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

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Can Creatine Affect Your Mood?

Creatine is one of the oldest, most researched supplements on the market, but some people are still concerned about possible side effects. Some people even think creatine is similar to steroids, which then they fear that it could make them angry, annoyed and cause mood swings. Should you be worried?

What is creatine?

It's a supplement that can boost your energy levels. It's found in meat and your body does produce it, but you would have to eat your way through a fair amount of meat to get enough, so supplementing with creatine makes sense.

As of yet, there have been no studies carried out that have shown a side effect of 'anger' or anything similar. There are always 'horror stories' out there about many supplements, including creatine, but sometimes they are very isolated circumstances, that are often caused by other factors, and sometimes they are even made up.

Creatine, like many things, won't work for everyone, so you have to try it and see if you notice a benefit. But It's safe to say (going by the vast amount of research) that creatine won't cause anger or mood swings by itself.

Lee Gregory Fitness 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Carbonated water VS fizzy drinks

Fizzy drinks have been known to be nothing but bad news for a very long time, so why do people keep drinking them? Two reasons - 1) the flavour, and 2) the texture! some studies I've read have shown that people are more 'addicted' to the fizz rather than the taste. So how can you 'get your 'fix' of a fizzy drink, but without the unhealthy 'side effects'?

Carbonated Water!

What is carbonated water? in simple terms, fizzy water. How is that different to say, Coca Cola? well, Cola is filled with nothing but garbage, mainly a shed load of sugar! Fizzy water on the other hand is simply, fizzy water.

Fizzy water on its own isn't exactly the most tasty of drinks, but it enables you to be inventive with flavourings. Fresh lemon and lime juice can give it a refreshing, summery taste. Orange can give it a more traditional 'fizzy drink flavour' (such as Fanta). No, these drinks will not be as sweet as Cola, but they are a whole lot healthier!

Are they safe though?

Yes, they are safe. The only possible 'side effect' is if you drink far too many of them, they could cause tooth erosion, due to the carbonic acid. By drinking them with food, you can reduce the acidic effect of the drinks.But they're still, far, far better than sugary fizzy drinks!

My personal opinion? They are a far better option than traditional fizzy drinks, and will still give you that 'fizzy drink taste'. Obviously, drinks such as green tea or just water are the best options, but if you fancy something slightly different, flavoured carbonated drinks are perfectly fine.

Lee Gregory Fitness

Monday, 11 April 2016

Should You Use Machines or Free Weights?

This is an argument I have seen online for a very long time. Your hardened weight lifters will usually always say "machines are a waste of time!", but are they really?

If you're wanting to build a muscular physique, then you need to lift heavy weights, and sometimes it doesn't matter if it's a machine or free weights. Some machines aren't that well designed, so you might not be hitting the muscle as well as you could, so yeah, that's the time to opt for the free weights. However, I personally use a mixture, and some of the guys I follow use machines regularly, and they have awesome physiques. 

I do think it comes down to mindset a lot of the time. Machines have had a slightly bad reputation in the weight room over the years, and it's lead to a lot of 'gym rats' hating them and giving them that bad rep. Some machines can be very good at isolating a specific muscle group. Take the leg extension for example. Some people will say it's no where near as good as squats, but squats can also be fairly dangerous if you're lifting just that little too much weight, or if you don't know how to squat properly. As I've said, I've seen some of the biggest names in the business use that leg extension machine, so if it's so bad, why would those guys with amazing physiques use it??

I honestly think that some peoples opinions on this topic is like the debate in the Fast and Furious movies between the late Paul Walker and Vin Diesel - muscle cars vs imports - both have positives and negatives, but they both work in their own right - it comes down to personal opinion. 

Machines are great for beginners. They allow the user to familiarise themselves with the feeling of contracting a specific muscle group, which then they will know what to feel for when switching to free weights. That is one of the biggest problems with free weights - people not quite knowing how to do it as they don't know what they should be feeling. 

My advice? use both and see what you prefer! Sometimes the free weights won't always be available and you'll have to use the machines anyway! 

Monday, 4 April 2016

"I don't have a spare hour for the gym!"

Good, because it doesn't have to take an hour!

Time is one of the most common 'excuses' people use to avoid going to the gym. Some people think you need to go for an hour in order to have a good workout, but that's not true. You want to stay away from the advertised 10 or 15 minute workouts, as that's not long enough to have an effect, but a 30-45 minute workout is enough.

The less time you have to workout, simply means you have to raise your game, and by that I mean raise the intensity. High intensity interval training is just the thing. By training hard with short breaks in between sets, you will be working your body far harder, which in turn will burn more calories.

It does annoy me when I read/hear the 'time excuse', as those people will easily find the time to watch their favourite sport or tv show, but somehow haven't got the time to train - but do have the time to moan about their body!

It's all about how you manage your time, not time in general. The vast majority of people are not run off their feet all day every day, but most people do manage their time very poorly. Even CEO's of some of the most wealthiest companies in the world can fit in gym time! You need to be organised - plan when you will fit in a short workout (at least 3 times per week), and make sure you stick to that. If you make it part of your schedule, it will soon become a habit - a good habit!

Don't use time as an excuse, because you really don't need to be in the gym for hours in order to see results.

Lee Gregory Fitness

Friday, 1 April 2016

Vitamin D3 Review

Vitamin D is the one vitamin that is being spoken about more and more, but still is one of the most underused. Vitamin D is often referred to as the 'sunshine vitamin', as you do 'get it' from the sun. However, unless you are in the sunshine regularly, it's hard to get enough, which means a lot of people will be deficient in vitamin D. Going in the sun and burning yourself red raw, is not the way to go about obtaining vitamin D. Also, slapping on a ton of factor 50 sunscreen every time you walk into a big of sunlight, will hinder your absorption of this vital vitamin.

Many people who live in countries with average or little sunshine, and work indoors, will most likely be deficient, which in turn can cause problems. The most important functions of vitamin D are - regulating absorption of calcium and phosphorous, and helping to keep your immune system in check. Vitamin D is important for the growth and development of your bones as well as protecting you from harmful diseases. You can see why this is important for children. Unfortunately, with the 'scare factor' of skin cancer, many parents are going slightly overboard with sunscreen on their children. Whilst this is good, and needed, it can disrupt your body converting the sun light into vitamin D. Short periods of sun exposure with lower sunscreen is perfectly safe, and will allow far better absorption of this vitamin.

It's very hard to get enough vitamin D in countries with less sun, if you work indoors, and it's also hard to get enough through your diet. This is where a vitamin D supplement comes in very handy! I myself have had a few issues with the sun over the past few years, so I have been using a supplement. The one in particular that I've been using for the past year is 'Simply Supplements' Vitamin D3 2000iu'. As I usually mention in supplement review posts, it is hard to tell if one particular supplement is working, but knowing how I have felt in previous years with a sun related issue, I can safely say that supplementing with vitamin D has benefited me greatly.

The winter months used to be the toughest - not much sunshine, having to be careful in the sun when it's out (the uv rays), work indoors - not a good combination, and I would have definitely been deficient. In the past year, during summer months as well as the winter, I have felt 'boosted' compared to previous years. I no longer felt as sluggish, I wasn't as grumpy, as irritable, and was hardly ill. Some people might say "no way that one vitamin can do that!". My response? do your research on vitamin D and you'll realise just how important this little vitamin is!

I highly recommend Simply Supplements for vitamin D - great value and the tub will last you a long time!

Feel free to use my code - LEEG10 for 10% off site wide!

Click here to check out this vitamin!

Lee Gregory Fitness