Booze and fat loss!

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Booze and fat loss

Ok, there is no point denying it, we are into the Christmas season, despite the fact it’s only mid-November. That means the gym sessions start being less of a priority in favour of drinking booze and eating your body weight in food every other day!

Like I wrote in my last blog guys this situation can be avoided by very simple tricks like tracking and planning your meals ahead, ensuring that you still eat all your favourite foods while hitting your macros every day. Now let’s talk about booze and fat loss! I get asked about this topic a lot. The simple answer is its doable and you can minimise the damage you do to your body by doing it responsibly and not like a 14 year old out to prove to his mates how hard he is!

First thing I need to say is alcohol in general is not your friend when you are trying to stay lean, strong and healthy, I think most people will understand this. Regardless let me explain why. First of all let’s look at it from the most basic perspective. Calories matter! For each gram of alcohol you are getting 7 very empty calories.

Remember guys that’s a gram of alcohol not a gram of your chosen drink unless you like to chill with a jar of 100% pure alcohol, in which case I imagine your nights never last long enough do any real calorific damage. Apart from the calories delivered by the alcohol alone some drinks will have an amount of carbohydrates on top of that as well, depending on the type of the drink. Usually the stronger drinks will have less added carbs like Whisky, Vodka, Gin, Tequila, then the medium group like malt liquors and wine, followed by pretty much the most calorific only because of the way its consumed - (pints) Beer! So apart from the calories we have a few other things happening when hitting the booze.

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Most people think that the next day hangover is the only thing they should be worried about, however the negative effects of alcohol on your body can easily spread across a few days depending on the amount and frequency we drink with.

Some of the most common and proven side effects of drinking are lowered testosterone, downgraded liver function, brain function, Inflammation in our bodies goes up, water retention and all of these things matter a lot when it comes to maintaining a lean physique, getting lean, gaining muscle, maintaining muscle mass, performance in the gym. All of these things can add up.

Like I said in the beginning there might be a way of minimising all the negative effects providing that we don’t binge or try to outsmart how our bodies work.

Ok so here is the fun part! The leaner you get the more you can manipulate your macro nutrients and experiment with alcohol, I still wouldn’t go over one top two nights a week where you have a beverage of your choice.

As with all treats we need to account for them! There is no free ride! After we pick a day of the week that we want to enjoy our booze we need to make sure we agree on the quantity and type and actually fill in my fitness pal with the couple of glasses.

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Next off - protein intake! Make sure your daily protein allowance is entered into the calorie and macro tracker right next to your drinks. Then you top up the remaining calories with fat and carbohydrate. Presto you should be at your daily allowance of macros with fully charged protein intake, a couple of drinks and some carbs and fat. If you are going out for a meal pre-drinks make sure you create a slightly more of a calorie deficit over a couple of days, cutting your carbohydrates and fat slightly, let’s say by 100kcal from each a day. On the macro/calorie front that’s all I would advise. Make sure that the drink is not extra kcal added on top of your allowance.

On the weeks you choose to have some alcohol you should put extra effort on staying well hydrated and making sure that fruit and vegetable intake is up! I would also invest in a greens powder and add extra nutrients to our diet. On the booze day make sure you have minimum 3 litres of water throughout the first part of the day to build up your hydration levels, then in the afternoon at least another litre. When all the celebrations are done, all the drink downed and food eaten it’s time to lay a foundation for faster recovery!

When you get back home make sure to drink 1 litre of good quality mineral water (high mineral content). I would also advise on taking some sort of mineral supplement! I usually just go for a big dose of ZMA (zinc, magnesium and fit.B). An extra dose of vitamin B before going to bed should make you feel a bit better the next day as well!

So here is my recipe for controlled alcohol intake and meeting your body composition goals! The system has been tried and tested with myself and a lot of my clients. As long as you stick to the principals and make sure to log and plan everything in advance. It should allow you to have a more social way of meeting your fitness goals as well as not feeling like you’re doing something that is not sustainable!

Tomek

Staying on track over the winter months!

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So it’s the beginning of November… Have a lot of things really changed? Or are you looking for an excuse?

We are at the beginning of November, I’m sure you noticed. I and the other coaches have noticed too, the time change has kicked in, mornings are completely dark, so are the afternoons after 4.30pm. This time of year is actually quite nice and relaxing.

Unfortunately as soon as we get Halloween over and done with the Christmas consumption craze kicks in. Usually I and the other coaches notice one thing happen EVERY year right about this time. Loads of people who made amazing progress in the gym and busted their balls creating new healthy habits, give up… Because Christmas! Literally that is the excuse we hear every year.

Unfortunately this has become somewhat of a trend amongst people. The nearly 2 month period of starting every day with sugar and fat laden pumpkin spice or gingerbread latte, eating foods which are basically cakes and sweet snacks all day and then not training until sometime in January.

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As I might have mentioned before, our bodies have an amazing capability of adapting to stimulus and the thing is they do it very fast!! Guess what the adaptation to doing nothing apart from eating junk and sitting on your ass for 2 months with no training will look like??? Even better just imagine what it will make you feel like!

Right now you’re probably thinking geez Tomek you’re “fun” but wait it’s not all doom and gloom.

We have options here and it doesn’t have to be the way it probably was for a number of years now. Funny enough seasons of the year do not dictate what you should or shouldn’t eat or whether or not you should train. The beauty of this whole thing is that it’s YOU who are in charge! Yes the social media, TV and radio will all try and tell you to relax, eat, drink, and buy stuff, then eat then buy stuff and then buy some more stuff. It’s how a billion £$£$£$ industry keeps spinning, simple as!

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But you my fitness compadre are ready for a change! So there a couple of ways you could do this. Set yourself realistic fitness goals to reach by Christmas. Be very specific with your goals whether its body composition, improved performance on a specific WOD or strength gains. Make sure your coach is on board with the changes or new goals.

  1. If you are going for strength gains and improved metcon times (performance), Nutrition will play a role in that but it would be the perfect time to reverse diet out of a calorie deficit and make some room for tasty seasonal treats. Yes you heard me right, at maintenance level calorie intake your macros should allow you to have quite a few treats every day while still getting plenty of good food down the hatch. When planned correctly and accompanied by all out lifting sessions I think you’d be surprised how fast you would see results and your body putting on sexy, lean muscle!
  2. If body composition is your goal, don’t despair you can still have a few smartly programmed seasonal treats as long as they fit your macro nutrients, you don’t overly rely on sweets and processed food as main food intake, you are eating enough fibre and veggies and training like a bad ass 4 times a week.
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You my friend will make the best Christmas present to yourself. And trust me in this. No piece of jewellery, another amazing electronic gizmo gadget, summer holiday tickets etc. will make you feel as awesome as waking up on Christmas morning, getting out of bed and looking in the mirror thinking “damn I look good”. It’s that feeling of accomplishment and self-worth, once you experience it you never want to go back and is worth more than any gadget on the planet. If you’re still thinking that meh I don’t want to commit and try to get results in the “festive” season because it takes time, remember this.

Time will pass at exactly the same rate no matter whether you make plans and take actions or not… Let that sink in and remember, you don’t have to go cold turkey, you can still enjoy all the festive food as long as they are planned and accounted for. Same goes for nights out or work dos and stuff. A night out even once a week is still not a reason to quit on your health and fitness. Make a difference this season and plan for the best Christmas you ever had, your body will thank you for it!

Tomek

Is clean eating enough?

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Why just eating clean might not be enough, in fact let me take it a step further, it might actually be the cause of you not making progress or making your self feel drained and weak.

By reading this headline some of you are probably already thinking of packing it in with your new clean eating plan. Don’t worry, don’t burn your diet book just yet! I’m here to hopefully simplify this whole thing and give you a helping hand on your journey! The whole issue really got to me as I found client after client struggling with this exact issue.

In their effort to lose fat, better their health, increase their performance and ultimately look, feel and be awesome they decided to ditch their usual diet filled with cheap processed foods, expensive processed foods bought out and the booze filled weekend. Rightly so! However the newly adapted “clean eating” plan wasn’t calculated, wasn’t being measured and all progress had all but disappeared.

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When it comes to dealing with clean eaters I tend to find 2 things going on: Drastically under eating. No, half an organic cucumber, 100g of free range chicken breast and half teaspoon of organic, virgin, cold processed coconut oil is not enough for lunch. Not for a fully grown man or a woman! The issue I have with this is that people jump on the band wagon way too fast and literally within 24 hours become a clean eating guru, not realising that they are setting themselves up for a big crash and burn finale. I’ve seen this a thousand times and I bet you have seen it too. Just have a look through your Facebook feed, there is bound to be at least one person who is always on a diet. The forever dieter posting pictures of their uber clean meals for 3 weeks at a time. Why for 3 weeks - because most people starving themselves give up after 3 weeks. 1st week you lose a tone of weight and you don’t even miss any foods so naturally you accept that this is the magical way forward and that in 2 months you’ll be rocking an 8 pack. 2nd week you start noticing that you are tired and always cold ,also the training got really hard all of a sudden. You miss the nights spent on a sofa watching your favourite tv shows and you are probably slightly over training. You are still making progress so you have to keep going. 3rd week you discover that every trip to the gym starts with a 30 minute session of standing in front of a mirror crying and grabbing your love handless after which the inner drill sergeant tells you to suck it up buttercup, after which you cry some more and then finally decide that you HAVE to go to the gym. You just think about food all the time. Have no energy, progress is starting to slow down. And rightly so, there is only so long we can try and cheat our natural mechanisms of survival. In the end of the day our nature wins! You pack it in and start eating anything and everything in your sight, quickly regaining all the weight lost and then some. The whole ordeal left you feeling tired, sluggish and fatter than you started but, you remember the first 2 weeks of amazing progress and pounds dropped on the scales, so eventually you go back to it as “you know what works for you” starting the same process deemed to fail in the first place.

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Drastically over eating. No, it doesn’t matter how clean, organic, virgin, cold pressed, juiced your diet is. If you are chronically over eating you won’t get lean, unless you train 3 times a day on top of having a ridiculously heavy physical job. So this one is tricky as some people actually might make far more progress on slightly higher calories so there is always the fact that no 2 diets will be the same or that every single person will react in exactly the same way to the same calories and macro nutrient ratio. How ever in most cases I’ve seen clean eaters making 0 progress or gaining weight and not getting stronger or increasing performance. It’s usually down to lack of any tracking or calculating of the diet to your specific needs and goals. This is a big one as the intentions at the start are always good. You cut out all the crap and eat huge amounts of so called clean foods but also a huge amount of “clean treats” which from a nutrition perspective are still really energy dense, hyper palatable foods, which means you can eat a bucket of it a day and not think anything of it. Lets take nuts for instance, are they nutritious? Yes! Do they pack a lot of essential nutrients? Yes! Is it easy to over eat them especially if they are covered in some form of raw, organic, whole sugar (honey, carob, coconut sugar etc.) In the end of the day you have to remember this, too much of a good thing can cause problems especially if you tend to over eat it on a regular basis. Another fun observation I have made is none of the clean eaters I have dealt with ever over ate on fish, lean meat, broccoli, sauerkraut, cabbage… Again it doesn’t matter how organic, raw, clean it is. An organic Snickers bar is still a snickers bar!

Any of these scenarios sound familiar? Like I said in the beginning I’m here to hopefully shed some light on the issue and help out a bit!

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My approach to the whole thing and what I always tell my clients is there is a time and place for almost everything. Your diet should be as rich in different foods as possible. Including the odd bit of “bad” food every now and then, to keep your inner ape happy. It’s true I don’t eat certain foods like margarine and try and avoid cheap processed oils like canola or rapeseed. I know they have a bad effect on my body so I try and avoid them. But if I decide to get a piece of pastry, which most likely is made with cheap margarine, once a week I really don’t lose sleep over it.

The bulk of my diet and my clients diets comes from mostly home cooked foods rich in vegetables. I’ve seen people getting ripped on junk food and I’ve seen people getting shredded on ultra clean diets. To me both of those are extremes and sooner or later will lead to you not being happy or being sick in some way or the other. If you only eat junk, eventually you will develop nutritional deficiencies which will lead to health problems, more than likely sparked on by an active way of life and hardcore training sessions. If you are an ultra clean eating zealot (like I once was), eventually you will lose your social life as no one wants to have a beer with the guy who only drinks water, invite the guy who brings zip bags of food with him to the cinema or pub. Trust me I’ve been there and done that, I speak from experience.

Like with most things in life its about having some sort of balance! I recommend people count all their meals for the week and make sure that 80% comes from nutritionally dense foods, home cooked meals with a wide range of fruit and veggies. Then the other 20% of your weekly meals you can potentially relax a bit more and have some of the foods you love but are considered “bad” AS LONG AS THEY FIT YOUR MACROS.

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Which brings me to my next point. Whether “clean” or “bad” they have to add up. As said earlier you can very effectively under eat or over eat on clean foods, you will only know what you are doing if you measure the quantities and record them in a macro tracker to have an idea of where you are at.

Once you start tracking your intake of macros it’s very easy to calculate what you need to be doing and the potential cause of your lack of progress. There is a tone of useful info out there for free but if you still feel confused about it you should definitely invest in a coach to help you out but most importantly be patient! It takes time to figure out how your body works and really tune everything in. Don’t give up because you don’t have a perfect six pack after 3 weeks. Good things come to people who consistently work on improving themselves :)

Tomek

Become a product of your own (Fit) environment!

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We have all heard the phrase “you are the product of your own environment”. Unfortunately when I talk to people about it, most interpret it in a bad way, tying this phrase only to a negative situation. What if I told you that not only does this phrase have a huge positive potential but it is literally one of the best tips I could give you when it comes to making some major changes to your fitness, changing the way you live and becoming a lean mean fitness machine! Yes! You heard it right! Let me explain what I mean by it in a few points.

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  1. People you surround yourself with. It’s a hugely important factor, whether you want to admit it or not we are emotional sponges. We will soak up emotions from the people who we have contact with. Positivity/negativity, motivation and drive to go to the gym 5 times a week and train your balls off vs the binge drinking weekend nights followed by movie marathon days spent on the sofa stuffing your face with pizza and kebabs. People that you are surrounded by will have a huge effect on your behaviour and choices. That’s why community based gyms win every time vs big commercial ones. As soon as you join a community based gym (like most cross fit gyms are) with a little effort you form new friendships. This is your chance to form a group of friends who will not only make the process of embarking on your fitness journey a lot easier but also very enjoyable. There is nothing that can beat the feeling of being a part of a tight team working together, supporting and pushing each other to new goals previously thought unattainable. Surround yourself with people who breath positivity and you will see your world change!
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2 . In today’s day and age we are surrounded by free information. It’s almost information overload! At a touch of a button we have access to any library in the world. We choose to use that power to look at memes of cats… So how do we apply this to our environment? Podcasts, YouTube videos, blogs, if you want to make your new environment extra cool. Make “celebrity” coaches and athletes a part of your group! Listen to them every week! Sacrifice one hour every day and watch your favourite athletes, coaches, fitness pros, after all they put the content up because they want to speak to YOU! Not only will you gain some awesome knowledge on how to take better care of your body, you will also further increase your chances of making fitness a big part of your life for good!

3 . Food, it doesn’t matter how hard you train if you still eat the way you ate to make yourself feel miserable! I get it, you like doughnuts, burgers, kebab and pizza. Everyone does! I’m here to tell you, that fortunately you don’t have to go cold turkey and drop all the things you like so much. All we need to do is make sure that those foods are no more than 10% of your weekly food intake. Thanks to the new information you gain access to via step 2, you can learn to track your food intake and with a little help from your coach get a macro split that will support your goals. Once we are logging our food intake we can really stay on top of it and plan our meals in advance. Then we know we can have a bit of cake, the odd meal out or a Chinese. We just need to make sure that our kitchen cupboards aren’t filled with cheap sugary low nutrient foods. Let me ask you this what are the chances of having an “accidental” pack of Doritos if every time you go to the shop you buy a family pack. The same with cake and any other comfort food! So I’m not saying cut it out completely. Rather start getting rid of comfort foods from your kitchen and only keep a very small amount but know exactly when you will eat it and make sure the macros add up at the end of the day!

Hopefully you can see now how small changes to your daily environment can have HUGE effects on YOU, your health and fitness! Trust me when I say no 8 week transformation or a 30 day detox or any other gimmicky sounding scheme will have any noticeable effects compared to you changing your environment step by step and making fitness a priority and a part of your life!

Tomek

THE best Breakfast!

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THE best breakfast!

I often get asked what the best breakfast I could eat is, and the true answer to this question is as always: it depends!

It depends on a lot of things. First of all - Who are you? Are you a 25 year old CrossFit enthusiast with 9% body fat and enough muscle to rip every baby gap t-shirt in your closet just by showing the double bicep pose? A 34 year old full time mum who can just barely finish a meal or sleep for more than 3 hours at a time and goes to 3 circuit classes a week? Or a 40 year old office clerk who goes to the gym to meet up with the slightly more experienced lifters/fitness enthusiasts and show the young guns how it’s done.

Then there is timing, are you training in the morning, evening or mid-day? What is your goal, get lean, put on muscle, or gain weight. As you can see there are a lot of very important factors to take into account when designing your “perfect breakfast”.

However there are a few things we should aim to hit when thinking about an important meal like breakfast, regardless of your goals. First of all Macros! This is your chance to start the day with a bang! What I mean by that is load up on protein, making it easy to hit your protein goals for the day. Next in line fat! Fat is an essential component when it comes from good sources. It’s loaded with nutrients especially in the mornings or your first meal, it’s a must. Last but not least we have carbs. For me I want my carbs in the morning to be easily digestible but also to have a bit of fibre. Once we have covered macros what I would like next from my breakfast is NUTRITION. I want that meal to be as Nutrient dense as possible! That means I want Vitamins, fatty acids, minerals and Phytonutrients and as many as I can possibly get!

When you look at the goals for my breakfast and start to imagine what that meal would look like on a plate you quickly realise that you’d probably have to fill a whole dinner plate with food. Speaking from experience most people will say that they would never eat that much because of time restrictions in the morning or lack of appetite. I get that! Not everyone will have the time to sit down and eat a large meal, never mind the time to prep it or the appetite to eat it, but there is another way we can try and get all or most of the benefits of a large well composed nutrient dense meal in the morning.

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The breakfast smoothie!

Easy and fast to make, Macro awesome, nutrient dense with a good amount of water! The important thing to remember is that we are trying to make into a complete meal so we really need to cover our bases. Here is my idea of a nutrient packed breakfast in a smoothie:

2 scoops of whey Protein

1 scoop of warrior greens (green veg powder)

50g of oats

1 teaspoon of flax seeds

45g of avocado

1/2 teaspoon of organic cocoa powder

100g of frozen berries

Add as much water as your blender holds and blitz till smooth.

And there you go, in one pint glass we have a nutrient dense complete breakfast ready in minutes and very easy to go through even if you’re one of those people who doesn’t have much of an appetite in the morning!

All the ingredients and amounts can obviously be altered to suit your body and goals but I would always advise to hit at least 35g of protein in total and min of 15g of high quality fats!

I encourage YOU to try and come up with the most nutritious, easy and fast breakfast smoothie! Let me know how you get on!

Tomek