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Diet & Nutrition

Everything You Need to Know About The Sirtfood Diet

Everything You Need to Know About The Sirtfood Diet

The Sirtfood Diet has got a lot of publicity lately because it was apparently the method that Adele used to lose weight. But what is the Sirtfood Diet? Let’s look into it.

What does the diet involve?

The following claims are from the Sirtfood Diet website. In summary, it says that their diet…

  • Activates the ‘skinny gene’ pathways that are induced by exercise and fasting
  • Includes foods rich in polyphenols such as kale, dark chocolate and red wine
  • Uses foods that trigger the sirtuin pathways that impact metabolism, aging and mood
  • Helps the body to switch on it’s “fat-burning powers, supercharge weight loss and help stave off disease”
  • Has a 2-phases system in which you consume 1000 calories in the first week, then increase to 1,400 calories (which can be repeated)
  • Requires you to have a daily green juice including matcha green tea powder, lovage (a herby celery-like leafy plant) and buckwheat.
  • Encourages you to pick up your knife and fork, and enjoy eating delicious healthy food while seeing the health and weight-loss benefits
  • Will enable you to lose fat whilst minimising muscle loss “in complete contrast to other diets”

Is there a 'skinny gene?'

Researchers from University of British Columbia used a collection of data to determine if such a gene exists. However, their study is based on a collection of biological information but “tissue samples don’t have a universal standard in data collection, which makes comparability a challenge.”

Josef Penninger, Professor and Lead Author of the study has said that “it’s a starting point” and that they still need to confirm their findings. 

From this information, where this is currently no confirmation of a definitive ‘skinny gene’ in naturally slim individuals, this would suggest that it’s unlikely to be able to turn on your ‘skinny gene’ with a diet. We’re not even sure it exists let alone lying dormant in our body.

What are Polyphenols?

Polyphenols are a micronutrient, a category of compounds naturally found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, tea, dark chocolate, and wine. All of which are included in the suggested foods for this diet.

They act as antioxidants and are also thought to reduce inflamation. You can read more about polyphenols here. Antioxidants serve an important role in the health of our bodies. We can consume antioxidants from foods but our body also produces them naturally.

What are Sirtuin Pathways?

Sirtuin Pathways is a biological communication process in which sirtuin activators affect sirtuin present in cells.

Sirtuins are a group of proteins found in cells, originally discovered in yeast, that play a large of part of maintaining the homeostasis of the organism in which they live. The Sirtfood website states that sirtuin activators “may have a wide range of health benefits as well as building muscle and suppressing appetite”.

Note the word ‘may’ at the beginning of that statement. Studies into the function of human sirtuins in regards to longevity and health benefits is relatively new, researchers first started looking into Sirtuins proteins in 1991 and studies shows that these possible benefits in humans are still undetermined. 

Studies state that although positive outcomes to the increase in cellular activity of sirtuins in test subjects, they haven’t yet been tested on humans. There’s also positive evidence towards it’s antiaging properties, particularly in regards to combatting Alzheimer’s and Dementia. 

My take on the Sirtfood Diet

Now the science-y bit is out of the way, I wanted to talk about my overall take on the diet. 

Regarding the initial calorie deficit, it’s not an ideal situation for everyone but it has it’s benefits for someone looking for a weight loss diet in the first place. Having such a low deficit in certain stages of dieting isn’t such a bad thing as long as you ‘reverse diet’ out of it – meaning you build up your calories.

I would like to mention that an individual would lose weight on that amount of calories no matter what they eat. The food recommendations given don’t provide a magic fat loss forumla. If you’re restricing your calories, that’s what making you lose weight, not the foods you eat.

Where the foods do come into play is the potential benefits from the specific foods listed. As I’ve stated, plant based foods are high in antioxidants which is why you should eat your veggies! As for being Sirtuin activing, we still don’t know if that’s having an affect on our metabolism or satiety which would be the main contributing factors when it comes to the benefits of eating them for weightloss.

While I am an advocate for allowing yourself to have things like red wine and dark chocolate, I don’t fool myself into thinking I’m eating it because it’s good for me. I’m eating it because I like the taste and I want to. The antioxidants in wine just come from the grape skin, so as you can imagine, the amount of antioxidants in red wine is actually quite low. I think they’ve just included these things to make the diet sound more exciting and enjoyable. 

While the books aren’t that expensive, it’s possible that people would get sucked into this method and believe the information that the author is sharing with you, even though it’s not proven to be true. 

In Summary

Anyone who loses weight from this diet successfully is able to do so from the calorie deficit given, not from the specific foods, though I still prefer to take more of an individual approach to calorie allowances.

Though the notion of including their recommended foods in a healthy balanced diet isn’t a bad idea, their health claims are a bit far-fetched to say the least as they’re currently unproven and in early stages of research.

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Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Answering the Top Fitness and Calorie Related Questions on Google

Answering the Top Fitness and Calorie Related Questions on Google

Wondering how to lose weight? Or what exercises burn fat?

I used Google autocomplete to give me loads of questions to answer in the video. I do have some fun with this because some of the questions are unbelievable!

Watch it and let me know what you think.

A side note...

Like it says at the beginning of the video (after the introduction), I don’t blame the individual for not knowing this stuff. I find it really frustrating when health and fitness professionals spread confusing or plain wrong information. 

Often, we see an overwhelming amount of conflicting information in the media, and it’s confusing for the consumer. I was making this video as a bit of fun but it became more and more worrying regarding the content people are searching for. 

This information should be readily available and it’s not because the internet is full of incorrect information. Despite all this, I’ve tried to keep the video quite lighthearted!

Your task for today...

I’d love to answer some of YOUR questions. So if you have any burning health, fitness or diet related questions. Please head over to my contact page and ask me!

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Fitness Advice & Exercise Ideas Uncategorized

8 Amazing Kettlebell Exercises You Need To Try Right Now

8 Amazing Kettlebell Exercises You Need to Try Right Now

Looking for a kettlebell workout?

I love doing a kettlebell workout! I really enjoy the way that one move can just flow into another. If you have 1 or 2 kettlebells at home, it’s an excellent time to give these exercises a go.

Watch the exercise demo video here

A break down of this Kettlebell Workout

Here’s a list of all 8 exercises, plus some tips and cues on executing them!

If you want a more in-depth approach to training, please get in touch to see how I can help!

1. Suitcase Romanian Deadlifts

If you’re not used to Romanian Deadlifts, I’d start there! If you are used to them, try this out. Hold the kettlebell at one side and perform a hinge movement, focus on pushing the hips back and feeling tension in the hamstrings. Keep the shoulders level as if you’ve got a weight on both sides!

2. Russian Kettlebell Swings

I’ve specifically stated ‘Russian’ swings here because I’m not a massive fan of the American high pass version (where you take it overhead). I don’t believe it provides the stimulus to be beneficial, there are better exercises for stability, the core and for the posterior chain (such as Russian swings) so I actually avoid American Kettlebell Swings entirely.

Anyway…Russian Kettlebell Swings! This is an excellent exercise for the posterior chain, make sure you hinge forward at the hips to start the movement, this will ensure that you’re back is in the best position for the exercise. Thrust the hips forward and let that momentum launch the kettlebell to around shoulder level and don’t use your arms and shoulders to get it there! Don’t overarch the back either, be sure to hold tension in the glutes and hamstrings to avoid hyperextension.

3. Death Marches

Not as bad as they sound! Death Marches are an excellent travelling exercise that focus on the posterior chain. It’s bascially a series of staggered Romanian Deadlifts in succession. Take a small step forwards, tilt your body forwards and push the hips back, rinse and repeat. You can use one kettlebell at your side and then swap it over or use two of equal weight. 

Top Tip: If you feel like doing tonnes of single leg work, why not do walking lunges followed by death marches? You’re welcome.

4. Clean and Press

The clean is the MOST important part in this movement and it’s one of the most commonly misunderstood kettlebell exercises. When you clean a kettlebell you don’t want to swing it out in front of you, you want to bring it up the body as if you were drawing a straight line. Then, when it’s around chest level, swivel the kettlebell (think thumb to sternum) so that the kettlebell turns and lands in place on your arm. You DON’T want the kettlebell to fly over your hand and hit your forearm, unless you want to give yourself a bruised arm. Remember to twist the wrist!

A lot of vendors have sold out of kettlebells but what I find disgusting is that the few that do still have products have put them up to extortionate prices! If you have some weights at home I’d recommend something like this attachment rather than buying an overpriced kettlebell.

5. Kettlebell Snatches

Snatches aren’t that difficult once you get used to them. If they’re really not feeling good with a kettlebell, use a dumbbell for now. The trick with this one is to again bring it up the body, as close as possible and keep the elbow high. Make sure you loosen the grip at the top and don’t keep tight hold of the bar. What a lot of people do is hold onto it for dear life and when it’s at the top and upside down, it suddenly falls right way up and smacks them in the arm. Your hand will still be supporting the kettlebell, so don’t worry, it won’t be going anywhere.

6. Windmills

This one can be tricky so if you’re not used to it, hold the kettlebell in the lower hand rather than the top hand. The trick with this one is that you want to keep one hand towards the floor and the other towards the ceiling (or sky) at all times. Your body does the movement, not your arms. Take yourself down to one side, keeping your gaze focused on the upper hand, push the hips to the side as you come down. If your back hurts, don’t go as low and make sure you’re maintaing a neutral spine and not bending the back. 

7. Bottoms Up Press

This is a great one if your kettlebell is a little too light for shoulder presses. Hold it upside down, keeping your elbow pointed forwards with your upper arm at shoulder level and push up. Always bring it back to that same position so you’re keeping tension the whole time. Rotate slightly as you come up so your palm is facing forward at the top and inward when it’s down at shoulder level. 

8. Lateral Split Squats

Clean the kettlebell to you shoulder and take a split stance, wider than you think. You want to sink down to one side, it’s best to go down to the opposite side to the one which the kettlebell is one. I prefer to have people go back to the split stance for every rep rather than bringing their feet in to neutral. This is so you’re keeping that single leg squat as focused as possible and not pushing back up with the ball of the foot and so you’re starting each rep with the leg straight. 

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Healthy Lifestyle Habits

A Simple Explanation of How Exercise Can Help You Combat Stress

A Simple Explanation of How Exercise Can Help You Combat Stress

How to deal with stress?!

 

It’s Stress Awareness Month and for me one of the best things I can do to combat stress is exercise.

The main thing that got me hooked on training is the feeling after you’ve completed your training session. Along with feeling accomplished and happy with yourself, what else contributes to that feeling? Endorphins.

So I wanted to talk to you about how these happy hormones effectively help you deal with stress.

My history of how I dealt with stress

I am most definitely someone who is susceptible to stress. So I can fully appreciate that sometimes people need to exercise just to get it out of their system, even for an hour. That hour that gives you time to separate yourself from the real world and allows you to switch off and focus on YOU is so important when you’re stressed out.

Before I was a personal trainer, I commonly used the gym as a place to take out my frustrations from my day. Sometimes I’d head in just before the place closed so I could smash a quick 5k run just to do something after a long day at work. I wasn’t even working towards a personal best time, I’d just run as fast as I could because it made me feel better and it was the best thing for me when I only had about half an hour until they kicked me out.

If you want to read more about my story, click here.

Why does exercise make you feel good?

Like I said earlier, you have these things called Endorphins, something I’m sure we’ve all heard of, but what are they?

Endorphins are a type of hormone, a chemical produced by the body. They’re released from the brain in response to pain and block certain neurotransmitters and in turn, can release a hit of dopamine which makes you feel even better.

This feeling might be why you feel ‘a need’ to exercise because your body remembers how it felt last time. It also might be partially responsible for feeling like you’re addicted to exercise because you just love that feeling so much and maybe even crave it.

The science bit

Endorphins are actually a type of opioid peptide, yes you read that right. Opioids mimic the effects of these peptides. (A peptide is a short-chain amino acid, you might have heard the word peptide from your skincare.)

How do you produce endorphins with exercise in order to reduce stress?

Almost any regular exercise, deep breathing, yoga and meditation.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America “…conventional wisdom holds that a workout of low to moderate intensity makes you feel energized and healthy”

Why? Because your body doesn’t know the difference between mental and physical stress. So if you’re putting your body through a difficult workout when you feel stressed, it’s not going to bode well for your emotional state.

Believe me, I’ve literally burst into tears after failing heavy lifts because my body was already in a state of stress and I pushed it too hard in that moment.

So if you’re feeling fragile, avoid any high-intensity forms of exercise that day. Save it for another time.

Your Challenge

If you’re wondering how you’re going to deal with stress during the current situation, dedicate at least 20 minutes a day to getting up and moving around or going for a walk and see if it makes you feel better.

If you’re doing that already, I want you to pick 3 days this week where you’re going to do a home workout and if you don’t have any session plans in mind, I’ve got something to help you out. Just taking a few hours of your week to do this will make you feel SO much better!

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20 Tips for Staying Sane During Self-Isolation

How to Stay Sane During Self-Isolation

We’re going through some strange times right now, I know that it must be very hard for people to stay indoors all day during this period of self-isolation. Here are some suggestions that you can do to maintain some normality and keep yourself busy!

I started writing this list because I wasn’t copying well. Throwing myself into work keeps me sane but because I’m not leaving the house I found myself feeling really stressed and anxious. I hope this list can help someone else feel better!

(Obviously most of the things on this list isn’t relevent for parents having to juggle working from home and looking after their kids. I don’t know how you’re doing it all but well done.)

1. Create a morning routine

Now you don’t have your morning commute to deal with, try to take that time to create a morning routine to look forward to. Do proper skincare, use morning affirmations, reflect on how you feel about the day ahead, make a coffee and go sit with the cat. Write it all down, stick to it every day.

2. Shower as normal and get dressed

I’m sure we’re all been guilty of this when you know you’re just going to be sitting around the house all day. Getting a shower can make us feel human again when you feel a bit lost and getting changed into normal clothes makes you feel like it’s just another day.

(Obviously keep it comfy, why would you want to sit in office workwear all day when you don’t have to? That would be terrible.)

3. Schedule your day

Plan out what you’re going to do every day. Whether it’s work related or personal life if you plan it out you’re going to feel like you have more control over your time. Plus, you’ll make sure you can get everything done will time spare for personal things. 

4. Stay hydrated

When you’re at work you’re probably used to taking sips of water all day, or at least you should be! I find I used to drink much more water at work than I did at home so it was a weird transition for me when I realised I was not drinking enough water. Keep filling up that water glass!

5. Eat regularly and have proper meals

Try not to keep working through breaks and lunch. Treat your day as if you were actually at work, set alarms if you have to and make sure you step away from your work space when you’re taking breaks. If you can’t get the foods you normally eat, try to work with what you can get!

6. Experiment with new recipes

Now is the time to try all those mad recipes you’ve seen on pinterest (subject to what you can buy in the shops of course). Or if you go shopping when the shelves are particularly empty, see what you can get and make a meal out of it. I’ve had some pretty amazing homemade turkey burgers on par-baked olive bread this past week for my lunches.

7. Do home workouts

Obviously, if you don’t normally exercise, this one really isn’t going to interest you. But, I would suggest that you at least move around a bit. You might not think so but going from your normal working day to walking downstairs and sitting at your dining room table is going to make a difference to your activity levels. You don’t want to feel sluggish and lethargic.

Check out mine here!

8. Stay in contact with people

Just because we’re social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t be social at all! Pick up the phone, check up on friends, have skype get togethers and use social media for positive interactions.

9. Try not to obsess over the news

Pick one news type and stick to it. I prefer to watch the live conference every day to get the facts from the horse’s mouth. I’ve sometimes watched the news straight after it and they’ve skewed what’s been said. Try to ignore people sharing hearsay on social media.

10. Get some fresh air

Open your windows every day, go out in the garden when you have a cup of tea and go for a walk in a nearby park if possible. We’re still allowed to go outside, just make sure you keep your distance from others and avoid gathering in groups.

11. Practice meditation

This is so beneficial if you’re feeling worried or anxious about everything that’s going on right now. Personally I used headspace and I believe it’s worth the subscription fee, but I know a lot of people use apps like calm which is free.

12. Try journaling

Journalling is an excellent form of self-reflection and finding gratitude in difficult times. I personally used to journal a lot more than I do now and I hope to pick up the habit again. If you’re not sure what to write, I find morning pages the easiest. It’s just a case of writing a set amount of pages and letting it flow. Alternatively, I’ve found these journal prompts really useful.

13. Make time for self-care

I’m talking self-soothing style self-care. Take a long shower, do your hair, do your nails, put on a face mask, moisturise your whole body, go to town with one of those weird ped-egg things on your feet. Pamper yourself! Why not?

14. Have a clear-out

One of the things I’m looking forward to the most is getting rid of loads of stuff I’ve accumulated! Go through the crap in the spare room wardrobe, clear out your loft, get rid of those clothes that you’re never going to wear.

(I know right now charity shops aren’t open, and that’s always my first port of call when I’m getting rid of clothes. I never like to throw them away! It might be worth seeing if you can find a good home for your unwanted clothes rather than adding them to landfill. Or find a local textiles bin)

15. Read more

I’ve got a book list as long as my arm but I always seem to struggle with making time to just sit still and read. I’m obsessed with self-help style fiction books and always get inspired when reading them so I think I need to devote myself to getting through my list.

16. Create a bedtime routine

Just like your morning, have a plan in place for how you’re going to wind down so try not to binge on Netflix too late. Your evening routine could involve things like a cup of chamomile tea, reflecting on your day, spending time with your partner without your phone, reading or planning out the next day.

17. Maintain normal sleeping patterns

Although it’s tempting, particularly if you’re able to get up much later now you don’t have to do your morning commute, try not to steer away from your normal sleeping patterns. The length of a good night’s sleep differs from person to person but I would recommend using a sleep cycle calculator. 

Put in your suggested bed time or wake up time and it will calculate and suggest various blocks of 90 minute sleep cycles plus the average time it takes a person to fall asleep. Try this one out.

18. Separate your work vs home life

If you haven’t got a home office or desk then the liklihood is you’re going to be camped out on your dining room table. What you want to make sure of is that your table is cleared at the end of your working day or you eat your dinner somewhere else. 

Try to work in a space where you’re surroundings won’t distract you because it will hinder productivity. 

If you’re self-employed or (if you can take the odd break from being online and your employer won’t notice) I’d suggest working in pomodoros.

This technique allows you to switch on when it comes to getting to work but also gives you a quick break to get some mental space, I’d highly recommend it.

19. Learn something new

Want to learn a new language or learn how to knit? Well now you can spend your weekends doing just that. 

With the amount of apps, online courses and even free videos available to you, you can teach yourself tonnes of things.

20. Remember that we'll get past this

When all else fails, remember that this is tempoary. We won’t be in this situation forever. The most important thing to consider is following the guidelines of social distancing as to not make this any worse than it already is.

No one alive right now has experienced a world wide illness such as this so no one really knows how to handle it. Just take things one day at a time. 

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