Healthy Hangover Day

Healthy Hangover Day

If there was ever a day to be as unhealthy as possible, the day after a big night on the town has to be the perfect excuse. The feeling of waking up after a drunken night and craving every piece of fatty, carby, sugary food, is all too familiar for some of us. But do we know why we get these cravings and wouldn't we like to know how to stop the awful day after feeling? 

Give Me Grease! 

In the brain, there is a chemical called Galanin which is responsible for increasing our appetite and desire for fat. When fat is then consumed, the result is a release in even more Galanin - what an extremely vicious cycle! If that wasn't bad enough, alcohol actually increases the production of Galanin. This would be the reason why you constantly crave fatty, greasy food throughout the day when drunk/hungover. 

What Can We Do?

Getting over a hang over can be very difficult and many people look to food to help them through the tough times. After consuming loads of calories through alcohol, the last thing you want to do is consume a weeks worth of calories in one day- something many people do. But what foods will curb cravings, cure the deathly feeling and still be healthy? I have come up with a few answers. 

Breakfast Ideas

With the first meal of the day, you are given an early opportunity to stop the hangover feeling in it's tracks. Instead of reaching straight for the bacon, try some of these options:

1. Natural yoghurt with honey and granola and a glass of orange juice 

This is a beautiful, light breakfast to ease you into the day and it has many health benefits

-  Natural yoghurt is full of healthy bacteria which aids digestion in the body. Unfortunately the toxins in alcohol will have killed these bacteria and so it is important to replace them ASAP.
- Honey is very high in fructose and is known to increase the rate at which you burn alcohol
- Orange juice is high in Vitamin C, which helps the liver to break down toxins. It contains fibre which helps to absorb alcohol and it's high fructose levels stand to increase alcohol metabolism too.

2. Breakfast Smoothie

If you would rather drink your cure, a smoothie is a great option. Blend together fruit, honey, yoghurt and oats in your desired quantity

- As mentioned above, the sugar in the fruit and honey will help to metabolise alcohol and replenish any lost vitamins.
- Yoghurt will reintroduce any bacteria that has been killed
- Oats will give you a bit more energy for the day ahead as well as being light on the stomach. They help to absorb any toxins and balance acid levels in the body. They are rich in B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and iron - all of which will have been lost through excessive drinking

Lunch Ideas

By lunch time, the hangover feeling may really have kicked in. It is therefore important not to give into temptation but to stick on a healthy course. Here are a couple of options for foods to eat

1. Tomato Soup

As well as being a comforting food, tomato soup has many advantages when it comes to helping with a hangover. 

- Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C which will definitely have been depleted after a night of boozing. They also contain potassium and sodium- important electrolytes which will need replacing.

2. Chicken Soup

Chicken soup has been a cure for all types of illnesses for thousands of years so why should a hangover be any different?

- The stock replenishes water and electrolyte loss - including sodium and potassium

3. Eggs/ vegetable omellette on toast 

This is another homely, comfort food which is just what you may need during the hangover stage

- Eggs contain an amino acid called Cysteine which helps the body to break down toxins
- Vegetables will help replace any vitamins lost over the course of the night
- Bread goes a long way to absorbing up any excess alcohol. Choose brown whole meal bread to be good and healthy


It is all too easy to reach for the chocolate biscuits and cake in the middle of the day but you must resist the urge. While these may be a short term fix, there are healthier snacks with better healing properties

1. Banana and peanut butter/honey on toast 

This treat allows you to get in some of the fat you have been craving. In this case the fats are coming from PB which contain polyunsaturates- good fats - rather than the grease from a burger or chips

- Bananas contain vitamin B6 which helps to reduce hangovers. They are also high in potassium which will have been lost throughout the night
- Bread helps to soak up any excess alcohol
- Peanut butter satisfies that fatty craving in an indulgent, healthy way
- Honey will burn up alcohol due to it's high sugar levels

2. Crackers with honey

Although simple, this snack is good if you really don't feel like stomaching much

- The crackers are bland whilst still raising blood sugar to give you some energy without harming the tummy
- Honey will help to burn alcohol faster due to it's high fructose nature


Hopefully by this point in the day you should have started to feel a lot better. If not, do not panic there are still some more healing nutrients to try

1. Chicken, vegetables and Ginger Stirfry

A hearty stiry fry with ginger flavours is great as a healthy, hangover busting dinner
- Ginger will help settle the stomach and dissipate feelings of nausea
- Noodles will help to soak up any alcohol
- Vegetables will replace minerals and vitamins lost
- Chicken will give you energy and repair muscles that have been worked hard on the dance floor... 

2. Cheeky flat bread pizza

If you have got to this point without giving into cravings, then you deserve this little treat. Use a tortilla for the base and cover in tomato sauce. Add cheese if you feel it necessary and cover with your choice of toppings- I suggest vegetables, chicken, pineapple- whatever you want

- The tortilla is light and will not upset your stomach whilst soaking up any left over alcohol
- The tomato sauce is rich in vitamin C and will boost your immune system
- The cheese will curb that potential fat craving 
- The vegetables will replace lost vitamins and minerals
- Pineapple will help burn alcohol due to it's sugar content

I hope that this gives you some ideas of how and what to eat on a hangover day. These combinations are both healthy and have healing effects. Consuming a lot of water is also important to rehydrate you and green tea can help with this as well. So next time you over-indulge in alcohol, give these options a go!

Check out the video to go alongside this post 

Do you know your calories?

Do you know your calories?

The Experiment

For my nutrition module at university, I was required to undertake a diet project for 5 days, whereby I recorded everything I ate. This included weighing out every portion of food, in order to calculate the exact number of grams, and therefore, calories. The idea was to work out how many calories a day you were consuming from carbohydrates, protein and fat and to compare this to the stated guidelines. 


We have all heard the relative figures- 2000 calories a day for girls and 2500 for men. Whilst I do not normally count calories and am more interested in eating nutritional food, if I were to guess, I would say I usually eat in the region of 1700 calories. This would comprise mainly of protein and fat with some carbs, but few calories from sugar. 

My Food Diary

Broken down

As you can see, during the week I ate an extremely clean diet. Lots of vegetables and protein, both after my workouts and generally, with limited treats. However, draw your attention to the bottom box of the table - Total calorie consumption...

I am sure you are almost as shocked as I was. Calculating my total calories for the day left me confused, worried and genuinely lost for words. I had always assumed that I understood calories - how many were in each food and therefore how to get my desired total throughout the day. I was almost positive that on average I was getting the required intake of calories, with good amounts of each nutrients. Unfortunately the facts show otherwise. 

Eating Clean

To me, clean eating refers to a diet high in protein, lots of vegetables and some complex carbs, with little snacking on sugary treats. However, I ate like that for a week and came out with a 4664 calorie deficit over the 6 days; an average of -777 calories a day. This may be termed 'clean eating' but it sure for one isn't 'healthy'. 

After the first day, only 876 calories consumed, I knew something had to be changed. I upped all my meals in size and consumed calorie dense foods such as peanut butter, feta cheese and nuts. I even treated myself to a hot chocolate after dinner for comfort. I managed to get my consumption up to1369 - an improvement, but by no means ideal. Each day after, I tried to keep my calories up and fluctuated around the 1300 mark. 

Still Concerned

For an active person like me- teaching daily HIIT sessions, cycling and walking to and from uni multiple times a day and playing sports, 1300 calories is most certainly not enough. I am extremely disappointed in the fact that whilst I would describe myself as healthy, I am essentially starving myself - clearly not a healthy trait. 

My BMR is about 1300 calories, meaning that my body needs 1300 calories just to complete normal bodily functions even before I do any activity. Therefore I am eating the bare minimum when it comes to energy in. 

Saving Grace

Whilst I am concerned and confused with my eating habits, there is one saving grace. If we compare the food I ate on Sunday - when I was not tracking my calorie consumption - to the other days, you can see an obvious difference. I indulged in a biscuit bar, had a challah roll with multiple toppings including cheese, peanut butter, smoked salmon etc (not all together!) and had a high protein and carb breakfast. My portion sizes were presumably bigger as I had no clue how much my food weighed and therefore whether I was hitting the 'standard portion' or over eating. I can quite confidently say that I probably ate more calories on Sunday than any other day. 


Overall this has been an eye opening experiment for me. I have really had the facts drummed into me that eating clean doesn't necessarily mean eating healthily. I always kept to a low carb diet, but a chicken breast and veg on it's own has very little energy. I have seen first hand how little I eat when I decide to cut out carbs and snacks and it is not anywhere near enough! 

Treat Day

Eating a very low calorie diet like I did last week, my body is likely to have gone into starvation mode, meaning my metabolism will have slowed down. Therefore, today (Monday 20th) I am going to have a cheat day - very high carb and indulge in whatever I want. I am going to shock my body into burning more calories and then for the rest of the week will eat HEALTHILY-  Protein, fat AND CARBS!

Give it a go

As tedious as weighing and documenting everything I ate was, I really do urge you to give it a go. I have learnt so much from it and from now on will really put in the effort to eat more calories. I'm not saying that I will eat a chocolate muffin everyday to reach my 2000, but I will try to up my carb intake and definitely increase my breakfast size. Eating close to 1300 calories just cannot sustain my activity levels. 

So watch out for my food diary for the coming week, I am going to make the extra effort to eat clean AND healthy!

Pre and post workout foods

Pre and Post Workout Foods

Both pre and post workout nutrition is an essential part of a training regime. Before a session, we need to get sufficient nutrients into our bodies so we have enough energy to work hard. Likewise, after hitting the gym, we need to refuel our bodies and so food intake in this time frame is very important. 

Pre workout
Before training we want to give the body the necessary fuel it needs to get energy levels up and pumping. A great way to do this is to consume food about 60 minutes before your workout. We want to get in some good carbs for energy and protein to start protein synthesis for when our muscles begin to tire and break down

Here are some examples of foods you can try:

1. A slice of wholemeal toast with peanut butter and banana 
2. A bowl of yoghurt and berries
3. A smoothie - add in yoghurt, fruit, protein powder, peanut butter, oats - whatever you want!
4. Oats, nuts and berries
5. Apple/banana slices with a nut butter eg. peanut/almond/cashew
6. A glass of milk
7. Half of a protein shake

Post workout

After training, nutrition is more than important. When exercising, you break down the muscle fibres in your body and during recovery, the aim is to repair and strengthen the tears. This can only happen if you are fuelling your body with sufficient protein. 

Here are some ideas of meals to have after a workout:

1. Any piece of lean meat and vegetables (chicken, turkey, etc)
2. Chicken and avocado on whole meal bread
3. Eggs and smoked salmon - (omellette, poached egg, fried egg etc)
4. Fish and sweet potato/quinoa (Tuna, white fish, mackerel etc)
5. Turkey rolls with peanut butter
6. Protein Smoothie - (Protein powder, yoghurt, peanut butter, ice etc)
7. Protein Shake


A lot of girls don't like the idea of bulking up on protein as in theory it will increase muscle mass and we don't want to get 'big and hench'. However, girls don't have the testosterone levels to build muscle in the same was as men and so the protein will just go towards making you lean. This is because the higher the percentage of muscle mass in your body, the more fat you break down. Therefore, protein intake is just as important in girls as it is in guys so don't be put off by it. There are lean protein shakes you can buy, which have next to no carbs or fat and are just pure protein. They are much quicker and easier to consume after a session in the gym than preparing a full on cooked meal. 
These are my two favourite No Carb shakes:

1. QNT Zero Carb Metapure

2. Optimum Nutrition Gold standard 100% Whey

Double benefits

Adding protein to your pre workout and post workout meal is an excellent training tip. Taking protein before means that the body starts taking up amino acids to build muscle while you are training. This can only help with your workout as muscle is being re synthesised at the same time as being broken down. If you then include protein into your post workout meal, you can reap double benefits. After ingesting protein, the body can continue protein-synthesis for up to 3 hours. So once our pre workout protein is coming to the end of it's effects, post workout protein kicks in. Therefore you will be building protein over a longer period of time-  just what your muscles need for recovery and growth. Also, if you add in BCAAS to both pre and post workout, you will reduce muscle breakdown during and after the session as well. 


I hope that has given you an idea of things to eat before and after a workout. When trying to bulk, pre and post workout meals are very important as this is where your body will gain the fuel to grow. When looking for weight loss, there is a temptation to train on an empty stomach and not eat afterwards, but this is not a good idea. You will not be able to work as hard in the gym as you won't have enough energy and your body won't recover properly afterwards. You need to consume sufficient nutrients, especially protein, in order to see results and build muscle to get lean and burn fat! 

5/2 Diet

5/2 Diet

Although the fad around the 5/2 diet seems to have calmed down, I do occasionally still hear it cropping up. About a year and a half ago, I decided to go on the 5/2 diet after hearing of it's success stories. I managed to keep it up for about 3 months until I decided that like most diets, it wasn't worth the effort. I have now chosen to write this post, explaining my opinion of it. 

The concept

On a 5/2 diet, the idea is that twice a week you restrict your calorie intake to about 500 calories and the other 5 days you eat pretty much what you want. Normal diets tend to limit food intake every day and this is known to be unsustainable so people give up very quickly. The 5/2 diet allows you to eat freely most of the week, so one would think that it would be a diet that is easy to keep up over a long period of time. You get to choose your fast days and most people opt for week days with a few days in between each one so they can treat themselves at the weekend- eg. I chose Monday and Thursday. In theory, it is a do-able diet and for many people it is easy to fit around their schedule. It allows you to eat out, indulge and continue eating all your favourite meals. Surely that is worth it for just two 500 calorie days?


As I said, I was on the diet for about 3 months. In this time, I had many horribly grumpy days without food, a few wasted workouts as I lacked energy and all in all, failed to see results. I wanted to share with you my top 5 reasons why I do not believe the 5/2 diet is a good route to go down. Have a look:

5. There is nothing worse than feeling hungry
- On a fast day, it is very important to plan out your meals carefully and know what is low cal but will still keep you satisfied. Failure to do so will leave you with a rumbling stomach all day, which is obviously an extremely unenjoyable experience. Keeping to such a low calorie consumption will leave you feeling drowsy and tired and not alert for the day. This means you will not be on the ball when it comes to working or thinking as your brain needs food for energy. Not exactly ideal for school, uni or work...

4. Waste of a workout
- If you are fasting, you will not really be able to exercise. For our muscles to work efficiently, we need sufficient nutrient levels and so without a solid intake of food, you will feel dizzy and too tired to have an intense workout. Also, we make our gains from the food we consume after exercise. It is unlikely you will be able to fit in a protein shake or chicken breast into your 500 cals as a post workout snack and therefore will fail to make necessary gains.
Of course there is the option to use these fast days as rest days, but as we know, we make the gains in our rest times and so lack of proper nutrition will do nothing for us. We are only wasting the workouts we did earlier in the week.

3. Over indulging
- On the non fast days, you are in theory allowed to 'eat what you want'. However, this in a lot of cases, just turns into binge eating. 'Well I ate nothing yesterday so I can eat more today to compensate.' Yes this is technically true, but then what was the point of fasting? Your body doesn't care what day the cakes are consumed, it all just gets stored as fat...

2. Starvation mode
- When you deprive the body of food, it goes into starvation mode. This means that your metabolism slows down and any food you do eat, is stored as fat. Whilst fasting for one day at a time should not have this effect, depriving your body in the long term can do. Lets say on a normal day you consume 2000 calories, that gives a total of 11000 on a 5/2 diet week. This is a reduction of 21% of calorie intake for a normal diet. Your body is therefore likely to think it is being starved. If on normal days we are indulging in fatty, snacky food then this cannot end well.

1. Why calorie count?
- Not all calories are created equal and the 5/2 diet does not take this into account. By cutting down to 500 calories you don't leave yourself with lots of healthy option. You may see that a biscuit is only 50 calories and decide this is worth it for a 1/10 of your allowed intake. Obviously, not a healthy choice. On the other hand, a chicken breast is a very healthy choice. But weighing in at about 250 calories, it takes up over 1/2 of your daily allowance. Therefore, you wouldn't choose it.

Overall, whilst the 5/2 diet seems like a good choice, it really isn't. By limiting your calorie intake, you are likely to be missing out on key nutrients that we all need to stay healthy in our day to day life.

If you are motivated enough, clean eating everyday is the best option, however obviously many people struggle with this. My advice, like the 5/2 diet, is to start by picking 2 days a week. On these 2 days, eat clean, avoiding all snacky foods such as ice cream, biscuits, cakes, chocolate etc. Once this becomes a habit, try increasing this to 3 days, then 4 etc. Before you know it, you will be seeing the results you wanted in a healthy way!

Easy Exercise

Easy Exercise

Lots of people aren't always able to find time in the day to go to the gym or go for a run. This is especially evident for uni students or working professionals. You don't want to get up extra early to go before work, and afterwards, you are too tired. However, it is really easy to get in a bit of daily exercise without too much effort. Here are some tips to keep you active throughout the day.

1. Walk or cycle rather than taking the bus 
- When working at uni, school or in an office, one spends a lot of time sitting down. This does nothing for the heart rate or metabolism. To compensate for the long hours on your bum, it is important to be active on your way to and from the chair. Whilst the bus may be the most efficient and comfortable option, walking or cycling are much better choices. A simple 15 minute walk twice a day can help to keep you active and burn off a few more calories than you would think

2. Take the stairs not the lift
- Even if you are on the 6th floor, make a promise to yourself to take the stairs over the lift. Walking up stairs is great for the legs and it gets the heart rate up quickly. If you go to and from your room 5 times a day, you are easily increasing the number of calories burnt daily. 

3. Fit in a home workout
- Getting to the gym everyday can be difficult due to our busy lives. However, you have all the equipment you need in your house. All you have to do is improvise - using backpacks as weights, chairs as steps, and the carpet as your mat. Alternatively, clear some space in the middle of the room and make up a bodyweight HIIT circuit. The opportunities are endless! Check out my bedroom workout post for some home workout ideas.

4. Find a gap in the middle of your day
It is unlikely that we are going to be totally busy all day everyday. Organise your time and find a small gap in the middle of the day and use this time to go to the gym. Even if it is only 30 minutes, it is better than nothing and you will feel good afterwards. Sometimes you will of course lack the motivation to do this, but if you promise someone else you will go with them, this will force you to go. Another trick is to put on gym clothes underneath your normal wear so you are already half way to working out. And finally, put it in your diary so you know it is something you have to do!

5. Join a team
Recreational team sports are always a great thing to join to get in a bit of daily exercise. You burn calories and get the added bonus of having fun socialising with friends. Pick something you enjoy, at a time that suits you, so it won't become a chore and you can motivate your friends to do the same. 

Getting in a bit of exercise a day is very important. As you have seen there are ways to do this without even having to put in too much effort. What do you do for that extra exercise? I've recently brought my bike to uni and now every lecture I attend I get the added bonus of burning more calories. Also, now I can get a good warmup and cool down on the way to and from the gym on my bike, so I can get straight into my training!

Student Eating

Student Eating - Protein

As a student, it is very easy to fall into the trap of cheap eating. This usually involves eating baked beans, pasta, packet soups etc as students prefer to spend money on things other than food. However, it is so important we are hitting our recommended daily allowances in order to keep healthy, especially due to the late nights and high work and stress levels. 

The macronutrient that tends to be forgotten the most by students is protein, mainly as it is the most expensive. However, protein is needed for muscle growth, energy and hormone production and is essential in our diets. We should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight over the course of the day - breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner. If you are training and looking to build muscle, then obviously this level should be increased.

I have come up with some options for all meals of the day which will help to reach the daily intake in an affordable and reasonable manner. Have a look:


Eggs are a good source of morning protein and they really aren't very expensive at all. Combine them with a slice of ham and you have a greatly nutritious breakfast. 
If you prefer a lighter meal to start the day, both milk and yoghurt are cheap ways of getting a little protein in and ready for the day. 


If you are busy in lectures all day, it can be easy to simply miss lunch. However, this is a very bad idea. You can make a cheap meal that will keep you going throughout the day by just buying some sliced meat, combining it with lettuce and tomatoes and making a tasty sandwich. 
Alternatively, buy some tinned fish such as mackerel or tuna and mix some nuts, seeds and vegetables for a cheap, healthy and filling salad. 

Just a quick note: when it comes to sliced meat, sometimes it is worth spending the extra money, as the cheap ones can't really be considered for real protein foods. 


This is the time to really pack in the protein. Most supermarkets have offers on meat such as 3 for £10 so you can stock up the freezer with protein to save for a later date. If a packet contains a couple of chicken breasts for example, cook them both and have one for dinner and save the other for the next day. This is definitely enough meat to last you over half the week if you plan it well.  
Also, a little trick is that supermarkets will reduce the price of their meats with a sell by date of that day. Look out for these and buy them 1/4 the original price and put them in the freezer to eat another day. Consume these within a week of buying them though. 


For a protein filled snack, nuts and seeds are a fairly cheap option if bought from Poundland. You can buy peanut butter very cheaply and spread this on bread or an apple for a healthy snack. Yoghurt or eggs can be eaten at any point in the day as another cheap and filling option.  


This is just a suggestion more than a piece of advice, but buying protein shakes is a great way to make sure you get your daily protein content. It is more of an investment as you pay roughly £30, but this can last a couple of weeks and will mean you won't need to buy as much fresh meat. You can afford to slack more on protein content in every meal, as you will be getting about 25g of protein from an average shake. 

Hope that helps, and remember to hit that protein intake. It really is worth the little bit of extra money to buy some meat as it will keep you fit and healthy. Protein is used for muscle building and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Therefore if you want to look good and get lean, protein is the food to stick to. Also, protein fills you up more than any other nutrient, so you won't need to buy or eat as much other food if you are eating more protein!