Since I started doing my monthly fitness posts last summer I’ve been getting a tonne of messages and questions about nutrition and fitness. I’ve loved getting them but right now I still consider myself a fitness ‘newb’ so I thought that it would be a good idea to get some answers by the Pros and the guys who’ve been coaching and training me for the last year.
Now get yourself a cuppa, there’s a lot to cover…
So, just to give you a bit of background…Russ and Sam are Directors at RM Fitness, with degrees in Sports science and years of coaching experience between them – they know what they’re talking about when it comes to nutrition, fitness and mindset. They cut through the jargon and tell it how it is. Sam might slap a cake out of your hand and Russ could tell you to ‘man the f-bomb up’ when it’s getting tough but they really know how to get results for busy people who don’t have time to live in the gym.
I caught up with Sam for his views on the health and fitness industry right now, asked what his current workout routine looks like and ran some of your questions past him…
‘What do you think about the massive growth trend the health and fitness industry is seeing at the moment?’
Sam: It’s awesome to see so many people taking ownership for their health and fitness…it’s needed! But, it’s also time for a reality check… unfortunately the forecast doesn’t reflect the mass of social media posts around the topic. By 2020, it’s predicted that 8 out of 10 males and 7 out of 10 females will be obese. Figures also show that around £4.2billion is spent each year treating obesity related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease etc and around £2.3billion directly for obesity itself…(this is around 5% of the total NHS spend).* So although the social media hype would suggest it’s growing (and it is) it just papers over the cracks that there is still a serious amount of work needed.
It starts with Education for me.
The other issue with the growth and social media side of things is that anyone can become a ‘Guru’ or an ‘expert’, so the downside is the overwhelming amount of information (a lot of which just confuses people) so now we see so many people just gathering information and not taking any action, over complicating things and majoring in the minute details that may make a 1% difference rather than the bigger picture. Like – should I eat sweet potato or white or brown rice or white rice or will green tea help me lose fat…what about this magic supplement or ‘cleanse’ that’s going round the office at the moment…
Focusing on these little things and not the fact you might be eating 2 takeaways, 6 cans of beer and 3 bottles of wine every weekend then starting with the ‘healthy’ again every Monday.
Nice gloomy start to the blog post! Haha! But if its people becoming more aware about their nutrition and exercise whether it’s going for a walk, swimming, exercise classes or strength training and hitting the gym it’s awesome to see that people are starting to take ownership and getting out there and making a start.
‘What’s your current fitness routine?’
Sam: Currently I strength train 4-5 times a week (big compound lifts, deadlifts, squats, presses etc).
I tag in some volume work too, higher rep, focusing on keeping muscles under tension.
Cardio is minimal at the moment as I’m dieting a little for holiday so I’ll keep that ’tool’ in the bag if I feel I need it later down the line. I’ve stupidly agreed to start playing rugby again so we’ll see how that goes – not sure I’m cut out for it any more.
Now on to some of the questions you’ve all been sending in:
‘How can I resist the temptation to snack?’ (a really popular question)
Sam: Most people when they embark on a diet set themselves up to fail at Day 1 by cutting out all the things they enjoy. Will power will only last so long. The other thing is most people ‘diet’ on way too little food… Hunger (cravings) is a biological response. You should ‘diet’ on as much food as possible whilst still moving forward. So get to know your numbers and create a plan… the only plan that works is the one you can stick to. If you track your calories and macro nutrient intake roughly you can keep flexible and still hit your targets.
Finally protein is important…we recommend 2g/kg body weight as a rough target. Protein increase satiety (keeps you fuller).
Whenever I create a nutrition plan for someone the first thing they always do is come back and say ‘Are you sure I should be eating this much food?’ They think I’m trying to sabotage them! Until a few weeks down the line when they are in the shape of their lives and they perceive that they are eating more than ever, no time for snacking, the next meal is coming!!!
(Although they will have been eating more previously…maybe not day to day but certainly over a week / month… you can’t cheat the body I’m afraid). Consistency and adherence are two most important factors to success.
‘I eat more when I’m stressed/tired/bored – how can I deal with emotional eating and keep the right mindset?’
Sam: Mindset is Russ’ bag… I’m a bit of a robot when it comes to food, however, if you deal with the previous question then this should solve this problem too.
Kate: Let me know if you’d like me to pick this up with Russ and come back armed with some mindset techniques!
‘What are the best high protein snacks?’
Sam: I like Greek yoghurt (Fage Total 0%), cottage cheese… or billtong (dried meat/jerky)
Although again back to the question about resisting snacking – snacks are small and often over pretty quickly….nothing stops you having a whole meal (as a snack) Tuna salad? Big lunch box full of greens and veggies with tin of tuna / salt and pepper some balsamic and then you are feeling FULL! Never underestimate the effect of a big plate of food!
‘Are carbs bad for you/is there a good time to eat them?’
Sam: They are awesome…
They’re our body’s primary energy source and will help you smash your training sessions, they are protein sparing and should form part of a balanced nutrition strategy.
They get a bad name (as did fat in the 70s and 80s) because people over eat on them.
The reason people had success with low fat diets is that they cut fat out meaning they now ate less calories…go figure!
The same goes for carbs to a certain degree people cut carbs meaning cals come down (muscles also store glycogen and you will hold a little bit of water too) hence why when people say things like I lost 10lbs in a week cutting my carbs…I’m sure they did but they didn’t lose 10lbs of fat…they lost other stuff too.
1.5-2lbs of fat loss a week is spot on! Its about finding the right balance for YOU between your fat and carb intake. Find out your cals, set your protein, set fat between 25-40% of your calorie intake and the rest is your carbs. It’s up to you to find what ratio works so lower fat, higher carb, or higher fat lower carb. As long as your hitting your protein target and calorie target it shouldn’t matter too much. It’s personal preference.
I personally cycle mine so higher carb on training days and then higher fat lower carb on rest days.
In my experience…the more fat someone is carrying the ratio should be more in favour of fats over carbs, and as they lean up it changes.
Adherence to lower carb diets are generally better when people start out too as by default they should up their protein and fats.
BUT you should aim to have all in your diet! If we could do the whole moderation thing life would be so simple but people always seem to jump into one camp or another… (goes back to the guru, social media issue) balance is boring…balance doesn’t sell recipe books or DVDs. The issue with nutrition is what works for someone doesn’t always work for the next person
‘How can I get rid of my ‘bingo wings’?’
Sam: Lift weights, sort out the food… fat loss will come. Some people have area where they feel they hang on to fat a little more (gents usually belly, ladies arms and thighs) but we all want results yesterday… if you’re consistent and patient and HONEST that you are doing the work it will come.
Kate: This was one of my big missions when I first started out. I was convinced I was never going to get rid of my bingo wings and I’ve always covered the tops of my arms even in my teens. Now a decade or so on I’m finally happier with them! This has been down to losing some body fat and incorporating some weighted arm exercises. Unfortunately you can’t pick and choose where you lose body fat from so I’ve been doing high intensity training mixed with heavy weight training to burn fat all over and it’s gradually come off my arms and the muscles I’ve been building have started to replace the wobble.
‘What are the best foods to eat pre and post workout?’
Sam: IT DEPENDS… is the answer to most nutrition questions.
Pre work out: Some people like to train on an empty stomach with just some BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids) some like a good meal an hour or two before some prefer to snack. My advice is try something for a week make a note of your training performance, mood, energy levels etc… then change your approach and find what works for you.
Post work out: Good quality Whey Protein shake we recommend MSC Nutrition – these guys are awesome. Maybe a piece of fruit or some rice cakes for some carbs.
Depends when your next meal is… if its soon after just have the shake and a balanced meal.
‘I’m too busy to get to the gym what can I do to get in shape at home?’
Sam: If you’re too busy to go to the gym 3 times a week you need to re-evaluate the situation and MAKE TIME. Maybe 1-2 gym sessions, get a kettle bell or two at home and modify some strength and conditioning interval work. Go for a walk… but whatever happens you have to make time… You will become more productive as a result!
‘Any tips for over 50s (I feel out of place/too self conscious in a gym)?’
Sam: If you feel self-conscious then, find a good Personal Trainer, or a Private gym rather than a commercial gym where you’ll be looked after. We’ve plenty of people who have struggled at a typical gym… it can be a daunting prospect for a lot of people and taking that first step is always the hardest. But you will thank yourself for it!
‘Finally, what are your tips for anyone wanting to get started?’
Sam: Follow RM Fitness and Russ Meadows on Facebook.
Research the gyms in your area, don’t be afraid to ask questions and like I said above this is one of the toughest parts… I’ve spoken to so many people who’ve admitted driving past the gym or waiting in the car park and driving off – its taken them several attempts to start. Bottom line is there is NO PERFECT time so don’t wait for it, we all have things to do, holidays booked, work’s busy etc. Reach out for help because there are lot of people in this industry who like myself and Russ and our team just want to help people like you start your journey.
If you’re based in the Northwest check out their website at RM Fitness and if you’re not they also run online coaching programmes.
*(Figures taken from Phil Learney Real World Fat Loss Seminar)