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Nutrition Posts

Food, who needs it??

Hi guys, it’s Darren here, a few of us at UFIT will be sharing duties on the blog and it’s my turn today!

Some of you reading this will know me, some for a number of years and some, for a relatively short period of time. A while back (ok so a year and a half ago!) I posted on this blog an item about Food. The first major statement I made in that post was my belief that people, generally, eat too much food. And I’m thinking, generally, people would agree! I made a challenge in that post for the reader to drop his/her food intake by a half! A 4 day Challenge! I received some feedback but I didn’t create a big debate about this so I presume everyone believed me, did the 4 day Challenge, lost a load of weight and have been silently thanking me ever since. Or maybe not.

Enter our colleague and now great friend Nathan Williams (Nathan’s own blog is here). Nath is a BIG believer in change and is a walking Change-Agent!! When we first met in mid-2012 he made a statement that resonated with me for a long time, “I can easily drop 2-3 kg’s off anyone in a week and it won’t be all water”, or something like that. It was almost a throwaway comment made during our interview process but I must admit it made me immediately sit up.

Once Nathan was on-board at UFIT we began chatting about stuff and soon enough we were discussing food. He mentioned various individuals including an intriguing chap named Mark Sisson. Mark has an awesome blog and website. What Mark says is not dissimilar to what I was blogging about a year and half back (he was talking about it way before me, of course) but Mark Sisson takes it another few steps forward. Mark engages in and promotes Intermittent Fasting or IF.

FASTING??!! No freaking way!! Well, you better get used to some basic facts regarding food and humans.

The first thing I want you to consider is this. What exactly is body-fat? Why do we have it and what is its purpose?

As humans we are predisposed to store fat. Why? Well for one it’s our basic form of fuel. I recently watched a Youtube video that made the statement that grazing off carbohydrate in our stomachs is our primary fuel source. This is why we need to eat every 2 hours. This is rubbish. Do you think 50 years ago we had supermarkets and fast-food and everyone went around eating every 2 hours? Of course not! What about 500 years ago? What about 50000 years ago when our first true ancestors appeared? Back in those times humans could go days without eating. In these cases their blood-sugar levels must have been really screwed right, I mean, these days we go 3-4 hours without food and we’re getting dizzy, we can’t concentrate and we’re basically in big trouble! Have.to.get.sugar!!

The reality is this 50000 year old “Paleo” man was “fat-adapted”. And so has been subsequently, the entire human population. Remember your Mum saying you must eat 3 square meals a day and how now nutritionists, dieticians and Trainer’s all scoff at that suggestion these days? Paleo man’s food came sporadically and as a consequence he was expert at storing fat. This meant he could go long periods without food using stored fat as energy. Of course water was reasonably plentiful so hydration wasn’t an issue and as we know with water, humans can go long periods without food. And since Paleo man we have done very well thank you storing fat, living off it and then re-storing! All the way through to recent times when we have developed this crazy dependence on sugar.

So this is where the problems with modern food start.

Paleo man predominantly ate meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. He didn’t eat a lot of grains, these came much later in our human development, estimated to be 10,000 years ago so pretty much for 40,000 years we were eating a paleo-type diet. Then 10,000 years ago some communities began farming foods that included grains. There’s debate about whether the grains were being originally grown for human consumption or to feed the recently domesticated animals farming was producing. Either way human consumption of grains began. Ok so back in this agricultural farming “great leap forward” grains were eaten in percentage terms much smaller quantities than what they are eaten in today. Plus the “processing” of these grains was quite rudimentary and didn’t alter the composition of the grain as significantly as it does these days (think shiny, white rice as an example of how a hull covered cloudy browny looking rice grain can be so radically tampered with during “processing”).

That shiny white rice has had all the nutrients stripped from it and is now essentially sugar. So is white bread. So is white pasta. And the other thing is both these 2 are man-made, they aren’t really food anyway, well, not food that our bodies process easily. These are the “white devils”! We have become so dependent on these processed foods we now must eat every 2-3 hours which is not what we are supposed to be doing!

These sugars spike our blood-sugar levels and these are precariously high across the spectrum in developed nations. This is why we have so many health issues, it’s not just diabetes but cancers, coronary heart disease, skin and blood issues, gum and tooth decay and many many more. So not only are we not supposed to be eating these foods based on our genetic predisposition they are making us really, really sick!

So let’s get back to Paleo man and IF, IF is –

The process of not eating food for periods of time and then subsequently consuming nutrients in a timed window.

There are many versions of IF and different people offer different perspectives and “systems” but the bottom line is we fast to break the dependency on sugars and an individual forces his/her body to resume using fat as its primary fuel source. We become fat adapted and not carb-dependent. Our blood-sugar drops and you may suffer some symptoms of this “re-wiring” or re-booting of the primary system but it won’t last long (maybe a day or 2 of headaches). Also note that typically our current blood-sugar levels are way too high having been artificially inflated by these modern diet choices.

Here’s some quick tips –

  1. When fasting drink water, tea and coffee only. Coffee should be black because this is calorie free.
  2. Recognise what massive sugar intake we really have in our food, the following are the biggest culprits – dressings, soft drinks, the “white devils”, alcohol.
  3. Eat whole foods being meat, fruit, vegetable and nuts and seeds. For your information carbohydrates are found in fruit and vegetables and in much better quality than what you get from the white devils!

So what happens on IF? The IF affect is amazing! No longer do you constantly suffer sugar withdrawl when you haven’t eaten for a few hours. You can go hours and hours without feeling any ill-effects. Nothing suffers, not even exercise. You can train in a fasted state and feel strong! I have always said that hormonal balance is what we should be striving towards on our pathway to healthier lives. Exercising in the way we are supposed to, interval style produces positive hormone responses and so does eating with your adopted IF program.

Striving for the holy grail of fitter, leaner, stronger is what we are about, IF will definitely help you!!

At UFIT we have a program called UFAST, an amazingly successful program, check it out!!

Email me at darren@UFIT.com.sg



Nutrition Part II

Guys thank you for all your comments on how I eat. All appreciated! Dan mentioned that I have the 2 protein shakes at the start and end of every day, the ones that include the greens and fruits powders, vitamin C powder and flaxseed oil. And yes these are pretty calorie-laden and make a significant contribution to my nutrient intake.

A lot of people are shocked at how little it seems I eat. BUT I EAT GOOD STUFF, maybe small in quantity but high in quality ๐Ÿ™‚ What YOU should be concerned with is what do you eat that is –

1, Junk

2, Wrecking your weight-management goals

Ok so essentially these 2 are the same but some people don’t know that coffee, as mentioned previously, will screw with your hormones and so, spoiling your attempts at weight loss. Also sauces and dressings, sugar in coffee/tea, cereal etc, these are also small things that de-rail your plans. Add to that excess meat consumption (you end up, again, screwing with your hormones because I hate to tell you this but meat is chocked full of hormones, pesticides and antibiotics) and by excess I mean as little as once a day eating red meat, too much fried food, too much foodcourt and restaurant food (essentially the same quality, please FORGET the rubbish that good restaurants serve you healthy food, they DON’T, they serve you PROFITABLE food lol). A restaurant serving lawyers and bankers is in the same business as the lawyers and bankers. What’s that you ask? Use your imagination ๐Ÿ˜‰

Junk is easily quantifiable – white bread, white rice, pasta’s (ok so wholemeal pasta is ok, just ok…), potatoes (sweet potato is ok). And you will know that there is a host of other junk like soft drinks, sweet foods etc.

Guys it’s too easy. Eliminate the rubbish most of the time. Clearly you can’t eat like this all the time ๐Ÿ™‚ If any of you watched me in Phuket at Asia’s Biggest Bootcamp 3, ploughing through mojito’s and mountains of wonderful food, you will know that the eating program I stick to most of the time was left firmly behind back here in Singapore!

So as Nate said in his really cool lifestyle talk in Phuket, use the 80:20 rule in that you do the right thing 80% of the time. Food-wise……

So a question. Did YOU take up the challenge last time and make changes to your eating? I mean there’s a couple of posts on this blog with some highly usable information, did/will you use it or did/will you just think about it??



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Vitamins, it continues….

I spend a fair portion of my (very) hard earned cash on vitamins and other supplements. I have blogged previously about the state of our global food chain and thusย the need for us to supplement. I mean why are we dying of so many “lifestyle” diseases? Could there be a link between the outrageously poor quality food that tends to go into the average stomach and disease? Ladies and gentlemen yes there is, reams and reams of research in fact. I’m wondering why so much money is spent on developing new drugs to combat these diseases when this money thrown at a food education program for people would save more lives – guaranteed!! Check out this link, please!! This is the trailer for quite simply the most important movie you will (probably) never watch. Anyway….

Previously I slugged a lot of pills and capsules from everything from omega oils, vitamins, minerals and joint supplements as well as protein powder, sometimes creatine and other supps that helped my training. I decided one day after finding a solid and whole pill in my poo that there had to be a better way. I surmised that my stomach was clearly unable to digest the pill and it was excreted.

Fortunately I found some excellent fruit powder with stuff like acai berry, green tea, bilberry, cranberry, pomegranate, grape skin etc etc and a “greens” powder with blue-green algae, chlorella, aloe vera, barley and wheat grass, kale, spinach etc etc. These great powders go into a shaker with water, Vitamin C powder, flax seed oil and some pretty decent protein powder by Maximuscle, an awesome UK producer and now represented here in Singapore. My guess is powders will be digested a whole lot easily than a compressed pill.

This gives me a massive dose of really good stuff twice a day, first thing in the morning and also at night. I’m taking 2-4 grams of Vitamin C and 2-4 teaspoons of flaxseed oil daily with the powders and I still take a few pills namely Triflex which I believe is the best joint supplement available. Well I am 45!! All of this stuff helps me a lot, right now, in my energy levels, my renewal, my performance, in many ways. And to me it’s money in the bank because I don’t plan on being a long-term health statistic either!

I hear stories from Ufitters and PT clients that they get run down easily, quite often feel flat and regularly get sick. It’s about 2 things. Food and renewal. Our food is clearly a problem and supplements will help and of course so will eating organic food. Renewal is achieved with good quality sleep, exercise and mental nourishment (books are great!!).

Start doing something positive NOW! Start eating better, start thinking about renewal and start supplementing. It comes down to committing yourself to a better existence now and into the future. All of this means better productivity now as well!! You will be amazed at how better you will operate.

Committing to eating properly and committing to renewal. Without the commitment, you aint got nothing!! So COMMIT!!



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Ok so I have been banging on a bit about consumption of food and how we all generally eat too much. I have posted numerously that as an experiment you could all conduct, drop your consumption of food by half. That is, only eat half of what you normally would do for say 4 days or so. And then evaluate how you feel, your energy levels, how you wake up, concentration levels etc, your general well-being. Did anyone do it??

Interestingly in the past 2 weeks I have put on 1 kg, I normally range around 82.5kg and now I’m definitely in the 83.5 bracket. And I heard that my UFIT members say I’m losing too much weight! I am certainly in the 12-13% body-fat range, based on the wholly unreliable hand-held device but whatever. If I go up to 15% I can be sure I have put on 2 or 3 points and that’s really what I’m most concerned with rather than exactly where I started. These devices are reliable enough for that test-retest stuff. I put the increase down to less running these past 2 weeks.

What I really wanted to tell you here was exactly what I eat everyday on average, just so you’re clear that you’re eating too much ๐Ÿ™‚

630am – protein shake with water and greens/fruits concentrated powder, added vitamin C plus some other vitamins and minerals

830/9am – small bowl of organic cereal with regular full-fat milk

Post Training (gym session/run) – Ready to Drink (RTD) protein shake. This is usually 12pm

2-3pm – Small vegetable quiche from Starbucks and a coffee OR eggs/baked beans made at home

4-5pm – apple

8-9pm – 150 grams of cashew nuts and sometimes also or sometimes only the same protein shake I have at 630am

And that is it!!

And I have put on weight recently! What does this tell you? It tells you several things –

  1. If you eat a lot of processed foods your body is struggling to process them and as a result you’re storing the food as fat (processed foods=pasta, bread, white rice, chocolate, cakes, biscuits, sauces, dressings etc). There is not a lot of processed foods in my diet.
  2. Do you eat based on your stomach rumbling and you saying, “oh shit, better grab something”?
  3. If your main meal of the day is dinner, you’re whacking in way to many calories at totally the wrong time of the day.
  4. If you drink more than 3 cups of coffee a day, you’re hammering your hormones and your endocrinal system is in a state of confusion.
  5. If you eat more than what I am eating you really probably are eating way too much food!

We have been misled for a long time as to what a calorie is and what importance/role it should play in our lives. It’s a measure, that’s it. It’s an arbitrary measure like body-fat percentage. I’ve even heard and probably even used it myself in the context of “good calories and bad calories”. You could just substitute food for calories and say good food and bad food!

  • Base your food choices on whole foods, real foods!
  • Omit sauces, spreads and dressings, they’re just crap that make shareholders rich, shareholders in food companies, drug firms and private hospitals mainly…..
  • Don’t buy fat-reduced, fat-free, skim this and skim that, it’s processed and probably has added sugar!
  • The bad and I mean REALLY bad shit is bread, especially white bread, pasta and white rice. These are just sugar, straight into your system and spiking insulin and looking to power muscles and if it’s night time and there’s only sleep on the cards, you’re storing it! It’s FAT making FOOD!!
  • Caffeine stirs the adrenals so you get a buzz and hunger signals get bypassed and you never end up eating, until you hit the wall and eat 2 meals in one…..and store most of it!
  • Drink more water and less of everything else, we have to flush the system people!
  • And simply reduce your food intake.

If you follow these recommendations I’m sure not only will you lose the excess baggage but you will feel better and perform better! And please tell me how you go I’m happy to talk about it!



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Is Coke a sports drink??

Anyone watching the Tour de France? I love it, probably because I like cycling. Cycling is however a very tainted sport with loads of doping scandals over the years. I read a book about the Tour and there were accusations of doping back to the early 1900’s with racers “experimenting” with speed and amphetamines. Lance Armstrong has constantly denied doping accusations even when one of his aides went home to England after one tour and swore under oath that she disposed of needles used for doping when she was working for his team. Now Floyd Landis, who for 2 years denied he doped, has come clean and dobbed in Armstrong at the same time. Anyway I digress. What I really want to discuss is coke and not the white stuff some naughty people stuff up their noses but the bubbly soft drink people stuff down their throats ๐Ÿ™‚

I was watching the telecast last night and there were 2 or 3 of the guys riding in the peloton sitting there drinking cans of coca cola. I mean that stuff is the devils work right!? Full of sugar (high Glycaemic Index meaning instant insulin response) and caffeine (a stimulant, although in the eyes of WADA a legal stimulant but also a diuretic, meaning you pee more). So BAD BAD stuff indeed!

But NO! Not at all. Athletes like those that are racing in the Tour are in a nutritional state that requires massive amounts of sugar, instantly and for a long period of time. Sugar is what the body breaks carbohydrate down into to then allow it to be absorbed into the blood stream and then into the mitochondria which are the energy producers in muscle tissue. When you need instant energy and you have a long drawn out demand for it a soft drink, tasting sweet and doing a good job is an ok solution. Not the best but it works. I mean by that there is simply too much sugar per litre for it to be healthy and for it to work effectively in the stomach. Gastric issues can result due to the carbonated nature of the drink for one. However if used in conjunction with water and other drink solutions like Gatorade-type stuff, it works. For the pro’s ๐Ÿ™‚

The other issue of it containing caffeine is more interesting. Recent research suggest the diuretic effect is not as significant as first determined. And secondly having a boost to the adrenals, which is the major stimulant effect, can be very valuable again, if not abused. This is particularly so for instance, when running up into a major climb when decision-making is of a high priority. Having an alert mind maybe the difference in catching a breakaway or not!

So there you have it, Coke is actually a sports drink, if used in the right circumstances, who would have believed!!



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Food, eat well or think you eat well?

As you may know I’m in Sydney at the moment and as I talked about yesterday, due to the travelling my training schedule has been thrown out and similarly so has my eating! I have a sweet tooth there’s no doubt and as I also love coffee and Sydney is a coffee mecca, it’s a recipe for a de-railed eating program! I have brought with me my protein powder and my vitamins so there’s some semblance of routine but avoiding the caffeine-sugar trap is tough ๐Ÿ™‚

What I have always loved about Sydney is the massive amount of fresh produce available. Back in Singapore it’s a hard thing to find. Nuts, fruit and fresh fish are awesome here and I always stock up on the first 2 as a priority. When I’m eating out I go sushi here in Sydney a lot. Tonight I ate great sushi, very fresh and pretty good value.

The point being here is if you’re travelling a lot, you have to be careful how you eat when you’re on the road. I believe there is definitely a percentage weighting on the 3 main components of a healthy lifestyle being food, training and rest/recovery.

In my opinion the importance of each are – training = 25%, rest/recovery = 10% and nutrition = 65%.

So you can see that in life food carries a significant weighting for everything and similarly when travelling the priority for us all, particularly if we’re concerned with avoiding putting on some extra kilo’s is FOOD ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s going to happen that our training schedules will get affected so the best thing we can do is do a better job on our food intake. Refer back to some earlier nutrition posts for tips on better eating but a summary would include reducing caffeine and sugar hits…..lol. Eating more fresh food is a very good start but the most important priority is reducing the amount of food we eat.

I have blogged about this before. Our society and I mean societies of developed nations as a rule, eat waaaaay to much food. It’s something to do with gluttony and we all practice it, even if we don’t realise it. Eating out in Sydney is a study in gluttony. The size of food portions on plates for people who simply don’t need that amount of food (based on ย their physical size and the fact they probably work in an office) scares me. Seriously. Why is it the case? History is littered with examples of excesses when money isn’t really a problem and food, being our primary resource is one of the first affected. And these days we’re nearly all working sitting on our bums so burning very few calories.

Don’t eat so much food!! If you’re travelling and your exercise routine is on the blink and you eat more food because your hosts are, well, thinking they’re doing the right thing, you will put on weight. And then you get back from your trip, you’re feeling a bit heavier (lazier) so it affects your training program in a negative way. And then you have to rush away again! It becomes a spiral ands it’s out of control!

I have stated before that there is one exercise everyone can try in reducing ย food intake. That is cut the amount of food you are currently eating in half. So eat half the amount of food you usually eat for a few days…..try it. Some people fast for a day or 2. Don’t do that, I’m not asking you to de-tox. This is far more serious. This is about reducing your chances of becoming a statistic by developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer or a host of other weight-related diseases.

The equation is quite simple. If you’re travelling and your regular exercise program is compromised, eat less food. As a matter of fact, eat less food anyway. We’re all eating too much. Reduce your food intake by half, every day for 3-4 days and monitor how you feel. My guess is you will feel a lot better, you may get some stomach rumbles but overall you will feel better. And if you’re travelling the chances of putting on weight will reduce significantly if you manage your food intake in a positive way.



Research into Organic Food

Man I am a bad guy!! It’s been an age since I blogged and I’ve had a bee under my bonnet for a while, just wanting to get out…so here goes!!

I read in the ST recently that new research just published found there is no evidence that organic food has any greater nutritional value than conventionally grown food. Apparently this research collated data from a swag of studies completed on organic food Versus conventionally grown food. Did anyone see this? It had a BIG headline and was in a prominent section of the paper.

Ok so a couple of things here.

I believe most people anecdotally would feel that organic food is better for us, right or wrong? So what is the purpose of this research and who would want to see this research undertaken? I was taught always to want to try and investigate the underlying reasoning on why a piece of research is undertaken. Who will it benefit? Obviously in a lot of cases people and groups wanting to get a positive statement supporting their stance on a given matter will try and produce “evidence” that their point of view/product/service is better than an alternative, considering that that alternative may be doing nothing or maybe another product or service.

In this case I would hazard a guess that conventional farmers, concerned that their livelihoods are slowly being undermined by a trend of shoppers buying more and more organic foods, have initiated the study. This in my opinion is highly a plausible scenario. I mean it happens all the time that groups with vested interests in outcomes establish research protocols that benefit/support their stand.

Interesting in this case the PR/spin machine that has subsequently used these results and promoted them very successfully in media around the world. What for me is worrying is the angle that the reports have taken in supporting the research findings that, “there appears to be no greater nutritional value in organic foods compared to conventionally grown foods”.

Is this why people buy organic foods? Well for me it’s NOT the primary reason. For me the primary reason I buy organic foods is because the growing of the foods uses no chemical fertilisers, no antibiotics, no growth hormones, no additives to assist colour and nothing else that can contaminate the food (so obviously genetically modified foods can’t be organic, thankfully, well at least not yet. I’m sure Monsanto goons are plotting how they can do this). So my reason for buying organic food is contamination, or more correctly knowing the food is NOT contaminated!

At the very end of the report in the ST, it stated that unfortunately the research didn’t address the negative effects of all the chemicals, added hormones, medicines etc when growing conventional foods, so comparing organic food to conventionally grown food on this basis is perhaps something future research could address…..ahhhhh but in the meantime, headline browsers in the ST will have a take-home message that there’s no point paying extra for organic food.

The PR/spin doctors will get their result with the 80% of punters who really can’t be bothered reading the full article (ok so I only did because it’s important to me in my business…….). I just hope it is to you guys as well….