Reviews

Reviews on everything Health and Fitness related.

I think it is fair to say that I sampled my enough protein bars whilst i was away in Los Angeles. I think that it is great how you can purchase them at practically any shop alongside your regular chocolate bars and snacks. It certainly makes choosing a better snack whilst on the go a lot easier rather than having to be prepared all the time.

I wanted to try a lot of the different bars which I hadn’t managed to try yet here in the UK. Some were good, some were disgusting. One has possibly become my favourite protein bar of choice, another I genuinely had to spit out as it was that bad.

Protein bars are not necessary in any diet, they are just simply a convenience. I will link my blog post here on protein powder which I think covers a lot of the same thoughts. I like to have a variety in the cupboard for when i am rushed on a morning and might need something or if i am out and about all day and know that I won’t have access to the best quality food.

Oh Yeah One Bars!

I have tried a couple of flavours by this brand in the past, as managed to get a few samples at Bodypower back in April, we managed to try a couple of new flavours though whilst away. I had spied online their new Cinnamon Roll flavour which I needed to get my hands on as well as the Chocolate birthday cake flavour. There also seems to be a bit of a difference in naming across the pond, over here they are called ‘Oh Yeah Low Carb Bars’ whereas in the states they are just ‘Oh Yeah One Bars’, not sure of the reason but they are the same!!

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Cinnamon Roll: This bar is now up there as possibly one of my favourites. It is honestly that good. It is soft and not overly chewy that you feel like your teeth may fall out which can be the case with certain other bars! The taste is sweet and cinnamoney as you would expect but not too powerful. Between us we rated this one 10/10 for texture, flavour and macro split. (yes we did rate every bar which we ate 🙈)

The Oh Yeah bars are all high in fibre and this one was no exception; therefore they are great if you struggle to hit fibre targets from other sources. It is high in protein and pretty low in fat for a bar.

Calories : 210

Protein: 22g; Carbs: 25g (fibre 10g) and Fat: 7g

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Chocolate Birthday Cake: I had tried the regular Birthday cake flavour bar a few months ago and to be honest wasn’t all that impressed with the flavour, it was basically just a vanilla bar with sprinkles on. Don’t get me wrong, the texture and flavour was still great but just wasn’t like birthday cake! I wondered whether this might be the same with the chocolate version, but obviously still had to try!

Unfortunately I was right, just a standard chocolate flavour bar with added sprinkles on top, which went everywhere as you ate it! Still a good bar but certainly not in the same league as the Cinnamon flavour. I would buy again but wouldn’t commit to a whole box! 7/10 for flavour; 10/10 for texture and 9/10 for macros.

Calories: 210

Protein: 22g; Carbs 25g (fibre 10g) and Fat 7g.

I have had a look online since coming home and think the best place to source them is www.proteinpickandmix.co.uk This website is also great because you can make up a mixed box of different flavours to try, rather than committing to just the one! But it does appear that the cinnamon flavour is currently out of stock. 😫If you wanted to trust me 100% and take a leap of faith, you can order a full box at www.postedprotein.co.uk  for £24.99.

 

Overall i would say that this brand gets a thumbs up from me and I will be buying again when my current stock levels start to run low 🙈.

I have plenty more reviews lined up for you so keep your eyes peeled!

Love Abi xxx

 

 

Sometimes the only option available is fast food, I get it. So what are your best options when faced with this choice? I have split this spotlight up into a couple of separate blogs and will just go over some of the items which I think are some of the best in this situation.
First up? Everyone’s favourite burger joint, McDonalds.

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I cant actually remember the last time that I had something savoury from McDonalds, however I am partial to the odd McFlurry once in a blue moon, although this blue moon did occur fairly recently when I was in Manchester a few weeks ago and we fancied something sweet. As it was the first time that I had been in a McDonalds in absolutely ages I was pleasantly surprised to see that they now list all the calorie amounts on their menu when you go up to order. In my opinion this is a huge step forward. It is all well and good having the nutritional information online, but when you are hungry and want to order straight away you don’t want to be faffing on your phone to find out what the best options are. Yes calories aren’t everything, but they do give you a good idea.

After looking through the menu and nutritional information, unsurprisingly it is the fat content in the majority of the meals which will see you taking in a lot more calories than what you may be used to. For most of the beef and chicken burgers, you are looking at at least 20g of fat, and that is not including the fries on the side. But there are a couple of simple swaps which you can make which will decrease the amount of fat in your meal. By choosing the ‘grilled’ chicken wraps as opposed to the ‘crispy’ versions, you will half the fat content. If you are going to have a Burger, I know you will automatically want to have the fries with it, but maybe think about sacrificing those and opting for one of the salad shakers instead? Saving yourself 300 calories in the process.

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At 353 calories, the grilled version of the Peri Peri Chicken Wrap is a better alternative to the crispy version at 488.

Some meals on the menu are best avoided altogether…
The Big Tasty with Bacon. This burger will set you back 864 calories, over 50% of what I would deem a recommended intake for a female! It is the fat in this burger which is the major stinger, 51g of it! Stay clear.

The BBQ, one of the signature specials but at 782 calories you would be best sticking to a Big Mac at 506 calories instead if it is Beef which you are after.

Chicken Legend with Hot and Spicy Mayo rocks in at 519 calories.

The Breakfast Wrap, is on the high end of calories at 605! There are alternative options such as the Bacon and Egg Snack wrap which is under half the calories at 279 per portion. A blueberry muffin may have caught your eye, but at over 400 calories just walk on by!

Drinks wise, this is where huge calories can be added to your intake without you even realising it!
Belgium Chocolate Honeycomb Iced Frappe = 357 calories
Frozen Strawberry Lemonade = 224 calories
Banana Milkshake = 386 calories

Stick to water or diet soft drinks and save room for your food instead!

Now onto some of the better alternatives, and yes there are some!!
As mentioned above, when choosing a chicken option from the menu go for the grilled versions and save yourself fat macros and calories. The grilled chicken and bacon salad would probably be my go to at 184 calories and only 7.4g of fat.

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If you want a burger, the best options are the simple hamburger or cheeseburger.

If you are stopping for breakfast, ‘Oatso Simple’ will give you a balanced portion of carbs, protein and fat for only 186 calories. Or alternatively go for an egg and cheese wrap to set you up for the day.

If you need something sweet to finish off your meal (aka me) and the bag of fruit or melon isn’t tickling your fancy; rather than going for the higher calorie McFlurry’s and chocolate cookies you would be better having a plain ice cream cone or a sugared donut.

There are options available to you at McDonalds if you are wanting to eat ‘healthy’ and not ruin your diet, however it does swing from one extreme to the other! Here are two menu examples which show this!

Untitled design-37Menu A
Big Tasty with Bacon
Fries
Chocolate Milkshake
Triple Chocolate Cookie
= 1949 Calories

Menu B
Grilled Chicken and Bacon Salad
Carrot Sticks
Diet Coke
Melon Bag
= 236 Calories

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So don’t think that it will be impossible to find something, but just be mindful of what you are getting. Think sensibly, like choosing grilled chicken over crispy, having a salad instead of fries, ice cream cone instead of a milkshake. There are ways of making McDonalds fit!!

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Now for a confession…I have never had a KFC in my life; so have absolutely no idea what the best or worst items are. All I can do in this brief run down is go off the information available to me and try and offer the best advise which I can!

From looking over their website, KFC proclaim to be one of the first establishments to put the nutritional information available on both their website and in store, great. The more information people have at their fingers about what they are eating the better, this way more informed decisions can be made.

Deep fried chicken is never going to be low in fat or calories, but once again there are some options which are a lot worse than others.

Worst Offenders:

The Big Daddy Burger at 655 calories is one of the higher calorie options on the menu.

There are a couple of wraps on the menu which would be best avoided; the Zinger Burrito is 705 calories and the Pulled Chicken Twister at 635 calores. Instead go for the Streetwise BBQ wrap at 270 calories.

A large fries will set you back 450 calores, yet downgrading to a regular one will save you 140 calories.

For dessert, a Milkybar Krushems is rocking in at 435 calories!! If a Krushem is what you want, then go for the Malteaser option at around 315 calories.

Okay, so now lets try and find what the best options are.

Salad wise, they are a bit higher in calories due to the crispy fried chicken, but they aren’t horrendous nutritional wise. A ‘Zinger Chicken Salad’ with no dressing will come in at 275 calories, then add the italian salad dressing at 25 calories as opposed to the caesar one.

kfc_thumb_salad_filetbitessaladAs mentioned above the Streetwise BBQ wrap is one of the better options, as well as a regular portion of popcorn chicken.

Sides wise, you could have regular potions of beans, coleslaw and a corn for about the same calories as one portion of fries. Choose wisely!

They now do a rice box, which contains, tex mex rice, salsa, beans, lettuce and chicken. These are an okay option at around 500 calories as the fat content is that bit lower in comparison to others.

Dessert wise wise, go for the streetwise sundae’s or the ice cream sundae which all come in at less that 200calories.

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It was a bit harder to find options on the KFC menu, simply down to the fact that everything is deep fried, BUT you can still find something on their menu.

#trainwithabs Approved Menu

Regular Popcorn Chicken, Regular Corn Cobbette, Ketchup
Streetwise Toffee Sundae

Calories = 595
Protein = 25.2g; Carbs = 67g; Fat = 23.4g

Stay tuned for next time when I will be looking at the menus of Subway and Pizza Hut!

Love Abi xxxx

#trainwithabs

‘You do not need Protein Bars, or protein shakes in your diet.’ They simply are not essential, you can get all your protein requirements from ‘real’ food and for 90% of the time that is what I do. However on the odd occasion when I am and about, travelling or simply cannot get away from the gym to have a proper meal; I will turn to one of these types of products in order to stay on track.

Protein bars can also end up being an expensive habit to keep up, when you think that one bar can cost anywhere between £2-3, as opposed to a pack of chicken which will set you back a similar amount and provide more meals. They can also end up being relatively high fat or high carb. Some bars that I have seen will still set you back about 300-400 calories! This is okay if you are replacing a meal with them, but if you are simply adding in as a mid morning/afternoon snack thinking that they are healthy, then they are not so fantastic.

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But there are some which I really do enjoy eating so thought I would give you a quick run down in case you were in the market for trying any! I have sampled some awful ones in the past, where they simply taste like you are eating rubber or cardboard. However in the past 6-12months a few companies have upped their game and come out with some tasty offerings. A lot of them now also contain a high amount of fibre, so if you are struggling to hit your target in that respect then they are a good alternative. However if you are eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods then fibre consumption shouldn’t be an issue.

1) Combat Crunch Cinnamon Twist
Calories: 210; Protein 20g; Carbs 25g (Fibre 12g); Fat 7g

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I first came into contact with this range of bars after a session at Gold’s Gym in Los Angeles as they were on offer so thought i would give them a try. Hands down the best tasting protein bar I had ever had. It has a white chocolate coating and a chewy cinnamon flavour centre. It is quite sweet, but if you like a cinnamon bun then this is the bar for you! It has a nice texture too, a little bit chewy but not so much that you feel like you are going to break your teeth whilst eating it! They also seem a lot bigger than other protein bars which I have tried, which if you have an appetite like mine is always a good thing! The chocolate chip cookie dough is also incredible and I would recommend definitely.
2) Grenade Carb Killa White Chocolate Cookie
Calories: 215; Protein 22.4g; Carbs 15.2g (Fibre 6g); Fat 8.1g

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I think this was the fourth flavour of Carb Killa bar which grenade came out with, and it is my favourite one in the range! It honestly tastes just like a milky bar with a few crunchy bits. One of the main things which i like about the grenade bars is that they just taste like you are eating a regular chocolate bar. I know you might be thinking ‘yeh yeh whatever’ but honestly ask anyone who has tried one and i think they will agree. A few people like these warmed up for 20seconds in the microwave so they go all gooey and melty, but personally i just prefer to eat them straight out of the packet. The fat content is slightly on the higher side, but adjust your macros accordingly for the rest of the day and it will definitely be worth it!

3) Quest Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Calories: 190; Protein 21g; Carbs 21g (Fibre 17g); Fat 8g

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Quest used to be the top dog in the protein bar market. They contain no added sugar or artificial sweeteners and are gluten free. The type of bar was the first to have that chewy like texture. There are now 22 flavours available!! This one is definitely my favourite, probably followed by double chocolate chunk or cookies and cream. They are high in fibre, 17g in one sitting means that any more than one a day and you may experience some stomach cramping. They have also recently changed their ingredients to using soluble corn fibre rather than isomalto-oligosaccharides (IMOs) as the prebiotic fiber source, this was so that bars would stay fresher for longer. This change has come with mixed reviews, but personally I haven’t noticed too much of a difference.

Now this bar is amazing warmed up in the microwave, there are good sized chocolate chunks in the bar which go all oozy and melty. Delicious. But again not the main reason for buying them as it is rare that i actually eat them at home; although I have been known to put it on the dashboard of my car to heat it up a little bit!

4) Oh Yeah! Birthday cake flavour Low Carb Bar.
Calories: 220; Protein 21g; Carbs 24g (Fibre 9g); Fat 7g

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Who can dislike a protein bar which is topped with sprinkles?! This is a really popular bar in America and I was looking forward to trying it out at body power back in May but it wasn’t available, so i was excited when I noticed musclefood selling them a couple of weeks ago. I am not too sure what birthday cake flavour is meant to taste like but it is certainly the flavour ‘in vogue’ at the moment, taking over from everything cinnamon it seems. (I did order some birthday cake flavour protein powder from myprotein recently too!) It has a very strong vanilla taste, and is a nice texture, a little bit similar to the texture of marzipan. It also makes a change from all the chocolate flavoured bars which are on the market. I have also tried a few other flavours from this range and can recommend the Jaffa Cake and Chocolate Brownie ones, and although I haven’t tried the peanut butter one, my sister says it is amazing!

5) Grenade Carb Killa Caramel Chaos
Calores: 214; Protein 23.2g; Carbs 13.5g (Fibre 6.7g); Fat 7.9g

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This was the first offering from grenade which I tried and it is still one of my firm protein bar staples. I have no idea how they have managed to make a protein bar taste so good, and so reminiscent of an actual chocolate bar. This one even more so than the white chocolate one due to the silky layer of caramel under the outer chocolate layer. There are also crunchy bits throughout. These feel like an actual treat when I am eating them, and I could eat one everyday without failure if I didn’t force myself to keep them to when I really need them! the macronutrient breakdown is good, again it is slightly higher on the fat side (worth it) but then carbs are fairly low in comparison to some bars and with an adequate amount of fibre. You can also now buy these bars from Tescos or i have seen them in Petrol Stations near me. This is great as it gives you a better option for a snack if you aren’t prepared and don’t have to turn to a regular chocolate bar.

 

***Late entry***

I had written up this blog post before I was able to get my hands on the latest offering from Mars, but after trying it, i felt it was only appropriate to tag it onto the end!

Mars Protein Bar
Calories: 200; Protein 19g; Carbs 22g; Fat 4.6g

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This tastes JUST like a regular Mars bar. It has the chewy ‘nougat’ type filling topped with a layer of caramel and coated in milk chocolate. I cant remember the last time I had a regular Mars bar but I do like the little ones which you get in the tubs of Celebrations at Christmas if you put them in the freezer! It also has a fairly low amount of fat for a protein bar. I think it is great that companies such as Mars are coming out with protein varieties of their products (there is also a Protein Snickers Bar now), however like I mentioned before, just because it has protein in it doesn’t automatically mean that it is good for you and you can eat in infinite amounts. It still contains calories, but in comparison to a regular Mars bar which contains 230 calories; 4.3g Protein; 69.3g Carbs and 16.9g Fat, this is definitely a better alternative.

What are your favourite protein bars? Is there one which is going to change my life and I must try? Let me know and i will try and get hold of it!

Love Abi xxx

#trainwithabs

Nandos….

Ahhh, every fitness fans favourite hang out. Chicken = Protein = Good. If I am completely honest, and run the wrath of your disapproval, I think Nandos is completely overrated, sorry guys! But I will admit that there are some really good options available if you are wanting to eat out and stick to your nutritional targets.

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All the menu options come with nutritional information online, so you can have a look and choose the best options to fit your individual needs before you go. I think more and more chain restaurants are now doing this and it is a really good sign as we look to be more conscious of what we are putting into our mouths.

To start:
I know some of the girls which I coach are fans of hummus, and I am too. But I certainly wont be choosing it as a starter at Nandos anytime soon! Totalling 800 calories, before you even get to the main event! Skip the starter in my opinion!

All the Chicken….and more:
It is safe to say some of Nandos main dishes are much better options than others! For the new Churrasco Chicken Thigh burger, you are looking at over 900 calories. But if you were to opt for the regular butterfly chicken burger, this comes in at about 388 calories. If you ask most people they would say that a wrap is a ‘healthier’ alternative to either a burger or pitta, not in this case, it will give you an extra 200 calories in comparison!! Just by being a little bit more aware you are able to choose a smarter option and save yourself some calories.
Your best options, in my opinion are to stick to the butterfly chicken rather than the chicken served on the bone.

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The new Steak and roasted vegetable pitta also looks to be a decent option, at under 500 calories. For the veggies amongst you, Nandos have a few options, I would opt for the Veggie burger over the halloumi and beanie alternatives.

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The absolute best option on the menu would be the mixed salad with a portion of chicken at only 149 calories, but if you want a bit more or a jazzed up salad, either the Mediterranean or Supergrain options come at between 400-450 calories including chicken.

Now for the sides, and this is where you could be packing on a lot of calories before you know it and without realising it. If you were to choose the two sides option with one of the above, and opted for the Sweet Potato wedges and coleslaw you will be adding on an extra 599 calories! Best options to go for would be the Roasted Veg (which is delicious!), Mixed Salad or Corn on the Cob. If you did want some starch, then the spicy rice or sweet potato mash are what I would recommend.

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For your sweet tooth:
Frozen Yoghurt is going to be the best choice here at 70 calories but this is just if you stick to one serving!! They do offer bottomless refills, but don’t be tempted to keep going up for more. The Naughty Natas, a traditional Portuguese tart is also a good option at about 176 calories.
Skip the cakes and save yourself between 600-870 calories (the carrot cake being the worst offender!!)

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In Conclusion…..Well you will definitely be able to hit your protein requirements for the day when you go to Nandos! Like I said at the start there are some options which are much better than others. Being able to check online the nutritional stats is great and will enable you to plan the rest of your day accordingly.

#trainwithabs Approved Menu.
Butterfly Medium Chicken Burger with Salad and Roasted Veg.
Vanilla Frozen Yoghurt
Calories = 566
40g Protein; 13g Fat; 31g Carbs

or

Mixed Salad with Chicken
Naughty Natas
Calories = 323
31g Protein; 8g Fat; 30g Carbs

I hope that you are finding these menu reviews helpful if you are a fan of eating out. Like I have said before, if there are any places which you want me to look at in particular then let me know!

Love Abi xxx

#trainwithabs

I couldn’t do a review of places to eat without looking at the Florios menu! Probably the most popular restaurant we have in Scarborough! I think you would hard pushed to find somebody who lives here that hasn’t visited the restaurant on at least one occasion!

You are going to be disappointed though I am afraid, if you are expecting me to say that the tomato garlic bread is absolutely fine to have in large quantities! Sorry! 🙁

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Italian restaurants can be quite tricky to negotiate if you are trying to be healthy, as most of the dishes are very carb and fat heavy, mainly based around pizza and pasta and plenty of olive oil and cheese! However there is no need to avoid them completely!

Starters:
Okay, so I realise that a trip to Florios isn’t usually complete without a Tomato Garlic Bread to start, so how can you make it slightly better? Share, this way you can still have one or two slices without overindulging. Also, it may seem slightly odd, but ask for some extra napkins and mop up some of that extra oil which you see in puddles on top of it when it is served. This is just hundreds of unnecessary calories which can be avoided simply by soaking up with a napkin.

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*Not a photo of Florios version, but just a generic tomato garlic bread photo from the internet.

If you are going to avoid the garlic bread, I would opt for either the minestrone soup or the stuffed peppers but ask for no cheese on top.

Pasta and Risotto:
The portions in Florios are huge. But rather than just getting a regular one and thinking ‘oh its okay I will only eat half’, request half a portion. This way you wont find yourself mindlessly eating when you were full a long time ago which happens regularly with pasta.
Try and stick to tomato based sauces, ones like bolognese, arrabbiata and vegeteriana. I would also see if you were able to add a protein sauce to the former two dishes such as tuna or chicken. Any dish which mentions cream, I would tend to avoid.

Pizza:
Similar to the pasta option, if you are after a pizza then see if you can request a bambino size rather than a full portion. You could also ask friends if they want to split one and order a side salad to go alongside (with any dressing on the side). I would also, use the napkin trick to mop up any surplus oil.

Other:
They do offer a large variety of meats and fish. This is always a safe option when eating out anywhere. A protein source alongside a portion of vegetables. Florins do a grilled chicken breast, which I would ask for with salad, and see if they would do the side of spinach instead of chips. Any of the steaks but without the creamy sauces, and also the skewers are alternative options.

Dessert:
Unfortunately after looking at the dessert menu, as delicious as they all sound, I am not sure there is one which I can highly recommend! If your sweet tooth has really gone into overdrive then maybe just opt for one scoop of ice cream with no extra cream or sauces!

You can go to Florios, have a tasty meal and not fall astray from your fitness regime. Just be smart about it!