Apr 29, 2018 / by Jon Bellis / No Comments

If you’re not following us on Facebook then you’re missing out – we post news and hot tips on health and fitness! Here’s a round up of some recent Facebook posts.


Best exercises for body composition improvements

What are the best exercises to do for body composition improvements?

They are weight training exercises of course. But which ones?

If you are ever in a conversation about weight training, people will often mime a biceps curl. That’s way down the list! It exercises one small muscle and moves one joint.

Top of the list are the big compound exercises. Compound exercises use many muscles and move multiple joints. Examples are the squat, deadlift, lunge, clean, push up and so on.

Why are they so effective?
– They work many muscles at once.
– They require and build core strength.
– They fatigue the nervous system which boosts testosterone in both men and women. Testosterone is supreme when it comes to body composition improvement.
– They boost the metabolism for hours afterwards.
– They transfer functional ability into everyday life.
– They burn lots of calories!

The downside? They’re hard! But I tend to think that’s a good thing 😉. They also need to be coached if you’re new to weight training.

Note that cardiovascular exercise will help with overall health and some fat loss, but it won’t help you retain your muscle while you lose weight.


Keep cool to burn fat

Was there anything good about the Beast from the East? Or about being cold in general?

Yes! In terms of fat loss there definitely is.

For starters, shivering is one way in which the body generates heat to keep the body temperature constant. Shivering burns calories.

But more interesting is brown fat. Unlike white fat, which stores calories, brown fat burns calories by producing heat via thermogenesis.

Cold exposure not only activates brown fat but has been shown, with repeated exposure, to turn white fat to brown fat, improving your ability to burn calories via thermogenesis. It’s also been shown to improve your insulin sensitivity. So being cold can help you lose weight and improve your health markers!

There are lots of other interesting benefits of brown fat and ways to increase it.

So, before you whack the thermostat up, think about the benefits of keeping your house on the cool side.


Exercise regularly to slow ageing

Did you spot this news the other week?


Exercising regularly slows down the usual effects of ageing, not just in muscle retention but also in health and immune system.

This is precisely in line with the advice I have been giving recently about preserving muscle. Preserving your muscle through resistance training is a great way to keep your muscle, improve your biological age, boost your hormones and build resilience to injury and illness.

Couple this with regular aerobic exercise and you have the perfect anti-ageing exercise strategy.

If you haven’t exercised regularly all your life then don’t worry, it’s never too late to start. Health improvement comes quickly with all our clients and if you can be consistent over an extended period then you’ll also be able to build muscle too.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start banking some extra years!


Exercise your face!

What’s the difference between the muscles in your face and the muscles all over the rest of your body?

The muscles that move your limbs have bone at one end and bone at the other. The muscles on your face only attach to bone at one end, but the other end attaches to skin.

So what does that mean for your face? It means that the way your face looks – your expressions, whether you look plumped up or saggy – has a lot to do with the tone in your face muscles.

Exercise your face! Tone your face muscles in the right way and you can turn a saggy old face into a more youthful face. Search for facial exercise.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people don’t like the potential for lines or the gurning that comes with exercising the face. But it might be just right for you and may help you look younger.


Improve your health with the sunshine vitamin

Sounds a bit odd, but I have a favourite vitamin.

D! It’s amazing! Why am I posting about vitamin D today? Because the sun made an appearance for a few hours and, as you know, our skin produces vitamin D on exposure to sunlight.

So why is vitamin D so great?
– It can help reduce the risk of heart disease
– It’s great for bone health, helping to prevent osteoporosis
– It can help protect against certain cancers like breast, prostate and colon
– It’s good for your immune system both boosting it and preventing overactivity. Have you ever wondered why colds are more prevalent in the winter?
– It will boost testosterone, in both men and women
– It can help beat insomnia
– It can help protect against depression

Wow, no wonder they call it the sunshine vitamin!

Just 10 minutes of summertime midday rays will provide more than enough vitamin D for the day. If you can’t get enough from sunlight or food (see picture for examples) then supplementing might be a good idea.


Preventable cancers

Perhaps not the cheeriest post, especially on a Friday, but it seems to have been in the news a lot recently…..

Do you worry about getting a serious illness like cancer? Me too!

The good news – if there is such a thing on this topic – is that nearly 40% of cancers are deemed to be preventable, as the BBC reported a couple of weeks ago.

To lower your risk, avoid smoking, obesity, excessive sun exposure, processed meat and excessive alcohol. Get more fibre and more exercise.

What’s interesting is that obesity is now the second biggest preventable cause of cancer. So it isn’t just a risk for metabolic diseases, it increases your risk of getting cancer too.

We’ve seen some really sad stories on the recent Stand up to Cancer Bake Off series and I saw first hand what cancer did to my mother. It’s a terrible disease and one that I most fear.

Do everything you can to reduce your own risk – make some lifestyle changes.


Maximise your autophagy for health and slower ageing

Would you like to age more slowly? Autophagy can slow down the ageing process and help you live longer!

What is it? It’s a process that occurs at the cellular level, collecting broken or foreign components and neutralising them, recycling them, preventing them from building up and causing us harm or disease. It’s been in the news a lot more recently since the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine was won by Yoshinori Ohsumi for his work on autophagy.

Autophagy can help you age more slowly, protect against cancer, psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, inflammation and infectious diseases. That’s a decent list!

How can you increase your own autophagy? There are lots of ways but for starters, doing some aerobic exercise, fasting from time to time and sleeping well will really boost it. Coffee, ginger, turmeric, ginseng and coconut oil have also been shown to boost it.


Delicious and nutritious kalettes

Have you discovered kalettes yet?

They are one of my favourite veggies. They’re a cross between brussels sprouts and kale. If you’re not a fan of either of those you might predict that kalettes would not be your thing. You might be surprised, they don’t taste like either. They’re versatile and delicious!

They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre for very few calories, so they’re a great choice if you’re trying to lose weight.

I couldn’t find a nutrient breakdown for kalettes on nutritiondata.self.com, but check out the kale and brussels sprouts charts. Pretty comprehensive, huh?

You can buy them in most supermarkets. Get some in and enjoy a super healthy accompaniment to your meal this weekend.


Defy breakfast convention

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Was it something conventional along the lines of porridge, cereal, fruit, yoghurt, eggs, bacon, croissants, toast?

Defy convention! Who says you have to have that stuff for breakfast?

Take a look at what I had this morning. It was leftover veg from previous evening meals, and it was all cold. What was on my plate? Half a salmon filet, spinach, green beans, chana masala, roasted fennel, broad beans, roasted squash, curried roasted cauliflower, tomatoes, beetroot. I also had a bowl of apple, raisins, pumpkin seeds and Greek yoghurt plus a home made supergreens drink with raw cacao and added glutamine and branched chain amino acids.

Obviously it was packed with nutrients and you’ve probably noticed it contained lots of different colours to give me a range of phytonutrients. The fat content was all healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated types. I estimate about 600 calories with 30g protein. It was packed with fibre and kept me going for about 5 hours.

In a lot of countries, it’s quite common to have salad or vegetables for breakfast. Be unconventional! Try something different for your first meal of the day.


Healthy gut, healthy weight

Here’s some food for thought….


In this BBC article, the first item on this list talks about gut microbes influencing one’s susceptibility towards becoming obese. It cites a study where one twin was obese and the other had a healthy weight. The twin with a healthier weight had a more diverse population of gut microbes. The article then talks about getting lots of fibre in order to encourage a healthy population of gut bacteria.

My first thought was whether a diverse population of gut microbes is cause or effect? Eating lots of fibre is a good way to feel full, control appetite and lose weight, so it makes sense that the slimmer of the two twins had a more diverse microbiome as a side effect of having eaten lots of fibre to stay slim. Or is it that the slimmer twin had a diverse microbe population to start with, which promoted a healthier weight?

I was curious, so I did a quick search. It does seem that there is validity – and I mean proper science – in the view that a more diverse gut population can help maintain a healthy weight.

In reality I suspect it’s both cause and effect. Eating plenty of fibre will help with appetite control and weight loss and additionally promote a healthy microbiome. That healthy mix of microbes will help with the maintenance of a healthy weight. Update January 2021 – we’ve got a lot more into this now – read our article on fibre.

I’ve been saying it for years. Unrefined foods with plenty of fibre are the best choices for weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight.

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