Protein Flapjack Recipe for Idiots

I hate the Great British Bake Off and everything it stands for. Berry and Hollywood can shove their creme patissiere up their respective arses.

Why waste your time slaving away mixing flour and other shit ingredients thta contain little to no nutrients when you could make a steak in 3 minutes that tastes infinitely better than anything that raises in a fucking tray?

Well, don’t get me wrong, I still hate baking, but it does have its uses. Steak is great, but you can’t really gnaw at a nice bit of topisde dripping with blood as a quick afternoon snack while you sit at your desk can you?

I usually have 2 meals at the office, but since I’ve started 6 day-a-week training, that’s simply not enough. I need to eat at least 3 times at work, in the past I’ve found my self stumbling to the canteen in a low blood sugar-induced daze to spend extortinate amounts of money (totted up over a month) on flapjacks or brownies. Not really optimal I’m sure you’ll agree.

With this in mind I decided to make my own flapjacks.

But these are no normal flapjacks, if the flapjacks you get in Costa Coffee et. al are Gok Wan, then my flapjacks are The Rock (coincidentally they also had the texture of a particularly hard rock, but I’ll try and address that in this post).

Yes, these are protein-fuelled muscle-building flapjacks that would make Mary Berry have a stroke. Want the recipe?

NOTE: They were pretty dry when I made them, but I’ll adjust the amounts in this recipe so yours hopefully won’t be!

 

Here’s what you’ll need;

  • Oats
  • Greek Yoghurt
  • Protein Powder
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Almond Flour
  • Honey
  • Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • Dark Chocolate

Sounds like a lot but trust me, there are other recipes out there that use a lot more than that.

 

Here’s what to do;

1. Pour about 400g of oats into a big tray. Throw some sunflower seeds in as well, as many as you want really.

Oats and Sunflower seeds

I know, it looks like cat litter.

 

2. Put the oats and sunflower seeds under a medium heat grill for about 10-15 mins, shuffle them around regularly to ensure they all get even heat exposure. Grilling them means they won’t expand when you add the other ingredients.

Toasted oats

Yes the tray has changed. Continuity Error.

 

3. Once they’re browned a bit, take them out and put them to the side

4. Get a mixing bowl, the biggest one you have in the house. Add your whey protein. How much you use is totally up to you, it depends how much protein (roughly) you want each flapjack to have. I think I used about 120g grams – which works out as a total of 90g of protein, so if you divide your mix up into 6 flapjacks, that’s 15g of protein each. Be mindful that the more protein you use, the more of the other ingredients you’ll have to use to stop the final product being overly dry.

SciTech Protein

I used SciTech Nutrition Vanilla Berry flavour

 

5. Add three eggs. Stir.

Egg and protein powder

Yeah, I know that’s one egg, you need two more

 

6. Add a heaped teaspoon of butter. Stir.

Add butter

 

7. Add a heaped teaspoon of coconut oil. Stir.

Add coconut oil

 

 

 

6. Add about 3 table spoons of Greek Yoghurt. Stir.

Add Yogurt

 

 

8. Add two heaped tablespoons of Almond flour

Add Almond Flour

 

 

9. Add a bunch of honey. Stir.

Add Honey

Yeah, it looks less like baby sick now

 

10. When it’s all mixed, pour it into the oats and stir it some more. If the mixture ends up really thick and stirring it is more strenuous than leg day, you need to add some more stuff. I would recommend adding another egg and maybe some more Greek Yoghurt. Keep doing that until it’s relatively easy to mix. Generally, the tougher it is to mix, the dryer the flapjacks will end up.

Mix together

I had too many oats and not enough mixture, so if yours looks like this, reduce the amount of oats or make more mixture

 

11. Stick it in the oven on about 180 degrees. Mine took about 25 minutes but you’ll have to keep checking it. You want it to be brownish but not burned. Turned it every 5 minutes to make sure they cook evenly.

Cooked to perfection

12. Once they’re done take them out and divide them up. If you want, melt some dark chocolate and slap on top of them.

Finished product

#GBBO eat your heart out

 

You’re done.

I’ll be honest, making these is quite a lot of effort, but if you’re one of those people that ends up spending tonnes of cash on protein-based snacks, then you’ll probably save quite a bit by making these yourselves. Especially when you consider that the average protein bar/flapjack costs £3-£4.

Granted, you could probably just get some ground oats and mix it with protein and use that as a snack, but these are more convenient and have a bunch of good fat in them to boot.

As for the macros, they’re really going to vary depending on the ratio of ingredients you use, but I’ll try and estimate;

KCals: ~350

Protein: ~20g

Carbs: ~45g

Fat: ~10g

If you make some, let me know how they turned out. Don’t be shy, they can’t be much worse than mine.

 

 

 

 

 

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What I Learned on the Mac Nutrition Mentorship

If you’re serious about optimsing your body composition, i.e. gaining muscle and losing fat, being better at sport, or just being ‘healtheir’ then you pretty much have no choice but to closely scrutinise your nutrition. The problem is, knowing what to eat, how much of it to eat, and when to eat it to get the results you want can seem like rocket science.

There’s tonnes of infomation on nutrition available but a lot of it can be contradictory, confusing and frankly complicated. Because new research is constantly being produced, books can become outdated very quickly, news articles on nutrition are often sensationalist (publishers are more concerned with selling papers/driving traffic than providing facts), and any information you get from personal blogs (like this one) or social media sites needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Social media has amplified the amount of bullshit doing the rounds out there, the problem is, the people who shout the loudest aren’t always necessarily right. It’s easy to read a 140 character tweet and take the content as gospel truth, just because your favourite fitness model posted it, but more often than not, this tiny snippet of information is just the tip of the iceberg. Or just totally incorrect.

Because the world of nutrition is so fraught with dogma, myths and misinformation, I decided to go and sit in a room and listen to the views of a highly qualified Clinical Performance Nutritionist and his team for two days. Martin MacDonald is , in my opinion one of the world thought-leaders on nutrition, so I was honoured to be given the opportunity to attend the Mac Nutrition Mentorship in Loughborough.

 

mac nutrition mentorship

 

 

Here are my key takeaways;

Disclaimer: This is purely my interpretation of the material that was taught on the mentorship, and not necessarily the views of Martin MacDonald or Mac Nutrition. 

 

It Kind of Is All About Calories

We all know that calories matter, regardless of your goal, but there are so many ‘counter’ arguments to the calories in vs calories out model that it’s easy to get drawn into the debate that, for weight loss (or gain) it’s much more about what you eat than how much you eat. For example, the misguided belief that ‘carbs make you fat’ is pretty widespread now, and while it might be true that reducing your intake of sugary carbs (which most people eat a lot of) will be beneficial for your overall health, it will have no effect at all on fat loss if you’re not in a negative energy balance. When it comes down to it, energy balance has the final say in weight loss or gain.

Calories in VS Calories out

Eat less calories than you burn and you’ll lose weight, eat more than you’ll burn and you’ll gain weight (regardless of the macronutrient composition). Of course this is massively oversimplifying things, for example, adding more protein can help muscle retention and also increase satiety (the feeling of fullness) and therefore help people stick to a lower calorie diet, additionally taking in sufficient carbohydrates may efficiently fuel an efficient training session which will help burn calories.

You might hear someone say that they simply started ‘eating clean’ rather than counting calories which helped them lose weight. They probably aren’t lying, but the reason they lost weight probably isn’t because they were eating ‘clean’, the likelihood is that they cut down/out a certain food or foods that they eat of lot of, which in turn reduced their overall daily calorie intake.

In the end though, these tactics simply help serve the negative energy balance goal, which is the ultimate deciding factor in weight management. Want to lose weight? Try eating less calories.

N.B. Reverse dieting (temporarily upping calories to reset metabolism) might be necessary for those eating very low calorie levels and not losing weight.

 

 

Post Workout Nutrition – Everyone Calm Down

What do you do after your workout? Sprint to the changing room and neck 2 scoops of whey with 100g of powdered Dextrose, or Maltodextrin, or some other carbohydrate formula that has a name like a Latvian pornstar? You could well be wasting your time.

Reliable studies indicate that simply taking whey on it’s own -or even just waiting an hour and having a whole food meal – is as beneficial for muscle growth as a saccarine-sweet cocktail of sugar and protein. Just for the record – I’m not being all high and mighty here – I used to eat handfuls of Jelly babies after my workout.  We’ve all been led to believe that we NEED protein and carbs as quickly as possible, and that there’s some sort of magical ‘anabolic window’.

Broscience

So what should you do? Just have some whey after your workout, if you want. If not just make sure you have a whole food meal within a couple of hours. Regardless of how quickly you eat after your workout, you still need an adequate amount of protein and overall calories to gain muscle, so concentrate on that. Oh and make sure you’re actually training hard. And getting adequate sleep.

 

Are Any Supplements Actually Worth Taking?

If nutrition as a whole is confusing and contradictory then supplements are probably responsible for a lot of that, and that’s no surprise – they’re big business. If a nutrition brand can pull the wool over your eyes to sell your more pills and powders, they will. And more often than not it works. People are lazy. You’re lazy – and you want the quickest, easiest way to reach your goal.

The more the sports nutrition brands use clever marketing to tell you you need supplements, the more you’re likely to take. But the point of supplements is that they should be an addition to your diet, not a replacement.

Do we need synthetic vitamin C tablets? Not really, especially when we can get it from a wide variety of foods that should already feature heavily in our diet (e.g. vegetables). The supplements that will help us the most are the ones that contain stuff we can’t get from our diet. That’s why Vitamin D is rapidly gaining plaudits in the nutrition world – it can only be obtained from sunlight, and unless you’re an out-of-work Californian surfing enthusiast, you’re probably not getting anywhere near enough.

Vitamin D, Fish Oil, Creatine

You probably only need these three.

200 IU  is the recommended daily intake but I personally take 20 times that amount. Fish Oil is the second ‘essential’ supplement. Of course we can get this from our diet, but how much Salmon, Mackerel and Sardines do you eat each week? if the answer is several, then your Omega 3 fatty acid intake should be optimal.

Problem is most people don’t get anywhere near that, hell, most people don’t even eat any fish, which is why this supplement is essential for a large proportion of people. Creatine is the third genuinely effective supplement – if you’re training in a way that utilises ATP stores – i.e. intense, heavy lifting. Creatine is without doubt one of the most studied supplements, and the evidence shows that it works. I take it intra-workout.

 

Don’t Worry About Muscle Loss

Contrary to popular belief, muscle tissue is in fact pretty difficult to get rid of. I don’t know about you but when i haven’t eaten for a while I feel like I’m slipping into a state of atrophy, and if I don’t find a protein source quickly I’ll wither away into an anorexic shadow of my former self.

The main factor that affects muscle fullness (and therefore, their perceived size), is glycogen stores. Glycogen is energy stored within the muscle themselves – most people can store from 400g-800g of carbohydrates as muscle glycogen.

These stores are depleted during intense exercise, and then restored with carbohydrate intake. When glycogen stores become depleted, muscles have a flat look and feel, giving the impression of actual muscle tissue loss, when all that’s happened is they’ve ‘deflated’ a bit. So don’t worry, if you miss a meal or forget to take your shake to the gym, you won’t get home and look in the mirror to find a beanpole staring back at you.

 

Psychology is as Important as Physiology When it comes to Dieting

Can you get shredded eating Pop Tarts? Yes. As mentioned, losing fat is simply a case of being in a calorie deficit for an extended period of time. Are you likely to get shredded eating Pop Tarts? Probably not. This isn’t necessarily down to physiology and biochemistry, but rather, psychology.

There’s something in the combination of sugar and fat that sends reward signals to the brain, telling it to keep sending hunger signals, prompting you to eat more calories before hunger is ‘switched off’ the kind you don’t experience when you eat more satiating food.

Therefore, it’s not that there’s something inherently ‘evil’ about sugar that will make you gain more fat quickly than say, protein, it’s just that you’re far more likely to overeat sugar – or rather – a combination of sugar and fat – than you are protein. Of course that’s an easy claim to make, and many people will just dismiss that statement, overestimating the amount of willpower they have. Let’s have a look an example. This is the nutrition information for an ‘Original Glazed’, Krispy Kreme glazed donut; Krispy Kreme nutrition JPG

217 kcals.

How many could you get through in a sitting? Three? Four? Let’s call it three. That’s 651 calories. What’s the equivalent of that in chicken breast? The average skinless chicken breast is probably about 150g. That weighs in at around 160 kcals. So to get the same amount of calories as three Krispy Kremes, you’d need to plough through more than FOUR chicken breasts. I eat a lot of chicken and I probably wouldn’t (couldn’t?!) do that.

Especially not as a snack (which is how most people treat doughnuts). What’s my point? Sugar and fat don’t make you fat, eating too much makes you fat. Eating too much sugar and fat is much easier to do than eating too much protein, therefore reducing foods that have a combination of sugar and fat can help you cut calories and lose fat.

N.B. Even if you can effectively drop fat on a diet of Krispy Kremes, it’s probably still not a great idea, since your overall health may suffer.

 

It’s ALL About context – What’s your Goal?  

Whenever you make a decision nutrition-wise, the only way you can determine if it’s an intelligent one or not, is by asking yourself, what’s my goal? Should you eat more cheese sandwiches? Well, if your goal is to eat more cheese sandwiches, then yes, but let’s take a more mainstream example.

Many people want to know if they should cut down carbs. Well, if your diet currently contains are high percentage of carbs, and you want to lose fat, then reducing carbs might be an easy segway into reducing your overall calorie intake, so yes, it could work out well.

If you’re looking to increase your overall health, and your diet is made up of a large proportion of processed carbohydrates, then reducing your intake could make way for more nutrient-rich protein and fats, in this case, it could also be beneficial.

But what if you compete in an endurance sport, or indeed any sport or activity where you need/want to perform at your best? We know that carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source for exercise at high intensities, so in this case, reducing carbohydrates would be a bad idea since it could impact optimal performance.

This was probably the most pertinent point I took from the mentorship – whenever a ‘new’ diet gets some media coverage, people jump on it regardless of whether or not it’s likely to help them.

Case Study: Me I’m happy to admit I made this mistake very recently. My goal is build muscle, it has been for a while. Based on my previous reading about post-workout nutrition it seemed like a good idea – if having some carbs after is training is good, then having ALL your carbs after training must be even better right?

Problem was, I was kidding myself I could get my daily carb quota in in one meal. I definitely couldn’t. It was convenient, don’t get me wrong, it was one less thing to do in my daily food prep, but my training suffered too.

I was trying to do regular, relatively intense, high volume resistance sessions on zero carbs. I could get by ok most, but it wasn’t optimal. I was getting through my workouts IN SPITE of the carb backloading, not BECAUSE of it.

 

 

 

I need to say a huge thank you to Martin and his team for a fantastic weekend, and mention that I’d highly recommend the Mac Nutrition Mentorship to any existing health, fitness and nutrition professional, or anyone looking to break into the industry.

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Interview with Adam Hayley, UKBFF Fitness Competitor

Something a bit different for you lot this week, you’re probably bored with me rambling on about chicken and deadlifts so I thought I’d do an interview with UKBFF North East fitness competitor, Adam Hayley.

Some of you might know Adam if you’ve trained regularly at Nuffield Health or K2 in Crawley, or you may well have read one of his incredibly detailed and useful blog posts.

Adam works at Ultimate Performance in central London which is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the premier training facilities in the UK (they also have gyms in Marbella, Hong Kong and Singapore).

He’s much more knowledgeable than me, so if you want some genuinely useful training and nutrition advice, read on.

 

1. Hi Adam, first of all, congratulations on your placing at the UKBFF in Leeds.When did you start prepping for the show, and how much overall weight did you drop?

 
Thanks Joe! I really enjoyed the show and was happy with what I achieved. Well, I first decided to do this show back in January – so you could say I was ‘prepping’ for 9months. The first 5 months being eating over 5000 calories and training twice daily some days in order to pack on as much muscle as possible prior to the actual ‘diet’ phase starting.
In terms of the diet side of it, that was around 17 weeks in total. I really went overboard trying to put a lot of last minute tissue on, so gained excess bodyfat. Total weight drop was 43lbs.
Adam Hayley Beore and After

Adam before and during the competition

 
2. What was your first cheat meal afterwards?
 
Hmmm.. Not a ‘meal’ as such, but the first thing I inhaled after the show was my girlfriends (Jade) home made brownie/cookie hybrids. They are A-MAZING. They taste just like a brownie and have that kind of texture, but are cookie shaped with white & dark choc. That’s what I was really craving all prep! That and a box of 12 Krispy Kreme’s my friend Kirsty had bought me! 
We then flew straight out the next morning for a weeks all inclusive, so my first proper ‘meal’ was a Full English fry-up at the airport with extra pancakes + maple syrup on the side… and a peanut butter milkshake!
 
2. There are lots of people out there who aspire to compete in shows, but may not realise how tough the dieting can be, what did your diet look like in the last few weeks before the show?
Oh man, the last few weeks were definitely the toughest. Energy was very loooooow, every step I took hurt, talking was a chore etc. It’s definitely this final 2-4 week stretch that is the ‘make or break’ phase where a large percentage of competitors go off the boil and cheat on their diet.

On paper, it really doesn’t look too bad – but bear in mind prior to dieting I was on 500g+ carbs + 120g+ fats.

6am
2 Scoops Dyamtize ISO-100 Whey
40g Almonds

10am
200g Chicken Breast
15g Coconut Oil
100g Broccoli

2pm
200g Beef Mince (5% fat)
150g Sweet Potato
Small Handful Chopped Peppers & Onions

4pm
TRAIN + 12g BCAA (Scivation Xtend)

6pm
2 Scoops Reflex Peptide Fusion
45g Chex Cereal

8pm
200g Chicken Breast
150g Sweet Potato
Small Handful Chopped Peppers & Onions

10pm
200g Turkey Breast
15g Almond Butter
Adam Hayley daily meal plan

A sample of Adam’s daily food intake

 
3. And how about the training? Twice a day? Fasted cardio? Tonnes of drop sets?
 
This changed through-out, every 4 weeks or so. Although was based around training 6 days per week; Push/Pull/Legs/Push/Pull/Legs/OFFCardio was pretty minimal actually compared to some, due to the high frequency of weight training:

2 x 30min SSCV sessions fitted in wherever (typically PWO)

3 x HIIT sessions per week

I did introduce some fasted powerwalking at 4 weeks out, but dropped 4lbs that week so ditched it!

I cut all cardio at two weeks out as I was ahead of target and didn’t want to risk losing any more muscle tissue then needed.

 
4. What would be your best tip for someone who’s considering competing?
Make sure you REALLY want to do it. It’s gruelling if you genuinely do get in top condition. Toward the end; energy is low, it hurts when you sit down (very little fat on your bum lol), socially it can be tough on relationships too. So just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

Jade & I for instance would typically eat out at least once per week, or buy small ‘treats’ mid-week with DVD’s etc. All that has to go on hold toward the final stages. At the end of a 16 hour work day having trained and feeling depleted you don’t want to talk, which of course others take personally!

I think my biggest tip actually would be a bit of advice I got given; Remember this is YOUR choice, no one is holding a gun to your head.

On those days where you do feel low, try not to take it out on others by being snappy. Don’t expect others to change their eating habits just to make you feel better either – as said – it’s YOUR choice to do this.

 

Adam Hayley Side Pose

Adam’s training and nutrition allowed him to achieve seriously low body fat levels

 
5. Ok, so moving onto your ‘off-season’ or regular training – do you have a particular philosophy or preferred style of training? Bodypart slipts? Push-Pull spilts?
My preferred style of training is low volume, high intensity and high frequency.

I think training body parts as a split once per week is limiting the amount of times you can stimulate that body part for growth. I

Every time you train a body part you’re kickstarting MPS (Muscle Protein Synthesis) locally in that area.

So, if you train chest every Monday… It’s likely recovered and ready to go again by Wednesday/Thursday… But, you’re giving it a full 7 days for the sake of it. This means that – assuming you take no weeks off of training – throughout the course of a year you’re sending a signal to your chest to grow 52 times.

If you managed to train each bodypart (or even just weaker/lagging bodyparts) say, twice per week.. That’s now 104 ‘opportunities’ for growth.

Of course, if frequency of training goes up then you should likely reduce volume slightly per session (though you can periodise this up/down and go through phases of ‘over-reaching’)

A real simple split I think most beginners would do well off is;Monday - Upper (Heavy)Tuesday - Lower (Heavy)Wednesday - REST
Thurs – Upper (Moderate), Friday – Lower (Moderate)

 Take the weekend off and then repeat. This way you’re hitting all major muscle groups twice per week, and you’ve varied rep ranges so the stimulus is always changing.

 
6. What do you think is the biggest blocker in terms of gaining muscle for most trainers? Intensity? Volume? Frequency?
Frequency. Most don’t realise that the dudes in Flex magazine have crazy genetics – so follow the whole 4/5 day split thing religiously.

Aside from that, I think most forget about the principle of progressive overload too. Too many times you see guys just walk in and do the same weights week-after-week. You have to question, why would you continue to progress if you’re not challenging your body EVERY week?

Yerskys Training Split

A typical training split from a muscle mag

 
7. And where do you see people going wrong with their diets?
This would depend on if we’re talking about the average person.. or the average lifter? And whether dieting or trying to add size.

For the average person: Following whatever crap they see on TV/Government recommendations. As a general rule 90% of people consume FAR too little protein (when you think about it, dinner is the only meal they MAY eat protein in).. And over-consuming on carbohydrate.

The food pyramid recommends approx. 60% of your diet coming from starchy carbs from what I remember. Now, does the typical office worker that carries little muscle, excess bodyfat, doesn’t train and sits down (commuting, at work, at home in front of the TV) most of the day – really need 60% of his/her diet coming from a direct energy source? No! And we wonder why we have an obesity problem?

The next most common mistake I see is a real simple ones.. For lifters trying to gain size, t

old skool food pyramid

The old school food pyramid – not suited to MOST of the population

hey simply don’t eat enough calories consistentlyThey may do a few days here and there where they follow a pro’s meal plan.. But they get sick & bored and slack off.

This is where I find using a calorie tracking app like MyFitnessPal can actually help. Get them to track consistently for a week or two. Work out what they’re average intake is over that time period and make a few easy changes to bump the total calories up.

Until they track accurately for a period of time – they never know EXACTLY how many calories they’re getting in.
 
8. What’s your view on using heavy compound movements (Squats, Deads, Clean and Press) for muscle-gain? Can they assist, or are they only good for pure strength?
They can definitely assist! Assuming the trainee can perform them with good form and no pain, I think the first two (squats & deads) should be in most peoples programs. The latter (clean & press) maybe not so much.

That said, I don’t believe you NEED to squat or deadlift. For example, no matter what type of deadlift or position I get myself into – I’m always cripped with low back pain the following two days after them. So, I work around it using banded hyperextensions.

If I could deadlift pain free though, I would 100% without doubt be including them. They work so much more than just the spinal erectors.
 
9. There are a lot of fad bodybuilding diets doing the rounds at the moment – carb back loading, IIFYM, etc – do these have any credibility, or is it all about tailoring the diet to the individual?
Hmm I think ‘most’ diet systems have some credibility and if applied properly could work for some. The problem is in the first sentence though – they’re always a ‘system’. 
Certain ‘systems’ will work really well for maybe 15-20% of people.. But then maybe not work so well for the other 80% of people.
This is where things need to be tailored. You can take certain principles from things like CBL (Carb Back Loading), IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), IF (Intermittent Fasting) etc. BUT, as a coach to role out 1 approach to EVERY client is a recipe for disaster.
Protein & fat breakfasts for example. Personally I’m a fan of them for the majority of my clients – BUT – I don’t use it myself. As for me I function better with carbohydrate at breakfast. Probably 70% of my clients are on pro/fat breakfasts though – as I use trial & error with everyone. If I went just by what works for me, I think my results would be pretty limited!
 
10. Recovery is an aspect of muscle building that’s often overlooked – do you think a lack of sleep can hamper or halt progress, and how many hours do you get per night?
I definitely think it has a HUGE impact. Mainly as it raises cortisol (or is maybe even the by-product of skewed cortisol patterns) and reduces testosterone.

It also has quite an affect on fat loss too:

There was a study I saw a while ago that reported those that slept ~4hours per night had;

18% LESS Leptin (Leptin signals that you’re full… so a reduction in this hormone means you’re never really ‘satisfied’ after meals)
28% MORE Ghrelin (Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates hunger/appetite)
The majority of the group also had increased cravings for sweet, sugary and starchy foods.As you can imagine – the above factors can have a real detrimental affect when dieting!

Unfortunately though, I’m the worst person to ask in terms of how many hours do I average per night! I’d guess approximately 5-6hours MAX.

What would I suggest? 7-9 hours seems to be the sweet spot for most.

 
11. Ok, let’s talk about cheat meals – how do you use these strategically to aid muscle gain and fat loss?
I have quite a few ways I approach this with various clients but I’ll try keep it short & simple.

In the off-season for the ‘average’ person that gains muscle at an OK rate I don’t recommend them to help with muscle growth directly. It’s more a case for mental sanity! I tend to let them have 1-2 ‘free’ meals a week where they can relax but try not to go OTT.

It’s VERY rare, but if I have a client that has a super fast metabolism then I’ll get them to use v calorie dense cheat meals to try and increase caloric intake easily. I’ve probably only had 1 client like this in the last 2 years though. If ‘good’ food intake is high enough – 99% of people should grow well.

With fat loss, it really depends on client psychology.

What I prefer and think is most beneficial is to lower protein & fat intake and increase carbohydrate rich foods; rice, potatoes, cereal, cereal bars etc.

This is due to the effects on leptin (hormone mentioned above).

In some cases though, this ‘triggers’ some clients into bingeing as they’re still craving fatty foods.

If this is the case then I’ll go back to the ‘free meal’ scenario – whereby for 1 evening they can go out for a meal with their partner or whatever and forget about the diet. Food choices here tend to always be fatty; pizza, curry, fish & chips etc. Out of the two I consider this less optimal in terms of what a refeed is meant to do… But, if it increases client compliancy on the diet in genereal – I’m really not too fussed!

One thing I will mention though… Is I believe most people start cheat meals / refeeds too early and way before they ‘deserve’ them. The whole point of a refeed is to stimulate leptin/T3. If you’ve barely dieted a week or two, these hormones won’t have been affected yet so is pretty pointless! You need to earn those cheat meals / refeeds!

 
12. And what’s your go-to cheat meal?
Hmmm.. This is tough.

Eat Out = Indian (Chicken tikka masala, pilau rice, peshwari naan and onion bahji’s)

Eat In (home made) = Sausages, mash and onion gravy! (The sausages have to be plain pork, no herby rubbish for me).
 
13. Ok, a bit about your work. You’re a trainer at Ultimate Performance in London, can you tell us a bit about the brand?
So, the last time I checked we were the largest PT only gym in Europe. I’m pretty sure that’s still the case as well as having the added expansion into; Marbella, Singapore, Hong Kong and a few other places lined up.

The brand is still only 5-6 years old but easily has one of the best reputations in the industry due to Nick’s no nonsense approach and results he got back when he was training clients himself. The most notable being Glenn Parker, Joe Warner and Oliver Proudlock.

I believe the reason we’re one of the most popular places to come for transformations is simply because we get results. I’d been in the industry for 8 years before coming to UP and never have I worked anywhere that has such a big drive on education.

All of the trainers help each other (unlike some commercial gyms where trainers can be bitchy toward each other).. At UP we all want EVERY client to get a great result. It’s a great atmosphere to work in.

One last thing that sets us apart is the fact all of us trainers actually train! This may sound stupid, but at my old gym there were 10-12 PT’s and I’d guess maybe 3 of us actually trained regularly without fail to set routines. The others would be just like a typical gym member going through phases of being motivated and phases where they wouldn’t train in weeks.

How can you motivate and expect your clients to nail everything their end if they can’t do it yourself?!

 

Ultimate Performance city gym

Ultimate Performance City gym

 
14. You work alongside Phil Learny, an absolute legend in the industry, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned from the master?
It’s actually something I learned on one of his seminars prior to starting work at UP.. It’s very simple but no trainers seem to do it..

Take measurements of progress for clients! Whether it’s skinfold testing, circumference measurements, bodyweight, photo’s etc.

It’s a huge motivational tool but seems to be massively underestimated – myself included until Phil’s seminar!

 
Phil Learny training

The legend that is Phil Learney

15. And is there anyone you recommend listening to for advice on muscle building and fat loss?
Nick Mitchell, Phil Learney (those two were perhaps obvious), Ken ‘Skip’ Hill, John Meadows, Shelby Starnes, Matt Porter, Eric Helms, Jordan Peters and Scott Stevenson are all guys that I follow and think have some cool approaches :)
 
16. Ok, final question, what’s your biggest tip on a) training and b) nutrition for muscle building and fat loss
I’ll break this down into two parts..

 

Muscle Growth:
Training – Lack of progressive overload. People get comfortable lifting the same weights again & again. Get a log book, track your weights and SMASH them!
Nutrition – Simply not eating enough! Most people kid themselves into thinking they eat a lot.. Until I send them an example of my off-season diet and tell them to try following that for a week consistently!
Fat Loss:
Training – Suddenly training low weight / high rep girly workouts. 1) You typically stimulate metabolism further the HARDER and heavier you train due to EPOC (Excessive Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) and also 2) Hard, heavy weight training is what stimulates muscle growth when trying to add size.. It’s also what retains muscle best when dieting.
The more muscle you can retain, the higher your metabolic rate will be through-out the diet.
Nutrition – Trying to find/follow the most ‘optimal’ or ‘perfect’ diet – when it’s not one they’re able to stick to. The best diet is the one that you have the highest adherence too without feeling the need for bingeing 1-2 times per week.
That alongside not eating enough protein. I think a good goal for most is around 1g/lb of bodyweight – but most clients that come to see me fall waaaay short of that!

 

Cheers Adam! Some incredibly detailed, free information there.

If you want to work with Adam you can contact him via his Facebook or Twitter pages. Also check out his Ultimate Performance profile. Comments below are welcome.

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How to Cook Chicken That’s Not Dryer Than Ghandi’s Flip Flop

I used to eat Pop Tarts for breakfast (and sometimes lunch) when I was uni, so I never thought I’d go all Martha Stuart and advise people how to cook, but here I am.

Owing to that last statement I understand if you want to completely disregard my advise. I’d never make it on Masterchef, but I know how to make some fucking tasty chicken, and if you eat a lot of chicken, that’s pretty important. Here goes…

 

Rightly or wrong, chicken is the staple food of most gym rats.

It might not be the cheapest meat around, or have the optimal macro-nutrient profile (if such a thing exists), but it’s incredibly versatile, portable (ever tried eating steak out of a tuppaware container?), and tastes great – IF you cook it well.

Chicken, Rice and Broccoli is widely perceived as the go-to meal for muscle building, and the sight of such a concoction is often met with questions of ‘how can you eat that, it must be so dry‘, often from people who enjoy their chicken covered in breadcrumbs, or accompanied by bacon and cheese, and slathered in BBQ sauce.

Well it doesn’t need to be like that, sure chicken can be bland and laborious to eat if you nuke it in the microwave or lob in the oven and leave it for hours, but as anyone that’s been to Nando’s before knows, if you get chicken right, it tastes like the nectar of the gods.

So here’s my step-by-step guide to cooking chicken that you’ll never get bored of eating;

 

1. Buy Chicken Thighs, Not Chicken Breast

If you think about it, ONLY eating chicken breasts makes no sense, yes, they are the leanest part of the bird, but as we all know there’s NOTHING wrong with fat.

Let’s take a look at the comparison between breasts and thighs;

Chicke  breast nutrition stats

Chicken breast

Chicken thigh nutrition

Chicken Thigh

Ok, thighs have slightly less protein, but if you’re having 200g a day, we’re talking 10g here – a negligible amount (about half a scoop of protein powder).

Thighs also have more fat, and this means more calories.

Thighs are also considerably cheaper than breasts, meaning you’re getting a much better bang for your buck calorie-wise.

Tesco Chicken Thigh 500g

I used to be a breast man

Finally, thighs taste MUCH better, and are easier to cook well.

 

2. Start with the grill

Get a grill pan like the one in this picture. You could use a Wok or frying pan but you don’t really get the same result.

Put the grill pan on the hob on FULL heat – allow it to sit there for a good 15 minutes (from turning it on) to ensure the pan is a hot as possible.

 

Grill pan on the hob

Hotter than Jamie Eason

 

3. Lube up

Chuck a teaspoon of Coconut Oil in the pan, if you don’t like the taste of Coconut, stop being a pussy.

Also don’t worry because it won’t make your chicken taste like a fun-size Bounty.

Tilt the pan around a bit so the oil covers all of it.

 

Holland and Barrat Coconut Oil

This cost me £15 from H&B, but you can get in Tesco for for about £2

 

4. Smash the Chicken in There

I can fit about 1Kgs worth of chicken thigh in the pan I’ve got, but slap in as much as you can, don’t worry about butterflying the thighs or anything, all of each piece will end up getting equal heat distribution.

Chicken Thigh Cooking

The start of a beautiful thing

 

5. Season

This will make or break your chicken, so don’t miss this step out. You can use whatever seasoning you want, but I highly recommend Schwarz’ Season All’. God knows what’s in it, but it kind of tastes like Steak McCoys. Sprinkle liberally all over the exposed side of the thighs, and do the same to the other side when you turn them over.

It’s the high heat burning the seasoning into the flesh that gives it the flavour, so as I said, make sure the pan is as hot as possible, and you use lots of seasoning.

 

Chicken thigh seasoned

Don’t miss this but out

 

Schwarz season all

The Cocaine of Seasonings

 

6. Grill Them for a bit

I don’t really time how long they’re in the grill pan for, but you want a dark brown glaze on each side, so leave them in there ’til you get that. You’ll probably need to turn them a couple of times, and move them around a bit in the pan – the ones in the middle will get the most heat, so try and make sure they all get an equal amount. No biggie if they don’t. Usually around 15 minutes does the job.

cook chicken 4

 

7. Shove Them in the Oven

The reason I finish these bad boys off in the oven is because if you continue to grill on high heat until they’re cooked through, they’ll be dryer than the Gobi Desert.

Have the oven somewhere between 170 and 200 degrees, doesn’t really matter, put the thighs on a tray, and leave them in the oven for another 15-20 minutes. As long as they’re not pink in the middle, they’re done.

 

Oven on 190

It’ll be worth it

 

8. Done

Marvel at the wondrous creation you’ve just brought into the world. I don’t think even God was this proud on the seventh day.

 

Seasoned chicken thigh

Now try not to snaffle it all

 

Basic mathematics tells you that 1Kg will last you the working week if you’re having 200g a day, so not only is this method tasty, it also saves you a bunch of time. No cooking work food during the week.

In total this will probably only take 45 minutes.

Hope you found this useful, I don’t think Jaime Oliver’s going to be looking over his shoulder any time soon, but at least now you’ve got no excuses for laboriously chewing through through anemic, parched chicken breasts.

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The ‘Post Workout Shake’ Myth: Do you REALLY Need a Protein Recovery Shake After your Workout to Build Muscle?

Unless you hadn’t realised, there are dozens of sports nutrition companies making money from selling powdered milk protein to people like you.

They’re not really selling protein powder though, they’re selling a dream, the dream of your ideal physique, the dream of looking like Phil Heath, Dexter Jackson, or if you’re not that way inclined – Rob Riches or Ryan Terry. The dream of curling 25s, or sporting an 8-pack, of having bikini-clad fitness competitors hanging off your right bicep while you’re on muscle beach doing a one-armed muscle up.

Or something like that. While let me tell you a secret, that probably won’t happen. Unless of course you’re gifted with the genetics of a Greek god (Was your great great great grandad Zeus?), the time to do multiple workouts per day, the money to buy enough protein each week to feed the population of Western Samoa (for a year), and the inclination to pump yourself full of anabolic steroids. Sorry, but it’s true.

MP Recovery

Or just eat your dinner…

 

The Post-Workout Supplements Myth

I’ve gone into detail in previous posts about how you don’t need whey protein at all to build muscle, but in my latest rant, I want to scrutinise this post-workout supplement myth. If you’re already chugging back two scoops of ‘recovery shake’ no sooner than you racked up the 10s (or just left them on the gym floor, you bastard), along with some gratuitous form of sugar (Gummi Bears anyone?), you know what I’m talking about.

If you don’t, it goes a little something like this;

Post-Workout, your muscles are primed to soak up nutrients, so drinking a protein recovery shake within 30 minutes of your workout will give them the nutrients they need to rebuild, ready for your next session. Taking a form of sugar with your protein will spike your insulin levels, meaning the protein is shuttled into your bloodstream even quicker

obama seems legit

Seems legit on first inspection, I certainly fell for it for a while. This supposed theory has spawned a whole ‘sub market’ of post-workout supplements – i.e. whey protein mixed with a form of sugar (Maltodextrin, dextrose, Vitargo etc), marketed as distinct from plain old whey protein powder.

 

Do you NEED Post-workout Shake?

No. The marketing of post-workout products is misleading – if you really want this kind of post workout supplement formula, you can make it yourself at a much lower cost by buying the ingredients separately (whey protein and your preferred form of sugar). But if you’re smart enough to release this, you can probably see through all the marketing bullshit too.

Think about it this way:

A prerequisite for building muscle is being in a calorie surplus (obviously with the correct macro nutrient balance). If the post workout recovery shake was as crucial for muscle building as the supplement companies would have us believe, does that mean someone who was training intensely enough, and getting adequate calories not gain muscle simply because they DIDN’T have a shake 30 minutes after their workout?

Don’t be ridiculous.

I’m not saying nutrient timing isn’t important, but you’ll still build muscle by forgoing that post-workout shake we’re lead to believe is so important, provided everything else (training, nutrition, sleep) is on-point. Aside from cost, the real disadvantage of buying into this post workout dogma is the massive sugar intake – whether it’s in the form of dextrose, Maltodextrin or Jelly Babies.

Of course sugar isn’t a problem in small, infrequent doses, but if you’re a proponent of the ‘Post Workout Shake cult’ you’ll probably be guzzling upwards of 50 grams of pure sugar per day.

That’s potentially 250g of sugar per week, or 1000 calories worth of sugar per week if you train 5 times a week.

Look at the nutrition info for CNP Pro Recover, one of the most popular post-workout formulas.

CNP pro recover nutrition label

If you really care about your physique, and I’m guessing you do, guzzling down something that’s 55% sugar isn’t going to do you many favours

If you’re training hard enough (competitive bodybuilder hard) this might not be an issue, but I’m guessing you’re not, and therefore there are other nutrients you could be putting in your body that will do far more for you (i.e. they actually contain beneficial nutrients).

We’ve all heard the stories of competitive bodybuilders shovelling down tubs of Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s after working out, but that doesn’t mean you can. Don’t think for one second that you train as hard as competition level bodybuilders – these guys are doing an incomprehensible number of sets per workout, AND training with relentless intensity. Oh, and don’t forget the whole steroid thing. They can pretty much eat what they want and remain lean.

 

So Why do So Many People Take Them?

Well, we’ve been lead to believe that the sugar in a post-workout shake will ‘spike’ our insulin, which will shuttle the other nutrients in the shake (protein) into our bloodstreams quicker, increasing protein synthesis (the rate at which protein is absorbed).

This theory have spawned all kinds of buzzwords like ‘the post-workout window’ or the ‘anabolic window’. Impressionable gym rays (myself included, I admit) had the ‘YOU MUST HAVE A SHAKE WITHIN 30 MINS OF YOUR WORKOUT OR YOU WON’T MAKE ANY GANIZ’ mantra hammered into them for some time now. I

t seemed to make sense, but theories come and go, and if you needed any evidence to dispel the myth, don’t trust this post, trust Mr Layne Norton. Layne Norton is a natural bodybuilder, but he also has a Nutrition PhD, so he basically knows everything.     Ok maybe not, but I’d certainly encourage you to respect his opinion.

 

So What Should you do Post-Workout?

It’s going to vary from person to person, but I can tell you what I do. I don’t have any form of post-workout shake. I train late afternoon/early evening, and if I have a shake directly after working out, it fills me up for a good hour or two. After the gym I’d rather have a huge meal with plenty of protein, carbs and fat – definitely my biggest meal of the day, and I don’t want anything to interfere with that – even if it means waiting a little longer to eat after I leave the gym.

 

 

Steak and potato

Just eat a fucking meal

If my appetite requires, I’ll sometimes have a shake before bed. This works perfectly well for me, if you train a different time, you may want to do something different.

 

What Kind of Carbs Should I Have Post-Workout?

First of all, you don’t NEED to have carbs post-workout at all.

Like I said, if you’re trying to build muscle it really does come down to calories and adequate protein, and as Layne Norton points out, you won’t get the alleged spike in insulin that aids protein synthesis. So is there any point in having carbs at all?

The plus points of carbs is that they’re very cheap – 1Kg of carbs – rice for example, is a fraction of the price of 1Kg of protein or fat. The other good thing about carbns is they they efficiently replenish muscle glycogen – the primary source of fuel for muscle contractions when you train.

The thing with carbs is they’re very much an individual thing – some people can get by and train hard on very few carbs, some people simply need them to fuel an intense session. Unfortunately there’s no right or wrong answer. Generally speaking I have 100-150g of carbs post workout, and that works out pretty well for me.

Be smart about your post workout nutrition, there’s no doubt that it’s a great time to have a big meal, bit you don’t need some powdered concoction with a colourful label. Taylor your post-workout nutrition to your goals, the type of training you’re doing, and the time of day that you train.

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Why Juice Plus (and every other diet) is Bullshit

You might have seen it plastered all over social media, or heard it lauded by the recumbent bike-dwellers at the gym; Juice Plus is apparently the latest in a long line of miracle diets guaranteed to help you shed pounds. Except it’s bullshit.

Like all the other diets you’ve tried, Atkins, Dukan, Cambridge, South Beach, Cabbage Soup, Low fat, Low carb, the Juice Plus diet is counter productive to your aims, because it’s just a diet, and a temporary diet is NOT a powerful tool in helping you achieve the physique you want.

So What is Juice Plus?

Juice Plus is a brand with a range of nutritional supplements targeted at people looking to loose weight and/or improve their general health. This range consists of powders, pills, bars, capsules, and something called, hilariously, ‘Shape Booster G2′. The range is split into three segments – your good ol’ Juice Plus which encompasses all the pills and capsules, Juice Plus Shape – soups and shakes, and Juice Plus Complete, basically meal replacement shakes. The Juice Plus Shape range are the products intended to be used for the diet. Oh wait, I made a mistake, it’s not a diet, it is in fact;

Juice Plus Diet

This is comedy gold

Of course, a multimodal programme. That old chestnut. Looks like they’re not even sure themselves however, if you download the PDF, which is basically pages and pages of marketing bollocks and stock photos of smiling couples wearing all linen, you’ll see that they change their mind…

juice_plus_diet PDF

So it IS a diet

So we’ve established it is in fact, a diet. But how is the diet structured?

There are four phases, in each phase you’re supposed to consume a set number of Juice Plus products and whole food meals per day, as you progress through each phase of the diet the number of Juice Plus products decreases, and the number of whole food meals increases. Pretty much like any other diet that involves these kind of products, and just as bad.

Why is it Popular at the Moment?

The Juice Plus a line of products which seem to be gaining traction at the moment, this is specifically down to their business model, where they promote their products to individuals who can become franchisees. I haven’t looked into it but what this probably entails is franchisees earning a small amount of commission when they promote this product to their friends and family.

So it’s not just Juice Plus themselves that are promoting these products, but a large band of ill-informed franchisees who most likely know next to nothing about nutrition. You may have heard of other ‘nutrition’ brands running a similar scheme, or even been contacted via the company or another franchisee directly in an attempt to get you to help pedal their bullshit products – Herbalife is one such brand that comes to mind.

This business model is based on the fact that people are likely to trust their friends, so the advertsing is more likely to work coming from them, than from Juice Plus themselves. Except if you have more than one iota of intelligence you’ll see straight through the scheme.

 

juice plus products

Nothing like spending hundreds of pounds on synthetic, processed powers and pills

 

So, Why is it Bullshit?

Well, two reasons, one –  it’s not optimal for general health, and two – like most other diets, long term, it probably won’t help you lose weight.

1. Pseudo nutrition

The people behind Juice Plus might lead you to believe their products are highly nutritious -they use pictures of colorful fruit on their products, and have a nice video on their website, explaining how they extract all the goodness from fruit, but when the list of ingredients of ingredients for their products reads like a PhD science dissertation. Check this out, this is the ingredients list for their ‘Chocolate Shake’

Juice Plus Chocolate Shake Ingredients

Fuck this. Just eat a steak

Absurd, I’m sure you’ll agree. But why is this a problem?

I just want to loose some weight, and it’s just about reducing calories, right? Well, no.

To simplify things as much as possible – humans ate the same way for a couple of million years, it’s only over the last 100 years that processed foods have become readily available and widely consumed (by Western populations anyway), unsurprisingly,modern diet related diseases including obesity have only become prevalent in the last 100 years or so. You’re clever, so draw your own conclusions.

obesity evolution

This is you.
Image from http://www.crossfitglenmore.com/

Our bodies aren’t designed to deal with food (if you can call it that) like this. We’re designed to eat unprocessed, single ingredient foods (nothing added, nothing taken away). Make no mistake, this includes foods that many people are scared of, including butter and fatty red meat.

Think about it like this, these kind of foods, although demonised in the mass media for years, contain macro and micronutrients as well as vitamins and minerals that our bodies need for optimal health – our bodies can USE the calories in these foods.

It can’t use the silicon dioxide and sunflower lecithin in your Juice Plus shake nearly as well. Even if weight loss were JUST about calorie reduction – this can be done in a much healthier way with real, whole foods than with shitty, processed dust in a bag. Because that’s what it is. Dust.

 

DUST

Anyone?

 

2.Diets make you fat

Diets can of course help you lose weight in the short term. Problem is, most of this weight loss will be fluids and muscle tissue.

So you go on a calorie restricted diet, and you lose weight – great. Then what? You go back to the way you were eating before? If you do you’ll get fat again.

Except it’s worse than that. If you’ve lost weight rapidly on a diet, as I said, some of the weight you’ve lost will be muscle tissue, when you lose muscle tissue, your metabolic rate decreases, this means the rate at which you burn fat decreases.

In turn, this means that if you diet, lose muscle tissue, then go back to eating the way that made you fat in the first place, you’ll probably end up fatter than you were before.

 

vicious diet cycle

THIS is why all diets are bullshit
Image from http://www.why180.com/why-diets-fail/

 

Of course, you’ll tell yourself that you’ll diet then start to eat well. But if that’s the case, why not just start eating well now?

The other thing is, weight loss should not be your primary goal (unless you are dangerously overweight/obese), your primary goal should be changing your body composition, i.e. reducing your body fat and increasing your muscle mass – this will make you look better as well as helping you stave off fat long term – because more muscle mass means a higher metabolic rate.

This might even result in you gaining weight – but who cares what the scales say if you look better?

 

EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT NUTRITION AND START EATING REAL FOOD NOW, AND FOREVER – YOU WILL LOOK BETTER, FEEL BETTER AND YOU’LL NEVER HAVE TO GO ON A DIET AGAIN.

 

Is There Anything Good About Diets?

Programs like Juice Plus Shape are really good at motivating people – it’s almost like a cult, so people participating in the program feel like they’re part of an exclusive club.

This alone can spark the desire to follow the diet religiously, and even lose some weight, which is great, as long as you’re then armed with the knowledge to continue on the road to optimal health and the body and lifestyle you want, the problem is, so many people aren’t.

If diets really worked, do you think there would be so many of them?

Do you think companies like Juice Plus would be able to start up and be successful?

It’s not necessarily  the individual diets that are the problem – one diet isn’t better than another, the problem is the widespread misconception that a temporary diet is all that’s needed to turn your life around.

What’s really needed is a lifestyle change.

 

So is There a Diet that Works?

If you define a diet as a temporary change in eating habits, then no. For me, a successful diet is something you stick to FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. YEP, FOREVER.

Diets should be a lifestyle, and if there’s one lifestyle that I think can spark a revolution in the way with think about food, yep, it’s Paleo.

 

Is it paleo

You can’t really go wrong
Image from http://impossiblehq.com/

There are whole sites dedicated to Paleo so I’m not going to go into it in detail, but very simply, eating Paleo style means eating as we have for millions of years, and not as we have in the past 100 years or so. The most important philosophy about this diet is the total avoidance of any processed food – i.e. processed fats, flour and sugar which are present in so much of the food most of us eat today

A simple way to follow this lifestyle, is to only eat single-ingredient foods.

It’s not just about food though, it’s also about moving around more, and going outside now and again. If you want to read more about it, check Chris Kressers ‘Your Personal Paleo Code’.

Try it.

It’s better than restricting calories and guzzling foul-tasting soups and shakes with negligible nutritional value.

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The 4 Hour Body Review – Can This Book Help you Gain Muscle and Lose Fat?

If you’ve not heard of Tim Ferris before then check yo’self.

This dude got famous from his first book ‘The Four Hour Work Week’, in which he basically tells you how you can move to a desert island and earn a healthy income by doing a few hours work a week on your laptop. Sounds like a pipe dream but a lot of the stuff in there is genuinely actionable if you’ve got the gumption.

 

Tim Feriss

The man himself. Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Ferriss

 

Imagine what kind of ideas he throws up then when he applies the same methodology to getting your dream physique. Can you really achieve your goals by putting in just four hours work per week? I haven’t followed his plan down to a tee, but all the advice is entirely plausible.

The most exciting thing about this book is that Tim’s theories are totally original - you won’t have read diet or workout plans like this before in Men’s Fitness. This means even seasoned trainers will at least learn a couple of new tricks which they can incorporate into their current routine, even if they don’t want to go balls deep with the Four Hour Body plan.

4 Hour Body Cover

Also available on Kindle

 

Overview

In essence, Tim is talking about turning your gym and diet into a semi-automated process, meaning you get maximum return on investment – that means there’s no overkill – no wasted time in the gym, no wasted time coming up with fancy diet plans, just the quickest, easiest route to your goals that frees up a load of time to do other stuff.

Tim’s theory is, most people spend way to long in the gym, and that once you’re passed a certain point, anything else you do is essentially useless – it’s all about the 80/20 rule. This rule dictates that 80% of your gains from 20% of your input - if we apply this building muscle, we can say that most of your gains will be the result of the TOP 20% of your work rate, i.e. your final reps in each of your sets which initiate muscular failure.

Think about your own training objectively and you’ll probably agree that you waste time in the gym. Could you be training more intensely, resting less between sets? Probably. Most of us could realistically slash the amount of time we spend in the gym on a weekly basis by 80% and still get great results.

Many people apply the 80/20 rule to dieting and fat loss – eat clean 80% of the time and allow yourself the odd cheat meal, and you’ll get pretty good results. Setting a goal of eating clean 100% of the time is unrealistic, and is it really worth the sacrifice (to your sanity, social life, taste buds) for the extra 20% of possible gains (loses)?

This is a pretty bold claim, and Ferris doesn’t just say ‘spend less time in the gym’ or ‘train harder’. The book gives you a fully laid-out training program to follow.

The book is split into a few different sections – there’s one on gaining strength, one on sleep but the two chapters we’re really interested in are the ones on muscle gain and fat loss.

 

Fat loss

Ferris takes a predominantly diet-based approach to fat loss, after all, this fits perfectly into the 80/20 rule theory – you spend a lot more time prepping/cooking/eating food than you do in the gym – it might not be a 80/20 ratio, but you get the gist.

Tim’s fat loss principles center around what he calls the slow carb diet.

This isn’t anything revolutionary, and is probably pretty close to how most of you are already eating – basically prioritise fresh meat and vegetables, and avoid ‘white foods’ – i.e. bread, pasta, etc. The one carb he encourages is beans or lentils (if you have a Heinz can in your head, give yourself a slap). Pretty standard really, but there are a few aspects you may not have come across before;

  • Have one cheat DAY a week – eat whatever you want
  • Eat the same foods everyday (especially breakfast and lunch) to make the diet easier to follow
  • Don’t drink calories
  • Don’t eat fruit

Easy.

Fat loss isn’t all about diet however according to Tim. He touts a few other tips or ‘hacks’ that won’t make much difference on their own, but do help to get the best possible results. One such tip is taking ice cold showers which stimulates thermogenisis – a process that involves energy, and therefore calories.

All sound advice, most of which I follow anyway- and most which you’ll be familiar with if you’ve read anything about low carb or paleo diets before.

 

Muscle Building

Are there really any new ways to build muscle? Hasn’t the process been the same since the dawn of time – life heavy stuff, frequently?

Well the biological process by which muscle is built hasn’t changed, but Ferris is confident he’s found a training loop hole that hardly anyone is exploiting, and it involves a workout plan that priorities intensity, at the expense of frequency.

Like the slow carb diet the plan is incredibly simple – I won’t tell you what it is – you’re better off reading the book, but it involves just two different workouts, and LOTS of rest days in between – this means training a maximum of three times per week.

Ferriss workout plan

Ferriss’ plan is on the right

 

Even in the gym, each workout takes about 30 minutes. Sound to good to be true? Don’t get too excited, each workout involves an incredible level of discipline and dedication, so when you are in the gym, you’ll work.

So what sets these workouts apart from your everyday body-part split? Time under tension.

Each rep, you’ll spend a LOT of time on the eccentric portion, which means using much less weight than you’re used to, but actually working the muscle a lot harder because you’re under tension for so long. Be prepared to ache the next day.

Summary

Even if you don’t plan to radically change your your program, this is an interesting read.

Some of Tim’s philosophies are pretty ‘out there’ compared to the approach most people are used to when it comes to training and nutrition, but the core principles for sculpting a great physique remain the same.

If you’re looking to give your training a real shake up, give this program a go. I’d also recommend it for people that are really short on time and looking to streamline their training and nutrition as much as possible – everything in this book is geared toward efficiency and freeing up as much time as possible.

I’d even encourage you to get this for the minor tweaks or ‘body hacks’ Tim talks about – e.g. cold showers for fat loss.

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Gluten Free!

What the Fuck is Gluten, and Why is Everyone Scared of it?

Being ‘on a diet’ is cool, if you’re not dieting then what exactly are you doing with your life? How can you possibly expect to get thin if you’re not on some ridiculous, temporary plan that demonizes one type of food, which has obviously been the root of all your problems, all this time?

The latest trend in nutrition isn’t a diet as such, but rather, a total avoidance of something called Gluten. Suddenly, it’s fashionable to be Gluten intolerant, and even more so to tell everyone about this intolerance, like it’s some kind of trophy, in fact for women, a Gluten allergy seems to be this season’s must-have accessory, alongside a Micheal Kors handbag.

Now, when people talk about avoiding Gluten, do they know why, or even know what gluten is? According to this hilarious video, apparently not.

 

LOL! The thing is, I’m no scientist, so I can’t be aloof and scoff at these people for not being clued up on the moclecular structure of Gluten, but if you’re going to suddenly decide you’re intolerant, you should probably at least have some idea what Gluten actually is

 

What is Gluten?

All we need to know is that Gluten is protein found in wheat – therefore it’s present in stuff like bread, pasta, anything containing dough, cereal, oats, processed meat (think of all the stuff in sausages that isn’t meat), beer, as well as whole load of other stuff that you should be eating very infrequently anyway like cakes, biscuits, sweets, full sugar fizzy drinks and all the usual shit that makes you fat, sick, and look like Paul Potts.

It is true that some people actually are Gluten intolerant – i.e. they have what is essentially an allergic reaction to it when they eat it, and that a lot more people are Gluten sensitive – which means they experience light bloating and discomfort after they’ve eaten it.

 

List of foods containing Gluten

Imge credit http://lactosesintolerances.blogspot.co.uk/

 

It’s hardly surprising when you consider that the human body was never designed to eat all that man-made stuff, and that it makes up such a large part of so many people’s diets (how many people do you know that have cereal for breakfast, bread for lunch and pasta for dinner – coincidentally I bet a large percentage of those people have some kind of health problem or really need to lose some weight).

The point is, people focus on this word – ‘Gluten’ and think that avoiding it might be the answer to their problems – I’m not going to dispute that for one second, I think that cutting Gluten completely, or almost completely would be no bad thing for most people, but Gluten isn’t necessarily the thing that’s making you fat.

Generally speaking, foods that contain Gluten aren’t particularly nutritionally dense, and that’s a better reason to avoid them rather than simply because they contain a wheat protein that the whole world is suddenly;y terrified of. Although foods like bread, pasta and oats are energy dense, they won’t do much else for you, so wherever you can, I’d favour protein, fiberous carbohydrates and non-processed fats as a source of energy and nutrients over any Gluten foods.

 

Why Does the ‘Gluten free’ diet have such a cult following?

Because like many other ineffective diets, it focuses on one food group, and promotes the idea that avoiding it completely is the answer to all life’s problems.

It offers an easy solution, but unfortunately it seldom delivers.

Gluten Free dating site spoof

I don’t know if this is a thing. I really hope not.
Image credit: http://www.finedininglovers.com/

It’s also slightly easier to stomach for most people than a low or no-carb diet because you can still eat pizza, pasta and bread, albeit Gluten free versions. The other thing is, people think it’s cool to avoid Gluten, it’s almost become an exclusive club, and more and more people are claiming to be Gluten intolerant/insensitive even when they’re not.

It’s also easy to wrongly self-diagnose. If you’ve just eaten a large Dominos with all the trimmings and you feel shit and bloated, that’s not because of the Gluten, it’s because you ate too much in one sitting. You pig.

 

Ok, ok, but will Gluten make me fat?

It depends what you mean by fat. If you mean ‘will it make me heavier?’, then the answer is no, excess calories will make you heavier – Gluten is not the culprit. However, if you are chasing optimum body composition, which for 99.9% of people is as much muscle mass and as little body fat as possible, then eating lots of Gluten contain products probably won’t do you any favours.

1000 calories worth of Steak and vegetables will propels you toward your goals a lot quicker than a vat of pasta – which most people seem to think is ‘healthy’. Why? It’s not just about the protein, red meat also contains saturated fat (which, by the way has been proven in recent studies NOT to increase the risk of heart disease), and coupled with all the phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals in the veg, makes for a highly nutritious meal.

Will eating Gluten now and again make you fat? No. If you have sound knowledge of good nutrition and practice the 80/20 rule at the very least, then the odd Gluten containing product now and again won’t do you any harm.

 

Would I recommend Gluten Free products?

If you’ve never eaten a Gluten free product, you should try one. Imagine eating a Jacob’s Cream Cracker Sanwich, made with two hearty slices of MDF, all washed down with a refreshing pint of sawdust. That’s what eating Gluten Free Oats is like. In fact, eating a Gluten free product will make you realise what a difference this compound makes.

I wouldn’t particularaly recommend Gluten Free products, for the same reason I wouldn’t encourage eating Gluten, they’re not particularly nutrient dense. If you absolutely can’t live without pasta, bread or oats, and have an intolerance or sensitivity to Gluten, then go for it. Just make sure you have a good few spare hours for chewing time, and a few gallons of water on hand.

If you DON’T have an intolerance or sensitivity to Gluten, then substituting your Gluten containing foods for non Gluten containing foods will be unlikely to change things.

Gluten Free!

This means nothing, really
Image credit: http://glutenfreejeni.blogspot.co.uk/

 

How do I know if I’m Intolerant or Sensitive to Gluten?

You don’t. Well, not for sure anyway, there’s no standardized test for it.

If you feel like crap after eating Gluten foods, then you probably have an intolerance or sensitivity, so stop eating them.

Get it out your head that bread and pasta are staple foods, because they’re not.

 

So What Can I eat Instead?

The reason giving up Gluten can be so tough for many people is, as I mentioned previously, Gluten foods make up such a large part of their diets.

It’s not really surprising; Gluten, and high carb foods in general are cheap, easy to prep and eat, portable, and last for a long time. The trade off is that they’re not very nutritious, and don’t have that many benefits for your body other than providing a source of energy. There are many other foods out there that will provide you with energy, as well as making you look and feel good.

Look to shift the balance of your diet away from nutrient poor, Gluten-containing (or Gluten-free) carbs  and towards protein, veg and fats. Instead of having cereal for breakfast, have eggs, or even steak.

It might sound alien to you, but there is NO reason why you can’t do it. Your body will thank you.

 

 

 

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Brosceince

The Step-by-Step BroScience Guide to Muscle Building and Fat Loss

Who wants to wait around for their gainz?

Getting as big as possible as quickly as possible for that week in Marbs this summer is the absolute be all and end all, so with that in mind, you have a lot of important questions to answer, like ‘is MaxiMuscle Cyclone better than Promax’, ‘are 21s the great exercise in the history of bodybuilding’, and ‘what brand of t-shirts have the tightest sleeves?’

This comprehensive step by step guide will provide you with all the answers you need to get jacked so you can stand out this summer when you’re drinking watered down lager and looking pensive on the beach. Here goes.

Step 1. Tattoo

Get a shit sleeve tattoo. This is incredibly important, because everyone else has one and you need to blend in, but it will also mean that when you do eventually reach 15 stone at 3% body fat (because that will definitely happen) your arms will look even better. Be sure to wear vests or very short sleeved t-shirts so everyone can see it in its full glory at all times.

shit sleeve tattoo

You won’t get anywhere without one of these
Credit: https://www.facebook.com/MDSBroScience/

Step 2. Supplementation

We all know that supplements are the most important part of getting massive, it’s just not possible to achieve unless you spend at least £200 on magic powders and pills every month.

You need to chug down at least one weight gain shake everyday – they’re not called weight gainers for nothing you know. Also take shit loads of creatine because it will help you bench more than you mate, which is crucially important. Whey protein is a must, everyone knows that whey digests in about 3 seconds and is therefore really important to drink immediately after your workout, or the whole thing will be wasted. In terms of what brands to use, just go with the one with the best marketing campaign. If Ronnie Coleman says he takes it then he obviously does, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for you.

Ridculous Supplement stack

You’ll definitely need all this
Credit: http://uk.bodybuilding.com/store/

Taste is also really important so go for a nice flavour like Cookies n’ Cream or Chocolate Orange. Too help you burn fat, take loads of fat burning pills. Completely disregard the fact that that they contain ingredients which can be easily obtained from real food, the fact that these pills come in multicoloured bottles plastered with loads of scientific-sounding words mean they’ll work much better.

Step 3. Training

Train as much a possible. The more you train the quicker you will get massive, so it’s really important to go seven times a week if you can. Make sure you do weights to get big, and cardio to lose fat, both in the same session if you can. No one really ever sees your legs, so don’t worry about training them – if you are doing lots of running that’s basically like training your legs anyway. Ensure you have a strong focus on your upper body and do three sets of 10 on every exercise – getting that pump is essential.

curls in the squat rack meme

The foundation of every great workout
Credit: http://www.roypumphrey.com/

Make sure you focus on your chest and biceps with plenty of presses and curls, because that’s what everyone’s going to be looking at, and don’t forget, it will make that sleeve tattoo look even better. Get your mate to spot you on every single exercise, because it will allow you lift more weight (so you look cool in the gym), make sure you do 2-3 reps on your own at the start of each set, he can help your with the rest, or even do the last couple for you if needs be.

Step 4. Nutrition

It’s all about protein, obvioulsy you should get the majority of it through all the shakes and supplements you afford, but you need plenty of chicken too. Pick the leanest sources of protein such as chicken breast, turkey breast and egg whites, you need to keep fat as low as possible, how will you get a sixpack otherwise?

If you want to gain muscle you need to eat all that, and plenty of cheat meals on top. All you need is a fuck ton of calories so don’t feel guilty about having a footlong Subway for lunch and large Dominos for dinner most days. You’ll be training really hard so all those calories will definitely be put to good use.

Its cool bro I'm bulking meme

It’s cool
Credit: http://www.quickmeme.com/

Try to eat small meals regularly – about ten per day should do it, this will keep your metabolism constantly stoked – the majority of those meals should be chicken, broccoli and brown rice. Just because.

If you don’t have loads of carbs before you train, then you will probably faint in the middle of your 2nd set of bicep curls, or leave the gym having lost muscle mass, so make sure you have a huge bowl of oats before you train, and don’t be shy about jazzing it up with something sweet to make it taste better.

5. Sleep

You’ll probably want to stay up late most nights so you can have a ceasin protein shake before bed – you want to make sure your muscles are fed 24/7. If you don’t then you risk waking up and seeing your precious gainz gone.

 

If you heed the advice in this article, you’ll either end up fat, bloated and slightly more muscular, or skinny fat, tired and weaker than a kitten. Even worse you’ll have a shit sleeve tattoo. That’s right, this was a shameless April Fool’s joke. You probably didn’t find it funny, but I sure had fun writing it. The point is, you can actually extract something useful out of this article – by doing the complete opposite.

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Protein Pancake with Toppings

How to Make Protein Pancakes for Pancake Day

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Shrove Tuesday. Excellent, another day when you’re encouraged, nay, virtually forced to eat yet more shitty food. And you’d only just got rid of that layer of Christmas fat.

Well, as with most bad food choices, there is another way. You can join the droves of comfort eaters without slipping into a dark underworld of sugar and trans fat.

Pancakes are traditionally made with flour, vegetable oil, sugar, eggs and milk (not to mention sugar heavy toppings like, well sugar). There’s are two passable ingredients in there, and they are eggs and milk, but pancakes can be made much more suited to your muscle building and fat loss goals with a couple of simple alterations.

Protein Pancake with Toppings

To make protein pancakes that taste exactly the same as regular ones, but with a much more favourable nutritional profile, you just need a few ingredients;

Oats

Eggs

Milk

Vanilla Protein Powder

Coconut Oil

To make the pancakes;

1. Blend the oats to make them really fine

2. Mix with all the other ingredients until you get the desired thickness

3. Pour the mixture into a frying pan on a medium heat with plenty of cocnut oil so it doesn’t stick

4. Fry for about 4 minutes on each side, or until firm

5. For some decent toppings, try Agave Nectar, Blueberries and Cinnamon

OR if you’re feeling lazy, you can use Myprotein Protein Pancake Mix, this is basically protein (obviously) and fine oats, meaning you can just mix with milk and whack it in the pan. Works like a treat.

This is a pretty decent breakfast that tastes great all year round – I definitely wouldn’t replace eggs/meat and veg with protein pancakes long term, but once a week for a bit of variety won’t do any harm.

My Protein protein pancake mix

 

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