Category Archives: Health

High Energy, High Protein, Body Transformation

There were an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition earlier this year, about body composition. The team of scientists at McMaster University in Canada proved that a low calorie, high intensity weight training with added HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) combined with high protein can cause dramatic and substantial changed in body composition in as little as 28 days.

Rough Shape

Taking 40 men in “rough shape”, hey there words not mine, cutting their usual calorie intake by 40% (this were calculated by body weight not the standard 2000/2500) and making them undertake intense exercise. I love this quote by Stuart Phillips who is the lead quack “It was a gruelling affair, These guys were in rough shape, but that was part of the plan. We wanted to see how quickly we could get them into shape: lose some fat, but still retain their muscle and improve their strength and fitness.”. Nowt like being told your rough as…

The Split

They split the guys into 2 groups, both groups were on the reduced calorie diet but the protein intakes were different as follows.

Group 1: High Protein, were taking 2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Group 2: Low Protein, were taking 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Both groups were prescribed the same program of high intensity weight training AND interval training (cardio), 6 days per week, so quite intensive.

Group 1: High Protein lost 11 lbs of fat, gained 2.5 lbs lean muscle mass.
Group 2: Low Protein lost 8 lbs of fat, gained only 0.2 lbs (thats 3 oz) of lean muscle mass.

What’s interesting is that with such a huge deficit in calories none of the guys lost any muscle mass. I sort of expected them to lose more fat with the body struggling to maintain its muscle mass. Phillips went on to say “Exercise, Particular listing weights, provides a signal for muscle to be retained even when your in a big calorie deficit”. This kind of supports my view that you’d burn more fat to retain it.

The Twist

Again Phillips appears to have thought the same as I did that the higher protein group wouldn’t burn as much far, but in reality they lost 33% more fat. He said “(we) were a little surprised by the amount of additional fat loss in the higher protein consuming group.”.

There is an interesting caveat, Phillips says “We designed this program for overweight young men, although I’m sure it would work for young women too, to get fitter, stronger, and to lose weight fast. It’s a tough program and not something that’s sustainable or for those looking for quick and easy fix,”, he goes on to say “We controlled their diets, we supervised the exercise, and we really kept these guys under our ‘scientific’ thumb for the four weeks the participants were in the study.”.

The precise details of the diet, exercise and such aren’t released but the blueprint is there so should be reproducable to a good extent. There is a ray of hope, the same team hope to do a follow up study where its not so strict and potentially sustainable.

Myth Busters

This study maybe the tip of the iceberg which busts the myth that you can’t cut and bulk at the time time. It appears you can but its going to test your mettle, and push you to the edge.

 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Protein Snacks

Protein Snacks Screen Shot

Protein Snacks Screen Shot

A project I’ve been working on (not finished) which is related to one of my own personal ‘struggle’ and goals. The details aren’t that important but in short. A recent iDXA / DEXA Scan at Derbyshire University revealed I had exactly 86.419kg / 13st 6lbs of lean muscle mass (no bones/fat/etc included). This helped me set my macro-nutrition / diet quite accurately on my quest to get BEEEEEFCAAAKED. Again cut short this means scan means I’m aiming at 45g* protein per 6 hours so as to distribute my intake through the day. It’s hard work finding good sources, with the right nutritional balance (skewed to protein).
*These numbers are based on my own research, activity levels, body composition and conclusions, so do your own research for your numbers, maybe in a future post I’ll go deeper in to it.

Flexible Protein

This brings me neatly to the issue of finding flexible methods of getting the protein in without massively blowing the other macro’s. Overloading carbs is easy as ummm cake, overloading the fat is almost as easy. I buy biltong, jerky, protein bars, RTD shakes, protein gels and all sorts of good snacks when getting a balanced meal isn’t possible. Which with a busy lifestyle is quite common, you know the drill, your hungry, you buy a bag of crisp or chocolate bar or something else, this site is about NOT going that way.

Just for an example…

Lion Bar 43g has 205kcal, 9g fat, 29g carbs, 2g protein, 80mg of sodium.
DynaBar 43g has 180kcal, 6.9g fat, 17g carbs, 14g protein, 50mg sodium.

The Protein Dynamix DynaBar has 1/3 less fat, sugar and sodium, 7 times more protein, this isn’t the best macro split, but given the very close taste, the Dyna is 100% a better option.

So there we have it, how my new project can and will help myself and others in the same boat.

 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Body Power Expo 2016

Body Power Crowds

Body Power Crowds

I recently attended the Body Power Expo in the capacity of a Photographer, this were my 4th Annual Body Power event. Its interesting to see the Fitness and Health scene in the UK Evolving as this expo is almost like a “snap shot” of the industry; you can almost watch its growth and diversification.

Early Gyms and Expo

In some ways it reminds of my first Gym 1996/7, what looked like an old public toilet on the edge of an industrial complex (Mirrlees Blackstone), it had concrete flooring, a bit crap cord like carpet, a radio so old I’m saying a wireless, it were stuck on local radio which were KISS or Galaxy. No heating, no showers, a toilet with the box like 7ft high. I think 2-3 machines a bike, an form of elliptical and a basic rower. Hardware wise, a dozen bars, a tonne of plates, half dozen benches oh and a Rack in 1 corner and that were it. Many gyms were like this to various extents.

Strongman Arena

Strongman Arena

Fast forward to my current gym 2016… 2 floors, 5 different types of exercise bike, chest press machines, diverging lat pull down machines, lateral raise machine, cable pod, 8 stack, trx, rope trainer, loads of machine, video based music, studio place, brightly lit, toilets, showers, kinds small on the weights but still 2 racks, 2 smiths, a dozen benches etc, and its open 24/7.

Product Launch

Thinking back over Body Power its the same thing. This year there various brands some old and some new choosing to launch their brand or new product at the show. My first year, there were literally no newbies, it were all the old guard as it were.

I think the first major new brand I saw launch there were NOVO who make protein bites, which look like a quaver only smaller, don’t taste as good as a quaver though, but its protein and snackable. It falls in the “flexible dieting” and “protein snacks” categories.

Reflex Protein Coffee

Reflex Protein Coffee

This year existing companies were launching new products, Reflex nutrition launched their new protein coffee, with a stand dedicated purely to the 1 product. Mars were pushing their new Snickers and Mars Protein ranges and various others. On a smaller scale, some new brands like “Serious Ammunition” with their Bullet Reloaded product, then “Active Sport Nutrition” were  launching Zombie Juice, another new brand were TNT. There were sooo very many others which I can’t list here.

Some of the past product launches are now rapidly growing into major brands; NOCCO is one which stuck in my mind. I commented on in another blog post, which is an awesome product. Another would be NOVO who make protein bites (crisp), 3 yrs ago their stand were small, it were about 5-6x bigger this year with some fairly big name athletes on it such as former Miss Netherlands Dounia Rijkschroeff.

USN Stand

USN Stand

The Big Boys Roll In

This year also some of the old guard attended for the first time like MyProtein, who came packing mini-guns to mow the competition down. I think they literally brought EVERY athlete they sponsored.

USN were dominating the expo, they sponsored the main stage, the pro IBFF show, they had their own little mini stage, which were HUUUUUGE. One their newer products tastes amazing the B4-Bomb Extreme (Cherry). I tried sooo many of their products.

Which I guess is the point of all the samples, to try them all so you pick the brand for life. I must have tried 40 different proteins, a dozen pre-workouts, 2 dozen bcaa’s and various cookies, muffins, doughnuts and bars of the weekend. A few different products I have gone on to purchase.

CT Fletcher

CT Fletcher

This year there were strongmen, insta-famous, inspirational, physique, bodybuilders, body transformers, bikini, clothing, equipment, supplements, food, snacks, MMA, boxing and even medical services making the event what it is.

The list of names is, and were endless, the top of their game. I really wouldn’t know where to start with such a list.

However some of the biggest pullers were Paige Hathaway and Michelle Lewin on the FitFuel Stand, Steve Cook on the Optimum Nutrition Stand and Christian Guzman on Alphalete Stand.

Below is a 360 view of the queue for Paige Hathaway, the queues for the others were equally impressive but had no vantage point.


The fitness and health sector in the UK is growing at a crazy pace, a truly astonishing rate.

The take away from the whole show were about inspiration, and improving your health and learning. I saw girls meeting Michelle Lewin who were close to tears and gushing. Telling her how they were inspired to lose weight, hit the gym, overcome bullying and more. I saw guys telling CT Fletcher he helped them to push harder

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

NOCCO – No Carb Company Drinks

NOCCO Girls with Mathilda on Right

NOCCO Girls with Mathilda on Right

A few years ago I met Mathilda from a company out of Sweden called NOCCO. She were launching a brand of Carbonated (Fizzy) Drinks which contained BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids) with and without Caffeine, or KOFFEIN as it were listed back then, with names like RODA BAR and PARON, none of the cans were in English but they tasted great.

Body Power Explosion

The stand NOCCO had at the Body Power Expo were not more than the size of a Box Room, with Mathilda and I believe 2 maybe 3 staff, fast forward to 2016 and the stand were 3 maybe 4x larger, with a mountain of NOCCO which were probably bigger than the original stand. All the cans are now in English with the same nice print quality, with a semi mat finish, which made them easy to grip even with wet hands. I think there were about 7-8 Staff including Mathilda who says she’s loving the expo and plans to get bigger and bigger each year.

Nocco - Old and New

NOCCO- Old and New Designs

What I found interesting from a marketing perspective is, Mathilda tackled the show with what I could only describe as blixtkrig as the Swedish say or blitzkrieg as we’re more familiar as, which “lightening war”. A number of stands told me, she visited them and dropping a case or two off for the stand. This meant NOCCO had “peppered” than expo, it were EVERYWHERE, almost every Athlete on every stand were drinking it.

One athlete told me, they were fuelled purely by NOCCO, although the can says not to mix with Alcohol, another athlete told me its amazing with a certain Russian drink. This does kind of negate the zero carb thing though.

Product Flavours and Nutrition

Now the drinks themselves are 330ml  and come in Pear, Peach, Mixed Berry and Citrous and Elderflower Flavours, all are Carbonated (Fizzy) and all but the latter are Caffeinated with 180mg, and contain ratios of 4:1:1 or 8:1:1 of Leucine, Valine and Isoleucine and some have L-Carnitine, and Citrous and Elderflower is Caffeine Free, no Carnitine, and 4:1:1 blend of BCAA. I’ll add some Label information soon along with some product photo’s too.

Mountain of NOCCO

Mountain of NOCCO

They all contain, between 3-6g-ish of protein, along with Vitamin D, Biotin, Folic Acid, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12, but what is most shocking for example is Citrous and Elderflower is 20 kcals NONE of which come from Carbs in fact none of the flavours contain any carbs, the 5g of protein in the citrous is the source of the 20kcal (4kcal per gram), the other flavours have various amounts of each vitamin, protein and mineral, but all around 20kcals and zero carbs.

I have to say, this is one of the best products I have sampled, certainly the best fizzy drink, and most impressive stats, I’d say top 3 products from the expo and potentially the best marketing.

At some point I’d like to talk more in depth about branding, company name, and product development, not to mention working out the tastes. Many of these drinks frankly taste horrendous, others taste so chemical and artificial its shocking but this seems to be bang on.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Nutritional Macros

It seems so peculiar posting my health stuff and everything else in one place. I need to move my photos over to here as well but its awkward knowing what to move or just start from fresh.

I’m working on changing my daily calorie (kcal not just cal) intake as I’m changing my work out routine. Its so much harder than I thought. Normally I keep it around 30/30/40 on proteins side, but wanting to up ones total calorie content for increased expenditure produced insane results.

MyFitnessPal Short Falls

I enrolled the MyFitnessPal app to try and help, but it has its quirks…

  1. Doesn’t count calories of strength exercises.
  2. Doesn’t by default track water/liquid (but can be added per day)
  3. Can’t sync with built-in phone pedometers.
  4. Can’t adjust food, like where I order breaded chicken (only high protein option at the time) and remove the coating.
  5. Bundles fibre as a carb, but not a biggie.
  6. Doesn’t allow custom weights for lots of things.

Saying that on balance its a good guide and tracker. Point 6 above, if you can do basic maths you can enter 0.5 and 0.25 into the portion to artificially create a custom weight of food.

Bad Habits

The app has revealed a few bad habits. The biggest being portion control, especially down to the size of my bowl. Breakfast when I have ready oats, I didn’t realise just how carb heavy it were. Another example is the bit of dark chocolate I have mid work out , often isn’t being taken mid work out, its being taken once home, and not only gym days.

Its made me more aware of time keeping, I really wish the app would keep track of the times things were eaten or drank. The reminders help a little.

Its also shown my protein intake is about 75-100 grams short, while carbs are 100-120g over. I’m not sure if the figures are accurate and some days I have to mentally adjust for the removal of coatings, not having sauces, etc.

Anyway, Moving to 25/30/45(protein high) is proving impossible without going over on one of the other macros unless I make everything from scratch which isn’t possible, I need to find a way to buy off the shelf and stick within margins.

On a side note, water and cardio are evil.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Cardio Exercise is Evil

I usually do strength and strongman type lifting, anything ridiculously heavy. I’m not in league of competition but then I’ve not used “extra help” from a needle but still some of the heaviest lifts in the gym are mine.

I’ve recently been working on increasing my cardiovascular health after a bout of basal pneumonia last year where I very nearly died. Long story short, my GP called paramedics after I thought I had man flu, spent half a day in A&E resuscitation (which is scary), and around 10 days in hospital and about 4-5 weeks after out of the gym. My lungs, breathing and en energy have not been the same since.

I recently had a iDXA (a type of DEXA Scan) Body Composition Scan done at Derbyshire University and it showed about 10-15% of my right lung is dark and cloudy, but about 40% of my left lungs dark and cloudy. Given its not a specific lung exam, I can’t take too much from this, but it matches up with my respiratory rate (the number of breaths you take per minute) increasing along with my resting pulse and the force of my breathing inout. It all seems to fit up, but I’m not an expert and I’m piecing things together rather tenuously.

I started the programme about 5 weeks ago, and about 4 weeks ago I changed my strength programme too, and it were a mistake…

Every time I change my routine or programme I get a little run down, so introducing an hour of lung stressing cardiovascular exercise with a new program has hit me with CNS Fatigue often called Over Training Syndrome.

CNS Fatigue – Over Training Syndrome

  • Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy.
  • General aches and pains in muscles.
  • Sore Joints.
  • Reduced Performance in training.
  • Neck Stiffness and Aches.
  • Decreased Immunity (bring on the colds, and sore throats).
  • Moodiness, Irritability and Feeling Down.
  • Increased Incidence of Injuries.

I have about half of that and caught a damned cold, so a few days of rest for me.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

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