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Preventing and Treating Colds & Flus

Summer is finished and we’re slowly approaching the dreaded cold and flu season, which we all know can have a very big impact on your training. If you have a cold or flu, you’ll be feeling tired, fatigued, achy, you’d have a runny nose and cough, and just generally unpleasant. No one wants to train under those conditions.

So I’ve devoted this article to helping you keep well and evade these unwanted and avoidable illnesses.

But first, in order to properly treat it, you’ll need to know which of the two you’re dealing with – here are some key facts about cold and flu that will help you identify and deal with each.

Symptoms [1]

COLD Symptoms:

come on gradually

mainly affect your nose and throat

are fairly mild, so you can still get around and are usually well enough to go to work

FLU Symptoms:

come on quickly

usually include a headache, fever and aching muscles

make you feel too unwell to continue your usual activities

Prevention Methods

-Does Vitamin C Stop Colds?

Despite common belief, research has found no evidence that vitamin C prevents colds. Vitamin C might prevent colds in people exposed to extend periods of intense physical activity, such as marathon runners or skiers, but not in general population. [2]

-Does Echinacea reduce cold risk?

The review found that trials looking at whether Echinacea prevents colds showed positive, but non-significant, results. [3]

-Will Zinc put off a cold?

If you take a zinc supplement within 24 hours of the symptoms first starting, it will speed up recovery from a cold and lessen the severity of symptoms in healthy people. As the zinc lozenges formulation has been widely studied and there is a significant reduction in the duration of cold at a dose of = 75 mg/day, for those considering using zinc it would be best to use it at this dose throughout the cold. [4]

Other Methods

Natural remedies for colds and flu go well beyond herbs and supplements. Good lifestyle and hygiene habits are proven to reduce your risk of getting sick. Here are some easy practices you can employ right away:

Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Make sure to cough into your sleeve instead of your hand. Sneeze into a tissue and then throw it away. You’ll reduce the chances of passing your germs onto someone else.

Wash your hands. Washing with soap for the time it takes to sing two rounds of ‘Happy Birthday’ – or rubbing your hands with an alcohol-based gel with enough gel to rub hands together for 30 seconds – are two of the best ways of protecting yourself from cold and flu germs, and from spreading them.

Sleep consistently. The human body recovers at a much faster rate when at complete rest. To ensure that your sleep is of good quality and your body’s making the most of it, try to sleep at a consistent time each day, getting a good amount of hours, letting your mind relax before you hit the pillow, and saving any caffeine consumption for after you wake up.

Eat ‘phyto’ foods. Phyto foods are foods rich in phytochemicals, which are protective and disease-preventive chemicals found in vegetables, beans, fruits, herbs and whole grains. Aim to get 5-9 servings of fruit and veg each day.

Exercise regularly. Although there’s not one pinpointed reason for why, it’s undeniable that people who exercise regularly (even just daily walking) are more defended against illnesses as a whole! The immune system just works a lot better in those who exercise regularly. More on this in a moment.

Learn to manage stress. Yep. Once again I’m going to tell you to lower your stress levels. Find the place where you’re most relaxed (on a walk, in your bed, listening to music, driving, etc) and spend just 20 or 30 minutes there not thinking objectively – it may seem silly at first but it’s worth it for a number of reasons!

The Most Bang for Your Buck

We’re always in search for the best medication to help us avoid illness and recover ASAP, yet we ignore the one that is free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t need a GP to get for you.

Its name? Exercise.

There are hundred and hundreds of studies that record the benefits of good physical fitness and regular exercise have on your immune system, and here’s one I just picked up from a quick google search:

A good level of fitness can nearly half your chances of getting a cold, and can also lessen the effects of the infection. [5]

To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do:

At least 150 minutes of ‘moderate aerobic activity’ every week, and

Strength exercise on two or more days a week that works all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

What counts as moderate aerobic activity?

Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most people include:

walking fast or jogging

water aerobics

riding a bike on level ground or with few hills

doubles tennis

pushing a lawn mower

hiking

skateboarding

rollerblading

volleyball

basketball

Moderate activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate level is if you can still talk, but you can’t sing the words to a song.

What counts as vigorous activity?

There is good evidence that vigorous activity can bring health benefits over and above that of moderate activity. Just make sure you save this type of exercise for when you’re NOT already ill!

Examples of activities that require vigorous effort for most people include:

running

swimming fast

riding a bike fast or on hills

singles tennis

football

rugby

skipping rope

hockey

aerobics classes

gymnastics

martial arts

Vigorous activity makes you breathe hard and fast. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.

What counts as strength exercise?

Muscle-strengthening exercises are counted in repetitions and sets. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like a bicep curl or a sit-up. A set is a group of repetitions done without a break.

For each strength exercise, try to do:

at least one set

eight to 12 repetitions in each set

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it’s at home or in the gym. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities for most people include:

lifting weights

working with resistance bands

doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups

heavy labour, such as digging, sawing and carrying heavy objects

Summary

If you want to stay clear of these illnesses that so many get stuck with over the Winter period, key points about how to protect yourself and avoid being ill, so now it’s just your decision if you going to this follow route. If you have any questions, or if you have experience cold or flu and this methods have work or not in your case just let us know. But first and most important is to keep safe before illness get to you.

References

[1] NHS Live Well – Cold or Flu? – http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/coldsandflu/pages/isitacoldorflu.aspx
[2] WebMD – Vitamin C for the Common Cold – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11805584
[3] Cochrane Library – Does Echinacea reduce cold risk – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000530.pub3/abstract
[4] Cochrane Library – Will zinc put off a cold? – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub4/abstract
[5] British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) – Upper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adults – http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2010/09/30/bjsm.2010.077875.abstract?sid=e6594508-3aaa-4c61-99ba-4ea138580947

A Message For The Self Critic

Have you ever felt out of place in a gym? Or had a day where none of your efforts seem to cut it? Have you ever eaten the cookie and then felt a wave of guilt wash over you? Have you ever felt your mind spiraling into the abyss whilst that pesky inner critic dances on a podium telling you how rubbish you are? Yes? Then this blog post my friend, is for you! Stick the kettle on and take a moment to sit with me.

Way back when I was a tender 16 year old, I decided to join a gym in the hopes of improving my self esteem and body confidence. (Oh, the high hopes I had!)

Not only would I have abs of steel, but I would surely grow four inches and finally be able to reach the ‘secret’ kitchen chocolate cupboard without risking life and limb clambering on the worktop. Yes, I realise these two goals are somewhat contradictory (and clearly impossible) but gimme some slack! I was a young, naive, 16 year old!

So, as you might be able to tell, unlike many others in this profession, I didn’t enter via sports or a childhood passion for fitness, but rather a desperation to change my appearance and mindset.

Like many gym newbies, I had an induction and was given the typical ’10 minutes on the treadmill, 10 minutes on the cross trainer and let’s throw in some ab work for good measure’ programme. Needless to say, I saw very little progress and quickly became frustrated and bored. I also developed some bad habits, not helped by the media culture back then, such as associating the gym with negativity or guilt –

Ah, please, let’s burn women’s magazines?!

It was not uncommon for me to feel horrendously guilty if I missed a gym session or to leave the gym feeling miserable because I hadn’t achieved the impossible task that I’d set myself. ‘Get Killer Ab’s in 7 Days’ Oh please, Cosmopolitan. Take a hike.

Realising that this was not the healthy, life changing experience that I had originally sought after, I started to do my own research and discovered that there were so many more ways to get the results I was after; strength training, power training, volume training, HIIT, circuits, Olympic lifting, Met Con…!

Whilst this was very exciting, it was also overwhelming and I found it difficult to find proper programmes that had a strong scientific basis. Instead I found myself wading through lots of social media ‘fitness gurus’ and online coaches with no way of knowing who was a qualified, experienced expert and who was…well, not! In my mind it left me one option and that was to train as a PT myself. During my training I discovered RAW and decided to become a member… think that worked out pretty well for me 😉

I wholeheartedly believe that exercise can be immensely enjoyable- not a punishment or something to dread. It seems that everyday a new study is released that further proves the positive benefits of exercise and proper nutrition on everything from mental health issues to chronic illnesses such as heart disease and Type II diabetes. As I’ve said before, our bodies are designed to MOVE. And that is a truly amazing thing. However there is a lot of false information out there, lots of pseudo science (let’s save that for another post) and a lot of pressure, mostly from media, that in order to be healthy that you need to look a certain way or do the latest super, duper intense exercise class. And if you don’t conform to these ideals? Well, clearly you are doing something wrong. Well, I am here to say ‘stuff that!’. My passion is to find the types of movement that YOUR BODY needs to do and find a way to integrate that into the programme that we write for you in an enjoyable way. I want you to want to come back and to leave feeling happy, feeling rewarded because you’ve achieved something, even if it’s a tough day in the gym.

Now, of course, my goals and background may not be the same as yours, and that’s a wonderful thing, but it’s also why it’s so important that you communicate with me about what you’re after and why. The ‘why’ is quite important here guys. We can only make these changes for OURSELVES, those 6am workouts will only stick if you are doing it for yourself. You will quickly come to hate that 5am alarm clock if it is ringing for anyone other than YOU. And actually the key word in that last sentence was ‘for’.

It’s you, doing it FOR you.

As a RAW member, you have the opportunity each month to sit down with us at a Goal Analysis and discuss your progress and how you have found your programme thus far. This is the perfect opportunity for you to – confidentially – share any concerns or struggles that you may be experiencing that are impacting on your performance or enjoyment… chances are Sam or I have either experienced or dealt with something similar so please don’t be nervous!

Well, it is probably time for me to finish my ramblings and let you enjoy your Bank Holiday weekend!

Peace out wonderful people 🙂

Functional Training Part 1: Walking

We always hear people talking about ‘functional training’, and it usually involves flapping some ropes about, tossing a tyre and the occasional swing of a hammer, but really the most ‘functional’ exercises you can do are walking, running, picking stuff up (deadlifts) and getting up/getting down (get ups & squats).

So, with the intention of minimising the occurrence and severity of associated injuries and pains, and to make you as functional as possible, I’m going to teach and guide you along a path of self-assessment and adjustment, to achieve good technique and practice of these most Functional Movements.

This article is the first of a four-part series which will address each of the primary movements.

Walking

With the exception of those who are unable to walk, walking is the most important exercise you can do.

We use it every single day, without failure, and can’t get much done without it.

So, seems you do it so much; shouldn’t we make sure you’re doing it right?

Believe it or not, walking isn’t as simple as you might like to think… and a decent movement professional can tell a lot from just watching you put one foot in front of the other.

Although it seems like a really basic movement (and it should, you’ve been doing it for almost your entire life), there are many joints involved and therefore numerous ways it can be performed; few of them being ‘right’.

I put ‘right’ in inverted apostrophes because I believe every movement the human body allows us to do was designed for a purpose and therefore it isn’t ‘wrong’, although it may not be optimal for the desired output in the general example. It’s quite possible that what I’ll later refer to as ‘right’ may not be so for some people, due to injury, disability, deformity, anomalous anatomy or something else that didn’t instantly spring to mind – this accounts for about 4% of the population, so although it’s not common, it’s worth being aware of. But use your common sense in these cases and of course ask me about any uncertainties you have.

So, from now on, whenever I describe a movement or technique as ‘right’ (or any synonym to this), you can interpret that instead as ‘The most optimal movement pattern in most cases where someone has no circumstantial reason to deviate’.

Back to the basics

I know what you’re thinking, isn’t walking as basic as it gets?

Well, no it isn’t!

Before you can walk, you have to first be able to stand – and when we look at how you stand, we can get a pretty good idea of where problems might arise when you walk.

Let’s do a quick experiment. Kick your shoes off and get up on your feet. (If you were already standing, stay still)

Okay, now don’t fidget or move or anything.

Just take a look at your feet; spot anything that you think is a warning sign?

Give yourself a score out of 5 and we’ll see how well you did.

Keep still as we go through self-assessment; and all you have to do is give a tick for everything you get right.

1. Are your feet parallel to each other? (pointing the same way as one another)

2. Are they directly underneath the hip joint? (vertically beneath the bone at the front of your hip)

3. Are your knees pointing the same way as your feet?

4. Are your knees slightly bent? (you should be able to feel it but not see it)

5. Is the weight on the inner side of the ball of your feet? (little toe every-so-slightly touches the ground)

Okay, as you were.

So how did you do? 5 out of 5?

Well if you did, you’re either in the top 8% of the population or you’re a little cheating so and so!

So those are some of the most obvious signs we look for when assessing someone’s standing position, and the rest are a bit harder for self-assessment, so we’ll cover them in the articles on the deadlift, the get up and the squat.

Now that we know what you’re doing wrong, can we just straight-up adjust these and expect everything to be happy days?

Well, to a degree, yes.

In the majority of cases, functional discrepancies are formed through habitual or repetitive adoption of an imbalanced motion or action; which means that you can undo these functional discrepancies by replacing those habits with correct ones.

The Easiest Way Out Of A Hole Is Back The Way You Came In.

As much as there’s a reason why you developed these imbalances and we should be conscious of what that is, there is a lot that can be undone by simply correcting the faults we see and forming those corrections as habits.

So, here’s a basic guide to correcting faults in walking and standing mechanics.

Now I’ll say first of all, this is NOT for ALL cases. And you should seriously consider if your body has good reason for developing those faults before changing them.

But, with that taken into consideration, here is you go-to guide for good walking and standing mechanics:

Standing Correctly

Step 1

It’s easiest to identify changes from extremes, so let’s get you into a bad postural stance to start. Head forward, shoulders rounded forward, ribcage up, lumbar overextended, anterior pelvic tilt, feet turned out, foot arch collapsed.

Step 2

When readjusting posture, we always either start from the bottom or the top. So let’s start at the bottom. Place your feet under your hips, both facing the same direction. Now, without allowing the feet to move, add external rotation from your hips, screwing your feet into the ground – left foot anticlockwise and right foot clockwise.

Step 3

Now your feet are in the right place and your hips are tight, we carry that hip tension into your pelvis by tensing your butt cheeks. This should tuck your pelvis underneath you (picture a dog tucking its tail between its legs). Once your pelvis is in the right place, which will happen naturally after steps 1 and 2, you can then ease a bit of the tension from your glutes (butt cheeks), still maintaining that structural position.

Step 4

With that position set using your glutes, you now need to use your abs to hold that in place so you can relax your glutes for movement. To do this, take a deep breath in and imagine putting all that air into your belly. (don’t breathe out until step 5)

Step 5

As you prepare to let that breath out, pull your ribcage down onto your upper abdomen, and brace your abs. Bracing your abs shouldn’t create any movement, it’s simply contract the muscle so that it doesn’t budge. With your ribs down and abs secure, take a strong breath out and move onto step 6.

Step 6

At this point you should have everything from your feet to your trunk firmly in place. Now we need to align your shoulders and neck. To do the shoulders, draw the heads of your arms back and spread your collarbones. As you do this, externally rotate your shoulders and face you palms to the sky. Before you relax those arms down, center your head above your shoulders so that a vertical line could be drawn, connecting your ankles, knees, hips, ribs, shoulders and ears.

Step 7

With everything aligned, you can now take a final breath in to firm that position. As you breathe that breath slowly out, let your arms fall down at your sides, with thumbs pointed forward and a softness in all those muscles except the abs that want to retain about 20% of maximum contraction at all times.

Walking Correctly

Walking doesn’t actually vary that much from standing, in terms of the technical components.

You keep the same posture you had at the end of your standing technique, and then apply movement without deviation.

The only bits you really have to work on with this are how you create the movement and your foot strike; the rest is all technical stuff that shouldn’t even be need for the average person with no deep-set functional issues.

Step 1

The main fault I see, particularly with those suffering with low back pain, is that they put their bodyweight above the front foot as they step. The main muscles that should be used to create the walking motion are the glutes and calves… two muscles designed to move your leg backward. But if you put your bodyweight onto that leg and contract those muscles, your create a force that will either push the ground backward or you forward, and 9 times out of 10 that ground ain’t moving! So, when you’re walking, think about moving the ground backwards – the world is your treadmill!

Step 2

In a standing position, you should have a lot of externally-rotational force going from your hips into your feet, but this needs to be counterbalanced when you walk, or you’ll twist your feet out and put all the pressure onto the cartilage and ligaments in the joints (that’s not good). To combat this, step 2 is to put weight onto the inside of the heel of the leg that leads (in the air). Because the leg is in the air, you can’t physically put weight into that heel – so this won’t contradict step 1 – but trying to will activate a little muscle in the hip called the pectineus which stabilises your hip in opposition to your glute.

Step 3

With your glutes and calves doing all the pulling power and with the pectineus engaged, in theory you’re walking in a straight line with your feet pointing straight ahead. We now need to look at what happens when it lands. Instinctively, your body will want to walk with a heel strike on each landing, and it’s correct. But we seem to have misinterpreted what exactly our bodies mean by this. Instead of landing on the back of your heel with your toes up (like you probably currently do), your moving mechanics would be much smoother if you landed on the bottom of your heel with your toes 2 or 3 inches of f the ground.

Step 4

The next stage is to put that foot down in front to take your next step. Only, should that foot really be stepping in front? Thinking practically you’d say yes. But I’m going to say no. Because I want you to move your whole body forward with that leg, leaving the other one behind. So technically, you may be moving that leg forward, but you’re not putting it in front of you (at least not by much).So when that heel strikes, it should pretty much be directly underneath your chin. That doesn’t mean stick your chin out in front, but instead just lean slightly forward from your hips. This helps with the mechanics of loading onto your glutes and calves.

Addressing Discrepancies

As I mentioned earlier, there are occasions where what I prescribing here isn’t suitable, and without you in front of me, I can’t tell you whether that’s you or not.

But as a rule, don’t be stupid. If you feel pain or discomfort more than just the desire to return to your old position, then your body doesn’t think that it’s a very good position for you, and it’s usually right. However, it’s very rare that you should stay in your body’s preferred position permanently, as it’s usually the case that your body is telling you that because that’s the position that accommodates for whatever underlying issues you have

So first, you’ll have to repair those issues (if that’s possible) before you proceed to adopt the aforementioned stances.

If you don’t have the knowledge on how to address these issues, there are lots of professionals out there who are training in movement mechanics and posture, and can help you unravel what’s going on and restore you back to optimal mechanics.

And as it just so happens, I’m one of them!

So, if you want my help, here’s a little link to get in touch with me and have an assessment of what’s going on – Movement Training

I hope this article helped you and of course fire away any questions you have in the comments section either here or on Facebook.

And don’t forget to stay tuned for the next 3 parts to this series, covering how to Run, Deadlift, Squat & Get Up correctly.

Always Here To Help

Sam Ely

Advanced Nutritionist, Strength & Conditioning Coach, and Head Fitness Coach

RAW Results Aimed Workouts

No More Taboo: Synchronising your training with your Menstrual Cycle

Close up of woman shushing

Bizarrely, despite the amount of impact it has on diet and exercise, the female menstrual cycle is often deemed an awkward subject to discuss, especially with a male trainer!

It often takes a long time (I’m talking up to 6 months) before a female client feels comfortable to talk to me about their period, and sadly this means that they go through this time without any guidance on how to handle the different stages of their menstruation.

But I’m here to cut the tension with a knife and tell you straight out exactly what’s going on and how you should deal with it to ensure you’re giving your body the right exercise and dietary prescription at each stage of menstruation.

Firstly, I’d like to clarify that:

1. No, I am not a woman

2. No, I don’t have any first-hand experience of this process

3. Yes, it’s part of my job to know this stuff, so..

4. Yes, I am speaking from extensive knowledge on the subject.

5. Yes, you should ask me if you are unsure of anything (I’m here to help)

Without knowing enough about the role that it has on exercise and nutrition (and vice verse), your period can seem quite the enemy to your health & fitness goals. But when you truly understand their involvement, you can start to use your hormones to your advantage and go through the whole month looking and feeling great!

So, throughout this article I’m going to give you an overview of what’s happening and how you need to structure your training and diet through each phase.

What Exactly Is The Menstrual Cycle?

The menstrual cycle is the series of changes your body goes through in preparation for a possible pregnancy. About once a month, the uterus grows a new, thickened lining (endometrium) that holds a fertilized egg. But when there is no fertilized egg to start a pregnancy, the uterus sheds its lining to prepare for the next cycle. This is the monthly menstrual bleeding (A.K.A menstruation) that a woman has from her early teen years until her menstrual periods end around age 50 (menopause).

The menstrual cycle is measured from the first day of menstrual bleeding, Day 1, up to Day 1 of the next menstrual bleeding. Although 28 days is the average cycle length, it is normal to have a cycle that is shorter or longer.

A teen’s cycles may be longer (up to 45 days), growing shorter over several years.

Between ages 25 and 35, most women’s cycles are regular, generally lasting 21 to 35 days.

Around ages 40 to 42, cycles tend to be at their shortest and most regular. This is followed by 8 to 10 years of longer, less predictable cycles until menopause.

Phase 1: Menstrual

This phase is commonly recognised as the end of your menstrual cycle as it is the point when your PMS symptoms start to subside, but to be scientifically accurate, we’ll be addressing it at the beginning.

You’ll know this phase as the point when bleeding takes place, typically lasting 5-7 days, with often the first day or two still feeling the effects of cramps and fatigue.

At this point, water retention and increased body heat from the previous cycle will clear up and you should be feeling a bit more like yourself again.

Training

As you’re just off the back of the Luteal Phase (PMS), it wouldn’t be wise to jump straight back in with heavy lifting, however, without the raised body temperature and cramping, you’ll be able to begin properly working out again and making some good progress with your strength & endurance.

Avoid – 1 rep maxes, HIIT, anaerobic exercise (sprinting, Olympic Lifting, Powerlifting, etc)

Consider – endurance exercise (running, cycling, swimming), higher rep ranges (8 or more reps per set), standard strength exercises (squats, deadlifts, press ups, pull ups, rows, etc)

Nutrition

At this stage, it’s likely your metabolism will progressively slow down, so it’s worth keeping your calorie consumption in mind whilst you wean off those crave foods from the previous phase! Generally, you wouldn’t need to make any changes until you’re a few days through the cycle, and then you might want to reduce calories incrementally to accommodate for the metabolic rate that keeps slowing down over this phase. In reference to the previous phase (which you’ll find out about later), you’ll now have a higher insulin sensitivity, so carbohydrates can make their return and fuel you back up for your increased activity levels.

Avoid – the binge foods from the last phase, high fat intake, previous calorie consumption

Consider – eat 100kcal less each day until starting intake is reached, replacing some of your fats with carbohydrates

Phase 2: Follicular

This phase commences at the point when you stop bleeding from menstruation. It has the least defined length of time out of all the phases and is the biggest dictator on how frequent your periods are. This is the point when you pretty much forget about your menstrual cycle, simply because there are no symptoms to think about.

Your energy levels are back, there’s no bloating and you just generally feel and look great.

So now is time to get serious with your goals.

Training

The Follicular phase is when you have your highest pain tolerance, so it’s now when you should be looking at doing your fitness tests and heavy workouts. You can handle a lot more demand, so utilise this period to really get some work done!

Avoid – lighter workouts and long rest periods both between sets of exercises and between workouts themselves.

Consider – 1 rep maxes, anaerobic training, high-demand exercises, higher training frequency.

Nutrition

If you’re getting things right with your training, then now is the time to go mad with your carbohydrate consumption (pasta, rice, potato and oats, not sweets and cakes!). A higher carbohydrate intake will up your performance when training, accelerate your metabolism and recover quickly from all that hard work. It’s also definitely time to consider upping protein intake; your body’s gonna need it.

Avoid – fat-dense foods, low-carb foods, low calorie intake.

Consider – complex carbs (pasta, rice, potato, oats, etc), tracking calories in vs calories out, lots of veggies.

Phase 3: Ovulatory

As the name suggests, this phase is where ovulation takes place. Although this phase only lasts a day or two, it still has some slight changes from the follicular phase that are just worth noting.

Training

You’ll still have that high pain threshold so don’t hold back in your training. Just be aware that, as you go through these couple of days, connective tissues (particularly around the hips and lower back) will become soft meaning that you have a slight proneness to injury. Of course, if you’ve got your super-awesome RAW coach by your side, you can proceed rest assured that your techniques are spot on and you’re doing the exercises that are best suited to you.

Avoid – technically-challenging and high-risk exercises (Olympic Lifting, calisthenics, plyometrics, etc)

Consider – Compound strength exercise (back squat, deadlift, hip thrust, bench press, bent-over row, etc)

Nutrition

Over this short period, you may notice yourself feeling more hungry and tending toward carb-loading, so make a conscious effort to keep your macro-ratios (carbs, fats, proteins) in balance. To make the carb issue even more of a cautious topic, your insulin sensitivity will be decreasing, so those carbs won’t just burn off like they have done over the follicular phase. Despite this need to keep carbs in line, you can probably get away with eating a bit more, so perhaps alter your calorie intake to accommodate for the hunger and help you stick to your plan.

Avoid – heavy carbohydrate meals, low protein intake

Consider – a more rounded macro ratio (40C:30F:30P), increasing calorie consumption by 1-200kcal depending on hunger.

Phase 4: Luteal

Now ovulation is over, it’s time for everyone’s most loved phase in the cycle: Luteal phase (A.K.A PMS).

The Luteal phase, although unpleasant for just about everyone, can be a very different experience from person to person. Some women don’t experience symptoms until about a week in, whereas others can experience symptoms right from the beginning of the two-weeks.

As I imagine you already know (assuming you’re a female reader or just know a female reader), the symptoms related to this phase include high body temperature, fatigue, water retention, muscle & joint ache, lack of concentration, cravings & hunger. What a list hey?

Training

Generally, this is when you’re going to feel least like training, which is totally understandable when you take a look at all those symptoms! But there is still much that can be accomplished over this period, just so long as you train smart and accompany it with solid nutrition. Bearing in mind the higher body temperature and increased fatigue, you won’t get much out of high intensity or muscular endurance exercise. There’s no need to worry about having the time off your more intense exercise, as it will give your body time to recover from all the hard work from the previous phases. At this point, you’ll benefit from taking the intensity down a few notches and putting your focus onto the more technical components of your training, perhaps trying new exercises that you can add in when you get back round the cycle. Another idea I encourage in my clients is to spend more time on flexibility, balance and any particular weaknesses in their body.

Avoid – high intensity exercise, heavy strength training, exhaustive endurance exercise.

Consider – areas of weakness, technical components, flexibility, balance, steady-state cardio (walking, light jogging, leisurely cycling, swimming)

Nutrition

The Luteal phase is where most women struggle the most with their nutrition, and sadly where many fail to adhere. Cravings get strong, noticeable development hides away and hunger finds its way to the forefront of your mind. But really, if you adapt accordingly, you can get through this phase without any drawbacks. With everything that your body is having to deal with at this stage, your metabolic rate goes up a little, so you now have some more calories to play around with there! It’s totally okay at this time to throw 2 or 300 calories on top of your intake, in fact in most cases it works out best this way (better than you going completely off plan). You’ll be less hungry and have fewer cravings; let’s call it damage limitation.

The other thing to note is that your body slows down serotonin production (feel good hormone), so try look for foods high in tryptophan to counteract.

Avoid – calorie-dense foods (processed/fast food), [for the most part] foods that combine fats and carbs (chips, ice cream, chocolate, burgers, pizza, etc), foods high in carbohydrates

Consider – increasing total calorie intake by 2-300kcal, eating crunchy veg and fruit (carrots, celery, cucumber, apples, pears, etc), adjusting calories to accommodate for a crave food, foods high in tryptophan (milk, turkey, beans and seeds), increasing fat intake.

And then it all starts over again, with a better body, more progress and lots of new techniques ready to be thrown into your workouts!

I suppose you could say the female menstrual cycle is much like a lion: it’s a deadly beast that can easily get the better of you, but if you can tame it, there’s not much that will stand in your way.

Concluding

Like I said at the beginning, this is always seen as a taboo subject, particularly to be avoided in discussion between a woman and a man, but it has such an impact on your life that you can’t just hide it and pretend it doesn’t exist.

So I hope this article has allowed you to think a bit more constructively about the whole process and make some plans for how you will tackle the ordeal of training and eating throughout your menstrual cycle.

It is an area I handle very professionally with my clients, offering advice and assistance to help their development.

I hope, like many others, you feel comfortable enough to ask for my guidance; I’m always delighted to be able to help people achieve more with their health & fitness.

If you’ve picked up any tips along the way that you think others would benefit from, please add them to the comments either here or on Facebook and let’s achieve greatness together!

Sam Ely

Advanced Nutritionist, Strength & Conditioning Coach, and Head Fitness Coach

RAW Results Aimed Workouts

Have Sam Design Your Personalised Nutritional & Training Plan

Could Exercise Be SLOWING DOWN Your Weight Loss?

Scary title, right?

But what’s even more scary is that it is often the case!

You’ve been wanting to lose weight all this time, you finally found the motivation to take up an exercise regime (notice that YOU found it, not IT found you – there’s a lesson even in that), and you’re putting in the effort, but not much is changing. Okay, perhaps you got a bit of relief at the beginning as you gazed down at the scales, but that’s dried up now and you’re losing very little if anything.. what’s going on?

I’d like to point out at this moment that this doesn’t apply to everyone (I’ll explain why a bit later) and it IS in fact something within your control; you’ve just got to notice that it’s happening first.

Think about this. If you’ve stuck with a gym long enough, you’ll have seen the ‘regulars’. The people that are there at the exact same time nearly every day, sometimes twice in the same day! Rain or shine, they are there, getting there routine done. It’s nothing flashy, it’s good, consistent training. The type of stuff us ‘above the nonsense’ trainers always rave about.

Yet these particular people are often NOT the people with the most *input goal here*.

And that’s where this whole theory is situated: what are THOSE people doing wrong?

Well, on the surface, the problem is practical. But really this all stems from a mislead mindset, and one that so many have fallen for and are still falling for. Sure, we could go straight the practical issue and try fix that, but all that will happen is that you’ll trade one problem for another (trust me, this will make sense in a bit).

I’ve found that the best teachers are those that ask questions, not provide answers; they make you realise the problem is right in front of you. So here’s my question for you:

Why are you exercising?

Based on the title of this article and the assumption that ‘if you’ve read this far, it’s because you’re relating to what I’m writing’, I’d say that your answer was some variation of the following:

To lose weight and tone up.

Am I right?

Well, if I am, then we’ve already discovered the problem.

Let me explain (using questions of course).

Have you ever done exercise and used one of those devices that tracks how many calories you burn?

(Stick with me if you haven’t.)

Have you ever compared the amount of calories you’ve burnt with the equivalent unhealthy food?

Well, for those who haven’t – it usually amounts to hardly any junk food at all. (half an hour of running for ONE finger of a twix?!)

Most people then follow this realisation with a demotivated phrase such as “It’s gonna take me forever to work off all the rubbish I’ve eaten”. And yet they miss the even bigger point that’s right there in front of them:

How much easier would it be to just not eat the junk food in the first place?

See the biggest problem behind the stubborn lack of weight loss is that you’re trying Exercise to lose weight and tone up.

You put so much effort into making sure you stick to your training routine and you work your socks off in there, when at the end of that hour of sweat and hard work you’ve probably accumulated the same amount of calories as pint of beer/glass of red and a crunchie!

The practical problem is that you’re spending your effort on exercise when you’ll get more bang for your buck if you spent more time thinking about what you’re consuming.

Once again, I bring you to the fact that you need to be thinking about:

Calories In vs. Calories Out.

If you keep the ‘Calories In’ side of the scale lower, then you don’t have to work so hard to get the ‘Calories Out’ side higher.

Eating a little less food is easier than doing a lot more exercise.

But what if you’re not eating junk food and you’re STILL not losing the weight?

Well, ‘good food’ has calories too. And whether you do eat that junk food or not, if your total calorie consumption is higher than what your body needs, you gain weight. (in a high 90% of cases)

But, like I mentioned earlier, the source of the problem is psychological: you’re exercising for the wrong reason.

Exercise is quite simply the use of muscles. And it should be done to improve your ability to use the muscles in question.

It’s okay if you want them to look a certain way, but they have more of a purpose than simply to look good.

Use Them. Be Active. Stay Healthy.

But just remember:

Exercise is for Movement; Food is for Fuel.

Under-exercise and you get Weak; Over-eat and you get Heavier.

Remember those last two statements and you won’t go far wrong!

Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat: The Most Pointless Debate Ever

I know it’s been a long time since our last blog was released, educating you on how to improve your health and make informed decisions, but we are finally back!

And just before we jump into this juicy blog, it would be great to get your opinion on what you would like to know and how we could help you to get closer to your goal. To give us some ideas, comment below this blog or click here to message me directly

Diets:

Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat: The Most Pointless Debate Ever.

It’s been going for ages, this argument between Low Carb and Low Fat diets. But it seems as though everyone has forgotten about the science and studies. So, initially with the intention to discover which is best – a diet with a low contribution from carbohydrates or a diet with a low contribution from fats – I have looked more into Low Carb and Low Fat diets to figure out what is better and more affective.

Here’s what the majority of the best studies showed:

Initial Response – In the short term (3 Months) the Low Carb diet was more beneficial than the Low Fat diet.

After 6 months – both diets had reached the same total weight loss.

This pretty much shows that, although results start off quicker in a low carbohydrate diet, they even out after six months with the low fat group

However, one of the studies randomly assigned 63 individuals to either a low-fat diet group, or a Low Carb diet group. The low-fat group was calorie restricted. This study went on for 12 months.

Weight loss: Low Carb group lost 7.3 % of total body weight compared to low-fat group, with lost 4.5% of body weight.

There was more weight loss in the Low Carb group, significant at 3 and 6 months, but not 12. The Low-Carb group had greater improvements in blood triglycerides and HDL, but other biomarkers were similar between groups.

This is example just of one study from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022207

But really the significance is not that the diet is comprised more of fats and less of carbs, it’s that the total calories consumed is reduced.

We can speculate over whether one will make you lose 2 or 3 lbs more in the long term, but really it goes back to the basic science that, the size of your calorie deficit is almost exactly correlated to the amount and rate of weight loss.

So, after a thorough review (I’ll reference a bunch of the studies below), this diet summary about Low Carbs or Low Fats and what is better for you is over, and I can conclude that

‘Unless you’re looking at the minute variations, it does not have a very big effect in the long term what your nutrient ratio is like.’

…So long as you follow these principles:

High Protein intake (>1g per kg bodyweight)

Calorie Deficit (ALWAYS above your resting requirements)

Limited consumption of processed food (less than 20% of your diet)

But, ultimately you’ve got to have the diet that you can sustain in the long term (at least a year) and will actually enjoy!

REFERENCE:

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022637 – Low-Carbohydrate as Compared with a Low-Fat Diet

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC538279 – Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets

http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(02)40206-5/abstract – Effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor in overweight

What to take before a workout? A science-based approach

What should you take before you workout?

There are lots of different studies around the various forms of pre-workout supplementation and food intake. In my opinion – backed by the wide variability in what I‘ve read – it can’t be the same for everyone, and you need to test what works for you.

That’s because of the difference in each person’s rate of metabolism, the structure of their metabolic pathways, and how their body absorbs nutrients.

But nevertheless, I have found certain nutrients and methods that are consistent across (almost) all studies as beneficial to everyone to take before they workout. So carry on with me as we follow the path of proving and disproving the theories that you hear all too often, and I will list the most important methods below to give you a clearer understanding of what to take, when to take it and why it can help you.

Water

Before exercise, it’s very beneficial to have a good rest and lots of water [1]. The role water plays in your regular exercise regimen is very important and should not be dismissed casually. Therefore it is important to ensure that you are properly hydrated before you start your workout to minimise the risk of dehydration during exercise.

Mild dehydration can easily result in early fatigue as your body is unable to cool itself efficiently, which then puts extra stress on the heart and lungs. The sooner you fatigue, the less you’ll be able to get out of your workout.

Water is essential and yet it is often overlooked. It is a major component of your body and, when not at optimal hydration, your entire body performs less effectively. Water makes up 50-75% of your body weight and to function properly, every organ requires it. Water assists in absorption, excretion, circulation, digestion and is a staple part of all chemical changes in the body. Remember: without water, you die!

Food Standards Guidelines recommend drinking 6-8 glasses or cups each day to achieve good hydration; that’s 1.5-2L of water a day.

Before your workout, ACSM (The American College of Sports Medicine) recommends drinking between 2-4 glasses or 400-600ml of water 2-3 hours before your workout. The best way to do this is by sipping at regular intervals instead of drinking it all in one go, as keeping hydrated throughout the day ensures you’re always performing optimally.

Food

(Take 1-2 hours before workout to allow time to digest)

Despite what you may have heard: Carbohydrates are still king for energy.

But when it comes to exercise that lasts more than 10 seconds, jelly babies and apples won’t quite cut it. You’ll need thicker, starchier carbohydrate foods (oats, wholemeal bread, white rice and whole wheat pasta).

Now that you have a slower digesting carbs source (as outlined above), it is also beneficial to have a small but sufficient source of fast-digesting carbs to kick-start your workout. Fruit is always a good option as it gives you the opportunity to up your micronutrient intake simultaneously. I usually recommend a banana as it has 23g of carbohydrates per 100g and it’s very fast-processed so it will kick in right away.

Train low compete high

Train with low carbohydrate nutrition and compete with high carbohydrate; that’s what the theory is.

Carbohydrates are a substrate for the muscle and central nervous system, and are critical for the performance of intermittent training methods (resistance training, team sports, HIIT, etc). Lots of studies show that an intake of carbohydrates before, during or after exercise helps to gain better results due to of higher performance output.

Initial recommendations for a high carb, low fat diet have been battled with over recent years and finally we have the answer everyone was expecting: no more “one size fits all” recommendation for high-carbohydrates.

In just the same way, it has been suggested that athletes should have a low carbohydrate diet when in training, but refuel before competitions to maximize efficiency and effect of carbohydrates when the high energy intake spikes, but the evidence was never found to prove that these strategies enhance performance. [2]

We now take an individualized approach to fueling needs based on the person’s body and training routine.

Fast acting

Caffeine- Always rumored but no one ever really knew if it was true that a coffee pre-workout will improve performance and output in the long run. Studies now show that a dose of caffeine will improve strength performance. This is because, with caffeine in your system, you can’t feel as much pain in the muscle while exercising and will therefore be able to train further into fatigue. When working in the 6-12 rep range, around 60% 1 rep max, 11-12% greater workload can be achieved with an oral dose of 6mg/kg bodyweight [3].

Caffeine can also increase your heart rate, so you need to be careful with it. People with hypertension (high blood pressure) or low caffeine tolerance need to be careful and see doctors before thinking of taking caffeine before a workout.

It’s also worth noting that caffeine is not a fuel, only a stimulant, and you should always ensure you are fully fueled for the exercise you have planned.

There are also many other supplements that people use before working out; most of them bogus, but some actually hold up to their claim when tested. Below, I’ve listed a few pre-workout supplements that have been shown to be effective and beneficial (each with it’s own study to back it):

-BCAA [4]

-Creatine [5]

-Beta aline [6]

Just note that I looked into about 30 different pre-workout supplements and these were the only ones I found to be effective, so if something you’re taking isn’t on that little list, you might want to research what you’re consuming. (or you can ask me directly and I’ll do the graft work for you)

Testing the Truth

If you keep digging into the research, you’ll see that these methods are effective 95% of the time (for example). This means that every 20th person didn’t find any benefit from the supplement. This is why it’s crucial that you don’t just take what’s on paper as the hard truth. If you decide to make any changes to your diet or supplementation; test it.

It’s the only way you’ll know if something actually worked. Here’s a simple method of testing that you can use:

1. Record every detail of your current position and rate of progress (sleep quality, energy levels, training volume, dietary intake, etc) over the course of at least a week.

2. Add the change into your routine, keeping every other variable exactly the same.

3. Monitor every difference that occurs over the course of two weeks of this testing period.

4. Keep or ditch based on how effective it was.

Use that and you’ll be able to know if the truth on paper is the truth for you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope you manage to put this to good use.

And remember, if you have any questions about any of this or something similar, email me on ziggy@resultsaimedworkouts.co.uk or follow our Facebook page for more information and advice!

3 WAYS TO GET YOUR 6

Key things you’ll learn in this blog:

+ A (less than) 15-minute routine to do first thing in the morning

+ How to Create Motivation

+ How to simplify ‘the calorie equation’

+ Why huge deficits are not good for your body

+ Just how much of a role water plays in getting a lean physique

Simplifying the calorie equation

About a week or so ago, I posted the question up on facebook asking what you wanted me to write about… and with the responses I got there was a clear winner.

So today’s blog is going to answer the question: what daily routines can you do to help you get a flat stomach?

Now, I don’t want to be rude, but figures show that most people that are trying to get a flat stomach have more trouble with losing fat from their stomach than with ‘toning’ the muscle.

Therefore the first and most important thing for achieving a flat stomach is reducing your fat percentage.

Now I’ll explain this a bit more in a little while, but the basics of the calorie equation are as follows:

Calories In (30% more than required) > Calories Out = gain weight (fat and muscle)

Calories In (30% less than required) < Calories Out = lose weight (fat and muscle)

Now that seems like quite an issue when we consider that you want to be fit and lean (a.k.a low fat and high muscle), meaning that we want the muscle gain of the first equation and the fat loss of the second.

But, when we introduce resistance training and keep the deficit/surplus within a reasonable (<30%) range from your requirements, the equation ends up looking more like this:

Calories In > Calories Out (including resistance training) = muscle gain exclusively

Calories In < Calories Out (including resistance training) = fat loss exclusively

So then we can look at this more calmly and all you have to answer is the following question:

Which do I want most; muscle gain or fat loss?

Now on the basis that you’re reading a blog on getting a flat stomach, I’m going to assume that you want to lose fat?

This means that what we need to focus on is fast, energy-consuming exercise.

And to make this fit into a busy routine, we need to burn the most calories possible in the shortest period of time.

So on that note, here’s the first way to get your 6-pack stomach

1.Burning the Calories (a 15-minute exercise routine)

Below are 4 simple, bodyweight exercises that are incredibly calorie-costing and can be one first thing in the morning or just before you jump in the shower:

(These exercises are suitable for people that are in good personal health and without any injuries. You should always consult your doctor or a fitness specialist before undergoing any physical activity)

1. Burpees- This is a plyo-cardio movement that works your entire torso (including tummy) and legs at once. It’s a three-part exercise that most people tend to dread, and for good reason! They are hard. Meaning you have to use lots of fuel (calories) to perform them.

2. Mountain climbers- Now these can sometimes feel like a punishment, but they are one of the best core working and fat burning moves out there that don’t require a single bit of equipment; so get used to them!

3. Aleknas – This is one we always rave on about at RAW, because it’s such a good exercise for anyone looking to tone up their core. It may be the least calorific of the four in this list, but by keeping your back flat when the extension of the movement, your abs will burn and you’ll encourage a straighter posture that will have you holding yourself in a much healthier position, creating better aesthetics and better defense against injuries.

4. Planks- The undeniably excellent exercise for core stability and better posture. It’s an essential exercise for just about everyone.

You have 1 minute per exercise to complete as much reps/time under tension as you can; totaling up 4 minutes work and then resting for 1 minute. Repeat this 3 times and you’ll have burnt a whole load of calories and brought yourself a big step closer to your flat stomach.

The whole routine should take you a maximum of 15 minutes and you can repeat it daily.

Creating the Motivation

If you can’t find the time for a 15-minute routine in the morning; do it in the evening. If you can’t find the time to do it at either end of the day, then perhaps you don’t want to achieve this as much as you think you do.

It’s easy to make the excuse that you don’t have enough time; you’re always really busy… but so is everyone else!

You need to remember that your body is your tool to success and your entire worldly experience is relative to the body you have; so it’s time to start paying it some respect and start investing in your health. Don’t try ‘find’ time to do it; ‘MAKE’ time to do it.

By setting goals and involving others in the process, letting people know your intentions and declaring them out-loud to yourself; you’ll create more motivation for achieving the result you are aiming for out of sheer principle.

Alternatively, get your friends or family members to do this with you as a 30-day challenge to experiment with how your bodies react to the change of routine. Once you start seeing the results, you’ll be hooked and motivation won’t even be needed.

“Commitment is doing the hard work when you don’t have the motivation to do it.”

2.Eat More Burn More

Using more calories than you take in is the key to lowering fat in your body, but it does not work the same for everyone because of the difference in how your body responds

Sometimes, increasing your calorie intake can be better for fat loss; giving your body more energy to work harder in your exercise and burn more calories overall. To know if it will be better to increase calories, try monitoring your performance when training (how many reps and sets you did, how much resistance you handled and how long you could perform for). This will show if it’s working for you and how to manage your daily calorie income combining with calories you use in daily life style. It your performance increase; keep them calories up. If it decreases or doesn’t change; knock them back down.

3.Water for Fat Loss?

The most basic advice I would recommend for anyone to lose fat would be making sure you drink enough water. It often gets swept to the side because we already know it, but if you can get this right your results will definitely improve. It is the small changes that add up to the big results, so start take this more serious if you want to achieve best results possible.

Here’s the result of a powerful study I found on the effect of increased water intake:

“After drinking about 17 ounces of water the subjects metabolic rates or rates at with calories are burned increases by 30% for men and women. The increases occurred with 10 min of water consumption and reached a maximum after about 30 to 40 minutes.”

The researchers estimated that, over the course of a year, a person who increases his water consumption by 1.5 litres a day would burn an extra 17,400 calories, for a weight loss of approximately five pounds.

(These findings are reported in the December issues of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism)

Conclusion

By combining all of this together, you will be in a much better position to achieve the body you want.

I hope you enjoyed this blog, and if you want professional help with getting these right and making them fit you, I will be more that happy to help you with any questions you have.

Just comment them below or e-mail me here

Vegan vs Vegetarian

So, did you notice how I haven’t done any articles on the Vegan Walkthrough in a while?

Well, it wasn’t that I just got fed up of them..

About a month ago, Charlotte (the vegan that our walkthrough was following), decided to make the change from being vegan to instead adopt a vegetarian diet

(I told her that was the easy way out but she wasn’t having any of it 😉

As a result, I ran out of content to write about! Until I got a request just the other day from one of our regular readers *cough*nerd*cough* asking me to revive the Vegan Walkthrough.

I explained how my vegan had changed her title, but then came to the thought:

Why not just do the same stuff, but about being Vegetarian instead?

So here it is! The Vegetarian Walkthrough.

(apologies to those vegans looking for guidance – if you want some help then message me here)

I spoke to Charlotte about this the other day and we covered some big issues which were really interesting to hear, so today we will be covering:

– What is the actual difference between Vegan & Vegetarian?

– How do you decide which you should do?

– Is one healthier than the other?

As always, this article will be completely based on science and rational thinking – if you would like a reference for any statements made in this article, you can request them in the comments or by email.

What Is The Actual Difference Between Being Vegan & Being Vegetarian?

I’m sure you know to some the degree the most common differences there are between the two dietary/lifestyle choices, but if you look deeper, you’ll find that there are actually quite a few key principles that divide vegans and vegetarians.

These differences would have been easy to declare… before vegetarianism truly popularised.

Vegetarians don’t eat meat and vegans don’t eat anything produced by an animal.

Nowadays, it seems the term ‘vegetarian’ has become more of a category than a dietary choice of itself.

We have a large number of ‘types of vegetarians’ that all have there only rules and principles to follow, and many people have defined their own version of being vegetarian.

In fact, vegan itself is really just a type of vegetarian, with its own additional exclusions.

Here are a few examples:

(to save me some time, all of these include fruit, vegetables, grains, pulse, legumes and beans)

So, when discussing the differences between vegetarian and vegan, it’s important we consider what type of vegetarian we are referring to.

But this brings up the more important discussion, which is…

How Do You Decide Which You Should Do?

Well, with some rational thinking, I’m sure we could figure out the reasons for each one, but that’s all relative to the individual who originally discovered the diet in question.

Instead, let’s look inside and uncover what’s important to you and what that means in terms of a diet.

I know that all this self-discovery stuff can quickly get all airy-frairy (that’s my attempt at spelling a phrase I’ve never seen spelt), but we can utilise all it’s strongest assets without even touching the less-calculative things like inner purpose, spiritual belief, self-awareness, etc.

So here are a few difficult but definitive questions to ask yourself, which will help you get an idea of where you stand on the subject:

1. If no one could kill an animal for you to have meat, would you kill it yourself?

2. Do you value human life above other animal life?

3. Is it okay if an animal must be in pain in order for you to eat its non-meat product?

4. Does it make any difference to your views if an animal’s habitat is land-based or water-based?

4. Do you believe you were designed to eat other animals?

5. If an animal suffered no pain to produce a non-meat product, would you consume it?

6. If an animal’s death was swift and painless, but done primarily for the consumption of its meat, would you eat its meat?

7. If it made absolutely no difference to anything, whether you ate meat, animal products or just plant-based matter, what would you choose?

8. If your health suffered as a result of not eating meat, would you eat it?

I know those are tough questions to answer, but being able to answer those questions is crucial for making a personal view on what your diet should look like.

Is One Healthier Than The Other?

Now the answer to this, I’m afraid, is not a simple yes or no.

We have to look a bit further into the implications of one, how it might affect nutrient intake and your personal requirements, but firstly: what does healthy actually mean?

So let’s break it down:

Definition of Health – A state of complete Physical, Social and Mental Wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Components of Physical Health – Fitness, ‘Good’ Body Composition, Sufficient Nutrient Intake for Lifestyle, Optimal Sleep, Active Lifestyle

Fitness – Ability to meet the demands of the environment

‘Good’ Body Composition – When speaking about body composition, we’re referring to the % contribution of the contents of your body, specifically looking at fat and muscle. There is no universally accepted guideline, but this link will send you to Tanita’s body fat wall chart, which matches the most commonly used charts in the health & fitness industry – [http://www.tanita.com/data/Charts/bodyfatwallchart-REV3.pdf]

Sufficient Nutrient Intake – Entirely personal to the person and their lifestyle, but there are *rough* guidelines for the *average* adult.

Here’s an abstract from World Health Organisation (WHO)’s page on Health Diet

[you can find the original page here – http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs394/en/]

For adults

A healthy diet contains:

Fruits, vegetables, legumes (e.g. lentils, beans), nuts and whole grains (e.g. unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat, brown rice).

At least 400 g (5 portions) of fruits and vegetables a day (2). Potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots are not classified as fruits or vegetables.

Less than 10% of total energy intake from free sugars (2, 5) which is equivalent to 50 g (or around 12 level teaspoons) for a person of healthy body weight consuming approximately 2000 calories per day, but ideally less than 5% of total energy intake for additional health benefits (5). Most free sugars are added to foods or drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and can also be found in sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

Less than 30% of total energy intake from fats (1, 2, 3). Unsaturated fats (e.g. found in fish, avocado, nuts, sunflower, canola and olive oils) are preferable to saturated fats (e.g. found in fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream, cheese, ghee and lard) (3). Industrial trans fats (found in processed food, fast food, snack food, fried food, frozen pizza, pies, cookies, margarines and spreads) are not part of a healthy diet.

Less than 5 g of salt (equivalent to approximately 1 teaspoon) per day (6) and use iodized salt

Optimal Sleep – Again, we all have our own personal requirements, and the NHS actually make this point themselves:

“Simply put, you need enough to make you refreshed and able to function efficiently the next day”

[abstract from webpage – http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/insomnia/Pages/insomniaoverview.aspx]

Active Lifestyle – I’m sticking to vagueness here because there are many factors that should be considered before hitting specifics, but here is the recommended level of activity for 19-64 year olds, according to the NHS:?

To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do:

at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and

strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

OR

75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and

strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

OR

A mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week. For example, two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, and

strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

For one to be strictly healthier than the other, one would have to be unable to provide all the sufficient nutrient quantities for the individual. That’s not the case – each has the potential to provide you with the necessary intake of all the key nutrients (especially when we consider taking supplements) – so we have to look at it from a perspective of likeliness and ease of good health.

To state the obvious: the more you limit and restrict the available options, the harder it becomes to source the nutrients you are after.

But, also consider that: the less bad options you have, the less likelihood there is that you will consume bad options.

So, to that note, you just have to ask yourself this simple question:

Am I lazy or am I weak-willed?

If I know my readers then I’d say you probably answered that question: Both!

Well, in that case, you difficult people, are you more likely to miss out on nutrients if they’re hard to find, or are you more likely to give into temptations if they’re easy to find?

Answer that and you can make the choice from a health point of view.. but from any other point of view, just did deep into what feels right to you.

Hope my babblings helped you get clearer on the subject

and like I always say

If you want a question answered, best you ask it!

Put it in the comments or just ask me by Email.

It may seem silly to you, but it’s extremly unlikely that you’re the only person thinking it.

Share your questions and I’ll share my knowledge!

If it’s more complex or if you want support and guidance with making the right choices for you, that will stick by you for life, here’s the link to request a nutrition coaching session with myself

Hope to speak to you soon

Until next time!

My 4 Key Summer-Ready Tips

Over winter, most people get into the habit where they just sit at home when it’s cold outside, with a glass of wine and biscuits.. but winter is over now.

It might feel cold outside but spring is actually here.

And that means that Summer is just around the corner!

So its very last time to get started on your Summer body.

It’s usually around this time that people start taking up gym memberships and crazy diets.. but before you go ahead with that, you might want to listen in.

I often get asked for tips on getting a great Summer body and here is what I tell them.

My advice would be, if you would like to have a slim overall body, put these 4 key points into action before summer comes around.

1. The Right Way To ‘Tone’ Your Tummy

When you think of toning your stomach, you probably think of sit ups & crunches because they make your abdominals work and they look like the right thing to do. Yes, sit ups are good for training your abs, but is exercising this muscle even what you want to be doing?

Performing abdominal exercises will train those muscles and, if done correctly, can increase the size of the muscle..

but is small abs the reason why your stomach doesn’t look great?

Let’s be honest, what you really should be doing is losing fat off your stomach and small, isolative, low load sit ups are one of the least calorific exercises you can be doing.

Instead, if you perform other exercises like BURPEES, BEAR CRAWLS, STAR JUMPS, DEADLIFTS, KETTLEBELL SWINGS, PULL UPS and SQUATS, this will make a much bigger difference on the body you rock out with this Summer!

2. Master The Basics

Most people don’t take in enough water daily. By adding more water to your daily life style, you’ll feel more energetic and your body will contain the right amount of water to make sure you don’t get dehydrated. Also, 5 a day is the recommend scientific amount of vegetables or fruit you should eat daily to receive a well-rounded intake of vitamins and minerals for your body to get you through your a day.

It often gets swept to the side because we already know it, but if you can get these right, your results will definitely improve.

3. Optimal Sleep

Importance of good and regular rest/sleep. Not receiving the right amount of sleep will put you at risk of stress which can then affect your entire daily life style. Your body recovers better and faster if you maintain a good sleep regime, which would lead to your goals that you have chose to reach for your self. Without taking into consideration the amount of exercise and stress you have in your routine, an adult should sleep around 8 hours daily to maintain good health. It doesn’t have to be just night sleep, but also napping in the day for 20-40 minutes is a good way to add up your 8 hours.

4. Keep It Personal

We often get drawn to success stories and testimonials because it means that something worked for someone else, forgetting that we are not them and what you do should be specific to your body and your lifestyle.

What works for someone else, may not work for you

There is a lot that goes into treating your body right, like:

– Energy you use

– How many calories you take in

– Exercise you do in day

– Stress

– Moods/mentality

– Immunity system

– Posture

– Metabolism

To make sure you’re getting this all right and you stay on track, have a professional design your plan with you.

Most people say that PT is not for them because they’re not fit enough to get the most out of it, but it is when you’re at your least fit that you need the most help to make sure you’re doing what is right for you and will suit your level of fitness.

Your Personal Trainer is the person that will guide you to achieving your goal and support you on the journey.

By having a Personal Trainer, you will learn more about your goals and weaknesses and discover the best way to involve these in the design of your plan.

At RAW, we also support other important factors like your mental wellbeing and proneness to injuries.

[You can find out more about how we can help you by clicking here]

To help you reach your summer body goal, comment on this post with what your goal is and how you’re going to achieve this and I’ll give you all the advice & tips to ensure you get there and feel great for it!

Thanks for reading and I look forward to watching your progress over the next few months!

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East Rudham
King's Lynn
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