Dispatches from the caffeine-free front line

June 5, 2018 at 12:54
Posted by Rachael Woolston

I confess. I’m a coffee addict and I love all coffee, espresso, Americano, even cappuccino although my favourite is a short Cortado or a freshly brewed espresso pot in the morning. Yet, despite all that, I gave it up in April. 

Why? Because I asked my clients to go caffeine-free for our Transform Six week Challenge and so I thought, if I was asking them to do it, I should too in support (the fact that I was the ONLY one to do so however, will be something I’ll raise with them all!).

There were a few more reasons too, the fact that I always needed to run to the toilet as soon as I had a coffee (perhaps lactose and caffeine related) and because I had this general idea that I was perhaps drinking a bit too much.

What is too much though? Well, I’d always have one first thing in the morning before I was coaching at 5am, although in truth this would usually only be a few mouthfuls, then one when I got home, and perhaps another couple in meetings or to keep me awake. Doesn’t sound much, right?

Yet, on the first week of giving up, my headaches were just AWFUL! And the desire to drink coffee was like a terrible itch that wouldn’t go away.

It’s funny because, over ten years ago I went to Portugal to write about a juice retreat for The Metro newspaper, where I had to give up not just coffee but food too (lots of juices and broths). But I didn’t get any headaches then and I was drinking similar amounts. And I think that’s because the world of coffee has changed hugely since then.

Back then, you’d get a bit of a weak coffee from Pret and that was about it. For Londoners in the know, Flat White, the Kiwi coffee shop on Brewer Street was the first of it’s kind. Now, there are coffee shops selling fantastic coffee on every street corner (sometimes three within a few shops of each other) and it’s MUCH stronger than it used to be. Everything from how it’s roasted, the blend, the type of coffee bean ALL effect the amounts of caffeine.So whereas a Pret coffee might give you a light buzz, nowadays most coffee will have you gabbling and firing through emails as if you’ve had a shot of something far more illicit than coffee.

Indeed, The Food Standards Agency guidelines released in 2008 recommends 400mg for the average person, about EIGHT cups of coffee. I’d be a gibbering wreck on eight cups!

And another reason why coffee is so hard to give up is because coffee shops have come of age, they’re cool, nice places to hang out so they’ve become a social occasion, somewhere to meet friends instead of going to the pub, a place to go for meetings, hell, even a place to sit and work, where means buying coffee. Which all means that my first three weeks were hell.

While alcohol-free drinks have finally started to move on (Erdinger is my favourite) alternatives to coffee in cafes have not. Decaf coffee, I hear you cry. Well, yes, but I’ve definitely had a buzz of some decafs too which I shouldn’t have done. And if I’d kept the ritual of coffee drinking, I think it was only so long before I’d slip back.

So, what have I drunk instead? I started off having fresh cinnamon sticks in hot water which is really nice, then lemon and hot water and lots of pepper mint tea. I’d have almond milk chai lattes in coffee shops and nip to a juice bars for nut milk based drinks. Delicious, but both are expensive and often full of sugary items.

But gradually, day by day, I found peppermint herbal tea was enough.

It was my intention to return to drinking coffee at the end of our last six week course but then something weird happened. On the last week, when I taught four mornings which required me to get up at 5.15am, and then work all day (often writing features for national magazines) before coaching until 8pm at night, I realised I felt more alert, awake and free of that horrible feeling of being wired WITHOUT coffee.

So, now eight weeks on, I’m still largely caffeine free except for the occasional sip that I steal from my partner’s cup in the morning (I’m not THAT virtuous). The hardest thing now about not drinking it now the craving has gone is the social side; having a coffee after a bike ride, meeting a friend, going for a hot drink and a croissant (shhh!) after an open water swim. I’m not sure the solution to that yet but I’m going to try and fine one.

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How to eat right after your workout

November 10, 2017 at 2:09
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Whether you’ve just run a fast 5km personal best or done a long, slow cycle, lifted kettle bells or stretched out in a yoga class what you eat afterwards is important if you want to nourish your body. Here’s our guide on what to eat…

What: High intensity

Spin, sprint or boxing session? This uses fast twitch muscle fibres which depletes your energy stores, rather than your protein. You’ll need to fuel aftwards with a higher concentration of carbohydrates to protein, such as two poached eggs with wholemeal toast. 

If you’ve got another high intensity session coming up the following day (although, you should always follow something like this with a different kind of training, whether it’s a different energy system or body part), try something like yoghurt with some fruit and nuts or it could be something like pasta with a tomato and meat sauce.

If you’re training for weight-loss, always stick to a slow release carbohydrate to keep blood sugar levels stable. Good rule of thumb? Avoid anything white or beige.



What: Long, slow run or cycle

Running or riding for 90 minutes or longer? Then your body is fueling on the energy stored in your blood  muscles. Once you’ve finished, you’ll need to replace this with high glycaemic index carbohydrates so that energy is released quickly to help you recover. Protein is still important too for muscle recovery. Scrambled eggs on a white bagel with avocado and bacon or almond pancakes with banana and a tsp of peanut butter with berries. (the recipe for these comes with our Fit & Glow course). Eat within 30 minutes.


What: Strength workouts

Your body works in the anaerobic system when doing strength work, which means it uses energy from the muscles to power the movement. This creates microscopic tears in muscle fibres, and it’s when these are repaired that you build strength – and you’ll see a desired change. Don’t eat right after these workouts, which can include kettle bells, TRX workouts (or our Body Athletic classes) and you’ll undo all your good work. Eat protein after such a workout, which could be eggs, a mackerel salad, Thai beef salad, anything that adds some good quality, lean protein. (This does NOT include all the so called chocolate bars that have suddenly hit the shelves with added word protein to them!).


What: Yoga and Pilates

Unless you’re doing an advanced athletic Pilates class or a powerful yoga series like the Ashtanga Primary and Secondary series, be very careful that you don’t overeat after these kinds of classes. They use minimal energy, so a light snack of a raw protein ball (on our recipe sheets) or an egg salad should be enough.


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Poached egg on Salmon & Potato Cake

March 12, 2016 at 6:11
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Post Run Brunch

Post Run Brunch

When it comes to those long, long marathon training runs the thought of what I’m going to eat is the thing that gets me through. But eating the right kind of food is really important. Simply fuel on things like cakes, sandwiches or crisps when you get back from a long run and you are likely to undo all the good training you have done as you are not providing your body with what it needs to recover.

This brunch recipe, is packed with essential fatty acids and proteins from the fish and egg, good glycogen replacement in the potato and lots of iron in the kale. But aside form all of that, it’s delicious too!


One egg

Handful of steamed kale

For the Potato & Salmon Cake

One large potato, cooked salmon filet, dijon mustard, butter, salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients for the potato and salmon cake, mould into a patty and roll in flour and then fry in a pan on a medium heat. Serve on the steamed kale and top with the egg.

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Leek, broccoli & mascarpone soup

November 5, 2015 at 2:32
Posted by Rachael Woolston

When the dark nights draw in, it can be tempting to comfort eat. Now you can with this rich, indulgent soup that is healthy too so that you can avoid the winter bloat


I often make recipes up out of things I’ve got lying about in the fridge, so none of my ingredient lists and measurements are exact. But you can’t go wrong, just taste as you go. If it tastes wrong add something else, if it tastes great, brilliant!

Loosely speaking though, I used the following, which was enough to serve four.

2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

1 onion, chopped finely

3 leeks, chopped not very finely at all

1 broccoli floret, left in large pieces

1 potato sliced

75-100g mascarpone

Squeeze of lemon

Salt & pepper

Dijon mustard to taste

Saute the garlic and onion in a little oil with some salt for a few minutes, then add the leeks. Finally add the potato and cover with water (leave the broccoli until later because it cooks quickly).

Simmer until almost soft and add the broccoli. When cooked and soft enough to do, whizz until smooth(ish) in a food processor or using a handheld device.

Add the mascarpone and swirl in until it has heated through and dissolved. Taste and add salt, pepper, lemon and mustard according to taste.

Now, the trick is to NOT eat it with bread laden with salty butter! Try oat cakes although this should be rich enough to just eat on its own.



Crockery: Habitat 

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Carrot & Cinnamon Muffins

November 2, 2015 at 12:10
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Want a healthy and delicious cake? Try these almost sugar-free treats perfect for runners, cyclists and even dieters too


Makes 9-12

75ml olive oil

2 eggs

1 orange, zest and all juice

2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon

250g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda & 1 baking powder

1 mug of grated carrot

Handful of raisins

Sliced almonds or crushed nuts

Optional 50g of sugar

Heat oven to 180C. Brush the inside of a 12 hole muffin tin with oil and dust with flour or use baking cups.

Whisk olive oil, eggs, orange juice and zest (add sugar here too if  you want a bit of sweetness).

Fold in flour, bicarb and baking soda. Then stir in carrots (you can also use courgettes or squash) and raisins and the cinnamon (the cinnamon adds natural sweetness so add according to taste). Divide between cups, top with nuts and bake for around 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes away clean.

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Cauliflower, cashew and black kale coconut curry

September 18, 2015 at 2:38
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Packed with protein but with a creamy coconut sauce to make this feel naughty, this is a satisfying dish for an autumn or winter evening, or a post run recovery meal. If you’re trying to lose weight, forgo the rice and have it as a soup. If you’re training for something, eat with brown Basmati rice or, even better, quinoa which packs a more powerful protein punch.

Haven’t got all the vegetables you need? Mix and match with what you have in your fridge.


Serves 4

4cm ginger, peeled and chopped

4 garlic cloves

1 fresh green chilli, roughly chopped, seeds removed if you prefer less heat


Rice bran oil (which has a higher burn point)

2 large red onions, chopped

1 tbsp of tomato puree

1 1/2 tsp of ground coriander

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 cauliflower broken into florets

400ml coconut milk

100g cashew nuts

Two handfuls of black kale, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp garam masala

Fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Fresh lemon

Place the ginger, garlic and chilli into a food processor with the salt and whizz up. Add a little oil to help it become a paste.  Place to one side.

Fry the onions until just turning brown, add the paste and fry for 3 minutes. Next add the tomato puree, all the spices except garam masala and stir to mix.

Add the cauliflower and coat with spices, add the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Turn to simmer, put a lid on and leave to cook.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan and fly the cashews until golden.

Finally add to the cauliflower along with kale. Sweat down and then add the garam masala. Adjust seasoning and add the coriander and a big squeeze of fresh lemon before serving. You may add water to thin the sauce out.


Adapted from Made in India, by Meera Sodha, Penguin

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Gin Friday

June 12, 2015 at 1:30
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Nothing at Fitbitch is to do with deprivation. Our fitness and nutrition advice is all about celebrating, experiencing and enjoying.

But we do emphasise the importance of making informed, conscious decisions about how and what your nourish your body with. And so we’re big fans of this healthy spin on a gin cocktail, the Med & Turf, with almond milk.

And you have the perfect excuse to try it – it’s World Gin Day this Saturday 13th June.

Gin Mare - Med Turf


100 ml. Almond milk

50 ml. Gin Mare

20 ml. Agave syrup

10 ml. Fresh lime juice 5 fresh basil leaves

Put all the ingredients in a blender, add plenty of ice , whizz and then serve garnished with basil.


Try making it with Gin Mare (pronounced mar-ray) which contains four principle botanicals, the arbequina olive from Spain, thyme from Greece, basil from Italy and rosemary sourced from Turkey.

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Slim by Design

June 2, 2015 at 9:11
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Contrasting the colour of your plate and food, and even where you sit in a restaurant, could help you lose pounds without you even having to think of the ‘diet’ word

contrast colour

I’ve recently been asked to write a health article for S magazine, part of the weekend section of The Daily Express all about how the way you eat and set up your kitchen is just as important as what you eat when you are trying to lose weight.

For instance, a recent study at Cornell University in the US, found that simply contrasting the colour of your plate to your food, could help you cut the number of calories you eat by up to 18%.

In the study, they gave 60 people a red or white plate and asked them to help themselves to a pasta buffet, serving a red, tomato sauce or white, alfredo sauce, made with butter and Parmesan cheese.  Those who chose food which matched their plate ate more because it disguised the size of the portion.

‘This is good news for those who tend to eat lots of white starches like pasta, rice and potatoes, a big source of calories,’ explains Brian Wansink, Director of the university’s  Food and Brand Lab and author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating for Everyday Life, from £11 www.amazon.co.uk. ‘It means that using dark plates could be a smart strategy in helping you if you’re looking to lose weight.’

To find out the other tips and tricks, including which glasses to use to cut down your alcohol intake, you’ll have to read my feature in the magazine, out in July. But, writing it did get me thinking and inadvertently, I’ve put some of it into practise.

For any of you who follow us on instagram (fitbitchbootcamp), you’ll know that I’ve been obsessed with achieving an unassisted pull up for months. Well, I’d lapsed in practise so I decided to rectify this.  Every time I went into the kitchen, where my pull up bar is, I decided I had to do as many pull ups as possible.

What started as just a way to resurrect my pull up practise has now had multiple benefits.

1. Pull Ups – I’ve now done a lot and I’m progressing!

2. Eating – I’m not snacking as much because I’m avoiding going into the kitchen needlessly.  When I do eat meals, I sit down and eat them in the kitchen rather than in front of the TV, or while reading, which would mean more pull ups. sResult? Being more mindful when I eat.

3. Digital Detox – and lastly, I’ve taken to plugging my IPhone in to charge in the kitchen, which has stopped me checking it needlessly.

It just goes to show, how a simple change to your habitat and habits can have dramatic effects on both your workout and diet.

So, why don’t you instigate your own kitchen doorway Abracadabra moment, where you are only allowed in after completing a mini workout? It doesn’t have to be a long workout, or even that many repetitions, but it could help you lose a few pounds.


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Beyonce’s 22 Days Nutrition

February 9, 2015 at 5:33
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Veganism used to be that ‘weird’ thing that some people did. But with a special vegan menu to choose from at the BAFTAs and Beyonce launching her own vegan delivery service it has left it’s hippy roots behind…

Beyonce’s personal trainer, Marco Borges has just launched a vegan delivery service, currently only available in the US. Why is it called 22 Days Nutrition?

‘Psychologists have discovered that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit,’ the website states. ‘We applied this principle to helping people live a healthier, more energetic and productive life and created the 22Days Challenge.’

Sample menus include, Almond Berry Breakfast Loaf, Curried Fried Rice with Vegetables for lunch and a supper of Southern Black Beans and Vegetables.

But why has veganism, which used to only be a foodie subculture followed by those who supported animal rights suddenly become so mainstream? It is clearly NOT because everyone supports animal rights.

There are many factors, including increased awareness that eating lots of processed or red meat can contribute to an increased risk of cancer.

But on the whole, one of the main reasons for the surge in popularity – Mintel’s 2014 report on the market for dairy drinks, milk and cream, showed the non-dairy market has increased by 155% in just three years, is because it simply seems more glamorous.

Beyonce is not alone in her advocacy of a plant based diet, joining  Joaquin Phoenix, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson and Natalie Portman.

But for the more intelligent among us who recognise that eating vegan food won’t turn us into a celebrity, what benefits does veganism have?

Because it is packed with vegetables, seeds and pulses, it is a diet that is rich in important vitamins and nutrients. And if you are used to a diet high in meats and carbohydrates, then there is  no doubt that you will lose weight if you switch to a vegan diet.

And there is no need to think of it as some kind of Young Ones student food. With the number of incredible food bloggers now, it has long  shaken off it’s sprouts and seeds hippy roots, with incredible recipes that showcase stunning vegan food.

But should you go vegan just to lose weight?

If weight loss is all that you are interested in, then there are easier ways to go about it. But if you want to do it for a health kick and to make you more conscious of the way you eat normally, then it could be a great exercise in mindfulness.

We launched a Hollywood Raw Food Eating Plan last April and it certainly helped our clients think about the food choices they made.


22 Days Nutrition costs from $9.24 per day.  www.22daysnutrition.com

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Detox & Define Online Workout & Diet, starts Jan 12th

January 6, 2015 at 6:27
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Want to get in shape and lose the bloat of Christmas past with a nourish not punish eating plan along with workouts that take less than 20 minutes a day? Sign up to our introductory online package for just £35

So, how does it work?

You will receive a nourishing eating plan that focuses on protein with high fats, essential for the body, which will make this diet one to enjoy not endure.

The caveat is that you WILL have to cook from fresh but at Fitbitch and Hiit, we are firm believers in the maxim that to lose weight and maintain it you have to LOVE food. And that means cooking it fresh. The eating plan, 25 Day Define lasts for…well, 25 days.

In addition to the eating plan, you will be sent an online exercise programme, complete with videos and pictures to help explain form and technique.

These are simple workouts that can be done by EVERYONE no matter whether you’re a beginner or advanced. They work in less than 20 minutes per day as they are based on the scientifically proven TABATA system, working hard and intense for short bursts for maximum effect. You will be expected to work out every day.

The exercises are easy to follow but should you wish to go through any of the programme with one of our trainers beforehand to ensure correct technique this can be arranged. *

Our exclusive introductory online offer, £35, also includes access to our closed group online Facebook group where you can join the online community, ask questions and get advice. And it will help keep you motivated and sticking to the plan. If you have already signed up and paid for your package, click HERE to join.

We will also be holding you accountable (should you wish!) and asking you to measure and weigh yourself every week and share your results (privately) with us so that we can help you keep track.

If you REALLY want to lose weight and get in shape but you can’t get to one of our camps because you live outside Brighton or simply have childcare/work issues or would prefer not to work out in the morning, this programme WILL work.

Want in? We start January 12th but make sure you book before this date so you have a chance to get prepared. Book it via our Online Diet and Workout option on our booking page


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Food for Fitness

October 1, 2014 at 8:56
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Serious about your sport whether it’s running, triathlon, biking or even skiing? Then knowing what to eat and when is vital

Did you know that sometimes eating too many carbohydrates on a race can make your crash, rather than give you energy?

This and more will be revealed in a nutritional masterclass with best selling author, Anita Bean whose best-seller, Food for Fitness explains what top sports people eat and how you can use the same strategies to take your training to the next level.

Whether you are a competitive athlete or you just enjoy working out for fitness, join Anita at a nutritional masterclass on Thursday October 16th where you will find out what is the best way to feed your body, and get the opportunity to ask her your own questions.

Anita Bean BSc R Nutr is the author of Food For Fitness and The Complete Guide to SportsNutrition. and is a registered Sports & Exercise nutritionist www.anitabean.co.uk.

Ticket details

Date: Thursday 16th October
Time: Drinks at 6pm and talk from 6.30pm until 7.45pm
Place: Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP
Cost: £10 / £6 for students, including wine (or smoothies)

Tickets are available to buy online at www.bloomsburyinstitute.com or on the door.


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#breakfast selfies – protein power

August 5, 2014 at 3:28
Posted by Rachael Woolston

We asked our readers to post their best breakfast pictures to our Facebook and Twitter streams, to be in with a chance to win a goodie bag worth £60. But who has won?




To be honest, we’ve had so many fantastic entries that it is almost impossible to decide which is the best. But we’ve whittled it down to our top three which are….

Breakfast egg loaf – a great, easy to do breakfast which looks impressive and can also be cut up into slices for lunch. Packed with protein in the form of eggs and the meat this is adaptable as you can add whatever you like to the egg mix

Egg baked in green pepper – it looks fantastic and is full of colour, which makes you more likely to want to eat it. And it is great if you are trying to lose weight because it is a fantastic protein source.

Poached egg on quinoa cake – this would make a fantastic evening meal too. A bit more involved than the other two, involving the making of a quinoa cake but you could make a batch of this in advance. A brilliant way of ensuring a good slow release energy source with egg without recourse to bread.

So, which of these three gets YOUR vote?


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#fitbitcheats: healthy Ice Cream

July 31, 2014 at 11:04
Posted by Rachael Woolston

As the weather continues to heat up, why not enjoy some delicious Fitbitch gelato that won’t ruin your healthy eating habits?


We’ve been experimenting with a few recipes at Fitbitch HQ this summer – and I’m confident that we will be experimenting with a few more!

 Some of these have been made with SunWarrior Chocolate powder, a vegan protein powder that is clean of the kind of additives which are often hidden in other protein supplements.

Don’t worry, protein powder will not suddenly make you sprout muscles. It simply helps you to repair and rebuild muscles that have been worked through exercise in order to create tone. Or if you haven’t exercised, it has the benefit of making you feel fuller for longer.

Of course, there are lots of delicious fruit and coconut based recipes that you can you devise for ice lollies and ice ‘creams’ too. So make sure you check back or subscribe to the blog if you want to get these straight to your inbox when we post.


Chocolate & Raspberry Ice Cream

One scoop of protein powder

200-250ml Rude Health almond milk

Handful of frozen raspberries, more if you wish

Dash of water if needed

Whizz in a food processor until fully combined and then pour into an ice cream or individual blancmange mould. Freeze overnight and serve.


Blueberry, apple & ginger

OK, so it’s not an ice cream but it’s like drinking a delicious cocktail in ice form!

Handful of frozen blueberries

Juice of one apple and inch stub of ginger

Combine in a food processor, pour into a mould and freeze.


To help ease any of these out of their moulds, leave at room temperature for ten minutes. Or you can dip quickly into a cup of boiling water.


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