Thursday, 24 November 2016

Does The Christmas Diet Work?

Christmas is a time of the year where many people overindulge in fatty foods, fizzy drinks and alcohol. Considering millions of people start the new year with the ‘lose weight’ resolution, the Christmas diet is based around the idea of losing some weight leading up to the festive holiday. However, does it work? And do people tend to do it the correct way?

It makes perfect sense to diet before Christmas, to help counteract the potential weight gain over Xmas and New Year. In order for it to be effective, you need to start before December, otherwise you won’t have enough time to shift the pounds before your Christmas celebrations begin (which is usually a week or two before Xmas day). Obviously, the speed of the weight loss will depend on how strict you are with your diet and how hard you train in (or out) of the gym.

The correct way of utilising the ‘Christmas Diet’ is to go down the ‘healthy route’. By this I mean a healthy diet and regular fitness routine. Cutting out the booze, fatty foods, fizzy drinks, sweets, chocolate etc, and training hard will burn unwanted fat at a safe and reasonable pace. You’re most likely going to be having enough of those foods and drinks over the festive period, so you can go without them for now.

Now, the ‘bad approach’ to the Christmas Diet is to starve yourself. Starving your body is not a good thing to do anyway, as it’s unhealthy, not sustainable, and the ‘weight’ (water and muscle tissue, with a little fat) that you lose, will come back on, sometimes even more. So instead of the idea of dropping some body fat to counteract the festivities, you’re more likely going to start the new year weighing more than you did before starting the ‘diet’.

I would say the main reason for the Christmas Diet is so that you don’t have to worry about ‘watching what you eat’ over Xmas, as that’s not any fun. It is perfectly fine to enjoy yourself at Xmas, have a few drinks and eat some chocolate. However, if your day to day diet is pretty poor, and you rarely exercise, then consuming even more for a couple of weeks at Xmas and New Year, is a really bad idea.

Starting your ‘Christmas Diet’ around the middle of November will give you about 4 weeks worth of healthy eating and exercise, which is enough time to make a difference to your weight. If you leave it until the first week of December, you will most likely give up after a few days as you will think “It’s nearly Xmas, it’s not worth it”. 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Nutrition tips for ‘hardgainers’

Packing on size and mass is not an easy thing to do, but it can be extra tough if you’re a ‘hardgainer’. A hardgainer is simply someone who finds it harder than others to increase their size and mass. Some people will find it easier to get bigger, whereas others struggle, with slow progress. Here are 5 nutrition tips for hardgainers to bulk up.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Can you build muscle AND burn fat at the same time?

This is a question I get asked a lot, and it's not a surprise. Many people want to build a muscular physique, but they also have fat to shed too, so of course those people will wonder if they can do both at the same time. So, can you?

The answer is, yes and no.

If you lift heavy weights, train hard, eat well and be smart with supplements, then you will be on your way to adding muscle. Throw in some fat burning workouts and you'll drop a little bit of fat too. Sounds good right? Not as good as you think.

Whilst you can do both at the same time, you won't be able to maximise each method of training and diet to it's fullest. That's why the most common way of doing it is to 'bulk up' first whilst trying to keep body fat levels down, and then perform a 'cut' to reduce body fat. When you go on a 'cut', for every 4lbs or so of body fat that you lose, you'll also shed around 0.5lb - 1 lb of muscle, so you can't lose just body fat on its own, which sucks!

What you can do however, is stretch the training out over a longer period of time (8 months or so) where you can manipulate your training and diet. You can spend a bit of time on a 'bulk', then focus more on shedding body fat, then back to 'bulking', and so on. This way you are training for both goals, but you have enough time to do it effectively. Some people do use this method, but I would still say the traditional 'bulk then cut' is the most popular. When you're at a very low body fat percentage ('stage ready' for example), then it is easier to maintain a lower body fat level from then on.

As you have to be in a calorie deficit (consuming less calories than you're using) to shed body fat, then you can't also build mass, where you need to be in a calorie surplus (consuming more calories than you're using) in order to do so. Many people hope that there is a way where they can get 'jacked' like Dwayne Johnson and also strip away body fat, and it's just not possible to do both at the same time. The one issue with a typical 'bulk' is that many people tend to be a lot more lenient with their diet and end up gaining more body fat than they want - which simply makes the 'cut' a lot harder. You can 'bulk up' by eating healthy and lean, which you will still gain some excess body fat, but it will be a lot less to lose. Weight training both builds muscle and burns body fat, but your diet will determine what one happens the most - eating more will build more muscle, eating less will shed more body fat. It's up to you which one you want to focus on.

Lee Gregory Fitness

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Do you need supplements?

The need of supplements is one of the most common questions I get asked, whether it's through my business or Hench Nutrition. There are still a lot of people out there who think if they start taking a few supplements, they will become Arnold Schwarzenegger in a week! Will never happen.

Do I take any supplements? I certainly do, and am also lucky enough to be sponsored by a supplement brand, but I don't rely on them. I may as well quickly tell you what I'm currently taking - 100% whey protein, Casein protein, post-workout protein, a pre-workout drink, an intra-workout drink, BCAA's, caffeine, carnitine, omega 369, HMB, multivitamin, a joint supplement, vitamin d3 and zinc. That sounds like a lot, but a few are just 'health' supplements, and the rest are for performance. The thing is, I love supplements, they're very convenient, reasonably priced and they do work. But I will emphasise again, I do not rely on them, my diet is good and I get most of my nutrients from it.

"So why take supplements?" you may be asking.

As with pretty much everyone out there, I do slip from time to time with my diet, I've also had a few health issues which have required a few supplements, and when you place a greater demand on your body (gym/sport) then your body requires more.

Do you need supplements in order to be fit, strong and healthy? not at all, but they can help. Even those who are simply maintaining their physique, training a few times a week and eating healthy foods, will still take one or more supplements to 'top up' their intake. It is possible to have side effects from supplements, but unless you take an excessive amount, it's unlikely to happen. For example, I take 2 vitamin d3 tablets during the winter months (live in England, not a lot of sun!) and 1 during the summer months (still England...). If I starting taking 5,6,7,10! a day, then yeah, it would most likely have an adverse effect on my body, but that would just be stupid.

The one main problem with supplementation is that people don't read enough about them before they start using them. They will see a fitness athlete take a few supplements and simply copy what they use. When you're first starting out with the gym, you don't need a large supplement stack - a good whey protein will do just fine. When you start progressing that's when you can look at others - creatine, BCAA's, glutamine etc. However, I do highly recommend you read up about different supplements before taking them.

Lee Gregory Fitness

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

High fat diet or low fat? Which is best?

Some of you may have seen in the media (in the UK anyway) that apparently the Government have been wrong for a number of years by advising people to eat minimal fat. So because of this, some obesity organisations are claiming that this is the cause of the obesity epidemic. Some things astonish me...

One of the quotes that I've read from an obesity organisation is something along the lines of "you've told us not to eat fat, but fat is healthy, such as avocados". Now here is the problem. First of all, yes, avocados are healthy fats, but the majority of fatty foods that are consumed, are bad fats. If the Government had always said "fat is perfectly fine to consume", what will happen? people will scoff their faces with fatty foods. Another comment I read was "eating fat doesn't make you fat". Yes it does actually. If you eat a load of saturated fat, you will get fat - it contains 9kcal per gram!

To me, it always seems as though there has to be someone, or something to blame for obesity. Why don't people take more of a responsibility? Let's be fair, most people don't listen to the government anyway. They tell you that smoking is bad, but people continue to smoke. They enforce a speed limit on the roads, which is broken by thousands of people every single day. So if the Government came out 20 years ago, and said that people should eat fat (like these obese organisations are doing) would that mean that we wouldn't have an obesity epidemic? NOT AT ALL!! The reason why we have an obesity epidemic, is because too many people are consuming far too many calories - simple as that.

Yes people should eat foods such as avocados - which are fats, but healthy forms of fat. However, most people do not know the difference in fats, so when they see an avocado that is a 'fatty food' and a pastry that is a 'fatty food', they will think it's the same - which is not their fault, it's simply that they do not know the difference. So if the Government said "eat fat!!", most people wouldn't eat the right fats.

Another side to this argument is that people should eat a high protein, high fat, low carb diet, because apparently it's the golden ticket to fat loss. Yes, that was sarcasm, because there is no such thing. Will you lose body fat with that diet? yes, is it because it's magic? no. If you eat a higher fat, higher protein and low carb diet, you will end up eating less food in general. Carbs are the easiest type of food to eat, and are usually some of the nicest. It's not easy to eat a ton of chicken or turkey, or even avocados! So by cutting down carbs, your overall calorie intake will be lower - which means fat loss! See, it's not magic, it's simply calorie manipulation.

Don't blame the Government, they come out with guidelines, but to be honest, I don't even agree with some. There needs to be a country wide increase in education to do with food, calories and exercise - without that, the obesity epidemic will not get any better. There is no 'quick fix' to this, and it will require investment (in the right places!!), commitment from the public and education to avoid current and future obesity related issues.

Lee Gregory Fitness

Friday, 20 May 2016

My new finisher for my workouts

I've had a bit of an up and down start to the year in regards to my workouts, with a few medical issues and an injury interrupting my training. I've got a solid weight routine set out, but I wanted to add in a little fat burning. A common go to fat burning exercise is treadmill sprints, but with having a knee injury in the past, I don't feel like that's the best option.

A tough weight training workout will burn a fair amount of calories, as you're straining your body lifting heavy weights, set after set. But I wanted to add that little bit more into my sessions. I've opted to throw in a minimum 1500m row, with the aim of completing it in around the 6 minute mark - works out to be 250m every minute, with the resistance set at either 8/9 (resistance is 1-10)

I can tell you that after a tough workout, completing that is not easy at all. Usually around the 800m mark, I feel like quitting, because I feel like I have nothing left in the tank, but that's the time that really counts. If you can easily do a a row like that, feeling fine afterwards, then your initial workout was not enough - you should leave the gym feeling like you've gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson.

My main aim with using the rowing machine at the end of my workouts is to just finish my workout off, ensuring I've maxed out and to help shed a little more body fat. I've never focused too much on fat burning - I'm not fat by any means, but also not shredded (that's not really for me anyway), I just simply want to lose a little bit.

Try it for yourself! It is tough, and you can always build up in terms of meters. I'm starting on 1500 in around 6 minutes, but I'm sure that will soon be going up.

Lee Gregory Fitness

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

"Obesity is crippling the NHS"

The National Health Service (NHS) is a fantastic system and helps millions of people every year, however, there are some down sides.

Many people moan at the Government about a variety of topics every single day, but the reason why there are 'cuts' made, is to save money and to try and 'bail out' the NHS. The truth is, it's in serious trouble, and there are three things that put tremendous strain on it - drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and obesity. All three can be prevented and are mostly self inflicted. Now, being a nutritionist, I am mostly going to focus on the obesity side of things.

In 2015, the figures that I have found show that the cost of obesity to the NHS was anywhere from £6-8 billion. Just let that sink in for a moment - 6-8 billion pounds in a year. I totally respect that everyone should have the choice of what they do in life, but here's an analogy from a PT friend of mine. When you take your driving test, you drive how you drive, everyone has their own style, but as long as you drive carefully, you'll pass. However, if you have to make someone else suddenly slam on the brakes to avoid a collision due to a reckless move you have made with your car, you'll fail your driving test. It's the same with obesity. If you're happy with being obese/morbidly obese, that's fine, but by being obese, you're making others pay. Just look at the amount of tax payers money that is being pumped into the NHS for obesity. The NHS was never setup to deal with this kind of epidemic (I think that word fits...). Yes, people will say "I pay my taxes, so I deserve the treatment I get". While that's true - if you pay taxes, you can use the NHS, but most people who are obese/morbidly obese, will never pay anywhere near the amount in taxes as they receive in treatment - due to the amount of money it costs for surgeries and ongoing medication/check ups etc. Even worse if people are receiving all of that, as well as being on benefits because they are unable to work due to their size.

The public have called upon the Government to deal with the obesity problem that we are facing. I say, "why should the Government have to 'fix it'?". With something like obesity, it's only a very small percentage of people who have a genuine, rare, medical condition which can make it near to impossible to lose weight (with the help from specialists). The rest of the obese/morbidly obese individuals will be able to lose body fat, which not only will make the quality of their lives far better, it will take a big strain off of the NHS.

People think that the Government just has an unlimited bank account, and that's simply not true. So yes, cuts are needed, and one of them has been to the NHS - in terms of salary, benefits and more hours needed. I'm not going to get into politics here, because everyone has an opinion on that, and I'm not here to talk politics.

The main issue with obesity and the the need of treatment, is that it's not just 'one treatment' that people need - obesity causes a large variety of issues within the human body, all of which needs treating. These can range from organ problems, to muscular, joint issues, diabetes, and more!

The only way that the obesity epidemic is ever going to be helped, is if people start taking more of a responsibility. It's not the governments fault that people are obese, but yet they get blamed for it. As we stand today, people have a better chance of being fit and healthy than ever before, thanks to the internet. Yes, there's a lot of crap about fat loss, dieting, fitness on the internet, but there's also a lot of fantastic content - for FREE! YouTube is amazing when it comes to diet and fitness. The amount of videos of cooking healthy meals, home workouts, tips and advice is just insane. What's stopping people from going on that? nothing.

On the flip side of the 'argument', the Government can do a few things better. There can be more education implemented into schools about nutrition and fitness - which will help to tackle the problem at a younger age before it develops into a far more ingrained problem, which is harder to treat. Just as long as it's not garbage like I've read lately - "cut dairy to cure obesity", "drink tap water to curb obesity" - absolute nonsense. Another thing that I think could be beneficial (unlike when I read about the Government teaming up with Weight Watchers - diabolical!) is to offer gym memberships. One of the biggest 'excuses' people use for not going to the gym, is that they can't afford a membership, so give them one. The Government will have to spend money one way or another, so they may as well give people access to a gym. However, even with that, people will need to get up and go to the gym themselves, nobody from the Government will come along to make sure they're actually using their membership.

I'm still shocked at the amount of money that obesity costs the NHS, and it's only going to go up. I've read predictions that it will be over £10billion by 2025/2030. I do believe that the NHS could be 'streamlined' and run a lot more efficiently, but that will take time and money. A 'quick fix' to reduce the bill, could be to remove some of treatments/operations that should never be allowed to be used on the NHS. Cosmetic surgery for one. That should only be allowed when it comes to things such as burn victims or unforeseen accidents that require it. The amount of articles that I've read stating the vast amount of cosmetic surgeries carried out every year on people just because they 'want to look better'. No, sorry, that should never be allowed, if you want to look better, dip into your own pocket. The NHS was setup to deal with accidents, emergencies and unforeseen illnesses - not breast enlargements, nose jobs and botox!! Those people who have those treatments are actually ADDING to the problem, and then they probably moan about the Government when they make cuts.

To finish - both sides can do more; Government can streamline services, provide gym memberships and add nutrition and fitness to education & the public can start taking responsibility and realise that the Government has not caused obesity.

Oh, just one more thing. I do realise that smoking and drugs (as mentioned at the start) add to the never ending NHS bill, so I'm not just picking at obesity, but being a nutritionist, I'm obviously going to focus on obesity. But as stated, those three things can all be prevented. Having a car crash and breaking your legs can't really be prevented, and that's the kind of thing the NHS is for.

Lee Gregory Fitness