The Hungry Man’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting

The Hungry Man's Guide to Intermittent Fasting

In this special guest blog, strength and conditioning coach, Alex Backhouse, who has over 10 years industry experience, talks us through the basics of Intermittent Fasting; What it is and how you could benefit from this tried and tested eating approach.

 

What is Intermittent Fasting?

I’m sure you’ve heard all about it. You may be even experimenting with it already. The world seems to love things that have got technical sounding titles, especially when it comes to health, fitness and weight loss.

High Intensity Interval Training? We could just call that sprints. But it doesn’t sound as good. Intermittent fasting- sounds ten times better than skipping breakfast doesn’t it?

So to take the mystique out of fasting, let’s give it a better definition.“Non-sequential extended periods without calories.” From time to time, you don’t eat – at all.

There are several different ways to apply this caloric restriction, including the 5:2 method which involves 2 days of the week with severe calorie restriction. There are some that favour the occasional 24-72 hour fast, where you only drink water and other calorie free drinks.

I’ve found the ‘windowed eating’ approach easiest to use personally, and the one I’ve had great success with my clients with. You eat all your food within a timed window: usually 8 hours or less. The easiest way to do this is to skip breakfast, and carry on your day as if nothing happened.

 

How does Intermittent Fasting work?

“But breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” I hear you cry.

For me there’s a massive disparity with the type of things we were eating, 20, 50 or 100 years ago compared to the plethora of calorific delights at our disposal these days. Let alone the difference in lifestyle: transport, jobs, exercise, and recreation. My point is this: A day of working hard in the fields and coming home to a meager portion of meat and potatoes before bed is very different to how we live our lives today.

At some point, maybe breakfast really was the most important meal of the day. But not any more. I’m not even going to go down the route of whether Mr. Kellog invented that phrase as a marketing slogan and got the whole world hooked on carbs for breakfast. But it’s definitely a possibility.

So lets look a bit more at what happens to your body when you don’t eat. If you don’t believe in fasting, technically you’re already doing it every time you go to bed- this is where the magic happens. We recover from the day’s grind, the day’s workout. We soak up all the calories and nutrients we’ve absorbed from our food. Cells repair. We grow a little bit. We get older.

We burn fat too, because after a while, all the calories we’ve eaten have been assigned to different storage areas – muscle, liver, fat stores, and we enter the fasted state aka the post-absorptive state. We’re no longer digesting and absorbing calories, we’re now using them and burning them. So when we wake up, we’re burning fat. I’m pretty sure most of us would be happy with that.

“But my metabolism will slow down if I don’t eat small regular meals”

Allow me to paraphrase Kaiser Soze when I say “The greatest trick the food industry ever pulled, was convincing people they had to eat more food in order to lose weight.”

I’m well aware that in extreme cases this may be true, but I think most of us would agree that if we’re overweight, it’s because we eat too much in general. And a consistent, mild caloric deficit is essential for weight loss (I’ll come back to this bit later). Then there’s this phrase “stoking the metabolic fire”- implying that you need to eat to increase the rate at which your metabolism burns calories.

Well, metabolic rate is king when it comes to daily caloric expenditure. If we can be burning more calories at rest, or throughout the day in general, then this is our most powerful tool in the battle to drop some fat. But we do not significantly increase our metabolic rate by eating. We increase it through exercise and by having more muscle mass.

You can fast for up 72 hours before experiencing any drop in metabolic rate, providing calories are kept above BMR before and after the period of fasting

 

What are the benefits?

So we’ve established that a fasted state is safe for our hard earned muscle, and that we probably don’t need to be topping up our glycogen levels to 100% to go about our day- unless we were mid-way through Royal Marines selection. We can now come back to your daily calorie allowance and how much we need to restrict this by to lose weight.

As a regular exerciser weighing 92kg, my basal metabolic rate is around 3400 calories. If I subtract 500 off this (the accepted sensible amount for consistent weight loss,) I get 2900. Following a windowed eating approach, breaking my fast at noon, I now have 8 hours to consume nearly 3000 calories. Which is nice.

However, if I divided this into 5 meals of 600 calories each, the first of which I ate at 7am, I’m just going to feel hungry, deprived and grumpy for pretty much the whole day.

Are you starting to see the appeal?

Fasting is not for everyone and not for every situation. Adding muscle mass would favour being in a fed state as well as a reasonable (500) surplus of calories per day. But for weight loss, maintenance or even a simple system to enjoy food without obsessing over macros and calories, a windowed eating approach can be a valuable tool.

It’s not ALL about weight loss though is it?

Human Growth Hormone, a favourite of Hollywood celebrities as a ‘fountain of youth’ substance has been shown to increase during periods of fasting. Insulin levels get reset to a healthier level by restricting any rises in blood sugar.

And there are the ‘non scientific’ benefits…

You have more energy. Strange but true. You’re not constantly craving food or worrying about where you can get some protein- you learn to survive with a slight hunger pang in my belly. Personally, I’m actually more productive on it.

 

To summarise, hopefully my fresh perspective on 21st century life, coupled with the biological processes involved in fasting have allayed some your concerns about experimenting with what is probably the easiest method of reducing your daily calories and feeling better throughout the day.

Wake up.

No breakfast.

Black coffee or black tea is fine.

Plenty of water.

Your lunch is when you’ll ‘break your fast’.

Easy.

 

Try it tomorrow!

 

Note: Please seek advice from your doctor if you are on any medication or have any medical issues, prior to attempting to follow or trial any of the above advice.

Plant Based Diets

Plant based food protein alternative


Plant based eating has grown in popularity lately and is widely regarded as one of the healthiest approaches to fueling your body. Our resident dietitian, Rachel Hobbs, explains the benefits and practicalities of replacing meat with two veg.

 

What is a Plant Based Diet?Plant based - rice, beans, advocado and seeds

Plant based diets are a bit of trend in the nutrition world at the moment. The media claims they can do anything from cure cancer, to prevent heart disease and reverse diabetes; but what is all the fuss about and do they actually benefit us at all?

As a dietitian I define a plant based diet as a diet that aims to maximise the consumption of … you guessed it, plant foods, whilst minimizing processed foods, oils and animal produce. Sounds identical to a vegetarian or vegan diet? Similar, yes but the main difference is that often individuals choose to become vegetarian out of ethical or environmental reasons. Meat, fish and animal products such as milk, cheese and eggs are not banned from a plant based diet, but they are minimized.

A plant based diet encourages individuals to consume lots of vegetables, fruits, beans, pulses, seeds and nuts and is generally low in fat; this can seem impossible and confusing for many, especially as for the past 10 years the fitness industry has hammered into the general public they should be eating chicken breasts, tuna and other high protein foods to be healthy.

 

 

What are the Benefits?Plant based - oats, raisins, seeds and nuts

There are many benefits of a plant based diet if it is followed correctly; science says that they are better than meat heavy diets for weight management and fat loss. This is hypothesised to be because they are higher in fibre and therefore make us feel fuller for longer; but also they are more nutrient dense, therefore contain more vitamins and minerals, allowing our bodies to work more efficiently. Research also shows they may prevent heart disease and diabetes too. Due to the increased fibre intake of a plant based diet, scientists suggest that they decrease the risk of getting some cancers, especially those associated with digestion such as colon and stomach cancer.

The jury is still out as to whether it is the increased consumption of fruit and vegetables that decrease disease risk or the reduced intake of meats and processed foods, personally I believe it is a combination of the two.
When discussing a plant based diet with my clients there are a few questions which are commonly asked; I will answer these now.

 

 

“Where will I get my protein from?”Plant based - vegetables, peppers, cabbage, green beans, chick peas and advocado

Many of my clients come to me with elevated protein levels in their diets without a balanced consideration of the role of other nutrients, often carbohydrates

Instead of focusing so strictly on grams of protein per day, I ask my clients to focus on food quality- if they consume foods of high quality or nutritional density, they will automatically meet their protein needs.

The only concern is to ensure adequate essential amino acids are consumed, these are amino acids which cannot be produced by the body. This can easily be achieved by pairing foods with differing amino acid sequences such as beans and rice or hummus and pitta bread.

 

 

 

 

“What does a typical day’s food intake look like?”Plant based - oats, almond milk, soya yoghurt, nuts and fruit

To meet average requirements, a typical day could look like:

Breakfast: Overnight oats made with almond milk and soya yoghurt, topped with nuts and fruit

Lunch: Falafel, hummus and avocado wrap with spinach and rocket.

Snack: Peanut butter on toast.

Dinner: Lentil dahl with rice and peas.

Sometimes it takes a little while for the gut to adapt to the higher fibre intake so a pea protein shake such as Reflex Nutrition’s Vegan Protein would be a great supplement to take. This would also be ideal post workout or to add into a breakfast smoothie.

 

 

“Should I not eat any meat now?”

A plant based diet is exactly as it sounds, it is based around plants, which doesn’t mean all meat and animal products are banned. I actually recommended my clients to have two portions of oily fish a week such as salmon or mackerel to ensure they consume adequate Omega 3.

 

Plant based salad

 “Where do I start?”

I think it is important to take a step by step approach when making dietary changes, so I often prescribe my clients to just start with a “Meat Free Monday” and to experiment with different meal choices every week so they can increase the variety of plant based foods in the diet and feel more confident to try two days of plant based eating.

So, all in all, I think plant based diets are positive for many individuals. They increase fibre intake, they increase vitamin and mineral intake and they decrease processed food intake. So next week, why don’t you give “Meat Free Monday” a go?

 

 

 

 

Carbohydrates- There’s a Time and a Place

Carbohydrates- There’s a Time and a Place

In recent years dietary fats have been pushed aside and carbohydrates seem to be public enemy number one. It only takes a quick search on the internet to be informed by a self-proclaimed nutrition expert that pasta will make us fat and sugar will give us cancer; whilst another nutritionist will tell us that we need carbohydrates to keep our metabolism healthy and lose fat. It is no wonder we are confused as to whether these little molecules of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen are friend or foe.

So what’s the truth?

All carbohydrates are derived from plants; which means in their natural state, think sweet potatoes, rice, carrots, dates, raspberries and wheat- they are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. All of which protect us from heart disease, cancer and diabetes. However, when we take a natural carbohydrate and refine it, process it and add fats and artificial chemicals to it, that’s when it can be unbeneficial (detrimental) to our bodies. So potatoes dug up from the ground and boiled until soft are rich in potassium, magnesium, folate vitamin B and iron; but when we peel, slice and fry a potato in rapeseed oil then add salt and preservatives to it to make crisps, we remove the nutrients and fibre whilst increasing the fat and salt content. Effectively the crisp making process turns a nutrient dense food into a nutrient sparse one. The same goes for bread, we automatically associate it with making us gain fat; but a minimally processed wholegrain loaf is rich in fibre and B vitamins, only when we play with it – for example refine it and remove its fibre to turn it into white flour then roll it thinly and top it with cheese, tomato and pepperoni does it turn into something that can easily cause excess fat storage.

So, if we eat carbohydrates in their most natural state, they provide us with nutrients essential for optimal health. That does not mean we can eat as much fruit, vegetables and potatoes as we like though; we must consider the type, timing and amount we consume in order to ensure healthy body composition, good energy levels and our best sporting performance.

Carbohydrate Types

Carbohydrates are split into two main types. The first is starchy carbohydrates often referred to as slow release, which include foods such as pasta, rice, potatoes and wholegrain bread. These foods are often high in fibre which is great for gut health and broken down into smaller particles of sugar and slowly absorb into the blood stream to provide a regular trickle of energy to the body.

The other type of carbohydrates are simple sugars, often referred to as fast release. These are rapidly absorbed into the blood stream and provide an almost instant source of energy- although this energy does not last for long. Simplesugars are found in table sugar, jelly sweets and fruits. Both starches and sugars have health and performance benefits for us.

Carbohydrates contain four calories per gram, which is less than half of dietary fat; however, we still have to consider the amount of carbohydrate we consume, especially if we are looking to lose weight. Put simply, if we consume more calories than we expend, even if we get them from vegetables, we will put on weight.

Carbohydrates raise our blood glucose levels- this triggers the pancreas to release the hormone insulin. Insulin’s role is to decrease blood glucose to safe levels by directing glucose into muscle cells and the liver. We do not want continuously elevated insulin levels as this can prevent fat breakdown, so if weight loss is our goal we need to ensure are carbohydrates only take up a quarter of our plate at meal times and choose higher fibre options.

Using Carbohydrates Effectively

If we are training frequently and looking to improve our strength or endurance performance, then we need a higher amount of carbohydrates to fuel our training and support our recovery. At all meal times we should be choosing starchy carbohydrates, however immediately after a training session we would benefit from choosing quicker release to start the recovery process quickly. If a training session, especially endurance, is over 60 minutes then our performance would benefit from a very fast release carbohydrate during our workout to keep our body fueled.

A typical day could look like;

  • Breakfast: ½ cup oats with milk, pecans and raspberries
  • Snack: 1 pear
  • Lunch: Avocado, feta and quinoa salad
  • Snack: Hummus and vegetable sticks
  • Immediately post workout: glass of milk, handful of dried dates
  • Dinner: Bean and vegetable curry with wholegrain rice

The take home message is that we should be nourishing our bodies with natural, unprocessed carbohydrates to lose fat and improve our health and our performance; we need to simply consider the time, type and quantity we are consuming. It’s time to end our carb-phobia for good.

A Look for the Future

Reflex Nutrition Re-Brand and new categories

Along with a reputation for delivering unparalleled quality in the sports nutrition market, at Reflex Nutrition we are known for our unique holographic packaging.  As part of a process of ensuring that we capture the very essence of the brand and make your navigation around the different categories as logical as it can be, we have redesigned the labels and trimmed the categories down from five to three (but keeping all existing products). Each new category has a dynamic logo that reflects its individual essence;

Strength and performance

Our previous ‘muscle and strength’ and ‘energy and endurance’ ranges have been merged to form a category that contains every product needed for any strength, performance or endurance goal.
The Strength & Performance graphic is designed to represent a brightly shining force, almost star like sense capturing the sense of strength or dynamic performance.

High protein

The High Protein graphic is designed to represent a highly active, almost sense of breakthrough in whatever physical activity you are undertaking.

Vitality

Our vitality range has been expanded to include out previously named ‘weight management’ category and contains everything from vitamins and minerals to diet proteins and other weight management supplements.
The Vitality graphic is instantly much calmer and softer, representing a more rounded sense of health and wellbeing.

All new Reflex Nutrition products off the production line will have the new packaging layout with existing products coming into circulation from early March.

Guilt-Free Chocolate Fudge Brownie Recipe

Reflex Nutrition athlete and talented protein chef, Gauri Chopra, shares her ultimate clean cheat recipe – indulgent chocolate fudge brownies with peanut butter frosting! 

I think I am yet to meet an individual who doesn’t like chocolate or peanut butter – and rightly so, I’d say! If you haven’t tried the two together yet, you can only imagine that combination of the two definitely becomes a force to be reckoned with, ESPECIALLY in the form of a Brownie!

Not only do people tend to associate brownies with being a delicious treat, and a mouthwatering tastebud tingler, but they also get the bad rep of being an unhealthy guilt-food, and a bit of a waistline teaser! What if I told you, you could have all the flavour and fugdy texture of a naughty traditional brownie, minus the guilt? One that could offer a whole host of nutritious benefits to go with it? You wouldn’t believe me, right? Well let me prove you wrong!
As stated by my personal ‘taste-testers’, these healthy Chocolate Fudge Brownies are out of this world, and taste just as good (if not better) than your traditional, refined sugar-loaded ones! Made from natural ingredients, they are also flour-less, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and free from any artificial ingredients or flavourings.

Since these brownies are high in protein, healthy fats and fibre, they work in perfect harmony to keep you fuller for longer as well as keeping blood sugar levels stable to ensure you get a good prolonged energy supply (unlike your traditional brownie which would typically spike your blood sugar levels and eventually cause you to crash!)

Another gold star for these beauties in that they take virtually minutes to prep and make… I think the hardest part was opening the cans and jars!

Ingredients for the Brownie:

  • 1 can Black Beans drained and rinsed (200g)
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 60g pure maple syrup
  • 35g extra virgin organic coconut oil or grass fed butter -(I use coconut oil because I love the slight hint of coconut it gives to the brownies but feel free to use grass fed butter as an alternative!)
  • 15g Cacao (or Cocoa) powder
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder (use gluten free if intolerant)
  • Pinch of Himalayan pink salt (or normal sea salt will do)

Ingredients for the Protein Peanut butter ‘Frosting’:

  • 2 tbsp natural crunchy peanut butter (smooth is also fine, however I like the added texture from the crunchy!)
  • 50ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scoop Reflex Nutrition Chocolate Peanut Instant whey Pro
  • Optional: Sprinkling of Cacao Nibs for texture and extra chocolatyness!

Cooking steps:

  1. Pre-heat fan oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Whizz all ingredients for the brownie in a food processor until is has reached a smooth consistency (you may need to scrape down the sides/blender once in between).
  3. Pour the batter into a 6″6″ baking tin lined with a little coconut oil on some grease proof paper and gently tap/shake to ensure the batter is spread evenly
  4. Before placing it in the oven, make your ‘frosting’ by heating the almond milk and peanut butter together in the microwave on a low heat for 60-90 seconds. Once this has been stirred and combined, mix in your whey.
  5. Place the brownie tin in the middle shelf of the oven for approximately 10 minutes (or until the top looks like it is just about to start cooking through). Then take it out and smear on your protein peanut butter frosting and cacao nibs before placing it back in the oven to cook for a further 8-10 minutes.
  6. You should know that the brownie is cooked when it springs back a little when touched.
  7. Holding the grease-proof paper, remove the brownie from the tin, then very carefully peel down the sides of the paper. Cut the brownie into 12 pieces then use a spatula to carefully transfer the pieces onto a plate or cooling wrack before devouring… If you can wait that long!

From Strongman to Lean Machine: My Transformation Story

Reflex Nutrition athlete, Emil Hodzovic, shares his unique transformation story and reminds us that whatever your goal – enjoy the process.

A lot of people ask me about my transformation. It’s not a traditional ’12 week weight loss’ or anything like that, rather, it is my continued evolution and journey through the fitness world.

It all started when I first discovered the gym at around 16. I already played a lot of sport and I was quite slim and athletic. Like a lot of teenagers, I wanted to bulk up. I started training, and alongside rugby, I steadily gained some muscle. This was slow and I was further distracted by university, alcohol and exams but I was hooked.

After a few injuries, I was forced to quit rugby but I kept training while moving between sports. I dabbled in MMA wining my only amateur fight and I also did some kettlebell training and general functional fitness. Then, after meeting the legendary British strongman Mark Felix at BodyPower in 2010, I decided to compete as a strength athlete and this is where the real bulking started.

As with everything I do, I took it very seriously and meticulously tracked my macros up to 6000kcal a day for months on end. This packed on the size and I grew to a peak body weight of 142kg. I was pretty good at strongman and won a few competitions but ultimately when I started work as a junior doctor in 2011 I couldn’t maintain the rigorous eating and training and had to give it up.

I kept lifting weights despite not competing and I lost a little bit of weight through apathy and a busy schedule at work. I was in a pretty bad state in my mid 20’s with a BMI of over 40 and I getting out of breath walking up stairs. Thoughts of going back to strongman had made me subconsciously try to stay heavy but it dawned on me that it probably wasn’t optimal for my health so I made the decision to drop some fat. My first real ‘cut’ was a shambles but it worked. I went from 132kg to 110kg but lost a lot of muscle in the process due to lack of knowledge. Although I never stopped, my training had again taken a back seat to work as a doctor and my weight remained pretty steady for a while. I had no aim and no sport to focus my attention; I just carried on with my life.

In 2014 I did my second cut, more out of curiosity, to see what I could achieve and again lost a lot of muscle but I got much more shredded this time and my diet was much more moderate. Overall I was progressing and I was slowly discovering the bodybuilding way of training.

At the beginning of 2015 I met Shaun Stafford at an event and that was the impulse I needed. At that point I decided to compete as a physique athlete (can you sense a pattern emerging?) and got to work planning my next diet. In May of that year I stepped on stage with the WBFF as a muscle model and although I didn’t win, I’ve been desperate to get back on stage since.

My journey has been full of ups and downs and as you can see it’s far from a single rapid fat loss ‘transformation’ like social media can so often portray. There were many false starts, steps backwards and periods where other things were more important. This is real life and the most important thing is that you enjoy the process, as I did and still do.

How to Set Yourself Up for Success

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’, when talking about upcoming events, but how true is this really?

Everyone has dreams but very few know how to turn them into a reality. Whether your goal is fitness related or not, the process is always the same. I’m going to tell you how to set yourself up for success with easy manageable steps and milestones along the way.

Now a huge goal can seem very daunting even when it’s over a long time period. But imagine a set of dominoes that start out very small and get bigger with each one until the last one is the same height as you. If we knock down the first small domino it will hit the slightly larger one, knocking it into its superior and so on. Eventually the last domino will fall, all originating from that tiny flick of a finger. This is how we are going to approach your goal.

Let’s look at that big domino. The end goal. First thing’s first – be very clear about what you’re setting out to achieve. If your goal is to lose 10kg then let’s set a deadline for that and make it realistic, so 10kg over 4 months would be manageable with some consistent hard work.

It’s very important to know why you want to achieve this goal. Is it for you? For your family? Think about what achieving this really means to you. A strong ‘why’ will make it easier to stay motivated.

Now we need to work backwards. If we have 16 weeks then we can set markers of success. Every 4 weeks we want to see a 2.5kg weight loss to show that we are on our way to our target weight. Plan it out on a piece of paper or in a diary and write down your target weight to aim for. These markers are milestone dominoes in our line.

During these 4 week blocks we have a lot of work to do so we are going to split them into weekly chunks. Each week you are going to have actions you need to perform. We will set small actionable tasks to do each week, and by completing these weekly we will hit our milestones. If we consistently do this then there is no reason the dominoes won’t keep on falling.

So each week set yourself some tasks and daily habits.

For example:

Weekly targets – 4 gym workouts, stick to my diet, no alcohol

Daily tasks – prepare all my meals, go to the gym, no drinks after work

If we perform all of our daily tasks then our weekly targets become much easier to do. When we weigh in at the end of the week our weight should go down and then every 4 weeks we can see if our 2.5kg domino topples. If it doesn’t then we need to go back to our weekly goals and daily tasks and see how we can make them work better for us.

One of the pitfalls of goal setting is willpower. But thankfully there are a few hacks for willpower that we can use to our advantage…

Think of willpower as a cup full of water. At the beginning of the day our cup is full after a night of sleep. Throughout the day we sip from the cup until at the end of the day it’s almost all gone. This is how willpower works. Whatever your worst task is, try to do it in the morning. If you find it hard to work out when you’ve finished your day job then go in the morning or at lunchtime. This is when your cup is full and you’re more likely to get it done. Sleep refills your cup so get a good night’s rest and watch your progress increase.

So to recap:

  • Set yourself a clear, measurable goal that is achievable and matters to YOU
  • Give yourself a time frame to work to and work backwards from there
  • Set milestones and aim towards those
  • Plan out your week with weekly tasks, targets and checklists
  • Perform your daily actions – small things you can do daily that amount to big success

Goal setting can be a very powerful tool if used correctly so make sure you give yourself the best chance for success.

The Santa Claus Post-Christmas Fitness Regime

Santa Claus Get-Fit Regime

Feeling busy and stressed out after a hectic festive period? Imagine how Santa Claus feels. This is a tough time for old St Nick – long and unsociable hours, grabbing unhealthy snacks on the fly and having little to no time to exercise. We doubt people will be baking mince pies with Stevia or leaving a flask of green tea out for Father Christmas as thanks for his festive labour. We all over indulge over the Christmas period, a time to celebrate with those closest to you over a big meal or a few Christmas drinks. It is only when the dust settles on New Year’s Day that we fall into a state of hungover guilt and declare that this is the year we make positive steps in terms of our health and fitness.

If Santa guzzles a brandy and a mince pie in every home, that is quite the calorie binge. So what can Santa do in terms of minimising the damage done over this period? Are there any golden tips that can help kick start our regimes going into the New Year? We asked a number of #TeamReflex athletes for their tips on getting St Nick back into decent nick and here is what they came up with. All of which can also be applied to your own regime if the gluttony of the festive period has taken hold…

RACHEL HOBBS

Team Reflex’s dietician Rachel Hobbs says “Nutrition is the cornerstone of any health and wellness regime, without a foundation built on solid nutrition basics you will always be limited in your success. You cannot out train a bad diet”.

There are a few basics that Rachel would recommend to Santa when starting a festive fat loss regime. Firstly, get hydrated. Excess alcohol over Christmas can lead to dehydration but consuming enough H20 is crucial throughout the year. The brandies won’t help and neither will running around sweating in a big red outfit, meaning replacing those lost fluids is crucial. Not only will adequate hydration improve all manner of bodily functions and performance, your ability to use fat as an energy source is reduced when dehydrated.

You’d be forgiven for thinking jolly old St Nick should lay off the fats – but fat is actually your friend. Fats are key for brain and hormonal functions and are also very filling. Ensure a variety of nuts, avocado and animal fats, including oily fish, is present in your diet to stay full. Eating fat in isolation will not spike blood sugar levels and therefore will not cause fat storage. It is when fats are consumed alongside insulin spiking sugary foods that problems can occur. Eating foods rich in the essential fatty acid omega 3 can improve the body’s ability to moderate its blood sugar levels and reduce the chances of excess blood glucose being stored as fat. While natural fats are beneficial for health, they are calorific and should be consumed in moderation. If Santa is eating a bag of nuts at every home he’s going to force those poor reindeer to work overtime hauling his generous posterior around.

ALEX CROCKFORD

#TeamReflex cover model Alex Crockford is in totally agreement that diet is paramount when looking to shape up and says that “you cannot underestimate the power of a good breakfast”. It’s long been thought that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and while Alex would not necessarily agree with that notion, he understands the importance of ditching the sugar frosted cereals and choosing a high protein breakfast: “Santa, perhaps it’s time to remember that good old phrase, go to work on an egg”.

GAURI CHOPRA

If you follow #TeamReflex girl Gauri Chopra on social media then you will know that she likes to get creative when it comes to creating meals, often emphasising the benefit of adding a little spice to your cooking. “Dieting can be dull if you’re restricting carbs and calories, but it doesn’t have to be,” says Gauri. “Adding spicy chillies, for example, can make your food exciting while also aiding fat loss. Chillies contain a compound called Capsaicin which can increase metabolic rate and will help Santa maintain those rosy red cheeks”.

TOM WRIGHT

Once you’re happy that you’re making steps in the right direction in terms of diet, it’s time to think about exercise and burning off those mince pies. #TeamReflex PT Tom Wright thinks it’s a wonderful thing that Santa wants to make positive steps but emphasises the need to seek professional advice before undertaking any exercise regime. He believes the key to dropping unwanted body fat is to build a little bit of muscle. “I know a lot of people will say that they don’t want to lift weights because they don’t want to become bulky, if only it were that simple,” Tom laughs, “building a little extra muscle tissue will mean that it takes additional calories for your body to function, which in turn means you will burn more calories doing nothing than someone with less muscle would.” We’re pretty sure Santa would like to be burning extra calories as he whizzes around on his sleigh this Christmas and that extra muscle will help him carry all of those heavy gadgets you’ve all asked for.

OLLY FOSTER

#TeamReflex cover model and coach Olly Foster is a big advocate of finding balance in life. “If you can find a balance that works for you, your health kick will be sustainable. Hitting every home in the world in one night is enough to ramp up the stress levels in even the most patient of us. Stress from work and training can raise a hormone in the body called cortisol, which can be detrimental to both muscle building and fat loss. Also, burning the candle at both ends never ends well – what goes up must also come down. Remember, the importance of taking time out of your day to rest and recuperate should not be underestimated.”

JACQUELINE HOOTON

Finally, #TeamReflex’s Jacqueline Hooton has worked in the fitness and fashion industry for years and has helped people of all shapes and sizes to achieve their goals. “Fitness needs to be enjoyable, therapeutic even. Fitness does not have to be restricted to the gym, the outdoors offers a wonderful arena for fitness. Running along the beach, cycling around town, walking to work or walking the dog, opportunities to burn calories and improve your fitness present themselves every day”.

There you have it, tips for Santa from a selection of fitness pros. Now it’s just a matter of waiting and seeing whether he turns up in December 2016 able to give some of #TeamReflex a run for their money. Good luck to Santa, and we hope these tips are of even greater use to your own post-Christmas get-fit regimes! Here’s to a healthy New Year. To get started, take a look at our Health & Wellbeing range or alternatively, our Weight Management section.

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Protein Pancakes | Cheat Day Recipes

Reflex Protein Pancakes

Cheat day: potentially the best day on the calendar. Anyone that follows a fitness and nutrition regime will know that to maintain it in the long-term, flexibility and balance is crucial. So we set out to find the ultimate, mouth-watering treat for cheat day – and came up with one that amazingly, isn’t actually all that naughty and still packs a protein punch.

The Protein Chef has collaborated with Reflex Nutrition to create a stack of delicious protein pancakes, smothered in peanut butter and chocolate sauce, and topped with soft R Bars for your protein-packed pleasure. The best thing about this recipe? It won’t destroy your calorie count for the day or leave you feeling sluggish and full of remorse. And to top it off, each serving delivers 33g of protein to support your workout when you pick it up the next day.

Here’s the recipe to get you started:

Pancake ingredients
200g Oat flour
70g Reflex 3D Protein vanilla
10g Baking powder
100g Liquid egg whites
400ml Milk
1tsp Coconut oil (for frying)

Toppings – as much or as little as you’d like
Peanut butter
Reflex R Bars
Sugar-free chocolate sauce

Method

  1. Mix together the oat flour, protein powder and baking powder.
  2. Then add the egg whites and milk and whisk well.
  3. Heat a pan to a medium/high heat and add the coconut oil.
  4. Once the coconut oil has melted, add a few spoonfuls of the mixture to the pan.
  5. Cook for a couple of minutes then flip it over and cook for a further minute until golden and fluffy.
  6. Pile the pancakes high, add the toppings and enjoy.

Macros
(per portion for the pancakes only. Recipes serves 2-3 people)
Calories – 409
Protein – 33g
Carbs – 55g
Fat – 6.6g

One portion of these protein pancakes provides 33g protein, 55g carbohydrates, 6.6g fat and just 409 calories, meaning you can enjoy your day off without regret. The light and fluffy texture has a delicious naturally sweet flavour, thanks to the vanilla ice cream flavoured Reflex 3D Protein used in the recipe. Our 3D Protein is the first time release protein to contain Native Whey Protein, Micellar Casein and Egg White Protein for a fast, medium and slow release of protein, in the correct ratio.

We’ve topped with chunks of our R Bars, to give an extra protein kick, fantastic texture, and a satisfying sweetness to round off this dish. Our R Bars provide 20g protein, 1-2g sugar and 9-10g fibre per bar, plus they are made with almonds and peanuts, cocoa butter, and natural flavourings.  The Protein Chef has used our Chocolate Peanut Caramel flavoured R Bar, but you can choose from our range of six flavours including double chocolate brownie and cookies and cream.

Reflex sends huge thanks to The Protein Chef. To read more of her fantastic protein recipes, visit The Protein Chef website.

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Bought a Diet Whey recently?

Scale displaying the weight

Better check the CLA DOSE and ORIGIN TODAY

If you currently use, or are thinking of using a diet whey type of product, I implore you to read the following. This information will infuriate numerous supplement companies but will provide you with VITAL information needed to make an informed choice.

I’m guessing that if you are buying such a product as part of your weight management plan, you’ll be interested in losing fat and toning muscles. Well the simple question is whether you want to buy a product that fails from the outset to consider the simple scientific research?

These products contain ingredients that have been scientifically proven to reduce body fat.

The number one ingredient for this purpose is CLA – conjugated linoleic acid. It’s in just about every single diet whey on the market and is really the single most important ingredient which differentiates the diet products from normal whey. It’ll no doubt be accompanied by green tea and carnitine.

“The most effective dose is 3,200mg per day, anything less and the effects diminish substantially.”

So that bit makes sense. But then it all falls down. Why? It comes down to the dosages used and the origin of CLA.

It’s the following simple undeniable fact according to research1 – The most effective dose is 3,200mg per day, anything less and the effects diminish substantially.

You should be insisting that your chosen diet whey protein powder delivers 3 grams of CLA with 2 servings normally referred to as a daily serving. You have chosen this product to deliver results, yes?

Consider this, scientific studies have categorically proven that subjects lose almost 3 x the amount of body fat with 3.2 grams of CLA compared to 1,000mg.

I’ll say that again, 3 x or 300% more fat lost using 3,200mg of CLA compared to just 1,000mg.

So how much CLA do you think you want in a diet whey product when used a couple of times a day? You don’t need a PhD do realise that it’s going to be at least 3,000mg.

Here is my issue, I know of no single company that supplies that dose in their diet product. Why is this? My guess is price. Unfortunately the consumer will buy the product expecting great things, and in most cases that will not be the case because science says the dosages in these products are simply nowhere near optimal.

High grade branded and patented powdered CLA like Clarinol® or Tonalin® is very, very expensive, and when used in the right doses it becomes almost prohibitively expensive. I know this only too well because when we first formulated Reflex Diet Protein® nearly ten years ago I was a gasp at how much it was going to cost. However at Reflex Nutrition we either do things the right way or not at all and based on all of the available research and the patented and trademarked material available to us, we had no hesitation in using a full dose of Clarinol® CLA from the Netherlands.

Amazingly nearly of all these type of products sell at the same price, in fact Reflex Diet Protein® is slightly cheaper than some – yet it is the only diet whey product with 3 grams + and made with patented, branded material.

Branded patented material is made by either Clarinol® in the Netherlands or Tonalin® in the USA, the rest of the unbranded material is made in China”

This brings me to origin.

Branded patented material like Clarinol® is made in the Netherlands and Tonalin® in the USA, to the best of my knowledge, the rest of the unbranded material is made in China. I know given the choice I would always choose the branded material over non branded Chinese – especially if the price of the one diet whey compared to another is the same.

The advice I give is very straightforward

  1. Make sure you’ve got the proper dose per daily serving of 3,000mg +
  2. If possible ensure its patented and branded CLA like Clarinol® or Tonalin®.
  3. If you can get all of this for the same price e.g Brand A vs Brand B, even better.

Remember, whatever peoples opinions might be, the science gives you the undeniable truth.

 

References:

  1. Efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid for reducing fat mass: a meta-analysis in humans. Leah D Whigham, Abigail C Watras, and Dale A Schoeller . 2007.