How to fuel your bike rides with these top nutrition tips

View of a woman mountain biking

With some warmer weather now appearing, it’s a great time to get outdoors and do some exercise in the open air.  And there’s no better time to enjoy a bike ride. 

One of the many advantages of cycling is that it’s an activity that can equally be enjoyed as a family or singularly and it’s great exercise for the heart, lungs, and legs.  But how can you ensure you’re your body is properly fuelled and hydrated in order to get the most out of your rides?

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top tips for hydrating and snacking on your bike rides.


SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic


Bananas are a great ‘on-the-go ‘snack!  They are not only high in energising vitamin B6, but they’re loaded with potassium, which is an electrolyte, so helps prevent dehydration.


Most of us can digest bananas well; you can often see tennis players eating them in between sets.  However, they are relatively high in starch which some of us can have trouble breaking down.  The point being, that if you’ve never eaten one previously, perhaps try eating one before you take one on a bike ride as your snack, just to make sure.


Dates are rich in both glucose and fructose so can provide quick energy when needed.  As their sugar content is high (around 80%), they’re best not eaten all the time, but do provide a treat and great energy-boosting snack during your cycle ride.


Dates are also loaded with magnesium and potassium, key electrolytes which help prevent dehydration and are easy to digest, so won’t cause any tummy troubles.


You’ll need all three key macronutrients during the day, and much of this can be provided by the right kind of sandwiches.


An easy and effective way of including protein, fat and carbohydrate into your sandwich is to spread nut butter with some jam.  Peanut butter is of course a favourite for many people, but do remember, whilst peanuts are high in protein, they are not tree nuts, therefore lack any of the advantages of the essential fats.  If you can switch instead to cashew, almond, walnut, or hazelnut butters, your body will be getting many more beneficial nutrients.

homemade hummus with seed sprinkles


Wraps are also an easy to pack option, and cream or cottage cheese, avocados, turkey, or eggs make great fillers and will provide much-needed macronutrients.

Energy bars

You can either buy ready-made energy bars which are high in carbohydrates, therefore providing energy or even better you can make your own muesli, flapjack, or granola slices. 

Homemade flapjacks

Generally, these all contain oats and nuts, as well as seeds which will help support your energy levels. In essence, oats are what’s commonly referred to as slow release, meaning they take longer to be digested in the stomach. They are also rich in energising B-vitamins as well as magnesium which will help electrolyte balance and hopefully avoid any unpleasant cramps.

Importantly, any kind of energy bar will ‘hit the spot’. Bars that are mostly made of dried fruit will provide a quicker boost.  Dried fruits, especially raisins and apricots, are also high in iron which helps with energy, plus vitamin C to support immunity.

The importance of hydration

If you’re planning a long ride, then being properly hydrated the day before is as important as hydrating on the day itself. Make sure you’ve had at least 1.5 litres of water the day before (more if you’re exercising in the heat) and have around 500ml of water with breakfast before setting out.


You’ll probably need to top up with around 200ml just before you start, and then make sure you keep liquid intake high throughout the day – at least every 20 minutes or so.  Again, depending on the length of the ride, you might want to take some slightly diluted water with fruit juice with you as this helps the body to rehydrate quicker. 

If the weather is hot, then hydration becomes even more important.  Essentially, if you’re feeling really thirsty, you’re already dehydrated so try to be ahead of this.

So, load up your backpack or saddle bags with some nutritional goodies, and keep your energy up for those lovely bike rides this summer.



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The five fruits and vegetables that should be top of the list in a vegetarian diet

Blueberries in a heart shape

It’s National Vegetarian Week where we celebrate all that is great about plant-based diets. 

However, whatever type of diet you’re following, it should always be rich in fruits and vegetables because of their endless health benefits.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five favourite fruits and vegetables to help support a vegetarian diet


This wonderful vegetable delivers many nutritional benefits.  Indeed, there are very few people on the planet that wouldn’t benefit from eating some broccoli, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s green or purple!

Whilst broccoli is rich in a range of vitamins and minerals, its exciting claim to fame is that it’s part of the super healthy cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale. These types of vegetables contain indoles which have been found to provide some protection against some of our nasty diseases.

Broccoli florets on a plate

Additionally, broccoli is high in fibre so it’s great for the digestive system, and all cruciferous vegetables are brilliant for helping the liver to detoxify.

Since its vitamin C content is lost during cooking, it’s best to lightly steam broccoli and perhaps serve with a little butter or stir fry with some garlic and toss in sesame seeds.  It doesn’t need to be complicated to get the most out of this superstar.


Whilst the green, leafy tops of beetroot do contain plenty of nutrients, including immune-boosting beta-carotene, it’s the roots that provide some real gems in terms of nutrients.  

Beetroots are loaded with folate, which is very protective of DNA. They also contain energising iron, and potassium which is great for the heart, plus good amounts of vitamin C.  However, more recently beetroot has been found to help with endurance sports performance.  This is down to its ability to produce nitric oxide which helps open the blood vessels and therefore encourage more oxygen to flow through.

Whole beetroots

Since beetroot is slightly sweet, it works in both sweet and savoury recipes.  As we’re coming into the summer season, why not keep it simple? Fresh beetroots can be easily peeled, diced, and quickly boiled to be used in salads with goat’s cheese. Try them mashed with chickpeas, garlic, tahini, and olive oil to make beetroot hummus. Or make them into chocolate brownies which contain half the fat of regular brownies.


Blueberries are naturally sweet so need no added sugar, unlike some other berry fruits. Just like most fruits and vegetables, berries are rich in immune-boosting vitamin C but it’s the presence of plant compounds called anthocyanins that make them so special.

A wooden bowl of blueberries

Essentially anthocyanins are found primarily in the pigment of the fruit which is what gives blueberries their amazing colours. Anthocyanins contain powerful antioxidants which help protect the body.  Whilst the body does have its own antioxidant systems, it’s these kinds of foods that provide the extra protection that the body really needs.

I love blueberries as a snack with a few walnuts.

Sweet potatoes

This is another ‘go-to’ vegetable for me, all year round. Sweet potatoes deliver more in terms of nutrition than white potatoes and are less starchy which helps with blood sugar balance.

Their main claim to fame above white potatoes is their orange colour which means they’re high in beta carotene. This is not only great for the immune system but helps protect the skin and hair from sun damage and oxidative damage from environmental toxins.


Additionally, sweet potatoes are high in fibre so are great for digestion.  I try and buy organic sweet potatoes if I can, lightly boil and mash them with a little butter and pepper with the skin on, so I get maximum nutrients.  Equally, they make fantastic wedges, roasted in the oven in a little olive oil and salt.


There are many wonderful benefits to carrots, but they are also so easy to include in the diet as a snack or an easy vegetable side. Carrots are high in lycopene which is great for the heart; in a diet without heart-healthy omega-3s from oily fish, this is important.

Carrots are also rich source of beta carotene.  All the carotenoids are powerful antioxidants, but they specifically protect the eyes against free radical damage.  Importantly, beta carotene is turned into vitamin A in the body as it’s needed, which is also essential for eyesight and especially night vision.  It’s the reason why carrots are said to help you see in the dark; it’s not a myth!

shutterstock_250834906 carrots July16

Unlike most vegetables, carrots provide more nutritional benefit when cooked than raw as it helps to release the beta carotene. Additionally, if carrots are eaten with fats – carrots and hummus make a great snack – or with some meat or fish, the fat-soluble beta carotene is better absorbed.

So why not add some of these delicious fruits and vegetables to your diet and reap the nutritional benefits!



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Hike your way to health this National Walking Month

shutterstock_171654062 woman hiking Oct15

It’s National Walking Month and a great time to celebrate the amazing benefits of this wonderful outdoor activity.  Whether you call it a walk or a hike, being on the move outdoors has many benefits for both your physical and mental health.

To get the most out of your walks, supporting yourself nutritionally, especially where your joints and bones are concerned, is so important so that they carry you along the miles without complaining.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top tips to ensure you can keep moving, however tough the hike may be!

Put the nutrients in

There are many nutritional components that make up our skeletal frame and support its strength, growth, and repair.  However, there are a few essential nutrients to be aware of.

Vitamin D and a sunshine symbol written in the sand

One of the key nutrients is vitamin D.  Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is made on the body when the sun is shining (and skin is exposed to it). However, deficiency within the UK population is still widespread.  Importantly, one of vitamin D’s main functions is to metabolise calcium, a key mineral in our bones.  It’s certainly worth continuing to supplement with vitamin D through the summer months too, especially if you’re active.

A range of foods containing calcium

Calcium-rich foods include dairy (natural Greek yoghurt is great), leafy green vegetables, sesame seeds, tofu, and other soy products, so ensure your diet is rich in these.  Magnesium is also important for the bones and is found mainly in whole grain foods, avocados, legumes, nuts, and leafy greens. These are all foods that are going to help put some power into your walk.

Herbal helpers

We know that nature has provided us with some amazing herbs and one that is especially good for supporting joints and bones is Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum). It has been found to help decrease any swelling in the joints, and generally reduce inflammation, which could certainly stop the enjoyment of your hike.

Close up of knee representing joint pain

Devil’s claw is frequently used for back pain which can also be a common problem amongst keen walkers, partly because you’re often walking off balance on rough ground or going up and down hills. If you’re suffering, then it’s certainly worth a try; anything that keeps you moving.

Resistance training

Keeping the bones and joints strong by doing some resistance or weight training can really help support the body, and reduce the likelihood of injury, when you’re out walking.

Close up of woman working out at home

You certainly don’t need to become a body builder!  It’s just about doing movements such as squats, bicep curls or walking lunges with some weights to suit your ability.  For women, during and after the menopause, this is especially important, as reducing oestrogen levels mean our bone density is also reducing.  This negative effect can be reversed by doing resistance work.  It’s certainly a ‘win-win’ situation for a more comfortable walk.

Don’t forget to stretch

If the weather is a little chilly and your body is not really warmed up, this is the time when you can easily sustain an annoying injury.  A calf tear, or jolt to the knees is common.  However, you can help prevent problems by doing some gentle stretching before and after your hike.

CLose up of woman exercising and stretching outside

Before you start, get the blood pumping around the body by doing some shoulder rolls, body twists and body weight squats.  Then you can do some stretching of the knees, calves, ankles, hamstrings (back of the leg) and quadriceps (front of the leg) and repeat when you return from your walk.  It doesn’t need to take long but could save you grief further down the line.

Put out any fires

Not literally (hopefully)!  However, if you sustain any kind of injury or have an inflammatory condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, then the body is effectively on fire within.  This can cause pain and may prevent you from getting out and about.


Obviously, all the measures above will help but it’s also important to ensure your diet is rich in colour overall.  Colourful fruit and vegetables are rich in antioxidants which help support the body’s inflammatory processes naturally. We know that leafy green vegetables are rich in several key minerals so make sure you have plenty in the diet.  Equally, red, orange, yellow, purple, and red fruits and vegetables are also high in antioxidants, so try to include some every day in your diet.

Celebrate National Walking Month and keep moving  – your health will thank you for it!



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Walking wellness: five ways to get the most out of your hike

Woman walking through a forest glade

Walking is often dismissed as being an effective form of exercise because it doesn’t seem sufficiently hardcore! However, walking provides some amazing health benefits, both mentally and physically.

With the warmer weather and longer days on the way, it’s a great time to get outdoors and enjoy this type of exercise.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares how to get the most benefit out of our walks.

Get pacey

Walking is great for any level of physical fitness, and it can be tailored individually.  If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey or recovering from injury, then you can build up physical fitness quite quickly.

However, whilst it’s not about doing an endurance stint, research suggests that by getting slightly out of breath (meaning the heart rate is elevated), you’ll be rewarded with greater benefits.  Not only is this good for the cardiovascular system, but also the brain. 

A woman with a rucksack enjoying a walk outdoors in a forest

The brain has a large blood flow feeding it, and by elevating your heart rate, this also helps the brain both in the short and longer term.  If you’re feeling a little brain foggy, a brisk walk can really help.

Be in the moment

One of the many benefits to walking in the great outdoors is being close to nature with all the beauty that brings.  If you live in a busy town or city, you might not always be able to escape to the countryside but try and find a green space such as a local park of woodland.

shutterstock_171654062 woman hiking Oct15

Our lives are very busy and noisy, especially because we tend to live in an ‘always on’ world.  The countryside enables you to practice mindfulness by just enjoying the peace and tranquillity that nature provides.  As such, walking provides myriad benefits to mental wellbeing, especially if you turn off your devices and enjoy the moment.

Fuel your body

The body does, of course, need to be properly fuelled, especially if you’re going on a longer hike.  Before you start, make sure you’ve eaten a good breakfast.  Whole grain porridge oats provide a great pre-walk power-up, as their energy is released slowly into the bloodstream.  Plus, porridge oats are loaded with energising B-vitamins.

Porridge topped with bananas and blueberries

If you’re going out for the day, then pack some lunch that provides both protein and carbohydrates. Sandwiches made with whole grain bread are fine and easily transportable.  However, if you’re gluten-free, then there are loads of multi grain wraps available, that contain millet, chickpeas, or other gluten-free ingredients. 


Load them with protein and some veggies such as egg, tuna, feta, cucumber, rocket, hummus, avocado, chopped carrot – there’s no shortage of tasty options.  If you’ve got colour in your wrap or sandwich, you’ve got plenty of nutrients too! Importantly, you don’t need to eat loads just because you’re out on a walk; the body has plenty of fuel stored as well.

Don’t forget to hydrate

There are plenty of sports drinks on the market but unless you’re walking or running a marathon, they really aren’t needed, and they tend to be high in sweeteners or other sugars.  If you’re able to plan ahead drink plenty of water the day before and then take a litre with you – you’ll need more if you’re out for a long time and the weather is warm.


Hydration is as important as food, and even more so when it comes to exercise.  You can start to feel very sluggish if you haven’t drunk sufficient water. If plain water is not your bag, you can always dilute it slightly with some fruit juice, which can help rehydration quicker.

Rest and recover

With any form of physical exercise, recovery is as important.  This is when the body heals and re-builds. As part of the body’s normal processes, it is constantly breaking down and re-building.  However, it needs plenty of protein, especially in the meal after the walk, and some rest too. 

CLose up of woman exercising and stretching outside

Stretching is often forgotten about, but it really helps prevent injury and stop that feeling of stiffness in the muscles and joints that can occur the next day.  If you find you get lower back ache when walking (which is very common), this is sometimes down to tight hamstrings so lying on your back and pulling your straight legs individually towards the body, can really help.  Equally, tight calf muscles can create problems in the feet or knees.  So be kind to your body; it’s working hard for you.

Enjoy all the wonderful benefits walking can bring this spring.



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Take care of your heart this Valentine’s Week

CLose up of two hands making a heart shape with the sun in the background

Valentine’s Day brings into focus all our loved ones.  However, whilst Valentine’s Day tends to be about our romantic hearts, it’s also a great time to look after the physical wellbeing of our heart too. 

Our hearts work very hard, beating around 100,000 times every day, so making sure you are doing what you can to keep yours in great shape should be top of the list when it comes to health.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five top ways of looking after your heart physically and emotionally.


Load up on vitamin C

One of our hardest working vitamins, this nutrient has a great affinity for the heart.  Why? Because it’s one of our key antioxidant vitamins and therefore helps protect the heart from free radical damage, which is responsible for the ageing process and our degenerative diseases.  Vitamin C also helps protect the artery walls to enable blood to keep flowing freely through them.

shutterstock_362885486 vitamin C Jan17

Vitamin C is readily available in most fruits and vegetables but purple sprouting broccoli and oranges from Spain are in season now and are both rich in this amazing nutrient.  However, try to get as much colour on your plates as possible and you’ll also be getting plenty of vitamin C.

Keep the heart well oiled

That means eating foods containing the essential omega-3 fats which are also essential for a healthy heart.  Omega-3s primarily help regulate blood pressure, protect the arteries from damaging inflammation and also help to keep blood flowing smoothly.

A range of foods containing healthy Omega-3 fats

Omega-3s are mainly found in oily fish such as sardines, pilchards (tinned are fine), salmon (wild, not farmed is best) and mackerel.  The best vegan sources are flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. But if none of these are your bag then give your heart some love by taking a daily supplement of fish oil or a vegan DHA, omega-3 product.

Cut down on sugar

That means sugar in all its forms.  Ideally, we should cut out all refined sugar in the diet, much as that may sound harsh!  However, sugar appears in many different guises; the issue is that it can cause inflammation throughout the body, attack the delicate artery walls, and help pile on the kilos, making your heart work even harder.

A pile of sugar with the words 'no sugar' in

Try to check food packaging and remember that whilst sweeteners are low in calories, they ‘feed’ your sweet tooth and are chemicals that the body doesn’t understand, and which can cause other health issues.  I know that it is very hard to cut all forms of refined sugar out totally but try to be more aware of how much you’re eating from various food sources.

Show your heart some gratitude

Your heart works very hard for you, so it’s a great time to acknowledge this and gently offer praise and thankfulness. Gratitude is also a great daily practice to help mental wellbeing. 

A close up of a typewriter with the word gratitude typed

If you’re finding life a struggle, then try to think of three things each day for which you are thankful for, however small.  It’s sometimes good to write these down so you can refer back to them.  When you start doing this, you’ll be amazed at how much is in your life which is good or for which you are grateful; even if it’s simple things in nature such as seeing flowers grow over time or hearing the birds tweeting, anything that makes you happy increases your levels of gratitude.

By offering gratitude daily, it can help re-frame any negative thought processes for the better.

Breathe some fresh air every day

It’s amazing how much being outside in the fresh air can help mental wellbeing.  With so many people working from home and/or working long hours, the days can fly by without us realising that we’ve not seen the light of day.

shutterstock_218997220 woman walking trainers Mar18

This is not good for the mind or body (especially the heart).  Breathing air and regulating your breathing whilst doing this is great for reducing stress.  Additionally, if you can fit a brisk walk into your daily schedule, then the exercise is certainly going to benefit the heart and mind too.

When you’re busy, you might want to actually write this into your diary as an event, so it’s not forgotten.  It’s all part of your self-care routine, which is important, not just during the month of love, but every day of the year!

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and love your heart more than ever this month!


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The health benefits of winter walking

Woman walking in a snowy woodland

With the cost-of-living escalating, which will be even more noticeable over the Christmas period, many of us turn to nature for some free health in the form of fresh air!

We naturally tend to spend more time indoors during the colder months which is not ideal for our physical or mental wellbeing.  So, this festive season, why not seek the great outdoors, enjoy plenty of walks and be rewarded with amazing health benefits.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares the benefits of winter walking and how to fuel your body before, during and afterwards.

What are the health benefits of walking?

Even walking for 20 minutes (brisk walking is always best), will deliver health benefits in terms of improved circulation, better mental wellbeing, and blood sugar balance.  Indeed, if you’re trying to lose weight, there’s much research to suggest that walking for 20 minutes after your evening meal, helps the insulin response. This in turn helps to balance blood sugar and encourages less of any excess calories eaten, to be stored as fat.  It’s free and it works!


Obviously, if you can walk for at least 30 minutes, or longer, the health benefits will increase.  If you’re struggling with high blood pressure, then it’s a great exercise option.  Furthermore, in terms of mental wellbeing, just being out in the fresh air and connecting with nature is great for managing stress and anxiety.

shutterstock_329275235 woman sleeping in bed Jan16

If you’re struggling to sleep, it’s also super-important to get outside into the light, especially in the morning.  Research suggests that being outside in the morning light encourages better production of melatonin, our sleep hormone, at night.

What should I eat?

Unlike some forms of exercise, no special diet is needed.  However, if you’re heading out for a longer walk, then you need to be fuelled up and ready to go. 

Bowl of porridge topped with blueberries and raspberriesOne of the best starts to a long walk in the winter months is a bowl of porridge, made with whole grain oats, some berries, and a spoonful of natural or plant-based yoghurt.  Oats are slowly digested in the digestive tract, so energy levels are sustained, and they also provide plenty of energising B-vitamins.



Pack up some protein-filled sandwiches on whole grain bread, featuring ham, chicken or tuna, with some home-made energising coconut and peanut protein balls, and both will keep you strongly striding all day long.  I love this recipe and it’s really easy and quick to make. 

How can I get warm after my walk?

Brisk walking keeps you warm but when the light starts to fade, temperatures plummet, and you can start to feel distinctly chilly.  There’s nothing better than returning home to some wonderfully warming and filling soup.  Root vegetables are in season during the winter months for very good reason; they are naturally energy and nutrient-dense and will help to get some much-needed warmth back into the body.

Leek and potato soup in a bowl

Parsnip soup is a traditional Christmas dish so why not add some other winter vegetables such as apples, potatoes, garlic, and onion and top with delicious goat’s cheese and walnuts?


Other warming winter favourites are casseroles or curries. Investing in a slow cooker is a great idea since they use very little power, and you can put all the ingredients into the pot without too much preparation before the walk.  The long slow cooking time ensures you’ll never be disappointed with the taste. It makes winter walking even more worthwhile.

So, get out there and enjoy some festive walks this season. And one last reminder: always wear a hat as a large percentage of body heat escapes from the head!



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Fuel your exercise: nutrition to support your fitness regime

Woman in work out gear pausing to drink a bottle of water

We all know how important it is to take regular exercise.  It is recommended that we aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week, which equates to 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. And hopefully some fresh air too!

Fuelling ourselves with the right nutrition will help produce the best results when it comes to fitness.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top five nutrition tips for fuelling your activity.


When talking about exercise and protein in the same sentence, it often gets muddled with ‘body building’. However, protein is not just for those throwing lots of steel around, it’s for all of us!  Protein is essential for building strong muscles and bones but is also very important for repair after exercise too.  Interestingly, we often underestimate the amount of protein required for optimal wellness. So how much do we need?

A range of foods containing protein

It does really depend on the amount of exercise you’re doing.  If you lead a reasonably active life, then aiming for 1.2g of protein per kg of body weight is a good average.  Some days it may be more, some days a little less but it’s important to try and eat protein at every meal.  The good news is there are plenty of options: meat, fish, cheese, eggs, lentils, beans, dairy produce, nuts, seeds and poultry are all good options.

Healthy fats

Seeing the words ‘healthy’ and ‘fat’ in the same sentence can often be confusing. True, having a diet that is high in saturated fats such as meat, cheese and butter is not recommended but it’s important to have plenty of healthy fats in your diet (aim for around 20-30% of overall calorie intake).


Healthy fats are the essential omegas found in fish, nuts and seeds, avocados, olive oil, nut butters and eggs.  Fat is needed for the body to absorb our fat-soluble nutrients, especially the all-important vitamin D, essential for muscles and bones. It is also an important energy source for the body.  When it comes to exercise, fat is an important part of nutritional balance, so include some healthy fats in your diet every day.


In broad terms, carbs are broken down into glucose, which is used as our main energy source, especially for the brain.  However, the body can run pretty much exclusively on fat in the case of ketogenic diets but does need some training to be efficient.


When it comes to general exercise, carbohydrates provide great fuel and often in the form of easy snacks.  We often forget that fruits and vegetables are carbs and of course these should feature highly in the daily diet.  Plus, the more you exercise, the more free radicals are produced, so we need plenty of antioxidants in the diet, which fruit and vegetables provide.

If you’re going for a long walk or run, for example, then you may need to take a snack to keep you going.  Bananas are great snacks because they provide glucose and some fructose, that can be quickly absorbed.


We so often forget the importance of being properly hydrated, not just for exercise but for daily life.  In a ‘normal’ day, we should really be drinking 1.5 – 2 litres of water daily, as a minimum. However, if you’re going to exercise, try to drink around 500ml in the couple of hours before you start.  Dehydration can be a big issue when it comes to exercise performance.

Top exercise foods

Whilst a varied, balanced diet is essential for a healthy lifestyle, and especially if you’re exercising, we can always harness the power of nature by eating more foods that give you some extra energy.

First up is beetroot which specifically helps to power endurance exercise.  It’s primarily down to beetroot’s ability to produce nitric oxide in the body, which dilates the blood vessels allowing more oxygen to pass through.


Flaxseeds are another winner to sprinkle onto your morning cereal or oats; they are loaded with omega-3s which help manage inflammation in the body, therefore reducing the risk of injury and improving exercise recovery.

A spoon full of flax seeds

Lastly, why not load up with some pumpkin seeds?  They’re a great source of zinc and iron, both needed for immune support. Iron is also essential for the production of red blood cells, essential to transport oxygen around the body.

Roasted pumpkin seeds

So, fuel your body well and get the most out of your exercise!


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Feeling blue after your holiday? Try these five tips to set yourself up for the rest of the year


We look forward to our holidays for so long, and especially with everything that’s happened over the last couple of years. However, in a flash they’re gone and it’s back to the daily grind of life! 

If you are suffering with the post-holiday blues, the good news is that there are some lifestyle changes you can make to set yourself up well for the rest of the year.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares some inspirational tips

Get back into a healthy routine

Whilst holidays are, hopefully, positive for mental wellbeing, our eating habits whilst we are away from home are not always the healthiest; we’re on holiday after all, and treats are a part of a well-earned break.  Unfortunately, for some of us, once we return, we can feel lacking in energy and sometimes put on weight too, which doesn’t make us feel great.

DOuble exposure image of a woman running and meditating to represent healthy lifestyle

If you have come back feeling sluggish, getting back into an exercise routine, and eating a well-balanced diet can really help our physical and mental wellbeing as well as energy levels.

shutterstock_390988804 green leafy vegetables Dec16Too many sugary foods and alcohol which we may have consumed on holiday can work as depressants by reducing serotonin levels in the gut. Try switching to a diet rich protein and healthy fats (think avocados and olive oil), plus plenty of green, leafy vegetables: this can really help re-set your mind and body.

Re-set your gut

As part of your health and fitness drive, resolve to love your gut.  Since most of our serotonin (the ‘happy’ hormone) is produced in the gut, the good gut bacteria we have is essential for mental wellbeing.


There are not many of us who can honestly say that our digestive systems work perfectly all the time.  Eating different foods and water whilst away, as well as often an increase in alcohol, can often upset things for a while.


Think of the gut as a garden that needs seeding, feeding, and nurturing.  The seeding process is all about providing the gut with prebiotics, essentially from foods such as chicory, artichoke, asparagus, flaxseeds, garlic, leeks, onions, and bananas. Try to include some in your diet every day and also drink plenty of green tea.  A happy gut helps create a happy mind!

Make self-care a priority

When you return from holiday think about what makes you happy at home, in your own space.  Reading a book, an at-home pedicure, taking a long bath – the list is endless.  When we’re busy, we often put ourselves at the bottom of the pile when it comes to self-care.

shutterstock_252559804 woman in bath Jan16

Most of us don’t have the luxury of lots of time on our hands, but it’s all about prioritising the time we have, to do what’s good for our physical and mental health. Coming back from holiday with a plan in place for self-care is going to massively help relieve the blues.

Plan positively

Whether it’s another holiday, an event, a concert, a physical challenge, or all of the above, make plans on your return so you can start looking positively forward to what’s ahead.

Close up on woman writing in a pad

Whilst it’s important to ‘live in the moment’ and make the most of each day, having events to look forward to is great for keeping a positive outlook and outsmarting any post-holiday lows.

Get plenty of fresh air

With more of us working from home, and the days becoming noticeably shorter, it’s all-too easy to start hibernating.  However, getting some daily fresh air, even if you only have time for a walk round the block is essential for mental wellbeing.

shutterstock_218997220 woman walking trainers Mar18

Getting fresh air, and importantly natural light, into your brain is also essential for good sleep.  The brighter morning-light conversely, helps the body produce more melatonin – our sleep hormone – at night. It’s also important for circulation to the heart and muscles to take daily exercise in some form or another.

So, banish the post-holiday blues by looking forward to a healthy autumn with a renewed diet and exercise plan as well as some fun events in the future.


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Cycle to Work Day: how to boost your energy levels

Close up of a bike's water bottle in situ

With National ‘Cycle to Work’ day being celebrated today, it’s a great time to focus on upping your energy and fuelling your rides. 

Whether you’re going to actually cycle to work, or just want to feel more energised for your workouts or in your everyday life, there are some great nutrient-rich foods that can help.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top foods for feeling more energised.


Delicious and in-season now, blueberries are going to provide great energy and an excellent start to the day, especially if you’re planning on cycling to work. Blueberries are a low glycaemic fruit, meaning they won’t adversely affect blood sugar balance and you’ll enjoy sustained energy throughout the day.

A wooden bowl of blueberries

Blueberries are often referred to as ‘super foods’ because they are packed with nutrients.  Importantly, their beautiful rich, dark colour signifies plenty of antioxidants, which help protect the body against the ageing process and degenerative diseases.  Why not enjoy some with your breakfast with some natural yoghurt and ground flaxseeds for a perfectly balanced start? Alternatively, they make the perfect accompaniment to oats (my next energy-giving food recommendation).


Another low glycaemic food, partly down to their rich fibre content, oats are loaded with energising B-vitamins.  However, look for ‘whole’ oats that have not been refined to gain full benefit.  Any refining strips out fibre and nutrients.

A bowl of oats

Oats contain plenty of trace minerals, especially magnesium which is also needed for energy production.  In short, they’re real powerhouses!  Oats are great soaked either in some plant or dairy milk and a little apple juice for flavour to make ‘overnight oats’.  Take them out of the fridge the next morning, pop on some yoghurt and berries. Either eat before your journey to work or when you arrive, and you’ve got the perfect start to your day.

Brown Rice

As with all whole grain foods, brown rice is great for encouraging sustained energy.  It’s rich in fibre and high in nutrients, especially those energising B-vitamins.  Brown rice has a much higher nutrient profile than white, because it hasn’t undergone any refining process. Furthermore, it can really help on a weight loss journey because it balances blood sugar levels and is very low in fat.

Brown rice with salmon fillet amd vegetables

The nutrient content of brown rice is equally as impressive with not only high levels of B-vitamins but a great range of essential trace minerals.  Of note is zinc which is needed for over 300 different enzyme reactions in the body to keep it firing on all cylinders. Serve brown rice as an accompaniment to any protein such as fish or chicken or serve cold the next day with plenty of salad vegetables.


Bananas are many people’s ‘go-to’ when it comes to the need for quick energy.  Although high in complex carbs, the riper bananas have a higher sugar content, delivering a fast-release boost, hence they are popular with sportspeople.

Whole bananas and diced banana

Bananas are especially high in vitamin B6, much utilised for energy release but they also contain loads of potassium which is great for the heart.  As they are high in starchy carbs, bananas will keep you going all day and will also help you burn up those hills if some happen to be on your cycle route to work.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes have a much higher nutrient profile than traditional white potatoes.  That’s not to dismiss white potatoes from the diet as they still have a place, but sweet potatoes have the edge when it comes to delivering sustained energy.


It’s all down to the complex carbs which keep blood sugar in balance and energy buzzing. Furthermore, sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, which is turned into vitamin A in the body, essential for immune health.

You can eat sweet potatoes in the same way as white potatoes; mashed, chipped, jacketed, take your pick, and enjoy with a topping or foods of your choice.

So, whether you’re cycling to work or just want more energy, add these five foods into your diet and feel your energy soar!

Stay well.


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Outdoor adventures: food to fuel your day trip

shutterstock_171654062 woman hiking Oct15

With the summer season now in full flow, some more favourable weather on the way and our freedoms promised, what better time to fully enjoy the great outdoors?  You will be bagging some great health benefits too from spending time outside in the sunshine and fresh air. 

When heading out for the day, what you pack to keep you feeling energised all day long is important to ensure you are able to make the most of your day trip.

This Love Parks Week Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top nutrition tips to help you fully enjoy your day in the fresh air!

Boost your nutrients

If you are out all day and possibly enjoying some hiking or physical activity, then the body is certainly going to need some decent fuel in the middle of the day.  Each mealtime is an opportunity to load up on valuable nutrients the body needs daily, as well as filling up the tank with energy.

Clearly everything needs to be easily transportable therefore wholemeal wraps loaded with protein and vegetables is one of the best options.  It is important to eat protein at every mealtime to balance blood sugar levels and keep energy sustained throughout the day.  Great choices for wraps include chicken, tuna, chickpeas, or grilled halloumi cheese.

shutterstock_461352127 selection of wraps

All choices work really well with some roasted vegetables (prepared the night before) and pesto.  The wrap (ideally wholemeal) will deliver plenty of energising B-vitamins (as will the filling) plus it is a great way of topping up your vegetable intake.


Another great option is smashed avocado with salad or roasted vegetables.  Avocados are loaded with healthy fats that are needed to absorb our fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E), all of which are required for the immune system.  Avocados also contain some protein, plus vitamin E which is great for the skin. So, be sure to make lunch count so energy levels are not flagging a couple of hours later.

Snacks to keep you walking smart

If you are walking or hiking, then you will need to keep energy levels topped up throughout the day, not just at lunchtime.  Great transportable and energising snacks include cashew nuts (a higher carb nut), raisins (for a quick energy shot) and bananas (the perfect pre-wrapped snack!)

Homemade flapjacks

Why not make some delicious flapjacks the day before full of protein and energising carbs too?  If you make them with agave syrup, porridge oats, raisins, hazelnuts and mixed seeds, you can fully enjoy a perfect, energy-boosting and nutritious snack.


Other great snacks include olives which contain plenty of healthy fats to hold off hunger pangs or some veggie crisps (healthier than the ‘normal’ potato variety!)

Hydrate often

Let us not forget the most important thing to pack – plenty of water to keep you hydrated.  You won’t be walking very far if you are dehydrated.  It is important to keep ahead of thirst; when you feel thirsty the body is already slightly dehydrated so top up regularly. On a ‘normal’ day it’s recommended to drink 1 ½ to 2 litres of water daily.  However, strenuous walking uses up a lot more water in the body, so aim to drink at least 300 ml for every hour you plan on being active.


Whilst having large quantities of sports drinks is not needed and will only increase daily sugar intake, the body is not pure water.  The body contains electrolytes that need replenishing especially when the weather is hot. So, it’s a good idea to add an electrolyte powder to your water which you can sip throughout the day.  Additionally, having one of your water bottles very slightly diluted with fruit juice will help the body rehydrate quicker.

Sun protection

Sun cream and a sun hat are essential items!  Even when it’s cloudy, the sun’s UV rays penetrate and can cause a nasty case of sunburn if precautions aren’t taken.


It’s worth also noting that if you’re taking a daily multivitamin that contains beta-carotene, this does provide some protection against sun damage but not sufficient to avoid wearing sun cream.  However, it does help protect the skin against free-radical damage caused by the sun and will hold back the ageing process.

So, with the combination of rejuvenating fresh air, beautiful countryside parklands, and nutritious food, you can guarantee a great day out!

Stay well.


Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

All images: Shutterstock