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BBC Good Food Eat Well Show

The BBC Good Food Eat Well Show – The Diet Consultant

Posted by | Fat loss, Fitness, Food for thought, Healthy Eating, Uncategorized | No Comments

It’s an exciting weekend ahead for foodies and health enthusiasts, with The BBC Good Food Eat Well Show being held at Kensington Olympia, London. I’m excited to be there on Friday 27th to hold a FREE drop in clinic alongside other specialist Dietitians. Here, we will get to meet with members of the public, just like you, within 20 minute appointment slots. Our aim is to help as many people as possible by providing dietary advice on how they might be able to improve their health, performance and quality of life and achieve their specific dietary goals. The Dietitians Clinic, can be found at stand no: F62, placed by the British Dietetic Association.


BDA new logo

As well as receiving dietary advice whatever your goal or health concern, you are sure to have a great weekend with many other health experts, celebrities and professional chefs there to tickle your taste buds and keep you healthily informed.

If you are keen to come along, tickets are just £15 and you can pick them up here. It would be great to see you on Friday morning, so come along and say hi! 


Simple guide to training

Simple Guide to Weight Training

Posted by | Fitness, Food for thought, Recovery, Uncategorized | No Comments

National Fitness Day

The really simple guide to weight training for beginners has been written by experienced PT; Dan Forbes, as it’s National Fitness Day today, encouraging activity is high on the agenda. However, its not just about going out for a run or doing the odd aerobics class.  Weight training (resistance exercise) too, has been shown to provide a host of benefits, including increasing muscle strength, maintaining muscle mass (very important as we age), as well as improved mobility, posture and balance. Dan has kindly offered to write this post to explain why weight training doesn’t have to be complicated and as he explains; form and technique are extremely important to master, especially if you are a beginner.  Read on to find out how Dan’s ‘simple’ guide can help you to become stronger and more active. Thank you Dan.  

Almost all of the training routines I see laid out for beginners are horrible. They’re overly complicated, don’t allow you to progress at a rate which suits you and usually lead to problems down the line.

Being a beginner is a really exciting place to be and here is why….


Your time spent training is known as your training age. In your first 1-2 you will put on more lean muscle mass, increase strength and see improvements in fitness faster than any other time in your training life. Best of all, you won’t have to work any where near as hard as you will after that period to keep on progressing, providing you follow some simple strategies.

Got Skills?

Writing your name is a skill. Kicking a ball is a skill and so is lifting a weight.

Much like any activity, the first time you try a back squat, you will likely look and feel a little awkward, but fast forward a few weeks and the only difference between your squat and an experienced squatter’s, should be the weight on the bar.

Skill development, also known as motor pattern development, relies on us being able to practise the skill over and over. This allows us to refine our movements and become more efficient at them. This becomes difficult to do when you are trying to learn 47 new moves, all in under a minute while you’re gasping for breath, so I’m going to tell you to focus on a few exercises. There might be a time when things need to get a little more complicated, but that isn’t now.

Simple Six

Simple is good. It’s also effective. Just six movements are all you need in order to see major progress in the way you look, feel and perform.

1. Squat

2. Bench Press

3. Rowing

4. Overhead Press

5. Hip Hinge/Deadlift type movements

6. Overhead Pull

Now we just need to put them into a routine.

Simple Template

The simplest template is to split the exercises into two workouts, A and B, then alternate between them over three days a week. These three days can be Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Pick whatever suits your schedule and try to keep a days rest in-between.

Workout A


Bench Press

Barbell Row

Workout B


Overhead Press

Overhead Pull (Pull-ups if you are able. Pulldowns if not)

Simple Sets x Reps

In my experience you will see variability in technique from 3-5 reps+. Quality is everything when it comes to skill development, so I’d always opt for 3 perfect reps instead of 3 perfect ones and 7 rubbish ones, so keep your reps between 1-5.

The same goes for sets. You will get tired as you progress through the sets, which increases the chances of poor technique so I’d stick to 3 sets per exercise.

The thing to always remind yourself is that we are aiming for technical mastery of these lifts.

Until you have done this, adding weight is a no no!

This is also a good motivator, because most people can’t wait to throw a plate or two onto the bar, so they will do everything possible to nail the lifts so that they can progress.

Simple Progression

Periodisation simply means the systematic planning or organisation of training. There are many ways in which to do this. Luckily, we can opt for the simplest known method here, in which our only aim is to continually add a little weight each time we train, providing it does NOT lead to a breakdown in form. Perfect.

In reality though, it’s more likely that you’ll progress very quickly, slow down, then progress again. Being patient and sticking to the rules is the key.

Simple Mobility Work

We’re busy. Most of us spend too much time sitting down and not moving enough. Taking time at the beginning of each session to stretch a little and address any mobility issues you may have will pay dividends very quickly. To cover all of the options available here, is way beyond the scope of this post but for most people focusing on ankles and upper back (thoracic spine) is a great start. Guys, I’d throw hips work in there too. Also most people benefit from some glutes strengthening work at the beginning of a session.

I cannot emphasise enough how important this is and I’d seriously advise against skipping it. Injuries, old and new have a sneaky way of catching up with you when you ignore this type of work.

Simple Assistance Work

This applies to anything outside of the main lifts we’ve identified: core work, arms etc. It’s likely you’ll want to do some at some point but I’d keep it to 10 minutes in total and never in favour of any of your main work. It’s the main lifts that will get you the results you are after, not doing 26 sets of different bicep curls or crunches.

Simple Conditioning

Keep this short and sweet. If you have finished your strength session and feeling fresh then feel free to add in some conditioning work at the end. My suggestion would be to go a little harder for a shorter time. This will give you more bang for your buck and get you out of the door faster.

4-6 very short sprints followed by a decent amount of rest will do the job just fine.

There is a trend recently where conditioning work has become synonymous with driving yourself into the ground and crawling out of the gym. Conditioning doesn’t have to hard and it doesn’t have to wreck you.

Simply walking outside and sprinting up a hill a few times will reap a whole host of benefits as will sitting on a bike.

The choice is yours, just stay away from the stupid.

fitness day

Have Fun

Training should be fun. It’s a leisure time activity for the majority of us so why would you want to spend your precious time doing something you don’t enjoy. If you find that you really enjoy running then, base your training around that. I’d always advocate keeping the strength training up as it’s compliments all other forms of training so well and will help you see faster improvements and stay injury free.

That’s where this template is great because it’s not so stressful that you’ll take days to recover but it’s also flexible enough where if you want to add in a swim for example and can’t find the time, then you could always replace a strength session with that. Just keep rotating through the workouts each time you go in, try adding a little bit of weight when you can and enjoy.

Simple. Now To Do It

This type of approach works great for two types of trainees. Beginners and experienced lifters who have picked up a load of injuries along the way and turn back to simpler templates to allow them to keep on training, without getting too banged up. Since this is the really really simple guide, I’ll even give you a quick summary of what to

1. Train 3 times a week

2. Do some mobility work at the beginning of each session.

3. Alternate between 2 workouts

Workout A
Workout B
Squat Deadlift
Bench Press Overhead Press
Barbell Row Overhead Pull (Pull-ups if you are able. Pulldowns if not)

4. Do each exercise for 3 sets of 3-5 reps

5. Stay away from failure and only use perfect form. (When starting off, it can be useful to hire a trainer to help you get this right. Just make sure they don’t try to convince you they have a ‘better’ way)

6. IF you want to do some assistance stuff after your main lifts for 10 minutes. Go for it. If not, go home.

7. IF you want to do some conditioning work at the end, go for it. If not, go home.

8. Be patient & have fun


Are you starting weight training for the first time?  Do you have any questions for Dan about progressing your training?

Dan Forbes


Dan has been a trainer for over 10 years and currently runs an online coaching at Forbes Performance, where he takes the tried and tested principles of training and nutrition to help clients achieve their performance and physique goals, as well as studying for an MSc in strength & conditioning. You can find out more about his services at his website and get more free programs at his blog

You can also follow Dan on Facebook and Twitter 


Disordered Eating in Athletes – The Male Athlete Dyad

Posted by | Fitness, Food for thought, Sport Nutrition | No Comments

Eating disorders/disordered eating and the athlete triad are often associated with females but there is a growing amount of evidence to suggest that it is becoming more prevalent within males too.

Indeed in my own clinic this year, around 1/3 of the cases of disordered eating I have worked with, have been in males ranging in age from 15-40 years.
In all cases, working with eating disorders is a challenge; there is no straight line to recovery.
However, In the case of a female sufferer, the physical signs of low energy availability, over exercising and restricting food intake are made apparent physically by weight loss but also physiologically via the cessation of menstruation.

In the male sufferer there are few visible physiological signs, making it more difficult to assess the degree of damage to the body.

In the female athlete triad it is widely accepted now that athletes can actually hold a fairly normal weight but still be affected due to having low energy availability. When a female athlete consumes less than 30 Kcal/Kg fat free mass either as a result of restricting their intake or being unable to meet their training demands, it affects the hypothalamic hormones and stops the production of Oestrogen. This in turn can then have an impact on bone density especially if menstruation stops for as little as 3 consecutive months. If a sufferer is also very low in weight and showing signs of disordered eating, there will be concerns regarding her blood pressure, pulse rate and increased pressure on heart, lungs and skeleton as her body fights to stay alive.

How does this differ in boys/men?

As already mentioned, there is a missing corner with regards to the actual triad (suggesting its more of dyad) as there is no link to cessation of menstruation but surely low energy availability in males will also see a reduction in the sex hormone testosterone and what effects does this actually have?

Indeed, studies in male bodybuilders have demonstrated that prolonged energy restriction does cause a reduction in testosterone and growth hormone. 

Effecting anabolic pathways, even when the athletes consume high protein diets. In the case of the body builder as long as this is just short term in the lead up to a competition, there is no lasting damage or concern.
Interestingly the male sufferers I have worked with have all presented with very low body fat composition, increased desires to be lean but strong and have an excessive relationship with lifting weights in the gym. What may have started as a general interest to build muscle soon becomes an obsession with controlling their food intake; becoming fixated on reducing carbohydrate and fat from their diet to a dangerous level, while still spending hours exercising daily.

Disordered Eating in Male AthletesAs is often seen in cases of disordered eating and body dysmorphia, there is a drive for control and “perfection” usually unrelated but soon becomes expressed through food restriction. The determination to achieve a strong athletic body in male sufferers can quickly develop into a negative cycle; they reduce their dietary intake, push their bodies through punishing exercise programmes, all the time telling themselves that they are actually enjoying their new found “healthy lifestyle”. Ironically this new regimen is doing the complete opposite; preventing anabolic pathways and increasing catabolic pathways, breaking down muscle to provide energy and moving further away from their body composition goals.

A low weight and restricted energy intake is always accompanied by irrational thought processes and a louder inner voice as the eating disorder takes on an even stronger hold. As well as affecting anabolic pathways, a reduction in these sex hormones will result in low bone density; some of this may well be counteracted by the fact that the male sufferer performs a higher percentage of weight bearing exercises but damage to bone health is still a problem that needs to be highlighted when working in this field.
If energy intake and weight can be restored fairly quickly then there does not seem to be long term damage; but if it is a lengthy return to normal weight and eating, the individual may be more at risk of stress fractures and osteoporosis in later life.
So while the third point of the (triad) triangle may be missing in males, there are still symptoms to look out for:
• Low energy (although initial this will present with endless amounts of “restless” energy)
• Low mood
• Poor sleep patterns
• Increased irritability
• Withdrawal from social circle
• Loss of libido
• Lack of concentration

Male or female it is always difficult to ask for help when dealing with disordered eating but I think it is even harder in males. As wrong as it is, it is accepted by society that women generally have issues with their body image and poor relationships with food. This is not so the case for males, making this condition even more isolated, secretive and dangerous if left unaddressed.

What are your thoughts on this often sensitive area?  


Have you or somebody you know experienced disordered eating within their sport?


Sharing is Caring….lets raise general awareness of an increasingly common issue within sport!

Thank you to Renee for writing this insightful blog, its certainly an area that requires much more attention, appropriate discussion and qualified support. You can also check out Renee’s previous blog; ‘Performance Scales’ ( exploring the increasing problem of disordered eating and the negative effects it can have on health.


Renee McGregor

Renee McGregor, Sports Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian BSc (hons) PGDIP (diet) RD PGCERT (Sportsnutr.)


About the Author 

Renee is Sport Dietitian with Team Bath, a keen runner and is extremely passionate about making sport nutrition practical and simple to follow. She provides advice to a range of athletes from recreational to elite; including athletes competing at both the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. She also works to support patients through the National Eating Disorders Charity, Anorexia and Bulimia Care as well as Somerset and Essex Eating Disorders Association.

Check out her website here  and follow Renee here on Twitter 



How to avoid (too much) weight gain on ‘vacation’ in the USA

Posted by | Dining, Fat loss, Fitness, Healthy Eating, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Having just returned from a well-deserved and thoroughly enjoyable break in the USA, I was pleased to find out that I’d only gained 1.5 lbs in weight.  I normally assess my weight by how my clothes fit and since they were a little tight, I was curious to know.  Now, one of the reasons I wanted to do this trip was because of the amazing and authentic food on offer; from deep pan pizza in Chicago, Buffalo wings in Buffalo, cheesecake in New York to Cheesesteaks in Philly, this trip was a foodies dream!  Therefore, I absolutely expected to gain some weight, and having been to the US before I knew exactly what I was in for when it came to; portion sizes, hidden calories and the not so hidden calories in the form of ranch dressing and cheese drenching a perfectly healthy balanced salad!


So how can you reduce the weight gained while away in the US?  Here are my top 10 tips for minimizing weight gain whilst holidaying in America.

1. Sharing is Caring

Portions in the US of A are just huge, in many places I feel ‘quantity’ takes precedence over quality.  Luckily, I had some equally health conscious friends (one being another dietitian @perryncarrol) with me who were happy to share the load.  So one meal became 2 or sometimes even 3, there was no need to worry about whether there would be enough, we were always left feeling full to the brim!

Deep pan Pizza

2. Think Small

Starters and sides are often as big as a main course meal here in Britain, we were always so surprised when they arrived that we couldn’t hide our shock even after 2 weeks! Ordering a starter as your meal will help to reduce the total amount of food you eat, plus tips one and two undoubtedly helps you to save the dollars too!

3. Be Specific

The USA are a service-centric nation and so making requests at the start of your meal, no matter how much bother it seems to you, really isn’t to them.  Us Brits, don’t like to make a fuss I know, but if you ask for grilled instead of fried, and cheese/dressing on the side it really won’t be too much trouble.  In fact, I suggest this is one of the main ways slim Americans stay that way.  If I had eaten the food given to me in the way it’s normally served, I’m sure I’d be sat here writing this an extra 3 lbs heavier!

4. Eat In

We travelled around the North East and stayed in hostels, hotels and Air B&B apartments.  This was great as all but the one hostel had a refrigerator, plates and cutlery for us to make some of our own meals.  I personally feel that eating out all of the time can get a bit much, its a financial drain but most of all it’s pretty time consuming! Having the fridge was perfect, because we could buy fresh milk, yoghurt, fruit and cereal to whip up a nice healthy (and familiar) brekkie.

5. Drink Well

I mean water, of course.  As expected, it was pretty hot and humid over there.  This, combined with the continuous flow of the AC conditioned air is enough to dehydrate a cactus!  Its common to feel hungry when in fact you are thirsty.  Therefore, I would suggest drinking more than you would normally and especially at meals to help fill you up, replenish salts lost through sweat and restore hydration.

6. Drink Light!

By this I DON’T mean ‘light’ beers; these are often reduced in alcohol but not in calories – so don’t be fooled!  I mean, go for light drinks nothing to thick, heavy or creamy. I realise that this tip is extremely generalised, but when you fancy a boozy beverage you don’t really want to think too long and hard about calories.  So simply think; ‘drink light’; prosecco over white wine and white wine over red.  Lager over ale, stout or Guinness and vodka/gin instead of whisky, brandy or liqueurs.  Always try to mix with a low/zero calorie mixer and add plenty of ice, and while it’s tempting to indulge on the way home – remember that what you eat at the end of boozy night will more than likely be stored as fat (if you are in a calorie surplus), since your body is already working hard to metabolise each unit of alcohol you have effortlessly sunk and not the calories from the burger and fries.

7. Joyful Jogging

I take my trainers with me everytime I go away!  I find running through exciting locations the best way to get your bearings and explore new holiday hot spots. I tend to head out first thing to avoid the midday heat.  From Central Park to Saugatuck (on Lake Michigan) I pounded the pavements and felt great for it!  I know many of my clients don’t like to exercise when they’re away, but there were so many people doing the same thing.  Why wouldn’t you? It wakes you up, snaps you out of your heat induced coma and burns calories, plus it was the first time I felt like a local – which is pretty cool!


Training like Rocky!

8. Cultural Ride

Everywhere we went, there were bikes available to hire, again its a pleasant (calorie burning) and cooling way to explore.  We took the bikes out in Chicago and Saugatuck and on both occasions got to see way more than we could on foot.  Just remember to ride on the ‘wrong’ side of the road when you aren’t on cycle paths but don’t cycle in NYC (unless you are only in Central Park) its far too dangerous on the roads and this is coming from a London based cyclist!!

The Cloud Chicago

9. Count your Steps

We walked sooo much, from the Freedom trail in Boston, the Constitutional walk in Philadelphia to the Brooklyn Bridge and just about the whole of Manhattan in NYC.  I didn’t realise that my comfiest Havaianas could give me blisters, but they did!  Our friend had bought a pedometer at the start of our trip and it was quite rewarding as well as encouraging to find out how many steps we had clocked by the end of the day.

10. Enjoy it!

We had an amazing trip and while I followed all of these tips to minimise weight gain, I didn’t feel restricted.  I still ate what I wanted to eat and enjoyed every mouthful! So what if I gained a lb or 2, now I’m home and back to eating my normal healthy diet and exercising regularly, I’ll return to my previous weight in a few weeks, which is absolutely

Genos            Buffalo wings Optimized-4th July cake

In short, life and all it contains is here to be enjoyed.  So, do just that, eat a New York Cheesecake but just make sure you’ve packed your trainers to run it off in Central Park afterwards!



Nutrition to Fuel your Triathlon

Posted by | Fitness, Healthy Eating, Sport Nutrition, Uncategorized | No Comments

Training for a triathlon, from a sprint distance to an Ironman requires a lot of extra time and grit, putting in the hard graft a train for 3 disciplines (swim, run and cycle).  A disciplined attitude towards nutrition is also useful, since training alone will only get you so far.   Specifically, amateur and elite triathletes should be aware of their own carbohydrate needs and intake, ensuring they are consuming enough to optimise their training performance and ensure that carbs are distributed over the day to fuel before a workout and aid recovery following.  If you are serious and you want to do well, then fuelling your training with a healthy nutritious diet and one that provides an adequate amount of carbohydrate should be one of the things at the top of your list.

Carbs to Go!

Carbohydrates are your body’s main and preferred source of fuel especially during an endurance sport such as triathlon.  Carb food sources such as bread, potato, pasta and rice are digested and stored in your muscle and liver as glycogen, ready to use as energy, as and when we need it.  The problem is however, that we can only store approximately 2000 kilocalories from carbohydrate.  Which sounds like a lot, but if you imagine a half – ironman triathlon requires approximately 4500 calories to complete, the energy stored doesn’t even meet half of the energy required.   That’s why a regular intake of carbs is required during the event as well as during your triathlon training. To put it simply, a higher muscle glycogen level will allow you to train harder for longer and a low muscle glycogen will result in early fatigue and a lower training threshold.
Take home message A regular intake of carbs in your diet can help you to train harder and perform better.

Calibre of Carbs

You may have heard of the glycaemic index (GI). It’s basically the value at which carbohydrate food and drinks affect blood glucose levels. High GI foods and drinks cause a higher blood glucose response and low to medium GI foods cause a lower blood glucose response.   It’s recommended that we consume carbohydrate foods that are considered low to medium GI most of the time.  However, in reality a mixed meal, which contains carbs, fats and protein, will reduce digestion time and thus the rate at which a high GI carb (like a jacket potato!) affects the blood glucose level anyway.  Plus high GI sources are particularly important during exercise (greater than 1 hour), since they supply a rapid uptake of glucose to sustain energy production and performance.
The amount (which I’ll come on to) and ‘quality’ of the carbohydrate food appears to be more important for health and energy levels.  By ‘quality’ carbohydrate I mean, carbs that are unrefined, e.g. wholegrain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables as well as dairy; foods that provide many other nutrients and physiological benefits besides energy alone.  Sweets and sugar (are also carbohydrate) do just that and have been unfairly demonised of late.  While they shouldn’t be consumed regularly, an infrequent intake will cause you no harm.  Plus, we are only human – who doesn’t like the odd biscuit or sprinkle of sugar!
Take home message :Eat nutritious unrefined carbohydrate sources most of the time and save sweet foods and those with added sugar to occasional treats or for during exercise lasting more than 1 hour.  

Carb counting – how much?

We all need carbohydrates as part of a healthy balanced diet but regular exercisers and triathletes need more than inactive, sedentary individuals. The amount of carbs you require is very much dependent on how active you are, and specifically how many hours per week you spend training.  Carb requirements are calculated on an individual basis using total body weight (in kgs) multiplied by carbs (in grams), which increases proportionately with time spent training.

Carb req vs Training needsTake Home Message: To estimate your carbohydrate needs, use the information in the table to establish the amount of hours you typically train each week and calculate the suggested carbs in grams by your weight in kilograms.

Carb Guide

This is probably all gibberish if you do not know the carb content of your fav’ foods!  So to help, see our Carb Food Guide below; which shows you a variety of different carb rich foods and the amount that provides around 50g of carbohydrate.  I would suggest keeping a food diary for a few days, being sure to note accurate weights or servings sizes.  Once complete, cross-refer with the Carb Food Guide to estimate your current carbohydrate intake, comparing it to your calculated requirements.  It may be that you consume more carbs than you need or that you do not consume enough to support your triathlon training.  Either way, adjusting your intake should help you to meet your carb needs and ultimately support your triathlon training and performance.
Take Home Message: Different foods contain varying amounts of carbs, getting to grips with your current carb intake and making appropriate adjustments to the amount and ‘quality’ you consume, will help you to meet your energy needs whilst fuelling your sport and supporting your health.

Please note: that I have included a variety of foods within this table to help show their carb content.  Foods such as sugary cereals, chips, white bread and biscuits should be consumed in moderation – think ‘quality’ unrefined, whole foods.

Carb guide table





















50g exhange Carb guide




















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