Home Archives 2011 June 18

Daily Archives: Jun 18, 2011

Cutting calories and usually in the form of complex carbohydrates is part of dieting. As the diet progress, you progress with lower body fat levels but in order to maintain this you usually need to decrease calories a little! Hunger is very painful, mentally, because you find it hard to concentrate if you are hungry. This article is necessarily discussing cravings as that would be a reactive measure; instead this is a proactive guide to hopefully prevent hunger setting in as you decrease your calories!

Fatten up!

Not literally, but slowly increase your intake of healthy fats! As your carbohydrate intake drops your body is going to want something else to use as energy. Muscle tissue is often broken down by the body when there is a lack of carbohydrates. To prevent this from happening, take on more healthy fats from sources such as almond butter, peanut butter, Udo’s Choice Oil and even low fat cottage cheese. These fats will help slow down the rate at which your body burns calories, which means you should feel fuller for longer! It can sometimes be a good idea to have a tablespoon of almond butter 2-3 times a day between meals before any feelings of hunger even have time to kick in! I would also advise switching your diet slightly to have one more ‘red meat’ meal or ‘white fish’ meal instead of chicken for example, due to the higher fat content.

Protein, protein and more protein!

Some people are very obsessed with calorie counting, I am more ‘’obsessed’’ with what the calories are I am putting into my body. Never have I counted my calories on a diet for the simple reason that certain calories affect your body differently. Eating 2,000 calories a day of just protein or 2,000 calories a day of fast acting carbohydrates is going to have a very different impact on your fat levels! Of course protein has a calorie content, but the body doesn’t store protein as fat, or at least to any significant levels! Therefore as your complex carbohydrates come out of your diet, up your protein intake purely to ensure your portions remain fulfilling! If you normally have 180g of chicken with a meal, as your complex carbs come out up that to 220g of chicken for example. This won’t stimulate fat gains in my opinion! If anything it will just increase your rate of recovery, whilst boosting your natural level of protein synthesis!

Go Green!

I’m not banging on about the environment here, I am telling you to eat lots of greens! Broccoli is a fantastic source of fibrous carbohydrates which you can eat more or less guilt free. If you were to eat 100g each meal you probably wouldn’t gain any body fat, in fact I would say this would stimulate fat loss. Due to the high water content of broccoli and the low calorie content, you probably burn more calories eating and digesting it than it puts into you! However, greens are fantastic for keeping you full and the psychological factor of eating ‘’lots’’ really helps!

Drink up!

Dehydration is a very common cause of hunger! When you feel hungry it could in fact be that you are just low on water! Therefore this is another reason why you should remain hydrated at all times to help prevent the onset of hunger!

Supplements!

Supplements such as creatine, NO boosters and fat burners can really help keep your energy levels high as you diet. This is so important because you cannot afford to allow your energy levels to drop too much because your intensity in the gym will really suffer, leading to poor gains!

There are 5 solid actions which you can take immediately to help keep your energy levels high whilst dieting and to prevent hunger from setting in! I am speaking from experience because as you know I right in the middle of a 12 week transformation, which reminds me, I have to go an EAT!!!!!

What we drink can have just as much impact on our results as what we eat! So many people will eat healthy food and then drink sugary squash, juice, fizzy drinks and the likes of not thinking that these can cause weight gain! Well they can and will, just as junk food will. In some instances they are worse due to the colossal sugar content, and the fact there is NO increase in your calorie expenditure during digestion, whereas there would be with junk food. That is ‘knit picking’ though, at the end of the day a lot of drinks are unhealthy and here are the main culprits!

Energy Drinks

Lucozade, Powerade, Monster and Redbull to name a few are not good for you! The sugar content in these is too high, which will potentially lead to an unwanted spike of your blood sugar levels. During most times of the day this will cause your body to fall into a place where it cannot effectively shift body fat! In regards to raising your energy levels, before exercise these drinks are off bounds! Initially you may feel energised, and then about 20 minutes into your workout you will suffer a blood sugar crash and then its all down hill from there! Caffeine based energy drinks are a ‘NO GO’ on any front in terms of a healthy lifestyle, they just are not good for you full stop! However, drinks like Lucozade and Powerade can be utilised as a post-workout drink to replenish your glycogen levels depending on your diet! Certainly for the first 4 weeks of a transformation I wouldn’t be concerned with someone drinking a bottle of this immediately after a workout!

Fruit Squash

Regular fruit squash is loaded with sugars and you really need to be mindful of this! Sometimes you feel it is guilt free due to the ‘small’ quantity of squash; however one serving can contain too much sugar for a dieting athlete. Times this by a few glasses a day and we have a real problem on our hands! However no sugar versions are OK, but make sure that there aren’t other calories hidden in there on the label as so many manufacturers to in order to be able to brand something ‘zero sugar!’ Aspartame is one ingredient which is a popular replacement and I would personally limit my intake of anything with aspartame in due to its potential links with certain illnesses.

Fizzy drinks

These drinks are usually loaded with sugars which by now you know are off limits! There are however again some zero sugar alternatives but you have the issue of ingredients like Aspartame again. Drinks like these also dehydrate you which is something you want to avoid at all costs when dieting in particular! If you are dehydrated your performance in the gym will suffer greatly, as will your gains!

What can you drink then?

Water is obviously the ideal answer in an ideal world, however not everybody can chug down 4-5 litres of plain water like I can each day!!! Therefore I would advise having at least 3 litres of your intake from plain water, and then treating yourself to 1-2 litres with zero sugar fruit squash! However I cannot stress enough the importance that the squash needs to be zero sugar, or near to that number! Double concentrate is a good idea because you get more ‘bang for you buck’ therefore it stands to reason you need less in the water!

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Everyone finds a protein powder which works for them and then they normally stick with it! This makes sense, if you find your rate of progress is good, your body copes with the ingredients well and the taste is great then why change? Well, as a beginner you may find that you are finding it difficult to really nail down a protein formula you like! ‘’XYZ tastes good in the morning, but by night time I am sick of it’’ and ‘’ABC is a bit bland, but I can cope with it for longer!’’ What do you do? Here are my personal top 3 protein supplements on the market today! For the purpose of the article, they are all whey isolate formulas; therefore I am not taking into account multi-blend time phased protein products. That can be another discussion for another day!

Gaspari Intrapro

Gaspari Intrapro is a sensational product in several ways! One small scoop contains a healthy 25g of the highest quality fast digesting proteins! This powder mixes incredibly well with no lumps and it is also nice a thin. However lets not kid ourselves, we are here to judge the taste, and we know the ingredients are premium! If I was afforded just one word to describe the taste of Intrapro it would have to be ‘mouth-watering’ (I used the hyphen smart arse!)! Intrapro genuinely tastes gorgeous, as do all Gaspari products! If the waiter in a smoothie bar passed you an Intrapro shake you wouldn’t complain! Personally, I would say that you HAVE to try all the flavours because it is so hard to choose ONE favourite! It is a bit like going to the sweet shop and having to choose your favourite sweets!

PhD Whey HT+

It was only last year where I was fortunate enough to taste a PhD protein, and since then I have always liked to use their products! Recently I tried Whey HT+ and I have to tell you I was mightily impressed! For me I judge the protein on its ingredients (obviously) and as long as it ticks those boxed which Whey HT+ does with ease, it comes down to ‘mixability’ and taste! Whey HT+ mixes so easily which is vital because if I am drinking a shake 6:00AM I DON’T want to be choking on lumps of powder and make myself gag! The taste is also lush, with a great variety to choose from! Again I find it really hard to choose a favourite, but with this product I WILL go out on a limb and say Chocolate cookies . . . . Mmmmmm!!

Reflex Instant Whey

In terms of quality, you can’t really beat Reflex Instant Whey because of its ultra high premium blend of ingredients and the fact it is voluntarily batch tested! Again, like the first two this protein mixes incredibly easily which by now you know is important to me because essentially, I am a wimp and if it’s lumpy I won’t drink it! However, the real reason I ADORE this product is all down to ONE flavour! When I used to sell ice cream I found that I had a burning love for mint-choc chip ice cream and I could never find a protein this flavour which was that good! Even the Gaspari mint-choc chip didn’t impress me as much as Reflex’s version! During the summer, I cannot think of a better way to build muscle AND enjoy a VERY refreshing drink than Reflex Instant Whey mint choc-chip!!!

There you go guys, my take on which whey isolate proteins are the best on the market in terms of taste and ‘mixability!’ Sure, there are loads of great proteins out there but do they work as well as these and do they taste as good? I challenge you to find better tasting alternatives!

Periodisation is an excellent tool for anybody who has hit a wall and cannot get out of a rut! This could be a lack of muscle gains, strength gains, or you are simply bored of having no structure to your training! Most people lose track and just go to the gym with no real direction or purpose, but this can all change today. Read on as this article aims to point out the many benefits of using periodisation as a means to enhance your gains and make the gym a great place to be again.

Periodisation is essentially like a timeline which has lots of smaller goals for you to achieve which leads to one big overall goal. By applying these simple principles to your training it can also enable you to focus on both slow and fast twitch muscle fibers.

Starting a periodisation plan is relatively easy. All you need to know is what exactly it is you want to achieve and then work backwards from here. For instance, you may want to gain 10lbs of solid lean muscle in 12 months therefore you workout exactly how much you need to gain a week and then create a training and nutrition plan to suit. However there are certain principles to follow when using periodisation.

The principles of periodisation are that you begin with high volume and use less weight, maybe using a repetition range in the region of 20 per set. This way your connective tissue is able to adapt to the stress and your slow twitch muscle fibers are also stimulated and in turn this can lead to a greater level of muscle hypertrophy. As you can see in effect the principles of periodisation is to go from high volume training to low volume training over the course of time which means that you haven’t left a single muscle fiber unstrained. This is then how periodisation has become so popular simply because it promotes muscle growth right the way through your body. More than this, you could describe it as ‘smart’ because you begin with high repetitions for the first few weeks, which enables your joints and muscle to adapt!

By the end of your periodisation training program you will be lifting up to 95% of your 1 rep max! This means you have really gone from one extreme to the other with your training style! The hope is that the shock of the constant change means your body will be forced to grow.

If you have found that regular training just isn’t working for you, this style of training may just work for you! Remember, it is all about been goal orientated so get your goal in place before hand!

OK, so what happens when you lose it? No, not your iPhone (though I know my life world come to a screeching halt! Sad state of affairs….) but instead motivation! The desire to achieve your goal! All of a sudden you have hit a point where there is no self control and your in a mental state where cake, chocolate and glasses of wine all have the ability to talk you into cheating….waking up for no reason feeling like it’s all gone wrong.

You are not alone! It’s surprising how different you can feel week by week, even how you feel day to day.  Or in my case I can do a full 180 in the space of a day! At the end of the day, life, work, family, even yourself, will throw all sorts of challenges and obstacles your way. What makes winners and achievers is how you deal with them, deflect them.  Stand there with your head held high and let it all ricochet off your armour! (I couldn’t even write that without giggling!! I said it in a class once and all of us burst out laughing! Who knows where that came from….?)

Previously, I wrote how you are responsible for yourself and your actions and only you will really bring yourself out of any lull you’re having. 

However, talk to someone, tell your trainer or someone close and use them as an inspiration to take action!

Perhaps figure out what the issue is. Learn to understand yourself and how you deal with things.  I often spin the situation round, what would I say to a client or friend and perhaps take my own advice.

Is it boredom? Could a simple change of routine make all the difference?

Are you not achieving your results? Ask why? Have you not followed your plan? Are you actually DOING your plan?! (A surprising number of people claim their plan doesn’t work and they’re not actually completing it as they are supposed to…..,)

Has someone made a comment that upset you? Whether said in kindness or spite, what now? Do you agree with them? Are they jealous? Are they trying to help?  Look at yourself and make your own judgement, it’s your body, what do you want from it? Just because ‘Dave’ in Accounts thinks women should be petite and lacking muscle, doesn’t mean you should doubt your fabulous deltoids and guns to be proud of if you love them! (What does Dave know anyway…..? You could probably bench more than him on your bad day…..!

Take the rough with the smooth; understand that if you come down you can only come back up again! It will only get worse if you don’t confront it and be honest with yourself. Write down new goals (even if it’s stop being a whiner!) stick them on your fridge, take a deep breath and keep going. No one said it was going to be easy, if it’s worth it you’ll work for it!

Here a few tips and motivational quotes from some trainers and fitness bods to inspire….

‘You can’t out train a bad diet!!’

           -Gavin Gibson, owner of Iron Bodies UK

‘Don’t just try, keep trying and then try harder! Every step counts, every rep, every good meal, every avoided bad meal’

          -Joanne Milsom, Owner and Founder at The Physique Academy

‘Obsession is a word lazy people use for dedicated’

          -said by Arnie himself….

          -quoted by Mark Hall

‘Eat clean, lift heavy, get bigger!

         -Dave Thomas, Founder and Director of The Foundry

‘Train dirty, eat clean!

         -Bev Keen, studio instructor and Personal Trainer

There is nothing more annoying and upsetting for an athlete who has spent months dieting to get ripped for that moment of glory, walking on the beach topless, and to be craving for an ice cream at the seaside with your friends and family. Everyone else is raiding the whippy van and you only have your next chicken and rice meal to look forward to. Well not anymore, there is a genuine delicious replacement for ice cream which most athletes can indulge in at least a couple of times a week! This article is going to explain to you why this summer you should enjoy frozen natural yogurt as a direct replacement to ice cream!

Zero fat frozen natural yoghurt shares the same texture, taste and consistency as some of the yummiest ice creams, making it a mouth watering treat for you without the drawbacks of a cheat meal. I should know, I used to sell plenty of it!

First of all, zero fat frozen yoghurt contains an abundance of healthy antioxidants and vitamins which are essential in maintaining a healthy and efficient body. To add to this, just like milk, frozen yoghurt is loaded with Calcium which is of huge benefit to any athlete. As the story goes, Calcium doesn’t only promote healthy bones it also has a positive impact on the neuro transmissions between your brain and muscles which is absolutely critical to muscle growth. This is because if there is a poor relationship between your brain and muscles your muscular contractions are very weak which means that it can be more difficult for you to stimulate much muscular hypertrophy. Therefore eating zero fat frozen yoghurt can potentially be excellent for promoting muscle growth.

In terms of taste, as mentioned before it is simply sensational! However, you can easily enhance your frozen yoghurt eating experience by adding a few spoonfuls of frozen berries on top. You can also blend frozen yoghurt with frozen fruits and even some protein powder to make a refreshing, muscle feeding cocktail. Zero fat frozen yoghurt comes in a whole range of flavours as well, just as ice cream does which makes it even easier to eat simply because you can always find a flavour to suit you.

As a word of caution, be careful of the sugar carbohydrate content in some zero fat frozen yoghurt. There are plenty which contain an ‘acceptable’ amount, but some are loaded with sugar carbohydrates to compensate for the zero fat element, don’t get caught with this!

This summer you should certainly eat zero fat frozen natural yoghurt this summer to substitute ice cream. It’s just as tasty, yet it bears all of the great nutritional values of a top quality food.

The art of putting a diet together is more difficult than you may think! Knowing what foods to eat and when is easy enough because you have FitMag, it is sticking to your diet which is the hard part! No, this isn’t a lecture so don’t worry! Yes I am motivated, yes I believe in motivating others BUT I am also a realist! Therefore I don’t see the point of telling somebody to ‘just eat’ something they don’t like! They may stick it out for 12 weeks and then what? Go back on a binge and end up worse off than when they first started? That’s the equivalent of showing someone how to earn £10,000 a week for 12 weeks and telling them to live to those means, and then at the end of the 12 weeks they are unable to maintain that level of work anymore. They will have on their hands something they no longer have the energy or means to maintain! This isn’t what FitMag is about; we want to encourage a healthy lifestyle change to you, on a permanent basis! Therefore I am going to give you 4 ‘insider’ tips on how to make a diet work for you in terms of making sure it has the ‘stickability’ factor!

Write down your current diet!

This may read, nothing, ham sandwich, nothing, salad, Snickers, can of coke, Doritos, Lasagne and ice cream. It really doesn’t matter, but if this is what you eat on a day to day basis this tells you an awful lot about yourself! It tells you what you enjoy, what you find ‘easy’ to prepare to fit in with your lifestyle, how often you like to eat and how much you spend on food! These are all essential things to consider before writing out your new and improved healthy diet! For example, if you eat 2 white ham sandwiches at 11AM, there is no more hardship to swap this for 2 chicken salad brown sandwiches in terms of cost or time of preparation! If I was to say eat steak and baked potato, some would, but most would say ‘I can’t afford that’ or ‘I don’t have the time’ or ‘that’s not my thing that time of the day!’ Guess what, that is totally fine because in order for new eating habits to become reality on a permanent basis you have to be able to live with them! So write down what it is you normally eat over a period of a week, day by day! This will give a great indication of what variation you enjoy and how good you are at fitting your food around your busy life!

Be honest

Yes you are motivated right now as you sit here ‘’gorping’’ over somebody’s physique you would kill to have! However, when you are 6 weeks into your new lifestyle change will you still really enjoy prawn salad in a wholemeal bagel, opposed to your usual Subway? I would suggest perhaps not, so don’t go too far from where your roots lye! In this instance, if Subway is the normal meal of choice, I would recommend a homemade baguette using a wholegrain baguette (of course), chicken breast chunks, salad, and some chopped vegetables with some ultra low calorie dressing. You can even heat this up if you have access to a microwave or grill! You can see the difference here right? Making small but significant changes opposed to totally throwing your eating habits out of the window!

Finances!

Apparently we are in a ‘credit crunch’ so people may say finances are a limiting factor in their diet! For sure it can be expensive, I will spend up to £70 a week on food sometimes, but this doesn’t have to be the case! In fact, I would say for £35 a week you could eat healthily and build a physique which looks mightily impressive! For those guys who don’t buy their own food yet, that’s NOT a lot to spend on a normal food shop each week! Again, make sure you diet within your means because if you stretch yourself to the point where it is touch and go, this is just another reason to give up! You may love your new diet but finances are usually the most influencing factor in everyone’s life, so be smart with your planning!

Can you eat like this all year?

To finish I will leave you with this question! If this is going to be a ‘life changing’ diet for you, which it has the potential to be you need to be able to live with it 95% of the year! There is a distinct difference between liking junk food and living off it! Put 3 MacDonald’s, 1litre of Bounty ice cream, fish and chips from my favourite chippy and a pack of chocolate Hobnobs and I will annihilate it ALL no problems, and I would probably do it again! That is what I would describe as really liking junk food, BUT I don’t crave it on a daily basis and I don’t need it. However, I will indulge once or twice a week as part of a ‘healthy’ living plan (not the quantity I just mentioned though!). This way I enjoy my life because that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day, yet I can also stay in shape and healthy which is also very important! Personally, it is ingrained into me whenever I eat that my meals are healthy and giving me sufficient nutrients for my goals! However, it isn’t ‘’dieting’’ to me because I enjoy my food. I eat fruit, some cereals, and all sorts of meat, all sorts of carbs, meats, fish and dairy products. So you could say I eat pretty much what I want as long as it’s the healthy option and at the right time of the day! This is what I want to encourage, a diet where you eat a cross-section of healthy foods, some junk to keep you happy, and above all else something you can stick to wherever you go! Everyone has to eat, and there is also the choice to eat healthy even if you are out!

From this I hope you understand what we are trying to promote. Yes, you need to eat healthy to be healthy and in shape, BUT it has to be something you enjoy and can stick to! Don’t diet with foods you can barely stand the site of, it will wear off trust me!

If you listen into the ‘chitter chatter’ amongst the regular gym bunnies on a Monday night, you will probably hear a discussion or two debating the differences between a free bar and a smith machine. Often, a free bar will come out on top at the conclusion of the conversation! However, as much as I rate free bars and I would probably also be inclined to agree they are slightly better, I do think under the right circumstances smith machines have a place! Here is a face-off between the two pieces of equipment in question on 3 different exercises!

Bench press

The free bar on this exercise forces you to balance all of the weight which stimulates your ‘fixator’ muscles and your core. On the smith machine you don’t get this because the mechanics of the machine help stabilise the weight! On the other hand, you could perhaps say that the smith machine helps you isolate the pecs more effectively simply because it doesn’t bring other muscle groups in to stabilise the weight as a free bar would. However, due to the fact that you have to constantly control the weight with the free bar, there isn’t anything but fresh air to support you; I would say that the free bar will help stimulate your muscle fibres more effectively due to extra tension on the pecs!

Squats

Some people love squatting on free bars but hate smith machines and vice versa! Personally I have a take on both, as you would expect naturally! The free bar is better from the point of view of movement because it allows you to use a form you like; you are dictated by a machine. However, some people who struggle to squat with a narrow stance, as myself, due to the length of our legs; the free bar has its limits! On the other hand, a smith machine will allow you to stand with any stance because you don’t have to concentrate on stopping yourself from falling over! From experience, I do find the smith machine can sometimes place excessive stress on my lower back opposed to the free bar! With everything into account, I would choose the smith machine to squat if you struggle with balance, because you can focus on using different stances and hitting your thighs from different angles! By no means am I saying not to use the free bar because I do a lot, but I have a soft spot for the smith machine on squatting day!

Deadlifts

This is a very tricky one! So many people I hear say that deadlifts can cause you to have a blocky midsection because your core has to help lift the weight. My take on that would be ‘nonsense’ simply because your core lifts with every exercise!!! Load the bar and squat down 90 degrees and see how your abs tense up, same thing! Personally, unless I have to I won’t deadlift on a smith machine much because I find it to be very restrictive, and I find the angle is off! However, I will occasionally because I think it is a great exercise for the back and I don’t always have a free bar at the gyms I use. The free bar is the ultimate for deadlifting because it allows you to use a free range of motion which I value a lot, when you consider the level of stress on your lower back during this exercise!

Phew, that was a battle!!! The free bar has come out on top according to my score cards with a close 2-1 victory. However I would strongly recommend the smith machine to everyone and I wouldn’t ever say it isn’t any good, because they are great!!!

 

 

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As our ‘Myth Buster Series’ continues we hope you have learnt some new things this far! To date we have discussed myths surrounding training and nutrition, and today we are going to move on to supplementation! There are endless myths and misunderstandings in regards to supplement usage and today we hope you can learn about some of them!

Protein makes you ‘’bulky’’!

How? Supplementing on protein shakes cannot make you look bulky if your diet is right! Protein powder is essentially a liquid equivalent to a chicken breast or something similar. They are purely to make your life easier, enabling you to ingest the right quantities of protein without force feeding, and a way to get a very high standard of protein into your body. Calories can potentially cause you to ‘’bulk’’ up but protein is very low in calories! Many male and female athletes supplement on protein and they look like they don’t much at all, if they are endurance athletes for instance! The point of protein powders is to ensure you get enough protein to stimulate the recovery of muscle tissue, and the growth of if that is what you’re aiming for! To an extent you can influence this with your training and diet!

Supplements don’t really make much difference!

Yes they do! Personally, I would suggest supplements make between 15-25% difference depending on the supplement stack, the athlete and the diet that athlete is following! On my transformation I have shown my strength has increased 25% and so has my endurance. More reps and more weights should equate to more muscle growth! Anybody who finds a supplement stack isn’t working may find that their diet and training are at fault! Be truthful and if you can say you never drink alcohol when dieting, you never miss a meal and you eat good meals then the supplements will work for you! Simple!

Supplements will make up for my lack of effort!

No they won’t! The reason these products are called ‘supplements’ is because that is precisely what they do! They ‘supplement’ your diet in order to aid your recovery rate, your energy levels, strength levels and rate of growth. Most supplements only have the ability to affect your body when your diet and water intake is correct, so don’t EVER say they will make up for a lack of effort on your behalf because they can’t! This is why so many people fail to see results with supplements, due to their laziness, not the quality of the supplements they are using! Ferrari’s are much faster than Vauxhalls around a track, but the driver has to put the effort in to make the car go! The ingredients are there to achieve phenomenal results; it is a case of utilising the ingredients as they are intended to be used!

There you have some of the most common myths surrounding supplement usage! From this I believe you are much better primed to get more from your supplement stack! Supplements are a huge part of the overall equation; you just need to understand the truth in order to get those results!

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