Lifestyle Changes and ‘Bulking’

Lifestyle

‘Calories are Calories’, ‘If it fits your Macros’, ‘Get a bulk on for the boys’ these are all probably things you’ve heard before when the topic refers to a caloric surplus. This surplus is something I have previously mentioned in ‘Should I eat more?’ being that if we aren’t losing or gaining we are just maintaining a weight that has taken almost a lifetime for our bodies to adapt to. So will it take a lifetime to undo if we allow it? For each of the lifestyle factors that contribute to our total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) what is the best approach to spark a positive response from our bodies, sustaining thereafter the initial month of results? Fad diets, cutting carbs out for prolonged periods and the U-Turn-like switch of habit may provide quick results but does this come without an impending need to replace one thing for another? Swapping whole foods for replacement shakes, stopping smoking and then eating twice as much or ‘fasting’ but not really putting the food back in?

Depending on the person and the immediacy of a needed lifestyle change I would say a   ‘gradual’ over the ‘cold turkey’ approach when it comes to aforementioned diet changes. This should provide more control over decision making rather than creating an erratic ‘forbidden fruit-like’ relationship which can only really end one way. I recently watched an advert for Galaxy chocolate, a versatile premise being one of living each day and savouring life’s moments, a great marketing hook for a Chocolate ‘addict’ with whom each day would literally be sweeter. So what about when other food now seems flavourless and a normal meal is always missing something afterward, could the daily ‘sweetener’ approach be a habit which creeps further into the days to which seem somewhat tasteless without.

So how does this relate to Bulking? Well as the chocolate lover justifies an even sweeter time watching a film or adding a treat to their lunch-break, the ‘bulker’ justifies ‘calories’ More calories at every opportunity; more energy, building more muscle and thus burning more fat in the long run? Even sweeter right? Well where do we draw the line for bulking and just pure greed?

Ascertain your surplus, plan out the ‘bad calories’ and work them in around exercise so that they’re being used for fuel and not for fat stores. Be clever about ‘cheat meals’ as they can impede on the rest of your diet day to day. If you eat a large pizza at 6pm filling you up to the brim whilst still having the rest of the days food to consume, this will make going back to clean calories twice as hard and bitterly resentful. Asses changes to your body composition, does your skin look more ‘watery’ and flat as opposed to tight and vascular, note how said meals and even high sugars both spike and sap energy which you’ll have to sleep off. Sleep being the key to recovery, surpassing the justification merely throwing back more convenient protein and recovery supplementation. Finally, the additional calories that are essentially going to assist in building more muscle will need to hold on and sustain on your ‘new’ frame for a sufficient time in order for it to stay when you cut. Therefore only getting the additional calories from junk food –instead of calorically dense foods– will both hinder your energy levels cutting back down and jeopardise your body composition that has only initially been leaving you more ‘full’ from the extra carb-dense treats and not from solid muscle or what you think is ‘#gainzz’

Bulk smart folks,

Jake 💪

Should I Do Cardio?

Lifestyle

This comes at a time to which the topic at hand is becoming much more significant to my routine. In previous posts I have discussed an number of different ‘Should I…”s in the hope of shedding light on things I have tried, their benefits and whether they can have practical application to your lifestyle. Although cardio is something that always finds itself on the back-burner of the to-do list, it is definitely something that simply cannot be overlooked as far as improving general physical fitness capacity and body composition. While it is possible to be reasonably lean without having to buckle over your feet with boredom for an hour everyday, there’s certainly more to cardio than just the monotony we deem it so.

Take a typical high intensity resistance session; physically demanding, prolonged rep ranges and little rest, do we find ourselves exerted in later stages from said components or are we simply not fit enough? Would having a better CV capacity enable us to work beyond the barrier of breathlessness? Recovery and resilience between sets, especially at the upper limits of ones threshold may certainly be a useful feat to muster, notwithstanding everything else that comes with output at 100% or close to it. How much would that extra time award us in hindsight? more time under tension, more, reps, less can’t, more do.

HIIT- The buzzword of all buzzwords, the ‘H’ being ‘High’ and the first ‘I, Intensity’ Not, ‘Slow>maybe a bit harder>back to slow when I get tired>repeat’. This should be at the very top 90-100% of your threshold followed by an intermittent recovery period, the shorter this period, the more difficult and the more conditioned you will become to output at a higher rate with less rest. Despite Joe Wickes and other celebrity trainers milking HIIT, it is challenging and does break up the monotony of continuous cardio training. However, people seem to quantify HIIT work in sweat –I am sweating a lot therefore it must be doing something– rather than applying variations of different intensities in a systematic fashion, monitoring its effect on A. CV fitness and B. Body composition because ultimately, B is the end game for most people.

Another issue with ONLY doing HIIT is that everything else will now feel less responsive and/or not as difficult, and not all exercises are effective when performed in this fashion. General conditioning work and anything that gets you heart racing enough can bode well with everything else that comes with staying fit, but without being able to quantify where you’re at, you will struggle to gauge where you can realistically improve.

Take a 500m row, this should take most active people less than 2 minutes to complete, in and amongst a warmup row or HIIT training, such a test will gauge where you’re currently at. Performing this to time after a cycle of continuous or interval training will further indicate how quickly you are recovering –the closer the base time, recovery must be improving–  This can also be done at 1 and 2,500 metres if you tend to do more continuous cardio, which surprisingly burns into fat stores at a much more greater capacity than HIIT.

So how many hours a week should I do cardio?

Depending on your fitness goals, having an active job may suffice for general fitness albeit the lifestyle and food choices one may surfeit to conflict. I would recommend doing some form of physical activity each day and something that challenges you on three specific days i.e

Monday- 30 mins/ 1 hour continuous bike

Wednesday- 2,500m row for time

Friday- Stepper or Elliptical intervals 10-15 minutes at 50%- 90%

40/20- 40 work/20 rest

or
30/30- 30”/30”

or
20/10- 20”/20”

Rather than me protest the importance of cardio, fully aware of people’s distaste with monotony and/or hard work, getting the amount right will work wonders for your overall body composition, whether that be in conjunction with heavy weight training, yoga or all competitive sports.

Now that I have completed my further studies for level 4 PT I do plan to post at least every week on various topics which may be of use to active individuals and fitness enthusiasts. I will be featuring 30 day challenges and transformation packages to purchase on my new website so keep your eyes peeled and follow @jakedarcyfitness on IG if you haven’t already.

Jake 👊

 

 

 

 

Bingeing, Sugar Intake and Improving Insulin Sensitivity

Lifestyle

If you ask the majority of people what would be the one thing that they are habitually disposed to and/or often succumb to in excessive amounts, it’s always going to be sugar. Going back to the input/output notion of previous posts concerning fat-loss and weight-gain, overconsumption of sugar even alongside what one may arguably consider ‘regular exercise’ could still disrupt the typical routes to which glucose can be sufficiently absorbed and regulated by the body. These routes being either to the liver or a physically stimulated process which replenishes depleted energy stores in the muscle following sufficient exercise, the stored form of glucose being glycogen. Whether you seem to be blessed with a genetic exemption to snacking on mostly quick energy-releasing sugars as opposed to slow release complex carbohydrates without storing the excess, be aware of how such rationale to certain food choices may often instil an array of problems both short and long term, complimentary to the looming dissonance between energy levels and overall mood. 

For someone that either skips breakfast or has a big hit of sugar early on in the day, such a habit may potentially yield further appetite for the typically ‘bad’ calories, thus cultivating both an irregularity of sound and sustainable energy along with an ever looming malcontent. In terms of justifying said calories following a period of starvation, consider how blood sugar takes a similar route as gravity, in that prolonging a gradual ‘ascension’ phase will only make the latter direction much more of a dive than a gradual decline. If we look at a potential negative of the ‘Juicing Craze’ regardless of whether a smoothie is made up predominantly of nutritionally sound vegetables and greens, most that would happen to incorporate the obvious ‘nicer’ fruits regularly into the equation are oblivious to the averse effect high blood sugar may have on Insulin. Insulin –the hormone secreted by the pancreas–  will attempt to stabilize an excess of glucose in the blood, but alike the receptors which regulate the amount of serotonin in the brain, said pathways become overworked, making their once resounding efficacy redundant over time. Insulin resistance, commonplace for someone diagnosed with medical type I Diabetes, may potentially be a likely prospect for an individual inducing similar symptoms through poor diet and lifestyle, the main precursor to often non-hereditary type II.

‘OK I delve a bit too much on the sugar front now and again but I wouldn’t say its as bad as that!’ Well the amount consumed may not be in the range of pre-diabetes and aforementioned medical illnesses anytime soon, but a slow destructive sequence starting with overconsumption and continuing on to an ultimate guilt fuelled binge is equally important to both identify and thus prevent. In a 24 hour period our moods and energy levels fluctuate in respect of the nature of our environment, they determine the important parameters to which we may work or engage in physical activity, eat and sleep. It is these factors which determine Homeostasis, a physiological equilibrium which can be crucial in stipulating the terms of our body’s susceptibility to lose or conversely gain weight. So apart from the obvious solution of eating less sugar even less frequently throughout the day and considering longer-lasting energy sources, what can be implemented to prevent energy crashes and guilt-fuelled sugar binges?

1. More healthy fats – These will delay a sudden rise in blood glucose when combined with certain carbohydrates. We hear of them all the time; nuts, avocado and Extra Virgin Olive Oil being the staple components of the low carb holy trinity if you like, but there are plenty more that are going to ensure a substantial energy reserve for when fuel/food may be scarce at certain points throughout the day. –going overboard and increasing the number of triglycerides in the bloodstream excessively would make the liver resistant to insulin just like sugar– bringing us on the golden ‘M’ of a healthy and sustainable diet.

2. Less restriction, moderation– Unless a caloric deficit or restriction is necessary to your weight loss program or if sticking to certain foods is the only way to stay on track, don’t stress about the odd lapse of judgement unless you know that it would have a detrimental impact on your progress in toto. Factor in foods that you enjoy when applicable, if you take a mile from the initial inch it may set you back a mile.

3. Less caffeine more water– This is definitely one with great relevance to my typical day. Excessive energy drinks both peaking energy and sapping it completely, increasing the likelihood of headaches and possibly dehydration. Along with suppressing natural appetite to a degree, making a meal or eating window less attractive thus decreasing overall satiety.

4. Eating around and for physical activity– Plan out what parts of the day are going to need more energy and effort than others, whether its an exerting gym session or long shift at work, better caloric distribution will optimise both the energy system and overall mood, making you less temperamental and more productive.

5. Satiety not starvation– As we’ve mentioned those who often justify certain bad food choices with earlier skipping of meals, unsubstantial displacement of calories will only prolong further cravings that end in a food coma or in the fridge at 2am. On the flip side, starvation will only make physical exertion more difficult, increase stress and potentially lower your immune system, so choose your eating habits wisely.

Please follow JAKEDARCYFITNESS if you haven’t already,

I will also be taking on new clients in December for online nutritional coaching and personal training so feel free to contact me at @jakedarcy098@hotmail.co.uk or by direct message. 👊