Instead of going for a boring book or dull DVD how about you get a useful gift that will not only make your friends, family and loved ones smile but will also help them get fitter too?
We’ve picked out our top goodies for the gym junkies and fitness fanatics to help you make their 2019 the fittest year yet!
No gym plan, no programme, little time? No problem! With these fitness dice, you can work out anywhere.
There are three different sets: beginner, intermediate and advanced with 30 exercises per set.
Simply roll the exercise dice and then the numbers dice and you’ve got your first exercise with how many repetitions you need to perform.
Morphy Richards Oval Slow Cooker
Slow-cookers are changing the way how we cook. It’s not surprising that they’re so popular: they slash food prep time, they make cheaper cuts of meat taste delicious and melt in the mouth and they’re cheaper than using an oven.
This slow cooker from Morphy Richards is one of the top-rated on Amazon and costs less than £35 too.
It’s ideal for making tasty high protein stews and casseroles is a must-have kitchen appliance this winter!
Fit Nation Foam Roller
Muscle pain and feeling sore after a workout is not cool! A foam roller is a fantastic bit of kit to ease your aches and tightness after a tough workout.
The technical term for foam rolling is Self Myofascial Release (SMR) and it’s so effective because no one knows better than you as to exactly where you are feeling tense, exactly where you need relief and exactly how much pressure you need.
The Fit Nation roller is great because the nobbly bits on the roller really help you work into tense areas, easing muscle soreness and improving your recovery.
Fit Bit Charge 2
We love FitBits! They’re definitely our favourite fitness gadget and are idea for anyone who wants to make fat loss easier [Related: 5 Reasons Why A FitBit Will Help You Lose Weight]. Fitbit now do a huge range of products from £49 all the way up to £199.
But we think without a doubt, one of their best products is the Fit Bit Charge 2. It tracks everything that you need: steps, distance covered, calories burned, your heart rate and it also has the sleep tracker. It is extremely versatile, discreet and very stylish for a wristband.
Muscle Food Gift Voucher
More and more people are ditching the supermarket in favour of going online to get their weekly protein-packed meat rations delivered to their doorstep. MuscleFood are one of the largest online meat suppliers in the UK and will deliver everything from freshly butchered steaks, to premium chicken breasts to exotic treats like ostrich and kangaroo.
Their range is extremely high quality, considerably cheaper than the supermarket and arrives on at your house in around 24 hours! They’ve got a range of vouchers which would make an ideal gift for any protein-loving foodie.
£10 to £100
If you want to improve something, you need to log it!
The Gym Diary is a perfect gift for any gym junkie who wants to keep note of their training programmes and strength increases.
It’s laid out very well, there’s room for over 100 workouts and it`s handy A6 size means it doesn’t take up too much room in a gym bag.
Thermos Food Flask
Don’t have access to a microwave at work to heat your lunch? No problem.
This Thermos Food Flask is fantastic!
It’s wider than a typical flask, it’s perfect for keeping meals piping hot so you can have a tasty, hot meal for lunch instead of a soggy, cold stew.
Food stays hot for hours and the foldable spoon is a convenient addition. There’s almost 2000 reviews for this on Amazon, it’s a popular one for sure!
Bodymax Cast Iron Kettlebell
Kettlebells are fantastic if you want to have a workout in very little space that will get your heart pumping and exercise your whole body.
They’re a must-have for anyone who has a home gym or for people who want to train in their own living room.
From 4kg to 32kg there is range of weights suitable for all abilities.
£12.99 to £53.99
Fat Gripz – The Ultimate Arm Builder
Fat Gripz are a great accessory, loved by gym-rats that help increase arm growth and grip strength.
The rubber handles are easily attached to any set of dumbbells, a barbell or pullup bar and are used in gyms all over the world.
Favoured by many professional athletes and bodybuilders, training with a fat bar is reported to increase muscle activation and improve strength and size gains.
101 Ways To Lose Weight & Never Find It Again
Scott’s new book is for everyone who is sick of restricting, dieting, detoxing and confusing weight-loss advice.
The book contains clear, enjoyable and easy-to-follow habits that will help you to get leaner, fitter, stronger and happier without the hunger and heartache.
It debunks all of the fat-loss myths and includes encouraging, scientifically proven ways to make small changes to your lifestyle for long-term health and sustainable weight loss.
Sportstech Adjustable Dumbbells
Trying to create a gym at home can be expensive and it can require a lot of room!
Dumbbells don’t come cheap and you can only really have one or two pairs before you start to run out of room. That is unless you get some adjustable dumbbells.
The adjustable dumbbells from Sportstech are an amazing piece of kit that have 15 different weights in one dumbbell ranging from 5kg to 32kg.
The weight change mechanism is simple and easy to use. It doesn’t matter how small your gym space is, you can now enjoy a full range of weights with this ingenious set.
The Protein Works Gift Voucher
Available in a variety of denominations, these protein packed vouchers can be used to purchase any products from the The Protein Works website.
TPW are our favourite supplement company at the moment because of their range of products, quality, price and delivery speed.
From protein powders to multivitamins, these gift vouchers are the ideal gift for anyone who trains or takes supplements.
From £25 – £100
TRX Suspension Trainer
Bodyweight exercises are fantastic for improving full body strength and mobility.
From push / pull movements for the upper body to lower body exercises using the feet anchors, suspension training can provide a complete body workout from your own home.
The set can anchor on to doors, poles and trees so you can train in your own living room or outside in a park too.
The High Protein Handbook 4
OK, OK … we may be a little biased on this one so we will just lay out the info for you to make your own minds up.
The High Protein Handbook 4 – Slow Cooker Special includes: 30 brand new, delicious, easy to make high protein slow cooker recipes; full nutrition information for each recipe including calories, carbohydrate, fat and protein; A varied mix of chicken, pork, beef and turkey recipes; Beautiful full colour photo for every dish; A rock solid 30-day money back guarantee; and a barcode on every recipe so you can scan the meal into MyFitnessPal.
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The busiest time of the year is also the hardest time of the year to fit in your workouts. We get it! Between the…
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There’s one phrase every parent hears no less than 700 times (on average) during winter break. Can you guess what it is? If you…
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Pelvic Floor therapy is something that nobody wants to talk about it, but it is something I need to address. Pelvic Floor Therapy is a sensitive topic that few women like to discuss in public–even with friends and family members, yet it is something that affects a MASSIVE population of women. More than one-third of American women have a Pelvic Floor Disorder, with almost one-quarter of females in the US suffering from more than one of these severe disorders. These disorders worsen with age, and nearly 400,000 women underwent pelvic organ prolapse surgery in a recent year.
The good news is that thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, more and more ladies are seeking relief for their pelvic pain problems, by way of an efficient and therapeutic procedure known as pelvic floor therapy.
What exactly is the pelvis, anyways?
The pelvis just may be the most misidentified and difficult to pinpoint anatomical region; and indeed, it is even rather difficult to describe the precise location of the pelvis in the human body. The pelvis comprises the area between the thighs and the abdomen (a component of the lower trunk of the human anatomy). The term pelvis also encompasses its bone components, otherwise known as the pelvic skeleton or the bony pelvis.
Who needs pelvic floor therapy?
As noted, many types of women with a vast variety of pelvic conditions may find themselves in need of pelvic floor therapy, at some point in their lives. These include:
- Pregnancy and Postpartum: As can be expected, the pelvis–along with the abdomen and other central lower body parts–undergo a great deal of stress, pressure, and change during pregnancy and childbirth; and may not spring immediately back into shape immediately upon the arrival of your bundle from heaven.
- Pelvic Pain: Both women who experience mild or severe pelvic pain on occasion or during certain activities, and those who sadly must deal with constant discomfort in this sensitive region, may very well be in need of pelvic floor therapy. Sadly, the attainment of this therapy may be delayed because the sufferer is embarrassed to discuss any pain or discomfort originating in a private area, or they may fear that something serious or even life-threatening might be afflicting them. Yet in truth, the process known as pelvic floor therapy can allay or even resolve many instances of pelvic pain.
- Bathroom Trouble: If you suffer from any number of difficulties in regards to your natural processes, be it incontinence, bladder abnormalities, constipation, bowel movement problems, etc., then you might find relief for these troublesome, embarrassing problems by way of pelvic floor therapy.
- Menopause: Aside from widely discussed menopausal symptoms such as night sweats and sleep difficulties, that much-discussed change of life called menopause can cause pelvic issues as well. And again, it bears repeating that pelvic floor therapy can help alleviate these problems.
- Painful Intercourse: The issue of painful sexual intercourse can be a traumatic one in the life of a woman, one that can severely impede her personal life, her marriage, her intimate relationships, and even her sense of femininity, self-esteem, and attractiveness. For these very reasons, it might be very difficult to discuss the quandary of painful intercourse with one’s physician. Yet it is only by sharing the details of this disorder with a trained professional that can you discover its solution; a resolution that also takes the form of pelvic floor therapy.
Pelvic Floor Therapy Endometriosis
If you find yourself facing these all too common situations, or if you are dealing with related illnesses such as endometriosis (the term pelvic floor therapy endometriosis indicates the use of this brand of therapy to treat that prevalent condition in which tissue which generally lines the uterus is discovered outside this organ and across the surface of others, such as the ovaries, the bladder, the rectum, etc., thus causing pelvic, urinary, and/or bladder pain) or vaginismus, then consult your physician about the possibility and the procedure of pelvic floor therapy. And interestingly enough, males suffering from painful or premature ejaculation also can seek relief by way of pelvic floor therapy.
Pelvic Floor Therapy What to Expect
No one exactly looks forward to pelvic floor therapy, as they fear that the procedure will be painful, invasive and even embarrassing. Yet the good news is that, when it comes to modern pelvic floor therapy, a variety of options are available; many of which are minimally invasive and relatively painless in commission.
As far as considering the subject of pelvic floor therapy what to expect, you can seek specific information from your doctor, a mental health professional, or a sex therapist. In general, though, some of the most common and ultra-modern forms of pelvic floor therapy include:
- Vaginal Dilators: This unique form of therapeutic equipment is comfortable and easy to use method for relaxing and easing the pelvic muscles. These comfortable and easily inserted plastic tubes relax the pelvic muscles and are particularly helpful in combating the problem of painful or uncomfortable intercourse. Throughout the course of vaginal dilator therapy, your medical specialist may ask you to experiment with varying and perhaps increasingly larger sizes of vaginal dilator.
- Manual Pelvic Floor Therapy: A physician may insert their own fingers for the purpose of massaging and/or stretching one’s pelvic muscles, starting with a mild and shallow digital penetration to test the tightness and sensitivity of the pelvic muscles. Although it is to be expected that most pelvic floor therapy patients will experience discomfort or even pain during initial manual pelvic floor therapy treatments, these feelings should ease if the therapy proves successful. Also be sure to research both the therapy itself and the presiding physician before you begin this form of therapy, to ensure that the procedure is properly and ethically performed.
- Electric Pelvic Floor Therapy: We know what you’re thinking. “Ouuuccchhhh!!!! No way, unh unh!!!!” Yet please hear us out on this one, as this new age and high tech form of pelvic floor therapy ranks among the most efficient and accurate forms of diagnosis and treatment available today. In the electric pelvic floor therapy known as biofeedback, for example, an electronic probe is inserted into the patient’s vagina to record images of the patient’s pelvic floor images, with a computerized image appearing on a nearby screen. And in the form of electric pelvic floor therapy called electrical stimulation, the medical caregiver administers a low voltage electric current that will instruct patients in the movement and coordination of their pelvic muscular contractions.
- Education: Perhaps the least invasive–and, in some cases, most helpful and certainly most informative–form of pelvic floor therapy is a matter of education. Some patients may not have a good working knowledge of their personal and reproductive systems. This may be because they originate from a conventional family in which such matters were never discussed, or because they may come from an impoverished background in which physical and health-related education was not readily available. This brand of education, as attained through books, doctor-approved medical websites, and a top quality pelvic floor therapy video, will inform the patient about the anatomical makeup of their pelvis and its inner working; as well as just how to tell as to when something down there isn’t working! And the patient also should learn about the proper maintenance and hygiene upkeep of one’s pelvic area, as poor hygiene or unhealthful personal practices can contribute to and even cause pelvic health disorders. The pelvic floor therapy video may be particularly helpful, as images can do far more than words in terms of displaying and demonstrating the anatomical location and inner workings of one’s pelvis.
Pelvic Floor Therapy at Home
Sure, you may just feel a bit sheepish at first while watching this video and perusing these materials; yet just imagine the relief that you will feel as you take your pelvic health in your own hands, perhaps even learning that a simple change in hygiene practices might eliminate your problem–no surgery or intensive therapy needed.
- Pelvic Floor Therapy at Home: Those who may feel uncomfortable with learning about and practicing most forms of pelvic floor therapy may be relieved to know that multiple forms and varieties of pelvic floor therapy at home options are available. Under the care, supervision, and direction of your physician or sex therapist, you may be able to order plastic dilators for use at home, where you’d be far more comfortable using them anyway, as well as books, videos, and other educational materials. And of course, the most popular and widely used form of pelvic floor therapy would have to be…
Pelvic Floor Therapy Exercises
Pelvic Floor Therapy Exercises: Many patients are relieved and even excited to learn that–instead of surgery, medicinal drugs or painful treatments, they may indeed be able to exercise away their pelvic pain, discomfort or dysfunction. Exercise is an invigorating and therapeutic form of physical therapy and is ultimately the key to good health. Ah, but before you go rushing into your workout room to put on your favorite aerobicize DVD, keep in mind that–in the big scheme of things–the average jumping jack or sit up ain’t going to do much to help the good ol’ pelvic floor muscles.
Rather, pelvic floor exercises (also known most popularly as Kegel exercises) involve the contraction and relaxation of pelvic floor muscles, with the ultimate goal being to strengthen, stretch and elasticize (or make more flexible) those muscles. Pelvic floor therapy exercises lend ultimate strength to those pelvic muscles beneath the bladder, uterus, and bowel. These exercises are known to do wonders for urinary and bowel relief problems. And, of course, they also can help those dealing with painful and/or uncomfortable intercourse and related issues.
Are you concerned that you may not be able to master the complex art of the pelvic floor therapy exercise? Well, to accomplish the feat of this exercise, just mimic the moves that you make during another important and relatively everyday physical ritual; one that is most tastefully known as answering the call of nature….
Yep. The basic and most essential pelvic floor exercise will feel a lot like going to the bathroom. Ah, but stick with us here; these exercises really work!
To perform a basic pelvic floor exercise, follow this step by step procedure:
- Empty your bladder.
- Clench your pelvic floor muscles and count to 10.
- Release the pelvic floor muscles and once again, count to 10.
- Complete 10 repetitions of this process, thrice daily.
After you listen to the podcast on pelvic floor exercises, be sure to consult your physician to make sure pelvic floor exercise is right for you. Also consult books, videos and physician-approved websites for details and demonstrations of these and other pelvic floor therapy exercises.
Also know that, on today’s market, a number of aids are available to facilitate all manner of pelvic floor therapy exercises. These include but are not limited to manual and electric exercisers, and kegel aids shaped in the form of common objects such as roses and eggs.
Although many people approach the concept of pelvic floor therapy with some shyness and trepidation, many find that the results of this therapy are affirming and life changing in nature. Depending on their specific pelvic problem, they may find their love life restored and rejuvenated and their marriages and relationships saved; their bathroom schedules returned to normal and their daily schedules and lives restored, not to mention their overall peace of mind; and their lives freed from the pain and discomfort that has held them captive for far too long.
To find out more about pelvic floor therapy near me, please visit Knocked-Upfitness.com
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If you’re having a difficult time shopping for the fitness buff in your life, you’re not alone! Holiday shopping can be stressful and not…
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I know first-hand what it’s like to be the skinny guy.
No muscle, no strength, no confidence in your body’s ability to open a tight jar of jam, let alone lift a heavy weight.
I’ve got good news for you though.
If you’re in the position I once was, then know that it didn’t stay that way for me and it doesn’t have to for you either.
I first started going to the gym 10 years ago (yikes!) when I turned 16 and, in those years, I’ve learnt a lot about what works for building muscle and what is best to be avoided.
Even with all the information available today and with better scientific research than ever before, there are still some myths that just won’t seem to disappear.
Thankfully, through a lot of trial and error, testing and learning, I have the muscle building myths that can finally be put to bed so that you can focus on what works and what will actually get you the results you want.
Myth #1: You need to shock your muscles into growth
This myth comes from the idea that if you go in to the gym and always perform the same exercises, your body will become smart to what you are about to put them through. It will stop responding and growing and you’ll need to try and shock them with something new and unexpected to spark them back into action.
What a load of old trap.
“Shocking your muscles” usually comes with a period of unstructured training where you hop from one programme to the next and switch up your exercises each and every workout, in the hope that your muscles won’t anticipate your next cunning move.
But here’s the thing:
Your muscles don’t know what exercise they are doing, all they know is that they are being put under stress. And if that stress is adequate enough then they will adapt by growing so they can deal with it better next time round.
So, in order to continuously build muscle, we don’t need put our bodies through every exercise under the sun. Instead, we need to focus on the main compound lifts and ensure we’re progressing with them in each workout.
This is what is known as ‘Progressive Overload’ and it is the cornerstone of muscle growth. It can be achieved in a number of different ways:
- Increase the weight lifted from previous sessions
- Beat the number of reps from previous session with same weight
- Increase the number of sets performed for each muscle group
- Minimise rest periods between sets from previous session
You don’t need to incorporate all of these techniques into a single workout but, as long as you do one of them, you’ll be giving your muscles a reason to grow.
Do that and you can go out and shock people with how much muscle you’ve built.
Myth #2: DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is a sure sign of muscle growth
To some, having the feeling of DOMS the day after a workout is the holy grail of muscle building and, I’ll be honest with you, for years I thought along the same lines.
If I woke up the day after a big leg session and I wasn’t struggling to walk down the stairs, I was disappointed. I thought It meant I hadn’t put enough effort in at the gym, that I had left reps & sets on the table, maybe I hadn’t contracted my muscles hard enough or used heavy enough weights.
What I came to realise though, thankfully, was that DOMS is simply the by-product of inflammation in the muscle due to micro-tears that are caused during training.
One study shows that there was no difference in muscle hypertrophy or strength between two groups, one of which suffered from DOMs and one of which did not.
DOMS can affect people differently.
It can start to take effect as soon as 6-8 hours post exercise and usually lasts for up to 48 hours, for natural trainees. However, it’s more likely to affect people new to training or people returning to the gym after an extended period of time away and will have less of an effect on seasoned gym-goers.
The last thing to consider is that DOMS can also negatively affect your muscle building potential. After all, if you’re struggling to lift your protein shake up to your mouth, how to you expect to go and smash out some bicep curls.
Myth #3: Training a body part once a week is optimal for muscle growth
The method of training just one body part, once per week, was used and popularised by Bodybuilders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Louis Ferrigno and then, later on, by the likes of Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler.
If you’re not familiar with these guys, just know that they are muscle-bound gods in the bodybuilding world and what they say about building muscle, most people take for gospel.
Now, training each muscle group once per week did work for them, but let’s just say they had a little bit of assistance to help them along.
You see, when you break down your muscle fibre through training, your body then has to repair itself and this is done through a process called ‘protein synthesis’. This process lasts for around 48 hours in natural trainees before the body stops the process.
Assisted lifters however, are able to prolong this process and make it last up to three times as long, and this is why they can get away with training a muscle group just once a week at a higher volume.
For most of guys and gals though, for maximum muscle growth potential, we want to be hitting each muscle group twice a week.
The best way to do this?
Split your training sessions up into upper body/lower body or full body workouts and spread the volume of training upon the muscle over multiple workouts.
Use this handy table as a guide:
Myth #4: The heavier the better
When it comes to building muscle, the amount of weight you lift only plays a small part in the muscle building puzzle.
It would seem logical that the more weight you lift, the bigger your muscles will get. And then the bigger your muscles are, the more weight you’d be able to lift – but this isn’t always the case.
A great example of this is when former world record holder for the squat, Fred Hatfield, managed to squat over 90kg more than Tom Platz in a competitive “squat off” despite having noticeably smaller legs.
Platz has what are arguably the best and biggest legs in bodybuilding history.
So, when we step into the gym with the goal to build muscle, our aim isn’t to lift the heaviest weights possible, but to make sure the muscle is contracting and engaging fully whilst being put under adequate stress to make it need to grow.
You want to choose a weight that allows you to control the movement, maintain good technique and form and allows you train through full range of motion for the duration of a set.
And for extra muscle gains, you want to make sure you’re able to lower the weight through the eccentric portion for at least a three count, as this is when most muscle damage will occur leading to greater growth.
Remember your body doesn’t know what weight it is lifting, it only knows to respond to the stress that is placed upon it.
Myth #5: The anabolic window
Walk into any gym changing room and you’re guaranteed to see a few things:
There will be the person standing in front of the mirror looking for the perfect selfie lighting.
There will be someone walking around commando for an oddly long time.
You’ll also see guy after guy running to their gym bags so they can gulp down a protein shake within minutes of finishing their last set of bicep curls.
I won’t lie, I used to be sitting alongside them downing my shake as well, thinking that I had to get fast acting protein into my muscles before the magical 30-minute window of muscle growth had passed and my workout was wasted.
I was wrong.
Unfortunately, it took me a few good years to realise that I needn’t have worried (or wasted so much money in post workout shakes) as the research indicates that consuming protein immediately after your workout has no extra benefit than if you had it within a few hours afterwards.
Now you can chill out and relax after your workout, safe in the knowledge that your muscles won’t waste away into oblivion.
Just a quick point before we move on:
There does seem to be evidence that a post workout shake consumed immediately can be beneficial under the circumstance that you have trained in a fasted state.
Focus on the basics
Building muscle ‘aint easy, but it is simple.
Unfortunately, over the years – especially with the rise of social media – the information that is being put out isn’t always the most beneficial or accurate and the fundamentals have been muddled and over complicated.
So, what should we zone our focus in on when the goal is muscle growth? Here are a few bonus pointers:
Consistency within your training is the thing that comes before all else.
After all, how can you build muscle if you don’t even show up for your workouts?
As the saying goes building muscle is a marathon, not a sprint.
Cliched? Yes, but that’s because it’s true.
Having the physique of your dreams unfortunately takes longer than what magazines may have led you to believe. It may take weeks, if not months, before you start seeing noticeable results and your body changing in the mirror.
But the best thing to do is fall in love with the process and not the end result because you’re going to be in this for the long haul.
So, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Create a calorie surplus
Very few things in this life are guaranteed, but there is one thing at least – you will NOT build muscle if you are not eating enough calories.
You might have heard the term “hard gainer” before or you may have even labelled yourself as one, I know I did. In reality, it’s just a case that you won’t be eating enough calories to allow your body to grow, not that you are destined to be small for the rest of your days.
What you’ll have to do is calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) via an online calorie calculator and then it’s just a case of making sure you eat more calories than the number you expend (by roughly 100-200 calories) each and every day, even on non-training days.
As you progress and gain weight, you’ll need to eat a higher number of calories to ensure you continue to build muscle and progress, so a reassessment of your TDEE every 4-6 weeks is advised.
Have a progressive training plan
Your workouts don’t need to be over complicated or last several hours to be effective.
They just need to incorporate what was mentioned above – progressive overload.
A programme that has you lifting more weight, doing more sets or hitting new rep PB’s week on week is going to do more for your physique and muscle growth than any of the latest gimmicks or tricks.
But, unless you have the mental powers of Rain Man then you aren’t going to know if you are achieving this. So, grab yourself a pen and pad or download an app and track your workouts and then compare them from the previous weeks/months/years.
You don’t need to track every exercise you do, but I’d suggest you keep a record of all your big compound lifts and make sure you progress with these each session.
Of course, you could just pay a trusted PT or coach and get them to do it all for you.
The 3 P’s
If you can master locking down those three fundamentals, then congratulations, you are already most of the way there…then it’s all just about persistence, patience and pumping iron.
The post 5 Muscle-Building Myths You Need To Ignore Immediately appeared first on Food For Fitness.
Ok, so here’s the thing. I’m sure we’ve all heard of carb cycling, maybe even done carb cycling ourselves, but what does it actually entail?
Well let’s not dive straight in the deep end. Nutrition, as I’m sure you’re aware (perhaps frustrated by even), is a complex discussion even for the most experienced or perhaps studious of us all.
When it comes to fat loss, gaining some size or even just being happy with where you’re currently at, calories will always be king. Sure, we can play around with the approach, but similar to training or cycling potentially, making it your own is a good way to go.
When we start out with something new, like a different hobby or sport, we’ve all been faced with the inevitable jargon, seemingly ridiculous amounts of detail as well as, let’s face it, being often overwhelmed.
Take cycling, for example:
It’s a great exercise for many and, if you’re still relatively new to the discipline, any chat about RPM, cadence or PSI is sure to grind even the toughest of gears.
Nutrition’s no different and the more we add on minute details and ‘toppings’, the more we’re likely to sack off our goals, hit our local and return to our usual routine or lack of for that matter.
But, hey, building up momentum and getting the wheels turning is and will forever be the best approach, at least for myself and my clients.
Grinding your own gears
I’m always one to take a perhaps different approach to many of these debates or topics and let’s imagine things as if they were set out with a clear starting point and destination.
As with many routes, roads or paths, there will always be more than one way to reach our desired end point.
Sure, we can hit the ground running, cut out our favourite foods, fast for 16 hours each day and reduce our intake to a selection of chicken breasts, green vegetables and brown rice, but similar to only half filling up our petrol tank, we sure as hell are going to run out of gas pretty damn quickly.
When it comes to carb cycling specifically, many of us like to think that it’s a miracle approach, designed to maximise our training, perfect our fat loss potentials and be absolutely necessary.
But here’s the thing:
The body isn’t so simple and, often, when we add on these small adjustments, it doesn’t really give us the extra boost we think it will.
Imagine the scene, you’ve got a few options or approaches when it comes to your journey.
You could splash the cash and go big on your dream supercar, fragile at the best of times and the quicker the better right? Or, you could sit down for days on end planning the perfect approach, timing to perfection and including even the exact route to the minute.
Genuinely, the result of both of these often and almost always is never really leaving your starting point.
Paralysis by analysis will be sure to keep you right where perhaps you don’t want to be, fretting for weeks on end on the perfect supplements, number of meals per day and how to nail your carb intake to the exact gram every single day.
As a science student myself, I often enjoy details and sure, planning is important.
But if you’ve ever been faced with the lofty task of an upcoming deadline, thesis or any project for that matter, how many times have we (and I include my own experiences in this) procrastinated, ‘started tomorrow’ or just not got the result we wanted?
As with most things fitness related, there’s often method in the madness and here’s a few (science backed of course) reasons why managing your carbs day-to-day actually doesn’t really matter.
Rocket science or rocket fuel?
As a recent study has concluded, even our intake or ‘perfect’ carb/fat ratio maybe isn’t so perfect after all.
See, the body’s an efficient engine (at least when we fuel it the correct way). When it comes to our intake, genuinely, the most important thing will always be your total calorie intake, not even day-to-day but for the whole week too.
You’ve no doubt been told or even heard the whole ‘fat burning’ basics.
Carbs this, carbs that and why you need to nail your eating to make damn well sure that your workouts are record-breaking every single time.
We’re all busy in many ways and having to think, plan and adjust our carbs every single day seems slightly overkill if you ask me.
When it comes to planning your nutrition, think big and think weekly.
Sure, we can use a classic low/medium/high approach to carbs, perhaps even a low-medium, medium-high and extra high potentially? It’s already starting to sound more like me trying to order a sirloin at my local grill.
As I often say, making nutrition work for you is the way to go.
A phrase I love and still stand by myself is to fit your fitness around your lifestyle and not the other way round.
Sure, there’s no real logic in tweaking your carbs when it comes to making sure your body’s always in its ideal ‘fat burning’ state, whatever the hell that means. But, such is life, there’s always two sides to the coin or cogs in the wheel and being sociable is always important.
‘Eat’-ch to their own
Since we are social creatures after all (on the most part I suppose), no-one wants to be the one ordering a side salad as their mains of a weekend or an evening meal out.
Not me, not you, not ever.
This is where the fun side to nutrition can really flourish and why I’ll always have an open-minded approach to my own eating habits too.
So, perhaps there’s no physical or workout related benefit to nailing a high or low carb day, but as with most things in the fitness realm, enjoyment will always be a crucial factor.
You may consider that going ‘high carb’ or ‘high calorie’ on the weekend works for you. Naturally sticking within your rough calorie range of course!
For myself, I do love a good meal out (who doesn’t after all) and the freedom or even flexibility to choose as you desire from the main menu is always a luxury we all need from time to time. Sure, you could order just a side portion, a salad or even delve into the kids menu, but let’s be realistic.
An approach I often use and recommend to my clients is to think of your calories or even carbs as a weekly budget. Similar to money or your wages, you could stick to the exact same spend every single day, but things would get boring pretty quickly indeed.
Instead, perhaps it’s worth having a small set of savings or even a wee bit set aside to best enjoy your end of week meal and actually stick to your plan unlike the usual ups, downs and falling off track.
Ups and downs
Like with anything in life, highs and lows are inevitable and you’ll never be perfect.
But, we can get that tiny bit closer by allowing ourselves to have the room to be flexible. Genuinely, the less rules, restriction and ‘need to dos’ we can have with our eating, the better we can last longer term.
Ever try cutting out sugar, ‘bad fats’ or god knows what else? Lasted long?
I doubt it.
I can testify to a few miserable weekends of avoiding anything with a red food label on its packaging myself.
What I love about the science behind what we eat is that, genuinely, it’s actually quite simple.
We enjoy complexity and making things harder. It makes us feel that bit better when we convince ourselves that we can’t do something or that we’re simply too busy.
But, hey, once you take a step back, choose the right gear and finally find your rhythm, the path to your ideal goal is often easier than you think. As I often preach, filling up your tank with the right foods and getting properly fuelled is definitely key.
So, perhaps there’s no real backing for changing up your days into high, medium or low but when it comes to training, running out of juice isn’t particularly fun to say the least.
A different train of thought
As with any debate or topic, context is key.
Sure, switching things up is often an unnecessary addition, but the devil really is in the details after all.
When it comes to training, having a decent supply of glycogen in our muscles is an important aspect when it comes to maximising our performance or getting the best from our routine. It may be beneficial to eat well around your training and if this means switching up to a high or low day approach, then who can possibly argue?
Something I often find is that simply tailoring your intake for that day to refuel before your gym session can and often is more than enough to get the desired gains or return on your efforts.
Studies are great and what I love most is the ability to genuinely back up the theory and why we do certain things with our eating especially. A recent article covers this in great detail (don’t worry, I’ll summarise without the science-y babble).
When it comes to workouts especially, it’s not black and white per se, but it’s genuinely good practice to stock up on carbs ideally. Sure, fats are tasty and I often prefer them myself, but the body’s an engine in many ways and you wouldn’t fill up a petrol car with diesel (at least I would hope not anyway).
A fork in the road
So, there you have it, the same destination, the same starting point but a tangly mess of different routes in between.
As I often say, picking the one that suits you best will always serve you well.
You could emulate your favourite Instagram personality, athlete or Jim from work, but if they’re spending hours calculating their precise macronutrient timings and ratios to the gram or second, then it’s perhaps worth taking a different route.
We all like to follow a ‘no pain no gain’ mentality and, sure, nothing good ever comes easy, but honestly making things as simple as possible will often be the long-lasting approach you’re missing.
Perhaps my favourite article of all time (I have more than I’m willing to admit) genuinely does conclude that, when it comes to fat loss and getting in shape, picking a plan you can actually stick or adhere to is the most important factor of all.
Instead of a low-carb diet, it might worth taking a low-information diet instead…