Sunday, 17 June 2012

Better Breakfasts

We all know the saying - "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day". Although this is the case, what we eat for breakfast can determine its effectiveness. Eating the wrong foods can be just as detrimental as skipping it.

When we 'break the fast', we up our energy levels and get the metabolism revved up for the day. If we choose the right foods, we can get our blood sugar levels on a steady track. If kept balanced (not too many spikes or dips), this will lead to a day filled with better food choices, more energy and generally less calories eaten over the course of the day.

The most popular breakfast for the majority of UK familes is cereal. This is quick and easy. Although cereals are often claimed to be healthy, some really aren't. The majority are high in sugar and salt. The box often states that they have added vitamins and minerals. Often because they lack any in the first place. Many cereals are the equivalent to eating a dessert for breakfast due to their sugar content. Based on the study by Which Magazine, the Going against the grain report showed some of the worst offenders:

  • Kellogs Special K - 99% fat free but it has the sugar equivalent to a bowl of Tesco's Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake ice cream.
  • Nestle's Golden Grahams  - This has the same amount of salt as a 50gram packet of salted peanuts
  • Asda's Good For You Fruit Muesli - Contains man-made trans fats (not so good!)


A big problem with a cereal only breakfast is not only the high sugar content, but the lack of protein. A study in the International Journal Of Obesity, split young students whole routinely skipped breakfast into 3 groups:

  1. Group one skipped breakfast as normal
  2. Group two ate a normal protein but high carb/sugar breakfast
  3. Group three ate a high protein breakfast
The interesting outcome of the study was that the group that ate the high carb breakfast ate the same overall daily calories as those who skipped breakfast completely. The affect that sugar had on them during the start of the day was just as bad as eating nothing. On average, the high protein group ate around 150 less calories at lunch than the other two groups and reported better concentration throughout the day, better mood and had less cravings!

What should a good breakfast include?
  • Chose complex carbs. Avoid refined foods i.e pastries and white bread. Avoid simple sugars (cereal!)
  • Add protein. This will stabilise blood sugar levels. Fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, meats, natural yoghurts and cottage cheese are all great sources.
  • Add in foods that are high in vitamins and minerals like fruit and veg
A well balanced breakfast could include scrambled eggs, with smoked salmon on wholemeal toast. Poached eggs with grilled tomoatoes and mushrooms. Oat porridge with blueberries, nuts and seeds. Or oily fish with ryveeta and fruit. Why not go for the evenings left overs? If it includes the right foods then it's a great choice.


Convenience has also been a big reason for the increase in popularity of cereals. I gaurantee if you get up a little earlier and spend the effort making a better breakfast, you will feel less tired during the day than choosing a little extra sleep!


Monday, 11 June 2012


When planned properly super-sets provide a great full body workout whilst at the same time reducing your overall workout time. A super-set achieved by performing two exercises back to back with limited or no rest in between.  Any exercises can be chosen and put in any order but choices should reflect your goals.
Example 1.

Dumbbell Chest Press
Performing upper body V.s lower body super-sets is a great way to test all aspects of your fitness. Depending on amount of sets and repetitions you perform you can expect to see improvements in your muscular strength, muscular endurance and aerobic fitness. By switching between upper and lower body you also allow each set of muscles a rest period, whilst the other set is working, which should allow the intensity of both exercises to be keep high.

Example 2.

Chin Ups
Dumbbell Bicep Curls
Performing super-sets with two exercises which target similar muscle groups can be very demanding. Depending on amount of sets and repetitions you perform you can expect to see improvements in your muscular strength, muscular endurance and aerobic fitness. Specifically you will test your body’s ability to buffer/tolerate and clear lactic acid. This type of training will provide a large amount of overload and can be a great way to introduce some variety into your weight routine when training for hypertrophy (muscular development). You will need to rest after completing both exercises before starting subsequent sets.

Example 2.

Shuttle Runs
Not all supersets need to be performed with resistance/weight based exercises. Performing super-sets with just your body weight and an aerobic exercise like moderate pace shuttle runs can be a great way to develop your local muscular endurance and aerobic fitness. This type of workout can also be taken anywhere providing you’ve got a bit of space to move about. So when the sun finally comes out you can have fast fun flexible workouts wherever you want, on the odd occasions you can’t make it to the gym.

For more help/motivation with working out your super-set workout please speak to or email Daniel Byrne: Tonbridge School Centre Personal Trainer

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Reducing my body-fat with diet alone

In March, some of you may have seen that we were offering free body fat tests. This was an ideal time for me to review the damage i had caused during the winter months and give myself a few months to see if I could get this down. I got my body fat re-tested today and it had dropped 4% which I was very pleased with. I have managed to drop this purely through my eating habits. I have only done weight training (which I did previously anyway) and no additional cardiovascular work. Since giving up football, I don't do dedicated cardio sessions, although some of my weight training workouts are similar to circuit training which will get the heart rate up. So to drop a significant amount of bodyfat through diet alone, is encouraging for people who find exercise sessions difficult to fit in.

Here is what I did:

  • Reduced my carbs to pre and post workouts only. This gave me some energy for the session. This allowed me to stay reasonably strong in the gym. Having carbs post workout is great because your body will use them to repair and recooperate. So the only carbs I had were used immediately for, or just after the workout.
  • Only ate brown rice and sweet potatos as my carb sources. Both are less starchy and more fibrous.
  • Increased lean protein. I switched from fattier cuts of meat i.e. beef, to chicken and fish. Another way of eating lean protein was removing the egg yolks for scrambled eggs. I would have have 1-2 whole eggs and 3 extra whites.
  • I cut out bread and pasta. This includes gluten which can bloat you.
  • I cut out nearly all dairy. I had milk with porridge, but tried to switch this to goats milk as my body doesn't agree with cows milk. I had natural yoghurt with some meals. This helped me digest certain meals slightly better.
  • I upped my green veg intake. I ate raw spinach, mangetout, broccoli and green beans on a daily basis.
  • I cut down on sugary fruits i.e. bananas and dried fruits. I ate fruits with a lower Glycaemic Index (Apples, pears, berries).
  • Drank plenty of Water
  • No alcohol
  • No processed foods i.e. sweets, chocolate, cakes
  • Had either one 'off day' or 'off meal' a week. This would mean I could eat what I want. Generally something carby. Something that would mean I could refuel for my workouts. This would be at the weekend, so it means you can live a little and it means you don't go completely insane from being strict during the week! Psychologically, this allowed me to adhere to the programme much better. In a book I have just read called '4-hour body', the author wrote down any cravings he had during the week and promised himself he would eat them all during his off day! When that day came he didn't get round to eating them all but kept him on course in the week!
  • I ate every 2-3 hours. These were small mini-meals to boost my metebolism and to stop me from feeling too hungry.
Here is a typical day:

7am = 2 whole egg and 3 egg white omellete with salad
10am = chicken breast and apple
12pm = Fish and vegetables
2.30pm = Fish and Berries
5pm = lean meat, veggies, small carbs (sweet potato)
7.30pm = Lean protein, small carbs (sweet potato)
9pm = protein shake and fruit

I tried to follow this as well as I could but sometimes things didn't go to plan. The key is consistency. There is a lot of protein in the above. This agrees with me. For some of you this may not work. For many others I have worked with, this has helped them drop fat dramatically.

For more tips on fatloss, email me on orm@tonbridge