Sunday, 17 April 2016

Review - The Foolproof No Fail Guide to Flexible Fat Loss

dieting ebook, book review, mike samuels, nutrition, diet advice

Remember those times in school that you'd be given a text, or told to choose a text and were then instructed to write a review on it? I do, and for the most part I wasn't a fan of it. However, I seem to have softened at my grand old age of 22, and I find that reading and reviewing texts is something that can be quite enjoyable (as long as they're on the right subjects), so guess what I'll be treating you to in my next few posts! Don't worry, I'll be doing one per post and they're all health and fitness related (this is a health and fitness blog after all!). 

First up, is this gem.

dieting ebook, book review, mike samuels, nutrition, diet advice
The Foolproof, No Fail Guide to Flexible Fat Loss - Mike Samuels
The Foolproof, No Fail Guide to Flexible Fat Loss

I've started with this book as I'll be taking each e-book in the order that I read them. This was incidentally the first fitness related book that I'd ever purchased and read fully. For a long time I'd struggled with my nutrition. There's a lot of information out there regarding healthy eating and dieting (which has always been my focus), but I found that most of it was either extremely over-complicated or just extreme to the point of ridiculousness. The only factor that was consistent in the majority of the information that I found was focused on clean eating, demonising carbs, no sugary foods whatsoever etc. If you're like me, then your brain tries to apply logic to solve problems - that's exactly what I did with regards to finding the diet that I needed. I picked out the common factors that I've outlined and applied it to my own nutrition. I cut out sugar and anything that I deemed as junk food, I ate mostly salads, vegetables, rice, tuna, eggs and chicken, and scoffed at anyone that ate anything that I considered to be unhealthy. I even dabbled with the paleo diet for a while (until I realised that it was costing me a ridiculous amount of money). Out of my experience, I can tell you a few things:

1. It didn't help me to make much progress
2. I was miserable
3. Points 1 and 2 combined were enough to throw me into a mindset of 'fuck it'. Basically, I ignored everything that I thought I'd learned about nutrition and focused on just eating what I classed as healthy foods (Ones I'd now class as nutritionally dense), and allowed myself junk food in moderation. 

My new approach had kind of worked, but I needed something more to help me make sustainable and informed progress, I needed the knowledge that would finally give me control of my nutrition. Enter Healthy Living Heavy Lifting. I'd actually heard about the site through a post from Nick Cheadle (if you don't know who he is, check him out - he's kind of a big deal). Amongst all of the great content that I found on the website, laid The Foolproof, No Fail Guide to Flexible Fat Loss. I was immediately pulled in by the synopsis of the book and instantly searched for a few reviews, all of which came back pretty complimentary!

So I went ahead and purchased the book for around £12 (I say book, but its actually a comprehensive series of books). The three parts break down as follows:

Part one - This book explains the basics of calories and macronutrients and teaches you how to calculate your own macros for dieting. 

Part two - FAQs, basically if there are any questions that arise from your reading of the first instalment, then this pretty much answers them all.

Part three - Troubleshooting, it's designed to combat any problems that may arise as you proceed with your diet, including hitting those familiar plateaus. 

So as you can see from a quick breakdown of the texts, it looks pretty comprehensive. The book promises to arm you with the knowledge that will enable you to work out your very own calorie and macronutrient needs and how to manipulate them for dieting, and by applying a bit of logic it also gives a tip of the hat towards gaining weight. That's quite a lot to promise for £12, and let me tell you - it more than delivers.

dieting ebook, book review, mike samuels, nutrition, diet advice

Meet the man behind the books

First of all, we're introduced to Mike Samuels (he's the author, a coach and the owner of Healthy Living Heavy Lifting). The first statement he makes is more of a confession, telling the reader of how he fully subscribed to the strict dieting culture and restricted himself from certain foods. He tells us of how he became out of shape and decided to make a change through flexible dieting, the secrets(or lack thereof) of which he'll share with us.

The Basics

So after a quick introduction, we jump straight into the main event - calories. Mike explains the basics of calories and then proceeds to explain how to calculate your basal metabolic rate (that's the rate at which your body burns calories at rest), and then combines it with your activity level which results in your daily calorie intake. After that, you'll be shown how to use that numbers to calculate calories for dieting. That's very much a whistle stop tour of that section, but Mike explains it precisely and clearly and makes it extremely easy to understand. Plus, when it clicks, you'll realise just how logical and simple it is.

After calories comes macronutrients. For anyone that doesn't know what they are, they consist of:

- Protein
- Carbohydrates
- Fat

dieting ebook, book review, mike samuels, nutrition, diet advice

Mike explains how many calories are in each nutrient per gram, gives you the basics of each nutrient and then explains how to calculate exactly how many grams of each you need each day. Again, that seems rather quick but it's all explained clearly and is very easy to follow. He follows his explanation for this with a few examples just in case you're a little stuck.

Next up in the book is the topic of refeeding. Most people will 'eat clean' during the week and spoil the progress that they have made by blowing out with a cheat meal at the weekend. Mike directly addresses this and goes on to tell us about a way that you can still have more calories at the weekend without actually coming out of a calorie deficit. It's a method that I swear by and that has given me many days of great food without it affecting my progress. He explains this in a way that is detailed enough for the reader to understand without blinding us with jargon and science (something that's common in all of his writing).

Tracking your progress

The great thing about this book is that it not only teaches you how to take control of your diet, it also teaches you how to measure and track the results that you'll undoubtedly see by using the knowledge that you gained in the book. There's a detailed section on different things to expect and how to deal with managing your progress. After that, he runs through a list of foods that could be useful to any flexible dieter due to their high nutritional values. Don't get me wrong, he doesn't tell you exactly what you should be eating, more tries to give you a better idea of foods that are easier to fit into your own custom meal plan.

That's just book one! Book two actually addresses any FAQs that its predecessor may have brought up and tries to answer them in the best way possible. Book three then continues down the support route and offers help and advice in the form of troubleshooting. It focuses on overcoming plateaus, which can become a big problem when dieting. Between books two and three, Mike has all of the bases covered!

So there you have it, a whistle stop tour of Mike Samuels' The Foolproof No Fail Guide to Flexible Fat Loss! I honestly can't recommend this book enough if you're looking to get serious about your diet and lifestyle. It's really accessible and is made really easy to read so there's no need to worry about things going over your head. This book helped me to take control of my diet and further my knowledge on nutrition to the point at which I now have a sustainable approach to my nutrition that I could happily keep up for the rest of my life. It's also great value for money, so head over to Healthy Living Heavy Lifting and get your copy!

dieting, fat loss, mike samuels, nutrition, diet advice

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Meet the coaches: Kavan Byrne

weightlifting, upandcut, kavan byrne, irish fitness, bodybuilding, gym

In my last post, we got a great insight into the mind of Mike Samuels as part of the 'Meet the Coaches' series. This time out I've been speaking to Kavan Byrne, he's a guy that I've been following for a long time and whom I have a lot of respect for. I've been following his antics since his first show, not only is he a phenomenal athlete, he's a great guy. So without further ado, let's get to it.
Q. Tell us a little about your background. Have you always been health and fitness oriented? Have you always been a coach? If not, tell us about what you did before and why you wanted to become a coach.

A. Well I wasn't born but I was raised in a gym. My parents owned gyms all through my childhood and bodybuilders and the fitness industry was something i was very much exposed to and very much involved in from a young age, it was where I started my fitness and bodybuilding journey. I worked in and managed a supplement shop for 5 years through college from the age of 17/18 before I came a coach so I'm a bit of a supplement buff aswell :)

Q. As a coach, what are the key things that you try to instil in your clients?

A. Train smart not hard. There's a time and place to go balls to the wall but there's no point lifting everything unless it's with intent and understanding the reason as to why you're lifting it and what you want from it.

kavan byrne, weightlifting, irish fitness, irish coach, muscle, gym

Q. Have you ever competed in any bodybuilding/powerlifting/sport related competitions?

A. I have placed 3rd in Juniors in NABBA Mr. Ireland 2012 & 2013 and last year I placed 2nd in that same class the day after placing 4th in the RIBBF Nationals Junior class :) I'm 23 on the 1st March of this year so it's my last year as a junior and a good time to send me some monster zero as a present Al ;)

(Note from the author - The Monster must have gotten lost in the post, or it could be that I was just sending empty cans..)

Q. Describe your own training style/approach

A. I'm currently training powerlifting in Boyneside Strength & Performance , my coach Dean Gartland uses a conjugate system which I loves 2 upper body days and 2 lower body days one dynamic (speed work) and one max effort :) With bodybuilding, I like to pre exhaust every muscle group to begin with, work it as maximally and optimally as possible for a main move, work it from a stretched position then a finishing move to flood the blood in

Q. Who is your biggest inspiration? (Fitness or otherwise) and why?

A. I draw inspiration from a lot of different places and I always have, the bigger dude in the gym, my parents, my friends and from a pro level Flex Wheeler, Flex Lewis, Justin Compton and then the younger dudes Cody Montgomery and Dallas McCarver are big inspirations at the moment

fitness, training, irish coach, weightlifting, upandcut, boyneside strength

Q. What would be your words of advice to anyone just starting out?

A. Enjoy it. It's a marathon not a sprint, don't try and take everything and do everything all at once. If you weigh 60kg soaking weight, don't try and get shredded like Lipsett, bulk up and build some muscle and a foundation (without becoming a blob) Matt Wenning is a popular powerlifting coach in the states and has made the point that if your foundation isn't all that wide you can only peak so high. So the bigger the foundation, the bigger the peak

Q. There's a huge difference in your physique between your bodybuilding competitions. So it really begs the question - Is it something to do with the beard?

A. Between my first and second show I put on 14kg of stage weights, now I could've been lighter but I did some growing. Face hair is the key and anybody who disagrees has a baby face hahaha

Q. What supplements do you currently use?

A. My go tos are a decent Whey protein, glutamine a good BCAA and intra carb powder. I'm using some Olimp and MyProtein stuff at the moment that are pretty decent

Q. Any projects on the horizon that you can give us a teaser of?

A. I'll be at BodyPower with my Sponsors Up&Cut and catching up with sown friendly faces in the industry :) Few photo shoots and then of course I'll be back on stage this October to claim the NABBA Junior Mr. Ireland title ;)

bodybuilding, weightlifting, competition, flexing, irish coach, upandcut

So there you have it, a quick crash course in the life and times of Kavan Byrne. If you're interested in finding out more, check out his social media channels -

Twitter -

Instagram -

As always, you can catch me on social media using the buttons below...
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Saturday, 26 March 2016

Bodybuilding on a budget

This next article comes from Adam Foster of Shreddybrek and is all focused on bodybuilding on a budget. Most people think that it costs a lot to eat healthily in general and usually use that as an excuse to binge on less expensive, less nutritionally dense foods. This article should change your mind a little, so without further ado, take it away Adam...

adam foster, shreddybrek, cheap bulking, cheap bodybuilding, low cost food

“Eat Big To Get Big” what a cliché.
We’ve all heard it, and as cliché as it sounds…. It’s true. You can’t gain weight without eating “big”.
But for the “casual” gym goer eating big means eating expensive…. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

Seriously, I’m speaking from experience.
I’m 25 now, but I was once an 18 year old, going to Uni, working part time, paying for bus passes, University books, gym membership, and food.
Whilst I don’t eat like this now, when I was on a tight budget, it worked so well for me.
As a competitive bodybuilder, blogger and YouTube video maker, I get asked the same questions from blog comments, emails, YouTube comments and from guys in the gym.
“How do you afford to eat!?”
“I can’t afford to eat like you, what should I do?”

Truth is, these people just make assumptions about what I eat. Heck, they make assumptions about what all bodybuilders eat.
These assumptions are probably made up from “pro bodybuilders” and what magazines publish.
This is a far cry from the reality of me and you hitting the gym and trying to make some gains.
We don’t have the luxury of having no job. Being paid by a supplement company to train, and compete.
That’s just life.
We need to make the most of our situation. Whether we’re earning £3,000 a year, £30,000 a year or £300,000 a year – there is a way we can all eat, supplement, and workout.

Here are my top tips for eating like a bodybuilder on a budget. All based from my experiences from Uni and beyond!

1.    There’s more to gaining muscle than protein
2.       Buy in bulk
3.       Protein powder is your cheap ass friend – embrace it
4.       Prep in advance, and don’t buy pre-prepared anything

More Than Protein

People often think “to gain muscle eat all protein” completely forgetting about carbs and fats.
My macro breakdown is roughly
50-55% carbs
30-35% protein
10-20% fat
That somehow adds up to 100%....
Anyways, as you can see, carbs makes up a large part of my overall macro and calorie intake.
The best thing is …. Carbs are cheap!

carbohydrates, cheap food, cheap bodybuilding, budget, adam foster, shreddybrek

Here are my recommendations for cheap carbs
·         Rice
·         Potato
·         Oatmeal
Aaaand that’s it.
If you’re having 5/6 meals a day – alternate these carb sources so you’re having 2 meals of each.
If 3 carb sources aren’t quite enough for you then you can also throw in these slightly more expensive options;

·         Sweet Potato
·         Ground Rice
·        Cereal
      Rice Crispies
·         Rice Cakes
·         Bananas

All are relatively cheap, all are easy to prepare.

Cheap Fats
This is sooooo easy!
Peanut Butter!
A 1kg tub from somewhere like Myprotein is just £4.99.
1kg is “bulk buying” but that leads onto a point I’ll cover later.
You can go for almond butter, cashew butter, or just straight up nuts BUT!
Peanut butter is cheaper, and tastes nicer.

peanut butter, cheap bodybuilding, cheap food, adam foster, shreddybrek

Cheap Protein Sources
The cheapest protein source by far, is whey protein powder. A lot of people think supplements are expensive, and those people buy them from Tesco or Asda.
Seriously, if you’re clued up – you would never ever buy supplements from a supermarket.
You can easily pick up 1kg of whey protein concentrate powder for just under £10.
1kg of whey will give you around 40 servings – each one packing around 20g of protein. BUT if you buy in bulk (which I’ll cover later) then you get them even cheaper. It makes sense – and you know it does.
Protein powder isn’t anything special though. It doesn’t make you gain muscle quicker, or make you stronger. It’s just a source of protein. Think of it as nothing more than this.
Other cheap protein sources include;
·         Whole eggs
·         Tuna
·         Chicken Breast – Don’t buy from the supermarkets. Musclefood sells it for cheap, but you can get it for even cheaper (usually) by striking a deal with a local butcher – if you buy in bulk.
·         Milk
·         Cottage Cheese
·         Ground Turkey
·         Ground Beef
Plenty to pick from there, so you should never get bored.

protein, bodybuilding, cheap food, bodybuilding budget, adam foster, shreddybrek

Buy In Bulk

I cannot stress this enough….. BUY IN BULK!
Chicken breast from Tesco is £8.17 for 1 kg. Here it is:
I get 1kg of chicken from my local butchers for £4.33 …. Almost half the price. BUT to get it for this cheap I have to buy 15kg of it at once, for £65.
I easily get 5 meals out of 1kg. So I get 75 meals for £65. That’s just £0.87 a meal.
You can always go halves with a friend, or just save your cash up, and buy it in 1 go.
You’re going to need it.
The same goes for protein powder.
Lets use Myprotein Impact whey as an example. Its RRP is £12.69 for 1kg here
So for 5kg that would be £63.45
Buy a 5kg pouch and it costs just £46.79. Combine this with a my protein discount code, and you can get at least an extra 10% off. Sometimes, you can get 30% off. That would make 5kg of impact whey from Myprotein just £32.78.
Again, using the 25g serving size, this means each serving of 20g of protein will cost you under £0.17 a scoop. Lets say you need 2 servings for meal…. You’re getting 1 meals worth of protein for under £0.35.
Butttttttttttttt, if you wanna keep heading to Tesco buying their brands… go ahead ;)
By no means do you have to use MyProtein. I’m simply using them as an example.
I would personally however recommend one of the big, cheap, UK protein bulk suppliers. The following are all well known within the UK, reputable, and offer cheap protein, especially when buying in bulk

·         Myprotein
·         Protein Dynamix
·         Bulk Powders
·         Go Nutrition
·         The Protein Works
·         Bodybuilding Warehouse

All of these companies offer a very similar level of quality, at similar price points. Shop around to find the best discounts, offers or prices, and then stick with a brand.

(Note from Alex - JBC Nutrition is also a great bulk protein supplier, use the code JBCALEX04 at checkout for 10% off)

protein powder, cheap protein, bodybuilding budget, adam foster, shreddybrek


In the words of Chris Jericho
“Never Ev….ev….eeeevvvvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrr” buy pre prepared food. Microwave rice is £1.50-£20 for 1 pack which will do you 1 meal.
1 kg of raw, uncooked rice in comparison, can be picked up for around £1.50 – and easily give you 10 meals minimum.
1 of my rice meals is only 70g raw rice. This means a 1kg bag is giving me 14 servings. Assume a £1.50 price tag, and that means im getting each rice meal for around £0.11
But preparing goes beyond food prep.
You should;

·         Establish macros
·         Draw up a meal plan
·         Write a shopping list
·         Stick to this

This means you won’t deviate from the plan, buy food and waste it.

bodybuilding, meal prep, healthy food, adam foster, shreddybrek

Wrapping Up

As you can see, this article has shown you can bodybuilding on the cheap.
It has contained no fancy, expensive supplements. Hell, the only supplement it contains is a protein powder.
It contains no expensive or extravagant foods. Just basics.
Apply these tips to your own diet, and start fueling the gain train, with the cheapest, but best fuel, available.
You can follow me at

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Meet the coaches: Mike Samuels

This is a post that I'm extremely excited to share with you. You've probably seen me write a lot about Mike Samuels, or Healthy Living, Heavy Lifting. I've been an avid follower of his for a while now, and much of the content that I produce is based on experiences that I've had after following his articles and acting on many of the suggestions that he makes. In my opinion, he's nothing short of a genius with an awesome writing style, and to top it all off - he's a great guy. So without further ado, let's learn a little more about the man himself!
health, fitness, workout, training

Q: Sum up yourself and what you do.
A: I'm Mike - an online coach, writer and personal trainer from England. I like eating, lifting heavy stuff, and helping others to feel better about themselves.
Q: Tell us a little about your background. Have you always been health and fitness oriented? Have you always been a coach? If not, tell us about what you did before and why you wanted to become a coach.
A: I was always the chubby kid at school and got pissed off with that, so I started running.
I ran myself down from a podgy 15-stone to about 9-stone, while following a low-fat diet. Essentially I got skinny! Then I discovered weights and decided I wanted to be a personal trainer. The only non-fitness jobs I've had were a paper round at age 14, and I did 6 months in a DIY store part-time while I was at college. I started as a full-time PT in 2009, got involved in online coaching in 2014, and have been mostly online since then.
Q: As a coach, what are the key things that you try to instil in your clients?
A: Life comes before diet and training ... ALWAYS.
Q: Have you ever competed in any bodybuilding/powerlifting/sport related competitions?
A: Yup. Last year I competed in both men's physique and bodybuilding, so had to strut my stuff on stage in skimpy pants! I also competed in 5 powerlifting competitions between 2012 and 2014, and am looking at getting back into it later this year
Q: Describe your own training style/approach
A: That's a tough one. I actually prefer not to have to think about my own training, hence I hire someone to program for me. But I suppose I like a mix of heavy stuff and pump work, along with basic powerlifting and "bro stuff." (because who doesn't love curls and pushdowns?)

Q: Who is your biggest inspiration? (Fitness or otherwise) and why?
Okay, these questions just get tougher.
I guess two guys - Nate Green and Jon Goodman - got me passionate about wanting to help loads of people, and live a cool life with purpose.
Q: What would be your words of advice to anyone just starting out?
A: Just do the basics really, really well. Pick a few people to follow, and whatever you choose to do, stick with it. An average program and diet done consistently and with intensity will always get better results than chopping and changing between the latest fads.
Q: Team HLHL is picking up speed and growing rapidly, are there any new projects on the horizon off the back of this success?
A: Plenty more ebooks, potentially a membership site and world domination.
(Two of those are true by the way.)
*Author's note - I have it on good authority that Mike has already invested in a death ray to hold the world to ransom.
Q: Are you currently affiliated with any brands?
A: Nope - I prefer to advise people on different products from a completely unbiased standpoint.
Q: Any favourite/recommended supplements?
I'm a big fan of the Protein Works - they're a UK-based company, and have grown rapidly in recent years but still have a nice personal touch.
Q: As an IIFYM'er, you're always experimenting with foods, what are your staple foods/what's your favourite meal to make at the moment?
Tuna, rice and broccoli.
Or protein sludge mixed with plain vanilla ice cream, digestive biscuits and sea salt.
healthy living heavy lifting, health, fitness, workout, muscle, blog

So, there you have it - you're hopefully a little more familiar with Mike now. Why not head over to his website (link at the bottom of this article) and check his social media channels out to learn some more and get access to the amazing content that he's currently sharing with the world?

I'd also like to thank Mike for taking the time to answer a few questions for Muscle and Macros. You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar. 

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

How to structure a workout

Workouts are a great tool in terms of weight loss, muscle gain and generally living a healthier lifestyle. That being said, there is a difference between strolling into a gym and randomly jumping on any piece of equipment that takes your fancy, leisurely throwing out a few reps then leaving, and structuring a training session to ensure that you get the most out of each and every minute that you spend in the gym. This article is just going to run through a basic structure that could go a long way in helping you to achieve more from your sessions. It boils down to this:

Warm Up
  • 5-10 minutes slow jogging, rowing, cycling etc 
  • Mobility work (focus on any problem areas)
  • Activation work
Main Event
  • Warm up sets
  • Working sets (Strict rest times)
Cool Down
  • Stretching
  • Foam rolling
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Image credit -

Firstly, let's start with the warm up. As I've said in previous pieces, warming up is an incredibly important factor in a training session. It gets blood flowing through your muscles, mobilises your joints and muscles and prepares your body for the exercises in the session ahead. There are various sources out there that can provide you with great warmup routines and videos explaining various stretches etc. Again, there's a lot of information and links that can be found here.

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Then there's the main event - the actual workout. Even though you've already warmed up, it's always good to get some warm up sets in before you hit your working sets. Before each workout, think about the weight that you want to lift for each exercise. Perform your warm up sets as percentages of that weight. For example -

  • 10 reps at 40% of target weight
  • 8 reps at 60% of target weight
  • 6 reps at 70% of target weight
  • 4 reps at 80% of target weight
  • 2 reps at 90% of target weight
It might seem like overkill, but these reps will ensure that your muscles are sufficiently warmed up, will minimise the risk of injury and will contribute to the overall volume of your workout. Bottom line - they're important. 

Then there's your working sets, these need little to no explanation. Just perform each exercise for the set amount of weight, reps and sets that you've defined before your workout. The only thing that I'd ensure you keep track of is the time that you've taken to rest between sets. Here are some rough guidelines for rest in terms of the type of sets you're doing. 

  • Strength sets - 90-120 seconds between sets
  • Hypertrophy (higher rep) sets - 60-90 seconds between sets
  • Power (low weight, low rep) sets - 45-60 seconds between sets
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After that, you've got your cool down. This can take a very similar form to your warm up - just make sure that you're stretching your muscles out and working out any knots or kinks that may have formed during your session. 

So that's an extremely basic, but efficient way of structuring your workout. Dubious? Try it out and let me know how you get on by getting in touch with me on social media using the buttons below, or dropping a comment in the comments section! 
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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Using MyFitnessPal to Track Calorie Intake

In my last post I explained the basics behind calories and macronutrients, and provided you with a link to a calculator which would help you to calculate your own intake. Those numbers are great to have, but there's also got to be a way of tracking the foods that you eat in order to actually make use of those numbers. Enter MyFitnessPal:

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MyFitnessPal is an app that can be installed on any smartphone or tablet, or even just used as a web app as a means of tracking calories and macronutrients. It has an absolutely massive database of foods which can be searched for. If you're using a smartphone, you'll usually be able to scan the barcode of your food and the app will pull up the nutritional data for it.

The only issue with the app is that it tries to dictate what your calorie and macronutrient intake should be. This is just something that you have to ignore when using the app. Use the Macro calculator that I linked to in my last article to get your numbers for calories and macros, and then input those numbers into your app through the 'Calorie and Macronutrient goals' field, which can be found under the 'Goals' tab of MyFitnessPal.

Unless you purchase the full version of the app, you'll be forced to set your macronutrients as percentages of your calorie intake. Try and manipulate your percentages to be as close to the numbers that you were given by the calculator and set them up. My advice after this would be to purely use the app as a tracking tool through the use of the 'Nutrition' tab. Basically, make a note of the numbers that the calculator gave you, use the numbers on the left hand side of the nutrition tab as a guideline, and check those two sets of figures against each other instead of using the numbers on the app. 

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The last thing that I will say about using MyFitnessPal, is that its up to you to keep yourself accountable. Track with honesty and accountability and stick to your numbers, and you'll find that you're on a sustainable path to your goals.

If you'd like to chat to me about this article, or you've got any feedback then you can get in touch with me on social media through the buttons below. If you don't have Twitter or Instagram then just drop a comment on this post and I'll get back to you!
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Monday, 15 February 2016

Calories and Macronutrients - The Basics

In a lot of my posts I talk about nutrition and regularly reference things like 'macros', calories, IIFYM, flexible dieting etc. It has only just dawned on me that I'm excluding a lot of people and assuming that everyone is already clued in on the details of nutrition. So for that, I should apologise. However, instead of apologising, I'm going to dedicate this post to explaining the real basics of calories and macronutrients. I'll start with calories.

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Calories are the fuel on which your body runs. Overall, they're the one set of numbers that you should always be looking at if you're serious about your nutrition. Whether its weight loss, weight gain, or maintaining weight; calories are important. There are too many 'experts' and nutritional zealots in the industry today proclaiming that calories aren't important. This is complete and utter rubbish. Yes there are schemes that help people to lose weight and they don't mention calories at all. People even lose weight on these schemes, but I guarantee that when they do, they're in a calorie deficit due to restricting some high calorie foods. Yes I'm looking at you guys on Slimming World - all of those 'Syns' that you're told to stay strict on are high in fat. You'll realise why its important to cut those down when I talk about macros later on.

Everyone will have their own specific number of calories that is needed for them to gain, lose or maintain weight. Usually these numbers will depend primarily on your height, weight, activity level and age (there are many other factors that can be used to really hone in on those numbers but the ones listed are the basics and good enough to get you a reliable result). I've explained this in another articles, but the basics behind weight loss, gain or maintenance in terms of calories boils down to the following:

Calories consumed > Calories burned = Weight Gain

Calories burned > Calories consumed = Weight loss

Calories Burned = Calories Consumed = Maintain weight

Don't let anyone tell you different, your caloric intake for each day is extremely important, and you can't trick the science of it with any wonder supplements or by pretending that they don't exist. 


So now you have a basic idea of calories, let's talk about the building blocks behind those numbers. Those building blocks are known as macronutrients, or macros for short. They consist of Protein, Fats, and Carbohydrates. Any food with a calorie content will contain a mix of those macronutrients. As calories are calculated through the use of numbers, so are macronutrients. Here's how those numbers look - 

Protein - 4 calories per gram

Carbohydrate - 4 calories per gram

Fat - 9 calories per gram

By that logic, 25 grams of carbohydrates would be 100 calories, 25 grams of protein would be 100 calories, and 11 grams of fat would equal 99 calories.

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For any Slimming World followers - that's why your syns are all fat heavy foods. By reducing foods that are high in fat, you're reducing the foods that are most calorie dense and therefore increasing your chance of being in a caloric deficit. 

In terms of calculating your own personal calories and macronutrients, I could give you a way of calculating those numbers but I'd just be taking credit for someone else's work. Instead, I'm just going to give you a link to my man Mike Samuels' Macro calculator on his Healthy Living Heavy Lifting website. 

That article will give you everything that you need in terms of calculating calories and macronutrients. The Healthy Living Heavy Lifting blog is also a great source of information, so if you head over there then spend a little bit of time browsing through the other articles. 

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