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The Doughnut Diet – FREE 7 Day Flexible Eating Challenge 🍩

Sign up for The Doughnut Diet – FREE 7 Day Flexible Eating Challenge 🍩, where I will be teaching you the system I use for losing fat 💪 while still being able to include junk food 🍕.

🎥 I will be emailing you a short video (most are a little over 5 mins or so) each day over the duration of the challenge.  To make things easier, I’ve provided notes for each video too, that you can download.  So please check your inbox daily!  

✏️ Each day, I’ll be setting you a few very short tasks to do (it’ll only take 5 mins), so please keep on track and complete the daily tasks! It’s all important for teaching you my method for losing body fat 💪 without cutting out junk food! 🍩

❓If you have any questions or are unsure about anything, please feel free to join my Facebook group and ask any questions.  The link is here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ditchthedadbod/

SIGN UP HERE for The Doughnut Diet – FREE 7 Day Flexible Eating Challenge 🍩 https://forms.gle/QAY4Dm6b8Nv8KUeFA

flexible eating

I thought I’d take a moment to answer some FAQs…

Q: I’m really busy and short on time. How much time do I need to take part in The Doughnut Diet Challenge?

A: Each day of the challenge, you will be required to watch a short video (maybe 5 mins or so) emailed to you. You will be set quick tasks to do each day, which should only take another 5 mins or so. So really, you are only looking at a time commitment of maybe 15 mins or so each day over the 7 days of the challenge.

Q: I have very little experience with nutrition or dieting. Do I have to know anything about counting calories or macros?

A: No, you don’t need any prior dieting experience! All will be explained to you over the course of the challenge, so even if you are completely new to dieting, don’t worry!

Q: I already know how to count calories and know a bit about nutrition. Is the challenge still suitable for me?

A: Yes, absolutely. Some of the earlier modules of the challenge might seem basic to you if you already have a good knowledge base on nutrition. But I urge you not to be tempted to skip any videos – they act as a good reminder even if you aren’t new to dieting. Also, I competed in natural bodybuilding for years (so was well accustomed with calories and macros), but still learned (and continue to learn to this day) new elements of nutrition. And this is how I came across this flexible eating system in the first place, enabling me to lose fat whilst still eating junk food.

Q: Do I need to be exercising through the duration of the challenge?

A: I’d always recommend that people exercise, as long as they have been medically cleared to do so, of course. But no, exercise is not compulsory for the challenge. The contents of the challenge focus on the dieting side of fat loss (while incorporating junk food!), so the exercise component of fat loss is beyond the scope of this challenge. Exercise combined with dieting is the most efficient way to lose fat, but exercise is not compulsory to lose fat.

More FAQs…

Q: What things do I need for the challenge?

A: Ideally, you will have a working set of kitchen scales (preferably digital). You will have access to a set of body weight scales to weigh yourself. You will have a smart phone so to download the MyFitnessPal calorie counting app (the app has a free version). And you will have access to Facebook through the duration of the challenge (either on your phone, tablet, or laptop, it doesn’t matter), so to access my Facebook group.

Q: If I get stuck or confused with anything during the challenge, are you available to provide help?

A: Yes! You will have access to me through my Facebook group, so if you ever have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the group and I will respond as soon as I can. Note that I don’t check my Facebook direct messages so often, so please post in the group for the fastest response from me.

Q: Can I really get ripped just by eating junk food?

A: Yes, in fact you can get ripped by eating NOTHING but junk food, and some people do actually. BUT, this is NOT what I recommend, as it is simply not healthy. What is the point in getting lean and “looking” good, only to soon suffer from an array of health complications? As you will see through what I teach in the challenge, I advocate a balanced healthy diet and lifestyle, that doesn’t involve cutting out any foods (so still including junk food in moderation as part of a balanced diet). This is the key to healthy, realistic, sustainable, permanent results!

SIGN UP HERE for The Doughnut Diet – FREE 7 Day Flexible Eating Challenge 🍩

https://forms.gle/QAY4Dm6b8Nv8KUeFA

Simple Weight Loss

I put together this easy to follow infographic of how to eat for simple weight loss.

Eating for weight loss is often overcomplicated way more than it should be. In fact it doesn’t have to be complicated at all! Nail the basics, the important things in your diet first. And then if you want to, you can get picky about working on the smaller details!

Take a look:

simple weight loss

Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables fill you up using very few calories! They’re full of fibre, vitamins & minerals.

Opt for things like lettuce, rocket, tomato, onions, cucumber, celery, asparagus, kale, spinach, aubergine, mushroom, bell pepper, cabbage, broccoli.

Protein

Protein is important for muscle maintenance, growth, and repair. Plus it also fills you up, and your body burns calories through digesting it.

Preferably have lean sources of poultry, meat, fish, and dairy.

Flavour your Food

This is crucial! Bland food sucks!

Add herbs, seasonings, and spices, or low-calorie sauces.

Things like garlic, salt, pepper, soya sauce, mustard sugar-free ketchup, paprika, salsa, peri peri, basil, mint, chilli powder, oregano, etc.

Everything Else

After mostly filling up on vegetables and protein, you include whatever carbs and fats you still have room for.

Bread, rice, pasta, potato, grains, fruit, butter, nuts, oils.

Or even a little dessert, like ice cream, cake, chocolate, etc!

Something Calorie-Free to Drink

Save your calories for eating, not drinking!

Opt for things either calorie-free, or at least low in calories.

Water (still or sparkling), tea / coffee (black or with a little skimmed milk, with sweetener notsugar), squash (not juice), diet soft drinks (Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Pepsi Max etc. (not regular Coke).

Cauliflower Rice Pudding

I’ve been told I eat some strange things sometimes, so I guess that cauliflower rice pudding will be considered one of them!

“Cauliflower rice” is literally just grated cauliflower. I don’t know who came up with the idea to grate cauliflower. And to use it as a low calorie alternative to rice. But whoever it was, I consider them a genius!

So, cauliflower rice is generally used as a substitute for “normal rice” when it comes to preparing meals. Think of any dish that you would usually eat with rice. And then just replace that rice with cauliflower rice.

Examples are numerous. But say chicken tikka masala, chilli con carne, prawns and rice, steak and rice…and so on!

I just had to be different!

However, I decided to turn it up a notch! I was experimenting in the kitchen. It occurred to me that cauliflower rice didn’t necessarily have to be eaten alongside savoury dishes. Why not make it sweet?

While the cauliflower rice, when used as part of a regular meal, could be flavoured accordingly to taste like regular rice. It occurred to me that when eaten on its own, cauliflower rice had a little bit of a porridge-like texture. And this gave me the idea to sweeten it to create a sweet porridge substitute. Or, you could say I created cauliflower rice pudding!

What are the benefits of using cauliflower rice? Why not just eat regular rice?

Let me mention first that there is nothing wrong with eating regular rice! However, substituting regular rice for cauliflower rice is just such an easy way to reduce the calories you eat.

If you are trying to lose body fat, then you must be in a “calorie deficit”. This means that you must be eating less calories than the calories you burn. So using cauliflower rice fills you up. With a large reduction in calories eaten, it makes fat loss a lot easier!

Cauliflower is cruciferous vegetable. Cruciferous vegetables include things like broccoli, cabbage, and asparagus too. The calories in these vegetables are “negligible calories”. By that, we mean that the calories used by the body to digest the vegetables is actually greater than the calories in the vegetables themselves! So essentially, they are calorie-free!

cauliflower rice pudding

Cauliflower and vegetables are also a great source of nutrients and fibre. You read more about the importance of fibre in my post HERE!

Clients’ Progress – it’s more than how you look!

How about we consider Health for a moment when we think about Fitness…

Fitness is MORE than just your looks and appearance.  Instagrammers, take note: fitness is not just about how you look!

I see the people I work with make awesome transformations, but these are NOT solely physical changes to their appearance.  I see them make positive changes to their health and their wellbeing.  They change mentally and psychologically, as well as often physically.

health

Yes, clients’ physiques change.  They lose body fat, they tone up, they gain muscle, and they gain strength.  But so often many more changes than this take place, that you just CANNOT capture on camera.

My point here, is NOT to put too much emphasis on the way you look when it comes to gauging your fitness progress.  And of course, usually the worst thing you can do is compare yourself to others.  Prioritise your overall health and set your goals to become a better version of YOU!

Hear more about what clients are saying about me HERE

health

To find out more about my Online Coaching Services, click HERE

health

The Don’t-“Diet” Diet Protocol

Because my “diet” isn’t a diet at all. A “diet” is a temporary short term way of eating to force temporary unsustainable weight loss. My protocol implements an enjoyable way of eating for sustainable maintainable permanent results.

What is Online Fitness Coaching?

Online Coaching is essentially, the same as working with a personal trainer in-person, but it all takes place online.  It is a more cost-effective, flexible, and convenient option for people wanting to achieve their weight loss / fitness goals.

We don’t do crash diets!

We don’t like crash diets. They don’t work. Well actually they CAN work. Except you end up putting any weight you lose back on, and often gain even more weight than before! That is why through working with me, we will get you losing fat at a healthy and sustainable pace. We want your weight loss to be permanent! 

health

Additionally, we don’t like cutting out food groups either. Unless you have some kind of allergy or medical condition, we see no need to deprive your body of essential nutrients! Flexibility and the option to personalise your diet is a big component in getting you to stick to your diet! This is why by working with me, we will get you losing weight while still eating the foods you like!

To find out more about my Online Coaching Services, click HERE

Don’t Diet!

This might sound strange, but I don’t diet anymore. I don’t get any of my clients to diet either. You might be ready to call me out on this one: “if you don’t diet, then how are you always lean?” You’ve seen my pics and videos – I always have visible abs. And my clients achieve strong, lean physiques. So, how is this possible without dieting?

Don't Diet

The Don’t-“Diet” Diet Protocol

My approach to nutrition and fat loss is through using what I’ve coined as The Don’t-“Diet” Diet Protocol. I call it this, because my “diet” isn’t a diet at all.

A “diet” is a temporary short term way of eating to force temporary unsustainable weight loss.

However, my protocol implements an enjoyable way of eating for sustainable maintainable permanent results.

Don't Diet

Diets don’t work!

I don’t like fad diets or crash diets. They don’t work. Well actually they CAN work. Except you end up putting any weight you lose back on, and often gain even more weight than before! That is why, for results that stick, you need to be eating in a way that you can actually stick to!

It sounds obvious, but for sustainable results, you need to be eating foods that you actually like! For example, you can only stick to eating fish everyday for so long if you don’t like fish!

And you need to be eating enough food too! You can try and crash diet by starving yourself. But again, for how long do you expect to stick to this before the hunger becomes overbearing?!

Then there are things to consider like eating patterns, meal frequency, flexibility, and having a balanced healthy diet. You probably wouldn’t stick to a diet for long if it meant not having breakfast, yet you know that you are ravenously hungry every morning.

Don't Diet

Don’t cut out food groups

Additionally, I don’t like cutting out food groups either. Unless you have some kind of allergy or medical condition, I see no need to deprive your body of essential nutrients!

Flexibility and variety are key. And that means allowing yourself some junk food, too! I’m not saying to eat nothing but sweets and treats! But I do believe that you should leave a little room in your food intake for small indulgences. For many people, cutting out junk food completely can be depressing, and it often leads to cravings. By allowing yourself a little junk food in moderation, you will be less likely to end up binge eating it later!

If you would like to learn more about how to include junk food in your diet and still lose fat, then check out my FREE 7 day flexible eating challenge: The Doughnut Diet

Don't Diet

Want to find out more about my Online Coaching Services?

I wore a Waist Trainer for a month. Here’s what happened

I wore a waist trainer for a month.  Here’s what happened

I’m not particularly proud of it, but it’s true: I wore a waist trainer.  For a whole month.

I’m always learning, so I’m often experimenting, trying and testing out different things that are fitness related.  The whole concept of waist trainers had me curious, so I figured “hey, what have I got to lose?”

What is a waist trainer?

For those who don’t know, when I say “waist trainer”, I am referring to what can only be described as a modern-day less-extreme version of a corset!  (Yes, I know I am only damaging my reputation even more here by telling you that I was basically wearing a corset!)

waist trainer

Essentially a waist trainer is a tightly worn belt that compresses your midsection, and it is to be worn for long durations of time daily, over periods of months or longer. I wore a waist trainer for most of the day for one month.  Albeit a shorter time period, I figured it was enough time to notice any changes that might occur.  Note, that I did not wear it whilst working out.

I am NOT referring to one of those compression belts made from neoprene.  Those are in my opinion a complete waste of time.  All they do is make you sweat from your abdominal area. They do not make you burn fat from your belly.  The only way to burn fat is by creating a calorie deficit, through diet and exercise. And even then, you can’t pick and choose the areas you lose fat from!

However, I must say that waist trainers (and corsets too), also do not make you lose belly fat.  You’ll need to be eating in a calorie deficit and exercising consistently to lose fat!

What are waist trainers meant to do?

Waist trainers are theoretically meant to make your waist “narrower”.  Obviously, they are unlikely to make your waist narrower from a front view.  You cannot change the size of your pelvis – this is determined by bone structure.  Though there is the possibility of waist trainers “atrophying” (making smaller) your oblique muscles (the core muscles that run down the outer sides of your midsection).  If this were to occur, then yes, to a degree, it could make your waist appear narrower from a front view.

More likely though, waist trainers are meant to force you to keep your stomach “sucked in”.  Thus, making your waist appear smaller from a side view, overcoming any stomach distention.  Basically, this means they are meant to encourage you to tense the Transversus Abdominis muscles – the abs muscles used to perform a stomach vacuum – read more about that in my posts HERE:

What did I do?

As mentioned, I wore a waist trainer every day for a month, wearing it for the most part of each day. I made sure to wear it tightly too, to ensure effectiveness (if it were to actually do anything, of course!)

I didn’t wear it while working out, because I found it restrictive to move in or to breath as deeply as necessary to perform hard exercise.  Also, when performing exercise, I need my core muscles to be fully engaged.  I was wary that the waist trainer might make it more difficult to fully engage my core muscles.  This is because it would act similarly to a tight lifting belt, and take away the need for my core muscles to tense as hard as they normally would whilst exercising.

waist trainer

What happened?

Nothing happened, to be honest!  I got fed up of wearing it, because it wasn’t very comfortable.  Though out of stubbornness, I did continue to wear it each day for a month.

But no, my waist size remained the same.  I didn’t see any changes in how far I could perform a stomach vacuum either (i.e. how far I could suck my gut in).  In fact, if anything, I think my core muscles (including my Transversus Abdominis muscles) got weaker, so making it harder to do stomach vacuums to suck my gut in. This is probably because those core muscles got “lazy”.  I guess that after a while, they got used to being supported by the waist trainer.  I’ve seen the same thing happen with people who unnecessarily wear a lifting belt all the time whilst exercising.

The take home message

Save your time and money. Don’t bother with waist trainers. No, they don’t encourage you to burn body fat anyway.  The only way to burn fat is by creating a calorie deficit through diet and exercise. And even then, you can’t pick and choose the areas you lose fat from!  

Extra sweating from your midsection isn’t very helpful either.  This also doesn’t encourage fat loss!

You may possibly (though I think unlikely) be able to make your waist “smaller”.  But I think for that, you’d have to wear an actual corset. It would have to be VERY tight fitting, which would be VERY uncomfortable.  And I imagine that you’d have to wear it for the most part of each day, probably over a period of years!  In my opinion, this is definitely NOT worth it!

If you want to make your waist “smaller”, then continue to diet and exercise to bring your body fat down. And, also perform resistance training to make your shoulders and lats “bigger”, giving you a nice “V-taper” and creating the illusion of a smaller waist!

I talk more about training for bigger shoulders in my post HERE:

I talk more about training for wider lats HERE:

To find out more about my Online Coaching Services, please click the link HERE!

The HARDEST diet for Fat Loss (and what you should do instead!)

The PSMF diet works, but it is so hard!

I got lean.  Quickly.  But I would not recommend this diet for the majority of people!

I am always learning, and I love trying and testing new things when it comes to training and nutrition. Which is why I was all too happy to try this dieting approach on myself.  I had seen my body fat levels creeping up lately.  So, I was quite keen to diet down anyway.  Which is why I figured why not test out a different dieting approach.

psmf

“Protein Sparing Modified Fast” (PSMF)

The dieting method I used was based on a “Protein Sparing Modified Fast” (PSMF).  Basically, this involved eating a fairly high protein diet, but minimalizing carbohydrates and dietary fats by as much as possible.  And of course, my overall calorie intake was in a deficit.

So, the theory is that the high protein intake will help spare muscle mass.  While the calorie deficit, combined with the fact that the body would only have body fat stores (plus a little excess dietary protein) for energy, would theoretically result in rapid fat loss.

Also, there would be the benefit of protein having a high TEF rate (thermic effect of food), meaning a fair number of calories from protein are used up through digestion.  And protein tends to be more satiating, which theoretically would make it easier to eat less food.

What I ate

I followed this diet for 6 weeks.  My calories were approximately 1,500 calories a day.

My daily macros fluctuated a bit but were roughly:

250g of protein

30-40g of carbs

30-40g of fats

I didn’t directly eat carbs or fats, but these accumulated from the lean protein sources and cruciferous vegetables I ate.  These included a lot of whey protein powder, chicken breast, cottage cheese, egg whites, broccoli, and cabbage.

psmf

What happened

At the start of the diet I weighed 80kg.

At the end of the 6 weeks I weighed 73.5kg.

So, I lost 6.5kg (about 14lbs) in 6 weeks.

But, I’m sure that I lost muscle too.

Not to mention losing all of my energy along with it!

Everything became a struggle.  I felt tired all of the time.

I wore a Fitbit and I ensured that I continued to get 15,000 steps a day.  But just walking felt like a workout!

My gym sessions got shorter and shorter and less and less frequent.  Any cardio besides walking felt impossible.  And my weight training strength dropped embarrassingly low.

But yeah, I did get ripped pretty quickly.  And to be fair, I didn’t really feel hungry much, considering that I filled up on lean protein and green vegetables.

psmf

The problems…

When your body doesn’t have carbs OR dietary fats to use for fuel, it sucks!  I felt weak, had poor energy levels, and lost some muscle.

Unless you are significantly overweight / obese, you should probably only use a PSMF type diet for very short durations of time (e.g. 2 weeks).

Expect energy levels and physical performance to go down the toilet on a diet like this.

Get used to eating the same foods over and over since your food choices are so limited.  Though to be fair, hunger was rarely an issue.

Why I do NOT recommend this diet!

OK, to cut to the chase, this diet is simply NOT sustainable!  It’s too hard!  And when adherence is the main factor in the success of any fat loss diet, I just don’t see many people being able to stick to this!

I mentioned above that unless you are significantly overweight, I don’t think you should be doing this diet for more than 2 weeks maximum.  And that’s because it is simply too difficult to follow long term.  It is very restrictive and limited in food choices. It saps your energy, plus I feel I lost too much muscle on this diet.

Also, I’m sure that there would be a high risk of nutrient deficiencies if you were to diet this way for the longer term, due to such limited food sources.

You could maybe use a PSMF diet like this for the first 2 weeks of a fat loss phase.  After the 2 weeks, you would transition into a more balanced and less restrictive fat loss diet.  BUT…I don’t see this working well for most people!  I can imagine most people would rebound coming off such a restrictive diet like this – i.e. they would diet for 2 weeks and then binge and pile the weight back on!

flexible eating

What is an easier way to diet for fat loss?  Keep an eye out for “The Doughnut Diet” FREE 7 Day Challenge!

I recommend that people diet in a way that isn’t so restrictive, so that you can continue to follow it for the long term.

I’d say to go with a realistic healthy, full and balanced diet, that doesn’t involve cutting out ANY food groups – and that includes junk food too!  This is the real key to sustainable, maintainable, permanent fat loss.

And it just so happens, that I will be running a FREE 7 day challenge, in which I will teach you the flexible dieting system that I use to achieve a lean muscular physique, while still getting to eat your favourite junk food!

So, check out “The Doughnut Diet” – my Free 7 Day Flexible Eating Challenge.

Training during Ramadan

When you cannot eat or drink for 16 hours or so each day, what do you do?!

Training during Ramadan? A question I get asked regularly each year, is how to best eat and train during the month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims around the world, for it is within this month that the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed.  A special requirement for this month is that all Muslims who are able to, are required to fast every day from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from all eating or drinking, and not even water is allowed.

Harder than Intermittent Fasting

Clearly this is very different from the Intermittent Fasting (IF) protocols that are popular at the moment. At least with IF you still drink fluids whilst fasting. But for Ramadan, this is not the case!

To make matters even more difficult, the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar calendar. So the timing of the Islamic months continues to change each year.  Unfortunately, Ramadan this year begins in May, meaning that in the UK sunrise is actually around 5.00am and sunset isn’t until around 9.00pm.  So yes, for those that are able to do it, the requirement is nil-to-mouth, so no food or water during this time.  This equates to about 16 hours!  So that means that Muslims are left with a very small window to eat and drink each day, and that’s it!

training during Ramadan

Reduce your exercise – but don’t stop it completely!

Considering how difficult this task will make carrying out simple everyday routine activities, like going to work or school, it seems that sensible advice would be to put to temporarily significantly reduce the amount of any hard exercise you do.  Your body will be under a lot of stress and be severely depleted and dehydrated, so trying to train hard frequently and for long workouts would only stress the body even more, and potentially exhaust yourself and make yourself unwell.

The bad news is that you have to accept that your body will quite possibly lose SOME muscle, lose SOME strength, and gain SOME fat.  The good news is that it most likely will only be YOU that notices it!  And don’t worry, after Ramadan your body will very quickly return to the level of conditioning it was in before Ramadan.

That is not to say that you should do absolutely nothing during Ramadan, no!

training during Ramadan

Strength Training

In order to maintain as much strength and muscle as possible, it is recommended to perform very short but hard resistance training workouts.  I’d suggest limiting hard training sessions to 2 or 3 a week, and to only train for 40 minutes at the most.  In fact, quick 30-minute workouts would be even better.

Save your energy and training time for compound exercises that involve using multiple muscle groups at once.  I’d suggest performing 3 hard working sets of 5 – 8 reps per exercise, with 2 minutes or so rest between sets.  Warm up with a couple of easy sets before each exercise.  And pick 3 to 5 exercises per workout.

Free weight exercises would be best for this, like barbell squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, bent over rows, and bench press.  BUT, if you are feeling tired, weak, or groggy, then safety must take priority! So if you aren’t feeling up to it, then take caution and use the smith machine, or opt to use resistance machines instead.  Safety first!

training during Ramadan

Extra Training

On maybe 2 or 3 of the other days that you don’t train hard, you can perform “easy” mobility and flexibility exercises and drills.  These should not exert you too much, and can consist of bodyweight exercises like push ups, sit ups, chin ups, dips, body weight squats and lunges.  You could also do some light weights exercises too if you wanted.  However, all of these exercises should be with an easy weight and again, should not exert you too much.  These are only to provide your muscles with SOME stimulation, and to practice the movements to prevent you feeling rusty upon returning to regular training after Ramadan.

You could do some of the exercises from my Dynamic Warm Up HERE!

training during Ramadan

Cardio

As for cardio, it is really not recommended to do much more than walking. Besides perhaps 5 easy minutes of say the cross trainer or rowing machine to warm up.  However, if you really did feel obliged to do cardio, then HIIT on a stationary bike could be the way to go. 6 – 10 intervals of 20 second sprints, with 1 minute easy pedalling in between should do the job.

Just walking, on the other hand is fine and I recommend it. Still get your 10,000 steps a day!

training during Ramadan

When to train

As for what time to train, I’d say, if possible, to train in the morning when you are fresher and hydrated from eating and drinking the night before.

The downside however, of training earlier in the day, is that if you overdo it and train too hard, there is a chance that you will struggle to make it through the rest of the day until sunset!  So be mindful of this, and don’t overexert yourself!

Otherwise, you could train before sunset as late in the evening time as possible, so that as soon as you finish you can immediately go home and eat and drink.  Of course, you will be weaker and more depleted at this time, so you will have to pay extra attention to safety in your choice of exercises.

It might be tempting to try and train during the night after eating, but I really advise against it.  The window for eating and drinking is so small, that you need to be using this time as best as possible just for that – eating and drinking!  Don’t waste sunset hours training!

training during Ramadan

Sample Routine for Training during Ramadan

Monday – Strength Training

  1. Barbell Squat (or Leg Press) 3 sets of 6 reps
  2. Overhead Dumbbell Press (or Smith Machine Shoulder Press) 3 sets of 8 reps
  3. Barbell Bent Over Row (or Seated Cable Row) 3 sets of 6 reps
  4. Dumbbell Bench Press (or Smith Machine Bench Press) 3 sets of 8 reps

10,000 steps walking throughout the day

Tuesday – Mobility / Flexibility

Stretching

  1. Push ups 3 sets of 10 reps
  2. Bodyweight Lunges 3 sets of 10 reps / side
  3. Crunches 3 sets of 20 reps

10,000 steps walking throughout the day

Wednesday – Mobility / Flexibility

Stretching

  1. Bench Dips 3 sets of 10 reps
  2. Bodyweight Squats 3 sets of 10 reps
  3. Lying Leg raises 3 sets of 20 reps

10,000 steps walking throughout the day

Thursday – Strength Training

  1. Barbell Deadlift (or Weighted Hyperextensions) 3 sets of 6 reps
  2. Barbell Overhead Press (or Shoulder Press Machine) 3 sets of 8 reps
  3. Weighted Pull Ups (or Lat Pull Down Machine) 3 sets of 8 reps
  4. Barbell Bench Press (or Chest Press Machine) 3 sets of 8 reps

10,000 steps walking throughout the day

Friday – Rest

10,000 steps walking throughout the day

Saturday – Mobility / Flexibility

Stretching

  1. Push ups with feet elevated 3 sets of 10 reps
  2. Glute Bridges 3 sets of 10 reps
  3. Plank 3 sets of 45 second hold

10,000 steps walking throughout the day

Sunday – Rest

10,000 steps walking throughout the day

training during Ramadan

What to eat

That covers training during Ramadan. As for what to eat during Ramadan, there are two approaches: on the one hand you could say “forget it!” and just eat whatever, and worry about following a good diet again after. Or the second approach, which is to take a more thought out strategy.

If you were going to go with the second approach, I would actually recommend following as close to a ketogenic diet as possible, so that means focussing on eating protein and healthy fats, but eating as few (preferably no) carbs as possible.  The reason for this, is that if you eat carbs your body will no doubt burn through this energy source part way through the next day, causing you to “bonk” so to borrow a word from cycling.

When you “bonk” your body runs out of carbs as an energy source, causing your body to go through a difficult transitional period of adapting to use fats and/ or protein for energy.  This transitional period can be accompanied by brain fog, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headache, moodiness, amongst other unwelcome symptoms.  So rather than experiencing these symptoms on a daily basis through Ramadan, simply abstain from eating carbs, put your body into a fat burning state, and remain that way until the end of Ramadan.

This means avoiding carbs, which includes obvious things like sugary drinks (diet drinks are OK) and fruit juice, but also avoiding bread, rice, pasta, milk, fruit, and things that include “hidden carbs” like ketchup and sauces.  This may sound difficult, especially the part about avoiding fruit since dates are traditionally consumed to break the fast, but if you HAVE to have a date then limit it to just one!  For the first few days of this diet you may struggle and crave carbs and sugary things once it comes time to eat, but don’t do it!  It’s for your own good!  These cravings will subside after the first few days and this diet will make the rest of Ramadan A LOT easier for you.

training during Ramadan

Calories

You should carry on training during Ramadan, and we’ve discussed nutrition. But it is up to you whether you choose to track calories during Ramadan.  Though to be honest, I’d recommend that you DO track calories for the first week of fasting at least.  It will give you an idea of how many calories you are taking in, and make you more mindful about your food choices.  I suggest you use a calorie counting app like MyFitnessPal (www.myfitnesspal.com).

If you’ve never used a calorie counting app before, I show you how to use it HERE!

Even if you carry on training during Ramadan, just remember that your activity levels will no doubt decrease. So you will not be moving as much and will be burning less calories.  Additionally, your metabolism will no doubt slow down as your body will try to preserve its resources during the fast.

See my post on Metabolism HERE

So, all of this means that your body will need less calories than it normally would on a daily basis.  Therefore, I wouldn’t worry about force feeding yourself after sunset to eat as many calories as possible, as this is NOT necessary!  Your body won’t need it!  If anything, you should focus more on rehydrating your body anyway.

training during Ramadan

Sleep

We’ve covered training during Ramadan and eating. Lastly, an often forgotten topic of Ramadan is sleep.  Your eating schedule will be turned upside down during this month.  Many of you will be up until the early hours of the morning eating, yet you still have to go to work or school early the next day.  Really there is no solid remedy for this, besides if possible, getting in as many naps as you can.  If you are fortunate enough to have a flexible schedule where you can sleep in until later in the day, then great.  But otherwise, you will just have to do the best you can.  This may mean taking naps at lunch time, naps after work, and naps in the evening time.  And certainly use the weekends as a prime opportunity to catch up on those missed hours of sleep too!

training during Ramadan

Training during Ramadan and staying on top of your nutrition is difficult. It’s not easy, but on the plus side at least its only for one month!  Then your life can go back to normal after!  Good luck!

The “help I’ve got kids and a busy job” fitness plan

Life has a tendency to get in the way!  I remember back to the luxurious days of having all the time in the world to workout and eat well.  Then this whole “adulting” thing kind of happened.

You have to work longer hours.  You have more responsibilities.  More financial commitments.  Relationships to upkeep.  And then there are kids to worry about too!  (I don’t personally have any kids yet, but I’m experienced enough to know how it is when you do!)

So, for many of us, long gone are the days of five or more gym sessions a week.  In fact, for a lot of us, getting to the gym at all might be out of the question.  This is why I thought I would write this post, and I call it the “help I’ve got kids and a busy job” fitness plan.

Training

Ok, let me address this one first.  I’m assuming that worst case scenario, you can’t make it the gym at all anymore. That means that equipment-free workouts are our solution.  They can be done in just 30 minutes.  And you can do them at home or on your lunch break at work if you have space.  I’d aim to perform 3 to 4 of these short workouts per week.

HIIT

Interval training (HIIT – high intensity interval training) would be one of my preferences here, since you are limited for time.  Plus interval workouts can be completed quickly.  The simplest method would be just to run.  Warm up with a 5 minute jog, followed by 15 seconds of sprinting / hard running, then 45 seconds of walking to recover.  Perform 10 – 20 sprints with walking in between, and finish up with another 5 minute jog after.  Done.  

Note that to prevent injury, especially if you aren’t used to sprinting, I’d suggest “bounding” into each sprint and building up the speed until you are running flat out.  Build up rather than taking off like a sprinter at the start line.

busy fitness

Otherwise, if you happen to have an exercise bike, you could do a similar type workout using that. Ride easy for 5 minutes, building up the speed and resistance.  Then crank the resistance up and ride as hard as you can for 20 seconds, followed by 40 seconds at an easy resistance.  Repeat 10 – 20 times, again followed by 5 minutes of easy riding to finish.

If you can skip (jump rope), you could also do that.  Same format: 5 minutes warm up, 10 – 20 intervals of skipping hard for 15 – 20 seconds then 40 – 45 seconds of easy skipping.  Then 5 minutes of easy skipping to finish.

Note: only skip if you are actually half decent at it.  Otherwise, if you are continuously “messing up” and have to keep stopping, it removes the benefit of the workout.

Circuit training

Similar to interval training, use bodyweight exercises to perform a quick hard circuit.  I have done a series of videos demonstrating different equipment-free exercises you could use.  The video series is called “No Gym, No Problem” and you can see them here:

https://howistayfit.com/?s=no+gym+no+problem

Pick 5 or so exercises, preferably a mixture of upper body exercises (e.g. push ups, tricep dips, Y handcuffs) and lower body exercises (e.g. squats, lunges, burpees).  Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Rest for 2 minutes after each circuit. Repeat the circuit 3 to 4 times.

busy fitness

For example:

  1. Mountain Climbers 30 secs, 30 secs rest
  2. Lying Abs Leg Raises 30 secs, 30 secs rest
  3. Bird Dogs 30 secs, 30 secs rest
  4. Tricep Dips 30 secs, 30 secs rest
  5. Squat to Toe Touches 30 secs, 30 secs rest.

Rest for 2 mins.  Repeat circuit 3 – 4 times.

Gym Training

If you are lucky enough to be able to make it to the gym, even just one day a week, then you will want to make best use of the opportunity.  That’s why I would recommend a full body workout using compound free weight exercises. These will work the most muscle groups at once, will burn the most calories, build the most strength, and take the least time.  Don’t waste the opportunity on “fluff” exercises like bicep curls or cable cross overs.

I’d recommend doing something like this:

  1. Barbell Back Squats 4 sets of 6 reps, 1 to 2 minutes rest
  2. Overhead Barbell Press 4 sets of 6 reps, 1 to 2 minutes rest
  3. Barbell Deadlift 4 sets of 6 reps, 1 to 2 minutes rest
  4. Lat Pull Down 3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest
  5. Barbell Bench Press 3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest
busy fitness

Besides the gym session laid out (if you are fortunate enough to make it to the gym at all), the workouts I’ve recommended can be done anywhere at any time and with almost no equipment.

You can do these workouts early morning before work.  Or maybe on your lunch break.  Otherwise, perhaps you can work out on an evening time.  It can be handy if your partner / spouse can watch the kids while you do a workout.  Or you can do it after you have put the kids to bed, while watching TV.

Diet

This is going to be the most important factor in staying in shape when you have a full schedule.  And sadly, this is where most people go wrong, even those who have the luxury of going to the gym as much as they want. Remember that you can’t out-train a bad diet!

To lose weight, you’ll want to be eating in a calorie deficit.  This means figuring out how many calories your body needs to maintain weight, and then making sure to eat fewer calories than this.  The easiest way to do this is by monitoring your calorie intake using a calorie counting app like MyFitnessPal https://www.myfitnesspal.com

busy fitness

I talk in detail about figuring out your calorie intake for weight loss here:

If your lifestyle is mostly sedentary, in that if you spend the majority of your time physically inactive at work, and your time spent exercising is limited, then I recommend you prioritise protein and cruciferous vegetables in your diet.  I’m not saying to cut out carbohydrates.  But keep in mind that carbs are for energy.  So, if you aren’t moving a whole lot, then you probably won’t need many.

Protein

Protein is not just important for building and maintaining muscle and for growth and repair.  But protein is also very important for fat loss!

Your metabolism can slow down when eating in a calorie deficit over a prolonged time.  The fancy term for this is “adaptive thermogenesis”.  Having an adequate protein intake helps prevents this, so it assists in keeping your metabolism going!

Muscle mass is very “metabolically demanding”.  This means that more muscle tissue creates a higher energy demand.  So, the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn!

busy fitness

Furthermore, an adequate protein intake helps with satiety. This means you will feel “fuller”, and you will be less tempted to cheat on your diet and eat more!  Protein also has a high “TEF level” (thermic effect of food).  This means that the process of digesting protein burns a fair number of calories in itself!

General guidelines for protein intake are to take in at least 1g of protein for every lb of lean body mass, each day.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are high in fibre, so aid in digestion.  They are also predominantly negligible calories – they end up burning so much energy just to digest that their calories don’t count!

Fibre helps you feel fuller during meals, as well as helping you feel fuller between meals too.  This mean that it will help you eat less!

busy fitness

Eat your protein, eat your fibre, and you’ve covered the most important elements of your diet!

I talk more about the importance of prioritising protein and fibre in your diet here:

Sample quick meals

Tuna salad

Chicken and mixed vegetables

Cottage cheese and celery sticks

Egg white and spinach omelette

Tofu with vegetables

Prawn salad

Whey protein shake blended with kale

Don’t eat the kids’ leftovers!

It is often tempting to snack on food leftover by your kids.  But be mindful that these extra calories all add up!

Whether you choose to eat the same food you give your children is up to you, but just monitor your calorie intake.  Otherwise, it is always an option to make food for the family as normal, but then make a slightly lower calorie version for yourself.  For example, if you were making spaghetti bolognaise for the family, you might want to replace the spaghetti on your plate for vegetables instead. Whatever you choose to do, just remember that it is YOU who is watching their diet – not necessarily your family. And your children’s energy demands and nutrient requirements may very well be different to yours!  Still though, it is always good to encourage the whole family to eat healthy food together!

Intermittent Fasting

IF (intermittent fasting) could be a good option for calorie control and convenience.  This involves limiting the timing of your food intake to a specific time window.  The most popular one is probably to fast for 16 hours, and then to eat during an 8 hour period, usually between 12pm and 8pm.  Basically, all you do is skip breakfast.  Of course, you could switch these times up to suit you better.

It can be convenient as it involves not having to make time to eat breakfast.  Or, if you shorten your eating window to skip breakfast and lunch too, you don’t have to worry about finding “healthy” food options when you are out.  You can just wait until you get home to eat.

Meal prep

It is often a good idea to prepare food in advance to save time, and to make sure that you always have “healthy” food to hand.  This can mean preparing the kids’ packed lunches for the week, as well as your own lunches.  You can also make dinner ready for the week too.  As you get better at it and more organised, you’ll see how much time cooking in bulk can save you.  You can use this time to squeeze in some home workouts!

Just cook food, package it up in containers, and store it in the fridge or freezer.  And don’t worry about having to eat the same food each day, because you won’t.  Chicken breast can be had several times a week, but just flavoured differently or served with other varying food options.  It will make it into completely different meals!

You might find it useful to create a weekly “menu” too, so you can plan ahead each week for what meals to have ready-cooked on what days.

There are other time saving tips, like to be sure to order your groceries online.  This saves you making time to go out and buy your food, which can be a long and stressful affair if you have to take young children with you to the supermarket.

Also, there are now various “meal prep companies” that will cook and deliver nutritious food for you. These are often quite pricy though.

An active lifestyle

Lastly, I want to talk about lifestyle change.  Make an effort to include more physical activity in your everyday life.  Often this is effortless and takes little to no extra time out of your day.  All extra physical activity you can do helps towards burning more calories.  This can be difference between losing weight and not losing any weight at all!

  • Monitor your step count using a fitness tracker like a FitBit.  Aim for at least 10,000 steps a day.
  • Cycle or walk short journeys
  • Take the stairs rather than elevators where possible
  • Do your daily chores like cleaning and tidying up
  • At work, walk over and talk to your colleagues rather than emailing
  • Take regular breaks from the computer during work to move around.  Your eyes need a break anyway!
  • Get up and move during TV adverts
  • Get up and walk around while talking on the phone
  • Stand on the train or bus rather than sitting
  • If possible, use a standing desk at work rather than sitting
  • Park your car further away and walk the rest of the way.

Having a busy schedule and a hectic lifestyle doesn’t have to mean that your health and fitness goes out the window.  With some time management and some organisation, you can say goodbye to your “dad bod” / “mum bod” (I don’t know if a “mum bod” is an actual thing, but I don’t like to discriminate!)

Post Workout Protein and the Anabolic Window

I remember it so well. Every time I would pack my gym bag before heading off for a workout, I would always be sure to include my post workout protein shake.  It would be ready mixed in my shaker bottle, ready to be slammed back as soon as I finished the session.  And on the odd occasion when I forgot to pack my protein shake, I would be horrified!

I would hurry home as fast as I could, to quickly get my protein down as fast as possible.  My eyes would be on my watch, as I raced the clock to consume my post workout protein shake within 45 minutes of finishing my workout.  Because if I didn’t get my protein in time, that gruelling workout I had just put myself through would be a total waste.  It would result in no muscle gain if I didn’t have protein within the 45-minute post workout anabolic window!  Little did I know that I had nothing to panic about!

The 45-minute post workout anabolic window

It used to be treated as gospel that in order to maximise muscle gains, you have to consume protein within 45 minutes of completing a resistance training workout.  This time frame is known as the “anabolic window”.  We now know that the “anabolic window” isn’t anywhere near as small, or as important, as we first thought.

Yes, post workout protein can help your muscles recover and grow.  And logically, since we know that protein is used by the body for growth and repair, it sounds like it makes sense to fuel your body with nutrients after having broken your muscle tissue down through hard training.  But still, this 45-minute period of panic isn’t the drastic affair we first believed.

It’s all about total daily protein intake

A meta-analysis by Schoenfeld et al considered23 high-quality studies on protein timing.  They concluded that the total amount of protein consumed each day was a lot more important for muscle growth, as opposed to “when” that protein was consumed.

The anabolic effects of protein last 5 – 6 hours

There is evidence to show that the muscle building effects of ingested protein actually last for 5 to 6 hours.  

Let’s put this into a real-life scenario.  

You have lunch (which includes a healthy serving of protein) at 1pm.  Work finishes at 5pm and get to the gym for 5.30pm, to workout for an hour.  You finish your workout at 6.30pm.  In this case, it would make sense to have a post workout protein shake, since it would have been 5 and half hours since your last protein intake.

Post Workout Protein

But, let’s look at another example.

You wake up, slam down a protein shake, and head straight to the gym for an early morning workout before work.  Say you have your protein shake at 7am, get to the gym for 7.30am, and finish training at 8.30am.  There would be no need to necessarily have a post workout protein shake immediately. You could simply wait up until lunch at 1pm, which is 6 hours after your morning pre-workout protein shake (as long as your lunch includes a healthy dose of protein).

Protein shakes aren’t necessary

Note that protein shakes are certainly not necessary either, they simply can act as a convenient means of meeting your protein requirements.

And off course, how frequently you consume protein throughout the day is entirely up to you.  Whether you have just 3 meals, or decide to have 6 meals, it is your choice.  As long as you go no longer than 6 hours without ingesting protein, your body will still have protein “in your system” to build muscle!  Just focus mainly on getting enough protein in total over the course of each day. Don’t fuss over “having” to necessarily take in protein immediately after working out.

How much protein do I need each day?

Research suggests that, if you are looking to build muscle and you are regularly resistance training, you should aim for at least 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight each day.  So basically, aim for 1g of protein per 1lb of bodyweight each day minimum.  It still seems to be unclear what the upper limit for daily protein intake is.  But we do know that there is no proven harm in taking in “extra” protein.

post workout protein

The take home message

  • Focus on consuming “enough” protein in total, over the course of each day.
  • Aim for at least 1g of protein per 1lb of bodyweight each day in total.  But more protein than this is fine too.
  • Protein will continue to have anabolic (muscle building) effect for 5 – 6 hours after consuming it.
  • Having protein immediately after working out, i.e. the 45-minute anabolic window, is not necessary.
Post Workout Protein

References

International society of sports nutrition position stand: diets and body composition
Alan A. Aragon, Brad J. Schoenfeld,Robert Wildman, Susan Kleiner, Trisha VanDusseldorp, Lem Taylor, Conrad P. Earnest, Paul J. Arciero, Colin Wilborn, Douglas S. Kalman, Jeffrey R. Stout, Darryn S. Willoughby, Bill Campbell, Shawn M. Arent, Laurent Bannock, Abbie E. Smith-Ryan and Jose Antonio
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition201714:16
https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0174-y
©  The Author(s). 2017Received: 25 May 2017Accepted: 30 May 2017Published: 14 June 2017

Lou Schuler and Alan Aragon, “The Lean Muscle Diet: a customized workout plan – eat the food your love to build the body you want and keep it for life”, Men’s Health, Rodale Inc.(2014).

de Souza R, Bray G, Carey V, Hall K, LeBoff M, Loria C, et al. Effects of 4 weight-loss diets differing in fat, protein, and carbohydrate on fat mass, lean mass, visceral adipose tissue, and hepatic fat: results from the POUNDS LOST trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95(3):614–25.

Antonio J, Peacock C, Ellerbroek A, Fromhoff B, Silver T. The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11:19. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-19.

Antonio J, Ellerbroek A, Silver T, Orris S, Scheiner M, Gonzalez A, et al. A high protein diet (3.4 g/kg/d) combined with a heavy resistance training program improves body composition in healthy trained men and women–a follow-up investigation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12:39.

Antonio J, Ellerbroek A, Silver T, Vargas L, Peacock C. The effects of a high protein diet on indices of health and body composition–a crossover trial in resistance-trained men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016;13:3. doi:10.1186/s12970-016-0114-2.

Antonio J, Ellerbroek A, Silver T, Vargas L, Tamayo A, Buehn R, et al. A high protein diet has no harmful effects: a one-year crossover study in resistance-trained males. J Nutr Metab. 2016;2016:9104792. doi:10.1155/2016/9104792.

The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition201310:53
https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-10-53
©  Schoenfeld et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013
Received:22 September 2013,Accepted:20 November 2013