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My Blog



Posted on January 5, 2013 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (224)
In  a previous article I stated that my exercise of choice for fat loss, explosive power, conditioning and vertical jump improvement was the kettlebell swing. The staple of the Russian special forces and a phenomenal exercise for developing the posterior chain (the bottom to you and me) this why I like to introduce all my  clients to this killer exercise at some stage:
1. For female clients who feel their bottom is yielding to the cruel drag of gravity, this will, to quote best selling author Tim Ferriss, have you balancing tequila shots on your new pert posterior
2. The lower body is where the cardio action is - we run, cycle, go on the cross-trainer etc to get our heart rate up. With the exception of the rower there are no gym-based pieces of equipment that utilise the arms (and even that is predominantly leg-driven). Why is this? Because the biggest muscle groups in the body are based below the belly button - the glutes (buttocks) are the biggest muscle group in the body full stop. In the swing you are using the quads, hamstrings and glutes as well as getting a hefty dose of arm conditioning.
3.Think that swinging a piece of metal up and down is easy? I have seen male clients humbled by a mere 8kg, and the requisite 20kg for conditioned males will bring those in the best of shape swiftly down to earth with a bang.
The program I outline for clients takes you from a modest 100 swings in 12 minutes to a lung-busting 200 in four weeks (for the conditioned) or 8 weeks for those just getting back into exercise. One caveat though - the kettlebell swing is NOT a bicep curl, it isn't one of these exercises each and everyone of us can do - those with back issues need to exercise caution and common sense, and it is an exercise I highly recommend has expert tuition. Indeed it was a similair program outlined in Tim Ferriss' excellent book The Four Hour Body that had him at the leanest he had been since high school and saw people dropping 3% bodyfat a month with a ridiculously minimalist program.
Having trained with Mike Mahler and implemented his training style into my own swings I noticed a quantum leap...better energy management, improved technique and less lower back stress, so it pays to have your technique checked and worked on.
If you want to burn massive levels of fat, build muscle and get the conditioning of an elite athlete...GET SWINGING !!

Death Of The Diet

Posted on December 27, 2012 at 8:56 AM Comments comments (233)
Research conducted by Dr John Berardi and the Precision Nutrition team has proven what a lot of fitness professionals have been saying for years - increasing your exercise AND the amount of food you eat improves your body composition. People who did this all saw dramatic improvements in resting metabolism, lean muscle mass and reductions in body fat.
The interesting fact is that the reverse doesn't work! If you decrease your calorie intake, and decrease your activity level you simply lose muscle and get fatter. So restriction is a myth, you should never be going hungry and you need to get more active - so eat more and move more!

Free Intermittent Fasting e-book

Posted on August 27, 2012 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (419)
I often get asked by clients what I think about Intermittent Fasting. Well, there is a lot of research to suggest that it has dramatic effects on a whole raft of health issues ranging from cancer risk to Type II diabetes. But do I recommend it? Not really, I feel people struggle enough with issues around food - just getting them to eat the RIGHT stuff is hard enough, let alone telling them that twice a week they aren't to eat anything! However, that is not to say its not worth trialling or that I won't give it a go, and for those of you who are interested, please read this exceptional book by Dr John Berardi which will give you a balanced, scientific and thought provoking analysis of IF, and the various types of protocol available to you to try.
I certainly WOULD NOT recommend IF to pregnant Mum's or people with a history of eating disorders, nor those who are currently underweight.
Get Stronger, Live Longer !

Fat loss through resistance training

Posted on July 21, 2012 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (522)
I have recently had the privelage of writing for the largest Personal Training website in the the World, PtOnTheNet.
The article I published is on maximising fat loss with resistance training ,and I have shared the link to the article below. I hope you enjoy it !
or try

The Best Diet for Fat loss

Posted on May 13, 2012 at 9:47 AM Comments comments (468)
This has to be the most contentious, fiercely debated and most disputed area of any in the fitness industry. Hopefully this article will inject a bit of balance and common sense into what can become quite a heated debate.
For starters, lets jettison the term diet. Just reading it raises my stress hormone - it insinuates that here is a quick fix that you can do for a few weeks/months/years, get into great shape and then return to the pies and deep fried Mars Bars, a happier, leaner and healthier human. Nonsense.
We need a new paradigm. A lifestyle shift that won't make you a freak at social gatherings, a simple to follow, safe and effective method that will ensure that you get the results you want without making you miserable, neurotic, calorie counting, or fat phobic.
So what is it? Well a client of mine recently asked me to condense my approach to nutrition into a bite sized chunk (excuse the pun). I tried to nail it in two points:
1. Ensuring that insulin levels stay nice and stable throughout the day
2. Avoiding foods that cause inflamation
So how do we encorporate that into something that we can apply on our plates?
Well, lets keep it simple - fat and protein have little effect on blood sugar levels, so if we eat those at every meal than that is a good start. When we talk about fat we need to be thinking olive oil, avocadoes, fish oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds and fish oil.
Protein - well lets have a source of animal protein at every meal. Since the media hysteria about red meat and cancer I do think it pays to be a little circumspect - try not to eat deli meats that are full of preservatives and nitrates, these have been linked with lung dysfunctions and as chemicals are best left out of the body. No, instead I think a quote from Mike Mahler (incidentally a vegetarian who has got exceptional results without animal protein) is applicable - if you are going to eat meat then make sure it is of the best quality you can possibly afford. On a budget? Then just eat a little less!
Next step, never eat carbs. Ever. Don't touch them, look at them or even think about them. They are the work of the devil. JOKING. It is this nonsensical approach that is going to cause all sorts of problems - no, just be a bit careful around them. Jonny Bowden once said no one ever got diabetes from eating carrots, and the hysteria around carbohydrate intake annoys me no end - however carbs do break down to glycogen faster than fat or protein. That being the case lets choose them wisely.
If you eat ample dark green leafy vegetables and moderate proportions of fruit then that is a good start - just eat the pasta, rice, potatoes or veg as an "earned" meal. How do you earn it? Simple, you either ONLY consume it post workout OR on a "cheat day".
The point is this method means that you are not restricted, curtailed, penalised or considered a social outcast when you eat out, you just aim to earn the right to eat them.
Every nutritionist I have ever read (certainly the ones worth reading) agree - boosting carb intake scientifically and in a timed fashion accelerates fat loss, and does not impede it. From Dr Mauro Di Pasquale, Jonny Bowden, Charles Poliquin, Dr John Berardi and Tim Ferriss all agree (to differing levels) on this approach.
Finally, avoid foods that inflame. Too much Omega 6 will inflame and grains have a tendency towards inflamation as well. I was privelaged to attend a seminar on gluten intolerance with the worlds leading authority, Dr Tom O'Bryan and quite honestly it would put you off bread and gluten based products for the rest of your life. If you are not sure if you have gluten intolerance and don't have the ability to screen for it try this:
Do you suffer from joint inflamation, brain fog or IBS? Trying to shift inches around your waist to no avail? Try taking all gluten out of your diet for a couple of mohths (no bread, pasta etc). If you symptoms dramatically clear up, stay off it - for life! Yup, no going back, even the smallest amount will trigger the inflamatory cascade, and that inflamation will then last a long time. Another tell-tale sign is if you are from Celtic extraction, or have fair hair and blue eyes - people with this genetic make up tend more towards gluten intolerance due to the fact that it hasn't been in their ancestral food chain as long.
But I thought gluten intolerance was just coeliac disease? I hear you mutter. Well, according to Dr O'Bryan this end stage of serious intolerance to gluten is the tip of the iceberg - the real impact of gluten intolerance is actually terrifyingly broad - from brain lesions to Hashimoto's disease, thyroid dysfunction to arthritis. It is the inflamatory fire that will target your bodies weakest link. Villous atrophy (the destruction of the delicate villi of the small bowel) is symptomatic of only ONE area that gluten intolerance can target and therefore the idea that coeliac disease is primarily a disease of the small bowel is outdated.
So maybe, pop the sandwich down in favour of a salad with chicken and pine nuts?
The key is moderation - a low-carb diet for the rest of your life is a shortcut to insanity, but if you think you are going to become the living embodiment of a Olympian strength, muscularity and leaness on a diet of pasta, rice, bread and potatoes. . .dream on.
Even my most sceptical clients report a dramatic, yes, dramatic, reduction in bloating and abdominal discomfort when they remove these foods from their diet - and then report diabolical discomfort when they treat themselves on it again. So there is food for thought there (pun intended).
And eat more regularly. Recently there was a TV program on glamour model Jodie Marsh getting in preparation for a bodybuilding contest. She was waking up in the night to eat meals, her personal trainer brow-beating her into upping her calorie intake, setting alarms to remind her to eat. She dropped from 17% body fat to 13%. So if you want to lose body fat you need to eat every 2-3 hours. If you miss a feed just imagine your body happily cannibalizing your hard earned muscle tissue - because that is EXACTLY what is happening. A client of mine has over the past few months taken to this method and has lost a stone, even though she feels like she is eating all the time. It feels good not to go hungry wouldn't you agree? And if you are happily sustained, what are the odds you are going to go on a energy drink and chocolate bar binge? Not much because your blood sugar levels won't require such a massive boost.
In summary. . .earn your carbs, eat more, drink more water, eat more veg, and don't forget your fat. I am off to drink 4 tablespoons of Spanish olive oil right now, for heart health, joint health and because I have nothing better to do. . .
Ta ra!

Another fantastic weight loss drink

Posted on April 28, 2012 at 2:49 PM Comments comments (477)
This is a fantastic weight loss drink taught to me by Charles Poliquin and originated by C.Leigh Broadhurst as a remedy for diabetes.
Simply take 3 rounded teaspoons of cinnamon and put them in a cafetiere. Pour on 33 fluid ounces of boiling water, steep, cool, and then decant. Sip this in small quantities (8 ounces, four times a day). After 1-3 weeks reduce this to 1 cup a day. This is an excellent blood sugar management drink. Type 1 diabetics can use it but should start at one cup a day and monitor their insulin requirements very closely as they may dramatically reduce.
Cinnamon is one of these best spices you can use for blood sugar management and by extension it will have a positive effect on body composition. If the drink doesn't appeal then what you can do is put a teaspoon of cinnamon into your coffee - this in itself will help with weight management. Anecdotally a client of mine dropped her Ldl cholesterol by increasing her cinnamon intake as well !
Enjoy, and let me know how you get along with this. . .

Middle aged spread?

Posted on March 19, 2012 at 7:09 PM Comments comments (248)
Daily Mail Article.pdf (PDF — 267 KB)
I will be honest - I am not much of a fan of the Daily Mail, but the health section has improved in recent years. A very interesting article on estrogen dominance, fat gain and the middle aged spread was published a while back and I have attached it above as a pdf. Whilst I do not agree with all its contentions (fat gain around the midsection is more highly correlated with cortisol production and long-term exposure to stress than estrogen dominace) it does make some very interesting points on fat storage and hormonal imbalance - check it out!

The best drink for succesful fat loss

Posted on February 19, 2012 at 8:27 AM Comments comments (286)
Ok, its not cool and exciting or exotic, its water. Plain old, unflavoured, still, water.
Here is why:
1. Your body is 83% water
2. It helps flush fat and toxins through the liver and kidneys
3.Cushions and lubricates the joints and intervertebral disks
4.Dehydration elevates your CHD risk factors. Drinking 5 or more glasses a day significantly reduces your risk of heart disease and strokes
5.It improves energy, keeps your skin healthy and helps you lose weight
How much water? Simple. Take your weight in kilo's and multiply it by 39ml.
So a 82kg man should be drinking over 3 litres per day.
And if you get bored of the taste try squeezing a bit of lime juice into it for a bit of flavour.
So raise a toast to the cheapest and best sports drink you can get - good old H20
Get Stronger, Live Longer

Hit The Handles

Posted on November 21, 2011 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (629)
Hit the Handles
Managing Insulin to Kiss Those Love Handles Goodbye
by Alan Levi

In a previous article, The Tools for Total Fat Loss, I explored the concept of spot reductionthrough BioSignature Modulation — the scientific method of hormonal diagnosispioneered by Olympic coach, Charles Poliquin.
Now, we'll look in greater depth at what you can do forspecific problem areas. Today, we'll target the handles of hate. Because let'sface it, no one has any love for love handles!

Fighting Fat with Fish
To paraphrase Tyler Durden, "Welcome to FatClub."
The first rule of Fat Club is: Increase your fish oil.
The second rule of Fat Club is: Increase your fish oil!
I can't overstate how much this amazing oil is the kingof fat loss. North Atlantic salmon appears on the top ten lists of super foodsfrom Alan R. Gaby, MD, Barry Sears, PhD, Fred Pescatore, MD, Jonny Bowden, PhD,and the previously mentioned supercoach, Charles Poliquin.
Well, fish oil has been scientifically evaluated as havingpositive benefits on everything from schizophrenia to rheumatoid arthritis, andasthma to heart disease.
When you look at the EPA/DHA ratio of a fish oil, justremember that EPA is the portion that'll benefit any inflammatory condition (i.e.arthritis), and DHA aids in cognition (brain fog, loss of concentration,attention deficit disorder, etc.).
The best news is if you want a magic pill for fat loss thenit doesn't come much closer than this. Fish oil switches off the receptors thatstore fat and switches on the ones that burn it.
As well, adding a smart fat with every meal reduces yourinsulin response to food and thus curbs fat storage. Good examples ofadditional functional fats are olive oil and CLA.

Liquid Losses
Number two on our fat loss hit list isn't a food, but a liquid — water.
You aren't drinking enough of it, end of discussion.
Really, I've never come across someone who's drinkinganywhere near enough water. Your urine should be completely clear, or at leastlike a fine white wine (magnifique!). If it's bright yellow and smellslike sugar puffs, well, it's time to drink up!
An easy way of calculating how much water you should bedrinking is to multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.033. Therefore, a60-kilogram woman would need 1.98 liters of water per day.
Remember, training dehydrates you further, so you'll needeven more of the wet stuff.
Cinnamon Delight
C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD, has conducted research on thebeneficial effects of cinnamon on blood sugar levels and bad cholesterol.
Of interest to us are the results that showed how specificcompounds in cinnamon were able to increase insulin-dependent glucosemetabolism. Along with making those carbs work for you instead of against you,these same compounds may be able to squelch free radicals by acting asantioxidants.
A simple way to gain these benefits is to pop a cinnamonstick in your water and drink it throughout the course of the day. Make surethe stick soaks for some time; the water should be discolored (a great benefitof this is that no one, and I mean no one, will touch your water bottle whilstyou train, as it'll look like someone stubbed out a cigar in it).

Help Yourself to Protein, Hold Back on the Carbs
Quick, eat more protein!
Sure, it's a no-brainer, but we often forget that apartfrom the muscle building properties that protein possesses, it also preventsthe see-saw effect on blood sugar that some carbohydrates create, increasessatiety, and elevates your metabolism.
It's also fair to say that if the back of your shoulders orsupra-iliac (just above the hip bone) areas tend to store fat, then carbsaren't your friend. They'll demonstrate their fickle nature by taking up lumpyresidence just where you don't want them.
Like always, it's best to avoid carbohydrates in the formof pasta, rice, and potatoes until your bodyfat is within your desired range.
If you're going to eat them, or find your energy levelsneed the occasional lift, then have a "cheat" day every five days(four days strict, fifth day off). This will optimize glycogen uptake to yourmuscles.
I find a five-day strict, two-day off approach works best,but tailor it to how you feel and your individual requirements. Just rememberthat these tricky carbs tend to be opposed to our genetic and metabolic natureand usually just lead to that unpleasant bloat and poor performance (not tomention fat deposits).

Mineral Aides: Magnesium and Zinc
As far as blood sugar minerals go, magnesium is the crucialcog in the wheel because it aids in the production and usage of insulin. Aminimum starting dosage should be 500 mg, and avoid the cheap rubbish. Itshould end in "-ate" if it's good (i.e. magnesium glycinate).
In even more positive press, magnesium, in combination withfish oils and zinc, is a great cure for PMS. It may be worth getting the man inyour life to make a purchase on your behalf, especially if every month you wantto stick a steak knife in his head for forgetting the tuna on his way home fromwork.
So, really think about taking more magnesium and zinc. In fact, it may be a good idea to get tested for zinc deficiency because most people are!

Next item to pop on the shopping list: fenugreek.
This funny sounding plant improves the number of insulinreceptors, decreases gastric emptying, delays glucose absorption, and increasesglucose uptake in peripheral tissues.
Basically, this herb (the leaves) and spice (the seeds) isa must-buy if you want to moderate your insulin levels.
The added benefit of these suggestions is that they mayform a good preventative approach to type II diabetes, and could potentiallyimprove the situation of those who already find themselves afflicted with thisdisease.

Like a Good Neighbor, Fiber is There
Boring, I know, but eat more fiber, and make sure it's froma grain-less source.
Fiber has a litany of health benefits from lowering badcholesterol to blunting insulin spikes, promoting satiety, and improving colonhealth.
It isn't sexy, but then neither is having a roll of flabhanging over the side of your jeans.

"Look, Ma! No Handles!"
There you have it, some straightforward additions to yourshopping basket that target one of the key sites of insulin management — thesupra-iliac, or like I said, the hate handles.

About the Author
Y.M.C.A. Advanced Personal Trainer Award (RepsLevel 3)
PoliquinPerformance (BioSignature Modulation)
Premier Resisted Movement Training: Functional Training
1st Degree Black Sash in Chinese Kung Fu and Qi Gong
Core training

The Total Tools For Fat Loss

Posted on November 21, 2011 at 5:57 PM Comments comments (369)
The Tools for Total Fat Loss
by Alan Levi

So you train hard, watch what you eat, and do countless spin classes every week, and you still have that irritating layer of fat on your hips, thighs, belly, and bum. What gives?
If this is your predicament, then you might be interested in a new hormonal diagnosis called BioSignature Modulation, which shows that where you store fat is a direct reflection of your hormonal situation.
If you doubt the power of hormones, witness the power of anabolic steroids in the hands of athletes, particularly bodybuilders. They can turn men into Supermen, and women into, well, men.
The power of hormones has long been a subject of debate, but ask any woman how she feels during her period. Likely, she'll cite bloating, sudden weight gain and mood swings as ample evidence of the powerful effect that hormonal fluxes exert on her.
Now, however, thanks to BioSignature Modulation, we can target our problem areas, and reverse the damage that hormones have done to our dreams of svelteness.
This system was developed by Charles Poliquin, one of the world's top strength coaches, over the last 20 years. He analyzed the blood, saliva and urine of a multitude of elite athletes, and gradually drew some incredible conclusions. Fat storage sites, it seems, are a direct reflection of any imbalances present in that athlete's hormonal system.
Fat around the hips? You probably have problems with insulin levels in your body. Insulin ushers glycogen to working muscles, but once those muscles are full, just like bouncers at a crowded party, they turn away the late-coming guests. Where does that glycogen go where it always get a warm welcome? You guessed it, in subcutaneous adipose tissue, also known as fat!).
Your subscapular site is a marker of your genetic tolerance to carbohydrate, your suprailiac is the marker of your current carb intake, and if you're ripped around the torso but still have a big butt, it's probably deficiency of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1).
Tubby tummy blues? If you're storing it around the umbilicus, this is probably a sign that your stress hormones are too high: too much circulating cortisol is interfering with your weight loss wishes.
At this stage, it may shock you to know that cardio is probably the last thing you should be doing. Why? Because cardio is stressful, and can put you even deeper into a catabolic state. More stress equals more cortisol, which in turn equals more fat reluctant to leave.
But the beauty of this system isn't just as a diagnostic tool, it also means we can do something about these problems. Cortisol levels can be adjusted by specific supplementation (and not just taking your chances by loading up the basket at the local nutrition store).
Thus, Chinese traditional medicine comes into play with the prescription of yin tonics, designed to balance the hormonal system by calming the system down. Thus, adaptogens such as ginseng or cordyceps may be introduced to alleviate these stress levels.
You may not have heard of BioSignature yet, but I guarantee that you will. Next year Coach Poliquin will take BioSignature before thousands of US doctors, as this unique diagnostic tool can be used as an accurate predictor of breast and prostate cancer.
Think about it: BioSignature can be used to diagnose these two killer diseases long before any symptoms appear. In other words, this system has the potential not only to help you shed fat, it could also save your life.

The Magnificent Seven
Of course, if you can't find a BioSignature Assessor near you, you can still use my seven step guide to changing your lifestyle. Then, over the next few weeks and you'll drop pounds and gain muscle. You can thank me later.
• Eat like a cavewoman. Meat for breakfast, green vegetables and no junk carbs till you hit 9.9% bodyfat. This isn't Atkins, this is getting your carbs through vegetable and fruit sources. To paraphrase Coach Poliquin, If it's not green, or if you can't kill it with a spear, then don't eat it.
Make sure you get your nuts in the morning. Think PAW (Pecans/Almonds/Walnuts) for your choices, as recommended by nutrition expert Jonny Bowden. Walnuts in particular have a great omega-3 to 6 ratio. Read The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain for the goods on mouthwatering meals for the carb-concious.
The definitive diet book for the modern stone age figure athlete.
• Get to bed by 10:30 P.M. Olesya Novik is dead on the money in her sleep article: get your circadian rhythms right, and your cortisol levels should fall into line as well. If you're waking at a regular time every night, this corresponds to an organ dysfunction. More on this in a later article.
• Watercress and spinach. Watercress in particular wins the gold medal for estrogen clearance, and those nasty xenoestrogens are to blame for a litany of problems, from PMS to breast cancer.
Watercress is the green avenger in the fight against xenoestrogens.
• Fish oil, and plenty of it. Get a good pharmaceutical grade fish oil like Flameout. In addition to DHA and EPA, Flameout also contains CLA, a fatty acid notoriously poor in the American and European diet, which helps burn body fat. Take between 15-25g a day with a digestive enzyme.
A rich source of CLA, which helps burn body fat.
• Digestive Enzymes. It's kind of a waste to eat a 12-ounce steak if you can't metabolize it. The majority of people in the United States don't produce anywhere near enough hydrochloric acid (HCL) in their stomachs to metabolize food, so you can take the best supplementation in the world but its not doing you any good if you can't use the damn stuff.
What's the point of eating it if you can't digest it?
• Super-charge your metabolism and boost your growth hormone by increasing exercise density. Incrementally decrease the length of your rest periods between sets on a week to week basis (i.e. from 75 seconds down to 45 seconds). Increase the number of sets on a week to week basis and you'll grow, get stronger and leaner. A repetition range of 8-12 that induces lactic acid is your best bet to strip fat off your body at a rapid rate.
• Further boost your metabolism by doing intervals in your cardio routine. A good starting point is 2 minutes at a moderate/low level, 40 seconds flat out. Repeat 6 times. Feel free to curse my name. Two weeks from now, do this 7 times. Two weeks from then, 8 times. Then you'll really start to hate me.
Summing up, where you store fat isn't your fault; it's the product of hormonal imbalances channeling fat storage to specific areas. But now you can do something about it. Your health will flourish, your waistline will diminish, and you'll more easily accomplish your goals. Get ready to turn some heads.

About the Author
Y.M.C.A Advanced Personal Trainer Award (Reps Level 3)
Poliquin Performance (BioSignature Modulation Level 1 and 2)
Poliquin Performance Body Composition Internship
Premier Resisted Movement Training: Functional Training
1st Degree Black Sash in Chinese Kung Fu and Qi Gong
Core training
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