Month: April 2013

SQUAT 101: Step-by-step Guide to Perfecting Your Squat

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Along with the deadlift, the squat is one of the best compound exercises available to build strength and mass in an athlete. Unfortunately, just like the deadlift, it is an exercise performed incorrectly by so many gym goers.
I have seen personal trainers and fitness instructors not only perform the squat incorrectly, but also teach incorrect form to clients and gym members. This is both frustrating and dangerous.

The squat engages the core in much the same way as the deadlift does. The biomechanics of the body make the squat a very natural movement to perform.baby squat In fact many of us have the perfect form from a very, very young age.

The perfect squat balances the forces around the knee and hips. When you ask someone what muscles they are working, almost everyone will focus on the obvious leg muscles, particularly the quadriceps.
Of course the quads are stimulated during the squat, however on top of that the muscles of the lower back, the abdominals, the ribcage muscles (costals), upper back muscles such as the traps and rhomboids, glutes, hamstrings and even the shoulders and arms all take on some of the load when performing the squat.

The squat really is the only exercise available that allows direct training and progressive improvement of ‘hip-drive’. Hip-Drive is a complex movement that strengthens the muscles that make up the ‘Posterior Chain’, which include the muscles we mentioned above.

To perfect the correct technique of the squat, the movement should be introduced ‘without’ the bar. Problems that develop with technique tend to become exagerrated once the bar is introduced. For example, drop down into the squat position and with hands pressed together in a clap, elbows pushed into the inside the knees, push the knees out over the feet. This should form ther basis of your body position during the squat.

Below are 10 Steps to a Heavenly Squat!

THE SQUAT SET UP
1. Chest Up – Pushing the chest out & pulling the shoulders back will automatically create the platform for the bar. You can also tighten your upper-back better as a result.

2. Focal Point – By focusing upwards too much, the neck can become hyperextended, taking the spine out of neutral alignment. Looking upwards also inhibits the hips when driving from the bottom of the squat, leaving you weaker at the position where you need to be at your strongest. Focus on a point roughly 8-10 feet in front of you on the ground, not at the feet.

3. Bar Position – This is very much down to the individual & practice. Ideally, the bar needs to be low, below the bone at the top of your shoulder-blades and at the base of your traps – NOT ON YOUR SPINE! If the bar is too high, the back angle is increased vertically to allow the correct hip involvement.

4. Grip Width – A narrow grip makes it easier to tighten your upper-back, however this also comes down to shoulder flexibility too. I’ve trained plenty of people that just haven’t had the flexibility in the shoulder joint to go narrow. As long as long as the other areas are locked in, a wide grip is fine.
Wrist alignment – The correct grip keeps the hand (incl thumbs) above the bar and all of the weight of the bar on the back.

5. Tight Upper-back – Bring your shoulder-blades together. The elbows are lifted, causing the rear delts to contract. This creates a shelf in which the bar sits. Never should the bar be sitting on the top of the spine!

6. Foot Stance – Heels are shoulder-width apart, with feet angled outwards at around 35 degrees.

LOWERING THE BAR
7. Maintain Body Position – Taking a deep breath, which will help support the lower back, lower the hips, maintaining the arm, chest and neck angle.
The knees should train outwards over the feet, at the same angle. Don’t allow the knees to buckle inwards, this reduces the amount of quads available for the movement & points to weakness in the hamstrings.

8. Go Deep! – If the hips don’t go below the knee joint, it’s only a partial squat. If you can’t go deep, the weight is too heavy. Contrary to the thought that deep squats place extra stress on the knees & hips, it is partial squats that place higher tension on the knee joints. This is because you’re placing a shearing force on the knee, using more of the quads & not the stronger muscles of the posterior chain. If you walk away from a squat session with exhausted quads & your hamstrings and glutes haven’t done any work, your squat technique sucks!

RAISING THE BAR
9. The Bounce – People believe that the bounce at the bottom of the squat places stress on the knees. This is true. But only if the squat is not performed correctly! The bounce at the bottom causes lengthening of the hamstrings and adductors, causing a ‘stretch reflex’. The ‘Stretch Reflex’ causes the contraction of the hamstrings and glutes to be enhanced, which aids the hip drive. Obviously this bounce is controlled. Don’t just let gravity take the bar down & then try to fire it back up.

10. Maintain Body Position – As we mentioned in Step 7, push the knees outwards as you squat upwards. Lift with the hips, whilst maintaining the neutral alignment of the neck, chest up. Squeeze the glutes as you drive up. This will help drive up the bar, whilst also helping to protect the lower back.

If you have never squatted before, seek the instruction of a proper qualified Strength & Conditioning Coach.

squat-racking

Many personal trainers & fitness instructors out there are not suitably qualified to teach the art of the squat & as I said earlier, if bad habits are formed early, they will only be exasperated when the ba

r is heavier. It makes me wince when I see someone under a bar squatting & it is what can only be described as a full leg press, followed by a ‘Good Morning Lift’.

Of course there are further tips which will help someone further develop their squat, such as the Pad Test, Hip Pick Ups & Upper Back Bar Drive, but just like building a house, it’s important to build a solid foundation before you start building the patio & extension!

 

Fit-Chef Muscle Burgers w/Spicy Salsa

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Image

Ingredients

Burger Mix

  • 450g Turkey Mince
    2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
    50g Mushrooms. finely chopped
    2 Spring Onions, finely chopped
    3 Shallots, finely chopped
    1 Red Chilli, finely chopped
    2 small Gherkins, finely chopped
    1 Egg White
    1/2 cup Wholegrain Oats, finely blended
    1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
    Salt & Pepper to taste
    4 Ice Cubes, crushed into chips

Spicy Salsa

  • 1 Roasted Red Pepper, coarsley chopped
  • 3 Vine Tomatoes, coarsley chopped
  • 3 Small Gherkins, coarsley chopped
  • 1 Hot Red Chilli, coarsley chopped

Method

*Pan fry shallots, mushrooms & garlic for 3-4 minutes
*In a separate bowl, add the turkey, chilli, cayenne pepper, gherkins, egg white, spring onions & the mushroom mixture together with the blended oats
*In a large griddle pan, heat a tablespoon of coconut oil on a medium heat.Image
*Form the mixture into 6 burgers, adding a few ice chips into the middle of each burger.  The ice will ensure that the burgers are moist in the middle
*Cook the burgers for 5 minutes, then turn each burger 90°. This will increase your ‘Fit Chef’ qudos with professional looking crosses.
*Cook for further 4-5 minutes before turning the burgers over, repeating the above.
*Ensure the burgers are cooked through.
*For the salsa, roughly chop all the ingredients & add cracked black pepper.

Fit-Chef Lasagne

Ingredients

lasagne

MEAT SAUCE

  • 500g Lean Turkey Mince
  • 1 large Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped/crushed
  • 400g Can Chopped Tomatoes
  • 250g Mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 30ml Red Wine
  • 1 tbsp fresh Oregano, chopped
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Organic Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper

WHITE SAUCE

  • 700ml Skimmed Milk
  • 1 thick slice of Onion
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 tbsp Corn Flour
  • Freshly grated Nutmeg

OTHER INGREDIENTS

  • 250g Wholemeal Lasagne Sheets
  • Coconut Oil
  • Organic Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper

Salad to accompany;

Spinach Leaves
Cherry Tomatoes (chopped)
Cucumber (sliced)
Gherkins (chopped)
Red/Green Peppers (chopped)

METHOD

*In a large frying pan heat the coconut oil, then gently cook the onion and garlic, making sure not to brown.

*Add the turkey mince and cook until the mince is no longer pink, spoon off any fat, but leave the juices.

*Add the tinned tomatoes, red wine, oregano, bay leaf and tomato puree.

*Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 20 minutes

*Add the mushrooms, cooking for a further 10 mins.

*In a separate pan pour all but 4 tbsp of the milk.

*Add the slice of onion & bay leaf and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes.

*Add the remaining milk to a large bowl and mix in the cornflour.

*After the infused milk has cooled for 15 minutes, strain it into the bowl with the cornflour and milk using a sieve.

*Return this to the pan and simmer for 2-3 minutes stirring continuously, until thickened, season and add the nutmeg.

*Preheat the oven to 190°C, (gas mark 5)

*Cover the bottom of a medium sized ovenproof dish with a single layer of lasagne sheets.

*Spoon a layer of the meat sauce and cover with a layer of white sauce.

*Arrange a layer of lasagne sheets on top.

*Continue layering, finishing with a layer of white sauce.

*Bake for 20-25 minutes.

*Serve with salad or vegetables

ENJOY!!

Mighty Matcha Part 2: Recipes & Ideas

Yesterday I posted an article on the benefits of Matcha Green Tea. Really, it was a re-post as the article has been up on the Totalbodysculpture website for a while now. So, i decided it would also be beneficial to those that haven’t seen it, if i posted the second part of the article that’s up there; How it can be used! So, check out these recipes and original ideas about ways that you can use this awesome green superfood!!

Matcha Green Tea Latte

The trick to preparing a cafe style matcha green tea latte is to make the tea first, then add the hot milk and foam.Image

Sift 1 tsp Matcha into a cup
Melt matcha by adding 2 oz hot water and stirring until matcha becomes a smooth paste
Pour 6 oz steamed* milk into your favorite matcha bowl or teacup
Add “melted” matcha tea to the milk
Scoop foamy milk on top
Sprinkle with matcha dust or cocoa powder

Optional
Add vanilla, almond or mint flavors, use almond milk or coconut milk for a twist, sweeten with honey, combine steps and froth milk and tea all together

Matcha Green Tea Ice-Cream

2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
2/3 cups sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 tsp salt
4 Tbsp matcha + 2/3 cup hot water
1 cup fresh cream

Heat the milk in a small pan to about 140 degrees F (60 degrees C). Remove from heat and set aside.
Place the egg yolks in a pan and beat lightly. Add the sugar and salt. Mix thoroughly with a whisk.  Image
Gradually pour in the heated milk and stir, making sure that no lumps form.  Strain the mixture and pour it back into the pan.
Place the pan over a low flame and cook until the milk thickens, stirring all the time with a wooden ladle.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Mix the matcha and hot water and stir briskly until the paste becomes smooth.
In another bowl, whip the cream until semi-stiff, fold the milk, and add the matcha paste.
Pour into a metal or plastic container, and place in the freezer to set.  After two hours, take it out and mix thoroughly with a spoon or whisk, then resume freezing.  Repeat this process 3 or 4 times to ensure the ice-cream is smooth.

Matcha Tea Cake

To serve 6

3 ounces (3/4 cup) flour
1 tbsp matcha tea (ingredient grade)
4 whole large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift the cake flour with the tea three times. Using an oil spray, coat the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan lightly. Place a round of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan and spray the parchment lightly. Set the pan aside.Image

Place the eggs and sugar into a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a bain marie. Whisking constantly, heat until the eggs and sugar feel warm to the touch (approximately 100-110 degrees F.).
Pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, and beat until light in color and texture, approximately tripled in volume. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg foam without deflating, making sure that there is no undissolved flour lurking at the bottom of the mixing bowl.
Immediately scoop the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the cake tests done when a skewer is inserted into the center. Cool on a rack.

Matcha & Chocolate Truffles

1 Tbsp Honey
250g Cream
2 Tbsp Matcha Powder
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
350g 85% Dark Chocolate

Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over gentle heat, add the honey and brown Imagesugar, and stir until dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the matcha, stir until dissolved, and set aside.
Place the chocolate in a large mixing bowl and pour in the cream mixture. Mix thoroughly, and pour into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Smooth it out with a rubber spatula. Cool in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Using a spoon, scoop out a heaping teaspoon, and make a ball using the palms of your hands. Repeat until all the chocolate is used, you should wind up with about 50 truffles.

Matcha Protein Smoothie
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1 scoop of protein powder
1/2 banana
1/2 cup nonfat milk or yogurt
1 tsp honey
1-2 tsp matcha

Blend ingredients together in a blender.

These are just some of the things you can do with Matcha. Why not try it out for yourself, making matcha butter, or adding 1-2 tablespoons to our Protein Banana Bread or Carrot Cake recipes in the Recipes section of the TBS Website! If you do, drop us a line and post your recipes/pictures on the TBS Facebook page!

Mighty Matcha: The Superhero Green Tea!

Some of the biggest issues to effect society relate to health, whether it is the recent increase in the level of obesity, progression in cancer related treatments, signs and symptoms of stroke or basic nutrition in schools. A health related news story appears daily. With good reason. The quality of our lives is important to us, not just now, but in the years to come. The foods we consume are becoming increasingly more and more important to us, the further our understanding develops. Image

Tea is the 2nd most consumed beverage in the world, second only to water, with an estimated 3 billion Kgs of tea produced each year. In the Western world black tea is the most popular, however Eastern countries such as Japan & China, Green Tea is a much more popular choice, a trend which is filtering into Western culture. The reason for this increase? Simple! Antioxidants!

Antioxidants are one of the biggest vogue subjects today, with a variety of foods lauded for their antioxidant content. The advent of ‘Superfoods’ has given rise to all sorts of claims regarding what we should eat & drink to get/stay healthy.

When it comes to Antioxidants, Green Tea is a big-hitter & ‘Matcha’ is the undisputed King!
One glass of matcha is the equivalent of at least 10 glasses of standard green tea in terms of its antioxidant content and nutritional value. Both blueberries and pomegranates are proven antioxidants with values of 91 and 105 units per gram (respectively) when tested using a method known as Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). Matcha green tea has a value of 1300 units per gram!! 25 times greater! Matcha contains 9x the beta carotene content of the superfood spinach, 70x the antioxidants and 137x the level of standard green tea.

Matcha green tea is relatively new in the green tea world. Whilst tea cultivation dates back thousands and thousands of years, particularly in the Far East, matcha in its current form only dates back around 1000 years. It is the tea used in the famous ‘Japanese Tea Ceremony’. The main difference between matcha green tea and other teas is the when it is consumed. Normally black tea or other green teas are consumed via steeping the tea leaves infused with hot water. The water soluble content of the tea diffuses into the water and is consumed, with the tea leaves disposed of. This method is problematic as only a small part of the health benefits of tea are water soluble, depending on tea variety and preparation only 10% – 20% of the healthy nutrients are consumed when drinking steeped tea. With matcha, the whole leaf is ground down to a fine powder, therefore the entire leaf is consumed, thus avoiding any loss of health benefits.

The table below highlights the differences between standard steeped green tea & matcha.

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The many benefits of matcha green tea include;

  • Packed with antioxidants including the catechin Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) (see below).
  • Burns calories and boosts metabolism, with one recent study suggesting matcha may increase calorie burning by 400%
  • High in the detoxifyer Chlorophyll, which helps eliminate heavy metals and chemicals from the body
  • Mood enhancement
  • Calming and relaxation effects due to its L-Theanine content (see below)
  • Minimal effect of insulin levels
  • Rich in fibre
  • Provides Selenium, Zinc, Magnesium, Chromium and Vitamin C.

The catechin EGCg is the most abundant catechin in tea and is a potent antioxidant that may have therapeutic applications in the treatment of many disorders (e.g. cancer). It is found in green tea, but not black tea. Catechins are a highly potent form of antioxidants providing potent cancer fighting properties. ImageCatechins counteract the effects of free radicals from influences such as UV rays, radiation, pollution and chemicals which can lead to cell and DNA damage. EGCg is regarded as on of the most powerful catechins, so anything containing a high amount is a good thing. Matcha  contains a particularly high amount of catechins, of which over 60% are EGCg.

Matcha was introduced to the Japanese by a Monk named Eisai in 1200AD as an aid in the practice of meditation. During long hours of worship, monks would ceremoniously drink matcha to remain alert, yet calm. A rare amino acid, L-Theanine, promotes a state of relaxation and well being  due to its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.  Theanine has psychoactive properties and has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress, improve cognition and mood in a synergistic manner with caffeine. Theanine may also help memory and learning ability, whilst also inhibiting the side effects of caffeine.

When it comes to matcha, how it is to be used will place a bearing on the grade of matcha to be used. Traditionally, there are 2 ways of preparing matcha for drinking; ‘Koicha’ – Thick or ‘Usucha’ – Thin. It is also advised to use traditional utensils when preparing drinking matcha. After all, it is a ceremonial tea once described as “The Elixar of the Immortals”
Below are instructions on how to prepare both Koicha and Usucha using the correct utensils.

USUCHA

Preheat the matcha bowl with hot water and place the whisk with prongs facing down into the water to wet them. Once the bowl has thoroughly preheated, empty out the water and dry the bowl out preferably with a cloth such as a chakin. Set the wet whisk aside and then measure out 70ml (approx. 2.3oz) of hot water into a measuring cup and leave it to cool.

Use the bamboo scoop to measure about 2 scoops of matcha powder and place it into the bowl. Sifting the matcha into the bowl is advisable as it will remove any clumps of powder.

Once the water in the measuring cup drops to 70°C(158°F)-80°C(176°F) pour it into the matcha bowl.

Take the whisk in one hand and hold the rim of the matcha bowl with your other hand and start to whisk the matcha. Whisk briskly using your wrist (not arm). Whisk in a W motion until the matcha has a thick froth with many tiny bubbles on the surface. The matcha is now frothy and ready to drink!

KOICHA

Preheat the matcha bowl with hot water and place the whisk with prongs facing down into the water to wet them. Once the bowl has thoroughly preheated, empty out the water and dry the bowl out preferably with a cloth such as a chakin. Set the wet whisk aside and then measure out 40ml (approx. 1.3oz) of hot water into a measuring cup and leave it to cool.

Use the bamboo scoop to measure about 3-4 scoops of matcha powder and place it into the bowl. We highly recommend sifting matcha prior to preparing koicha.

Once the water in the measuring cup drops to 70°C(158°F)-80°C(176°F) pour it into the matcha bowl. The water should be just enough to cover the powder. For koicha, pouring the water in two parts (40% and 60%) often produces better results.

The idea with koicha is NOT to make a frothy consistency with a fast whisking action like usucha. Instead, a slower kneading action from left to right, up and down, and a gentle 360 degree rotating action can be used to make a thick consistency. The resulting tea should be reasonably thick, smooth and without froth.

There has been a considerable increase in the use of matcha in cooking and baking, where its rich green colour and distinctive taste has been applied to dishes from ice cream to pasta. One of the great things about cooking with matcha is that the grade does not have to be as high as that used for beverage preparation.

Fish Oil: Have You Caught On To The Benefits?

The benefits of eating oily fish have been promoted for quite a while now, however introducing it into the diet is not for everyone. Fish oil supplementation is one way of getting the benefits of oily fish, without the bones & scales!

Fish oil will help you lose body fat, providing you with essential fatty acids due to the Omega-3 content. These fatty acids are used by the body to build optimal Imagecellular lipid layer, which is the fat layer surrounding cells known as the Lipid Bilayer. This cell layer can effect metabolism and the activity of insulin, improving your overall insulin sensitivity.

Fish oil also has a beneficial effect on cortisol, making it not only anti-catabolic, but also anabolic. Fish oil enhances the mTOR pathway that produces muscle growth.

The anti-inflammatory benefits of fish oil are well documented, something that is important for those that are looking to be lean and healthy (and who doesn’t?) Anything that causes an inflammatory response in the body such cortisol, can cause a protein degradation effect which can cause a loss of muscle tissue. Fish oil is an powerful anti-inflammatory and can produce a more favourable inflammatory status in the body. This in turn will speed up detoxification, improve cellular health, provide a better environment for muscle growth and fat loss and decrease inflammatory hormones such as cortisol.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity & Metabolism

Cellular lipid layers produced from fish oil improves insulin sensitivity due to its increased binding ability to insulin. Once insulin is bound, it is used to shuttle glucose from the diet into muscles to be stored ready for energy expenditure. Any insulin not stored in the muscle can continue to circulate in the blood stream and be potentially stored as fat. Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) insure that cell membranes remain healthy by ensuring cell membrane flexibility and a larger number of insulin receptors. This is why it is essential that your fish oil supplement contains a good  amount of the above. EPA and DHA have different roles in the body. Dr Carrie Ruxton, nutritionist for the Health Supplements Information Service, says: “Studies suggest DHA is more important for the brain, retina and infant development, while EPA is moImagere important for vascular health. The difficulty we have in the UK is that two-thirds of people don’t eat oily fish,’ she says. ‘The main source of long chain omega-3s in the diet is oily fish, and if we can’t get them from that, we need to consider a supplement to top up our diet.’

As well as weight loss and favourable body composition changes, fish oil has also been shown to have medical applications in an extremely wide range of ailments including stroke, bipolar disorder, psoriasis, hay fever, crohns disease, ulcerative colitis and hypertension!

Fish oils also turn lipolytic genes and switch off lipogenic genes. This means that the genes responsible for fat burning are activated, whereas the genes responsible for fat storage are switched off. Fish oil also diminishes C-Reactive proteins. These are proteins that are linked to coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, angina and stroke.

Above all this, fish oil has been shown to increase serotonin levels, happy feeling neurotransmitters, decreasing incidents of depression, anxiety and panic attacks.

Lastly, fish oil has been shown to reduce interlukin-1 beta production, reducing joint stiffness and pain in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.

VIDEO – Walk Through of Daily Nutritional Planner

In March I launched the latest update of the TBS Daily Nutritional Planner, a simple to use tool that allows you to accurately plan your meals, as well as macro nutrient intake. The Planner has space for up to 7 accurately planned meals, with simple to use drop down options, allowing you to select either your favourite Fit-Chef Recipes or your very own meal plans.

The latest update sees the introduction of software allowing you to measure your bodyfat % using a set of bodyfat callipers. This is on top of the Intermittent Fasting Planner, that is very popular.

Check out the video below for a full insight as to how simple to use the Software is!

The TBS Daily Nutritional Planner can be purchased from the TBS Website at http://www.totalbodysculpture.com

Are You Short-Changing Your Growth: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Better Results

Many people go toIMAG0573 the gym for vanity reasons. It’s an undeniable fact. Lots of men & women want to “Look Good Naked”. There’s nothing wrong with that, it gives people confidence, better self esteem and many other things. However, many people also go to the gym for other reasons, such as the challenge of Personal Bests, physical prowess etc. It doesn’t matter what your reasons are. But what if I told you that despite all your best efforts in the gym, you may be short-changing the results you could get? What if i told you the foods you’re eating, the deodorant you’re using, the fitness regime you’re following is minimising your muscle gains and/or increasing your bodyfat? Would you sit up & take notice?

I’ve put together 5 common factors that could be limiting your progress in the gym!

Well, now I have your attention read on…

1. Too Much Cardio/Not Enough Calories
The subject of Metabolic Damage has moved into the spotlight recently, particularly after a video blog on the subject by Dr. Layne Norton & more recently a Facebook Post by former NFL Footballer-turned Fitness Model Joe Donnelly. Some trainers & coaches have been aware of MD of quite some time & the havoc it can wreck on a person (I say some, because some trainers are actually guilty of causing it!)
If you are someone that could be labelled a ‘Cardio King/Queen’ and eat a particularly small amount of calories, chances are, you’re suffering from MD.
Large amounts of aerobic training can increase oxidative and adrenal stress on the body which can result in an increase in bodyfat.
I’m sure there are many trainers out there that have come across people that say “I do hours of cardio and my diet is very clean, yet I just don’t seem to be able to shift this fat”. Repairing someones metabolism can take time, but reducing the amount of cardio, particularly steady-state cardio, in favour of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) & weight training are steps in the right direction. If any of the above sounds familiar, get in touch with a good nutritionist or trainer!

2. Inadequate Sleep.
Adequate sleep promotes recovery by increased growth hormone, DHEA and testosterone. These are important for body composition and our sex hormones. Sleep is also vital in decreasing insulin and cortisol with the end result being less mid section fat and insulin resistance. The average person only gets in around 6 hours of sleep a night, 2 hours less than the recommended 8 hours. Over a week that’s a deficit of 14 hours, over a month, 56 hours!
Late nights & early mornings are one of the reasons some people don’t get enough sleep, however another reason is some people take time to settle once they have retired for the evening, lying in bed for prolonged periods before finally dosing off. This can be down to many factors such as stress or external factors such as noise & light. If you are the kind of person that sits in bed watching TV, this can have adverse effects on your sleeping patterns. Personally, my bedroom is like a cave at night. No TV, no laptops, nothing that disrupts the sleeping pattern. This gives the brain the signal that i’m in this room for one reason & one reason only, to sleep!

3.Estrogenic Effects of Cosmetics
Parabens are chemical preservatives used to fight bacteria & fungus in cosmetics such as shampoos, moisturisers, shaving gels, cleansing gels, personal lubricants (oooo!!), topical pharmaceuticals and toothpaste. They are extremely cheap to produce and are widely used. Unfortunately, they have also been linked to an increase in levels of estrogen within the body, which is a known factor in the development of cancer. Researchers have found parabens in breast tumours and believe there is a relationship between parabens and tumours. In the July 2002 issue of the Archives of Toxicology, Dr. S. Oishi of the Department of Toxicology, Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health reported that exposure of newborn male mammals to butylparaben “adversely affects the secretion of testosterone and the function of the male reproductive system.” Although the research is still in its early stages, may be you should check out the products you are using, especially as the skin & hair are the 1st & 2nd largest organs of the body and are particularly absorbent of products placed on them. Sure, some cosmetics are a little more expensive, but if i told you that the cheaper protein powder your using may be increasing your estrogen levels, would you choose a more expensive alternative?

4. Soy – Not the Superfood you thought it was.
Following on from Parabens & their effects on estrogen is Soy. Soy is a grain which the isn’t digested properly and can often lead to damage of the intestinal lining. Soy is also one of the most sprayed crops produced, leading to an increase of the toxic load on the body, which in turn can promotes the storage of body fat. Soy also contains goitragens which lead to hypothyroidism, disrupts brain function (soy is full of manganese which leads to neurotoxicity), increases the risk of breast cancer (estrogenic stimulation can lead to breast cancer, so having a load of ‘healthy’ soy in your diet will definitely cause estrogenic stimulation) and decreases testosterone levels (high isoflavonoid intake result in deregulated sexual hormones). Soy can also inhibit the absorption of important macro-minerals such as calcium and trace minerals such as zinc due to its high content of phytates.

5. From Soy to Zinc
As mentioned above, Soy can effect the levels of absorption of important trace minerals such as zinc. Zinc deficiency is one of the most common and most serious of mineral deficiencies and is prevalent amongst the majority of people. It is so common in fact that World Renowned Strength Coach Charles Poliquin actually assumes all of his athletes are zinc deficient until they can prove otherwise. Zinc is involved in over 300 enzymatic and hormonal functions within the body. Combine this with the fact that low levels of zinc can slow muscle growth, decrease immune functionality, reduce testosterone levels, effect appetite, decrease sperm count and cause problematic skin, it’s quickly apparent that zinc levels are important. I carry out a Zinc Taste Test of all my training clients and recommend all of my online clients do the same.