The training supplements company Legion Athletics was founded by fitness author and personal trainer Mike Matthews, who also founded the fitness website MuscleForLife.com.
Mike Matthew's books include Bigger Leaner Stronger, Thinner Leaner Stronger, Muscle Myths, Cardio Sucks, The Shredded Chef, Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger, and Eat Green Grow Lean.
Legion Athletics has the following core values: scientifically proven ingredients, clinically effective dosages, 100% naturally sweetened with stevia and no articifical sweetners, and free from artificial food dyes.
London personal trainer Isrolia is one of the brave contestants in this gruelling challenge of fitness and mental toughness. In the first episode of series 2, the aspiring special forces guys & girls are at the mercy of a South African special forces Colonel, in the heat of the South African wilderness. In the second episode, the remaining contestants flew to Poland for a taste of Polish special forces training, which combined mental challenges with physical exertion, a tough combination when you're sleep-deprived (which the instructor ensured the contestants were).
If you're a marathon junkie, this book is for you. The subheading to this book is 26.2 Tales of a Runner's Obsession. BBC sports reporter Vassos Alexander shares his passion for marathons, ultra-marathons and triathlons in this book which is packed with useful tips for aspiring distance runners.
Reviewers have praised this book for its blend of humour, personal journey insights, and analyses of top international runners both past and present. A must read for marathon runners.
Polar is a strong track record in the fitness world, and its Polar Loop 2 is one of its best gadgets yet.
Essentially it's an activity and sleep tracker watch in the shape of a wristband, which is waterproof so you can wear it in the swimming pool to track your laps. The red LED display is handy in the dark, and gives this tracker a space-age look.
Polar is up against an array of competitors, from the Apple watch, to Android Wear, to Jawbone, to FitBit. Polar Loop 2 is lighter and sleeker than its competitors, with a touch screen rather than sticking-out butttons. One of the best features is a lazy-alert: it vibrates if you've been inactive for 55 minutes, a great reminder for desk-bound workers to get up and move around at least once an hour.
However one major downside is the lack of a heart rate monitor, which is ironic given that this is an essential piece of information you need when out running. Doubly ironic given that Polar are known as the heart rate monitor company.
I always cringe when I see "Diet" in the title of a book about nutrition plans. I cringe even more when it says "8 weeks". But this is the society we live in, where people feel the need for short term solutions and quick fixes, rather than a permanent change in lifestyle.
The strapline to the book is "Lose weight fast and reprogramme your body". It's designed for people with high blood-sugar levels, whether pre-diabetic or with type 2 diabetes.
Dr Mosely claims correctly that with healthy eating you can reverse type 2 diabetes, but states incorrectly that it's a myth that steady weight-loss is always better than rapid weight-loss. I think steady weight-loss is far more sustainable, far safer, and avoids all the pitfalls which Dr Mosley's diet suffers.
One of the worst aspects of Michael Mosley's diet is the restrictive daily calorie intake he demands: just 800 calories a day. Starvation diets are not healthy. Sure, you might lose weight rapidly, but a lot of this weight is glycogen stores (the body and brain's preferred source of energy), water, and muscle, as your body starts to cannibalize your muscles for fuel. For the obese, rapid weight loss leaves you with loose folds of skin, as your skin does not have time to adapt to the weight loss. Far better to lose weight slowly and keep it off.
There are aspects of Michael Mosley's diet I agree with: cut out all refined carbs (junk food, white rice, white pasta, bread, sugar drinks etc) and instead consume lots of vegetables (particularly green leafy veg), protein with every meal, good fats in moderation (from olive oil, oily fish, avocados, nuts & seeds), limit slow-release unrefined carbs to small amounts, and go easy on sugary fruit. He also advocates drinking plenty of water. However, the 800 calorie restriction is ridiculous, as it provides far too few calories for you to function optimally each day, and far too few calories for you to exercise effectively and build muscle, a crucial aspect of any body transformation plan.
However, there have been some rave reviews of this book. For example, Dr Tim Spector, professor of genetics at King's College London says the book is "potentially life-changing for those with raised blood-sugar or type 2 diabetes."
Journalist Richard Doughty writing in The Guardian (Saturday 23 April 2016, Diabetes: Can You Really Eat To Beat It?) is also a big fan of the book. Based on a research trial by Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University, the 800 calories a day for 8 weeks diet claims to reverse type diabetes by burning off fat in the pancreas. Prof Roy Taylor explains: "the body does not like any fat lying around in the pancreas, so it consumes that first." It's the first time I've heard this theory, and also the first time I've heard the claim (by Prof Taylor) that type 2 diabetes is caused by fat clogging the pancreas, preventing adequate insulin production. I'm dubious, given that the bulk of evidence shows that type 2 diabetes is insulin-resistant diabetes, where the cells of the body are resistant to insulin, and are therefore less effective at taking in blood-sugar.
I think the biggest problem is this: people get fixated on losing weight without thinking about what weight they should be losing. The aim surely is to lose excess body-fat, not muscle weight or water weight or glycogen-stores weight. And it's definitely not heathy to go on starvation diets. Much better to lose excess fat slowly and keep it off.
The Celtic Sea Spice Company brings you Mara Seaweed, a range of seaweeds harvested from around the Scottish coastline. Founded by Fiona Houston and Xa Milne, the Edinburgh-based company has grown from strength to strength with its award-winning seaweed products. The guys at Mara kindly sent me three pouches to review:
Kombu: Rich in amino acids and a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans, kombu is a versatile ingredient for a range of dishes. Check out the kombu-infused flatbreads featured in Mara's website.
Dulse: I'm a big fan of salmon, so I sprinkled some dulse on top of my salmon fillets, and it added a kick of salty richness to the dish.
Shony: I'm already half way through my pouch of shony, as I've been sprinkling it onto numerous salads. If you like the taste of sushi, you'll love shony. The Mara website gives you more recipe ideas for this great seaweed ranging from smoothies to cheesecake.
Seaweed is a superfood of the sea with over 50 minerals and vitamins, notably iodine which is vital for thyroid health (regulation of metabolism) and heart health.
Where can you buy Mara seaweed in London? The attractive metal shakers and soft pouches are available in many stores includinig Brixton Wholefoods, Earth Natural Foods, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Wholefoods Market, and Planet Organic.
Check out Mara Seaweed's awesome website www.maraseaweed.com
I first heard about Skyr in a TV documentary last year about the world's healthiest diet, and Iceland came out as world number 1 for its emphasis on wholesome foods low in sugar and high in nutrients. Part of the Icelandic diet is a very popular local yoghurt called Skyr, made from Icelandic skimmed milk, processed in a traditional way. While kids in the UK snack on sugary drinks and sugary junk food, kids and teens in Iceland snack on Skyr, a healthy treat. Surprisingly for a product made from skimmed milk, Skyr is thick and creamy, but with practically zero fat. This is perfect for people trying to lose weight but still want a creamy tasty snack.
Made by Icelandic Dairies in Iceland, Skyr is now available in the UK, but only in large Waitrose stores. I bought mine at the Holloway Road branch in north London N7. It would be great if it were rolled out across all the smaller Waitrose stores too.
Skyr is high in protein (perfect for repair and growth of muscles) and high in calcium (promotes strong and healthy bones for people of all ages, and ideal for older people to help prevent osteoporosis). The sugar content varies depending on the flavour: the plain version has 3.7g sugar per 100g, the vanilla flavour is even lower in sugar at 3.3g per 100g, and the blueberry flavour is higher in sugar at 11.3g per 100g. As a personal trainer I would advise my London clients to choose the plain or vanilla, to keep their sugar intake as low as possible.
To find a branch of Waitrose near you which sells Skyr, go to www.skyriceland.co.uk/where-to-buy
As a personal trainer I like to keep up to date with the latest research in nutrition, so I can pass on my knowledge to my London clients.
I'm a milk-lover, but some of my personal training clients are lactose intolerant, usually due to a deficiency in the enzyme lactase, which helps break down lactose during digestion. However, recent studies indicate that many people who suffer the classic symptoms of lactose intolerance (stomach/intestinal cramps and pain, bloating, inflammation, irregular stools) are actually not lactose intolerant, but intolerant to A1 protein.
When I came across a2 milk I was intrigued. Most supermarket milk contains both A1 and A2 protein, but the a2 Milk Company produces (or rather its cows produce) natural milk which contains A2 protein, and no A1 protein. The brains behind this milk is the late Australian Dr Corran McLachlan, who founded the a2 Milk Company back in 2000. By DNA testing cows to see which produce milk containing the potentially inflammatory A1 protein, and those which produce only A2, he was able to build up a cowherd of pure A2 producers.
The European Food Safety Authority confirmed in 2009 that A1 and A2 proteins digest in different ways. Then in 2014 the first human trial (Ho et al) of A1 protein vs a2 milk found that abdominal cramps and other inflammatory symptoms were higher in the A1 group. Most recently in 2016 a trial (Sun et al)found that milk intolerant individuals experienced no adverse symptoms with a2 milk, even those diagnosed lactose deficient.
The interesting thing about a2 milk is that it is what cows naturally produced way back before herds were domesticated and kept for their milk on farms, and it was only when dairy farming became established that A1 protein crept into the milk.
When I tried a2 milk (which I bought in the large Sainsbury's supermarket in Ilford) I was expecting something that tasted radically different, but I could hardly taste any difference from the organic milk I usually drink. For me, it was the same pleasant taste of organic milk.
For more information see www.a2milk.co.uk
Brad is the true expert on muscle-building, having won numerous bodybuilding competitions, featured in most of the leading fitness magazines, and won the prestigous NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year award in 2011.
This book is a 6 month body-transformation blueprint. It contains over 100 muscle-building exercises and some cardio exercises, and covers these key topics:
Planned periodization (whole body workouts, split workouts, variables like rest between sets, rep tempo, intensity of sets and supersets)
The role of cardiovascular exercise
The science of muscle-growth
Reviews on Amazon give this book top marks for clarity and valuable content. It's a great addition to the library of any personal trainer in London who wants to deepen their knowledge.
Former presenter of Big Brother, and now a healthy eating author, Davina McCall has produced some fantastic and common-sense books on losing weight healthily through good nutrition.
It's a relief to see a healthy eating book which understands that not all carbs are bad. As a personal trainer with clients in London who were convinced (before they met me) that all carbs were bad, I applaud Davina for her no-nonsense approach to this topic.
The strapline to her book is "Eat carbs and still lose weight with my amazing 5 week smart carb plan." She explains that our bodies need carbohyrates, just not the refined processd junk carbs. She explains what unrefined complex carbs are, primarily that they're packed full with essential micronutrients and fibre. Examples include: quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato, oats, pulses, beans. The carbs to avoid are white bread ( I would go further and say most breads, even if brown, with the exception of things like millet bread, rye bread, and other unrefined German-style breads), pastry, anything made with white flour, anything with lots of sucrose added, white pasta, white pizza bases, the list is long.
Our brains need carbs, they are the brain's favourite energy source. Why deprive the brain of its favourite fuel? You'll only end up irritable, low in mental energy, make poor decisions, exercise poor judgment, and for what?
Davina's recipes are rich in protein, high in vegetable content, and full of beans, pulses, and quinoa. The recipes are easy to follow, quick to prepare, and the ingredients are readily available at any large supermarket. No need to pay over the odds for some commercial diet branded food, just buy basic healthy wholesome food.
This is not her first book on healthy eating. Davina also wrote Davina's 5 Weeks to Sugar-Free, where she explains that "sugar-free doesn't mean pleasure-free", and shows you how to cut out this toxic substance from your diet.
Jake Hargis has achieved the feat of providing a lot of useful information in relatively few pages (around 45 pages plus recipe download) He explains about gluten, coeliac disease (coeliac is derived form the Greek word for abdominal), and how to go gluten-free.
All foods containing wheat are off the menu for someone with gluten intolerance (coeliac disease). The cause of this disease is gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat. In around 1% of the population (proportions vary from country to country), gluten triggers coeliac, an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation and damage to the small intestine.
The small intestine is where most nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream, and coeliac disease damages the intestinal villi which are crucial for absorbtion, leading to impaired absorbtion of fats, carbohydrates, and some minerals and vitamins (particularly the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K). Malabsorbtion of calcium and vitamin D can cause osteoporosis (brittle bone disease) in later life.
Symptoms include discomfort of the digestive system, cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation, fatigue, and weight-loss.
Diagnosis is achieved by a blood test, confirmed by a biopsy of your small intestine which is then analysed. The only treatment is to exclude all gluten from your diet. The prognosis is good: your body starts to recover within weeks of going gluten-free, the physical damage to the small intestine heals up, and you start absorbing nutrients normally. However, you have to stay strictly gluten-free to avoid the return of the disease.
Jake Hargis recommends a range of foods which can replace wheat: such as millet, rice, wild rice, quinoa. Oats are acceptable if they're from a trusted source of purity, free from cross-contamination with wheat products. It is safer to cook your own food from scratch than buy ready-meals which may have traces of wheat. Increasingly there are a range of gluten-free products in supermarkets and health-food stores.
As a personal trainer I have trained several clients in London who have had coeliac disease, and it forces them to radically change their diet for the better, with no more wheat-based junk carbs, no more bread, no more wheat-based pasta, and an increase in green vegetable intake and protein. For those who love bread there are safe alternatives to wheat-based bread. There is a good Kindle book called Gluten Free Bread Recipes by Marissa Pavone worth buying.
One of my favourite tennis players, Novak Djokovic, was diagnosed with gluten intolerance in 2010, and after he went onto a gluten-free diet, his fortunes were transformed.Ironically, his father owned a pizza restaurant, and pizza was one of Novak's favourite foods, so he had to make a big sacrifice: no more pizza, ever. In 2011 he had his best ever year up to that point, and he has never looked back since. Having suffered severe attacks of fatigue in big matches pre-diagnosis, which reached a peak in 2010, after going gluten-free he became one of the fittest and most physically resilient players on the ATP Tour. His book, Serve to Win, details his gluten-free diet. He says he feels more fresh and alert than ever before, and has the energy to compete in the longest and toughest matches against the world's top players.
This book is in the form of a PDF e-book, just Google the title and author and you'll find the link.
I came across this book on recommendation of Eric Cressey, a highly-rated sports coach and personal trainer in the States. The sub-heading to this book is "the ultimate cookbook and complete nutrition guide for bodybuilding and fitness". There are over 200 anabolic (ie muscle-building) recipes, together with a guide on how to save money when shopping for the ingredients. The recipes are all easy to prepare (takes on average 10-15 minutes preperation time, not including cooking time), taste great, and promote muscle growth. Following these recpies will help you reduce excess body-fat, particularly visceral fat, the toxic fat which accumulates around the stomach and vital organs.
Dave Ruel is a competitive bodybuilder and qualified nutritionist, and his knowledge and experience shine through.
This book is billed as the scrawny to brawny skinny guy's edition, and it lives up to its hype as a blueprint for bulking up and packing on muscle.
Augustus Sims takes you through the biology of muscle building, including the need for good nutrition, adequate rest and sleep, and what supplements to take and when.
You'll find useful examples of healthy muscle-building recipes, foods to avoid, how to time your meals around your workouts, and why fat is not your enemy.
As I watched this excellent programme, I was busy texting all my personal training clients in London to recommend they watch it. Dr Rangan Chatterjee moved in with a family suffering from a variety of health problems, and helped them improve their diet, exercise regime and lifestyle. The husband suffered from type 2 diabetes, and Dr Rangan transformed his eating habits by encouraging the family to throw out all the junk food, and eat real food instead. He also encouraged him to do bursts of power-walking to help shift the visceral fat he had accumulated around his vital organs, revealed by a BodyScan.
The daughter, who worked in a nursery with lots of kids, was getting colds on a regular basis. Dr Rangan showed how germs can spread from child to child through surface contact, and advised her to wash her hands thoroughly during the day, to reduce the chances of infection.
A saliva test reveald that the mother had extremely high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, particularly first thing in the morning. Dr Rangan recommended meditation to reduce cortisol levels.
I've been a personal trainer for over a decade now, and my London clients are often cash-rich and time-poor, so they eat unhealthy ready-meals and takeaways to save time, and drive everywhere instead of walking. Dr Rangan identified the same problems with this family, and showed them how it was possible to prepare healthy meals quickly, and build in exercise throughout the day without eating up too much time in their busy lives.
It was interesting to read some TV reviews of this programme in the newspapers. Sadly, Christopher Stevens writing in the Daily Mail, completely missed the point of the programme, which was to help an ill and stressed family improve their quality of life, their health, and prevent some serious consequences of their medical conditions. All Christopher Stevens could say about the programme was that it would leave people too scared to do anything that makes life pleasurable. Complete nonsense. He went even further and said that the advice was even worse than the disease, as if eating healthily is worse than diabetic blindness or foot amuptation.
I did disagree with one element of Dr Rangan's advice, which was for the father to undergo a day of fasting, which supposedly increases insulin sensitivity and helps reverse type 2 diabetes. The problem with fasting is that it deprives the body of vital nutrients, and leaves you weaker. In particular, lack of protein prevents the body's growth and repair systems, particularly muscle growth and repair. This is the only point on which I agreed with the Daily Mail's review, where Christopher Stevens said that fasting was more like an eating disorder than a healthy diet.
Apart from the fasting element, I thought Dr Rangan's advice was spot-on. I look forward to the next episode.
Top table tennis player Gavin Rumgay has produced his own table tennis bat, the Rumgay Reactor Blade. It's crafted from Japanese Hinoki wood and ultra-light carbon, and together with its unique shape this makes it a highly aerodynamic bat.
For more about Gavin see this article on the International Table Tennis Federation website: http://www.ittf.com/_front_page/ittf_full_story1.asp?ID=41960&Category=General&Competition_ID=& and this article from Table Tennis UK website: http://www.tabletennisuk.co.uk/rumgay-moves-to-coaching/
Check out this review of the best protein bars on the market, rated for protein quality and quantity, absence of nasties like sugar and artificial sweeteners, and also based on other factors such as taste and texture.
Looking for a health food outlet in London which will blow your mind with its range of top quality health foods? Check out this blog post: The Rise of London's Planet Organic
As a personal trainer I'm always looking for new ways to encourage and inspire my London clients, and this book is a great source of ideas. Jim Afremow shows us that mental strength and belief is every bit as vital as physical prowess and technical skill. It's a very practical mental training book for all athletes and coaches, whatever your sport. Nick Bollettieri, genius tennis coach to many tennis champions and founder of the Nick Bollettieri tennis academy, says "Jim's tips are very simple to understand" and recommends you apply his principles to your tennis game or whatever sport you're into.
Jim Afremow is a sports psychologist at Arizona State University. One reviewer called him "the Zen Master of champions".
Winner of Wimbledon 2015, Novak Djokovic now has 9 grand slam titles to his name. It's a long way to go before he overtakes Roger Federer's 17 grand slam titles, but at the age of 28 Novak is on course to achieve such an amazing feat. He would need to win two grand slams a year between now and age 33 to surpass Roger, a perfectly achievable target in the quest to become one of tennis world's best ever.
Online tennis instructor Florian Meier produced an excellent analysis of Novak in a recent series of YouTube videos. He highlighted Novak's exceptional movement: his low centre of gravity, his wide split-step and rapid directional reactions the split second his feet touch the ground, his greeat leg strength to bodyweight ratio which produces that explosive speed to the baseline corners. Florian analyses Novak's serve, much helped by recent acquisition of Boris Becker as his coach. Notice the relaxed racket hand and arm in the set-up of Novak's serve, particularly during the toss. And Florian points out that Djokovic's return of serve is one of the greatest of all time, second only to the genius of Andre Agassi.
A key contrast between Roger Federer's game and Novak's is the topspin backhand. This has always been a slight weakness for Roger, who's somewhat flat shot produces a lot of balls hitting the net or driving long, and sometimes lacks conviction even when it does go in, landing mid-court rather than penetrating the opponent's territory. Contrast this with Novak Djokovic's two-handed topspin backhand which is incredibly consistent and deep.
Paul Newman writing in The Independent highlighted some of Novak's secrets: his strict gluten-free diet (which Novak credits for his incredible run of success in 2011), his meditation, and the fact that he's so comfortable in his own skin. Evidence of this was his suggestion to the Wimbledon grandees that he revive the tradition of the winner's dance at the Champion's Dinner, which used to be called the Champion's Ball. Novak and Serena danced to "Night Fever" (the Bee Gee's) revealing how self-assured Novak is in any situation.
Djokovic's analysis of his own game is interesting. He admits he's playing his best ever, and thinks he can maintain this for several years to come, even improve in some areas, particularly coming to the net more. He now looks forward to the next grand slam, the US Open, and says how much he loves the Arthur Ashe stadium, his sport's biggest arena. It's revealing to note that Djokovic has lost only one match since last autumn: the finals of the French Open 2015, where he lost to Stan Wawrinka.
Oliver Brown, the Telegraph's chief sports feature writer, made the astute observation that although Djokovic may not be adored in the same way Roger Federer is (and Rafa Nadal too), he is maturing and replacing the joker in his personality with "a far more measured and ambassadorial figure". I think he will be loved more if he tones down his occasional bursts of aggression on court, of which some ball-boys and ball-girls have been on the receiving end.
One thing I would add is that Novak is one of the most incredible athletes of any sport in the world today, and we are lucky to be around at the same time as him.
This book was published in 2001 but remains one of the best weight-loss books on the market, because it gets into the psychology of why people eat unhealthily, then offers techniques you can put into action straight away.
One of my personal training clients in north London gave me a copy of this book for Christmas, and I was so impressed with it that I recommended it to other clients who wanted to lose weight.
Lighten Up is an 8 week slimming programme, with a step-by-step plan. And it's fun to read, with a very conversational and humerous tone throughout. You feel like you've got a friend right there beside you (in the form of the founder of Lighten Up, Pete Cohen), encouraging you through all the tough challenges.
In his humorous way, Pete starts by recommending you get started right now, not wait another day. Procrastination is one of the biggest barriers to achieving anything, and weight-loss is no exception. He then stresses that this is not a diet book, but a healthy eating plan. He makes very clear that there is a huge differentce between the two. Most commercial diets, he explains, are inherantly unhealthy. He explains why the diet industry makes so much money, and why most overweight people yo-yo diet and end up spending a fortune on commercial diet plans without any realistic prospect of keeping the weight off.
Now for the psychology: getting rid of disempowering beliefs is at the heart of this book. And the most negative beliefs are often about yourself, which only gets worse the more weight you pile on. Pete shows you how to break this vicious cycle by instilling self-belief, and changing your self-image. He calls this "slimming from the head down." He goes on to explain the power of habits, and how to break bad habits by replacing them with good habits.
Deeper in the book you learn how to set realistic goals for yourself, how to motivate yourself to put these goals into action, and how to handle setbacks. Most impressive of all for a weight-loss book, he also advises you to exercise regularly. Healthy eating and exercise must go hand in hand if you're to lose weight and tone up. He explains the power of muscle to boost your metabolism and turn your body into a fat-burning furnace.
At the back of the book you'll find healthy recipes and snack ideas.
As a personal trainer in London I can relate to everything Pete advocates, and I have incorporated a lot of his tips into my own advice to overweight clients over the years.
Dan Jones is an internationally respected strength coach, and regular contributor to T-Nation, the strength training website. He is an elite American discus thrower, a Highland Games competitor, writer and speaker. His other books include 'Never Let Go' and 'Mass Made Simple'. He's a must read for any personal trainer who wants to expand their knowledge about strength training.
In this book Dan Jones stresses the importance of identifying point A and point B. Point A is where you are now. Point B is your goal, where you want to be. Whatever your goal, he says, improving your strength should be the foundation. And what's the quickest way to build strength? Lifting weights. Dan advocates the 'old school' lifts such as the squat and deadlift, and also encourages you to use kettlebells (he's an advanced kettlebell instructor).
Mastering good form, constantly assessing your progress along the path from point A to point B, and eating healthily are Dan's keys to success. As a London personal trainer with clients demanding results, I highly recommend this book.
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilder in the States with a degree in exercise science. He's a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, and the International Association for the Study of Obesity. So he's well qualified to advise on health and fitness. As a personal trainer in London, I rate him among the very best in the world.
The sub-heading of his book is: "Transform your body forever using the secrets of the leanest people in the world." It has been reviewed as "the simple proven system of fat-burning for permanent weight-loss, rock-hard muscle, and turbo-charged metabolism." If you follow this book, says Tom, you can change your physique in 28 days.
There are 4 key elements which form the basis of Tom's approach:
Optimum nutrition: you'll learn about the different food types, how your body uses them for energy and growth and repair and maintenance, and how your body aborbs and digests food. You'll learn all about metabolism and hormones which play a vital part in your fat burning and muscle building efforts.
Mental training: you'll learn how to set and achieve your fitness goals, using mental strategies to help you stick to your nutrition plan and exercise regime.
Resistance workouts: you'll learn how to build muscle through resistance training, including the principles of time under tension to maximise intensity, good form, and progressive overload.
Cardio workouts: you'll learn the true role of cardiovascular training, which is to make you fitter (strong heart and lungs and optimum capillarization)
Tom Venuto hates the word 'diet', preferring the more accurate term for his regime: 'nutrition plan'. Rather than diet your body down, he advocates that you build your body up. He warns of the many pitfalls of commercial diets: how self-defeating they are, how they leave you weaker and less healthy, how they are unsustainable and lead to even greater fat gain once you come off the diet.
This book will empower you with knowledge you can start acting on right away. It also warns you why you should avoid all the diet scams out there. Most of all, Tom advocates a holistic approach which must include both optimum nutrition and optimum physical training in order to build a healthy lean strong muscular body.
Message me with suggestions as to what you'd like me to research and review, and I'll get to work on it.
A real gem of a book for anyone serious about their health & fitness.
Ben Greenfield's journey from binging on junk food to achieving a lean and fit body is an inspiring one. Ben was voted America's Top Personal Trainer 2008 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association, partly due to his awesome Ironman performances.
Here's a breakdown of the book:
Part 1 - Heart rate, cardiovascular fitness, endurance training
Part 2 - Recovery, dangers of training before full recovery, sleep, protecting your joints, your immune system.
Part 3 - Nutrition (includes simple to prepare meals for the busy athlete, and how to tailor your nutrition to your body type)
Part 4 - Healthy Lifestyle (includes time management tips)
Part 5 - The brain (boost your brain-power, focus, creativity, motivation, mental toughness)
(BBC2 Monday 18th August 2014. Available on iPlayer)
Dr Michael Mosley presents this documentary about the impact on red meat on our health. Is it a protein-rich nutritional necessity or an artery-clogging, cancer-inducing danger? Is it healthier to avoid red meat altogether? Or is a moderate intake of red meat best, and how much is too much? Crucially, what's the difference between fresh meat (lamb, pork, beef) and processed meat (pate, bacon, ham, pie-fillings etc) in terms of the impact on our health? My personal training clients in London are always asking me these questions.
In search of answers, Dr Mosley goes on a high-meat diet for 4 weeks to assess its effects on his body. He eats 130g of red meat and processed meat per day, every day, which is twice the recommended limit, an amount that 25% of the UK population eats. 130g is the size of an average steak. The Food and Nutritional Sciences Department of Reading University conducts a series of 'before & after' tests on Dr Mosley, and these are the results:
Blood pressure: increased from 118/69 to 141/81.
Cholesterol levels: increased from 6.2 to 6.8
Body fat: an increase of 3 kgs of fat, mainly around the abdomen (visceral fat, the dangerous fat which is toxic and increases your risk of type 2 diabetes and other diseases).
Dr Mosely concluded that this was probably due mainly to the processed meat intake, which is higher in saturated fat and salt. The fact that the tests didn't reveal any increase in cancer-causing compounds was probably due, he concluded, to his high-fibre diet of fruit and veg, which he maintained throughout the 4 weeks.
Dr Mosely stated that there was little evidence that chicken and other white meats posed a health risk, but he failed to point out that the skin of chicken has a higher saturated fat content than most red meats, and best avoided or eaten in just small amounts.
He met some eminent doctors and nutrition experts who had opposing views on the health effects of red meat.
Marie Murphy, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, pointed out the benefits of fresh red meat: high in protein, zinc and iron. Iron is good for the blood, particularly the red blood cells and their ability to transport oxygen around the body (a point reinforced by Victoria Taylor, Senior Heart Health Dietitian). Zinc is essential for wound healing, fertility, and muscle building and repair. Dr Ali Khavandi, an Interventional Cardiologist, emphasised the importance of complete protein for the repair and growth of the body, and the importance of vitamin B12 for many functions in the body.
Dr Mosley then travelled to southern California to meet Dr Gary Fraser, who led one of the largest studies ever on diet and health. He monitored two groups of 7th Day Adventists (150,000 in total), none of whom drank or smoked, and all lived healthy lives according to their religion. He found that the group which ate no red meat had a lower risk of heart disease and high blood pressure than the second group which ate red meat as part of their diets.
However, a European study of an even larger group, half a million people across 10 countries over a 12 year period (the EPIC study), found that moderate red meat intake had no detrimental effects on mortality compared to non-meat eaters, and further found that those who consumed small amounts of red meat were healthier than vegetarians.
A third study, the Harvard Study, examined the issue of fresh meat verses processed meat, and after monitoring 120,000 people found that premature mortality was higher among the 'processed meat' group. In common with the findings of the EPIC study, it was concluded that even moderate amounts of processed meat increased your risk of heart disease and cancer, particularly bowel cancer.
Why is processed meat so unhealthy? Apart from the high salt/sugar levels, and the often lower quality of the protein itself, the main bowel- cancer trigger is thought to be the sodium nitrites group of chemicals, which are added as part of the processing of things like bacon and pate and other processed meats.
Even fresh unprocessed meat has a compound found to be inherantly unhealthy, and it's not the saturated fat that was once thought to be the culprit in causing high cholesterol and plaque in the arteries. It's a compound called L-Carnitine, found in all red meat. The good news is that moderate intake, which Dr Mosely says is around 2 portions of red meat a week, has such low levels of this compound that it's not damaging to the body. It's only when you consume beyond the moderate level that it becomes a problem.
One conclusion that vegetarians should be aware of is that they are at risk of being deficient in vitamin B12 and iron, and for sufficient protein they need to eat plenty of eggs and other protein-rich foods to compensate for the absence of meat in their diets. Vegans are particularly at risk of nutritional deficiency, as they need to combine a range of incomplete proteins to get all the essential amino acids needed in a healthy diet, consume a lot of green veg for the iron content, and take B12 supplements.
This well-researched book debunks the myth that processed soy products are healthy. Dr Daniel holds a doctorate in Nutritional Sciences, and explores the way in which soy disrupts your hormone levels (excessive estrogen), your thyroid system, your digestion, and may increase your risk of certain cancers.
The powerful food industry makes a fortune from processed soy products, and it's publicity machine is very effective in persuading consumers that processed soy products are a healthy source of protein. Vegetarians beware!
Tyger Drew Honey explores the growing trend of body image obsession among young people in Britain, in particular among young men.
The desire to look good is driven by social media, the ubiquitous 'selfie', advertisements, and the cult of celebrity which seems to be poisoning young people's minds more and more as time goes on. The ideal male body is everywhere: on billboards, in magazines, in films, on reality TV shows like TOWIE, and on TV adverts for aftershave and designer clothing.
Tyger meets a group of young men who take bodybuilding supplements to improve their physiques, and concludes that they're more interested in looking healthy than actually being healthy. Some of the chemicals in the workout supplements have a similar effect on the heart to speed (amphetamines): raised blood pressure, increased metabolism, irregular heartbeat, and in extreme cases heart attack.
Tyger spent a lot of time in Essex while making the documentary, where the young male obsession to look good has reached epidemic proportions. He explores tanning salons, tooth whitening kits, body waxing, and muscle gyms. He also meets a guy who suffers from the mental health condition muscle dysmorphia,an unhealthy obsession with body image and a conviction that you are not muscular enough.
As a personal trainer in London, I see some clients who want to build muscle at all costs, and I try to help them gain a sense of perspective. It's a worthy goal to achieve a toned and muscular physique, but not at the expense of your health. Amphetamine-like substances, anabolic steroids, excessive protein consumption, tanning salons; all these are damaging to your health. It's perfectly possible to achieve a lean muscled physique without resorting to these extreme measures. It just takes more time, more dedication to good nutrition, plenty of sleep, and the right kind of training.
Marisa Peer is a London therapist to celebrities, athletes, and CEO's. She was the top trainer at Pineapple Dance Studios in London and New York, before establishing her therapy practice.
In this book, Marisa explains about the power of your subconscious mind to shape your future and change yourself for the better. She also dispenses valuable nutritional advice, primarily that refined sugar is to be avoided at all costs, because of its toxic effects on the body. Further, she warns that excess fruit is bad for you, recommending you stick to just 3 portions of fruit a day, and eat more vegetables than fruit. The fructose from excess sugar converts to fat in the liver, so all those people who think they'll lose weight by eating lots of fruit are sadly mistaken. She also warns that excess sugar ages your skin due to a chemical process called glycation, which deplete your body's natural levels of collagen, and collagen is vital to keep your skin flexible and toned.
So the answer to the question "is too much fruit bad for you?" the answer is a decisive yes, and too much is anything over 3 portions a day.
I advise my personal training clients in London to have 2 or 3 portions of fruit a day, and to make one portion an orange for the vitamin C. I also advise 5 to 7 portions of veg a day, which may seem a lot, but when you include things like tinned chopped tomatoes, salad, and a large portion of two different veg with your main meals, you'll reach this target easily. Make sure you include broccoli and spring greens, two vegetables particularly rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
If you're a football fan, check out this amazing documentary about Cristiano Ronaldo and his amazing talents, combining technical skills, physical attributes, and mental powers. You'll see why he is probably the best footballer in the world.
An elite team of sports psychologists put him through a series of tests with the help of the latest diagnostic and analytic technology. They measure his physical strength (particularly his thighs), his speed (he beats world class sprinter Angel Rodriguez in a zigzag sprint), his body composition (he's put into a 3D bodyscanner which uses lazers), his explosive jump power (he has the take-off force of 5G's, equivalent to the force that astronauts experience when they take-off).
Crucial to any footballer, Ronaldo's spatial ability and speed of footwork are put to the test in a scenario which mimics him getting past a defender. He achieves a superhuman 13 foot moves in 8 seconds. His anticipation skills are tested by scoring with the lights being turned off after the corner striker kicks the ball. He is able to calculate, in pitch darkness, the timing and trajectory of the ball, so he can score in total darkness.
Last but not least his scoring skills are tested in two aspects: speed and spin. He performs some free-kicks, and the degree of spin in his free kicks that he uses to get around a wall of defenders is almost off the charts, at 3 metre variance from the true line. His straight kicks (known as the 'knuckle-kick) are timed at 80 mph, where he imparts 30 stone of pressure on impact between his foot and the ball.
If you're a football fan, or even just a fan of human physical performance at the very top level, this is a must-watch.
This documentary film stars Joe Cross, and Australian guy who spent 60 days travelling around the USA on a health drive.
During this 60 day adventure, he consumed green juice (mainly vegetable juice, with some juiced fruits too), and no food except 2 solid meals per week, in an effort to lose weight. On day 1 he weighed a whopping 309 lbs (140kg) and his waist measured 53 inches. By day 31 he had lost 47 lbs.
The problem with documentaries like this, is that they don't explain the downsides of such a radical diet. When you deprive yourself of macronutrients, you suffer muscle-wasting (including your heart muscle), which is a very unhealthy form of weight loss. You end up physically weaker, and less able to exercise effectively. Your body goes into starvation mode, in which your metabolism slows to a crawl to hoard existing body-fat, and when you come off the diet, the weight piles on again.
Too much fruit juice in a juicing diet leads to fatty liver disease, as the liver is unable to metabolise excess fructose without converting it to fat.
It's far better to eat healthily, than to go on radical juice diets. By all means have a raw vegetable juice a couple of times a week, but not as your sole source of nutrients.
This is the diet administered by the Viva Mayr Centre for Modern Medicine in Austria, a 5 star private clinic/hotel on the banks of Lake Worthersee, which offers health retreats for those who can afford it.
Dr Christine Stossier is based in Austria, but comes to London to treat clients. Her belief is that we eat too much, too late in the evening, and wolf our food down too quickly. The problem with eating late is that our digestive system is more sluggish last thing at night, so if you eat a large meal late, undigested food can linger in the gut overnight. She recommends we eat three times a day: a good sized breakfast and lunch, and a small evening meal. And a major feature of the diet is thorough chewing: chew every mouthful 30 - 40 times. The key to the diet is better digestion, which reduces the build-up of toxins in your system, leaves your body more alkaline, and enables you to absorb nutrients more effectively.
The Viva Mayr diet is a 4 stage therapy: fasting, cleansing (epsom salts, sometimes enemas), re-training how to eat, and 'rebooting' your system with micronutrients. You can now buy the book The Viva Mayr Diet, by Dr Harald Stossier and Helena Frith Powell.
In this documentary, Horizon explored the question: is it sugar or fat which is causing our obesity epidemic? Identical twins Chris and Xand Tulleken, 35 year old doctors, were the guinea pigs for this programme, performing a range of experiments to see the effects of a low sugar v low fat diet. As a personal trainer, I usually cringe at programmes like this, because they over-simplify and come up with false conclusions. I know my personal training clients in London will ask me about these programmes, so I make a point of watching them. This one was a mixture of sound conclusions and false conclusions.
Energy levels for exercise were tested. Chris (low-fat diet) and Xand (low-carbs diet) raced each other on bikes, and Chris won. Conclusion: carbs are a better source of energy than fat. However, the programme made no distinction between sucrose, the artifical simple carbs that are the main driver of our obesity epidemic, and complex carbs, which are a healthy source of energy. What the programme did point out was that a low-carb diet is very unhealthy, particularly because it is impossible to exercise effectively on a low-carb diet: you simply won't have the energy to perform optimally.
Another danger of low-carb diets, is that they force us to cannabalize our own muscles for energy. In the absence of carbs (our body's preferred energy source), we burn some fat and some protein, and some of that protein is our own muscles. Reduced muscle-mass is damaging to our health in many ways. We become weaker, our posture suffers because good posture depends on strong postural muscles, and our ability to burn excess fat is sabotaged because muscle mass is what raises our resting metabolic rate and helps burn fat 24 hours a day, even at rest. So a low-carb diet is the worst way to stay toned and slim. You may lose weight, but a lot of that reduced weight is the result of muscle-wasting.
Sadly the documentary fails to make the vital distinction between healthy carbs (complex carbs like oats, sweet potato, brown rice, bulgar wheat, quinoa etc) and unhealthy carbs (processed sugar, or sucrose). Many people would come away from this documentary thinking that sugar and sugary energy/sports drinks are a good way to avoid muscle wasting, and a great source of energy for exercise. Wrong! Complex carbs are the best source of energy for exercise.
The documentary rightly concludes that low-fat diets are harmful to health. Fats, in the right proportions and quantity, particularly the essential fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, omega 3 etc) are vital for our health. It's a shame Horizon didn't mention one fat, trans fats, which are really bad for us. Trans fats are artificial fats manfucatured by the food industry, which have none of the health benefits of the essential fats.
The main conclusion of the programme came from an experiment with rats. To see what makes us fat, three groups of rats were fed different nutrients. The first group were given just sugar, and they reached a natural cut-off point and stopped eating when they were full. Their over-all weight did't increase much. The second group of rats were fed fat only, and they gained slightly more weight, but nothing significant, as they also reached a natural cut-off point in fullness. But the third group was fed cheesecake, and they gorged themselves, never seemed to get too full to continue eating, and gained substantial weight. The cheesecake was 50% sugar and 50% fat, the deadly combination.
This 50/50 combination is found in many junk foods, such as glazed doughnuts and ice-cream. The food industry knows how tasty and addictive this combination is, and how profitable it is to have a nation of people addicted to a form of junk food that people can't stop eating. This combination is not found in any single food in nature, it's a manufactured processed combination, and a key reason for our obesity epidemic. While I totally agree that this sugar/fat combined junk food is extremely bad for you, I disagree with the programme's conclusion that "sugar alone is not the problem." Sugar alone is part of the problem, because all those sweets, coca-colas and other sugar drinks, which cause a radical insulin spike, and are converted very quickly to body fat.
Sucrose is always the problem, whether it's combined with fat or not. The programme seemed to think that sucrose is only dangerous when combined with fat. Not so. Maybe you eat more at one sitting if sugar is combined with fat. but one of the main problems with our modern diet is that we snack constantly through the day, and the sum total of all these small snacks is our obesity epidemic.
Susan Jebb, professor of Diet and Population Health at Oxford University, came to the same false conclusion. "No one food is saint or sinner," she said, but the fact is that sucrose is the main culprit in our obesity epidemic, and if you class sucrose as a food, then it is the ultimate sinner, and the less we consume of it the better. She goes on to say "Processed foods...are unbelievably attractive and delicious", a misconception that most obese people have. Processed foods are not so attractive when you know what's in them, and what effect they have on your body. And they're certainly no more delicious that healthy foods well made. There are so many processed food temptations in our modern society, Susan Jebb continues, "it is astonishing that any of us stay slim."
Is it astonishing that people who value their health and their appearance stay slim? What's so astonishing about not wanting to get type 2 diabetes, heart disease or stroke? Is it really astonishing that some people would rather be physically attractive and have tons of energy, rather than the momentary pleasure of junk food?
Chris, one of the indentical twins, comes to a similar false conclusion, that we need to "look at overall calories than looking for one toxic ingredient." This is exactly the same argument the junk food industry uses to distract us from the harm sugar does. Sugar (ie-sucrose, not all carbohydrates) is indeed a toxic ingredient. It's an anti-nutrient, it leeches vitamins and minerals from our body while being devoid of these nutrients itself. It causes obesity because sucrose converts very readily to fat. It causes type 2 diabetes and heart disease and scars the inner lining of our blood vessels. It causes tooth decay. It leads to an increase of harmful bacteria and yeast in our gut. The list of harms that sucrose causes would fill a book.
Yet this Horizon documentary concludes that sugar alone is not the problem.
Authors: Frans Bosch and Ronald Klomp
A must read for all running coaches, personal trainers, physiotherapists and serious runners. This book reveals the latest insights into the science of running training. Frans Bosch is a running coach with the Royal Netherlands Track & Field Association. The book is arranged into 6 chapters, which cover anatomy and the biomechanics of running, energy supply, running technique, teaching running technique, training and adaptation, and power training for running.
Now available in the UK, a new type of gastric balloon which requires no invasive surgery to insert. Developed by Californian company Obalon Therapeutics, it can be swallowed, then inflated via a plastic tube to the size of an orange. It's not available on the NHS, and costs around £2,000 for one balloon, or £3,000 for the two-balloon option. However, surgery is needed to remove the balloon after 3 months, with a simple endoscopic procedure.
The theory is that by taking up space in the stomach it makes the patient feel full, and less inclined to over-eat. Personally, I advise all my personal training clients in London to avoid weight-loss surgery like the plague.
In clinical trials, some patients suffered vomiting, acid-reflux, and stomach cramps. It's the body's way of telling you that something is wrong. In my view it's yet another worse than useless attempt at solving the obesity epidemic with a quick fix which requires no effort on the obese person's part. The only healthy way to lose weight is through healthy eating and regular exercise. This balloon is no guarantee that the patient will eat healthily, just that they will eat less. So they could eat nothing but junk food, only less of it, and still not lose weight.
Eating healthily often means eating more of some things, not less. A key example is vegetables. Obese people often eat little or no vegetables. A diet rich in a wide variety of vegetables is vital for good health. But someone with this balloon fitted will not be able to consume enough vegetables, which give you that full-feeling in a healthy and natural way.
If you exercise regularly, you need plenty of fuel from complex carbs. But one of these balloons will prevent you from eating sufficient complex carbs to fuel an intensive muscle-building workout.
Weight loss surgery in general is a bad idea on so many levels. At least this latest gimmick won't be available on the NHS, so no public money will be wasted on it.
Tony Horton is the creator of this highly successful home-workout DVD. He is now in his mid 50's and still in great shape, as you can see in the youtube video on the right. Is it as good as having your own personal trainer in your lounge? No, because the DVD won't tell you if you're performing the exercise with bad technique, and there's nobody to persuade you to switch on that DVD in the first place, when you come home from work tired and ready for a night in front of your favourite soap.
P90X was launched in 2004, and version 3 is out now, an intense 30 minute workout (shortened from the original, with busy people in mind), which mixes yoga, MMA, pilates, plyometrics, and a range of other exercise forms. It's a kind of exercise fusion, full of variety, a key component of a good workout. Beachbody, the company behind P90X, also produced the Shaun T Insanity workout. P90X is the best-seller of the two, with over 4.5 million DVD packs sold to date.
P90X-3 comes in 3 varieties. There's the Base Kit, which gives you 16 workouts. Then there's the Deluxe Kit, which gives you 3 additional workouts, a resistance band, and some supplements. And the most expensive is the Ultimate, which has everything the Deluxe has, plus a chin-up bar, a yoga mat, and some additional supplements.
As the name suggests, it's a 90 day workout plan, with a fresh workout every 30 days to keep your muscles guessing. The workout segments have great names. Total Synergistics focuses on core strength and proprioception (balance and co-ordination). Agility X is all about lower body plyometrics. X3 Yoga is for flexibility. The Challenge is a combination of pushups and pullups. The Warrior is a session of intense cardio. The Incinerator is more pushups with a twist. MMX is a range of taekwondo moves, and Pilates X is a more intense core strength session. The youtube video on the right doesn't show you all these, but gives a flavour of what to expect.
2nd episode of this tragic three part series about the specialist ward for the morbidly obese, at Sunderland's Royal Hospital.
More of a lengthy advertorial for weight loss surgery, than an objective piece of TV journalism, the voice-over says something along the lines of "They've tried every diet under the sun, so weight-loss surgery is their last resort." If they've been trying diets, no wonder they've become morbidly obese. Commercial diets are one of the reasons why there is so much obesity in the UK. I bet none of the obese people featured in this programme have tried healthy eating over a sustained period. One of the patients orders a large box of sweets over the internet, and we watch her open it when it arrives. "These are my favourites from my childhood," she says.
Strangely, there is virtually no mention of healthy eating in this programme. Where are the NHS advisors who come into your home and teach you how to prepare your own healthy food, with plenty of vegetables and lean protein, and essential fats from foods like salmon? They don't exist. Where are the NHS personal trainers who come to these morbidly obese people's homes to show them how to exercise effectively? They don't exist either. Where are the psychotherapists who engage one-on-one with morbidly obese patients, to resolve the root causes of their eating addictions? There are far too few, and the waiting list is long. Where is the weight-loss surgery which butchers your insides and leaves you unable to eat healthily ever again? In abundance, well funded, a thriving industry.
As a personal trainer who has helped morbidly obese clients in London to lose weight through healthy eating and regular exercise, I find it tragic that this myth of "weight loss surgery is the only option" still continues unchallenged.
This book is designed specifically for women, and explains the hormonal, metabolic, and physiological challenges women face when trying to lose excess fat. Pamela Peeke sets out her 12 week Mind-Mouth-Muscle eating, exercise, and emotional health programme for women. There are over 100 photos of exercise demonstrations, and lists of recommended foods.
Pamela Peeke is a physician in the States. She is also WebMD's lif