A skin patch that burns fat!

A skin patch that burns fat!

No this isn’t one of those fads about orange peel infused green tea skin patches that will dissolve your fat by purifying your soul..This actually seems quite legit.

Researchers have shown that they can use skin patches infused with certain drugs to turn white fat into brown fat. 

White fat is primarily for storing energy and has large triglyceride droplets. Brown fat has much smaller stores of energy and more mitochondria which burn energy and produce heat. Given we now tend to wear clothes to keep us warm (damn you society#FreeTheNipple) we tend not to need our brown fat and as such don’t have much of it as adults.

Researchers have been trying to develop drugs which can cause ‘browning’ of white fat in the hope that this can be used to treat obesity and diabetes.

The great thing about skin patches as opposed to taking drugs systemically in a pill or inject-able from is that there is far less chance of off target side effects.

The developers of these skin patches have so far only tested them on mice. Nonetheless, the results look promising.
Mice treated with the drug on one side of their abdomen lost 20% of the fat on that side compared to the non treatment side. Further, they also showed reduced fasting blood glucose levels than control mice who were not treated. This shows both a local (fat loss) and whole body (fasting glucose) effect.

Take home: A healthy diet and active lifestyle will trump any treatment but this is still pretty cool.

Bye for now.

Intermittent dieting 

Intermittent dieting

A recent study compared continuous dieting to intermittent dieting (2 weeks of energy restriction followed by 2 weeks of eating at maintenance).

First things first: why? What is the rationale behind intermittent dieting?

– What a great question! Thanks for asking..

As we diet various adaptations occur which make it harder for us to continue losing weight. This is why dieting is so hard and why most people regain the weight they lose.
The idea behind intermittent dieting is that by taking a break from being in an energy deficit you can avoid or at least reduce some of these adaptations.

Ok sounds cool.. so why 2 weeks?

– We don’t yet know the best protocol (this is likely somewhat individual). However, 2 weeks is not completely arbitrary. Research suggests that adaptations to dieting can be split into two phases:
1) early phase adaptations (~2 weeks) these are thought to be largely attributable to cellular metabolism alterations.
2) Later phase adaptations which are largely explained by reduced body mass (something we can’t avoid if weight loss is the goal)

Got it.. so what happened in the study?

– The intermittent dieting group lost more weight and regained less weight at a 6month follow up- 8 kg more weight! (in fact the continuous dieting group on average regained all the weight they had lost).

Even more interesting was the finding that the intermittent dieting group showed a smaller reduction in resting energy expenditure (key adaptation to energy restriction which makes continued weight loss harder). This suggest the intermittent dieting group were able to reduce some of the adaptations to dieting making continued weight loss/maintaining weight loss easier.

Oh wow that is somewhat interesting, thanks!

– No problem kind sir. If you too have found this mildly interesting please like, share and comment.
If you’d like to work with me to set up your own intermittent dieting plan or have any questions get in touch 

DNA testing for personalised diet and exercise plans (Part 1)

DNA testing for personalised diet and exercise plans (Part 1)

DNA testing kits are becoming more and more popular and I get weekly affiliate offers suggesting I encourage my clients to buy these tests.. in return I’d get some money for referring them. Is this the new mushroom coffee/unnecessary supplement/ MLM scheme that PTs can use to make extra cash off their clients?

The geek in me loves the idea of DNA testing. However, the realist has a few questions..primarily: Will these test be able to tell me the best training and nutrition plan for me?

In short the answer is no.

These tests claim to give you information on everything from your sensitivity to caffeine to how you should train to the best diet choice for you. The problem is it isn’t quite that simple.. a certain genetic variant can’t definitively tell you how you should train or whether you should adopt a certain diet. It merely suggests what these genes may indicate.

Even if it these claims were true I am unconvinced acting on the results offers any benefit. Most of the findings are pretty useless (although cool) for example if you’ve been training for a while you’ll likely know if you are better suited to endurance or power and if you are sensitive to caffeine you’ve likely worked this out too.

Ask yourself this: If your test came back saying you have the genetics to be good at a power based sport yet you’ve always enjoyed and excelled in endurance sports would you sack in the triathlons and go take up Olympic lifting?.. I’m going to assume not.

An even bigger issue is the reliability of these tests.. different results and interpretations of the same results have been reported from the same user sending a sample of DNA to a number of companies.

Could your poo indicate the best diet for you?

Could your poo indicate the best diet for you?

A recent study looked at the relationship between gut bacteria and dieting success on a high fibre diet (lots of veg and whole grains).

Participants were split into two groups based on the ratio of bacteria in their stool samples (high and low).

The high fibre diet worked best for participants in the high ratio group with an average of 3.1kg more fat loss than the low ratio group on the same diet.
When compared to a ‘standard’ diet: diet type had no influence on the low ratio group suggesting the diet they adopted did not offer any benefit or detriment to fat loss.

The authors speculate that ~50% of the population may have a high ratio gut bacteria phenotype meaning they may benefit from adopting a high fibre diet.

For more info check out the full text linked below


Exercising when pregnant

Exercising when pregnant

Continuing or adopting exercise during pregnancy has many benefits to both mother and child.

However, the % of pregnant woman who meet physical activity recommendations is low. This is partially due to confusion about recommendations and fear of causing harm. But there is now strong evidence that exercise is beneficial and induces no further risk of premature births, low birthing weight or fetal distress.

additionally, an unhealthy lifestyle during pregnancy can lead to:

– Excessive weight gain
– Gestational diabetes
– Caesarean section
– Lower back pain
– Incontinence
Being physically active reduces your risk of all of the above


Aerobic and strength exercises 3-4 days per week
Keep exercise moderate (this requires monitoring throughout session)

Strenuous exercise above 90% HR (can reduce blood flow to the uterus which may compromise fetal health)
Strenuous resistance training, isometric contractions, jumping, impact, exercises with high risk of falling or over stretching

Note: Exercise such as yoga and Pilates do not offer the same physiological benefits but they can of course still be enjoyed by pregnant women although avoid over stretching and certain spine positions.

Why you’re not progressing in your bulk

Reasons you’re not progressing in a bulk

– you’re trying to bulk on ‘clean’ foods I.e relatively low calorie, high volume foods

– Protein is too high making you feel full and unable to reach your required calorie intake

– you’re compensating for increased calories by increasing expenditure (this could be subconscious)

– you keep changing your goals!



Focus on the factors you can control

Focus on the factors you can control

There are numerous factors that influence your body composition goals.

‘Influence’ being a key word here. For example genetics may influence how you respond to your environment. 

Let me elaborate..we all live in this ‘obesinogenic’ environment which is often touted as the reason for why we get fat. However, the fact still remains that within the same environment some people become obese and some do not.

Sure, this is behavioural but what causes some people to over eat while others don’t? Research indicates that genetics plays a role – some of us have a higher drive to eat and some of us reduce our energy expenditure to a greater extent than others when we reduce our energy intake.

This means that genetics can make it harder for an individual to lose weight and make them more susceptible to gaining weight. However, at present there is nothing we can do about this (aside from accepting it and working harder) so there is no point focusing on it.

Focus on the factors you can directly control which we know influence body composition:

-Activity levels
– Energy intake
– Food choices
– Exercise

If you want to see how small changes can produce significant results apply here:


Worried about losing your hard earned Muscle when dieting?

Worried about losing your hard earned Muscle when dieting?

Here are 3 tips to avoid (or at least minimise) muscle loss when deiting:

1) Keep your training hard and heavy: use it or lose it!

There is a tendency to think we should lighten the load and up the reps when dieting. This will likely result in muscle loss due to a reduced stimulus on the muscles. The body is looking to get rid of unused tissue. If you are not using your muscle (or at not using it as much) it is much more likely to be broken down and used as energy. If you are using that muscle then your body will be reluctant to get rid of it.

Let’s look at an extreme example of inactivity: bed rest.
I’m using bed rest as an example here because there is a lot of research in this area. Complete bed rest is obviously an unrealistic example for a dieting example however, as little as 10 days bed rest can result in a significant loss in muscle size and strength. One recent study observed a ~1.5kg reduction in lean body mass and a ~7% reduction in 1 rep max after 10days bed rest (Dirks et al., 2016).

I have no data to support this but from experience and observation it seems to me that inactivity (or a reduced training stimulus) has more to do with muscle loss than nutritional factors. This largely comes from the observation that people can do a lot ‘wrong’ (or sub optimally) on the nutrition side but still get great results if they can maintain a high training stimulus. Note: this is a bit of a pointless observation as both are obviously important and neither should be neglected.

2) Keep protein high..possibly increase

Eric Helms suggests up to 3.1g/kg FFM and well, if you want to know how to preserve muscle mass ask a successful natural body builder.

3) Don’t overdo it on the cardio

There are some contradictory adaptations to endurance training when it comes to building and maintaining muscle. That’s not to say you can’t utilise cardio or that it should be avoided.
Alex Viada has definitely shown you can have high levels of both strength and endurance.

However, one key adaptation to endurance training is economy. This means trying to spend as little energy as possible for the activity. Carrying around massive biceps isn’t going to make you a very economical runner.

Some cardio is good.. Do a lot of cardio and some compromises will be made.

For more tips, fitness info and links to online coaching check out www.esgfitness.co.uk

More love for olive oil

More love for olive oil

We have all hear how good olive oil is for you but there seems to be a distinct lack of knowledge on exactly why. Your answer is usually ‘it’s a good fat’ or ‘it’s natural’.

Well, now we have a little more to add to that..It may also be anti-diabetic. 

A compound called oleuropein which is derived from olives has been shown to help the secretion of insulin and thus aid in blood glucose clearance after a meal.

It has also been shown to make Amylin more biologically useful. Amylin acts alongside insulin to aid in blood sugar control by slowing rates of gastric emptying and increasing satiety.

Side note: I still wouldn’t blanket recommend 5 table spoons a day as I have heard from some cardiologists (that is ~600 calories!!)
Olive oil is still very calorific and eating too many calories (not carbs) is likely what caused your diabetes (type 2)

Are you using your activity monitor effectively?

Are you using your activity monitor effectively?

The most constructive use of your activity to monitor is to track NEAT (non exercise activity thermogensis). This means the activity you do outside of structured exercise.

The significance of NEAT is vastly under played. NEAT can influence your weight loss in two primary ways:

Reduced activity due to reduced energy intake

Reduced activity due to increased exercise

Both probably have subconscious and psychological explanations depending on the individual. For example, reduced NEAT after exercise could be explained by feelings of fatigue/soreness/lack of energy or by the idea that because you’ve exercised you can move less the rest of the day.

Your activity levels outside of structured exercise are likely going to be more important than your brief exercise session. There is a tendency to reduce your habitual activity levels when you’ve exercised. A good example is step count. You might force yourself to walk to the shops instead of driving if you’ve not yet met your step count. However, if you’ve exercised and have thus already met your step count goal you wouldn’t. In this instance you have (to some extent) compensated for your exercise by reducing your activity.

Your compensatory response in activity to diet and exercise is one factor that is predictive of your weight loss success. You could find yourself adhering to diet and exercise advice but not losing weight due to reduced activity levels. This can be extremely disheartening and is often met by accusations that you’re not sticking to the plan which is even more frustrating and demoralising. Monitoring activity levels may explain this.

It is also likely you’ll move more purely because you know you are being monitored.

Thanks to James Krieger and Fit-Pro-Developmentfor the brilliant seminar and reminding me of the significance of NEAT!