The Myths About Protein

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Hello and welcome back to the blog, been ages since I posted due to a lot of university deadlines and life just generally getting in the way. Through unprecedented circumstances I have found myself with a lot of time on my hands due to isolation. I plan to fill my time with blog writing, CV building, learning new skills and general self-improvement so that I don’t look back on this time and feel like it’s been wasted.

As the title suggests this post is going to be about protein, many personal trainers and gym-goers will tell you how important protein is for our bodies. Whilst it is a crucial part of our development, I’m going to show you why it is not as important as you might think.

People go to the gym

How many grams of protein should I be consuming a day?

Government recommendation – 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

Build muscle – Anywhere between 1.5 – 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

Bodybuilders – Anywhere between 2 – 2.2 grams of protein per day

This is of course subject to a number of factors including weight, height, sex, how active you are.

What happens if I consume too much protein?

We all know about the many advantages there are to consuming protein, but what about the effects of intaking too much protein (>2.2 grams).

Wastage – The main thing that will happen if your body can’t deal with the amount of protein that you are ingesting is it will simply be turned to waste and excreted through urine.

Weight gain – Protein intake is often correctly associated with weight loss, however too much protein will be stored as fat in the body. It is important to work out how much protein you need dependent on age, gender, activity levels.

Organ damage – If too much protein is consumed over a long period of time then ammonia (toxin produced when consuming protein) can overwork the liver which is where the toxin is usually utilized. This in turn leads to a build up in the blood stream which could then lead to decreased brain and nervous system function.

Stomach upset – Due to protein being a lot harder to ingest than any other macronutrient, then this could mean that you become more bloated or fatigued especially if the fat content is high.

Time consumption

If your aim is to build muscle through hypertrophy then time consumption is absolutely key. For sedentary adults it is still important to spread protein consumption throughout the day to ensure that you have enough time to digest it and your body can handle it.

Anabolic window – To build muscle it is essential to consume protein after exercise, a lot of personal trainers, fitness instructors etc. will tell you that you need to consume protein within the hour post-workout. This is true, however there is a lot of new research that shows if you consume protein hours afterwards then this still has the same impact.

Distribution – All of the protein you consume within a day shouldn’t fall within a standard 3 meals. It should be spread out to ensure the muscles are always building, if the protein isn’t there then the muscles won’t build. A lot of bodybuilders will have 5+ meals a day just to make sure they get their protein content in.

Sleep – A lot of people will consume protein before bed to ensure that their muscles are still growing overnight. What you will find is muscles will increase in size and strength due to sleep and the fact that they need time to rest and grow. Muscles are shown to have built during deep sleep so this is also something to consider.

Protein shakes are they necessary?

Protein shakes are excellent at providing fast-hitting protein straight into the body post-exercise that mostly contain all 9 amino acids however one of the main points of protein shakes is commonly missed. This is that protein powder that makes up protein shakes is a supplement to use in your diet. This means it is in addition of all the protein that you consume throughout the day. So, if you’re consuming a necessary amount of protein already, then supplementing this will simply go to waste.

Protein shakes also do not contain some of the vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that protein food does. This is because protein food usually comes from animal sources with similar bodies to us whereas protein powder is completely man-made.

So, overall protein shakes are beneficial if you have not consumed your daily intake of grams of protein. They are fast to get protein to your muscles and high in protein content however they do not have the same health benefits as ordinary protein food.

Brad x

Dry January Is It Worth It?

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Hello and welcome back as we are nearing the middle of January a lot of people will be nearly into an up and coming public health campaign commonly known as ‘dry January’. For those who don’t know dry January is the phrase used when an individual pledges not to drink alcohol for the entire month. Some see it as a challenge, or as a new year’s resolution but some will see it as a detoxification period after Christmas and I’m going to explain how and why this can have an impact on the body.

As well as other popular public health campaigns such as movember, stand up to cancer, mental health week, world heart day and world health day, dry January has seen a significant rise in popularity since its start in 2014. Last year over 4 million people signed up to take part alone. So what actually are the benefits when it comes to cutting down on alcohol?

Weight loss

The first thing that you will notice and for some this is the most important in January is weight loss. Alcohol has a staggering number of calories in with a lot of sugars and fats which aren’t digested in the same way as normal food. Alcohol also makes you very hungry if consumed in large amounts, this can also increase weight because you’re eating a lot more. I have produced some very broad averages of the different types of alcohol consumed and how many calories are in each:

Wine – 605 calories per bottle

Beer – 180 calories per pint

Spirit – 51 calories per shot

Spirit + mixer single – 105 calories per cup

Spirit + mixer double – 156 calories per cup

If you add on to this kebab shop food:

Kebab – 620 calories

Cheesy chips – 525 calories

Pizza – 410 calories

These are very rough figures and shouldn’t be used as a guide as different drinks contain different amounts of calories. If however for example you are going out for the night and consume half a bottle of wine, three double gin and tonics and on the way, home had a portion of cheesy chips, then this would add up to a whopping 1,293 calories! This on top of what you’re already consuming in the day. This is okay occasionally however making this a regular occurrence will make you less likely to lose weight in the long run.

Better brain function

Brain function is another important factor that has an impact on our everyday lives and can in fact be improved with less alcohol. It is thought through more modern research that your brain is in fact not actually full developed until your early 20’s or even as old as 25. Due to alcohol making your brain think differently when you drink it, this damages parts of your brain over a longer period of time if done consistently.

Alcohol can in fact inhibit cell growth in the brain however research on this is not extensive. Memory loss can become a more prevalent thing with dementia setting in earlier than usual in your more elderly years. Although you may not think about it now, your brain may deteriorate as you get older and you’ll have your younger self to thank for that. Most people won’t have many problems related to alcohol but these are things to bear in mind when considering taking on dry January and can see improvements straight away.

Improved mental health

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding alcohol is that it makes you feel better. Sometimes, yes alcohol can release your stresses, make you feel confident and forget about your worries but this is only temporary. The bottom line is that alcohol is a depressant, it makes you more tired, can bring out negative emotions and ultimately will leave you feeling worse mentally the next morning.

A lot of people will over excessively drink when they’re going through a difficult time to try and make themselves feel better however this is only temporary and in the long run won’t make you feel any better at all. The less alcohol you drink, the better your brain will function and the better mood will be and therefore improving relationships with others.

Less risk of heart disease

Drinking alcohol in high quantities regularly is known to lead to hypertension (high blood pressure) which puts unnecessary strain on the cardiac muscle and there is strong links and extensive research to suggest this. This in time can lead to cardiovascular disease meaning you are more susceptible to heart attacks and strokes. If you were to cut down on alcohol then this can significantly reduce your chances of any of the above factors entering your life.

Boost energy levels

Sleeping is usually impacted in a negative way as a result of consuming high levels of alcohol. This is because you are less likely to fall into a deep sleep which is needed to allow your body to recover and reset for the next day. Your also likely to get a lot less sleep than you normally would leaving you tired for the duration of the day.

Alcohol can have an impact on your immune system meaning that it is weaker and not as able to fight off illness and more susceptible to getting ill. If you were to drink less alcohol then not only would you increase your sleep which boosts energy levels, you would also be able to fight off illness a lot easier which is better for your general health.

Save money

The biggest factor that turn a lot of people to doing dry January is that it does in fact save you a shed load of money. With the average pint in the UK costing £3.67 (varies dependent on location), you will find that you will be keeping a lot of your wage packet that you could then spend on other things. Just to put this in perspective if you drink on average 4 pints per week for 52 weeks of the year:

£3.67 x 4 = £14.68

£14.68 x 52 = £763.36

That’s a staggering amount when added up at the end of the year. Here are just a few things you could buy with £763.36

  1. Apple iPhone 11 – £729
  2. Gucci shoes – £600
  3. Louis Vuitton ‘Nano speedy’ handbag – £700
  4. Second hand car
  5. Big chunk (if not all) of car insurance
  6. A holiday or city break
  7. Save towards deposit for a house
  8. Fitbit Versa 2 (newest when writing) – £200
  9. Chelsea football club season ticket – £595 (cheapest ticket)
  10. Men’s Wimbledon final centre court ticket – £225

Ultimately, dry January isn’t for everyone however it’s designed as more of a message that we should all cut down on alcohol levels. As I have shown above cutting down alcohol has plenty of benefits and can help your general health and wellbeing in the long run and is recommended from time to time.

Brad x

How to Get Over Those January Blues

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Hello and welcome back to the blog for the second post of 2020, which is how to get over those January blues and some myth busting about some of the things you might hear in the media.

So, it’s that time of year again where everyone vows to be a better version of themselves and try and form a new year’s resolution that in theory they will stick to for the rest of the year. Survey’s have shown that over the last few years there has been a common theme of the top 3 new year’s resolutions and they are:

  1. Eat healthier
  2. Exercise more
  3. Lose weight

It is also well-known that gym memberships soar through the roof during January, trying to burn off that Christmas dinner. Something that is becoming more of a feature in recent years however is people switching to extreme diets in order to lose weight or be healthier without having any prior knowledge of what this is actually doing to their bodies straight after Christmas because this is what they hear in the media. For example, I was driving home from university one night last week and heard on the radio that everyone should be taking on vegan diets. Vegan diets do have their advantages and in fact recent research has shown that they are in fact having a positive impact on global warming. This is however as much as some people know before launching themselves into buying vegan sausages, vegan wraps and other vegan products.

Of course nobody should be discouraged from changing their habits and this shows that people do have the motivation to improve themselves. This does not shy away from the fact that if you switch from one extreme to the other you are not as likely to stick to it. This is because there are often side effects that come with some of the ‘fad’ diets if you like that we see today. This is because some of the vital foods that our body breaks down are not provided. If carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and proteins are not provided and there’s a cut in the calories that you are taking then you can expect many side effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor immune system

This is why people are less likely to stick to extreme diets because it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit. If your getting headaches and being sick everyday for the first week although you will probably get through it, people are likely to give up because they are fed up with it.

The same can be said for the other two common resolutions which is exercising more. If you try and set a new habit and it is too extreme for your body to handle you are more likely to give up. This is why it is recommended that you complete smaller targets to form your new years resolution. You don’t need to turn your whole life upside down in order to fulfil your target for that year, but if you can take something away from that year that you can look back on and be proud of or you didn’t think you could do at the start of the year then great! This will not only benefit your mental health but also your physical health too.

In a sporting context targets can be made more achievable by creating what’s called SMART targets. These shouldn’t just be applied to athletes but can also be used in everyday life and make you that little bit more motivated to reach those goals. The SMART targets are broken down in to 5 main areas:

Specific – When writing down your target ensure that it is well defined and clear what the target is. Ask yourself who is involved in the goal? What do I want to achieve? When do I want to achieve this? Why do I want to achieve this?

Measurable – How are you going to measure the target you have committed to? How are you going to know if you are progressing? It is important that you can measure whether the goal is being achieved and if not, how it can be adjusted?

Achievable – The aim of a target is to push yourself to do more so although you should feel challenged your target should also be achievable. So ask yourself do I feel that this is within my capabilities? And do I have the resources to complete this?

Realistic – Keeping the target realistic is a must because if it isn’t then you’ll take your eye off the ball and not be motivated to achieve it. Ask yourself is the goal reachable given the time and resources?

Timely – Finally to make this target SMART you need to put a time frame on the goal, with no time frame you won’t be motivated to be successful in whatever it is you set out to accomplish. Complete a realistic deadline and this will give you the urgency you need.

SMART targets are particularly useful for setting targets around physical activity and doing more exercise however it is more difficult to set out these targets for your diet. I have therefore compiled my top 5 more achievable new years resolutions if you want to eat healthier in 2020:

1. Getting your five a day – If you don’t already then squeeze in your 5 a day because this can be beneficial to your health. This is because it allows you to consume those nutrients and fibre that ultimately keep our body functioning in a healthy way which is useful now and can prevent problems in our future life. This is a large part of the eat well plate provided by the government and has been for a number of years.

2. Consuming less caffeine – An underrated issue in modern day society is the amount of caffeine we consume whether this is coffee, sugary drinks, energy drinks or others. Caffeine can be useful in situations where you might need high levels of energy and alertness but if overused in the wrong situations has many side effects such as insomnia, anxiety, digestive issues, muscle breakdown and upset stomach. Eliminating just 1 drink of coffee a day could benefit your health a lot more.

3. Drink more water – It is recommended that you roughly drink around 2 litres of water per day. This is due to your body being made up of around 60% water. Not many people do actually drink the recommended amount but that will be discussed in another post. There are a number of benefits of drinking more water including improved brain function, improved energy levels, improved digestive system, beneficial towards weight loss.

4. Give up at least one unhealthy food or drink – If you feel that you have something in your diet that you could give up or is simply unnecessary then do it! Not only will you look back and be pleased that you did it but it could also have physical implications too. Whether this is energy drinks, kebabs or a particular meal then you’ll thank yourself for it later.

5. Consuming less takeaways or eating out less – Takeaways are everywhere we look now in bright colours with their cheap prices luring customers in. The big chains such as McDonalds, Subway, Burger King just to name a few are on pretty much every high street we walk down. They are very tempting and I’m sure a lot of people are regular visitors to the fast food chains. Not only does it mean you gain more weight, it is also addictive and unhealthy. If you were to just have one meal a week cooking at home instead of a fast food restaurant then not only would you save yourself a shed load of money but you would also be a healthier individual in the long run.

Thanks for reading this blog about how to get over those January blues

Brad x

Calories and Counting Them

Hello and welcome to the blog, the first post with actual content in which is going to be everything you need to know about calories.

Calories is one of the biggest talked about topics within nutrition. They are how the energy in food or drink is measured and is often labelled as kcal. All packaged food should state the calories of the item either on the front or the back or in small print somewhere. Calories in food are a very accurate guide on how much food you should be eating and can have an impact on your body weight and energy levels. As an average the government recommends 2,500 calories for men and 2,000 calories for women however this is a very rough guide dependent on a lot of different conditions. To go further into this to be more accurate about how many calories you require, you will need to find the right energy balance. For those who don’t know energy balance is an equal balance between calories in and calories out.

Calories in is simply the food that you consume through food and drink and calories out is those calories that you burn throughout the day. To work out your energy balance first you must work out your calorie expenditure. This can be done using this calculation.

Men: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5
Women: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161

I completed mine as a guide below:

Male – 10 x 60  +  6.25 x 185  – 5 x 19 + 5 = 1,656 calories

The number that you now have is known as the basal metabolic rate (BMR) and is the number of calories that you use at rest. So, for example if you were ill and laid up in bed all day you would use the number of calories stated in your basal metabolic rate

After calories you need to look at your physical activity levels, this will determine how many more calories you burn through everyday activities. With your basal metabolic rate you then multiply this by the most appropriate number displayed below:

Sedentary (non-active all day) = 1.2

Lightly Active (little exercise around a non-active job) = 1.375
Moderately Active (active in and out of work 30+ mins) = 1.55
Very Active (active at work and out of work 2+ hours) = 1.725
Extremely Active (athletes) = 1.9

So again to help you guys understand a bit better I have used my expenditure as an example:

1,656 (BMR)  x  1.375 = 2,277 calories

The number that you now have is what’s called energy expenditure and as stated earlier in the post, energy expenditure and energy intake must be equal to achieve energy balance. This means that for me to maintain my current weight I would have to consume around 2,277 calories.

As a general rule you should consume around 500 calories more than your expenditure if you would like to gain weight and consume around 500 calories less if you want to lose weight. There is however no ‘one size fits all’ around this rule because it is very much dependent on other factors such as age, gender and metabolism. If you find that after a few weeks of sticking to around 500 calories more or less and you’re not seeing any results, then don’t be afraid to increase or decrease the number of calories consumed.

Counting calories can be time consuming however it is rewarding and affective if you want to achieve your goals! Some people choose to count calories by simply writing down the calories that they consume within the day from food labels. This is okay but takes quite a while to do and some items aren’t actually labelled, for example a loose kiwi fruit from the local supermarket doesn’t have its nutritional values brandished on it. The other method that can be used to count calories is through apps and websites that will do this for you simply through scanning the item or through searching the item on their huge database. Some apps will charge for this service however some won’t, here are my top 3 apps that you can use to count your calories:

1 . MyFitnessPal – This is the app I would recommend the most and I personally use this to count my calories, it is completely free has a huge database to search through and even has a scanning feature to allow you to scan barcodes. It also allows you to log your exercise and show how this affects your calorie targets.

2. Calorie counter + – I have also used this and found it incredibly useful for the first week until they then asked me to upgrade for a cost of £3.99 per month which isn’t too expensive. This app also breaks down your food into carbohydrate, fat and protein content. Calorie counter + has a huge database for you to search though and also a barcode feature similar to MyFitnessPal.

3. Lose it! – This is not an app I personally use but one that is very well known. This app allows you to set your goals, track your calories through barcode scanning and browsing through their database. This aim is obviously mainly aimed at losing weight and allows you access to customized recipes and support groups which is something the other two apps don’t have. The yearly subscription is around £70.99 that you will get charged at the end of the year, if you have the basic version then you will not have access to as many features so it’s up to you as to whether you think it’s worth the money.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the first blog post on calorie counting

Brad x