Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

The FMT Athlete Christmas Wish List Guide

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Some people can struggle for ideas when it comes to asking Santa what they would like for Christmas. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately for my family, I don’t have that problem. However, that’s another story for a different day. Today I can tell you that if you’re an FMT athlete that has 80% attendance or above, you’re on the ‘nice’ list and the jolly man in the red suit will be visiting your home this year. With that in mind, here are some ideas of what to ask if you want to maximise your potential.

1.       Weightlifting Shoes
S&C isn’t going anywhere. If you’re training to be better at your sport and are supported by my training then chances are you are going to be lifting weights and going through physical preparation training for a while. When you play rugby, what do you wear on your feet? When you play football, what do you wear on your feet? So when you’re lifting weights, why are you wearing running shoes? Lifting shoes are durable and provide a solid heel which is preferable so there is no loss of energy/ force when exerting in a heavy or fast movement. Additionally, lifting shoes can give you a little more room when it comes to mobility and can bring the torso into a more upright position on the lifts. People may argue that you should be working on ankle mobility/ hip mobility to attain a more upright lifting posture; however, as a FMT athlete you’ll know that you are drilling mobility in-between the core lifts as ‘filler’ exercises, so we have that covered. Bottom line is that the shoes will last years, give you a solid surface to push off and potentially allow you to hit better positions.

 2.       Vitamin D Supplementation
If you live in Scotland, take your sport seriously and it’s winter time, you should be supplementing with Vitamin D (3). During the winter months we Scots don’t see much sunlight. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I spend more than 10mins in the Sun – bad hu? Unless you’re regularly visiting sun beds (not recommended) then chances are you’re Vitamin D deficient.  When you read the word vitamin you’ll probably think along the lines of good for the immune system, and you would be right. However, Vitamin D is also involved in protein synthesis, cellular growth and regulation of muscle. That’s why it has had a lot of attention in research over the last few years and that’s why it’s recommended (2). As with anything, the dose is the poison. So how much should you take? That depends on how much you’re deficient, however, 1000–2000 IU/day serves as a general guide with Vitamin D3 being the preferred choice (1, 4).

 3.       Under Armour
This point is a lot more digestible than the last (excuse the pun). Under Amour or any other company that offers base layers is desirable if you’re training with me in Aberdeen as our facility is great, but cold. Really cold. Get some gear that’s not going to restrict your movements while helping to keep you warm. Simple.

 4.       Consistency
Ask Santa, your partner, family or even your boss to respect that you’ve got to prepare for your sport. Don’t find the time, make the time. Being consistent is half the battle for creating favourable adaptations, with the other half being hard work. It’s that simple, turn up each week and work hard. Your club has hired me to provide you with intelligent programme design coupled with good coaching. You also have one of the best facilities in Scotland at your disposal. Don’t be daft, use this opportunity and make the most of it while you can. Give me consistency and we will work towards your genetic athletic potential.

 There you have it: four decent ideas to fill your Christmas list. Remember I’ll be running sessions right up until the 22nd of Dec. Keep in mind point 4 and I’ll see you soon!

Armas, L. A., Hollis, B.W. & Heaney, R.P. 2004.  Vitamin D2 is much less effective than vitamin D3 in humans. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 89(11): pp. 5387 – 5391.

 Cannell, J. J., Hollis, B. W., Sorenson, M. B., Taft, T. & Anderson, J. 2009. Athletic Performance and Vitamin D. Medicine and Science in sports and Exercise. 41(5): pp. 1102-1110.

 Close, G. & Morton, J. 2011. Do UK based athletes require vitamin D supplementation? The United Kingdom strength and conditioning association journal. 22: pp. 17-20

Ogan, D. & Pritchett, K. 2013. Vitamin D and the Athlete: Risks, Recommendations, and Benefits. Nutrients Jrnl, 5(6): 1856–1868

Super Shakes Revisited

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

By now most people know that to get big, you’ve got to eat big. That seems obvious; however, sometimes it can prove difficult to increase daily calorie intake when attempting to eat clean. For this reason I like Super Shakes - they’re clean, high calorie muscle building concoctions that are cheap and easy to make. An anabolic meal can literally be done  by throwing a bunch of ingredients into a blender.

One great tasting Super Shake that I like to suggest to individuals that are trying to add some mass to their frame is:

Low Fat
Cottage Cheese
Organic Whole Milk
Flaxseed Powder
Vanilla Protein Powder

This can be used as a snack, a meal replacement or as a post workout shake and will take less than five minutes to prepare.  Be warned - Super Shakes will lead to super physique changes!

As I alluded to in my original Super Shakes post, your imagination is the only limitation when it comes to these blended muscle building cocktails. Be creative.

Nutritional Success: how to stick to a healthy eating plan

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

One of many observations I’ve made since I started training people back in 2007 is that adherence to a diet or healthy eating plan can be the most difficult challenge to overcome when attempting to transform the body.

The 21st century is a good time to be in the fitness industry because of the vast amount of information surrounding training and nutrition that is accessible to anyone and everyone. Generally, most of my clients have the right idea when it comes to improving their eating habits and I just need to ‘fine tune’ things…But ‘sticking with it’ is a different matter. Time and time again I have had hard working clients that really push themselves in the gym, yet fail to conform to the eating habits that we (myself and the client) established in our first consultation.  Of course I have tried many different techniques in an attempt to increase nutrition adherence; punishment through exercises, positive reinforcement, food diary checking and other ineffective strategies. The result was maybe the client would ‘stick with it’ for an extra week or two before returning to old habits.

Thankfully, in 2008 I discovered Dr John Berardi (pictured) and his Precision Nutrition system.

In fact, thankful is an understatement. I want to point out at this juncture that I am not professionally affiliated with the Precision Nutrition System and receive no reward or money for mentioning it; however I am a BIG advocate of it because of the system’s simplicity and the fact that it leads to great results! I won’t give you the full rundown on the Precision Nutrition System, instead you can check it out here; however, I am obligated to mention it because my technique for achieving nutritional adherence is the one that John outlines in his book.

A Game of Noughts and Crosses
What makes the difference when it comes to adherence is ownership and measurability. So here is what to do:

Set two or three healthy eating habits such as;  eat foods with less than 10g of fat per 100g, eat a piece of  fruit with each meal, or no starchy carbohydrates in the last meal of the day. Remember to make the habits specific to you and your needs/goals – the above are just an example.

On your phone, a piece of paper or computer put down either a ‘O’ or a ‘X’ for each meal that you eat. The ‘O’ represents you ‘sticking with it’ and the ‘X’ represents you breaking the habit.

Here is an example of what a good week will look like:

Monday -  OOOOO
Tuesday -  OOOOO
Wednesday – OOOOO
Thursday – OOOOO
Friday – OOOOX
Saturday – OOOOX
Sunday – OOOOO

From the above example we can see that the habits have not been adhered to twice during the week, giving a score of 94%. That kind of percentage will definitely allow desired results to be achieved quickly. Needless to say, the higher the percentage the better the transformation; however, if the percentage drops below 80% then there will be a real slow struggle.

Thanks to Dr John Berardi’s book, the ‘Noughts and Crosses’ is a technique I have used with the majority of my clients to great success. I discovered that my time spent discussing nutrition with my clients was dramatically reduced because at the start of each week they would tell me their percentage (from the previous week) and they would know what had to be improved or maintained. As I alluded to, this method provides individuals with a sense of ownership and is very easy to measure. If my clients have less than 80% then it’s a very short conversation; however, if they’re nailing the nutrition and have high adherence I’ll introduce one more ‘healthy habit’. Similar to training, progress is the aim.

Of course, I also use this method when making changes to my nutritional regime and I find it just as effective as my clients because I love that fact that there is an opportunity to increase my percentage each week (I’m aiming for 95% this week and have stuck with the same three habits for the past four weeks).

My advice to someone who has a history of ‘yo-yo’ dieting is to come up with two healthy habits and play ‘Noughts and Crosses’. If the adherence percentage goes above 85% then introduce a new habit, and so on.

For the readers out there that need; meal plans, preparation guides, support, a huge online community and a profound understanding of nutrition then look no further…

Super Shakes

Monday, July 12th, 2010

If muscle building is your goal then getting enough food down you is going to make the difference between becoming brawny or staying scrawny. We all know that beginners can put on muscle relatively easily with some basic training to stimulate the muscles. Unfortunately you’re only a beginner once (unless for some reason you’ve had a huge time off from exercise) and to enjoy continued progression, food intake should be just as important (if not more important) than the training.

I can recall many occasions where I’ve heard people complain about how difficult it can be to consume enough calories to get growing…My reaction is always the same: “REALLY?!”. Now let’s be honest, is it really difficult to consume enough calories to build muscle? In most cases the people that struggle to shovel enough of the good stuff are making the wrong nutritional choice. Why have three weetabix and two boiled eggs for breakfast if you’re training hard and trying to gain weight? Wouldn’t 100g of bacon, two eggs and two bagels give you more protein, carbs and calories? This post could easily turn into a long rant, but the point is: it isn’t too difficult to manipulate a diet to ensure it favours muscle building. Are you getting your three helpings of hamburgers a day?

With that in mind, a great snack (and often my breakfast if I have early morning clients) is a variation of a super shake. It’s time to put down the ~300cals breakfast, or one fruit for a snack. It’s time to load up on a super shake.

What you need is (1) a blender and (2) an imagination. Super shakes are; high calorie, high muscle building, convenient, delicious time savers that make increasing calorie intake absolutely easy. I mean, a typical super shake of mine will have 1200 calories (which for me is around a third of the total calories I need to build muscle).

Here is one of my favorite super shakes that I often use as a snack:

  • Ice
  • Milk
  • Oats
  • Flaxseeds
  • Banana
  • Chocolate Whey Protein Powder
  • Peanut Butter

This chocolate flavoured shake tastes amazing and I like to throw in a lot of oats so that it’s thick. Play around with the above ingredients for taste/ to suit your nutritional needs, but whatever you do – keep it high calorie.

In the morning time I’ll tend to throw in some berries to replace the chocolate. For a protein source I’ll either use egg whites or unflavoured whey protein. Again, it comes down to your imagination (and preferences).

No excuses not to build muscle. If you’re scrawny then super shakes are your recipe for success.