A Strong Core For Life – Part 1

Stability is key

Got backpain? Want some shape? Need some flexibility? Want to look good in a bathing suit/bikini?

The answer to all these queries lies in a simple solution – having a strong core. In fact having a strong core plays a very underrated role in our health and wellbeing.

Ouch, My Back!

Up to 80% of people will have backpain at some point in their lives. Besides medical and surgical conditions (trauma such as motor vehicle accident, falls, infections, autoimmune conditions, tumors etc) the majority of back pain we experience comes from improper use of our natural body structure the way it has been meant to be used.

And here we will get into how this problem comes about and how exactly we can improve this backpain. It begins with the core.

The core is the basis for all movement. It’s a fine balance of musculature involving LAYERS (we’ll get into it). A correctly working our core is within our control – which is where we need to focus.

It’s More Than Just Abs

Being able to stabilize (correctly contract and brace) our core musculature is vital.

If we go back in time, backpain was a luxury that our ancestors couldn’t afford. They needed to function on a basic level that involved moving rocks, building shelter, climbing mountains, or running after food to survive. Having a bad back or unstable core, their likelihood of survival would have been greatly diminished.

Human anatomy hasn’t changed over the past tens of thousands of years, however there has been lifestyle change – increase in sedentary lifestyles and less physical activity – no wonder back pain is on the rise.

Training For All People Of All Ages?

A weight-training program enables the body to increase strength and stabilization. Resistance training is particularly beneficial for the following purposes,

  • increase and maintain your muscle mass (lower fat:muscle ratio)
  • increase bone density (combating osteoporosis),
  • improve balance
  • strengthen your core (especially compound movements)

As we get older, our body undergoes a lot of changes. Aging brings about with it particular changes including:

  • loss in muscle mass (higher fat:muscle ratio)
  • decrease in bone density – high risk of osteoporosis (even higher risk for women due to decreased post menopausal estrogen levels)
  • higher risk for metabolic conditions (hypertension, diabetes mellitus, stroke, heart attacks etc)
  • Poor posture and high risk for chronic back pain

Elderly people will directly prevent, manage or even reverse their ailing conditions by a regular wokrout program, especially resistance – based program. The best time to start one is when younger and carry on working out into old age.

And no – you can never be too old to start exercising, especially a resistance based workout. Elder folk need to be assesed and provided a workout that is within their level of flexibility, balance and works around their ailments – best done under supervision via coaching.

Our core musculature contributes to vital functions within our bodies and enables us to perform simple to complex tasks. Lower back pain is the number one patient complaint in USA – and other countries are seeing a rise in the number of backpain complaints.

How It Works And What It Looks Like:

We first must look at the functional anatomy of our core musculature. We need to understand the benefits that a good core conditioning program can have on our livelihood. A core conditioning program will

  • decrease the likelihood of back and neck pain
  • incontinence
  • ruptured disks
  • muscle and ligament strains
  • all while improving posture.

Let’s understand there are two units to the core:

1. The Inner Unit

THE “INNER UNIT” provides the necessary joint stabilization for the spine. If the inner unit does not activate properly, our spine, pelvis, and joint structures are placed under undue stress.

  • Transverse abdominis
  • Multifidus
  • Pelvic floor
  • Diaphragm

The transverse abdominis (TV) is the deepest, innermost layer of all abdominal muscles. Consider the TV as your body’s personal weight belt.

When the TV contracts it causes hoop tension around your midsection like a girdle or corset. If this muscle does not tighten up, acting as a girdle around your waist, your spine and pelvis are at higher risk of injury. The TV allows equal transfer of the load on all muscles. If it is not braced (tightened), one area – usually the lower back muscles – has to do more work that it’s supposed to.

For example, if you bend over to pick up the laundry basket and your transverse abdominis does not activate properly, this leads to all stabilisation occurring at the segmental (one-joint) level. This stress eventually leads to overload of the segmental stabilizers and—POW! You have massive lower back pain.

This occurs because the segments of your spine tighten down but the gross stabilizer (transverse
abdominis) does not leave the segments to work on their own. They cannot provide enough muscular strength at the segmental level to withstand such a movement.

Now can you imagine lifting weights, grabbing a suitcase off the conveyor belt, or reaching overhead to get down a box of heavy tapes? When the transverse abdominis does not work properly you suffer. This is what we mean when we say to “brace your core” when lifting heavy things.

2. The Outer Unit

The “Outer Unit” musculature system aids in movement and function. The outer unit muscles are basically the prime movers of the core and extremities such as the internal oblique, external oblique, rectus abdominis, back, legs, shoulder girdle, and more.

They each have a vital function in movement and are connected through four major “sling systems.”

They are the muscles we tend to see when we look at – visible abs, or glutes, and they are also important for our core to work properly. These slings are:

  • Deep longitudinal system
  • Lateral system
  • Anterior oblique system
  • Posterior oblique system

The Basis for an Core Exercise Program

A core program should include exercises for both the inner and outer unit. An outer unit program consists of exercises that allow for multijoint/ multi-plane activities. This issue has been forgotten or not taught at many gyms or in exercise programs.

Some exercises to help to activate the Inner Unit include:

  • Scissor Kicks
  • Planks
  • Leg Raises
  • Dead Bugs
  • Russian Twists

Once a neurological and muscular base has been established, however, we must move on to integrate all the muscles that surround the knee joint, hip joint, pelvis, core, and lower extremities. We need to establish a fully functional dynamic muscular system. Some exercise for the outer unit are:

  • Alternating Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Multi-directional Lunge
  • Bent-over Rows
  • Crunches

Outer exercises will include the muscles around the core such as the back, shoulder, glutes, quads and hamstrings. A good workout program will include compound movements as well and direct ab exercises. Free weighted compound movements work the core preferably to machines because machines remove the need to stabilise.

Yoga is a great practise that engages the inner and outer units so is also a good help for those who may be looking to alleviate back pain. A strong core will carry you into the years.

Thanks for reading, subscribe for more updates 🙂

The 5 Key Things Your Workouts Need To Be Effective

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

Your heart feels like it’s about to jump out of your chest. Your legs are burning. You reach for the sweat towel for the tenth time because you are completely soaked.

Great workout!!

You worked super hard, and you are making your way to a better fitter stronger you. Kudos to you.

Just like you, many people are out there feeling the burn 6 times a week, week in week out, yet after 6 months haven’t really changed much.

Yet with all the new and available workout plans and techniques, most of us aren’t walking around as ripped and as lean as toned as we want.

Did you know that with the right workout plan, you could transform yourself completely in 6 months? So why do people go, have the biggest best workout and don’t achieve the transformation?

How do you know that your workout effective? This is for those who are using workouts as a way to achieve a goal; if you go to the gym just to blow off some steam or to mess around – then you do you. However you are leaving chips on the table if you don’t follow the following rules

1. It Has Enough Frequency And Volume FOR YOU

Let’s take a a look at two routines, here is the first, routine A:

  • Monday: Chest
  • Tuesday: Back
  • Wednesday:Legs
  • Thursday: Arms
  • Friday: Shoulders
  • Saturday: Calves+ Abs

Routine B

  • Monday: Full Body
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Full Body
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Full Body
  • Saturday: Rest

Routine A is one you would find in a magazine or online with pictures of oiled up muscley dudes. And it is also NOT the right workout for you. The correct workout for you is routine B. Here is why.

Routine A is not right because it’s frequency is too low (too infrequent) and will usually be harder to recover from(10 chest exercises will be hard to recover from for you and me).

To understand better let’s get some simple terms out of the way: workouts are described in terms of:

  • Frequency (how often in a week is it done)
  • Intensity (the load/weight used)
  • Volume (total work done -ie sets, reps and weight used) – so it includes the frequency + intensity

These are all factors which determine if you are working out the muscles enough to actually cause the effect.

Here’s a brief summary for general recommendations for what works for according to the pros:

Workout each major body part 2-4 times a week, (frequency) with varying rep range, including light weights and moderately heavy weights (volume and intensity).

This is why for a beginner a full body routine 3x a week or upper-lower-fullbody split 2x a week is ideal. Instead of doing 10 chest exercises in 1 day, you spread it out over 3 days – your body can recover better.

And this is exactly why following routines from bodybuilding magazines and newspapers will not get you those results you see.

Without getting too in depth here is why – professional bodybuilders are usually on performance enhancing drugs which abnormally alter the muscle protein synthesis process and are able to recover due to their strict diet and daily routines – their routines have low frequency and very high volume.

It will burn you out and be ineffective as you will not be able to recover. So skip the Arnold routine, and get an effective one – like this one.

2. Resistance Training : Cardio Ratio

Do your squats.

You should be doing more resistance training than cardio. Unless you are training for a marathon or are a professional runner, the optimal health benefits and results are seen when around 70% of your workout is based on a form of resistance training.

There’s no need to give up your cardio class. However if you have been slow with results and have been putting in the work at the gym classes for months and months yet don’t see much change, this is the change you need to consider.

Excess cardio and not enough resistance training will result in you not retaining your muscle mass as you lose weight and you won’t get that “toned” look.

So don’t be scared to pick up a dumbbell or barbell. No equipment? No problem – you can still get an effective full body workout in and progress.

Focus on form and you are on the way.

3. Keep Your Exercises Steady

I posted recently on twitter that 80% of the exercises I’ve done over the past 4 years have been only around 10 of them – IN TOTAL.

Here’s the fact: “muscle confusion” makes as much sense as going to university and deciding to do all the courses and keep changing it up so you can graduate with the highest marks. It simply doesn’t work like that.

Switching things up only serves to keep things “exciting”. Well, which is more exciting – trying a new workout every 2 weeks or seeing results after 6 weeks? If you pick the former, then it’ll be hard to grow enough to make the changes you need – and you’ll stay stuck in the same old no-results cycle for months and months.

Pick a good handful of exercises that work and become better at it over time. This means being able to do more reps, more sets, increase weight, decrease the rest time etc. All these are signs that you are becoming better.

And when you become better you start to LOOK and perform better. Pick one workout plan and stick to it for 8 weeks in which you improve at some exercises over the time.

4. It Is Progressive

Are the workouts you are doing getting harder over time within the same program? If you are using the same weights and reps over time for 2 months, you will not be providing any new stimulus for your muscles to grow and thus your body will not adapt.

There needs to be a pattern of increase in work done. It could be an increase in reps/sets or weight. This is the concept of progressive overload.

You should be able to do more at the end, which is a sign of growth and change. That’s the whole point of working out, right? To create a change. So have a workout that challenges you more as time goes and your body will adapt over time and you will see results.

5. It Allows You To Recover

This ties in with the first point – where your workout needs to happen often enough (frequency) but needs to allow for enough time to recover.

Recovery is important physiologically – it is the time when the muscles are repaired and so it is important to allow your body to recover during this time. Light activity/low impact activity such as walking or cycling is alright to do, and do remember to keep active throughout as a general guide.

Do remember on top of these 5 tips – eat to fuel your recovery. Remember to eat your protein, fruits and vegetables, sleep, and to stay hydrated,.

So there you go, 5 key things that may be missing from your exercise program. Incorporate what is missing and you will accelerate your results.

Thanks for reading, subscribe for more updates 🙂

Contact us if you would like a personalised workout plan incorporating all these above strategies.

5 Steps To Get That Healthy Dream Body

Yes you can take the steps to achieve your health goals by following steps. In fact the path to success usually has steps; it’s rare for goals to be “accidentally” achieved.

Success is rarely an accident, it leaves clues and hints.

– Unknown

Having goals is awesome and all, but without a plan and strategy, goals remain over there, in your dreams and to-do lists. There are a few steps needed to turn your wish into a reality, and it involves having basic components of belief, faith, discipline and consistency.

At the top of the list is BELIEF! Actually ask yourself, do you truly believe that you are worthy of having what you want? If deep deep down you don’t, you will find yourself subconsciously sabotaging your efforts – taking one step forward and two steps back. Work on your belief and view of yourself and see yourself being the type of person who does what you wish to achieve.

Once your mindset is in the right place, the following steps can be applied:

1. Define Your Main Goals Clearly And Write Them Down

You have to be very specific about what you want – want to lose a few inches from your waist? Or to lose 20kg? Or to be the strongest woman/man in your country? Or to reduce your body fat? Or maybe to become the most chiselled you have ever been. You need to have clarity of what exactly you are going for, and know where your ultimate destination is. Clarity on any goal in life helps you to be specific of what you are aiming for, and it applies also to your health goals.

2. Create Mini-Goals To Achieve Your Main Goal

You will need to make smaller short-term goals to aim for, such as monthly or weekly goals. The benefit of using smaller goals is that they help to create confidence, and as the confidence builds with momentum, you will inch and foot your way towards your ultimate goal with consistency. This is especially necessary if you have an ambitious ultimate goal (which is awesome BTW, the bigger the better) – smaller landmarks to aim for keep your focus active and consistent. This could look like losing 5kg a month, lifting 10kg more per month, running 10km a minute faster each month etc.

3. Create Strategies To Achieve The Mini-Goals

This is now where you create and plan the actionable steps, such as going to the gym 4 times a week, having a protein shake each breakfast instead of cereal, doing 300kcal of cardio a week, sleeping 30 minutes earlier every night, get a workout routine and commit 3 days a week etc.They are the actual processes that will lead you to your ultimate goals. The seemingly small and insignificant tasks that you take part in consistently and over a long period of time create the biggest impact.

That’s the power of creating the right habits; they truly make or break you, and it becomes clear in the long run. The difference between “just one donut” every night before bed and “just one donut” only once a week matters more that it seems. At least aim for 51% good decisions, to start with, then add a percent every week. Remember to keep the goals small.

4. Visualise Yourself At Your End-Goal

As you go through the whole process, every day, remember to take time to actually see yourself at the end goal. This helps to reinforce to your subconscious mind that you ARE that person because, when you actually believe and see yourself being able to achieve it, your subconscious mind will do everything in it’s power to help your physical reality match your mental reality; it works the same with health. If you can see yourself having more energy, looking leaner, or being stronger, or being a faster runner, it just seems so much easier to actually become it.

5. Reward Yourself For Your Achievements

Putting in the work consistently is work, it isn’t easy, and you need to reward yourself and recognise all you do towards reaching for more. Now this reward system does not automatically mean food ie cheat meals or worse yet, cheat DAYS (which I don’t agree with as they reinforce usually hyperpalatable foods as “valuable” and your daily work/commitments as “chores” instead of as respectable steps towards improvement).

It means learning to reward yourself mentally, bask in your accomplishments and develop your self-respect as you see yourself as someone who can aim for a goal and achieve it (it’s honestly the best feeling in the world), and no-one can take it from you.

This will also help to set your behaviours in and allow them to become habits, which are intrinsically rewarding (requiring no external reward, enjoying the action for its own sake). And THEN you have hit the sweet spot – you can reach that ultimate goal, and you’re now living the dream.

Do this long enough on just about any goal you want, and congratulations, you are a winner.

Thanks for reading, subscribe below for more updates 🙂

5 Unique Tips For Your Weight Loss Journey

Its a new year, the energy is fresh, the desire and will to finally get those old favourtie jeans to fit you again, or to take control of your health and be the best you that it can be. You may have tried a fad diet before, or keto for 3 weeks until you went to a movie and bought 3 big boxes of popcorn, thought “damn I’ve blown it, I might as well give up on this idea” and maybe even back all the weight you had lost.

As we get back on the wagon with our health, I’d like to share these few tips I believe that can help guide you during the journey.

1. Be compassionate and loving to yourself during the process 

Making the decision to start is huge and is something you should be proud of yourself for doing.

When you make changes in your diet and start waking up early to run or head to the gym, there will be days where you feel bored, or feel too slow, or accidentally eat a whole pizza by yourself instead of the 2 or 3 slices you told yourself to stick to.

And during this time, I want you to think not how you messed up or how you’ve blown it or “why am I weak at controlling myself” and feel guilty; think of how far you have come already.

I want you to remember the strength and courage you took in making the changes, and keep in mind the day slept in when you didn’t go for a run, or had 3 extra slices of cake, or is COMPLETELY NORMAL and HUMAN. Forgive the moment, understand you are a mere human being with a busy and at times stressful life, and note how the next day you’ll pick up right where you left off, or how you’ll make a delicious homecooked meal after having take out the last 2 days, and understand it is okay.

No one can be 100% motivated and on track 100% of the time, if they tell you they are, they are lying. Everyone has days that are easier than others, and you should keep this in mind, acknowledge it and forgive yourself. Love yourself for taking steps to care for your body and move forward with your original intended plan.

2. Focus more on how food makes you feel rather than how it tastes

How do you feel after having a triple decker pizza that’s loaded with extra cheese? Or a bacon and avocado stuffed double cheese burger with sweet potato fries? Probably pretty good actually. That is, during the meal and right afterwards(sooooo good and yummy). Then what happens 2 hours later? Or even 6 hours later? Maybe groggy? Tired? Unenergetic? Lazy? Wanting another deep dish pizza to get energy levels up again perhaps. A tad bit even guilty maybe, because “I shouldn’t have”?

How do you feel after making yourself a home cooked meal for yourself, with all the nutrients from whole food and vegetables and lean protein? Probably less excited than the above meal, honestly. However you may feel proud of yourself, satiated for hours and full of energy for the next couple hours. You may feel less hungry to snack throughout the day. You might notice waking up the next day feeling well rested, because you are consuming enough nutrients to sustain you now.

The point I’m trying to make is to try base most of your food choices on how you feel about yourself and your energy levels in the hours and following and notice the trend of these that you have during the course of the weeks and months. It may take some trial and error in the beginning, but it is always worth it.

Focusing on how you feel will guide you towards your own right food path – even eating style. Eg you may note you trend towards a lower fat diet, or maybe a keto diet. You may note less hunger in the morning, and end up skipping it (intermittent fasting). And best of all, you will be able to adhere to it.

3. Find an activity that gives you goals

I started initially working out because I wanted to lose weight – as alot of us do. I reached a point after putting in the grinding work for months and months where I was at my lowest weight, around 52kg. I reached my “goal”. And then, what? Where do you go after reaching a target of a number or look? What more is there? Maintain only? Boring!

Then in my final year of medical school I discovered training.

It was my 2nd year of my journey, and it was strength training specifically. I thought “okay, lets see, maybe I am strong” – strong was never a word i could associate with myself. And then what I focused more and more on is lifting weights, heavier weight over time or more reps. And I realised I was actually strong. I looked forward to progressing on the gym because it felt great to have a target and achieve it, repeatedly. I now valued training instead of just exercising. Training is exercise that takes you toward a certain goal.

And you know what happened? Those mini goals of squatting my body weight became so empowering, and the best part? The “body goals” or “physique goals” I wanted came as a by-product! Double score! Now I eat mostly to support my training and for nourishment, at times even MISS the gym (unimaginable). As a side effect, my weight is usually maintained quite simply around 56-57kg, plus the gainz have given my body a look i had wanted for so long.

Human beings are goal driven – your brain likes goals and loves to seek out ways for you to meet that goal in any way it can.

It doesnt have to be strength training – like it was for me. Calisthenic goals like aiming for pistol squat or 10 bodyweight pull ups, or yoga goals such as achieving a certain position requiring mobility and flexibility, keeps you motivated to keep going and takes the pressure off wanting purely a look-a-certain-way goal or achieving a number on the scale.

It takes you out of your own mindset of “HAVING to eat or drink or sleep or exercise this way” to eating, drinking and sleeping to support your goals – you will tend to eat more nutrient rich food and value your sleep to recover; you will tend to drink less alcohol because you realise the hangovers are not worth it; and you will come to respect your body and it’s abilities. Which brings me to the next point…

4. Realise the ability to move your body is a gift and not a chore

Your body is a gift, an actual freaking miracle. Not only is it the only one you will have for your entire life, but it is capable of so much wonder. It can keep going even when you think it cannot. It heals and can tolerate quite a bit of wear and tear – too much alcohol, not enough water, not enough sleep, too little or too much food, injury and trauma, extremes of weather etc

The ability of your body to display strength and to move is a marvel. It is capable of so much and if you have the ability to train your body to move better is it not to be explored? We may not all be Usain Bolts or Michael Phelps’ but we are capable and strong.

Would you not like to know just how far we can go with our body? Nourish it and care for it, take it for a ride and see how fast it can go; how flexible and strong it can be. And appreciate the life-long support it will give you.

5. Find your BIG WHY

You will need to have an intrinsic reason why you want to take on this journey. It could be to have more energy to take care of your parents/children, to take your health back into your own hands, to feel more energetic during the day, to discipline yourself, to look in the mirror and feel proud and inspired by yourself, etc

The internal drive will keep you going AFTER the days where you lose track and have a binge or drink 2 bottles of wine in a day. It will keep you waking up at 5 am to run or do those push ups because the truth is, quite often, you will just NOT feel like doing it. Motivation is a fleeting dream, it does not last.

Your big WHY the most important and the one I would say to take your time to find, and it will guide you towards your path of a successful, sustainable and enjoyable journey.

Thanks for reading, subscribe below to get updates on new posts 🙂

Lifting Weight Makes You Bulky?

Lifting weight + eating too much = BULKY.

Lifting weight + eating just enough = NOT BULKY = TONED

That’s the reality. If you are at a caloric surplus, regardless of whatever exercise is done, weight will be gained. 

This is why nutrition is key, and why getting an understanding of nutrition is important.

Ladies, this is true for us as well. If anything, true muscle gain in a woman is difficult because we have naturally lower levels of testosterone, excessive muscle gain is almost impossible without the use of drugs, elite genetics plus a work ethic to rival The Rock… So pick up that dumbbell, yes that heavy black one, it’s only going to do wonders for you.

Truth time: Weight training burns much fewer calories than you think. By “much fewer”,its not to say it doesn’t burn any, because if you have a high volume leg day, you will burn quite a number of calories.

“Much fewer” means, resistance training should not be looked at as a tool to burn calories, because it just isn’t an efficient way to produce significant caloric deficit. 

Eat for fat loss, train for muscle retention.

It’s also why when you finally DO get nutrition in order, results seem to just pour from the heavens LOL.

This isn’t to assume everyone is trying to lose weight of course, some of us might be trying to gain weight and build some muscle. The equation still remains the same in this case, in that nutrition (caloric surplus) is a necessity, and a consistent weight training schedule is necessary.

But the majority of people trying to lose some fat, build some muscle, will only benefit from weight training, keeping in mind always the context of your calories. It will make or break your results.

Nutrition is king, when it comes to body composition. Keep that in mind.

Till next time.. 🙂

What’s The Deal With Protein?

Sometimes I feel like a protein connoisseur or something, the way I can go on and on about it. But it’s because I have not only seen the ways it has worked for myself, but in people around me who have picked up on it. There is also a science-based fitness revolution that’s been taking place ,where alot more evidence based recommendations are made and getting promoted in the media – protein is being encouraged more.

“Protein = muscle building.”

That’s how most of us understand it, and it is very true. Made from 20 amino acids, without getting too sciency here, 9 of those are essential amino acids. And of those 9, there are 3 responsible for muscle protein synthesis. Leucine, isoleucine and valine. These are the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) that are important (Seen BCAAs advertised in supplement shops? Yeah those), with leucine being the primary of the 3 BCAAs.

Yeah , okay, so what does this mean for me?

Simply put, eat enough of protein rich sources of food in a day. There’s animal and plant sources ,so no matter what diet you follow ie omnivore, vegan, keto etc,there’s a lot of options.

  • Poultry (lean cuts – chicken breast, turkey breast etc)
  • Seafood (shrimp, hake, tuna, tilapia etc)
  • Egg whites
  • Tofu
  • Game meat
  • Protein powders (whey, casein, rice protein, pea protein etc)
  • Beef*
  • Dairy*
  • Nuts and seeds*
  • Nut butters (almond butter, peanut butter etc)*
  • Whole grains – brown rice, barley, wholewheat**
  • Beans, lentils, peas, other legumes**
  • Quinoa**

The REAL deal with protein foods they don’t talk about :

Some foods listed above are almost entirely protein sources, such as the first six listed above. The rest of the foods on the list are foods that contain protein AND either carbohydrates and fat(macronutrients). Meaning eating a lot of these food will contribute to your intake of either carbohydrates or fat.

For example – the foods with a * contain fat as well, and the foods with a ** are carbohydrates that contain SOME protein, and are not protein foods on their own.

Macronutrients? What does that have to do with me liking peanut butter as my protein source?

Total calories are made up of 3 macronutrients – carbohydrates, fats and protein (well there’s a 4th – alcohol, but it has zero nutritional value and for simplicity let’s take it out of the equation).

Example of how macronutrients make up our total calores

So say you want to eat more fat and have the same calories – one of the other two would have to reduce, otherwise you will end up having excess calories – weight gain.

This means when you take in peanut butter for its protein, you are consuming not only some protein, but additional fat – peanut butter on average contains 20% protein, but 50% fat. So when you take a tablespoon of peanut butter (~20g) you take in 6g of protein but 10g of fat as well.

Just as with nut butters, quinoa is often touted as a “great protein source”. In reality, quinoa is only 20% protein and 70% carbohydrate. So a 100g portion of quinoa will give you ~5g of protein, yet also 20g of carbohydrates.

Of course carbohydrates and fats are important, but when trying to increase protein intake, its more favoured to use mostly lean protein sources rather than these other foods that are often a combination of other macronutrients.

This is because to reach your recommended intake of protein WITHOUT exceeding other macronutrients, it’s easier to consume these protein sources. To use nuts, bacon and full fat dairy for your primary protein sources will almost definitely cause you to exceed your recommended daily fat intake. So focus on mostly lean protein, in the context of your calorie needs as well as accounting for the other macronutrients.

So does that mean protein shakes and BCAA supplements are the key?

No, they are not. The only “magical” thing they do is help you reach your protein target.If you can eat enough protein containing foods, you don’t need them! Also, BCAAs contain a very very small amount of protein,not enough to stimulate MPS (muscle protein systhesis), are expensive, and cannot replace consumption of whole protein sources – BCAAs are basically a waste of money with little value; however whey and casein protein provide good value.

So how much do I need if i do resistance training regularly?

1.2-1.7g/kg of protein per day is the newer recommended amount.

(Small caveat – if you have known kidney disease or are at risk, stick to the recommended amount medically advised as excess protein impairs renal function. If you are healthy though, it is absolutely okay to ingest higher amounts of protein.)

This number is lower than most bodybuilders recommend or “the fitness industry”so to speak. The average healthy person can tolerate the commonly recommended 2.2g/kg/day or 1g/lb/day average. It’s really a range, and with this, more is not necessarily better. There’s the issue of if you have a given amount of calories a day, more protein means less room for carbohydrates and fats. So a range of 1.4 – 1.8g/kg/day will cover your bases. I opt for the least amount of protein that will actively help to retain and build muscle, just because it allows for more carbohydrates and some more fat.

As a base, stay on the higher end when losing weight to help retain muscle mass, and you can stick to the middle -lower end on maintenance and while gaining weight/bulking.

For example, I weigh 57kg, currently maintaining, and I aim for around 1.5g/kg/day

57 x 1.5 = 85.5

Therefore I usually aim for around 80-90g of protein per day.

Some days I go over, some days its a bit of work to reach the minimum, but consistency in hitting those values has had the second most important impact I have seen in terms of my body composition – with the first being resistance training – and that’s another story….

And that’s the gist of protein.

That’s all for now folks! Stay tuned, subscribe for new posts 🙂