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Juice

“Nature puts food in certain forms for a reason”

Fruit Juice- healthiest thing ever-right?

‘It will put years on your life’ you hear all over the media.

Let’s think a little deeper about what’s going on with fruit juice, and whether this is just another so called ‘healthy product’ that you could do without (and save yourself lots of money!)

What it is

Fruits are essentially a simple unrefined sugar with some fiber…but some fruits have more fiber than others. The more fiber (along with other factors), the slower the release of the sugar (referred to as ‘ GI’-the rate at which sugar is released in the body ). Some fruits also have way more sugar than others (refereed to as ‘GL’-the amount of sugar).

Considering most people have WAY too much sugar in their diet anyway…drinking a class of orange juice is the equivalent of eating the sugar of 4 or 5 oranges in one go, minus the fiber to slow down the sugar release.

Now who would say THAT’S  a good idea??

But that’s what we are doing when we drink a glass of juice. In fact, juice has a similar level of sugar per 100ml to soft drinks like coke. That kind of a sugar hit (even if it’s unrefined) is going to play havoc with your blood sugar levels.
(Controlling blood sugar levels is a KEY factor to controlling your health, weight, energy and mood).

Fruit juice for a sedentary person is NOT a great option. Despite the marketing! Obviously it’s better than its refined sister, coke, and all other soft drinks (as it contains vitamins that soft drinks don’t)…but it’s basically sugary water as it has all the natural fiber of whole fruit stripped from it.

Is there ever a time when juice is good?

Fruit juice is only good to drink post work out, when insulin is your friend (insulin is released when you eat carbohydrates. It is an anobolic hormone= build up/repair, so is good just after work out…there has been some good studies to back this theory up)

It helps your muscles after working them(this can be called ‘carb back loading’). Many people use ‘carb backloading’ as a post work-out nutrition strategy, but some tend to go for what I call a ‘dirty carb’ (donuts, sports drinks, biscuits etc), where as I would call fruit juice more of a ‘clean carb’- i.e. no so heavily processed and containing more natural sugars.

What about Fruit?

A good rule of thumb  with fruit is no more than 3 pieces a day ( 2 small= 1 piece. e.g. plum)

Local, native organic  fruits are the best, as they will have been picked most recently, thus maintaining most nutritional content (vitamins). If you imagine when you see a banana, that it was actually picked when it was way, way under ripe, to get into your fruit bowl as yellow. That means it’s had less time in the soil, so less time to gain nutrients. I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat bananas…they just aren’t the best fruit you can eat! Hope that helps!

Conclusion

  • Fruit=good stuff… in moderation and in its whole form.
  • Fruit juice- ok after workout
  • If you are going to have juice on a non training day , have just a small glass
  • Coke etc- bad, bad, bad, bad!!

 

Activity should dictate Nutrition

“Your nutritional requirements should directly correlate with your activity level”

 There was once a old monk who lived in a monastery with many younger monks. He would sweep and tidy and carry out other  chores each day with the younger monks. 

As the old monk grew older, the younger monks began to worry that he was doing too much. They pleaded to the old monk to stop doing chores and to rest, but the old monk wouldn’t listen, and continued with his sweeping. 

” We must find a way to get him to rest” said one of the younger monks one day. 
” Let’s hide his broom and other tools so that he can not carry out his chores” replied another monk.

“Good idea” agreed the first monk.

The next day, the old monk could do no work, as he had no tools. So he sat quietly meditating under the shade of a tree. That evening, when it came to supper time, the old monk would eat nothing. The same thing happened the next day.

The young monks became even more worried about the old monk.
The next day, one of the young monks asked their master “Why won’t you eat, master”
He replied:
” If I use no energy, I have now need to replace it”
The next day the monks put out their master’s tools, and saw him eagerly get back to work.
That night he ate once more.

This is a little story I once heard which hits home the point that if you aren’t doing much activity, you don’t need  a lot of food! Most people habitually eat the same sorts of portion sizes what ever activity levels they are engaged in. This is a product of being disconnected with our bodies and what they actually need.

The type of activity done will also require a different nutritional approach. For example, if you are involved in long endurance activity, you are probably going to crave carbohydrates…and you should listen to that- your body needs to replenish its stores. Equally, if you are engaged in more strength development work, you will may crave more protein based foods. Also, the body shape you have should determine your nutritional habits, but mor on that in another blog!

Back Pain

“8/10 cases of chronic lower back pain are related to continual habitual misuse of the spine”

Being a PT, I come across a lot of people with lower back pain. It can be very annoying, not to mention debilitating. In fact, it is thought that as much as 80% of the population suffer from lower back pain. 

This blog will deal with ‘chronic back pain’ as apposed to spine diseases or serious back injuries.

I believe that most of us are blessed with a fully working body when we are born, so problems that come are not inherent, but are made by us and the lives we lead. So, that motivates me to dig deeper into why so many people suffer (myself included in my mid 20′s).


I’ve been doing some research into what the best thing is to do about lower back pain is, and as you might imagine, there have been quite a lot of randomized controlled clinical trials into what actually helps people the MOST.

In my research one thing kept coming up:

Alexander technique

Now I’m not someone who would recommend an ‘alternative therapy’ lightly, unless there was actually some evidence of its effectiveness. However, in this case, there is plenty of evidence.

The last client I recommend it to has gone from bed ridden to fully back into Personal Training in 5 lessons, which I think is incredible. 

The basic idea behind it is that most back pain is caused by continual,daily misuse of the spine. So, if we can fix the way you move ALL THE TIME then we allow the spine to come back to function.

One of the practices is simply to lie on the ground with your knees bent and a book under your head, and just try to be aware of every part of your body, and allow it to be fee (relax) for 20 minutes a day, EVERY DAY.

From a trainer’s perspective, this is genius. I’m always trying to find ways for people to practice what they learn in the gym in their daily life, but I think that in most cases, I fail. This is an extremely achievable practice for most people (but I don’t have time! I hear you cry. hmmm do you have time to watch telly?….) What it does physically is that it puts you into neutral alignment for a good amount of time. Which then, after a while of practicing it,  stays with your body unconsciously during the rest of the time you move. The problem with trying to ‘consciously’ tell yourself to get into good posture all the time is that we can only hold up to 3 consciously thoughts at one time (actually, it’s more like one for me!), and most of us are too busy thinking about the work we are doing or cooking dinner etc to adjust our posture.

The 20 minute a day lie down idea is good for ANYONE in my opinion!

It’s no good just having good posture when you are ‘training’, if when you’re at home or work you have continually bad sitting, standing and lifting habits. WE BECOME WHAT WE CONTINUALLY DO. 

Here’s is a quote from one of the studies:

 “the Alexander technique performed better than exercise (and traditional physio)  on the full range of outcomes. A combination of six lessons in Alexander technique lessons followed by exercise was the most effective and cost effective option (for lower back pain).”

Click the link below to read just one article (a large scale study conducted by the NHS). 

http://www.nhs.uk/news/2008/08August/Pages/BackpainandAlexandertechnique.aspx

If anyone is interested in having sessions, I can recommend teachers. 

Cheers
Luke

REPs - Level 3 Premier training international NASM Certified