Friday, 27 November 2015

Your Xmas Survival Guide!

With only a matter of a few weeks until Christmas day, people are getting excited and looking forward to the festive holiday. However, quite a lot of those people will be getting a little worried with how much weight they will put on. It's pretty easy to pile on the pounds during Xmas - the food, the booze, the social gatherings with endless party food, the chocolate and with the gym being the last thing on your mind, before you know it you would have gained some excess baggage. Here are my top tips to avoid/minimise any weight gain.



1) RELAX!!

Stress is not good for body fat levels whatsoever. If you're constantly worrying about your weight over xmas, you're likely to put more on. You need to remind yourself that it's XMAS! It only comes around once a year, and for most people it usually lasts for around 1 week. Enjoy yourself! don't constantly worry about what you're eating and drinking. You shouldn't be actively trying to lose weight over Christmas, you should be relaxing and having a good time with friends and family. You can always hit the gym hard and clean up your diet once the festive period is over.

2) Be smart with your meals

The one meal a lot of people look forward to is the big daddy of them all, the xmas day dinner. I've seen some that people have blogged about which have added up to over 4,000 calories!! insane. You want to buy leaner cuts of meat, make your own gravy if you can (it's really not that hard) get plenty of vegetables, get as low fat as possible sausages and bacon, and as 'natural' roast potatoes as possible (don't bake them to death in a bucket load of fat!). By cleaning up this one meal, you could save yourself a lot of calories. The same goes for other meals. If you like to drink over xmas, then don't go crazy, but try and off-set some of that calorie intake by eating healthier meals rather than 'junk food'. This will not only lower your calorie intake, but will help to pile in a ton of goodness at a time when your body needs it. One tip for all of the chocolate - just don't buy as much! You'll eat them if they are there, but I doubt you will purposely go out to buy them if you don't.

3) Hydrate!

No, not with alcohol, with water! One thing that most people do not do during xmas, is drink enough water. With all of the 'junk' that you'll be eating and drinking, your body will need a lot of water to help process it and to keep your body hydrated. When you become dehydrated (and drinking alcohol) you can get ill easier, you can feel sick, light headed, and generally feel like garbage during a time where you're meant to be celebrating. Try and drink most of your water during the day, as the evenings are when most of the alcohol consumption is done.

4) Try and exercise!

Some people will still go to the gym, and that's fine, but for most, the gym is the last thing on their to-do list. Try and get out and about during the holiday. A lot of towns/cities have things to do and see over the Christmas holiday - just going out during the day with a loved one can get valuable exercise in. It all adds up!

5) With booze - stick to spirits

An odd tip coming from a nutritionist, but let's face it, alcoholic drinks are everywhere during xmas. A lot of people drink alcohol over xmas with one purpose - to get drunk. Many guys (and some women) drink beer/lager, and a lot of it. Put it this way, you're not going to get drunk on 3 cans of Fosters, so it's quite easy to start knocking back one after another after another... That soon adds up to A LOT of calories, with lagers averaging around 2-300kcal or more (depending on size of the can/bottle). If you drink spirits, not only are they 'neater' than lagers with less calories, but you won't be able to drink as many as easily. However, spirit drinks can soon become calorific if you mix them with cans of coke (or other fizzy drinks), but again, you'll find the effects of the alcohol come on far quicker than with lagers. The reason why lager/beer is extremely popular, is because it's alcohol, and  it's cheap, compared to spirits. It's your choice, but if you're concerned with your weight, drinking 10 Fosters will go above your daily calorie limit, and that's without food! Wine is also lower in calories than lagers, but it's still pretty easy to have a fair few glasses of that!

6) RELAX! Again....

The above tips can help to off-set some of the potential weight gain, but you need to relax. You can hit the ground running with diet and fitness in January. Christmas is once a year, so you want to make the most of it. You don't want it to be over and you're left thinking "I wish I wasn't so strict..."

Have a super Christmas and New Year!!

Lee Gregory Fitness

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

My 5 Keys To A Healthy Diet

This is a very 'to the point' blog post. Here are my 5 keys to creating a healthy diet:



1) Eat fresh, whole foods

You want to stick to fresh, whole foods, what do I mean by that? foods that haven't been modified - chicken, salmon, broccoli, carrots, orange, mango, turkey breast, cod, sweet potato and so on. By avoiding processed/modified foods, you'll be cutting out a lot of fat, sugar, salt and food additives. I strongly believe that our bodies are designed to deal perfectly fine with natural foods, whereas they aren't designed to deal with all of the 'garbage' some supermarkets add to their products. So, my advice is to stick to natural, fresh, whole foods if you want to be fit and healthy.

2) Increase your water intake

Drinking adequate water is something that many people do not do. What are the benefits of water you might ask? It can help with weight loss - replacing high calorie sugary drinks for water (or slightly flavoured water) can reduce calorie intake therefore leading to fat loss. It can help to keep your skin healthy - there is plenty of water in your skin, so by keeping your hydration levels topped up can help to flush our toxins and keep it hydrated. Water can help your kidneys - staying hydrated can ensure there is adequate fluid in your body to flush away toxins and to keep everything 'flowing'. Being dehydrated can affect the performance of your kidneys. Drinking plenty of water can also aid digestion and bowl movements. Water is also used as a 'tool' to help feeling full - Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated can actually help prevent you feeling hungry. Quite often, you're actually thirsty rather than hungry.

3) Portion control

Even if you eat healthy foods, it is still possible to put on body fat. Portion sizes have sky rocketed in the last 10 or so years, and they are especially bad when you eat out. I still remember when my brother went to New York for business, and he was gobsmacked at the amount of food he had on his plate, no way could he ever finish it. Not all restaurants give big portions, but your cheaper/common restaurant chains tend to be the main culprits. You can help this by choosing a better restaurant, or by ordering a few items to share, rather than buy massive portions individually. You can always fill up your plate with more vegetables, as they will fill you up, but they are low in calories.

4) Minimise your sugar consumption

In short, sugar has very little benefit, and it's something that you can actually become 'addicted' to. Sugar is fast acting energy, and your body only needs a certain amount of it, any excess will be stored as fat. Most foods that are high in sugar, tend to be high in fat too - a double dose of bad! Small amounts of sugar here and there is fine, and sugar post-workout is actually good, but too much and your body will simply store it as fat, which is what you don't want.

5) Eat protein

Protein is not just beneficial to building bigger and stronger muscles - it also has health benefits. There are a range of foods that contain a good amount of protein - the most common sources are chicken, fish, beef, turkey and eggs. Protein fills you up, it's as simple as that. Consuming more protein will fill you up, so you will have less of an urge to snack on unhealthy foods. It's quite easy to eat a bowl of pasta, but try eating a plate of chicken! Research has shown that a higher protein consumption has been linked with increased bone density too!


Lee Gregory Fitness


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The 5:2 Diet - What is it? Does it work?

The 5:2 diet has become extremely popular, but what is it? and does it even work? Well, to start with it simply means '5 days on your diet, and 2 days off'. This is usually mon-fri 'on diet' and sat-sun 'off diet'. It's become popular with the younger people - 18-25 year olds, as that is the most popular age bracket to regularly go out on Friday and Saturday nights. Sounds appealing right? Have a diet but get to enjoy your weekends too? It depends...



The 5 days 'on diet' is supposed to be 5 consecutive days (as mentioned, mon-fri), which fits in with the usual working week, where a lot of people avoid getting drunk/partying/staying out late, and leave that until the weekend. So by 'eating clean' for those 5 days, it kind of means you can 'reward' yourself with 2 days 'off diet'.

If I'm completely honest with you, I really don't think this diet is best suited to fat loss. If you're someone who has a lot of weight to lose, then having 2 days 'off diet' isn't the best thing. Those two days will be filled with eating and drinking what you want, which can very quickly add up to a LOT of calories. Also, those 2 days 'off diet' can easily become 3 - you will at some point think "bringing my 'off diet' forward one day couldn't do any harm, right?".

The first 5 days 'on diet', should be filled with healthy, lean, clean foods - lots of vegetables, lean protein, some complex carbs, plenty of water and hitting the gym hard. Obviously you will have to work out your calorie intake by your calorie expenditure and your overall goal - fat loss or muscle gain. As you will be training hard in the gym, you will need carbs, so aim for around 30% of your diet coming from protein, 20% healthy fats and 50% from complex carbs,

This 5 days 'on diet' will not be easy. You need to be strict with your diet and train dam hard in order to 'earn' your 2 days off. Similar to a high-stress job - work your butt off mon-fri and have the weekend to relax. You want to keep your workouts high intensity, whether your lifting heavy weights, cross-fit, strength training, old school cardio or any other kind of workout, you need to smash it.

When it comes to your 'off diet' days, that doesn't necessarily mean you can eat what you want and how much you want - it simply means you can relax with your calorie intake. You still want to eat protein, but you don't have to 'eat clean'. Don't go crazy with your meals though - no gigantic garbage take-away deliveries!

On the surface of things, the 5:2 diet doesn't seem to bad, but it is actually very hard to stick to. I haven't purposely done it, but have accidentally. I've had weekends where I've 'let myself go' and gone off diet, but I haven't liked it. The thing with fitness, is that you can become (healthily) addicted, and once you get into the routine, you could very easily not like 'eating what you want' on the weekends. The times where I've gone off of my diet on weekends, I've felt lazy, fat, sluggish, and wish I didn't do it! Maybe that's what this diet is about, guilt tripping you into realising eating junk is bad? who knows...

That's my take on it, everyone will have their opinion and I'm sure there are guys and girls out there who are in great shape who live by the 5: 2 method, but each to their own.

Lee Gregory Fitness

Sunday, 22 November 2015

5 Healthy Shopping Tips

Going shopping is kind of like going into battle - the consumer vs the retailer. The consumer wants to spend as little as possible and the retailer wants them to spend as much as possible (regardless of what they buy). Many retailers are very clever with how they lay out their stores - placing 'impulse buy' products near the tills, which are usually cheap but hoping that people will buy a few at the last minute. They are also bad with how they sell their healthy foods...



Tip 1: Avoid the middle isles

With supermarkets, most people will shop through them by going down each isle. The majority of these isles (mainly the middle third) will be full of unhealthy, processed, sugary and just poor foods and drinks. As those isles have the most 'traffic', those are the most popular foods and drinks that are bought. They also advertise unhealthy foods throughout their supermarket far more than they do with healthy foods. Stick to the outside isles - that's where you'll find the good stuff!

Tip 2 : Have a list

Many will think of having a shopping list as being 'old school', but it's still a popular tool used when shopping. Not knowing what you want/need to buy will mean you'll end up buying things you don't need - often unhealthy products that are on offer. You don't have to walk around with a notepad and pen (which is kind of 'old school'), as nowadays you have shopping list apps that are more than just bullet points (they can be linked to multiple devices, shared with partners etc etc). Having a shopping list will help to keep you on track when it comes to buying your groceries.

Tip 3 : Go shopping on a FULL stomach

If you go shopping when you're hungry, you're going to be craving bad foods (not many people crave chicken breasts when they're hungry!). This means that you're far more likely to stick to the 'bad food isles'. So make sure you have a good meal before going for your weekly shop.

Tip 4 : Buy whole foods

Firstly, what are whole foods? well, they're foods that are nothing but themselves - carrots, peas, broccoli, eggs, chicken breasts, oranges, mangoes, bananas, salmon fillets and so on. These are foods that aren't modified, they are what they are, and they're healthy (the vast majority of them). By buying whole foods, you're going to be eating far fresher and healthier foods, which is extremely beneficial to your health.

Tip 5 : Read the nutritional information

This tip is one that some people may think is a little tedious, but it's important. If you just throw any product into your basket without checking what's actually in it, then you're simply guessing what your putting in your body. It doesn't take long to have a quick look at the nutritional content of products. You want to mainly look at the overall calories, protein, carbs and fats. With the carbs, have a look at the figure underneath as well (usually says 'of which sugars' or something similar). This figure is important. Some products claim to be healthy and say 'low fat!', which is great if it is actually low fat, but if it's loaded with sugar then its not healthy. Reading the nutritional content is a very good and healthy habit to develop.

Lee Gregory Fitness


Friday, 20 November 2015

Hench Nutrition Oats 'N Whey Protein Flapjacks Review

Even with feeling awful all week with a stinking virus, I was unbelievably happy when the delivery man handed me my Hench Nutrition parcel! There was one main reason why I was excited - the long awaited Oats 'N Whey Protein Flapjacks!


Firstly, I think the packaging is awesome - it's clean, neat, sharp, professional and attractive. Packaging is far more important than some people think. If you make a good product, then it deserves to be marketed in the right way.

Secondly comes the flapjacks themselves. I love the clear wrapper as I got to see the bar before opening it. To me personally, I think they look very tasty, which made me rip open that wrapper to have a taste. I was like a kid munching on candy! they are delicious!  They're not too sweet, yet they're not bland either. They are pretty firm, but not 'chewey', which I loved, as some flapjacks you eat just fall apart with one bite. With a couple of bites I knew that this bar would be filling - which is what you want with a snack. There's no point having a chocolate bar if you're hungry as that will never fill you up - which leads you to eat more and more. These bars are tasty as well as healthy. Here's the nutritional breakdown:

Per 80g flapjack:

- 294 kcal
- 20g protein
- 30.2g carbs (just 6.3g sugars)
- 9.2g fat
- 2.1g fibre
- 3.5g BCAA's
- 3.3g glutamine

Let's be honest, that's pretty darn good! As you can see from the protein content and the oats, these flapjacks will fill you up and give you some slow release energy too - just what you want in a snack.

The price? They are usually £14.99 for a box of 12, but are currently on offer at £11.99 for a box of 12 - WHAT A BARGAIN!

I highly recommend these. Whether you're someone who gets really hungry in between meals, or looking for a 'top up' to your macro's for the day, these are awesome!

Use my code for a discount - HN000782 and click here to check these amazing flapjacks out for yourself!

Lee Gregory Fitness

Thursday, 19 November 2015

How To Diet For A 6-pack!

A 6-pack - probably one of (if not the) most sought after attributes to a physique. Have you ever looked at a fitness magazine cover model and wanted his/her abs? ever wondered how they got them? Here's how...

CONSISTENCY!



It's very easy to put on a thin layer of body fat which can cover your abs. You will still look in good shape, but most of your abs, and your hard work in the gym, will be covered by that layer of body fat. How do you uncover your abs? by being consistent with your nutrition. Having 4 'good days' and 3 'bad days' a week is not good enough to have a solid 6-pack. You need to be consistent every day. You can have 'cheat meals' and the odd bit of 'bad nutrition', but if the majority (90% +) of the time you're good with your nutrition then you will be able to have a good set of abs (if you train hard too, obviously). 

It's very easy to look at a fitness magazine and think it's easy to have a core like those models, but in reality, it's not. It takes a lot of hard work in the gym, and being consistent in the kitchen. Monitoring your carb intake as well fat and overall calories is key. Taking on too many carbs will get stored as fat. Consuming too many calories altogether will put your diet into a calorie surplus - which will gain mass, whereas you want to be in a slight calorie deficit or equal calories to what you burn (if you have a 6-pack and want to maintain it)

For a lot of people, the stomach area loves to cling onto fat, which just makes it harder to get rid of. This means that you simply have to work harder. Train harder in the gym and be strict with your diet. A lot of people who have a good set of abs will claim that it's easy (a slight lie..), whereas others will tell you how hard it is and how how much work they put in. 

There's no shortcut to having a 6-pack, you have to work your butt off and watch what you consume. Yes it takes a lot of effort, but the result is having a core like those models on the front covers of magazines - surely it's worth the effort?

Monday, 16 November 2015

Do Low Carb Diets Work?

'Low carb', the two words I see most within nutrition and fitness. Many people demonise carbs without fully understand their role and how to use them. A low carb diet has to be one of the most popular, but does it work?



Firstly, what is a low carb diet? it may seem obvious, but some people think a low carb diet simply means "don't eat any carbs!", that's not true. Others tend to think they should drop their carb intake to a bare minimum, that's not true either. A low carb diet actually means lowering your carbs enough to make an impact. Carbohydrates are energy, so by eating a lot of carbs and not expending enough energy, means your body will store them as fat (stored energy). If you're an extremely active individual, you can get away with eating far more carbs than someone who lives a sedentary lifestyle. It's all about balance.

By doing 'low carb', you will want to drop your carb intake so your body is mainly feeding on protein and healthy fats, with a few carbs in there to keep you going throughout the day. One of the quickest ways to drop body fat is to drop your carbs right down, but is that sustainable? no. As you will reduce body fat on a very low carb diet, people then think - "see! I told you carbs make you fat!". However, if you take away carbs (or the vast majority of them) you're taking away a third of your diet (protein, fats, carbs being the 3). So by taking away a third, of course you're going to lose weight, as you're generally eating a lot fewer calories. Is it healthy? no, can you do that long term? no, so should you do it? no.

It takes a little experimenting as everybody is different and reacts differently to various carbohydrate levels. Some people can get really irritable, lethargic and moody when eating fewer carbs, whereas others can function a lot better. I personally have a couple of lower carb days a week, and I do get a little more tired and feel a little lazy on those days. Carbs are your primary source of energy, so by reducing that or getting rid of it altogether, your body will have it's 'ready energy source' removed, which isn't exactly good...

Lee Gregory Fitness

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Should You Eat In The Evenings?

Many people think if you eat during the evenings you'll put on body fat, but is that true?



Firstly it depends on your day to day routine - do you work in the evenings? if so, you'll need more calories to fuel you through work. However, if you don't work in the evenings, is it okay to eat? will you get fat? The answer is 'it depends', but most of the time the answer is no. 

Your body will burn 'x' amount of calories everyday, and as long as you consume the same amount of calories or less, then you won't put on body fat (healthy calories that is). To a degree it doesn't matter when you eat those calories, but if you spread them out throughout the day, then it can increase protein synthesis and optimise fat burn. Eating half of your calories in one meal wouldn't be ideal, and you would most likely feel ill afterwards....

The topic of this post is just another example of people worrying too much about individual things. Eating your calories in the evening will not suddenly give you a big stomach, but if you always eat a lot of bad food in the evenings, then yes, you will put on body fat. 

I don't tend to eat a lot of calories in the evenings, but I do still eat. I reduce them a little compared to during the day as I simply don't need a lot of energy at night, and I also find my sleep is affected when I've eaten a lot. 

It does depend on the person. I know people who are in awesome shape and they eat a lot in the evenings, so it does vary. I wouldn't focus too much on particular things such as evening eating - instead, focus on eating healthy foods and exercising regularly. 

Monday, 9 November 2015

How Social Media Has Changed The Fitness World

In a strange way, social media pretty much runs the world. Think about it, if you own a company/brand then I'm sure you're on social media, if you're famous you'll be on there, if you're trying to break into an industry (modelling for example) you'll be on there, or if you're just an average person, you'll be on there. Adverts now include things such as the brands social media names/profile, and also include specific 'hashtags' that they have created. But what about the fitness industry?



It has never been so easy to find motivation and inspiration to get in shape and stay in shape. With a click of a button you can follow a motivational individual who posts pictures of their training, physique, meals, motivational posts and so on. You can have your entire 'news feed' full of motivation, and guess what? it's free!

The fact that these platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc) are free to use, means that people have less and less excuses to not be motivated. My 'feeds' on Twitter and Instagram are full of athletes, sportsmen/women, personal trainers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, physique competitors, and oh yes, Lewis Hamilton! (because he rules...). Everyday when I open these apps I see their latest posts, and guess what - it motivates me! Everyone can lack motivation from time to time, but when you look at inspiring individuals everyday, it's pretty hard to still feel sluggish.

There is one 'hashtag' in particular on social media that I love - '#fitfam'. It's a hashtag that brings all the fitness lovers together and you get to see a huge variety of training and diet by clicking on that one hashtag. It's a way of learning as well - seeing what others are doing can open your eyes to new methods of training and different ways of dieting. I strongly believe that social media has changed the fitness world for the better, but of course, you're always going to get 'the few' who try and ruin it for others - they are called 'trolls' (however I like to call them 'pathetic keyboard warriors'). These people spend their lives searching around on social media platforms purely to insult others, argue and annoy people. Luckily, you can block these morons and report them! (I have many times...)

Is there a downside?

Some fitness people seem to be addicted to social media - uploading every single meal and drink, videoing every single workout, taking endless selfies in the gym, does it bug me? kind of, but hey, there are far, far! worse addictions than loving the 'fit life'!

Also, as there are so many athletes, gym users, people in fantastic shape, bodybuilders, nutritionists and personal trainers on social media, I can understand if some people feel a little overwhelmed and intimidated. Try your best to use it as motivation rather than intimidation - easier said than done, but if you can, it will help you tremendously.

Whether you're new to the fitness world or experienced, social media can help you in many ways. Use the platforms for inspiration, motivation and education. The amazing thing is that you control it, it's yours, you can choose what you see every time you open the apps.

Lee Gregory Fitness


Thursday, 5 November 2015

ENJOY WHAT YOU DO!

The title of this post is mainly aimed at fitness, but it can also apply to your career. A lot of people will moan about the gym, moan about waking up early to workout, simply because they don't enjoy it. Of course you're going to moan if you're doing something you don't enjoy.



There are so many different ways to train and so many different ways to eat your calories, that you will be able to find something you enjoy. Chicken is one of the most popular foods in the 'fitness world', but what if you don't like it? don't eat it! There are many different other sources of protein that you can consume, so you don't have to force yourself to eat something you don't like.

Do you enjoy counting calories? if so, that's great, if not, there's other ways to manage your intake - counting portions for example. I myself have tried counting calories and counting portions, and I prefer to count portions - I simply don't enjoy counting calories, so I only do it every now and then to check I'm on the right track, but to be honest, I mainly go by how I look.

If you try and force yourself to do something that you don't like, you're either going to be miserable, or you're going to quit. As mentioned, there are so many different ways to train, so many different foods to eat, there is zero point in doing something that you don't like doing. It may take a while to find the right nutrition for you, the right training for you, and just the overall approach, but it will be worth it.

Lee Gregory Fitness

Monday, 2 November 2015

What Can Be Learned From Halloween...

A slightly different post today, focusing more on mindset than nutrition and training.



It's just gone past that time of year - Halloween. It's mainly a night for the youngsters - the costumes, the trick or treating, the fun, but the adults also like to have a good time. There is however, a hidden benefit to Halloween - the 'not caring' part...

As youngsters, you love to dress up and have a good time, whether you look silly or not, but the adults do that too. Some costumes do actually look awesome!! (those who spend a fair bit of cash...) but most people tend to dress up and not care if they look silly, not caring what people think, they're just there to have a laugh. THAT is how people should think a lot of the time. Too many people care too much about what others think. Yes, I do understand there will be certain circumstances where there are genuine reasons why an individual cares about other people's opinions of them...

One of the main reasons overweight individuals don't join a gym, is because they are worried others in the gym are 'there to laugh at them', when that isn't true. Unfortunately you will always get those few people who do stand around in the gym simply to mock others, but it is rare. What do you do in that situation? report them! They will soon be warned, and if they don't stop, they will have their membership cancelled. If however the gym doesn't take that action, then change gyms! even if that means a little extra journey. But everyone goes to the gym for the same reason - to improve themselves, whether that's about building muscle, increasing endurance, working on sport specific goals, or just to maintain a level of fitness. So what if you're overweight? going to the gym is the RIGHT thing to do, and I can assure you that there will be many people in the gym who will support you and help you if you need it. Think like a child does on Halloween - "who cares!?"

It's a lot easier said than done - to not care what others think, but it will dramatically reduce your stress levels. Halloween is a time to enjoy yourself, but so is life!

Lee Gregory Fitness