scientific research papers. They analyze the most reliable and untainted studies in order to uncover true and accurate data on vaccine safety.

No matter your level of education or experience – whether you are a doctor, layman, scientist, nurse, med student or new parent – be prepared to be surprised by many of the medical research findings in VACCINE SCIENCE REVISITED: Are Childhood Immunizations As Safe As Claimed?

I was surprised to receive this book, as I hadn’t requested it. However I set to reading it with high expectations as I had previously really enjoyed Silent Fear, a fictional thriller by father and son duo, Lance and James Morcan.

I’ve always been aware that childhood vaccination is a contentious topic, particularly with regards to the MMR vaccine. Every so often it hits the news headlines with possible links to autism and other health issues. We decided to vaccinate both our sons as per UK guidelines. I think I thought at that time, they would then be immune to these illnesses forever, having had mumps three times myself as a child. Of course I subsequently found out this was not the case for son1, so we repeated all his vaccinations back to those from babyhood, starting about 6 months after he finished chemotherapy.

Chicken pox is one illness that is not routinely vaccinated against here in the UK and son1 caught this when he was age 3. Luckily his immunity prevailed every time there was an outbreak at school whilst he was on chemotherapy. But it meant yet another needle to check his immunity, every time he was exposed. When I found out that chicken pox is routinely vaccinated against in some other countries, it did cause me to question why not in the UK, each time he had to undergo this test.

So with all my personal experiences, I thought that this would prove to be a very interesting topic to gain some insight from this book. However the book is divided into parts with what I was hoping to read about towards the second half of the book. The start of the book after an interesting forward seemed to focus on smallpox in the 1700s and Dr Jenner whom I remember learning about at school. I was just about coping with this section but when the book moved on to focus on cells, I began to switch off. It was getting too technical and not holding my interest. I was not even 15% through the book yet.

Unfortunately there were no hyperlinks for the chapters, so I couldn’t attempt to fast forward to see if part 2 would prove more interesting. In the end, I’m sorry to say I just gave up on this book. A shame as I could tell that the authors had invested a huge amount of research into this topic. I’m sure it is probably a must-read for those in the medical profession.

Vaccine Science Revisited is available on Amazon, currently priced at £1.99 in  in Kindle format. Unfortunately too complicated for me.

Update – The e-version of the book I received was a PDF copy. I have since been assured that the kindle version contains chapter hyperlinks in the index.

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MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

12 Days of Clink Street – Uberdacious by Simone Santivari

I love taking part in book tours but when I was offered free rein to select any book of my my choice from Clink Street Publishing, it was a bit like being handed a blank cheque. I am used to being asked if I wish to review a particular title, but this time there were nearly 500 titles to choose between! I decided to narrow it down to one genre, namely food and drink, from which I selected Uberdacious: Eat Yourself Healthy by Simone Santivari.

Uberdacious: Eat Yourself Healthy by Simone Santivari

Here is the book blurb.

Simone Santivari has a passion for food and healthy living that inspires everyone around her.

Uberdacious: Eat Yourself Healthy is the culmination of thirty years of fun and culinary creation in her kitchen, exploring the possibilities for a predominantly macrobiotic diet. Her cooking uses simple whole foods and largely organic ingredients, removing refined products and using only natural sugars, like fruit.

Much of Simone’s approach has been inspired by her loving husband, James, who has multiple sclerosis, and for whom Simone always strives to develop the best dishes to support James’s health and wellbeing. Anyone wishing to take responsibility for their own health will benefit from Simone’s approach. Her simple but delicious recipes and snacks are accompanied by advice and information on natural remedies and holistic treatments.

Stories about food, life and Simone’s great loves are dotted throughout this vibrant cook book, and Simone hopes that her recipes and approach to healthy living will help every reader become even more Uberdacious!

When I chose this book after reading the blurb, I assumed it would be mainly recipes with the stories interspersed. However I found that the recipes don’t start until over halfway through the book after following Simone’s life-story. This was fascinating to read, as Simone has certainly led an interesting life, although sad to hear about Simone’s husband James being diagnosed with MS. And I’m sure those of my followers who love entering my giveaways will be interested to hear that Simone tells of her lucky competition wins including 3 holidays.

And then the recipe section also contains lots of healthy eating tips. I’ve sometimes thought about buying flours other than white or wholemeal, but never really known where to start. The book has now introduced me to black and red rice which I had never heard of, so I shall be looking out for those in the shops. Lots more products that I have never heard of, but I’ve now bought a jar of St Dalfour jam, which is just sweetened with apple juice. Plus there is a natural remedies section after the recipes.

Uberdacious is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A great book which has certainly opened my eyes to healthy eating ideas. Although a shame that the e-version of the book didn’t include the cookery illustrations which are in the paperback.

I have tried out the Crunchy Wholewheat and Oat Biscuits recipe from the book. This is a sugar-free recipe which can also be adapted to gluten-free if desired. Ideal for me, as I’m trying to reduce my sugar intake, although I only wish to replace with natural alternatives and avoid the likes of aspartame.

Crunchy Wholewheat and Oat Biscuits

Crunchy Wholewheat and Oat Biscuits

Son1 did comment that they were rather plain and son2 who usually always raids the biscuit jar has been eating these much slower. To me, this is a great result, as my aim is to reduce their sugar intake as well as my own, but because it is a gradual path, I probably need to use more agave syrup temporarily until their palates adjust.

Crunchy Wholewheat and Oat Biscuits

Now that we are into December, I’m planning to try out Simone’s mince pie recipe next.


I’m participating in the 12 Days of Clink Street Christmas blogival. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts, which cover a wide range of reading matter.

12 days of Clink Street Christmas blogtour

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MamaMummyMum

Disclosure. This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

Guest post: Common Keto Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

I understand, it’s hard for you to gauge your progress when you’ve only followed the ketogenic diet for a week or two, or even a whole month. The magic happens internally, and the only way for you to record your progress is using the weighing scale or measuring parts of your body (and how you feel too, to an extent).

A lot of beginner’s screw things up at the beginning once they realize things aren’t as straightforward as it was thought to be.

Here are some common keto mistakes beginners make and how YOU should avoid them, so your keto journey doesn’t have to go through hiccups and you can maintain your ketosis stage.

Obsessing over the scale!!!

If you’re stepping on the scale when you wake up, before lunch, after lunch, and after dinner, then STOP! This obsession will only lead to disappointment. Your weight changes throughout the day, especially after meals.

When you’re frequently disappointed, you’ll start to self-doubt that may lead you to throwing in the towel.

Sure, you’re on a low-carb diet … But you really think your weight isn’t gonna change after a meal? Be reasonable!

Woman on weighing scale

Photo source: https://pixabay.com/ (Creative Commons license)

The best time to step on the scale is the morning when you wake up. If possible, every morning, around the same time for consistency. Keep it fair to yourself, and don’t fret too much about the digits on the scale! Write down what you see every morning for the next few weeks.

Once you see a pattern emerging, you’ll thank yourself for doing this.

Too much meat, bro

Yeap, too much protein can be counter-productive for you in a keto diet. When you’re in a low-carb diet, your liver can convert amino acids into glucose for energy, in a process called gluconeogenesis. Fancy, huh?

Remember, the point of entering ketosis is to prevent the body from using glucose as a main energy source. The protein you consume should only be enough to maintain muscle mass.

You should be keeping your daily protein intake below or at 1 gram of protein per day, per kg of body weight. So, if you weight 60 kilograms (133lbs.), keep your protein at 60 grams a day.

A good place to estimate your keto macronutrient needs that suit your goals is by using a keto macro calculator (like this one from Perfect Keto.)

The wrong mentality

A lot of people start with a diet to lose weight in a short period of time. It is possible, but you must be realistic.

An internet “guru” can claim that he lost 15 lbs within the first week of a diet he discovered (followed by a link to a course you have to buy), just as I can claim I have found the eternal cure to cancer. Don’t be fooled by these crazy marketing claims.

If done right, you can lose a lot of weight (2-10 lbs) within the first week, because your body loses WATER WEIGHT, not fat. And this too, depends on so many factors such as your metabolism, how active you are, and so on.

In the medium term, due expect weight loss of only 1-2lbs a week, and even a slower rate in the long term. You can’t get discouraged. Following a ketogenic diet is a lifestyle and a commitment in the long run. When you’re not there mentally, you’re gonna give in to sugar cravings and the hunger, which will kick you out off ketosis!

Taking the wrong types of fats/proteins

Keep your fats in check. Fats are a necessary part of a keto diet, but not all fats are good. Processed fats, such as hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils in junk food, fast food, and margarine should be avoided.

Avoid processed vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, corn oil, canola oil soybean oil, and a few others.

The best proteins to take on a Keto diet are plant-based proteins, not to say you can’t have animal meats, though. Too much fatty meat has been linked to heart diseases and high cholesterol levels. You should not follow a ketogenic diet just to lose weight, but to have a healthier life in the long run.

Keto protein supplements are a great way for you to meet your protein needs when it’s not convenient for you’re a strict-protein diet.

Take-Home Message

To every keto beginner out there, you need to have a lot of patience and commitment. Do your research, stick to your plan, be honest to yourself, and the results will come forth. As mentioned, you may lose a lot of weight initially, but don’t expect it to be like that the following weeks!

Guest post by Sarah Peterson
“Sarah is the Content Director at Perfect Keto, with a mission to help as many people as possible achieve optimal health and well-being.”

Sweet Victory Products review and giveaway

For the last 2 or 3 years, I have become more aware of how bad sugar can be for us. It is known to be one of the worst foods for a variety of common diseases like arthritis, cancer and autism. I enjoy cakes and biscuits far too much to eliminate them, but I do try my best now to reduce my sugar intake. I’ve made a few little changes like always having fruit with my porridge instead of sugar and sometimes opting for something like a cheese scone or slice of fruit bread rather than cake.

So I was delighted when Sweet Victory Products contacted me to offer a free hamper of some of their products to review. They had seen my Zollipops review, which is one of the products they stock. Their aim is to help as many people as possible to change their relationship from High Sugar to Sugar-Free and healthier alternatives. This is exactly what I would like to do, if only I had the willpower.

Sweet Victory hamper

It didn’t take long for a beautifully packed basket to arrive which contained all the following goodies.
Virginias B-San white chocolate coated digestive biscuits no added sugars 130g
Diablo sugar free chocolate chip cake 230g
Jim Jams no added sugar milk chocolate spread 350g
Sweet Switch No added sugar Premium Belgian milk chocolate confetti 22g
Sugar free gummy sweets pick and mix 100g
Sugar free sweets pick and mix jar
2 sugar free cherry lollipops
2 Tplus+ immunitea vitamin tea orange and blueberry sachets
Cadbury highlights reduced sugar hot chocolate 11g
Cadbury highlights reduced sugar fudge flavour hot chocolate 11g

Sweet Victory hamper

So focussing on the individual products and starting with the digestive biscuits, which son2 was over the moon to see, as chocolate digestives are his all time favourite type of biscuit. I don’t think any of us had come across a white chocolate version previously. These contain zero sugar, and are sweetened with an ingredient I haven’t heard of called maltitol. We all enjoyed these. I haven’t done a direct price comparison on any of these products but I would certainly be happy to pay more for these sugar free digestives when I consider how quickly we get through a regular pack in our household.

Virginias B-San white chocolate coated digestive biscuits no added sugars

Next the cake. Once again sugar free and sweetened with maltitol and acesulfame K. I’ve not heard of this sweetener either. However I wished that I hadn’t looked at the ingredient list, as 16 E numbers sounded rather excessive. Luckily I didn’t look until after I had tried it. The boys enjoyed the cake, but I only thought it okay. Like many shop bought cakes, it tasted rather synthetic to me. I’m much more a fan of a homemade cake.

Diablo sugar free chocolate chip cake


And the chocolate spread. Jim Jams is a brand that I heard about earlier this year and have been unsuccessfully looking out for, so I was very interested to try this. Again this contains maltitol rather than sugar. Rather than just spreading it on toast, I decided this deserved a recipe.

Pain au Chocolat (Chocolate Croissants)

Ingredients (makes approx 4-5)

250g puff pastry
approx 75g Jim Jams chocolate spread

Method

Preheat fan oven to 200 deg C.
Grease baking sheet.
Roll out the pastry.
Cut pastry into similar sized rectangles.
Spread a length of chocolate spread along one edge of each rectangle.
Roll each rectangle up from that edge.
Place on baking sheet.
Cook on middle shelf of oven for about 10 minutes.
Remove from baking sheet immediately and place on cooling rack.
Serve either warm or cold.
Enjoy.

These were delicious warm. We all enjoyed them. For a store cupboard essential like chocolate spread, I definitely plan to switch to the Jim Jams brand in future.
Pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant)

And then there were four types of sweets. Firstly the Sweet Switch chocolate confetti which look very similar to smarties. The product name on the website indicates that these are made from premium Belgian milk chocolate, but this isn’t particularly promoted on the packet, with just a small mention of Sweet Switch address in Belgium. Tasty but again I wished I hadn’t looked at the packet, as I was confronted by 8 E-numbers. No added sugars, but more sweeteners that I hadn’t heard of – maltitol again plus sorbitol and steviol glycosides.

Sweet Switch No added sugar Premium Belgian milk chocolate confetti

And then the sugar free Gummy Pick & Mix Sweets with all our favourites like cola bottles. The packaging advises you to refer to their website for ingredients, but as it is a pick & mix product, you would need to look at each sweet type individually. I only looked at the cola bottle page, which does show that they contain pork gelatine, so I feel that this ought to be highlighted on the Pick & Mix webpage itself.

Sugar free gummy sweets pick and mix

Wow what a lot of different varieties of sweets in this pick and mix jar. Just looking at it brought back happy memories of visiting the local sweet shop as a child. And just think, these are all sugar free. There are a few familiar brands like Werthers and Mintoes, nether of which I realised did a sugar-free variant. But mostly just dip in for a tasty surprise. Again you would need to refer to individual sweet webpages for ingredients, but you can request for a particular sweet to be excluded. All of Sweet Victory weigh-out sweets can also be purchased in 100g increments. With Halloween round the corner, these would be fab for Trick or Treat.

Sugar free sweets pick and mix jar

And of course lollipops. I didn’t get to try these myself as there were only two and both boys wanted one. However they said they were good. These are sold in packs of 10. Again more unknown sweeteners on the ingredient list – acesulfame K again, plus sucralose and isomalt.

sugar free cherry lollipops

Next for a cup of tea. This was very pleasant and apparently contains an immune boosting blend of beneficial herbs, green tea, fruit and 50% RDA in 9 daily essential vitamins; Vitamin C echinacea and ginseng. I’ve never really thought about tea in the context of free-from but according to the website, this is gluten-free. So does that mean that some teas contain gluten? I never knew. This is sold in boxes of 15 sachets.

2 Tplus+ immunitea vitamin tea orange and blueberry sachets

And finally the hot chocolate. This is marketed as a low sugar product, rather than sugar-free and is something I have purchased previously. So I already knew that I liked both flavours. However I just scanned the barcode with my food scanner app and found that they still have 3g (original) or 3.4g (fudge) sugar in an 11g product. That is not really low sugar in my opinion.

Cadbury highlights reduced sugar fudge flavour hot chocolate

After sampling all the goodies, I had a look round their online store and can certainly see plenty of other tempting products, including some which would make lovely gifts. I think I would like to give the Xylitol a try, to see how that works in baking. And I also noticed that they stock Real Good Tomato Ketchup which is another product that I have previously reviewed. I have looked for this in vain at a couple of local branches of the Co-op, so very pleased to identify an online stockist.

And I was pleased to see that delivery costs are very reasonable, starting at £3.55 for second class. There is also a reward points scheme. I am definitely happy to recommend Sweet Victory Products.

But looks like I need to do some research into sugar substitutes next. Find out a bit about maltitol, acesulfame K, sorbitol, steviol glycosides, sucralose and isomalt.

And I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 10% off your first order at Sweet Victory Products with discount code: YABM10

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a hamper of treats from Sweet Victory Products to one lucky winner. What a tempting prize bundle. Contents will be similar to those that I received.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear about your favourite reduced sugar treats.

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Disclosure. This post is a review of products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

Guest post: Coconut Oil – Miracle House Hold Remedy

Coconut oil has several uses that make it a super household item that you must always keep it in your home. It can be used in food for better health, in skin and hair care products and as a natural treatment for certain diseases in certain medicines. If you are unaware of benefits coconut oil, this blog is dedicated to you.

Coconut Oil and Weight Loss:

Coconut oil has magnificent health benefits for you. Coconut oil contains High-density lipoprotein cholesterol that is healthy cholesterol which helps in elimination of fat lipids from the body by carrying them to the liver. In addition to this, coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that fight against harmful microbes in your body and maintain the balance between healthy and unhealthy bacteria. This keeps your gut flora healthy and as a result, your digestive system improves. Similarly, there are two reasons behind weight gain either it is the weak immune system or weak digestive system. Taking coconut oil resolves both of these issues. In addition to this, the saturated fatty acid in coconut oil reduces your appetite naturally and helps to maintain sugar level. All these benefits aid in weight loss. You can cook your meal in coconut oil or just eat a tablespoon of coconut oil in the morning.

Coconut Oil and Hair Care:

Shampooing and conditioning are not all that your hair requires for thickness and shine. You owe to show some extra love to your hairs by taking advantage of nature’s gifts to keep your hairs healthy. One of these is coconut oil. Do you know why people living in Tropical coastal areas have thick and shiny hairs? The most suitable answer is that they use naturally extracted coconut oil on their hairs. Coconut oil contains a chain of fatty acids such as capric acid and lauric acid that behaves as an antifungal and anti-bacterial that kills the bacteria and detoxifies the scalp. In addition to this, Coconut oil also contains vitamin E that helps to protect the skin cells on the scalp, reduces oxidative stress in the scalp and improves blood flow which results in better hair health. According to Home Remedies for Life, Coconut oil is among best oils that can be used for better hair growth. However, using extra virgin coconut oil is a better option as compared to other commercially available coconut oil as they also contain mineral oils that reduce its efficiency.

Coconut Oil for Skin Care:

Coconut oil is one of the perfect moisturizers you can apply to your skin. As mentioned previously coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties, not only this it is also a natural coolant. Therefore, if coconut oil is applied to the skin it can help in reducing sunburn, itching or burning. In addition to this, the mono-saturated fats present in coconut oil promote collagen growth that makes the cell wall stronger and Vitamin K aids new cell production that helps in reducing stretch marks. Coconut oil can be used to get rid of skin conditions such as rashes or eczema as it fights against bacteria and nourishes your skin.

You can also use coconut oil to prevent bacteria enter your dead skin. Coconut oil also contains healing properties. You can apply it on wounds and the Multi-Chain fatty acids will boost up the healing process.

DIY Coconut Oil and Sugar Scrub:

Coconut oil is used in various skin care products however these products are filled with harsh chemicals. Therefore, we are sharing a recipe to make exfoliator at home. You will require:

  1. ½ cup of Sugar
  2. ½ cup of coconut oil
  3. Few drops of essential oil or Lemon juice.

Mix all the three ingredients and use once a week. Sugar granules will remove the dead skin that will help coconut oil penetrate in the skin easily which will nourish your skin. You can use this scrub on dark patches on your body to reduce them.

Coconut oil for Dental Health:

Oil pulling is a method used for dental health as coconut oil has antimicrobial properties performing oil pulling with coconut oil can help in preventing tooth decay and tooth loss. However, on the other hand, multi-chain fatty acids will make gum stronger that will result in less gum bleeding.

Coconut Oil as Makeup Remover:

You can use coconut oil as a makeup remover; it will also hydrate your skin and will keep it moisturized without any side effects.

Author Bio:

Jane Scott is currently working as a nutritionist at a renowned firm. With an experience of more than a decade, she is considered as a go-to person in her field of work. She also writes blogs for her website Home Remedies for Life.

Guest post by Jane Scott