Sleep better, lose weight.

The link between lack of sleep and weight gain and what you can do about it.

Twenty something me: Sleeping’s cheating. What’s tired? I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Early thirties me:  I love my bed. Think I might stay in and watch a film. Have an early night.

Mid thirties me, with a baby: Sleep is over rated right?

Now: I love my bed but I have other things to do.

We all go through phases. I have always been someone who needed X amount of hours to function effectively. In my younger years I just didn’t care. I have realised now that I need around eight hours a night. Some people are lucky and have the ‘Margaret Thatcher gene’ that enables them to get by with less than five hours every night (just think how much you could get done!), however most people fall into the eight hour category.

This is not by chance. We are programmed this way. Without this necessary shuteye, things can start to go wrong. There are many different things that can happen to a person if they are sleep deprived, even if it’s only by a couple of hours per night.

1. It impairs your level of concentration, attention and problem solving.

2. It can contribute to symptoms of depression and anxiety.

3. It can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure and more.

4. It ages your skin.

5. It kills your libido.

6. It can cause you to gain weight.

The list goes on.

In particular, I wanted to talk about how it can cause weight gain and how getting the right amount of sleep can actually assist you in losing weight.


This may sound like a no brainer but of course, going to bed at decent hour will put an end to the late night snacking. If you are not awake, you cannot eat it!


It is assumed that the longer you stay up, the more calories you will burn. Unfortunately, insufficient sleep really has the opposite effect.

Lack of sleep affects your ‘hunger’ and ‘fullness’ hormones, Ghrelin and Leptin.

Ghrelin signals your brain that it’s time to eat. When you are sleep deprived, your body makes more Ghrelin. Leptin tells your brain when you have had enough food and you’ve guessed it, lack of sleep causes your levels of Leptin to drop, thus telling your brain to carry on eating.

It’s not over. Your body also increases it’s levels of the stress hormone Cortisol. This spike, causes your body to conserve energy, to give you enough fuel to get through those tiring, day time hours. Worse still, the fat that it holds on to tends to be viseral fat – the type that sits around your middle and more dangerously, around your vital organs.

Do those voices tell you to reach for the chocolate or a bag of crisps when you’re tired?

Perhaps the voices talk only to me but depriving your brain of sleep, does dull activity in the frontal lobe – the part of the brain that is used for impulse control and decision making. You will naturally seek food that makes you feel good i.e. high carb, sugary snacks.

In summary an overtired you is not only in a bad mood but craves junk food, larger portions and has no will power!

Lets say, you have a will of steel. You are able to get through the long and tiring day without reaching for those empty foods and you manage to continue with your healthy and nutritious diet. It’s still bad news. You will continue hold onto the weight, struggle to lose weight if you are following a plan or even gain weight.

In truth, sleeping actually helps you to burn more calories. A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that normal sleepers resting energy expenditure was 5% higher than those not getting enough shut eye. They also burned 20% more calories after a meal than those lacking in Zs.

Sleep is also vital for recovery. Without it, you cannot build muscle mass, no matter how much you work out. If you’ve read my post on BCAAs you’ll know how important maintaining or building muscle is. The more you have, the more fat you are able to burn.

Is sleep a priority for you?

In our busy, day to day lives, commuting, working, caring for others, working out, socialising, running a household, whatever…sleeping (even when we have the opportunity) just isn’t top of the list of things to do.

Many people need a wind down period at the end of the day. This could involve a book or social media but more often than not it’s all about the telly. Just one episode of GOT. As if! Then here’s what happens, a conscious decision is made to not sleep but to entertain ourselves instead. With that comes the probability of a snack, just one more episode and another tiring day the next day.


So why do we fight it? Some of you don’t. I realise that you may be one of the many people who really struggle to get any real slumber time, try as you might. Most are just not aware of the impact sleep (or no sleep) has on the body.

Below are some helpful tips on how to get better quality sleep and more of it.

  1. Don’t drink alcohol before going to bed. It may make you sleepy but the quality of sleep you’ll have will reduce, as you will not have the deep restorative REM sleep you need to wake up feeling refreshed.
  2. Make your bedroom a comfortable environment. Keep it cool (the best temperature for sleeping is between 15-19 degrees), peaceful and clutter free. Also, keep it dark. Your natural sleep hormone, Melatonin is suppressed if there is too much light.
  3. Wake up and go to bed at the same time everyday. Ideally you need to think about what time you need to wake up (roughly the same time everyday) and count backwards 8 hours and try to stick to that bed time. Catching up on sleep at the weekends does not work. In fact Harvard Medical School has found it’s near on impossible. Too much sleep all of a sudden can actually worsen your brain’s focus   and reaction time. 
  4. Turn off the TV/mobile/tablet 1 hour before bed. The blue light emitted from these devises is known to mess with our Melatonin levels and interrupt our circadian rhythm (body clock).
  5. Exercise. The National Sleep Foundation states that ‘people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week’. A 20-30 minute walk everyday should do the trick.
  6. No heavy meals and not too late. Try to eat 3 hours before going to bed. Eating too close to bed time could leave you tossing and turning as your digestive system keeps working through the night.
  7. Take a bath. Your core temperature drops during the evening and night time, making you feel sleepy. If you take a soak an hour or so before bed and raise your temperature a couple of degrees, the temperature drop is steeper and therefore leaves you feeling drowsier. You are also more likely to stay asleep through the night.
  8. Use essential oils. High quality, pure essential oils can help you relax and promote more restful sleep. Use them in the bath, in a diffuser or on the soles of your feet.
  9. Read with a dim light. In fact dimming the room from around 9/10 o’clock at night will start to increase that sleepy hormone.
  10. Limit caffeine in the afternoon/evening. This one seems obvious but if you have trouble sleeping, it is recommended that you avoid caffeine after midday.
  11. Eat more magnesium rich foods or take a supplement. Magnesium helps to decrease cortisol levels, calm nerves and relax muscles, therefore helping you to unwind. Try taking a supplement 1/2 hour before bed.
  12. Go outside. Not at bedtime! This again is to do with setting your body clock. Getting some daylight early on in the day really helps that circadian rhythm.
  13. Organise for the next day and keep a bedtime routine. Not only will you de-clutter your brain but having the same series of relaxing events (changing into PJs, brushing teeth, reading for 30 minutes etc) happen each night, should help to train your brain to fall asleep shortly after.
  14. Nanna nap. No more than 10-30 minutes and not after 4pm.
  15. Save your bed for sleep and sex only. This conditions your brain to make you sleepy when you lay down in your bed and to fall asleep faster.

So here’s to a new routine and (if you’re trying to lose weight) hopefully shedding some more pounds. Sleep tight.

Watch this space for more on Magnesium, essential oils and what to look for when shopping for nutritional supplements.


Benefits of BCAAs

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I used to be a firm believer that you get everything you need from a healthy and balanced diet. Supplements were something that pregnant ladies and Athletes took, as their bodies went through more than your average Joe. I’ve since discovered that, no matter how great our diet is, we simply cannot ingest enough food to give us the the level of nutrients our bodies need.

It seems there has been a huge decline in the nutritional levels of our food (in particular fruit and veg) over the last fifty years. This is thought to be because of how our food is now grown and harvested. Not grown in soil, chemical fertilisers used, storage and transport all play their part in the lost minerals and elements. I don’t know about you but as much as I love tomatoes, I don’t really want to have to eat ten of them to benefit from what I would have been getting out of just one, half a century ago.

Now lets throw into the mix a little calorie controlled dieting. My interest in nutrition grew as I started my own journey towards a lighter, healthier and more energised way of life. I used to feel virtuous for eating a salad! Now when I think about it, I’m eating even less (albeit clean, whole food). How on earth do I get what I need without supplementing my diet? The simple answer is, I don’t.

Anyway, I’m not going to harp on about amazing and necessary supplements today. (watch this space!) Learning more about nutrition is what lead to my understanding of the importance of BCAA‘s and how they can really help with weight loss.

Branch Chain Amino Acids. So what are they? What do they do? Why do we need them?

They are the building blocks of protein and are essential to our body. We cannot make them ourselves and therefore need to consume them. Without them we would die. There are three in particular that make up around a third of our muscle tissue.

Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.                               

BCAAs can be found in meat and dairy produce and legumes. They can also be taken in supplement form. They are very much en vogue in the health and fitness industry already, particularly amongst athletes and body builders. What isn’t widely known is just how beneficial they are for those simply wanting to lose weight.

Have you ever found that dieting has left you feeling tired/lethargic? This is because when we consume less calories, our bodies enter a state of catabolism. This is the breaking down of tissue (fat and muscle). As the body increases protein breakdown, it frees these muscle BCAAs to use them as fuel and if they are not replaced, this leads to reduced energy levels.

Supplementing our diet with BCAAs means that we can retain lean muscle mass, whilst shedding the much loathed fat cells. It is important to hold onto that muscle as it keeps your body burning off fat and weight loss is therefore less likely to plateau.

Branch chain amino acids also support the immune system, are good for your intestines and gut and can also reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is catabolic, it breaks down muscle and elevated levels can even result in increased body fat.

When should I take BCAAs?                    Click here to buy BCAAs!

If you are controlling your diet and working out, then they can be taken before, during and/or after exercising. Taken before, they can help prevent fatigue and improve concentration and a more effective workout. During can give a quick energy boost and taken after exercise they are great for tired and aching muscles, even aiding in muscle repair. Otherwise, if you are just controlling your diet then they can be taken with protein or in between meals as a boost that gets into the bloodstream fast and helps to keep you going until your next meal.

So there you have it. The secret of nutritionists and trainers everywhere! Can I get this through diet alone? On a reduced calorie intake, probably not. It is suggested that BCAAs should be taken as a supplement for a period of up to six months at a time. The great news is that if you would like to try this as part of your regime, there is a delicious, chocolate flavoured (BCAA packed) Power Boost powder supplement in the Pure Nourish range. One scoop can be mixed with 8oz of water or almond/soy/rice milk or added to the Pure Nourish original protein powder.                             Power_Boost_Image-1-500x470

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With regards to my own weight loss, I have now lost 8kgs/17.5lbs, following the Slenderiiz program and I feel great! I’m counting down to a family summer holiday, lets see what the next few weeks bring…

Stand by for more food inspiration.





Small changes

I could tell you that my little drops of joy are working miracles but the truth is, it’s a combination of small changes that are making the difference. As my blubber disappears, people are now starting to ask what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.

The program is all about lifestyle changes. A combination of the homeopathic Slenderiix and Xceler8 drops, mind set, a low calorie diet, plenty of sleep, lots of pure water, a little exercise and Pure Nourish. I’ll post about all of these things but today I wanted to share with you a few simple ways I’ve changed my diet and how I cook.

I’m compiling a list of healthy swaps, some of which are already on my food inspiration page. Choosing foods with a low glycemic load is now second nature and I’m guessing it’s one of the reasons people who use this program don’t regain the weight. For example I now eat sweet potatoes instead of normal potatoes. In fact the whole family does! Not only are they packed full of vitamins but they taste great and will keep your blood sugar level steady. I’ve also swapped olive oil for coconut oil. The triglycerides (fatty acids) in coconut oil  do not get stored as fat in the body but are sent straight to the liver where they are used immediately as energy. Fabulous news if you want to lose weight and I’ve found it works well with both sweet and savoury flavours.

IMG_2843Pancakes are a weekend favourite in our house and I’ve found that by simply mixing eggs, ground almonds and a splash of almond milk along with mashed fruit, we get a very healthy and tasty treat on a Sunday morning. Ground flax seeds also work well in the mix.

This most certainly does not feel like a ‘diet’. I’m loving my food and look forward to meal planning for the week. I’ve expanded the range of foods that I eat and am experimenting with different flavours. Best of all I’m not going hungry!

Here is an example of how I’m changing normal recipes,

simple steps to a healthier

You would not believe how much fat I drained from that mince meat! I left it to cool and set and was sickened at the fact that we would have normally consumed the solid white mass.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint. I do fall off the wagon.

After running late one particular evening and hearing some bad news I felt that I deserved some comfort food. The voices in my head told me that one little cheat wouldn’t hurt. I actually couldn’t find any junk in the cupboards or fridge as I hadn’t bought any in so long but then I remembered… the fish fingers in the freezer. Yep, all thanks to my 14 month old I found myself eating (emergency, my baby needs feeding in a hurry food) a fish finger and potato waffle sandwich albeit in brown bread and I felt so satisfied! Unfortunately, I paid for it for the rest of the evening. I was sluggish, bloated and uncomfortable and a little guilty.

It happens but I get up the next day and start again.

Generally, I don’t miss carbs. My body seems to have adapted to my new clean eating and I have plenty of energy. I’m not sure I’ll completely rid the urge for pasta as I associate it with amazing flavours but after a little research and experimenting I am finding alternatives.



Courgetti! This is possibly the quickest meal ever. One medium courgette per person, using a julienne peeler, toss it in a pan with some coconut oil spices of your choice and some protein and hey presto. I finished my prawn version with some lime juice. My husband doesn’t do courgettes or prawns but was rather jealous when he got a whiff of this dish.

Watch this space for more inspiration and Slenderiiz support.








One week in, it’s working!

I am feel pretty awesome today having stepped on the scales. A good healthy loss for my first week, I also feel more energised and I’ve lost that bloated feeling.

I’m making changes that I wouldn’t have thought of in the past. My two favourite buys of the week have got to be almond milk and coconut oil. Perhaps I’m a little behind on some of these new healthier options but I love them!

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I’ve even started to add almond milk to my Pure Nourish shake with a pinch of cinnamon and it’s delicious. Just makes it that bit creamier and sweetens it a little.

I wouldn’t have normally replaced cow’s milk for a diet (maybe just rationed it) but the Slenderiiz program does suggest it and when I looked into the benefits of almond milk, I now understand why.

  • For every 8oz serving (227ml) it has less than half the calories of semi skimmed cow’s milk.
  • It has a low glycemic Index level, great news for your blood sugar and fat stores.
  • It’s packed with vitamins B, D and E.
  • It contains no cholesterol or saturated fat but is high in healthy fat.
  • It has 1 gram of fibre in every serving.

In short, it’s good for your heart, bones, skin, muscle and immune system. It helps you lose weight, tastes great and doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge!




A productive day.

So I took inspiration from my Mum today. She is super organised when it comes to shopping and cooking.

Changing my diet means having a lot of fresh food to hand. I have a fridge full of it and I realised that it’s pretty tough going trying to consume it all with no wastage.

With my husband away, cooking can be a bit of a chore but I have started to batch cook and freeze. I was also looking for an easy way to organise nutritious food for my little one. Whilst staying with my parents recently, Mum showed me her freezer full of peeled, chopped and blanched veggies. It was pretty impressive. How much easier would a stir fry be to just grab a handful of each from the freezer and chuck it straight in the wok? Or a wholesome home made soup?

To be honest, when my baby naps, all I usually want to do is collapse in a heap, have a cup of tea, check my emails, sit in silence… but today I was inspired and feeling energised after taking the natural boost Rejuveniix, I set to work.

Some Vegetables need to be blanched and some don’t. I found some useful information here . To stop them sticking together apparently you need to freeze them on a tray for an hour and then bag them up to store in the freezer. It works! If you have a spare shelf in the freezer that is.


Bag them up flat and squeeze out all the air,


then you can optimise space in the freezer.


I shall be doing this a lot. No more throwing away halves of onions!