fitness basics

Breaking Down the Basics Episode 1: Meal Timing

Myestery

The online fitness community is ever-expanding, and as consumers we are faced with masses of information on a daily basis.
Whilst this information sharing opens up incredible opportunities for learning, it simultaneously forces us to confront the issue of who is worth listening to, and who is best cast aside.
A topic guaranteed to get people talking and split opinion is meal timing.

Traditionally, gym goers might preach that meal timing is everything… Calling on you to neck a protein shake before your feet hit the floor in the morning, then follow up with an alarm for your subsequent 30g protein dose every 2.5 hours. All whilst nailing your pre and post workout nutrition, and of course avoiding carbs at night like they are going out of fashion.

But then as of late we have seen a different end of the spectrum rise in popularity. With countless spins put on ‘intermittent fasting’ and even competitive physique athletes taking a more flexible approach to their diet – so that weekly totals and overall food intake are all that seems to matter.

With the speculation and rumors aside, let’s make sense of the scientific research on meal timing. What has actually been shown in real, human studies? And what does that mean for you?

#1) Overall Daily Calorie Intake is King

Despite the countless details we could explore with meal timing, your actual calorie intake remains the overbearing factor.

If your body maintains weight at 2500 calories and you take in 3000 daily, you WILL gain weight. Whether those calories are from one Man Vs Food-style showdown, or they sneak under the radar disguised as 8 sporadic snacks.

Studies show that once daily intake is equally matched – almost all otherwise noteworthy factors become accounted for.

Meaning it makes up the biggest part of the picture and provides a foundation for the rest of your diet.

Take Home Message #1

Know your intake and focus on controlling that before you entertain anything else. Understanding your body’s response to a certain amount of calories is valuable information and will provide you with a base of knowledge going forward.

Focus on eating the right amount of calories for your goals, above the precise timing of different nutrients.

#2) Eating More Frequently Will NOT ‘Speed Your Metabolism’

The ‘Thermic Effect of Food’ (TEF) is the amount of calories your body burns in order to digest food.

TEF is dependent upon the calorie content of a meal, not the frequency of meals.

Studies have shown no change in TEF with meal patterns ranging from 2-7 meals per day. However, a reduced TEF has been observed in sedentary people that follow a sporadic weekly feeding schedule.

Take Home Message #2

Find a moderate, daily feeding schedule that best fits your lifestyle. Stay within the 2-7 meal range and your metabolism will be operating like a well oiled machine.

#3) Spacing Out Protein Intake May Benefit Your Muscle Mass

Net muscle protein synthesis moves in waves throughout the day. As you eat protein – it temporarily increases and peaks, followed by a steady decrease until your next meal. So fasting for extended periods increases your body’s time spent in a state of breakdown.

But pause the search for a protein-infused IV just yet. As studies have shown that once muscle protein synthesis is maximized – there is a refractory period, that requires waiting until your body is ready to maximize it again. Making you wait to reap the benefits of a high protein meal once more.

Take Home Message #3

Research has shown the sweet-spot to be a serving of high quality protein every 4-6 hours. To really ensure you maximize the muscles’ response to what you are eating – opt for sources high in the amino acid Leucine. Such as chicken, beef, eggs, whey, turkey and fish.

#4) There is NOT a One Hour ‘Anabolic Window’ Surrounding Your Workout

The notion that there is a single hour after your workout to capitalize on food intake actually originated from research done in the 1980s. But luckily, scientists did not call it a day there and then. As evidence has since surfaced to disprove that you need protein and ‘fast acting’ carbohydrates within an hour of your session.

In fact, a recent analysis has suggested a far more practical 4‐6 hour time slot surrounding your workout.

Protein and carbohydrates consumed in this time may work synergistically with the positive impact training has on your body.

Take Home Message #4

Intuitively, it makes sense to consume protein and carbohydrates to help fuel your weight lifting performance and recover effectively.

But you are most likely safe eating a couple of hours before your workout, then heading home to cook and enjoy a meal leisurely afterwards. Just ensure a good protein and carbohydrate dose with each meal.

The one caveat is if you train twice in a single day. At which point quickly replenishing your glycogen with carbohydrates becomes important to your performance.

To Recap…

First and foremost, focus on your daily calorie intake. Before finding a meal schedule that best fits your lifestyle, ideally between two and seven meals a day. Spread your protein intake out over those meals if you want to maximize muscle gain. Then, to fuel your performance and recover well – aim to eat protein and carbohydrates in the 4-6 hour interval around your workout.

It is repeated efforts, sustained over a long period of time that yield results. I get it, that is not new and sexy. It does not promise 30-day abs nor guarantee less work and more results. But, creating your ideal physique involves playing the long game. By choosing sustainability and enjoyment over short term extreme measures, you can appreciate the journey all the more. Ensuring that the process is just as gratifying as the end goal.

By Jack Lenton
Exercise Science Student
Follow @JackLenton7 on Twitter for thousands of more training and nutrition tips!
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Zanna interview

Girl Gains with Zanna Van Dijk – Sheffield University Graduate

Zanna Van Dijk is a Personal Trainer, PhD Nutrition and Bodypower Expo sponsored athlete, author of two ‘guilt-free treats’ ebooks, fitness model, blogger and creator of #girlgains, a social media revolution inspiring girls to become fitter, healthier and happier. But with a first class degree under her belt, Zanna is as accomplished in the classroom as she is in the weights room. We catch up with Zanna to find out her secrets to success at university, in the gym and out in the industry…

 

Tell us a bit about yourself…

Okey dokey. Hey, I am Zanna. I am a 22 year old (almost 23, eek!) personal trainer, fitness model and blogger. I live in London but I am originally from `Yorkshire. I went to the university of Sheffield and studied speech science, and graduated with a first class degree. I was a fully qualified speech and language therapist ready to enter the working world. Then I went travelling, realised that I needed to follow my passion, and moved into fitness. I did my PT course, moved to London and the rest is history really!

 

Where did your journey into health and fitness begin?

It began while I was at university. My degree was four years long and two years into it I decided to make changes to benefit my health. I was what I describe as “skinny fat” meaning I was slim but unhealthy – I ate poorly and didn’t exercise. I started to slowly move more and eat more nutritious foods. It was a gradual change over the course of months and years but it turned into a hobby, and then a passion.

 

How did your university experience shape the way you approach fitness in your own life or with clients?

It taught me the importance of balance. University is a very social time in your life. You’re surrounding by friends and going out a lot for meals, drinks and sometimes a cheeky party or two. As a result I encourage my clients (and myself) to maintain a balance in life. I use the 80/20 rule – I eat healthy and train hard 80% of the time and I indulge and relax 20% of the time. I also make sure that I am flexible in my approach to eating so I can enjoy meals out and social occasions with friends.

 

Zanna van Dijk

What do you see as some of the biggest obstacles to healthy living at university, and how do you think students can overcome them?

The biggest one is peer pressure. At uni it is often deemed as “cool” to go out, get drunk and eat takeaways. When I personally made changes to my lifestyle, I got a fair amount of criticism. However, just stick to your guns and realise that you’re doing this for you, not for anyone else or their approval. Another issue is budget but I found that ordering my meat online in bulk (I used musclefood) helped reduce my outgoings, and so did buying fresh veggies from the local greengrocer rather than a supermarket. In the end you have to prioritise health – you would happily spend £30 on a night out so why not spend that on a bunch of nutritious veggies and fruit for the week?

 

We know that you’re a proponent of IIFYM – do you feel this strategy is well suited to university or would you recommend a different dietary strategy for students?

I personally use IIFYM but I will never prescribe this or any specific dietary approach to everyone/students as a whole. You need to find what works for you. Sure IIFYM works for me but I have a few friends who I know hate tracking macros, so it wouldn’t work for them. Educate yourself on various approaches. Test them out and use trial and error. It is a learning curve.

 

Do you think you need a background in sports science / dietetics etc to be successful in the fitness industry?

Nope. Obviously it is going benefit you greatly and mean that you have the knowledge to be an incredible person in the fitness industry. Education is highly valuable and by having a degree in a relevant field you will already be leaps and bounds ahead of many people in the industry. However, it is not 100% necessary. For example personal trainers can do an independent course and then continue on to do  further education through more courses. These are often separate from university and they do not require a degree. Also -the fitness industry relies heavily on personality, charisma and enthusiasm which are things you cannot learn from a degree. Knowledge is power, but knowledge is useless unless you can apply it and make it relevant and accessible to your clients.

 

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Where do you see the fitness industry heading?

I think that it is really hard to tell where the industry is going to go. It is always developing and changing. I definitely see even more of a lean towards digital and technology based fitness like apps and online coaching. However, I don’t think that good old face to face personal training will ever die as it is so effective, personal and fun.

 

We’ve heard fantastic things about the Girl Gains movement – can you tell us more about this?

I recently wrote a whole blogpost about what #girlgains is (see here) but I can describe it in a nutshell. It is a movement started by myself and my two best friends. We are all personal trainers but all come from very different academic and fitness backgrounds. We have different stories to share and advice to give. We created a community called #girlgains which started as a hashtag and expanded into events which bring together hundreds of girls, as well as products like leggings and smoothies, The sole purpose of #girlgains is to unite women from all over the world and to inspire them to become fitter, healthier and happier.

 

Girl Gains puts a major emphasis on boosting self esteem and self acceptance – do you think the fitness industry holds unhealthy or unattainable standards?

Yes and No. In the fitness industry there are people who are open, honest, unfiltered and relatable. There are also those who are edited, perfected and unrealistic. The problem comes when people compare themselves to these individuals. Social media in the fitness industry NEEDS to be taken with a pinch of salt. Everyone chooses the most flattering picture, everyone posts the prettiest healthiest food. We all try to look our best as it is in our nature, but we all need to realise that everyone else is doing the same. The best thing is to “stop comparing your behind the scenes to everyone else highlight reel”. You do you.

 

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With more and more health and fitness professionals offering their services, it can be difficult to find the right person to work with. What are the characteristics of a great coach or personal trainer?

There are two key components to a great coach: knowledge and personality. Look for someone who has qualifications and continues to learn through further study. If you have specific goals e.g. strength gains or running a marathon, then find a coach who specialises in this area. However, knowledge is not everything. A trainer needs to have a bubbly and infectious personality. They need to be able to motivate and inspire you. They need to make you feel comfortable.

The best thing to do is to book in a one off session with a trainer to try them out and get a feel for them before you move forward and book more sessions. You will either click with them or not.

 

What kind of clients do you work with?

Everyone! I work with middle aged men with mobility issues, young girls looking to learn the basics, busy business women and everything in-between. By far my biggest client group is women aged 18-35 who are looking to get fitter and stronger. I specialise in introducing girls to lifting weights in an unintimidating way and pushing them to make #girlgains of their own.

 

If you were now able to give one piece of advice to your university-self, what would that be?

Relax!!! I was so stressed at uni as I set such high academic expectations of myself. I thought that I had to work 12 hours a day to get a first. In reality, in my final year of uni when I started to get out more, study less and find a balance of work and social life- that’s when I got my highest marks. Uni is for studying but also for socialising. It is for enjoyment not just work.

 

Zanna van Dijk
Instagram @zannavandijk
Facebook Zanna van Dijk
Twitter @zannavandijk
www.zannavandijk.co.uk

 

Interview by Emma Pudge

 

 

My favourite body part is my back I don’t think that there is anything wrong with being proud of your body I have made huge progress with it recently – especially since I started doing lots and lots of pull ups thanks to my strength coach @awillis1515. The width of my back has massively improved – to the point where I don’t fit into old t shirts and tops Pull ups are my ultimate favourite exercise. Ever. Seriously. (The guys at @thelomaxway always comment on how ridiculously often I do them!). I get all my clients working on their pull ups as they’re an amazing upper body and core exercise. If you want me to train you and help you work towards doing your first pull up then drop me an email: zannavandijk@gmail.com Wearing @activeinstyle top and @heyjolondon leggings #girlgains

A photo posted by Zanna van Dijk (@zannavandijk) on

Untensed vs tensed Women think that lifting weights will make them look manly. Well, I've been lifting for a couple of years now and sometimes I look in the mirror and think "do I even lift?" When I'm not tensing I just look like an average girl and I certainly don't look "bulky". Girls – please don't be afraid to pick up some challenging weights. It's the best way to sculpt your body and "tone up" (I dislike that term!). Plus you'll feel like a total badass as you get stronger If you're London based want me to train you and show you how to lift weights, then drop me an email: zannavandijk@gmail.com P.s. Excuse the undies as these were progress pictures just meant for my coach and my bra is from @activeinstyle #girlgains

A photo posted by Zanna van Dijk (@zannavandijk) on

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shoppingonastudentbudget

Shopping on a Student Budget

Shopping on a student budget is all about common sense. It’s very simple. The key is organisation and sacrifice. Being smart and thinking before you act. Planning ahead in order to not find yourself with an empty fridge. Don’t give into peer pressure, just because the house is ordering a pizza it doesn’t mean you have to get involved…. Leave them to munch their circle of grease in front of the TV while you snack have a bowl of Greek yoghurt and nuts as you get tomorrow’s assignment done. Prioritise quality food over expensive spirits and ‘procrastination foods’ and you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself. There is a choice here between buying her a drink at vodka revolution or seducing her with a salmon tagliatelle, for less that £10.

Food

To make shopping more cost-effective, organise your groceries into three categories. Fruit and veg, meat and the rest (whole grains, rice, oils, dried fruit, nuts, dairy)

  • Fruit and veg; Find a local market, where everything is usually ‘‘a pound a bowl’’. You’ll get x3 more bang for your buck at a market than in the supermarket. Markets are also great for bargaining quality fresh herbs such as mint, coriander, thyme, garlic, onion and lemons that are all expensive in the grocery stores. If you use these everyday in your cooking, buying them individually can equate over time. A trick is to go in the last hour of the day where you can definitely bargain for a buck!
  • Meats; If you have a few keen gym buddies or house mates, save money by going to the quality local butcher as a group, you’ll be surprised how much discount the butchers will offer if you buy a large amount of meat. By all chipping into a big order of chicken breast you’ll get that price per kg right down. Even if you buy in bulk on your own 9 times out of 10 it’ll still workout as better value for money than the supermarket. Similarly to meat, your local fishmonger will have great quality and variety of seafood. There are always plenty of offers in the fishmonger. Buying whole fish is cheaper, and the guy wearing the silly hat will always clean and cut the fish for you. Become a regular and take your friends, and watch the loyalty discount appear! Make sure to freeze the excess, as you don’t want to confuse the flatmates with an organised but reeking fridge.
  • The Rest; Aldi is King! It is excellent quality and value for money. If you don’t have an Aldi near you then look for the nearest value supermarket. Buy the supermarkets own brand of dairy and the largest containers you can carry of the stuff that doesn’t go off. Alternatively, Amazon can be a great shout for buying large bulk bags of rice, nuts, dried fruits and the like and as it’s delivered it saves you from a torturous journey home carrying it all on your back!

Nutritious food doesn’t have to taste plain, adding flavour and variety to meals is simple. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the huge selection of fresh herbs and good quality spices that are available. Buy a few healthy carb sources such as basmati rice, wholemeal pasta and couscous in bulk and use them interchangeably. Have meat sources that you use continuously then save room to vary one or two meals week by week.

Other than fresh fruit and veg which should be bought at least once a week, the idea is to bulk bulk bulk and occasionally, treat yourselves to a 13 oz. steak or a pound of king prawns, be it for your own pleasure or to keep your mum happy when she comes to visit. Start taking advantage of the loan drop at the beginning of term to invest bulk, this will A) mean you never run out of chicken, and B) give you a well needed newsflash that you can’t spunk all of your cash on fresher’s week club nights.

Sports Supplements

You should consider a few points before clicking buy in your shopping cart! There is no need for a drastic shelf of supplements if you eat a balanced macro and micro rich diet. Avoid buying the latest mind-busting, vein popping, pump surging pre-workout every month and instead prioritize the core essentials. To help you on your way to making the right choices here’s our top student sports supplements;

  • Milk based proteins (Whey/casein); Good quality milk proteins are rich in essential amino acids (EAAS) and also posses many immune boosting effects. They also contain the greatest density of leucine, which is related to as the protein synthesis trigger. 2-3 g of Leucine is vital for triggering muscle protein synthesis. Whey is the faster digesting out of the two and due to its higher leucine content is a preferred choice for athletes to potently stimulate muscle protein synthesis during rest and post exercise.
  • Caffeine – Caffeine, a naturally occurring timethyxanthine, is the most widely used drug in the world. It is a very effective at stimulating the central nervous system (CNS). Caffeine has been shown to successfully increase performance during endurance, power and strength exercises as well as helping you burn fat cells. Even though studies have shown marginal performance enhancing improvements; the placebo of drinking a strong coffee does work wonders. Now, there is no need to waste money every day on Starbucks! Whether it comes from a good quality instant coffee or those tablets we take before exams, caffeine is a winner!
  • Creatine – One of the most widely studied supplements, creatine is found naturally in red meat and herring. Creatine has been shown to increase energy and speed up recovery and its use can lead to increased strength and lean muscle mass. In terms of it’s loading protocol, loading of 15-20g for the first 5-7 days and then a single 3-7g pulse post workout will be sufficient. Creatine monohydrate is the best form to take and is cheaper than other, ‘’improved formulas’’ that keep appearing on the market. A good tip is to mix it with lukewarm water to increase solubility. There is no reason why you should not be taking creatine, it is not dangerous at all and can add some great spark to your training!
  • Fish oils– EPA and DHA are highly unsaturated, essential fatty acids that stand for eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Yes that is mouthful! They’re called “essential” because your body can’t produce them on its own. Omega-3s are found in fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, tuna and of course, fish oil supplements. The omega-3 fats have been shown to turn on genes that increase fat loss and decrease fat storage, increase muscle recovery and growth, decrease inflammation, and support brain and bone health. If the thought of oily fish is off putting, then fish oils are a must!
Do men and women need different supplements?

The short answer is no. On a hormonal level, men and women differ greatly and women face some unique challenges, especially when that time of the month dawns! So, yes, if we’re talking women-specific health issues then there are health supplements, vitamins and minerals that may be of more benefit to women. But if we’re talking about general health and fitness then no, all of the supplement that men typically use will also be beneficial for women.

The take home message is that supplements do as they say on the tin, they should supplement the diet not replace it!

 

Now go forth! And be the most cost effective student shopper the world has ever seen!

 

Mo Bouaziz
www.mednutritionltd.com
Facebook: Med Nutrition
Instagram @MED.NUTRITION
Twitter @MedNutrition

 

MASS_MedNutrition

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racheltordoff

Student Transformation – Rachael Tordoff

Name: Rachael Tordoff
University: Plymouth University
Course: Computing
Year of Study: 3rd Year

Plymouth University Computing student Rachael Tordoff, 20, transformed her body in 12 months. She took on the challenge of a lifetime when she decided ditch the PlayStation for the gym…. and this is what happened!

“I feel healthy, happy, and positive in every aspect of my life now. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

 

MASS_RachelTordoff

“I remember the day, this time last year when I realised I had gone from trying to squeeze into a size 10 to suddenly not being able to fit into my size 14 jeans. When realising I was borderline a size 16. I decided at that point I had to change my entire lifestyle before it got worse.”

“The journey was long and bumpy, it wasn’t just about losing fat, I had to learn about myself and my body. I was never active growing up, I was the typical tv/gamer couch potato snacker and I didn’t even realised that I was doing it!

During my journey I started to enjoy the process, started believing in myself and actually thinking “I’ve got something here”, and so I decided I wanted to start competing to see how far I could push my body and my mind. Mr University was a great experience I want to shout out to the world and say you DON’T have to have a background of fitness to compete!”

 

MASS_RachaelTordoff3

Once I achieved my goal of being ‘bikini fitness ready’ I realised it was only the beginning. I am now training for an 85 mile cycling race and plan on doing a triathlon, something I never thought I would do and this is all because I realised how much I could push myself whilst preparing for the MASS Student Physique Championship.”

Rachael got through to the finals of the MASS SPC 2014 placing 4th and also won the highest public vote Award with 1,300 ‘Like’s on her photo.
Rachael Tordoff
Instagram @rachyhtordoff
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