The Benefits of Vitamin D

By Anthony Masters

Now that we will soon be approaching the cold autumn and winter months, the likelihood that you are producing sufficient vitamin D is unlikely. Especially if you live in the UK where the sun seems to disappear for half of the year! Over 85% of the UK population is deficient in vitamin D during the Winter/Spring months. We should all be supplementing some amount of Vitamin D to ensure our levels do not drop too low.

Why is Vitamin D important?

  • Vitamin D is produced in our body in response to direct sunlight, it is stored within the cells of our body and plays an important role in making proteins that help regulate essential functions in the human body so that we can grow and repair.
  • Low levels of vitamin D contribute to osteoporosis, bone fractures and other bone health issues. With low calcium intake and low vitamin D levels our body struggles to maintain bone health.
  • Vitamin D assists in reducing inflammation. Many studies have found that patients with skin disorders as a result of inflammatory conditions such as eczema, acne, psoriasis and dandruff have been deficient in vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D improves blood sugar regulation, insulin sensitivity and decreases insulin resistance. Hence improved levels of vitamin D will help lower the risk of diabetes.
  • Vitamin D plays a critical role in the health of our immune systems and its ability to fight off infection. Low vitamin D levels are associated with obesity, improve your vitamin D levels and it will help improve your body composition and reduce fat.
  • Low vitamin D is associated with depression.
  • Vitamin D helps reduces risk of cancer. It has been linked with fighting various cancers such as breast, lung, colon and prostate.
  • Many studies show that Vitamin D deficiency is linked with cardiovascular disease putting you at greater risk of many autoimmune diseases such as type-1 Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Vitamin D reduces inflammation and blood pressure, controls calcification of blood vessels and improves endothelial function; all of help to reduce stress.

There are endless reasons why vitamin D is so important for us and why we should all consider taking it. Renowned strength & nutrition coach Charles Poliquin outlines a further 25 excellent reasons to take vitamin D.

How do you improve your vitamin D levels?

In terms of dietary intake, you are very limited. Best dietary sources are from oily fish (salmon, sardine and mackerel) and cod liver oil. Very little vitamin D sources are found from dairy products, egg yolk, wild mushrooms and liver.

Typically 10% of our vitamin D requirements come from our dietary intake. This means that the other 90% comes from the SUN! So expose your bare skin to the sun, this will be your best source of Vitamin D. This goes to say that you should avoid applying protective sun cream as you will prevent your body from being able to absorb UVB (ultraviolet-B) light from the sun in order to synthesis  into vitamin D.

There is much debate that sun exposure causes DNA damage and skin cancer, yes I agree that excessive exposure, enough to lead to sunburns is not a great idea, especially if you are of the paled skin type. Your body will slowly adapt to sun exposure, so start by spending just 5-10 mins in the sun at a time and gradually increasing your exposure as you become more tolerant to the sun. Just don’t overdo it, a common trend with the UK citizens when the sun shows his face.

During the summer months our body has the best chance of making vitamin D between the hours of 10am and 14pm when the wavelength of the sunlight is correct (wavelength of the light needs to be between 290-320nm) and the ratio of UVB to UVA is highest. I would also advise supplementation, especially in the winter months, well known brands such as Poliquin, Nutri or Solgar are your best choices for good quality.

How much vitamin D do I need and how should I get it tested?

There is agreement that levels below 25nmol/L (10ng/ml) qualify as deficient but beyond this there is currently no standard definition of ‘optimal’ 25(OH)D levels. Some sources suggest that levels above 50nmol/L (30ng/ml) are sufficient, while 70–80nmol/L (28-32ng/ml) is optimal. From my personal opinion having optimal levels of vitamin D will be more beneficial for numerous health reasons. Therefore if you are just below optimal I would still recommend taking a small dosage, if you are extremely deficient then consider following a vitamin D protocol to get you levels up fast.

NOTE: High levels of vitamin D can be toxic to the body, so I would recommend getting a regular blood test done by your local GP to determine how much vitamin D you have, remember to get the actual scores from your GP that tells you exactly how much you have as opposed to a simple pass or fail.


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Anthony Masters is a Personal Trainer at MoreFit St Paul’s. Having worked with clients with a variety of goals ranging from stress reduction, fat loss, rehabilitation, strength training, pre/ post natal, endurance and sport specific training he is confident to tailor a specific training program to the clients individual needs. Making every session different, challenging and fun, Anthony’s motto is “you give him 100% and he will give you 110% back” as your success is his success! [/author_info] [/author]

How Beneficial Is Fish Oil Really?

By Anthony Masters

Before I start I would like to illiterate that throughout my life I have always sought out opposing opinions and evidence with almost everything I study, I find this a fundamental learning process in human development and to help formulate my own personal beliefs. Now for years as a trainer I have promoted fish oil to clients, friends and family for its vast beneficial qualities towards human health. My opinions have now changed, I am now more cautious to the use of it, especially in the long term after recently reading a few interesting articles. I would personally use fish oil for fast fat loss goals, improve hormonal profile and to help rebalance the omega 3:6 ratio and nothing else. I promote a lot of Charles Poliquin supplements and protocols for their quality and effectiveness. But the use of fish oil I am a lot more careful with now as it suppresses the immune function which always worries me and in the long term can be hazardous to our body. This is why after you have read what is to come I can not stress anymore the importance of getting good quality fish oil and keeping it refrigerated. A lot of what is written here on is more of a summary of other peoples works and not mine. I simply want to raise a few questions that may make you think twice. Ask yourself these questions:

Are essential fatty acids really that essential?

Do heart healthy oils harm us?

Why is temperature and environment so important?

Here is a summary from the works of Rob Turner and Ray Peat to help you make up your own mind.

“Saturated fats are more abundant in the animal world and unsaturated fats predominate in the vegetable world and in fish. This has been a part of nature’s adaptation to the environment, and does not signify that a mistake was made in the creation of warm-blooded animals.” -Broda and Charlotte Barnes

Marketing Magic

“The image of “hard, white saturated coconut oil” isn’t relevant to the oil’s biological action, but the image of “sticky varnish-like easily oxidized unsaturated seed oils” is highly relevant to their toxicity.”-Ray Peat, PhD

There is much marketing momentum behind some fats, like fish oils and seed oils, so taking into account how financial interests play a role is important in what the public and what professionals believe as truth. Anyone who has a conflict of interest in the matter (a reason to gain financially) should not be trusted on the matter – think Charles Poliquin and Udo Erasmus.


Dietary fats come in three different structures predominantly – saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Each dietary fat is actually a combination of all three of these structures. For example, 100% saturated fats don’t exist but rather a saturated fat will contain mostly saturated fat as well as smaller amounts of monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.

Saturated fats are very stable and remain solid at room temperature and below while turning into liquid above room temperature (they are liquid at human body temperature). Saturated fats do not contain any double bonds between carbon atoms like those seen in their unsaturated counterparts. The carbon atoms of saturated fats are saturated with single bonds to hydrogen atoms; the carbon atoms have the maximum amount of hydrogen atoms. This means that oxygen, light, or temperature does not easily break these bonds apart and change them. Saturated fats are non reactive.

Monounsaturated fats (MUFA) are liquid at room temperature and become cloudy in the refrigerator. MUFA have one (“mono”) double carbon bond and are relatively stable but this double bond can be affected by oxygen, temperature, and light over time which contributes to MUFA’s instability. This single double bond is susceptible to being modified and broken down. The single bond also manipulates the structure of the fat and creates a “kink” or bend.

Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) are liquid at any temperature above freezing, are highly reactive, spoil quickly, & have two or more (”poly”) open double carbon bonds. PUFA are the most unstable of the three types of fats.

Because PUFA have multiple double bonds, they also have multiple kinks or bends in their structure. Oxygen, light, and temperature can easily break these fats apart at the site of the double bonds and create free radicals (lipid peroxides) that destroy important enzymes and damage vital energy producing cell structures. You cannot digest foods, dissolve blood clots, or release your thyroid hormone without enzymes. By reacting with oxygen, PUFA promote harmful oxidation while interfering with the productive use of oxygen.

Nature’s Examples

“Over the years, it has become evident that the polyunsaturated fats are not very compatible with a high rate of metabolism, though they are necessary for organisms that live at low temperatures and metabolise slowly, such as fish and vegetables. The saturated fats solidify at low temperature; beef fat is very stiff at refrigerator temperature, and in a fat fish, such stiffness would be lethal.” -Ray Peat, PhD

Many fish live in waters near freezing temperatures and are required to have liquid fats (polyunsaturated fats). Butter in your refrigerator hardens because it’s mostly saturated. This difference between the fats of a fish and the fats of cow’s milk from which butter is derived is explained by their different structures.

It’s these structural differences that we need to pay close attention to when making dietary choices. There are examples in nature that make things the picture clear. For example, if a fish had predominantly saturated fats in its tissues, it would have hardened fat and wouldn’t be able to move through cold water. Seeds exposed to cold temperatures have mostly PUFA in their tissues for similar reasons.

“The other reason is that the seeds are designed to germinate in early spring, so their energy stores must be accessible when the temperatures are cool, and they normally don’t have to remain viable through the hot summer months. Unsaturated oils are liquid when they are cold, and this is necessary for any organism that lives at low temperatures. For example, fish in cold water would be stiff if they contained saturated fats. These oils easily get rancid (spontaneously oxidizing) when they are warm and exposed to oxygen. Seeds contain a small amount of vitamin E to delay rancidity. When the oils are stored in our tissues, they are much warmer, and more directly exposed to oxygen, than they would be in the seeds, and so their tendency to oxidize is very great. These oxidative processes can damage enzymes and other parts of cells, and especially their ability to produce energy.” -Ray Peat, PhD

“The fact that saturated fats are dominant in tropical plants and in warm-blooded animals relates to the stability of these oils at high temperatures. Coconut oil which had been stored at room temperature for a year was found to have no measurable rancidity. Since growing coconuts often experience temperatures around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, ordinary room temperature isn’t an oxidative challenge. Fish oil or safflower oil, though, can’t be stored long at room temperature, and at 98 degrees F the spontaneous oxidation is very fast.” -Ray Peat, PhD

Just as liquid oils are necessary for organisms that can’t regulate their temperature but live at cold temperatures, saturated fats are necessary for organisms that live at high temperature or have a warm body temperature. For example, coconuts grow in tropical environments with temperatures that mimic the human body’s internal temperature (around 100 degrees). A predominance of liquid polyunsaturated fatty acids in a coconut’s tissues would quickly go rancid and breakdown at such temperatures just as they do when exposed to heat and oxygen in our body. Amazonian fish and soy beans living or growing respectively in hot temps have more saturated fat in their tissues relative to the same species living or growing in colder environments.

Saturated fats don’t work in cold-water fish; polyunsaturates don’t work in the high temperatures of the tropics. We should learn from natures’ examples. The organism’s exposure to oxygen, body temperature, and/or environment determine the fats which are ideal for the organism.

Since we are omnivorous, our consumption of polyunsaturates is reflected in our fat tissues. As we eat more polyunsaturates with ageing, these fats accumulate. It’s not to our advantage to eat foods containing large amounts of polyunsaturates or to refine these liquid oils, take them out of their intended environment, and introduce them into a place (i.e. our bodies) where they don’t belong. Our fats should be predominantly stable at warm temperatures (~98F/37C) and when exposed to oxygen, but when we consistently eat foods rich in polyunsaturates we violate this rule. The warm, oxygen-rich internal environment of humans isn’t the place for large amounts of reactive polyunsaturates.

Protective Saturated Fat

Non-reactive saturated fats are best for our physiology because they do not break down into toxic by products (lipid peroxides) like PUFA do in such an environment. It’s important to also note that when the body forms fats from carbohydrate, it does not form these unstable, toxic fats. This left the door open for some to believe in “essential fatty acids.”

An essential nutrient is a nutrient required for normal functioning that either cannot be synthesized by our body at all, or cannot be made in amounts adequate for good health, and thus must be obtained from a dietary source. It’s true that the body doesn’t synthesize the so called “essential fatty acids” (EFA). “EFA” and other PUFA are environmentally derived, but these fats are not needed for human health. The body doesn’t make these fats because they’re toxic, not because they’re essential. More discussion on that topic here and here.

Endogenously formed fats or saturated fats from the diet carry none of PUFA’s negatives effects. PUFA harm fetal and childhood development, immunity, mitochondrion health, thyroid function, and the activity of key enzyme involved in energy production called cytochrome oxidase . These fats also promote estrogen, development of age pigmentation, liver inflammation, heart damage, brain degeneration, slowed detoxification, and depressed longevity. PUFA are protectively found in seeds, nuts, beans, and above ground vegetables to inhibit the digestion of grazing animals except those which have developed a digestive physiology to overcome them (herbivores). Humans are omnivores.

Fish Oil

The fish oils are the most unsaturated fat (have the most double bonds) and pose many dangers for humans. EPA and DHA, polyunsaturated fats found in fish, have five and six double bonds respectively. EPA and DHA are ideal for cold waters, but your body temperature is far warmer and not suited for such fats.

Fish oils are exceptionally well-suited at suppressing immune function. They “reduce inflammation” in large part by destroying immunity much the way x-rays used to for inflammatory conditions. The use of x-rays to reduce inflammation in rheumatic sufferers brought about atrophy, fibrosis, and cancer. The massive use of fish oils will prove to do the same.

Fish oils do inhibit the production of prostaglandins by interfering with the conversion of linoleic acid into arachidonic acid making them anti-inflammatory in that way. Aspirin, vitamin E, and a PUFA-deficient diet produce similar effects without the suppressive effects on the immune system and thyroid. Fish oils are directly associated with Alzheimer’s. Saturated fats are protective against the disease.

Paints & Varnishes

“When exposed to air natural fatty acids having two or more double bonds tend to undergo a complex process called autooxidation, in which molecular oxygen attacks a double bond to yield a series of products which ultimately polymerize to form a hard resinous material. Linseed oil, used a base for paints, is rich in highly unsaturated fatty acids, and undergoes this polymerization process as it “dries.” Autoxidation of unsaturated fats in the tissues is also believed to occur in some disease.” -Albert Lehninger, PhD

It’s the formation of this resinous material that should make polyunsaturates garner more attention in discussions regarding heart disease.

Food marketers want the public to forget the liquid oils’ historic uses. Fish and seeds oils were previously used as paints/varnishes because of their propensity to react with oxygen (“autooxidation”) and stick to the canvas. When petroleum based paints came around, the market for fish and seed oils vanished because it’s cheaper to make paints/varnishes from oil. The clever seed and fish oil industries created a new market – the supermarket – capitalizing on the erroneous research saying the fats within these oils were essential, heart healthy, and/or lowered cholesterol.

The third reason is true (although it’s another toxic effect) and the first two reasons are false and prove harmful. This mega market for PUFA still exists today to the financial benefit of seed and fish oil manufacturers but to the detriment of human health. Don’t fall for the marketing.


Most processed/packaged food manufacturers and restaurants use polyunsaturated oils so make sure to check food labels. These oils are cheaper than safer options, like butter and coconut oil. When money is at stake, your health takes a back seat. Below is a list showing the major dietary sources of PUFA and saturated fat. Keep dietary fat consumption high in saturated fats and low in polyunsaturated fats.


These fats are liquid at refrigerator temperatures

  • Any nut, seed, bean, or vegetable oil
  • Soy oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Wheat Germ Oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Canola Oil (used in cooking at Whole Foods Market)
  • Fish oil
  • Hempseed Oil
  • Grape Seed Oil
  • Flax Seed Oil/Linseed Oil
  • Walnut Oil
  • Almond Oil
  • Borage Oil
  • Evening Primrose Oil
  • Grains
  • Above ground vegetables
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Industrially fed poultry and pigs
  • “Omega 3″ or “Omega 6″ on labels

Saturated Fats – These fats are solid at refrigerator temperatures

  • Cocoa butter, chocolate (without soy lecithin)
  • (Refined) coconut oil
  • (Salted) Butter
  • Ghee
  • Dairy
  • Ruminant fat (buffalo, cow, goat, lamb, deer)
  • Pastured eggs
  • Pastured or wild animal fats

References: Articles: “The great fish oil experiment” and “Unsaturated fatty acids: nutritionally essential or toxic?

About Anthony

Anthony has been in the fitness industry for over 16 years. In the early years competing as a semi-pro tennis player touring internationally on the ITF circuit, later in life exploring the practices of CrossFit, rock climbing, snowboarding, Olympic weightlifting and triathlons. In order to improve his knowledge and better himself as a trainer for his clients he has continued to research vast subjects, getting into official and unofficial studies of anatomy, physiology, psychology, bio-mechanics, training methodology, nutrition, sports and mind-body practices.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Anthony Masters is a Personal Trainer at MoreFit St Paul’s. Having worked with clients with a variety of goals ranging from stress reduction, fat loss, rehabilitation, strength training, pre/ post natal, endurance and sport specific training he is confident to tailor a specific training program to the clients individual needs. Making every session different, challenging and fun, Anthony’s motto is “you give him 100% and he will give you 110% back” as your success is his success! [/author_info] [/author]

Supplements for Training

noun: supplement; plural noun: supplements
1. something that completes or enhances something else when added to it.

The purpose of this article is to inform you about the supplements we, as trainers often mention.  Just to clarify there is no such thing as a magic pill or powder that will produce results by itself.  YOU are going to have to do the hard graft.

Only a proper diet and workout program are capable of making these things happen. Once you’ve set up both and effectively put them into action, supplements can, at best, only enhance your efforts and results.

The key to losing fat, building muscle, or just improving your body or health in any way is a combination of a proper diet consisting of nutrient dense foods and a solid workout program.  The best supplements in the world won’t do a thing if you don’t get those important factors right first. The supplements discussed in this article are based upon science, not hype or marketing campaigns.

These supplements are the basic and fundamental ones to take as our body requires them to perform daily tasks efficiently, yet due to lifestyles nowadays and environmental factors, we are often deficient. Speak to your trainer if interested and they can recommend trusted brands and the correct dosage or protocols for you.

The basic supplements that should be taking are:

  • Fibre
  • Probiotic
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Fish Oil
  • Vitamin D


Fibre can be either insoluble or soluble, although most fibre-containing foods have both.

Insoluble fibre speeds up the movement of food through the intestines and promotes regularity. It is excreted largely intact.  Insoluble fibre can be found in whole-grain foods, wheat bran, many vegetables, and fruit with skin.

Soluble fibre dissolves when mixed with water and becomes a gel-like substance, slowing down the movement of food through the small intestine. Sources of soluble fibre include oats, peas, beans, apples, and citrus fruits; one serving of any of these foods provides about one to three grams (g) of soluble fibre. It is recommended to have anything from 20-50 grams per day, which means that unless you’re planning on chowing through 6-8 cups of fruit and vegetables each day then a quality (meaning sugar and synthetic free) supplement could be worth investing in.

Evidence suggests that soluble fibre is more effective at lowering cholesterol, but both types of fibre are important for your health. One of the ways soluble fibre may lower blood cholesterol is through its ability to reduce the amount of bile reabsorbed in the intestines.

How does it work? When fibre interferes with absorption of bile in the intestines, the bile binds to the fibre and is excreted.  To make up for this loss of bile, the liver makes more bile salts. The body uses cholesterol to make bile salts. So in order to obtain the cholesterol necessary to make more bile salts, the liver increases its production of LDL  (Low-density lipoprotein) receptors. These receptors are responsible for pulling cholesterol out of LDL molecules in the bloodstream. Therefore, the more bile salts are made from the liver, the more LDL cholesterol is pulled from the blood. Research has shown that increasing soluble fibre by 5 to 10 g a day reduces LDL cholesterol by about five percent.

Gluten free Oats, as well as psyllium and barley, are rich in beta-glucan, a soluble form of fibre, which has been shown to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Please note it is important to rotate your fibers often as using the same blend day in and day out can irritate the lining of the gut wall and leave you at greater risk of food intolerance. This happens due to the close contact fibre has with your intestinal lining.

The main reasons we are consuming less fibre these days is that various food processing methods can strip fibre from the food. We, as a nation are also consuming less fibre as we don’t consume enough fibrous carbs. The main source of carbs should be fibrous. Fibrous carbs typically have very low carb content. Their inherent high fibre brings about a very moderate insulin response, thus making them an ideal fat loss food.

The best sources of fibrous carbs include the following:

  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Cauliflower
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Mushrooms
  • Green beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Cucumber
  • Spinach
  • Pepper

Fiber is important for making solid stools and helping food move through the digestive tract; as such, it is a key factor in helping to prevent many digestive disorders and eliminate bloating.


Probiotics are essential to basic human nutrition. Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms naturally found in the human gut. These “good bacteria” are used to prevent and alleviate many different conditions, but particularly those that affect the gastrointestinal tract.

Furthermore, probiotics can provide multiple benefits for your immune system. When probiotics are abundant in your body, it’s harder for bacteria that cause illness to get a foothold. Probiotics also suppress the growth of harmful bacteria. There are a number of things that will disrupt our balance of gut bacteria, but two of the biggest things for most people are stress and antibiotics.

In order for your body to absorb all the nutrients from food and benefits from supplements you must first ensure you improve your gut health. Some food sources that contain probiotics are Kambucha tea, sauerkraut, live, active yoghurts and kerfir, however supplementation is recommended to deliver large amounts.


Magnesium is a dietary mineral which is the second most common deficiency in the first world (first being Vitamin D), Deficiency appears to increase blood pressure and reduce insulin sensitivity mostly. Magnesium performs a number of critical functions in the body, including helping muscles contract and relax, assisting in nerve function, and keeping heart rhythm steady and strong. In fact, every cell in your body needs magnesium. One of magnesium’s most critical functions is energy production.

Magnesium has been show to:

  • Support insulin sensitively
  • A number of cardiovascular conditions
  • Healthy nerve conduction
  • Bone mineralization
  • Preventing cramps
  • Aids deep, and more rest sleep
  • Lower Cortisol
  • Can increase Growth hormone through improving sleep
  • It’s a synergetic mineral which means it helps other minerals absorb better
  • Can increase testosterone through lowering Cortisol and increasing DHEA (DHEA is a natural steroid and precursor hormone produced by the adrenals. Adequate levels of DHEA are needed to ensure your body can produce the hormones it needs them. When levels are low, your body does not have enough working material for proper endocrine function. DHEA is one of the best “feel-good” hormones we have and it works quickly and effectively when taken with the right combination of support.)
  • Magnesium is best taken in the evening as it promotes sleep. Magnesium baths are a great way of topping up your levels if low as it can be absorbed through the skin.  These baths will help reduce any muscle soreness and aide with recovery.  It is best to have these baths at night time as well.


Researchers write that “zinc is such a critical element in human health that even a small deficiency is a disaster.” Zinc is so important because it is found in every tissue in the body and is directly involved in cell division. It is a powerful antioxidant, helping to prevent cancer, but zinc also is directly involved in proper endocrine function and the maintenance of ideal hormone levels.

Zinc deficiency makes both men and women infertile and causes low libido. Low zinc also exacerbates the effects of stress on the body and accelerates ageing. Additionally, adequate zinc is necessary for optimal physical performance, energy levels, and body composition.

Zinc affects protein synthesis and is required for proper function of red and white blood cells. It is highly concentrated in our bones, the pancreas, kidneys, liver, and retina.

Zinc also promotes

  • Healthier skin (helps premature ageing of the skin)
  • Healthier hair
  • Stronger and better-looking nails
  • Better brain function
  • Boosts the immune system  (and recover from colds faster)
  • Helps speed up the bodies healing process

Fish Oil

It is hard to ignore the tremendous amount of research and practical evidence given about the positive effects of fish oil. Research has found fish oil can benefit the body in a number of ways from cardiovascular health, inflammation, skin and eye health to neurological health. Because of the vast benefits of fish oil, you simply can’t go past it. EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fatty acids found only in fish also increases levels of fat-burning enzymes and decreases levels of fat-storage enzymes in your body.

Nowadays our diets are very inflammatory with the amount of wheat, sugar and processed foods and oils we digest.  Products that used to be high in Omega 3 such as meat are now higher in Omega 6 due to stock being fed corn and grain as opposed to grass.  Many of the oils used in foods eg vegetable oils are purely Omega 6 oils creating a huge imbalance within our bodies.  Fish oil is 100% Omega 3, therefore helping to restore balance. By supplementing with Fish Oil, the aim is to restore balance between Omega 3:6 within the body.

Anthropological research suggests that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1:1. It also indicates that both ancient and modern hunter-gatherers were free of the modern inflammatory diseases, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, which are the primary causes of death and morbidity today.

Nowadays the ratios are about 20:1 and this is the cause of many illnesses we are now facing.   By supplementing with good quality fish oil we aim to restore this balance and reduce the inflammation throughout the body.

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D is different from other essential vitamins because our own bodies can manufacture it with sunlight exposure. The main function of vitamin D is to regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in our bones and aid in cell to cell communication throughout the body.

Frequent exposure of the skin to sunlight promotes sufficient Vitamin D synthesis without the need for supplements, however with long winters and less time outdoors soaking up the rays as well as cloud cover and smog coupled with the application of sunscreens when in the sun, we often stop the bodies ability to absorb vitamin D and this has led many of us, especially those who have darker skin pigmentation to become Vitamin D deficient.

Vitamin D is one of those key nutrients, which acts as a hormone in the body. Known as the sunlight vitamin, due to synthesis occurring in the skin from the sun’s radiation. It has a multitude of benefits: The list of benefits is long and includes:

  • Bone health
  • Mood state
  • Improves calcium absorption
  • Brain health
  • Disease inhibitory effects
  • Supports cardiovascular health
  • Supports nerve health
  • Virtually every disease and condition and adverse condition is associated with low vitamin D3 levels
  • Blood sugar regulation
  • Muscle mass and strength
  • Weight loss

So to conclude, these supplements should accompany your current training and nutrition programme to enhance your results and support your body. It is important however that you before you spend your hard earned cash on supplements, you are consistent in your training and good nutrition and working towards improving your gut health. To purchase high grade, quality supplements or for more information, please speak to your trainer who can advise accordingly.

• Rachelle With 8 years experience in Personal Training, Rachelle is very dedicated to each and every one of her clients ensuring they get the best out of each workout and giving them the tools to better themselves outside of the gym through improved nutrition and making small yet significant lifestyle changes. Whether your goals are improved body composition, strength training or endurance events, Rachelle will help you get there whilst addressing postural and muscle imbalances along the way. Over the years, Rachelle has completed several endurance cycling events, and having recently returned to London after travelling, her focus is now more on strength training. Rachelle is also available for sports massage and has worked alongside Triathletes, Cyclists, Rugby Players, Marathon Runners and helped many office workers that succumb to the effects of sitting all day. Rachelle is a firm yet fair trainer and encourages people to be the best version of themselves possible.

To shake or not to protein shake

Many of my clients ask me about protein supplements, especially if they want to lose weight. There are plenty of myths going around the internet about well-marketed ‘must-have’ protein shakes causing confusion amongst people new to exercise – let’s see what protein is and why and how much we need!

What’s Protein? Protein is one of the basic building blocks of the human body, found literally everywhere in your system making up about 16 percent of our total body weight. Muscle, hair, skin, and connective tissue are mainly made up of protein. It plays a major role in all of the cells and most of the fluids in our bodies. It includes repair of muscles, red blood cells, hair and fingernail growth, regulation of hormone secretion, movement (muscle contraction), digestion, maintenance of the body’s water balance, protection against disease, transport of nutrients to and from cells, the carrying of oxygen and regulation of blood clotting. In addition, many of our bodies’ important chemicals – enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and even our DNA – are at least partially made up of protein. Although our bodies are good at “recycling” protein, we use up protein constantly, so it is important to continually replace it.

How much should we eat? Our protein needs depend on our age, size, and activity level. The standard method used by nutritionists to estimate our minimum daily protein requirement is to multiply the body weight in kilograms by 0.8, or weight in pounds by 0.37. This is the number of grams of protein that should be the daily minimum for a sedentary person who is uninterested in gaining muscle (and free of health issues that might compromise your lean mass). Athletes need more protein than the average person, but perhaps not as much as most fitness enthusiasts think (or consume).

  • If you complete regular weekly weight training or low impact cardio exercise and you’re in search of muscle definition or maintenance: 1.2-1.5g protein per kilogram body weight
  • If you combine weight training with HIIT cardio exercise, look to consume: 1.4-1.7g protein per kilogram of body weight.
  • If you complete regular weekly weight training and are in search of muscle growth: 1.5-2g protein per kilogram of body weight.Healing wounds increases protein requirements. After all, you’re literally rebuilding lost or damaged tissue. If you have an injury the recommended intake is around 1.5 g protein/kg bodyweight or close to 0.7 g protein/lb bodyweight.

High protein diets. Protein is essential for making sure you lose fat, not muscle. Your body uses the amino acids in protein to build lean muscle, which not only makes you stronger and more toned but also fries calories even when you’re not active. A study in women showed that a 1.6 g protein/kg bodyweight (or 0.7 g protein/lb bodyweight) diet led to more weight loss, more fat loss, and less lean mass loss than a 0.8 g protein/kg bodyweight diet. Among dieting athletes,2.3 g protein/kg bodyweight (or a little over 1 g protein/lb bodyweight) was far superior to 1.0 g protein/kg bodyweight in preserving lean mass. And this happens without dieters being sidetracked with constant hunger.

Also remarkable, that protein requires a lot more energy from the body to break down –roughly 15% more energy to break down then carbs. High-protein foods take more work to digest, metabolize, and use, which means you burn more calories processing them. They also take longer to leave your stomach, so you feel full sooner and for a longer amount of time. The cumulative effect has obvious benefits for anyone who is watching her weight. If you are seeking fat loss then real, natural, least-processed foods, which have minimal amounts of fat (such as chicken breast, eggs, lean beef and pork, low-fat dairy, fish and seafood) are your best choices.

Protein in our diet. Everyone, including athletes and inactive people, can meet their daily protein needs by eating a well-balanced diet containing high-protein foods. Aim to consume about one-third of your daily protein needs during each meal, at least 30 of those grams at breakfast. (That’s roughly the amount you’ll get from two eggs and a cup of cottage cheese.) After fasting all night, your body is running on empty and may start drawing on muscle tissue for fuel if you don’t replenish its protein stores first thing in the a.m. Plus protein-rich breakfasts can help regulate your appetite all day.

Good sources of dietary protein include lean meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, soy products, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Basic list of the most common high protein foods. You just need to know that 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories.

  • Chicken (skinless)
  • Turkey (skinless)
  • Fish (all kinds)
  • Beef (leaner cuts)
  • Pork (leaner cuts)
  • Whole Eggs
  • Egg Whites
  • Beans (all kinds)
  • Nuts (all kinds)
  • Milk
  • Cheese

Here are examples of amounts of protein in food:  

  • 1 cup of milk has 8 grams of protein
  • Two eggs contain about 12 grams of protein
  • 1 cup of cottage cheese provides about 25 grams
  • An 8-ounce container of yogurt has about 11 grams of protein
  • 3-ounce piece of meat or grilled salmon has about 21 grams of protein
  • 1 cup of dry beans has about 16 grams of protein

Why and when do we need protein in relation to workout?   When it comes to gaining muscle, there are three cardinal rules: train, rest and eat protein. But even if first two rules, you still can’t build muscle without the critical amino acids that protein provides.

After a workout your body needs to repair itself. If you do not give it what it needs to accomplish this, it will take it from other sources within your body. Resistance training increases the rates of both protein synthesis and muscle breakdown for at least a 24-hour period afterwards and is one of the reasons why you might feel sore the next day. Now whilst this may sound bad, it’s actually the first part of developing stronger muscles. However if a protein rich meal is not consumed during the recovery period and your body cannot find new sources to make this happen, it will resort to what it can find. This means it will actually tear down the muscles you have in order to get what it needs, muscle breakdown will exceed synthesis, resulting in the loss of muscle mass, which is the exact opposite effect of what you just worked toward.

The elevated sensitivity to protein lasts at least 24 hours after a workout. The effect is higher immediately after exercise and diminishes over time, but that certainly doesn’t imply a ‘magical window’ closes after an hour. Unless you need immediate muscle glycogen replenishment for the next day of training (athletes), you don’t need immediate post workout shake/meal.

Should I drink protein shakes?   Protein and carbohydrates work together to help rebuild your newly broken down muscles. Ideally, protein should come from food sources, not from supplements, as the additional vitamins, minerals, and essential fats also play a role in building more muscle (and burning fat too), but many of us lean on shakes for convenience to help hit our high protein targets.

The biggest advantage of supplements is convenience, digestibility and their well-balanced profile. Shakes are easy to consume, handy to grab, and travel through the gastrointestinal tract faster than solid food. Whole foods have a major advantage over protein supplements — they stimulate the metabolism more and take more time and energy to be digested and absorbed than shakes. This is known as the Thermic Effect and while all protein scores the highest — around 30 per cent of all the energy it provides is used up in processing — your body uses more energy to metabolise steak than a protein shake. (Fat has a Thermic Effect of around 3 per cent and carbohydrates range from five to 30 per cent of all available calories.)

Protein shakes are convenient so it does not take a lot of effort to make something after you are done working out. It also goes down easy, especially if you are not feeling hungry after working out. The need to use protein supplements should be based on whether or not you are getting enough protein through your regular diet. Food should be your priority; no bar, shake or pill will ever replace all the goodness of the meals made from scratch. If you do not meet your required daily protein intake then a supplement is a great option. If you do, then there’s no reason to. In fact, too much protein can lead to increases in body fat and excessive strain on your kidneys and liver. This suggests that sticking to your body’s daily need for protein is the best approach to healing.

>> Blog by Orshi Domjan | MoreFit Personal Trainer

After many years of battling with her own weight, 5 years ago Orshi decided to enter the health and fitness industry. She is now an Advanced Personal Trainer who is passionate about passing this knowledge onto her clients to improve their quality of life and to become healthier, happier, and confident. She inspires and motivates her clients to achieve their fitness goals with a personalised structured and progressive programme whether it’s for weight management, toning, postural imbalances, functional training, cardiovascular fitness, muscular development or training for a 100 mile cycle challenge! She is keen to advise on nutrition and constantly reviews new training methods to ensure the sessions are varied and enjoyable. “Your goal becomes my goal. I will give you full support and take you beyond your existing limitations to help you fulfil your potential and achieve your desired results.” If you’d like to book a taster session with Orshi please contact us on