Tips & Tricks

Informed Sport – My Top 3 Go To Supplement Brands

Who Are Informed Sport?

For those of you who take part in regulated sports or serve in the military, you have most likely already heard of Informed Sport. If you have never heard of Informed Sport before, allow me to give you a quick over view of who they are and why you might change the way you look at choosing your supplements.

With so many supplement brands to choose from each selling their own variation of supplements, it can seem very confusing to know which brands to buy from, which products are actually any good and which products are safe to use. In a nutshell, Informed Sport’s aim is to test products for banned substances making it very clear to anyone buying supplements which ones have been approved as safe.

Check out the full list of Informed Sport’s approved brands and their products below:

(It’s worth checking to see if any supplements you are currently taking are on there too!)

Informed Sport Certified List

Informed Choice Certified List

If you’re not one for sifting through lists of products or you’re not too sure about choosing the right supplements, then do not fear! Here are my top 3 Informed Sport approved go to supplement brands:

Grenade

I’m a huge fan of Grenade and their products are definitely some of the most innovative on the market. When it comes to new products and ideas being released, they tend to be up there as being the first brand to try something a little different. For me though, Grenade’s Carb Killa Bars and Carb Killa Shakes are a game changer and is what sets them apart from their competitors. If you’re looking for a great tasting protein bar or shake then these are my go to every time. They can be viewed as being a bit more expensive than other brands but you get for what you pay for and I highly recommend. Check them out below!

Shop GRENADE Carb Killa Bars

Shop GRENADE Carb Killa Shakes

Bulk Powders

It was only recently I came across Bulk Powders Informed Sport approved whey powder and I was impressed. So impressed, it has now become one of my regular purchases. There is also a decent selection of flavours to choose from. The whey powder mixes well in a shake or even added to your oats. The brand also has some well-known athlete’s and celebrities as it’s ambassadors, proving Bulk Powders products are trusted. Check out their powders below!

Shop BULK POWDERS Informed Whey Protein

Shop BULK POWDERS Informed Casein Protein

Optimum Nutrition

To finish off my top 3 go to supplement brands, and probably the one I’ve used the longest, is Optimum Nutrition. They have some of the best tasting whey protein I’ve personally ever tried on the market and, again, they are trusted by some well-known athletes and professionals within the fitness industry. However, for me, Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Pre Workout and Amino Energy are my favourites.

I’ve tried various pre workouts in the past. Some really good ones and some really, REALLY bad ones. (If you know you know!) The same with amino energy powders. However, Optimum Nutrition’s pre workout actually tastes decent and it gives you a good kick. Their amino energy powders also taste great and there’s a variety of flavours to choose from. Check these products out below!

Shop OPTIMUM NUTRITION Gold Standard Pre Workout

Shop OPTIMUM NUTRITION Amino Energy

Choose Wisely

Like I stated at the start of this post, it can seem very confusing to know which brands to buy from and which products are safe to use. Hopefully by using Informed Sport as a guideline, choosing a safe and trusted supplement brand or product is a lot easier. I’ve listed my top 3 go to brands as well as a range of products that are my favourite, but by all means go and try others.

Before you go, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

What are your favourite supplement brands?

What are your must have supplement products?

Posted by Tom in Tips & Tricks, 13 comments

My Top 5 Great Low Calorie Snacks When Dieting – Say Yes To Junk Food!

Yes…you can still eat junk food without it ruining all of your hard work! That doesn’t mean, however, that we can forget about our healthy eating habits and routines we already have in place. There are some great low calorie snacks out there that will satisfy your need for junk food without destroying your daily calorie intake.

They key is factoring them into your diet by knowing how many calories you can consume daily and how many calories your little ‘treat’ is going to use up. I use the term ‘treat’ light heartedly because personally I believe if you want something that is deemed as a treat, such as chocolate, then just have some in moderation.

For me, having my daily fix of chocolate keeps me sane as it’s very easy to restrict too much when dieting. Having my daily ‘treat’ curbs the cravings and removes the tendency of wanting what you can’t have. We still have to enjoy the foods we eat and life’s too short to not have the things we want! Just factor them in.

It’s very easy to overeat on junk foods and the calories will soon rack up. Therefore, we have to be smart with our choices by opting for lower calorie snacks that still satisfy our cravings. Over time, through my own experiences, I have compiled a list of some great low calorie snacks that will do just that. Junk food is back on…in moderation!

1. Curly Wurly

With both chocolate and caramel being mixed together in one bar, as well as each Curly Wurly being less than 120 calories…what more could you ask for!? No, a single Curly Wurly will not fill you up but it will leave you feeling satisfied when you need that sugar fix.

As each bar is less than 120 calories, you will easily be able to factor one of these into your diets. Just keep an eye on your sugar intake as each Curly Wurly contains 13 grams of the sweet stuff. However, as calories go, this is a great chocolate based option when craving.

Curly Wurly Macros: Kcals-118 Fat-4.6g Carbs-18g Sugar-13g Protein-0.8g

2. Haribo Mini Bags

These mini bags of goodies are another great low calorie option and they are perfect as either a pre workout or post workout snack. The reason I would consume them either before or after a workout is because of their high sugar content. Each mini bag has up to 10 grams of sugar which is a lot for such a small portion!

However, you can use this to your advantage by either consuming them before a workout to help give your body an extra boost of energy, or after a workout to help your body re supply its worked muscles. As each mini bag is also so low in calories, you would easily be able to fit these around both your eating and workout routines.

Let’s check out four of the most popular varieties of Haribo mini bags that you can buy:

Starmix Mini Bag Macros: Kcals-50 Fat-0g Carbs-12.6g Sugar-10.1g Protein-1g
Mini Bag Macros: Kcals-55 Fat-0.1g Carbs-12.8g Sugar-8.8g Protein-1g
Tangfastic Mini Bag Macros: Kcals-55, Fat-0g Carbs-12.8g Sugar-8g Protein-1g 
Cola Bottles Mini Bag Macros: Kcals-56 Fat-0g Carbs-12.6g Sugar-9.4g Protein-1.1g

3. Funsize Chocolate Bars

Everyone has their favourite chocolate bar that they can’t resist! Well how about choosing to go for a funsized version of it and you may just be able to have one as part of your diet. Now, I’ve always argued that there’s nothing funsized about a funsized chocolate bar…I mean what’s fun about a smaller bar? However, with fewer calories and the same level of satisfaction I may have to agree to disagree. Below are some of the most popular chocolate bars you can buy:

Funsize Twix Macros: Kcals-98 Fat-4.8g Carbs-12.8g Sugar-9.6g Protein-1g
Funsize Snickers Macros: Kcals-88 Fat-4.4g Carbs-10.2g Sugar-8.9g Protein-1.6g
Funsize Mars Bar Macros: Kcals-84 Fat-3.1g Carbs-12.9g Sugar-10.5g Protein-0.7g
Funsize Milkway Macros: Kcals-69 Fat-2.4g Carbs-11.2g Sugar-10g Protein-0.6g
Funsize Bounty Macros: Kcals-134 Fat-7g Carbs-16.5g Sugar-13.5g Protein-1.2g

4. Baked/Popped Crisps

When you just want something to crunch on, crisps seem to be a popular go to for most people. However, pick up any bag of your favourite brand of crisps and you’ll see they are usually high in both calories and fat. Not good for the waistline! Try opting for their baked or popped alternatives if you can. Not only are they lower in calories but lower in fat too…double win. Here are some of the varieties available:

Walkers Baked Crisps Macros: Kcals-109 Fat-3.4g Carbs-17.3g Sugar-1.5g Protein-1.7g
Walkers Sunbites Macros: Kcals-123 Fat-6.1g Carbs-14.7g Sugar-2.7g Protein-1.6g
Popchips Macros: Kcals-94 Fat-3.3g Carbs-14g Sugar-0.5g Protein-1.3g
Kallo Pop Crisps Macros: Kcals-86 Fat-2.2g Carbs-13.9g Sugar-0.6g Protein-1.6g
(Macros may vary within each brand as there are a variety of flavours to choose from)

5. Frozen Yoghurt

Frozen yoghurt is the perfect alternative to all of you ice cream lovers out there! I’m a fan of ice cream myself so I know your pain if you struggle with cravings or eating it in moderation. The problem is, ice cream is very high in calories, crammed full of sugar and is very easy to eat without realising you’ve just finished a whole tub to yourself!

Switching to frozen yoghurt will massively reduce your calorie intake but at the same time satisfy those cravings. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. However, keep an eye on your sugar intake as the yoghurt alternatives aren’t always lower in sugar. Here are a few products you can check out but most supermarkets will do their own branded frozen yoghurts too:

YooMoo Macros Per 100ml: Kcals-77 Fat-0.8g Carbs-14.5g Sugar-11.5g Protein-1.6g
Ben & Jerry’s Froyo Macros Per 105g: Kcals-180 Fat-2.5g Carbs-35g Sugar-27g Protein-5g
(Macros may vary within each brand as there are a variety of flavours to choose from)

Conclusion

I just want to make it clear that I am in no way stating that eating a diet of junk food is the right thing to do. However, as long as you are aware of your food intake and you have your ‘treat’ in moderation, you can factor them into your eating routine. This way, we can still enjoy the foods we want without restricting everything!

I hope you found this helpful and if you have any snacks of your own that you have come across or think should be on the list then share the wealth and let me know!

 

 

 

 

Posted by Tom in Tips & Tricks, 2 comments

Make Life Easier With My Go To Diet Hacks!

Dieting can be a hard slog sometimes. One day it can feel like no matter how much you eat you’re forever fighting off hunger cravings, sugar cravings, pretty much any random craving your body decides to throw at you! The next, you can eat an apple all day and not feel hungry. Ok…so that last example was a little extreme but you get the idea.

I want to help make life easier for you by giving you some of my go to diet hacks that I still use today. Trust me, they are a life saver when you hit one of those days of struggle. If I knew when I first started to change my diet what I know now, I would have definitely saved myself from giving in to temptation which may have lead to a few less weekends of binge eating!

Remember, being on a diet doesn’t mean you’re only goal is weight loss. A ‘diet’ is just a term used for the food that we eat regularly. Therefore, you can use these diet hacks whether you’re looking to lose weight, maintain weight or just simply make a few changes to improve your diet.

These are the sort of tips I wish people would have told me, so I want to save you the hassle of discovering them for yourself and share them with you. I guarantee, even if you implement just one of these diet hacks into your own diets, they will help you in the long term and lay a foundation for better eating habits.

Drink Fizzy Water

Keeping hydrated is one of the most important factors in a diet, with some arguing being hydrated is more important than the foods you eat. The average recommendation is to drink 2 litres a day as a minimum, but I would recommend 3-4 litres a day if you are regularly exercising. If you fail to drink enough throughout the day you will become dehydrated. Dehydration is often mistaken for hunger leading to the consumption of unnecessary calories.

If you struggle to drink water or get at least 2 litres a day in fluids on board, then flavoured fizzy water may be your solution. Just ensure you opt for the sugar free varieties as they are also virtually calorie free. Obviously, natural H2O is the better choice but fizzy water will help you to get used to drinking more. So why go for fizzy?

The Hack – You can pick up fizzy water in a range of flavours and it still has a sweet taste without all the added sugar. This is a great replacement for sugar loaded sodas or juices you may be consuming. On top of that, fizzy water will give you the feeling of being full as the fizz will slightly bloat you. This will reduce the chance of you wanting to snack, especially between meals or on an evening when that sneaky craving monster comes calling!

Sugar Free Jelly

Sugar free jelly is an absolute must when it comes to satisfying those dreaded sugar cravings. It has saved me from so many late night cravings that could have easily become late night binge eating sessions. It’s also a great dessert substitution that will help you from piling into that chocolate cake with all those extra calories.

The Hack – Sugar free jelly is the perfect guilt free dessert replacement when cravings kick in as it has a really low calorie count, it’s sugar free and most importantly you still get dessert!

Eat Little And Often

I’m sure most of us have all been brought up on the norm of eating 3 meals a day consisting of breakfast, lunch and dinner. This may work for some of you but personally I find it much better to eat 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day. This helps me to control my hunger as it reduces time between meals as well as keeping me fueled both pre and post workout.

This one will require a bit of planning on your part with meal timings and will vary for everyone. If eating 3 big meals a day works for you, then stick with it. Some of your timings may be dictated by your work schedule so find what works for you. If you want to try to implement more meals throughout the day then aim for 2-3 hours between meals.

The Hack – Spreading your food intake across 5-6 meals will allow you to be in better control of any hunger pangs. It’s a lot more versatile as you can plan meal timings around your work routine and training sessions, saving you from going hungry for hours in between the usual 3 meals a day.

Track Your Intake

Whatever your nutrition goal is, you need to know what your daily calorie allowance is. Without knowing how many calories you can consume a day you are just guessing, and it’s probably the main reason why you may be struggling with your diet. Everybody is different with many factors determining your individual calorie allowance, so I recommend using a free online calorie calculator. Here’s a free one that I’ve used in the past —-> Grenade Fit Calorie Calculator

Once you have your calorie allowance, you can begin logging your food. I’d recommend getting a free app so you can log on the move as well as pre plan what you’re going to eat. MyFitnessPal is a great app that I still use daily as it’s free, easy to use and has a huge database of foods that you can log.

I know life isn’t about tracking every little gram of food we eat but it’s a great habit to follow when you have a set goal or target. I never really understood calories when I first started trying to make better food choices, which meant I was guessing and why my results hit a plateau fairly quickly. Make sure you don’t fall into the same trap!

The Hack – Logging your food will subconsciously enable you to make better food choices and stick to your diet. You will know exactly what your daily allowance is so you’ll be accountable for your own food choices. You’ll be less likely to eat that chocolate cake knowing that you have to log it and see the devastating effects it will have on all of your hard work!

It’s Time To Hack Your Diet!

I challenge you to pick one of my diet hacks and implement then into your routine to see if they can help you too. If there’s something specific that you are struggling with and you would like me to help, then comment below and I’ll advise as best I can. Also, if you’ve come across any of your own diet hacks then please share your findings!

 

 

 

Posted by Tom in Tips & Tricks, 0 comments

What Are The Best Diets To Lose Weight Fast?

Weight loss. It’s a funny old game. We’re always looking for a quick fix or that next super food that will magically boost fat loss. The problem is, with so many diet plans available to follow how do we know which ones will give us the quickest results? Can weight loss really be achieved quickly and if so what are the best diets to lose weight fast?

You may have heard of or even already tried following some of the most popular diets: Vegetarian, Vegan, Paleo, Intermittent Fasting, Keto, Flexible Dieting/If It Fits Your Macros, Atkins, High Protein, Low Carb, High Fat, Slimming World, Weight Watchers, and the list goes on. So which diets will help us to lose weight the fastest? Let’s look at 4 of the most popular diet types and what they involve so you can decide for yourself:

Vegan

A vegan diet is based on foods that come from or are made from plants such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Restricted from a vegan diet are foods that come from animals such as meat, eggs and dairy products. Some reasons for following a vegan diet may be its potential benefits to the environment, personal ethics or health reasons.

The belief is that following a vegan diet means you will automatically consume fewer calories than your everyday diet. This is due to plant based foods having fewer calories than processed foods and animal products. Plant based foods are also higher in fiber and are nutrient dense meaning they can help to keep you feeling fuller for longer, curbing appetite.

However, the removal of animal products and dairy products from a vegan diet means there are risks to take into consideration such as: protein deficiency, low levels of some vitamins and minerals, over consuming carbohydrates with hidden sugars and possibly harder to put on muscle.

Paleo

A paleo diet, sometimes referred to as the caveman diet, is based on eating foods just like our ancestors. Foods allowed on the paleo diet include meat, fish, eggs, fruits, non-starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds and plant based oils. Foods restricted from the paleo diet include grains, starchy vegetables, processed foods, sugar and most dairy products.

The benefits of following a paleo diet are that you are less likely to consume any nasty chemicals, additives or preservatives due to the restriction of processed foods. You will also have a higher intake of both protein and fats, giving you the feeling of fullness as well as promoting both muscle repair and growth. Weight loss can also be seen due to the limited food choices available within the paleo diet.

Keto

A ketogenic, keto, diet is based on a high fat and low carb intake. Foods allowed on the keto diet include meat, non-starchy vegetables, dairy products, nuts, seeds, berries and oils. Foods restricted on the keto diet include fruit, grains, sugar and starchy vegetables.

The idea behind a keto diet is to get your body to use up its fat stores as energy through a process called ketosis. The body’s normal energy source is taken from glucose which is produced after consuming and digesting carbohydrates. Ketosis is initiated in the body when carbohydrate intake is low, producing ketones. The ketones produced breakdown fats in the liver which are then used as the alternate energy source.

Some benefits of following a keto diet are weight loss due to the fat stores being used as energy, lower blood sugar levels due to the restriction of glucose and the feeling of satiety due to foods higher in fat having more calories per gram than carb heavy foods.

However, due to the keto approach being a little restrictive and different from your day to day diet there are a few points to bear in mind. Due to the low carb intake there may be a risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, headaches and fatigue initially due to water loss as well as initially feeling hungrier than normal.

If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM)

A if it fits your macros, IIFYM, diet is focused more on hitting your daily macro nutrient target than what food you eat to get there. Any food is allowed in this approach with the only restrictions being whatever you choose them to be. As long as you hit your daily macro targets you will also hit your calorie goal.

Weight loss all comes down to calories in vs calories out. In simple terms, if you consume more calories than your body uses you will gain weight and if you consume fewer calories than your body uses you will lose weight. With this in mind, as long as you hit your daily macro and calorie goal you can eat whatever you want. For example, if your body uses 2000 calories a day and you eat 2400 calories worth of broccoli, you will still gain weight. The same as if your body uses 2000 calories a day and you were to eat 1800 calories worth of cookies, in theory you would still lose weight!

The key to a successful IIFYM approach is to ensure you are tracking your intake. It’s very easy to get complacent with thinking you can eat whatever you want and get away with it. If you don’t know how many calories you are consuming, you can bet you are eating more than you think! Therefore, a little planning and discipline is needed.

The Truth Is…

So which diet is the best one to follow for the quickest weight loss results!? Well…the truth is…in my opinion, there’s is no one single diet that will help you to lose weight faster than the rest or magically produce quicker results. Every diet works! Yep, EVERY diet works.

No matter which diet you choose to follow, the key is in calories in vs calories out. No matter how restrictive a diet may be or how clean a diet is, if you are consuming more calories than your body needs you will not lose weight. Find out what your body requires and find an approach to nutrition that works for you.

Personally, I prefer to follow the flexible diet approach. It allows me to continue enjoying the foods I want to eat in moderation as I can factor them into my daily intake. If I want a chocolate bar then I’ll have one without feeling guilty. You’ve got to find something that you will be happy sticking to otherwise you never will.

Finally, and most importantly, sustainable weight loss is not a fast process. Take things one week at a time with 1-3lbs per week being a steady and healthy weight loss target. Whichever diet or approach you choose to follow, start by hitting your daily/weekly calorie goals to get that weight loss ball rolling!

 

 

 

 

Posted by Tom in Tips & Tricks, 8 comments

How & Why Is Warming Up Important Before Exercising? – Follow These 4 Key Steps

The warm up…in my opinion one of the most important elements of training, but how many of us honestly spend time going through an effective warm up routine? And no, doing a bunch of press-ups before jumping straight into a set of heavy bench press doesn’t count! So why is warming up important before exercising?

A good warm up doesn’t have to be boring, it’ll reduce the risk of injury which you’ll benefit in the long run and who knows you may actually be able to lift a little heavier too! It’s something I’ve definitely learnt to incorporate and appreciate more with my own training, ensuring I spend at least 10-15 minutes preparing the body for the workout to come.

Below I’ve highlighted a few points, in my opinion, of how and why we should warm up:

R.A.M.P Up Your Warm Up!

R.A.M.P – Whether you’ve seen this before or it’s completely alien to you, I will break down how following the R.A.M.P warm up protocol will benefit any workout routine. It will ensure that you are ready to attack any workout knowing that the body is fully prepared for the exercises ahead. So let’s break down exactly what R.A.M.P is and how it works:

R – (Raise): It all starts with getting the body warm by raising the body’s core temperature and heart rate. This allows the body to prepare for the workout ahead by also increasing rate of breathing, blood flow to the working muscles as well as allowing the working joints to release synovial fluid (a natural substance released between joints to reduce friction).

A – (Activate): Once the body has begun to warm up, we must next look at activating the muscle groups that are going to be used within the workout. You can make this specific to just the muscles that are going to be used or you can target the main muscle groups within the body.

M – (Mobilize): Just as we do with activate, we must look to warm up and mobilize the key joints that are to be used within the workout. Again, you can make this specific to just the joints that are going to be used or look to target all the main joints within the body.

P – (Potentiate): The final phase of warming up and one that I see a lot of people skip. Potentiate is to perform specific movements related to your workout to potentially improve performance. For example, before performing a 1 rep max deadlift you would look to complete a few sets at a lighter weight whilst gradually increasing the weight, to allow the body to prepare and adapt. Rather this then jumping straight into the 1 rep max lift and running the risk of injury or poor performance.

Now that I’ve briefly explained what R.A.M.P is, lets look further into the benefits of each stage and understand why they are important to an effective warm up.

Turn Up The Heat!

As mentioned above, raising the body’s core temperature and heart rate is vital to an effective warm up as well as various of other benefits:

  • Increase In Body Temperature: Warming up, as the name suggests, will cause your body temperature to increase. This creates a knock on effect of an increased heart rate, increasing both blood flow and oxygen, which help prepare the body for exercise as well as perform more efficiently.
  • Increase In Muscle Temperature: Ensuring the required muscles are ready for exercise is crucial. Not only can a cold muscle affect your range of motion, cold muscles usually means cold joints too, but it can also increase the risk of injury when they are put under strenuous pressure. Imagine a cold elastic band. When you first try to stretch the band it doesn’t stretch very far and it’s also a little tough to pull. If you warm the band up however, you are able to stretch the elastic a lot further as well as it feeling a lot smoother to pull. The same principle applies for your muscles!
  • Increase In Blood Temperature: Just as muscles perform better when warm, blood becomes more efficient. This is due to the oxygen levels increasing within the blood as body temperature increases and more oxygen is taken on board. All of this enables the body to supply its muscles at a much faster rate with larger volumes of oxygenated blood, allowing them to perform at a greater level.

Activate & Mobilize

Activating the correct muscles as well as ensuring the joints needed for your workout have the necessary mobility kind of work hand in hand without really thinking about it. As you look to warm up your targeted muscle groups, you tend to warm up the joints needed at the same time. For example, lets say you were warming up for a leg session, you’d probably look to activate the glutes, hamstrings and quads. Whilst going through exercises to activate those muscles you’d simultaneously be mobilizing the hip and knee joints without any extra work…winner!

So what exactly are the benefits of ensuring the muscles and joints are nice and warm before a workout?

  • Joint Mobility: Improves flexibility which increases a joints range of motion, reduces the risk of injury, reduces the likelihood of joint pains, helps to produce synovial fluid which reduces friction between joints and greater longevity in a joints tendons, ligaments as well as cartilage tissue.
  • Muscle Activation: Increases strength output by firing up the muscles required, improves mind/muscle connection and coordination, improves flexibility, reduces the risk of injury, reduces the likelihood of muscle pains and greater longevity of a muscles connective tissue.

Potentiate

A simple way to ensure you don’t skip this step is to ideally select a main compound movement within your workout (e.g squat, deadlift, bench press or military press), and complete a few warm up sets whilst gradually increasing the weight. During this phase, you are also able to focus on technique, control throughout the movement as well as speed and explosiveness.

Effective potentiating in a warm up will ensure the nervous system is properly prepared as well as ensuring the recruitment of the necessary muscle fibers. However, remember you are just preparing for a lift or set of exercises so don’t over do it and fatigue yourself.

Remember To R.A.M.P

Hopefully I’ve made the importance of warming up a little clearer, and I encourage you all to put together a warm up routine you can complete before your workouts. If you follow the R.A.M.P protocol you can’t go wrong. Finally, a point worth thinking about…if the world’s most successful athletes warm up before every workout they complete, then they must be doing something right. In that case, I’m sure we can all find time to warm up!

 

 

 

 

Posted by Tom in Tips & Tricks, 11 comments

The Walking Dead – Rise Of The Treadmill Zombie!

BEWARE OF THE WALKING DEAD!? Well maybe not quite as thrilling and intense as the TV series, but we do still have a new pandemic of treadmill zombies spreading the nation. (I can only speak for the UK…hopefully this hasn’t spread internationally yet or ever will!) You may have already seen them in your gym, or even worse, you may have already been infected by one of them and become a treadmill zombie yourself!

‘How do I avoid them or know if I already am one of them?’, I hear you ask. For those of you who are regular gym goers you’ll know exactly what I mean when I explain, but for those of you who may not be regular gym goers I’m going to help you to avoid them. However, and most importantly, I’m going to cover 3 reasons on how becoming part of this crazy uprising can actually have a negative effect on your training!

Did Someone Say Zombie!?

So who and what is a treadmill zombie? They’re those cardio gym bunnies you see every day who spend hours a week slaving away on the same treadmill. However, and this is where the nickname comes in, they set their treadmill incline level to the highest possible number but then hold onto the top of the machine because they can’t phsically walk at that incline level…obviously makes sense. Not only that, they set their speed level at a pace they can’t handle forcing them to hang on for dear life..simulating how a flailing zombie would walk (sigh).

How has this even become a thing!? When do we ever walk or run up hills whilst hanging onto something!? If you need to hold on whilst on an incline, then either the speed or the incline level need to be reduced. Find a setting that you can maintain a natural walking or running movement as if you were outdoors, without a machine to hold onto…just like a normal person.

Enough of my ranting! Apart from looking a little silly, there’s actually some negatives to bear in mind if you choose to train this way or are already doing so:

Negative #1 – Lower Calorie Burn

No matter how hard you think you are working, the calorie burn on the treadmill won’t be a true reading if you are holding on. Whichever setting you choose when using a treadmill, the calorie burn total shown is a prediction based on you running or walking on your chosen setting in a natural movement pattern without any assistance.

However, if you decide to select the highest incline setting there is at a fast walking pace whilst holding on…the calorie burn total shown will not be correct. You’re only fooling yourself to believe you are working harder than you think!

Negative #2 – Risk Of Injury

Holding on can make your form unnatural, which could result in muscle strain and discomfort in both your upper and lower body. As soon as you start holding onto the treadmill, especially on a high incline level, your arms will start to take most of the weight off of your body and possibly start to pull on your shoulders. Throw in a fast speed that you can’t maintain without holding on and suddenly your arms are being pulled from your shoulders as your body jolts to try to keep up.

Moving onto the risks in the lower body, you could end up with a muscle strain or cause yourself to pull a muscle. Walking at speed on a high incline is not something we do every day and probably not something any of us would come across on a daily basis. Therefore, the impact on your shins may create some discomfort and cause you to have shin splints. Again. throw in a speed that you can’t maintain without holding on and your legs are working double time to try keep up. Over working a muscle passed the point of discomfort could cause a strain or you to pull a muscle.

Not only is there a risk of injury from trying to emulate one of the walking dead whilst using a treadmill, but it also takes away the need for your body to work on its core stability and co-ordination whilst running or walking.

Negative #3 – Workout Intensity

Your workout will be a lot easier whilst holding on due to your upper body taking away some work from your legs, as previously mentioned in negative #2.

Doing so reduces the intensity and effort required resulting in a lower number of calories being burned during your workout…which also ties in with negative #1.

As you can see, your overall workout intensity will be massively reduced which will ultimately slow down your progress.

Don’t Be A Treadmill Zombie!

I’ve had my rant and I’ve given you 3 negative effects that can happen to your training if you choose to train like a member of the walking dead. So with those points in mind, as well as the fact you can look a little silly, and it’s not how we naturally run or walk…DON’T BE A TREADMILL ZOMBIE!

 

Posted by Tom in Tips & Tricks, 4 comments

Why Food Nutrition Is Important – My 5 Key Principles!

In today’s lifestyle it’s very easy to make fast and convenient unhealthy food choices, ladled with hundreds of calories and packed full of unpronounceable ingredients. (If you can’t say it you probably shouldn’t be eating it!) But do we ever stop to think about what these foods do to our body? In this post I’m going to take you through a few points, from my perspective, on why food nutrition is important to leading a healthier lifestyle as well as my 5 key principles to help you get started.

1. ‘You Can’t Out Train A Bad Diet!’

I often say nutrition is key and I’m a firm believer of it. Whether your goal is to trim down for that summer holiday just around the corner or you’re looking to add a couple of pounds of muscle mass to increase size and strength, the foods you choose to fuel your body with will impact on your results.

Hours of completing weekly workout routines can be hindered by not eating the right foods or even the right amount of food. You may have heard the phrase: ‘you can’t out train a bad diet’ and it’s true! Working out is the easy bit, it takes 1 hour out of your day. It’s the other 23 hours that you have to be aware of…allow me to break it down:

  • You exercise for 1 hour a day, leaving you with 23 hours.
  • Let’s say you get 8 hours of sleep per day, leaving you with 15 hours.
  • The average work shift is around 8/9 hours per day, leaving you with 6 hours.
  • Traveling to work there and back can take 1 hour per day, leaving you with 5 hours
  • That leaves you with 5 hours to eat, watch TV, socialise, whatever you may wish to do in your free time.

The point I’m trying to make is, working out for that 1 hour does not give you the go ahead to eat anything and everything thinking you’ve earned it. I say this because I’ve been that guy who used to think exactly like that, and as a result I saw slow progress. On the flip side, I’ve also been that guy who stuck to a nutrition plan and achieved results I never had before, which showed firsthand why food nutrition is important no matter how hard you workout!

2. Stay Hydrated!

Ensuring you drink plenty of water throughout the day is just as important, if not more important, than eating the correct foods. Taking on board at least 2 litres a day is a minimum with 3-4 litres being my recommendation if you’re regularly taking part in physical activities.

With the body being made up of around 70% water, staying hydrated has many benefits when it comes to keeping you healthy. Some of these benefits can include:

  • Weight Loss – drinking more water can help us eat less as it makes us feel full with thurst often mistaken for hunger.
  • Improves Digestion – taking on more water can help the body to breakdown food as well as flush out any waste products.
  • Provides Energy – when we’re feeling tired and a bit lethargic we could just be dehydrated…take on some water!
  • Improves Mood & Concentration – dehydration can lower our moods, reduce our focus and slow our reaction times.
  • Improves Performance – keeping hydrated before, during and after your workouts can help fight off fatigue and muscle cramps.

Don’t underestimate the power of being hydrated!

3. Avoid Added Sugars!

Now this is one that will probably take a little more effort from yourselves due to the fact that everything seems to have added sugar in it nowadays. However, when buying food products try to make a conscious effort to check the sugar content and opt for products with a lower sugar amount. You’ll be surprised with just how much sugar some foods have in them when you start looking and you’ll also get used to which products have a lower sugar content.

4. Calories In Vs Calories Out!

Losing weight and/or gaining weight simply comes down to – calories in vs calories out. All that means is if you consume more calories than you expend you will gain weight, if you consume the same calories as you expend your weight will stay the same and if you consume fewer calories than you expend you will lose weight.

So how many calories should you be eating? Unfortunately, everybody is different and it will require a little trial and error. What works for me may not necessarily work for you. However, there are many calorie calculators that you can use online that will help to give you a starting point based on a few factors e.g age, height and activity level.

Here’s one that’s free, I’ve used in the past and one that I trust —-> Grenade Fit Calorie Calculator

5. Track Your Food Intake!

Without actually tracking your food intake how can you possibly know if you’re eating enough or eating too much? Not only does logging your food intake allow you to see where you may be going right or wrong with your food choices, but it also makes you accountable. You’re also able to see trends in your eating habits e.g do you skip breakfast? Are there certain times in the day when you eat too much or maybe you’ll find something you could cut back on?

Just like calorie calculators, there are many food trackers available online as well as on your mobile as an app. The app that I use daily and the one you may have heard of before is MyFitnessPal. It’s free to use and easy way to start logging your food intake today.

Set Some Goals & Do It For You!

So there you have it, my 5 key principles to help you understand more about why food nutrition is important and to hopefully give you some guidance and information you may not have known or seen before. Remember:

  1. You can’t out train a bad diet! – it’s not just about putting in the effort during your workouts.
  2. Stay hydrated! – drink 2 litres a day at a minimum, 3-4 litres when working out.
  3. Avoid added sugars! – opt for foods with lower sugar content where possible.
  4. Calories in vs calories out! – use a calorie calculator to give you a starting point.
  5. Track your food intake! – use a food tracker and start being accountable for what you choose to eat.

If you only take 1 thing away from this post then I want you to set yourself some goals. Pick a couple of things you’re going to do differently or maybe it’s something you want to achieve. They could be as simple as proactively trying to drink more water each day to wanting to step on stage at a fitness competition. Whatever your goals do them for you, not for anybody else…now go smash them!

 

 

 

Posted by Tom in Tips & Tricks, 8 comments