"You've got to be kidding me? This has got to be some kind of sick joke?" I remember saying this to myself when I was diagnosed with the second bout of malignant melanoma - skin cancer on the side of my head & neck. "I'm one of the top health & fitness professionals in the industry, with a health & fitness TV show & wellness business. How does this happen to me? There must be some kind of mistake?"....
But there wasn't any mistake. At that moment, I realised that being a top health pro & fitness model meant nothing, & fight for survival meant everything.
Let me first say that it seems, that in these modern times, we've become so used to living in a fatigued & drained energy state brought on by chronic stress, that we don't even think that could be any other way. It's just become normal for so many people. A lot of people actually think they thrive off of it & use it to get them moving. This 'chronic stress' is draining from the inside, taking away our energy & vitality. Add to this a lack of sleep, which is very common, & you've got a recipe for disaster, both physically & mentally. A breakdown of some kind is likely at any minute. And so, this was the case in my situation.
My second discovery came at Easter after I noticed a large lump at the side of my neck. I put it down to a muscle strain after a tough workout on the previous day & blind fully, hoped for the best. Wishful thinking wasn't enough though, & fears were confirmed after multiple tests. The lump 'was' cancerous & this thing just had to be removed -fast! it was urgent as it had the chance of spreading to the rest of my body. if this happened, it would simply be too late & totally incurable. A hospital bed was scheduled for me after a few months, but with very little contact from doctors & the four hospitals I was dealing with, I simply continued with my day to day busy life, & the filming of the new series of my new TV show. I was determined in my mind that I'd just face the battle of the operation & events when I was good & ready!
In the past, I'd always buried my head in the sand with events such as these. The phrase "I'd rather not know", now makes absolutely no sense to me, & it's one of life's 'non-phrases', because not knowing is NOT an option!
There are hundreds of millions of hours & billions of pounds of research, development, equipment & treatments waiting to save you from yourself. The very least you can do is what little it takes to help them work their magic. I was beginning to lose weight rapidly. The combination of chronic stress (work, family issues & exercise training), all began to take their toll on my overall health. All this 'heroism' without telling anyone about what I was going through. The way I saw it, there was no point in playing the victim & looking for any sympathy. I just got on with it.
For the first time in my life, I was going to be 'grown up'. I made a promise to myself that I would set aside a serious chunk of time to figure out how to squeeze every single drop of joy, excitement & fascination out of anything, everything & everyone who I came into contact with. However long I had left. One day life will kill us. The sooner we accept that, the better.
But back to the case at hand. Eventually, I received a note & a date to be taken in to the hospital. It was set for early July 2016. Reluctantly, I accepted, & resigned myself to the fact that this summer, wouldn't be much fun. A subsequent phone call told me that the senior, & best doctor wouldn't however, be available to carry out the procedure & a junior practitioner would be taking his place. Needless to say, this did not please me, & I used it as an excuse to postpone the operation until his return in late August. So, for now, all was great. I'd have the summer to enjoy & face the cold reality of the situation come September. Premature thinking on my part however. My slim hopes were dashed when I received news that the head consultant strongly advised & actually 'insisted' that I had the surgery asap. My case was URGENT. Accept it. I did.
And so, it came to July 14th, ironically the hottest day of the year in the UK with warm, deep blue skies outdoors, & here I was, contained inside a cold, dark operation ward. This may have been part of my initial problem - the feeling that I was missing out on the sun's rays outside had, in the past, contributed to bring my mood right down.
I was called for a 7am arrival having fasted for 10 hours prior, & I know that my case must have been serious as I had to wait no longer than 30 minutes before I was taken don for all the blood tests & pre-op procedures. After signing the consent forms, with the knowledge that there was a 30% chance this operation could be fatal because of where the cuts would be made, I was placed onto the bed& taken down into the operation unit. My one & only concern was that the anesthetic would be strong enough to knock me out. Stupidly, I've always had a fear that i would wake up mid procedure. No fear though. 3 minutes later, I was unconscious & on another planet altogether.
5 hours later: "Keith. Keith.....Wake up. Keith..." The nurses on the recovery ward had a hard time waking me up. I was drowsy & swollen, but alive. I felt a total sense of peace, & an hour later, family were allowed to come to see me. I was wired to machines at either side of me, drawing blood & monitoring my heart rate & pulse. Even after the heart rate monitor was removed, I was left with the drain & blood bag. And I would have these with me for as long as it would take! This was a constant pain. it was attached to me like my shadow. For days, I had to drag it with me everywhere I went.
The not so pleasant environment frustrated me more than anything I had ever experienced. I've always found that I can remain strong for others if I'm in good health & fitness myself. This, however, was a totally new experience for me, & was a hell of a lot harder than I had imagined it would be. The constant smell of medicine & stale blood in the air, the overbearing announcements on the load speaker & the monotonous beeping on the machine didn't help matters. Beeping night & day from all machines was seriously getting under my skin! Everything I had worked for was slowly being stripped away from me, & all I could really do was watch it slip into an abyss. I didn't even know who I was when I looked in the mirror. 'Abs'? Where had they gone?
In the hospital, although I really wanted to recover as best I could, I would, as by nature, continue to push the limits. I caused the doctors & nurses a lot of grief because I was always doing something I shouldn't. I suppose they just couldn't kill that gene in me!
Once this second surgery was over, I found myself getting tired at every task - even washing & shaving. The physical superiority I once had was gone, & this left me feeling absolutely hopeless. I was so mad that I had to go through this, that I had no real life right now, & I just had to take it. You can't rush what I was going through - like taking summer classes to get ahead in school. I had another few weeks of this & I hated it. - Putting it mildly! The day I walked back into the gym for a light workout (4 days after the operation), it was very hard. I remember picking up the lightest weight I could find & I just felt so weak. Looking at my reflection, I just couldn't recognise myself anymore.
Accepting the fact that my old training methods were gone (even temporarily), I made it my goal to find new ways to train. It really was tough for me to train as I didn't seem to be able to perform to even half of what I used to. Of course, I was advised to take it easy by medics, family & friends, but I continued, full steam ahead & trained my mind & body to be better, & more precise in every way I could. I was like a warrior, & gave myself 3 months to get back into shape - only better! I began to train once again for a solid 3 hours a day with weights, cardio, martial arts, yoga & stretching. I was of course, adamant about proper nutrition & supplementation. My drive, determination & desire & will to succeed, brought me back into the shape of my life.
Thankfully, very recently, I have received the all clear on the cancer! They removed over 20 lymph glands & caught the affected areas. I was told my fitness & overall health was one of the primary reasons that I made it through.
At the age of almost 40 years, I feel fitter & healthier than I ever have before. The events of the past year & few months have taught me a great deal, both about myself & the really important things in life. A change has come over me which I feel is irreversible.
Questions of prestige, business success, financial status & the 'perfect' physique, became, all at once, unimportant. In those first few hours when I realised that I had skin cancer, I never once thought about my 'google rating', business status or 'killer six-pack'! I have not had an argument with my family since the illness was diagnosed. I used to get pissed off about housemates squeezing the toothpaste from the top, instead of the bottom, about not fitting in with my eating habits, spending too much on silly things etc. - Now I'm either unaware of such things or they just seem irrelevant.
Instead, has come a new appreciation of things I once forgot or took for granted. - Eating lunch with a friend, scratching my cat's ears & listening to her purrs, the company of my parents & siblings, reading a book late at night, savouring an indulgent glass of wine or eating a fine Italian meal & apple pie!
For the first time, I really think I'm savouring life. I realise finally, that I'm not immortal. I shudder when I remember the times that I spoiled myself - even when I was in the best of health, by false pride, synthetic values & empty goals.
We pretty much certainly have fewer summers & Christmas' left than those we've already seen, but we have the ability to make them fuller, more rewarding & more memorable than any that have gone before. So, when faced with death, it can sometimes lead to a kind of liberation.
Forced with the possibility of death, life suddenly takes on an intensity, resonance & saviour we may never have known before. When it's all over, most of us dread the sadness, but in the end, wouldn't it be worse to leave without having tasted life's pure & simple greatness? Here's to a rich & fulfilling life, however long it may be.
My life is a success because of my mindset!
I'm so positive about life now, I cannot begin to tell you how different I am now from how I used to be. I used to focus on the negative, now I really do smile all day long.
Other people that I see complain about the smallest little things and I just think to myself how much they are missing.
I consider my life to be a success because of my mindset, and I don't have to prove anything to anyone else. I almost don't have to prove anything to myself. I've overcome a lot of challenges and obstacles and I'm 'living' again! To me living isn't just about doing amazing things - like my TV show 'Fit Happens', seminars and talks around the world, sporting challenges like cycling across Europe, flying and fitness shows etc, - it's about being content and helping people around me.
I really believe that I have a purpose, and that's what keeps me going day after day. It's almost as if I'm on a mission. Who knows what the next mission will be! I see myself as a work in progress - a work that is far from having 'the end' written on it!
I have had countless physical challenges in my life, but a massive challenge and, arguably the biggest, was being diagnosed with skin cancer. A mole on my face became abnormal and was found to be a malignant melanoma. However, I feel that this has given me strength and clarity about my true values. Had this tragedy not happened to me, I would have been more dedicated to having just money and prestige. That's where I was heading! That's the only future I wanted. I was just like so many people, aiming for a flash car, big house etc...., but I have learned that you can't take any of that with you when you die, and if you can't appreciate little things, how are you going to really appreciate the 'big things'?
As tough as the suffering was, the pain and discomfort seemed to have a purpose, teaching me to appreciate every moment of life. Surgery took hit me badly - physically and mentally- and it was a very hard time for my Family and Friends. I was touch and go if I would even survive the operation as the mole was in a very dangerous place - very close to my brain and lymph nodes. However, I did survive and, within a few days, I was back into light training.
When I started to feel good again, thinking to myself how beautiful life is, I was kicking myself for having wasted so many years! But now, I can see that those years have given me so much wisdom and so much respect for life - and, I never want to be back there again! I'm never going to sit around and moan about life's challenges like I used to - never again!
The skin cancer I was carrying for years had really taken its toll on my body. Yes, I was constantly tired, but I put this down to overwork and stress. My bodyweight was gradually getting lower and lower for no apparent reason. On top of this, after the surgery itself, I had lost an additional 25 pounds and a lot of strength. But, as I mentioned, within a week, I was back in the gym and began re-building! I was back to my old self - only better!
I decided to take on as many new challenges as possible - physically and mentally. I began physical transformations that surpassed my wildest dreams. I began putting into practice what I have been preaching to my Clients for years.
A combination of a healthy diet, weight training and a sound cardio plan with the right mental attitude has helped me to get results almost instantly. I would look at myself when in the gym and say; 'You're really changing. No dying loser here! You're starting to look like a Winner!'
Over a ten week period, I had gained 12 pounds of muscle and had body-fat below 8%. I felt I had a whole new body!
As a health, fitness and nutrition professional, I had always helped others with their diet and training, but now, I stepped up my own game 100%. I really wanted to share with others what I had experienced myself. Clients, friends and Family all wanted to learn more. The new methods that I've learned over this period are all now part of my health and nutrition plans and others are benefitting from putting them into practice.
In the past, I used to economise the time I spent with my Family and it was really hard on them. I now really appreciate each and every minute I can share with them. We now have long talks and make each other feel good. They're pleased to have me back and part of my Family again.
A lot of people I talk to now - Clients, Friends and Family - are looking for the sense of purpose that I have in my life now. What I can say is that it's there for anyone to grasp. It takes time and a little work, but the positive things you are doing start with building up on each other, and through that continuous building, you become the person you thought you never could be.
My ambition is to get this message out to as many people as I can.
I feel honoured to be able to share these positives messages to a vast number of people worldwide - through my motivational and health seminars, nutrition, health and wellness programmes, TV Show -'Fit Happens'-and through my website and blog - www.keithcormican.com.
I have seriously never felt more alive and thriving!
Kre Alkalyn Is it good? Does it work? How do you use it? Kre-Alkalyn.
The facts! Health and fitness enthusiasts all over the world have been talking about it for years - the hot new supplement seems to be Kre-Alkalyn.
In the 1990's, creatine exploded into the fitness world, but it's lost its popularity somewhat along with its loyal following.
In basic terms, Kre-Alkalyn is another form of creatine, and I know many people who've become very passionate about the product. Personally, I've used this product in the past with varying success rates - possibly due to the choice of brand.
Similarly, and unfortunately, to my knowledge, some people have experienced some adverse side effects with both this newer product, and the original form of creatine monohydrate - such as bloating, stomach pains, frequent trips to the bathroom! Aside from that, users of the typical 'old school' creatine felt that they only got results which became obvious after taking the supplement for a long time - several months.
In fact, that's one of the main reasons why Kre-Alkalyn was brought to the mainstream and is seen as a fantastic alternative by athletes and gym goers.
It's thought that trainers would start to build quality muscle without the usual bloat and water retention experienced from the creatine monohydrate. With Kre-Alkalyn, it's said that you can immediately see the effects after using it for a few weeks since you don't have to go through the "loading phase" like that of powdered creatine supplements. Functional strength may also be improved by its use. The compound is being seen as a 'life enhancer' as it may actually help to maintain muscle tissue as people age.
Before I move onto the best, and most commonly practised ways to take Kre-Alkalyn and when, I'll first explain a little more about the standard approach used with creatine monohydrate, and some of the history.
Creatine is a compound that is naturally made in our bodies to supply energy to our muscles. Chemically, it is called ‘methylguanido – acetic acid’. It's formed from the amino acids arginine, methionine and glycine, and is manufactured in the liver and may also be produced in the pancreas and kidneys. It's transported in the blood and taken up by muscle cells, where it's converted to creatine phosphate (CP). This reaction involves the enzyme creatine kinase which helps bond creatine to a high energy phosphate group.
The average person metabolizes about two grams of creatine each day, and that same amount is normally synthesized by the body – so you generally maintain a creatine balance. Once it is bound to a phosphate group, it's permanently stored in a cell as phosphocreatine until it's used to produce chemical energy called ATP. When this takes place, creatine can be released to instantly form creatinine, which is then removed from the blood via the kidneys and excreted in the urine. - Sounds complicated, but stay with it...
Although creatine supplementation can raise blood creatinine, its never been shown in studies to be harmful to the kidneys. This has often been an accusation thrown at the supplement in the past. The richest source of creatine in food is in animal muscle, for example, meats and fish. However, to increase athletic performance and boost lean body mass, creatine must be taken in concentrations which are not found in whole foods alone, for example, you would have to consume ten pounds of raw steak each day for five days to load your body with creatine! Not the most fun way to spend your time! The goal of a weight trainer or athlete is to use progressive resistance exercise to force the muscles to adapt and grow. This increased work load can be achieved in many ways: by increasing the force of contraction through increased resistance such as when lifting heavier weights, by increasing the duration of the time that the muscle is under tension, and by increasing the frequency of exercise.
Creatine helps in three ways, it helps build lean body mass, which allows still greater force to be used, it provides energy so the duration of exercise can be lengthened and the speed of recovery to exercise frequency can be increased.
SUGGESTION FOR INTAKE With the standard form of creatine, the following method has been tested over and over again to good effect! Use a creatine supplement with a high glycemic carbohydrate source to load your muscles. Use 20-30 grams of creatine a day and then cut back to 5-15 grams a day for a maintenance dose. If you're like many people, or using it for the first time, you'll notice a dramatic increase in size and strength. You'll get better pumps in the gym, you'll notice that your muscles are stronger and ‘fuller’. It is the closest thing to date to have the effect of an illegal anabolic steroid but it is natural.
So, that's the standard approach, and what is now considered by some to be the 'old school' approach. - Kre-Alkalyn, on the other hand, is the new nutritional supplement that's used by many people who want to build muscle or are interested in athletic performance, but with little side-effects and/or bloat. Like the standard creatine, the purpose of Kre-Alkalyn is to build muscle strength and endurance. Kre-Alkalyn can be found in the form of a powdered supplement which can be added to food or drink, but it's more common, however, to be taken in the form of a pill or capsule. Many athletes prefer this to powdered creatine, because it's said to have fewer side effects, such as bloating and lack of muscle definition and it has a higher pH level. In a nutshell, athletes believe that Kre-Alkalyn aids in immune system function and in the building of muscle mass as well as functional strength, and, as I mentioned, a large part of its appeal is that it maintains muscle tissue as people age. As a very nice bonus, there are numerous nutrients in Kre-Alkalyn - vitamins present include vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. And of course, creatine, protein and manganese are also present. Because compounds can vary depending on where you get the supplement, you should review the specific nutrient content of the supplement you're interested in buying. In general, although ingredients vary depending on compound and supplier, common ingredients in Kre-Alkalyn include fish oil, caffeine, olive leaf (to increase energy), ginger root, arginine ethyl ester (an arginine compound consisting of amino acids that are the building blocks of protein), deer antler velvet (a compound designed to improve muscle recovery after exercise and athletic strength and endurance) and apple cider vinegar. As always, amounts or dosages may vary. Artificial flavours may also be included. These ingredients are ground up to form the pure Kre-Alkalyn supplement, which, as I said, can come in either powder or capsule form. Like all supplements, it's best to do a thorough research on Kre Alkalyn before taking it.
So, onto the detail. Here are some of the best, and most commonly practised ways to the supplement: The proper dosage of Kre-Alkalyn varies depending on the concentration, quality and type of mixture.
In capsule form, the beginning dose is usually only 1 to 2 capsules daily because it can be powerful and potent. In powdered form, 3g is generally recommended as the best dosage. The dosage will generally be written on the package when you buy the product. You should begin with a smaller dose and gradually increase as your body get comfortable, and used to it. If you are ever concerned, before taking 'any dosage' you should always talk to a physician.
With the powdered form of the product, it's slightly more complex.
The following steps can be applied:
1. There is a cycle when taking Kre-Alkalyn (powdered form), which lasts for about 14-16 weeks. You should use it for 12 weeks and then rest for at least 4 weeks before starting the cycle again.
2. Within the 12 weeks of using the powdered form, you should only take one serving if you don't train or work out.
3. However, if you're training intensely on that day, you should take two servings of Kre-Alkalyn. Take the first serving before the workout, and the other one after the session.
4. Do not use the Kre-Alkalyn continuously! As with any supplement, make sure that you take a time off (4 weeks or so is a good idea), before you start with the new cycle of the supplement again.
5. Make sure that you do not take more than 3 grams of the product (powdered form) every day.
6. At the beginning, although there is no loading phase, you should consider taking at least 1.5 grams every day whether you workout or not.
7. It's advised that you compliment your supplement intake with amino acid supplements for even greater effect.
8. Athletes who are more than 200lbs can eventually increase their dosage for greater effect.
So, to sum up, for the powdered form - as a dietary supplement, mix 1/2 scoop in 4 oz. of water or your favourite beverage 30 minutes before exercise and 1/2 scoop post-workout. For capsules, take 1 capsule 30 minutes prior to workout and 1 capsule right after workout. For liquid, take 7.5 ml (approximately 1/2 TBSP) 30 minutes before workout. No loading is needed with liquid form. OK. So there are a lot of benefits to be had with this if all is true.
But, as always, the big question, - does it actually work? And, are there side effects? Well, a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reported no difference in efficacy or safety for buffered creatine as compared to creatine monohydrate. Creatine supplementation is allowed by most sports regulating bodies because its use doesn't appear to be harmful in any way. Creatine use does not appear to improve performance in aerobic or endurance events however. Although, as I mentioned, it's not proven to be harmful, 'extremely high' doses of creatine 'may' be detrimental to the kidneys. (I will address this more specifically below) . Also, people taking creatine may gain unnecessary weight due to water retention in the skeletal muscles. The compound has not been clinically tested, so there is no clear data on the side effects. Supplement review sites online report that users do not testify to any apparent negative side effects. Also, anecdotal evidence from supplement review sites suggests that there are fewer negative side effects associated with Kre-Alkalyn than with creatine.
Some commonly asked questions and concerns that I often come across: Is taking a pre workout and Kre Alkalyn too hard on the kidneys? Short answer would be no and it's thought to be safe. Kidney-wise, if you have hypoparathyriodism and use calcium medication daily, it's not advisable to use Kre-Alkalyn. Kre alkalyn and other creatine supplements 'can' adversely affect kidney function if you have any condition. The supplement has been said to increase the risk for kidney stones.
I'm also often asked: "Does Kre-Alkalyn cause cancer"? - Well, there have been no reports on this to date. I reviewed the product briefly and found no theoretical reason why anybody should be worried on that front.
Creatine and Kre-Alkalyn in particular are great bodybuilding supplements especially if you want to gain mass, and the idea that it's only water weight is simplistic. If you want to increase your training intensity, gain lean mass or are simply looking for that extra edge, Kre-Alkalyn is certainly worth giving a try!
Butter Vs Margarine.
This is a highly debated topic with many passionate people on either side of the fence. And just like most things in nutrition the answer to which one is better isn’t black or white.
Here are some facts to help you decide…
Butter. - Is made from cream which is churned into butter. Most butters will then just have salt added for taste - Only ingredients are cream, water and salt - Undergoes less processing that margarine and is considered more ‘natural’. - Is about 80% fat (with around 50% of that being saturated fat), 16% water and 3% milk solids. - Is high in saturated fat which can increase cholesterol levels - Is solid at room temperature which makes it hard to spread and therefore many people use more than when using a softer spread - Has been used for thousands of years, a lot longer than margarine
Margarine. - Apparently was invited in the 1870’s (don’t quote me on that!) - Is made from a mixture of oils such as canola, soybean, olive and sunflower. - The main ingredients are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated plant seed oils, water, milk and salt for taste. - Margarines also contain additives. Soy lecithin is added as an emulsifier (to help mix everything together) other additives are used for preservation to extend shelf life (fridge life…???) and sometimes a thickener. A natural colour such as beta-carotene is often used to give margarine a yellow colour rather than it being white. - Is high in unsaturated fats – poly or monounsaturated fat depending on what the main oil used is - In the UK margarines have no or trace amounts of trans fats. Trans fats can be produced by hydrogenation (they are also naturally occurring in meat and dairy products in small amounts). This is where hydrogen molecules are added to unsaturated fats to become ‘partially hydrogenated’ trans fats. This process is used to turn liquid oils into a solid spreadable form as in the case with margarine.
However, in the UK, the process of esterification is used (instead of hydrogenation) where the unsaturated oils are combined with other ingredients such as milk, water and salt to develop a smooth consistency for spreading. Trans fats are not created in this process. - Is softer and easier to spread Remember: - Both have a similar fat and kilojoule content - Both should be used sparingly - Consider other great spreads such as avocado, hummus, olive oil or natural nut butters.
Top 7 Best Foods For Killer Abs!
What follows, are, what I consider to be the top seven absolute best foods for sculpting killer ab muscles.
Various reasons for each which I'll address here:
1. Salmon-and other cold-water ocean fish. Wild salmon made the list because it is probably the tastiest source of the essential fat Omega-3 fatty acid you can eat. This omega-3 actually helps the body to burn fat, which is essential if you want visible abs. Wild salmon is far better than farm-raised because farm-raised fish has more saturated fat and less Omega fats. The Omega-3 fatty acid is the best source of DHA and EPA, so important for the brain and heart health.
2. Almonds. Raw and unsalted are the best of course, and they taste just as good. Almonds are one of the only nuts that are alkaline, which is the state you want the body to be in if abdominal definition is your goal. At the same time, they're full of essential anti-inflammatory fats that lower LDL cholesterol and boost HDL cholesterol (the good kind). Almonds also give a good dose of protein, vitamin E and zinc, with no sugar of course! Walnuts are a great runner up in the quest for tight abs!
3. Garlic. Although garlic is considered more of a seasoning, it possesses some amazing healing attributes, especially when a clove is eaten raw. The chemicals Allicin and Phytoncide in it function as a natural anti-biotic, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, fighting Candida – yeast and other pathogens. Garlic is also a good source of B-vitamins. By eating this, your body's metabolism gets a boost and digestive issues are sorted out - again, allowing for the abs to be clearly displayed - void of body fat.
4. Green Tea. This is not really a food but a beverage. This tea seems to do it all – from boosting energy with just the right amount of caffine, to boosting metabolism and fat burning for the abdominals with a chemical called EGCG, to fighting cancer cells with ‘Catechins,’ packing anti-oxidant power, to balancing PH because it is highly alkaline. Three cups a day are ideal. Unlike coffee, it's not possible to overdo green tea, so drink up!
5. The Egg. The egg is back! Some say it never left. The egg made this list because it is one of the best sources of complete muscle and abs building protein found in Mother Nature. Eggs have a high biological absorption value and are easily digested, supplying all essential amino acids in the proper ratio. One egg provides 7 grams of protein. Eggs are also an excellent source of B-vitamins, folic acid, vitamin A, choline, iron, calcium, phosphorous and potassium. Yes, the yolk has a lot of cholesterol, but it is now known that most of this is good HDL cholesterol and most of the fat is unsaturated. The yellow colouring in the yolk is also loaded with carotene, vitamins D and E. Did I mention that the egg is sugar-free?
6. Oatmeal. Oatmeal is one of the best complex slow-digesting carbohydrates you can eat for sustained energy and minimal insulin release, -it doesn't bloat the belly, and also provide a good amount of soluble fibre credited for heart health by lowering LDL cholesterol. This is also essential if you are looking to carve up the torso area and mid-section. Oatmeal can be eaten by itself or blended into smoothies or other recipes. Oat based cereals are better than wheat cereals, especially if you suspect you may have a wheat allergy.
7. Yogurt. Look for natural yogurt with ‘live, active cultures’ and no added corn syrup! Yogurt made the list because it is a great way to ingest friendly, probiotic bacteria essential for abdominal and colon health, and to keep yeast in check. Yogurt also provides calcium and protein, and moderate levels of sugar – as long as you avoid the corn syrup!
(BONUS 8) Dark Chocolate. In moderate amounts and most importantly it has to be ‘dark’ with at least 70% real cocoa content. This means your favourite Mars and Twix bar will 'not' do the trick! Milk chocolate will not do it! It's the cocoa that has the abdominal and health benefits, loaded with flavonoils and L-Arginine that improve the health of your endothelium cells lining your blood vessels, dilating them, causing them to release nitric oxide. This allows the abs to appear fuller when visible and void of body fat. The fat contained in dark chocolate is from cocoa butter, and is a functional dietary fat, not harmful to LDL cholesterol levels and may raise HDL levels. And, dark chocolate is lower in sugar than milk chocolate.
I will stop this list at seven, but feel free to add to it. There are many more foods that deserve 'abs status' – just about any fruit or vegetable! The foods listed here are all nutrient dense and functional on many levels. They go way beyond just providing energy to fuel your training.
You can gather from this list that the Omega-3 fats are highly regarded in health and nutrition circles. Try to incorporate several of these foods into your daily diet. It is easier than you think. You know we cannot we cannot change our genetics, but we can control what food we eat.
Eating foods like these might be your best chance at carving out those killer abs!
The world has gone Juicing mad; everything must be blended to give you your nutritional hit or from a powdered tub.
The theory behind juicing and blending food seems to be a good one, I love constructing smoothies it’s a great way of packing in nutrient dense food its great for those who struggle consuming a lot of fruit and vegetables or those who simply haven’t got time to eat, at the same supplementing juices as part of a normal days eating.
However basing your daily eating around meal replacement shakes manufactured from the likes of ‘Juice plus, Herbal life and Clean 9’ is a different story. Here are four serious issues surrounding diets such as ‘Juice plus, Herbal life and Clean 9’ and any other product that resembles these. Tiredness, irritability and physical and mental fatigue How can a diet that promises a ‘cleaner, healthier, happier individual’ cause so many people to feel the complete opposite weak and tired. The average meal replacement drinks provide around 200 calories for each serving. If you replace two meals with these shakes and then eat one meal that contains 600 calories, you only consume about 1,000 calories for the entire day.
If you’re used to following a 2,000-calorie diet, drastically cutting your calories in half with meal replacement drinks can cause you to feel tired and fatigued throughout the day. How can this amount of calories provide enough energy for someone to maintain activity levels throughout the day let alone attempt a workout?
The analogy of fuelling your car with no petrol and expecting it to run is similar to your body why would you not fuel your body properly to give yourself enough energy to sustain yourself throughout the day.
Juicing ‘detoxes’ the body - A common claim from brands such as Herbal life and Juice plus that through the 7-10 day fasting/juicing process the body will remove all poisons and toxins in the process. We are blessed with a liver and kidneys their main process being to filter the byproducts of our metabolism of food and drink and excrete any toxins via urine.
Organs that have been developed by nature over hundreds of years are with a specific purpose of detoxifying the body are far more effective than a manufactured powder.
Rapid weight loss Many people experience rapid weight loss on a typical Juice diet; this initially puts faith into the idea that a juice/meal replacement diet could actually be a good idea.
However many when they return to they’re previous eating habits see the weight return almost as quick. The typical juice diet may last 10 days; in this period the body will remove all the water within the muscles and subcutaneous fat stores. Water is stored within muscle alongside glycogen, as we use up glycogen stores; our body drops the water weight unless we replenish the stores with more glycogen.
Juice diets are very low in calories and carbohydrates, every gram of carbohydrate in the body holds up to 3-5g of water, so as the scale weight is rapidly decreasing the weight that is lost is purely water also probably some lean muscle tissue due to the lack of protein with the diet. Hence when the individual returns to their normal eating, glycogen and water are replenished, as is the weight that was ‘magically’ lost. I’m so HUNGRY
Another issue with juice diets is satiety, which is when your body feels full. Fibre in your diet helps keep you full improving satiety, since it sits in your digestive tract for a while slowing digestion and creating bulk. As meal replacement products are consumed the chewing process is removed as the liquid is passed through your system quickly this reduces satiety causing you to feel hungry very quickly afterwards. Foods high in fibre such as whole grain’s and fruit take time chew allowing your body to register that it is full. In summary don’t fall into the marketing trap because you are seeing a celebrity take such products as I know full well they aren’t, unfortunately the juice diet craze is solely after your money in your pocket and not your long term health.
Any diet that is restricting your daily calorie intake so severely isn’t safe.
Base your nutrition around on whole foods, using nutrient-rich varieties of fruit, vegetables and berries and don’t forget to EAT.
The Big Fat Misconception of fat!
Coconut Oil has become one of the big topics in the past few years and it’s something that everyone seems to be talking about. In fact, many health professionals have recently started calling coconut oil a “super food.”
Used by people from all walks of life all over the world, it seems that people are now waking up to coconut oil and its many uses.
So, what, you may ask, is all the fuss about? Well, let's start by looking at a little of the background of coconut oil Natural fats have nourished healthy population groups for thousands of years.
Published research has revealed that labelling all fats as “bad” is wrong. We now know that all natural fats have a role to play in a healthy diet and research is showing that coconut oil is a very healthy functional food, in spite of it being a much maligned saturated fat.
Better understanding of the different roles fats play in human nutrition has raised awareness that virgin coconut oil is uniquely rich in easily digested medium chain fatty acids – the closest to those found in human breast milk that nature provides. They are the reason why coconut oil is used extensively in baby formula, sports drinks and energy bars, where it's usually described as MCT (medium-chain triglycerides), disguising the fact that some form of coconut oil has been used. MCT take a more direct route into the liver than the fatty acids found in almost all other fats and oils. This seems to allow them to bypass the body’s fat storing process and instead be utilized in increasing energy by raising metabolism. They do not circulate in the bloodstream to the same degree as other fats and, being easily digested, they also tend to improve the absorption of other nutrients. Bad research in the past has failed to reveal these health-giving qualities because it has been carried out on hydrogenated coconut oil – a process that transforms all fats into man-made, dangerous, carcinogenic trans fatty acids. Many modern low-fat, so called ‘healthy’ alternative oils are hydrogenated.
Other so called ‘healthy’ polyunsaturated oils form toxic free radicals when heated and are shown to be associated with over 60 common health complaints, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes & atherosclerosis. Significantly, because virgin coconut oil is very stable, it is highly resistant to free radical generation when heated, even at high temperatures and is an especially safe oil to cook with.
There’s also a real buzz with athletes of all levels and their love of coconut oil. They know that to support their body and to be able to push it to its peak performance, they need the right kind of fuel and a diet rich in natural, nutritious foods. A natural muscle & strength enhancer! So what Is Coconut Oil ? Well, it's an edible oil which is extracted from the flesh of fresh, matured coconuts, and although it's a bit of a new concept to us in the West, there are some countries that have been using it for generations.
People in the South Pacific for example get 60 per cent of their calories from this food. More than 90 per cent of coconut oil is formed from saturated fats. These saturated fats are, as I mentioned, medium-chain triglycerides (or MCTs or medium-chain fatty acids, to put it in more simple terms).
So how do you use coconut oil?
Firstly, you have to decide which type to use as there are various qualities of coconut oil, depending on the raw material used and the extraction method. Best options are natural, unrefined, raw, organic, extra virgin. The great thing is, you can use coconut oil as a replacement for all processed cooking oils, such as margarine, butter and vegetable. You can fry with it, roast with it, bake with it and spread it. Possibilities are limitless!
It can be a great way to start the day by stirring it into your oatmeal or perhaps blend a teaspoon into your coffee. It can even be used as a beauty product! It's great for the skin, hair and nails! Some people have spoken of how it has helped to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema.
As for how much to use, there's currently no recommended dosage for coconut oil. It really all depends on your own personal uses. The general guide is one to three tablespoons of coconut oil a day. I suggest starting with a small amount then working your way up.
Remember that balance is the key so, include it in moderation as a substitute for processed oils as part of a diet of natural, nutritionally rich foods. Ensure you buy the right one. Not all coconut oils are equal. They vary depending on the raw material used and the extraction method. Wherever possible, opt for the cold press oil extracted from organically grown coconuts. How to store it? Extra virgin coconut oil is solid when stored at room temperature and turns to liquid when heated above approximately 24C.
So, you'll notice that on hot summer days that it will soften and melt in the jar and as the temperature drops it will solidify again, which is fine and doesn't in any way alter the benefits or its nutritional value. There's no need to refrigerate it as it stores perfectly well in the cupboard, even once opened, and avoid any cross contamination by using a clean spoon or knife to take out the oil. It doesn't even contain any cholesterol! Unrefined coconut oil contains no cholesterol and medics are starting to question the role of saturated fats and heart disease.
One recent study found that, when compared with soybean oil, coconut oil not only reduced the bad cholesterol found in our blood, but it also boosted the good kind. If you look at the countries and populations which consume high quantities of coconut oil, you’ll see a surprisingly low level of heart disease.
In Conclusion, I'll sum up coconut oil with these points and just a few more of the benefits:
Many people don’t realize that coconut oil can be mixed with bicarbonate of soda to create a toothpaste!
There are many reports that say coconut oil has helped their acne.
It’s so much gentler and kinder to your skin than so many of the other remedies on the market, which tend to strip the skin of natural oils and aggravate existing problems.
You can mix coconut oil with butters, like shea, to make a brilliantly moisturizing DIY body balm.
You can also mix with Epsom salts or sugar to create a fantastic, exfoliating body scrub that will leave your skin amazingly soft. Virgin Coconut Oil is a natural antibacterial, antiviral & antifungal agent. Can be used as a substitute for vegetable oil, butter or margarine.
Unlike most commonly used cooking oils, it is highly resistant to the generation of dangerous, disease causing free radicals when heated. – Even at high temperatures.
Will stay fresh for 2-3 years, unrefrigerated, because of its natural antioxidant properties.
Can be mixed with your favourite hot beverage as a nourishing drink. And, if you’re 'lactose intolerant', coconut oil is the perfect substitute for butter. There are a range of alternative butters or some that have had the lactose removed, but it's best to keep food simple and as unadulterated as possible.
By using raw coconut oil, you’re getting a healthy fat that’s as pure and natural as it can possibly be – the Perfect Ingredient.
Personally, I would encourage people of all walks of life, sports related or not, to make virgin coconut oil part of their daily nutritional plan.
☕☕☕Caffeine: Friend or Foe?☕☕☕
The thought of skipping the morning coffee makes many of us shudder!
There's a mixture of information out there about the effects that caffeine can have on your body - some good / some bad - we decided to take a look at both sides of the story.
Fill up on fibre!
There is so much more to fibre than helping you stay ‘regular’.
A high fibre diet comes with a heap of health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels, keeping the heart healthy and reducing the risk of some cancers. It can also assist in weight loss. So even if you are a ‘once a day’ person include high fibre foods in your diet and reap the benefits!
A review of studies found that when people increased their dietary fibre by 14g for longer than 2 days they decreased calorie intake by 10% and had weight loss of just under 2 kg over 4 months. Participants also reported increase in post meal satiety and reduction in hunger.
The effects were even greater for obese people. A large cohort study followed women for 12 years and assessed dietary habits on 4 different occasions.
They found that the women who consumed the most dietary fibre gained the least amount of weight.
Women with the highest intake of high fibre wholegrain foods had a 49% lower risk of major weight gain than those who consumed the least amount of fibre.
There’s not just one type of fibre that has the greatest effect on satiety and weight loss but a combination of the 3 different forms of fibre.
Soluble fibre – This type of fibre forms a thick gel in the stomach and gut which slows down travel time throughout the digestive tract resulting in the feeling of fullness for longer. Soluble fibre can also help to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels. This type of fibre in found in oats, barley, lentils and beans.
Insoluble fibre – This fibre adds bulk to foods and comes from the structural part of plants and seeds. This fibre remains intact throughout the digestive system . Insoluble fibre adds bulk to the diet, can replace calorie dense food, produce a feeling of fullness in the stomach and often requires a longer time for chewing which can all attribute to satiety. It is found in wholegrain bread, cereals, bran, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
Resistant starch – resistant starch resists digestion in the small intestine and travels down to the large intestine where it is fermented by gut bacteria. During this process many healthy benefits take place such as adding bulk to stools to keep bowel motions regular, growth of good gut bacteria and the production of short chain fatty acids. Research has suggested that resistant starch can enhance both short and long term satiety in a does response relationship – the more you have the fuller you feel!
Some research suggests that fermentation and production of short chain fatty acids can regulate satiety hormones. Good sources include wholegrain breads and cereals, barley, oats, legumes and firm bananas. Now that fibre has hit the spotlight for aiding in weightloss and not just keeping the bowels moving it has started to be added to all kinds of foods – yoghurt, white bread and fruit juice.
So is it as simple as choosing the products with the ‘added fibre’?
They do have a place in the diet but by choosing high fibre whole foods such as wholegrains, beans, legumes, fruits and veggies you will also be getting all of the nutritional benefits from those foods too. But remember ‘slow and steady wins the race’.
A rapid increase in fibre can cause cramps and make you feel bloated. So gradually increase your fibre intake over a period of 7-10 days and at the same time make sure you increase your water intake too. Upping the fibre without having enough fluids can block you up!
So make friends with fibre and reap the benefits!
My favourite fibre friendly foods – beans, legumes, lentils, fruit, vegetables, bran, traditional oats, nuts, chia seeds, quinoa, bulgar, barley, psyllium husk.
In spite of its name and what you may have heard, a beer belly is not necessarily caused by excess beer consumption, although this can definitely contribute to the problem.
A beer belly can be caused by any extra calories of 'any' source.
However, there does seem to be a link between alcohol and belly fat because, when we drink a lot, the body metabolizes alcohol rather than fat. So, how to get rid of it!
Well, unfortunately there is no magic cure for a beer belly, but there are a few methods which are proven to help. You can significantly increase your chances of 'six pack' success by following the following tips:
1. Eat breakfast, and then small frequent meals throughout the day - every day!
Studies show that people who skip breakfast and eat the traditional big meals throughout the day tend to be more overweight than those who eat the smaller, frequent meals each day. This is because those who skip meals tend to feel hungrier later on, and eat more than they normally would. Skipping and/or delaying meals increases the release of the hunger hormone called ghrelin and it makes you emotionally hungry -leading to craving high calorie rich junk foods. So it's best to eat every three hours or so.
2. To shed the beer belly, drop the 'beer'! (or any other form of alcohol!)
Men of all ages are prone to develop belly fat, but drinking moderate to high intakes of alcohol can also affect body fat distribution. When the body is fed alcohol and fat, the body will get rid of the alcohol first by using it as the preferred source of energy. The body will then store the fat, which it sees as being harmless. As a result, alcohol promotes fat storage, especially around the abdominal area, causing the “beer belly.” Drinking alcohol stops fat metabolism in the liver causing it to build up around the abs, and for this reason, it may be wise to have no more than two drinks a day.
3. Meditate, chill out, or just learn to 'de-stress'!
Being overly stressed every day can lead to increased cortisol and fat build up around the belly. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone,” and always occurs when you're stressed. High cortisol levels ignite a build up of fat around the beer belly! So learn to relax. Let the body heal itself. Try to get roughly 7 hours of sleep each night and then find time to relax during the day. A good walk can be relaxing, as well as listening to music. Find what works for you and practice it daily! Studies show that meditation is also one of the best ways to lower stress!
4. Exercise 'the right way!'
The truth is, that in order to get rid of that beer belly and develop your abs, you really have to develop your best body, and yes, this involves exercise! Just ensure it's the right kind of exercise. You will also have to increase your overall muscle definition. That's the only way you'll ever be able to lose the gut and see your abs. One of the very best, most effective exercises for working the lower abs (a big the problem area) and the 'beer belly' , is the hanging leg lift.
Here's how it's done: To begin, hang from a pull-up bar with a shoulder-width grip, or use arm straps that allow you to hold your bodyweight with your upper arms. Next, allow your legs to hang down, keeping them very relaxed, so your knees are bent a bit and your toes are slightly pointed. From here, take a deep breath, and begin to lift your legs upward, while you focus on contracting your abs. Breathe out, continue lifting your legs while you roll your hips upward. Continue until your feet are pointed straight out and hold that contracted position for a slow count of 3 seconds. Then, slowly lower your legs to the starting position, take a deep breath, and repeat. - This exercise really targets the beer belly!
5. Get moving! In relation to the previous tip, to really give yourself the best chance of shedding that beer belly, cardio is king! More specifically, HIIT training. Research shows a marked increase in calories and fat burned after a short (20 minutes) HIIT session than an hour of low intensity cardio. Intervals consisting of a few minutes of high intensity work (running, bike, swimming etc,) followed by intervals of lower intensity/ rest for a total of no more than 15-20 minutes, is extremely effective when you have a limited amount of time and fits in very well after your abs session. You may even enjoy it!
6. Choose your friends wisely.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly for a lasting slimmer waistline, is who you choose to associate with. It's been proven, that we become very similar to those people we surround ourselves with most of the time. So, if you socialise with beer guzzling, negatively- minded couch potatoes, it's very hard to be anything else. While it may not be one of the most obvious tips to losing the beer belly, but it can be one of the biggest factors to long term success. Associate with fit, healthy and energetic people, and you'll be far more likely to become one yourself.
Almond Butter 101.
Almond butter is no doubt one of the most popular choices among consumers these days within health and fitness.
Peanut butter had been popular for ages especially amongst the fitness crowd, but almond butter has solidified its place as the number one choice overtaking its inferior brother.
It tends to be a nutritional addition to almost all those that are involved in training and eating right.
However, do you know the nutritional differences between the two? Almond butter is simply made by crushing and smoothing almonds into a paste. Almonds alone are a highly nutritious food, they contain several essential water soluble and fat soluble vitamins. On average 1 tbsp (10g) serving of almond nut butter contains 75 calories, 5.5 g of fat, 0.65 g of carbohydrates, 1.2 g dietary fibre and 2.5 g protein.
They are a good source of fibre and because of their high monounsaturated fat content it is considered a healthy food snack choice.
Although peanut butter is more readily obtainable as it is produced by lots of suppliers, many of these companies add unhealthy ingredients such as excessive amounts of salt, sugar and trans fats to the product. Some of these additives are intended to preserve peanut butter for a longer period of time.
In other cases, they are added to enhance the taste. If a brand of peanut butter is high in trans fat, sugar and salt, you will want to avoid eating too much of it because excess consumption of these ingredients can be linked to health & gut issues.
Almond butter unlike peanut butter can help balance your blood sugar levels, making it a better choice for diabetics, hypoglycemics, and anyone sensitive to sudden changes in blood sugar. Unfortunately almond butter is more expensive and you may have to travel further than your local supermarket to get a hold of it. But trust me, it's well worth it. You get what you pay for!
Lastly a little food tip for you. Try some almond butter next time you have a steak, the two go really well together and I promise you, you will not be disappointed.
What's your favourite almond butter recipe?
One of the hottest topics and diet plans of the modern age, the 'Paleo Diet' is a concept that has been around since the 1970s, and much of it's work can be attributed to Dr. Loren Cordain.
It has created some controversy, is followed by millions, hated by others but can, and has produced quite remarkable results worldwide.
Also known as the ''Caveman Diet'', the Paleo Diet is a modern version based on what cavemen would have eaten during the ''Paleolithic'' era. This ended after the development of agriculture 10,000 years ago, and grain-based diets became the new way of eating. The diet is now based on commonly available foods and includes cultivated plants and domestic animal meat instead of the wild sources of the original diet. Agriculture led to the development of food processing techniques and, in turn, introduced cereals, sugars and vegetable oils into our diets.
There are a multitude of benefits and reasons for using the Paleo diet. - Many people who follow this way of eating believe that human genetics haven't changed much since the beginning of agriculture and have not been able to adapt and change to suit these new foods such as dairy and grains. Many people believe that they have seen improved health as a result of excluding foods such as dairy and grains which can affect those with lactose intolerance and glucose sensitivity. This suggests that our bodies haven't yet adapted to these new foods. Our bodies function well on fats and proteins with small amounts of carbohydrates.
It suggests that humans don't actually ''need'' dietary carbohydrates, and enough energy can be obtained via the proteins and carbohydrates. Experts claim that our bodies prefer ''Ketones'' for energy - by-products from fat - metabolism.
Athletes rave about the Paleo diet as there is minimal loss of lean muscle mass while dieting, increased strength and power, lower levels of body fat and improved sense of well-being.
THE MACRO SPLIT It's believed that 55/65% of daily calories should come from animal foods and 35/45% from plant foods. So, apply this to a daily intake of 2,500 kals, you would expect that 1,400/1,625 kals would come from animal foods - made up of proteins and fats. 900/1,125kals would come from plant foods - nuts, seeds and vegetables. In the modern day Western diet, more than 70% of all foods eaten come from refined and manufactured foods such as dairy products, cereals and alcohol.
It's not surprising, therefore, that there has been a massive increase in obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
PHYSICAL WORK - Cavemen were carnivorous predators. They had to hunt for their food to survive. So our genetics are such, that we should be involved in some kind of daily physical activity - not like the common daily lifestyle of today of physical non-activity which, in turn, can lead to weight gain and new-age diseases. Today, humans also carry higher levels of body fat and less lean muscle mass which puts them at a high risk of insulin resistance.
FOODS TO EAT ON THE PALEO DIET Seafood -( Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Prawn etc. ) Meat - (Red Meat, Chicken, Pork etc.) Vegetables - (Spinach, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale etc.), Nuts - (Almonds, Brazils, Walnuts, Cashews, Sunflower seeds etc.) , Oils and Fats - (Olive oil, Coconut Oil, Peanut and Almond Butter etc.), Fruits - (Apples, Pears, Oranges, Grapefruit etc.) Liquid - (Water -no Juice or Alcohol)
FOODS TO AVOID ON THE PALEO DIET Dairy - (Cheese, Yoghurt, Ice Cream, Butter etc.) Grains - (Cereals, Bread, Oats, Beer, Pasta etc.) Sweets -Chocolate, Starchy Vegetables - (Sweet Potatoes, Squash, Yams etc.) Fatty Meats - Processed Meats and Deli Meats, Salty Foods - ( Ketchup, Table Salt etc.) Fruit Juices - (Orange Juice, Apple Juice etc.)
OK, so it's clear that there are many benefits to the Paleo way of eating. However, as with any controversial way of eating, there will still be opposition to the lifestyle I'm sure. So I'd like to take a closer look at the science and the facts about the Paleo diet before getting rid of all the grains, and should we all really all be following this lifestyle? I'll end with a sample meal plan which is acceptable to use when following a Paleo diet.
Protein is the key with Paleo. - It's widely accepted that there are numerous benefits for those that exercise by following a higher protein diet such as increased strength and muscle. It's also good for fat loss, as a high protein intake has been shown to increase fullness, preserve muscle tissue and increase dietary thermogenesis (calories required to digest food) Fans of the Paleo diet often report that meat was the biggest source of energy for cavemen! One thing's for sure, the idea that too much protein is bad for your kidneys just isn’t true. There's no evidence that a higher protein diet is dangerous for healthy people.
However, if you consume way more protein than you need, the chances are that it will be at the expense of carbohydrates. For someone who exercises, this can be an problem as carbs are your friend – they’re one of your main energy sources. Go too low on carbs and you’ll notice your performance will drop dramatically. Moreover, it can prove to be a very expensive way of eating.
Next, you must lose the grains! - If you’re following the paleo diet, then grains are out of the question! Followers report that ‘grains are full of hard-to-digest gluten and antinutrients’ and they are ‘dangerous’ and ‘wreak havoc on our digestive systems’. But we’re not all gluten intolerant. Statistically, there is a high chance that you don’t have a gluten intolerance.
A strict Paleo approach cuts out bread. OK, the average person probably does eat a little too much bread, and it might do you some good to switch your sandwich for a salad occasionally, or have Greek yoghurt instead of jam on toast at breakfast, but in isolation, bread will not make you fat and it doesn’t make sense to completely remove it or other whole grains from the diet. And there are many health benefits to be had from including whole grains in the diet, including improved blood lipids, glucose control and reduced risk of stroke. There have even been studies that shows that removing bread from your diet can hinder your fat loss! It's true that pre-historic man probably ate grains if they could find them.
In addition to the health benefits of grains, the biggest issue is that unwarranted removal of grains (or any other food) from the diet, without sound justification, can be time-consuming, can reduce the enjoyment of food and make eating a balanced diet more inconvenient.
Veggies are great - but NOT legumes! Another big part of most Paleo diet plans is to pile on produce – but drop legumes.
The first part of the claim would be considered by most people to be good advice. Eating more seasonal fruit and vegetables is very beneficial. Their effects include supplying dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, sources of phytochemicals that function as antioxidants, phytoestrogens, anti-inflammatory agents and other protective mechanisms. However, there is no evidence that eating legumes is detrimental when they are consumed as part of a balanced diet. So the advice to include a wide range of nutritious fruits and vegetables is fantastic but there doesn’t appear to be any strong evidence that you’ve got to drop the legumes.
Next, onto the dairy. Yoghurt, milk and cheese are all out when on the Paleo diet.
Large consumption of dairy is discouraged because cavemen didn’t eat it and fans say that lactose intolerance may increase with age, similar to the removal of gluten. However, there are also studies that say dairy is actually 'good' for fat loss! Paleo enthusiasts say that small quantities of raw unpasteurised milk may be consumed to avoid fats and important nutrients being stripped away.
When it comes to fat, the Paleo life promotes a fat intake from mainly artery-friendly, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated omega-3s and avoidance of saturated fats transfats and polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Great advice which can be supported by science. Research shows that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids play an integral role in cell membrane function, brain and eye development and can reduce the risk of heart disease, depression and inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. I've often spoken highly about the benefits if coconut oil, and Paleo proponents advocate the use of coconut oil as well as coconut milk.
When it comes to sugar, only go natural! Paleo followers recommend avoiding processed, refined sugars, and you should avoid packaged foods. This is a good recommendation as packaged junk foods often are very energy dense, low in fibre and they’re not very filling.
In looking at all these factors regarding a Paleo way of living, it's clear to see that there are both benefits and pitfalls to the diet. The core idea of the diet is a good one, as it promotes a focus on whole, single-ingredient, high-fibre, nutrient-dense foods which do have widespread health benefits. But there are many tenets of the Paleo diet which appear to be based on unscientifically justified principles and this can make healthy eating much harder than it needs to be!
Personally, I stick to a modified version of the stricter Paleo lifestyle for the majority of the time. It has certainly helped with my energy levels and strengthened my immune system.
However, rather than going “full Paleo” it would be a good idea to pick the best parts of the Paleo diet – focus on eating lots of fresh, wholesome, nutritious foods and limit your intake of heavily refined junk but don’t go cutting out entire food groups if you don’t need to. Try to eat more like your grandparents instead of a caveman, - it's a more realistic and sensible approach. ‘Forbidden foods’ like oats, dairy, grains and legumes and even some 'junk' can be enjoyed, it just comes down to moderation.
It's best to follow a sustainable approach, and one that you can realistically live with for life.
A sample Paleo meal day plan:
Day 1 Breakfast. Egg and vegetable muffins Mid-morning snack. Hard-boiled egg Lunch. Leftover grilled chicken breast on top of salad greens with vinaigrette Afternoon snack. Beef jerky Dinner. Spicy Pork Chilli with pan-fried Brussels sprouts
Day 2 Breakfast. Leftover egg and vegetable muffin Mid-morning snack. Handful of nuts or trail mix Lunch. Beef cubes with carrots and mushrooms (add more vegetables on the side if you like) Afternoon snack. Hard-boiled egg Dinner . Roast chicken with steamed vegetables
Day 3 Breakfast. Scrambled eggs with salmon Mid-morning snack. Banana with almond butter Lunch. Salad with canned salmon, mustard vinaigrette Afternoon snack. Handful of nuts or trail mix Dinner. Garlic Cod with green beans. Pre-bed. 80g Greek yogurt with 1 scoop of whey protein.
Day 4 Breakfast. Fish and butternut squash hash Mid-morning snack. Beef jerky Lunch. Salad with leftover roast chicken, dried cranberries, pecans, apple slices, and vinaigrette Afternoon snack. Banana with almond butter Dinner. Spicy pork chilli with pan-fried Brussels sprouts
Day 5 Breakfast. Onions, mushrooms, and spinach fried up with bacon or sausages Mid-morning snack. Hard-boiled egg Lunch. Salad with canned salmon, mustard vinaigrette Afternoon snack. Handful of nuts or trail mix Dinner. Almond crusted salmon (makes 2 servings; save leftovers for breakfast tomorrow) with roasted beets and sweet potatoes.
Day 6 Breakfast. Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon Mid-morning snack. Hard-boiled egg Lunch. Portable salad: grab a can of tuna and an avocado with some salad greens, oil, and vinegar, and mix it all up Afternoon snack. Beef jerky Dinner. Almond crusted tuna (makes 2 servings; save leftovers for breakfast tomorrow) with roasted sweet potatoes
Day 7 Breakfast. Egg and vegetable muffins with smoked salmon Mid-morning snack. Handful of nuts or trail mix Lunch. Salad with canned salmon, mustard vinaigrette Afternoon snack. Hard-boiled egg Dinner. Spicy pork chilli with pan-fried Brussels sprouts