‘Meals that Heal’ Cookery Workshop

We talk a lot about optimising health through exercise and diet and it seemed as though I had spent too long (and too much money) this year expanding my knowledge on fitness.  Hence I decided to redress the balance by attending a very unique style of adult cookery class last Saturday.

Unique because the instructor was Karen Maidment of Pure Body Balance.  Karen is a personal cookery coach, health and nutrition expert and a graduate of the C.H.E.K. Institute specialising in holistic health.  She promotes a diet and lifestyle that seeks to optimise health by eliminating every kind of inflammatory.

Quite simply both scientific and anecdotal research shows that many people can’t tolerate items like gluten, sugar, lactose, nuts and legumes so all are potentially inflammatory to our internal organs and blood vessels.  Therefore, we eliminate them all, acquire our nutrition from alternatives in a fun and innovative way, resulting in the optimisation of our nutritional health.

Let me posit a theory regarding a process well known to us all called metabolism; we look at slim and lean people and say that they have a ‘fast-metabolism’ not realising that maybe they just have a good metabolism that allows them to convert all food to fuel or waste.  Meanwhile those that are storing a lot of fat are doing so because their bodies aren’t so efficient at this process.  Why?  Well vitamins and other micronutrients are needed as catalysts for these reactions to occur and consuming a lot of ‘dead-calories’ like white sugar and white bread deprives us of such valuable nutrition.  In addition, inflammatories such as nuts and gluten, even if you appear to be tolerant of them, can slow down the uptake of nutrients leading to the same problem of poor metabolism.  All the more reason it seems to go anti-inflammatory even if it is to try something different.

Enter the lovely Karen and her great cooking masterclass because that’s what it was; having to get these recipes right using ingredients like coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut sugar, coconut water (see a pattern here) and other ‘free-from’ ingredients must have taken a lot of time, effort and kitchen disasters before getting them to perfection ready to introduce to the world.

Amongst the goodies that we made were venison burgers, sweet potato flatbreads, coconut cookies and gluten-free muffins.  The food tended to be very filling and satiating which is important for long-term sustainable healthy eating and the answer to fad diets like juicing and ‘2-day fasts’.

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This workshop has come at the right time for me as I try and take nutrition to another level.  Going inflammatory-free requires a whole lot of effort and adjustment. Knowing what foods to have as your staple and organising one’s life and budget around this approach.  That is why I am spending a few weeks just sampling and experimenting.  The biggest challenge at the moment is making a no-bake snack which I can keep as a staple in between meals.  It is already becoming an exciting experience.



My belief then is that we all need to know how to go inflammatory-free so the best starting point is purchasing Karen’s book.  You can even get a £5 discount on her book, just send me an email and I will arrange that.  Otherwise good luck on your journey to superman (or superwoman) health.

FRUIT – The Deceitful Friend


We all have at least one of these.  The friend or colleague at work who smiles in your face then stabs you in the back.  Either that or it is a true, genuine friend who, once in a while, will bring you down; maybe date your ex or something or ‘cock-block’ you.

Think fruit as doing the same thing; we choose to live a healthy lifestyle and begin by ditching the biscuits, crisps and chocolates and we turn to that supposed best friend, FRUIT.  It ends up being fruit for breakfast, a smoothie for lunch and instead of a post-dinner dessert we had a fruit bowl.

So here’s the deal; fruit is still food and still counts as extra calorie intake.  A large apple weighing in at 220 g still contains 23g of sugar which is 5 teaspoons.  Would you have 5 spoons of sugar in your coffee?  Probably not.


Exaggerated the situation a little bit as fruit sugar is not all dead calorie with it coming loaded with other gifts like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants but the point is valid.  Fruit should be taken in moderation.

For a more detailed article on the subject from a higher authority read this article


And here are your 4 things to consider when incorporating fruit into a healthy lifestyle:

  1. Portion Control:  fruit should still be properly moderated.  The equivalent calorie intake of a medium sized apple is fine.  It may be a couple of spoons of sugar in the system but at least it comes with vitamins and minerals to help it break down easily without ‘turning to fat’.  So go for the small fruit bowl.
  2. Combinations: Fruit is consumed as a snack but even our snacks must be well-balanced so make sure you also consume the equivalent of 5 Brazil nuts or a small amount of yoghurt.
  3. Beware of smoothies: This whole business of smoothies allowing you to take in heaps of fruit should be abandoned now.  This is only the case before or after a workout in my opinion.  We already established that too much fruit isn’t good for you.  The extra problem with smoothies is that you have removed one stage of the digestive process so giving little time to your system to deal with the nutrients.
  4. Vary your snacks: There are plenty of other items that you can snack on, not just fruit; things like Biltong, cheese (yes cheese), veggie crisps, nuts and healthy bars from NAKD. Even raw chocolate or my POW POW energy balls.



Calorie Counting vs Intuitive Eating


Everyday we are exposed to the topic of diets in some form, be it the latest copy of Hello, a feature in Daybreak or a girlie conversation at work (couldn’t help myself).  The result is that we find ourselves drowning in a sea of contradiction with huge billboards endorsing low fat milk (endorsed by sports personalities) and other health experts telling us that in fact, whole milk is better for you.

True we live in an information age but your original search term if misinformed will lead you down a blind alley.  So this is your search term:

Calorie counting versus intuitive eating

There, get searching or alternatively read the rest of this post.

So calorie counting was the original method of leading a healthy lifestyle.  It remains the old school method adopted by bodybuilders and performance specialists.  Tried and tested and seems to work for most people.  The simplest way to work it out…well there isn’t but let’s give it a go:

I weigh 150 lbs (yes pounds) therefore my minimum calorie requirement to stay alive is that times 10 so 1500 calories.  I then add my daily activity; I am moderately active so I need to add 50% to this figure.

1500 + 750 = 2250

So daily I need 2250 calories.  Thus, if I need to ‘lose weight’ I need to create an energy surplus and restrict my consumption to something like 2000.  Thereafter, I look for a food database like that on ‘MyFitnessPal’ and start creating my meal plan.

In reality this method I believe only works if you guarantee your surplus by keeping your calories down to 1500.  It’s important to remember that based on this method a calorie is a calorie no matter where it comes from whether it comes from a slice of lettuce or a chocolate bar.  President of B2C Fitness Brent Brookbush MS says in his book Fitness or Fiction:

No matter what you eat, if energy input is more than energy output you will gain weight.  Heck you could gain weight eating lettuce (Fitness or Fiction, The Truth about Diet and Exercise, p.5)

So that’s the calorie counting method.

As for intuitive eating then this a totally different kettle of fish and forms the basis of many of the new diets we hear about today.  It takes into account the type of calories we consume as not all calories are created equal.  To put this into perspective, a banana contains 100 calories as does 5 brazil nuts.  On the other hand a ‘weight watchers’ chocolate digestive biscuit contains just 40 calories.  So, logically speaking which of these foods is the healthiest? Precisely!

Intuitive eating doesn’t just focus on calorie quality but with also dealing with our psychological approach to food, responding to hunger signals, dealing with them and making the right food choices.  Scott Sonnon said it perfectly in a recent facebook post:

‘If you feel satisfied, but not full, a little hungry, but not ravenous, most of the day, then you’ve probably found the right balance of macronutrients (lean proteins, complex carbs and good fats.)’

In essence I am putting any diet that isn’t inherently calorie controlled under the intuitive eating label and these include extreme methods like Atkins where an entire food group is eliminated as well as some more attractive approaches like Paleo, the Harcombe Diet, the Hay Diet and GI.

So, and stay with me, it is my longest post to date, before beginning any ‘diet’ we ask ourselves which approach to nutrition is this?  Calorie counting or intuitive eating?  Remember, with the latter there isn’t technically any counting just food selection and vague portion control, hence you do not look at labels.  If however you are counting then whether it is cheesecake or tuna it doesn’t matter as long as you stay beneath your target intake.

In addition may I also recommend a better post on this subject and I also advise you to read the accompanying comments as they show people’s real life experiences with nutrition.


As for my view then I am now believing in calorie counting again as the best initial step towards developing an awareness of what goes into our system.  On this basis I have created a 1500 calorie/day diet plan geared towards weight loss, although most of the products are only available in UK stores.  Click the link to download it now.


Fancy Coffee Chain or Builder’s Cafe

This for me is a hugely relevant subject amidst the ever-growing keep-fit culture submerged in a sea of misconception. Queue upon queue of people outside Starbs, Pret and Costa divided into two categories of people:
1. Those in a rush that suffice with the equivalent of tea and toast or in the fancy world, coffee and croissant. A breakfast so deprived of nutrition unlikely to keep you alert during the day and definitely not conducive to a healthy lifestyle.
2. Those deceived by the notion that porridge is the healthiest breakfast. Sorry guys but this is not true. Porridge means carbohydrates and still likely to raise blood sugar levels. A breakfast should be protein rich and that means eggs for breakfast. So where do you go for your healthy breakfast instead? The builders cafe of course where you can have as many eggs as you wish in any form you wish. True you’ll have to sit next to a bunch of big fat hairy guys in fluorescence and hard hats but try it, they’ re actually very entertaining.

The moral is not to get deceived by the marketing slogans and try to get advice from proper pros. We have two gyms side by side in Islington, London and you will always see us in the old school cafes unless of course now when I am in need of a wifi connection lol.

New Supplements Feature: Red Pill or Blue Pill?

Starting what I think is an important feature.  With a Holland and Barret store on every high street and new products appearing on our screens all the time I aim to collect information from people, forums and oher sources to give you a clearer idea on what you should be taking so that you don’t spend hours online deliberating on what to buy before you purchase the whole flamin lot (or nothing at all).

I am relying primarily on my own findings from things I am taking or have taken in the past.  If you follow my twitter you will see that I am currently testing a form of creatine called Krealkalyn from Shear Fitness.  This is buffered creatine so it is already at a desired pH for it to act fast and there is no loading phase.  Hence, it can work out cheaper than creatine.  More info in this article:

So read up on this and if you’re in the UK let me know if you wish to purchase this product.  My intial feelings are that my performance is definitely enhanced by its use but need more time to see if it is helping me look more defined or bulked up.  Of course, I need to give my two-pence on taking creatine because there is so much conflicting information out there.

In addition look out for my post on the golden rules to observe when taking supps (yes there is an abbreviation).

In the mean time choose your products carefully and give me a shout if you are currently in a predicament about what to take.

Miraculous benefits of coconut water

Ok so slightly exaggerated heading but you would have believed me judging by all the celebrity endorsements of coconut water


So for a start all this replacing of salts talk is more bullcrap than fact.  If anything needs replacing it is just sodium and a pinch of salt in your water is enough for that.  Post-workout you need to replace glycogen and resynthesise protein for which even a glass of milk can do the trick but a protein shake can be more effective.  Before and during a workout however, you do need to stay hydrated and this is perhaps more important than any carbs or proteins you may need before training.  Again water should be sufficient but it is nice to have something fancy and flavourful.  This is where coconut water can find a place in our exercise regime.  Grab a bottle of Zico coconut water as I did today.  It has a screw on lid so you don’t have to drink it all in one go.

Of course, if you need that pre-workout pump through some vaso-dilation then you may need something like NO Extreme from Shear Fitness Nutritionals.  Me though, I believe in progressively improving your fitness and athleticism through a training system like TACFIT.

So take your pick but if water is too plain then defo choose coconut water over red bull or lucozade.

Curbing our diet habits, part 2: 3 courses to failure

Unless we’re on benefits (no offence, I was there once) we probably hate daytime TV. However we may have enjoyed the the cooking programmes. And for us UK folk the king of all these shows is ‘Come Dine with me’. Yes we all love the way that guy mocks everyone with merciless effect. Cooking programmes and fine dining is all about 3 course meals; like I mentioned in a previous blog it is our habits making us fat and unhealthy not necessarily our diet itself. By combining so many different foods and foodgroups we delay the process of digestion. This is why we feel lethargic after a big meal, not because ‘carbs are heavy’ it is because we combined so much in one sitting. I believe you should be able to indulge in a cheescake or apple crumble two or three times a week but don’t eat it straight after your meal. Give it an hour or two make a cup of tea and then enjoy your cheesecake over a rubbish DVD.

By the way, you probably realised I am quite permissive with my nutritional advice. However, if your were paying me money to keep you fit that wouldn’t be the case.

Anyway, the idea of food combining, or more to the point avoiding it, is a concept promoted by Dr Hay. The plan is great and adhering to it is a good way to avoid feeling tired and sleepy after a meal. Here is a link to it and let me know if it works for you:


So be careful when it comes to combining food. The Hay guide is a good way of knowing how you should and shouldn’t combine foods.

Keep active


Curbing our diet habits, part 1: Tea and toast for breakfast equals no breakfast!


As fitness enthusiasts we know the importance of diet in achieving our fitness goals.  Many fitness pros will go as far as saying that 60% of the effort to reach any fitness goal involves rectifying our diet and then adhering to it.  I have come to realise that it is not our diet making us overweight and unhealthy but our habits.  These include the following:

1. Tea and toast for breakfast

2. The three-course meal

3. Finishing off the whole packet

Focussing on the first point it comes down to our hectic nine-to-five lifestyles, not leaving any time for breakfast and leaving the home after a quick sip of tea whilst munching on a bit of toast.  Worst stil,l leaving without anything and rushing off to starbucks waiting in that mile-long queue. Why oh why? Breakfast is the king of all meals, your chance to refuel after a six to seven hour fast.  A time when you need to stabilse your blood sugar levels and control high cortisol levels in the body.  Please tell me what kind of nutrition are you receiving from a couple of slices of bread, even if it is wholemeal?

So let’s start fixing up the breakfast.  Some of you may have started having porridge for breakfast; why not? Practically everyone sees it as a healthy breakfast option.  Porridge may be better than your frosties or coco pops but ultimately it is a carbohydrate so will still raise blood sugar levels.  Check this article out which exposes the myth behind breakfast cereals.


So the best breakfast is one that is protein rich.  Forget tea and toast, make time for egg and toast.  I wouldn’t care what type of bread you had if any, just start with the eggs.  Your long-term health deserves it.  The benefits of a protein-rich breakfast outweigh the harm of 30 minutes less sleep.  You could even boil the eggs the night before.

Finally, if you work out in the morning great! But that isn’t an excuse to skip breakfast.  Yeah you did well to train whilst everyone is asleep but you need to fuel up at least 40 minutes before with a source of protein.

I next attack the concept of the three-course meal.

Keep active