Category Archives: nutrition

The “Calorie Counting” Trap

Most cardio equipment will have a calorie counter to tell you how many you have burned. I’ve seen people swimming in sweat, literally a pool of it surrounding their bike, after what must have been a huge grind session and all this with 850 calories expended. That’s right, 850. Most people will not get anywhere near that unless they’re flat out for 50-60 minutes and the average “cals” burned would be 500-600.

Check out how many cals a medium cappuccino and bagel with cream cheese puts into your system. Then you may start to realise counting cals may not actually be the thing you thought it was.

Do you know how they measure how many calories are in a food? Do you think someone actually eating food comes into the equation? Nope. They burn the food and measure the temperature change, a one degree Celsius change is 1 calorie, a basic explanation from McGill University in Canada is here.

A calorie is a measure of energy, which kind of makes sense as it relates to human power. Whether burning the food bears any resemblance to how mitochondria utilises nutrients in human cells to produce energy is, in my mind, highly debatable. I would go as far as to say it’s almost ridiculous.

So how then do people lose weight when they “count” calories? Well, they usually end up eating much less than they ordinarily would so they’re restricting the amount of food and therefore reverse the increasing weight gain paradigm so many of the population finds themselves in.

As I have written about previously, the human population has become subjected to manufactured foods that are highly processed and largely nutrient-deficient. For a lot of the western world this has resulted in an epidemic of obesity, as described by the WHO. Almost 40% of the world’s adult population is overweight and 13% technically obese.

After spending a significant amount of time researching the subject and attempting to understand the primary causes without the pressure of financial interests dictating outcomes, it is clear to me a primary cause is the food we eat. After all, more people suffer from too much food than not enough as is evidenced by the previously linked website.

So exactly what is the issue with counting calories? Here are the problems –

  • there’s a tenuous relationship between the true energy contribution of food and what values are attached to them by the term calorie
  • focussing on numbers distracts people from the quality of the foods they’re consuming
  • focussing on numbers can mean other highly relevant concepts are not considered such as intermittent fasting (IF)
  • focussing on numbers takes away from understanding the origins of food

We should be focussing on IF and food quality, primarily nutrient density and choosing whole foods. These concepts are the ones most people should be building their nutrition plan around and especially that of their children. A focus that is purely on numbers is simple to do but not beneficial and it is based on flimsy science – it’s not the only flimsy science seen in the fitness industry, think 220-your age as a maximal heart rate for training purposes – bunk!

I survey the fitness and health scene frequently and am always questioning what people are doing. Way too many times I see a reliance on calorie counting as a means for determining food selection – this is a big error. Change you ways people!

Testosterone replacement therapy, anyone?

Modern medicine concerns me on a number of levels. The introduction of synthetic chemicals to the human body on the face of it should be problematic. Big pharma goes to the lengths it has to, to provide safety data but the methods it uses are highly questionable. Don’t believe me check out articles here, here and here.

Ancient medicines, such as Traditional Chinese, Korean, African, European, Iranian and Indian Ayurvedic among others, all had and some continue to have huge amounts of detail around treatments of ailments that for the large part are not only ignored, maligned and dismissed by modern medical professionals but also organisations like the American Medical Association (AMA) prosecute practitioners and their patients for using them. It’s actually unbelieveable that the AMA and other similar organisations in other countries can do this under the guise they are saving people from injury and yet willingly allow doctors to inject chemicals into newborn babies – I am a little on the fence with some of this practice, ok a LOT on the fence.

Why are modern medical professionals ignoring the advice of Hippocrates the “Father of Medicine” who uttered that famous sentence, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”? I honestly do not understand why we have gone so very wrong with medical practices. Are you aware that medical “errors” are usually in the top 2 or 3 causes of death in most developed nations? In the US it is the third leading killer at 250,000 per year – I am serious here is an article.

Don’t get me wrong I am a big supporter of our medical system as it relates to helping people in emergencies. Life saving equipment and systems that help medical people save lives are literally modern miracles. Where I draw the line is “pharmaceutical healthcare” – to me it’s an oxymoron. Health and drugs are not compatible concepts.

Health is about fitness, nutrition, rejuvenation, rest and sleep and a positive, open-minded attitude, one that cultivates good things in your life.

High levels of communication with the people that are important to you, taking time for yourself and spending time with those around you and not taking things too seriously thereby managing stress, are all basics in our lives.

And all of them contribute to high levels of health.

Pills and injections don’t make you healthy. They are temporary measures that suppress symptoms when you are sick – the body then heals itself, the human body is always regenerating itself and when aided by healthy nutritional practices and rest, these illnesses are healed.

Foundational activities in building great health therefore require attention to nutrition and herein lies a big issue. Too much processed food is consumed by too many people and much of this food is of quite frankly, appalling quality. It seems the manufacturers of these foods and that word “manufacturer” should concern most people if they’re eating a lot of this type of food, rank importance of things like colour, taste and shelf life ahead of nutritional value.

Nutritional value is all that counts with food. I’m dead serious. Of course most restaurants especially the expensive ones, cafes and of course fast food outlets place zero importance on nutritional value. Trust me, they don’t. Their important considerations are getting a high price and getting you to come back next week – nutritional value usually doesn’t even come into the equation.

If you eat out a lot and/or get food delivered a lot my message to you is beware. Hippocrates had it right when he uttered those immortal words. Too much food of highly questionable nutritional value will make you sick. A lot of food of high nutritional value will help you heal. This is a great book that highlights exactly what I am talking about.

One of the key functions digested food plays is in hormone creation. A high nutritional value diet based on whole foods with high quality water and reduced contaminants will build a highly functioning human organism. In the opposite environment issues will crop up quickly.

As men especially age, maintaining adequate testosterone production is a big issue. Women need testosterone but have more estrogen. Both men and women need both hormones but at way different levels of each. These are the sex hormones but their role extends past simply libido and includes bone health, cognitive performance and even the quality of brain tissue. We know that testosterone is key to energy and vitality and many men suffer terribly with low levels.

Doctors generally will immediately prescribe testosterone replacement therapy. More chemicals.

So why do we prosecute those that are trying to administer true healthcare in the form of food as stated by the “Father of Medicine”?

You can be your own healer, you can take control of your personal healthcare by simply paying attention to what you eat and drink. Your performance as a man or woman will increase in many areas – you won’t need a doctor asking you to inject chemicals into your body. You will sleep better, you will wake up better, you wll concentrate better, you will have more energy and drive, you will be a better father, mother, husband, wife, partner.

Trust me there’s a LOT to take away when you start improving your relationship with food!

Think and Grow Food

I’m on a roll with the Napoleon Hill book, Think and Grow Rich, something I read many years ago and a book title I’m now plagiarising for all it’s worth.

In this post I’m going to prove to you that the more effort you put into in considering your food choice’s, the greater benefits that will be gained. I am guessing you probably know this but are you aware of the consequences of NOT putting more thought into what you eat?

In life we’re constantly beholden to behavioural patterns embedded into us at young and very impressionable ages. Our parents or caregivers that have us under their guidance from when we’re born until around 7 years of age, largely don’t know it but are programming many of our thoughts and actions and of course, all of the consequences that result from these behaviours. And for the majority of us we will adopt many of them for the rest of our lives.

And if these embedded actions are not subsequently serving us in our adult lives psychologists and psychiatrists then pick up hundreds of millions of dollars in fees deconstructing events that led to these behaviours. Hopefully this will then lead to amazing discoveries and the subsequent discarding of the negative behaviour.

“Your (father/mother) does that too, you’re just like him/her”. This applies in too many situations to describe and I’m sure you can relate.

Nutritional behaviours are very high on the list. If Mum or Dad had a penchant for a particular food, only ate at a certain time of the day or night, would always have a particular type of drink with specific foods and other habitual behaviours these were easily taken up by their children. It’s just natural for this to happen.

Once adopted, the ritualistic nature of humans and how we relate to food would continue the cycles and soon enough the consequences of the habits would surface.

Among these consequences obesity ranks highly but other food related medical conditions are also prevalent. Diabetes and heart disease also being high on the list.

If you are unsure of my claim around your habits regarding food and your parents role in this, I invite you to sit back and reflect on some of your early memories of your family and how many of them involved food. I think you will realise I am right!

In other posts I’ve written extensively about the role of mass produced and highly processed foods. They’re a blight in the lives of modern men and women and this is just the supermarket stuff. The fast food industry is now frankly a disgrace with how they source, produce, transport and prepare the so-called “food” that people eat.

We are what we eat and if we eat very poorly then our bodies will reproduce badly. You may or may not realise that our cells are constantly repairing and regenerating and what do they use in these processes? Nutrients from the food you eat and from what you drink.

There’s no way people will be healthy if they’re not closely monitoring their food choices. It sounds like commonsense advice but do you do it? Have you ever done an exercise where you journalled your food and drink and did due diligence on it?

I’m constantly amazed at the number of professional people, the type that record every cent they earn and spend, that are experts in their fields, that consult to kings and prime ministers that couldn’t tell me what they ate yesterday. Could you? Is this important? Reread the previous 2 paragraphs.

In the crazy times we’re in many are examining a lot of the components of their lives. Well, some are, some just can’t wait to, “travel again” or go to a concert, no matter what they have to do to qualify. Others are thinking more about life choices and decisions.

Food means life and the quality of food strongly correlates to the quality of health one enjoys. Growing your own food may seem rather odd to some but to others, this is how they create security for themselves and their families. It may mean leaving the city and finding a patch of land or it could simply be a small garden in the yard with some chickens running around.

In some countries there are abundances of different wild growing fruit, coconuts, papaya, oranges, apples, berries and any number of other edible plants.

Thinking about these things, reading up and hatching plans of the B and C variety is always a worthwhile endeavour because you just never know when the time may come to put one into action.

The bottom line is unless you truly understand the role of the food that you consume and are paying attention to the quality of it you are heading into a life of constant medical conditions, illnesses, diseases and premature death. Take control of your life as it relates to your health status by attaching more importance to your food and drink. In this way you will age much more comfortably, have more energy for sports and for life in general and most importantly, be much less likely to fall ill.

And start growing your own food, it may even create a great hobby that is healthy for you and your family plus reduce your reliance on commercially farmed produce.

The most important nutrient in your body

When I first became a personal trainer I quickly managed to gather a good sized group of clients. I would ride a bike around Singapore visiting clients training them in parks or condo gyms. Then I found a gym to train them at and then decided to create a boot camp business to run alongside this PT business. I hired a few trainers and began building a decent sized client base.

I would get all types of questions during PT and group sessions and often the same questions would crop up. I began using these questions as the basis of small quick talks I would conduct during group sessions bringing them in during breaks in exercises. I would get great feedback from members saying they were picking up valuable tips and that they enjoyed these added bonuses to the fitness gains they were getting from the sessions.

I decided I should start doing formal presentations to my clients and always encouraged them to bring their partners, children and friends and work colleagues. I would get as many as 12-15 people to these talks and often people that hadn’t met me before so it helped me grow my client base as well.

After I had covered what I thought were the basics I began researching new topics for my talks.

Upon doing this I found something quite alarming. I was investigating what doctors were saying about general health and what deficiencies in our bodies led to disease.

Now I know too much sugar, alcohol, nicotine, certain food additives and a ton of other bad things can disrupt our “state of ease” and create dis-ease. And without a whole bunch of other nutrients both macro and micro, deficiency in these will also result in illness and eventually disease.

So what is the nutrient that without it we will be dead within days?

A bit of a give away?

Ok so maybe you didn’t really equate water to being a nutrient but of course it is – our most vital nutrient.

And before you go, “DOH, MAN”, hear me out! There’s loads of science around dehydration and the role this plays in the development of illnesses and then diseases. I am not talking about tunnel vision, jelly-legs or exhaustion as you dehydrate during a sports or athletic event. I am talking about chronic dehydration over years that is a direct contributor to many diseases, some interesting research is here. Research has suggested in the US 75% of the adult population is chronically dehydrated.

You may know that the average man or woman is about 65-75% water (the range quoted by various sources suggests anything from 60-80%). That’s right we are primarily made of water, when we are first born we are as much as 95% and the reason why babies can be as flexible as they are. At that bottom range 65% you are chronically dehydrated. And as my previously linked research clearly shows this can result in the early stages of many diseases.

So while doing this previous research for my talks I determined chronic dehydration was a big problem. That in itself as we have seen poses challenges to our health but is not the truly alarming problem.

The biggest issue is in how we rehydrate or remain hydrated. Simply put we don’t drink enough water but it’s reallt that we don’t drink enough good quality water. In many cases, bottled water is fundamentally bad for us. Why?

First we must look at mountain and spring (artesian) water. The characteristics of these waters are a pH of between 7.3-8.1 and a high content of micronutrients, stuff like magnesium, calcium, potassium, silica and sodium.

The key is this type of water is what we have been drinking for millennia. It’s like whole and natural foods, our bodies recognise this water and can assimilate it very easily.

Our human digestive system has been built on whole, natural foods and fresh water – not anything manufactured nor processed.

Introducing a lot of foreign material to our human systems is bound to create problems and it is clear this is what we are facing with our nutrition. I don’t need to rattle off the main culprits because I know you know them – they’re everywhere and ever-present in our daily lives. And it includes water.

The very worst waters are the ones that are processed so these are deionised, distilled and reverse osmosis (RO) waters. Water filtration can also be a problem if the filters are removing good nutrients as well as bad. RO water has a pH of 6-6.5 (acidic) which is similar to distilled and deionised water at 5.8.

The issue with processed waters such as RO, distilled and deionised is they are removed of micronutrients. So it’s been found that they attract and absorb micronutrients in your blood and tissue leaching from your body these minerals. If that isn’t bad enough the pH is acidic so their interaction with your stomach and its acidity results in acid reflux and other similar issues. An imbalanced acidity in your stomach could also lead to chronic diseases like cancer.

If you think I am overreacting have a read of this article here, found on a reputable website that is almost promoting the consumption of these type of waters but as you read down it also lists multiple illnesses including cancer as a potential problem. I find it troubling that a website like this promotes the consumption of something that they go on to say are potentially illness and disease causing agents.

I will remind you that we are 70% water and if a lot of this water is being replaced with a low pH and mineral leaching substance what good can possibly come from this? None.

I am not trying to promote bottled water but it is a good, reliable source and many brands are now supplied in glass which is recyclable and yes, this has a cost of course but so does plastic. If you happen to live near an aquifer or deep well then you are very lucky.

Finally I haven’t discussed tap water. I hope you now realise why. I care very much for my cat so she doesn’t even drink that stuff. So you definitely shouldn’t be, either.

3 nutrition mistakes everyone makes

There is a claim that fitness people make, sometimes these people are industry professionals but usually it’s a bit of a “urban myth” bandied around by gym freaks, bro’s and junkies. And that is “getting fit” is 10% rest, 20% training and 70% nutrition – “abs are made in the kitchen” kind of thing.

Despite my somewhat disparaging introduction it’s clear they are not far wrong. Nutrition is indeed a crucial component of the machinery that is required for you to meet your fitness goals, no matter what they are.

There are few sports or athletic events that require bulk. Maybe some positions in American football, some in rugby but fat front-rowers are rapidly becoming a thing of the past (except maybe for a couple of teams), some of the throwing and lifting events in athletics but even in these now you can see participants improving their physiques – and I am pretty sure this is due to improved nutition.

Plus darts of course, in this “sport” you definitely need to be fat….

For you as a recreational gym-goer or exercise enthusiast to ensure you achieve your goals without being derailed by poor nutritional habits, unknowingly or otherwise, here are the top 3 problems I see frequently in the habits and behaviours of clients and friends.

#1 – you are eating too much food and probably drinking too much as well.

Over consumption of food (and drink – alcohol and soft drinks/soda’s) is the number 1 by a huge margin problem for most people. The excuses are many, it says on the label it’s less fat, low fat, no fat. You know what all 3 statements really mean right? This food is heavily processed. Processing is generally not good for you. It’s like pasteurising milk which is essentially the ruination of this food as this processing eliminates all the bacteria good and bad and many would argue there’s actually little bad in milk anyway. What about the, “it’s only fruit, fruit is good for you” (the biggest issue in this is juices, I could write an entire post on the juice issue – no, a large glass of orange juice in the morning or at anytime is not healthy. Mind blown? Do you know how much sugar is in that glass? It’s healthy sugar you say? No. Such. Thing. Sorry to burst your bubble on that one). Excess consumption of fruit is also not that healthy even if you are chewing it all rather than juicing it. Lastly in many western cultures we are taught to never leave food on the plate so this can pose a big problem at buffets for one.

I could also go into the incredible levels of chemical modification food companies make to foods to keep them from triggering satiety and to keep you eating. And to make them bigger profits. They also do this to improve shelf life something that also makes them more money but contributes to your medical issues. And therefore makes the medical industry more money. There are conspiracy theorists out there that make very good arguments that we are being poisoned by food companies whether that is knowingly or unwittingly I will not comment but there are some very odd chemicals that somehow pass for inclusion in food, the sweeteners aspartame and saccharin, glyphosate, high fructose corn syrup, transfats, blue and yellow #’s, there are so many it’s hard to understand how they do it – until you realise that food companies are generally self-governed. Regulatory bodies are dotted with industry players that spend time with feet in both camps, switching back and forth from industry to regulatory roles, this happens in all industries including pharmaceuticals. Pretty messed up really.

Bottom line is eat less and eat healthier, whole foods. Your shopping trolley/cart should have as much raw and fresh food in it as possible. The more packaging especially tins, cardboard boxes and plastic bottles/bowls the more processed food you are eating and the more chance you are over-eating.

I can assure you you could probably eat and drink half of what you typically do in 2 weeks and still get by just fine. And you would drop weight – guaranteed. Try it.

#2 – you’re eating too late at night

Many people are busy. There’s way too much to be done, meetings, kids, study, training/exercising, after work calls……so food becomes the last thing to do every night. Bad, bad mistake.

I knew a Swedish guy when I was in my early 30’s and he was in his 50’s at that time. He was a fit guy, a very fit guy and I asked him one day what were the secrets to his lean, muscular physique. The first thing he said was he didn’t eat after 6pm. I thought he was joking. Not that he didn’t eat after 6pm but more to the fact that this was one of his “secrets”. In my mind there was no way this was a factor in keeping him lean. This was before I began my journey as a fitness professional and I hadn’t even thought about doing a masters in nutrition and exercise at this point and even after I graduated, I never thought for a second eating late in the evening could be a factor in weight gain (or indeed hindering weight loss).

How wrong I was. Here is an excellent article highlighting research that has proven eating later is not beneficial for those looking to lose weight.

For me personally once I began to stop eating at 7pm my weight management improved markedly (6pm is slightly too early for me).

#3 – you’re not intermittent fasting and if you are, you’re probably doing it wrong

Time and again I come back to this. If my Swedish mate had not eating late as his key secret mine is using intermittent fasting (IF). IF has literally changed my life and changes that of my clients.

Here’s the kicker though. Way too many times people have said to me, “oh yeah I did intermittent fasting but it didn’t work”. When pressed it turns out they were doing 16/8’s which is eating for 8 hours and fasting for 16. Done properly this protocol could work but people will add things like, “coffee doesn’t count right, I mean I can have my triple shot, chai macchiato latte with soy milk and that won’t count, right?” Or, “I always drink only black coffee. Sometimes i will put a half teaspoon of sugar but that’s ok, right?”

I am serious these are things people have actually said to me. So no wonder the 16/8 didn’t work but anyway, 18/6 is the sweet spot and 20/4’s are even better.

Look guys the fact is we are wired exceptionally well to store food as fat and then harvest it for fuel when food is scarce or until the next hunt is done. We store fat because we are biologically wired to do it to survive. This is a several hundred thousand year adaptation that we have wrecked in a couple of generations. Foods that have long shelf-lives, refridgeration and 24 hour food delivery and supermarkets have contributed to an obesity epidemic.

We are gluttons (see #1 above) and over-eat continually so the best antidote for this is to intermittent fast, that way you will burn fat as fuel and instead of being in a state of carb-dependence getting jelly-legged and light headed if you haven’t eaten for a few hours, you become fat-adapted and can go hours and hours without even thinking about food. While not eating you are using fat stores for energy and in the process getting leaner.

There are many problems that modern living throws up at us when considering our nutritional needs and habits and behaviours. These 3 above are easy fixes that will result in immediate changes – go right ahead and try them!

3 easy nutrition tips for weightloss

Back in the day I was training in a gym on Orchard Rd in Singapore and I knew nothing. I literally followed what others were doing and the mantra at that time was body-part split training.

There was a big Australian guy, Tony Rizzo, he was strong, he was an international level masters bodybuilder having represented his home country many times. I got to know Tony and we’d often have a coffee together before or after training. These coffee sessions were great for me as I picked up plenty of pro tips and as regular readers will know, despite being very unsure that bodybuilding is truly a way to “get fit”, something I have explained in great detail elsewhere, there are parts of this sport that do crossover to the more functional concepts of getting fit. In searching for Tony on the net I came across this video. This video was taken around the time Tony and I were both living in Singapore –

My mate Tony at the World Championships

One area especially that bodybuilders offer some very hard won expertise is in nutrition. Tony got very grumpy when preparing for competition as all he ate for 6 weeks day and night was chicken and broccoli. All he would drink was car battery water (as it’s distilled). This regime was nutritionally not great for several reasons but it did help him (and many other bodybuilders) lose weight quite rapidly.

Most “diets” will aid weight loss as they’re usually calorie restricted meaning that in a 24 hour period the individual will be using more calories than they’re eating resulting in the body using stored fat as a fuel. This basic concept is not lost on most people but it is flawed in a few different ways.

Primarily calorie restriction will take most people quite a long time to lose weight. A bodybuilder that is already in reasonable shape uses this to trim up.

Also bear in mind that your training does not provide the weight loss that many think it does. You cannot out-train a bad diet. I’ve said this before.

Therefore the first tip for weightloss is the best form of calorie restriction and that form is #1 intermittent fasting.

Only eat in your window and that is either 6 or 4 hours so that means your fast is 18 or 20 hours. Don’t be concerned that you will go into “starvation mode” or some other urban myth, all of which are regularly propagated by people that don’t have any real understanding of the way the human body has evolved and is meant to function. Having daily mini-fasts is as close to how our bodies have been required to function for thousands, 10’s of thousands and perhaps millions of years.

And if your body goes into starvation mode after a few extra hours not eating then your body needs some serious readjustment! Unfortunately the reality is the general population at large is too over-fed and in being so resting insulin levels are too high which will eventually lead to Syndrome X (aka insulin resistance syndrome) and then full-blown diabetes.

It is a sad reality that in many western countries high percentages of populations eat far too much food and this over-consumption leads to many “lifestyle” diseases.

This leads us to the next tip, #2 eating less food.

Most people can cut their food intake by HALF and still function quite adequately. I usually recommend people do this for 2 weeks prior to embarking on an intermittent fasting protocol. It’s a really simple exercise, just eat and drink what you normally would do and that includes alcohol, desserts, cakes, snacks etc. Go ahead still eat them but only eat and drink half. Same with any other foods you eat, meat, fish, vegetables, fruit etc.

Weigh yourself before and after the 2 weeks – you may find something mazing has happened!

Finally the last tip, #3 once you begin your fasting protocol eliminate as best you can rice, noodles, pasta and bread.

The more you eliminate these foods the faster you will lose weight. Only you know your ability to have discipline around change. If you’re typically undisciplined then try not to make too many changes as this will be unsustainable. The more discplined the more you should try to effect change. The only caveat to tip #3 is if you eat wild/black rice and some darker breads. Dark coloured carbohydrate even the processed types usually have a lot of good quality micronutrients and with this the insulin response can be different.

White coloured carbohydrates are usually indicative of what is described as foods with a high glycemic index (GI). These foods usually set off an immediate insulin response, insulin being the hormone that once in the blood turns carbohydrate into usable energy. This is all ok but the problems begin occurring when the amount of energy present in the blood (known as glucose or simply, blood sugar) and the amount of energy stored in the liver in the form of glycogen are maxxed out. Our bodies have this wonderful way of storing this excess fuel and it is called fat.

By reducing white carbohydrates you will significantly lower the chances of storing fat.

Usually people will then ask me “how do I get my energy if I am not eating carbs?” This is a good question but it also demonstrates a lack of understanding of what are carbohydrates. All fruit and vegetables are sources of carbohydrate. Before modern man began making bread and pasta and beating the nutrients out of rice to turn it white we relied heavily on these foods for our energy – we can still source awesome levels of energy from these foods and why tennis players will eat a banana during a professional game. Professional sports teams also have large fruit platters in the changing rooms after games to enable the players to replenish glucose and glycogen stores using high quality food sources.

In summary by using the 3 tips above you can go a long way to getting right on top of your weight management. Get to it!

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3 lifestyle hacks to ramp up fitness gains

What if I could give you 3 things that will immediately provide you with gains in your fitness? And as we know fitness gains are also health gains.

I am going to get straight to it, here they are –

  • track your weight
  • decrease food portion sizes
  • structure your training


Let’s look at each of the 3 in greater detail.

Hack #1. Buy some scales and track your weight. The single most important fitness factor relating to health is weight. Put weight on and usually your health decreases (the caveat to this is unless your bodyfat is stable or decreasing while weight increases). Go ahead and search “weight related to health” and see what pops up. In the same way an athlete records times, an accountant tracks spending and the gauge on your car tells you you need more gas, your weight should be tracked frequently and using the same scales and at the same time of day (to ensure you get valid numbers). You could try checking it more frequently to better understand how it fluctuates through 24 hours especially as it relates to different foods and fluids.

I do hear clients and others tell me they don’t need to do it daily as it creates too much mental pressure to watch what they’re eating. This is a true story. You can understand then that people do have actual mental issues when dealing with food. There’s a lot of them.

This is the area I have to work most hard at with many clients.

As with all parts of the fitness framework the old adage always rings true, “if you ain’t measuring, you’re guessing”. Start measuring and recording the results, create at least a smidgen of self accountability. I love that word so much I linked a definition of it! By then measuring and recording over months and even years you are taking firm control over the number 1 cause of health related issues.

Hack #2. Portion sizing is an easy way to understand your body better and to help with the previous issue of measuring weight.

As a quick aside I do not favour spaghetti as far as foods go but I know many do. It’s not uncommon for my food journalling exercise with clients to reveal pasta dishes being frequently consumed. I am not an advocate of immediate elimination of foods, in some extreme cases it is warranted but generally I start with portion control of the foods clients are most familiar with.

In a study in 2018, participants were overfed for 28 days and all increased weight significantly, excess insulin playing a role in the weight gain. I have discussed the role of chemistry in food production previously and how satiety hormones can be bypassed enabling the consumer of the food to continue eating not realising that they’re already full. This makes food companies more money and the people eating the food fatter.

We must go back to basics by taking control of our portion sizes (plus other things but let’s start with portion sizes) and by doing so we can have a substantial impact on our weight.

In my eBook, Fitter Leaner Stronger in 90 Days I have a challenge for readers. The challenge is to eat 50% less for 7 days, so every meal they would usually eat and every time they would drink anything other than water, they are tasked with eating or drinking a half portion. I have done 3 7 day challenges on social media and with a pool of 40 people the average weightloss over 7 days has always been more than 2 kgs.

We overeat constantly.

Please also remember another old fitness adage – “you cannot out-train a bad diet”.

Hack #3.

Spend 15-30 minutes on a Saturday or Sunday creating your weekly training or exercise and then schedule it.

It really isn’t that hard – do you have my free eBook? This will help you in so many ways to do exactly this.

There is so much very poor information out there when it comes to fitness, to someone that is somewhat (defintion: more than a smidgen) qualified to evaluate the situation I am actually appalled at the quality of it. Physiotherapists love it of course because many broken people means more customers but for you, my message is don’t make your physio rich!

Get the solid basics under your belt and then start planning when and how you will do it! This is the link to my eBook so please request this and I will get it to you asap!

The rest then is up to you – go for it!

Lose 1-2 kgs in a week!

I have published an eBook and you can download it in the link below. Within the book is a strategy for losing 1-2 kgs in 7 days with a clear explanation on why it works.

I have been coaching people for over 20 years in the fields of nutrition and exercise. My Masters is in the science of these 2 disciplines. I am constantly upgrading my knowledge and I am always trying to improve my existing clients and even old clients that I still keep in touch with.

I count ex-clients among some of my best friends.

Every little piece of advice, every intervention I have ever designed and implemented and every time I speak about the subjects I do so because I am 100% about offering the knowledge I have acquired to anyone wishing to hear it. I guess in summary I am at service to people on their fitness and health lifestyle journeys. And I take what I do very seriously. There is always time for a laugh, a diversionary discussion or even one about the matter in hand but ultimately it’s about being focussed, progressing and moving my clients towards their goals.

It became clear to me a number of years ago that in terms of energy creation humans function on a very basic level. We eat and use the food as fuel or we store it. Following from this, in so called “developed” countries our access to food is at unprecedented levels. Food is available 24-7, in our fridges and cupboards, supermarkets and fast-food home delivery services. Food chemistry along with creating long-life foods for supermarket shelves, an ability to keep foods colourful and making them more flavourful with greater texture and more, much more has also created foods that can bypass your satiety hormones.

That’s correct your body doesn’t literally know when to stop eating because the foods are being modified/created to not trigger fullness. And I am sure you would be aware that chemical alterations of food to make it look more attractive, taste better and not fill you up can’t really be good for you. And you are right.

Once we start understanding that we are tricked into eating too much we can appreciate that to lose weight we need to eat less. We won’t die, after all. This is why people can do water fasts for weeks on end, I don’t recommend them for everyone but like a lot of things in life, trying to do something new just adds to your experiences in this realm we are in. My clients usually do at least 1 or 2 36 hour fasts and they all survive and the feedback can be very interesting.

I have discussed function in many posts. Proper function in all areas of physiology from movement, to energy development, to cognitive performance, to gut health and many more is key. As humans we have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years and for most of that time we have not had fridges, supermarkets nor 24 hour food delivery – so we adapted to irregular food availability.

We know the body renews itself when we sleep, when we aren’t moving about, when we aren’t eating, usually through the night. For a reason that science has yet to pinpoint the human body will do some remarkable work on itself when we are in an extended fasted state. A cleaning and renewing function!

Regrowth of brain cells, increased levels of mitochondria, autophagy, decreased inflammation and better blood sugar levels are some of the benefits, there’s a great quick to read article HERE. The biggest and most exciting benefit from 24-48 hour fasts is the large increase in growth hormone (GH), something I have posted about previously.

GH builds muscle and burns fat. We ALL should be very pleased to train to elevate GH and that’s my gameplan for me personally and all my clients but by not eating for a period, we can boost it even more!

My challenge to you is to start a 7 day fasting process. If you already do IF (intermittent fasting) try doing a 24 hour or even 36/48 fast. If you’re new to this idea then play around with IF, there’s a great video HERE on IF. You will get hungry of course but that is temporary and as they always say, “nothing tastes as good as slim!”

Whether you do 7 days of IF or IF with a couple of longer fasts you will lose weight! GO FOR IT!

This is the link to my eBook.

Use some very simple science in your fitness!

I am always looking at what people are doing in the realm of increasing performance as it relates to fitness and health.

When it comes to naturally occurring botanical substances I am of the opinion we have a large body of ancient knowledge that we don’t use effectively enough when talking about remedying illnesses. I always refer to TCM (traditional chinese medicine) and Ayurvedic Medicine (traditional Indian medicine) but there are many others including traditional African, Korean, Arabic and Persian. Even further back in history the Sumerians were using herbs and this plant-based medical approach is a constant through all of these practises.

So we have a lot of knowledge that got usurped in the mid to late 1800’s by the establishment in the US of the American Medical Association. The AMA quickly worked to marginalise and then demonise the use of botanicals as treatments. A good example is the use of medical marijuana. For decades people have been imprisoned for using it and now it can be prescribed by a doctor. Craziness.

And there’s caffeine that has been proven to be a safe and effective cognitive stimulant. It also provides significant performance enhancement in cardiovascular and strength work. Of course WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) figured it was a seriously dangerous substance and banned it for a while.

Now new research from 2019 indicates caffeine will help burn fat as well. Ok so it is a small sample size and only men so the research does have its limitations but from my experience and knowledge working with clients for many years, I would suggest the research is correct.

And you don’t have to drink coffee of course, you can drink tea or a drink that contains caffeine. I would always attempt to drink the most natural form though in this case black coffee/tea.

Any advantage we can get naturally is something we all should consider as we journey towards better function, improved fitness and all the health benefits that flow from this.

Are you trying to out-train your (bad) diet?

There’s an old adage trainer’s say about food – you can’t out-train a bad diet!

Ok in your 20’s you can get away with a lot of things including eating badly and if you’re training frequently, you can sometimes keep in shape with the sweat and tears alone. This is due to the abundance of growth hormone (GH) we produce in our 20’s.

A word of warning however – the older we get, the much less this applies. Science tells us the older we get the less GH we release and as you will know from previous posts, hormones are the key influencer in the fitter, leaner and stronger conundrum.

I would respectfully suggest that as you get older your attention to what you eat and drink and WHEN you do this will become more important than your actual training. I have clients that actually lose more weight when they tidy up their diets as compared to focussing on their training.

Training smart and by doing so eliciting the correct hormonal response will build lean muscle but not necessarily shed fat. Again I would use an old trainer’s saying, this one being – “arms are built in the gym, abs are created in the kitchen”. So in effect without attention to our diets we will never get to the leanness most of us desire.

I have a client right now that is using intermittent fasting (IF) very successfully. I write comprehensively on the subject of IF HERE. Bottom line is we must give our body a break from storing fat and a chance to use stored fat as a fuel – this really can only be achieved with IF. Trainers that take a bodybuilding approach to instructing clients will normally tell them to eat 5-6 smaller meals a day. I would argue and this is backed up by science from among others the US National Institute on Aging, Harvard and Johns Hopkins that this approach is NOT similarly supported. There really is no science of any note supporting 5-6 small meals a day and in fact this is likely why people actually do not lose weight. The constant work of the pancreas releasing insulin to process carbohydrate means the individual is always in fat-storage mode!

The science is unequivocal, use IF as a tool to lose fat.

There’s more you can do.

When you eat your goal should be to minimise processed foods. Breads, pasta, white rice, noodles, breakfast cereals all convert quickly to glucose aka sugar. As mentioned above this conversion of carbohydrates to glucose via insulin means we are storing this sugar as fat (in the absence of working muscle or a glycogen deficit). I know there will be some that cannot believe I have white rice on this list but I do and for good reason.

By the way, natural rice is NOT white. In fact the best rice you can eat is wild rice and this is what it looks like –

Why would it look like this? Because it is jam packed with nutrients giving it this very distinctive dark brown almost black colour. In fact white rice does have a light brown colouring in its natural state but the manufacturers bleach it out. You read that right, they BLEACH it! You may read in places that manufacturers insist they don’t but many actually do and in fact they have patented the process, check that out here.

When it comes to white rice they even polish it, the reason being white and shiny gives it more consumer appeal. Bleached and polished foods do not sit highly on my list of things I want to eat so I always pass on white rice. Wild rice I will eat, for sure.

There’s more foods you should consider eating less of. Meats including fish are highly contaminated, farmed fish can be outright bad for you especially if originating from countries with poor regulatory oversight. And it’s the same with meat, we mess around so much with how we manage animal well-being in areas like feed (pesticide levels in grains) and health (antibiotics used as a defence with no symptoms in most of the herd, steroids and growth hormone injections). A milking cow takes 2 years to begin producing milk, farm practices have reduced this to 3 months!

All of these chemicals end up in milk, meat and other products from cow’s, pigs, chickens, sheep etc and consuming them just then increases our chances of them contaminating our systems. And you will note I haven’t even discussed the issue of animal treatment when it comes to slaughtering them.

Lastly food that has a lengthy storage life is also worth avoiding. Preservatives and modified foods with extended shelf lives is usually a sign that the food is unhealthy, even if early in its “life”.

It’s true that all foods even fresh fruit and vegetable produce has it’s issues but eliminating as many contimanants as possible in deciding what to eat is a good starting point.

Finally changing anything in your life is never easy – we’re creatures of habit! And food is a constant in terms of habit for a lot of people. Like most change it’s amazing that once it’s done, how good it feels and how simple the change really was. It just takes doing it!

IF is a simple, easy to use system and selecting better food choices is simply that, a choice!

Embrace change and reap the rewards!