Favourite Fitness & Nutrition Podcasts 2017

December 11, 2017

I like podcasts. Maybe you do, too. We should talk about that.

It’s been ages since I did a favourite podcasts post (my first podcast round-up was back in 2011 if you want a LOL, and then I wrote one in 2013 and later in 2013).

Many of those podcasts have departed to the great audio booth in the sky, and some are still around but either they’ve changed direction of (more likely) I have.

Either way, it’s time for an update. Here’s what I listen to on the regular.

(Most are about training and/or nutrition, but I’ve included some of my favourite business / personal development ones, too. You can only listen to so much industry chat, you know, however good the content and solid the banter!)

Got any recommendations for me? Leave me a comment.

Shredded By Science
(Lawrence Judd & the SBS team)

The SBS podcast is hosted by Lawrence Judd with regular input from Patrick (of Eat, Train, Progress) and SBS head honcho Luke Johnson. This podcast is mainly aimed at fitness professionals, but don’t have to be one to get a lot from it. If you’re interested in training, nutrition, and how the industry is changing, you’ll learn a lot (and laugh a lot!) They discuss great topics and have some brilliant guests. And Lawrence’s very dry humour often has me literally LOLing (awkward since I listen to podcasts when I’m out walking the dog)

3D Muscle Journey
(Andrea Valdez & the 3DMJ team)

3DMJ are kind of the OGs of the “flexible dieting” world, and the collected wisdom of host Andrea Valdez, Brad Loomis, Jeff Alberts, Alberto Nunez, and Eric Helms packs a punch. The 3DMJ podcast is firmly aimed at natural bodybuilding competitors, but anyone who is interested in training and eating for body recomp will get something from it. By the way, I’m #TeamJeff.


Muscle Box Radio
(Team Box)

The Muscle Box podcast will at any one time feature two or more of Team Box’s six coaches. Sometimes you even get all of them, which is equal parts hilarity and knowledge overload. This podcast will interest you if you’re into flexible dieting, training for hypertrophy, competing, and staying one step ahead of industry BS. Each of the coaches brings their own experience to the topics, and you’ll get plenty of clear advice to cut through diet and fitness confusion. Oh – you must like puns if you listen to this podcast. Sorry, I can’t decide which #TeamBoxCoach I am. That’s like asking me to choose my favourite member of Take That.


Push Pull Legs podcast
(Dan Meek and Tom Hall)

A second mention for Dan Meek (who is one of the Team Box coaches). The PPL podcast will interest you if you’re more into training as well as nutrition, since co-host Tom Hall is a powerlifting coach. As the name suggests, there’s plenty of training and programming talk on the PPL podcast, plus myth busting and the regular “Stupid Things We’ve Seen On The Internet”.

Sigma Nutrition Radio
(Danny Lennon)

If you’re into sports/performance nutrition, you’ll want to listen to Danny Lennon’s Sigma Nutrition show. It can sometimes be heavy going, but this is not designed to be magazine-style fluff. He has some outstanding guests on and discusses latest research, and his hosting style is really engaging. Listen to this podcast and you will be more clued-up than the majority of the people in the industry.

Mastery podcast
(Mark Coles)

M10’s Mark Coles is back with a new podcast that gives unmissable content on business mindset and personal development. He puts out some very short weekly content, aimed at getting you focused and fired up for the week ahead. And his longer episodes delve deeper into the key personal development topics that Mark is known for throughout the fitpro industry. I love listening to this on a Monday morning dog walk.

Mindset With Muscle
(Jamie Alderton)

Anyone who has the kind of attitude to life that means he will run backwards for 24 hours to raise money for charity is worth listening to (yes, Jamie did that). This podcast is packed with his trademark no-nonsense, practical, motivational content about business, personal development, and self-improvement. There’s something here for everyone. I deny you not to get fired up. (Although you might not go out and run backwards for 24 hours… but that’s OK.)

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

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My Vegan Month: 1 Week In

November 5, 2017

It’s not quite one week in to “World Vegan Month”, but Sunday seems a good day for a round up.

In case you missed it, I’m “going vegan” for the month. I’ve gone into this with no preconceptions, no expectations, and no particular concerns. So these round up blog posts will simply be what’s on my mind, and what (if anything) has surprised me about being vegan so far.

How have I felt?

Surprisingly, no different to usual. Hunger and appetite are about the same. If anything, I feel less hungry – more balanced – than eating my usual foods. I don’t know if this is an increase in fibre, or food volume? I should point out that I haven’t done a complete 180* in my food choices here. I was already eating a “good diet”, of “mostly whole foods”, with almost everything prepped from scratch by my own hands. I already ate a lot of veg, quite a lot of pulses/lentils.

So what’s changed?

Well, obviously no meat, fish, or eggs. I didn’t eat much dairy anyway (for some reason it makes me a bit queasy these days). But of course there is a bit of dairy in things like sauces, chocolate, dressings etc.

Snacks and “quick grab” foods are more difficult

The few times I have felt hungry have been the times I’d typically grab a quick “something”. Doing that is much more difficult as a vegan, it turns out. Maybe not once you’ve got used to it, I suppose. But where I might make myself a quick protein mugcake (EGGS!), or some scrambled eggs (EGGS!), I’m now left opening and shutting the fridge door thinking: “hmmm”.  There are plenty of things I can snack on, of course. But at this stage in my vegan adventure, I can only think in meals. (Thank you to Bulk Powders who gifted me a box of their Chocolate Coconut vegan protein bars which have been my sweet treats!)

Protein is a little harder to hit

It’s not difficult to eat protein as a vegan – plenty of plant sources have decent protein (tofu, pulses, lentils) and of course there is trace protein in pretty much everything. But it’s more difficult to – say – bump up a meal by 20g protein. Because vegan protein is tied in to other macros. So I have been having more servings of protein powder than usual (thanks again to Bulk Powders for this vegan protein powder!)

You have to rethink “meal construction”

As an omnivore, you tend to think of your macros separately. “OK, for my carbs I’ll do potatoes…. I’ll have chicken with that for my protein, and if I need any fats in there I’ll put some butter on top.” Or whatever. A bit more creative than that, but you get the idea. You can’t do that with vegan foods, because (as mentioned), the macros are all attached. So I’ve been trying to find higher protein versions of “carb” foods – like these pasta shapes (made from lentil flour and green pea flour), so then I can just have a veggie sauce on top and the macros are pretty decent.

Food shopping is eye-opening

I did a late night dash to the supermarket on the 1st, because I realised I didn’t really have enough food in the house to create a vegan meal. It was eye-opening. I realised how people must feel when they first embark on a “healthy eating plan” for the first time. All of a sudden, entire sections of the shop are off limits or completely redundant. You have to scrutinise labels (who knew that not all Quorn products are in fact vegan? Not me!) The shop took ages (see “scrutinising food labels”) but by the end of it my trolley was pretty sparse.

Question of the week

What is creatine? I mean, what is it actually made from? Is it… vegan? (I hope so! If it isn’t, please let me down gently!)

Um… what else?

  • Gym performance is absolutely fine. I’ve had a wicked week’s training actually.
  • My guts are fine, thank you 😉
  • Sleep is fine/no different.
  • I haven’t craved/been hungry for/missed anything in particular.

Recipe

I will be using Fitproclientrecipes during the month, to try a whole load of new meals and snacks. I’ll report back.

For now, I will leave you with a recipe I’ve just made up on a whim. I call it Curried Cauliflower & Tofu, because that is what it is.

Ingredients:

  • 20ml oil
  • 400g raw cauliflower, chopped
  • 400g firm tofu, water pressed out
  • 200g tomatoes, chopped
  • Spinach (as much as you want, it will wilt away to nothing anyway)
  • 1 lemon (grate a bit of the rind, and squeeze all of the juice)
  • Garlic paste or fresh garlic
  • Fresh coriander
  • Cumin seeds
  • Turmeric powder
  • Red chili flakes or fresh chili
  • Ground black pepper
  • You could put more herbs/spices in if you have them – I don’t)

Instructions:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy pan (lidded one)
  • Put in the cubed tofu and all the herbs/spices apart from the fresh coriander
  • Let the tofu brown a bit (you won’t be able to tell, because turmeric makes everything yellow, including my fingers, my kitchen surfaces, and my utensils)
  • Add the lemon rind, tomatoes and cauliflower
  • Put the lid on the pan and let it cook away
  • Add the lemon juice & spinach, turn the heat down, and leave it.
  • Put the fresh coriander on top when it’s done

Macros per 1/4 of this recipe:

  • Cals 193
  • P 15
  • C 8
  • F 12

So. There’s my rather underwhelming update after 5 days as a vegan! Let me know if you have any questions (or suggestions).

I’ve got some interviews with real actual (as in permanent!) vegan athletes lined up, as well as more recipes, review of vegan protein products, and anything else that comes to mind! Requests are welcomed.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


Book Review: “Science & Development of Muscle Hypertrophy” (Brad Schoenfeld)

September 7, 2016

brad schoenfeld book review nicola joyce
When Human Kinetics asked if I’d like to review Dr. Brad Schoenfeld’s new book – “Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy”, I didn’t hesitate. Brad is one of a small number of people in this industry who I trust as an authoritative voice. He’s one of my go-to sources for research and smart discussion around the science of gaining muscle.

I interviewed Brad ages ago for Muscle & Fitness magazine and have followed him (online, not literally, that would be weird and impractical) ever since.

“Science and Development…” is Brad’s latest book. It’s the ultimate resource if you’re interested in the current research behind muscle hypertrophy. But before I get into my review – and why you really need to get a copy of this book – here’s how to follow Brad so you can stay up to date with what he has to say. >> Brad Schoenfeld PhD on Facebook and on his website/blog.

What is muscle hypertrophy? It’s the fancy name for increasing muscle size. So this book is essentially about the Science of Swole.

The book is exhaustive. It covers every factor which could influence muscle hypertrophy, including training, nutrition, genetics, gender, and age.

It’s divided into seven chapters:

Hypetrophy related responses and adaptations to exercise stress
The mechanisms of hypertrophy
Role of resistance training variables in hypertrophy
Role of aerobic training in hypertrophy
Factors in maximal hypertrophic development
Program design for maximal hypertrophy
Nutrition for hypertrophy

As you’d expect from Brad Schoenfeld, the book is a compilation of the latest science-based principles, research, and meta analyses. It’s got more than 825 references. And the most important thing (IMO)? It’s written in a very accessible, applicable way. It’s research, but it’s practical too.

Put it this way, the last time I “did science” was at GCSE (which is longer ago than I care to admit). And I can understand it just fine!

If you’re a strength, power, or physique athlete (or someone who enjoys training with weights but doesn’t compete), or if you are a coach or PT, you need this book. Anyone who is interested what happens to our bodies when we train to gain size will find it useful.

Here’s just a taster of what you’ll find in the book:

– how the body structurally and hormonally changes when exposed to stress
– ways to most effectively design training programs
– current nutrition guidelines for bringing about hypertrophic changes
– the specific responses and mechanisms that promote muscle hypertrophy
– how genetic background, age, sex, and other factors affect the hypertrophic response to exercise

There are even sample programmes to help you design a three or four-times a week undulating periodised program or a modified linear periodised programme.

As far as I can see, it leaves no muscle hypertrophy stone unturned. And if there’s one person I’d trust to do a great job on this topic, it’s Brad.

What more do you want, people? Get it, read it, apply it. 🙂

You can get the book (hard copy, PDF, eBook) from Human Kinetics or from Amazon.

Book Review: “Science & Development of Muscle Hypertrophy” (Brad Schoenfeld) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


39 Book Recommendations I’ve Swiped From Smart People

May 30, 2016


For a few weeks now I’ve been swiping book recommendations from various Facebook posts. It’s about time I pulled the lists together. Full disclosure: this is a self-serving blog post. I’ll put the list here for my own reference, and if someone out there benefits from it too then great!

These 39 books are all titles I haven’t yet read (or listened to), so I can’t personally recommend them. It’s a long list, and not particularly organised. But I hope you get something from it.

(I download all my audiobooks from Audible.co.uk – I haven’t checked to see which of these books are on Audible yet.)

If you’ve read any of these, did you love it, hate it? Think I should put it at the top of the list… or think I’d be wasting my time reading it at all?

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BOOKS FOR YOUR BRAIN BOX

Self Development
Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz
The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer
A New Earth, Ekhart Tolle
Leadership & Self Deception, The Arbinger Institute
The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy
A Million Miles In a Thousand Years, Donald Miller
You Are Not So Smart, David Mcraney
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn
The Game of Life & How To Play It, Florence Scovel Shinn
The Happiness of Pursuit Chris Guillebeau
An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth, Chris Hadfield
How Will You Measure Your Life?, Clayton Christensen and James Allworth
Legacy, James Kerr

Mindset
The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi
The Obstacle Is The Way, Ryan Holiday
Blink, Malcolm Gladwell
Mastery, Robert Greene
It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, Paul Arden
The Magic of Thinking Big, David Schwartz
The Confidence Game, Maria Konnikova
Wooden, John Wooden
The Art Of Exceptional Living, Jim Rohn
How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World, Harry Browne
The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge
Various recommendations of books by Robert Greene
Winning Through Intimidation, Robert Ringer
Rising Strong, Brene Brown
The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer

Business
Think & Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill
Three Laws of Performance, Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan
How to Get Rich, Felix Dennis
Learn Or Die, Edward Hess
Simple Success Secrets No One Told You About, John Carlton
The E-Myth Enterprise, Michael Gerber
Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
The Way You Do Anything Is The Way You Do Everything, Suzanne Evans
Steal Like An Artist and Show Your Work, Austin Kleon

Fiction
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig

(This isn’t my entire list… ! Back soon with the second half)

39 Book Recommendations I’ve Swiped From Smart People is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


My Month Of HRV (Heart-Rate Variability) Testing

May 10, 2016

Most of us know about tracking heart rate to measure intensity (usually of cardio) but how many of you track resting heart rate? Perhaps you already take resting heart rate every morning to note “spikes” which might suggest you need to take a rest day.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) takes that one step further.

I was sent a HRV tracker by Bioforce and have been using it for the past month. The data has been really interesting – and it’s revealed a lot more than I thought it would.

What’s HRV?

HRV doesn’t just take your heart rate. It measures variations in the intervals between heartbeats. Why is this significant to people who train?

Variation in these intervals is physiological, and hugely affected by our sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems.

In short, HRV monitoring can give you valuable data into how stressed you are, how well you’re recovering, and how ready your body is to train today.

The phone app (and web interface) charts your data on graph which clearly shows peaks, spikes, and fluctuations in your HRV. Red days suggest you should take it easy, rest, work on recovery. Green suggests you’re well recovered and ready to push hard.

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How It Works

You use a traditional chest strap heart rate monitor* which measures your resting heart rate and sends it to the phone app via Bluetooth (*although Bioforce is about to launch an alternative to the strap – ear and finger sensors).

It measures for 2 mins 30 seconds, to gather enough data (I like the fact that it measures for a comparably long time).

ultimate hrv training book bioforce
The Book

The Bioforce strap and app comes with an impressively large and in-depth book about heart rate variability (written by Joel Jamieson). Its 138 pages cover HRV’s application within sport and fitness, what your results mean, and how you can use the data to optimise your training and recovery. There’s even training and programme design. The book is a huge bonus to the Bioforce product.

My Experiment

I expected to find the data interesting (I’m a bit of a numbers geek when it comes to training, health, nutrition) but what I didn’t expect was to see so many patterns developing. As an aside, I weigh myself every day. Without fail, my HRV was in the orange or red zone on days I also weighed in heavier or the same – suggesting that lack of quality sleep (or a late night) affects my recovery in more ways than one.

I also noticed regular patterns in my HRV relating to sleep, work stress, my menstrual cycle, and my training programme.

Pros & Cons

If you love data and numbers, and find your own biofeedback fascinating, I think you’ll love learning more about heart rate variability by using the Bioforce system. It’s easy to use and has been made very simple to understand (although you can delve much deeper into the research if you want!

The only possible downside I can think of is your morning routine. If you’ve got small kids, noisy neighbours, or an erratic schedule, you might find it a challenge to find 3 minutes to chill out at roughly the same time very day (ideally before you get out of bed).

The Bioforce system has an impressive army of fans already, including powerlifter Jim Laird, Crossfit Games Champion James Fitzgerals, and Molly Galbraith of Girls Gone Strong. If you want to join them (and me!), find out more about Bioforce HRV here.

My Month Of HRV (Heart-Rate Variability) Testing is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Tested this week: Monkey Nutrition new Primal26 PRO whey protein isolate

March 29, 2015

Today’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week is a new product from one of my favourite supplement brands.

Primal26 new whey protein isolate review

I’ve reviewed a few Monkey Nutrition products on the blog. I like the brand for its honest, no-BS communication style and I like the products because they really are great quality (and they have some little gems in the range, like Moodulator the neurotransmittor/hormone support which really helps me sleep).

So when one of the Monkeys asked if I’d try the new Primal26 PRO advanced whey isolate, I said sure! I reviewed the previous version of Primal26 here, but this is a new and improved formula with digestive enzymes.
monkey primal26 whey review blog
I’m off-season at the moment, and have drastically cut down on the amount of supplements I take. Partly for cash reasons, but mostly because I truly don’t think many are needed when you’re eating well, sleeping well and getting enough recovery. Prep is perhaps a different matter. But in off-season, I really don’t use much at all. (Happy to blog about what I do use if anyone’s interested).

That includes protein powder. I work at home, the gym’s not far away. I usually just come home and eat a meal. But there are times when I need a protein powder after training – and on those occasions I will use whey isolate.

Why? Simply put, it’s the best form of whey available.

Monkey Nutrition’s Primal26 PRO whey isolate is a little different to most whey isolates. It contains digestive enzyme ProHydrolase, which helps with protein absorption. Whey isolate is always pretty gentle on the digestion anyway (much less lactose) but the addition of digestive enzymes to Primal26 PRO supports an increase in protein absorption (by up to three times) and helps ensure smaller, non-immunogenic protein peptides are formed. These help lower inflammation (as indicated by decreased CRP levels).

If you sometimes suffer bloating, gas or worse when you use whey protein, this product would definitely be worth a try.

Because your body is able to get more out of digesting this product, it means you can actually reduce your serving size without any loss of protein assimilation.

The product formula is clinically researched (you can read all about the clinical trials here, if you’re that way inclined) and

I tried Primal26 PRO in chocolate flavour, which is sweetened with Stevia and flavoured with organic cocoa. 26g pure whey protein isolate per serving – and that all-important ProHydrolase digestive enzyme.

Thanks for the supplements, Monkey Nutrition guys!

You can find Monkey Nutrition on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tested this week: Monkey Nutrition new Primal26 PRO whey protein isolate is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Defining happiness with Prof Paul Dolan for International Day of Happiness

March 20, 2015

Did you know? It’s International Day of Happiness!

Group hug!

What you might not know is that invest a lot of time in feeling happy. I start every day with journaling, and end it with a spot of meditation (hashtag: ommmm). I walk with my dog every day (at least twice) in the lovely countryside behind my house. I chill out. I do spiritual shit. I try to do more of the things which make me happy, and less of the things which don’t. And when I do have to do stuff which doesn’t make me jump for joy, I try to adjust my attitude about it.

And I’m always up for learning more about how to be happier.

So, when Penguin Books asked me to blog about Prof Paul Dolan’s new book “Happiness By Design” – about how we can design our lives for happiness – I said I’d be overjoyed 😉 How to design your life for happiness – by thinking less and doing more. As well as being a Professor of Behavioural Science, Prof Dolan is also a bodybuilder (<< fun fact!) and has always been interested in the links between healthy lifestyles and happiness.

First up, some stats about happiness and grassroots sport from Join In, a London 2012 charity that puts more volunteers into community sport. (To find out more about volunteering opportunities in sport check the Join In website joininuk.org.)

join in research happiness volunteer sport grassroots
You can read Join In’s research about happiness and volunteering in sport here.

Join In have discovered just how powerful volunteering in sport can be for boosting happiness and wellbeing. According to their research, volunteers who are involved in sports clubs were less likely to feel anxious or worried and less likely to cry (aw!) And they were more likely to feel happy, part of their community and that their life has a purpose.

Purpose!

That little word has a lot of meaning according to Prof Dolan, as he explains in his “Happiness By Design” book. In fact, the tagline of the book is “finding pleasure and purpose in everyday life”.

happiness by design dolan book review
Happiness is difficult to define, as Prof Dolan admits early in the book. It’s completely subjective and highly personal.

But he sticks his neck on the line and offers a definition: the “pleasure-purpose principle” which he details at the start of the book.

“Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention,” he writes. “Attention devoted to one stimulus is, by definition, attention that is not devoted to another… The scarcity of attentional resources means that you must consider how you can make and facilitate better decisions… You will be the happiest you can be when you allocate your attention as best you can.”

This book is a great read if you’re interested in happiness and emotional wellbeing. Is it how we think, or what we do? (The book suggests it’s the latter.) You’ll find out how to redesign habitual ways of thinking, to make more of the deliberate choices that bring pleasure and meaning to your world (for it’s that combination, says Dolan, which equals happiness).

Highly recommended, grab a copy on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle. Thank you for sending me the review copy, Penguin Books people!

Happy International Day Of Happiness! What are you doing today which will make you happy?

Defining happiness with Prof Paul Dolan for International Day of Happiness is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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