Bite-size health

One of my utter guilty pleasures is buying fitness magazines. At around £4 a time they’re not the thriftiest of indulgences, then again, in my defence, they’re not the most expensive (at least they’re not designer shoes or handbags). I also justify my spending by that fact that these magazines provide motivation for my workouts and offer a perfect source of inspiration and information for my blog. 

And indeed, I find that, more often than not, an article I’ve read will translate into a post in one way or another.

However, what I also love about health and fitness magazines are all of the little titbits and factoids that they offer. I regularly rip out these little asides or quick recipes; I fold corners on pages with facts that I want to share or revisit, but then, all too often, I find that they get lost or forgotten as they fail to form part of some larger narrative I want to tell. 

So, in homage to all of those torn out magazine pages laying around our house, and to validate this week’s purchase, I thought I’d share some of these with you, (with a big thank you to Women’s Health!):

Food for thought

At rest, our bodies need around 1,200 calories a day to function, but did you know that the brain uses 20% of that calorie intake. And it seems the more you think, the more fuel your brain consumes – a crossword for example can burn up to 65 calories, while competitive chess players can burn up to 7,000 calories during a high pressure tournament.

However, before you pick up a biscuit to eat while you’re solving that Sudoku, you should note that it’s believed that it’s the psychological impact of the stress on the body that burns the calories, rather than the act of thinking itself. Still, there are plenty of neurological benefits of brain-training and that extra calorie burn is certainly food for thought! 

Coconut oil – the panacea 

We’ve put it on our hair and on our skin, but did you know that coconut oil is three times more effective than other oils at revving up your metabolism and it also elevates muscle-strengthening growth hormones when consumed? So before you use it all up in your hair mask, it’s worth putting a spoonful of coconut oil in your next protein shake!

Feel the burn

The Journal of Investigative Dermatology has reported that non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can reduce your risk of skin cancer by 18% following sunburn. While the best solution is to  avoid burn altogether with a high factor suncream, if it’s too late popping a few ibuprofen may help too. 

Peanut butter ice cream? 

Quick and tasty recipe: just freeze 4 ripe bananas then whizz them up with 2 tbsp. honey and 3 tbsp. peanut butter and voila!

Spice it up

Did you know that turmeric is purported to help burn fat, reduce muscle soreness and improve mood and alertness? A wonder spice indeed.

Swimming on empty? 

Do you find that while your appetite is suppressed by running or a gym workout, you’re always super hungry after a swim? It seems that this might not just be a psychological effect but could be something to do with the temperature of the water. While researchers don’t know exactly why the post-swim munchies occurs, they suspect that it could be due to the cooler temperature of the water, which causes your body to lose heat and the blood vessels in your skin to constrict. This prevents the release of certain hormones that suppress appetite during and soon after exercise.

One study found that people who exercised in colder water consumed 44% more calories following their workout than those who expended the same amount of energy in warmer water. But you don’t have to fall prey to after-swim hunger, apparently you can reduce it somewhat by taking a brisk 15-minute walk to warm up your body immediately after you get out of the pool.

2-minute brownies 

A vegan (healthy-ish) treat: Mix up 7 dates in a food processor add a handful of broken pea and and 2 tbsp cacao. Whizz up for 30 seconds, shape into squares and eat!

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