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Always tired? Hydration, Diet and Five Other Reasons You Could Be Battling Fatigue

TIREDNESS and fatigue could be an indicator of a major medical problem, such as anaemia, chronic fatigue syndrome or diabetes, it could also be a sign people are generally run down, haven’t had enough sleep or aren’t getting the right fuel.Experts have shared their top tips to help people who need an energy boost essential nutrients to get through the festive seasons.


It’s Christmas and pretty difficult to refuse the constant offers of mince pies, cake and chocolates. Thing is, whilst all foods provide energy, some – particularly sugary and processed ones – break down quicker sending your blood sugar levels soaring then crashing leaving you feeling drained. Rob Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition said: “The key is ensuring you maintain blood sugar levels by eating regularly throughout the day and including plenty of complex carbohydrate foods (brown rice/pasta, quinoa, pulses) to ensure you have an adequate energy supply.“Add protein, including eggs, meat, fish, pulses and cheese to those complex carbs and you get slow release energy which keeps you going for hours.“Other excellent edible energisers are apple or banana with nut butter or a handful of mixed nuts or Vitamin C and B-rich chestnuts.”

Vitamin D

It’s winter, the days in the run up to Christmas are short and we get less daylight and sunlight which could mean your vitamin D levels are low – your body converts sunlight into Vitamin D. Symptoms of deficiency can be vague but generally include general aches and pains and an overall feeling of tiredness. Good food sources are salmon, sardines, mackerel, red meat and eggs but Public Health England released recommendations earlier this year that all adults in the UK could benefit from a 10mcg supplement between October and March. Try Healthspan Super Strength Vitamin D3.



Dr Megan Arroll, psychologist, said: “During the holidays we tend to push ourselves and run ourselves ragged. But don’t wait until you’re burnt out, instead pace yourself with regular rest and relaxation breaks even if it is just five minutes. Go for a walk, find a quiet place for a spot of mindfulness to help re-energise.“If you can’t manage to get outdoors put a few drops of bergamot essential oil on a tissue and inhale deeply – a 2015 study – by the Department of Immunology at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Japan, found bergamot helped banish feelings of tiredness. If you’re suffering with brain fog and having trouble concentrating try peppermint essential oil.”


It’s obvious, but people will be tired if they haven’t had enough sleep. Problem is, at  Christmas the endless round of parties and catch ups tend to get in the way of your regular sleep routine.You know how many hours you need to function efficiently  – experts recommend around 6 to 9 hours – and if you do have a few late nights try to get back into your usual bedtime.There is also mounting evidence that daily power naps can work wonders on your energy levels – some offices are even introducing nap pods to allow staff to have a little lunchtime sleep.  Optimum nap time is 10-20 minutes – which keeps people in the lighter stages of the sleep cycle so it’s easier for you to get going again.  The aim is to feel pleasantly recharged rather than groggy.


The Natural Hydration Council said one in 10 cases of tiredness are attributed to dehydration – so sip plenty of water or herbal teas – especially if you have been drinking alcohol the night before.Watery foods like fruit and vegetables will also help rehydrate you.While most of us turn to a coffee or tea for an instant caffeine buzz bear in mind there is a payback come down so best stick to a cup or two a day – and ideally go for a green tea which has less caffeine and more antioxidants.Also avoid any caffeinated drinks after 3pm as the effects can last up to 12 hours and interfere with sleep.



The more people move, the better equipped they are to produce more energy. Researchers at the University of Georgia found those who complained of tiredness increased their energy levels by 20 per cent with regular low intensity exercise like walking.Whatever exercise you choose encourages oxygen-rich blood to pump through your body to the heart,  muscles and brain, making you feel more alert.At least try to squeeze a walk into your day and move around whenever you can – pace up and down on the phone, deliver a message to a colleague in person rather than emailing it.If you sit for too long blood vessels have a tendency to constrict, which reduce energy levels.


All the racing around and late nights in the build up to Christmas can rob the body of essential nutrients and leave people flagging.People need to aim for as balanced a diet as you can but certain substances can give you an extra little energising push like Co-enzymeQ10, a naturally occurring enzyme found in every cell of the body and dubbed the ‘biochemical spark plug’ due to its essential role in energy production.It also helps the liver to break down toxins and is a potent antioxidant – which can help build immunity.Co-enzymeQ10 is produced naturally in the body  – although levels decline with age – and food sources include seafood, meats and peanuts. You might benefit from a top up in supplement form like Healthspan’s Co-enzyme Q10 or Ubiquinol ‘body ready’ Q10.


Nutrition and Diet Trends

Overall diets have changed dramatically over the past century. Food selections, availability and science are constantly evolving, and new trends are emerging for foods that we consume. Some of the current and most prominent diet trends include flexitarian, organic, functional/value, and gluten-free diets. Knowing the facts about these nutrition trends can help you make more informed diet decisions.

The Good, the Bad and What You Need to Know

The Flexitarian Diet

Designed for those who aren’t ready to embrace a full vegetarian diet, the flexitarian diet balances a decreased consumption of meat with more produce. This diet is receiving positive feedback by the nutrition community as it encourages eating more healthful vegetarian foods such as beans, nuts, whole grains, and fresh produce while being flexible in the amount of meat eaten.

The diet plan has three levels:

• Beginner – 2 meatless days a week with 5-6 oz. of meat-based protein consumed on each of the other 5 days

• Advanced – 3 or 4 meatless days a week with 6 oz. of meat-based protein consumed on each of the other 3 days

• Expert – 5 meatless days a week with 9-10 oz. of meat-based protein consumed per week

One of the benefits of this diet is the ease of reducing the consumption of meat while enjoying more produce. It also provides a smooth transition for those who do not care for the taste of protein replacements but want to slowly wean themselves from meat.

Another positive: this diet encourages more complete whole grains as protein complements. New research suggests that people who consume several servings of whole grains per day, while limiting daily intake of refined grains, appear to have less fat tissue thought to trigger cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

One area of concern, however, is that the flexitarian diet may not contain enough complete proteins for growth and maturation or provide enough protein for athletes. If one is not fully committed to the responsibility of obtaining proteins; this diet can cause health complications.

Organic Diets

Influenced by the seasonality and the locality of foods, these diets focus on sustainable consumerism and choosing foods that are good for you as well as for the Earth. Among these foods are organic and raw foods. Often debated, organic foods are not exposed to pesticides and other chemicals thought to be harmful when consumed and bad for the environment. Organic livestock farmers do not use antibiotics or hormones, thought to cause different types of cancer, to prevent disease and spur growth in animals. Raw foods are not prepackaged or cooked, keeping them rich in flavor and nutrients.

Because organic foods can be 50 to 100 percent more expensive, experts encourage consumers to spend their food dollars wisely by carefully choosing between organic and conventional items. Produce and foods that a family eats most often are most important to spend extra on. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., recommends choosing organic at least for produce with the highest pesticide residues. These selections include produce with thin or no skin such as apples, pears, peaches, berries, all leafy greens, peppers, celery and potatoes. Raw food sales are on the move. Susan Baker, marketing leader at Whole Foods Market–Greenlife Grocery agrees and notes an emerging trend towards a completely raw foods diet and the nutritional benefits.

Experts all agree that a diet high in fresh foods, including fruits and vegetables, is good for one’s health. However, there is some concern for diets based entirely on raw foods. Andrea N. Giancoli, M.P.H., R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association in Los Angeles, says in the journalEatingWell, “There’s no doubt that plant-based diets have been linked with a lower risk of obesity and other chronic diseases, but because the raw-foods diet is so restrictive, its followers are at risk for deficiencies of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. And the diet isn’t based on science: cooking destroys some nutrients, but it makes others (like the lycopene in tomatoes) more absorbable.”

Functional/Value Diets

According to Cornell University, decreasing consumption volume and placing a focus on eating healthy foods is the cornerstone of the functional or value diet. The consumer is motivated to build a meal plan around foods that offer more than just taste and calories, thus getting more nutrient value from foods. The focus of this diet is on the function of the foods and benefits they provide.

A functional diet might include foods with added bioflavonoid and probiotics such as yogurt and dairy products to regulate intestinal health. This diet often includes exotic fruits (or “superfruits”) such as mangosteen, goji berries, and noni that have a high nutrient and antioxidant content. Research supports that adults can increase their chances of maintaining healthy brain activity by adding certain functional foods and beverages to their diets. For example, dark chocolate provides natural stimulants like caffeine to enhance concentration, and nuts and seeds provide good sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant associated with preventing cognitive decline. Coldwater fatty fish is an excellent functional food as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are linked to lower dementia and stroke risks; slower mental decline; and are thought to play a vital role in enhancing memory.

No one challenges the benefits of this type of diet other than to advise that foods are balanced across meals.

Gluten-Free Diet

The gluten-free craze is another diet trend that’s becoming hard to ignore. This diet has increased in popularity over the last few years partly as a result of greater awareness and improved diagnosis of celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by exposure to gluten. Additionally, there has been a mass movement toward gluten-free products by those who have self-diagnosed gluten intolerance, believe a gluten-free diet is a healthier way of eating, or believe that it can help to help reduce weight. Since 2004, the gluten-free market has experienced an average annual growth rate of 28 percent. Today, less than one percent of the population has celiac disease; however, marketers believe that between 15 and 25 percent of consumers want gluten-free products.

The good news is that consumers who are following a gluten-free diet are usually eating less white and processed foods, and more fruits and vegetables. Another positive is that the trend has motivated manufacturers to provide more high-quality, gluten-free foods that the truly intolerant would normally not have access to. In the past, many gluten-free foods have been based on nutrient-poor ingredients, such as potato and corn starches, with xanthan and guar gum to improve texture.

The bad news is that people who have diagnosed themselves as gluten intolerant are missing an exact diagnosis from a doctor and could be incorrectly treating symptoms related to another health issue. Unless carefully managed, gluten-free diets can be deficient in vitamins and minerals. Gluten-free foods can also be very expensive and some can have high values of fat and sugar added by manufacturers to make them more appealing. Dieticians are increasingly advising true gluten intolerant sufferers to follow a naturally gluten-free diet.

Be Informed, Be Balanced

There is one thing on which experts agree: regardless of the diet you choose, eat plenty of produce and maintain a balanced diet. National guidelines recommend eating a variety of fruits and vegetables to take advantage of their diverse nutritional benefits. A balanced diet is important, no matter what trend you may choose to follow.