Friday, 28 June 2013

Why Fish Oils are the most important health supplement

The 1980s was known as "Fat Free" era. We were all told that dietary fat was the enemy and to avoid it at all cost. But it was fine to go and eat 70 grams of refined carbohydrates. What we were led to believe was that fat-free products equated to fat-free physiques. Unfortunately, that was far from the truth.

During the 80s a huge rise in obesity levels occured and steadily climbed throughout the decade. This increase in weight was accompanied by an 11% decrease in percentage of calories from fat. It’s obvious that dietary fat is not the evil culprit in the expansion of the population’s waistline. Unfortunately this is a theory that is still around today, as long as it hasn't got fat in it, we are fine. This could not be further from the truth, in fact, fat plays a vital role for normal growth and development. Enter Omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for our health. The body cannot produce these acids so they must be obtained from the diet or in supplement form. So if you are one of the people who do not like eating oily fish, then I would highly recommend that you invest in an omega 3 supplement.

Many health problems come from the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3. In the UK today our average ratio of these two omegas is a huge 25:1 ratio. The short answer is too much omega 6 will increase all inflammatory diseases which include.

  • type 2 diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • obesity
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease
The main culprit of omega 6 is vegetable oil, which most of us cook with. I strongly suggest switching this with natural coconut oil, which is rich in more good fats.

Focus on Omega 3s

The health benefits of omega 3s are endless, which could improve the majority of the populations health. Either try and eat more oily fish or invest in a fish oil supplement.

  • Omega 3 has positive effects on any disease known to man
  • Fish oils turns on the lipolytic gene (genes for burning fat)
  • Fish oils turn off the lipogenic genes (fat storage gene turned off)
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Fish oils increase serotonin levels (the happy neurotransmitter)
  • Fish oils are a great stress fighter
  • Increased focus in training
  • Fish oils can lower blood pressure
This list could go on and on. Ensuring that your Omega 3 intake is in check can make a huge difference to your health, your body and your mind.


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Vitamin D

Vitamin D: The most underrated Vitamin on the Planet!

Every year there is a new product that hits the headlines. Recently Vitamin D has become the focal point of numerous studies. The results are extremely encouraging!

Studies show that 61% of the UK population are deficient in Vitamin D. This number can rise to 87% in the winter months, which feels like most of the time in the UK! You may have noticed that our moods are always worse during the winter months and this is directly related to low Vitamin D levels. As we barely see any sunlight during this period, our body is receiving no Vitamin D from the Sun. Investing in a Vitamin D supplement between November and March would be extremely beneficial due to the following:

  • Vitamin D is involved with over 2,000 genes, that's over 10% of the body.
  • Makes the Immune system strong
  • Helps keep hunger and cravings in check
  • Increases Insulin sensitivity and decreases insulin resistance, which means it is great for preventing Diabetes
  • Essential for Lean Body Mass, and avoiding the development of fat in the muscle cells
  • Elevates serotonin levels, which is linked to mood
  • Being used by health professionals to treat depression
  • Essential for strong bones
  • Used to treat osteoporosis
As you can see there are huge health benefits of Vitamin D. But this Vitamin becomes even more important if you are engaged in a regular training pattern, whether this is more cardiovascular based or resistance based. Vitamin D is now being classed as a performance enhancing substance. Even to the degree that Olympic squads that are based in the northern hemisphere make sure their athletes are getting enough Vitamin D from UV rays through having weekly sun bed sessions. Again the benefits of Vitamin D become more profound in trained individuals.

  • Improves muscle function
  • Improves muscle power development
  • Associated with increased levels of testosterone
  • People with low Vitamin D levels had higher levels of subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin) and abdominal fat
  • Increases muscle strength
  • Is not really a Vitamin but a hormone
Vitamin D is now classed as an essential health supplement. Even if you are not involved with regular training it can still have a huge impact on your overall health. Below is a quote by Carol Lynn Wagner who is a leading professor in America and who has conducted several studies on Vitamin D.

 ''Something so simple -- vitamin D supplementation -- could improve the health status of millions and so becomes an elegant solution to many of our health problems today''

Monday, 10 June 2013

Ask the trainer

This month we are asking each trainer for their thoughts on the most common questions that pop up in the fitness industry, as well as their training and nutrition philisophies. This should give you some great tips to take forward, whatever your training goal!

Favourite Muscle building tip?

Paddy: Form comes first. If you want to build muscle then the muscles must be working correctly either in isolation or as a unit. All too often we see people using weight for the sake of it, compromising their form in the process.
Dan: Perfect form is key when training for hypertrophy.
Joe: Use Compound exercises, eg Squats and Deadlifts. Focus on form, its not how much you lift, but how you lift it.
Oli: You must get stronger (with good form). If you do barbell squats with 50kgs for ten reps, your legs will be more muscular by the time you are squating with 100kgs for ten.

Favourite Fat-loss tip?

Paddy: Stop dieting. It’s a sad fact of modern life that we now term the way we should eat all the time as a diet rather than the norm.
Dan: If your blood sugar level goes significantly up, or down, you’ve failed. Plan specific snacks/meals through-out the day and minimise changes.
Joe: Use carbohydrates at the right times. Use HIIT training 4x a week. Plus use Drop Sets, Supersets and Giant Sets
Oli: Stabilise your blood sugar levels and you are on to a winner. One of the best ways to do this is by incorporating protein and good fats into your diet.

What is your favourite weight training exercise?

Paddy: I like deadlifts and squats as they tend to be the things I excel at. However in my experience it is best to work on the exercises you find difficult or normally avoid (usually the same things) as the chances are they are the ones that will benefit you most. Turn your weaknesses into strengths at every opportunity.
Dan: I wouldn’t say I have a favourite but, recently I’ve enjoyed the Dumbbell Pull-Overs in my strength routine.
Joe: All of them
Oli: Farmers walks or deadlifts. Great for posture and back strength. Forget the situps and try these for a strong core!

Favourite form of cardio?

Paddy: Running. Long distances I tend to find monotonous so I tend to do 2-5km at as fast a pace as I can maintain for that duration. I’d rather get to 3km and have to stop knowing I’d worked hard, than run 5km and finishing feeling like I didn’t leave everything out there.
Dan: If given the option it’s a beach run every time; up over the sand dunes and back along the flat water’s edge.
Joe: High Intensity Interval Training {HIIT}
Oli: Circuit training down the yard (our bootcamp area). A combination of battle ropes, prowler pushing, chain pulling, sprints and more! I also enjoy running.

Favourite sport?

Paddy: Football or most martial arts. I’ve always done one or the other so I consider these my favourites although I’m interested in anything physical and/or competitive.
Dan: I can't think of a sport I don’t enjoy. I’ve recently been spending a lot more time on the climbing wall though which is great for your cardio and muscular endurance.
Joe: Football
Oli: I used to play a lot of football in my glory days! However, I do enjoy rugby since working at the School.

Favourite Pre-workout meal?

Paddy:I don’t have a favourite really but most tend to involve pasta or rice as a base with good helpings of green veg and protein (quite often chicken or beef in my case).
Dan: A large bowl of porridge with a handful of raisins and cinnamon on top. (~90 minutes before my session
Joe: Steak, Vegtables and Avacados
Oli: I like utilising good fats and proteins to stabilise my blood sugar levels throughout my workout, so  I don't have a dip half way through. I like to have oily fish, avacados and almonds about 60-90 minutes before I train. I will also throw in a green apple for some carbs and green tea.

Favourite Post-workout meal?

Paddy: As above, although the carbs tend to be much less prominent, concentrating on getting the protein and vitamins/anti-oxidants into my system as soon as possible.
Dan: Sweet Potato, Potato, Broccoli, Leeks, Courgettes, Onion, tomatoes, White Fish and Garlic. (Straight after my stretch. This is prepared in advance: In a little olive oil roast the roughly chopped Potatoes and Garlic/chilli in a large roasting pan for 10 minutes at 200®, add the roughly chopped vegetables and whitefish and leave for 20 minutes or until cooked. Serve with brown bread)
Joe: 30g of Whey Protein, 100g of Oats, 1 Banana and 2 squares of dark chocolate
Oli: Any form of protein but fish is my preferred choice, a banana or two, plenty of sweet potato mash

Favourite Meal?

Paddy: Italian Beef Casserole. Look it up, I could literally eat a vat of this stuff.
Dan: If outside a specific training phase my ideal three course meal would be; lightly battered calamari, a good quality rare fillet steak and lemon cheesecake.
Joe: A dream curry from The Tumeric Gold 
Oli: I would probably go for a nice barbeque!

Favourite tip for achieving health and fitness GOAL?

Paddy: Have one! Most people fall at the first hurdle by not having a clear image in their head of where they are trying to get to. Set a target, plot your course and don’t stop till you get there.
Dan: TSC offer personal training sessions, 10 for the price of 9.
Joe: Never lose sight of YOUR goal, forget everyone else, focus and you can achieve anything
Oli: Be consistent. Training 3 x a week at 70% is better than training sporadically at 90%. To improve, your body must adapt and it can only do this with consistent sessions and effort.
What is your current training regime?

Paddy: I’m currently working a very rough 2-way split between upper and lower body. I’m in the process on re-habilitating a long standing back problem and it makes sense for me to work everything in unison rather than compartmentalise the body-parts to help keep me balanced and healthy. I make sure I cover all ranges of movement and target some specific areas I need to work on as well as making sure I stretch and recover properly from every session.
Dan: I have just recently finished a periodised six week training plan to improve my muscular strength, whilst working on improving my cardiovascular endurance. After experiencing good results, I took one week off, had a sports massage and have just begun a new regime. The next eight week training periodised plan will target hypertrophy. The cardio will move from 40 minutes continuous endurance work to 32 minutes of long duration intervals.
Joe: 6 X Week, Working on each individual Muscle group. Plus 4 x HIIT sessions
Oli: 4 x a week all based around weight training. I've added in some conditioing drills at the end of these workouts in the form of barbell complexes and sprints

Best motivational quote?

Paddy: Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right.
Dan: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt (I appreciate this is not directly motivational or fitness related but I find it very inspirational for various reasons.)
Joe: Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else! - Vince Lombardi
Oli: Discipline is the difference between what you want now and what you want most.