Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Ideal Body Fat %?

Tuesday Tip: Ideal Body Fat %? 🤔

I’m often asked what the ideal body fat percentage should be. You’ll hear various numbers mentioned from anything between 10 -25% for men and 20-30% for women.

A recent study showed that the lowest risk of mortality (from all causes) was associated with a 22% BF in men and 30% in women. So what is the ‘ideal’ body fat?

Firstly it’s important to note that there’s no completely accurate way of determining BF% – all the various methods are essentially estimates of varying quality – be it from hi tech scales, body scans or callipers. Some will vary depending on hydration and food content in the gut too (notably the scales). They just give a relative measure- which is fine if you’re using it to gauge progress and measure change, but isn’t something to get too hung up on in terms of the specific value.

Also importantly genetics controls your fat distribution and level- different people have different numbers of fat cells and a tendency to carry more or less fat. The same BF% can look very different on different people.

Finally fat plays an important role in our metabolism – too much or too little can negatively impact health. A high BF% can increase the risk of chronic disease and cardio- metabolic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease. A low BF% isn’t a good thing either as it can impair hormone production, suppress your immune system, make you more prone to injury, affect your performance, energy levels and your relationship with food.

Balance is key – you don’t want to carry too much fat but nor should you be trying to be ‘shredded’ all the time either. So the ideal BF% is highly individual. Essentially you want a BF% which allows you to enjoy your lifestyle and remain healthy. So it should be within or close to the healthy ranges for men (I usually suggest <30 % for women and <25% for men as a starting point) but not so low that it’s impossible to maintain without being overly restrictive with your eating. Being lean isn’t a bad thing. But for most people, you can be healthy without a visible six pack and even if you did have a six pack

it doesn’t always equate to being healthier

Regardless of what your BF% is, you should focus on things that actually improve your health, such as exercise, sleeping well, having a diet filled with a range of food types including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and ‘enjoyment’ foods like ‘junk’ food in moderation , etc.

Happy Tuesday 🤗xx

Nutrition and Calorie Tips

What you tend to focus on… and what you should focus on…?

What you tend to focus on… and what you should focus on…? 📉

If you’re trying to lose weight (by which we really mean body fat as that is what actually results in body shape change) then it’s important to find ways to measure progress. We tend to focus on a single goal and most often it’s weight related and it’s the ‘final’ goal. This can be one of the reasons you may self sabotage and struggle to stick to your weight loss journey. The goal is so far away that you don’t feel like you’re making progress and in addition because it’s focused on the scales if that number stays static or goes up that can cause you to give up.

We are all conditioned to use body weight scales. They can be a great tool to assess whether you’re making progress. However, the number the scale shows is JUST a number. It’s merely your relationship to gravity at that particular moment in time. It’s not actually the best way to measure progress. Just because the number on the scale hasn’t gone down in a while, doesn’t mean you’re not improving your overall health.

If you decide to use the scale, you need to overlook the day to day changes you will inevitably experience. Scale weight is affected by lots of factors – amount of food in your system, hydration levels, glycogen levels, hormones, salt content of your diet, recent exercise, type of food you ate yesterday (diff foods can result in more or less temporary water retention) etc. None of which are a reflection of how much fat you’ve lost/gained or how your shape has changed. Think about it – if you had the body you wanted and felt confident to wear anything you liked, would it matter what that scale number was? No!

It’s vital to trust the process and think long term. The reality is your body shape can change without the scale going down – in fact a recent client actually put on weight (muscle and fluid probably) yet has lost body fat and cm’s.

So instead of focusing on the end goal weight try to use other measures and do use on the daily/weekly changes outside weight and the number on the scales. e.g. items of clothing and how they fit, sleeping better, feeling stronger, getting fitter, improving your relationship with food etc. Try to focus on some of these other, arguably more important, measures of progress. If you must step on the scales then look at averages over time rather than daily variations and focus on long term trends.



Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Protein Truths

Tuesday Tip: Protein Truths 🍗

There are a lot of myths out there about protein, so here are a few truths.

# You must have protein 30-60 mins after exercise

The anabolic window (the window in which you supposedly need to eat protein to enable muscle growth) is a highly controversial topic, but research shows it is not as important as we once believed. Whilst it can be helpful to have a meal/snack high in protein in the hours following a workout to ensure adequate protein intake if you’re trying to build muscle, it is not a magic window that is only open for 30 minutes after exercise. Especially so if you had eaten already before your workout. The actual window is more like 5hrs plus.

# More protein is better!

People are somewhat obsessed with prioritising protein to recover, gain muscle and lose fat. But the more protein you eat is not always better in terms of muscle mass gain. It requires an adequate amount of energy as well as protein intake. Eating an excessive amount of protein on an already adequate intake of calories will not provide any further benefit and in fact is likely to lead to over consumption of calories and actually gaining fat too. If muscle building is your goal – it takes TIME, and doubling your protein intake past your baseline needs will not speed up this process. If fat loss is your goal, the calorie deficit is king and although protein helps you feel full, extra protein won’t specifically enhance fat loss.

# Protein is bad for your kidneys.

There is no evidence, in human clinical trials that a high protein intake >1.5g per kg of bodyweight is harmful for your kidneys in a healthy population (healthy is a key word here).

# You need protein shakes to meet your daily protein intake.

Protein shakes can be an easy and convenient way of meeting protein requirements if out and about. However a protein shake is not required for muscle protein synthesis after exercise in order to recover effectively. You can get your protein from your main meals etc. So if you’re a fan of them great but if you’re not then don’t worry – you don’t need them!

Happy Tuesday 🤗xx

Nutrition and Calorie Tips

Eating certain foods doesn’t make you a ‘bad’ or a ‘good’ person…

Eating certain foods doesn’t make you a ‘bad’ or a ‘good’ person… 🍷

I lose count of the number of times I hear clients tell me they’re ‘bad’ because they’ve eaten something they feel they shouldn’t have. How often do you eat something and label it as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and by extension consider that you’ve been ‘good’ or ‘bad’?

If you succumb to a bar of chocolate and a glass of wine after a long day you tell yourself you’ve been ‘bad’ and that you’re a ‘bad’ person. Yet if you have a yoghurt, apple and a protein shake (in this example a standard protein powder mixed with 300ml semi skimmed milk as per the instructions) you’d be feeling very virtuous and like you’re a ‘good’ person.

It’s really time we stop labelling foods and good or bad. There are no good or bad foods. There are simply foods which contain a greater or fewer number of nutrients. The foods themselves aren’t bad – the quantities may be though. You are also not a bad person for eating those foods. It’s time we stop attributing some form of morality to snacks etc. What you eat or don’t eat has absolutely no bearing on your worth as a person. You’re not a bad person for snacking on a doughnut. You’re also not a good person for choosing an apple and almonds.

Yes the apple, yoghurt and protein shake will have more fibre, more micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and more protein. The wine and chocolate undoubtedly have fewer vitamins and minerals, but it will provide you with energy and joy! If you were trying to hit a certain number of calories then the wine and chocolate may even be a better choice as they’re fewer calories (and if you swapped to a small glass of wine it would be even fewer!) but neither is inherently good or bad. They both have a place in a balanced diet. The only reason to describe either as good or bad is in terms of how you think they actually taste!




Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Training for a Summer body?

Tuesday Tip: Training for a Summer body? 👙

As we head towards summer there’s a lot of social media posts around talking about exercising to get your bikini or summer body. Now aside from the fact that, generally speaking, fat loss (which tends to be the real goal) is almost impossible to achieve from exercise (you need a calorie deficit) it’s also not an ideal goal.

The issue with training for a ‘summer body’

is that it’s a merely a goal to be constantly slim or lean without any other performance goals attached. The standards are arbitrary and the likely result is that you’ll never feel slim enough. It’s hard to escape this desire to slim down for summer as it’s so pervasive in our society and we start buying into it from a very young age. Now that’s not to say that wanting to lose fat for summer is necessarily a bad thing or something you shouldn’t do – ultimately it’s your body and you can choose what you want to do with it. But if it’s a pressure you are trying to avoid then perhaps it’s worth considering replacing that summer body goal with more stable goals that will serve you all year round, not just for the summer.

Ultimately the exercise routine and diet that you can do consistently, over the entire year, is the best one for you. Not the one that you can only manage for 4-8 weeks at a time because it’s unsustainable for you and your lifestyle. Try repositioning your goals – for example a goal of longer life, better quality of life, strong bones, quicker recovery from illness. Train for your old man/woman body – you want dense bones, strong muscles, good balance, a healthy heart and functional independence. When you’re 80 you want to be able to carry your shopping, lift your grandchildren, reach to put things away on the top shelf, get up from your chair unaided, stop yourself falling etc. If you try to focus on these sorts of goals you may find you are able to exercise and eat in a way that isn’t overly restrictive (on the food side) or inconsistent (e.g. sudden bursts of over exercising then weeks of months of no exercise). It also won’t feel like punishment.

Think about the long term and think about what will serve to keep you healthy and functioning for longer. Starving yourself, drinking ‘detox’ juices, cutting carbs, hours of cardio etc won’t – eating a reasonable amount of calories from all food types and working to include cardio and resistance training for strong muscles, heart and lungs will!

Happy Tuesday 🤗xx