Day 90 of 90: What I Learned (nutrition)

Today was a nutritional disaster, on top of the daily food intake I ended up having 3 jam tarts and kebab, chips and some cola not to mention a protein shake and a few tablespoons of peanut butter (I guess when I started eating I couldn’t stop – on top of that I cut my finger making a fruit salad, what a day). Needless to say I think the cutting phase can come to an end and I will share with you what I learned about nutrition over these 90 days and post my final results tomorrow evening:

1. Forget Cheat Days: Although, there maybe times when you slip or times when a social occasion might mean that you will end up having fried food or a few beers do not make a whole day of it…err like I almost did. Hey if you train hard it is no big deal but what you don’t want to do is go nuts.

2. Keep Protein Levels High: Before I began I did not have a clue about macro-nutrients. Keeping your protein levels high is essential to keeping you full, building muscle and losing weight.

3. Protein Shakes Are Great: Your post-workout nutrition is often considered one of the most, if not the most, important meal/shake of the day. This is because your body is at its most absorbent after intense activity (or first thing in the morning). Shakes then allow you to receive an instant hit of protein (please remember that different varieties are needed for different goals so do a little research i.e. for lean muscle and weight loss go for something low in carbs, low in fat and high in protein).

4. Control the Carbs: Starchy carbs like porridge oats, brown rice and plain popcorn are great and are needed to help provide energy and build muscle but I wouldn’t  eat too much of them and would limit there intake after 6pm. White bread, potatoes and white pasta I would try to eliminate altogether.

5. Have Unlimited Salad/Veg: This will provide you with numerous health benefits, will keep you full and provide you with much needed fibre.

6. Lots of Fruit: Now I know fruit is filled with carbs and natural sugar but again it is filled with fibre. If your wanting to lose weight again restrict your fruit after 6pm but before this have a anywhere between 2 to 4 portions a day.

7. Eating Fat Does Not Make You Fat: The fat found in nuts, oily fish, lean meat and avocado is essential for a healthy lifestyle and should be limited but should not be completely removed from any healthy diet.  I try and have by diet mainly consist of healthy fats, protein, green carbs (fruit and veg) and a little starchy carbs (porridge for breakfast and maybe a small portion of brown rice for lunch and/or dinner).

8. The Water of Life: The water of life is water. It is calorie free, helps you avoid over eating (try a glass next time your hungry) and, in my humble opinion, tastes great. I try always to have a glass/bottle with me,_p particularly at night…I will warn you though, that these water-only crash diets are extremely unhealthy and an over-consumption of water is detrimental not only to your bladder but to your health.

9. Crank Up Your Metabolism: Grapefruits, lemons, chilli, celery, green tea, raspberries etc all help boost your metabolism so try and get some metabolism boosting food/drinks in daily.

10. Preparation Helps Maintain Progress: By having a few boiled eggs, cut salad and fresh fruit in the fridge and some cooked meat in the freezer it will help you stay focused. Often nutritional discipline is lost when you are hungry but have nothing prepared.

So that, in no particular order, is some of the most valuable lessons I learned over the 90 days and something I hope to maintain in the future.

Cutting Day 6 – Total Failure

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Day 86 of 90: Slowing Down a Little – Advice whilst Cutting

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I’m one of those, addictive personalities, an all or nothing kind of guy. Having said that my first two days of cutting have been dogged by splitting headaches and therefore, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to ease up a little on the training. I did a bit of research on it and it seems that muscle cannot only be maintained but it can be built during cutting, however, it is essential that I lift heavy, keep the reps down and have a good rest periods between sets. The headaches are probably a result of the lack of glycogen, something that is depleted by training and normally replaced through food – something I’m restricting. If I don’t ease up a little it appears that I will lose muscle. This isn’t at all bad because they are easily rebuilt when the normal food returns because of something called muscle memory but it is something I want to minimise or try to avoid and therefore, I’m going to alter my training a little and see if my body will just adapt to it.

FOOD LOG – CUTTING PHASE (DAY 2) (lose a stone in a week diet link)

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Day 83 of 90: German Volume Training

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When beginning to lift many people can be confused by the amount of reps and sets to be done and whilst it depends on your goals I normally hit 3 sets but I often use Saturday as a bit of an experiment. A day when I can mix it up.

This Saturday I went a lot lighter than I normally would and went for 10 reps and 10 sets of each exercise, something known as German Volume Training. GVT is a way of shocking the muscles and has been known as one of the quickest ways to put on muscle mass and shed body fat do simultaneously. Added to this, is the fact, that GVT saves time moving around the gym or adjusting benches. So why not so some of your own research on it and give it a try?

TODAY’S FOOD LOG – Bulking Phase
Snack: bowl of muesli and a banana
Pre-Workout: pepperoni and chorizo omelette
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: almond and honey porridge
Snack 1: big bowl of plain popcorn
Snack 2: a plum
Lunch: tin of tuna, 2 boiled eggs, rice, pepperoni and salad with homemade bread followed with a fruit salad.

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Dinner: Korean seafood curry with rice

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Desert: 2 slices of homemade bread with peanut butter and honey
Evening Shake: whey
Snack 1: a bowl of muesli
Snack 2: pepperoni and cheese sandwich with homemade bread
Snack 3: tangerine
Treat: 2 little chocolates (I thought I was bulking so why not a big cut after tommorow)

78/79 of 90: Pigs Might Fly – Pork Steaks as a Protein Source

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Per 100g – 190 kcals – 7.8g fat (2.9g saturates) – 30g protein
Per steak – 168 kcals – 6.9g fat (2.5g saturates) – 26.4g protein

High protein diets are needed for muscle building (and can help with weight loss) but the problem is they can become repetitive and therefore, it is advised to have some variation: chicken breast, lean beef, fish and turkey all work well. But today, I fancied a change and decided to have a look at the pork steaks, not only was the nutritional value good but, at £2 per 500g (that’s 0.5 kg if your struggling to do the math 🙂 it is a bargain. A bargain that tastes great and helps keep the protein levels high.

(top 5 non-meat protein sources)

(top 5 meat protein sources)

YESTERDAY’S FOOD LOG
Pre-Workout: yogurt, cinnamon, mixed nuts and honey
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: oat and sultana bagel (no margarine)
Snack: apple and carrot
Lunch: jacket potato, chilli and salad with 2 pieces of chocolate crunch cake and ice cream (I was away and lunch was provided)
Snack: apple
Dinner: Italian meat balls in a tomato, garlic and low-fat mozzarella sauce with salad (recipe)

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Evening Shake: whey

TODAY’S FOOD LOG
Pre-Workout: low fat mozzarella and sun-dried tomato omelette
Post-Workout: all-in-one
Breakfast: porridge with banana and mixed nuts
Lunch: Italian meat balls in a tomato, garlic and low-fat mozzarella sauce with salad
Snack: a tablespoon of peanut butter and tangerine
Dinner: lean chilli and mixed veg
Evening shake: whey
Snack: 3 pork steaks with onion, tomato, garlic and chilli (I intended to keep one for lunch but hey)

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Day 63 of 90 The Turning Fat into Muscle Myth

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If you’ve been training for any time (or even considering it) you will come across the myth that you can turn fat into muscle. Often an individual, TV commercial or a fitness article will tell you that you can go from flab to abs within a certain amount of time. The problem with this, however, is that fat and muscle are two different types of tissue.

Fat is a fatty tissue which is used to store excess energy and muscle is an active tissue which keeps your metabolic rate high and allows your body to burn more calories even when it is at rest. Moreover, the unfortunate truth is that you have to burn fat and build muscle and, worse still, you cannot transform fat into muscle. So how might you go about achieving your goals? Well, to achieve both fat loss and gain muscle is particularly difficult and this is why most people opt to go through bulking and cutting phases in their training. This is because they require two very didn’t approaches to nutrition and training. Personally, trying to balance these two goals, over 60 days, has meant that while I’ve lost body fat I’ve also slightly deceased my muscle mass (link). So here’s how you do each one individually:

Fat loss
1. Cut down on your carbs, particularly starchy carbs (like bread and potatoes).
2. Limit your carbs to the first half of the day. I have porridge in the morning and then try not to have any starchy carbs after 1pm.
3. Slowly lower your calorie intake. Doing it too fast will make you body reluctant to release fat.
4. Do cardio and weights regularly.
5. Eat lots of lean protein.

Build muscle
1. As above.
2. Increase carbs particularly before and after training.
3. Sleep more.
4. Do weights but do not overdo cardio… Remember though, that High Intensity Training has a similar physiological effect as weights.
5. Slowly increase your calorie intake.

(Regardless of the difficulty I am still experimenting on achieving both even though I have been a little unsuccessful so far).

TODAY’S TRAINING (NO FOOD FROM 7PM TILL AFTER WORKOUT)
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: porridge and mixed nuts followed by a boiled egg
Snack: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Lunch: chicken breast, cottage cheese, mushroom, broccoli and tomato
Snack 1: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 2: a banana
Dinner: chicken curry and salad
Smoothie: mango, tangerine and strawberry
Evening shake: whey protein

Note: could only do 45 mins today because of time constraints.

Day 59 of 90: Smoothies – A Simple Way of Supplementing your Diet

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The other day I wrote a blog on the importance of including fruit within your diet and looked at the way in which certain types of fruits can be used to prevent or cure certain types of illness (link). So whether it is weight loss, muscle building, homeopathic health or just plain health and fitness I would encourage you to up your fruit content. One of the ways my wife and I have been doing it lately has been through making smoothies and whilst, we’ve just begun here are what we’ve found.

1. Although, you can use water, milk, yogurt or coconut water as a base, if your blender is good you can use pure fruit (this is one mango and 3 bananas).

2. It is really quick and easy to do. The hardest part was deciding to do it and looking for the blender.

3. You can use frozen fruit (the other day we had pineapple, mango and frozen raspberries), which is fantastic, as some fresh fruit (like raspberries and blueberries) can be expensive.

4. It allows you to up your fruit intake hugely and inadvertently cut out less nutritional food.

5. It tastes great and blending the food makes it easier for for body to digest.

So, if you’ve got a blender dig it out and have a go and if you haven’t then get it on your Christmas list. (link) – 20 smoothie recipes

TODAY’S FOOD LOG (no food from 7pm yesterday till breakfast)
Morning shake + breakfast: all-in-one protein shake and porridge, Greek strawberry yogurt with raspberries and mixed nuts (make it and stick in the fridge the night before – doubles up as a healthy sweet).

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Snack: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Lunch: chicken and vegetable soup
Smoothie: 3 bananas and mango (between 2)
Snack 1: poached egg
Snack 2: tablespoon of peanut butter
Post-Workout: whey protein shake
Dinner: fish in a tomato and coriander sauce with salad
Snack: a nectarine

Day 50 of 90: Curing Insomnia

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Yesterday I spoke about the importance of sleep and how muscle is actually built as much on the pillow as it is on the bench (link). So after a couple of good nights sleep I thought I would give some tips on curing insomnia. Something I suffered with for years. So, in no particular order, this is what I’ve found that helps:

1. Keep the bed for sleeping (well and of course…:-): watching TV, reading, working or playing video games in bed will mean that your subconscious will associate the bedroom with activity and not rest. What you want is to walk in and your mind to automatically begin to wind down because it knows exactly what it’s there for.

2. Have a bath: I shower in the mornings, however, every now and then I will take a nice relaxing bath which helps chill me out gets rid of any muscle soreness, gives me an opportunity to do some reading and gets me ready for bed.

3. Do not have anything to eat or drink up to an hour before: obviously if you eat something, particularly if it’s heavy, sour or spicy, you will struggle to sleep and could end up with indigestion or heart burn. Fluids will also have you going to the toilet…The only exception I would make is a little water bottle on your bedside cabinet. This will help with any late night dehydration but sip it rather than glugging it and make sure you go to the toilet, whether you feel like it or not, immediately before bed. (You’ll be amazed at how your increase in protein and water, whilst training, will have you getting up all night if you let it, so empty the tank when you can).

4. Avoid caffeine for two/three hours before bed: caffeine is a stimulant which, is ok in small doses, but has some negative side effects. One of which is it keeps you awake. I try to limit myself to one cup in the mornings and NEVER have it after mid-day.

5. Try a hot glass of milk or a malt drink: again you don’t want this too close to getting in bed but it is a renowned natural cure for insomnia.

6. Skip the exercise: when I was younger I would aim to do 50 press ups before bed. The problem with this, however, is that it gets the adrenaline pumping which disrupts sleep. You are better getting up 10 minutes earlier to do your press ups (or whatever you do) and bit o doing anything before bed.

7. Turn your phone on silent: ok unless you work for MI5 (or your on call or something) you don’t need your phone on. In fact, using electrical devices, like tablets and smartphones, before bed is known for significantly disrupting sleep.

8. Sort your life out: basically, all the bins should be out, your clothes should be ironed and the lunches made before you get into bed.

9. Have regular bedtimes: these do not have to be rigid but if your body knows you normally go to bed anywhere between 9:30 -10:30pm and you get up at 5am most days, then it will adjust accordingly…On rest/cardio days I do not set an alarm at all but still end up getting up somewhere from 5:30am – 7am.

10. Keep a notepad an pen at hand: it’s amazing that while preparing to sleep you remember the weirdest things and have your most creative ideas (maybe it’s just me then). If you don’t note them down you will forget them or you might end up thinking about them all night.

Added to this I would remove any noise (like ticking clocks), put in black out curtains and incorporate some physical training into my life (particularly if you do a non-physically demanding job). If you do this hopefully you should be able to turn your back on insomnia and get yourself a good night’s sleep. It worked for me – normally.

TODAY’S FOOD LOG (no food from 7pm yesterday till after workout – today is my carb-loading day)

Post-workout: all-in-one shake
Snack: plain popcorn
Breakfast: porridge, goji berries (it’s a carb super food link) and walnuts
Snack 1: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 2: plain popcorn
Lunch: chicken breast with brown rice and veg (kidney beans, broccoli and spinach) with chilli.

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Snack 1: as above minus chicken
Snack 2: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 3: plain popcorn
Dinner: Mexican chicken and vegetable (onion, celery, mushrooms, kidney beans, chilli and carrot) spicy rice
Evening shake: whey
Snack 1: mango and vanilla Greek yogurt
Snack 2: 2 tangerines and a peach
Snack 3: a small bowl of cornflakes

Note: I wouldn’t normally do chest twice in the week but boxercise was cancelled and the bench was set up.