How Is Your Motivation?

How are you staying motivated over this period?

I’m going to let you in on something 

I’m not!

I’m not reliant on motivation!

It’s not a consideration for me

If you are reliant on motivation then you will struggle with consistency!

That’s why I don’t rely on motivation,

I rely on habit!

Lots of people have more time afforded to them at the moment,

yet they aren’t exercising/doing workouts or keep on top of their diet because motivation is low,

due to our current climate.

I’m not relishing the workouts I’m doing but I know they are beneficial to me

positive action for the future me

So I know I should be doing them

But I’m getting them done out of habit, not motivation.

It’s like saving money.

No immediate gratification now,

but in the future, that money and the interest on that money will compound

and add up to a nice amount in your account

I make sure I’m putting in place things that will keep those habits going,

like setting a reminder to put money in my bank account

or better yet set up a direct debit to do it automatically.

Setting a reminder/time in my diary to workout,

or better still having a coach to prompt me and keep me accountable with my training and nutrition.

These things make sure what I need to do gets done

They ensure it happens and these actions add up to a big change

Boosting Your Immune System?!

The advice from the world health organization is social distancing 

I’m miles ahead of it, as I’ve been avoiding people for years!

On a serious note,

what I also want to do is  help you to avoid any decisions that charlatans thrust on you

 I find it incredible that people are proclaiming to have methods and products to cure the virus.

or products to ‘boost your immune system’! 

You can’t, neither would you want to ‘boost your immune system’

Your immune system can be split into 2 parts;

innate and acquired responses.

The innate response first and it’s not specific.

It makes you flemmy/snotty to try and catch the infection.

It also increases your temperature [a fever] to try and, for want of a better word, boil off the infection.

You may feel weak and want to stay in bed,

which is a good thing because you don’t want to go out and catch another infection in this delicate state.

The acquired immune system takes longer to kick in [5-10 days]

This part is more precise and makes specific antibodies.

The only thing that can speed up the response of the acquired system is vaccines.

So if you boosted your immune system [innnate] you would feel pretty crappy all the time.

If anyone starts blabbering on about foods or supplements to boost your immune system,

they don’t know what they are talking about!

Components of our diets are required for healthy immune function.

[vitamins and minerals] the ones claimed to boost it!

But if you have a good diet you will not need extra.

And if you have a good diet you do not augment your immune system with supplements

Focus on maximizing your health now,

avoid those health conditions that put you more at risk.

Ensure your diet is healthy and inclusive of lots of fruit and veg.

Stay on top of your exercise 

and get good quality sleep 

Emotional Freedom

Picture this situation you are on your way home from a great day at work and your favourite song comes on the radio
It’s been a fantastic day so what do you do
You do what any reasonable person would do in this situation
you start singing, a little bit of dancing, you’re in your own little world loving life
Until you see the guy in the car next to you looking at you 
This is where you could go from feeling great to wishing you were invisible
You might turn the radio down back into your seat and try to look serious mature thoughts
Ascribing too much importance to what other people think
It’s not that you won’t give any importance to others opinions myself included in this
Where it crosses the line is when you care what absolute strangers think 

or people that are insignificant in your life
If it was up to someone else how to achieve our dreams and progress most of us not achieve anything in our lives
You need to base your decisions and goals on you and not other people
Too many people base their success and goals on the opinions of other people
Friends, family, co-workers
You need to stop worrying about what other people are thinking about you and your decisions
What about what other people think and have tangible effects on your life
It is a very dangerous habit it to have as it encourages you to move with the masses or conform to the group
The emotional freedom technique will help 
Now this is not designed at making you arrogant 
It resolves and dissolves the emotional reaction you have to 

and about other people places and things
To be an independent and self-confident person 

you need to start being more independent
What do you think about what you want what is your opinion?
When you start to care less about what other people think you start living more
This doesn’t mean you don’t care about people
Emotional freedom technique resolves 

and dissolves what you think other people think
Have you ever thought to yourself?; ‘he or she makes me feel guilty’
Who is doing the feeling?
You are!
It is your reaction to what they have said or done or not done that you interpret guilt
Most people get it wrong about you or what you can achieve anyway
The Beatles were rejected
Michael Jordan didn’t make his school basketball team
Richard Branson has had more failed businesses than successful ones

If they have worried about what others have thought you would never have heard of them
Your feeling is created by yourself
other people do not have the power to make you feel a certain way 
you choose to feel that way 
using the emotional freedom technique will 
help you to overcome the fear of rejection
Overcome your fear that they will think that your goals are too big and not possible for you to achieve them
Overcome any emotional reaction to something in the past that they might have said or done
Overcome your fear of putting yourself out there 

and taking the much-needed action in achieving your goals
Develop your own things of self-worth and deserving 
With the emotional freedom technique 

it could be something as simple telling yourself
Even though I’m afraid of rejection
Even though I’m afraid that others will think my goals are too big for me and I could never achieve them 
Even though he or she said x or did y and it made me feel

Even though I’m not worthy of great success

even without being specific in all your detail, 

emotional freedom technique will still work
If you’re afraid about what you think others think about you doing Emotional Freedom Technique you can EFT that away too

Feedback not Failure

Taking the mail from my letterbox I could make out the police insignia through the window on the envelope

I have an idea what this is 

Yep speeding offense

I have the choice of 3 points on my license or speed awareness course

Shot or stabbed!?

As with everything the way I frame this

as feedback not failure is important

I haven’t failed at driving, 

I’ve received some feedback that I need to be more aware of variable speed limits

Going forward I’m not going to make the same mistake again

This feedback, not failure is an important mindset 

Let’s take the Christmas period

This is a time of year when people feel guilty about the food choices they make

You may eat things that you don’t usually eat or may eat more than is comfortable

This is why short-term diets start popping up

Your typical New Year’s resolution of weight loss

Trying to ‘undo the damage of the holidays’

What determines self-control

Is it sacrifice?

Do we have to sacrifice the foods that we enjoy?

To claim that we have self-control


If we have self-control failure it actually comes from

 As believing that there are consequences to our actions

 Even if it is something minor

 Choosing chocolate instead of celery sticks

If we eat one meal or several meals over the course of the day where we feel uncomfortable

If we believe we have broken some food rolls or there are going to be serious consequences

That can be perceived as a self-control failure

If we don’t have those  food rules and we give ourselves permission

That we enjoy oi then there’s not play a self-control failure we haven’t broken any rules

So we don’t have to deal with the guilt shame and frustration anxiety that comes with breaking those self-imposed food rules

We simply enjoy that food or meal and move on

Or if we don’t we use it as a learning opportunity and move on

Learning not failure!

We don’t repeat those habits over and over again 

And if you do find yourself in that cycle of repeating those habits that are not in line with your goals

You can reach out to to a professional and find out why you might be doing that

Weight fluctuations

After talking to one of my online clients this morning 

He was telling me how he had quit so many other diets because of his misunderstanding of this

Something that he had seen on the scales that led him to believe what he was doing was not working

From working with him for a few weeks he now understands what is happening and is making progress

This weight fluctuation on the scales has thwarted many a weight loss attempt he told me

he told me of the frustration of putting in all that hard work at the gym and with his diet

only to step on the scales and be disheartened when he saw that his weight has actually increased

Today I want to put an end to that frustration and help you understand why these fluctuations occur

To get you to take on board that this is very common during weight loss

The first thing to get your head around is because you see an increase in weight on the scales

It doesn’t mean you are not losing body fat

I will say that again

Your weight going up on the scales doesn’t mean you are not losing body fat

What you are looking for is a downward trend with weight over weeks

This will tell you that you are in a calorie deficit 

and you are where you need to be with your calorie intake for your body function and activity 

Back to that infuriating fluctuation business

The reason that we see these fluctuations in weight is due to water 

When we have a meal high in carbohydrates and sodium

think Chinese takeaway

Your body will hold onto water

For every one gram of carbohydrate stored in the body (as glycogen) we store approximately 2 grams of water

This is why low carb diets are a very easy sell to people

They drop carbohydrates, therefore, they drop water weight

They think that carbs are the enemy and they are converted to carb-free life of misery 

Then they experience a plateau after the initial drop 

because they are still consuming the same amount of calories from fats and protein 

and are not in a calorie deficit, thus fat loss stops

confused because they saw a correlation between dropping carbs and weight loss

but didn’t realize it was only water they had lost not body fat!

How frustrating to be in this limbo of confusion

The other lesser-known reason these fluctuations occur is due to physiology 

When we are in a calorie deficit our body will take fats [tryglicerides] from the fat cells as energy

because we haven’t enough energy from our diet so our body takes it from our fat cells

Great! That’s what we want for fat loss!

But when it takes these triglycerides from the cells it backfills the cells with water

which is when we see this weight increase

That is until our body decides that it’s good and ready to evacuate the water from the cells

Then we see a drop in weight, usually a large one, to a new low!

So don’t be deterred by these fluctuations they are part of the process

Stay resolute to the process and you will see these downward trends over weeks

and realise you are making progress

Muscle confusion

Sometimes I think to myself people will believe anything

In passing at the gym I will always say hello and ask people how their training is going

This is not an empty question

From their response, I can surmise a lot

how competent their training programming is, their understanding of exercise physiology,

and a heap of other things

So when people say things to me like

‘yeah training is good, I’m trying to confuse the muscles as much as I can’

I will tell them that they can’t confuse contractile tissue [muscle] and they are the ones confused

A little blunt I know but those are the facts and facts don’t care about feelings

Many gym goers switch up their training programs

to the point, they’re doing a different workout for each muscle every time they train it. ⁣

The rationale for this is down to some idiot out there putting out the concept of ‘muscle confusion’

The premise being that by confusing the muscle,

you prevent it from adapting to the training program. ⁣

This idea is erroneous

First, you can’t confuse contractile tissue!⁣

Second, adaptation is not undesirable!

Adaptation is the very goal of a training program:

by applying stress on a muscle in the form of mechanical tension,

we cause it to adapt to that stress making itself bigger and stronger. ⁣

Recent studies this year have shown that muscle confusion does not work

when a group of men trained applying progressive overload [increasing strength over time]

compared to another group of men applying ‘muscle confusion’ rotating through different workouts

the ‘confused muscle’ men didn’t gain more muscle!

Bottom line, have a good training program and stick to that

If you don’t want to be confused about what to do in the gym for building muscle

check out the training programs on our site

The Afterburn B******t!

Have you ever heard of the afterburn?

High-intensity training is all the rage

One personal trainer with an annoying voice and ridiculous hair

who has amassed a small fortune from his misinformation to the masses about nutrition

along with his complicated meal plan and a joint busting workouts

has made this style of working out very popular.

He has alluded to this type of exercise creating the afterburn

And whilst technically this is true, it is very exaggerated

Like the monthly interest on your bank gives you is not going to have any impact on your account

the afterburn has the same inconsequential impact on your calorie expenditure

We could go into how your oxygen respiratory exchange rate puts the brakes on this after only on a few hours

but that would be boring 

and you knowing that this afterburn is the calorie equivalent to one grape per hour for only a few hours after the session would be more impactful

Here’s the kicker…

if you are overweight and looking to shed some body fat

performing the high impact exercises that Mr Vidal Sassoon demonstrates 

is going to be detrimental to your joints

Your body is designed to carry a certain amount of weight

when you jump up and down you put seven times the force of that weight through your joints

so that increased force is going to exacerbate joint issues

Your bones and joints will not thank you

So use high-intensity training for the right reasons;

To burn calories when performing and to improve cardiovascular health

Forget about the afterburn it’s redundant

The Ultimate day of Nutrition for muscle

So you are excited that you have your holiday booked, an assumption I know, but I’m probably right

Although the thought has dawned on you that you will be spending a significant amount of time in minimal clothing 

You have your training program and you have your calorie deficit in place

You’re looking forward to feeling ‘beach ready’ when you leave for 7 days of all-inclusive bliss

So it’s time to start cranking it up

You want to make sure that while you are losing body fat you are building muscle in the process

Training is key and making sure you have enough protein – that’s important too!

Read my previous email ‘How much protein do I need?‘ and you need to read ‘sorry‘ too for help with that

We could also maximise our muscle growth…

…through nutrient timing!

We know our daily protein target now it’s time to look at spreading that out over the course of the day

Your daily protein target spread over 4 servings is going to be very helpful 

…to keep you in a net anabolic [muscle building] state

Refractory period, leucine threshold, MPS, EAAs blah blah, it’s not that important

Just know that 4 servings are going to be optimal

Then we want to time our carbohydrates [simple & complex carbs] 

to ensure we are getting the most out of and recovering from our sessions

After we have all that in place we are looking at introducing performance supplements…

pre-workout, post workout, and some at various frequencies over the day!

So let’s have a look at what a good day looks like…

With all this in place, you are going to make some serious progress with muscle growth

How much protein do I need?

Ever thought to yourself ‘how much protein do I need?

And the answer is…

…it depends

Let’s go through it

The first thing we need to find out is how much lean mass we have; muscle, ligaments, organs, bones, etc

We need only to take into account lean mass as these are the structures that need protein, body fat does not

How do you work out how much lean mass you have?

First, you would need to know your body fat percentage 

There are a few ways to find this out

One option is skinfold testing, for which, you would need a qualified professional

Then there is bioelectrical impedance 

Machines that passes a small amount of electrical current through your body, 

The latter is the least accurate

From one of these, you will derive your body fat percentage. Again one will be more accurate than the other but it’s a good starting point

Knowing your body fat percentage we move onto the next part of the puzzle

Subtract your body fat percentage from 100 to get your lean mass percentage.

Here is an example: 

100 – 25 percent body fat = 75 percent lean mass.

Divide your lean mass percent by 100 to calculate the decimal for your lean mass percent. Here is an example: 100 / 75 – .75

Multiply your lean mass decimal by your total body weight to calculate your lean mass weight. If you weigh 175 lbs, multiply 175 by .75 for 131.25 lbs. of lean mass

And there you have your lean mass

So how much protein do you need for that lean mass

Before we answer that we must ask ourselves what is the goal?!

Are you focusing on fat loss or building muscle and size?

We need different protein amounts in each phase

Here is where most people get it wrong; when in a fat loss phase you actually need more protein! And when in a building size/muscle phase, less

The reason being as you get leaner and leaner during fat loss muscle breakdown is an issue

So we want to guard against it! More protein will help not only keep and repair muscle but aid satiety

which during weight loss is always helpful!

When we are building size and in a calorie surplus there will be more insulin in our system

Which is the anti-muscle breakdown hormone, and we get to have more calories from carbs and fats…

which are our energy macronutrients!

This is good because we are more fuelled for our workouts and are in a position to achieve more weight lifted

In a fat loss phase, you are looking for around 2.5g of protein per kg of lean mass

In a weight gain phase, you are looking for 1.5g of protein per kg of lean body mass

Then to really optimize muscle growth, you would want to split this total over several servings in the day

Why so much conflicting information in nutrition?

From a certain perspective, nutrition science can seem like a mess.

Lots of competing theories. One study seems to suggest one thing. The very next study seems to say the opposite.

People interested in health, fitness and wellness are stuck in limbo. Confused.

Another point of view could be, that “mess” demonstrates the real beauty of science.

Science means putting all the ideas, good and bad into the ring and letting them fight it out

This takes place over hundreds of years

And using a particular method to determine the winners.

And that’s why nutrition science is so confusing at times. We haven’t yet had the hundreds, even thousands, of years for the best ones to emerge.

Fats, carbs, and protein weren’t even discovered until the 1800s

It’s only in the last 20 years that we’ve begun studying new problems, such as what’s healthy 

In a world full of tasty processed food and very little movement.

All scientific disciplines begin with confusion, dead ends, frustration, and silliness.

But what’s young is going to mature.

Nutrition science will grow up.

Not as fast as we’d like. Yet over time, the scientific method will cut and prune and do its work.

Meanwhile, here are some reasons why nutrition science can be so confusing at times.

And why (sometimes) the media screws up reporting it.

1. It takes time to master a science – compared to Chemistry, nutrition is in its infancy.

2. Most funding goes to disease prevention, not preventative nutrition – most researchers would ask ‘how can we prevent this epidemic’ over ‘how can we get abs’

3. Where funding comes from can affect what studies find – corporate pressures can influence study design so the results favour what the company want s to show!

4. Most nutrition studies are observational – correlation isn’t causation – does red meat cause heart disease and cancer or do people with these chronic diseases happen to eat more red meat

5. If doing the research is tough, reporting it is going to be even harder! – Journalists aren’t usually trained research scientists, which means that they often:

  • misunderstand study conclusions
  • over exaggerate single study findings

Single studies are interesting but often not important. They only usually provide one piece of a big puzzle that may take hundreds of years to complete

5 Good reasons to lose weight

I’d like you to join me in a thought experiment. Let’s begin by setting our feelings, insecurities, assumptions, stories, and beliefs about body fat

Forget, for a moment, about looking good.

Forget about abs and guns or whatever other laundry list of nonsense is now used to describe various body parts.

While you’re at it, forget about whatever other wretchedness the Internet has spawned this week. (Abs that pop, bicep peaks, Manscaping?)

Forget about all the big-name medical scares including atherosclerosis, arterial plaque, cardiac arrest, pulmonary hypertension, stroke, all the cancers, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

And forget about what some randomly chosen biomarker

“My glucose tolerance is good. I’m healthy and fat!”

“My triglycerides are low. I’m healthy and thin!”

“My cholesterol is excellent. I’m healthy and jacked!”

For a moment, let all of that go. (More on why in a second).

And, most of all, forget about “health at any size”.

Yes, obese people should be supported in efforts to become healthier outside of weight loss.

However, the “health at any size” movement goes one step too far in suggesting that obesity is harmless. That it’s NOT bad for you. That having excess body fat is of no more consequence than wearing a red jumper or driving a Volvo.

This is simply not true; it contradicts most of the available evidence.

So, for now, forget a) looking good, b) disease, and c) “health at any size”.
Each of these obscures the real, significant reasons people should consider losing weight.

The mainstream conversation about fatness and health focuses on medical conditions that can kill or disable us. While these make for great headlines, this angle isn’t very compelling.

Since we’re all going to die anyway, medical scare tactics simply don’t come off as scary. nor do they motivate change.

The fitness industry, of course, takes another approach.

In fitness, it’s all about looking great in a certain type of clothing, or on the beach, or at your high school reunion. And while that can seem inspiring for a minute, it’s not proven to be a sustainable way to achieve long-term weight loss and maintenance.

So let’s look at 5 GOOD reasons for losing weight.

Reason #5: Your knees and elbows will thank you.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, in which we lose cartilage and gradually destroy the bones of our joints.

Imagine two rocks grinding together and you get the idea of how fun that is.
In my experience, healthy people don’t think much about osteoarthritis because it’s common. Ageing makes it more likely. Everyone’s grandma has a twinge of arthritis.

So we think it’s normal.

This hides the degree to which it can be very unpleasant and debilitating.
Like most chronic illnesses, osteoarthritis is a vicious cycle.

Your joints hurt, so you move less.

Moving less means your joints don’t get loaded.

Less joint loading means muscle weakness.

Muscle weakness means force doesn’t get cushioned correctly.

Less cushion means the condition worsens.

More osteoarthritis means more pain.

And, onwards, we circle the drain.

The point? Obesity makes it much more likely that you’ll get osteoarthritis.
In one study comparing the heaviest patients to the lightest, the chance of being diagnosed with osteoarthritis in one knee was more than 6 times in the heavy group. For both knees, it was almost 18 times.

It isn’t just that heavier people put more weight on their joints, and those joints then degrade over time. It’s also that there seems to be a relationship between the presence of excess fat tissue and inflammation.

Thus, osteoarthritis probably comes from a combination of excess joint loading plus the inflammatory chemical and hormonal environment that having too much body fat creates.

Bottom line: One important reason to lose weight is to reduce joint pain and improve your movement. These are things you can benefit from almost immediately.

Reason #4: You’ll get a good night’s sleep.

Think of what happens when a rockslide blocks a tunnel.

That’s sleep apnea: The upper airway collapses while you sleep, cutting off that oxygen tunnel.

Just so you know, sleep apnea is more than a little snoring.

Sleep apnea means you stop breathing. Over and over and over. As you sleep.

Which is bad.

More body fat means more potential for sleep apnea. This comes from a few combined factors:

Fat in your airway narrows the space available. This makes your airway more prone to collapsing.

Fat in your upper body puts weight on your lungs and reduces the space available to them. You need more oxygen but you can’t get it as well.

Fat changes your hormonal signals. This rewires your respiratory systems.
While around 25 percent of adults have sleep apnea, 50 percent of obese adults have it.

So, why is sleep apnea bad?

Sleep is a major regulator of our metabolism. If our sleep is bad, so is our metabolic health.

This means things like elevated inflammation, rapid cell ageing and oxidation, and hormonal disruption (and, yes, higher risk for all kinds of nasty chronic diseases in the long term).

Reason #3: You’ll actually start to taste your food.

This may sound weird, but it seems that people who struggle with their weight don’t taste food as well.

Why? We’re not sure. We don’t yet know whether excess body fat changes your tastes. Or whether your tastes change your appetite and cause weight gain.

We also don’t know whether this is an issue of:
“wanting” tastes: seeking and craving the reward of tastes
“liking” tastes: actually, enjoying tastes
chemical signalling: how taste is created in the mouth and interpreted by the brain

Here’s what we do know.

People vary in how well and sensitively they can perceive different flavours and textures such as fattiness or sweetness.

One hypothesis is that if we can’t taste as well, we eat more food to compensate.

On the flip side, people with high BMIs seem to avoid bitter foods more and have a stronger “disgust” response. As it happens, many vegetables are bitter or astringent (think of kale, Brussels sprouts, green peppers, etc.).

So there seems to be a relationship between:

excess body fat; wanting and liking fat / sweet foods and pleasant tastes; eating fat / sweet foods; and avoiding unpleasant tastes.

More importantly, when you truly enjoy food, you eat less, but you feel much more satisfied.

Bottom line: Obese people have altered taste perceptions leading to eating more and eating more of the wrong foods. By losing weight you’ll end up craving less high-sugar and high-fat food. You might even enjoy an extra veggie or two.

Reason #2: Your immune system will work properly again.

We tend to think of body fat like an ATM: a place where we deposit or withdraw energy. It isn’t.

Fat secretes hormones and cytokines (cell signalling molecules).

Hormones and cytokines have effects throughout the body. They “talk” to one another chemically.

Like all things, balance is important. If we have a healthy amount of fat, our hormones and cell signals work properly. If we have too much, things go wrong.

For example, with too much body fat our immune systems get off kilter.

There’s a huge, scary pile of evidence here so let’s keep it simple.

Increased BMI and more body fat are associated with greater risk for several kinds of infections including gum infections, nose and sinus infections, stomach infections, and herpes (thankfully, the mouth kind).


Too much adipose (fat) tissue can release large amounts of immune chemicals. Over time, this chronic high exposure can interfere with the body’s ability to spot and stop actual outside infections.

Bottom line: Losing body fat can mean a healthier, more responsive, more robust immune system. And that means fewer colds, fewer infections, and healthier daily life.

Reason #1: You’ll survive surgery

People with a lot of body fat:

are harder to intubate, have a higher risk of incisional hernia post-laparoscopy (i.e. popping open again), have a longer operation time, have a higher risk of catheter site infection and have a higher rate of serious postoperative complications.

Surgery is a risky business for people who are obese.

This is a double whammy because people who struggle with obesity also struggle with more health issues that may require surgery.

So obese people may need surgery… but not be able to get it, or not recover as well when they do.

Bottom line: Every surgery patient wants a safe and speedy recovery.  Having a healthy range of body fat makes that happy outcome much more likely.

What to do next: Some tips

Let’s forget about all the “shoulds”, as in, “You should lose weight because blah blah terrible thing will happen.”

Let’s focus on how awesome life can get when your body is as functional, mobile, and metabolically healthy as it can possibly be.

1. Go toward the good

I’ve noticed a trend in the stories of people who lost a great deal of weight:

They focus on the small blessings and achievements of everyday life.

“I can live in a walk-up flat now.”
“I can run around with my kids.”
“I don’t get tired through the day.”
“Food tastes better. I can’t explain how.”
“My random aches and pains stopped.”
“I can carry my two-year-old without wheezing.”
“I have so much more energy.”
“I bounce back from illness straightaway now.”
And they always sound so satisfied.

2. Seek incremental change

“Thigh gap” and “healthy at any size” are the two extremes of one problem: an all-or-nothing approach to health and body weight.

Real, lasting changes in diet and lifestyle require a different approach.

The Better Body Co. Online Coaching clients who achieve the most success come to realize that incremental change serves them best — and, to their surprise, produces immediate improvements in quality of life.

3. Focus on the tangible benefits

Losing weight isn’t magical. Your life is still your life, regardless.

Yet with a healthy amount of body fat, your life often becomes a little bit easier and better. You’re a little more functional and mobile. A little abler.

So, if we talk about fat, let’s not tell people (or ourselves) how to feel. Or how to cheat death.

Keep the focus on positive changes you could see in your life in just a few weeks’ time:

Knees that work.
Colds that go away.
A good night’s sleep.
Food that tastes nice.
A straightforward recovery after surgery.

How Optimising ‘Protein Density’ Can Help You Maintain Muscle and Stay Full When Dieting

Dieting for fat loss is simple, but not easy.

The Maths Bit

Let’s use an example of a 180cm tall, 30-year-old guy with a sedentary job weighing in at 100kg, and wanting to drop down to 85kg for a show. According to the Harris-Benedict equation, his TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) would be 2971 calories. This means that, in order to lose 15kg in 6 months, he needs a daily calorie deficit of 642 calories per day. This means a daily calorie intake of 2329 calories.
Protein recommendations for maintaining and building muscle sit at around 1.8g per Kg of bodyweight. This means a protein intake of 180g, or 720 calories of protein, which makes up 31% of overall calories. Say we’re halfway through the diet having lost 7kg. This means a bodyweight of 93 and a TDEE of 2839, at a new deficit of 599, this is daily calorie target of 2240 with a protein requirement of 167g or 668 calories from protein, making up 30% of overall calories. So, we can see that after the 7kg loss, the calorie target has dropped by 4%, but the % of protein required in the diet has only dropped by 3%. This means that we need to try to carry on getting the same amount of protein in the diet percentage-wise, but from lower calorie sources, or increase the protein density of the choices we’re making.

Protein Density Examples

  • It ensures that we’ll get enough protein, for as few calories as possible, this means that we have more calories left for carbohydrates (which will help to fuel training sessions as calories come down) and also more calories for ‘hyper-palatable’ foods e.g. cake/doughnuts/biscuits which will help with dietary adherence.
  • It also ensures that we’re promoting satiety (the feeling of fullness) for as few calories as possible, which becomes more and more crucial throughout a diet as calories come down.
So, let’s take a look at the ‘protein density’ of a few of the most popular protein sources; Source Chicken Breast Protein per 100g 3 Calories per 100g165 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.18
Source Egg Protein per 100g 13 Calories per 100g155 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.08
Source Ribeye Steak Protein per 100g 24 Calories per 100g 291 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.08
Source Whey Protein Concentrate Protein per 100g 82 Calories per 100g 412 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.19 Chicken is generally considered to be the ‘go-to’ protein sources for most people looking to build muscle, and we can see that, compared to eggs and Ribeye Steak, this choice is justifiable; the protein density is almost double that of both the eggs and the steak. This is because there’s more protein overall (per 100g) but also more protein for the total amount of calories, due to the fact that chicken breast contains a lot less fat than either Ribeye Steak or Eggs. This makes it a much better choice when on a calorie-restricted diet. Unsurprisingly, the My Protein Impact Whey comes out on top overall, but only just beats the Chicken Breast – the percentage of protein is much higher (82% vs 31% for the Chicken Breast), but the calories per 100g are also much higher, which explains why the protein density is only just better. So, while whey is often touted as ‘the best’ protein source for people looking to build or maintain muscle, from a protein-per-calorie point of view, that’s only just true. Chicken Breast is actually much more cost-effective (around £5 per Kg vs Whey at around £17 per Kg) of we look at protein density. Of course, Whey still wins-out when it comes to convenience! So how do other so-called ‘muscle-building’ foods stack up against Whey and Chicken? Source Peanut Butter Protein per 100g 25 Calories per 100g 588 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.04
Source Whole Milk Protein per 100g 3 Calories per 100g 42 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.07
Source Quinoa Protein per 100g 4 Calories per 100g 120 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.03
Source Kidney Beans Protein per 100g 24 Calories per 100g 333 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.07 So, what can we learn from this? A few different things;
  • Whole Milk is a surprisingly good protein source, almost as good in fact as eggs and steak.
  • Quinoa is a grain that’s often touted as being ‘high in protein’, but from both a protein percentage and protein density point of view, it’s actually pretty poor when you compare it Kidney Beans.
  • Kidney Beans are also a surprise, having almost the same protein density as eggs and steak – but don’t get carried away, Kidney Beans aren’t a ‘complete’ protein source, which means they don’t have all the amino acids required to initiate muscle protein synthesis (the conversion of dietary protein into new muscle – the same goes for Quinoa).
  • Peanut butter is a pretty poor source of protein, despite all the ‘hype’ it gets in the fitness world. It has half the protein density of eggs and steak purely because of the high-calorie content. It certainly shouldn’t be a staple in the diet of anyone looking to lose fat.
Further Optimising Protein Density So, we’ve learned what protein density is, why it’s important and looked a few ‘typical’ muscle-building foods from a protein density point of view. Chicken and Whey lead the way in protein density, closely followed by eggs, steak and whole milk. If these foods are staples in your diet, you can rest assured that you’re doing something right, and for anyone on a diet with a reasonable calorie allowance, these foods will be more than sufficient to provide ample protein without eating into your calorie allowance too much. Of course, as we go deeper into a diet, it pays to optimise protein density as much as possible and attempt to get more protein for fewer calories (or at least the same amount of protein for fewer calories). So, let’s look at ‘upgrading’ the five best sources we’ve seen so far – with a few easy swaps we can get a bit more bang for our buck in terms of protein density, here’s how;
  • We’re going to swap out the Chicken breast for Turkey breast – Turkey has a very similar taste and texture to chicken and can be used as a direct substitute; it will work just as well in all your recipes (stir fry, curry etc)
  • We’ll swap the My Protein Impact Whey for Whey Isolate – this has a slightly higher protein content with fewer carbs and fat (but is a bit more expensive)
  • Let’s remove the yolks from our eggs and just have the egg whites instead, which are pretty much all protein (the yolk is mostly fat)
  • Ribeye Steak can be subbed for Rump steak – a leaner cut with less fat
  • Similarly, Whole Milk can be swapped for skimmed – slightly more protein and less fat
Let’s see what they all look like protein-Density wise Source Turkey Breast Protein per 100g 34 Calories per 100g 155 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.21
Source Whey Protein Isolate Protein per 100g 90 Calories per 100g 373 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.24
Source Egg Whites Protein per 100g 11 Calories per 100g 52 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.21
Source Rump Steak Protein per 100g 22 Calories per 100g 125 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.17
Source Skimmed Milk Protein per 100g 4 Calories per 100g 37 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.10 Already we can see we’ve made some significant upgrades, with all these swaps coming in at a much higher protein density than their original counterparts, let’s put them side by side so we can just how much of an impact; Original Protein Source Chicken Breast 0.18 New Protein Sources Turkey Breast 0.21 Protein Density Uplift +17%
Original Protein Source Whey Protein Concentrate 0.19 New Protein Sources Whey Protein Isolate 0.24 Protein Density Uplift +26%
Original Protein Source Eggs 0.08 New Protein Sources Egg Whites 0.21 Protein Density Uplift +163%
Original Protein Source Ribeye Steak 0.08 New Protein Sources Rump Steak 0.17 Protein Density Uplift +113%
Original Protein Source Whole Milk 0.07 New Protein Sources Skimmed Milk 0.10 Protein Density Uplift +43% Some amazing increases there! What have we learned?
  • Choosing a leaner cut of steak (e.g. Rump over Ribeye) can drastically improve the protein density, mainly because the fat has been reduced. Rump steak is almost as good as chicken breast in terms of protein density!
  • Whey Protein was previously the best source for protein density and still is but we can improve it by picking (albeit more expensive) Whey Isolate instead of Whey Concentrate
  • We can yield a huge increase (163%) in protein density; again, this mainly due to almost all the fat being removed from the equation.
  • Don’t dismiss milk! The Skimmed variety is cheap and has a better protein density than Whole Eggs and Ribeye Steak
Increasing Variety Further… Of course, we don’t want to rely solely on the traditional, bland muscle-building foods, and the good news is, you don’t need to! I have a few other go-to foods that are great for protein density; they are;
  • 0% Greek Yogurt – This is hugely versatile and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or all three!). It goes great with some berries and honey at breakfast, in your chicken wrap at lunch, or as a substitute for soured cream with your Mexican
  • Prawns – These are really underrated in terms of protein content, and a lot of supermarkets sell snack-sized contains with tasty garnishes like garlic and chilli
  • Beef Jerky – One of my favourite on-the-go snacks, this is generally made from really lean cuts of beef so has a great protein density score
  • Low Fat Cheeses – My go-to is BabyBel Light, each one of these little cheese discs has 5g of protein for only 43 calories
  • Chicken Sausages – Sausages have a bad rep and are usually associated with Pork, but the chicken versions are much lower in fat and can be just as tasty, so long as you don’t overcook them!
  • White Fish – I’m not a huge fan of white fish, purely because it’s so bland on its own, but there’s no arguing with its protein density?
So where do these stack up against the rest of our favourite protein-dense food? Source Whey Protein Isolate Protein per 100g 90 Calories per 100g 373 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.24
Source Prawns Protein per 100g 24 Calories per 100g 99 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.24
Source Cod Protein per 100g 19 Calories per 100g 85 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.22
Source Egg Whites Protein per 100g 11 Calories per 100g 52 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.21
Source Turkey Breast Protein per 100g 34 Calories per 100g 155 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.21
Source Total Greek 0% Protein per 100g 10 Calories per 100g 54 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.18
Source Rump Steak Protein per 100g 22 Calories per 100g 125 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.17
Source Beef Jerky Protein per 100g 36 Calories per 100g 291 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.12
Source BabyBel Light Protein per 100g 25 Calories per 100g 208 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.12
Source Chicken Sausages Protein per 100g 15 Calories per 100g 148 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.10
Source Skimmed Milk Protein per 100g 4 Calories per 100g 37 Protein Density Score (g Protein per calorie) 0.10 So, there you have it – my 11 favourite protein sources ranked on protein density. A shock entry right at the top for prawns (or Shrimps for our North American friends!) which are on a par with Whey Isolate for protein density. If you have any other suggestions let me know! Author Joe Johnson