Why Cheat Days Are Killing Your Progress

The concept of a cheat day is nothing new and is very simple, it’s a given day within a period of clean eating or dieting where you allow yourself a re-feed day where you eat whatever you want.

STOP: They Are More Likely To Kill Your Progress Than Aid It!

Theories Behind Cheat Days:
1) eating lot’s of food can help boost your metabolism, counteracting it’s slowing from calorie restriction

  • The reality is that the boost has been shown to only be somewhere between 3-10% and only lasts for 24 hours
  • Exercise is a far superior method for increasing your metabolism to counter act calorie restriction

2) It aids motivation and a mental boost as you get to eat the foods that you like

  • A good diet whether for weight loss or not can and should include a healthy dose of your favourite foods – eating clean doesn’t mean complete denial of junk food therefore rendering this point invalid

What Happens When Most People Have A Cheat Day
So, you’ve been really good Monday-Friday and hit your cumulative calorie target regardless of whether it’s for weight loss or maintenance, at this rate you’ll finish your week on target, however you heard that you should have a cheat day for the reasons above (or others).

So, on Saturday you go crazy and consume double your daily allowance of calories. If you are very good you’ll then be able to return to your normal target for Sunday, however even with only 1 cheat day you’re now over your target for the entire week meaning that if you haven’t gained weight you definitely didn’t lose any.

What You Should Be Doing:

  • Remember the golden rule: there is room for all foods in a controlled, balanced diet
  • 1st & foremost weight management is a numbers game, calories in vs calories out
  • Set yourself a realistic calorie target, you can gradually reduce this down if needed
  • Understand what your current calorie intake is
  • Calorie restriction & weight loss should be gradual over a period of months, not days or week
  • Use a calorie tracker initially to understand how many calories are in your favourite foods
  • Use exercise to stoke the fires of metabolism
  • Have a re-feed/cheat day monthly or even more infrequent (should still be controlled)
  • Remember, your diet should be fairly consistent over the majority of your life, therefore drastic and extreme interventions are unlikely to have longevity
  • Play the long game & you’ll enjoy better mental health surrounding your diet

We hope that you find this helpful, happy health,
Tom’s

Fruit & Nut Flapjacks

Try these tasty Fruit & Nut Flapjacks for a healthy, balanced snack with no added sugar

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10-14 minutes

Ingredients:
– 1 cup porridge oats
– 1/4 cup raisens
– 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
– ground cinamon
– 2 bananas (mashed)

1. Nonstick cooking spray
2. Preheat oven to 350° F or 170°d
3. Lightly coat large baking sheet with spray. Set aside.
4. Combine oats, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl; mix well.
5. Add bananas, raisins, and walnuts; mix well.
6. Drop mix onto baking tray.
7. flatten cookies with a spatula.
8. Bake for 14 to 15 minutes or until firm.
9. let cool, slice & enjoy

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION
(per serving):
Calories: 104
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 73 mg
Carbohydrates: 18 g
Fibre: 3 g
Sugars: 6 g
Protein: 2 g

Anterior & Posterior Chains

Chains are definitely lesser discussed than other anatomical functions.
Understanding your Anterior & Posterior chains though will undoubtedly help your fitness, progression & performance whilst reducing your risk of injury and skeletal imbalance.

What are they?

The Anterior Chain:
This refers to the muscles on the front side of the body including:
– Pecs
– Quads
– Core
The anterior chain plays a vital role in controlling forward movement, an essential in nearly all sports especially where direction changes are needed. Further to this your core muscles provide the foundation of all movement and power, an undeveloped or weak core will prevent you from training/progressing beyond a certain point as well as increasing the risk of falls.

The Posterior Chain:
This comprises of the muscles on the rear of the body, including:
– Hamstrings
– Glutes
– Lats
– Traps
– Rotator Cuff & Scapula Retractors
The Posterior Chain is responsible for holding us upright, without it we would flop forwards. Additionally they allow us to generate backwards force such as rowing and pulling.

How Can I Train My Chains:

Anterior Chain Exercises:
– 
Bench Press & Push Ups
– Planks, Sit Ups, Leg Raises
– Leg Extensions, Squats & Lunges

Posterior Chain Exercises:
– 
Cable Pull Throughs
– Hamstring Curls
– Rows, Lat Pull Down & Pull Ups
– Deadlift

Training For Balance:

Whatever your goals are it remains important that you have a balanced training plan unless you are training to address an existing imbalance, eg. a front chain dominant physique.

We recommend for every Anterior exercise or workout you do that you then do a Posterior exercise or workout… You could split this in many ways, an easy way to do so is to simply have 2 workout days, #1 Anterior & #2 Posterior…you could then use a 3rd session to address any muscles missed (delts & calfs etc) or run a hybrid workout that contains key lifts from each chain.

Using large, compound movements as detailed above will also aid you in recruiting the most muscle fibres and secondary muscles such as the Biceps & Triceps.

A balanced training plan and physique will not only provide the best platform for fitness, progress & performance but will also minimise your risk of developing structural issues such as pelvic tilt & shoulder instability.

We hope that this is helpful, we’re happy to help you apply this if you simply give us a shout.

Happy Healthy,
Tom’s

Winter Vegetable Soup

Warm up with this simple & nutritious Winter Vegetable Soup…

Serves: 4
Prep: 10 Minutes
Cook: 45 Minutes

Ingredients:
Carrot 330g
Swede 250g
Potato 350g
1 leek
1 onion
200g turnip
50g cabbage
1.5ltr veg stock
1 Garlic clove
Thyme
25g butter

  • Chop all the vegetables into small pieces or slice in a food processor
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan and fry the onions on a low heat until softened
  • Add the leaks and crushed garlic clove and cook for a few more minutes until cooked down
  • Add all the remaining vegetables and stir so coated in the butter
  • Cook for 5 more minutes
  • Add the vegetable stock and thyme. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30-40 mins or until vegetables are soft.
Allow to cool and blend.
Serve & Enjoy

Overnight Oats: Ready Made Breakfast

Do you find yourself rushing in the morning?

Did you know that people that skip breakfast have been proven to have less healthy lifestyles and are more prone to weight gain?

Eating a balanced breakfast can be easy though, you can prepare this filling, nutritious treat the night before in just 2 minutes.

Prep: 2 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
30 grams Porridge Oats
Palm full of Nuts (we used hazelnuts)
Semi/Skimmed Milk
Ground Cinamon
Fist Full of Frozen Berry Mix
tea spoon of seeds (we like chia)

Instructions:

  1. Place the oats in a glass kilner jar
  2. add the nuts
  3. add a fist full of berries
  4. add a teaspoon of seeds of your choice
  5. add cinnamon (flavour to taste)
  6. cover to the top of the oats with milk
  7. seal the jar and shake
  8. leave in the fridge over night
  9. take out the following morning, 5-10 mins before you want to eat
  10. Enjoy & full full for longer

Health Is Not My Priority

Have you ever thought this way?

We know plenty of people that have/do.
In the stress & mayhem of daily life we often find ourselves consumed by commitments restricting both our finances and time…

This often results in us ultimately neglecting ourselves as we prioritise other things such as work, family & finance over our own health & well being…

Whilst this is common and not unexpected it often has the opposite effect, by focusing on our daily priorities we forget to question why they are so and what we truly need in order to accomplish them.

Our ‘Pyramid of Priorities’ has a familiar 1st Tier for most of us…
 STOP...and ask yourself why are these my commitments?
Untitled Diagram

The highest priority in life for every living thing is survival, this and how we feel will drive the majority of our behavior…Take it one step further and ask yourself ‘What Do I Need To Survive, NO…Flourish?’….

If your Body, Brain or Both are not functioning at optimum capacity how can you expect them to get you where you want or even NEED to be?  It’s no different to maintaining your vehicle to ensure that it transports you to where you need to be.

Today’s Top Tip: Start At The Top Of Your Pyramid.
Get this right and the rest will be considerably easier…

Happy Health,
Tom’s

Chicken Shish Kebabs

Serves 2
Prep 10-15 Minutes
Marinate >1 Hour
Cook 15 Minutes

 

For the Marinade

  • 6 tablespoons natural Greek yogurt

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • ¼ teaspoon cumin

  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

  • zest from half a lemon

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon

  • 1 garlic clove

  • Black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon tomato purée

For the Salad and skewers

  • 2 chicken breasts cut into large pieces

  • ¼ red cabbage

  • ¼ iceburg lettuce

  • 2 tomatoes

  • ¼ cucumber

  • ½ red onion

  • 2 mushrooms

  • ½ yellow pepper

  • 2 pitta breads

Instructions

  • mix together the all of the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken pieces and cover in the marinade. Cover with foil and marinade in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.

  • When ready to cook, heat the grill on a high heat and prepare the skewers.

  • Alternate chicken pieces with pieces of red onion, mushroom and yellow pepper.

  • Once assembled, place the skewers under the grill and cook for 15 mins until the chicken has browned and cooked through, turning a couple of times throughout cooking.

  • While the chicken is cooking, prepare the salad. Slice the red cabbage and iceburg lettuce into thin strips and chop the tomatoes and cucumber into large chunks.

  • In the last couple of mins of cooking the skewers place the pitta breads under the grill. Turn them over after 1 min.

  • Slice the pita breads along the side to make a pocket and remove the chicken and vegetables from the skewers inside the pitas.

  • Serve with the salad & Enjoy

Why Should I Drink Water?

Given the recent spells of hot weather it’s no surprised that we were recently asked ‘why do I need to drink more water?’.

We all know that staying hydrated is important, here’s a simple guide to why:

– your body is ~60% water
– water is used in the cleansing of the blood and removal of waste (kidneys & liver)
– water aids digestion & helps metabolise fat
– you lose water through the production of energy, cooling, breathing & numerous other functions
– the warmer you are from exercise or climate the more you sweat in an attempt to cool down
– therefore if you don’t replace it you begin to dehydrate, disrupting your bodily functions
– dehyradation can have serious effects of your liver & kidney function and lead to
– water keeps the blood runny allowing it to circulate easily, thick, dehydated blood is harder to pump which increases blood pressure and places stress on the heart

…The UK government recommends: we drink 8 glasses a day which = 2litres…
>>> If you wait until you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated….

TOP TIP
1) Fill 4x 500ml water bottles in the morning and make sure they’re empty by bed time…take them everywhere you go….Take small sips regularly rather than occasional , large gulps…
2) You can flavour your water with sliced fruit, mint, sugar free squash & herbal tea to make it more interesting

Fats: Friend or Foe?

Fats, Facts & The British Diet 
–> First:
ignore the horror stories, you need fat in your diet!!!
However, it is not as simple as that…We require specific types of fats and in lower amounts than most of us consume…below are some useful facts:

– Fat = 9kcal/Gram whereas Carbs & Protein = 4kcal/g, Fat is energy dense!!
– Saturated & Trans Fats have no health benefits & contribute to high levels of bad cholesterol
– Excessive fat intake is linked to: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, strokes & cancers
– UK average = 12.7% of our energy comes from saturated fat which is 1.7% higher than recommended & 35% of our total energy consumed is from Fats
– UK average is close to its recommendation for Omega 6 but far from it’s Omega 3 needs

Why We Need (some) Fats 
Fats provide us with essential fatty acids which the body cannot produce itself. These are needed to support a variety of functions:
– absorb fat soluble vitamins: A, D & E
– support healthy cholesterol balance
– sources of Omega 3&6 needed to support: brain function, blood pressure regulation & many more
– a source of energy

Types of Fat
It is important to distinguish between the types of fat as there is a considerable difference in requirements and the effect on our health.

Unsaturated
Commonly referred to as good fats, unsaturated fats provide us with all of the essential fatty acids required to perform vital bodily functions. These can be further broken down into 2 categories:

Monounsaturated:

  • found in: Olives, Olive Oil & Spreads, Avocados, Almonds, Peanuts & Brazil Nuts
  • Helps to maintain HDL (good cholesterol) & reduce LDL (bad Cholseterol) by taking it to the liver to be disposed of

Polyunsaturated:

  • 2 types: omega 3 & omega 6
  • Omega 3 Sources: oily fish
  • Omega 6 Sources: rapeseed, corn, sunflower, some nuts
  • Lowers both good (HDL) & bad (LDL) cholesterol

Saturated Fats:
Commonly referred to as ‘Bad Fats’, they offer no health benefits and can contribute to high cholesterol and a range of health risks.

Sources of Unsaturated Fat:
– Cake, Pastry, Biscuits & Chocolate
– Processed Meat eg. burgers & sausages
– Butter, Cheese, Ghee, Suet, Palm Oil & Lard
– Fatty Meats

Trans Fats:
These are also considered as bad, like Saturated Fat they increase Bad Cholesterol in the body, provide high amounts of calories but no health benefits.
– Found naturally in low levels in some foods
– Also formed from processing vegetable oils from liquids to solids, known as hydrogenation. These are commonly used in processed foods: cakes, biscuits, pastries & Margarine

Tips To Take Away:
– Reduce Saturated & Trans Fat intake, aim for majority of your fats to be unsaturated
– Consume 2-3 portions of Oily Fish/Week (omega 3)
– Grill Meet allowing fat to drain away
– Cook in Rapeseed Oil (minimum amount)
– Engage in regular pulse raising exercise
– Read the labels before you buy

References:
McArdle, W., Katch, F., & Katch, V. (2010) Exercise Physiology, 7th Edition:  Nutrition, Energy & Human Performance. Lipincott, Williams & Wilkins. Baltimore
https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients-food-and-ingredients/fat.html?limit=1
https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Fat.aspx