The Paleo Approach

The caveman diet or stone age diet as the paleo approach is often referred to is the diet of wild animals and plants eaten by our ancestors during the Palaeolithic era. This means that the diet consists of foods that we could hunt or find in the wild: meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens and seeds. Anything created by man in more recent times has got to go! Out with the cereals, pasta, dairy and you can forget the refined sugars! As a simple rule remember, if cave men didn’t eat it then neither can you! This is the nutritional approach that works according to our genetics to help us stay strong, lean and full of energy. In more recent times, the human race has been introduced to a whole host of high calorie, processed, junk foods that are packed full of trans fats and refined sugars. These have become the norm for many, and have a lot to answer for as they have undoubtedly played their part in creating a population that has huge problems with degenerative diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and depression.
Agriculture changed the way we eat today, a few thousand years ago human beings discovered farming, it was a revolution and we went from hunter-gatherers to farmers. This is where the progression began to take us to where we are today, we settled down and a new way of eating came to the fore. The one huge problem with this is that our bodies never adjusted properly to all of the grains that we were farming and although we are encouraged to eat these grains, our bodily systems are still set to the caveman era.
Many people when they hear of the paleo approach worry that they will not get sufficient energy through their intake of carbohydrates, although this is not the case as carbs are not completely eradicated through this way of eating. Carbs still serve their purpose and the question is not carbs or no carbs? But, what type of carbs? Carbohydrates can still be had through vegetables, sweet potatoes and fruits as they are naturally occurring in the wild and would not have been processed in any way. People are also concerned that through this diet they will gain weight, however as these foods are so nutrient dense and filling it is almost impossible to overeat. Empty calorie, refined carbohydrate foods such as white bread, or potato chips we all know satisfy us for short periods of time before we are going back for round 2! In comparison a giant plate of greens and a reasonable sized piece of meat can keep you full for hours!

Build your healthy paleo diet through…..
Lean proteins: Lean protein sources support muscle growth, healthy bones and optimal immune function as well as keeping us full and feeling satisfied.
Fruits and vegetables: Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that have been shown to decrease the likelihood of developing degenerative diseases including diabetes and cancer.
Healthy fats: Widespread research suggests that diets full of mono saturated and omega 3/6 fats have an invaluable affect on reducing obesity, cancer and heart disease to name a few.

As you can see with a very simple shift in our habits we can move away from the foods that are negatively affecting our health whilst also increasing our intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

For most that have tried it the paleo approach brings about all the great results their hearts have desired. Weight loss, improved blood lipids, reduced allergies, anti-inflammatory, clearer sleep patterns and balanced energy throughout the day.

Take the first steps today, you won’t be disappointed!

Juices!

Juices and smoothies have become a widespread craze in recent times, these little potions of goodness are a fast and efficient way to get the nutrients that our bodies need. In a modern world where we are constantly on the move and have such limited time to prepare healthy rich meals, juicing is an invaluable means of vital vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants. How else could you pack in spinach, avocado, a banana, an apple, berries, nuts and seeds into a snack and have it ready within 2 minutes?! That’s right with your juices you can drink raw, nutrient-rich fruit and vegetables and what would have taken hours to digest is now absorbed in a matter of a couple of minutes.
Using whole fruits throughout the juicing process, means that you can lock in masses of fibre. Fibre helps to slow the absorption of sugars and create a feeling of fullness and is necessary for a smooth running digestive tract. Do be wary of the amount and type of fruits going into your juices as overdoing the sweeter fruits such as mango and pineapple and even vegetables such as carrots and beets, which are relatively high in sugar can disrupt efforts to lose weight and control blood glucose levels, so these should be balanced out with greens such as kale or spinach. The blend of the greens and the sweetness of the fruits is a winner for sure!
Our nutrients are often depleted by the contemporary lifestyles that we lead, complete with stress, and lack of sleep. These nutrients as well as enzymes are essential for unlocking energy to supply the cells of our bodies in order for them to carry out their jobs, and these jobs ultimately make up the complex that is the human body.

See here a few recipes designed at increasing energy levels, use these as inspiration for your own concoctions!

Go Green! half avocado
2 handfuls of spinach
1 large apple, cored,
and a half lemon, peeled

Kale’N’Carrot Shot! 2 handfuls of curly kale,
3 medium carrots,
half lime, peeled,
and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds

Berry Good! 4 large strawberries,
a handful of blueberries,
a handful of grapes,
and 7/8 almond nuts

Recover and see your body grow!

Recovery…. Something that is often lost in the fitness world. Something that is so undervalued. People are so desperate to get fit, lose weight and/or improve the way they feel and look that they don’t allow anywhere near enough time or good type of recovery. So you’ve hit the gym and been spot on with each one of your reps, good form, and pushed yourself to absolute failure. After you’ve worked so hard why is it that you haven’t gained any muscle?
This is because muscle growth doesn’t actually take place in the gym when you are pushing yourself and lifting as hard as you can, instead our muscles grow the moment we put the dumbbells down! These muscles simply can not grow without taking proper recovery procedures. When we lift heavy we cause our muscles to have micro tears and are broken down somewhat by catobolism. Therefore we must help our bodies out to give them the adequate recovery. Essentially recovery consists of muscle and tissue repair, the ability of our bodies to remove waste products and reduce inflammation, allowing our central nervous system to fully recuperate, and restoring the body of it’s energy stores and nutrients that it would have lost through exercise. This can all be accomplished through some of these important measures:
Hydration- Ensure you are drinking enough water! You should be getting approximately 2 litres a day of water intake if you weigh 60kg, this rises up to approximately 3 litres for a 90kg person. So have a think and work from these basic guidelines, if you weigh 70kg approx 2.3-2.5 litres and 80kg 2.5-3 litres.
Eating high quality calories and enough of them- Over-training accompanied by low protein, low fat and energy restricted diet is a recipe for creating a catabolic state and will have the reverse effect of what you are trying to achieve, so making sure that you are eating well and providing your body with fuel and a means to grow is the most important point of all. We touch a great deal on nutrition and the importance of protein throughout some of our other blogs.
Getting serious about your pre-workut nutrition- The foods and supplements we choose to put into our bodies prior to a session play a major role in the tissue re-building process that takes place post session and therefore is critical to the recovery process. So make sure you get some high quality, lean protein sources into your pre-workout meal, along with some complex carbohydrates if it is a very intense workout that you have planned, aim to consume these meals approximately two hours before your workout to make sure for sufficient digestion and avoid cramping during your session. If this isn’t possible due to a session kicking off at the crack of dawn then your pre-workout supplements hold immense importance.
Protein may be the foundation of muscle, but amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Our bodies use 21 amino acids in total to form all the different proteins that are needed for proper tissue function. Additional pre-exercise supplementation through these amino acids can help muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance and actively help with recovery. The particular amino acids product that we recommend helps prevent the breaking down of muscle tissue (catobolism) and also significantly helps to ease delayed onset of muscular soreness (DOMS) which will aid your next workout through easing aches from the workout before.
Get equally serious about post-workout nutrition- Although not the most pleasant tasting thing you will consume all day, those post session protein supplements are food for your muscles and are much needed for growth and repair. Post-workout protein is quite simply a must if you want to recovery adequately from your session. You should be aiming for a minimum of 20g of protein after your session depending on your bodyweight, most men should be aiming for even 40 or 50g. As picked up on previously don’t just simply select a protein supplement that you find to your particular taste, make sure you get some quality protein whey isolate so you really see the recovery benefits. As well as protein we need fast acting carbohydrates as soon as possible after a hard session in order to replenish our glycogen levels and return insulin levels back to the pre-exercise state. The particular post- session supplement that we recommend is extremely effectively for recovery as it combines protein and carbohydrates to create an anabolic formula that inhibits protein breakdown and enhances protein synthesis.
Stretch and cool down- Make sure you allow yourself at least 15 minutes post session to reduce heart rate, cool the body down slowly and have a nice relaxing stretch period. Stretching holds tons of benefits especially when incorporated into the end of our sessions. It reduces muscle tension and helps again to reduce muscle soreness that we may suffer from post-session. It is crucial that we allow this time in order for our bodies to best respond to the stress being placed upon it during the next session. Although those of us that are simply aiming to gain some muscle and improve strength may see this is an unnecessary chore, however stretching is underrated as without it and the improved flexibility that it brings you will not actually be able to perform the lifts effectively, and with this you will limit your muscular gains. e.g if your hamstrings are too tight then you won’t be able to get a full range of motion in your deadlift and with this you will be limiting your progress.
Get some quality Zsssssss- Sleep is essential for us to recover, and we should be aiming for a minimum of 8 hours per day. Athletes that get at least this amount experience accelerated recovery for greater strength, speed and precision. It is important that your body gets this time so that it can restore itself as it provides energy to both the body and brain. Good quality sleep can not be sacrificed as it can also affect our mental capacity and focus during sessions, this makes it essential for good recovery as it ensures we are alert and ready to work at our best levels during training sessions. As research has suggested if sleep is cut short the body increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol and this creates the direct opposite effect of what we desire for our fat loss and muscle mass gain, goals.
Active recovery- Do some active recovery throughout your weekly training programme and allow your muscles the hard-earned break that they deserve. Light movements are great for implementing into these rest periods. Exercise such as a low-intensity swim, an easy bike ride around the local park or mobilisation exercises are great for aiding recovery of the muscles and joints. This is especially true after heavy resistance sessions. Low-intensity cardio exercise can assist greatly with increased blood flow and help you avoid seizing up and getting stiffness in the muscles. Even treat yourself to a massage from time to time, these aid the muscles in their recovery by increasing drainage of waste products from the cells, decreasing inflammation that’s been caused by the exercise and massage techniques will also stimulate mitochondria. These are the driving force in our cells that convert glucose into the essential energy needed for cell function and repair. Foam rolling is also a great tool that can be used after a session at the gym or even when we are at home in our spare time, in front of the television maybe? These small pieces of equipment can be invaluable for increasing blood flow, improving movement and increasing range of motion. These benefits can decrease the chance of injury and therefore help accelerate our recovery time post workout.
After your next intense, tough session think about your body and how best to utilise the recovery time you have before it’s time for the next one…… Your body will thank you for it!

Fail to prepare- Prepare to fail……… Meal prep advice

Remember that the importance of achieving our goals cannot be underestimated, and our nutrition is absolutely paramount to these goals and aspirations ultimately being met….. It may sound clique to say “You are what you eat” and “abs are made in the kitchen” but these often used phrases to name a couple are nothing but truth! As our clients do, you may well be be giving 100% and then some during your sessions at the gym, but if you are struggling to meet your body’s nutrition needs then you run the risk of allowing all of your hard work to go to waste. Knowing what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it is potentially the difference between you meeting your goals and possibly just falling a tad short.
Fortunately this barrier of maintaining good, consistent, nutrition can be overcome, no problem, as long as we commit ourselves to a bit to meal preparing. Preparation, this is the key!
Although it may seem like a laborious task at the time, you will be sure to wreak the benefits later down the line as you would have taken a huge step towards gaining control over your personal nutrition. This is particularly advantageous for those of us who find it a real tough ask to resist the temptation of fast foods and ‘quick fix’ snacks that hold minimal if any nutritional benefits.
Today make a concious decision to take an hour or two a week to prepare, Sunday evening would be a fantastic time to do this, as to get the week started off on the right note for Monday morning’s breakfast. Make the effort to keep some staple foods that you can cook in batches and use in several different ways…. So have your protein ready, chicken or turkey breast, eggs and the have some greens ready also to have alongside these protein sources, such as spinach, green beans, broccoli or kale. Cook these in advance, allow to cool and then store in the fridge. This can also be done with brown rice or quinoa- cook a large pan and keep in the fridge to eat with lunches throughout the week.
Boiled eggs are always a winner to have as a great way to start for breakfast or as snacks throughout the day. Oats can be kept in bulk and be stored for long periods of time, these are great to make your porridge, or have with some Greek yoghurt or berries. Raw veggies, fruits and nuts, these foods all take no time whatsoever to throw into our Tupperware.
Taking such a minute amount of time can deliver so many huge rewards:

You’ll have better nutrition and be able to follow your meal planner with a great deal of ease.
You’ll gain control of what is going into your body, and aiding your development through your physical sessions in the gym, this will help strive you towards yours aspirations.
You’ll regulate your metabolism as you’ll be prepared when it’s time to snack, and feed your body at regular intervals. Having these nutritious snacks with mean that your body doesn’t fall into a catibolic state, this will again help lead you towards your goals through continued fat loss.
You will avoid those greasy sandwiches from the cafe or the salad dripping in the dressing that has lord knows what in it!

Hopefully these rewards will help you to see how easy it can be……. GET PREPPING!!!

Protein isn’t just meat!

But where do I get my protein from?! A common question from vegans and many of us that are training hard and need to get our protein intake asides from eating meat, fish and poultry. Many have a misconception that you need to consume fillet steaks until the cows come home (excuse the pun) in order to ingest substantial amounts of that such imperative macro-nutrient that is protein. This simply couldn’t be farther from the truth as high quality protein is abundant in plant foods and this makes it simple for vegetarians or even those of us who are seeking out other methods of getting these important amino acids into our muscle fibres. Amino acids are essentially what makes up protein, combinations of these aminos come together to create the building blocks of protein.

These amino acids have specific roles in our bodies, from metabolism to muscle growth. Nine of them are absolutely essential to our basic functions, as our bodies can no create them internally.
When we talk about dietary protein and getting enough, our concern is with these vital amino acids. Vegetarians need not fret, as long as you are consuming whole foods from a wide range of easily accessible plant sources then you will attain sufficient volumes of protein, no sweat!

See this list of examples, these are fantastic high quality sources of protein that can be used in many different recipes…….

Beans
Protein: Approx 7.5g per ½ cup* (varies slightly depending on the variety)

These little super-foods are full of fibre, protein, and magnesium and are also low in cholesterol, making them an exceptional replacement for that steak. Beans of all kinds work great in salads, soups, stews, veggie burgers and at any time of the day.

Lentils
Protein: Approx 9g per ½ cup, cooked

Another protein-packed superfood, lentils are high in folate, potassium, iron and antioxidants, and they can even reduce inflammation . Lentils come in red, green and brown varieties, and these legumes are a versatile protein source: Use them in soups, stews, salads, veggie burgers, dips, and great for indian cuisine.

Quinoa
Protein: Approx 4g per ½ cup, cooked

It’s a tiny little seed that’s gained tremendous popularity in the health-food world thanks to its giant health punch. One of the only grains and seeds providing the nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce on their own making it a complete protein). It’s also full of fiber, iron, magnesium, and manganese . Most people are more familiar with the beige variety, but red and black quinoa are starting to show up on more grocery store shelves. The little seeds are a great alternative to grains or meat, and can be substituted for pasta, rice, and couscous or added to soups or salads for an extra protein boost.

Buckwheat
Protein: Approx 4 g per 1/2 cup, cooked

Energising and loaded with nutrients Buckwheat can be served as an alternative to rice or used for porridge, although it has ‘wheat’ in it’s name Buckwheat isn’t actually wheat at all, but a seed that is closely related to rhubarb. This makes it a great substitute for many times or grains, particularly for those that are sensitive to wheat or other grains that contain gluten. Other health benefits include, lowering of blood cholesterol, better blood sugar control and it’s great for our cardiovascular system.

Hemp seed
Protein: Approx 10g per 1-2 cup cooked

With a concentrated balance of protein, essential fats, enzymes and vitamins hemp seeds a relative of the famous narcotic will do you nothing but good. Supporting optimal health and well being through benefits including increased and sustained energy, weight loss, lowered blood pressure, reduced inflammation, improvement in immune system and circulation as well as natural blood sugar control.
One of nature’s perfect foods this sure can be considered a super-food!

Greek Yoghurt
Protein: Approx 10g per 100g cup

Although not a plant source greek yoghurt provides an outstanding amount of protein for a relatively small portion and can be found in whole, 2% fat and fat free varieties. Delicious alone or accompanied by fruit, peanut butter or honey greek yoghurt is a wholesome and nutritious post-workout snack.

Breakfast

Greek yoghurt with fruit & nuts

Enjoy 170 grams of non fat Greek yogurt topped with a handful of walnuts or almonds and add half a banana, or a 1/2 cup of berries.

protein- 25g
carbohydrate- 34g
fat- 21g (approx)

Lunch

Black bean and quinoa salad

Add black beans (100g) and quinoa (125g) to your lunchtime tomatoes, lettuce, onions, beetroot and sweetcorn or however you prefer your salad to give it a big injection of protein.

protein- 28g
carbohydrate- 118g
fat-8g (approx)

Dinner

Spicy bean and sweet potato stew

For a delicious, heart-warming protein filled dinner, think about adding different types of beans, sweet potato, lentils and any other vegetables you enjoy to your winter stews.
add: 150g sweet potatoes, 100g kidney beans, 100g broad beans, 80g brown or green lentils

added protein- 37g
carbohydrate- 83g
fat- 2g (approx)

Most effective way to shift unwanted body fat

Visit any gym floor and what is the most common sight you see? Which machines are the ones that seem to be winning the popularity contest? You’ve got it, the treadmills, bikes and cross trainers….. otherwise known as the cardiovascular machines. The vast majority of training taking place on these machines is known as aerobic, this is continuous, low-intensity, long-duration exercise. How come this is the case? The main reason being that a large percentage of the population believe this to be the best way of burning excess or unwanted body fat. But is it really? Why is it that those in the weight room tend to look leaner than those repeatedly pounding the treadmill for over an hour a time?! Aerobic training burns fat, however this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best or most efficient way. Here is a little bit of science for you:

A study published in 1994 in the journal metabolism compared the impact of aerobic and anaerobic exercise on fat loss over a 15 week period. The aerobic group progressed to 45 minute sessions. The anaerobic group progressed to fifteen 30 second intervals and and five 90 second intervals. The research did confirm that the aerobic group burned more calories, however when you look further at the total effect of the training, the anaerobic group lost nine times the amount of fat per calorie burned. In addition the anaerobic group also lost more of the body fat just below the skin compared with the aerobic group.
A key difference between the two is the post-exercise energy output, which is much greater after anaerobic, high-intensity exercise compared to low intensity exercise. Our bodies burn calories throughout the day as we rest, this is know as our basal metabolic rate (BMR). After we partake in high-intensity anaerobic exercise our BMR remains elevated for up to 48 hours, this is a metabolic adaptation that leads to better utilisation of fats and carbohydrates, so that we burn more body fat and aid insulin sensitivity. Anaerobic training is s effective because it uses more than just the one energy system, it taps into our lactate and even our CP energy systems which means that our bodies are being forced to burn fat in order to sustain the level of activity that is being asked of it.
As well as helping you lose more body fat high intensity anaerobic exercise such as short, hard blasts on the rowing machine or sprints on the treadmill help you lose it at a faster rate and therefore best utilise your time in the gym! You don’t have to spend upwards of an hour slugging your guts out pounding the streets in order to see results! This is a win-win situation as anaerobic training is a great deal more fun, it’s challenging, fast and gets you immediately working towards your goals. Let’s face it spending an hour and a half pacing over and over on the cross trainer is mundane to say the least! This can be explained further by the mention of hormone response and the role these hormones play during our exercise sessions.
Anaerobic exercise has a significant bearing on our growth hormone, a influential fat burning hormone that helps improve metabolism and create increased muscle growth. When our bodies are forced to work above their lactate thresholds they release the growth hormone in greater quantities in response to the physical stress they are being put under through the high intensity training, this makes anaerobic exercise so effective. On the flip side of this we have a hormone that will affect the body in completely the opposite way- cortisol. This is a stress hormone and it becomes elevated when we are under excess amounts of stress, both physical and psychological. There is strong research to suggest that cortisol levels are significantly higher in endurance athletes and so aerobic training generally brings about higher levels of this stress hormone than anaerobic training. The reason being that the anabolic hormones that are produced through anaerobic training (growth hormone and testosterone, hormones that help build muscle) these outweigh the catabolic hormones (cortisol, break down muscle). This means that aerobic training without doing any form of anaerobic training will cause you to lose muscle, lower your metabolic rate, and gain excess body fat. The complete opposite of the goals that you set out!

If you are still yet to be convinced think back to any athletics event that you have recently seen, how did the physiques of the marathon runners compare to those of the sprinters? Were the sprinters leaner and stronger looking? Of course they were, and you too can become lean and strong through some high intensity anaerobic training!

Age is no barrier to muscle gain!

Building muscle mass is not simply exclusive to the youngsters, it is simply a MYTH that we have to be a teen or in our early twenties to be able to build significant muscle mass. Losing our hunger for exercise that we had in our twenties and thirties and gaining excessive weight are a couple more common myths that are branded around with regards to age and our health and well-being. To put it bluntly this is a load of bull! Of course you can still build muscle well into your forties and beyond! How will I train though? Do I have to drastically modify my sessions? Most will be surprised to learn that there are not nearly as many changes as they may think. In fact there are actually some advantages that the 40 or 50 some-things may have over their twenties counterparts.
Firstly our metabolism are faster when we are younger, it’s too fast in many cases! We burn more calories each day, because when we are young we don’t know the meaning of the words ‘slow down’ and recover post session to ensure the best muscle gain results. So this results in us gaining more overall mass as we get older, the part that we have to work towards is ensuring this mass is from muscle and not gained just through becoming a couch potato and gaining fat, these are the wrong type of gains! We must respect the natural ageing process which causes us to naturally lose muscle and can mean we become more prone to injury. Once we’ve accepted this we need to realise what it is we need to do in order to reverse this, as we don’t just have to simply accept it. The hindrances we encounter as we age are mostly due to our priorities, we don’t have the time, the aspiration or discipline we once had. It is a matter of choice and this route does not need to be the choice. With the right training and a good, well followed nutrition plan it doesn’t have to occur at all.