This Tuesday (8/7/14) saw me at Rotherham's popular 'Titans Tuesday' evening. This is a great initiative designed to get the supporters closer to the Titan's squad and give them a glimpse of what is going on behind the scenes at the club. I volunteered to talk at this week's event to share the work that I have been doing with the squad on their nutrition so far this pre season.
The evening was well attended and I ended up chatting for about 90 minutes. I ran the supporters through the presentations that I have delivered to the squad as well as touching on my background, match day nutrition, supplements, alcohol, a quiz, some top tips to take away and finally finishing with a Q&A.
I always enjoy watching people's reactions to being told that the mainstream dietary advice they have been given is wrong and this evening was no exception. The attendees were really open minded and listened to the reasoning I gave for my approach. As always bacon is the bait used to get people to buy in. Everyone loves bacon!
At the end of the presentation I shared my 5 top tips for people to take away if they wanted to improve their own health and performance. I'll cover these in more detail here:
1. No carbs at breakfast
This is potentially the biggest change you can make if you are wanting to improve your body composition. Once again the mainstream has lied to you. Breakfast is certainly not the most important meal of the day. What's more a sugary breakfast of cereal, toast, fruit juice or maybe one of those heinous 'breakfast biscuits' is quite possibly the worst way you could ever choose to start the day.
When you wake in the morning your cortisol levels are high. This cortisol triggers the breakdown of triglycerides into free fatty acids which are used for energy. In simple terms it increases fat burning. We also get a ghrelin mediated spike in Growth Hormone a short while after waking. GH is good news as it spares muscle tissue breakdown and releases even more fat to be burned as fuel.
If we choose to interrupt this process with a carb heavy breakfast then we effectively shut these processes down. What's more when cortisol is acting with insulin present we actually create more fat cells rather than releasing fat from current cells.
If you'd like more detail on the breakfast issue then have a read of this article: http://articles.elitefts.com/nutrition/logic-does-not-apply-part-2-breakfast/
So what do I recommend instead of breakfast? Well this is entirely goal dependant. If you are looking to cut weight then I'd either skip completely or look at a 'bulletproof' coffee style creation, essentially a coffee with coconut oil and cream/butter. Give that a google for more detail. If you are looking to gain muscle mass then a carb free, fat and protein heavy, meal is ideal. You can't go far wrong with combinations of bacon, eggs, butter and chorizo.
2. 8+ hours sleep a night
Sleep is so essential to every facet of your life that it can't be ignored. We live in a very odd macho culture where people boast about how little sleep they can survive on. Being slightly sleep deprived can have the equivalent effect on your concentration as being over the drink drive limit. You wouldn't go to work drunk so don't go sleep deprived.
When trying to improve your sleep there are 3 areas that I would start with. These all come under the generic term 'sleep hygiene' so for more ideas do some Dr Googling around that term.
- sleep in a cool room or cool your core temperature before going to bed
- sleep in a pitch black room
-avoid artificial light in the few hours preceding sleep. So that means no TV, ipads or smartphones. Light a candle and read a book!
3. EAT REAL FOODS
So important I put it in capitals. I read a great quote from journalist Joanna Blythman recently where she described man as 'smart enough to create his own food yet stupid enough to eat it'. She has absolutely nailed it with that one!
My biggest piece of advice when shopping is to go down the veg aisle, back up the meat aisle and go and pay. Even better go to your local butcher and greengrocer or save yourself all the time and look at local grocery box schemes such as Riverford Organic or Abel and Cole.
Ultimately if the item has an ingredient list you should avoid it unless you have made it yourself. This may sound daunting but it's fairly simple. Think how your grandma used to cook. Meals of meat, green veg covered in butter and potatoes.
The fitness industry has convinced us that exercise has to be this weird structured activity that only happens in certain places and for a certain period of time. This isn't what our bodies are designed for. We're designed to jump, crawl, climb and tumble. Think back to what you used to do as a child and recreate that. Go on adventures, climb rocks, jump in puddles and generally enjoy yourself outdoors. You'll be getting plenty of Vitamin D, training your body through complete ranges of motion and most importantly having fun!
Our natural stress response is designed for short sharp stressors. Our modern world gives us consistent chronic stressors. This overwhelms our body and is the reason that stress is implicated in virtually every modern disease. I'd urge everyone to read 'Why Zebras don't get ulcers' which is the definitive book on this topic.
We can fight back against our stressful environment with a variety of relaxation exercises. The most well known of these currently is mindfulness. I will cover such strategies in more detail in a later post but in the meantime there are loads of great resources available online. There are also guided meditation apps and podcasts so have a look and experiment. It doesn't matter how you do it, it just matters that you do!
These 5 elements are all broad and cover the 4 blocks of health I discussed at the start of my presentation. The important thing to remember is that you need all 4 to be completely healthy. Some people think they can exercise to lose weight, then when that doesn't work they'll try diet. Unfortunately it doesn't quite work like that, our body is an immensely complicated entity with all our internal systems overlapping and working in unison. If we want to feel what real health is like then we need to cover all our bases.
I will cover all these elements in much more detail in later posts. If you'd like more information in the meantime then get in touch via the contacts page or on twitter. I'm happy to answer any