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The 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet

mosley books
Posted on by Steve Henderson

book mosley sugerThere was a time when comments such as “lose weight fast and reprogram your body” or “how to prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes and stay off medication” would have decried as being gimmicky and unrealistic.

However, as Michael Mosley shows in the 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet there is very good science to back these claims up, and he does a great job of explaining some of it in a way that makes totally good sense and is easy to follow.

This book explains how calorie dense foods high in refined carbohydrates and low in fibre wreak havoc with our body’s ability to maintain healthy control of our blood insulin levels and general metabolism, and how this is contributing to epidemic levels of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, dementia and many other illnesses, and the chronic dependency on medication that goes with them.

But – inspired by the work of Professor Roy Taylor, who is a Professor of Medicine and Metabolism at Newcastle University and runs the Diabetes Research Group there – it also shows that there is strong evidence that practical changes in our food choices and general lifestyle are the most effective means by which we can turn many of these negative health trends around.

Like his earlier books Fast Diet and Fast Exercise, the 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet is full of fascinating insights, and debunks a number of nutritional myths that have ultimately contributed to many of the health challenges we are facing here in the U.K.

books mosley sugerUnfortunately, the book’s title might suggest that it is primarily aimed at those who have already developed type 2 diabetes, but this is most definitely not the case – its true audience is anybody who wants to understand the fundamental role that nutrition plays in helping us avoid the lifestyle diseases that plague so many of the people around us, and who wants to eat in a way that will help them sustain good health throughout their life. We highly recommend the book.

insert link to his website, and maybe to the two radio interviews.

Posted in Eat Well |

Sugar: UK Cardiologist Explains Why We Need To Cut Back

Posted on by Steve Henderson

sugerUK cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra explains his strong opinions on the deleterious health effects of too much sugar in this 10 minute interview filmed in April 2016 .

His comments on the sugar issue are well worth noting, but so are the comments he makes on the ever present problem of research bias.

It is widely acknowledged that when those funding the research have a vested interest in its outcomes (as is often the case in the research climate of the modern era) it is very difficult – and sometimes even dangerous – to take the findings of that research at face value.

Unfortunately, this situation is unlikely to change any time soon, so until it does: caveat emptor.

Posted in Eat Well, Latest News |

Top 14 Ways To Increase Your Metabolism

books mosley runners
Posted on by Steve Henderson

Feeling sluggish, tired or struggling to lose weight? Here’s another great article & podcast from the Marks Daily Apple team suggesting great ways to rev up your metabolism. 

This article and the links it contains are entirely Mark’s, but we’re happy to spread the word because he provides high quality information and makes a lot of sense. Over to you Mark…

“On a literal level, your metabolic rate describes how much energy you expend to conduct daily physiological functions. This has many practical ramifications, however, because your metabolic rate also influences how you feel, how many calories you burn, how many calories you can eat without gaining weight, your libido, your fertility, your cold tolerance, how much subjective energy you have, how you recover from injuries and stress, how specific foods affect you, and how you perform in the gym. In short, it’s usually a good thing to have a higher metabolic rate.

Here are a few ways to increase your metabolism in a healthy, productive manner.

1. Optimize your thyroid health.

The thyroid is the primary regulator of metabolic rate. To increase the latter, we must support the former.

  • Certain nutrients play huge roles in thyroid function, like iodine (to create thyroid hormone) and selenium (to convert it to the active form). Make sure to eat your seaweed and Brazil nuts.
  • Many thyroid conditions are autoimmune in nature, so focus on avoiding common autoimmune triggers like wheat and other grainsstrengthening your gut barrier, and keeping your gut healthy with prebiotics and probiotics.
  • An excessive intake of cruciferous vegetables may have goitrogenic (thyroid-suppressing) effects. Don’t be afraid of broccoli and kale, but don’t eat several pounds a day.
  • If you’re low-carb, note that going too low in calories can depress thyroid function. There’s some evidence this may be adaptive and have beneficial effects on longevity to a point, but you don’t want to depress it so much that you’re cold all the time, constantly exhausted, and can’t seem to lose any weight. If you’re feeling that way on low-carb, up the calories (whether they come from carbs, protein, or fat).

If you’re legitimately hypothyroid, don’t be afraid to treat it. Sometimes supplemental thyroid is the right answer, and it’s less “modern” than you might think; traditional cultures used to supplement with animal thyroid gland.

2. Eat enough calories.

Inadequate calorie intake sends a signal of famine to your body. There are varying degrees, of course—400 calories a day sends a very different signal than 1200 calories a day—but any deficit will be perceived as a stressor, however minor. That’s okay. Stressors are important and part of the benefit comes from our response to them. But in the face of continued and constant low calorie intake the bodytends to depress the metabolic rate to match the amount of energy coming in. This slows weight loss, if not halts it altogether, and explains why many people feel tired, cold, and miserable on extended dieting.

3. Mind your leptin.

Leptin is a major determinant of metabolic rate and energy expenditure. Since it’s secreted by body fat and responds to a lesser degree to your carb intake, using a low-carb diet to lose body fat may eventually, paradoxically, work against your metabolism. You can fix this by incorporating carb refeeds once or twice a week where you keep the fat low and carbs high to give lagging leptin levels a boost. Other potential fixes include avoiding grains, whose lectins may interfere with leptin receptors.

4. Sprint.

I always say that sprinting is the single best exercise for leaning out. Compared to resistance training and traditional cardio, sprint intervals increase resting energy expenditure the most. Most of the increased expenditure appears to come from fat oxidation. Best of all, the increased expenditure following sprinting does not lead to increased food intake.

Furthermore, sprinting turns your muscles into glycogen sponges, so the carbs you eat to increase leptin and metabolism will be shunted toward the muscles.

5. Lift heavy things.

Strength training is essential for increasing your metabolic rate for three primary reasons:

  • Lifting heavy things builds muscle. Muscle is costly. It craves energy. It needs energy. It burns energy. It upregulates metabolism simply by virtue of its existence.
  • The immediate act of lifting heavy things is metabolically intensive. Hoisting heavy objects, whether barbell, rock, or bodyweight, requires energy in the moment.
  • Strength training increases resting metabolic rate over the short and long term. A good strength session even upregulates metabolic rate for hours afterward.

6. Eat spicy food.

Capsaicin, the spicy compound in chiles, has thermogenic qualities. It activates metabolically-active brown fat, which could reduce body fat. Combined with exercise, it increases energy expenditure. Combined with food, capsaicin increases the thermic effect of a meal (the amount of energy burnt during digestion). Don’t expect a miracle here. But little changes add up. Besides, spicy food—if you’ve got the taste for it—is delicious.

7. Eat at regular times.

Some people thrive on an erratic eating schedule. For some people, an erratic eating schedule depresses metabolism bccause their bodies “expect” food at specific times. In one study, healthy lean adults experienced a lower thermic effect of food—the extra burst of energy required to process and digest the food we eat—when they ate according to a disordered, erratic schedule. The same effect happened in overweight women trying to lose weight. Reduced thermic effect of food means lower energy expenditure and lower metabolism.

8. Expose yourself to cold.

To stay warm in cold environments, humans do several things that all involve increasing one’s metabolism. We shiver, which burns calories to maintain body temperature. We activate brown fat, a type of body fat that burns energy and increases metabolism rather than stores and blunts it. The more cold adapted you are, the more you rely on brown fat to stay warm.

It’s not necessary to take ice baths. Simply leaving the heat off in the house and going outside in short sleeves during cold weather will increase your energy expenditure.

9. Eat the carbs you earn.

If you have “earned the carbs” through heavy training, choose not to eat them, and continue to perform demanding work in the gym, your metabolic rate will suffer. A CrossFitter isn’t doing him or herself any favors by failing to restock glycogen stores after heavy WODs; this will exacerbate the energy deficit and introduce a metabolism-depressing starvation response.

10. Eat more protein.

Protein has the highest thermic effect of all the macronutrients, meaning it takes the most calories to digest and results in an higher energy expenditure. That it helps build thermogenic tissue—muscle—doesn’t hurt, either.

11. Manage stress.

Acute stress seems to incease metabolic rate, probably by increasing adrenaline and cortisol. But in the context of chronic stress, where cortisol is chronically elevated and less stimulating, metabolic rate may drop. That could explain why women who report experiencing more “stress events” have a lower thermic response to food they eat. That’s chronic stress, and it’s far more damaging than acute stress, which we can and do recover and even benefit from.

12. Stand more than you sit.

Direct comparisons find that people who use standing desks have higher energy expenditures than people who sit.

13. Move frequently throughout the day (fidgeting counts).

Non exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is an undervalued path to increased metabolism. That guy in your office who rocks back and forth in his chair, constantly cranes his neck around to look at everyone else, chews gum incessantly, takes frequent trips to the bathroom, and never seems to sit still may be nursing a crystal meth habit, or he could just be a high-energy guy with an elevated metabolic rate.

14. Drink coffee or tea.

Whether you’re obese or of normal weight, drinking coffee increases your metabolic rate. The increase, mediated primarily by a boost to fat metabolism, is transient, but before you know it’s morning again and you’re ready for another cup (or three).

Tea works, too. It’s got caffeine (albeit not as much as coffee) and, if you’re drinking green tea, specific compounds that promote energy expenditure independent of caffeine.

Those are 14 tried and true ways to increase your metabolism over both the short term and the long term. I’m sure there are others, too. What have you guys got?

Thanks for reading, everyone!”

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

Posted in Latest News |

115 Things Endurance Athletes Need To Know

primal blueprint podcast
Posted on by Steve Henderson

primal blueprint podcastIf one of your goals for 2016 is to get fitter then exercise and good nutrition are going to be essential parts of your overall plan. However, it all needs to be done in a safe and effective way so that you don’t end up wasting your time – or even worse – give yourself an injury!

115 Things Endurance Athletes Need To Know is a fantastic podcast from Brad Kearns (of the Marks Daily Apple team) that will help you exercise and eat in a safe, intelligent and effective way, and we highly recommend it to anybody aiming to get fitter, drop some weight or just become generally healthier this year.

Don’t worry – the podcast is not as heavy as the title suggests, and it covers information that is relevant to both casual exercisers and those who may be training for something bigger (like the Great North Run!).

In fact, we think the podcast is so good that in addition to providing a link to the audio recording we’ve also taken the time to reproduce the text of the podcast below, so check it (and the other great information available on the MDA site) out.

Happy reading, listening, exercising and eating!

Section 1 – Aerobic Training

  1. Endurance athletes on the whole carry too much body fat – a consequence of carbohydrate dependency eating, and overly stressful training patterns.
  2. The fundamental elements of the Primal Endurance approach are to slow down and emphasise aerobic workouts, balance stress and rest, and adopt an intuitive, flexible approach to training.
  3. The conventional approach to endurance training is deeply flawed, resulting in widespread burnout and excess body fat among even the most dedicated athletes.runners
  4. The flawed conventional approach can be characterised as “Chronic Cardio” – too many moderate to difficult intensity workouts with insufficient rest and recovery.
  5. Chronic cardio can cause permanent damage to the heart by promoting chronic inflammation and scarring the heart lining from repeated microtears.
  6. Moderate exercise – for example running 10 minute miles for only 1-2.5 hours per week  – can dramatically increase longevity in comparison to more arduous and time consuming training schedules.
  7. The critical distinction for endurance workout intensity is aerobic versus anaerobic. Aerobic workouts emphasise fat burning and are energising and minimally stressful. Anaerobic workouts emphasise glucose burning, and elicit a significant stress response.
  8. Emphasising aerobic workouts delivers the best return on investment for endurance athletes because endurance competitions – even as short as one hour – are fuelled almost entirely by aerobic energy systems.
  9. Developing an efficient aerobic system is like building a powerful clean burning Tesla engine. Excess anaerobic training, with an insufficient aerobic base, is like fine tuning a small, inefficient, dirty burning car engine.
  10. Aerobic development is best accomplished by training exclusively at aerobic heart rates for a sustained period of time. This enables a steady progression in fat burning efficiency without interruption from stressful high intensity workouts.
  11. The cut off point for aerobic training is the Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate, defined as being the point at which maximum aerobic benefits occur with a minimum amount of anaerobic stimulation. To calculate your maximum aerobic heart rate use Dr Phil Maffetone’s formula of 180- your age.
  12. Endurance athletes have extreme difficulty slowing down into what feels like a disturbingly slow aerobic heart rate zone, but massive improvements can occur over time by becoming more efficient – that is faster – at a comfortable conversational aerobic pace at the same heart rate.
  13. Aerobic improvement can be tracked by conducting Dr Maffetone’s Maximum Aerobic Function test (MAF test). You complete a fixed course such as running 8 laps around a running track at a fixed heart rate as close as you can to your maximum aerobic heart rate (180-your age) and the track your time and improvements over several tests, which indicates an improvement in your aerobic fitness.
  14. Improvement in MAF test results means that your training is working – you are becoming more efficient at burning fat at aerobic heart rates. Regression in MAF test results suggest that you are overtraining, and/or overstressed.
  15. High intensity workouts are not advised until a strong aerobic base is built as evidenced by steady improvement in MAF test results.
  16. Even a slight stimulation in anaerobic metabolism during a workout can accelerate sugar burning for up to 72 hours after the workout.
  17. Besides exceeding maximum aerobic heart rate with chronic cardio endurance athletes are often guilty of an overly regimented, overly consistent approach, which brings a high risk of over stress and burnout.
  18. Aerobic and anaerobic workouts, as well as primal aligned eating, all help improve mitochondrial function, protecting you from stress induced oxidative damage, and delaying the aging process.
  19. Mitochondria burn fat and ketones more cleanly than they do glucose. Glucose burning generates free radicals, causing oxidative damage and accelerated aging.
  20. Nose breathing during exercise ensures the most efficient exchange of oxygen on each breath, and helps you maintain an aerobic pace.
  21. The “Black Hole” designates an exercise intensity that is slightly too strenuous to be aerobic, but not difficult enough to qualify as a peak performance speed workout. Unfortunately, this intensity level or range is the default landing area for many exercisers, from novice all the way up to competitive athletes.
  22. A wireless heart rate monitor is essential to conducting proper aerobic workouts, because intensity at aerobic maximum is so comfortable that it is easy to drift beyond that and into the black hole.
  23. Slowing down to perform better in endurance competition has been proven effective by the world’s leading athletes for over 50 years, but it is still difficult to convince many casual enthusiasts about its effectiveness.
  24. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Primal Endurance Athletes are: Sleep, Stress/Rest balance, Intuitive and personalised schedule, Aerobic emphasis, Structured intensity, Complementary movement and lifestyle practices, and Periodisation.

Section 2 – Periodisation  

  1. Periodisation entails focusing on different types of training during specific blocks of time over a calendar year. The broad annual schedule looks like this: aerobic base period to begin the season, mini periods of intensity and competition followed by mini rest and aerobic periods, and finally a lengthy rest period to end the season.
  2. Consistency in the context of endurance training is ill advised. You are better off being intuitive, varied and flexible in your workout patterns. The process of fitness progress is dynamic and unpredictable, not linear.
  3. A good strategy for intuitive training is to align workout difficulty with subjective evaluations of your daily levels of energy, motivation and health. blog-fitnovatives-04062012
  4. The aerobic base period to commence the season should last at least 8 weeks, and possibly much longer if progress with aerobic function stalls or over stress symptoms are present (illness, injury, fatigue, etc.).
  5. Intensity should be introduced only after a successful aerobic period, and last a maximum of 4 weeks, with greatly reduced total training volume during that time before a mini rest period is observed.
  6. Mini periods of high intensity during the season should be followed by a period of nearly equal duration composed of rest and aerobic base building.
  7. The season ending rest period should be diligent an comprehensive – no training, no thinking about training, and extra attention to rest, sleep, and neglected hobbies and social connections.
  8. Tapering with a huge reduction in training volume and intensity promotes peak performance – it’s very difficult to lose fitness if you maintain even a fraction of normal training.
  9. True de – training from illness or inactivity causes rapid fitness losses, but you can regain fitness at approximately a 1:1 exchange of time off to time returning to training.
  10. The specific nature of high intensity workouts is of minimal importance. All anaerobic exercise whether its intervals, time trials, hill repeats, tabata, whatever, has a similar effect on the body.
  11. Heart rate variability measures the fluctuation in your beat to beat intervals. Surprisingly, more variation in beat to beat intervals represents a fit healthy recovered cardio vascular system as indicated as a higher HRV score on a 1-100 scale.
  12. HRV is a sophisticated and sensitive indicator of cardio vascular stress, and is a great complement monitoring to resting heart rate for tracking recovery and making optimal training decisions.

Section 3 – Primal Eating

  1. The standard American diet is based on excessive intake of grains and sugar which stimulates excess insulin production leading to lifelong insidious weight gain, chronic inflammation, and elevated disease risk factors.
  2. A high carb grain based diet leaves endurance athletes nutrient deficient, inflamed, and more susceptible to oxidative damage from the stress of training, general life and poor nutrition.   
  3. Grains – aka beige glop – are a cheap source of calories that are immediately a iStock_000022428842Large FRUITconverted to glucose upon ingestion and offer minimal nutritional value. There is no good reason for humans to consume grains, and many good reasons not to, especially for those sensitive to gluten and other anti-nutrients present in grains.
  4. Everyone is sensitive to the health compromising effects of grains at some level, especially the pro-inflammatory effects of gluten and the propensity of the leptin proteins in grains to cause leaky gut syndrome.
  5. Carrying excess body fat despite careful attention to diet and a high volume of training hours is largely due to carbohydrate dependency caused by a grain based diet and chronic training patterns.
  6. Endurance athletes can dial in optimal carb intake by first asking the question: Do you carry excess body fat? Any excess in body fat calls for a reduction in carbohydrate intake to accelerate fat burning.
  7. Weight loss through portion control and devoted calorie burning is ineffective. Calories burned through exercise stimulate a corresponding increase in appetite.  The secret to weight loss is hormone optimisation, primarily through moderating excess insulin production.
  8. Endurance athletes with optimal body composition looking to improve performance and recovery should choose high nutrient value carbs like abundant vegetables, sensible fruit intake, sweet potatoes, wild rice, quinoa, and dark chocolate.
  9. High calorie burning endurance athletes with optimal body composition can enjoy occasional treats, but the habit of unbridled intake of nutrient deficient refined carbohydrates should be eliminated in the interests of health and performance.
  10. Even lean people suffer from the negative health consequences of carbohydrate dependency, such as chronic inflammation, oxidative damage and accelerated aging and disease risk factors.
  11. Carbohydrate dependency leads to burnout because the body perceives fluctuating blood sugar as stressful vent every time, leading to an overstimulation of the fight or flight response, and eventual burnout.
  12. The carbohydrate dependency cycle looks like this: Consume a high carb meal, elevate your blood sugar, stimulate an insulin response, shut off fat metabolism and promote fat storage, experience fatigue and sugar cravings from that dropped blood sugar, consume more carbohydrates, stimulate the fight or flight response to regulate blood sugar, dys regulate and exhaust assorted hormonal processes, and finally end up in burnout and lifelong insidious weight gain patterns.
  13. Primal style eating is fractal and intuitive. When escaping carbohydrate dependency and becoming fat adapted you don’t have to rely on ingested carbs for energy. Eating patterns can be driven by hunger, pleasure and maximal nutritional benefit.
  14. Once fat adapted, intermittent fasting (IF) can be used to accelerate fat loss, fine tune insulin sensitivity, and improve cellular repair for anti-aging, immune boosting effect.
  15. A suggested entry strategy for intermittent fasting is to simply wait until you experience hunger before eating in the morning. This enhances your appreciation for food, and provides feedback on your progress for fat adaptation.
  16. Any excess body fat you have is a function of your genetic predisposition to store fat combined with the amount of insulin you produce in your diet. Losing excess body fat involves moderating insulin production by ditching sugars and grains.
  17. Primal style eating minimises the importance of genetic pre-dispositions and enables you to achieve your personal ideal body composition.
  18. Escaping sugar dependency and becoming fat adapted gives you a cleaner burning engine, since glucose burning promotes inflammation and oxidative stress.
  19. Ketones are an internally manufactured energy rich by product of fat metabolism in the liver when blood glucose and insulin levels are low due to carbohydrate restriction. Ketones are burnt efficiently by the brain, heart and skeletal muscles in he same manner as glucose.
  20. Ketogenic endurance training represents an exciting new frontier for peak endurance performance. Ultra-low carb athletes can perform amazing feats and literally become “bonk” proof by remaining in a fat and ketone burning state.
  21. Ketogenic endurance training is an advanced strategy that requires a strict devotion to very low dietary carbohydrate intake. However, its acceptable to waver in and out of this fragile state and still enjoy the overall performance benefits of being fat adapted instead of carb dependent.
  22. A bonk proof ketogenic athlete is preserving ketones for use by the brain, relieving it of glucose dependency, and prioritising fat for muscular fuel.
  23. Ketones burn cleaner than carbohydrates, minimising free radical damage and delivering a potent anti-inflammatory effect. Ketogenic endurance athletes recover faster from stressful training, improve cognitive function, and minimise the disease risk factors associated with a pro inflammatory high carb diet.
  24. The new “fat burning beast” paradigm offers great promise to endurance athletes, and can have a even more profound effect on the global obesity epidemic. Reduce carb intake in favour of fat, and you reduce excess body fat, period.
  25. Dr Jeff Voleks vaunted “Faster” study, and Dr Peter Ateya’s personal experiments prove unequivocally that any endurance athlete can quickly become fat adapted and deliver performances superior to carb fuelled efforts all the way up to anaerobic threshold intensity.
  26. Being carb dependent sucks on several levels. Our performance hinges on the tenuous ability to assimilate additional carbs during exercise, you produce more inflammation and oxidative damage from burning a dirty fuel source, you risk muscle catabolism via gluconeogenesis, and you have difficulty reducing excess body fat.
  27. Step 1 in eating primally is to ditch sugars, grains, and industrial vegetable and seed oils for 21 days. Step 2 is to emphasise highly nutritious primal food such as meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and supplemental carbs like sweet potatoes, the natural plant and animal foods that fuelled human evolution.
  28. While transitioning to primal involves eating rich, satisfying meals some can expect to struggle initially due to lifelong carbohydrate dependency and the drug like addictive properties of sugar and wheat.
  29. Eating primally and losing excess body fat does not involve any suffering, struggling or sacrifice. The high satiety factor of primal meals will prevent the cravings and binges that derail calorie restriction dieters.
  30. Primal eating can improve endurance performance by improving fat metabolism, moderating the overstimulation of fight or flight hormones, improving immune function, improving digestion and reducing inflammation and oxidative damage from muscle breakdown and training.
  31. You can accelerate the process of fat adaptation in a depleted post workout state when your appetite hormones are most sensitive to re-wiring. Instead of habitually pounding sugary treats fast for a stretch if you can, and/or choose high fat, low insulin producing foods. You will rewire your brain to become less dependent on carbohydrates at all times.
  32. The Primal Blueprint carbohydrate curve predicts the results of body composition goals based on different levels of carb intake. 100g of carbs a day or less promotes fat loss, 150g is the primal maintenance level, over 150g per day on average promotes lifelong insidious weight gain, and over 300g per day promotes metabolic disease patterns. 

Section 4 – Strength And Sprint Training

  1. Strength training is essential to success in endurance sports. Putting your muscles under loads by lifting heavy loads, whether it’s by weights, machines or just body weight resistance exercises stimulates positive hormonal adaptations and helps you preserve good technique and maximum power output as muscles fatigue during your endurance workouts.
  2. Strength training can help athletes identify functional weaknesses that lead to poor technique, overly stressful workouts and delayed recovery.  sprinter
  3. Any endurance athletes err by conducting quote “blended” workouts that deliver both a cardio vascular training effect – which is unnecessary in light of their extreme cardio vascular fitness already – and fall short of delivering absolute power that endurance athletes are deficient in.
  4. Endurance athletes with excellent cardio vascular endurance should focus on brief high intensity strength sessions that increase raw strength and explosiveness. Emphasis should
  5. be on maintaining excellent technique and workouts, and when fatigue inhibits reaching maximum power level.
  6. Endurance athletes over age 40 will particularly benefit from strength training since strength declines more steeply than endurance with aging. High intensity strength sessions will deliver a profound anti-aging effect by preserving muscle mass and optimising adaptive hormones.
  7. Primal essential movements represent a safe, simple, effective full body workout sequence consisting of push ups, planks, squats and pull ups. A series of progression exercises allow athletes of al fitness levels to perform an appropriate number of reps to increase competency over time.
  8. Maximum sustained power training (MSP) represents a cutting edge strategy to improve absolute power and explosiveness. These sessions involve popular functional movements like dead lifts, squats and leg presses, lifting heavy weights for few reps and taking frequent mini rest periods to sustain maximum power output throughout the workout.
  9. MSP sessions enable you to lift more total weight than the traditional light weight/high reps “multiple stations till exhaustion” blended workouts. The MSP strategy is to go maximum or go home. You never reduce weights, and you stop when you can’t lift the 5 rep max baseline MSP heavy bar due to accumulated fatigue.
  10. “All out” sprinting is widely disregarded by mileage obsessed endurance athletes who don’t see the connection between short sprints and endurance performance but becoming competent in sprinting will improve endurance performance in many ways including reduced perceived fatigue, enhanced fat metabolism, enhanced mitochondrial function and oxygen utilisation, improved muscle buffering capacity and strengthened muscles and connective tissue.
  11. Sprinting, like strength training, delivers a potent anti aging effect by flooding the bloodstream with adaptive hormones and actualising the anti aging maxim of “use it or lose it”.
  12. Maximum intensity sprinting significantly increases your resilience to physical and psychological fatigue at lower intensity levels. Your muscles regenerate energy faster through improved calcium/potassium pump function, and your central nervous system recalibrates so that slower paces feel easier.
  13. One of the most important benefits of sprinting is how it “cuts you up” like nothing else. Primal adapted eaters who experience stalled weight loss can send an intense message to the brain to rap up fat metabolism as n adaptive response to sprinting, an effect that continues for up to 24 hours after the workout. Ever seen a fat sprinter? Nope!
  14. Endurance athletes must adopt a different mindset for sprint workouts, rejecting the “suffering” ethos of endurance sessions in favour of striving for consistent quality performances, “perform at max or go home” workouts, and when your time gets slower, when your form becomes compromised or when effort increases to maintain the same times.
  15. Consistent quality sprinting means a similar time and similar perceived exertion each effort. If it becomes harder to deliver the same time, or if the time slows at the same perceived exertion the workout must end. As fitness progresses strive to increase speed before considering increasing the number or reps.
  16. Sprinting in a pre fatigued state is not only harmful for muscles, but also the central nervous system. Athletes should only sprint when 100% rested and energised to deliver a peak performance. Extensive warm up and technique drills should be performed before delivering maximum efforts.
  17. A proper warm up entails dynamic movements that elevate your temperature, lubricate your joints (no cracking or creaking), and gets you central nervous system focused on good technique with form drills. A deliberate cool down will minimise the stress impact of the session and facilitate faster recovery. No Abrupt endings!
  18. Running is the best sprinting choice due to the benefits of weight bearing intense activity. If you have joint or injury concerns or specific competitive goals you can sprint with low or no impact exercises (swimming, cycling, etc.). Ideal duration of sprints is between 10-30 seconds, and 4-6 reps of running is plenty. Since running is harder, shorter and fewer work efforts are advised.
  19. The rest interval between sprints should be sufficient to ensure respiration returns to near normal, muscles feel reinvigorated, and that mental energy is refreshed. This will probably be achieved in 30-60 seconds of rest consisting of slow movement.

Section 5 – Complementary Movement And Lifestyle Practices

  1. Getting adequate sleep is not as simple as logging 8 hours per night. Sleep requirements vary by the seasons, training workload, overall life stress levels and genetic factors.
  2. Optimal sleep starts with mellow, dark, calming evenings that minimise artificial light and digital stimulation after dark. This allows for the circadian influenced “Dim Light Melatonin Onset” to happen on cue, making you feel sleepy soon after it gets dark.
  3. Awakening naturally, near sunrise, feeling refreshed and energised is indicative family-treatmentsof adequate sleep. Feeling less than perky in the morning suggests you must minimise artificial light and digital stimulation the previous evening.
  4. An ideal sleeping environment is quiet, clutter free, cool, and completely dark. Even tiny light emissions like from an LED alarm clock or something can disturb the highly sensitive release of melatonin into the blood stream.
  5. Napping is especially effective for catching up on evening sleep deficiencies, refreshing brain neurones after sustained periods of peak cognitive functioning, and generating a pulse of adaptive hormones into the blood stream.
  6. The “Active Couch Potato Syndrome” describes an actual medical phenomenon of devoted fitness enthusiasts nevertheless suffering from elevated disease risk factors due to predominantly sedentary lifestyle patterns outside of their workouts.
  7. Walking will improve many aspects of your general health, and also contribute to aerobic fitness by stimulating the complete range of aerobic muscle fibres and energy producing enzymes.
  8. Extended periods of sitting and stillness can compromise musculoskeletal function, cellular health, cardio vascular function, and fat metabolism, negating many of the benefits of endurance training.
  9. Taking frequent “movement breaks” throughout the day improves insulin sensitivity and fat metabolism, improves muscular balance, flexibility and bone density, and enhances cognitive function through improved circulation.
  10. The quote “athletes mind set” of being lazy in everyday life on account of compiling an impressive workout log must be re-framed to emphasise the importance of increased everyday movement. It’ll help speed recovery and optimise metabolic function.
  11. Cardiovascular fitness is the ability to challenge the heart and certain muscles to perform extreme athletic efforts. Cardiovascular health is the ability to efficiently deliver oxygen to 100 % of the cells in your body.
  12. Creating a stand up desk environment is great, but the primary goal should be to create more variation in your workplace position, switching back and forth from standing to sitting to sitting on the ground, and going mobile whenever possible with meetings, phone calls and the like.
  13. Brain science confirms that humans are incapable of focusing for longer than 20 minutes without a break. Taking a 5 minute break for every 20 minutes of peak cognitive focus, and longer breaks every few hours will improve metabolic health and cognitive performance.
  14. Complementary movement and mobility exercise like yoga and Pilates improve athletic performance by allowing you to preserve correct technique and optimal power output even as you fatigue during workouts.
  15. Neglecting complementary movement and mobility exercises can compromise athletic performance by allowing inefficiencies and imbalances to occur from narrowly focused training patterns. This leads to accelerated fatigue, diminished power output and increased injury risk.
  16. Deliberate movement practices also improve your ability to focus during challenging endurance efforts, and provide a calming balance to the high stress nature of endurance workouts.
  17. Play is a fundamental element of human health, and a key factor in the success of human evolution. Play is a critical stress release from the pressure, schedules and responsibilities of daily life, and promotes the development of a cognitively fluid mind.
  18. Play can take many forms, but ideally involves unstructured outdoor physical activity to balance the structured, confined and sedentary forces of modern life.
  19. Primal thrills can deliver a healthy burst of adrenaline to counter the mundane and predictable nature of modern life. Chose challenges that are well managed, and just outside of your comfort zone.
  20. The old injury treatment protocol of R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is being replaced in the eyes of many experts in favour of E.C.M (elevate, compress and move).
  21. Cold therapy can speed recovery by delivering a refreshing psychological sensation, and recalibrating the central nervous system and muscle metabolic activity back to calm, cool resting levels.
  22. Full body immersion into water at 50-60 degrees farenheit (10 – 15 degrees Celsius) for 5-10 minutes is believed to be the optimal strategy for post exercise cold therapy.
  23. Compression wraps or garments act like pumps to squeeze blood vessels open with force, allowing more blood and oxygen into the area and improving removal of waste and excess fluid. Studies suggest educed muscle soreness and improved performance using compression garments.
  24. Post exercise hydration is essential to ensuring that assorted recovery mechanisms work without interference from the immediate urgency of needing to re-hydrate.
  25. Movement is also an important element of recovery. Athletes should refrain from prolonged stillness periods after workouts, and throughout the day. Over time, efforts to move more will result in improvements in the familiar morning stiffness that may athlete’s experience.
  26. For post workout refuelling, forget the synthetic bars, gels, beverages and sweets. Instead, focus on getting wholesome nutritious food, like a salad.
  27. Self myofascial release is an effective recovery technique. Using rollers or balls, you can apply deep pressure to trigger points that represent the origination of stiffness and mobility problems that possible refer pain elsewhere.
  28. Self myofascial release delivers the additional benefit of stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing you to truly unwind after workouts.
  29. Releasing your attachment to the outcome can alleviate the psychological stress of missing workouts or performing below expectations. Instead, relax, be patient, and focus on the enjoyment of the process of getting fit. Take what your body gives you each day and nothing more.

 Ok, that’s it, but all of these points are covered more completely in the book Primal Endurance by Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns, so check it out if you’d like more information.

Posted in Latest News, Move Well |

Aerobic Base Building

Posted on by Steve Henderson


Exercise is a breeze if you understand the importance of building and maintaining a strong aerobic base. Check out this highly recommended podcast if you’d like to know more.


Posted in Latest News |

Check Out Mark’s Daily Apple

marks daily apple
Posted on by Steve Henderson

Mark’s Daily Apple is a really interesting health blog from Mark Sissons and his team that pulls together great information about nutrition, exercise, stress, sleep and other health related topics.

If you’re someone who is trying to achieve a healthy body weight, wanting to improve your sense of energy and strength, are training for some kind of personal challenge, or simply want to maintain a balanced, common sense approach to good health we’d encourage you to check out this blog, and the accompanying free Primal Blueprint Podcasts that go with it.

The 10 Primal Blueprint Laws

Mark’s whole approach to health revolves around what he considers to be the basic “laws” we need to adhere to in order to take good care of our health.


They are as follows:

  1. Eat lots of plants and animals.
  2. Avoid poisonous things.
  3. Move frequently at a slow pace.
  4. Lift heavy things.
  5. Sprint once in a while.
  6. Get adequate sleep.
  7. Play.
  8. Get adequate sunlight.
  9. Avoid stupid mistakes.
  10. Use your brain.

Mark explores each of these topics more fully in his blog and podcasts, but one of the main reasons why we like Marks work so much is because it takes all those seemingly disconnected pieces of headline grabbing information you may have come across over recent years (for example, the merits of intermittent fasting/the 5:2 diet, the pros and cons of high intensity interval training, the fat versus carbs debate, the importance of managing your body’s internal levels of inflammation, and many others) and brings them together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in a way that makes good sense.

We also like the fact that Mark is not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom, especially when he feels that it is leading people up the garden path in terms of their health (his thoughts on dietary fats, cholesterol and the recommended “food pyramid” are great examples of this). However, when he does so, it is always done constructively, and on the basis of an honest interpretation of good science.

The blog and podcasts have been running for a few years now, and contain lots of information on a wide variety of topics. To help you get started we’ve included links to some of the best podcasts we’ve come across to date, and we hope you find them interesting and helpful.


Recommended Podcasts From Marks Daily Apple

15.1.15 – Dr. Timothy Noakes (Highly Recommended)

2.12.14 – The Definitive Guide To Insulin, Blood Sugar And Type 2 Diabetes (Highly Recommended)

15.7.14 & 22.7.14 – A Case Against Chronic Cardio, Part 1 & 2

23.4.14 – Q & A (Containing A Discussion Of High Intensity Interval Training)

9.4.14 – On All Things Sleep

19.2.14 – Primal Blueprint Fitness

12.2.14 – The Reality of Calories In/Calories Out

29.1.14 – The 10 Laws

20.12.13 – Chronic Cardio


Posted in Latest News |

Dr. Timothy Noakes

Posted on by Steve Henderson

Professor Noakes is one of the world’s foremost experts in the science of exercise physiology, and a former marathon runner and exercise addict to boot! So how on earth did he develop Type 2 diabetes?

In this brilliant podcast he shares his personal experience and the turnaround this has led to in his thinking about the role of  fat and carbohydrate in our diet. The podcast is a real eye opener, and you can find more of Dr. Noakes on our clinics Facebook page.

Click here to go to this podcast.

Posted in Latest News |

The Definitive Guide To Insulin, Blood Sugar And Type 2 Diabetes

Posted on by Steve Henderson

Everybody should read this article from Mark Sisson of Marks Daily Apple. It provides extremely helpful information on the dangers of excessive carbohydrate ( and especially sugar) consumption, and can help prevent you and your children from unhealthy weight gain and the pathway that leads to type 2 diabetes. Knowledge is power – don’t become another lifestyle disease statistic!


We all know by now that type 2 diabetes is an epidemic. We’re seeing words like crisis and runaway all over the news and in the journals. Heart disease rates have been cut in half since the staggering margarine days of the 1980s, but diabetes has swiftly risen to fill that gaping void and meet the challenge of Completely Unnecessary Disease Epidemic.

Here’s my ultra-simple explanation of the entire insulin/blood sugar/type 2 diabetes mess. Big Agra could really care less about you. That’s just business. The pharmaceutical industry is not in it for the love of life. If that were the case, drugs would be much cheaper. The FDA has to think about public health, but it also has to think about treading carefully on the toes of corporate interests, because that’s how it works when you’re the biggest economy in the world.

Print this explanation out, stick it on your fridge, email it to your aunt. And put down the pasta.


When you eat food, the body digests the macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins – actually many different amino acids – and fats. (Anything it can’t digest, like alcohol or fiber or toxins, either passes right on through or, if it makes it into the bloodstream, gets filtered by your liver, a beast of an organ if there ever was one.) We measure these macronutrients in grams and calories, but your body operates in terms of fuel. If you eat more fuel than your body needs – which most people do – the body is forced to store this excess. This ability to store excess fuel was an evolutionary imperative in a world that was in a state of constant “feast or famine” 50,000 years ago. In terms of Primal Health and our DNA blueprint, humans became very efficient fuel storage specialists and were able to survive the rigors of a hostile environment and pass those very same genes down to you and me. Thanks a lot, Grok!

Bear in mind that every type of carbohydrate you eat is eventually converted to a simple form of sugar known as glucose, either directly in the gut or after a brief visit to the liver. The truth is, all the bread, pasta, cereal, potatoes, rice (stop me when you’ve had enough), fruit, dessert, candy, and sodas you eat and drink eventually wind up as glucose. While glucose is a fuel, it is actually quite toxic in excess amounts unless it is being burned inside your cells, so the body has evolved an elegant way of getting it out of the bloodstream quickly and storing it in those cells.

It does this by having the liver and the muscles store some of the excess glucose as glycogen. That’s the muscle fuel that hard anaerobic exercise requires. Specialized beta cells in your pancreas sense the abundance of glucose in the bloodstream after a meal and secrete insulin, a peptide hormone whose job it is to allow glucose (and fats and amino acids) to gain access to the interior of muscle and liver cells.

But here’s the catch: once those cells are full, as they are almost all the time with inactive people, the rest of the glucose is converted to fat. Saturated fat.

Insulin was one of the first hormones to evolve in living things. Virtually all animals secrete insulin as a means of storing excess nutrients. It makes perfect sense that in a world where food was often scarce or non-existent for long periods of time, our bodies would become so incredibly efficient. How ironic, though, that it’s not fat that gets stored as fat – it’s sugar. And that’s where insulin insensitivity and this whole type 2 diabetes issue get confusing for most people, including your very own government.

If we go back 10,000 or more years, we find that our ancestors had very little access to sugar – or any carbohydrates for that matter. There was some fruit here and there, a few berries, roots and shoots, but most of their carbohydrate fuel was locked inside a very fibrous matrix. In fact, some paleo-anthropologists suggest that our ancestors consumed, on average, only about 80 grams of carbohydrate a day. Compare that to the 350-600 grams a day in the typical American diet today. The rest of their diet consisted of varying degrees of fat and protein. And as fibrous (and therefore complex) as those limited carbohydrate foods were, their effect on raising insulin was minimal. In fact, there was so little carbohydrate/glucose in our ancestor’s diet that we evolved four ways of making extra glucose ourselves and only one way of getting rid of the excess we consume!

Today when we eat too many carbohydrates, the pancreas pumps out insulin exactly as the DNA blueprint tell it to (hooray pancreas!), but if the liver and muscle cells are already filled with glycogen, those cells start to become resistant to the call of insulin. The insulin “receptor sites” on the surface of those cells start to decrease in number as well as in efficiency. The term is called “down regulation.” Since the glucose can’t get into the muscle or liver cells, it remains in the bloodstream. Now the pancreas senses there’s still too much toxic glucose in the blood, so it frantically pumps out even more insulin, which causes the insulin receptors on the surface of those cells to become even more resistant, because excess insulin is also toxic! Eventually, the insulin helps the glucose finds it way into your fat cells, where it is stored as fat. Again – because it bears repeating – it’s not fat that gets stored in your fat cells – it’s sugar.

Over time, as we continue to eat high carbohydrate diets and exercise less, the degree of insulin insensitivity increases. Unless we take dramatic steps to reduce carbohydrate intake and increase exercise, we develop several problems that only get worse over time – and the drugs don’t fix it.

Ready for this? Let’s go:


1) The levels of blood glucose stay higher longer because the glucose can’t make it into the muscle cells. This toxic glucose is like sludge in the bloodstream clogging arteries, binding with proteins to form harmful AGEs (advanced glycated end-products) and causing systemic inflammation. Some of this excess glucose contributes to a rise in triglycerides, increasing risk for heart disease.

2) More sugar gets stored as fat. Since the muscle cells are getting less glycogen (because they are resistant), and since insulin inhibits the fat-burning enzyme lipase, now you can’t even burn stored fat as easily. You continue to get fatter until eventually those fat cells become resistant themselves.

3) It just gets better. Levels of insulin stay higher longer because the pancreas thinks “if a little is not working, more would be better.” Wrong. Insulin is itself very toxic at high levels, causing, among many other maladies, plaque build-up in the arteries (which is why diabetics have so much heart disease) and increasing cellular proliferation in cancers.

4) Just as insulin resistance prevents sugar from entering muscle cells, it also prevents amino acids from entering. So now you can’t build or maintain your muscles. To make matters worse, other parts of your body think there’s not enough stored sugar in the cells, so they send signals to start to cannibalizing your precious muscle tissue to make more – you guessed it – sugar! You get fatter and you lose muscle. Woo hoo!

5) Your energy level drops, which makes you hungry for more carbohydrates and less willing to exercise. You actually crave more of the poison that is killing you.

6) When your liver becomes insulin resistant, it can’t convert thyroid hormone T4 into the T3, so you get those mysterious and stubborn “thyroid problems”, which further slow your metabolism.

7) You can develop neuropathies (nerve damage) and pain in the extremities, as the damage from the excess sugar destroys nerve tissue, and you can develop retinopathy and begin to lose your eyesight. Fun.

8) Eventually, the pancreas is so darn exhausted, it can’t produce any more insulin and you wind up having to inject insulin to stay alive. Lots of it, since you are resistant. Congratulations, you have graduated to insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetes.

That’s the bad news. And it’s seriously bad. But the good news is that there is a way to avoid all this. It’s all right there in your DNA blueprint. First off, exercise does have a major impact on improving insulin sensitivity since muscles burn your stored glycogen as fuel during and after your workout. Muscles that have been exercised desperately want that glucose inside and will “up regulate” insulin receptors to speed the process. That’s one reason exercise is so critical for type 2 diabetics in regaining insulin sensitivity. It’s also the reason why endurance athletes can eat 400 or 600 grams of carbs a day and stay lean – they burn it all off and make room for more.

Resistance training seems to be as effective as aerobic activity, but a mix of the two is the best. And because you are now “insulin sensitive”, you don’t require as much insulin to store the excess, which “up regulates” all the fat burning enzymes, so you burn your stored fats at a much higher rate throughout the day. Important amino acids and other vital nutrients have access to the cells when insulin sensitivity is high, so you’re building or maintaining muscle and losing fat weight. Go team.

Second, cutting back on carbohydrates, especially the obvious sugars and refined stuff is absolutely essential. Make fresh vegetables the base of your food pyramid. I get rip-roaring furious when I see our government suggesting that we get 60% of our calories from carbohydrates. That’s ridiculous, bordering on criminal. Think about what is optimal for human health from a “primal” perspective. Look at the genetic blueprint. Look at the statistics and studies if you like – or simply observe what’s going on around you at restaurants, movie theaters and school cafeterias – and you’ll begin to understand the implications of a diet out of whack with our design. The evidence is nothing short of overwhelming: carbohydrate intake of the refined, sugary sort is enormously stressful to the body.

Not only should diabetics limit carbohydrate intake – everyone should. We are all, in an evolutionary sense, predisposed to becoming diabetic.

Mainstream opinion is, of course, partly correct in that sugar does not necessarily “cause” diabetes – increasingly, scientific evidence is showing that genetic susceptibility plays a huge role in individuals’ potential for developing diabetes. Well, no kidding! The entire mainstream argument boils down to this: sugar does not cause diabetes; it’s genetic. I couldn’t agree more. I would simply say that our shared genetic susceptibility to insulin resistance, inflammation, cardiovascular disease and obesity shows that any sort of refined sugar or grain is the last thing humans should be eating. Our genetic “primal blueprint” indicates that we are not meant to consume sugar.

Read more:

Click here to go to this article. 

Posted in Eat Well, Latest News |

A Case Against Chronic Cardio – Parts 1 & 2

Posted on by Steve Henderson

These podcasts build on the material covered in Episode 1 and provide a fascinating exploration of the dangers of over training, which can include:

  • Chronically high levels of cortisol
  • Systemic inflammation
  • Cardiac arrhythmia’s, and more.

It also suggests strategies that can be employed to minimise these dangers whilst still getting the full benefit of your exercise workouts.

Click here to go to Part 1.

Click here to go to Part 2.

Posted in Latest News |

Q & A – H.I.I.T.

Posted on by Steve Henderson

This podcast covers various listener questions, but there is a particularly good discussion of the principles of high intensity interval training in this podcast.

Click here to go to this podcast.

Posted in Latest News |
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