Clean food

There is No Such Thing as ‘Clean Food’

 

How many times have you people saying that they’re eating ‘clean’?

‘Clean Food’ is a buzzword that’s rife in fitness circles at the moment, and while you could just dismiss it as another vacuous hashtag, it’s ubiquity can be confusing for those that don’t know any better.

So what is clean food? Well, it isn’t anything.

That’s right, ‘clean food’ is NOT a thing. Sorry.

 

What is ‘Clean Food’?

But what do people THINK clean food is? Let’s consult Twitter;

 

#eatcelan screenshot

 

#eatclean screenshot

What are the key themes here?

 

Fruits and Vegetables – If we’re saying fruits and vegetables are ‘clean foods’ we need to define why. Is it because of their nutrient density? Many fruits and vegetables contain key micro nutrients for general health, but so do lots of different meats, and nuts, and oils, and plenty of other non-plant based foods.

‘Whole Grains’ – The general consensus seems to be that ‘whole grain’ carbohydrates are ‘cleaner’ than their non-whole grain counter parts, but why? It might be true that they’re more nutrient dense, and have a lower G.I rating, meaning they’re potentially more satiating, but does this make them ‘cleaner’?. Not necessarily.

Protein – Most protein rich foods also contain fat, and therefore fat, even saturated fat which is commonly demonized by the media, is also ‘clean’ by association. So is protein and fat are clean, as well as ‘whole grain’ carbs, then the majority of all foodstuffs on the planet are ‘clean’

Clean food

 

Of course six Tweets aren’t representative of what most people view ‘clean food’ as, In my opinion, most people think ‘clean food’ is;

 

‘Clean Food is anything that’s Unprocessed’

The problem with this line of thinking is that any food you buy in a supermarket is processed in one way or another.

Granted, your washed and bagged salad may not be as processed as your sugar coated cereal of choice, but it would be a fallacy to say that it’s sold purely in its natural form.

The other thing is that processing can take a few different forms, most notably chemical processing and mechanical processing – chemical processing is obviously much more damaging to the nutrient content of a given food, while mechanical processing simply refers to chopping or shredding – but the fact remains that it is still processing.

The other problem with this approach is that many ‘unprocessed’ advocates will use whey protein – which is heavily processed.

 

‘Clean Food is Low in Calories’ 

I think this is an approach many people take when looking to lose weight, and while eating food low in calories  (so long as you create a negative energy balance) will help achieve weight loss, if this means prioritising foods that are low in nutrients, then this approach won’t be sustainable.

Also consider that some foods considered to be ‘clean’, e.g. fruit (particularly high sugar fruit) may not be as satiating as other options (e.g. protein rich foods) and therefore not optimal for a weight loss diet.

 

‘Clean Food is Anything other than Carbs’

Of course this is ridiculous. Many people forget that vegetables are predominantly carbohydrate based, and that many carb-rich foods (e.g. sweet/white potatoes) boast favourable micro nutrient profiles.

Carbs can also be useful if you’re trying to lose weight or build muscle because they’re the body’s preferred fuel source (in most cases) for intense exercise.

 

‘Clean Food is whatever’s Fashionable at the time’ 

Just like everything else in life, foods go in and out of fashion. Butter decreased in popularity because people thought it made you fat, but now people are singing the praises of Almond Milk, Coconut Oil, Quinoa and Kale. Don’t get me wrong these are all great foods to include in your diet, but they don’t necessarily offer anything ‘magical’ that other, similar alternatives don’t.

A few years back it was Acai Berries – the problem is people think these foods are miracle cures for general health or weight loss and invest heavily in them, while neglecting the rest of their diet. Kale, Acai Berries and Almond Milk won’t do you any favours if the rest of your diet sucks.

 

But if you don’t trust my opinion, what about Google? Google’s always right.

eating clean Google

 

Let’s address each of these points individually;

 

1. Like I said, virtually all foods you buy at the supermarket are processed in some way. ‘Single ingredient’ foods is probably a better term, but again, many would say whey protein is clean, and that’s processed, and has more than one ingredient

2. Refined/processed – same thing

3.  So basically ‘eat a balanced diet’, this is good advice for both performance, aesthetics and overall health, and always has been. Just because you eat a balanced diet however doesn’t mean it’s clean – you could eat a highly processed diet that was perfectly balanced.

4. What does ‘watch out’ even mean? If it means ‘avoid’ or even ‘limit’ it’s potentially crap advice – depending on your goal. There are many unprocessed (clean?) foods that contain fat (nuts) or sugar (fruit) so should we ‘watch’ those??

5. Meal frequency has NOTHING to do with the quality or ‘clean-ness’ of your food, completely separate issue

The other two principles were;

6.  ‘Don’t Drink Your Calories’ – potentially good advice if you’re talking about high-calorie juices and coke, but what about fruit or veg smoothies? They’re a convenient way to get a huge variety of micro nutrients in one hit

7. ‘Get Moving’ – Good general advice but NOTHING to do with ‘eating clean’

 

 

WHY Are You Eating ‘Clean’?

The problem is, people seem to love telling everyone that they’re ‘eating clean’, and that ‘everyone needs to eat clean’ and that ‘eating clean will solve the world’s ills and defeat ISIL’, but perhaps worse than the ‘eating clean’ platitude lacking any concrete meaning, it can be quite misleading and most people don’t actually know why they’re doing it.

Are you ‘eating clean’ to lose weight/fat, or improve health? Because, depending on your interpretation of ‘clean’, you could be sabotaging your own end goal.

Let’s say you want to lose weight, so you start replacing some the refined carbohydrates in your diet with nuts (because refined carbohydrates aren’t clean and nuts are unprocessed, so they are clean, right?). Using our basic knowledge of nutrition, we know that gram for gram, fat is much more calorific than carbohydrate, in fact it’s over twice as calorific.

Let’s say that you were eating 300g of refined carbohydrate per day, that equals 1200 calories.

You replace this with 300g of unprocessed ‘clean’ nuts. Bad news, because that equals 2700 calories.

If you add 1500 calories to your daily intake over a significant period of time, you’re highly likely to put on weight.

Let’s say you don’t care about losing weight and you just want to optimise your overall health, so you eat foods with a high nutrient density. While this might include lots of green veg, you’ll probably also want to increase your consumption of foods that are calorie-dense; i.e. fatty fish, nuts and even dark chocolate.

The issue here, is unless you closely monitor your calorie intake, it’s very easy to over-consume and put yourself into a calorie surplus. If you do this over a long period of time, you’ll put on weight, and aside from the fact that 99.9% of people don’t want to get fatter, additional fat can be bad for your health.

Again, you’ve undermined your original goal.

Still think ‘eating clean’ is the way forward?

 

Clean Eating VS IIFYM

IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) is diet trend which has taken off the last few years. The philosophy is that you can pretty much eat anything you want, as long it meets your calorie and macro targets for the day/week.

Of course this goes against the ‘clean eating’ mantra of prioritizing unprocessed, natural food, because, well, you can pretty much eat anything you want, and yes that does mean if you want to get your carbohydrates from Fruit Pastilles, and your Protein from cheap sausages, and your fat from glugging down processed Vegetable Oil, you can.

There are two main problems with IIFYM

1. You need to be ultra pedantic about counting calories because it’s VERY easy to over eat these kind of calorie-dense foods

2. If you take IIFYM to the extreme (basically eating crap all the time) you probably won’t fee; great, and your overall health could suffer.

‘Clean Eating’ is generally a better choice for weight loss if you don’t want to calorie count, because it’s quite difficult to over eat vegetables, protein and unprocessed carbohydrates, however there are still pitfalls, as per the example above.

 

Clean Eating/IIFYM Hybrids

Clean eating and IIFYM are generally opposing philosophies, but I have noticed a trend recently, mainly on Instagram, where people are coming up with concoctions that they they brand ‘clean’ but actually have characteristics of IIFYM.

An example of this might be protein brownies.

This could be a regular brownie recipe, but with added protein powder, or a ‘healthier’ recipe that substitutes certain ingredients for others, for example, wheat flour might be swapped for coconut flour.

But is a protein brownie really ‘clean’? If we’re saying that clean food is unprocessed, then the answer is no, because protein powder is processed. And if they’re made with Coconut flour rather than wheat flour, does that make them cleaner? Health-wise, it might have a slightly more favourable micronutrient profile but it doesn’t mean it’s any less calorific.

Another popular substitute in ‘clean treat’ recipes is Agave Syrup in place of honey, again, the perception is that it’s somehow ‘healthier’ or ‘cleaner’, but this assumption isn’t grounded in reality.

Let’s consult Instagram and the annoying ‘clean treats’ hashtag.

 

clean treats instagram

 

 

That bowl of sludge, delicious as it looks can’t be classed as ‘clean’ can it? It might fit into the posters Macros but does that make it clean? C’mon, it has a fucking Kit Kat in it, are Kit Kats unprocessed?

In this sense, ‘clean’ is just a byword for ‘fashionable’, so the question is, do you want to look cool in front of your Instagram followers, or do you actually want results?

 

 TL;DR

‘Clean eating’ or ‘eating clean’ are totally arbitrary terms that don’t actually mean anything.

Establish your goal first, then build your diet to achieve that goal, rather than mindlessly jumping on the latest nutritional bandwagon.

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carbs

Some of The Bollocks I Hear People Say About Carbs

Know anyone who’s on a diet at the moment? Let me have a guess what was the first thing they decided to ‘cut out’…

Carbs?

Of course, after all, carbs make you fat, don’t they? Well, no.

If you want to lose weight, and are thinking about going on a diet, chances are you’re looking for scapegoat, something to blame on you not being in the shape you want to be. After all, it can’t be your fault for lacking self control and overeating can it? It must be something in your diet. The Daily Mail told you it was carbs, and you want to believe them. It’s carb’s fault, not yours.

The reality is, you don’t need to cut any one food out your diet to lose weight, particularly not carbs.

I’m not going to massage my own ego and delve into the science of carbs, I’m sure you all know what foods contain carbs, typically;

  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Beans/Legumes
  • Ouinoa
  • Cous Cous
  • Cereals

Other foods that contain carbs which you may not have realised include;

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Milk
  • Nuts/Nut Butters
  • Alcohol

 

If you cut all that out of your diet you’re probably going to get pretty sick, and also have a shit life.

Carbs are not your enemy. I’d imagine you’re still not convinced, and you want to believe that just by cutting out carbs, you’ll get the body you’ve always wanted.

I’ll try and address that below by dealing with some of the most popular misconceptions surrounding carbs.

 

‘Carbs are Not an Essential Nutrient’ 

This is true to a degree, but hold on a second.

Protein and Fat containing foods contain essential amino acids and essential fatty acids respectively. These are termed ‘essential’ because unlike other fatty acids or amino acids, they cannot be synthesized (made) by the body. They HAVE to come from food. You won’t die immediately if you don’t eat them, but you won’t be setting yourself up for optimal health either.

There are no such thing as essential carbohydrates. But does this mean you shouldn’t eat them? No.

Look at the list of foods above that contain carbs.

Most vegetables are 100% carbohydrates, but do you think cutting out dark green leafy veg is going to help you in any way? Of course it’s not you fool, regardless of whether you’re trying to lose fat or improve your overall health.

It’s also worth noting that it’s not as simple as just separating foods into ‘protein’, ‘carb’, or ‘fat’ categories – most foods don’t just contain one macronutrient, but rather, varying ratios of two or three.

To illustrate my point, I’m going to refer back to the list above – nuts may contain carbs, but they also contain essential fatty acids (and protein) – so if you you don’t eat nuts because they contain carbs, then you’d be missing out on other essential nutrients.

carbs
This is all fair game

 

‘Don’t Eat Carbs Before the Gym’ (Or Before Marbs)

There’s a school of thought that says, if you want to burn fat in the gym, don’t eat carbs before you workout, because then your body will use fat as a fuel source in the absence of carbs. This is wrong for several reasons;

  • Fat loss occurs when you’re consistently in a calorie deficit (regardless of the amount of carbs you eat) for an appreciable time period – not just because you’re ‘zero carb’ before the gym
  • The body isn’t this simplistic – say you train at the gym at 3pm, just because you haven’t eaten any carbs since you woke up doesn’t mean you body won’t use carbs as a fuel source – what about the carbs you ate last night stored as muscle glycogen?
  • If you are looking to lose fat, then high-intensity training is going to be the best method to achieve that, and the most efficient way to fuel that is with carbs, you might think you can train just as hard on fat and protein alone, but it’s very unlikely that that’s the case. With this in mind, you’re better off eating a good amount of carbs if fat loss is your goal
no carbs before marbs
TOWIE was wrong all along. Who’d have thought it?

 

 

‘Don’t Eat Carbs After the Gym (or After 6pm)’ 

The ‘don’t eat carbs after 6pm (or some other arbitrary made-up time)’ “rule” has been doing the rounds for years now.

This is probably based on the assumption that, after 6pm, most people will sit on their arses all evening and gorge themselves on Dorritos while watching Eastenders. The problem is, most people sit on their arses all day too, at their desks, at work, very possibly also eating Dorritos. If this is your life, then your requirement for carbohydrates is going to be very low, but I doubt many of you reading this blog lead that sort of lifestyle.

So should you eat carbs after the gym? That depends on a lot of things;

What’s your goal? Are you trying to build muscle or lose fat? If so are you training tomorrow? How many days have you trained previously? Do you LIKE eating carbs after the gym??

Unfortunately this is so individual it’s impossible to give a clear answer, but the bottom line is nutrient timing – i.e. WHEN you eat your carbs is a lot less important than getting the right amount of carbs overall, whatever that amount is.

 

It’s All About the Type of Carbs’ 

What’s all about the type of carbs? Whether or not you lose fat? Bollocks.

As mentioned, the key determining factor in whether you lose fat is your energy balance over time.

It probably shouldn’t, and maybe I should seek therapy, but I find it infuriating when people make recommendations to switch to ‘Sweet Potatoes instead of White Potatoes’ or ‘Brown Rice over White’ to help with the weight loss process.

This is utter garbage, I’m not saying don’t eat Sweet Potatoes, they have some benefits over white potatoes (different vitamin and mineral profiles), but white potatoes are fine too (despite their seemingly impeccable reputation, Sweet Potatoes actually have more sugar than White potatoes – not that this is a bad thing).

Some quote that the Glycemic Index (how quickly a food is converted into Glucose) of Sweet Potatoes is favourable to that of White Potatoes (i.e. the GI is lower, so they keep blood sugar and therefore appetite stable for longer), but this is distorted by many other factors, such as how the potatoes are cooked, and what other foods they’re eaten with.

As you can see, this issue is incredibly complex, and it’s not just as simple as saying ‘one carb source is better than another’

See the chart below so you can compare the GI ratings of a few different foods

 

GI chart
Image courtesy of http://www.nasm.org/

 

‘Cavemen Didn’t Eat Carbs, So We Don’t Need to’

This is people taking the whole Paleo debate out of context.

I have a lot of time for Paleo Diet advocates, I don’t think the diet is perfect for everyone, but it’s a good template for improving health, which a lot of people need to do.

Anyway, the Paleo Diet isn’t about NOT eating carbs – this is just a simplistic view of it.

Many Paleo books recognise that some ancient societies (e.g. in South America) survived on a diet predominantly made up of carbs, because this was all that was available to them, so saying that ‘Cavemen didn’t eat carbs’ is a complete non-argument.

Also, remember that list above – it contains vegetables, i.e. plant foods which would have been the most readily available food source for people that had to catch and kill animals using bits of flint.

Even if cavemen didn’t eat carbs, that wouldn’t be argument alone as to why we shouldn’t eat them now. Society has moved on – should we not use life-saving drugs simply because the ‘cavemen’ didn’t?

 

If you operate just fine on a diet free of starchy carbs (NOT vegetables, I’m not telling you it’s ok not to eat vegetables) then by all means go ahead, but you’ll probably be missing out on a lot of things – intense training sessions that’ll actually help you reach your goals, chips with peri peri salt in Nandos, and  a few frosty ones with your pals on a Friday. Enjoy.

 

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bodypart split

What Muscle Building Program is Best for You?

Paralysis by analysis by a condition that many people suffer from, in various different aspects of their life, not just in their pursuit of an ideal physique.

But we’re not here to talk about your dead-end job or why you didn’t pull last weekend, we’re here to talk about losing fat and gaining some fucking muscle.

So what is paralysis by analysis when it comes to choosing a resistance training program?

The amount of information available on this topic is overwhelming, even if you know what you’re doing, and I’m not just talking about the internet, I’m talking about that dusty copy of Flex magazine from 1998, the overly-friendly guy at the gym who dishes out advice whether you ask for it or not, or the guy who sites opposite you at work who seems to know everything there is to know about training despite looking like he’s never set foot in a gym.

So who do you listen to? Do you just make it up? Rock up at the gym and freestyle it? Well no, you should listen to me. I’m joking, of course, I’m just offering my humble opinion, but since you’re already reading this, you may as well carry on.

 

So What’s the Best Program?

There is no best program. Sorry.

If there were one training protocol that trumped everything else, we’d all know about it, and we’d all be doing it, and we’d all be 300lbs and ripped to shreds year round.

But we’re obviously not.

The best program is the one that you’ll stick to, because there is one aspect of training that DOES trump everything else, and that’s consistency. if you’re not consistent, no matter what program you’re on, you won’t achieve the best results – you may not even achieve ANY results, depending on how inconsistent you are.

So be mindful that, when chsoing a program, it needs to be one that you’re confident you can fullfill. If you’re a business owner who commutes 4 hours a day and has a wife and 17 kids then your time is probably going to be quite limited, so don’t pick a program where you’re training 7 days a week, twice a day. Simples.

With that in mind, here are some training programs to pick from, some of which I’ve done, some I haven’t;

 

Body part Split

This has to be the most famous and most popular split, mainly because it’s what most bodybuilders do, and therefore what they recommend in their Muscle & Fitness interviews. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best program for you, even if you want to look vaguely like a body builder.

This program essentially involves training one large body part and possibly one smaller body part per day over a seven-day cycle, for example;

Monday: Chest and Triceps

Tuesday: Legs

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Shoulders

Friday: Back and Biceps

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Abs

 

Example Day: Back and Biceps

Pullups – 8 sets

Bent Over Rows – 3 sets

Single Arm Rows – 3 sets

Lat Pulldown – 3 sets

EZ Bar Bar Bicep Curls – 4 sets

Spider Curls – 3 sets

 

Of course there are several different variations of this program, but the above is pretty typical.

You could of course train chest and back on their own separate days, and have a day where you combine biceps and triceps.

Another popular variation is training chest with shoulders – there are pros and cons of every variation.

 

Pros: The good thing about this program is that it’s easy to understand and plan, it also allows you to cram in a lot of volume for an individual body part. Because of the scope for large amounts of volume, it opens up opportunities for a wide variety of exercises and rep schemes.

Cons: The main disadvantage of this program is that people stick to it for so long, rather than mixing it up with other variations, of course this is true of any program, it’s just that it occurs much more commonly with the body part split than anything else.

The real main con of this program is that it doesn’t allow for a lot of frequency, you’re only training every body part once a week, and therefore, 4 times a month, and 52 times per year

Of course, if you have enough time in the day (and energy) you can get in a lot of volume. Because this is body part specific – it’s very much geared towards aesthetics, since it allows plenty of room for of isolation moves – hence why it’s popular with bodybuilders

bodypart split training
Image from http://questforstrength.com/

 

 

Upper/Lower Body Spilt

From one extreme to the other – while the previous program divides the body into it’s constituent parts, this simply divides the body in half, so you’re only ever working your upper or lower body

For example;

Monday: Upper Body

Tuesday: Lower Body

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Upper Body

Friday: Lower Body

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Upper Body

N.B. – this would work on a rolling cycle, so on the following Monday you’d hit lower body, then upper, then rest, etc, etc.

 

Example Day: Lower Body

Back Squats – 4 sets

Front Squats – 4 sets

Deadlifts – 4 sets

Dumbbell lunges – 3 sets

 

In complete contrast to the body part split, this is a great program for specific training – because the body is split into two parts there’s not much room for specialisation (or isolation moves), so it’ll force you focus on compound moves.

Of course, you don’t HAVE to focus on compounds – but it’d certainly be the best use of your time if you chose this program.

You could keep all your lower and upper days the same (e.g. upper could be flat bench, standing military press, dips, pull ups) or you could alternate compound days like the one just mentioned with isolation days, for upper body this might be flys, lateral raises, tricep pulldowns, lat pulldowns).

Pros: Frequency. Aside from a whole body workout – this will allow you get plenty of frequency in, since you’ll be training every body part every third day. If you play your cards right, this should allow you to quickly improve the big lifts.

For this reason, this is a great, simple program for beginners – who will most benefit from building a solid foundation

Cons: This is a program which could quickly get stale, since there’s not a huge amount of scope for variety

It’s probably not also a great for advanced trainers or people looking to bring up lagging body parts

 

 

Push/Pull/Legs Split

This is the program that I’m currently on, and is definitely becoming more popular.

If you’ve been using a body part split for a while now, this is a good transition into a program that allows for more frequency.

This splits the upper body into movement patterns (push and pull), and keeps legs on for a separate day, much like the upper/lower split.

This is a great program for aesthetics, since it allows for more volume AND more frequency per body part.

Not only are you training every body part twice a week, could actually achieve more overall volume in a week than a body part split, if you do enough sets. For example, on a body part split you might do 20 sets in total for chest (e.g. 5 sets each of 4 different exercises), an push/pull/legs split might allow you to do 10 sets on Monday for chest, and 11 on Thursday, meaning that, over the course of a week you’ve done more volume. Phew.

Here’s an example;

Monday: Push (Chest/Shoulders Triceps)

Tuesday: Legs

Wednesday: Pull (Back/Biceps)

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Push

Saturday: Legs

Sunday: Pull

 

Example Day: Push 

Flat Bench Press – 5 sets

Incline Dumbbell Flys – 5 sets

Barbell Military press – 5 sets

Lateral Raise – 3 sets

Skull Crushers – 4 sets

Rope Tricep Extensions – 3 sets

This is a great program if you’ve been training for a while, and you really want to take it to the next level, but be warned – you only get one rest day per week!

Despite the fact that the thought of having just one rest day a week is quite daunting, this is actually quite a ‘fun’ program, since you’re only doing a few sets (over maybe 2 exercises per body part) per session.

Now I know what you’re thinking ‘I DON’T WANT TO SQUAT TWICE A WEEK, ONCE IS BAD ENOUGH’. Well you don’t necessarily have to, what I do is a Quad dominant leg day (where I’ll do front squats) and a hamstring dominant leg day (where I’ll do back squats). Similarly, I’ll only deadlift on one of the back days per week.

Pros: Allows you to increase volume and frequency over a body part split. This is pretty big.

Cons: Training 6 days per week – you need to be prepared to dedicate quite a lot of time to the gym.

 

 

Full Body

Does what it says on the tin – you train your whole body, every session.

Much like the upper lower split, this is great for sports specific training. Frequency will also be quite high, but the volume will be low, since you’re only going to have time to do a couple of sets per body part, unless of course you want to spend hours in the gym.

Scope for isolation exercises will also be limited if you want to get the best bang for your buck.

For example;

Monday: Full body (Heavy)

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Full body (Light)

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Full body (Moderate)

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

 

Example Day:

Squats – 4 sets

Deadlifts – 4 sets

Military press – 3 sets

Flat Barbell Bench Press – 3 sets

Pull ups – 3 sets

The best way to approach this would be to have a heavy, moderate and low day, since training squats or deadlifts repeatedly in any one of those rep ranges is going to be counter productive and unsustainable

Pros: Perfect for those that are short on time, and need the most bang for their buck, OR people that want to combine resistance training with cardio or another sport. It’s also good for complete beginners since it’ll help them learn the important movements quickly and build a base level of strength

Cons: Probably not the best for those looking for pure aesthetics, due to the lack of emphasis on isolation exercise exercises. Of course that’s not to say you won’t be able to achieve a great physique using this program

 

bodypart split
Three of the most effective excercises you should be doing

 

 

 German Volume Training

I’ve no idea why this is German, maybe it’ something to do with the ruthless efficiency of this program, and it is pretty efficient.

No fancy exercises, not complicated set and rep schemes, just pure unadulterated volume.

The widely accepted way to perform this program is to do 10 sets of 10 for a compound exercise, then a few sets of an assistance exercise.

There’s no widely accepted scheme for GVT, but here’s how I’d set it up;

 

Monday: Chest

Tuesday: Legs

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Back

Friday: Shoulders

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

 

Example Day: Shoulders

Standing Barbell Military Press – 10 sets (10 reps)

Standing Dumbbell raises – 4 sets

I’ve only scheduled four training days per week in this program due to the amount of volume.

One thing you’ll need to carefully consider if you’re doing this is the weight you’re using, you want to use something you’ll be able to get 10 reps out of for 10 sets – so even if the few sets feel easy, the last few definitely won’t. I’d go for 60% of your 1RM – so if you can bench 100kg, use 60Kg.

Pros: Easy to program, since there are only a maximum of 2 exercises per body part

Cons: Can we mentally taxing due to the lack of variety. Also probably not a great program for beginners who don’t need this level of volume to spark adaptations.

 

 

Crossfit WOD

Crossfit has been loosely termed the ‘sport of fitness’ and the people that ‘compete’ in it bestow it with a cult like status; they pretty much have their own language (boxes, paleo, kipping pullups anyone?). Although Crossfitters exist in their own little Under Amour-wearing, Rich Froning-worshiping world, Crossfit workouts can genuinely be good for muscle gain and fat loss.

N.B. Crossfit involves a lot of Olympic lifting so if you’ve never tried Clean and Jerks or Snatches before, learn the technique or you’ll probably end up snapping your spine.

Crossfit basically works on the premise that everyone does a given workout on a specific date (the WOD, or Workout of the Day), and the entire Crossfit community competes to complete this workout in the quickest time.

The workouts are given innocent-sounding women’s names, but many of the routines are anything but, with punishing compound exercises back-to-back with sprints or box jumps.

Example Workout: Linda

Crossfit Linda
If you thought Linda was just your mum’s mate, think again

 

 

Conclusion

There are tons of other established, popular programs out there, some you might want to check out include – FST7, YT3, 5/3/1, DC and Mountain Dog (Google them), though these are probably more appropriate for advanced trainers.

As I said at the start, you can make progress with ANY of these programs, so your choice should be based on how often you can/want to train, and whether you prefer longer, infrequent workouts, or training more often with slightly less volume.

Whichever one you do choose, I certainly wouldn’t stick with it for the rest of your days, it’ll probably take you a good few weeks to really get stuck into a program, so I’d recommend doing a program for a minimum of four months before moving on to a different one.

When it comes down to it, the decisive factor in whether or not your workouts are successful will be consistency, I can’t stress how important that is. You need to stick it it out – if the program looks like too much of a commitment for you, choose another one. sure, you can take the odd unscheduled day off or move your workouts around, but 90% of the time you need to be hitting the gym on your scheduled days. No excuses.

If you need help picking the right program for you, or want to design one tailored for your exact needs/goals/lifestyle, get in contact with me.

 

 

 

 

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MEDITERRANEAN DIET

Is The Mediterranean Diet Really the Best Way to Lose Weight?

Easy answer for you here, if you’re in a calorie deficit (consistently burning more calories than you eat on a daily basis) then any diet, regardless of whether it’s the ‘Mediterranean Diet’, or the Krispy Kreme diet will make you lose weight.

So no. the best way to lose weight is not necessarily the Mediterranean Diet.

The BBC however recently ran an article making claims to the contrary. The article is actually based on research by Doctors, but I’m going to poke fun at the BBC anyway, just for shits and giggles.

First of all, the whole concept of the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ is flawed. What even is it? There’s no clear definition – because there is no such thing. There are 25 Mediterranean countries. Do you really think think they all eat the same diet?

Do people in Spain really eat the same diet as people in Albania? Or Syria? (yes these are both also Mediterranean countries). Of course not.

Even if the Mediterranean diet referred to the eating habits a single country, it would still be a flawed concept, there are still people in France, Spain and Italy that are sick and obese because they eat too much poor quality food (ok maybe not so many as other countries, but hey).

 

So what is the Mediterranean Diet perceived to be?

According to the BBC;

“Typically, it consists of an abundance of vegetables, fresh fruit, wholegrain cereals, olive oil and nuts, as well as poultry and fish, rather than lots of red meat and butter or animal fats.”

Whether or not this is what our Mediterranean cousins eat day-n day-out, the concept of it being THE ‘healthiest’ diet or the diet that’s ‘best for weight loss is highly debatable.

All the items listed are nutrient dense foods (with the exception of ‘wholegrain’ cereals) that should really be present in pretty much any diet. The problem is the vilification of animal fat.

We know that eating a low fat diet isn’t optimal for health – fats can help with the production of testosterone, which you kind of want unless bitch tits are your thing, but the next biggest crime in nutrition is not eating enough different types of fat.

 

MEDITERRANEAN DIET
WHERE IS THE DELICIOUS SATURATED FAT?

For years we’ve had the ‘good fats’ mantra rammed down our throats – ‘you ONLY want to eat good fats like salmon, Avocado, Olive Oil and nuts’, granted these are all ‘good’ fats’, but that infers that all other types of fat are ‘bad’, that simply isn’t the case.

You probably don’t want to be chugging down too much trans fat, but animal fats should be a big part of a balanced diet, not so recent studies have discredited any association of heart disease with saturated fat intake. Foods high in saturated fat contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimal health, e.g. Butter is one of the very few foods that contains Vitamin K2. A massive slab of steak drenched in garlic butter also tastes fucking good.

So let’s have a quick recap of the different types of fat;

  • Monounsaturates – found in Olive Oil, Avocado, Nuts and Seeds
  • Polyunsaturates – found in Fatty Fish, Eggs, Nuts and Seeds
  • Saturates – Red meat, Coconut Oil, Butter

You should eat them all.

 

Should you be ‘on’ The Mediterranean Diet

I have a problem with what media are painting the Mediterranean diet out to be for the reasons mentioned above, however, the majority of people would benefit from having more vegetables, olive oil, nuts and fatty fish in their diet, and if you need to rationalise that by saying you’re on the ‘Mediterranean Diet’, then go for it – but make sure you include saturated fat too.

I also have a problem with the BBC promoting this as weight loss diet. This means that most people will read this article and think that eating a ‘good’ diet is something that should be done temporarily to lose weight. If it helps with weight loss (it may not) then great, but if people see it as a temporary diet then they might think that a ‘normal’ nutrition plan consisting of shit loads of stuff like cereal, bread, pasta and sugary junk is ok for their health when it’s not.

Eating a diet comprising of lots vegetables, fish, meat nuts and oils ALL the time is optimal for health, and should therefore be your ‘normal’ nutrition plan rather than a transitory diet. If you want to lose weight then you simply need to be eating less calories than you burn everyday – regardless of what you eat (eating for optimal health and weight loss CAN be two very different things).

Although I said the Mediterranean Diet (plus saturated fat) is good for most people, whether or not you should practise it really depends on your goals.

  • Do you want to improve your overall health? – It’s probably perfect for you, but maybe consider swapping out the wholegrains for some saturated fat
  • Do you want to lose weight and be healthy? – It’s fine, as long as you’re in a calorie deficit.
  • Do you just want to lose weight? – It may not be optimal due to the high fat content – of you’re not eating a lot of nuts or oils and you suddenly add them to your diet they can skyrocket your calorie intake. If you want to lose weight without calorie counting then the higher fat content could pose a problem
  • Do you want to build muscle? – So long as you’re getting enough protein, and have enough energy to train intensely, it should be fine.
  • Do you want to perform at your very best in an endurance event? – You may need to add extra carbs into the diet. Does this make it NOT the Mediterranean Diet anymore? Who knows?

As you can see, simply blanket prescribing a specific diet to EVERYONE can be pretty dumb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Finished product

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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mac nutrition mentorship

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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Adam Hayley Beore and After

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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Seasoned chicken thigh

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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MP Recovery

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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juice plus products

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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