You’re never too old… Watch this video to prove it!

I was recently asked by SunLife to feature in a video promoting something close to my heart – that life can and should be great after the age of 50, with new experiences and enjoyment around every corner waiting to be discovered.

www.bitly.com/LifeAfterFifty

 I agree massively with Sun Life’s view that ‘You’re never to old to start something new’ and – as you know – the new thing for me was turning my health around with the discovery of the joys and benefits of getting fit.  So here is the video, produced by Kingdom Creative for Sun Life, and my thanks to both for permission to reproduce it here.

The 10% Nutrition System

I’ve written an article that describes my suggested simplified method for those of you interested in working out your calories and macronutrients, but don’t want to get into detailed maths.
 
I call the method ‘The 10% System’ and my article about it appears in full in the February 2017 edition of Gym Owner Monthly magazine.
 
Snapshots below, but check out the full version of the article – and the other great features in this month’s issue – free to view on www.GymOwnerMonthly.co.uk (then choose the Feb 2017 issue).

MaxiNutrition Promax Lean

maxinutrition-promax-leanI was pleased to receive a supply of  Promax Lean Bars from MaxiNutrition recently and I’m keen to give you my thoughts on them, both from a nutrition point of view and as a snack food.

The ones I have are the Dark Chocolate flavour, they are also available as Chocolate Orange or Chocolate Mint – I prefer the 100% chocolate flavour hit of the Dark Chocolate ones. Whichever flavour you choose, the nutrition information is the same – so flavour choice is purely down to taste preference. The bars are supplied individually as a 60g bar or in a box of 12.

Let’s look at the nutrition first. Each bar provides 206 calories of energy. The macronutrient breakdown is that these calories are sourced 44% from protein, 36% from carbs and 20% from fat. For me, that is pretty close to ideal as I like to have a 40:40:20 ratio. Of course, that is a target ratio for me across the whole of day, not per individual food item, but it’s excellent that this one item already hits the ratios pretty much on the nail.

The 23g of protein is a combination of whey protein concentrate and milk protein isolate (MPI). Whey protein concentrate is in fact the largest single ingredient of the bar – representing 17% of the weight of the bar – and is a variant of whey from which not all fat is removed. It’s a dairy product of course, as is the less commonly seen MPI, which forms the second largest ingredient. MPI is the dried substance once lactose and minerals are removed from skimmed (de-fatted) milk. I’m not a big fan of milk in its natural state, but I don’t have a problem with MPI. That 23g is a good chunk of the daily protein amount I’ve selected to help in my muscle-build and muscle-maintenance goals.

The 18.8g of carbs represent 36% of the calories, and a surprisingly large amount of that is sugar – 10.9g which provide 21% of the total calories. The sugars come from a few sources – including actual dark chocolate, which represents 14% of the 60g bar weight. It’s interesting to see real chocolate included, as many bars have synthetic choc-like substances as their coating and flavour. That’s not to say this is a fully additive-free product – for one thing, the degree of sweetness that makes it enjoyable to taste can’t come just from that chocolate – there’s several added sweeteners in there too which promote the sweet taste while adding fewer calories than extra sugar would.

I wondered what made this bar particularly identifiable as ‘Lean’ in its title. This would be the added ingredients which aren’t often found in bars of this type – such as caffeine and L-Carnitine. The caffeine content is quite high – at 125mg its not far off the amount you get in a large can of fizzy stimulant drink. The effects of caffeine are well known – increased focus, up-regulated heartbeat, and release of bodyfat to the bloodstream for use. The amino acid derivative L-Carnitine is less well known, but is seen by many as a bodyfat metabolizer over continued use; and the 2g provided in each bar is typical of the recommended daily dose in the supplement world.

So much for the ingredients and the nutrient numbers. When do I have a bar and why?
My daily diet includes a mid-morning snack and a mid-afternoon snack – the two smallest meals of my six meals a day – the others being a larger breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a post-workout protein and natural fast carb meal. And I like those two small snacks to be around 200-250 calories, with around 20-25g of protein. So these bars fit that perfectly. I usually have one of these bars, or something similar, for one of those two snacks per day. They are also my ‘emergency’ go-to snack food if I have an irresistible craving for breaking my daily calorie target of 2250.

MaxiNutrition recommend no more than two Promax Lean bars a day, and I agree with that. I like to keep my diet varied within my target numbers, so I wouldn’t exceed that anyway.

How do I think the product’s claims stack up with my own thoughts? On the box MaxiNutrition claims the product assists in lean muscle definition, energy metabolism and alertness. From my study of it, I reckon those are very fair claims – provided the bar is taken as part of diet that focusses on clean, healthy nutrition that maintains the macronutrient ratios along with undertaking significant resistance training and cardio-based exercise.

Thanks to the guys there – check out their full range on www.MaxiNutrition.com

Easy Nutrition

I’ve spent a few years following various nutrition approaches – from very precise all the way down to totally random!  These experiences have led me to devise an approach to nutrition for fitness which is flexible, enjoyable and workable in daily life.  It does require a bit of understanding, and there are rules to be – well, if not obeyed, then ‘observed’.  And there is a bit of maths involved too – not too much, but counting and multiplying do come into it.

The approach is designed for those who want to increase their fitness levels, decrease their fatness levels and – probably for most – a bit of both.  It assumes you are already pretty active and undertake exercise most days of the week.

To save ploughing through some big articles, I’ve put my recommended approach down into two videos; the first describes how the numbers work – calculating calories, grams of macronutrients and timing.  The second then takes those ideas further and translates them into real life eating – real meals on a real day on a real test subject (that’s me, of course).

The first video is www.bitly.com/ChrisNutrition001 and when you are ready to move on from the numbers to the meals, it is www.bitly.com/ChrisNutrition002

I’ve kept both the detail of the maths and the full calorie and macronutrient breakdown away from the videos – but you can see this, if your geek-level is high enough, on my web site – www.FitnessOverFifty.co.uk then choose Easy Nutrition on the Nutrition tab.

I hope that all works for you and you pick up an approach to healthy eating that can see you through to your fitness goals. Drop me an email if anything needs a chat through!

Review of SCI-MX Recover 2:1 Isolate

The nice guys over at SCI-MX www.sci-mx.co.uk sent me over a box of goodies and I thought I would share my thoughts of one of their products in the box – the Recover 2:1 Isolate.

I chose this product as this isn’t a nutrition style I normally take. It is designed for post-workout recovery – and for this function, I normally take a combination of a low carb whey protein isolate shake plus some fast natural carbs – usually a banana or perhaps some slices of pineapple, both consumed 15-30 minutes after the workout. So I normally get my amino acids for muscle building from the shake, and my fast carbs for glycogen replenishment from the fruit.

This product combines both functions into one drink. It has both the protein and fast carbs needed in one go – and is a great orange flavour (and rather stunning orange colour) too! A serving of the product is 80g – which is more than my typical protein shake, which is already a large portion at 60g. That is due to the extra ingredients – specifically the fast carbs.

I want to look at the product in more depth – and as always with me – it starts with the numbers. The first numbers on the label are those in the ratio 2:1 – which refers to the ratio of carbs to protein in the product; 51g of carbs go with the 24g of protein in that 80g portion.

Overall, the calorie per portion of SCI-MX Recover 2:1 Isolate comes to 300 per serving – which compares with around 220 in my usual whey shake. However, if I add that medium-sized banana or the pineapple rings – which roughly work out to 80 calories each – then these numbers are nice and close – which makes comparisons easier.

Let’s look at the protein. That 300 calories portion of Recover delivers 24g of protein including 2.5g of the all-important BCAA’s. My usual shake gives a whopping 48g of protein including 5.5g of BCAAs – in just 220 calories – so on the face of it, the Recover isn’t the winner here. But remember that with Recover, purely protein delivery isn’t the object here; its carbs too.

So let’s look now at the carbs, just as important for the body post-workout as the protein but for different reasons. In that single portion, Recover provides 51g of carbs, including 25g of dextrose-based sugar, compared to 23g of carbs with 14g of sugar in a typical banana – and zero in the whey isolate, of course. So Recover is great for getting a generous serving of fast-acting sugars, delivered just when the glycogen levels are depleted.

What about the third macronutrient – fat? Well, there’s zero in Recover – that’s absolutely zero by the way, not close to zero as some zero products claim – which compares to a few grams in the usual whey and banana combo. But not enough for me to worry about.

Also interesting are the micronutrients. Recover provides substantial chunks of vitamin C (must be the orange colour – joke), calcium and phosphorous and magnesium. You’d find most of these in the whey + banana combination too – but in different amounts. For example, the 170mg of calcium in a recommended serving of Recover compares with 280mg in my normal whey + banana treat; however, in the opposite direction, a single serving of Recover provides three times as much fatigue-reducing magnesium as in the whey + banana approach.

A couple of things I didn’t find in Recover are the potassium which bananas are famous for, and the dietary fibre that comes from consuming the fruit. In the opposite direction a serving of Recover provides nearly 5g of creatine monohydrate, a compound well-loved by those seeking muscular rebuild and growth. And this creatine is the final 5g to bring the 51g of carbs and 24g of protein up to the serving size of 80g.
So, in summary on the macro nutrients, and rounded for ease of comparison, this product gives 50g of carbs and 25g of protein per serving. And my usual whey protein isolate plus banana switches the numbers the other way round – 25g of carbs and 50g of protein.

That’s 2:1 fast carbs to protein. And my usual whey protein shake plus fruit is 1:2, with the bulk being protein with the ration this way round – that’s a big difference. The 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein is favoured by many as a post-recovery drink – so this product is perfect to get that ratio.

So what is my conclusion? I like to keep my carbs lower than most – even after a resistance workout – so for body recovery and muscle growth + maintenance, then I’m probably going to stick to the low-carb combination of whey protein isolate and the fruit after most of my workouts. But if I feel I need more fast carbs than the banana or slices of pineapple can provide, maybe after a particularly tough session, or a long run, then I would reach for the SCI-MX Recover 2:1 Isolate to really up the carbs, even at the expense of some protein.

I’ve also done a video review of the product – take a look here.

Thanks again to the guys at SCI-MX for sending the products and the invitation to review.

Power Breakfast time

BChris oatsreakfast is the most important meal of the deal, or so they say. And they are right!

My own breakfast is a fitness and healthy focused start to the day. Read about it, the ingredients, timing, the macronutrients and why its so good for you – on this article published by Watchfit:

www.bitly.com/ChrisBreakfast

Grow your own good stuff

Nutrition should be a key part of your fitness regime. Growing your own vegetables is a great way to enjoy fresh food and keep costs down.
If you are struggling to decide on what to grow, here are my top picks:

Spinach
Ever wondered why Popeye’s go-to food was always spinach? Although just a cartoon, there’s reason behind this concept — spinach helps to build bones, after all. On top of this, the leafy green works to nourish the eyes, boosts the body’s digestive system and offers relief against dry and itchy skin.

Broad beans
An excellent source of both fibre and protein, broad beans are a brilliant choice if one of your main fitness goals is to lose weight. The vegetable is rich in vitamin B and folate, providing the body with energy and enhancing its nerve and blood cell development, as well as cognitive function.

Courgettes
Your cardiovascular health can be substantially improved by adding courgettes to your diet. This is because they are high in nutrients like potassium and magnesium, both of which work to normalise your blood pressure. The vitamin C found in courgettes will work to prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol in your blood too.

Carrots
There is some truth in the urban legend that carrots help you see in the dark. This is because the vegetable is rich in beta-carotene, which converts first into vitamin A in the liver and then rhodopsin in the retina — the latter is a purple pigment that is vital for night vision. Vitamin A also aids the liver by reducing the amount of fat and bile that builds up there.

If you’re looking for further ideas, or want to buy high quality vegetables to grow at home (even if you don’t have a garden), checkout the web site of my friends at Stacks of Flavour – www.StacksOfFlavour.co.uk

First gym vlog

I had a great day on Monday with Alex Blakemore of Notts TV.

 Alex is filming a documentary in a few weeks focussing on people taking up fitness late in their lives, and he asked me to appear – I guess I qualify!

He came to London as a pre-filming introduction, we shared a couple of pretty intense workouts (arms and legs) and a high-protein lunch. And being a trendy young chap, he videod the day and made a vlog from it (its what young people do, don’t you know!).

Take a look at he vlog (link below) – and once you’ve done that, see his other great videos using the link on the comments of this one:

My nutrition approach – yours too?

People often ask me about my nutrition, so here’s a typical day.  The pic is meals 1-3 of the six I’ll be having.

Meal 1 is the power breakfast of oats, nuts, seeds, berries, cinnamon, and whey shake with water – with some of the shake poured on the oats to turn them into a great chocolatey taste.

Breakfast pic 22 is mid morning Quest Bar in pumpkin pie flavour.

Meal 3 is grilled chicken breast chunks plus green beans and sweet potato – with some oil to keep the potato getting dry over the day.  This is prepared in advance and packed to take for a day away from home.

That lot comes to 1100 calories of my daily target of 2500 – and provides 100g of my daily target 250g  of protein, 95g of my daily target 250g of carbs, and 35g of my daily target 60g of fat.

Later meals will be:

Meal 4 – mid afternoon – cold roast chicken slices dunked into rhubarb yogurt (from M&S)

Meal 5 – post-workout – another whey shake plus a banana

Meal 6 – dinner with friends at a restaurant – I’ll probably go for steak with veg and share some red wine – this is a sociable occasion rather than diet-focussed, so I’ll make good choices but I’m not going to be a diet bore over dinner.

That 2500 daily calories is made up of 250g of each of protein and carbs and 60g of fat, which is a 40/40/20 percent split on macros.  That’s a ratio that has always worked well for me and I recommend it to all my fatness-down and fitness-up clients.  It’s also easy to calculate!

I hope that helps and answers the questions… but get in touch if you’ve any questions or comments.

Vitamin D Awareness Week

This is Vitamin D Awareness Week, a good time, I thought, to give you an update on this vital vitamin.

As you know, I’m a big believer that if you regularly engage in physical activity it’s important to take care of your body with the right nutrition. As well as increasing our wellbeing and energy levels, vitamins and minerals have the ability to help protect against injury and ensure good muscle recovery.  Recent research has revealed that 50% of UK adults are now deficient in vitamin D.

How much do you know about vitamin D? According to a health survey, 46 per cent of people think they get enough of this vitamin from vegetables. In fact, 90 per cent should be obtained from strong sunlight, this is why many of us become deficient during the winter months.

The highest rates of deficiency are in Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland. Due to limited sun exposure between October and March, it is almost impossible to get the UV rays needed to reach the daily requirement of this essential vitamin.

Low levels of vitamin D are associated with increased likelihood of illness, fatigue and a higher risk of suffering stress fractures. As we age, and during the winter months, our body’s ability to produce vitamin D reduces, so it’s important to think about topping up with a supplement.

Research has linked good levels of vitamin D to reduced inflammation and pain within joints, as well as improved exercise capacity and better protein synthesis within the muscles.

Vitamin D is vitally important for bone health. Without it, calcium cannot be effectively absorbed by your body. A deficiency in vitamin D can result in bone and muscle pain, poor bone mineralisation (softer bones) and a greater risk of osteoporosis and fractures as we age – a prime concern for all you fantastic quintastics!

It’s especially important to look after your bone and muscle health if you engage in regular physical activity, doing so can reduce your risk of injury. Weak bones alongside repetitive loading can result in painful and debilitating stress fractures.

Finally, everyone hates the dreaded colds and flu that seem to come along during the winter months. Vitamin D is known for its high anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, which means it can strengthen our immune system and help protect against colds and flu. Some studies even suggest that vitamin D may offer more powerful cold and flu protection than vitamin C.

Suppliers of vitamin D supplementation include Pharma Nord – here is a direct link to their site:

https://www.multivits.co.uk/bio-vitamin-d3