Blog - Health & Fitness
The New Year New You hype is in full effect, so it's time for some "health news". Or dare I say blatant lies? As we're living in a post-truth era many folks are used to turning a blind eye to bogus info but I say ENOUGH with the BS!
I’m talking about an article published by Independent a few days ago which has already had over 2000 shares - “Sugar-free diet drinks do not aid weight loss and are no healthier than alternatives, research suggests”.
It sometimes really pisses me off how mainstream media spreads false information purely for clickbait reasons. If someone named John von Radowitz also writes articles such as “Stop telling children Santa is real, experts urge”, would you trust this person to give you health advice?
Sure, I understand that the fella is simply doing his job. And I’m just doing my job, which is the quest for truth and beauty while connecting the dots between training, nutrition, movement and mindset.
Anyway, enough ranting, here are my two cents on this article.
Think About The Bigger Picture
The thumbnail with the fat guy holding a burger and a DIET Coke should say it all. Yes, it will be better to opt for a sugar-free drink if you're overweight, because you wouldn't want to compromise your already poor insulin sensitivity with all that sugar, nevertheless, your WHOLE daily nutrition needs to be considered.
Research Is Often Biased
"The researchers pointed out that research supported by food or beverage companies was more likely to find no evidence of links between sugary drink consumption and obesity than non-industry sponsored research." No shit, Sherlock!! In this small disclaimer they just discredited this whole article. Good job Independent.
Have you ever felt like you’ve reached a stage when coffee is doing you more harm than good? This is the way I felt a few weeks ago, when I just kept being hit by this wave of fatigue and exhaustion in the afternoon, despite having several cups of coffee per day. It just didn’t do the trick anymore, and it’s really the worst feeling when you’re trying to be productive.
I had heard some great things about yerba mate, but never managed to get hold of it, because you can seldom find it in the shops in the UK. From the first sip, I was simply amazed! My experience from drinking it can be described as the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate all in one beverage.
Yerba mate (yer-bah mah-tay) is made from the naturally caffeinated and nourishing leaves and stemlets of the celebrated South American rainforest holly tree (Ilex paraguariensis), native to the subtropical highlands of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. It was introduced to colonizing and modern civilizations by the Guarani Indians of these regions. Yerba Maté is known as the national drink of these countries, and is consumed by millions of South Americans as a healthy alternative to coffee.
This stimulating herbal beverage has the unique ability to wake up the mind without the nervousness and jitters associated with coffee. Deemed “The Drink of the Gods” by many indigenous groups in South America, and known as “the green gold of the Indios” by folks in Europe, yerba maté possesses a multitude of health benefits. The chemical components of yerba maté are similar to those found in green tea; however, yerba maté may be even more nutritious. People worldwide refer to this herbal infusion as a “whole body tonic”.
God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers. ~ Jewish Proverb
Mother’s day is coming up this Sunday, if you follow the UK traditions. Personally I celebrate it on the 2nd Sunday of May like most of the world, but this year I decided to do something nice for my blog subscribers and followers, offering them an opportunity to surprise their mums with a thoughtful and valuable gift.
Mothers often put themselves on hold while raising us – always putting their children first. This often causes a strain on their bodies, and their health. Wouldn’t it be great to give back to your mother by encouraging her to look after herself? You can look and feel awesome at any age if you treat your body right. This really comes down to knowing what to do to improve / maintain your health, and taking consistent action.
My mum lives in Paris, therefore, I don’t get to see her as much as I wish. But every time I do, I make sure that we have some training sessions together. Yes, that’s her in the photo! In the gym with her beast mode switched on :) I also handle the cooking, and teach her about nutrition. She generally eats healthily, but when I look at a diet objectively and have a good knowledge of the individual, I can always see some areas that need improvement.
Enter Project Fit Mama…
25-Day Holistic Body Transformation for your mum if she can attend weekly 1-2-1 personal training sessions in London.
3-Month Online Personal Training Programme if she lives outside of London. That’s right, I have helped dozens of clients to reach their goals even without physically being present.
All you have to do is like my Facebook page and send me a message describing WHY your mum will benefit from this transformation. Please also provide your email address.
This Sunday morning I will choose a mum that will be able to take part in Project Fit Mama for FREE and benefit from:
- a couple of inches off her waist
- significant weight loss that she will be able to maintain
- massive improvements in energy levels
- better sleep
- countless compliments
I will let you all know on Monday who the lucky mum is, and I’m really looking forward to reading your stories!
P.S. Forward this to any mum, or husband who should get this for their loved one. How much better would this be than just a box of chocolates and some flowers? I would also love to hear from some yummy mummies that are looking to get back in shape after having a baby.
Earlier this week I returned from a trip to my hometown Riga. I was booked for a modelling job and also had to help out a few clients. As always, it was great catching with family and friends but one thing that was really important to me was to spend some time with my grandmother. She is 76 and has coronary heart disease that resulted in suffering a heart attack last year. Things are looking better but what really worries me is the chest pain that she keeps having. In medical terms it’s called angina and it occurs when the blood supply to the muscles of the heart is restricted.
I am doing all I can to help her by sending her supplements such as multivitamins, Omega-3, CoQ10, and also teaching her about nutrition, and what she should do in order to help her body heal and get stronger. It has made a big difference, and what I brought her on this visit had an even bigger effect on how she feels, hence, I would like to share it with you.
As you may know, I am very lucky to be sponsored by Optimum Nutrition, and their products have taken my training to another level. However, many people seem to think that supplements are meant only for athletes and fitness fanatics. In reality, this is a very distorted point of view, because the one thing that comes first and foremost is our health, and certain supplements can have a massive effect on our health indeed.
The supplement I brought to my grandma is called ZMA. It’s a blend of zinc, magnesium & vitamin B6. Magnesium is the key ingredient in this formula, and its importance in diet is widely known. The most amazing thing is that one week after starting using it my grandma is reporting that no angina attacks has happened within this period, and if there is any tension present in her chest area, it lasts for a very short time, and doesn’t result in actual chest pain. She also says that her blood pressure has lowered, and she sleeps much better. This is incredibly gratifying to me, and I’m determined to keep looking for ways to improve her condition even more.
Do you know someone who talks a lot of talk, and starts new endeavors only to falter halfway through and give up? You don’t want to be that person. Quitting is not attractive. On the other hand, having the self-discipline to follow through with your goals makes us feel good about ourselves, and it amplifies our drive and determination to achieve even bigger things. However, sometimes it’s ok to be a quitter.
In this case, I’m talking about quitting smoking. Or, in fact, kicking any other unresourceful habit like having too much sugar, junk food, alcohol etc. And trust me, I’m no saint – I’ve done it all in large amounts back in my irresponsible days. Actually, I used to smoke for 7 years! Oops, I hope my mom is not reading this… But the point I’m trying to make is – you can change the way you think. You can program that inner voice to be your personal coach that relentlessly drives you towards success. You can increase self-awareness and make better decisions. Quitting can be great. As long as you don’t quit the process of quitting and go back to your old ways ;)
Primary And Secondary Gains
A good place to start is exploring the reasons behind your smoking. Sometimes it’s not about what it’s about. You may just see it as a habit, or feel like it helps you relax, or perhaps blame it on your social life. However, there may be secondary gains outside of your conscious awareness – additional benefits of smoking that drive your behavior without you realizing it. Maybe you work in a corporate environment, and most of the influential people that can affect your career regularly go out for a smoking break. Hence, you probably want to network with them, and access information that wouldn’t otherwise be available to you. There could be a multitude of secondary reasons, this is just something to consider.
We’ve all been guilty at this. When you deprive yourself of sleep over an extended period of time (5-7 days or more) you’re at risk for quite a few problems. Several studies have shown that being sleep deprived for a long time is similar to being intoxicated. You may be at risk for work accidents, driving accidents, diabetes, heart problems, psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse. You may develop a decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals or remember new information. Last but not least, there is research that links sleep deprivation to obesity and decreased metabolism.
When we are trying to juggle a dozen of things and being busy in our lives, over time we may build up sleep debt. Just like a mortgage or credit card, you can pay this debt back with good quality sleep and longer sleep time. There’s a phenomenon called REM rebound. It may be possible that although you’ve built up “sleep debt” over 5-7 days, that you could pay it back in 2 or 3 days. Even after just one night of proper sleep you would feel much better. Nonetheless, it’s best to get the same quantity of sleep every night, and make sure it’s good quality, and that will allow you to function at your best during the day.
The body has a natural inflammatory response when exposed to germs or when tissue is injured. Redness, swelling, and fever are all physical symptoms of the acute inflammatory response that comes when the body accelerates the immune system. In a healthy body, they will be quickly resolved. Also a degree of muscle soreness after hard training session is totally normal and it is crucial for progress.
With poor diet, high levels of toxicity or heavy metals, lack of physical activity, or persistent high stress, acute inflammation will become chronic. The medical establishment tells us that hypertension is the "silent killer." According to many progressive doctors, chronic inflammation also deserves that title. It is connected to obesity, fat gain, accelerated aging, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, cancer, and stomach problems. Chronic inflammation can shorten your life and will cause you pain on a persistent daily basis.
Part of the problem with inflammation and health is the overuse of anti-inflammatory drugs including ibuprofen, aspirin, and prednisone to manage it. There are many consequences from using these drugs, especially if taken regularly. Side effects include liver problems, stomach upset, blood disorders, vision problems etc. The good news is that you can reduce inflammation without these chemical aids! Here is a list of strategies for reducing inflammation and getting healthier:
In many ways, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is one of the most powerful nutrients in our bodies. It plays a critical role in the proper functioning of your cells as both an energy producer and as an antioxidant. It is crucial to maintain the health of your brain, heart, immune system, eye health, gum health and more. CoQ10 assists in the production of ATP, quenches free radicals, enhances the stability and permeability of cell membranes, recycles and regenerates important antioxidant vitamins (C and E), and regulates cell signaling and gene expression, particularly in skeletal muscle.
Unfortunately CoQ10 levels in your body naturally begin to decline as early as age 20. Research has suggested that CoQ10 may protect against many age-related disorders, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, blood vessel function, and certain neuromuscular diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s). Hence, if reducing the effects of aging is on your agenda, it should definitely be on your supplements list. It also appears to help muscle fibres improve their capacity of strength and power as well as hypertrophy. A study found that CoQ10 may increase the amount of fast-twitch muscle fibres without even training.
CoQ10 is a naturally occurring, vitamin-like compound synthesized primarily in the liver from the amino acid tyrosine. So it’s produced by your body but has to also be consumed with food or supplementation. Given that the normal daily intake of CoQ10 is less than 10 mg per day, this is a case where food sources alone won’t cut it. You’d have to eat 6.5 kg steak every day to get a sufficient dose.
So how much should you take? Given its effects on reducing muscle soreness and improving performance, athletic individuals over the age of 21 who train intensely may benefit from 200-300 mg per day, divided in two doses and taken with a fat-containing meal. There are two forms of CoQ10. Ubiquinone (the oxidised form of CoQ10) gets converted to ubiquinol in your body. Consumers over 30 years of age are encouraged to use ubiquinol.
It is no secret that the government has vilified salt with warnings that better health will come by reducing salt from the diet, and we will be able to prevent cardiovascular disease and strokes. However the research evidence is not convincing that salt intake is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease or death. Let’s examine closer the main factors that determine how much salt you should use, and just as important – what type of salt.
- Natural vs Refined
The commonly used salt is a very refined product that has morphed into something that is so far removed from its original form that it has become toxic. It’s typically just sodium chloride or NaCl with just one or two other mineral elements. It may have anti-caking agents added such as sodium silicoaluminate. A good sea salt however may have over 84 mineral elements, meaning those salts provide a potent mix of valuable nutrients.
- Insufficient and Unconvincing Evidence
Health recommendations for salt intake are based on the theory that a low salt intake will result in lower blood pressure, and that lower blood pressure will decrease cardiovascular disease and related disease risk, meaning low salt intake should decrease cardiovascular and related disease risk. But that’s not necessarily true. Research shows that reducing salt intake will lead to a lower blood pressure. It’s suggested that this reduction in blood pressure could reduce risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure – and that’s where the problem arises.
The theory that reducing salt intake in order to lower blood pressure and thereby prevent cardiovascular disease is called the “salt hypothesis.” The problem with the “salt hypothesis” is that blood pressure is only a “surrogate outcome.” A surrogate outcome is one that is not of direct practical importance to a health issue, but rather it is one that produces one health outcome that may or may not be associated with a real outcome. The problem is that there are many other complicating factors and in some cases the relationship between the surrogate outcome and the health outcome is weak. New research provides convincing support that salt intake is not linked to mortality in general, or linked to death from cardiovascular disease or heart failure.
- Individualised Salt Intake Is Key
Restricting salt could be good to combat acne, but it would be disastrous for someone trying to recover from adrenal fatigue. In certain genotypes, salt can aggravate osteoporosis. Salt has been shown to increase calcium excretion in the urine, producing an imbalance in the body and putting certain individuals at greater risk for bone loss. In fact, there is even a gene that is linked to greater risk of hypertension and osteoporosis that is exacerbated by increased salt intake.
Plus, people with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure by reducing salt, which can have a variety of benefits. Overweight individuals with high blood pressure who are at risk of diabetes may benefit from less salt intake, but if they also have adrenal fatigue, that may not be the solution. Clearly, everything needs to be individualized for the greatest health benefits. Making blanket statements that everyone needs to lower salt intake is ridiculous!
The more cooked food you eat, the more salt you need to activate certain intestinal enzymes. Also athletes and strength trainees will likely also need more salt, partly because they have higher protein needs and partly because training depletes the muscles of certain nutrients. Plus, electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, sodium) may be lost in the sweat, requiring greater salt or nutrient intake.
An interesting fact is that salt should be colored, not that bland white stuff. Salt should be pink, red, beige, or grey. When salt has a color, it indicates that it contains trace minerals and has not been highly processed. Good salt is readily available at any health food store at a reasonable price e.g. Celtic Sea Salt which is about 82 percent sodium chloride, and 14 percent other minerals, of which magnesium is a large portion. Another benefit of colored salts is that the iodine naturally contained in colored salts is retained in human tissue for a long time, making it more beneficial. In comparison, the refined iodine that is added to salt is not as physiologically useful.
The weekend is officially here. We all know how difficult it is sometimes to stay focused and disciplined when you’re out and about having fun. But let’s put the excuses aside. After all we got goals to achieve, don’t we? So here’s a bit of advice for my fitness disciples and any health-conscious individuals:
If you’re going on a night out, there are two things you need to watch out for most – getting hungry & getting drunk. Both these things WILL take you a step back. So if you want progress – don’t do it.
Be prepared! Where are you getting your meals from? Probably you’re not going to tuck a chicken breast and broccoli the pocket of that trendy blazer you’re wearing. However that doesn’t mean you have to get catabolic by neglecting your nutritional needs or leaving things to chance. If you’re dieting you should make an effort to get that lean piece of meat from somewhere. Tesco & Sainsbury’s by 11am? Maybe you can find good old SPAR when you pop out of club during the night? Also some takeaways do grilled chicken – physique friendly and delicious. If you’re gaining or maintaining you could just take a couple of protein bars or protein flapjacks with you – a convenient meal replacement option.
It’s ok having a drink if you’re not on a very strict diet, but leave the sugary stuff alone. No alcopops, no cocktails, no chasers. Forties all the way – the strong stuff – vodka, cognac, rum, whiskey, tequila… Red wine is a great option due to a high amount of antioxidants; the same goes for certain beers.
Obviously it’s all about moderation. Don’t get wasted. First of all it’s not a good look. Second – you will mess up your sleep and impair muscle recovery. And so many more problems it can cause… You get 7 kcal per gram of alcohol. Empty ones – your body can’t use them as energy, they must be metabolized right away. Alcohol has even been proven to inhibit testosterone levels, even though you might feel on top of the world when under the influence. And then you could get into a fight, get injured and be out of training for some time. Enough reasons to not go overboard?
At the end of the day sometimes you need to have fun and let off some steam. No need to turn into a robot. Just be safe and keep your goals in mind :)