Winter Body Tips

Most of us find it really tough keeping up our exercise and nutrition goals in Winter. Is it any wonder? Short dark days, long nights, cold weather. It’s all to easy to skip the workout when you look out the window and see the rain falling. Plus the cold makes us crave comfort food (we’re swaddled in big clothes anyway..!)

Firstly, don’t be too hard on yourself. A lack of natural light can lead to a vitamin D deficiency (since we synthesise vitamin D from sunlight) which can in turn, lead to fatigue and depression. Even in mild cases, you’ll feel like you can’t be bothered to hit the gym or do a workout. Throw in cold weather and your body starts to crave the energy hits of sugars and starches from “heavier” carbs.

So now we know it’s normal to feel a bit ropey – we can take responsibility for addressing it. The winter months don’t have to be the time you let yourself go, only to give yourself more of a mountain to climb as Spring comes.

Yes it’s OK to enjoy Christmas festivities with canapés and mince pies – but don’t let it get out of control.

And remember – Summer Bodies Are made In Winter!

Here’s our top ten tips on how to stay on track…

1. Set some goals and be accountable
Arguably the most important tip here. Nail this and the rest will fall into place. Set yourself some training and/or body goals, and check in with them frequently. Make yourself accountable by publicly sharing them within a supportive space. Countless psychological studies show that setting and checking in with goals makes you more likely to achieve them than not (duh!) but also that telling trusted others (who support you) makes you more likely to succeed. A place like our Academy community is perfect – our members post their goals, their progress and are supported on their journey (38nacademy.com) – you have the benefit of being with a like-minded tribe. A close friend, partner or family member is another option.

2. HIIT it up
We get it, you don’t want to spend hours of your week training. Neither do we. HIIT delivers cardio-vascular, conditioning and fat burning benefits in 15 – 20 minutes of intense activity. It’s our go to way of training and a time effective way to keep to your body goals. Top tip – if you’re looking to reduce body fat go for it fasted first thing in the morning.

3. Take it outside
Outside the weather might be frightful but there is some great technical gear out there now to keep you warm and dry. Working out outside has been proven to boost your mood – cue Vitamin D. Plus, how good will that hot shower feel coming in from a workout in the cold?

4. Buddy up
See accountability in Tip 1 above…find a workout partner. You’ll have someone on the same journey as you, experiencing the same things. Support each other and you’ll find you’ll get there quicker, with more fun. Claire and I make each other accountable – mainly because we don’t want to let the other one down!
The good news is we’re launching a FREE 2 WEEK CHALLENGE on Facebook in January, where we’ll be posting our eating and exercise routine every day. We’ll be your buddies and you’ll be ours – burning off that festive excess and cheering each other on. Look out for details coming soon…

5. Gear up
New workout gear can make you feel more inspired to train. I see Claire lift heavier when she’s flouncing around in her new Nikes (not that she needs more encouragement to buy lycra!) Maybe add some workout gear to the Christmas list…?

6. Workout at home
These days you really can workout anywhere, anytime. Sites like YouTube and Vimeo have workout videos galore. We have hundreds of REAL TIME workout videos in our Academy – which is like having our own PT in your living room. And it’s for every level of fitness.

7. Enjoy the good stuff but moderate
Christmas comes but once a year, but the Christmas excess can feel like it will take a year to shift! Instead of over-indulging, make the conscious choice to enjoy what’s on offer – in moderation. Mince pies are yummy, but how many do you really need each week? Every time you’re tempted, pause and remember your goal (visualise it!) Think about this choice point and whether it is moving you forward or back.

8. Start a new programme
Learning stimulates new neural pathways, so why not start a new training and nutrition programme? You’ll be working your mind as well as your body, meaning you’re more engaged in the process, and get results. We’re launching a 40 Plus Back To Fitness 4 Week programme for the new year.
This is a complete, 4 week, done for you course with real time workout videos, meal plans, recipes and motivational emails to keep you on track. Look out of the launch (we already have a waiting list!)

9. Boost your vitamin D
Always check with your health professional before supplementing, BUT – in the winter you’ll benefit from a Vit D supplement. We also love waking up to light rather than the shrill of an alarm – so consider a light alarm clock that wakes you up gradually. They’re not too expensive these days and for us they make a huge difference to they way we feel.

10. Book a holiday
Booking a holiday not only gives you something to look forward to, but you can use it to reinforce your goals or help you set some for the future. We have it all covered at our Marbella retreats. Fitness, Mindset, Nutrition and winter sun. Surrounded by 5 star luxury.

Our Body:Reset retreat is running at the stunning Puente Romano Marbella from January 10th to 13th…so get in touch if you want to grab one of the last few spots… click here for details

Understanding Lactic Acid

If you want to start a debate in a group of runners, mention lactic acid and lactate threshold. The topics are two of the most confused and misunderstood in the running world. For the last few decades, lactate was presumed to be all bad–causing only muscle soreness and dashing dreams of personal records.

But that’s only half the story.

Lactate threshold is the exercise level at which lactic acid builds up in the blood. This accumulation of lactic acid is associated with fatigue, and most people assume the burning sensation of hard exercise is caused by lactic acid.

Endurance athletes specifically focus on lactate threshold as a measure of efficiency and fitness. For many, the goal of training is to maintain increased power and speed without crossing over this threshold. Most athletes want to stave off blood lactate accumulation, training so they clear it faster and produce less.

That’s why lactate is generally considered a four-letter-word, thought to be a waste product linked to muscle fatigue.

Research on the issue makes muddy waters more clear: producing and burning lactate provide essential fuel for cells throughout the body when oxygen is depleted.1

Lactate & Lactate Threshold Basics

There’s a nuance to lactate responsible for its bad rap.

Lactate: More Protons, More Problems

Also known as lactic acid, lactate can be produced throughout the body naturally.2 It’s a result of rapidly burning carbohydrate when the demand for energy is high, and oxygen availability is low, such as during sprinting or other high-intensity workouts.

Glucose is the body’s most readily available fuel, easily transported around the body and broken down to support short bursts of intense exercise. Glucose gets metabolized by a process called glycolysis, resulting in pyruvate. There are two possible uses for pyruvate: anaerobic or aerobic energy production.

When there is plenty of oxygen, pyruvate is turned into energy in the form of ATP through the aerobic pathway. Without enough oxygen present, pyruvate has another fate: anaerobic conversion to lactate. So all that huffing and puffing during intense exercise is used (among other things) to fuel the metabolic reactions that make our muscles work.

The majority of lactate released into the blood is mopped up in the liver where it can be converted back into glucose via a process called gluconeogenesis, and then released back into circulation.1 For example, the brain can directly use it as fuel (along with other parts of the body).

Lactate itself isn’t at all that bad for the body. The bad part is the acid associated with it.

Lactate caries a proton (an acid) when it’s released, and the build up of protons decreases the pH of the blood. When the body gets more acidic, function becomes compromised because the protons interfere with energy production and muscle contraction.

All this time, athletes have been blaming lactate like it’s a referee. But they should be blaming those protons.

Still, generally, lactate is pretty much always associated with protons, so there is a strong relationship between high lactate and fatigue.

A chart illustrating that when speed increases, lactate increases but arrives at a point where it increases exponentially
As speed increases, lactate production reaches a point where it increases exponentially

Lactate Threshold: Recycling is the Name of the Game

Blood lactate levels rise gradually as one exercises. The harder the exercise, the higher it climbs; this is an indicator of a shift in our energy production from aerobic (lots of oxygen) to anaerobic (less oxygen).

Before reaching the lactate threshold, blood lactate concentrations increase gradually. But upon arriving at the lactate threshold, the blood concentration of lactate begins to exponentially increase. Usually that intensity hovers around 80% of an athlete’s maximum heart rate, or 75% of their maximum oxygen intake–but you can also link it to speed or power.

Recycling lactate is true north of endurance training, which aims to maintain an intensity below the lactate threshold. When the recycling process can’t keep up, lactate produced by the exercising muscles begins build up in the bloodstream.

Well-designed training programs target both sides of the lactate threshold; there should be some training sessions working at or above LT. These sessions are harder on the body, but this forces adaptations that ultimately increase speed on race day.

Why Does Lactate Build Up Happen During High Intensity Exercise?

Lactate buildup is a result of the rapid anaerobic breakdown of carbohydrate.

Cells break down carbs and fats from our food to produce a molecule called ATP (the body’s energy currency), which is then used as energy by exercising muscles. ATP is produced from carbs through a three-step process: Glycolysis, Krebs Cycle and Electron Transport Chain (ETC). Products from Glycolysis feed Krebs which feeds ETC.

ETC is what generates most of our ATP. Energy generated from ETC is effective enough to sustain moderately-intense exercise…but the process doesn’t happen fast enough to keep up with the energy demand of high-intensity exercise. This means rapid-release energy from glycolysis is required to keep going. Glycolysis increases to supplement the difference but, as we know, this leads to lactate production.

A female runner exercising, which shows the increase of glycosis and lactate

Oxygen delivery rate also becomes limited during high intensity exercise. The ETC absolutely relies on oxygen for its function. We can’t breathe enough, or pump blood fast enough to our muscles when they are in overdrive to keep the ETC going. This necessitates oxygen-free energy production via glycolysis and lactate production.

That extra lactate (along with its acidic proton) ends up in the blood and decreases our pH. Our brains aim to keep a steady state of pH, and sensing this imbalance in pH, cause us feel nauseous. This leads to a feeling of fatigue, then a decrease intensity, then decreasing ATP demand, then glycolysis slows, leading to a better match between oxygen demand and oxygen delivery. Ultimately, this match allows lactate clearance from the blood.

Exercise above the lactate threshold can only be sustained for a limited amount of time: the body runs out of glycogen (stored carbs) to convert into lactate, and the increasing acidity of the blood causes fatigue.

Better athletic performance comes from training with LT in mind, geared to a higher production of speed or power at the lactate threshold.

How to Figure Out Lactate Threshold

A female runner and male coach figuring out lactate threshold on a track

Testing protocols to determine lactate threshold are sport-specific. Many consider the running speed at lactate threshold (RSLT) to be the best indicator of running fitness and the most reliable barometer of endurance performance.

In cycling, step-tests (where power is increased at regular intervals until you are exhausted) are the gold standard for measuring physiological performance markers, such as lactate threshold.

Upon completing the test and finding a personal lactate threshold, one can begin incorporating lactate threshold training to target specific adaptations for the body to make.

There are a few different ways to test for a personal lactate threshold, and factors to consider when doing so. It’s important to remember everyone is different, and lactate threshold changes in response to training (or sadly, de-training).

Lab Testing: Accurate But Expensive

The most concrete way to determine lactate threshold is to take a series of blood samples as exercise is conducted at increasing intensities. This type of lactate testing occurs at an exercise physiology laboratory, and tends to be expensive (but worth it).

In a lactate threshold test, athletes exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike while increasing intensity every few minutes until exhaustion. A blood sample is taken during the each stage of the test–similar to testing for ketones, through the fingertip or earlobe–illustrating blood lactate readings at various running speeds or cycling power outputs. Results are then plotted on a curve to show the speed or power at which the lactate threshold occurs.

However, lactate threshold changes as more training is done to build your aerobic base. So in order to maintain an updated understanding of your lactate threshold, you’d have to visit the lab again after a block of training.

During her time on the Great Britain Rowing Team, HVMN Research lead, Dr Brianna Stubbs, did lactate threshold testing every 2-3 months. She recounts the collective effort to find lactate threshold.

“The gym even got gory on step-test days, with athletes dripping blood from the testing holes in their earlobes.”Dr. Brianna Stubbs

“Seeing results change over time was interesting,” she said. “I recorded my highest power at lactate threshold toward the end of the winter training block, which made sense because that’s when we did most of our endurance work.”

Do-it-Yourself Field Test: You Have a Few Options

Many endurance athletes choose to estimate their lactate threshold by measuring heart rate and/or VO2 max at different training zones (there’s even a portable lactate blood analyzer some use to further cement results).

Simplified VDOT chat showcasing max mile pace and the corresponding pace at which to threshold train

There are several different methods to estimate running speed at lactate threshold:

VDOT (or VO2 max) Chart

  • A VDOT chart is an adjusted VO2 max chart (created by esteemed running coach Jack Daniels) that uses some of your most recent run times (at max effort) to identify training pace that will maintain your lactate threshold. There are two corresponding chats that work together to illustrate max effort and training paces for different distances (we’ve simplified it above)
  • For example, running at a 7:49 mile pace at max effort corresponds to a VDOT number of 36. That VDOT number illustrates the pace at which training should be done to maintain lactate recycling: 8:55. For a more in-depth analysis of interval training and different distances, refer to these charts here

Conconi Method

  • Using a heart rate monitor set to a five second recording interval
  • Begin running and increase speed every 200 meters until exhaustion. The goal isn’t to maintain a steady state of exercise, instead increasing incrementally to test yourself
  • Plot heart rate against speed; the deflection point in the graph (where your heart rate goes up much more than your speed) roughly corresponds to speed at lactate threshold

Time-Trial Method / 30-Minute Test

  • Research has shown that doing a 30 minute flat out time trial is one of the most accurate ways to find your lactate threshold without using fancy equipment3
  • Start by warming up
  • Then, on a track or treadmill, run for 30 minutes at the fastest sustainable pace. 10 minutes into the run, obtain and note your heart rate. Then, after the final 20 minutes of the test, obtain and note your heart rate again
  • Add your heart rate at the 10-minute mark to heart rate at the 30-minute mark–that’s your lactate threshold heart rate. And your average pace for the entire 30-minute test (assuming it was steady) is your lactate threshold pace

Both elite athletes and weekend warriors can benefit from understanding personal lactate threshold to maximize results. However, lactate threshold is impacted by training and changes over time. So keeping regular on these types of tests will indicate an improving lactate threshold through focused training.

Optimizing Lactate Metabolism

Lactic acid gets blamed for muscle soreness, but the production of lactate is an important metabolic process. The idea that lactate is pure waste and leads to fatigue is somewhat outdated. Nevertheless, a higher speed or power at lactate threshold is still one of the key goals of aerobic training.1

Different strategies can help minimize lactate buildup during exercise.

Warming Up: As Important as Cooling Down

Warming up is important to reducing risk for injury and minimizing potential lactate buildup. During a warm-up, heart rate increases, and blood vessels dilate, meaning there is more blood flow and more oxygen reaching your muscles.

When exercise intensity picks up the pace, there’s less mismatch between oxygen needs of the muscles and blood. Therefore, you don’t need to do as much anaerobic respiration, and you don’t build lactate early in the run.

Equally, cooling down and stretching immediately after a workout is especially important. Gentle exercise (slow jogging or spinning on a bike) or using a foam roller can help clear lactic acid buildup from the muscle by stimulating blood flow and encouraging lymphatic drainage.

Nutrition and Supplements: Replenishment is Key

The key to dealing with high lactate production is dealing with the acid associated with it (that pesky little proton). Two “buffer supplements,” sodium bicarbonate and beta-alanine, work by mopping up that proton. This means lactate levels can go higher than before without triggering fatigue because the proton is taken care of.

Beta-alanine works inside the muscles to clean up protons before they affect muscle contraction. Compounding effects of beta-alanine powder (~5g per day) happen after several weeks, but studies show around a 2-3% performance boost.4

Sodium bicarbonate is better for short-term boosts in proton buffering. Bicarbonate is the main buffer usually binding protons to stop blood from becoming too acidic. About an hour before exercise, taking bicarb powder dissolved in water, at 0.3kg per body weight, has shown to improve performance.5 Be weary of stomach aches when first introducing bicarb. But there are bicarbonate gels that provide the same buffing effect without the side-effects.6

Lactate can only be produced by breaking down carbs. Sustaining an exercise intensity that is producing lactate means the depletion carbohydrate stores (glycogen). When the glycogen gas tank reads empty, we hit a wall.

Exogenous ketones can lower lactate production. By drinking pre-workout exogenous ketones, like your body can use the ketones for energy instead of carbohydrates–glycolysis decreases and therefore, so does lactate production.

Having ketones as a whole new source of fuel means the body doesn’t need to dip into its existing carb and protein stores: athletes using HVMN Ketone show a decrease in the breakdown of intramuscular glycogen and protein during exercise, compared to carbohydrates alone.7

Exercise: Training Toward Adaptation

Regular training forces the body to adapt; what once felt like an unsustainable pace becomes easy. And adopting a training plan helps accelerate how that adaption will progress.

Looking at the whole body, the heart muscle gets stronger, building more small blood vessels. These small blood vessels mean more oxygen-rich blood can be transported to the muscles, requiring less demand for anaerobic respiration and lactate production.

On a muscular level, cells can produce more mitochondria, which are the site of aerobic respiration. This helps increase reliance on that energy system. Muscle cells also express more of the transport proteins for lactate, so lactate doesn’t build up inside the cells and compromise their function.8

Lactate threshold training switches up workout intensity, optimizing the body’s lactate response.

Peter Broomhall, who has been running ultramarathons for seven years, started incorporating lactate training into his regimen with his coach.

“I’ve trained with lactate threshold in mind this year more than any other year. It takes time to build up that threshold, but things like recovery become quicker. It compliments every aspect of training.”Peter Broomhall

For runners, one way to work on lactate threshold is to breakdown a run into mile sections: the first mile or two should be run at a pace just below lactate threshold, while the proceeding mile section should be slower, thus allowing the body to process the lactate. Active recovery is more effective at clearing lactate than passive recovery.9 This allows a high volume of miles without going overboard.

Lactate, A Misunderstood Villain

Next time your running club gangs up on lactic acid, maybe you can remind everyone of its important role in helping our bodies produce energy quickly when oxygen is short.

We do know the combination of high lactate (and the associated increase in protons in the muscles and blood) can impact our ability to maintain peak athletic performance. But we now have a deeper understanding of blood lactate (and how to optimize it), thanks to monitoring tools outside the lab, structural training regimens and recovery techniques.

Train smarter for better results

Scientific Citations

Patrizia Proia, Carlo Maria Di Liegro, Gabriella Schiera, Anna Fricano, and Italia Di Liegro. Lactate as a Metabolite and a Regulator in the Central Nervous System. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Sep; 17(9): 1450. Published online 2016 Sep 1.
2. Matthew L. Goodwin, M.A., James E. Harris, M.Ed., Andrés Hernández, M.A., and L. Bruce Gladden, Ph.D. J. Blood Lactate Measurements and Analysis during Exercise: A Guide for Clinicians. Diabetes Sci Technol. 2007 Jul; 1(4): 558–569. Published online 2007 Jul.
3. McGehee JC, Tanner CJ, Houmard JA. A comparison of methods for estimating the lactate threshold. J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Aug;19(3):553-8.
4. Hobson RM, Saunders B, Ball G, Harris RC, Sale C. Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids. 2012 Jul;43(1):25-37. Epub 2012 Jan 24.
5. Peart D1J Siegler JC, Vince RV. Practical recommendations for coaches and athletes: a meta-analysis of sodium bicarbonate use for athletic performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Jul;26(7):1975-83.
6. Mark Kern; Lisa M. Misell; Andrew Ordille; Madeline Alm; Brookell Salewske. Double-blind, Placebo Controlled, Randomized Crossover Pilot Study Evaluating The Impacts Of Sodium Bicarbonate in a Transdermal Delivery System on Physiological Parameters and Exercise Performance: 2402 Board #238 June 1 11. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 50(5S):595, MAY 2018 Issn Print: 0195-9131. Publication Date: 2018/05/01
7. Cox, P.J., Kirk, T., Ashmore, T., Willerton, K., Evans, R., Smith, A., Murray, Andrew J., Stubbs, B., West, J., McLure, Stewart W., et al. (2016). Nutritional Ketosis Alters Fuel Preference and Thereby Endurance Performance in Athletes. Cell Metabolism 24, 1-13.
8. Holloszy JO, Coyle EF. Adaptations of skeletal muscle to endurance exercise and their metabolic consequences. J Appl Physiol Respir Environ Exerc Physiol. 1984 Apr;56(4):831-8.
9. Menzies P, Menzies C, McIntyre L, Paterson P, Wilson J, Kemi OJ. Blood lactate clearance during active recovery after an intense running bout depends on the intensity of the active recovery. J Sports Sci. 2010 Jul;28(9):975-82.

Exercise Snacking – A Time Poor Solution That Yields Results

Modern life can be hectic and we know that many of clients are super busy and struggle to fit workout time into their schedule. Our approach is all about enabling people to get results through short, effective workouts, and this is what we coach on our retreats (along with other hacks to help you hit your goals). But what if you’re too time pressed even for a 15 or 20 minute workout?

Well, exercise snacking could be the way forward! First up, let’s start by saying that though exercise snacking can be effective, we wouldn’t recommend it as an ongoing programme, time-wise and results wise you would be better off spending 20 to 40 minutes in the gym, (except blood sugar wise – more on that later) and let’s face it – while snacking might sound enticing – it’s probably easier to fit one workout window into your day than lots of short ones. But… sometimes we are pressed for time, so here’s the low down on exercise snacking…

Exercise snacking is breaking your exercise up into very small chunks of around 1 to 5 minutes. There have been two main studies on this so far.

The first looked at cardio chunks, in the study examining the benefits of exercise snacking, researchers compared blood sugar in participants who exercised for 30 continuous minutes and, in the same group, when they broke their exercise up into three small portions performed shortly before breakfast, lunch and dinner. This “exercise snacking” lowered blood sugar for about 24 hours and did so much better than the 30-minute continuous exercise, in blood sugar terms.

A second study by the University of Bath study aimed at helping older adults maintain strength past 50 (when we start to lose about 1% of our muscle mass per year, that loss accelerating even more from around 60) also looked at exercise snacking but with bodyweight resistance exercises.

As part of the study, 10 older adults (aged 65 – 80) completed 5 minutes of home-based exercise snacking twice a day for 28 days, and another 10 older adults continued their normal daily activity to act as controls. The exercises were very basic body-weight resistance exercises. The participants did each exercise for one minute, completing as many repetitions as they could, and then rested for one minute before doing the next exercise.

After four weeks of exercise snacking, the number of sit-to-stand repetitions that the snacking group could complete in 60 seconds increased by 30%, and leg strength and power increased by 5% and 6% respectively. Alongside this, thigh muscle size increased by 2%, with no changes in the control group.
So there you go, as we always coach our clients, doing something is better than nothing, and with the benefits of exercise snacking clear, there really are no excuses!

If you’d like to join us on a retreat or have us coach you, drop us an email or join us at our Academy here.

Taking Your Retreat-Acquired Knowledge Home To Your Busy Life

Fitness retreats are all the rage right now with a mounting number of people looking to incorporate a fitter lifestyle into one that includes traveling to exotic destinations. Wellness tourism, of which fitness retreats forms a part, is booming with the industry growing nearly 50% faster than overall global tourism in 2017 according to the Global Wellness Tourism Economy Report (GWTER).  Our lives have become so busy that it is easy to lose track of what is important: our own health and well-being. At a fitness retreat, we are privy to invaluable guidance from seasoned professionals pertaining to our general health and well-being, fitness and nutrition. In order for the fitness retreat to be of real value to us, we need to take the knowledge we gain back home and apply it to various areas of our busy lives. That’s why we developed our Academy – to support you and keep you on track for your body goals, where ever you are.

Make an effort to eat healthily

Regardless of where in the world you go on a retreat, healthy nutrition is bound to be a focal point, especially considering that over 50% of adults in the UK are overweight or obese according to the NHS.  While on your fitness retreat you will become accustomed to eating nutritious meals that not only fuel your body but your mind as well. Once you return home you need to find a way to continue with your newly-acquired healthy eating habits despite a very demanding work schedule. One way to ensure that your eating practices change for the better is to rid your home of junk food. You should also start packing your own healthy lunches for work instead of buying takeaways or eating at the work canteen. If you are pressed for time to make your own healthy dinners, set aside an hour at the start of every month and draw up a menu. You can even prep some of the food in advance and refrigerate or freeze it for later use.

Forget fad diets, miracle supplements and  “promise the world” slimming teas and coffees. We focus on coaching you for sustainable fat (not weight) loss, and maintenance, whilst still living in balance and enjoying life. Our flexible nutrition approach based around knowing your TDEE (if you don’t know – come see us!) and ideal macro ratios make it simple to eat well for your goals. This is what we teach on our retreats and via our Academy, with a host of resources to make it easy to eat healthily even when you’re pressed for time.

You’ll have our nutrition workshop on your retreat to set you up for simple to follow, sustainable healthy eating, and in our Academy we have meal planners, recipes, nutritional videos and guides to help you.

Exercise regularly

The foremost purpose of a fitness retreat is to instill a healthy attitude towards exercise in attendees. Despite the importance of regular exercise being common knowledge, half of British adults never do any exercise according to the British Heart Foundation. Regardless of how demanding your work life is, you need to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic a week once you return from your retreat as recommended by the NHS. One of the easiest ways to incorporate exercise into a busy lifestyle is to start setting your alarm for 30 minutes earlier in the morning to either go for a brisk walk or jog, do some yoga or even engage in some kettlebell exercises. You can also remain active while at work, opting to go for walks during your breaks instead of staying at your desk or even squeezing in a gym session.

Most of our clients are time-poor so we focus on short yet effective training protocols both on our retreats and with our coaching clients. Why spend hours in the gym when you can get the same results with informed eating and training?

Stay well hydrated

During your fitness retreat, you would have often been encouraged to drink enough water not only during your periods of physical exertion but during the day in general as well. Sometimes it becomes difficult amidst a very demanding day to get through even a single bottle of water regardless of the recommended daily intake of 8 glasses.  If you struggle to drink plain water you can spruce it up easily with a couple of lemon slices, a sprig of lime or other fruit including pineapple, kiwi, and berries. Drinking a glass of water prior to a meal can help you eat less, aiding your weight loss efforts while keeping your body well-hydrated.

The success of any fitness retreat lies in its ability to change your lifestyle in the long run. If you only engage in healthy eating habits and regular exercise while on retreat but return to your unhealthy habits as soon as you return home, your time at the retreat would be futile. Try to incorporate what you have learned into your everyday life and fully enjoy the benefits of your time away on a potentially life-changing fitness retreat.

If you want to keep in shape post-retreat and be supported then why not join our  Academy? It’s an online resource brimming with workout videos, programmes, nutritional information, hundreds of recipes, mindset, goal setting and motivation tools, and a private facebook group where we host live training and webinars. It’s free for 5 days then just $37 a month – less than a PT session or a coffee a day!

Check out the Academy here.

To Breakfast Or Not?

Intermittent Fasting has become one of the most talked about nutritional protocols recently, but it has left some people confused. Here’s our Intermittent Fasting 101:

Intermittent Fasting is a nutritional protocol that basically has you fasting for a prescribed period of time, then eating for a prescribed period of time. There are two main approaches:

5/2 – the 5/2 gained popularity as it is easy to follow, and does yield short term body fat reduction results. In a nutshell, you eat what you want for 5 days (note with both these approaches having a good diet with calorie and macro targets will increase their effectiveness) then you fast  with 500 calories a day for women, 600 a day for men, for 2 days. Sounds good right? And reasonably achievable? We don’t like this approach for a few reasons: people think they can actually eat what they want  – gorging on cheeseburgers and fries (or similar) for 5 days then eating nothing for 2 is not a healthy way to live. At all. Training on fasting days is challenging to say the least and and even the proponents don’t recommend it for anyone with eating disorders due to the literal “feast and famine” approach. You have to think whether this is actually a healthy approach is supporting your body, mind and spirit…

The other protocol is the 16/8 or 14/10 – in this approach you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 (for women it’s recommended to fast for 14 hours and eat for 10). That might sound hard, but its not really (we’ve done it) – your fasting time is when you are asleep – if you think about it most of you are probably already fasting somewhere between 8 to 10 hours. If you have dinner at 7pm and then breakfast around 7:30am that’s a 12 hour fast, so pushing breakfast back or dinner forward isn’t too tricky.

We actually like this approach because you get to eat a normal balanced diet, you can train around it, it’s not that hard, and it gets results in reducing body fat. However, the caveat is that you have to stick to it, and for most of us organising meals, social life (remember a fast means no alcohol so kiss those evening drinks goodbye) around a diet like this over the long term is problematic.

We favour it as a 2 – 4 week fat loss approach, supported by followed on fasted HIIT – which is actually how we live our lives and what we use as the cornerstone of our training to keep body fat down (despite wine and pizza binges!).

So our approach is to eat a healthy diet in a normal time frame. We have our dinner between 6 – 7pm depending on our day. We’ll train fasted around 6:30/7am (a short but intense HIIT session), then have our high protein breakfast straight after.

You can see that there’s already around a 12 hour fast in there – but with this approach we don’t stress about it. Late meal out? No probs, routine stays the same. It’s the best of both worlds. We’ll explain the science below, but first, the question of breakfast…

Let’s look at one aspect of this trend we’re being asked about a lot – we’ve always been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and increasingly clients have heard about intermittent fasting and are asking us if that has changed?

It hasn’t changed BUT complex area. Eating breakfast will kick start the Krebb cycle which in turn fires the metabolism. As stated above Intermittent Fasting on the 16/8 – 14/10 protcol above works as long as you stick to it – but a lot of people find it a little too hard to work around their lives, social engagements etc.

If your lifestyle will allow 14-16 hours of fasting 6 days a week then this approach works but for most people its not realistic over the long term.

So, an effective solution is fasted HIIT first thing. You’ve probably fasted for 8 – 12 hours (while sleeping) so your glucose and glycogen levels are low – by training at intensity you burn through those reserves and tap into body fat as fuel. It is super important though that you then re-fuel straight after – why? If you have no fuel in you after training your body – now primed for protein synthesis but having no source – will go into a catabolic state – breaking down muscle tissue in a bid to get protein. This is why a protein rich meal (like a shake) is super important after training.

If you were to train at intensity and not eat for sometime afterwards the initial result will be weight loss (muscle, and fat, but more muscle), followed by fat gain as your body tries to compensate by storing more energy reserves for next time it has to exert and has no fuel.

Where people go wrong and are mislead is training hard and not eating enough – we want a slight calorie deficit for fat loss, but slight, through the day, and after hard training when the body is primed for synthesis, you want to refuel immediately.

Don’t think of it as skipping breakfast – you’re having breakfast post training. If it is a none HIIT day, have breakfast – at the time that feels right for you.

Where breakfast has got a bad name is that in less than the last 80 years it’s gone from being quite a protein and fat rich meal (bacon, eggs etc) to high sugar (cereals, baked goods, lattes etc) – which spike insulin and sets off the insulin roller coaster for the rest of the day.

What we eat first thing plays a big roll in our insulin response for the rest of the day – our goal is to be more insulin sensitive so we better process food for energy and stay stable through the day. So high protein, low GI Carbs (like oats) small amounts of high GI (fruit) as the fibre in the oats will help prevent insulin spikes.

Short answer – yes breakfast is a must – timing of it depending on your body goals, workouts and nutrition protocols is what is different

Vlog: Why You Get Hungry After Training And What To Do About It

Getting increased appetite A.K.A getting hungry (or sometimes hangry!) after training is really common. Here’s why – clue – it’s your hormones… Embrace the hunger (it shows the training is working) plus, what to do about it – optimal refuelling strategy!

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