Day 87/88 of 90: Eat the Rainbow

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During this cutting phase there is plenty of opportunity to eat unlimited amounts of fruit and salad this, though, can become quite repetitive and somewhat soul destroying. For this reason variation not only adds some much needed colour and taste but provides a moral boast not to mention the added nutritional benefit. This why I have added peppers, avocado, celery and coriander to my salads and mango, passion fruit, papaya, kiwi, guava, pineapple, coconut, pomegranate and dates to my fruits.

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CUTTING PHASE – DAY 3/4

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(My wife’s creation – I had this with 2 bananas and a guava for lunch)
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Note: the headaches I had on day 1+2 have begun to disappear; possibly through the increase of my water consumption or the fact that my body is getting used to the caloric deficit.

Day 80 of 90: Superfood – Peanut Butter

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25g – 141 kcal – 3.1g carbs – 6.4g protein – fat 11.5g (2.1 of which are saturated)

Since beginning my training I have come to love peanut butter, not the ones with added sugar or salt but the 100% natural one, which you can get in health shops and weight lifting websites. And here’s why.

1. It’s cheap: Apart from tasting great you can pick this stuff up for about £6-£7 per kg. The best tasting one I’ve found is also the cheapest (£5.49) and can be purchased from Muscle Food (PS: it’s UK only and there is a £30 minimum spend) (link).

2. It’s full of fibre: This means apart from the fact that it is very high in calories, it is great for weight loss.

3. It’s full of protein: Since it has a high protein content it helps aid muscle growth and muscle growth in turn speeds up your metabolic rate.

4. It’s full of fat: Now before you freak out, it’s full of the healthy kind, this will keep you fuller for longer and will aid muscle growth.

5. It’s full of potassium: This helps maintain good blood pressure and kidney health.

So, you see, you might not eat peanut butter by the spoonful like me but it might be something you to consider.

TODAY’S FOOD LOG (carb-loading)
Pre-Workout: grapefruit
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: porridge, banana and mixed nuts
Snack: plum and apple
Lunch: tuna salad with dark rye bread
Snack 1: tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 2: apple
Dinner: pork casserole and couscous

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Snack: tablespoon of peanut butter
Evening shake: whey
Snack: tangerine and banana

Day 76 of 90: A Sweet Tooth is No Excuse

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If your anything like me you might find that it is harder keeping your nutritional discipline than maintaining/increasing your training, particularly that is, when you have a bit of a sweet tooth. It is for this reason that a few good healthy dessert recipes come in handy so today I thought I’d share with you an easy dessert yogurt which is made containing a bunch of nutritional superfoods.

1. Take some low fat natural yogurt (you can use Greek yogurt if you like it thicker and creamy).

2. Add some nuts (anything will do – these are mixed but brazil or walnuts work well too).

3. Add a teaspoon of honey. However, if you don’t like honey try adding banana or dried dates for a little natural sweetness (do not go for dates that have been dried in glucose syrup, yes there cheap but there pure sugar).

4. Add a sprinkle of powdered cinnamon. Now I know some of you will try and skip this but it makes all the difference trust me.

TODAY’S FOOD LOG
Pre-Workout: a banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: porridge and mixed nuts
Snack: 2 carrots and a plum
Lunch: chilli chicken and salad
Snack: tablespoon of peanut butter
Dinner: white lentil, mushroom and goats cheese tart with salad
Dessert: as above
Evening shake: whey
Snack 1: tangerine
Snack 2: a tablespoon of peanut butter

Day 66/67 of 90: Damage Control

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Yesterday I was up in Yorkshire (hence the unusually short Sat session) at a meeting in which lunch and dinner were provided. With all of the driving (6 hours in total) and the fact that lunch and dinner were provided my will-power was at an all time low and therefore my nutrition was not the best. Again, today, even though I had a day of clean food, I came home and had a couple chocolate biscuit bars.

Nonetheless, it is important at times like this to dust yourself off and keep going. Setbacks are inevitable but the key is to keep going in spite of the setbacks. I’m coming towards the end now and am seriously going to up my training from Monday on and therefore, I am not going to let this bug me and neither should you if there are times when you falter – it’s all about finishing well.

YESTERDAY’S FOOD
Late Night Snack: porridge, banana and mixed nuts (couldn’t sleep)
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: half a cup of museli (it’s not as healthy as you think but I didn’t want porridge again).
Snack 1: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 2: a couple of dried apricot
Lunch: beef casserole, boiled potatoes and peas followed by an some crumple and custard
Dinner: a buffet with sandwiches, cakes, chocolate biscuits and more cakes
Snack: a chicken breast and salad Subway sandwich and a tangerine
Note: no evening shake because of the amount of food I consumed

TODAY’S FOOD
Morning shake: all-in-one
Breakfast: porridge, dates and mixed nuts
Snack: a fig
Lunch: soy and vegetable chilli
Snack 1: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 2: half a mango
Dinner: lean beef chilli
Post-Workout: whey shake
Snack: egg and tuna salad followed by 2 chocolate biscuit bars

Day 65 of 90: Compound Interest – More Muscle in Less Time

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Although, I normally double my training time on Saturdays, this Saturday I have to go away and therefore, I can only spend 45-60 mins in the gym. In times like this, and in light of the fact that I’ve worked all of my major muscle groups this week, I will aim at a full body workout, focusing on big weights and big moves. You see, the benefit of doing compound movements is that although the primary focus is on a muscle group other muscles are at play too (unlike isolation movements) and the benefit of lifting big weight means increased strength. So, in no particular order, here are a list of the moves I will be hitting tommorow (since I did back today I will leave dead lifts to the end, that way I can ditch them if I run out of time – if I do hit them I’ll stick to my normal weight) (all this information plus exercise tutorials with pictures comes from jefit.com).

Main Muscle Group : Shoulders [barbell push press]
Detailed Muscle Group : Traps
Other Muscle Groups : Triceps , Upper Legs
Type : Olympic Weight Lifting
Mechanics : Compound
Equipment : Barbell
Difficulty : Intermediate

Main Muscle Group : Chest [chest press]
Detailed Muscle Group : Full
Other Muscle Groups : Triceps , Shoulders
Type : Strength
Mechanics : Compound
Equipment : Barbell , Bench
Difficulty : Beginner

Main Muscle Group : Back [barbell deadlift]
Detailed Muscle Group : Upper Back
Other Muscle Groups : Lower Legs , Upper Legs
Type : Strength
Mechanics : Compound
Equipment : Barbell
Difficulty : Intermediate

Main Muscle Group : Upper Legs [squat]
Other Muscle Groups : Glutes , Lower Legs
Type : Strength
Mechanics : Compound
Equipment : Barbell
Difficulty : Intermediate

Main Muscle Group : Triceps [tricep press]
Detailed Muscle Group : Lower Chest
Other Muscle Groups : Chest
Type : Strength
Mechanics : Compound
Equipment : Barbell , Bench
Difficulty : Beginner

Main Muscle Group : Biceps [barbell concentration curl]
Other Muscle Groups : Forearm
Type : Strength
Mechanics : Isolation
Equipment : Barbell , Bench
Difficulty : Beginner


TODAY’S FOOD LOG (carb-loading day)

Post-Workout: all-in-one
Breakfast: porridge and mixed nuts
Snack 1: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 2: plain popcorn
Lunch: lean beef and vegetable chilli with brown rice
Snack 1: a grapefruit
Snack 2: half a cup of berries
Dinner: as lunch + spinach
Smoothie: nectarine and red berry
Snack: plain popcorn
Evening shake: whey
Snack: some dates and dried apricots

Note: the only reason there are so many carbs is because this is to replenish my body for a week of low carb eating and heavy training. This amount of carbs, without the former, is likely to lead to weight gain.

Day 64 of 90: BIG eats – Getting in Shape Does Not Mean Starving Yourself

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When I first began working out I used to think that to get in shape meant drastically cutting my food intake. This, however, is a myth which is not only damaging to moral but leaves you feeling constantly hungry, slows down your metabolism and reduces your ability to gain or maintain muscle (muscle is an active tissue which burns more calories even when your doing nothing and gives you body tone). So, instead of just recording my food log, I thought I would go through a typical meal giving some of the nutritional benefits for eating what I was eating.

Lunch: beef cubes, broccoli, tomato, mushroom (all of the aforementioned were oven cooked), cottage cheese and chilli.

Lean Beef: Whilst, many people try to avoid red meat, lean red meat can be filled with nutritional goodness (except if you deep-fat-fry it, of course – interestingly enough, unhealthy preparation and the fat content of beef burgers is usually why beef gets such a bad press).

Beef contains vitamin B and zinc which is great for the production of muscle-building testosterone, iron (iron deficiency can cause a lack of energy and anaemia), protein for muscle and regardless of the animal’s diet contains a similar fat profile. This means that although, you might want to go for free-range, organic, grass-feed beef it makes little nutritional difference which is great, particularly when you are unable to find out the source.

Broccoli/Mushroom and Tomato: All of these food are superfoods in their own right. Between them they are high in fibre (which helps with weight loss), packed with protein (for muscle), maintain blood sugar (to stop tiredness), suppress hunger, detoxify the body, aid with bone health, boost the immune system and help your body use oxygen efficiently. Not to mention their so low in calories that you can eat any amount at every meal – if you want to, that is.

Chilli: Honestly, I just add it for flavour but again it relieves stress (weight training can physiologically increase stress levels), boosts you metabolism (meaning you’ll burn food faster) and helps with blood circulation (vital when training) – the vitamin c also, helps boost your immunity to disease that’s why you never find an Indian with a cold (ok that part might not be true).

Cottage cheese (low fat variety): Not only is this stuff versatile (you can use it with sweet or savoury dishes) it is packed with protein (for muscle), calcium (for bones) and phosphorus (for energy).

So, as you can see, good healthy lean foods aid your healthy lifestyle not hinder it.

TODAY’S FOOD LOG
Pre-Workout: a boiled egg
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: porridge and mixed nuts followed by a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack: a grapefruit
Lunch: as above and a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack: a boiled egg
Dinner: chicken and vegetable soup
Smoothie: nectarine abs mixed berries
Snack: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Evening Shake: whey and milk

Note: since I have reduced muscle mass, I have decided to stop intermittent fasting and have now begun having a pre-workout snack.

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.