Snacking with Dr Zak

I might not be your typical gym-going, exercise mad protein filled snack consumer but I am a serial grazer and on a mission to pack as much protein in to my diet as possible right now to help me re-build some strength. I also have a notorious sweet tooth and do have to keep an eye on how much sugar I let myself inhale in lieu of healthier options (I was that child who filled their boots on Haribo then couldn’t manage their dinner!). Therefore I was very interested when I got an e-mail from Dr Zak’s about their new range of high protein, low sugar cookies which boast an impressive 15g of protein per 60g cookie whilst keeping sugar content minimal. They very kindly sent over the range of cookies for me to try as well as some high protein clusters and I thought I’d pop up some thoughts here in case anyone else is in the same boat- or is in need of something to munch post workout.
All products c/o Dr Zak’s for blog consideration.
Kicking off with the protein clusters which I found made the perfect little snack to pack in my bag for work. These come in three flavours- chipotle chilli, fruit & yoghurt and chocolate. These 30g packs contain up to 12g of protein, are free from palm oil, made with high quality pea protein isolate and have under 130 calories per bag.

I’ll start off by saying the fruit & yoghurt variety wasn’t my cup of tea. They weren’t bad but did have that distinct “protein” taste about them and I had expected them to be much sweeter. I happily ate the pack and they certainly made for a filling snack for something so small but I wouldn’t go out of my way to have these again.

The chipotle and chocolate fared better. The chocolate were my favourite for sure, a good strong flavour and less after taste. The chipotle were also pretty good although I had hoped for a bit more heat. Again the stronger flavour of these took away the protein taste and I would pick up both of these flavours again if I saw them for sale.

The cookies also come in three flavours- salted caramel, chocolate chip and triple chocolate. These are made with high quality milk proteins and have a soft bake texture which reminded me more of a cake than a cookie. Again these are free from palm oil and contain no more than 3% of your daily sugar allowance. The 60g cookies are dense and filling but are fairly low calorie for a protein filled snack- each contains less than 220 calories for the whole cookie.

My favourite flavour was the salted caramel, hands down. This surprised me as I’m not usually a fan of this flavour at all but here it was a winner. The chocolate chip (sugar free) was a close second though and not far behind was the triple chocolate.

In short, I really enjoyed these. I gave some to my boyfriend to try and he wasn’t convinced at first but later said this is because he went in to it expecting a typical cookie- I mentioned before these have a more cake like texture and won’t compare to say, a cookie from Millie’s cookies or a bakery but in their own right they are really very good.

There are a whole host of items from Dr Zak’s I’d like to try- the peanut spread with it’s range of flavours looks especially intriguing!

Check out the website to find out your nearest stockists and if you are already familiar with the brand then please tell me which products I should be looking to try next!

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Simple Steps You Can Take For A Healthier Lifestyle*

Countless people around the world know that they should be living a healthier lifestyle, however many feel that it’s such a daunting task that they put off that all-important first step for as long as possible. When you’re constantly seeing people on social media who seem to do nothing but work out and cook healthy meals it can make healthy living feel like a full-time job. However there are a number of simple steps you can take that will bring you that much closer to your lifestyle goals. Here are a few to think about…

(Image from Max Pixel)

Cut Out a Fifth

If you’ve been reading about nutrition and exercise for long enough you may have come across an article or video covering “blue zones” – areas of the world where people live longer and healthier lives than anywhere else. There are a number of factors that bind these countries together but one of the most prominent patterns is the fact that people from these areas generally eat less than the rest of us. In the majority of blue zones the average meal is smaller than those in the US and UK by at least a fifth. Try taking a leaf from their book and reducing the portions you have for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you tend to make meals in a big platter that the family can help themselves to then try getting into the habit of serving up portions in the kitchen and freezing the rest.

Get into a Reading/Watching Routine

When you make a point of surrounding yourself with reminders of the lifestyle you want to lead you’ll find it provides a lot of motivation for actually getting stuck into the routines of a healthier lifestyle. The more you can read, watch and generally learn about healthy eating and fitness the more naturally you’ll be able to fit those all-important lifestyle choices into your usual routine. Start by setting a short window aside every day just for sitting down with a (healthy!) snack and simply learning more about healthy living. Whether it’s watching healthy cooking videos on YouTube, trying a new exercise you can do at home or reading review sites like Bodygearguide, make sure you’re making a point to get your fill of fitness information on a regular basis. Get into a routine for this and you’ll be amazed at how much difference it makes to your mindset.

Try to Be More Of a Herbivore

Diets that are heavy on the plants are not only rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients but are also much better for your weight and cardiovascular health. Of course there’s a danger of not getting enough protein if you make your diet too heavy on plant matter, however considering how meat-dense a typical diet is these days you probably don’t have too much to worry about! Try to start thinking of meat as more of a complement to your meals rather than the main attraction. Try subbing your usual dose of meat out for beans, nuts and legumes.

Retrain your Taste Buds

Some of the foods that are regularly touted as miracle workers – elk, sea vegetables, tofu and berries you’ve never heard of – might seem completely alien to you and literally quite hard to swallow. It may not always seem like it but it’s certainly possible to retrain your taste buds. Most of us naturally love salt, fat, sugar and so on because they’re prevalent in the diets we’ve been raised on and these are the tastes that we’re used to. However, if you make a point to eat healthier foods regardless of how they taste to begin with over time you’ll learn to like them. The easiest way to start is checking more labels and gradually cutting down the level of sugar in your diet.

Chill Out!

Even the most cool-headed person you know gets stressed from time to time. While healthy people get affected by it just as much as anyone they all have some go-to methods for relieving stress whenever it arises. There are many healthy methods for de-stressing and most people will only need one that they can fall back on again and again. Go for a scenic walk, meditate for a while, meet your best friend for a coffee… It’s okay to treat yourself now and then but make sure you’re not leaning on unhealthy methods of stress-relief too much. This will only make you more susceptible to stress from other aspects of your life and could lead to you getting stuck in a health rut.

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Are you Sitting Comfortably?*

There’s nothing like slipping a couple of discs to make you realise the importance of taking care of your back. Given that I manage to knacker mine up doing every day things and still ending up in A&E requiring a catheter, having a useless left leg for months and requiring surgery and a lot of physio I seriously had to take a look at my lifestyle- especially my posture to prevent a repeat of the drama. Three years on and *touch wood* I’ve not had much in the way of further problems so I thought not might be a good time to share a few pearls of wisdom as well as a really useful e-book by Adjustable Beds & Riser Recliner Chairs retailer Adjustamatic.
One of the things I learnt through physio is the importance of strengthening your core. Your core is made up of not only your abdominal muscles but also your pelvic muscles, hip muscles and lower and middle back muscles. Having good core strength can help alleviate back pain, keeps your posture in check and can help you to make safer daily movements (think lifting, sitting, standing…). Yoga, pilates and swimming are brilliant ways to strengthen your core and trust me, you will notice a difference!
It sounds really boring but footwear is another thing that really affects my back, if I spend too long in heels- or at least the wrong type of heels I get some serious backache. Platform heels are fine, as well as supportive flats like trainers. Ballet pump style shoes are rubbish for me as they provide little in the way of support but other people might not find this a problem.
My third and final tip before moving on to the ebook is to make sure you have a decent mattress and a decent chair at work. We spend a LOT of our time either sleeping or sitting. I find a firm mattress best for me and if I stay overnight anywhere I often wake up with a niggling spine. The same for chairs. You need to find a chair that really supports your back, or get a detachable back support to go on it- I have one of these at work as well as a back “belt” for days where I am in a bit of pain- it’s great for stopping the slouch!
Anyway, a far more comprehensive guide is this e-book- any one who spends a long time sitting or suffers with back pain really should give it a read. It’s funny, you never really appreciate having a healthy spine until it’s suddenly not so healthy so it really does pay to look after it now.
Have you got any top tips or experiences to share? Leave them in the comments below.

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The Wish List That will make my Mum have kittens*

I’ve always been a bit of a daredevil- the first to the top of the climbing frame as a child, the one who wanted to swing the highest. It carried on throughout my youth- abseiling, kayaking, climbing, high ropes, parasailing- I was game on for anything [unless it involved caves or tunnels, then I was much happier sat on the sidelines].

It’s all fallen a bit by the wayside since I hit my twenties but that doesn’t mean the urge isn’t there, and now I’m on my renewed mission to get back to health and fitness I’m finding myself coveting gems from my childhood to ease myself in- from scooters to rollerblades I want it all, bringing me to today’s wish list featuring products from Proline Skates

So why the title of this post? Well, lets just say I’m not the most graceful of human beings. If anyone is going to injure themselves during an activity it’s usually me [it doesn’t even have to be sport, I slipped two discs shopping in Aldi and broke my foot in Zara!] Every time I mention wanting to get back to doing things that will give me an adrenalin rush I’m met with eye rolls and “is that REALLY a good idea?”

I happen to think it’s a brilliant idea personally- but perhaps erring on the side of caution I’ll start with a scooter or skates and work my way up. As much as I like the buzz I am quite keen to avoid a trip to A&E having made it 18 months without one and I’d also quite like my dignity to stay in tact.

That said, I’m toying with the idea of a trampoline park gathering for my birthday celebrations with friends- you can imagine how that idea went down!

Are you a bit of a dare devil? Any random accident stories to regale me with?

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How Office Yoga can Help you*

Anyone who has ever worked in an office will know that you spend a lot of time sitting on your arse. A recent study has shown that office workers sitting at their desk for at least eight hours a day face a 60% increase in their risk of premature death. It’s not all doom and gloom though as making some simple changes including taking a five minute break every hour, and grabbing some exercise in your lunch break or evenings can significantly improve your chances.

With this in mind Furniture at Work have launched a campaign to encourage desk-workers to get moving using beginners yoga as a focal point. The campaign- #OfficeYoga aims to prove that it doesn’t take much time, or indeed effort to get some health benefits in to your day- using a top yoga teacher and two average office workers to highlight the importance of taking a break and how it doesn’t have to be taxing.

The campaign is backed by youtube videos showing the simple poses that can be fitted easily in to the working day as well as a great infographic both of which I’ve shared below.

Of course as well as keeping you fit reducing your risk of an early grave yoga has the additional benefit of helping you escape from the stresses of the working world and claim back some “you time” each day. Are you a yoga advocate and will we find you doing this at your desk? I’m pretty game on for instating it in my work place once I get back (I just won’t share the news with my colleagues just yet…)

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