So I’ve dieted. What now?

So…What now?

I can’t possibly be the only girl sat there after losing weight with training and exercise, the right way, and thinking, what next? Yes I’m fitter than before, slimmer, healthier, but I still dont look how I want to look.

I spent the best part of a year dieting and training, and got to a point where honestly, as a UK size 8 in clothes I felt I was as small as I would want to be, however I definitely didn’t have the dream body I had dreamed of, and I am determined to get it.

Finishing my diet I looked like this

But I want to look like this.

And so here it begins, the totally unrealistic expectations, the high set goals. I’ve been training strictly for only a year, but I want the body of a girl who has been training strictly for 5 years.

The problem with social media, is the only women whom I can find that I can aspire to have the bodies of, are well into their journeys, or like me just starting out.

I truly have no idea what my body is going to look and feel like during this next phase, but I want to share it with you guys, every step. That way hopefully it’s not so scary for you when you reach it.

What is obvious is that if I want the bodies of those girls above, I need to put more muscle on. That will only happen by eating more to fuel the muscles to grow, and lifting heavy and in a way that will aid muscle growth. Very scary prospect I know, but it has got to be done. I am going to have to start adjusting my way of thinking and start to accept that I am not going to be as lean as I have been, but it is all part of the process and one that I need to trust.

Here’s the plan.

I’ve switched up my workout splits to start with, and recognised that I just wasn’t pushing myself hard enough in my sessions. From now on my workouts will be more geared towards key compound movements, and progressive overload. Lifting as heavy as possible, but whilst keeping the muscle under tension for mid range reps, and focusing on feeling the squeeze in every move.

I have arranged my splits to give extra time to those weaker areas, namely my core and triceps, and plan on leaving out a lot of the more fussy exercises.

I have also began the process of increasing my carbohydrate and protein intake to fuel those muscles the right way. Something I found a very scary prospect at first, and as much as I will enjoy the carbs I guarantee you in a few weeks time I will be telling you all how bloated and horrendous I feel.

Supplement wise I have added in creatine alongside my Vitamin C, BCAA, and whey protein. I have no idea how my body will respond to the creatine, but from my research I feel it’s worth a shot if it could help me grow my muscles.

So that’s me for now, scared but focused and determined. I want to thank all of you blog readers, instagram followers alike, for all of your support in my weight loss element of my fitness journey. I hope you will all continue along with me entering into this new phase of my training, all of your encouragement, advice, and support is always appreciated.

I’ll keep you posted.

Granola Brownie bars

IMG_2581The lovely people from Rolla Granola were nice enough to send me some awesome flavours to try out. I absolutely love baking with this granola, it stays crunchy, and as all of the flavours are packed with intense flavours I can create some truly spectacular treats.

I fancied something chocolatey today so I started about creating a protein brownie bar. I wanted to make something just the right size so I used this fab silicone bar mould I bought on amazon. Bargain!

 

My recipe makes 8 perfect size brownie bars

Ingredients: 

  • 100g Awesome almond rolla granola
  • 10g Cocoa powder
  • 25g Coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp Agave
  • 25g Chocolate whey protein
  • 80ml Unsweetened almond milk

Method: 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 4 or 180 degrees, and get your silicone bar mould out, or prepare a normal brownie tin.
  2. Pop your granola in a bowl and gently crush, you want some bigger chunks still left in there so don’t go too mad, the back of a spoon would be good enough.
  3. Add in your cocoa powder and mix thoroughly  to coat the granola.
  4. Mix in the coconut oil, followed by the agave and then the eggs.
  5. Add in the whey protein and pour in the almond milk bit by bit until the mix becomes a wetter texture.
  6. Transfer into your bar mould or brownie tin, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. The bars should rise slightly and look like mini loafs.
  7. If you want to be naughty you could top them with melted dark chocolate!!

MACROS(per bar): 147 kcal/ 9.7g Fat/ 10.9g Carbs/7g Protein 

 

Simple cinnamon pro-nuts

IMG_2461I have been seriously craving krispy kreme donuts recently so I thought I would create something remotely donuty to try and satisfy my sweet tooth. At under 100kcal these little donuts are quite a treat.

You will need a mini donut pan, or donut maker for this recipe.

Makes 7 mini donuts

 

Ingredients:

  • 25g Ground almonds
  • 30g BPI Vanilla swirl whey protein powder
  • 30g Coconut flour
  • 2tbsp Agave
  • 2 Medium eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Method: 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees/ gas mark 3, and prepare your donut pan
  2. Combine the ground almonds, vanilla whey protein, and coconut flour.
  3. Add in the agave and combine thoroughly.
  4. Add in the eggs, baking powder and cinnamon.
  5. Use a teaspoon to spoon the mixture into the donut pan, and bake for approx 10 minutes until they just start to get golden.
  6. Serve as they are or top with chocolate or other topping.

MACROS (per donut): 93kcal/ 4g Fat/ 7g Carbs/ 7g Protein 

Low-carb Chocolate chip cookies

IMG_1834 (1)Simple perfection, I wanted to try and bake with some different protein, so I tried out USN Premium MRP Diet fuel lean whey protein in Vanilla cream flavour. It baked exceptionally well, and the vanilla flavour still came through in the cookies, so I will definitely be experimenting with their other flavours to create some interesting bakes.

I’m carb cycling currently, so I wanted something I could squeeze in on a low carb day without compromising on taste. These gooey chocolate chip cookies come in at under 5g of carbs and are extremely satisfying.

Fasntastic macros and a real gooey taste, the ‘dough’ itself unbaked also tasted fantastic, so I may try something out wih it alone. If you prefer your cookies a little sweeter, or your peanut butter of choice hasnt got a sweet taste you may want to add a little agave, taste the dough raw before deciding.

Batter makes 12 cookies

Ingredients:

Method: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 5 and prepare a cookie tray by lining with baking parchment.
  2. Put your almond flour, coconut flour, and protein powder in a bowl and combine.
  3. Add in the peanut butter and cream cheese and ensure it is mized throroughly.
  4. Add in the dark chocolate chips last and mix to make an even dough.
  5. The dough will be maliable in your hands so form the dough into 12 even discs in your hands, flatten and put onto your baking tray.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15/20 minutes and enoy.

MACROS (per cookie): 134kcal/ 9g Fat/ 4.7g Carbs/ 6.6g Protein 

White choc raspberry slice

IMG_9854I have been experimenting a lot with Rolla Granola and using it, with all its healthy benefits, to create interesting tasty clean treats. The latest in the collection is a little naughty with white chocolate chips added but hey life’s all about a little balance.

Makes 8 slices

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Firstly blend up your 70g of rolla granola, or crush the life out of it with a rolling pin.
  2. Prepare a tin by lining with foil, it will need to be refrigerated.
  3. Add the Ground almonds, crushed rolla granola and whey protein powder to a bowl and combine.
  4. Add the peanut butter and melted coconut oil and mix thoroughly, it should create a thick quite stiff mixture.
  5. Finally add the big chunks of granola, the white chocolate chips and the frozen raspberries.
  6. Transfer into the prepared dish and leave in the fridge to cool for minimum 2 hours before cutting into 8 slices…and then eating all 8!

MACROS (per slice): 180kcal/ 13g Fat/ 6.3g Carbs/3.2g NET Carbs/8g Protein 

Raspberry Macadamia Rocky Road

IMG_9315Have you heard about macadamia nut oil?….No? Neither had I until the wonderful people at This is Good contacted me about trying it out. What a revelation. When compared to its popular rival coconut oil, this macadamia nut oil wins every contest. With a delicious buttery taste this versatile oil can be used in many recipes. Check out their website for a fabulous blog and so much information on the properties of the oil and its health benefits. For me whats important is the taste, and wow does it taste good in these rocky road clean treats I created.

Recipe makes 12 slices or one big slab if you want to be greedy!

Ingredients: 

  • 100g Peanut butter
  • 2 tsbsp Almond flour/ground almonds
  • 25g Chocolate whey protein powder
  • 20g Cocoa powder
  • 30g Macadamia nut oil
  • 65g Oats blended to a flour
  • 20g Chocolate covered protein crispies (you can always leave these out or replace with something else to give it a crunch.
  • 40g Macadamia nuts halved
  • 55g Frozen raspberries
  • 40g Dark chocolate

Method: 

  1. Prepare a small brownie tin by lining with foil.
  2. Mix your peanut butter, almond flour, protein powder and cocoa powder.
  3. Add in the macadamia nut oil and ensure its fully combined.
  4. Add your blended oats to the mixture.
  5. Melt your chocolate, and add it to the mixture ensuring its well mixed.
  6. Quickly add the protein crispies, halved macadamia nuts and the frozen raspberries, combine carefully trying to not break up your raspberries too much!
  7. Spoon your mix, which will be thick in texture, into your prepared tin and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

MACROS (per slice): 169Kcal/ 11g Fat/ 7.7g Carbs/ 7.9g Protein 

6 simple steps to weight loss

IMG_8503I often get messages from my followers asking me simple broad questions, like ‘how can I lose weight?’ ‘What should I do at the gym?’

There are so many different ways of losing weight, so many different opinions on the best way or most effective way.

There is no quick fix, there is no one size fits all, unfortunately what worked for me may not work for you, its all trial and error and seeing what your body responds best to.

I have personally found the most effective thing for me, or the thing that ‘stuck’ was a combination of weight training and clean eating, as so many of you are asking I wanted to just guide you through in simple terms what I did diet wise.

Step one:

Figure out what your body is getting. If you have quite a lot of weight to lose your bodies internal systems are probably not responding very well.  I know that when I was over weight I just over ate, no two ways about it. I probably didn’t realise at the time quite how bad my eating habits were but on reflection I really did just eat anything and everything I fancied. If I had already had breakfast, and popped into Starbucks at 11am to grab a mocha frapuccino (yes, with cream!), if I saw a slice of cake, or a little brownie I fancied, I would have it, no filter, no question. These eating habits leave your body constantly battling against the extra calories and in simple terms all of those internal systems that break your food down will struggle, ending up in it storing as excess fat.

I had no idea how many calories I was actually eating, and I didn’t even no what a macro nutrient was. I recommend using the app ‘My Fitness Pal’ to start tracking your food. It may seem tedious at first but once you get into the habit of tracking your food it becomes second nature. Track for a week or two, just your normal calories, don’t change your eating habits, lets see what your body is working with.

Step two: 

Clean your diet up. If you realise say you’re eating 1800kcal a day, continue to eat that many calories, maybe play around with your macros if you notice fat is rather high or carbs could be lower. Eat those calories in clean foods, you will probably find it difficult to match but try that for a week and get used to eating simple whole real foods rather than processed naughties. Swap your crunchy nut cornflakes for porridge, your Greggs chicken baguette for grilled chicken with salad and rice or new potatoes. Snack on Ryvita and peanut butter instead of caramel shortcake. Ditch the mocha frappucino in favour of a cappuccino, or remove the caramel flavour syrup from your latte.

Step Three: 

Slowly lower your calories. Like I said before, there is no hard and fast rule here, no perfect number of calories or perfect macro split.’My Fitness Pal’ will actually allow you to input your weight etc and advise you which could help, or do a little more research into you and your specific requirements. How many carbs you need a day for example will drastically depend on your exercise level, type of training you do, or lack of. But where ever you are at, start to lower. S-L-O-W-L-Y. Keeping those calories clean drop your total calories by around 10% and stay on those calories for 4 weeks.

Step Four: 

Use your tools and lower your calories. I spent 3 months lowering my calories by 10% each month before I started carb cycling. Carb cycling was a process that worked well for me, but for other people slowly lowering calories in itself is a great long term sustainable way of losing weight. Around every 4 weeks your body will hit a wall, it will be used to the calories its getting and weight loss will slow. It is then you drop your calories a little further. Each month start removing or adding things to your diet and exercise routine. Perhaps cut out fizzy drinks, cut down on the lattes or switch to skinny, ditch the sugar in your morning cuppa, add in a 30 min walk once a week, then twice a week. Start using your tools.

The problem with so many diets is you go straight from 1800kcal a day to 1000kcal a day, you train, you run, you drink only water. All of that done in one go leaves you with no where to go when you hit the inevitable wall. Slowly lowering calories worked for me, it left me wiggle room, and enabled me to kick things up when I hit a plateau, WITHOUT going to dangerously low calories.

Step Five: 

Reverse diet. I won’t go into too much detail here as its all in another blog piece found here. The main principal of it, is once you reach a weight you are happy with which you want to maintain, you need to do exactly what you just did adding the calories in month by month slowly again.

Step Six: 

Maintain. Unfortunately maintaining your dream body won’t include lots of donuts and cream cakes, you can make lovely healthy macro friendly recipes from my blog to keep your sweet tooth at bay, but in the main being healthy and fit is a lifestyle not a temporary fix. Once you have got your calories up to a point where you are not gaining or losing weight via reverse dieting, you can continue to track until your confident, and stay there eating at that level happily forever.

As I said at the beginning there is no hard and fast rules here. I have simplified the process in a way that people can adapt and change according to their own goals. For me I have been weight training, I upped my gym days from 3 to 5, added a little cardio, used a natural fat burner, slim tonic, for a time as a tool. Everyone will have their own tools, their own goals, and will need to adapt their food intake accordingly.

Thank you for reading my 6 simple steps on how I managed to lose my weight, and how I maintained it. There are many more stages to my personal journey as I am sure there are to yours, but hopefully I have given some of you an answer to the main question I get asked. ‘Where do I start?’ HERE.

 

Hot raspberry rolla granola brownies

IMG_8064The fantastic people at Rolla Granola were very kind, and sent me some insane tasting granola to try. I wasn’t sure I was a granola girl at first, but I must say I am a total convert. With the most exciting and extravagant flavour combinations, made with 100% natural ingredients, and with so many different dietary needs catered for, whats not to love!

I enjoyed the granola on its own (the odd cheeky handful), with milk, and even to top salads. I decided it was time I found a way to incorporate it into a bake, and after a few failed attempts I came up with the holy grail!

I used their hot raspberry granola, which is INSANE good, it has that sweet savory thing going on, and the fiery chilli compliments it so well, (which made it perfect in salads). The sweetness combined with the chilli reminded me of chilli chocolate so I decided it would do very well in a chocolate brownie.

My recipe made 8 (but they were huge! So happily make your batch go a bit further and make those macros even lower).

Ingredients

  • 30g Coconut oil (melted)
  • 70g Chocolate whey protein powder
  • 50g Cocoa powder
  • 50g Brown rice flour
  • 40g Coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 150ml Warm water
  • 4 tbsp The protein works dark chocolate zero syrup (or equivalent)
  • 70g Hot Raspberry Rolla Granola

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degress/gas mark 4 and prepare a brownie tin by lining with baking parchment.
  2. Combine your protein powder, cocoa powder, brown rice flour, coconut sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl.
  3. Melt your coconut oil in the microwave for 10/15 seconds and add into the dry mix.
  4. Add your zero dark chocolate syrup, and then slowly bit by bit the water.
  5. The mix will be quite wet so don’t panic. Add in your Rolla Granola last, and pour into your prepared tin.
  6. Bake for approx 15 mins, slightly dependent on how deep your brownies are (how big your tin is).
  7. Leave to cool and enjoy!

MACROS (per huge brownie): 181 Kcal/ 9.4g Fat/ 15.9g Carbs/ 10g Protein 

 

Protein Donuts

IMG_7766I had an amazon voucher so decided to treat myself to a few baking accessories, one being this mini donut pan. I have never attempted donuts before so I thought a cheap and cheerful pan was a good place to start, as I develop ideas and recipes further I think I’ll treat myself to something a little bigger, but for now this helped me produce something pretty awesome. Such fantastic macros.

My recipe makes 10 donuts

Ingredients

  • 60g Coconut flour
  • 25g Vanilla whey protein
  • 60g Unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 50ml Almond milk
  • 20g Dark chocolate
  • 5g Coconut oil
  • 5g Plain Chocolate covered protein crisipies (can use alternatives to decorate, but you should totally add these to your musclefood order they’re fab!)

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4, if using a silicone donut pan like me there’s no need to grease it, otherwise prepare your tins.
  2. Combine the coconut flour, vanilla whey, apple sauce, egg and egg whites, baking powder and almond milk. The mixture should be quite wet.
  3. Carefully spoon the mix into the moulds avoiding covering the centre, to make sure you keep the donut whole intact!
  4. Bake in the oven for 15/20 minutes until starting to brown, and remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan.
  5. Once donuts are cooled prepare a dark chocolate and coconut oil mix by melting them together. Spoon the chocolate topping onto the donuts and sprinkle with the protein crispies,  or alternative sprinkles of your choice.

MACROS (per donut): 61kcal/ 2.6g Fat/ 3g Carbs/ 4.8g Protein 

 

 

Why your crash/fad diet will fail?

IMG_5650Now don’t hate me here, I am indulging in an eye grabbing title to get your attention. Sometimes these crash/fad diets we all have been guilty of trying, will work. One thing I am certain of is they will not be sustainable, the effects will not last, and it will be a temporary fix.

I speak from experience, before I discovered real nutrition and began learning and understanding how your body works and how food reacts to it, I lost weight on the ‘Special k diet’. Remember that drop a jean size in 6 weeks claim, 2 bowls of cereal a day and one meal. No exercise needed. What a shocker…but yes it worked, of course it worked, because in simple terms all you need to lose weight is a calorie deficit, or eat the same amount of calories and exercise more to create an energy deficit. 

To uncomplicate the science of it all, when you partake in these crash diets, and go from giving your body 2500/3000 calories a day, and then suddenly give it 1000kcal a day, you will lose weight. BUT and this is a big one, that rapid decline in calories will cause damage to your internal systems, the systems that process your carbs, and store or don’t store fat in your body. Over time your body will stop losing weight and rebel against this, holding onto anything it gets. This is that ‘wall’ so many of you will be able to relate with having hit.  All of this can cause metabolic damage and needs to be rectified.

These crash/fad diets will fail long term simply for the reason they are not sustainable. I couldn’t have gone on eating only cereal twice a day for the rest of my life, and there is no post diet plan to get your metabolism back up to speed.

Once you have lost your weight on your extreme calorie deficit diet you will then go back to ‘healthy/normal’ eating. But immediately your increasing calories by around 500/600 calories. That’s when you will gain weight, because your body isn’t used to getting that much, it has adapted to the lower calories and it simply doesn’t know what to do with the extra calories so stores them as fat.

The other thing people might do after a diet is to live in a permanent diet state, we all know those people, every time you see them they are on a diet. These people have no weight to lose, and yet have to continue only eating 1000/1200 calories a day to maintain it. Possibly binging at the weekends and putting on a few pounds every time they do.

Diets NEED to be sustainable. You are much better off figuring out how many calories you are eating before you start a diet, and then slowly decreasing calories; losing weight along the way, allowing your body to keep up with the internal changes. So many people start a diet throwing all of their tools at it. They will eat 1000kcal a day, do 30 mins cardio a day, go to the gym 4 times a week, drink only water. All of this has its place, but if you throw it all at your diet at the start, once you hit that inevitable wall when your body stops responding, you have no where to go. You would end up eating a lettuce leaf a day and running for an hour just to keep losing weight, which is DEFINITELY not something I recommend.

So what can I do? 

Luckily there is a very good way to resolve this and get your body back to normal after a period in calorie deficit. The system is called reverse dieting, and it is a simple as that, slowly reversing your diet back up to higher calories. This process enables your body to have time to catch up to the extra calories its getting, by slowly increasing calories each week. If you are on a high protein, low carb, medium fat diet, I would generally suggest increasing weekly by as little as 5-10g carbs, 1g fat and 0-2g protein per week, this equates to around 50-80kcal a week.

Once you have reached a level where you are not gaining or losing weight this is where you stay, at ‘maintenance’ level. If you are happy with your weight loss when you began reverse dieting you could happily eat at this level for the rest of your life. Alternatively if you plan on dieting again to lose further weight, you are starting from a point of increased calories giving you a better baseline to diet down from, and after a period of maintenance could slowly begin reducing calories again to lose more weight.

I have just completed a period of reverse dieting and am now maintaining for a while before trying something else. It has taken me 10 weeks to slowly reverse diet up to maintenance, but in that time I haven’t gained a single pound in weight, and I am eating around 500kcal more per day. Happy Grainne!

I have had a lot of questions via Instagram around what reverse dieting is, so I hope I have given you the basic uncomplicated information on how it works. I understand in this day and age quick fixes are desirable, but in reality they are not sustainable and will cause your metabolism to slow. Try something different, try slowly decreasing then increasing calories back up after a diet, try something that will last.