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Sarah Helly – Golf

Name: Sarah Helly

Age: 25

Sport: Golf

Position: Assistant Golf Professional

Career Length: 2 years 

What made you choose golf? Did you start with something else?

  • My father was a keen golfer and taught me the game. 


What is your greatest sporting achievement?

  • Winning the Irish Amateur Women’s Championship in 2015 and representing Ireland on the Women’s national team.


What is your current sporting goal and how do you plan to go about getting it?

  • To become a class A LPGA professional and work in the arena of golf and study the LPGA course.


Aside from your sporting achievements and athletic ability, do you think there are any attributes you have acquired over the years from sport, that benefit you in your life outside of sport?

  • Yes. Golf has opened many doors for me through meeting people and work. I have also got to travel a lot and visited many countries. 


What was your lowest point in sport and how did you stay positive so that you continued to grow?

  • 2013 was the year I struggled the most. I lost my game completely and was thinking of quitting altogether. However, I stuck with it, practiced a lot and became more patient. 


What is the greatest opportunity that sport has given you? 

  • I got to represent my country and received a scholarship to America so I could complete my studies there. 

Golf can be as much an individual challenge as it is a team effort. What was your preference and why?  

  • I prefer individual competition. As when you perform poorly, it is only yourself to blame. In a team, you can perform very well but do not succeed because of the performance of others. 

What’s your advice to the younger you?

  • Don’t give it up if it makes you happy the majority of the time. There will always be low points but the highs you get from doing well outweigh the lows. 


What’s your advice to someone who has never played a sport before and is considering, picking one up?

  • Be patient. Practice. It won’t come overnight but most importantly, have fun! 

What do you like most about coaching? 

  • Trying to help someone get better and seeing the results that come along with it. That is extremely satisfying. 


Who is your inspiration?  

  • In sport, my dad. He is the reason I am the player I am today. He gave me so many opportunities. 

Damian Darker – K1


Name: Damian Darker 

Age: 25

Sport: K1 (Kickboxing)

What made you choose combat sport? Did you start with something else?

  • I was 4 years of age when I started a combat sport so I guess it’s all I’ve ever known really, I wanted to do it because of the tv programs I was watching at the time had cool martial arts scenes in them and that had an influence on me but the decision ultimately came down to my parents at that age so they decided it would be a good decision to find a local club for myself and I started Taekwondo from there.


What is your greatest sporting achievement?

  • My greatest sporting achievement to this day is probably winning my first professional k1 title last year and then successfully defending it twice this year winning it outright.


What is your current sporting goal and how do you plan to go about getting it?

  • My current goal is to break into the international k1 scene and get the biggest promotions & shows out there. I’m going about it by constantly training hard in order to better myself but also trying to stay ready cause it’s not like a season in a lot of sports it’s a lot less predictable as far as competitive regularity so that’s why when opportunities arise I have to be fit & ready in order to grab it with both hands.


Aside from your sporting achievements and athletic ability, do you think there are any attributes you have acquired over the years from sport, that benefit you in your life outside of sport?

  • Yes, 100% there are plenty. Socially there is a lot to be gained from sport and I feel I gained a lot of social skills just from being involved in sport from a young age. I also believe it helped me a lot with dealing with pressure & nerves when In school or college exams. I always felt if I could deal with the nerves before physical combat/competition and still go through with the contest the nerves before an exam would be a piece of cake and it always was the case for me personally. Also manners & etiquette are another huge things gained from sort by learning respect for team/club mates & opposition.


What was your lowest point in sport and how did you stay positive so that you continued to grow?

  • My lowest point In sport would have to be losing in the full contact WAKO world championships in 2015 and I remember being so disappointed with my performance but ultimately I had lost the love for that style of kickboxing and felt we didn’t have a level playing field with other countries in that discipline so I decided after that loss I was finished with amateur full contact kickboxing and I was going to make the transition to professional k1 and I haven’t looked back since as I feel personally it’s the best I’ve been and I have that hunger back again.


What is the greatest opportunity that sport has given you? 

  • Traveling the world competing is probably one of the greatest opportunities sport has giving me as I would have never been to most of the countries or seen what I’ve seen or met the people I’ve met if it wasn’t for sport.


To a lot of people think what you do is extremely intense for many reasons. Do you think you have to be a particular type of person to enjoy it?  

  • Not particularly because I certainly don’t class my self as an aggressive or extremely intense person which people sometimes think you need to be, I just badly wanted to win my chosen sport and that is what became addictive to me is the winning aspect not the fighting aspect and I know that sounds funny but it’s that feeling of winning that got me hooked and you just have to be willing to put in the work in to be ready come fight night in order to get that win and that’s the hard part so I believe you have to be determined more than anything I believe you have to be a determined and dedicated individual more so than just an aggressive person in order to do well in this sport or any combat sport.

What’s your advice to the younger you?

  • It would be to find that happy medium between training hard and being the best you can be while still being a kid and having a childhood that you can look back on fondly because if you don’t you will more than likely look back on it with some regret in some shape or form and the same can be said the other way around if you don’t play a sport as a kid you can end up looking back in regret but it’s never too late to start! I feel my parents done a great job of having that happy medium approach with me and it’s something I’m grateful for.


What’s your advice to someone who has never played a sport before and is considering, picking one up?

  • Try and find a local club that’s easily accessible so there are as little hurdles in your way as possible as far as you attending and then join ASAP! Seriously as I’ve already stated in a question above there are numerous attributes you will gain from sport whether it will be physical or mental it will change you for the better and I can guarantee you won’t look back once you find the sport that you enjoy.


Who is your inspiration? 

  • My coach, family and girlfriend are all an inspiration to me and they all drive me on to succeed.


If you have any additional comments, please share below. 

  • Thanks very much Nutrikate for asking me to do this questionnaire, I love what your doing keep it up!

Sinéad Goldrick – Dublin GAA

Athlete: Sinéad Goldrick  

Age: 27

Position: Half back

How did you get into sport in the first place? What made you take it up?  

  • I loved all types of sports growing up. My parents always encouraged me to take up any sport I was interested in. It meant that I was doing two different training sessions a day, one after school and one in the evening. I wanted to play everything I could from Gaelic football, athletics and basketball, to swimming, gymnastics and a little Irish dancing.


I know you from the basketball court, did that have any positive influence on your ability on the Gaelic pitch? 

  • I think there are so many transferable skills from basketball that you can incorporate in Gaelic football. Playing basketball growing up there was a huge focus to improve your hand-eye coordination. I used to practice this a lot by trying to improve my dribbling skills so I feel that it has helped me on the Gaelic pitch to try and dispose players.


What is your main focus?  

  • My main focus at the moment is with my club, Foxrock Cabinteely. We are currently in the Leinster Senior Club Championship Final for a third year in a row. I love playing with my club as it is with girls that I’ve known for 20+ years and it’s a special feeling winning and playing with them.


Who is your inspiration? 

  • I have a few inspirational people in my life, one of which is my family. Regardless of the result of a certain game, they are there to support, congratulate or commiserate. Our current Dublin captain, Sinead Aherne, is also an inspiration of mine. I think she is one of the most talented ladies Gaelic football players to ever play the game. She leads by example on the pitch but is also very insightful. Whenever she speaks to us as a team, we all lean in and listen. Personally, I have huge respect for her as a player and a friend on and off the field.Another sporting hero of mine is Lindsay Peat. She has many strings to her bow and is an incredibly talented athlete across several codes. She is a former Irish basketball player, a Dublin ladies star and a current Irish rugby player who has just competed in the Women’s Rugby World Cup just gone by. She also has a wonderful character and I love her enthusiasm and energy she has as a person.


What is your greatest sporting achievement?

  • It has to be finally winning the All Ireland Final this year and to also have played in front of 46,286 fans which was incredible. It was the highest attended women’s sporting event of 2017. Also, reaching the All Ireland Club final last year with my club Foxrock Cabinteely was a great journey.


What is your current sporting goal and how do you plan to go about getting it?

  • At the moment, it’s to win a Senior Club Leinster medal with the hopes of going further in the competition.


Aside from your sporting achievements and athletic ability, do you think there are any attributes you have acquired over the years from sport, that benefit you in your life outside of GAA?

  • I think one of the most important things I have learned is resilience. Sport can be hard sometimes and life can be similarly challenging. Life will throw you a curve ball and what I have learned from sport is to try take it in my stride as there are some things you can’t control, you can only control how you react. In addition, I feel honesty and a high level work rate are two things that are really important in team sport, if you can apply those characteristics into your working life I think people will respect you for that and you will go a long way.


How have you learned to manage juggling work and playing at such a competitive level? Is there anything you struggle with the most?

  • It was certainly difficult coming out of college where there is a small bit more flexibility. Each year, I am getting better at organising my work-life balance. Finding time to unwind can be difficult but it is so important. It is something I have consciously tried to budget time for. Just because you are playing at a competitive level doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be enjoying yourself along the way!


Have you had to sacrifice a lot to be where you are? Is there anything you would change? 

  • Yes, but that’s a choice I am happy to make. The majority of your time is either, working or training so sometimes it can be hard to see your friends and family and go to social events. Thankfully I have great friends and family who understand that I have to miss out on events for training or matches. I wouldn’t change that, I’m part of something special and really enjoy what I’m doing.


In your opinion, what does it mean to be part of a team?  

  • It’s a special feeling that you don’t get in other walks of life. You are with a bunch all girls from all different backgrounds with the same common goal. There’s a huge sense of unity and I love being part of an environment of like-minded people working together to achieve the same goal.


Has Gaelic football opened many doors for you? 

  • Yes, I have been lucky enough to travel with football to Toronto, Hong Kong and San Diego to play in exhibition matches with 30 girls from different county teams. Being able to see a bit of the world was amazing and it also gave me the opportunity to get to know girls from different teams which is important. We’re all promoting our sport when all things are said and done.


Are there any other sports you would like to try and should we expect to see you in a different kit soon enough?

  • I’d like to go back playing basketball again in the off season! I miss it a lot.


What’s your advice to the younger Sinéad?

  • Work hard and always enjoy yourself.


What’s your advice to someone who has never played a sport before and is considering picking one up?

  • Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. There may be people that have more talent than you but there’s no excuse for them to work harder than you. Always remember to enjoy the sport you are playing and work hard at it, the rest will fall into place!


* Photo credit: The Herald Newspaper


Beef and Pumpkin Casserole

Beef and Pumpkin Casserole 

This is a deliciously haunting meal that is packed full of nutrients so that you are strong enough to keep the zombies away! One that will feed all the family this Halloween and make use of any leftover pumpkins. A good substitute for pumpkin is butternut squash so this is a meal that can be made all year round.


What do I need to feed 5 mouths? 


  • 400g Cannellini beans
  • 600g stewing beef
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • Salt, pepper, 2 tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 large carrots
  • 350ml beef stock
  • Pumpkin diced
  • 150g chopped mushrooms
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic

Halloween Mash

  • 1kg potatoes
  • 100g curly kale
  • 1 red onion
  • 100ml Whole milk
  • 25g butter

Equipment: Casserole dish, frying pan, pot, spatula, peeler, sharp knife, chopping board, masher.

And now what do I do? 

  • Cook beef and chopped garlic on a relatively low heat.
  • Chop and peel your vegetables.
  • Add all vegetables, beef, beef stock and spices to a casserole dish.
  • Pop it into the oven for 40 minutes (You can let this slow cook for a few hours if you have the time for it).
  • Peel and chop potatoes and bring to boil until soft.
  • Melt the butter and add the chopped kale and onion.
  • Allow to simmer, stir occasionally.
  • Drain the potatoes, add the kale, onion and milk, mash it all together.
  • Serve the Halloween mash with the casserole and enjoy!

Total prep/ cook time: 60 mins

Serves: 5

Nutrition content per portion:

  • Calories: 505
  • Protein: 39g
  • Carbohydrates: 58g
  • Fat: 12g

Cost per serving: €2.18






Lindsay Peat

Athlete: Lindsay Peat

Age: 36

How did you get into sport in the first place? What made you take it up? 

  • I fell into sport by chance, my mam didn’t want me idle during my summers. She had visions of me running the streets and getting into trouble so she sent me over to the local basketball team. Little did she know I guess what a happy and successful place she would be opening me up to.


I know you from the basketball court but you have since triumphed on the Gaelic pitch for Dublin and international territory for Irish rugby. What sport did your sporting career really start with and what made you choose that sport?

  • Funnily enough my success in sport, for which I’m very honoured and proud, really and truly stemmed from what I learnt through my years of basketball. The coaches I was exposed to, the amazingly talented player’s I played against and just the challenges I faced prepared me for my tough but amazing journeys into the Gaelic and rugby Worlds.


What do you think is behind your progression from your initial starting point to now playing rugby for Ireland?

  • Again I think the experience I had with basketball and GAA had a huge part to play. Sport has evolved so much from where I started to where I am now and I wouldn’t have been able to compete with this evolution to rugby without my exposure to strength and conditioning and nutrition programme with the various teams I was with and again I am so lucky and thankful to have been exposed to many talented and knowledgeable people. You have to not only be a skilled player but a finely tuned athlete in today’s modern world of elite sport.


When entering a new sport, aside from remembering rules and skills of course, does your mindset change at all? Or do you get into a particular state of mind that you can pull across each sport?

  • No my mind set doesn’t really change overall I don’t feel. I can only be me and I have to buy into and believe in what I’m doing. I suppose I’m someone with a philosophy and the philosophy of me is to bring work rate, aggression and belief. After that I must couple what I bring as an athlete to what the game demands and the role I need to play in the overall game plan of the team.  I feel that yes I have evolved in aspects of myself and my personality but obviously I have something that coaches see and that thankfully has stood to me.


Who is your inspiration? 

  • My main inspiration now is my family, my wife and my son.  Taking time away from them really inspires me to be the best and make the most of everything I do in a sporting sense.  On a sporting level as regard’s those players who inspired me, I have had many.  I grew up wanting to be many of the players I got to play with. My main inspiration would have been Denise Walsh, Susan Moran – the list of basketball women I could list here is endless tbh.  Even now the players I play against inspire me to be better and it’s the one thing that tells me I’m not ready to hang up any boots yet.


What is your greatest sporting achievement? (I know this one will be a tough one for you so you can have more than one if you want!:) )


  • Hahaha…THANK YOU!! I suppose dancing on the podium in Croke Park lifting the Brendan Martin Cup in my beloved Dublin Jersey will always be a very standout moment for me but also the first time I played for Ireland in basketball and getting to play in rugby World Cup.  They are all very proud and standout moments for me.  I truly am blessed.


What is your current sporting goal and how do you plan to go about getting it?

  • I think this one is a tough one as I think I’m at a cross roads a little due to decisions we need to make as a family but my goal would be to play for Ireland in the next six nations 2018 but that’s still very much undecided.


Aside from your sporting achievements and athletic ability, do you think there are any attributes you have acquired over the years from sport, that benefit you in your life outside of sport?

  • Yes absolutely.  I have learned to believe in myself and not be afraid to fail. I’ve failed many times in sport but I’ve also won so much and done things no one else could even dream of yet I never always had that in me for my life outside of sport.  Now I give things a try whether that’s standing up in front of 2,000 students in the convention centre giving a motivational talk or going for an interview. I need to try things and push the boat out and not be afraid to fail and to learn.  I also can only ever be me that’s not to say I don’t need to continue to improve or be a better version of me but being me is ok.


How have you learned to manage juggling work and playing at such a competitive level? Is there anything you struggle with the most?

  • A Diary.  It’s been the best and yet simplest tool. Just having to go through what’s on each week from a family point and obviously to include training; talks; media; work.  I never struggled that much really when I was single but since getting married and having a baby it’s very hard to juggle everything in life, very hard at times but we’ve managed so far and that’s all down to the patience of my wife, my family and my friends.


Have you had to sacrifice a lot to be where you are? Is there anything you would change? 

  • Yes I have but at the same time I can’t play sport for ever and the opportunities are limited and you have to take them while they are there.  I’ve sacrificed a lot of special times with my family and friends and missed out on some very special occasions. If I could change anything it would be to have more time to fit everything in and if women got paid for sport that would be amazing!


In your opinion, what does it mean to be part of a team?  

  • To be part of a team is to be like part of a family.  Obviously you won’t like all members of your family the same lol! But you need to have each other’s back no matter what.  You are spending so much time together; working so hard you have to love what you do and the people you’re doing it – it just means so much more then.  Michael Jordan famously said that “Talent wins games but teamwork and intelligence wins Championships”.


Is there any other sports you would like to try and should we expect to see you in a different kit soon enough? 

  • Hahaha! I would love to try boxing I really would but if I was to ever do it, it would be on a very amateur and fun basis!!


What’s your advice to the younger Lindsay?

  • Hmmm…..very good question.  I think the problem with the younger Lindsay is from memory is no matter what advice you’d give her she probably wouldn’t listen anyway!! If she did though I just tell her to drive on for what she wants it’ll all work out – what’s meant for you won’t pass you!


What’s your advice to someone who has never played a sport before and is considering, picking one up?

  • DO IT!!  Port for me has been my happy place, my sanctuary, my driving force but that’s how we connected and it just happened to progress on to the higher echelons but to me Sport is for everyone.  Keep trying every sport till you find one you like and once it makes you happy and you’re enjoying it, anything on top such as winning etc is a bonus. Sport makes me feel good both mentally and physically and once I’m in that happy place and have that happy balance I can take on anything.  It’s one of the best therapy’s out there.


If there is anything you would like to add? If so, please share below. 

  • Just to thank everyone who has helped and supported me along the way especially my wife, my parents who are amazing, my sisters, my in-laws, my friends, coaches, fellow players, my clubs, just everyone. I couldn’t have done it without all of their help.  To anyone who needs advice and I can lend a hand I’m more than happy to help. And finally Sport is amazing give it a try and especially from the girls side of things please, please, please give it a try and if not as a player there are plenty more roles within Sport that are just as enjoyable.  There is a window right now to propel Women’s Sport Worldwide and I just hope all of the organisations who are involved with Women’s Sports here in our great country take advantage of that otherwise we’ll be left behind and we’ll seriously miss out.  That’s from the ground right up to International level. 

Lauren Delany


Name: Lauren Delany

Sport: Rugby, Gaelic football, Basketball


Your sport and why you chose it?  How long have you been playing it for?

  • I’ve played basketball for 15 years and got into it when starting secondary school. I’m in my second season of playing Gaelic football and started as a way to make friends in a new city as well as having a sport to do during the summer months or offseason from rugby. I’m heading into my 4th year playing rugby and like with Gaelic football, I started it as a way to meet people in a new city but also because I loved to watch the sport and knew of a lot of basketball players that converted and did very well.I also go to the gym regularly and do yoga. As I work in professional sport, spending time in the gym is a given.


What was the first sport you took part in and when? What do you think is behind your progression from that point to now playing premier league rugby?

  • The first sport I took part in was probably through PE class in primary school. I remember playing Gaelic football competitively for my school but broke my collar bone in 5th class playing with the lads and couldn’t play a sport for the rest of primary school. I’ve always been really competitive since a young age and loved playing outside with friends and then in team based sports. I love testing myself physically and mentally to try and get the best out of myself. I’ve moved house 6 times in the last 5 years to multiple cities so sport has been a great way to make friends in new places and rugby was always a sport I wanted to try. I think 15 years of basketball definitely helped in my quick progression with rugby and working in elite sport also motivates me to achieve more as I’m always surrounded by world class athletes.


What is your greatest sporting achievement?

  • My greatest basketball sporting achievement is probably representing my country at the under 16 European Championships in Estonia. In rugby, my greatest achievement is winning the national county championship with Lancashire last year in London.


What is your current sporting goal and how do you plan to go about getting it?

  • I am currently in preseason leading up to the new women’s Premiership in England. My goal is to develop as an athlete and be competitive in this league, hopefully with the aim of making the Irish 15s team in the near future. I still play Gaelic football as I think it adds great fitness and skills to my rugby game and the season is opposite to rugby so keeps my fitness up.


Aside from your sporting achievements and athletic ability, do you think there are any attributes you have acquired over the years that benefit you in your life outside of sport?

  • Sport has taught me how to work as a team, how to work hard in order to gain success, how to manage my time, how to communicate effectively with different people, how to deal with loss/being unsuccessful, how to deal with stressful situations under pressure, how to bounce back from disappointment and how to always strive for more. Sport has also taught me that life’s not fair, but it’s not fair for everyone!


How do you find juggling work and playing at such a competitive level? Is there anything you struggle with most?

  • Every week is different. As I have played competitive sport since a young age I have developed good strategies for being time efficient, eating quickly and being organised. There are always weeks where I struggle, especially when work is really busy or I have been busy for the whole weekend with friends/family and I’m not organised for the week ahead. Sport is my way to unwind after a hard day so I really try my best to make every session no matter what.The thing I probably struggle with the most is keeping up with all the washing haha!


Have you had to sacrifice a lot to be where you are? Is there anything you would change? 

  • I think I have a good balance of work, sport and social life. I have sacrificed some holidays and nights out and time with friends/family for training and playing but luckily most of my friends play sport so they’re either there playing with me or they understand the commitment needed. As I’ve played sport since a young age my family always understand and are supportive.I’m a firm believer though that sport is my own choice and being committed to a group of people with a common goal means you have to live with the sacrifices.


In your opinion, what does it mean to be part of a team?  

  • I love team sports and I’ve always been known as a ‘team player’ whether in sport, work or life. A group of people coming together to achieve a common goal is a powerful thing and everyone should feel this once in their life. A team becomes a family. ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.’


What’s your advice to the younger Lauren?

  • Enjoy the journey. Rehab your ankles properly when you injure them first time and pick up rugby at a younger age, it’s an epic sport!


What’s your advice to someone who has never played a sport before and is considering, picking one up?

  • My advice would be to try a local team sport, there’s always loads of teams open to newbies. Rugby is a great sport for people of all abilities and body types so don’t be put off by the contact, grab a friend and give it a go. If contact isn’t your scene then give tough or tag rugby a go as these are really socialable and there are loads of mixed teams. Team sports are the best way I know to make friends, especially in a new area, they’re great fun and good motivation to go training instead of relying on your own willpower to train on your own.


If there is anything you would like to add, please share below. 

  • Sport has the power to change the world. It can improve our health, teach us all the discipline needed to achieve success in life and bring us together as a community to support a common goal. Be part of it and you won’t regret it!

Aspartame: Friend or foe?

Artificial sweeteners. You may be familiar with that term from food packages, diet alternatives and the media?

My family, Mum in particular, is someone who gives me an awful time for consuming diet fizzy drinks. I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that ANY time I am spotted with a can of diet something or other in my hand, which may I add isn’t even a daily occurrence, I am shunned. No. Really. I am. “I can’t believe you would drink that cr*p…. I am amazed at you” and the abuse goes on. Now some of you may be sitting in shock too to think, that me, Kate the nutritionist, has been drowning my body with impurities, but let me explain to you why I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world.

Since the beginning of time (fair, slight exaggeration) fizzy drinks have come under fire. In my opinion, this is understandable; they are cans of sugar that increase a person’s caloric intake which can, among other factors, cause a caloric surplus. This can lead to weight gain which in turn has its own health implications. Water is better etc. etc. However, for many people diet alternatives to our favourite drinks is also a big no no. The predominant reason being that they contain artificial sweeteners, or what are known as non-nutritive sweeteners.  Aspartame being the leading lady.

A quick look at Aspartame

Aspartame is made up of two amino acids; phenylalanine and aspartic acid as well as methanol. You’ll find it in many sugar-free and low-calorie products like drinks, desserts, gum and dairy products for example as a substitute to sugar for which it is 200 times sweeter than. Aspartame was approved all the way back in 1974 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) following suit in 1994. This was after extensive research was carried out demonstrating that aspartame is safe for human consumption.

Did you know that our average daily intake (ADI) values are the amount of X we could have every day without causing any major health implications? The ADI for NNS is based off of the no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) value which is the amount of a substance one can have that is too low to cause any adverse effects. The ADI value recommended to us is set 100 times lower than the NOAEL number…

If it’s so safe, where did all these headlines we’ve seen on TV, in the paper and on the internet, warning us of the dangers, come from? Well, many trials conducted, showing a negative effect where done on rodents who were fed copious amounts of Aspartame, quantities that would never representative true levels of consumption by humans.

Animal studies have their use but translating the information obtained to humans can be a totally different story. The maximum recommended intake for Aspartame is 50mg per kg body weight. This is the equivalent to 18-19 cans of diet drinks. So, Mum, considering I have 2-4 diet drinks per week, if even, I don’t think there is much reason behind your stress? 😘

Aspartame and health implications

Scientific studies done on aspartame and human consumption demonstrate no negative health complications relating to cancer, diabetes, nervous system functioning and body composition.  “The weight of existing evidence is that aspartame is safe at current levels of consumption as a non-nutritive sweetener” (Magnuson et al., 2008).

One newer area of research looks at gut microbiota and the impact that NNS may have on it. This is an area that is not fully understood, with the majority of research looking at mice and rat studies. Thus far there is an indication that a chronic use of NNS can cause gut microbiota to change which in turn can lead to glucose intolerance. As mentioned, a lot more research into this area is needed but important to note as it is an area that we may need to pay more heed to later down the line.

Aspartame and body composition

I say Aspartame but what I mean is, diet drinks. For me, sometimes water doesn’t cut it when I fancy something sweet. But how can I have something sweet without increasing my caloric intake of any great significance? This is why diet drinks work for me. The same goes for clients who are monitoring their body composition or who are trying to lose weight even bodybuilders and bikini competitors alike. This is a solution to falling off the wagon and has been demonstrated in the research too. When looking at water versus non-nutritive sweetened (NNS)beverages over a year long period, in a weight management program, NNS demonstrated to be a far superior tool (Peters et al., 2016).  Being over-weight has far greater health complications than having a can of diet pop so if a diet Pepsi stops you from having a can of Pepsi, I don’t think there is any harm done? Same goes for non-caloric flavoured sweeteners that are now available by certain large nutrition companies, are they the solution to people eating more porridge and Greek yoghurt?

Just a thought, now back to the diet drinks malarkey…Some newspaper articles that were released not so long ago showing that those who are most overweight consume the most amount of diet drinks. One thing to query when you see headlines that are very much pushed to one side is to uncover where this information is sourced from. All studies done on NNS and weight gain in humans, have been observational to date. This is where they look at one group and draw conclusions based upon what that group have been seen to do.  Observation does not equal causation which is important to realise as it is a lot more likely that these findings are due to reverse causality. This is where those who have become overweight for other reasons (e.g. inactivity, excess calorie intake from calorie-dense foods), are now trying to lose some pounds and are doing are trying to achieve just that by now reverting to diet drinks.

Aspartame and Phenylketonuria

Aside from what has been mentioned above, there are one group of individuals who need to be wary of aspartame. Those being individuals suffering from a condition called phenylketonuria (PKU). This is where one is not able to metabolise phenylalanine (amino acid) effectively. In this instance, it is recommended that PKU sufferers treat their intake of phenylalanine from diet or low-calorie foods and drinks as any other source of the amino acid.

For these reasons, some researchers and indeed evidence-based practitioners would say sweeteners have been demonised unfairly. I would have to agree. Sure, water is best for overall health but non-nutritive sweeteners do have a place, in my opinion, in certain instances as eluded to above. I don’t agree that foods and beverages containing aspartame and NNS alike should rule our diets but enjoying them here and there, I see no problem with.

So, don’t be so quick to hate on me for my can of diet fizzy next time!

Kate 🍍


Andrew G. Renwick1 * and Samuel V. Molinary (2010). Review Article Sweet-taste receptors, low-energy sweeteners, glucose absorption and insulin release. British Journal of Nutrition, 104, 1415–1420, doi:10.1017/S0007114510002540

Magnuson B.A, Burdock G.A., Doull J., Kroes R.M., Marsh G.M., Pariza M.W., Spencer P.S., Waddell W.J., Walker R. & Williams G.M., (2007). Aspartame: A Safety Evaluation Based on Current Use Levels, Regulations, and Toxicological and Epidemiological Studies. Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 37(8), (629-727), http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10408440701516184

Peters J.C., Beck J., Cardel M., Wyatt H.R., Foster G.D., Pan Z., Wojtanowski A.C., Vander Veur S.S., Herring S.J., Brill C., Hill J.O.,  (2016). The effects of water and non-nutritive sweetened beverages on weight loss and weight maintenance: A randomized clinical trial. Obesity Society 24(2), 297-304, doi: 10.1002/oby.21327.

Frances Wilson


Name: Frances Wilson

Age: 25

Sport: Cricket

Position: Batter

Career Length: International 6 years, total 11 years


What made you choose Cricket?


  • I loved the social side and always had my best friends through cricket, I think because it is such a long sport and meant you spent a lot of time with each other!


In your opinion, what has been the most challenging part of your career thus far?


  • My first year of international cricket was very challenging. I felt completely out of my depth playing for England and didn’t perform very well, after being dropped from the squad I wanted to quit the sport completely. I was in my first year of university so had lots of other things going on! After a few years out I started to play well again and learnt how to deal with the higher pressure you’re under playing international sport, going through the initial challenges early in my career helped me gain a bit of perspective and develop other areas of my life which in turn made me a better cricketer and more rounded person.


What is your greatest sporting achievement?


  • Becoming a World Cup winner for England in the 2017 World Cup. We were hosts of the tournament and the final was played in front of 27,000 people, it was amazing to be part of such a historical event in women’s sport. Making my comeback for England after 5 years and getting MOM in the game was also really special moment for me.


Who is your inspiration?


  • My mum is a big inspiration for me, she is very hard working and seems to enjoy everything she does. I think that’s really important and why I find her inspiring- she has an interest and an open mind to anything she finds herself doing.


Do you have any advice for the younger Fran?


  • Don’t get frustrated or bitter about losing or feeling like you’re not quite good enough- just see it as an extra challenge and something that’s making you better. (I’m far too competitive!)


What is your current sporting goal and how do you plan on achieving it?


  • I want to become one of the most valuable middle order batters in world cricket and be part of an ashes winning team this winter. I plan to keep working hard, keep perspective and enjoy any challenges which come my way.

What direction do you see your career moving towards?


  • I hope to continue to become an established player for England.


Do you have a particular mindset when approaching an important game?


  • I like to view nerves as my bodies way of best preparing me to play, I also like to trust all the hard work I have done in training and let instinct take over which I find takes the pressure off performance- if you have prepared the best you can that’s all you can do.


Apart from your sporting achievement and athletic ability, do you think there are any attributes you have acquired over the years from sport that benefit you outside of sport?


  • Sport has opened lots of doors for me, being in a sporting environment and meeting lots of interesting and successful people has given me the opportunity to do further education as well as get involved in coaching which in turn provided me with loads of new skills such as talking in front of big groups. I think taking part in sport also lets you work out how to learn, not just work ethic but also how to accept failures and keep moving forward.


What does it mean to you to be part of a team?


  • Being part of a team is often my motivation when I’m playing sport. The feeling that you are working for people you care about towards a cause which everyone wants to achieve pushes me forwards. I love the fact teams require all different sorts of people to be successful- in a good team, everyone has a value and a job to do which gives you a bit of a purpose.


What is your advice to someone who has never played sport before and is considering taking one up?


  • Find something which makes you feel passionate about it (whether it’s the sport itself, learning or the people you do it with). Enjoyment and success comes with something you are passionate about.


Has cricket opened any doors for you?


  • My sport gave me the opportunity to complete my MSc in Sport and Exercise Nutrition and work for the ECB as a performance nutritionist for 3 years. It has also opened doors in coaching cricket. This all happened because I met people within cricket who were willing to help me and give me an opportunity in areas outside of playing. Sport teams are like families and if you make a good impression people love to help you out!


*ECB = England and Wales Cricket Board