20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness

As personal trainers, we often take certain, seemingly obvious ‘truths’ for granted and assume that just because we ‘get it’, that other people will ‘get it’ too.

I often need to remind myself that most people who aren’t involved in the health, fitness, strength training world need to be educated and constantly reminded of certain things that might seem obvious to me, Jarrod and Matt here at the Fit Stop.

So here’s a list of maybe not-so-obvious things that will serve you well if you keep them in mind.


1.   YOU can control the intensity of each workout with your own effort.


low intensity 20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness


2.   Soreness is ok, but it’s not a marker of a good workout.  Just because you aren’t’ sore the next day, don’t think that you didn’t train effectively. Some people tend to get quite sore and some don’t.  (it is good to know your glutes work though icon smile 20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness )


3.   Stacking fitness on top of dysfunction will only lead to injury or plateau.  That is why we correct technique and give you specific warm up drills to perform. Your training is a constant work in progress to remove / improve dysfunctions and clean up your weakest links (same applies for us trainers too). Disregard this at your own risk!

bad form 20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness


4.   Scale weight is not a good indicator of your real body composition nor an accurate indicator of positive or negative results.

muscle v fat 20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness
Same height, same weight


5.   Attitude is the number 1 thing when it comes to your results. If you have a positive, can-do attitude with a genuine desire to learn, grow and improve – you WILL get results. Put another way, a BAD attitude is a great way to hinder results and progress.

attitude is everything 20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness


6.   There are no quick fixes, shortcuts or magic pills when it comes to weight loss, health or fitness.

magic pill 20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness


7.   You can boil your training success down to 3 simple things:

         1. Eat right
         2. Show up
         3. Train hard

If you do these 3 things consistently you’re set. If you’re not getting the results you’d like then you need to improve at least one of the above, maybe even all of them!


8.   Lifting weights will not make women bulky! It will make them strong and lean. 99% of females do not have the physiological capacity to gain a large amount of muscle mass, especially when following a clean, healthy diet. Strength training is the best way to avoid becoming ‘skinny fat’

Screen Shot 2013 12 10 at 10.21.39 AM 20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness



9.   If your goal is fat loss, it’s important to know that you typically can’t out-train a bad diet.

cant out train diet 20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness


10.        Skipping your warm up routine will affect your workout performance, results, and will increase your risk of injury. The purpose of a good warm up is to:

- ‘release’ tight or overactive muscles
- activate inhibited muscles,
- improve postural issues and muscle imbalances
- stimulate the cardiovascular and nervous systems
- groove correct motor patterns & prime the body for safe, effective performance under duress.

foam rolling 20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness


11.        What you look like now, and how fit and capable you are, is a by-product of how you eat and move on a daily basis.  This will also be the case in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years from now. How do you eat and move every single day?

fit old man 20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness


12.        There are many variables that have contributed to your current level of fitness.  Some people are genetically predisposed to being leaner, stronger, fitter etc. Some people started exercising later on in life so have less training experience  and are playing ‘catch up’. Some people grew up eating poorly, maybe that’s what their parents taught them and they are now trying to change deeply ingrained habits and reverse the consequences. Some people just need to work harder than others to get the results they want. We are all different. It’s important to understand where you are along the spectrum, and where you want to be, and match your dietary efforts and exercise output accordingly.


13.        Most of the time, doing a less challenging exercise with good form is better than a more challenging progression in bad form. Form before intensity. Its our job as trainers to judge what is unacceptable form and what is appropriately challenging and ‘passable’ (yet maybe not perfect form), in the name of progress.

starting strength review of mark rippetoes barbell bible b 20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness


14.        Recovery is just as important as the workout.  A good post workout meal, 7-8 hours of sleep, stress reduction, and tissue quality work are essential to a balanced program and optimal results.

recovery1 20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness


15.        We are not going to do any full range sit-ups and crunches in a group setting.  Your lumbar spine is made to stabilize, not flex and extend repeatedly under load.  We do stabilization exercises for the core, and if your form is right you are working your core on almost EVERY exercise that we select.  Core training at it’s best is trying to maintain good posture under a load or force that is trying to alter that posture.


16.        Everyone has abs. If you want to see what yours look like then you need to uncover them through losing belly fat. You might have heard this saying before  ‘Abs are made in the kitchen’

apple abs 20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness


17.        There are plenty of ways to approach improving your diet, not everyone has to follow the same eating plan as long as the fundamental principles stay the same – remove processed foods, provide your body with sufficient nutrients to maintain health, fitness, muscle & strength, create an energy or calorie deficit to lose unwanted body fat.


18.      STRENGTH is the single best foundation for improving all other fitness qualities and making big body composition changes (for both females and males). The stronger you are the easier it will be to train at an intensity sufficient enough to create a training effect & stimulus for physical change (tone up, lose body fat),  improve your cardiovascular endurance (the stronger you are the less effort you need to move), resist injuries, improve balance and stability, and tolerate the strains and stresses of everyday life.

strong girl 20 Random Things You Should Know About Personal Training, Health & Fitness


19. We’ve all heard the saying ‘You are what you eat’, which is very true, what you eat will have the single biggest impact on your health and lay the framework for your physical fitness and body composition potential. But also think about the quality of the food you eat – if its a fruit or vegetable how was it grown? If it’s an animal how was it raised? Did it live in a cage or roam free? Was it given a natural grass fed diet or an unnatural grain fed diet?, was it pumped full of hormones and antibiotics? Your food is only as good as the health of the plant or animal it came from.
So in reality – ‘You are what you eat, eats’


20. Don’t wait till everything is perfect or all your ‘ducks are in a row’ before you take action and make changes. There’s never a perfect time to start exercising or eating better, you will always be busy, and there will always be other things to do. You will figure it out. Just start doing what you can, and use that momentum to keep tweaking and improving as you go. The irony of this is I was trying to think of a 20th point to add to this list before I posted it live, but ended up settling on 19 as I figured there’s no point just having an arbitrary 20th point just for the sake of making it an even number. I wasn’t waiting for everything to be perfect, which struck me as a good piece of advice. So here we are, point 20 is done.


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Exercise Recovery & Post-Workout Nutrition

Whilst its very important to train hard whilst we’re at the gym, (like most things, the harder you work the better results you will get), its important NOT to forget the other side of the equation, which is the RECOVERY aspect of your training.

Just like a car needs regular services & maintenance to continue to operate well and prevent breakdowns, our body’s are the same. The harder you push it (a body or a car), the more maintenance is required.

A high performance car will require better quality parts, and better quality fuel & oil…

and a high performance body will require better quality food & nutrients as well as other recovery tools. (like massage, foam rolling, stretching etc.)

However unlike a car, the human body has the capacity to actually improve upon itself and get better over time. This is what we all want at the end of the day, and its helpful to understand the processes involved.

The more you understand and appreciate the importance of something and how it can help you, the more likely you will actually take action on it and make the effort to adopt it as a regular habit.


What Happens When You Exercise?

When we’re at the gym training, we are essentially imposing a demand or a stress on our bodies, it’s this consistent stress which forces our body’s to ADAPT, in form of getting stronger, adding muscle tissue (toning up), and improving our overall fitness and capabilities.

That’s really what all training & exercise is about

Stress & Adaptation

A good simple example of this are the calluses you might have developed on your hands from holding weights. This is your skin getting ‘tougher’ or adapting to better cope with the stress of holding onto heavy abrasive dumbells.

In terms of exercise, it’s the finer details of how to impose this stress appropriately, safely & most effectively, combined with the right recovery methods, which dictate results.

You don’t actually get fitter, stronger, or ‘tone up’ when you’re AT the gym training; you get results from RECOVERING from your training.

You need to get through the recovery stage before you can enter the improvement stage, and this is where good habits and a healthy lifestyle help a great deal.


recovery Exercise Recovery & Post Workout Nutrition


Dialing in your post-workout nutrition is the first thing we want to do and it’s very important.

What exactly is post-workout nutrition?

Post workout nutrition basically refers to the nutrients we provide our body’s after a bout of intense physical training.

Here’s a few things you might not have known:

·     Your body will deal with nutrients differently at different times, depending on activity.

·      What you consume before, during, and after your workouts will have an affect.

·      By consuming certain nutrients after your workout (post-workout), you can improve recovery, strength & fitness, and body composition.

After a hard training session, you’ve essentially damaged your muscle tissues on a micro level, whilst this is an essential part of getting stronger, leaner, fitter, ‘toning up’ in the long term, we need to ensure we repair our tissues and recover in the short term.

We want to move from a state called ‘muscle protein breakdown’ after exercise, to a state of muscle repair & recovery (which is called muscle protein synthesis) as quickly as possible.

The relationship between muscle breakdown and muscle protein synthesis will dictate your recovery, muscle growth, strength and performance in the long run. We want to spend LESS time in the state of muscle breakdown, and MORE time in the state of muscle protein synthesis.

We are in a unique physiological state after a bout of high intensity training, where we will utilize the food & nutrients we eat a lot differently to other times of the day.

This is often referred to as the ‘window of opportunity’.

During this window your muscles are primed to receive nutrients that can stimulate muscle growth, strength and recovery, we just need to have the right ‘building blocks’ and raw materials available, as soon as possible, to kick start this process.

The building blocks and raw materials come in the form of protein and the process of ‘protein synthesis’ is triggered when you ingest protein right after a training session.

Even carbohydrates consumed during this window will be used to replenish glycogen (carbohydrate stores) in our muscle tissue, and the insulin response that we generally want to avoid when eating carbs can actually be productive after a training session, as it will help to shuttle nutrients to your muscle tissue for recovery.


So The Quicker We Can Ingest Some Good
Post-Workout Nutrition, The Better.

You’ve made the effort to get to training, you’ve put in the hard work during your session, to ensure you actually reap ALL the benefits from all your hard work we need to top it all off by providing your body with the right building blocks and raw materials to trigger the desired results.


What Is The Best Thing To Eat After A Workout?


wholefood protein Exercise Recovery & Post Workout Nutrition

protein shake3 Exercise Recovery & Post Workout Nutrition









Firstly let me just clarify that when I say ‘post-workout’ I’m referring to weight training workouts or high intensity interval training sessions.

If you’re doing a lighter cardio session like walking or jogging to burn some extra calories and help with fat loss then it is not necessary.

We’ve already mentioned the importance of protein; this is our number 1 priority after a training session.

We know that carbs post- workout can help recovery, but if fat loss is your number 1 goal (over muscle, strength, or performance) then you can afford to leave this out.

You can certainly eat a real whole food meal to get your protein hit, however this may not always be the best or most practical option for a few reasons:

·      Real food takes planning and preparation, which will generally delay how quickly you can ingest the needed nutrients to take advantage of the ‘window of opportunity’

·      Real food will take longer to digest, we want the nutrients to be available as quick as possible.

·      You might not feel like eating a real meal straight after training, drinking a shake is a lot more manageable for most people.

So a good quality protein shake is generally a better option for most, just keep in mind when choosing a protein powder, there are HUGE differences in quality from one product to the other.

You want to watch for excess sugar, artificial sweeteners, unhealthy ‘mixing agents’, and poor quality protein ‘fillers’. (Not all proteins are created equal). If you’re getting your protein shakes from 7-11 this is a prime example.

The processing method is also important, most commercial protein powders actually use processing methods (like high heat processing), which de-nature the protein, making it essentially useless to our bodies.

To be honest there’s probably 2 or 3 brands out of the many available that I would actually feel comfortable taking.

One of them being the brand we stock at the gym

I stock this because I believe in the quality ingredients they use (plus it actually tastes better than any other brand I’ve used)


Protein Exercise Recovery & Post Workout Nutrition


This is a whey based protein which is a very complete protein and great for muscle recovery after exercise.

However if you’re a strict vegetarian or off the dairy, another non-whey protein which is great quality is

Sun Warrior – Fermented Brown Rice Protein

SW protein Exercise Recovery & Post Workout Nutrition

The cheapest place I’ve found it is online at www.iherb.com

Will protein shakes make you fat or hinder weight loss?

No, hopefully this post has explained it sufficiently, that in the long run, dialing in your post-workout nutrition will only help with fat loss and body composition.

With a sensible, long term mindset based around a healthy, sustainable lifestyle, you are helping the process of increasing lean muscle tissue, increasing your resting metabolism, and improving strength and performance so you can train harder.

With the ability to train harder and do more ‘work’ in an hour of time as you get fitter & stronger, you are providing more of a ‘training effect’ or stimulus or stress to your body. This has a snowballing effect in that the longer you train for and keep building upon your ‘fitness foundation’ and the more consistent you can be, the more benefits you will get from your training with the same investment of time.

For example an elite athlete can do a lot more ‘work’ in terms of levels of force output and calories burned than a sedentary untrained individual. They can get a big training effect from their efforts.

If you’re playing the ‘burning off the calories from the chips I had for lunch’ game, then protein shakes won’t help much in this regard, but you’ll find this approach and mindset leads to an endless process of short term ups and downs with little long term results anyway.

How Can You Get Some Good Quality Protein Powder?

If you’d like to jump in on the next order of protein powder that we stock at the gym, feel free to email ben@bgltrianing.com.au

There are 3 flavours to choose from and they all taste great:

-       Organic Raw Cacao (chocolate)
-       Organic Vanilla
-       Organic Cinnamon

Or go to www.iherb.com and order the fermented brown rice protein if you’re a vegetarian of off the dairy

Hope you found this helpful!  icon smile Exercise Recovery & Post Workout Nutrition

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Healthy Meals Delivered

I’m excited to roll out a new service we’ll be providing to clients of the Fit Stop, I genuinely believe this is going to be a great addition, and will help address the number 1 biggest obstacles to weight loss success – good eating!

Its not a big revelation that dialing in the nutrition is the hardest part for most people.

The Fact Is: Good, Clean, Healthy Eating Does Take Time, Planning & Preparation

Not only that, but there is a legitimate learning curve for many people who just simply don’t know how to eat healthy. This isn’t anyone’s fault, but getting up to scratch with WHAT sort of foods to eat takes time itself.

So you’ve got to learn WHAT to eat…   and then you’ve got to learn how to prepare it so it actually tastes ok….and THEN you’ve got to change your deeply embedded nutritional habits and implement all of this into your daily routine.

Now this wouldn’t be so hard if we had all the time in the world to dedicate to this area of our lives, and whilst I think there really is no better investment  (whats more important than your health?), I definitely understand it’s an uphill battle for many people.

So we’ve teamed up with quite a new company in Natural Wholefoods to be able to offer you healthy, home cooked meals delivered right to The Fit Stop for you to pick up.

This allows you to have as many healthy meals as you like on hand, every day, ready to go, so you never have to compromise on your healthy eating. We’ve covered breakfast meals, lunch meals, and dinner meals, PLUS there’s even desserts to choose from.

There’s hot meals you just need to re-heat and there’s cold meals you can just grab straight out of the fridge and eat.

I can vouch for the quality of the food, I wouldn’t offer you anything that I don’t actually believe in or didn’t think would help you. In fact Jarrod, Matt & myself all had a big batch delivered the other week and by all accounts, it passed the test!

I am personally using this food delivery service ongoing just to cover a few of my meals per week to make life easier.

The meals are cooked by experienced chefs, and are:

-       Gluten free
-       Dairy Free
-       Wheat & Grain free
-       Made with free range and pasture fed animal produce
sourced locally
-       Made with high quality, fresh, locally sourced fruits &
-       Free from added sugar, chemicals, preservatives, artificial
colourings or flavours
-       Free from hydrogenated oils & trans fats
-       Nutritionally balanced with quality protein, carbs & fats
-       Loaded with vitamins, minerals & nutrients that are
lacking in most modern day diets.

Meal delivery days for The Fit Stop are Monday & Thursday afternoons and the meals will all last for a good 5 days or so – they come fresh in a chilled ‘ice chest’ and just need to be reheated in the microwave or the oven.

Orders need to be in by Wednesday 5pm for the following Monday.

Here are the meal prices -  (including delivery):
















and payment can be put through on your Fit Stop debit account.

Here is the link if you’d like to order some meals:


From the ones I tried, I personally recommend:
·      Nutty Chicken Salad
·      Pork Crepes
·      Pulled Pork and Roast Veggies
·      Chicken Pad Thai

& I’ll be trying more over the next few weeks!

If you have any questions feel free to reply back to this email!

and here’s the link again,




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How To Read Food Labels

The walk around the supermarket can be a confusing journey for many people. We are constantly bombarded with shiny objects and clever advertising to gain our attention, and there are new products coming out all the time that claim to be good for us, so how do we know what to believe?


supermarket 300x200 How To Read Food Labels
Here’s a few buzz words and catch phrases that company’s like to throw into their packaging, and its often quite misleading:

-  All natural
-  Full of whole grains
-  No added sugar
-  Sugar free
-  Fat free
-  No trans fats (hydrogenated oils)
-  Added vitamins
-  Gluten free
-  Made with real fruit
-  Organic
-  Omega 3

Now a lot of the advice we give you here at the The Fit Stop is to stay away from foods that come in a plastic wrapper or a cardboard box, these foods will generally do you no favours when it comes to losing weight and getting healthy.

But there’s definitely exceptions to this rule, a lot of meat, poultry and fish products come packaged, as well as frozen berries for example, so this is not a flawless rule, especially for someone who is new to this whole healthy eating thing.

On top of that I understand that for many people, sticking to this rule ALL the time is just not realistic. You might have kids to shop for who just aren’t going to stick to eating like this (not unless you’re prepared to go crazy yourself), or a husband, wife or house mate who doesn’t have the same goals or just isn’t as interested in their health & fitness as you, and they have to eat too.

So given that you will undoubtedly have to venture into this murky territory and navigate your way through all the advertising mumbo jumbo, here’s how to read food labels and decide for YOURSELF as to whether something is healthy, (or not too unhealthy) and conducive to your weight loss goals.


Food content 300x166 How To Read Food Labels



The first thing to look at is the INGREDIENTS, regardless of the calorie content or macronutrient content, reading the ingredients will quickly tell you whether or not this food/product is worth considering.

Ideally the ingredients list will contain as few things as possible, and you will know and recognize what they are. If a food or product has a HUGE laundry list of ingredients then it’s a safe bet that its Unhealthy.

Here’s a pic I took at the supermarket of the ingredients on a pack of gluten free macaroni, waaay too much going on there, if the label contains more than about 3-4 ingredients then it’s a good idea to stay away.


INGREDIENTS 300x265 How To Read Food Labels


In general the ingredients will be listed / ordered in proportion to how much of it is in the product, for example if you look at bread, the first ingredient will be wheat flour, as there’s more of that than any other ingredient.


The big red flags you want to look for when looking at the ingredients list are:

-  sugar,
-  Vegetablie oils,
-  hydrogenated oils or fats
-  trans fats
-  preservatives
-  Sodium
-  Any words you struggle to pronounce

If any of these words are on the list then that’s not a good sign, but keep in mind the proportions, for example if sugar is near the start of the list then there is more of it than if its at the end of the list.



So after you’ve looked at the ingredients list, generally the next thing you’ll want to do is look at the macronutrient breakdown, being the protein, fat, and carb content.

If fat loss and improved body composition is the goal, then good quality protein and healthy fats are the most important ones to prioritize in your meals, the carbohydrates are a little more expendable and most people would do well to cut down on these.

What to aim for when looking at food labels really depends on what you’re trying to achieve with the item in question.

If you’re looking at a product just as an afternoon snack then the macronutrient breakdown or ratios aren’t really as important as the calorie content, hopefully you are getting adequate protein and fats in your main meals.

If you’re looking at a food label as an option for a main meal, then you’ll ideally go with a higher protein product like meat, fish, poultry, eggs etc. All the little ‘snack’ type foods you see in the centre aisles of the supermarkets wont be sufficient sources of good proteins, fats and other important nutrients we want in a proper meal.



Then we have the calories or kilojoule content, which is BY FAR the first thing that most people look straight at, and the ‘usefulness’ of knowing this information is debateable.

If you have a target calorie limit that you are trying to stay within, then this may help (assuming the labels are accurate and assuming your calorie target is accurate), but if not then it’s almost a moot point.

In really broad terms, an ‘average’ persons fat loss calorie target could be anywhere from 1200 – 2400 calories per day. If you have 3 meals per day then that’s about 400-800 calories per meal, 5 meals per day would be anywhere from 250-500 calories per meal.

This is just to give you an idea…if you’re having an afternoon snack and it contains 400 calories, then there’s a good chance its going to blow the calorie budget after you’ve factored in breakfast, lunch, dinner, a couple of latte’s and other snacks.



Reading food labels can often make things MORE confusing than not reading them at all, they’re not very user friendly.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Sugar is often replaced by other sweeteners, which might fly under your radar, such as:

  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Honey
  • Rice syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Glucose

You could consider many of these ingredients to be on par with sugar when it come to the health & fat loss, so just because it doesn’t say the word SUGAR, doesn’t mean they’re not sneaking this other stuff in.


Sugar Alcohols

  • Sorbitol
  • Erythritol
  • Mannitol
  • Xylitol
  • Isomalt

These are derived from sugar molecules, but contain less calories and will metabolize more slowly, but they can cause digestive issues like gas and bloating in many people.


Artificial Sweeteners

sweetener 300x166 How To Read Food Labels







Artificial sweeteners are generally made in a lab and not derived from natural sources, they are common in products claiming to be ‘sugar free, these are the ones you’ll typically see:

  • Acelsulphame -k
  • Aspartame
  • Cyclamate
  • Sacharrin
  • Sucralose

And here is a great little table I stole online showing you the most common foods you’ll find each one in.

sweetener in australia How To Read Food Labels


There are numerous studies indicating that these artificial sweeteners are not healthy for you, and have been linked to cancer, and other diseases in animal testing.

One of the biggest selling points in using these ‘zero calorie’ sweeteners is the potential for weight loss as it replaces sugar, however studies have shown that people using these sweeteners will actually gain MORE weight.

One theory is that these sweeteners will actually increase your appetite so you eat more, and when ingested they almost ‘trick’ your body into thinking its just regular sugar, so your body will treat it as such, giving you the same blood sugar and insulin response we want to avoid when losing body fat (or avoiding putting on body fat).

These sweeteners below are generally considered a ‘healthier’ option

  • Raw honey
  • Stevia
  • Agave syrup
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Lo Han Guo
  • Xylitol
  • Thaumatin

The jury is still out on a lot of this stuff though, so it’s a good idea not to overdo ANY of these sweeteners. A moderate amount here and there is probably fine though.


Misleading Phrases & Terms

Think of phrases like “no artificial ingredients”; “light-tasting”; “a nutritious source of fiber”;  “made with real fruit”; “part of a healthy breakfast”; etc.

Or brand names like “Healthy Choice”; “Lean Cuisine” or “Nutri Grain’

These terms don’t actually mean anything, but they can be misleading to some people, and conjure up a ‘healthy’ image that you associate with the product.

Another example is labeling items as “cholesterol-free” or labeling sugary sweets as “fat-free”. This may be true but these things never had cholesterol or fat in the first place, it doesn’t make them any healthier for you.


Serving Sizes

It can be very easy to misinterpret calorie numbers, or not take serving sizes and ‘servings per pack’ into account.

A products might say “150 calories per serving” and you’ll think that’s great! That’s a perfect snack! but not notice that a serving size is a tiny handful.

For instance, a serving of potato chips is about 160 calories… and about 18 chips. That’s nearly 10 calories per chip. When was the last time you ate only 18 potato chips? Go count them out and see what that looks like.

Here’s a pic I took of a small ‘snack sized’ tub of yoghurt at the supermarket:


2 servings How To Read Food LabelsNote: You get strange looks from others when taking pictures of food at the shops.


So someone might eat this thinking that they’re consuming what’s written on the label. Little do they know they are eating 2 servings of yoghurt with that tub, so they actually have to double ALL of those numbers.

I’m not 100% sure, but I bet there’s not too many people sharing a tub of yoghurt like this, or there’s not many people eating half the tub and saving the rest for another day.



There’s alot to think about when it comes to buying your food, it can be very confusing. In putting it all together, here’s a few action steps for you to think about when you go shopping from now on:

1. Think about what you are eating. Take the time to understand what you put into your body, read food labels and learn to scrutinize. If you’re unsure about a particular ingredient then a quick Google search on your phone will usually let you know what it is. It’s a learning process but one that will pay off over your whole life.


2. Keep it real. As mentioned, most of your food should come from wholefoods and fresh produce, often these don’t have any labels, or they just contain a little sticker. If the majority of your meals revolve around good quality meat, poultry, fish, veggies, & fruit, there won’t be as much chance you’ll get stung by a misleading food label


3. Ingredients > calories. Look at the ingredients first, if it doesn’t make the cut, then the calories don’t matter one bit. Look to move past the calorie mindset.


4. Compare – Try to choose a product or brand with MORE of the stuff you DO want to eat (protein, natural fiber etc) and LESS of the stuff you DON”T want to eat (sugar, trans fats, etc)


5. Reverse Engineer – If you have a type of food or a particular product you LOVE eating, find the ingredients and learn how to make or prepare the food with good quality, natural ingredients yourself at home without all the extra additives.


6. Don’t Believe The Packaging – Often the products that really try to convince you that they are healthy, are the unhealthiest. Take slogans, phrases, and health claims with a grain of salt and decide for yourself when checking out the food label


7. Set Your Deal Breakers – It’s a good idea to have a list of things that are instant deal breakers for you. If the ingredient is on the label then you are not going to buy it (or eat it!), plain and simple

Here’s a few ideas:

-  Added Sugars (and substitutes)
-  Artificial Sweeteners
-  Hydrogenated oils (trans fats)
-  Preservatives
-  Artificial colours
-  Canned items not labeled ‘BPA free’
-  High Sodium
-  Gluten
-  Non organic
-  Non free range

Decide what your own quality control guidelines are based on your health and body composition goals, and stick with it.


8. Stick To The Perimeter – Did you ever notice that most of the good, healthy food lies around the perimeter of the supermarket, and most of the junk food is kept in the middle aisles? There’s obviously some exceptions to this rule but it’s pretty accurate for the most part. If you’re spending most of the time in the outside aisles when grocery shopping then that’s a good sign.



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Picking The Best Diet Strategy For YOU

There is no ‘one size fits all’ diet that is perfect for everybody….

There are definite eating principles or ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ which are pretty universal when it comes to losing weight or getting fit & healthy, but it’s also important to have the flexibility to be able to modify an eating plan or develop a strategy to better suit your personality, work schedule, lifestyle, budget etc, to give you the best chance possible of succeeding.

The best diet plan for YOU, is the one that YOU can stick to (assuming it’s also effective in achieving the result you want)

So what we need are some options to choose from…

If we are given several weight loss eating plans or strategies to choose from, we can decide which one is going to be the easiest to stick to given our various life circumstances.

But the compromise is this:

YOU need to understand that good results don’t come easy, and there MUST be some level of self-discipline and maybe even discomfort with ANY strategy you choose.

Just choose the best one that you’re most likely to stick to which is going to be the least uncomfortable for you.

Here are 7 different options when it comes to effective weight loss eating strategies:



Tracking Your Calories

calories1 Picking The Best Diet Strategy For YOU

This is a well-known and quite traditional method of losing weight, at the end of the day it does work (at least to a certain point). If you’re the personality type that works well with structure and organisaion, then spend a few weeks calculating your calories and staying within a calorie ‘budget’ to help you drop body fat. I recommend using the ‘myfitnesspal’ app to keep track.

This is effectively addressing food quantities, but will also be quite an enlightening experience for you. You’ll soon learn which foods are the big culprits when it comes to exceeding your calorie budget, and for most people this will lead to at least some healthier choices.

I do still recommend you think about good healthy food choices when doing this strategy, whilst you can still get fat loss results just by reducing calories alone, keep in mind there are good calories and bad calories which will dictate your potential in the long run, not to mention the affect it can have on your overall health & fitness.



Go caveman styles

caveman eating junk Picking The Best Diet Strategy For YOU

This is is basically addressing what you are eating, which for the vast majority of people is the main problem.

Now there’s plenty of diets out there which will have you eating healthier food, very similar in practice to a caveman or ‘paleo’ style diet, I just particularly like the easy to understand concept of ‘eating like a caveman’, people seem to just ‘get it’ and it gives you an easy frame of reference by which to make food choices without having to undertake your own nutrition course. I don’t think its necessary to go full hardcore Paleo (if you want to then great!), but it’s a great concept to start with.

So basically with this one, just don’t eat anything that wouldn’t be available to a caveman. This will cut out all the processed crap in your diet, is very effective for fat loss, and will improve your health dramatically.

So if not knowing what types of food to eat is the thing holding you back, this is the quickest way to empower you to be able to make those choices on your own.

Could you kill it and eat it? Pick it from a tree? Or pluck it from the ground?

If not then do your best to avoid it.

Good strategy -  eat pretty much whatever you want, whenever you want and as much as you want – just keep it caveman styles.




Carb Cycling

carb cycling Picking The Best Diet Strategy For YOUBasically the gist is, you will alternate between days where you are allowed to eat carbs (on training days) and days where you will avoid or limit carbs (non-training days).  So this strategy addresses both what you are eating, as well as how much you are eating.

After a strength training session, your body will handle ingested carbohydrates a bit better than at other times of the day, so we have a bit more leniency with carbs during these times, which is precisely what we want to take advantage of.

This is a really good strategy for those people who like to keep things simple and find it hard to commit or stick to a restrictive eating plan for more than a few days. From a psychological perspective, it’s a lot easier to cope when you’ve only got to restrict carbs for no more than a day or two at a time (plus it gives you a reward for your training efforts – train more = eat more).

If you want a more comprehensive rundown on carb cycling you can see an old post I wrote here.




The Cheat Day

Cheat day Picking The Best Diet Strategy For YOU

This involves choosing one day per week where you don’t have to think about following your healthy eating plan and you can eat whatever you want. The caveat is, you have to be spot on with your nutrition for the other 6 days of the week – lots of good healthy nutritious meals, and no slip ups!

This strategy can be very helpful from a psychological standpoint, it’s a lot easier to be disciplined throughout the week if you know there’s an end in sight and you can treat yourself on the weekend. If you’re craving for pizza for example, you don’t have to grit your teeth and never have one ever again, that is mental torture – all you have to do is wait a few days and you can have it.

Having a cheat day can even be beneficial from a weight loss standpoint (within reason). When restricting calories & in particular carbohydrates for a week, certain hormones in your body will start to drop which will limit your body’s potential for burning fat, having a cheat day will ‘reset’ these hormones preventing this from happening. A lot of figure competitors, fitness models and bodybuilders will schedule in strategic ‘cheat days’ for this very reason.

Keep in mind you can obviously overdo it with your cheat day, if you’re eating 2 large pizzas, a bag of potato chips, a bottle of coke and a tub of ice cream all to yourself then that’s a bit much. Most people will find that after 6 days of healthy eating, once cheat day comes around they tend to under-do it rather than overdo it, usually one or two cheat meals which stray from the plan is enough to satisfy.




Intermittent Fasting

Fasting Picking The Best Diet Strategy For YOU

This refers to choosing regular periods where you will completely ‘fast’ or not eat at all. There has been recent studies which show that fasting has several health benefits ranging from improved cholesterol to improved insulin sensitivity (which plays a big part in how well you’ll tolerate carbohydrates).

We now also know that eating frequent small meals has been shown to have NO effect in terms of speeding up your metabolism as was thought to be the case for along time by many health & fitness professionals (myself included).

Basically whether you eat 6 meals per day, or 3 meals per day, it will make NO difference to weight loss as long as calorie intake is the same.

Fasting has been around for centuries, and is included in many religious practices so it’s really nothing new, but its hasn’t been till the last few years that it’s actually been studied and people are using this strategy to lose body fat and improve health.

Intermittent Fasting is really nothing fancy and doesn’t need to be confusing; it’s basically just giving yourself certain ‘blocks’ of time where you will not let yourself eat. I personally find this strategy very easy and straightforward, and think it can be a great approach for many people.

A common setup is to limit your eating ‘window’ to an 8-hour period every day, and fast 16 hours of very 24 hour period.

This is not as hard as it might sound, 8 hours is plenty of time to eat enough food.

Personally, for the majority of the last year, I have restricted my eating to an 8 hour window between about 1-2pm and 9-10pm. I have noticed a lot more energy during the day as a result and stress way less about food and having to prepare meals (like breakfast) and it doesn’t bother me if I don’t eat at regular intervals or specific times.

I also much prefer eating less during the day and eating the majority of my food with my biggest meals in the afternoons / evenings.

This setup just works well for me and my personality / preferences, and if it sounds like something that could work for you, maybe give it a try.

Effectively for most people, if you were to follow this same approach, all you would have to do is remove breakfast and make lunch your first meal of the day, whatever time you eat lunch is the start of your ‘8 hour eating window’. So if lunch is at 12pm, you need to finish eating for the day by 8pm.

Especially good strategy if you hate eating breakfast in the morning and find you just force yourself anyway OR if you tend to eat not so good breakfasts that aren’t conducive to your goals anyway. Spending half of your day in a ‘fasted’ state, (morning to lunch) can also be beneficial in terms of burning body fat as an energy source.

You could start your 8 hour window anytime you want though really, it doesn’t HAVE to be setup like this. You could eat breakfast at 7am and stop eating for the day at 3pm. (this would be a lot harder to do from a psychological standpoint though in my opinion)

As mentioned, studies have shown actual physiological benefits from intermittent fasting, but it’s also another way of addressing food quantity -  if you have less time to eat food in a day, you will most likely eat less food.




One Habit At A Time

habits Picking The Best Diet Strategy For YOU

If you’ve been ‘dieting’ on and off for years, and just can’t seem to stick to a ‘weight loss’ eating plan or a ‘health kick’ for any good length of time, then slow and steady might be the way to go for you.

For all the diets and strategies to pick from, sometimes it’s as simple as recognizing the need to change those deeply engrained daily habits that are specific to YOU, addressing them, and knocking them off one by one.

Identify and remove your bad habits, adopt some new good habits, and all of a sudden you’re doing things a lot differently and getting great results.

Some of examples of bad habits to remove one at a time might be:

-       Buying junk food and keeping it in your pantry (to tempt you)
-       Drinking alcohol with dinner every night
-       Sleeping in and skipping training
-       Snacking on sweets every afternoon
-       Not preparing your own lunch every day so you have to buy it
-       Sugar in your coffee


Some examples of good habits to adopt one at a time:

-       Going grocery shopping every Sunday to be prepared for the week
-       Making your own healthy dinners and taking leftovers to work the next day
-       Exercising at a regular time and day and being consistent
-       Ensuring you eat some veggies with every meal
-       Stretching / foam rolling tight muscles every night when you watch TV
-       Taking a fish oil supplement very day

If this sounds like a sensible approach for you, get out a pen & paper and write a list.

What are the daily habits hindering your results?

What is one habit you can implement today which will be easy, AND a step in the right direction?

Choose an easy new habit you’re SURE you can maintain, focus on that one thing for a month then keep working down the list. If you’ve tried in the past to completely overhaul your diet all at once and failed…. as the old saying goes – slow and steady wins the race.




(Bad) Meal Replacement SUPER Shakes

super shakes Picking The Best Diet Strategy For YOU

There are often bad connotations with meal replacement ‘diets’. A lot of the ones we hear about often recommend super low calories, which just won’t work in the long term and are very hard to stick to.

Whilst a solid meal containing real whole-foods is the ideal situation, there’s no getting around the fact that it does take time, planning and preparation. Meal replacement shakes may not be ideal, but it can still be a hell of a lot better than a solid meal based around unhealthy food choices, and its definitely easier and more convenient. Realistically the number 1 obstacle for most people when trying to eat better is time, planning and preparation.

If you’re constantly struggling with a particular meal and have done so for a while, (breakfast and lunch are the most common) then resign to the fact that you’re having a tough time preparing your own meal, and you’re not likely to find anything healthy when eating out. It might be time for a different approach.

If this is you then maybe you need to just replace those meals with a quick, easy, tasty and HEALTHY meal replacement, I like to call them SUPER SHAKES.

Here’s what I would include in a super shake:

-       Scoop of high quality whey protein poweder (we stock very high quality and great tasting protein powder at the gym)
-       Water, or half water & half Rice Milk, or almond Milk
-       WHOLE punnet of strawberries or blueberries (or half of each)
-       BIG handful of baby spinach (I promise you cannot taste the spinach in a super shake!)
-       Natural Greek yoghurt or coconut yoghurt optional
-       All blended up into a delicious smoothie.

Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a super shake like this, plenty of nutrients, plenty of healthy calories so you won’t starve, and it’s quick and easy to make. So if you’re stuck eating toast for breakfast and you’re buying a sandwich for lunch and you just can’t manage to break that habit, super shakes might be your answer.

In fact if you just CANNOT get a handle on your food at all and you need a completely different approach, you could have a super shake for breakfast, a super shake for lunch, and all you need to do is prepare a healthy, nutritious dinner. Having to think about 1 meal per day is a lot easier to manage than 3, plus most people will tend to spend a bit more time with their dinner and be a little more structured for that meal anyway.

So there we have it, 7 eating strategy’s to choose from depending on what suits YOU best and will be easiest for you to stick to. Keep in mind that you can combine some of these approaches too, for example the way I eat is a combination of  – caveman eating, intermittent fasting, the cheat day and sometimes I’ll rely on the super shakes.

I hope this has given you something to think about, now its time to structure your own eating strategy which you can stick to, and get great results!

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The Relationship Between Muscle, Weight, & Size

Its very important to be able to discern between losing weight, and losing body fat.

After spending the better part of 2 weeks in hospital recently, not sleeping more than about 4 hours per night, and not eating nearly as much as I usually do, ( i went for 2 whole 24 hour periods of complete fasting!), with no exercise, I lost about 5kg.

Now this is NOT good weight loss by any stretch of the imagination, this 5kg was probably a bit of of body fat with the majority being muscle tissue.

Had I kept living a similar lifestyle (of starving myself, not getting enough sleep, and NO exercise) I would soon end up with a much higher body fat percentage and would be quite out of shape in no time.

So whilst 5kg of weight loss might sound great to a lot of you, there is a big difference in HOW you lose 5kg and what that 5kg is actually composed of.

Weight loss on the scales CAN be a bad thing, and it certainly doesn’t mean you will definitely look better, or be healthier just because you’ve lost some kg’s.

For example here are some quick ways to drop some weight quickly if you really want to:

- Amputate an arm or leg.
- Osteoporosis.
- Dehydration
- The Flu
- Shaving all your hair off
- Lobotomy.

So really what we’re after is a 5kg loss of 100% BODY FAT, this is the ideal outcome. To do that we need to maintain muscle tissue, and ideally gain muscle tissue.

It’s important for Females in particular to understand that this is how you really change how your body looks (in terms of muscle tone and shape), and in doing so will increase your ability to burn body fat and improve body composition over the long run.. (So how you will look in 2, 5, 7, 10 years from now)

As you get older, your will lose muscle tissue if you don’t pro-actively maintain or increase it. So your daily eating patterns now won’t be tolerated as well in 2, or 5 or ,10 years from now. You can learn this the hard way (by looking in the mirror in 10 years and realising your body has gone really down hill) OR you can take action now and be in control.

Here’s a familiar scenario – in January, Sally and John agree to lose weight together. Sally watches what she eats, counts every calorie, and spends hours on the treadmill every day. After a month, she’s down by 2kg.

Meanwhile, John decides to drink less soft drink and manages to cut down to one can a week from his usual four. He gets to the gym when he can – maybe three times a week – but half the time, he ends up cutting his workout short. One month of this, and he is 5kg lighter!

What the heck? Why does this happen? (I can hear all females gritting their teeth from here.)

There are many physiological reasons, but the difference in their muscle mass is one of the biggies. The extra muscle tissue allows John to burn a lot more calories, at rest and during exercise.

Let’s compare two WOMEN this time – Sally and Mary both have the same amount of fat, but Mary has an extra 7 kg of muscle.

If, for one year, Sally did exactly what Mary did to MAINTAIN her weight – go to work, sleep, play netball, whatever – Sally would actually gain 5-10kg of fat. Due to the differences in their resting muscle mass, Sally just isn’t expending the same amount of calories day to day. and since Mary has more muscle and weighs more overall, despite having the same amount of fat, she actually has a lower percentage of body fat.


Weight Versus Size

Deciding on an arbitrary weight that you think you should be, really isn’t an indication of anything, I could line up 10 females all with the exact same weight & height on paper, but they could all have completely different looking body’s, fit into different dress sizes and have BIG differences in body fat percentage.

Since muscle is more dense than fat, 1 kg of muscle will take up less space than 1 kg of fat. Muscle density is 1.06 kg per litre of space and fat density is 0.9196 kg per litre of space.

If you gained 10kg of muscle at the same time you lost 10kg of fat, you would be smaller, about 1.4 liters smaller. On the scale you would weigh the same., but your pants would be looser and your metabolism would have increased so now you’re burning more calories even when resting, allowing you to tolerate eating more food to stay at that same weight.


fat vs muscle1 The Relationship Between Muscle, Weight, & Size


Let’s say you and your friend decide to start two different weight loss programs at the same time. After 6 months, you’ve lost 10 kg by working out, eliminating alot of processed foods & replacing with good healthy foods, while your friend has lost 11 kg by lying in bed drinking coffee and smoking.

Your 10kg scale weight loss might equal a 10 kg muscle gain with a 20 kg fat loss. If so, you’d be 12.3 liters smaller.

On the scale, it would look like your friend who lost 11 kg (9 kg of muscle and 2 kg of fat) was doing better, but in fact, she’d only be 10.7 liters smaller, making her 1.6 liters bigger than you and not looking nearly as good for a similar weight on the scales. Ha!

Meanwhile, going forward, who will maintain her new weight more effectively? It sure won’t be your friend.

Of course, this is an oversimplification, because muscle and fat are not the only things at play. But the message is the same – losing weight is very different from losing fat.


If you are interested in finding out exactly how much body fat and how much muscle tissue you are carrying, and what your exact body fat percentage is, the only way to know for sure is through a DEXA scan, this is the gold standard when it comes to accurately measuring your body fat percentage. A DEXA scan will give you a detailed analysis of your overall fat mass, muscle mass, and bone density as well as your energy or calorie demands for weight loss.  If you’d like to get one, you can purchase through The Fit Stop for $79, this is 20% cheaper than the regular price of $99. It’s a good idea to get one every 3-12 months to make sure that over time, things are heading in the right direction. Scans are done in the CBD, so not too far from St Kilda.

Just send an email to ben@bgltraining.com.au to organise your scan


DEXA info 22 1024x629 The Relationship Between Muscle, Weight, & Size

DEXA info1 1024x630 The Relationship Between Muscle, Weight, & Size



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A Little Perspective on Food Choices…

If you want to lose weight and optimize your health, its so important that you take the time to understand what constitutes good food choices and bad food choices.

Here’s a little perspective on how different food choices compare:



One bowl of spaghetti Bolognese will contain between 500-700 calories

spaghetti A Little Perspective on Food Choices...


One Chicken Parmagiana contains about 500 calories,
(Thats not even including the chips on the side)


parma A Little Perspective on Food Choices...



Once Risotto dish will contain about 500 calories

risotto A Little Perspective on Food Choices...



3 slices of pizza will contain 500-700 calories

pizza A Little Perspective on Food Choices...

One McDonald’s Big Mac contains 500 calories

big mac A Little Perspective on Food Choices...

And these aren’t ‘good’ calories by any stretch of the imagination, a Big Mac contains 27 grams of fat, and more than 35 grams of highly-processed, blood sugar spiking carbohydrates.

If you get a the fries and soft drink expect to see those numbers skyrocket. The other meal options from above are not any better.


Here are a few alternative food choices and amounts that will land you at around the same 500 calories:


145 medium strawberries

strawberries A Little Perspective on Food Choices...



6 medium bananas

bananas A Little Perspective on Food Choices...


1kg plain Greek yogurt


greek yoghurt12 A Little Perspective on Food Choices...



4 grilled chicken breast

chicken breast A Little Perspective on Food Choices...


17 cups of broccoli
brocolli A Little Perspective on Food Choices...



6 & 1/2 cups of blueberries

blueberries1 A Little Perspective on Food Choices...


Better yet, you could eat ALL of these foods in one sitting:

1 grilled chicken breast (120 cals)
3 cups of broccoli (90 cals)
1 medium banana (100 cals)
100g plain Greek yogurt (130 cals)
10 medium strawberries (40 cals)
1/2 cup of blueberries (40 cals)

= 520 calories

So basically, you have an OVERFLOWING plate of chicken and veggies and then a HUGE dessert of yogurt and fruit.

A massive quantity of food that most people wouldn’t even be able to finish

and it contains LESS calories than 1 Big Mac,

Not only is it adding alot of nutrients and goodness to your body, you are avoiding all those terrible calories which will have a devastating affect on your body over time.

To put it simply, you don’t have to starve yourself in any way to lose weight, you just need to learn how to choose the right foods, and you can eat plenty.


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Measuring Portion Sizes The Easy Way

Ok, so there’s no shortage of info on this website about WHAT to eat, I hope you’ve got a pretty good understanding of that by now and if you don’t, have a read through some of the posts under the ‘nutrition’ section.

Whilst addressing food choices in regards to type and quality will be enough for most people to lose weight, and greatly improve their health, sometimes we need to dial things in a little more to make the progress we want.

Calorie or energy intake is still relevant at the end of the day, and whilst this isn’t generally the first thing I would get into when improving a diet, we still need to make sure we’re in the right ballpark.

There’s no getting around the fact that measuring portion sizes and counting calories is a fairly large pain in the a$$, it can be confusing, it is time consuming and for all the trouble you can go to, you can never even be sure how accurate you are.

Food packaging labels can be inconsistent, lab measurements can be inaccurate, food quality can vary, and there’s always an element of human error which can mean your calorie or kilojoule estimates can a fair bit off the mark.

Is there a better, easier way?

Well yes I think there is.

Now I actually didn’t think of this concept, I got the idea from Dr John Berardi, who is one of, if not the best sports nutritionists in the world (in my opinion), i’ve actually done his nutrition certification.

Here’s a simple and easy way to measure your portion sizes:

- Your palm size determines your protein portions.
- Your fist size determines your veggie portions.
- Your cupped hand determines your carb portions.
- Your thumb determines your fat portions.



To determine your protein intake, which included foods like lamb, chicken, beef, turkey, fish, seafood, eggs etc  (lentils if you’re a vegetarian)

(choose hormone free, organic, free range whenever possible)


Females go with 1 palm sized portion per meal (in terms of diameter and thickness)


female protein1 260x300 Measuring Portion Sizes The Easy Way


Males go with 2 palm-sized portions per meal

male protein1 300x186 Measuring Portion Sizes The Easy Way my dreams of becoming a hand model have finally been realised…


To determine your veggie intake, which includes foods like broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, carrots, salad etc.

Females go with 1 fist sized portion per meal

female veggies1 263x300 Measuring Portion Sizes The Easy Way

Males go with 2 fist sized portions per meal


male veggies 300x189 Measuring Portion Sizes The Easy Way



If you’re having some extra carbs with your meal, like fruits, rice, potato, sweet potato, as well as other grains and starches.

Females go with 1 cupped hand size portion


female carbs 290x300 Measuring Portion Sizes The Easy Way

Males go with 2 cupped hand sized portions


man carbs1 300x203 Measuring Portion Sizes The Easy Way


If you’re including some extra fats in your meal, like oils, nuts, nut butters, etc

Females go with 1 thumb sized portion of extra fats (if you’re including them)


female fats 260x300 Measuring Portion Sizes The Easy Way

Males go with 2 thumb sized portions of extra fats (if you’re including them)


man fats 300x219 Measuring Portion Sizes The Easy Way


So assuming you’ll be eating 3-4 meals per day and want to lose body fat or stay lean, using the above guidelines, your typical day would look like this.



-   1 palm of good quality, high protein food with each meal
-   1 fist of veggies every meal
-   1 cupped hand of carbohydrate dense foods (optional)
-   1 thumb of healthy fats (optional)



-   2 palm sizes of good quality, high protein food with each meal
-   2 fists of veggies every meal
-   2 cupped hand of carbohydrate dense foods (optional)
-   2 thumbs of healthy fats (optional)

To answer any obvious queries from the people who just can’t help themselves, yes people’s hands do differ in size. For the most part though, your hand size will correlate pretty nicely with your overall body size.

Keep in mind, whether you’re counting calories, using measuring cups, or using your hand to measure portions, this only serves as a starting point to YOUR eating plan based on your unique physiological make-up. Use this as a guideline and tweak from there based on the results you’re getting.

For example if you find you’re losing weight quite easily and have issues with hunger and satiety, you may add an extra cup of carbs to a meal and see if that helps.

If you want to gain weight and put on some muscle then you might find you need to add an extra palm of protein or cup of carbs to one or more of your meals.

If you want to lose weight and things aren’t budging or you’ve started to slow down, then you might remove a hand-sized cup of carbs or fats to one or more of your meals.

So there you go, hope this has helped you get your head around portion sizes. Now you’ve got a great place to start, a simple and easy method to measure your food intake and a way to ensure your meal sizes are consistent.


(If you found this useful don’t forget to click on the ‘Like’ button below and feel free to share it with anyone who you think might find it helpful icon smile Measuring Portion Sizes The Easy Way


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Small ‘Slip Ups’ Can Make a BIG Difference

One of the biggest mistakes I see with clients who want to lose weight, (as well as other goals) is thinking that one small deviation from the plan, or one small slip up won’t make a big difference with their results.

This is true with both skipping training, and with ‘slipping up’ on their food plan.

A big part of the recommendations we give to clients is to eliminate processed, man made foods from their diet, things like bread, pasta, biscuits, muffins, breakfast cereals, chips, wraps, noodles, sweets, juice, soft drinks, alcohol etc.

In doing this you will be effectively removing wheat, gluten, dairy, sugar and a bunch of artificial additives, sweeteners, and preservatives which are very common foods for people to have intolerance’s and sensitivities to, often without even realizing it.

If you are regularly eating foods which you have an intolerance or sensitivity too you can experience symptoms such as weight gain, digestive issues, bloating, energy problems, tiredness, increased inflammation (aches, pains, stiffness), weakened immune system, headaches, anxiety, skin conditions, and a host of other not so lovely things.

If you suffer from any of the above it’s worth having a think about what you’re eating on a regular basis, which may be causing or at least contributing to the issue. I firmly believe this is a big factor for most people trying to lose weight and get healthy.

So apart from the fact they you’ll substantially drop your calories when you remove all of these foods and replace with natural foods humans are supposed to eat – over time, it will have a systemic, ‘cleansing’ effect throughout your whole body, basically like a ‘detox’.

After years and years of eating poor quality processed foods, and then eliminating them altogether from your diet, after a few weeks you’ll notice there is a flow on effect of good things that happen to reverse your body’s tendency to readily store body fat, and succumb to the not so lovely ailments mentioned above.

Your liver will start to clean itself up, and your body’s hormone levels will start to level out, your gut health and digestion will improve, and your metabolism will improve, resulting in a compounding effect of accelerated fat loss the longer you stick to the plan without ‘slipping up’.


detox Small Slip Ups Can Make a BIG Difference


You can take supplements like digestive enzymes, probiotics and various herbs to help with this process depending on the extent of your issues and what you have to overcome.

(If you do feel you might have some of these issues I’d be happy to have a chat to you about it, and if need be I can refer you on to someone who can help you more specifically diagnose and treat it. )

So the longer you stick to the plan without deviating, the better standing you’ll be in to see results, sometimes it can take time and it’s because in many cases the body needs time to start working ‘properly’.  It isn’t always possible to reverse years of unhealthy eating with a few weeks of eating better, it’s important to be realistic about this and instead of getting disheartened with the process, just know that it’s something to be expected. If anything, if you’re in this situation it’s MORE of a reason not to slip up on your eating plan.

The thing is, when you have just 1 slip up, it’s often like pressing the ‘reboot’ button on a computer. How annoying is it when that happens accidentally?
You’ve been working  hard on something, and now you have to  wait for the computer to load back up and start at the beginning again…


computer reboot Small Slip Ups Can Make a BIG Difference


This is often what happens to your body when you slip up after eating really well  for 1 week and have that 1 piece of bread, or 1 bowl of pasta you didn’t think would be a problem. You have to ‘reboot’ and start back at the beginning, wait for your system to clear up and your body to start working better again.

This happens to the best of us, even my wife, who is married to a really annoying personal trainer. She knows that she is intolerant to dairy, it makes her feel tired, lethargic and messes with her digestive system.  If she avoids dairy for weeks on end she loses weight and feels much better.

But to start to feel the benefits of removing dairy from her diet, she has to stay off it for a good week before it clears out of her body totally.

SO many times I’ve seen her remove dairy for 1 week, start to feel good and then ‘reboot’ her system by having a cappuccino from a café during a moment of weakness. Time to reboot and start all over again…

Apart from the physiological effects 1 slip up can make on your progress, it also has an effect on your self esteem and the subconscious beliefs you have about yourself. Every time you break a promise to yourself you’re ingraining a pattern of failure. So the next time you tell yourself you’re going to ‘start being healthy from Monday’, deep in the back of your mind you know that you won’t stick to it, because you know you never do.

1 slip up or deviation from the plan DOES make a difference no matter how you justify it to yourself.

So when you’re doing well and sticking to the plan for a few weeks and it feels like you’re not seeing all the results you had hoped, just know that it’s normal and sometimes it can take some time. Be realistic with your expectations and honest with yourself about what you’re trying to overcome and the level of effort and discipline you’re going to have to put in to get the results you want. If you’ve spent many years eating poorly then yes, you might have some metabolic issues which could take a few weeks of avoiding bad foods without ANY deviation or ‘ ‘slip up’ before your body starts to fix itself up and responding the way you’d like. Just like I mentioned above you might need some added supplements to help with the process.

Just remember your body will reflect the lifestyle you live, over time – over months and years….NOT what you can squeeze in to a 4 week health kick.

It’s important not to be impatient, you might not feel things are progressing on the outside at the moment, but it’s just as important to make first make progress on the inside in many cases. Good things will start to happen if you continue doing what you’re doing and leading a good, healthy lifestyle.

I’m a sucker for a good inspirational quote, you may have heard this one before…

At 99 degrees, water is just hot.

At 100 degrees it boils…

When water reaches boiling point, it creates steam…

which can power a train.


train Small Slip Ups Can Make a BIG Difference

When you build up to it, that one tiny degree can literally mean the difference between being able to move a train or not.

The tiniest bit of change and progress can make a HUGE difference…

So remember that the little things do count, and even when you think you’re not getting anywhere you might just be that one degree off some big changes,

Just try not to slip up,  ‘reboot’ yourself and have to start over.


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Making Sense Of Diets – Principles v Methods Part 2

In our last post we discussed all the different forms of exercise and how to make sense of it all, if you haven’t read it, just scroll down or click here to read it first.

In this post we’re going to address the nutrition side of things, which can be even more confusing!

We’ve all seen the countless diets out there, and we’ve all seen and heard about others getting weight loss success following all types of diets, here are just a few:

-       Weight watchers
-       Jenny Craig
-       Light ‘n’ Easy
-       Atkins diet
-       zone diet
-       south beach diet
-       Anabolic diet
-       Intermittent Fasting
-       CSIRO diet
-       Low fat diet
-       Low carb diet
-       Paleo diet
-       Liquid diet
-       Vegetarian diet
-       Carb cycling diet

So how come we hear about people getting results with all these different diets when they are often very conflicting in their guidelines?

Which is the best diet to follow?

Well, again, you can make sense of all this if you understand the concept of:


Principles Vs Methods


I mentioned in part 1 on exercise that this saying in an important one to rememeber


Methods are many
Principles are few
Methods always change
Principles never do

So just like with exercise, instead of looking at how all these diets are different, let’s look at ONE thing they ALL have in common…

They all control calorie/energy intake (either expressly, or inadvertently) through setting calorie limits or through restricting certain foods or food groups

That is effectively the PRINCIPLE for fat loss nutrition, ALL successful fat loss diets have to adhere to this principle

Consuming LESS calories / energy than your daily energy requirements, (so your body will use body fat as an energy source)

That’s why different diets can be effective.  The METHOD is different, the PRINCIPLE for getting the results is the same.

So now that we know the PRINCIPLE we need to follow in order to help us lose body fat (consuming less energy/calories than our daily energy requirements), it now becomes a matter of deciding which is the best METHOD to use to achieve this principle.

It is at this point where other variables come into play to give us added benefits or drawbacks, things like

-       Long term health benefits
-       Long term health risks
-       Long term weight loss potential (how far you can go with it before you plateau)
-       Losing, maintaining or increasing muscle tissue
-       Affect on energy levels
-       Affect on hormones
-       Vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, fiber intake
-       Affect on performance, strength
-       Level of complexity
-       How easy the diet is to adhere to long term
-       Will it reduce your risks for disease and help you live longer?

If we consider the above points, we can count out diets that aim to purely limit calories, without controlling food choices. To think that our health and body composition is controlled purely by energy intake (calories) without regard for the type and quality of food we eat (or don’t eat) is absurd.

But rather than give you my thoughts on every diet which would just take too long, it’s easier to give you my thoughts on what I believe is the best diet to follow, keeping in mind the above points.

The simplest concept to grasp in regards to your nutrition , is to think about eating like a caveman, or cave woman, as the case may be.

This is the premise behind the Paleo diet.

Now this isn’t to simply jump on the bandwagon of one type of ‘diet’ over another (I hate the word ‘diet’), it’s just that the principles behind ‘caveman’ eating or paleo eating are basically the same principles we want to follow for optimal health, and in turn optimal body composition.

If you think about what has caused humans to become an overweight society, it is our modern day diet.

The processed, man made, packaged foods that are the staple of most people’s diets are MUCH higher in calories than the natural foods we have eaten for thousands of years, and this is the reason why we as a society are putting on weight.


processed foods11 300x223 Making Sense Of Diets   Principles v Methods Part 2


The weight gain principle is just the opposite of our weight loss principle

We are consuming MORE energy / calories than our daily energy requirements. (also keep in mind that due to a lack of activity in our modern lifestyle, our daily energy requirements are way less than what they used to be)

So this surplus of energy/calories gets stored as reserves, in the form of body fat.

And these aren’t just extra calories, they are ‘empty’ bad calories from foods full of sugar, wheat, chemicals, preservatives and toxins which put an enormous amount of stress on our body’s, and provide probably 1/5th of the necessary nutrients we need to be healthy.

Eating like this actually affects your digestive system, gut health, immune system, hormone levels, and basically has a chain effect right through your body which actually makes it harder for you to lose weight. This is why just addressing calories without addressing food choices is ineffective in the long term.

So It would stand to reason that to fix this problem we need to address the cause of the problem and STOP eating these modern day foods.

But for some reason the world is full of magic pills, powders, and diets which aim to fix the problem without actually addressing the cause.

Doesn’t it make sense to just address the cause of the problem?

So while paleo style eating will definately help you lose weight, due to the fact you’ll be consuming much less calories with the types of foods you’ll be eating, it’s also about providing our human bodies with the essential nutrients we need to thrive, and to avoid foods which lead to our bodies’ breaking down, getting sick, and gaining weight.

If we never stopped eating like cavemen and women, the word ‘diet’ wouldn’t even exist in the way that we now know it. The whole weight loss industry exists purely because of the massive change in diet (and activity levels) that humans have undergone in the last 50 years of our existence.


de evolution 300x167 Making Sense Of Diets   Principles v Methods Part 2


Now I could just give you a list of foods to avoid (and have done so before), and give you a list of other foods you are ‘allowed’ to eat, or I could give you ‘pre done’ recipes to follow (methods), or some ‘points’ to count, but this still can be confusing for many. It doesn’t empower you with the ability to make your own decisions about food, or help you to understand what constitutes good nutrition.

Having a basic understanding of nutrition, and really understanding the effects and ramifications it can have on your body is often a big catalyst for change. It changes the way you think about food and your relationship with food.

For you to be empowered to make your own decisions about food you need to understand enough to be confident in your ability

We are a society going through an obesity epidemic and a big reason for this is a fundamental lack of understanding of what we are supposed to eat.

If all you ever knew and all you ever grew up eating was processed, convenient, packaged foods you might be confused about why you’re struggling with your weight, because you don’t know how to eat any differently and that’s just the world you have lived in all your life.


go back guys its a trap 300x223 Making Sense Of Diets   Principles v Methods Part 2

We need to stop relying on TV commercials, magazines, the newspaper, and clever marketing campaigns for our nutrition education. These are just METHODS, most of which don’t work, and just create confusion.

Remember METHODS are many, PRINCIPLES are few….

To be able to make our own decisions about what constitutes healthy food, we need some PRINCIPLES to guide us.

It doesn’t get much more simple than ‘eat like a caveman’.

Whilst this may seem a bit simple, or even silly, if you seriously made a commitment that you were going to scrutinize every meal you made or every piece of food you ate with the question ‘would this food have been available to a caveman?’, you would be making better food choices than 99.9% of the population.

(why don’t you literally go through your fridge and pantry and do it now?….or tonight?)


caveman eating junk Making Sense Of Diets   Principles v Methods Part 2something not quite right here…


It gives people with no nutrition education, who have no idea about what to eat, a simple and easy method of judging which foods are good and which are bad.

If you were honest with yourself, and asked yourself these questions every time you ate…

-       Can I pick it off a tree?
-       Can I pluck it from the ground?
-       Can I kill it and eat it? (yes sounds horrible but its true)

Then you would dramatically improve your diet.


Paleo diet food 300x218 Making Sense Of Diets   Principles v Methods Part 2

You would by default, get rid of all the processed crap that is so readily consumed by humans today, reduce your calorie intake, and eat much better quality food, which would have a huge effect on your health and body composition.

And if you went through and scored every diet mentioned at the start of this post using the criteria from the list of benefits or drawbacks above, Paleo diet wins.

I really do hate calling it a ‘diet’ though, that word brings up negative connotations to me, and risks people placing Paleo eating into the ‘fad’ category along with other diets.

its more a simple and straightforward concept for everyone to grasp.

Paleo eating is really based around principles and not strict methods, there’s still plenty of room for you to make your own food choices based on what you like (within reason).

Two people could follow paleo eating and have a completely different diet.

So, in wrapping this up, out of all the diet METHODS available to you, the basic premise behind the Paleo diet is what I would recommend due to:

a)    Achieving fat loss along with all the other added extras from my list above (health benefits, living longer, more energy, better body composition etc)

b)   The simplicity of it – it’s an easy concept for people to grasp.

Now if you are already familiar with Paleo eating which I know many of you are, I would also make a couple of modifications, like adding in some of the ‘better’ carbs like rice and potatoes every now and then if you are exercising frequently, to add in some supplements to help with nutritional deficiencies, and to supplement with a good quality protein powder for convenience and added body composition, recovery, and performance benefits.

I suggest you read the book ‘Paleo diet’ or ‘Paleo Solution’ or at least Google ‘Paleo diet’ to learn a little bit more than what I’ve written about here.

And just to be clear, from my initial list of diet examples, I also think there’s lots of benefits to intermittent fasting and carb cycling (in conjunction with Paleo eating) but that’s a little more advanced and is maybe a post for another day.

I hope this has given you some food for thought (pun intended). There are many diet METHODS our there to frazzle your brain, but now, hopefully, you have some guiding PRINCIPLES to work with.

Your only job now is to TAKE ACTION


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