When people look to improve their health in some way, they generally frame their new lifestyle change as ‘making better choices’, and of course this makes perfect sense… You choose the gym over Netflix You choose a home-cooked meal over takeaway You choose Coke Zero over regular   And so on, but is it really as simple as that?   I would argue that it’s not because each choice that we make doesn’t occur in a vacuum and it’s not usually a choice between two discrete things. When choosing whether or not to order a dessert, for example, you aren’t sat in a sterile room deciding between a slice of cake and nothing. Instead, you’re sat in a restaurant with friends who are all choosing cake, and you’re deciding between a desirable situation in which you get to eat an enjoyable dessert and follow along with your

Nutrition is often described as complicated, confusing, or difficult to understand but within that, there are a small number of ‘known facts’ that are basically truisms at this point. Eat your vegetables Drink plenty of water Don’t drink a lot of alcohol And to this list is typically added “cut back on salt”, but is that ACTUALLY good advice, or is there some unspoken nuance that’s worth adding in here? In this short blog, I hope to add a little bit more detail to the conversation so that you can better appreciate the role of salt in a healthy diet, and whether or not it’s a good idea to add it when cooking or at the table. The first thing I want to make really clear is that here I’m talking about people who are generally healthy (meaning “have not been diagnosed

When people decide that they want to improve their health they tend to alter two primary things, namely their nutrition and their exercise habits. Most of the blogs on this site are designed to help you with the former but this will be a quick overview of the way that we’d like you to think about the latter. First of all, the title of this blog is a completely false dichotomy – the question shouldn’t be “cardio or weights, which should I do?” because it’s perfectly fine to do both. Rather, it would ideally be viewed as “which should I focus my attention on the most”, which is a valuable question because you only have a limited amount of time and energy, and there are definitely pros and cons to take into account with both fitness approaches. The best way to answer

As I write this Veganuary is almost over and so, what for many people is a month of eating radically different to how they usually would, is coming to a close. This tends to result in two different outcomes: People maintain a 100% plant-based diet. Veganuary was a toe in the water for what they felt like they wanted to do anyway, and so they take it as a kickstart to make a long-lasting change They go back to what they were doing before because a 100% plant-based diet just isn’t for them In this blog, I’m writing to the 2nd group of people, because while a vegan diet may not be for you, there still may be some things you can take away from it that are useful. We usually look at Veganuary as a month during which people try

It’s roughly the time that everyone starts talking about New Years’ Resolutions – either in saying that they are the worst thing ever, or telling people who say they’re worst thing ever where to stuff their opinions – so I thought I would wade in to the middle to speak about a side of this that is rarely discussed: the practicalities of actually setting and adhering to a New Years’ Resolution. Briefly, I do think they are a good idea but there are some caveats to that. As I’m going to discuss below, a person needs to be ready to change before they can and if you weren’t ready on December 31st it’s not likely that you’ll be ready the following day so let’s not pretend that anyone things NYR’s are magic. With that said, the reason I like them is

The title of this blog may seem strange to some but trust me, this is a question that a LOT of people have because, honestly, it’s something that has been talked about frequently in a number of different contexts. Honestly, it’s not surprising that people are confused considering all of the seemingly mutually exclusive and contradictory information available, and so in this short blog, I’m going to outline what you need to know when you’re walking down the dairy aisle. First off, it’s important to point out that there is NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT FOOD. Indeed, there is not even such a thing as good food or bad food. Nothing on the supermarket shelf is going to make you immortal, allow you to fly, or create invulnerability to illness by itself. Sure, a completely healthy lifestyle including a proper

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s Christmas soon. That means it’s time for food, fizz, friends, family and possibly panicking about how on Earth you’re going to manage to avoid weight gain when there’s food, fizz, friends and family around you at all times for a few weeks. This short blog is hopefully here to alleviate all of that and make sure you can enjoy the period stress-free! The first thing we need to get out of the way is the simple fact of thermodynamics and how weight gain and loss works. I wrote about how calories and weight management work HERE (https://ditchthedietacademy.com/fat-loss-gain-how-it-really-works/) so it’s worth checking that out for a little more detail if you’re not sure what I’m about to say sounds right, but simply here’s the deal: 1kg of body fat represents a storage of around 7000calories of useable

10 reasons to lift weights  (even if you don’t want to build a lot of muscle) Historically, lifting weights has been restricted to two pretty similar populations: Wannabe Arnold Schwarzeneggers and Dudes (let’s face it, it’s basically always dudes) that just want to help their own ego by lifting and then slamming down the biggest weight available and showing everyone else how alpha they are. Times, thank God, have changed. Now resistance training has become pretty mainstream. For those of us in the fitness world, this has two clear causes, namely the rise of CrossFit and the popularity of social media (especially Instagram). Thanks to CrossFit the normalisation of women lifting weights has undergone a huge upswelling. Not only that, but the idea of athletic but somewhat NORMAL looking people doing pretty cool fitness-based things is starting to seem

Do I really need a protein shake? If there’s one thing which symbolises everything that’s wrong about the fitness industry and the way it has made everything obscure and difficult to understand for the average person, it’s the fact that protein shakes are still spoken about in the terms that they are by people outside of the little gym bubble. And this is for no reason other than a commercial one; for decades protein shakes were marketed exclusively to bodybuilders and strength athletes because some executive somewhere decided that this was the only demographic that would buy them. (likely because up until EXTREMELY recently all protein shakes tasted like some kind of a cross between chalk and slightly off-milk that someone has shouted the word ‘chocolate’ at a few times – people weren’t going to buy these for non-functional reasons) Protein shakes were

Discover 6 ways to lower the cost of your weekly food shop. I often wonder how the nutrition industry looks from the outside. On a good day, I like to think that it has the appearance of a united block of individuals who all spend their lives improving the health and wellbeing of others. An altruistic force for good that embraces anyone who seeks their help with open arms and minds. A welcoming, kind-hearted set of professionals that want nothing more than to assist those who are struggling, led primarily by equal measures of both empathy and coaching prowess. But most of the time I guess it looks like a bunch of upper-class bellends that expect everyone to eat fresh, organic greens that have only ever been touched by the fingertips of a virgin. The kind of people that use phrases

Along with carbohydrates, fat has really gotten itself a bad reputation over the last 40 years or so, which is a shame because it has done a lot of damage to the way we view food. Fat, like protein and carbohydrate, is a macronutrient and is essential for our health. Contrary to popular belief, you need to eat fat if you want to have a healthy body. In this blog I will be answering the following questions: 1. What is dietary fat? 2. Why do we need to eat fat? 3. How much fat should we eat on a daily basis? 4. What foods can I get it from? 5. Should I have a low fat diet if I am trying to lose weight? So first of all, let’s take a look at what dietary fat actually is… Dietary fat is one of the three macronutrients and is

Why is it so important to get a better night's sleep? Sleep is a topic I love writing about because not only is it interesting, it’s (in my opinion) the single largest influence on your health after getting enough calories and water to survive. I’d place sleep far above eating a ‘healthy diet’, maintaining a ‘healthy weight’ and exercise, any day of the week, and it’s my goal in this blog to explain why that is and how you can get more of it. Sleep is a period of each day where an animal falls into an unconscious or semi-conscious state. It’s observed in just about every life form, with even extremely simple creatures like worms spending part of the day in a state described as ‘docile’. Because of the ubiquitousness of sleep, scientists in the area have concluded pretty

If you spend any time on the internet at all you will no doubt at some point been told that you shouldn’t drink diet coke because it’s full of chemicals. This is because there are many who would make the claim that the non-nutritive sweetener aspartame is a chemical compound which has SEVERE negative effects on the health of people who drink it. It’s been implicated in everything from ‘brain fog’ and headaches to multiple sclerosis, cancer, and diabetes. Aspartame is probably heralded as the most deadly thing in our food supply, only there because ‘they’ are hiding the truth from us, and keep pumping it into the food supply to protect profit margins and keep customers addicted. It is, according to bloggers everywhere, the worst thing you could ever ingest. Well, it’s not. Like, at all. And here’s why

Food guilt, eating guilt, and diner’s remorse are all terms used to describe that unpleasant, sinking feeling associated with ‘falling off the wagon’ and eating in a way that is not in line with your planned dietary approach. This is, in my opinion, a big problem – and science backs that up, with guilt around eating being associated with an increased risk of disordered eating and higher bodyweight. The thing is, though, you don’t ever need to feel guilty for eating. Now, this is not me lying to you and saying that eating a big cake won’t stop you losing weight because it will, and I’m not the type of person to just fib in order to make you feel better. The simple fact is that if you want to burn stored body fat you need to consume fewer calories than

One of the things that most people are really bad at is understanding (and remembering) that two things can be true at once, even if at first they appear to be complete opposites. For example, it is true that saturated fat is not as bad for you as was once thought, but it is also true that you can’t just go about drinking coconut oil willy nilly and expect that to have no negative effect on your blood markers. One area in which this is especially true, but often forgotten in the current conversation around health, fitness, and nutrition is that of body positivity (or fat acceptance, or whatever term you’d like to use). Here the false dichotomy is presented like so: You need to believe one of the following things: You love your body and therefore it’s perfect as is

Intermittent fasting (IF) – going through prolonged periods of intentionally not eating - is an approach to food that has some kind of mystique around it thanks to being so far out of the norm. Common dietary advice has generally centred around eating little and often for decades and so as soon as a person starts talking about doing literally the opposite of that it’s, of course, going to raise questions, such as: Is that good for you? Is that bad for you? Does that speed up weight loss? Is it the road to eating disorders? And part of the problem is that generally the only people talking about it are either staunchly for or against IF and so their answer to those questions says more about their personal beliefs than it does about the reality of the situation. Here, I

“This breakfast choice keeps you full until lunch” “[Insert “healthy” food here] will make sure you stay full” “When you get hungry between meals, snack on [“healthy” option] rather than [“less healthy” option”] These phrases are used a TON in the nutrition space, often to justify having eggs for breakfast, nuts as snacks, and lots of vegetables with each meal. Now I’m not for a second saying that this is anything but brilliant advice – these are very good choices which provide a ton of useful nutrients, and while hunger is by far and away NOT the only thing that makes people overeat calories (do you REALLY eat chocolate in the evening because you’re hungry and for no other reason?) managing it is definitely an effective method of improving nutritional adherence. When researched, reducing a person’s hunger levels by manipulating food choice will

Thanks to the position I find myself in I get asked a lot of questions about nutrition and fat loss every day. I absolutely don’t mind this and consider it an honour – it’s pretty cool to be the go-to nutrition person - but at the same time there are some questions that annoy me a bit. Not, I want to stress, because the person has asked, but because their asking implies something: If a person asks if they need to eat more to gain weight, that means they think they probably do If they think they do, that means that someone has told them that it’s possible to eat too little to lose weight This means that this person has been told that your metabolism has some kind of starvation mode or another tomfoolery which prevents weight loss if

Food waste and hunger is a global issue but it is very much on our own doorstep too, as here in the UK food waste and hunger is a nationwide problem. According to FareShare 1.9 million tons of food is wasted by the food industry, including those involved in growing, harvesting, manufacturing and selling the produce. 250,000 tons of this food is perfectly edible and yet there are an estimated 8.4 million people in the UK alone that are struggling to afford to eat. A large percentage of that figure experience actual hunger. The food wasted in Europe and the USA alone could feed the world 3 times over! Yet around the world people are living and dying of hunger; approximately 1 billion people are hungry and every second one person dies of hunger. How can this make sense? I could write

There are an awful lot of ways to set up a dieting approach, one of which – in fact, probably the most common – is to have a set of rules which tell you what/when/how you are and are not allowed to eat. For example, diets exist which specify that: X, Y, Z foods are off limits You're not allowed to eat foods after or before X time You’re only allowed to eat these certain foods You can’t have X if you haven’t exercised today Etc Now, these are generally regarded as bad ways to diet, and for good reason. Diets like these tend to be the diets that people don’t succeed on, or at least they don’t succeed for very long. Because of this, you’ll often hear well-meaning health and fitness professionals or nutrition people explaining that this restrictive kind of diet is unworkable, unsustainable,

Whenever people discuss their fitness approach or dietary adjustments they tend to do so with reference to a goal – you go to the gym to get stronger, they eat better to lose body fat, etc. When talking to a coach or Personal Trainer for the first time, they will also ask you about these hypothetical future achievements – “What’s your goal?”. Pause for a moment and reflect on this, and when you have an answer keep reading. Goals are often poorly defined. Many of you reading this will already know where I’m going with this, but stick with me because I’m going to take a different angle than most, and for those that have never really thought about this before, consider this: Is your goal – the thing you currently have in your head – USEFUL? Is it something that, through virtue

If you pay much attention to public messaging around nutrition, it’s pretty safe to say that sugar is enemy number one right now. It’s being blamed for diabetes, obesity, and a host of other health issues, with reasoning centring around its ability to spike insulin, be stored as fat, and cause addictions. But is any of it true? Let’s take a look, starting out with the whole obesity thing. A few weeks back I wrote an article on how fat loss and gain actually works – you can check that out here and if you haven’t read it, please quickly go and check it out before continuing because what I say here is just a brief version of what I said over there. You’ve likely heard the idea of calorie balance dictating weight loss and gain; basically, if you consume more energy than

In Part 1 of this blog I outlined what a habit is, why it’s so powerful, and the problems they can represent when making a lifestyle change. If you didn’t read that yet, go check it out or the below won’t make a whole lot of sense! Assuming you’ve read it already, we can crack on… You cannot simply ignore habits and hope they go away because they won’t. As I mentioned last week, they are hard-wired into your brain – they’re physically and literally a part of you – and so you can’t just hope they stop being there because that won’t happen any time soon. Think of the ex-smoker who suddenly finds themselves with a cigarette the moment they get drunk in the pub they used to frequent. This means you have a few different options available to you – one

Part 1: Yes When you woke up this morning, how long did you have to think about it before you decided that, this morning, you were going to brush your teeth? That simple question, when you really think about it, tells you a lot about how behaviour works because the answer is you don’t think about it (I hope). There’s no weighing up of pros and cons, there’s no drawn-out analysis of options, you just get up and brush your teeth. This is, as a crude illustration, a habit. Habits are actions that you undertake every day, in similar contexts. Indeed habits are likely to make up the vast majority of our day to day behaviours, but there’s far more to it than first appears; habits aren’t just things you do all of the time, they’re routines which are hard-wired into your brain.

In the health and fitness community, probably one of the most disturbing and damaging trends I see is the prevalence of food guilt. Food guilt is the sinking feeling of failure, regret and helplessness which follows the act of ‘indulging’ in something you enjoy but which is not on your usual plan – you ate the chocolate which you aren’t allowed and now you feel bad for it. Food guilt can be crippling and can have a lasting effect on the psychological wellbeing of dieters. Those experiencing food guilt are, however, looking at this whole thing from the wrong angle, and without considering these next three points, they may never be free from the shame of looking at the bottom of an ice cream tub and wishing they’d never opened it. 1 – Food is not bad or good OK, this first point