I kid you not this recipe took me a grand total of about 8 attempts to make the perfect fudgy brownies, some too dry, some tasting down right disgusting and some more of a cake then a brownie. But, behold, I finally mastered the recipe and they taste unbelievable, about time too, because believe it or not, I was starting to get sick of eating brownies and so was the rest of my family!
These brownies are fudgy, thick, gooey, with an amazing crinkly outer crust. If you are looking fo the ultimate healthy flourless brownie then you have come to the right place. Whats even better… they are oh so simple to whip up.
The problem I find with most ‘healthy’ brownie recipes is they are less like a brownie and most are a sweet, dry cake, which may only be 100 calories but id rather save those 100 calories for something worth while. These brownies do not disappoint, at just under 200 calories per portion, these healthy brownies will have you coming back for more and more.
These brownies are super easy to make and in about half an hour you will have warm, fudgy, healthy brownies waiting for your to tuck into.
Makes: 9-12 Brownies
1 Cup Oat flour (Blend some oats)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
225g Black beans (Drained)
50g dark chocolate
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 Large eggs
Pinch of Salt
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Place all the ingredients except for the coconut oil and chocolate in a food processor and blend.
Whilst the ingredients are blending in a bowl, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave until the chocolate has just about melted and then stir the two together.
Add the chocolate and coconut oil mixture to the food processor and make sure everything is throughly combined. Pure this mixture into a lined baking tin and bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes until the mixture has just about set in the middle. The less you cook them, the more gooey they will be.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 30 minutes. Chop into slices and dive in!
I thought I would talk about Intermittent fasting this week because strangely two clients have started using this approach to their nutrition and I too have been using this approach to manage my calories recently.
So what is intermittent fasting? It’s an extended period of time where you go without food. Typically most will fast for around 16-18 hours, giving them a 8-6 hour window to consume their calories for the day. For example you may eat your last meal for the day at 8pm and then your first meal the next day won’t be till midday.
The reason some of my clients and myself have recently started utilising this technique is because its a useful way to manage your calories for the day, especially if you are on a restricted amount of calories. It is by no means a magic diet, its just a strategy to help ensure your remain in a calorie deficit if fat loss is your goal.
Ask yourself this, do you eat breakfast in the morning out of habit or are you actually hungry? If you do it out of habit try a few more hours until you break that fast (breakfast), however, if you are actually hungry in the mornings and need something to start your day then this style of intermittent fasting may not be for you. BUT you could try the other way around, for example eating the majority of your calories between the hours of 8am and 4pm, if you are the kind of person who doesn’t get hungry in the evenings.
If you are working out make sure to have some form of nutrition around your workout, whether that be before, after or both, as we want to be fuelling our workouts and recovering properly.
So, to recap, intermittent fasting can be an effective tool to manage your calories for the day, it is not a magic diet that is going to burn more fat.
If your goal is fat loss, try it, see how you get on and let me know!
These so called “superfoods” (which there is no real definition for by the way) claim to reduce risks of chronic diseases, boost our energy levels and improve physical performance, but is this really true?
Firstly, brands are banned from claiming such health claims unless supported by scientific evidence. So all foods labelled with these health claims must be true right, because science says so? Not necessarily. A lot of big brands will actually fund academics to research the ingredients within their products. Which are often in a very concentrated form, NOT found in your so called “Super Juice”.
Lets be honest we all want to believe it, this vegetable or that fruit can help cure diseases with their anti-oxidant properties. And although some evidence does suggest these antioxidant containing foods can have health benefits, its pretty inconclusive. So, rather than relying on a single food, focus more on your day to day diet.
No “superfood” is going to compensate for days/weeks worth of unhealthy eating. Look at the bigger picture and start eating like an adult. Eat fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, a Mediterranean diet is a perfect example of this, lots of fruit, veg and fish.
Im not saying never eat or drink a product labelled as a superfood again, as it is most likely going to be packed with nutritious ingredients. But dont go in with the mindset that eating this singular superfood is going to cure all lifes problems. Address your diet first and use these nutrient rich foods as a way to maintain that diet.
But remember a juice claiming to have x amount of fruits and vegetables is likely to be 10x the price of a punnet of blueberries and a bottle of water, look after that bank account!
CHEAT DAYS – ARE THEY HINDERING YOUR FITNESS GOALS? LETS TALK – EP2
I use to have a cheat day every week, well actually, it started as a cheat meal which eventually developed into a cheat day. But I stuck to my diet all week so I ‘earned it’ right?
Come on, even reading that sounds ridiculous. Eat a healthy balanced diet all week and then essentially binge for a day, thats a recipe for disaster right there.
I now don’t have ‘cheat days’ at all. If I’m craving something, I’ll just incorporate it into my weekly diet. Having a cheat day at the end of the week is a terrible idea, you’re rewarding yourself with food, creating an awful relationship with food. Just like they say don’t binge drink, drink a couple of glasses of wine through out the week rather than hammering a bottle or two on a Saturday night. Having a cheat day can offset some rather terrible habits and most certainly effect your hard earned progress.
Balance. A word that has kind of been overused and lost its meaning recently. But my take on balance is where different elements are of equal proportions. Use a flexible approach with nutrition so when you crave something that you may bank for your ‘cheat day’, have it when you crave it, a chocolate bar, a slice of cake, some ice cream, some pizza. By nipping that craving in the bud as soon as you get it your much more likely to stick to your diet and keep on progressing towards your goals. Remember to follow the 80/20 rule, 80% of your diet should be made up of wholesome, nutritionally dense foods and the remaining 20% can be whatever you like.
You want to be able to adhere and sustain your diet it for a long time, so make it enjoyable, don’t suffer. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Any questions or diet advice please get in contact with me, I’m always here to help!
At least once a week I will upload a blog post that could be about a variety of different topics from, workouts, nutrition, supplements or just a general chat. These won’t be too long as I know you are all very busy.
Hopefully you will walk away with some extra knowledge from these posts to help you on your health and fitness journey OR even just get to know me a little better.
We are kicking off Episode 1 of LETS TALK with a little story about my first month as a personal trainer.
IT’S NOT ALL SUNSHINE A RAINBOWS
Although I have been personal training now since the new year, I would say the month just gone (March) was my first proper month of personal training, where business has just got started. The reason for that is because the baby stages of being a personal trainer are slow and can even be a little disheartening, you have all this knowledge, all these skills to help people but no body wants your help, but you have to tell yourself, why would they?
I may have the qualifications, knowledge and belief that I can essentially change someones life, but what have I got to show for it, what proof do I have? That was the first thing I learnt, you are fighting an uphill battle from the start. You need to get clients to show what you can achieve with them, but thats the first hurdle, YOU need to get clients.
So, lesson number 1, you have to a lot for nothing, to hopefully do a lot for something. For both 1-2-1 and online coaching I launched free coaching, yup, entirely free. But what this did was firstly get me clients, because who doesn’t like free stuff, but it also highlighted to me how much I love what I do. Mini wins from clients on a daily/weekly basis and them sharing it with me filled me with so much joy and sense of well being, I still can’t quite believe this is my ‘job’.
Lesson number 2, you have to WORK and I mean really work. Im yet to have a day off, I don’t mean to say that in the sense that, ohhhh look at me, the hustle, the grind. Its more to the point I haven’t quite figured out a structure where I have a day off. I will never have a day off where I just do nothing all day, thats torture to me, but doing slightly less work needs to be factored in, otherwise I know I will burn out fast.
Lesson number 3, my clients are nothing like me. Im very regimented and if someone tells me to do something I’ll do it, with no real questions asked, my coach AJ must love me. But what I have learnt is clients may not hit their macros everyday, they may only be able to train 3 out of 4 sessions, they may even lie, because they don’t want to feel like they have let me down. But what you have got to remember is what they are doing now, is most likely a hell of a lot better than what they were doing previously and they are going to get amazing results from that. It may not be perfect, but as long as they are happy with the results they are getting, thats the main thing.
Those are probably the top three things I have learnt in my first month as a personal trainer. Trust me, there are a hell of lot more lessons learnt, but I don’t want to bore you. I think you get the picture by now. Starting out as a personal trainer is hard, but once you get going, boy does it feel good to know you are changing someones life for the better. I’ll check in with you again in a few months down the line, and report on how things have hopefully, progressed.
Deloads, possibly one of the most neglected aspect of weight training, yet a very simple concept when applied will help you to continually progress towards your training goals. When put like that it almost sounds like a magic pill right? A simple method that allows you to train hard consistently, so why isn’t everyone doing it? Well, the reality is taking a rest day is often a push, so taking a full week off… you have got to be kidding me. BUT..
In my opinion the periods that we don’t train, rest days, deloads, scheduled time off, essentially all recovery periods are just as important as the training aspects. To some deloads may seem like a waste of time, just a period to be lazy, well let me explain why deloads may be the missing ingredient to your training.
What is a deload?
Put simply, a deload is a short period of recovery time, usually around 7-14 days. Rather than taking actual time off from training, you continue to train, however you reduce the ‘load’, load not just meaning weight, hence the name de-load. Essentially you still train, but you make your workouts easier through single or multiple methods.
There are many different protocols you can apply in order to effectively deload, and if done properly, all will achieve the desired effect, a reduction in fatigue and increase in recovery. The most common ways of deloading are to either reduce your training volume, intensity or both. All of which will be broken down further later on, but firstly, when/why do you deload?
Why do we deload?
Now that we have established what a deload is, we need to know why, what’s the purpose of a deload. Week to week we accumulate fatigue, so in order to reduce this and recover we take rest days, however, as time goes on and we get deeper into our program, days off don’t quite cut it. This is known as overreaching, a point at which your increases in fatigue are greater than your increases in fitness and performance begins to decrease.
A deload provides us with an opportunity to drop that fatigue, a period of time to repair, allowing your performance to rise again and if done correctly you will feel refreshed and ready to progress to new levels.
Think of it like this, in day to day life we work hard in our jobs and weekends give us that opportunity to relax, de-stress and get ready for the week ahead. However, sometimes weekends just aren’t enough, and you need a holiday to fully recover, a week or two to re-charge the battery’s and hit the ground running when you get back.
When to deload?
So we know what a deload is, we know why we do it, but when should we do it? Many programs will have a deload scheduled at a set point in the program, for example train for 6-8 weeks and week 9 is a deload. For me this has its disadvantages and advantages.
It’s great because it forces individuals to deload regularly as most will just continue to train at a high intensity until they burnout, if that’s you, don’t worry, I have been there too. However, on the other hand an individual might be scheduled a deload in week 6 but they are still fine to train at the intensity they are currently training at and don’t really have an accumulation of fatigue yet.
While deloading early may not necessarily be a bad thing, (we would much rather that then it be too late) it may cause an individual to pause their progression right when they are performing perfectly.
For that very reason I feel the best method is to go by feel and look out for a few symptoms. If I’m feeling great, sessions are progressing well then I will continue to push on. However, if I am feeling physically and mentally fatigued, each session I need more and more motivation to train, you’re constantly sore, your sleep is getting worse, those are red flags to deload.
Typically that’s how I would approach a deload. However each person is different, and you need to be smart enough to know when to actually deload. If you are the kind of person that doesn’t know when to stop, then programming a deload might be the best approach for you.
How to deload?
As explained earlier you can deload via a reduction in volume, intensity or both. So let me break it down for you.
When deloading via volume your main goal is to continue using the same amount of weight you was previously using whilst reducing the total number of sets and/or reps you complete, typically a reduction of 70-50%. For example if your workout has a total of 24 sets, you do 12-16 sets total. If an exercise has 4 sets, you do 2-3. If you normally do 12 reps, just do 6-8.
When deloading via intensity, you maintain the total volume being done however the weight lifted on each exercise is reduced to about 60-75% of what you would typically lift. For example say you bench 100KG for 8 reps, now you bench 60-75kg for 8 reps. It’s that simple.
Deloading via both volume and intensity is applying both of the above principles together. For example if you normally bench 100KG for 3 sets of 8, now you bench 60-75KG for 2 sets of 6/8.
So which is best? To be honest, it’s entirely dependent on the individual, yup, that classic response of it ‘it depends’. Try all three methods out and see which one works for you, pay attention to whether you are fully recovered after the deload and figure out which is the most ideal for you.
For me, I prefer the combination of reduced volume and intensity. I go into a deload with the mentality that it’s a holiday for my body, and thus I want to reduce all stressors. It’s boring, but afterwards you will be thankful for it.
If you need a little more clarification on anything that has been discussed or just have a question make sure to follow me on Instagram @andyhillocks and drop me a DM.