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Diet & Nutrition

Time For A Detox? Why Everything You Know About Toxins Is A Lie

Time to Detox? Why Everything You Know About Toxins Is a Lie

I was trying to stay away from this topic as I’m not technically qualified to speak about nutrition. Despite that, I feel driven to write this because a lot of industry professionals don’t seem to know what a toxin is. Even nutritionists, who should know better, talk about detoxing the body or avoiding eating things with toxins in. It’s a complete misuse of the word and practically scaremongering.

I’ve been haunted by the word toxin for a long time but a few weeks back, a British girl was in the news because she’s been making Mukbang videos, not a common thing in the UK. Honestly, I feel like unless someone is eating and chatting to the camera in a sort of vlog format, watching these videos is an eating disorder in disguise. And eating the amount of volume of food in one sitting for the purposes of Youtube entertainment is along the same lines but I digress.

She was featured on a segment on This Morning, don’t ask, I watched it by accident and like a car crash I couldn’t look away. Whenever that show has someone on who’s going to talk about something health or fitness related I just know it’s going to trigger me. Anyway, I was agreeing with what a nutritionist was saying (that it wasn’t healthy to eat such a high volume of food, as this girl was basically binge eating) but then she said the dreaded t-word. She said foods like these (Chinese takeaways) are filled with toxins and should be avoided.

First off, let's look at the dictionary definition of a toxin.

‘A poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, and typically capable of inducing antibody formation’

So a meal that contains fried noodles and sweet and sour sauce is NOT going to contain toxins unless someone has spiked it with a poisonous plant that’s probably going to kill you.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary also goes on to say, ‘Today we hear health advisers of all kinds talk about ridding the body of toxins, but they’re usually pretty vague about which ones they mean, and most of these “toxins” wouldn’t be called that by biologists.’ Very true.

Also, the Wikipedia article on toxins actually hits the nail on the head in the first sentence.

‘A toxin is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms; synthetic toxicants created by artificial processes are thus excluded’

What people are more closely referring to when absorbing ‘toxins’ are actually toxicants. But, let’s take this further…

What is a toxicant?

The 2011 book A Textbook of Modern Toxicology states, “A toxin is a toxicant that is produced by a living organism and is not used as a synonym for toxicant—all toxins are toxicants, but not all toxicants are toxins. Toxins, whether produced by animals, plants, insects, or microbes are generally metabolic products that have evolved as defence mechanisms for the purpose of repelling or killing predators or pathogens.” (pathogens are micro-organisms such as bacteria that can make you sick)

So that still doesn’t sound like food, right? Not unless it’s gone off. What happens when you eat food that’s gone off? That’s where your body gets rid of toxins, all by itself. Your body processes the bacteria and gets rid of it.

Same goes if we’re talking about pesticides, which would be classed as a toxicant, but pesticides are sprayed on fruit and veg! That is the reason why some people go organic but we’re not talking about fruit and veg here, we’re talking about takeaways. So there is still no relevance or evidence that takeaways contain toxins or toxicants.

As you may well know, the internet is full of articles about toxins in foods and it just makes things more difficult for people to know what to eat. I’m going to try and keep this paragraph short, but whenever someone suggests having a detox or doing something to detox the body it is absolute bullshit and it makes me really mad. The body does it all by itself.

If you'd have actually absorbed a toxin, you'd bloody know about it and you'd be in hospital being given drugs not a cup of detox tea.

What the nutrionist was probably trying to say is that these takeaways contain high amounts of MSG (monosodium glutamate) which in high amounts is believed to cause health issues but still there is no evidence that has actually been found and any illnesses from high consumption have to be completely anecdotal. Takeaways often do have a high amount of salt though, which can bad for you particularly if you have high blood pressure.
 
Most takeaway foods are high in fat if they’re fried or contain a lot of oil for example and they can be high in sugar if you have something with a lot of sauce. Sometimes you’re just literally overeating when it comes to having a takeaway, it entirely depends on the portion size and the way it’s cooked. For instance, a chicken shish kebab isn’t bad at all, the only high calorie things would be the marinade and drowning it in garlic mayo but otherwise, not a bad choice.
 
Like any food if you want a healthy diet, fats and sugars should be consumed in accordance with a sensible calorie and macronutrient intake to maintain a healthy weight. Takeaways are basically ‘bad for you’ because they are high in calories and they’re not nutritionally balanced. I do tend to tell people to cook their own food so they know what’s in it, but when I say that I’m just talking about calories.
 
Having a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t be so hard but it gets more and more complicated when people start spreading lies about things that shouldn’t be a concern. Bottom line is, limit your takeaways in favour of home-cooked meals, eat your veggies and don’t take advice from anyone who tells you lies about toxins.

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Fitness Advice & Exercise Ideas

5 Things Your Personal Trainer Doesn’t Tell You

5 Things Your Personal Trainer Doesn't Tell You

Here are a few home truths about PTs. Obviously, I am a personal trainer, so I’m not here to slag them off, but I’m quite honest with my clients so I thought I may as well share some things on here!

So here we go, five things your Personal Trainer doesn’t tell you.

1. You can become a qualified personal trainer in about 2 months

So you’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s not something we like to brag about. I took the time to do a Diploma (necessary PT courses plus 5 or so extra ones and Level 3 GP Referral, Level 3 Pre and Postnatal) over about 18 months alongside a full-time job. I felt like that was the best option for me so I could absorb as much information as possible and take time to read up on anything I didn’t fully understand.
 
Do I know people who did their level 2 in two weeks and their level 3 in six weeks? Yes, I know very good personal trainers who did all their necessary courses in 2 months. I’ve also met some shitty personal trainers who did the same. It’s all about what you put into it and further education in the form of reading, doing extra courses, attending seminars, applying and testing training methods, basically giving a shit about your job.
 
The people who do nothing more than the bare minimum then expect you to pay for personal training when they don’t have a passion for it are kinda sucky people who are just in it for the earning potential.

2. You can lose weight without going to the gym

You can lose weight without training and exercise, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Weightloss is essentially about finding the correct energy balance for you. It’s calories in vs. calories out. Whether that outcome is produced by a calorie deficit through limiting food intake or using energy by increasing activity levels is up to you.
 
At the end of the day a lot of people care about how much they weigh, they become attached to an irrelevant number because they remember that they once felt happy at that weight. Therefore they will feel happy with their body again once they hit that goal weight. But, I would argue that training increases confidence so much more than hitting that number does.
 
A lot of my clients will drop dress sizes and get stronger without losing loads of weight on the scales but they become happier with their bodies because they’ve achieved so much through training (mentally and physically) and they have developed muscle in the areas that they once felt were ‘problem areas’.

3. You can lift weights with bad form and still make gains

Although I always harp on about correct form and technique, you don’t have to do it perfectly to make a change to your body but I would recommend learning how to do exercises correctly. (I don’t expect my clients to always be perfect because that’s unrealistic, but I do make sure they don’t do anything that could compromise their training.)
 
There are a lot of people who train alone or have a friend ‘coach’ them through their training. I see bad form an awful lot being in a commercial gym. But, what is going to happen if you train with bad form? Yes, you could potentially injure yourself if you pick a weight that’s too heavy but mostly you’re going to give yourself poor posture, posterior/anterior imbalances, back pain, unnecessary pressure on the joints and/or suboptimal movement patterns that take a long time to correct.
 
There are a lot of people who exercise through achy joints or a bad back, you should not experience pain when you’re training. If you do, you need to get someone to figure out why – HINT: You’re probably doing it wrong or you’re trying to lift a weight that’s too heavy for you. Even having the odd session with a personal trainer will help you in the long term.

4. Being toned isn't what you think it is

 
I do use the term ‘toned’ because people understand it as having lean muscle. I would like to point out that everyone has lean muscle because muscle is never fat, fat is fat. But whatever.
 
Muscle tone is when your muscles have tension, if you didn’t have muscle tone you wouldn’t be able to stand up or even move. If someone has a stroke and loses the use of one side of their body, that side of their body no longer has muscle tone.
 
So basically, what people think being ‘toned’ is, is having visible muscle definition. Do you want visible muscle? Then you need to build some muscle and possibly lose some fat. You’ll never build too much muscle without trying, so don’t worry about that either.

5. Personal Trainers are not qualified to give you food plans

I have had a few people ask for a food plan because they want to be spoon-fed what they need to eat. I don’t really like this approach because it doesn’t teach people to structure their diet themselves and learn what works for them. Firstly, only nutritionists and dieticians are qualified to give you food plans because they take into consideration all the vital macros, vitamins, minerals, fibre, everything you need for a healthy diet, into account. Even then, they still give you guidelines and get you to make some decisions on what to eat.
 
Do not, under any circumstances, buy a food plan from someone unqualified to sell you one. It will also probably be some bollocks like eat eggs, tuna salad, chicken and rice and that’s about it. If you get one from your trainer for free, okay go with some suggestions but I’d still look at what you need to eat on a healthy balanced diet for you.
 
Be aware, some Trainers will favour restricting your diet to get fast results for the gram rather than making sure you’re working towards sustainable weight loss and ensuring that you’ve got a good relationship with food!
 
What I do provide is food diary reviews for my clients if they want one and a calorie and macro guide for my newsletter subscribers. Click the link to get yourself signed up!
 
So, that’s all for now! If there are any topics that you want me to talk about on my blog then comment below. I’d love to know what you want to hear about next!

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How to do a Romanian Deadlift in 6 Easy Steps

How to Do a Romanian Deadlift in 6 Easy Steps

A Romanian Deadlift is an excellent exercise to do but a difficult one to learn. You want to be able to perform a Romanian Deadlift in the correct way before enforcing incorrect movement patterns. Doing the exercise incorrectly can also put unnecessary strain on your back and hamstrings.

Follow these 5 points listed below and you’ll be doing them in no time!

1. Learn the 3 points of contact

Grab your nearest weighted bar, broom handle, any sort of straight stick and hold it in line with your spine.

The 3 points of contact should be…

  • your lower spine
  • between your shoulder blades
  • the back of your head

(I find it helps if you hold the stick/bar in the small of your back where a natural arch forms so your hands aren’t in the way of the bar touching you)

Now, tilt your torso forward with those 3 points of contact remaining on the bar. Harder than it looks! Keep practising.

2. Focus on the hamstrings and glutes

Deadlifts and deadlift variations are all posterior chain exercises meaning they’re intended to target muscles in the back of your body.

Focus on your hamstrings (back of your legs) and glutes (bum muscles) as well as the erectors (muscles either side of the spine in your lower back).

Sometimes when individuals first start training it’s more about the central nervous system taking note of what you’re trying to do. But if you never feel it in the right place, it’s worth trying to make sure the hamstrings are fired up with some good slow tempo warm-ups.

“Any Romanian Deadlift and variants are not squats, so it will be in your favour to learn the difference and practice it.”

3. Know the difference between a squat movement and a hip hinge

You need to hinge at the hips! Any Romanian Deadlift and variants are not squats, so it will be in your favour to learn the difference and practice it.

I’ve actually had clients go straight from one exercise to the other to make sure they know how to switch from one to the other and improve proprioception (body awareness).

You need to be able to bend forward at the hips and not compromise your back rounding.

4. Soft knees!

It makes me feel a little bit sick when people do a hip hinge exercise with locked out knees, you’re just asking for an injury. It’s very much an old school bodybuilder style of doing this movement but just like shoulder pads and giant mobile phones, they need to stay in the 80s.

You want to make sure it’s a contraction rather than a weighted stretch and you’ll get much more out of it. Locked out knees also make it much more difficult to keep a flat back!

5. Perfecting the lockout

It makes me feel a little bit sick when people do a hip hinge exercise with locked out knees, you’re just asking for an injury. It’s very much an old school bodybuilder style of doing this movement but just like shoulder pads and giant mobile phones, they need to stay in the 80s.

You want to make sure it’s a contraction rather than a weighted stretch and you’ll get much more out of it. Locked out knees also make it much more difficult to keep a flat back!

5. Perfecting the lockout

At the top of the movement, there’s a fine line between locking out with the body in line and hyperextension of the hips.

You don’t want the latter! It will cause tension in the wrong places.

Bring your hips to the bar and squeeze the glutes. If you can push your hips forwards you need to learn to slow things down and stop at the right point.

Movement patterns are hard to change but keep it up!

“If you do a Romanian Deadlift with a very lightweight for the purpose of ‘toning’ you’re fighting a losing battle.”

6. Pick an appropriate weight

If you do a Romanian Deadlift with a very lightweight for the purpose of ‘toning’ you’re fighting a losing battle.

For example, if you can do 20+ reps with a weight that you’re doing 3 sets of 10 reps with, you need to go heavier.

On the other hand, there are those that go too heavy. If you’re back is rounding take the weight down or try a different piece of equipment.

If you’ve been using a bar maybe a trap bar or dumbbells would be better. Or vice versa.

That’s it! Let me know how you get on.

If you’ve found any of these tips helpful please let me know and share with your gym buddy!

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Diet & Nutrition

The Best Protein Pancakes You’ll Ever Have

The Best Protein Pancakes You'll Ever Have!

I love to make healthy pancakes for breakfast and with this recipe, you can throw them together pretty quickly.

I tend to prefer American style pancakes, but they don’t have to be dense and heavy just because they have protein powder in them!

There’s also a secret ingredient to get them to rise, read on to find out what it is!

How to Make Protein Pancakes Taste Good

One batch makes 10-12 silver dollar sized pancakes. Of course, you could always make big ones instead!

If you’re cooking for yourself I just keep the rest in a tupperware box and microwave them for 30 seconds or so the next day.

I’ve included cup measurements because I have some and it makes it even quicker to recipes like this together. Worth the investment!

TOP TIP: You might find these things useful!

Ingredients

1 egg
1/3 cup or 50g of whole wheat flour
1/3 cup or 80ml of milk
1 scoop of protein powder
1 smushed banana
 
AND 1 secret ingredient to make them rise…
 
A generous splash of distilled vinegar.
 
I promise you, it won’t taste like vinegar and it’s important that you don’t use white wine vinegar or malt vinegar. It has to be this one.

Method

Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl.
 
In another bowl, smush a banana with the back of a fork. Add the egg and combine the two together.
 
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix together.
 
Add milk slowly to make a thick paste.
 
Heat oil in a frying pan, until it gets quite hot. (I use coconut oil because it tastes nice but you can use whatever you want.)
 
Scoop in a spoonful of pancake mix and let it do it’s thing.
healthy pancakes

Tips

Adjust the heat of the pan according to the outcome of your pancakes every time!
 
Don’t make the mix too runny, the amount of milk you add depends on the consistency of your protein powder and the size of the egg.
 
If you don’t like bananas try making your own applesauce or microwave some frozen berries and use that instead!

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