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 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

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 74 of 90: Protein Porridge – A Great Way to Start the Day

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One of the best ways to start the day is with breakfast. Ok, admittedly, of late I’ve been having two breakfasts (Pre-Workout + Post-Workout), though the question you might have is what should you have for breakfast. Well porridge, particularly the whole grain variety, is considered one of the best breakfasts you can have and is one of my staples. It is high in protein, high in fibre, high in slow-burning carbs (that’s the good carbs), is low in GI and low in calories. Further than this it is delicious and pretty versatile; you can have it in yogurt, with fruit, nuts and even with flavoured protein powder, which is exactly what I did today.

You see, because I wasn’t in the gym today until the late afternoon, Sunday is my rest/cardio day, I normally hit a protein shake to keep my protein levels high but today I thought I’d try it in my porridge (ok I couldn’t be bothered washing my bottle too) and guess what it was delicious – another advantage of flavoured protein. So why not give it a shot, it makes a nice little change and turns breakfast into a wee treat. (nutritional value link)

TODAY’S FOOD LOG
Breakfast: as above
Snack 1: grapefruit
Snack 2: tangerine
Lunch: vegetable soup (given to us by a friend too)

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Desert: Indian sweets

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Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Dinner: chicken biryani, vegetable samosa and an Indian chicken tikka burger with a can of vimto

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Snack: meat samosa

Note: today has been a nutritional disaster partly because it is the Muslim festival of Eid and our neighbours brought round food and because a new Indian sweet shop opened so I thought I’d test them out. Having said that if you train hard this is no big deal, I’ve already upped my training considerably.

Day 58 of 90: Beginning with Breakfast – The Most Important Meal of the Day

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Although, it is popular among some to skip breakfast, it is a meal that should not be missed as it is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast not only helps kick-start the metabolism, reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, it also provides the essential vitamins and nutrients needed for the mind and body to function throughout the day. So, here are some answer to some FAQ’s about breakfast:

1. When should I have breakfast? Ideally, breakfast should be eaten within an hour or two of getting up, there is, however, an exception. I will get up at 5 am and will have a black coffee in the morning (to suppress hunger and give me an energy boost), an all-in-one protein shake after training (7 am – 8.15 am) and breakfast at 9 am (Mon-Fri). This is because training on an empty stomach enables the body to burn fat. If you train with food in your system your body will first burn that before going into the fat reserves.

2. What should I eat? Well, I would recommend that you should try to have all of the macro nutrients (protein, healthy fat and carbohydrates – carbs are essential if breakfast is eaten straight after training as it is needed to build muscle).  So what does that look like:

Lean Protein: eggs, protein shakes, kippers (if you can have them for breakfast – I can’t) and lean meat can be added to omelettes or scrambled eggs.
Healthy fat: one hundred percent natural peanut butter (you can get it from health stores or bodybuilding websites), milk, low fat Greek yogurt (unsweetened), mixed nuts, seeds and fish (again, if you can stomach it).
Slow burn carbs: wholewheat porridge oats (not instant), shredded wheat and bran flakes are good.

3. What Should I Avoid? Avoid breads (particularly croissants, bagels and white bread), cooked breakfasts (a healthy alternative is lean turkey bacon, mushrooms, tomato, a little beans, homemade burger and poached/boiled egg), sugary cereals (they’ll give you an initial sugar rush and later in the day, a come down), breakfast bars, protein bars and muesli (these are often filled with junk).

4. What do you have? Even though I like to keep my diet varied I’m quite habitual when it comes to breakfast (and lunch). After training I have a all- in-one protein shake and then I have porridge – it is a nutritional super-food (usually with fruit, some kind of nut and occasionally mixed seeds and goji berries).

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(Today’s – porridge, raspberry and mixed nuts)

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(Tommorow – porridge, organic Greek strawberry yogurt, with raspberries and mixed nuts. If you do it the day before and put in the fridge it softens the oats – delicious!)

5. How much should I eat? It is often said that you should have breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. This is because you have all day to digest what you had at breakfast and if you do manual work or workout you body should burn everything that you’ve taken in. Personally, though, I wouldn’t go mad at breakfast because it will make you feel lethargic and put a lot of strain on the digestive system. A good breakfast is in but a buffet breakfast is definitely out.

Ok peeps, hope that helps, here’s today’s food log.

TODAY’S FOOD LOG (no food from 7pm till after workout)
Post-workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: as above with a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 1: half a mango
Snack 2: an apple
Snack 3: a pear
Lunch: omelette (mushroom, chilli, onion, garlic, coriander, spinach and sun-dried tomato) with salad

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Snack 1: beef cubes
Snack 2: pineapple, mango and raspberry smoothy

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Evening meal: tofu and tuna (two very lean sources of protein) salad and homemade hummus

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Snack: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Protein shake: whey

Day 55 of 90: Losing Body Fat, Not Body Weight

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Today, I had a meeting with a friend I have not seen in a while.  He has been training and eating healthy for sometime and has lost 3 stone in weight.  Instead of losing weight now he wants to begin to focus on dropping his body fat percentage and here’s why:

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Weight is not a great indication of health or body shape.  You see you can weigh less and look puffy and saggy or you can weigh more and look toned and fit.  Personally I dropped 7.4lbs (from 11.96 stone) and 9.2% body fat (from 24.6% to 15.4%) in 30 days (I will do another assessment on day 60) but my aim has always been body shape and NOT weight (in fact, I don’t mind putting on some weight).  Here’s how I did it:

1. Weight training: I’m not against cardio but weights will help you hugely.  The key, however, is frequency and intensity – train regularly (at least 2 or 3 times a week) and train hard. [PS] Fat loss is particularly more effective if you train hard on an empty stomach…I try to stop eating after 7pm mon-fri.

2. More food: That’s right…lots of protein, lots of fibre and lots of healthy fats (fish, lean meat, eggs and 100% peanut butter (link) – you can get it in health stores or online) but cut down on the carbs (stick with porridge, sweet potato, brown rice etc but I only have them in the first half of the day and on Fridays and avoid white rice, bread and potatoes all together)…Just remembered, if you lose weight through drastic, protein/fat deficient dieting you will lose muscle this means it’s hard for the weight to stay off (muscle keeps your metabolic rate up) and means you’ll look skinny fat (basically flabby) or like a concentration camp victim.

3. Log what you eat: I’m doing it for 90 days after that it should just be a lifestyle

4. Boost your metabolic rate: link

5. Get assessments at the gym or doctors instead of jumping on the scales all the time: this way you can see how much of your body is made up of water, muscle and fat.  Hope that helps guys – here’s a guide which might help with goal setting.

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Todays Food Log (no food from 7pm till post-workout)

Post-workout: all-in-one shake

Breakfast: porridge with mixed nuts and a tablespoon of peanut butter

Snack 1: half a tub of strawberries

Snack 2: peach

Snack 3: a fresh fig

Lunch: chicken salad with chilli pickle followed by melon

Snack 1: 2 kiwis

Snack 2: a tablespoon of peanut butter

Dinner: poached egg and salmon salad

Evening Shake: Whey shake

Day 8 of 90 (Personal Transformation)

The Drugs Don’t Work or Do They?

Ok, I’ve got to be honest with you if you are eating right you shouldn’t need supplements, however, they are useful in supplementing (hence the name) good nutrition and a proper training regime. Here’s what I’m currently using:

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All-In-One Protein Shake: This comes in so many different types and flavours it’s unreal. In a 50g serving this one, Alpha Test, has 40g protein but is low in cals, carbs and fats. It also contains maca, tribulus, creatine and fenugreek (for testosterone production) and has 3 different types of protein which release at different rates. If your looking for mass this isn’t for you but it’s great for lean muscle and I take it after a every training session.

more info link

I also use a whey protein, which is a quick release protein, which is needed to build muscle. Milk can be added to whey so that it can slow down the release of protein so that it can be used as a bedtime shake. I normally use it on rest days or as a meal replacement but it is the Rolls Royce of proteins for many. Personally I don’t use any protein at night because it dehydrates me and make me want to go in the middle if the night which messes with my sleep – some guys drink it and just get straight to bed. Not me!

Multi-vitamins and Minerals: You can get these anywhere and they just make sure your body has all the stuff it needs to function well.

Ginseng: Is used to relieve stress, give energy, boost the immune system and create testosterone and therefore is a useful and very natural supplement for weight training. Again you can pretty much get it from anywhere, this one is from Asda.

more info link

Flaxseed and Goji Berry: My wife got this and I used a tablespoon on my bran flakes today. It is considered a superfood and is a good source of fibre, protein, iron, zinc and omega 3 and again it’s all natural.

for more info link

So that’s the supplements I’m using at present, let’s look at today’s food….

Breakfast: bran flakes, brazil nuts, almonds and flaxseed and goji berries followed by some protein crisps.

Post-workout: all-in-one shake

Snack: nectarine, banana and mixed seeds

Lunch: 2 lean homemade beef burgers, a small portion of brown rice, spinach, salad and chilli sauce.

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burger recipe

Snack 1: some frozen blueberries and cherries – frozen fruit is an easy way of snacking healthy. It keeps forever, is cheap and is delicious.  I had mine with mixed seeds.

Snack 2: an orange and a tablespoon of peanut butter

Dinner: chicken and spinach curry, lime pickle and salad

curry recipe

Shake: whey shake with hazelnut milk (the hazelnut milk is for flavour more than anything but also slows down the release of the whey. I use whey and water post workout, as a top up to a low protein meal or on a low protein day).

*as you can see there was no evening session tonight, I had loads on, plus I could do with the rest. I’ve also quit with the fitness selfies I’ll start to putting them back up in my last 7 days.*