Potential Deficiencies in a Veggie/Vegan diet

Just before I go ahead with this post I want to stress that I am in no way anti-vegan/vegetarian, I even tried being a vegetarian once but Nandos reined me back in way too easily. Some may say that's a lack of will power but I just say I love chicken. But anyway, this is just a post to highlight some of the potential deficiencies that may occur if you follow a plant based diet and how to avoid them. With plant based diets becoming more and more popular among young people due to social media and a certain Netflix series, it's important to know that there can be certain risks to this type of diet and how to maintain all of the right nutrients whilst on it.


Now this one's a biggie, protein is used for a lot of functions in your body, it is broken down into amino acids which are the building blocks for your hair, bones, nails etc. Protein is mainly known to build and repair the muscles but they also make up enzymes and hormones internally which is why it is essential that you provide your body with enough of it. A lack of protein can lead to slow muscle growth, weak bones and weak nails.

Meat sources: Chicken, turkey, beef, eggs
Plant based sources: Soya, chickpeas, nut butter


Iron is a little more difficult to get from plant based sources but is an essential mineral as it is a main part of the haemoglobin in the red blood cells that transports oxygen around the body and to the muscles. If you don't have enough Iron this means that your body cannot create enough of the red blood cells that carry oxygen and this leads to an iron deficient anaemia. Symptoms of anaemia usually include fatigue and cloudy headedness.

Meat Sources: Red meat and offal
Plant Based Sources: Dark leafy greens, lentils & bean and fortified cereals

Vitamin B12

Your body does not produce B12 and you cannot get it from plant based sources so this is a deficiency that a lot of vegans can suffer from. B12 keeps the nerves and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA. If you are deficient this can lead to tiredness, weakness, constipation and a loss of appetite.

Meat Sources: All forms of meat
Plant Based Sources: Supplements and fortified cereal

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is mainly known to come from the sunlight, so if you get enough of this you don't need to get it from food sources. Vit D keeps the bones, teeth and hair healthy and a deficiency can cause rickets which nobody wants.

Meat Sources: Egg yolk, oily fish
Plant Based Sources: Fortified cereal

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Fat is normally known to have bad connotations, but some fats are in fact really good for us. Omega 3 can protect against heart disease, reduce the risk of clotting and improve your cholesterol, improve good cholesterol, HDL and reduce bad cholesterol, LDL. A lack of omega 3 can cause dry skin, dull hair, brittle nails, poor concentration and joint pain, all things none of us want. 

Meat Sources: Salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines. 
Plant Based Sources: Supplements, linseed, rapeseed, flax-seed oils 

As you can see, whether you are a meat eater or not it is pretty important to get a variety of foods in your diet in order to remain healthy and reduce the chances of deficiencies. If you want to know more about food sources you can check out the NHS website and see how you can improve your meals on a plant based diet. 


A Healthy Guide to Eating Out

When the Christmas season hits your oven goes into hibernation as you spend 80% of your time eating out and celebrating with friends over the party season, and although a hearty meal may sound comforting in these cold months, your waistline may not be loving it. But, there is no need to cancel all of your plans just because you're trying to eat well, there are a few tips and tricks you can follow to ensure that you choose the healthier option at the restaurant without sacrificing taste and your social life. 

Check the menu before you go 

This may seem way over prepared for you, but I do this everytime I'm going somewhere without fail. Most restaurants have a website with a link to their menu so check it out beforehand, this way you can be prepared and choose the healthier option in advance and if there are no healthy options, maybe see if you can go somewhere else....

Choose a restaurant with good quality food

If it's a good restaurant then the ingredients should be fresh and of an excellent quality, this means locally sourced food and nothing that can be thrown from the freezer straight into the oven. If a restaurant has quality food it will usually highlight where the food is sourced and the farms it uses. Check online and read reviews about the place before you go as to whether other people felt the food was fresh. Maybe checkout your local farm restaurant or pub that sources from the farm next door. 

Work out the rest of your day 

Now you've got your restaurant sorted and your meal in place it's time to plan the rest of your day around it. If you don't mind being more lenient then don't worry about this step, but if you are being stricter about your diet it will come in handy. If you know there are a certain amount of calories, fats, carbohydrates etc in your meal, make sure you cut down the rest of the day to make up for it. For example, if you know you're going for an Italian, it might be a good idea to drop your carbohydrate intake beforehand, stick to higher fat and protein meals. 

Tailor your meal 

Don't feel bad about adjusting the meal to suit your needs because at the end of the day you're the one paying for it, plus if it is fresh food it shouldn't be a problem anyway. Now if you're on a really strict diet sure you can ask for plain chicken with vegetables but most people won't need that. Instead, if you want less carbs then swap your side of potatoes for a salad or extra vegetables, if the sauce on the meal has lots of salt/sugar, ask for a reduced amount or a pot of it separate so that you can add as you need. It's the little things...

Portion control  

A lot of restaurants are guilty of giving you portions way bigger than you need, and if you are trying to stick to a balanced diet, maybe you should avoid a buffet. But just eat until you're full and ask for the rest of your meal to take home or give it to a friend. The great thing about eating out is that you usually eat slower because you're busy talking at the same time. This gives your stomach time to register what you're eating and how much your eating so you will probably eat less and become full quicker than if you were scoffing down a meal in front of the tv. 

Just enjoy yourself 

All of these points are ways to adjust your meal to make it healthier, but the most important point is that you should have a healthy relationship with food. Each point allows you to enjoy what you want without over indulging and that's the main point to take from this. Eating out is a great way to socialise, enjoy fantastic food and relax instead of slaving over the stove, so enjoy the experience and if you want, indulge yourself a little.....moderation is key. 


Granola Recipe

Cereal has been given a hard name recently with lots of people criticising it for being too sugary and normally having loads of crap being added to them. But the simple solution to this is to make your own, it doesn't take long and you can add what you like to make it your perfect cereal. This is a recipe I created to make my perfect granola, you can adjust it to suit your needs or try this one out.....it's delicious. 

You will need

4 cups of oats 
1 cup of chopped nuts (I use hazelnuts & cashew) 
1/2 cup of dried fruit (I use raisins) 
1/4 cup of oil (I use olive oil) 
1/4 cup of maple syrup (you can use honey or another sweet) 
1 tsp of vanilla essence 
1 tbsp of cinnamon (or any other spice) 


1. Set the oven to 150 degrees celsius 
2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together and then add the wet ingredients and mix 
4. Spread onto a baking tray and bake for around 30 minutes (the oats should be crispy) 
5. Leave to cool and serve or place in an airtight container. 


Yoga For Runners

Every runner has had or has tight muscles, whether it's your hamstrings or quadriceps you'll be feeling the pull. If you're not already doing it you should be doing yoga after your run, to stretch your legs and prevent tightness in the muscles, or even worse...injury. Whether you're an endurance runner or sprinter, stretching is essential and yoga is the best way to go about it because not only are you stretching the muscles, but relaxing yourself mentally and physically. Muscles that are usually tight after a run are the quadriceps, gluteus maximus (bum), hamstrings, hip flexors and calves, so here are some stretches you can do to relieve the pain...


Low Lunge 

Get in your lunge position and drop your back knee down to the floor, make sure your feet, ankles and knees are all facing forward. Keep your knee above your ankle and square the hips, pushing them forward. You should feel the stretch in your hip.

Hip Bridge 

Lie flat on your back and brings your knees to the air, you should be able to touch your heels with your fingertips. Tuck your tailbone in and slowly lift your hips in the air as high as possible and keep your core tight to prevent back injury. 


Bow Pose

The bow pose is a great overall stretch, but especially for the quadriceps and chest. Lie flat on your belly and slowly lift your legs up in the air, then grab onto your ankles with your hands. If this is too much then just lift one leg at a time, keeping the other flat on the floor. 

King Arthur

Return to the low lunge position and place one hand on the floor, whilst using the other hand to grab the opposite ankle. If you've got particularly tight quads this may be difficult, so don't worry about trying to touch your foot, just reach as far as you can.

Gluteus Maximus 

If you've had tight glutes before you know the pain is real. Lie flat on your back and and bring your knees up, then place you right foot on top of your left quad (near the knee). If this is enough of a stretch for you keep it there, if you want to take it further then wrap your hands under your left thigh and lift the leg up. 


Single Leg Forward Bend

Stretch one leg out long and bring the other foot into the thigh of your long leg. Lean forward as if trying to grab your foot, if you can reach your foot, great, if not don't worry just go as far as comfortable and so that you can feel the pull in your hamstring. If you want to keep going, bring your head to your knee, and if you can do that you're pretty flexible. 

Wide Leg Forward Bend 

Stand tall and and take your legs out wide (possibly double shoulder width) then slowly bend at the hips and let your head drop down to the floor. Bring your hands down to the floor for a further stretch and keep breathing whilst you try and deepen the stretch. 


Half split 

Now as you can see this one was a struggle for me. I've got particularly tight hamstrings and calves and this pose pushes them to the limit. Sit tall on your knees and stretch one leg forward, try and keep your bum and hips stacked on top of knee, if you need to bend your knee then do so. Try and keep your foot flexed for a deeper stretch. 


Keep your legs straight and stretch your arms out wide, then bend at your hips and drop one arm down to your leg. If you can, try and touch the floor, or if you have a yoga block place your hand on that, but keep your legs as straight as possible. 

If you need any more tips stretching or preparing for running let me know and i'll hit you up with some moves. 


Reversing Type 2 Diabetes

There are an estimated 4.5 million people in the UK with diabetes and around 700 people a day being diagnosed with it, now if that doesn't make you sit and think nothing will. Around 90% of people in the UK who have diabetes have Type 2 Diabetes which is normally due to being obese/overweight and leading an unhealthy lifestyle. Most people with Type 2 diabetes will take some form of tablets to control their symptoms, but studies have shown that it may be possible to reverse your symptoms and put yourself into remission through a change of diet and exercise. 

What is type 2 Diabetes? 

When we eat carbohydrates, the sugar is converted to energy and used when we are performing physical activities and in our day to day lives. Our pancreas creates the hormone Insulin which is used to balance your blood sugar levels and turns this sugar you eat into energy for the body. However, with type 2 diabetes, your pancreas is producing the the insulin but the cells are not able to use it properly and this creates insulin resistance. Eventually it gets to a point where the production of insulin cannot keep up with the amount of sugar and the sugar builds up in your blood instead of being used for energy. Symptoms of diabetes include fatigue, excessive thirst and frequent need to go the the bathroom, however people with type 2 diabetes can also be at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Who is at risk? 

If close relatives have type 2 diabetes you may be at more of a risk, however the main causes of the disease are being overweight and a lack of exercise. Being obese accounts for around 80% of the risk of having type 2 diabetes and with nearly 2 in 3 people in the UK being overweight or obese (a pretty scary fact) it means that the rate of type two diabetes is also increasing. The ever increasing amount of refined carbohydrates and sugary foods we are consuming means that our blood sugar levels are spiking and poor old insulin can't keep up. Plus with a lot of people not doing the daily recommended amount of exercise, we are not using enough of the sugar as energy and it is instead stored as fat. 

Low carb diet 

It may be possible to put type 2 diabetes into remission through a low carbohydrate diet. The theory behind this is that if you aren't eating foods that produce a lot of sugar, there is less of a need for insulin, therefore lowering insulin resistance. A study in 2014 at the Second University of Naples put patients on a low carb, Mediterranean diet and 15% of patients were in remission after one year and 5% after 6 years. This may not seem like such a high percentage, but with around 700 people a day in the UK being diagnosed it doesn't seem like such a bad idea to give the diet a go. 

Very low calorie diet 

Another diet that has proven to show signs of reversing type 2 diabetes is a very low calorie diet. This is more extreme than the low carb diet but has some potentially exciting outcomes. in 2011 scientists at Newcastle University places people with type 2 diabetes on an 800kcal diet consisting mainly of meal shakes and vegetables. 7 out of 11 of the participants achieved remission which included weight-loss and reduced insulin resistance. 

Further studies have shown the possibilities of this diet working have been proven in rodents with type 2 diabetes when their calorie intake has been reduced to 1/4 of the usual daily amount. Professor Roy Taylor at Newcastle University discusses how excess calories contributes to excess fat in the liver which means it does not respond well to insulin and as a result produces more glucose. Then as this fat moves into the pancreas, the cells that produce the insulin stop working as well, meaning if there were less calories and less fat, there is a decreased risk of damage in the liver and pancreas. 

Overall, studies are showing that leading a healthier lifestyle, meaning a balanced diet reduced in refined carbohydrates and plenty of exercise means you are at less of a risk of getting type 2 diabetes. However if you do have the disease and are looking of ways to better your symptoms through diet and wellbeing, speak to your doctor first before embarking on a new diet because although I do the research I am just a health blogger and there is no Dr before my name. 




How To Do More Exercise - The Easy Way

So many articles these days include intense gym workouts and long and confusing cardio sessions that leave people feeling a little flabbergasted to say the least. What a lot of people in fitness don't realise that before embarking on this long fitness journey, sometimes the first steps need to be small ones and getting people to fit more exercise into their daily routine is one way to go about it. So i've come up with a few things you can do to fit exercise into your daily routine without having to spend 2 hours a day in the gym...

Walk more 

How many of you can say that you do anyway near 10,000 steps a day on average? I know that I struggle sometimes, it isn't easy if your job involves sitting on your backside for most of the time. If this is the case I suggest you get yourself some sort of fitness watch to track your steps. Since having my FitBit I've become much more aware of how much I walk and on days when it's not a lot, I make myself get up and walk about. If you do sit down most of the day, try getting up and going for a short walk every 30 minutes, or instead of taking the lift all of the time, take the stairs. I can guarantee that the little things add up. Another thing to do is set yourself little tasks, like do 10 squats every time you make a cup of tea, it may look ridiculous at first but no one will be laughing when you've got a Beyonce bum. 

Be a morning person 

Now I know this is a big ask for some people who really do not like the mornings, but if you are one to put off exercise, getting it over and done with in the morning can be a good solution. A lot of us spend our mornings sat in front of the TV eating cereal, but what about nipping to the gym before work and feeling fresh for the day ahead. If this is too much to ask, make some space in your home and do a home workout in front of the TV. And even if that looks like a step too far for now, get up and do 15 mins of yoga when you get out of bed.....compromise. 

Utilise your lunch break

So many gyms these days offer lunch time classes so make the most of them and head down for a quick 30 minute sweat session. Again, this is another time when you would maybe not be doing anything important and you can fit in a little workout a few times a week. Bring along friends from work, or start a little running club where some of you go for a run on your lunch break (so long as there as showers somewhere). This will also help you to feel more refreshed during the afternoon when most people start drooling at their desk. 

No car? No problem 

If you are within walking/cycling distance of work why don't you try leaving your car at home a few days a week and taking a more active mode of transport. My cycle to work is only 10 minutes but it's still exercise at the end of the day and clears my head. If you commute and this isn't possible, exchange the car for a walk when you need to nip to the shops, and if you live completely in the middle of nowhere, go and get some fresh air in the countryside. 

Bring a friend along 

If you've told your friend that you are meeting them at 6:30 for the legs. bums and tums class it is more likely that you are going to go than if you were on your own because you don't want to let that person down. Yes you're right it's like guilt tripping yourself into going to the gym. Hopefully, exercise should never be that horrific that you have to force yourself to do it all of the time, but sometimes when you just need that kick, a friend can be a good way to push you. 

If you're looking for some home workouts feel free to comment on this post or email me at barberamafitness@gmail.com and I can send you over some plans. 


Foods that heal the gut microbiota

The 'gut' is a rave word at the moment and for a great reason, many scientists and doctors are discovering how important the gut is to our overall health and the massive impact it makes on our day to day lives. With this in mind I thought it mandatory to write a post on foods that can help to restore and balance your gut microbes....

What is the gut microbiota? 

Talk of the gut, digestion, poop and all other things like that have really become big in the last few years in science and it's starting to become much more mainstream with all sorts of health practitioners writing books on how we can improve our gut health. But what is the gut microbiota? Well it is also known as your 'gut flora' and is the place where microbes (i'm talking billions/trillions) live in our intestine. There are in fact more of these bacteria than there are of our own so it's pretty vital that we pay them a lot of attention. It may sound pretty horrible to think of bacteria living inside us but we need these guys to survive, there are good and bad bacteria living in the digestive tract and we would be pretty useless without them. 

What does it do? 

The gut flora plays a pretty important part in your body, and not just in one area but in many. The gut is known as the 'second brain' and there have been several studies that show there is a direct connection between the brain and the gut. The gut flora also helps us to digest some of the more tricky foods, produces vitamins B and K and tries to fight off the bad bacteria. It is essential that we try and keep our gut flora as diverse and healthy as possible as an unstable flora have shown links to Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Diabetes and Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome. So, here are 5 foods that can help you to rebalance your gut and keep it as healthy as possible....

1. Cranberries 

Recent studies have shown that cranberries may be beneficial to our gut. There are sugars in the cranberry cell wall that our body cannot digest called xylogucans, so as a result they are sent into the intestine when bacteria gets to nibble on it instead and break it down. This sugar has been shown to help the good bacteria in our gut and keep feeding it the nutrients it needs. 

2. Kefir 

If you haven't heard the word 'probiotic' recently you haven't been scrolling through social media enough, it's everywhere. Probiotics are a substance that stimulates the growth of good bacteria in your gut, so when things are going a bit topsy turvy down there it's important to try and rebalance with probiotic. The issue comes with buying probiotic supplements; as there are no restrictions on the supplements some may be beneficial whilst others are a load of crap and not worth your money. This is why your best bet is to get probiotics through food. Kefir is a type of fermented milk (similar to yoghurt) but has a sour kick to it. With around 30 strains of good bacteria it is great for rebalancing the gut and as the lactose has already been broken down some people that are usually lactose intolerant don't have difficulty with it. However be warned....it's not for the faint hearted. 

3. Kombucha 

Another fermented favourite of 2017 is Kombucha. This is made from fermented black tea, sugar and SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria & yeast). Like Kefir, Kombucha is a known probiotic and can help to restore your gut back to good health, as well as having antioxidant benefits, but be careful when buying shop bought Kombucha, they can add horrific amounts of sugar to make it taste better. 

4. Yoghurt 

We've all seen a yoghurt advert that states that it will improve bloating and help the gut with bifidos whatever, but most commercial yoghurts don't have anywhere near enough bacteria to make any difference. If you want to get some good bacteria you should try a farmer's market and get hold of some fresh yoghurt with live cultures, or give it a go yourself! 

5. Fruit & Veg 

This little duo basically solve most problems when it comes to diet and people will always recommend that you eat more of them. Eating a diverse range of fruit and veg means a more diverse gut which is what you want. Try the rainbow method, have fruit and veg in a variety of colours each week and make your meals more exciting. 

If you want to know more about gut health here are some suggestions of books i've read and found interesting... 

The Clever Guts Diet: Dr Michael Mosley

Gut: Giulia Enders

The Diet myth: Tim Spector


Katy Percy's Go Faster Food

There is nothing better as a blogger than receiving something in the post, and this week it was something especially exciting....food. I've teamed up with Katy Percy and the Go Faster Food team to show you how important diet is towards achieving your fitness goals, especially if you've got a specific sport/competition, you need to target your training and food appropriately. 

So, who is Katy Percy? Just like you and me, a normal person who decided to change the life of her family for the better through food. Katy's husband was struggling during training for a marathon so she changed their diet to help compliment his training and it was go go go from there on, afterwards Katy even decided to take on a marathon herself. Now Katy has come up with a bestselling book that provides recipes and inspiration for athletes, not just Olympic athletes but the everyday person that wants to achieve. The book is however currently used by Olympians, the Great Run and 220 Triathlon, proving that it's top quality stuff. After writing the book, Katy went on to create Go Bite, which are soooo delicious....

Go Bites 

These beautiful little balls come in three different flavours and have been created to enhance your workout. These three flavours are: 
-Date & Coconut (boost) 
-Apricot & Seed (refuel) 
-Hazelnut & Chocolate (recover) - I am eating one of these as I write this post! 

Each packet comes with three balls, all of the flavours are made with 100% natural ingredients and are gluten, dairy and wheat free. They are all vegetarian friendly and only the Apricot & Seed variety has a drop of honey, making the others completely vegan friendly too. During the Winter my Athletics training is less about speed and more about keeping my fitness up with longer runs and more indoor gym work. So, I like to have the Date & Coconut balls before my workout just to give me that little pick me up and then the Hazelnut after a workout as I am usually not ready for a big meal but need something to keep me going. Or sometimes I just eat them at my desk because they are a delicious and healthy snack. 

The Book 

As well as receiving the Go Bites I was also treated the to 'Go Faster Food For Your Active Family' book. This contains 101 recipes that accommodate family life and suit sporty people of all ages. The book also contains tips on how to stay motivated and inspire young athletes to pursue their sports dreams. I especially like the book because the recipes are simple and not full of ridiculously expensive products that you have to obtain at obscure health stores, just real, good food. 

If you want to find out more about the Katy Percy Go Faster range check out the website here and in a few weeks i'll be posting my favourite recipe from the book.