“What does good training and nutrition look like?”
That was a question from a vegetarian client who was wondering about the future, diet and training wise. It’s a valid question, with so many people trying to reinvent the wheel purely for the purpose of profit how do you identify what works and what is, well bullshit (or swissball barbell squats).
His wondering about how he would look select future diet and training lead me to try and explain as quickly and succinctly as I could how though your needs might, the basics rarely change. In other words what ‘clues’ to look for when evaluating a training or nutrition program. Really it is less about the specifics of ‘eat this not that’ and more about the qualities that make up the big picture.
An except from my reply email…
Needs differ (both with training and nutrition) between individuals and in the same person at different times but they generally differ only in the amount of the different ‘basic’ choices you use.
In other words: in between times remember that plans may look different but they’ll feature a lot of the same qualities… as far as nutrition goes it’s all about real food (unless around training or for convenience and only where really necessary)
- Varied types of garden veg
- Concentrated high quality proteins
- High quality food based fats
- Starch you actually have to chew
- Water mostly i.e. no diet soft drinks, easy on the tea and coffee
- Needs (carbs etc) will differ but always remember the quality of the foods consumed… minimal processed versions of all the above.
and as far as training
- Bodyweight movements
- Compound barbell and dumbbell movements (and kettlebells, clubs, sanbags etc – they’re all just tools) and
- Hard and fast varied ‘cardio’ type movements and circuits.
- Tissue work like foam rolling, mobility and only then stretching.
- Needs will differ (mobility vs strength volume) but always remember the quality in training, i.e. going hard but always with the right form and allowing for recovery and varied training
And of course sleep, relaxation and sunshine.
Keep this in mind when selecting training and nutrition and it’s easy to stay on track or at least close to it.
…..An n of 1, but then that is the point
The release of the Hour Body comes in a few weeks and I was lucky enough to get a draft copy and the final hardback from the publishers, Crown. Cheers Crown. As I recover from a terrifyingly hot Bikram yoga session this morning I’ll just write a quick and dirty mini review here.
The book will no doubt garner a lot of attention; Tim Ferriss is a promotion ninja, but does the product stand up to the hype?
The first thing that strikes you is that it is quite big (552 pages) with a good deal of information. This means of course there’s a lot of places in this text that the exercise, performance and health community will start picking at. In fact I reckon there will be a bit of internet mud slinging when many get round to reading it – all good for sales though I guess – not least because there’s a lot of ‘pro tips’ in here that people like me like to keep to themselves!
Clearly one facet of the book that will come under attack is the personal aspect; there’s a huge amount of n=1, it is after all the journey of one man, Tim, conducting experiments on himself.
Another issue is that the whole book has the feel of jumping around, it doesn’t feel too joined up, even within chapters, but this is not the point. As Ferriss points put in the book, it’s a shopping list of performance hacks, tricks and tips to work on specific details – a list driven by the readers of his blog; he asked them what they wanted to read about. So, identify your specific need or goal, go down the index and find the relevant section.
But does this mean it’s not right for a more general population? Actually there’s a lot of general useful info that if followed would help a MANY of those out there in gyms across the world struggling to get to health and fitness goals. A good example is the clear and concise nature of the info on the Slow Carb diet with a food matrix which will certainly make things clearer for many. The different levels of complexity of the information given [read: suggested protocols] will make it useful for all levels.
Finally it is very well written with light easy prose and lots of interesting anecdotes. For a book this size that is important.
For my own part there are sections I am not happy with for example the section on bodybuilding with ultra low volume type training a la HIT, is not one I like. I think the issues of Tim’s before and after shots, his ‘re-gaining’ of muscle versus building it from scratch etc have been racked over enough. For me I just don’t think that most people reading the book could follow the protocol working with the right intensity [effort], this though is an example of the kind of picking that I mentioned above! Ferriss’ advice will work for many and might be a useful start for raw beginners
This all said any review of this book is incomplete without reviewing the many many online resources – which aren’t up as of this moment so I’ll not say too much more at this point.
So, do I like the book? Yes.
Is it limited? Again, yes but show me a book in this genre that isn’t.
The book is a menu to dip in and out of, it’s a useful, practical a journal of one man doing things to himself so that you don’t have to – you just have to remember both these factors as you read through it…
Another one for the useful, fun reads, pile:
Though I have had the draft for a while I’ve been holding off until seeing the final published version of the 4HB. I’ll also update with more specific info after the book is on general release
ABOUT THE 4HB AUTHOR
TIMOTHY FERRISS, nominated as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People of 2007,” is author of the #1 New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and BusinessWeek bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek, which has been published in 35 languages.
WIRED magazine has called Tim “The Superman of Silicon Valley” for his manipulation of the human body. He is a tango world record holder, former national kickboxing champion (Sanshou), guest lecturer at Princeton University, and faculty member at Singularity University, based at NASA Ames Research Center.
When not acting as a human guinea pig, Tim enjoys speaking to organizations ranging from Nike to the Harvard School of Public Health.
For a more extended bio and other odd credentials, please click here.
Having trouble getting your head round the ways to build a Paleo meal? Perhaps you’re an experienced paleo eater but getting bored? This is the one resource you need…
This post was spurred on by a client who, despite doing well was confused enough to come seem me seeking guidance on the ‘what’s, when’s and where’s’ of the different, high quality, food choices available to those going Paleo.
She was not alone however; common issues with the paleo diet I am asked about are:
Just a quick one about this:
Diabetes, cognitive decline and dementia, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, poor gut health, stroke…. what if they all had the same cause? Robb Wolf says they do, what’s more he not only has the evidence to support his case, he’s got a plan so you can do something about it.
It’s not often I read a book concerning health and fitness or diet and nutrition that I actually like, but this is one of those rare moments. I was lucky enough to receive a pre publication copy of The Paleo Solution and the author Robb Wolf has done a real top notch job with this book, amongst the highlights we have:
In print in September
I’ve got two articles in UK magazine at the moment, one nutrition feature and one training feature.
MEN’S HEALTH, 83 BEST FOODS FOR MEN
The experts tell you what they do to get results
With different goals and so many diets and foods to choose from how do you know you’re following the right plan, and not just being duped into buying a money making diet product someone has dreamed up? Simple, do what the real experts do, those people who you may not have heard of but that are at the top of their game in the food and nutrition world.
HEALTHY FOR MEN: SMASH HIT
Few hours in the gym but more muscle?
With less less time for ‘extra curricular activities’ now-a-days we don’t all want to be stuck in the gym for hours and hours each week. SMASH HIT explores the brief high intensity training techniques, looking at the pros and cons and detailing their history behind the HIT training methods.
Hope you enjoy them…
PS: FREE MAGAZINE ARTICLES
I’ll be adding some pre – edit drafts of some older magazine articles that are now out of print and unavailable so you can get all the goodness for free. Topics covered will include:
Testosterone: Lifestyle and dietary changes to boost it
The Big Three: Squat, Bench and Dead, how to do them and how to incorporate them into your training
MetCon: why and how it works. Sample workouts and how to build your own
…and so on.
UK National Diet Nutrition Survey: Still a little misguided?
The stats are out for the first of the yearly rolling reviews of the nutrition picture in the UK and it makes interesting if slightly depressing reading. Yes, we are tending to better diet but there’s still a long way to go with the populous still consuming too much in the way of salt, sugar and too little vegetable matter, fibre and omega 3 containing foods. You can read about it HERE at the Food Standards Agency website.
If you follow the link you’ll see that they have kindly given bullet points of the main findings, starting off with this little beauty:
“The key findings of the survey are:
People are eating less saturated fat, trans fat and added sugar than they were 10 years ago, when the survey was last carried out.”
Yes, saturated fat, the perennial pariah…
The problems with gathering large quantities of dietary data are well known but surely, if we do nothing more than build public health advice on dogma rather than up-to-date, credible science, we’re just going to perpetuate the issues of poor health related to diet?
The saturated fat issue is a classic example, highlighted by the FSA and then jumped upon by the British Heart foundation, Mubeen Bhutta the policy manager there stating:
Yet very little mention is made of research seeming to demonstrate that saturated fat intake is a red herring. For example this newest paper in the growing body of evidence HERE at the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition the conclusion from the abstract summing it up with a punchy line :
“there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD”
This from a meta analysis including over 340000 participants. Now, epidemiological data is never clear cut and meta analysis can be skewed , but surely cause for concern? Surely something to discuss? Remember focusing on a non issue potentially draws focus off the real issue.
Two problems: Reductionism and saving face
There’s two main problems here, the first is Of course that reductionism doesn’t seem to be helping us too much when it comes to the study of diet related disease.
Clearly much more work needs to be undertaken to build up a better picture of causes of cardiovascular disease, however in my opinio broadening our focus and looking at the issues associated with the sat fat intake needs to happen. Indeed this is happening in research circles, but an acknowledgment of these issues to be forthcoming from the health bodies advising us, ASAP.
Of course these people aren’t suffering from some form of mass delusion and the second real issue is this: how do you change public advice when it has been so vehemently swung in one direction?
How slowly do you have to change in order to retain some sort of image of authority and thus respect from those you seek to advise? A myopic focus on one nutrient may be ineffective, even foolish. However continuing to focus on, and basing health advice around out of date research and conclusions is criminal no?
I’d better file this one under ‘Rants’
Target by Bill Frymire
New years resolutions rethink:
Successful goal setting
Every week I see people in clinic with goals. Some may not know they have goals, others have definite goals but they may be the wrong ones for that moment. I often spend a lot of time with people focusing on their aspirations and plans and sorting through what they want to achieve, the motivations for these aims and how they fit into the big health and lifestyle picture.
A goal is the picture you have in your head of where you want to be. Taking them from merely thoughts and notions and making them reality means first defining them in a few ways, giving them the qualities they require to be of use to you. This means asking a few questions and giving your goals some important characteristics; transforming them from just hope and dreams on a piece of paper into a lynchpin of long term success:
Are they pointless?
Giving up crisps and cakes for January may be a healthy gesture, but what in the great scheme of things is this going to accomplish other than a) making you want crisps and cakes a LOT more and b) using up all that willpower that could be better spent.
If however, it changes a behaviour long term i.e. eating a lot less snacks foods then it has been beneficial but ask yourself, is it really going to achieve this?
Are they the right ones?
Food pyramids can be a useful tool for both advising people on what they should eat and also to represent what people actually ARE eating. Here’s some from around the world…
This is the bog standard food pyramid (source USDA).
I’m sure most of you are familiar with this. It’s the old USDA food pyramid giving the weightings of the foods to be consumed in the day based upon number of portions.
However it was felt that is needed to be redrawn to emphasize variety in food as well as throwing some emphasis on exercise as part of the picture. All very commendable but as far as I am concerned it’s neither use nor ornament.
Because you usually get this:
The new USDA ‘Food Triangley Thingamebob’
But to make any sense out of it at all you need the notes: Read more..
Dodgy diet and fatuous fitness advice busted.
"January, sick and tired, you've been hanging on me You make me sad with your eyes You're telling me lies"
Last night I was having dinner with a mate of mine, he was telling me about the great advice his wife received from a colleague at work, it was this: any time you eat something naughty (a doughnut, in this case) just have a glass of water after and it cancels all the badness out.
Great. That’s me out of a job then. Nutrition problems solved.
Or maybe not.
This got me thinking about all the bad advice you get and further to my 10 fat loss tips post yesterday, here’s 10 tips I have found around the web that you would be a fool to follow…..
1. Drink 5 liters or more of water each day – this helps flush your body of fat.
WHAT THE F…?! Read more..
My 10 top tips for fat loss
It’s that time of year again. Oh yes, New Year’s resolutions.
Too much turkey? Feeling guilty about all that Christmas cheer/beer? Feeling the need for renewal and refocusing of goals?
It seems everyone is looking at how to shift a few pounds and make themselves feel a little better after the over indulgence of the holidays. And of course around now there’s a plethora of ‘top tips’ floating around the web giving you suggestions for ways to loose fat, but often they’re not much more useful than ‘cut the carbs’. So what counts? Let’s get to the bottom of the top tips.
Here’s the point: focus on WHYs and HOWs, not WHATs
Your health, fitness and body shape is the expression of your behaviours and actions and what they do to your body over the months and years. You have to change WHY you’re doing things, not just WHAT you’re doing otherwise you’ll fail in the end. Many ‘top tips’ don’t recognise this.
So in my years as a nutritionist, what do I think are the 10 ten tips? As I say it’s about actions, behaviours and habits.
1. Figure out why you’ve been slacking on the health and fitness front.
2. Write down goals and a defined plan and tell people about them. Read more..