To Supplement or not to Supplement?

Looking back at prehistoric man’s diet, humans managed to consume a large quantity of vitamins and minerals from natural foods that they found or hunted that was sufficient for their dietary needs.

These cavemen and women had to be active in order to survive, and coped without supplements so why do we rely so heavily on supplements now?

Although the Paleo (caveman) diet includes meat fish and vegetables grown above the ground, plus fruit and nuts, modern day Paleo followers do not always get an adequate quantity of nutrients from their foods, which are not as natural and nutrient rich as they were during the Paleo era 17000 years ago.

Also, if cavemen were satisfied with their diets, it begs the question, why did they go in search of grains and root vegetables, beginning the Neolithic era.

However even though the Paleo diet appears to be natural and balanced, the average age of a caveman was shockingly low at only 16. The average age for a Neolithic man was almost twice as old at 34.

The Neolithic diet includes a wider range of foods and a larger quantity of carbohydrates making up a good proportion of the diet.

This was more sustainable and kept humans fulfilled until the population increased to a point where intensive farming and food production made food more accessible to the masses.

With the population rising to over 7 billion, intensive farming, factory farming where the animals are kept in factories as opposed to fields, often in dark cramped conditions, plus plant breeding, conventional and using genetic modification, are the best ways to produce more food from the same amount of land.

This all leads to a lowering of nutrient content. This has caused a rise in deficiencies and the emergence of diseases of the dark ages.

Although macronutrients such as carbs, proteins and fats can be synthesised or scavenged by the body in times of crisis to meet the basic physiological functions, the dietary vitamins and trace elements are organic and inorganic compounds. These have specific requirements that can’t be met by the body.

There are also vast differences in the micronutrient content of foods grown in and out of season. The storage processes and food production deplete the nutrient quantity further.

Fat soluble vitamins D,A,K,and E are found in oily fish, liver, dark green leafy veg, dairy, soya beans, whole eggs, nuts and seeds.

Water soluble vitamins, B, C Folate, Niacin, Panthenoic acid are found in whole grains, cereals, liver, shellfish, rice and fruit and veg.

Minerals Iron, copper, zinc, magnesium and manganese are found in dried fruits, meat, shellfish, legumes, nuts, seeds, root vegetables and cruciferous vegetables.

Tinned fruit and vegetables lose some micronutrients during the heat treatment process such as vitamin C.

If food choices and availability do not allow for a wide ranging diet, ensure your supplements are from a reputable source.

Active individuals obviously require a larger amount of micronutrients than less fit people and so often turn to supplements.

Regular high intensity exercise is extremely stressful on the body, which means a greater demand for certain vitamins and minerals that drive the energy metabolism.

Hormones can be affected by an insufficient nutrient intake so it is important to ensure that the diet is varied and high in nutrients.

Also exercise causes free radical damage and sufficient micro nutrients are needed in order for the endogenous antioxidant properties of the body to mop up the free radicals. Consuming antioxidants aids this process.

Eating an insufficient quantity of micronutrients when training can hinder recovery; even sweating can deplete the body of vital minerals, zinc, magnesium, copper, iron calcium and sodium. A good post training electrolyte drink can be made simply at home by mixing one part water to one part sweetened orange juice and adding a pinch of salt.

Supplements can be used to counteract deficiencies. However cheaper supplements can be mixed with magnesium oxide which can reduce the bioavailability by to up to only 4%, and the rest lost as urine.

Good supplements can cost a considerable amount more and often it is more beneficial to spend more on a wider variety of foods than on a cheap supplement.

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The Paleo Diet – Eating Like a Caveman

Ever since the gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin coined the phase Paleolithic diet, people have been copying the diets of caveman in an attempt to eat healthier and lose weight.

Foods can be either hunted and fished, such as meat, offal and seafood, or gathered, such as eggs, fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs and spices.

In particular it is recommended to eat only lean cuts of meat, free of food additives, preferably wild game meats and grass-fed beef since they contain higher levels of omega-3 fats compared with grain-produced domestic meats.

The reasons for these food types are that prior to the Neolithic (agricultural) revolution, humans were unable to produce grains eg. Rice, flour, also they were unable to cook legumes or beans, or produce any form of dairy products, refined sugars and processed oils

It is thought that this diet is very beneficial to health as we are essentially omnivorous. There are far more vitamins and nutrients in a Paleo diet rich in fruits, vegetable, nuts and seeds than in the modern day refined processed foods diet we now consume

Medical problems that can be alleviated with a Paleo diet include Chrohns disease, IBS and Colitis. Paleo diets are Gluten free and so suitable for Coeliacs. Casein which is a protein found in milk and dairy products, and may impair glucose tolerance in humans is also not part of a Paleo diet,

Various books have been written and studies carried out on un-westernized communities, and the Paleo diet with a high protein content, low carbohydrate content has been linked to a lack of strokes, ischemic heart disease, diabetes, obesity and hypertension

However, also raw, Paleolithic dieters are even more strict and who believe that humans have not adapted to cooked foods, and so they eat only foods which are both raw and Paleolithic

The idea is to avoid any processed foods and stick to foods of plant or animal origin. GI indexes and loadings are not specified, there is not a point system or Atkins type of regime, nor is it a quick fix solution. Its more of a lifestyle change, not to lose weight fast, but to enhance ones health and minimise the risk of disease from modern refined foods

This diet is in stark contrast to a typical western diet which consists of up to 70% refined sugars, processed oils, processed cereals, dairy and alcohol, all of which are banned from the Paleo diet

These banned foods when eaten in excess have been linked to the obesity epidemic that is spreading across the Western world, as well as high volume of cases of Type 2 diabetes, cardio vascular disease and high blood pressure. The reason for this is that our former functional diet aided natural selection and the growth of the human population, our current dysfunctional diet differs greatly from what we have evolved to eat and so cause us various medical ailments

The proportions of animal to plant foods that our ancestors ate are vastly unclear. We know that around 64- 68% of the diet was from animal origin, the rest originated from plants

Our digestive system, organs, teeth, stomach pH and gut size are moistly similar to that of Chimpanzees, which are essentially fruit eaters. We share 98% of our DNA with Chimps who consume around 95% plants and 5% animal foods. However the one difference between our digestive systems if the way we synthesize polyunsaturated fats, in that we require more from our diet than Chimps, as we are require a greater quantity and are not as adept as synthesizing these fats ourselves. The best source of these fats is fish.

One mineral that is lacking from a Paleo diet is Vitamin D, which modern day humans require in much greater amounts in our sunless climate than in the Paleolithic era

About 10,000 years ago, humans began to domesticate animals and produce dairy. New foods such as beans, cereals and salt were introduced due to agricultural methods, as well as alcohol.

The industrial revolution enabled us to use food processing and intensive farming methods to produce refined cereals, sugar, vegetable oils and fatty meats.

Whilst crops 10,000 years ago were nutrient rich, after thousands of years of intensive farming, the mass produced vegetables and fruits we find in our local shops contains far less nutrients, and so would need to be more varied to ensure all the essential vitamins and minerals are consumed.

Although food production methods would have to change drastically in order to sustain the work population that has surpassed 7 billion, a Paleo diet is the healthiest way reduce the risk of modern diseases.

Strictly adhering to a Paleo diet may mean making some changes with eating out socially, avoiding alcohol and involves a certain amount of preparation. But it is well worth at least considering reducing the amount of processed foods we eat and incorporating more natural, seasonal foods which are more nutrient packed and full of health benefits that the packaged processed foods we have become accustomed to eating sadly lack.

How to Avoid Cellulite

We are all familiar with the term cellulite which has been around since the 20’s, also known as orange peel and cottage cheese skin. We find it often on the thighs and glute areas, mostly in women after puberty, and for many it is the bane of their lives.

The dimpling effect occurs when herniation of subcutaneous fat within fibrous connective tissue, leading to an orange peel–like appearance.

Cellulite is often classified using three grades:-

– Grade 1 classification sees no clinical or visual symptoms, and cellulite is only visible with the help of a microscope to view anatomical changes.
– Grade 2 has the above symptoms plus the skin is pasty, cooler than the rest of the skin and less elastic.
– Grade 3 has the above symptoms and also includes rough orange peel skin.

No matter what size or shape, anyone can have cellulite as it occurs in the layers of fat just under the surface of the skin, when the connective tissue is stretched or pulled, restricted in some way.

Genes can determine your susceptibility to getting cellulite. Race, gender, fat deposits, metabolism and circulation also affect the likelihood of cottage cheese thighs.

Hormones have been thought to greatly influence the chances of having cellulite. The female hormone oestrogen may initiate and aggravate cellulite hence why more women have cellulite and such few men.

Stress can cause the level of catecholamines which are organic compounds linked to the formation of cellulite. Catecholamines are hormones which include adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine among others.

Anti cellulite massages to breakdown the cellulite, deep tissue massages and sports massages are always popular, as are massages that stimulate lymphatic flow, heat therapy, ultrasound, radio frequency therapy, magnetic therapy, radial waves therapy, and electrical stimulation. Foam rollers (self myofascial release) may also help break down the cellulite and push toxins up towards the lymph glands. Sadly however, there is no scientific evidence that these methods are effective.

There are numerous creams and potions available claiming to cure cellulite, most include the ingredients caffeine, green tea and sometimes Ginko biloba. Pharmacists have other options of creams to apply topically, as well as oral and injectable medications, however none have yet to be given scientific approval and as yet there is no known cure.

Loose underwear that does not restrict blood flow to the arteries is essential in staving off cellulite; good options are G strings, thongs, boy shorts and hotpants, as long as the elastic is not tight across the glutes.

Diet is very important. Even a few months of eating junk food and carbonated drinks a couple of times a week can take its toll, changing the appearance of the skin.

Although not viewed as a medical condition by the medical community, it isn’t something we have to settle for, so here are my top tips for avoiding cellulite, and joining the 5% of us who don’t have any.

Tips for avoiding cellulite include:-

1. Dry body brushing with a stiff brush – this is my top tip as it improves circulation and prevents cellulite, it is simple and takes as little as ten minutes per day
2. Avoid eating or drinking toxins – processed food and drinks
3. Avoid fizzy low calorie drinks
4. Eating a healthy balanced clean diet, limit the quantity of fruits, plenty of dark green and colourful vegetables, and fibre
5. Staying hydrated with plenty of fluids, at least 3 litres a day
6. Exercising regularly using weights as opposed to cardio is the way forward to tone the muscles and decrease the body fat and cellulite
7. Keep a healthy weight and body fat percentage
8. Avoid crash diets
9. Avoid smoking
10. Avoid drinking coffee and tea excessively as this causes dehydration which will not help the cellulite
11. Rub ground coffee granules into the thighs and glutes to prevent cellulite. Cindy Crawford is a fan of this method
12. Keep moving – don’t sit or stand in the same place for too long
13. Avoid liposuction, this can actually worsen the effects
14. Avoid eating too much salt

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Trans Fats & the Dangers of Low Fat Food

woman shoppingIn the pursuit of health and weight loss, many of us choose low fat or fat free options which we deem to be healthier. Surely a low fat product is better for us than full fat product. A gram of fat is calorie rich and contains 9 calories, more than double the calories in a gram of carbs or a gram of protein. We are constantly told to reduce the fat in our foods and in particular the quantity of saturated fat.

The main issue with this is the quality of the fat in a low fat product after the food processing has taken place to lower the fat content of the food.

During food production, instead of using a full fat saturated ingredient, vegetable oils are used. To make them solid in order to be used as a viable replacement, the vegetable oils have to be hydrogenated.

The hydrogenation process turns polyunsaturated fatty acids into solids. This is done by adding hydrogen atoms to unsaturated fats, eliminating double bonds. This makes them into partially or completely saturated fats which are solid or semi-solid at room temperature.

This also produces transfats which cause ill health, coronary heart disease and raised cholesterol. Many thousands of cardiac deaths each year are directly attributable to transfats. Although transfats are found in small doses naturally in food, much of the low fat products which are readily available to us contain transfats in higher doses.

Many studies have taken place over the years proving that the quantity of transfats in the diet is inextricably linked with the risk of mortality. Whereas polyunsaturated fats have the opposite effect and actually decrease the risk of dying.

Transfats increase the amount of unhealthy LDLs in the body. The level of HDL to LDL is a key factor in determining the risk of coronary issues, and it is vital to keep the ratio of healthy HDL high and the amount of bad LDLs low.

Transfats have been linked to depression and in particular suicide. Eating transfats has a risk of infertility in women. Transfats require different metabolic processes that take place in the liver and so can cause dysfunction of the liver. Aggression is another side effect and most worrying of all, transfats are linked to cancer.

Transfats are linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, however good fats such as fish oils have been found to be beneficial in preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and are recommended for improving brain function.

As transfats are not required to be listed on the label, the easiest way to avoid eating them is to choose the full fat option and have a smaller portion. Labels to avoid include “Light”, “Low fat” “Half fat”.

As well as containing transfats which are harmful to the health, low fat products contain additional high levels of refined sugars and sweeteners to increase the taste and palatability that has been reduced by removing the fat. This is not advisable for a weight loss diet. Eating good fats in small portions won’t make you fat, but eating refined sugar can. Sugar causes spikes in the blood, causing insulin to be released. This reduces insulin sensitivity over time. Over production of insulin also causes fat to remain in the cells and therefore this fat storage is unlikely to be metabolised.

Overeating the sugar can cause obesity, Type 2 diabetes as well as dental problems. Excess sugar will also be stored as fat, mainly in the liver. Transfats also cause obesity, more so than eating a similar quantity of normal fats.

Fat is essential in small amounts in our diet, the quantities depend on our body type. Fat cushions our joints, balances our hormone levels and keeps us warm. Eating good fats allow us to absorb fat soluble vitamins D, A, K, E. Sugars conversely do not contain any vitamins or minerals and are basically empty calories.

Fats containing Omega 3s are especially good for mental health and emotional health. To conclude, a small amount of full fat with a low sugar diet is far healthier than the equivalent quantity of reduced fat. Good sources of unsaturated fat include Extra Virgin Olive oil, flaxseeds, linseeds, and nuts.

Say Bye Bye To Bread

As a trainer and nutritionist I always start to clean up a client’s diet by removing bread. Reactions to this are often mixed, so I shall summarise my reasons below.

caution-bread-loafBread has for decades been seen to be healthy, appearing in vast portions on the old food pyramid which has been used by dieticians and nutritionists since 1992, based on the earliest food recommendations from 1894.

This is now known to be due to an overproduction of wheat which caused us to be encouraged to consume more wheat and therefore bread in order not to waste the wheat.

Since 2011 this was replaced with a food plate which has fewer grains and doesn’t mention bread at all. In spite of this we are still led to believe bread is part of a healthy diet and are bombarded with health adverts involving bread. Even popular health magazines and TV programs actually advise clients to eat bread.

During the Paleo era prior to farming, before grains and flour production, humans managed to sustain themselves and reproduce without bread, pasta and wheat in their diets until the Neolithic era 8,000 BC. Although farming methods have changed drastically with the cultivation of crops, domestication of animals and mass producing food, our genes are still remarkably similar to that of our Paleo ancestors.

Whilst grains are good for you; oats are especially good for the heart, refined grains cause a sugar spike similar to that of consuming raw sugar, meaning that any excess sugar not used by the body is stored as fat.

Too much glucose in the blood causes the release of free radicals which cause damage to the muscle tissue, wrinkles and premature aging. A diet rich in antioxidants is necessary to combat this.

Along with the sugar spike there is also an insulin spike, which is needed to store the excess sugar. Frequent insulin spikes have been linked to Type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and various other diseases due to the cells becoming resistant to insulin.

Homemade whole meal bread would take a couple of hours to bake. However shop made bread takes around 30 minutes. The yeast is only partially fermented, meaning that it continues the fermentation process in your gut.

The quantity of carbohydrates found in bread is too high for the average sedentary person. A regular exerciser hoping to put on muscle may need to increase the carb intake but a non-exerciser will simply store fat after eating excess carbs. A meal rich in vegetables will be more nutritious, full of vitamins, valuable minerals and antioxidants

Wholegrain shop made bread contains high levels of phytates which make zinc and iron and other macro nutrients un-absorbable. It is therefore impossible to obtain the full benefit of a nutritious meal, and will have to consume more of the foods in order to gain some benefit.

Lectins also are found in whole grains and increase gut permeability. This allows toxins in to the blood and can cause acne and multiple sclerosis.

Most people have heard of endorphins and the good effects they have on the body, but cereal grains and also dairy contain exorphins. This has a negative effect, causing mood changes and addictiveness. They are essentially opoids, proteins produced from the digestion of gluten, and due to their addictiveness can cause obesity.

As food production techniques have become increasingly more advanced, gluten intolerant individuals have increased in numbers. Up to half the population are sensitive to gluten to some degree, with 1% being Coeliacs. Such individuals can have the following symptoms:

Joint aches
Bone pain
Abdominal pain
Low nutrient absorption
Short stature
Premature balding

Even though over 10 years has shown that salt levels have come down by an average of 20%. Approximately 75% of the salt consumed in the UK and other developed countries come from processed foods. In the UK bread forms a large part of our diet and so the high salt levels are a health issue.

Thankfully bread bakers have gradually reduced the levels of salt in their products, preventing 2,400 strokes and heart attack events each year, but more can be done.

Lastly a little known fact, that supermarket bread is often injected with fat to ensure it keeps its shape. The perfectly pliable dough is enhanced with L-Cysteine which is extracted from feathers. Due to relaxed labelling rules, these ingredients do not have to appear on the label, and so often the buyer is unaware.

If giving up bread is too difficult and depressing to contemplate, try baking your own at home, with the best ingredients you can afford. Be sparing with your salt, try a gluten free flour if possible, bake slowly and consume in small amounts, ideally after exercise with a portion of protein.

Alternatively try root or leafy vegetables, baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, marrow, broccoli, the list goes on…

Crash Diets & Cravings

Many of us have tried diets in order to shift a few pounds, I myself have tried several over the last decade ranging from the cabbage soup diet, smoothie diets, the green and red diet, low fat, low carb, GI diets, vegan diets, fruitarian diets, various bodybuilder diets to lose fat and retain muscle, and a wide range of diets endorsed by celebs advertised in my favourite magazines. I tried herbal fat loss pills and capsules, differing tonics, eating protein just before bed, not eating after 6pm, having 3 square meals, having 6 small meals, having water with each meal, herbal teas, weighing food, counting calories and counting points all to no avail.

Whilst each diet had a positive effect mentally in the short term and I felt in control of my body seeing the weight steadily decreasing, as soon as I went back to eating normally the weight crept back on and sometimes I gained more than I lost.

The benefits of a very restrictive diet are the feeling that one is on “holiday” from eating, a break from routine. Though this is central to the success of a diet, there is little long term success due to previous eating habits being repeated.

When on a “crash diet” basically eating 20% less calories than usual, the body goes into starvation mode to preserve fat stores from the inevitable famine it assumes is on the way. Water will be released during this storage process so it appears that weight has been lost. This reinforces the belief that the diet is working.

As the starvation continues, the body needs to preserve its energy and muscle uses the largest amount of energy to work. The body reduces muscle mass and preserves energy so more weight is lost. However if the goal is to burn up fat for a more lean toned look, using up muscle will not help. When muscle is depleted, the metabolic rate decreases as it requires less energy to survive. This slows the weight loss so a further decrease in calories is the only way to get any more weight loss.

After the diet is over, and normal eating continues, the new body shape with less muscle will require fewer calories than before. Fat stores start to rise again which is rather depressing, as the result is a marked increase in fat as lean muscle has been depleted. The dieter will be even unhappier with the body composition and will either try a different diet or will come to the conclusion that “dieting makes you fat”.

Another side effect of dieting or restricting oneself is the cravings that ensue. When told a food type is banned, it merely heightens the desire, contributing to the failure of a diet and feelings of guilt and a lack of self-control.

Often we eat when we are not hungry, due to a variety of emotional and physiological factors such as boredom, loneliness, stress, worry and anger. If someone is a “restrained eater” then any of these feelings can cause them to overeat and play havoc with their self-control. It takes practise to distinguish between emotional and true hunger, and to resist eating purely due to emotions.

Sometimes weight maintenance is a more realistic goal and just as important as weight loss. Just preventing further weight gain can bring many health benefits and far outweigh the short-term benefits of a diet. In fact yo-yo dieting can cause health consequences due to the increase and decrease of carbohydrates, in particular sugar, and can affect insulin resistance.

The pleasure we get when eating foods is linked to the hormone dopamine and obese people have fewer dopamine receptors, meaning they require a larger portion of tasty food in order to have the same pleasurable effect. Which means dieting is even more difficult for obese individuals. However recent studies show that overeating can cause further reduction of dopamine receptors.

Cravings and depressed moods are inextricably linked. Generally foods craved are sugary or fatty such as chocolate. Although chocolate does contain a cannabinoid relatively unique to cocoa, the average person would have to consume 25kg of chocolate to receive a noticeable high. More likely, the elevated mood after eating craved foods is due to the “guilty pleasures” feelings associated, and the taste of sugar and fat.

Instead of trying out the latest fad diet, I always recommend cutting out one “bad” food per week, this is far easier to adhere to in the long term. For example, this week try avoiding crisps, next week try abstaining from crisps and cakes, for the following week avoid eating crisps, cake and chocolate and so on.

This will not feel like a diet, it’s a healthy eating plan for life. Allow yourself one cheat meal a week consisting of a “bad” food type such as a piece of cake. Replace the “bad” foods with “good” foods like fruit, veg, nuts, seeds and berries. Before you know it you will be on your way to a healthier life.

Causes of the Obesity Pandemic

In spite of all the modern advances in science and pharmaceutical health in the developed countries, we still face one major health concern which affects our cardiovascular health and wellbeing – obesity. Although there are a multitude of causes, the result is the same for all, almost all obese people have developed some symptoms of chronic disease by the age of 40, and most will need medical intervention by the age of 60. 

Fast foods and processed foods have been blamed for the increase in obesity, due to the high energy content and low nutrient content. Physical activity has also decreased over the years helping the level of obesity rise exponentially in richer and poorer countries alike. In fact, obesity levels are higher in low income families with less education whereas healthier people are the ones who earn more money. 

Labour saving devices in the home and at work mean less activity takes place throughout the day. We drive more and walk less, we have remote controls, power tools, gadgets, etc. Food is more accessible than before, we can eat out, order takeaways, have food delivered, drive through, use the internet to do our supermarket shopping and can supersize on most occasions. 

We are said to be half as active as our parents by about 500-800 calories per day, and our children will be half as active as we are. That’s about the same as running a marathon each week. We all know we need to eat a bit healthier and exercise more, but as no country has yet managed to reverse the trend in the rise in obesity, achieving this would take a lot more than that. 

Famine is still responsible for more human deaths than any single disease; hence the humans who could withstand famine better were more able to survive. Storing more body fat was an evolutionary advantage.  Any strict diet mimicking starvation will set these mechanisms into play. Metabolism will slow down, fat will be stored, and lean mass utilised, hunger pangs will take hold and the mind will be fully occupied with finding food. 

Nutrition plays a big part in being healthy and maintaining a healthy weight, however studies have shown that obese people do understand the importance of healthy eating. 

A vigorous exercise routine whilst burning calories will not help an obese person lose weight if they simply keep eating too much, so exercise in isolation is not the answer. In fact after a lifetime of sedentary behaviours and a general lack of exercise, an obese person will find it hard to start and stick to a program of intensive exercise and may find it uncomfortable. 

Though the environment is often to blame, there still continues to be a number of slim lean people, who live in the same environments as obese people, being subjected to the same adverts, the same peer pressure, the same availability of food and the same surroundings.

So what is it that keeps this declining minority from piling on the pounds?

Although there is evidence of a “fat gene” and animal studies have found various mutations linked to obesity, human obesity is much more complex and there are far more factors to consider then simply genetics. There are certain medical conditions that cause excessive weight gain, including hyperthyroidism, metabolic disorders, sex hormone disorders, polycystic ovaries, brain damage and congenital disorders, however this only accounts for 5% of obesity in the UK.

There are 3 main body types known to exist, namely Ectomorphs with long lean limbs, Mesomorphs with a stockier muscle-bound frame, and Endomorphs with a rounder softer shape. Though most people fall into more than one category, such as an Ecto-mesomorph, this merely accounts for the body shape, not the total quantity of fat we hold.

The early stages of pregnancy determine the quantity of fat cells the offspring will have throughout life, and that this total number usually stays consistent unless severe famine or overeating occurs.

We can diet and shrink the fat cells, but their very presence will cause immense hunger pangs and a burning desire to eat again, bringing us back to the initial weight, as with yo-yo dieting.

Also breast-fed babies generally grow slower than bottle-fed babies, and so are less likely to become obese in later life. Weaning practices also affect obesity in later life, in particular an early adiposity rebound – putting on body fat (normally occurring around 6 years of age) if occurring as early as 3 years of age, causes an excess of fat to be stored and so obesity results in later life. This ties in with a set point theory that we are born with a particular target weight, and despite our best efforts, our body’s homeostatic mechanisms will control this rigidly.

Overeating in childhood causes the existing fat cells to become full. When storage is at an all-time low, additional fat cells are formed and this level stays constant throughout adulthood. Any deviation in the actual size of the fat cell causes changes in behaviour and metabolic rate via hormonal changes, and a resulting return to our body’s “target weight”.

In conclusion, it is not impossible for obese individuals to lose body fat, but it takes a great deal of hard work and requires changing habits of a lifetime. Each pound of fat amounts to 3500 calories, but with the right healthy eating plan and a tailored training regime anything is possible.

Healthy Exercising

Know your limit

First of all, I would like to advise you to listen to your own body. Whether you have avoided sport your entire life or are a professional athlete, you have to know your exercise level. I have often observed people completely over-or underestimate their capabilities. Obviously, if you underestimate yourself, you may not get very far. If you overestimate yourself, you risk injury and fatigue. I will explain these points in detail in this article.

For beginners – choose a sport that suits you

Everyone is different and everyone likes different things. The same thing applies to sport and exercise, too. There are three basic categories of sports and they can be classified as:

(1) Team sports. These entail sports like football, basketball, hockey and so forth.

(2) Companion sports. These are sports that you do with a small number of people. Such as tennis, running with your friend or badminton.

(3) Individual sports. For example working out on your own, running on your own etc.

What you prefer can be dependent on your personality type. Your body will tell you what sports are good for you. If you have naturally big legs and are tall, you might find football or rowing easy. If you do not like to spend too much time with large amounts of people, you may prefer companion or individual sports. If you have strong shoulders, tennis might be easier for you. There are so many sports on offer these days and everyone can find his or her sport to enjoy.

I think it is best to choose a sport that is compatible with your personality type (Do you like to compete? Do you like to be on your own or in a team?) in conjunction with the capabilities of your body.

Exercise program

It is important to have a program and monitor your progress. This is somewhat easier if you are participating in team sports as others will help motivate you and improve together with you. If you exercise on your own, it is more important to keep an eye on your performance, progress and on your health. Most gyms offer their clients individual exercise programs these days, so do not hesitate to ask a member of staff.

Frequency of exercise

This is very much dependent on your fitness level. It is recommended to have three cardiovascular exercise sessions a week at a length of 30 minutes for a healthy adult person. Of course, many people like to exercise more. It is also increasingly popular to go to the gym. if you like to exercise a lot, that is fine. However, you should give your body one day rest a week when you do not exercise at all. Your muscles will have to recover.


On average, it is recommended to have three week cycles of more intense workouts and then a week of lighter workouts to recover. This is particularly important if you exercise a lot or train for certain events. Try to adjust your body to it. If you are a beginner or light exerciser, this may not be as important for you.

Warm up and cool down

It is imperative to warm up before any sport. Take your time for that as it may prevent injuries and also increase your performance and health benefits from the exercise you are about to pursue. Equally, it is important to cool down after your sport and give your body time to adjust. Slowly decrease your heart rate and prepare your body that the exercise is finished.


We will soon report on dieting for exercise in another article. The diet is an integral part of your exercise program. Give your body the necessary energy to perform well. Carbohydrates are necessary before cardiovascular exercise. Try to eat about two hours before exercise Equally, if you like weight training, make sure you eat the right amount of protein about half an hour after your exercise, to give your body the necessary ingredients in order to increase muscle size and heal your muscles.

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Look Younger Using Nutrigenomics

London Life Coach & Wellbeing Consultant Sloan Sheridan-Williams talks about Dr Perricone’s research into nutrigenomics. Follow Sloan on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s website

Last year, you heard us talk about epigenetics which is the study of changes produced in gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA.

Now we delve into a new and more specific niche – nutrigenomics. This field analyses both nutrition and genomics studying the relationship between what we eat and our gene expression, which begs the question on everyone’s lips – can we turn back time by changing what we eat and drink?

This niche area of scientific research questions what factors in food affect gene expression and in turn how the genes we possess react and utilise the nutrients we put into our body. If this research is proved to have any evidential value it could mean that by manipulating what we eat and when we eat it in addition to lifestyle, there is a possibility that we can change the way in which our genes are expressed and even influence the way information is transmitted.

It is commonly known amongst scientists that inflammation is present in conditions that we refer to as aging or age-related. Nutrigenomics and in particular gene expression allows us to find new ways to stop the genes responsible for inflammation by silencing them with specific stimuli.

Scientists will often discuss that genes can be upregulated (turned on) by transcription factors which translocate to the nucleus of the cell in question attaching to specific receptor sites on the genes themselves. Nutrigenomics research has shown us that although transcription factors play a very important role on gene expression,  that nutritents found in everyday foods can also affect gene expression in powerful and positive ways.

Dr Perricone’s research on nutrigenomics has revealed and claimed that his list of nutrients can result in:

  • Healthy body weight
  • Decreased incidence of cancer
  • Reduced cognitive decline
  • Maintenance of bone density
  • Optimal immune system functioning
  • Maintenance of muscle mass
  • Prevention of metabolic syndrome
  • Efficient functioning endocrine system
  • Reduction in aging

There have been many diets on the market which help aid in reversing the effects of time on your skin but Dr Perricone’s book Forever Young may have just hit the nail on the head.

Scientists working on the human genome project have for years been waxing lyrical about how genetic manipulation will transform our lives immeasurably. In the meantime the most successful diet for anti-aging so far seems to be the one that encourages a variety of colours and flavours into our diet also known as rainbow foods. The reason why this diet seems to have been working is that these foods unbeknownst to us have according to nutrigenomics been upregulating (turning on) the protective restorative genes while downregulating (turning off) the damaging ones.

For those of you wanting to add some of the superfoods that pack a powerful nutrigenomic punch when it comes to banishing aging, the next time you’re in the supermarket fill your trolley with:

  • Watercress
  • Cinnamon
  • Tumeric
  • Chocolate
  • Green tea

Watercress is useful as it contains active pharmaocophores. It is thought that these “super ingredients” control transcription factors and gene expression.  In fact, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that not only do these pharmacophores reduce blood cell DNA damage but also help the blood cells prevent further DNA damage caused by free radicals.

If green tea is not your thing (its catechins are thought to suppress NF-KB) you could also try the following products which contain similar phytochemicals which also suppress NF-KB thereby purportingly keeping you looking younger for longer. These products include:

  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Blueberries
  • Cloves
  • Fennel
  • Coriander
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Pomegranates
  • Red chillis

For those of you who jumped for joy reading that chocolate was a nutrigenomic favourite, make sure that you choose an extra dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content and where possible try to select non-Dutched cocoa. This type of chocolate not only affects brain chemistry, with particular reference to serotonin and dopamine making it a natural anti-depressant, but it also works on the cardiovascular system reducing the incidence of athelosclerosis.

If you would like to kick-start your anti-aging process I suggest you look into anti-inflammatory diets which claim a noticeable and visible improvement in your skin in as little as three days. Such diets consist of:

  • Proteins in the form of fish, poultry and tofu
  • Low glycemic index carbohydrates
  • Rainbow coloured fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Healthy fats as found in fish, nuts, seeds and olive oil
  • At least 8 glasses of water a day
  • Antioxidant rich beverages such as green tea

If three days seems too long and too much effort for a quick fix of radiance, EF MediSpas are offering DermaQuest glycolic acid resurfacing for as little as £70. For more details go to

For those of you who are a little braver, the Aesthetic Medical Clinic offers the RH Nutriboost treatment which uses acupunture-style needles to deliver homeopathic remedies, vitamins, nutrients and plant extracts to the mesoderm (middle layer of your skin) followed by rehydration of your skin and correction of collagen damage. These sessions cost £280. For more details call the clinic on 020 7636 1313.

If you have any further questions on nutrigenomics or if you have tried an anti-inflammatory diet and would like to share your experiences, I look forward to your comments below.

Images reproduced from,,, and

Fiona Kirk: So What The F*** Should I Eat?

As soon as I saw the title of the book, I was intrigued.

So What The F*** Should I Eat? It was a question I had asked myself many times over the years as I moved despondently from one fad diet to the next, trying to find an eating plan where I could lose weight but didn’t feel like I was starving myself or denying myself foods I enjoyed.

Fiona Kirk’s Fat Loss Plan detailed in So What The F*** Should I Eat? is radical and rebellious. Primarily because it’s all about you – the individual – rather than a prescribed method of rules that MUST be followed as if your life depended on it. Whether you are a Disciple, Rule Maker or Rule Breaker, her weight loss advice will work for you. I’ll let you guess which category I fell into but let’s just say that chocolate and I have been having a meaningful relationship for many years!

What becomes apparent as soon as you start reading Fiona Kirk’s So What The F*** Should I Eat? is that she knows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to the struggle most of us will face at one time or another when we’re trying to shed those extra pounds. Most diets are about deprivation, boredom, starvation and dull repetitive regimes. Fiona Kirk is a qualified nutirtionist and has spent years researching what a healthy diet actually looks like. I love her straightforward, no-nonsense approach and how she is able to take the confusion out of dieting to give the reader a clear and confident path to follow and a great deal more understanding about nutrition. Throughout the book, Fiona’s humour and wit ensure that the advice she gives is entertaining, engaging and as fresh as the foods she champions.

Fiona Kirk

The first revolutionary thing about Fiona’s advice in So What The F*** Should I Eat? is that she tells the reader to BIN THE SCALES! She quite rightly states that muscle mass increases while you lose fat if you are following a healthy weight loss regime of diet and exercise. So obssessing about where the needle is wavering on those bathroom scales isn’t the best way to monitor weight loss. Fiona advocates the WAISTBAND METHOD instead. Take your tightest pair of jeans and see how they feel every day as you follow her fat loss plan. As the weeks go by and the waistband feels more comfortable, you know you’re heading in the right direction. Being able to get a thumb or two between you and the waistband of your skinny jeans or skirt is much more satisfying than looking at a number on a dial.

The second revolutionary thing about the book is that there are few rules but lots of suggestions. Fiona knows that following a prescribed way of eating doesn’t work for everybody so instead she takes a Pick ‘n’ Mix approach with her Fat Loss Plan. There is a whole chapter called Lots of Eats which give you countless options you can choose from to eat. Fiona also takes the radical approach of not defining meals as Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. She believes that five or six small meals are better than three large ones and there is no reason not to eat porridge as an evening meal. That’s probably her Scottish roots coming through as any Scot will tell you how filling and nutritious a bowl of porridge is, no matter what time of day you eat it. Eating something healthy from her Lots of Eats suggestions every 2 to 3 hours is one of Fiona’s recommendations to keep your metabolism fired up and lose fat without losing your sanity. Fiona also gives plenty of advice about exercise and clever tactics to increase your levels of fitness.

In addition to the Fat Loss Plan, Fiona has also devised a 14 day diet called 2 Weeks in the Fast Lane which is detailed in this book and is also the title of her second book which promises maximum fat loss with maximum nourishment in minimum time. Quick fix diets always attract bad press but here Fiona “decided to concentrate on the positives and ignore the negatives and find out what the 5-15% of successful dieters do and why they not only reach their goal but maintain fat loss long term”. After extensive research, she discovered that certain quick fix strategies can and do work and devised a diet that combines the revelations of successful dieters with the latest research into foods, eating and lifestyle practices that accelerate fat loss – a unique and exciting recipe.

Fiona also has an even quicker 3 day plan when time is of the essence where you live on fresh fruit, nuts (not peanuts) and water for three days, eating a handful of nuts or a couple of pieces of fruit every 2 hours. I tried her “3 Days in the Super Fast Lane Plan” and must admit the results were amazing.

Moving onto Fiona’s Fat Loss Plan, I continued to lose weight steadily and after 4 weeks I felt very comfortable in my tight skinny cords. In fact I could even get a thumb inbetween me and the waistband! I enjoyed eating a wide range of foods and based my meals around soups and salads, eating fresh fruit or drinking smoothies in the morning, avoiding carbs after 6pm and snacking on nuts or raw veggies. I found that eating every 2-3 hours gave me lots more energy in addition to the fat loss results and I slept better too.

I was so impressed with the results achieved that I shared Fiona’s book So What The F*** Should I Eat? with City Connect’s Editor-in-Chief Sloan Sheridan-Williams. Sloan did the 2 Weeks in the Fast Lane Diet and lost enough weight to go down a dress size and fit into this season’s fashionable skinny flares with no hint of a muffin top! Sloan also reported that she had more energy and clearer skin after following the eating plan.

If you’re looking to shed those extra pounds and want to try a diet that works with you rather than against you, I highly recommend you buy Fiona Kirk’s So What The F*** Should I Eat? or if you’re looking for a quick fix that will still teach you strategies to lose weight after Day 14, then buy Two Weeks in the Fast Lane Diet. Both books are available from

From Boot Camp to Bootylicious!

Get ready this October for the launch of the Bootylicious Weekend Boot Camp by elite boot camps. The Bootylicious Weekend Boot Camp is a unique ladies only weekend boot camp run by a specialist team of personal training instructors who understand your limits and will provide you with the ultimate fitness experience.

These highly skilled instructors, led by elite boot camps owner and lead trainer Paul Jewiss, will support and encourage you to reach your personal goals.

You’ll be motivated to push yourself to your limits and inspired to work towards the body you’ve always desired.

If you are looking to kick start your fitness routine, need something different, want to feel good or just want to see what your boundaries are, elite boot camps is for you.

elite boot camps are run outside all year round in the beautiful Norfolk countryside and are aimed at helping you achieve your goals, push your physical & mental barriers whilst having fun with like minded people. Everyone is catered for no matter what their current level of fitness.

The team at elite boot camps provide everything you need during your boot camp weekend such as camping accommodation, nutritious meals, refreshments & snacks, equipment but most importantly bags of motivation and enthusiasm from the fully qualified & experienced PTI’s. The boot camp programme includes training sessions such as core strength & stability, cardiovascular training, kettlebells, powerbags and team building exercises.


elite boot camps are running their first ladies Bootylicious Weekend Boot Camp on the 1st & 2nd October 2011.

This unique weekend event is limited to 20 places and has been discounted by an amazing £100 to a special reduced price of just £200 per person!

Such an amazing offer means that you should book your place TODAY before spaces get filled up!

For more information about elite boot camps and to sign up to the Bootylicious Weekend Boot Camp, please click here or call Paul on 07919 202 282.