With Easter just around the corner, it's hard to not fall into the obligatory binge: chocolate (anything), hot cross buns and - let's be honest - everything in sight! Prevent any excess weight gain with these 8 top tips.
When it comes to Easter, it's all too easy to go crazy with the chocolate eggs and hot cross buns. While it can take three seconds to consume a 200g Easter egg, it can take a three-hour run to keep it off your hips. A hot cross bun slathered in butter isn’t much better; sitting around the 350 calorie mark, it will take 40+ minutes of running to burn it off.
1. Portion control
You will eat chocolate, that’s a given... but just remember portion control. Instead of eating large eggs at hourly intervals (which can be up to a third of your daily intake if you are trying to lose weight), buy individually wrapped mini eggs. The process of unwrapping each small egg is more time consuming and will make you more aware of the treats you are consuming.
2. Quality control
Step away from the cheap foil-wrapped bunny and exchange it for some dark, good quality chocolate. Ideally something with at least 70 per cent dark cocoa which has the added bonus of antioxidants (milk chocolate has none). The high levels of cocoa have also been shown to lower blood pressure due to the large amounts of flavonoids.
If you want to take your health kick a step further over Easter, head to your local health food store and get yourself some raw organic cacao nibs; these cocoa beans are straight from the source and are the foundation for all chocolate and cocoa products.
The nutritional benefits of raw cacao products include being a source of: beta-carotene, amino acids (protein), omega-3s, calcium, zinc, iron, copper, sulfur, potassium, and one of the best food sources of muscle-relaxing and stress-relieving magnesium. Other good news is that it is only 92 calories and 0.54gm of sugar per 15gm serve!
Suggested uses: eat as raw nibs or add to your cooking (use instead of chocolate chips), add to your smoothies or grind with your coffee beans.
Feeling creative? Why not make your own healthy chocolate?
Raw Homemade Chocolates
Recipe by Lee Sutherland - Director of Fitness In The City
¾ cup coconut oil (it needs to be liquid so if solid put jar in hot water to melt)
¾ cup agave nectar (you can also combine honey/maple syrup/agave)
1 cup of raw cacao powder (organic cocoa powder is another option)
1 tbsp IsoWhey® Ivory Coast Chocolate protein powder
1 tbsp of almond butter
1/3 tsp vanilla extract
1. Place liquid coconut oil in a bowl – if hard, melt beforehand.
2. Mix all ingredients together with a hand blender until smooth.
3. Pour chocolate mixture into moulds or pour into a baking dish lined with baking paper.
4. Place moulds into freezer to be set (approximately 15 minutes).
Options: add goji berries or peppermint oil for a flavour change.
On breakfast that is. Make sure you start the day right with a protein-and-fibre-rich breakfast so you aren’t reaching for a chocolate an hour later. Never eat Easter eggs on an empty stomach (i.e. for breakfast!) as this will cause havoc to your blood sugar levels for the rest of the day. Think veggie-and-protein-packed omelette or a protein shake with berries, chia seeds and a handful of spinach leaves to get your day started the right way.
4. Think outside the box
Sure it’s traditional to give chocolates at Easter but why not give a gift that lasts (and no, this doesn’t include cellulite or unwanted fat). Rethink the basket of eggs and swap it for a basket of beautiful local fruit. How about a pot of herbs for a gift that keeps giving? Get in the kitchen and whip up some homemade treats such as bliss balls – healthy and considerate!
5. Snack regularly
Snack on something small and healthy every 3-4 hours. This will help balance your blood sugar levels, which in turn will help avoid that nasty energy drop associated with eating chocolate for breakfast. Foods that cause a spike in blood sugar are generally refined sugar and carbohydrates (aka chocolate and hot cross buns). They cause the body to produce insulin, which makes you crave food constantly, leading to weight gain and a variety of health conditions including diabetes.
The key to a balanced snack is to always included the three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and good fats.
• Natural yoghurt with berries and walnuts. Add a scoop of protein powder for an extra power punch.
• Hummus with vegetable sticks.
• A homemade meat pattie with a small side salad.
• An apple with a teaspoon of almond butter and a drizzle of honey.
• Small bowl of vegetable and barley soup.
• Shaved turkey, sliver of avocado wrapped in lettuce.
• Banana smoothie with milk/nut milk; linseed, sunflower and almond mix (LSA); scoop of protein powder (go for a natural option); cinnamon and ice.
6. Plan ahead
Make sure you stock the fridge so there are always healthy options on hand. When hunger calls and you have nothing but a giant chocolate bunny in the house to eat, your willpower will lose every time. Have pre-made delicious options ready to go, and don’t space meals too far apart. Got kids? Remind them that the Easter Bunny eats carrots as a great in-between snack option.
Need another reason to drink water? Research has shown that by increasing water consumption by 1.5 litres a day, you can burn an extra 17,400 calories per year. Additionally, a study by Dr Brenda Davy, an associate professor at Virginia Tech, found that people who drank water before a meal consumed an average of 75 fewer calories at that meal. Another glass anyone?
8. Burn off a bunny
To counterbalance the extra calorie intake over Easter it is important to exercise every day, whether it be a beach walk, sprint session, bike ride with the family, a game of cricket or a home workout – just move that body!
You don’t have to waste hours of your day either; choose intense interval training which will burn more in a shorter timeframe!
To burn off a 50g chocolate bunny (approximately 275 calories):
• Power walk with the dog for 85 minutes
• Dance up a storm for 56 minutes
• Swim freestyle for 36 minutes
• Jump on the crosstrainer for 33 minutes
• Clean the house intensely for 70 minutes.
To burn off a 25g chocolate egg:
• Go for a brisk 30 minutes walk
• Jog/skip/box for 15 minutes
To burn off a 100g chocolate egg:
• Go for a brisk 2 hour walk
• Run/skip/box for 1 hour.
For more Easter tips and recipes, head to lifestyle.com.au/easter