Nature has an answer for everything – Fenugreek

If you have spent anytime pursuing any kind of sport you will have definitely been exposed to the myriad of pills and potions to help enhance physical performance, from sports drinks laced with sugar for running all the way through to steroids and growth hormone for bodybuilding, the supplement industry is a multi billion dollar industry and it is not difficult to see the motivation behind the glossy advertising campaigns and influencer posts.

Meanwhile for the vast majority of us the availability of the base ingredients of these hyped products never crosses our radar, sitting anonymously on a shelf in a health food store waiting for the inquisitive and informed person to notice just how much cheaper they are compared to the big company names pushed on us from any chosen publication as we pursue our sport.

One of the things I and men all over the world have to deal with is the decline of testosterone from the age of 30 and all the negative symptoms this brings, lack of energy, lack of sex drive, lack of intensity, and as a consequence lack of activity can increase bodyfat and without testosterone to keep the levels down estrogen will rise and cause more weight gain, this is a cycle that many men find themselves in and are looking for a way to increase testosterone without going down the slightly risky route of testosterone replacement therapy or even worse trusting the local dealer to sell good quality steriods.

So while researching testosterone boosting supplements I noticed Fenugreek came up over and over again and so I looked into it further, there is a plethora of information out there and lots of scientific studies proving the effectiveness of this herb (1) and the thing that caught my eye again was the dosage levels, this particular study cites 500mg of Fenugreek as an optimal dosage, most of the supplements I had seen were around 350mg, so far below, it is also widely accepted and shown in this study (2) that the combination of Fenugreek and protodioscin (Tribulus Terrestris) had a significant effect on testosterone, libido, strength and mental alertness.

So rather than purchase the sports manufacturer product that contained only one of the ingredients required and at a lower dosage level than is effective, I set out to buy them separately and see if I could get the results that the study showed.

I began with 600mg of Fenugreek and 300mg of Tribulus as these were the strengths that the tablets came in, and I have been doing this for nearly a week now, I can report with some confidence that my strength has increased and my focus at work has very much improved, one of the effects of higher testosterone is the reduction of bodyfat in general and I think I am seeing some changes but in fairness it is too early to really tell and as far as timelines is concerned I have only just started, I did go up to 600mg of Tribulus but I am not sure if i will continue this as I did start to feel a little odd but this could be just the body getting used to the new substance.

I will monitor my progress for 12 weeks and report my findings as I go, but it is looking really positive so far…

Nature truly does provide for nearly all our requirements, sure it takes more looking and the results are rarely instantaneous, this doesn’t sit well in our on demand society and so natural products often get overlooked in favour of synthetic drugs that hit the system like a steam hammer, but you should always balance the benefit you are looking to achieve, as there is nearly always a detriment to drugs and very rarely to normal dosages of natural products.

As always I will provide links to the products I am writing about, if you are interested and would like to buy through my link please do so, but if not simply google Fenugreek or Tribulus and you will find a whole load of places where these are available.

Cardio Increase Slowing Down Metabolism ?

So I recently increased my Cardio work, I was previously walking 5k every morning and burning (according to Strava) around 700 calories, this was good, so in the vein of more is better I decided to cut down the distance (as I am not ready for 5k runs) and increase my pace, but this has had an opposite effect, instead of the steady 3 or 4lbs a week loss I have stopped, completely, my weight, despite running being the only change has refused to budge from 17st 11lbs, so I have been looking at why this may be.

Additionally and quite worryingly I have started to run out of energy at the gym, my strength has increased and I am able to work harder at the start of the workout but hit a wall about half way through feeling dizzy and faint, this is obviously not good.

I have come to the conclusion that I am not taking in enough Calories or Carbohydrate to fuel my workouts and so I plan to increase these using clean sources such as boiled brown rice and pasta, potatoes and using Tuna and lean Beef for protein.

I have been giving some consideration to body types as well as this seems to be one of the areas that I have not spent too much time researching, I am a classic endomorph as I gain muscle easily but I also have a propensity to gain fat, so for the meantime I will be eating clean as above and doing some research into metabolic typing as it relates to my diet and exercise routine.

The takeaway from this is that you need to constantly monitor your progress, not everyday as that is impractical, I would say more like looking for consistent results over a period of about two weeks, this way you see the week to week change which may go up or down but the overall momentum over the 14 days will give a more accurate picture of the effectiveness of your training routine.

Holiday Challenge

In September we are going to Dubai for what amounts to a long weekend, now, I have lost a considerable amount of bodyfat since starting and along the way my research has taught me a lot about how the body works and how if we work in tune with it and support it during the changes we want to make we can achieve some truly amazing things, there are some challenges coming up in my life over the next six to twelve months that will restrict any travel we may have done so I would like to go out with a bang so as to speak on this trip at the end of the year, the aim is to get as close to having visible Abs and good muscle tone and definition as possible before we depart.

As a way to share what is possible and also to keep me on the straight and narrow ( I have found that an audience no matter how small tends to do this ) I will be documenting my progress weekly until we go, starting today ( I have always traditionally weighed myself on a Sunday for some reason ) and for the following 12 weeks.

Week weight
1 17st 13.2lbs

To achieve this I will be following my own routine that has been working for the past year with just a couple of minor tweaks as I have found that despite the internet message of “just go for it” practicalities have to be considered as well, and nearly falling asleep at work is not a good look, believe me!

So here is the program that I will be starting with initially.

  1. Weight Training – every other day, this has always worked for me and I see no reason to change it, it is easily sustainable as I have no issue with training first thing in the morning or last thing at night, I know some people are precious about when they train but in today’s world unless you are a paid fitness star, a professional athlete or just happen to be a millionaire you have to fit training in around work, no point being muscular and sleeping on a park bench.
  2. Yoga – on the opposite days to the Weight Training, this is to continue the work I did to get flexible and to improve my static strength, I find Yoga very productive and have continued to practice it sometimes just because of the mindset and distraction it provides from the chaos of the rat race.
  3. Diet – This will not change from the low Carb high Protein and fibre diet I converted to all those months ago, save for adding in casein protein at night time to assist my protein synthesis as I am now marching on in years.
  4. Coconut Oil – this seems to have worked wonders, I have been using it now first thing in the morning as my first intake of nutrition, remember that anecdotal research tended to suggest that this sets your body up to burn Fat for energy and provides focus, and I have been having the black coffee and Coconut Oil before going to the gym, I have noticed huge differences in focus, strength and endurance from following this.
  5. 5k a Day – this was the routine I started a few weeks ago and it has appeared to bear fruit, while away two weeks ago I put on 2lbs and this weigh in I have lost that and a further 4.8lbs this is good going in my book and probably right at the upper end of how much I want to lose a week, I certainly wouldn’t suggest that anybody try and lose more a week unless the medical benefits outweighed the possible drawbacks, I may however increase this to 7k as you need to adapt your exercise as the body becomes more capable.

And that really is it, any changes to the routine and I will outline why this has been done and what they are, and hopefully it will be “Abs for Dubai”

5 Pillars of Nutrition

I despair about the training supplement industry, it isn’t necessarily that I think it is overtly evil or malicious, but I do feel that it is shallow and does take advantage of usually younger people trying to live up to their sporting idols and the ever increasing pressures of augmented social media profiles, it is as an industry worth billions on both sides of the Atlantic and it show no sign of stopping.

So I set out below my top five foodstuffs to help achieve fitness goals without spending fortunes on supplements, remember to use supplements for convenience not as a replacement for real food.

1 Water

A bit of an obvious one this one but, it is so often overlooked, people tend to drink a lot more water in the gym or during a hot summers day but not so much at other times, the fact is that the body is very good at drawing water out of the food we eat to keep us hydrated but it is still recommended to drink around 2 litres a day, the human body is approx 60% water so it makes sense to top it up, adequate hydration supports mental cognition, metabolism, and if you click the title link you will see how it has been linked to actually increasing calorie expenditure, drinking good clean water is absolutely essential not only for any fitness regimen but for life itself.

2 Protein

And I don’t mean the latest Protein Powder from the local supplement shop, although protein powders can be a good source of protein if you are running late or if you are struggling to take in six meals a day they should not be relied on, too often I see people with shakers in the morning and at lunch time, clearly substituting real food with a protein shake, these are normally laden with sugar or worse Aspartame to sweeten them and depending on the manufacturer (not always the price) can use low quality dairy protein that is no better than drinking a large quantity of milk, but of course the milk would be a lot cheaper, recommendations for strength athletes is around 1.4 to 1.8 grams per Kg of bodyweight and 1.2 to 1.4 grams per Kg of bodyweight for endurance athletes.

3 Carbohydrate

The recommended intake for Carbohydrate is roughly 45 to 65 percent of you daily calorie intake, that seems like a very ambiguous statement if you ask me and I also know that Carbohydrate is probably one of the most misunderstood forms of nutrition second only to the last pillar FAT, so there are low Carb diets and no Carb diets, low Carb would drop you down to the 25 to 45 percent range and then as you move lower you would start to work your way toward Keto type diets, and you would start to trigger Ketosis at a Carb intake of around 20 grams a day, the trick with Carbs is to select them based on what you are doing, there is no point taking in a large amount of complex Carbohydrate just before going for a run or too the gym, similarly loading up on simple Carbs just before sitting down for 8 hrs at work is also counter intuitive, one thing that is certain is that we need to take great care over the quantity of Carbohydrate as it is easy to over consume without realising it, especially as sugar is often added to fast foods or pre-packaged foods to make them more appealing.

4 Fibre

Fibre is essentially broken down into two types Soluble and Insoluble otherwise known as roughage, soluble fibre can be digested by the body and assists with lowering cholesterol and constipation, examples of soluble fibre are beans, bananas, and oats, whereas roughage cannot be digested and assists with bowel health and has been linked to reducing the risk of bowel cancer, this type of fibre can be found in wholegrains, cereals and of course bran, our recommended fibre intake increases with age from around 15 grams a day for 2 to 5 year olds up to adulthood at around 30 grams a day, also foods higher in fibre tend to help keep hunger at bay for longer meaning that you may end up snacking less and ultimately reducing calorie intake over the course of a day.

5 Fat

As stated above I believe fat is one of the most misunderstood of all the components of nutrition, until recent years it has also been the first thing that was cut out whenever anybody went on a “Diet” but as time has gone on we have started to learn more about fat and how it works in the body, consumption of the right fat is not only desirable but essential, the first type is Saturated fat, this is really pretty much all bad, it leads to an increase in LDL cholesterol which is linked to heart disease and strokes and most health organisations agree that if it cannot be avoided it should be limited to at most 30 grams per day for men and 25 grams for women, children’s levels should be lower, Unsaturated and Monounstaturated fats are responsible for an increase of HDL Cholesterol and lowering of the amount of LDL in our bloodstreams and lowering the risk of heart disease, these are much more preferable, but not simply a free for all and is recommended that in a typical diet they should be restricted to between 40 to 77 grams based on a percentage of calorific intake at around 20 percent, Omega-3 and 6 cannot be produced by the body and have been linked to a wide range of benefits to the body, everything from eye health, cancer risk reduction to helping prevent vascular diseases, and it is recommended that we take these fats in in the form of fish such as Mackerel, Salmon or Trout, or to use a supplement like cod liver oil, the last on the list is Trans-fats these are found in convenience foods, margarine and it is added to food to increase it’s shelf life, this Should be avoided at all costs it literally increases LDL and reduces HDL and as such no research I did managed to find an organisation that would put a “safe” or “recommended” level of intake on this, it is not avoidable completely in everyday life but make sure you read through the macros and avoid it where possible as well as partially hydrogenated fats, it is also worth considering that fat provides 9 calories per gram as opposed to Carbs or Protein at 4 calories per gram.

When used with thought and planned out correctly the above is all you need to build muscle, or reduce fat or both, bodybuilders are often revered for their ability to increase muscle mass while still reducing bodyfat levels and regardless of any chemical assistance this is largely due to the fact that the top bodybuilders study nutrition requirement and balance their diet accordingly, it is simple mathematics and with a little bit of time spent adding stuff up and thinking through what we take in we can all achieve great changes.

Main Photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Pexels

Bodybuilder Photo by Sabel Blanco from Pexels

Ultimate Pre-workout Drink

The supplement industry is full of pre-workouts, mostly containing caffeine to wake you up, beetroot to attempt a little vascular dilation to give you a better pump and usually a shed load of ephedra as they can’t use ephedrine any more the result is a buzz that makes you think you are full of energy but actually you are just over stimulated and one of the huge downsides to that is what goes up must come down and you will crash once the effect has worn off, sure some of them put more thought into the products but the cost of these rises exponentially and even the most expensive still lack what I believe to be a very important element, energy, fuel to burn when working out.

What do you need for a good workout?

When you are working out you need to be focused, alert, unrelenting and awake, and crucially you don’t want your muscles searching for energy when they need it most, to my mind it is futile to go into a resistance workout in a dieted state, then only thing to do when Carb or calorie depleted is cardio, that is when you want the body to draw on it’s fat stores while grinding out those long walks or Stairclimbs, but resistance training no, you want the muscle to be full and strong so you can break it down and when it recovers it repays you by lifting your BMR and helping you burn more calories at rest.

Bullet proof coffee ?

Well, no, to my understanding Bulletproof Coffee is traditionally made with Butter, putting aside my reservations about drinking Coffee with Butter in, it doesn’t contain the instant bio-available energy that we need for the workout and that comes in the form of good old Coconut Oil.

Recipe

Really simple, if you usually have a teaspoon of coffee when you drink it then use two, if you use a tablespoon (like me) then use two tablespoons, then stir in a tablespoon of Coconut Oil, or maybe two, I tried this around 30 minutes before arriving at the gym, now the texture takes a little getting used to but it doesn’t taste really bad due to the slight Coconut undertone, and of course only use cold pressed coconut oil, do not add milk as diary products such as milk can have a calming relaxing effect and that is the last thing we are trying to achieve.

Effect

Coffee (or more accurately caffeine) works by triggering a few responses but mainly it blocks adenosine receptors, this is what makes you feel drowsy, caffeine binds to the receptor in place of adenosine and stops this process, it increases brain activity and causes the pituitary gland to release adrenaline, as a result the body goes into flight or fight mode and is primed for maximum effort, then as the MCT’s in the Coconut Oil are shuttled into the blood stream suspended in warm liquid the liver does it’s thing and pushes sugar and ketones into the bloodstream giving the muscles immediate and long lasting fuel. and all for a fraction of the price of any half decent pre-workout drink.

What about the calories ?

It is a valid question after all Coconut Oil is saturated fat, at 117 calories per tablespoon it is my opinion that even if you use two tablespoons the only way you won’t use those extra calories is if you go to the gym and just have a bit of a sit down, Coconut Oil or more accurately MCT itself is directly linked to an increase in HGH (Human Growth Hormone) but this requires greater quantities to be consumed, this is something that I want to look at more and I suspect that managing your calorific intake around the extra calories would be required.

I can say that my experience of this is, greater energy, better pump, more focus and strength without the crash afterwards.

Give it a go and let me know in the comments how it went.

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

Practice the Preaching ep16

I haven’t done one of these for a while, I’m not sure why but as one is long overdue I thought I would sit down and justify why I say what I say and do what I do.

Physical Goals

I have made significant progress with my physical goals and am marching on to where I need to start from, that may sound a little odd but hear me out, I have alluded in the past to having trained fairly seriously as a bodybuilder for some considerable amount of time, 4 years to be precise and then for whatever reason I let it all go and ended up the way I was just under a year ago, my goal back then was to be a competitive bodybuilder and it is something that I never even came close too as I gave up just around the time I should have been considering cutting up and entering my first show, so skin willing I have set a goal of completing a competition in a years time (by skin willing I mean that I am concerned I will be left with a lot of excess skin from the weight loss) so as my diet is working for my current goal it will be interesting to see how it has to change in order to achieve a different outcome, I am also going to tighten up my regime a little more as it has started to wander a bit of late.

Financial

When I started this blog it wasn’t just so much about just blogging my personal journey, although some of the response I have had to events in my life so far have been really nice and I am happy to keep updating day to day life, it was to start a resource that could be trusted and help people that really needed it with honest useful information as a sort of mitigant to the cynicism, bad advice and in a lot of cases bare faced con artists that continue to make a good life for themselves off the backs of others.

I have looked at many different ways of making money online and I have to tell you that nearly all have ended in the same tired global MLM schemes that will do nothing but push your money up to the top of the pyramid, and anybody at all that wants to challenge me with a get rich scheme and thinks I am talking rubbish please let me know as I will follow the plan to the letter in the hope that I am proved wrong, so I have settled on a few ideas one of which is trading online, this is a business model that has made people very very rich, but it needs to be treated with respect because it has made even more people very very poor,

I intend to learn from the best I can find how to do this and will document my findings along the way, hopefully we will all make some money.

But seriously my advice so far, find a way to benefit people and you will be rewarded, provide value to the lives of others and they will keep coming back, that is why I run adverts, so far I have made nothing but if this ever takes off I will do OK and still not have to charge anybody a cent for the privilege.

Other than that I just intend to keep on expanding the site and keep up with my new Instagram (rather predictably thetraineesuperhuman64 ) and hopefully build something useful.

Water Increases Metabolism!

I have not heard this before so when I stumbled over an article online I thought I would share as we could all do with understanding metabolism and how to manipulate it.

Abstract

Drinking lots of water is commonly espoused in weight loss regimens and is regarded as healthy; however, few systematic studies address this notion. In 14 healthy, normal-weight subjects (seven men and seven women), we assessed the effect of drinking 500 ml of water on energy expenditure and substrate oxidation rates by using whole-room indirect calorimetry. The effect of water drinking on adipose tissue metabolism was assessed with the microdialysis technique. Drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%. The increase occurred within 10 min and reached a maximum after 30–40 min. The total thermogenic response was about 100 kJ. About 40% of the thermogenic effect originated from warming the water from 22 to 37 C. In men, lipids mainly fueled the increase in metabolic rate. In contrast, in women carbohydrates were mainly used as the energy source. The increase in energy expenditure with water was diminished with systemic β-adrenoreceptor blockade. Thus, drinking 2 liters of water per day would augment energy expenditure by approximately 400 kJ. Therefore, the thermogenic effect of water should be considered when estimating energy expenditure, particularly during weight loss programs.

Michael Boschmann, Jochen Steiniger, Uta Hille, Jens Tank, Frauke Adams, Arya M. Sharma, Susanne Klaus, Friedrich C. Luft, Jens Jordan, Water-Induced Thermogenesis, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 88, Issue 12, 1 December 2003, Pages 6015–6019, 
https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2003-030780

The whole article can be found at Endocrine Society website it is an old study but pertains to something so fundamental to us as humans that it is worth reading, and another very good reason to drink more water, even if we have have to warm it first!

Could well add to any intermittent fasting routines.