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There were many health and personal training related stories in 2008, some of them more relevant to staying fit and achieving weight loss than others. Over the next few blogs I’ll be having a look at some of the best ones, and the ones that may help us all to get where we want to be in the future. In the reports I have divided the topics mainly into what’s good for us and what’s bad. You’ll notice that one or two things come up in both categories. As personal trainers we are always trying to explain to clients that nearly all foods are both good and bad for us, and the main thing is to keep it as natural as possible and to have a wide and varied diet based on the wholefoods principle. Have a look at the pdf on our “The Knowledge” page. A classic example is nuts ans seeds. Often recommended as a good snacking option, nuts ans seeds have lots of fibre (good), protein (good) and mono and poly-unsaturated fats (good). However they are very calorie dense (bad!) and so although they are good it should be advised that they be eaten in moderation!
So, what did the scientists say in 2008? On of the perennial topics to come up was water. It goes without saying that water is vital for human function-but there’s no need to drink the sometimes recommended 8 glasses a day. In January a team of scientists decided to investigate the claim, and found no evidence to back it up. The body does require substantial amounts of fluids, and 2.5 litres has been suggest as a sensible allowance, but most of this can be found in food, and much of the rest can take the form of juice, tea, coffee, and even beer, in moderation. If you are exercising reasonably often, particularly if it’s vigorous, as with a personal trainer, the 8 glasses becomes more important, and is also a good way of keeping the all important metabolic rate ticking over. So don’t believe everything you read,make sure you don’t go thirsty, but also don’t drink too much water, as this can also be equally bad for you.
This month we continue to look at the findings for the last year and how we can hopefully apply them in 2009 to make ourselves fitter, slimmer and healthier!
A slightly less ambivalent topic in 2008 was processed meats. Unlike many nutritional areas that can be contradictory, this one is fairly clean cut. Sausages and other processed meats should not be touched with a barge pole (or a fork) if you don’t want to get bowl cancer. A world Cancer Research Fund report published in April showed that eating just one sausage a day raises the risk of bowel cancer by a fifth, as does three rashers of bacon or 50g of any processed meat. “Whether talking about bacon, pastrami or ham, the safest amount to eat is none at all” said the fund’s professor Martin Wiseman.
So try to keep it as natural as you can, and support your local butcher by going for unprocessed natural cuts of meat. Also listen to your personal trainer and get some more homework exercise done!! We are always gettng nutritional questions from our personal trainer clients in London, and many of them have complex answers, but the most simple thing of all is to try and eat as naturally as possible. If something has been processed in any way by human hand then it’s best avoided. This is not always easy but the less processed the better: sausages and meats (like that tasty sliced honey roast ham) are super processed so try to avoid them in all but special occasions!
One of my very own personal trainer clients in Maidenhead was asking this morning if the old wives tale about fish oil is really true and should she be taking it for the protection against arthritis. A study in April of last year showed that it really does work. For the study on rheumatiod arthritis 100 sufferers were given either a 10mg daily dose of cod liver oil or a placebo. After 9 months almost 40% of those taking the fish oil reported a reduction in reliance on painkillers without feling any ill effects, while only 16% of the placebo takers reported an improvement. As I also told my lady in Maidenhead, I take fish oil myself, and despite their weekly dose of running, squash, badminton, rowing, lunges, kitesurfing and mountain biking (ah, the joys of personal training at home!) my knees are greatlly improved than the state they were in 2 years ago.
Also recomended is glucosamine, more on that later!
We are pleased to welcome Stephen Hitchcock to our fab team of personal trainers. Stephen will be providing home training for us and could be your personal trainer if you live in Egham, Englefield Green, Wentworth or Suningdale. Stephen comes highly qualified from Premier Global with a Dip PT in Personal training and Sports Therapy massage. A keen runner, he can give you a challenging but always varied and interesting session, and specialises in weight loss and also running programmes. So if you fancy a 10k for the first time, or even something more he can take you to the finish line step by step.
On a positive note, as we are always hearing in the media about what is bad for us, today we will have a look at something that we got confirmation on in 2008 that is actually good for us! A short nap can do wonders for your memory a study in March showed. In an experiment in Germany volunteers who were asked to memorise lists of words performed significantly better if they were allowed to have a kip in the middle of the session. Those who stayed awake throughout did not do as well! But be aware that if you find yourself nodding off inadvertently you are probably overtired and need to get some better quality sleep at night. Nodding off in this way has also been linked to a higher risk of having a stroke. One great way to do this is to do some reasonably intense exercise 3 times a week. Try not to exercise too close to bedtime, as the endorphins released during exercise may keep you awake. But exercise during the day or early evening will really improve sleeping patterns. As a personal trainer doing 25-30 sessions of home training a week plus assorted squash, badminton and kite surfing I am asleep within about 30 seconds of going to bed, so much so that I have been trying to finish “The boy i the striped pyjamas” for 3 months (it’s not a long book)but I get through about 2 pages before conking out.
Although lots of new studies in 2008 told us that lots of things were bad for us, today we will have a look at some new results on things that are actually good for us and that as personal trainers we can heartily recommend! Often discussed and exploited by manufacturers of cereal, the first meal of the day really is the most important. In a five year study of almost 7000 people, researchers found that those who ate breakfast regularly put on weight the least over a set period, despite eating more food overall than those who ate most sparingly in the mornings. Every time we eat there is a metabolic cost-the energy that we take in as food needs to be transformed into fuel that we can use, namely glycogen. The conversion of this fuel uses energy, so by having breakfast you are kick starting your metabolic rate as it works to convert your weetabix into glycogen. Provided that this first meal is complex carbohydrate (so all the good stuff, porridge, shredded wheat, bran flakes and shreddies are all good examples) it will also provide you with energy that is released over a gradual period of time, meaning that you get less hungry in the mid-morning and avoid falling off the wagon and reaching for those chocolate digestives. As personal trainers in London this is in line with the nutritional advice that we give our clients, have a look at our fact sheets on the Knowledge page. Good Luck!!
We continue on for this last bit of January having a look at what we learned in 2008, what the latest studies in the areas of health and fitness told us and how we can apply it to our exercise and nutrition, even if we don’t have a personal trainer!
Today we look at a study from 2008 on vitamin pills. These have come under sustained fire in recent years and in April a review of 67 randomised control trials (these are seen as the gold standard of clinical trials) suggested that some vitamins could be worse than useless: they could actually shorten your life. Persistently taking doses of beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E were those found to “significantly increase mortality” the study said.
These findings are thankfully totally in line with our nutritional approach at Diets Don’t Work personal training. We like to advise clients looking for sustained weight loss to stick to the wholefood diet as much as they can; keeping eating as natural as possible and avoiding processed man made foods by following this all round approach to eating provides a balanced and varied intake of all the food groups, vitamins and minerals that we need. Although the vitamin companies would have us believe that we are habitually short of vital things that we need in reality we only require a small amount of vitamins to stay healthy, and provided we’re eating a reasonably well balanced diet we will be getting plenty from the food we are eating. As well as providing us with all the vitamins that we need this varied and natural eating will also give us all the other things we need AS WELL! So instead of taking a vitamin C pill for example, which gives us vitamin C and nothing else, it’s miles better to have some fruit which gives you the same amount of vitamins but also some fibre, micro-nutrients, and other good things that the pill is lacking. This applies for ALL vitamins and supplements, with perhaps the one exception of glucosamine, which we would not normally eat much of (it’s from the shells of shell fish-ugh!) but which myself and other personal trainers and personal trainer clients really believe helps improve joint strength. The only other exception to the rule would be someone who has a deficit of one thing or another due to health problems or things they cannot eat. My personal trainer friend in Leeds does not agree with dairy, and seldom eats it, so for him a calcium supplement might be a good idea, but this type of nutritional case is usually the exception rather that the rule. So instead of reaching for the multi vitamins at Tesco try to make sure that your shopping basket is full of natural unprocessed items with foods of a wide variety and colour. Remember also to have lots of green leafy vegetables, you will live a long, healthy and happy life!
Not long to go now everyone, just a couple of blogs left looking back to 2008 and what we learned was both good and bad for us. Broccoli, already known as a powerful anti-oxidant and weapon against cancer got a further boost to it’s reputation in February when research on rats suggested that it also protects against heart disease. The important thing as with most vegetables is to be careful how you cook it. The more vegetables are cooked the less of their natural nutrients remain, so the best thing is to have it lightly steamed, or if you can handle it go for it raw, which I actually quite like, but I have to say that, I’m a personal trainer!! Seriously though, try some mackerel or tuna, stick in some salad, lash it with balsamic, throw in some olive oil (careful, calorie dense, so only a bit), add some English mustard, black pepper and some raw broccoli and hey presto you’ve got a super tasty lunch that’s very healthy and good for you too!! There are loads more insider personal trainer tips in our nutrition fact sheet pdf on the knowledge page.
Although coffee has been in our list of things that are good for you, like so many things nutrition related everything is always a bit of a compromise, and quite often conflicting. Remember that us personal trainers at Diets Don’t Work recommend he wholefood nutrition plan, just stay away from processed man made foods.
So back to coffee…in January it was given a knock with research showing that even a moderate amount can signifigantly increase the risk of miscarriage. In a study in California pregnant women who drank 200mg a day (the same as 2 cups of instant) had a 25% risk of miscarriage, double that of non drinkers. So what’s good for some populations (see our previous blog on the benefits of coffee) is not so good for others.
Remember that most of our reps level 3 trainers are pre and post natal qualified, so we can advise if you would like to stay healthy in or after pregnancy, as well as giving yourself the highest chance of a quick and (relatively) easy birth!
As the month draws to a close we have a couple of last looks at what the scientists told us in 2008, what was good and what was not so good for us. In a slightly more oblique blog today we’ll have a look at tomatoes. With a relatively low GI (see our fact sheet on nutrition for more information) they are packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins (A & C) and also and also contain lycopene (especially in cooked tomatoes, sauces and ketchup!) which protects against cancer, especially in men. But a study in 2008 also showed that they seem to protect the skin from sunburn!
Foods rich in cooked tomatoes may boost your body’s ability to ward off skin damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and stave off the effects of aging, according to a study conducted by researchers from the universities of Manchester and Newcastle, and presented to the British Society for Investigative Dermatology. Researchers fed 10 volunteers a daily supplement of 10 grams of olive oil and 55 grams of standard tomato paste, while another 10 were given only the olive oil. After three months, the researchers analyzed skin samples from all 20 participants. They found that volunteers who had eaten the tomatoes exhibited 33 percent more protection against sunburn than those who had taken olive oil alone. They also had higher levels of procollagen, a protein that plays a crucial role in preserving skin structure.
“The tomato diet boosted the level of procollagen in the skin significantly. These increasing levels suggest potential reversal of the skin aging process,” researcher Lesley Rhodes said.
“These weren’t huge amounts of tomato we were feeding the group. It was the sort of quantity you would easily manage if you were eating a lot of tomato-based meals.”
The scientists believe that lycopene neutralizes free radicals that are formed when UV radiation strikes the skin. These free radicals have been linked to cancer and the effects of aging. As part of our moderation philosophy to personal training and nutrition here at Diets Don’t Work tomatoes are a perfect example of a good wholefood. Rich in a wide range of things that we need and that are good for us, but also with fibre and micro nutrients. They are in fact the opposite of the empty vitamins that we discused in the blog on supplements a few days ago. So tuck in and have some with your lunch.