14 Tips On How To Eat More Veg

fruit-and-vegWe all know that we need to get more vegetables into our diet. Vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and loads of trace elements that help to keep us healthy. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage and cauliflower are high in vitamin C as well as anti-estrogenic compounds such as indole-3-carbinol, which stimulates detoxification, and helps prevent the buildup of estrogenic fat and they also have cancer-fighting properties. Vegetables are so important to good health that the World Health Organisation recommend that we eat between 9 and 11 portions of vegetables on a daily basis. This is more than double the 5-A-Day that the government recommends. This is because the nutrients found in our fruits and vegetables are on the decline due to poor farming practices and nutrient deficient soil. If it’s not in the soil, it’s not in the veg that we eat. In fact a 2001 study published in the Journal of Complimentary Medicine by Worthington et al pointed out that US and UK Government statistics show a decline in trace minerals in fruits and vegetables by up to 76% in a 51-year period between 1940 & 1991. In effect this means that we need to eat a lot more vegetables to prevent the chance of developing nutrient deficiencies, which are linked to most common illnesses. Trouble is, not everyone (especially children) is a fan of these superfoods. So a today I’d like to shre with you some top tips on how to sneak more vegetables into your daily nutrition.

  • Skewer cherry tomatoes, carrot slices, mushrooms, eggplant, onion, squash, sweet potato, for tasty shish kababs.
  • Make homemade guacamole and use chopped veggies like carrots and celery as dips.
  • Replace Bread With Lettuce Wraps – click here for a simple recipe
  • Replace toast “soldiers” for vegetables for dipping with your boiled eggs
  • Make vegetable salsa and use it in place of creamed sauces on meats, fish, and chicken.EAT Smart Diet Solution avecado salad
  • When eating out, order starters that feature vegetables
  • Ask your waiter to swop the potatos and instead bring two side orders of steamed vegetables with your meal.
  • Cut sweet potatoes and parsnips into half-inch strips and roast them in coconut oil for a tasty alternative to French fries.
  • Once a week, have a meal salad for dinner, such as Cajun-salmon Caesar salad or grilled-chicken spinach salad with mandarin oranges.
  • Make a simple avecado sald for lunch.
  • Mix steamed swede and/or carrots into mashed potatoes.
  • Roast chunks of carrots, sweet potato, celery, and onion in coconut oil, with a little sea salt and pepper, and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary.  Roast at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Great with a Sunday roast
  • Roast cherry tomatoes, red onions and bell peppers, courgettes, garlic and basil in a little coconut oil. Awesome with a nice piece of steak
  • Make a stir fry using spinach, brocolli, baby sweet corn. Great with baked salmon
  • Make your own vegetable soups.

The 5 Principles Of Fast Fat Loss

As a Holistic Health Coach and Barnstaple Personal Trainer I’m often asked for my best tips on rapid fat loss. So today I thought I’d share with you my 5 Principles Of Rapid Fat Loss.




Ok, ok.


I know what you are thinking, “Marc you said you were going to share fat loss tips, so why are you starting off with mind-set?”


It’s simple really.


Mind-set is probably, if not the most important factor in rapid, but more importantly lasting fat loss.


If you think about it, anyone can go on a diet for a week or two, maybe even a month or two and lose weight.




What happens when you have lost the weight that you wanted to and returned to eating the way you were before the diet?


That’s right, the weight came back on, often faster than you lost it in the first place and often with interest.


There are many reasons for this such as reduced metabolic rate from decreased muscle tissue, which I’ll go into in another article but today I wanted to focus on another reason.


And that is, most people view a “diet” as a short-term thing they do to lose some weight, but a diet is in fact everything that you habitually eat on a regular basis.


If I wanted to refine this a little I could say that it is or “should be” everything that you habitually eat on a regular basis to keep you healthy, give you energy and allow you to thrive, not merely survive.



If you noticed, it is not about deprivation. It’s not something you go on to come off.


So if rapid and then sustained fat loss is your goal you need to get your mind around the fact that a diet is something that you are doing every day.


The next part is the game changer, where the magic happens:


It’s the “quality” and not so much the “quantity” of the food you eat that determine the body that you have. Sure calories do come into it when you’re really trying to get your body fat down below 10% for say a bodybuilding competition but for the majority of people reading this I would say it is far better to concentrate on the quality of the food you eat.


I’ve crossed over a little into my next tip, which will be nutrition, but I feel that it’s important to understand the concept of quality over quantity.


So, in essence rapid and lasting fat loss is about leading a healthy lifestyle, which incorporates making healthy food choices. It’s not about just cutting back on junk food, drinking skinny shakes or popping pills.


This next part that I’m about to tell you is something that you won’t hear often from someone offering you weight loss advice because most people don’t want to hear it. Most weight loss advisors would rather wrap you up in cotton wool and pretend that you can go on a diet for a period of time until you reach your weight loss target, return to eating normal and live happily ever after.


BUT deep down you know as well as I do that this is good old-fashioned BS.


The reality is that if you want to lose weight and keep it off for good you have to be prepared to embrace a healthy lifestyle for as long as you want to keep the weight off. This isn’t to say that you cannot have the odd bit of chocolate or the odd glass of wine but it can’t be something you do every day.


Sorry to give you the above information without the sugar coating but sometimes a bit of tough love is what you need J


I could go on about goal setting and knowing your why beneath your why but read about that here. I just really wanted to hammer the point home that if you want to lose weight for good you have to embrace health. There is no quick fix. Well there is, it’s just the price is you end up fatter than when you started.




Next up is the right nutrition. Eating right is second only to having the right mind-set. You wont eat consistently right if your heads not in the game.


The EAT Smart Diet Solution is designed to improve the health of anyone who decides to live the EAT Smart Lifestyle by eliminating all toxic foods and substances the body is able to heal and flush out stored toxins from your fat cells.


When this happens you will naturally lose excess body fat without starving yourself, counting calories, checking points drinking shakes or living on bowls of processed breakfast cereals.


By following the simple principles I’ve laid out for you in the EAT Smart Diet Solution manual you are on the road to lasting fat loss. You can download your free copy of the EAT Smart Diet Solution by clicking this link.




Keeping the body hydrated is extremely important to staying healthy as well as losing excess body fat. You can do everything else that I’m about to tell you but if you’re body is dehydrated you will struggle with fat loss. I’ve seen it countless times from clients who resisted me on this one and when I finally got them on board the weight started to shift.


Check the Hydrate or Die series of articles for more health benefits of drinking water by clicking this link.




Sleep is when your body gets to recharge its batteries from the day-to-day onslaught of modern living. It’s also when your fat burning hormones are at their highest.


Aim to be in bed by 10:00pm and asleep by 10:30pm at least five nights per week.




Exercise is important to rapid fat loss, however if you have noticed it’s last on this list.


If your mind-set isn’t right, if your goal isn’t crystal clear then you’re probably not going to make exercise a priority and even if you do you might not put in the necessary effort during your exercises sessions.


Exercise comes after nutrition because you simply cannot out exercise a bad diet. In fact you at higher risk to getting injured due to your body not receiving enough quality nutrients.


Exercise comes below hydration. Just a slight dip in your hydration levels is going to have a profound effect on your energy levels and exercise performance. Not only that but you are also setting yourself up for long-term joint injuries.


Our joint capsules are filled with fluid and if there isn’t enough water to fill these spaces then the bones sit closer together increasing the risk of wear and tear and joint degeneration or arthritis.


Exercise comes after sleep, as exercise is a stress, albeit a good stress. If you are not sleeping properly, chances are that your body is under stress. We are only able to cope with a certain amount of stress before our body starts to break down. When we are under constant stress our immune system takes a battering and you are at risk of developing colds, flu’s or worse.


So before adding in exercise in the hope of losing some fat fast it would be far better to remove some of the stresses from your life.


Start by removing any nutritional stressors, you can learn about those in the EAT Smart Diet Solution. At the same time as removing the nutritional stressors increase your water intake to the levels I’ve indicated in the Hydrate or Die articles. Dehydration is a stress in and of its self, removing the nutritional stressors will cause a short-term stress but this can be reduced by drinking plenty of fresh, clean water. Finally, make sure you get plenty of sleep so your body can fully regenerate.


Once you’ve got these factors in order you’ll be able to reap the benefits of a well thought out professionally designed fat loss training program.


All these 5 principles are incorporated into the EAT Smart 21 Day Challenge with members reporting loses of up to 23lb and 21 inches in just 21 days.


The next EAT Smart 21 Day Challenge starts very soon. For more information click this link

Hydrate or Die, part 7

High Blood Cholesterol

Barnstaple Personal Training

It is common belief that excess cholesterol that forms in the arteries is a precursor to heart disease and yes the two can co-exist towards the latter stages of the disease but it is Dr Batmanghelidj, author of “Your Body’s Many Cries For Water” that excessive cholesterol build up is the result of a state of chronic dehydration in the body.

No before you shrug off this idea we first need to discuss cholesterols role in the body.

Cholesterol is also responsible for the production of hormones in the body and every cell has a cholesterol outer membrane. So important is cholesterol to the human us that we in fact make 75% of the cholesterol found in the body.

It’s only when things go wrong in the human body that cholesterol becomes labelled the ‘Devil’ and is branded evil. So lets take a closer look into why this happens.

Every time we eat water is shunted to the stomach to help digest the foods we eat. In a dehydrated state the body does not have enough water to go around and so water is pulled out of the cells to aid in digestion.

When this happens cholesterol comes to the rescue and starts to act as ‘clay’ to prevent the water being pulled out of the cells. Think of it as a Band-Aid to stop a leak.

Barnstaple Personal Training

Cholesterol also only tens to collect at the junctions of arteries, this is because of the amount of pressure flowing through them and the turbulence causes damage to the arterial structures. Again, cholesterol comes to the rescue to coat these arterial junctions to prevent the pressure from causing irreversible damage.

Now, if you think back to part 6 of Hydrate or Die, where I talked about high blood pressure being the result of dehydration, this increase in blood pressure is going to cause damage to the arteries if cholesterol doesn’t step in to protect them.

Going back to eating and digestion: Acid reflux or heart burn is a sign of dehydration and that the acid levels have risen during digestion and that there is not enough water to keep the body within its ‘safe working zone.’ Taking an antacid is not curing the acid indigestion you are feeling, it’s mealy suppressing the symptoms. Dehydration is the cause, eliminate the cause and you ‘cure’ the symptoms!

In fact, antacids were clinically proven ineffective by a Swedish study in 1986. In fact antacids can sometimes worsen the pain by causing your stomach to produce more acid through a condition known as acid rebound.

Antacids also change the pH levels in your gut and can potentially cause an imbalance of the friendly bacteria which can put you at risk of infection.

So, to keep your cholesterol at “safe” levels be sure to keep well hydrated by drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water, be sure to add a small pinch of sea salt to enable your body to absorb the water more efficiently. Also ensure to eat a diet full of natural foods and stay away from processed foods, alcohol, caffeine and refraine from smoking.

Marc Kent

Author: Commando Fitness Blueprint

Hydrate or Die, part 3

As you may recall from my last two articles in the “Hydrate or Die” series that natural water is the corner stone of a healthy life and that dehydration can have severe and devastating effects to the human body.

From low back and neck pain, angina, headaches, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, asthma, allergies and diabetes.

And not forgetting that 95% of cancers are caused by poor nutrition, and as nutrition begins with water keeping your body properly hydrated will go a long way to you living a fit, healthy, long disease free life.

Now with water playing such a big part of “life” without it we will simply die, it makes sense that a lack of it can cause us trouble. In Hydrate or Die part two, I spoke about how pain was a signal of localised dehydration.

With this in mind, a lack of water and a state of dehydration can lead to low back pain.

This is because the spinal joints, the intervertebral joints and their disc structures, are reliant on water for theirdifferent“hydraulic” properties of the water stored in the discs core.

Water not only acts as a lubricant for the contact surfaces of the spine but also acts to support the compression weight of the upper body through the water store in the intervertebral discs.

In fact 75% of the upper body’s weight is supported by the water stored in the discs core. The other 25% is supported by the fibrous materials around the disc. Water acts as a lubricating agent as well as is “shock absorber” which bears the force produced by weight on the joint or the tension produced by the muscles acting on the joint.

As adequate hydration is needed to keep the intervertebral discs at their “optimum hight” a lack of water in these discs is going to lead to low back pain as the disc themselves become dehydrated. When this happens the discs wont be able to support the bodies weight as efficiently but not only that, because the bones of the spine are now closer together you are much more likely to suffer from wear and tear to the bones and degenerative bone diseases. Being overweight will make matters worse!

So, before you start popping pills to get rid of your back pain, try increasing your water intake first. If you’re are the 1 litre per 50lb of bodyweight then and still suffering, the next step would be to get a Kinetic Chain Specialist to assess your posture for contributing factors that may be pulling your body out of alignment. The Kinetic Chain Specialist can then design a corrective exercise and nutrition strategy that can help alleviate the problem.

Correcting bad posture will not only help alleviate your back pain but it will also help prevent neck pain. As all Kinetic Chain Specialists know, the body is only as strong as it’s weakest link a weak area in one part of the body will also cause problems elsewhere. So if you are suffering from low back pain, through something known as the “Lovett Brother Relationship” which describes the skeletal reciprocity between paired bones of the cranium, pelvis and spine. This happens because the body is trying to keep a balanced vertical position against gravity. To do this bones at opposite ends of the spine will move in equal and opposite directions to maintain a centre of gravity.

This basically means that if your sacrum is out of alignment then the occiput bone at the base of the scull will be out of alignment.

If L5 is out of kilta then C5 will move in an equal but opposite direction. This is going to lead to pain, with pain comes a down regulation of the muscles through involved through a process called arthrokinetic inhibition. When this happens you will start to develop pain in other joints as you develop faulty movement patterns caused.

Back pain is one of the biggest problems in the Western World and most of it can be eliminated through correct hydration and a corrective exercise, nutrition, and stretching program.

You can also keep your back pain away by paying attention to your posture. Think the typical “Royal Marines” posture: chest out, shoulders pulled back and down. Also setting your workstation up to your individual height will help as well.

So next time your back starts giving you gyp and before you reach for the pain killers make sure you hydration levels are up to where they should be and you may find, all other things being equal your back pain goes away.

Marc Kent

Author: Commando Fitness Blueprint

Hydrate or Die, part 2

Welcome to part 2 or Hydrate or Die, my series of articles on why you should make water an important part of your life. If you haven’t read part one of Hydrate or Die, please click here

If you remember back to Hydrate or Die part one I mentioned that dehydration caused a whole host of ailments from:

  • Low back painBarnstaple Personal Trainer water heart
  • Neck pain
  • Angina
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Pain
  • High cholesterol
  • Weight gain
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Diabetes

Today I wanted to concentrate on why dehydration causes pain and what you should do to help eliminate it.

Pain that cannot be determined as coming from injury or an infection should be considered a cry for water from your body.  The sensation of pain comes from local changes around the nerves that are responsible for monitoring the acid/alkaline balance in the body.  This mechanism is designed to safeguard the body against the build up excess acid from movement & metabolic processes that could eat into and burn the cells of the body and cause damage.

When you don’t drink enough water the body is unable to wash away the excess acid. When this happens the nerves send signals to the brain to inform of the increase in the acid levels.

Up to a certain point the body deals with this without you knowing but beyond a certain threshold your body will break this silence and make the conscious mind aware of the situation. If you then fail to increase your water intake the body will keep increasing the intensity of pain until movement and mobility of the effected area this happens to prevent an additional build up of acid and toxins caused by movement.

Because we have become so disassociated from our bodies most people fail to recognise this pain for what it is – a sophisticated, localised thirst signal and a cry for water and instead resort to popping pills made from toxic chemicals, which merely mask the damage that is being done. Drinking plenty of water will usually eliminate the condition but when the problem is left unchecked for an extended period of time and the pain becomes more and more intense doctors usually resort to prescribing drugs or putting someone under the knife for a condition which could have been resolved by eliminating toxic foods and drinking a lot more water.

The pains associated with dehydration are many and include dyspeptic pain which can range from simple heart burn to gastro-oesophageal reflux, nausea and vomiting. Most people take antacids for these when water is the missing ingredient!

Other pains associated with dehydration are rheumatoid arthritis pain, angina pain, low back pain, leg pain on walking, migraine and hangover headaches, colitis pain and false appendicitis pain!

As you can see, there are lots of common “pain” signals that are the bodies subtle way of telling you it is thirsty. But instead of listening to what our bodies are telling us most people pop down the antacids, antihistamines or other pain killing medications.

If we were to take a more proactive approach to our health and fitness these painful conditions could be alleviated or even eliminated altogether. For the above mentioned symptoms try increasing your water intake for two days to at least 2.5 litres per day before you resort to taking analgesics or other pain killing medications. If these symptoms are not “treated” with an optimal level of hydration they could cause permanent damage to the body and can eventually become an irreversible disease and these diseases can spiral all the way to obesity, diabetes and cancer!

And according to the Columbia University School of Public Health, 95% of cancer is caused by poor nutrition and bad environment.

Just think, we can prevent one of the biggest killers by changing our approach to nutrition and EATing Smart, eliminating as many man made chemicals from our lives and making fresh water the centre point in which everything else revolves around.

I’ll be back in a few more days with part 3 of “Hydrate or Die” where I’ll be talking about low back and neck pain.

Until then, keep drinking at least 1 litre of water per 50lb of bodyweight.

Train Hard, EAT Smart!

Marc Kent

Author: Commando Fitness Blueprint


Bryan Kavanagh Interview

Bryan Kavanagh is a fat loss expert and physique transformation specialist, speaker and co. author of The Athletic Body System’ and Athlete Physique, with the prestigious CSCS qualification he has also completed a BSc degree (hons) in Health and Human Performance in Dublin City University

MK: Hi Bryan, I really appreciate you taking out some time for this interview.

BK: No problem marc, sorry about the delay, things are just hectic at the minute!

On a side note…it’s a good thing this is a text interview because your readers would not have a clue what I’m saying in my Dublin Accent!

MK: Can you tell the reader a little about your coaching background?

BK: Well, I’ve, been involved and competed in martial arts and boxing for as long as I remember so naturally I started experimenting on …martial artists and boxers. Ive gotten some great results. With both national and world title holders in both sports. I have since strayed and I work with golfers, badminton players, American footballers… you name it I’ve probably helped them in some way.

MK: Your book “The Athletic Body System” is based around training for performance; could you tell us why you think improving performance is beneficial for fat loss?

BK: The nature of these sports require the athlete to be as lean as possible and as strong as possible… i.e. they need to make weight and still be able to kick ass. There is a particular way of getting lean and staying strong.

The athletic body system :)

Only joking, but too many people complain about being tired and lacking energy and motivation when training. Reason being they are doing nonsensical cardio and eating like a rabbit. ABS forbids both :-)

Athletes not only look lean, they are able to perform to the highest standard…olympic standard…WHILE they are lean… I read an article the other day that outline a cover models regime a couple of days out from a photo shoot…


A six-day carbohydrate-depletion diet, in which he eats little more than chicken and broccoli, leaves his muscles weak and his brain so starved of glycogen, its source of fuel, that he feels dizzy and disorientated when he stands up. He can barely walk, let alone hit the gym…

MK: Doing endless amounts of cardio for fat loss is one of the biggest mistakes I see people make. Would you share your thoughts on the cardio myth and the so called fat burning zone?

BK: I think I touched on this already without being asked…nice :-)

Cardio and the fat burning zone DO EXIST

There I said it…

But are they optimal modes of fat burning and will they become useless or even counter productive in the long run? There’s the question…

I have three hang ups about steady state aerobic training…

1. Thing is, aerobic exercise WILL burn fat…any exercise will… problem number one is; you get better at it. It seems like a good thing, but in actual fact the only way your body can adapt to aerobic exercise is make your body more efficient…i.e. burn less calories doing the same thing. For example. If you burn 200 kcals this week on your run…next week you get better at it and burn 180…your essentially telling your body to burn less kcals.

2. It makes you store MORE fat.

Yup, if you burn fat during low intensity exercise then it only makes sense that your body will store it for the next time you decide to do aerobic activity… so you go for a long run today…burn some fat…your body detects that your burning fat and stores some more for next time…makes sense eh?

3. It just doesn’t make sense.

If you need to stay in the ‘fat burning zone’ (heart rate will depend on your age) but for arguments sake lets pretend its 100 bpm.

And your resting heart rate is 70 bpm… when you are on the couch watching television

So let me get this straight…you get your gym bag ready, travel to the gym and slog it out on a treadmill for 60 minutes to burn as many calories as you would in 90 minutes of sitting on your arse at home…

Sorry but that’s just not for me…

MK: Thanks for clearing that up. I often see ladies in the gyms lifting those little pink weights for high reps in the belief that they are “toning” their muscles. What is your opinion on this, should the readers be doing endless reps with light weights to “tone up”?

BK: Ah the pink dumbbells…

Let me ask the ladies this… how much does a baby weigh?

I don’t know but I know its heavier than one of those silly dumbbells and ladies…you can carry that around all day!

Those of you that don’t have babies but carry around those suitcase size handbags with all your earthly belongings in there. Come on challenge yourself and lift something heavier…

Oh right…you don’t want to get huge arms… sorry.

But lets think about this one… think about the last time you were in the gym…how many guys walked by that were ridiculously skinny? They are lifting ‘relatively’ heavy weights and guzzling down protein shakes and weight gainers to TRY to put on muscle and you think it will just happen by accident?

Doesn’t work like that.

Weights are just a tool…they can be used as a fat burning tool or a muscle building tool…depends on sets/reps/exercise selection and ultimately calories consumed.

MK: What about spot reduction? For instance, what would you say to someone who is doing thousands of crunches and sit ups a day to get six pack abs?

BK: I have a nice analogy for this one…think of all of your bodyfat as a swimming pool… and then take a bucket of water/fat out of the corner of that pool. It comes from the pool as a whole not just the corner.

Similarly, in the body if you are performing crunches (which are ridiculous anyway) you could be using fat from your legs or back to fuel that exercise…not the fat on top of the working muscle.

MK: Do you think people looking for fat loss should concentrate on body composition changes and not get hung up on what the weighing scales say?

BK: scales can be a good indicator of someone has like 100lbs to lose because to be fair… they should be losing fat fast at the start and if they don’t they just aren’t following the programme and they are lying to themselves and their trainer.

As someone becomes more experienced I’d nearly throw the scales out because it can be really disheartening to a person who really has put in the effort only for  their weigh-in to be sabotaged by a little water retention or muscle gain… you just have to monitor everything I suppose…one measurement usually explains any discrepancy in another.

MK: What do you think about all these celebrity diets and workouts in the press?

BK: boooo

There are one or two that are decent… I mean one or two. And I cant remember them because they were only decent in comparison to the crap ones.

Okay so they are all crap…next question :-)

MK: Moving on to nutrition, what are the 3 biggest mistakes you see people make with their fat loss nutrition?

BK: 1. Eating too much

2. Eating too little

3. Eating the wrong thing at the wrong times

A poorly timed meal is worse than a bad meal sometimes.

Eat to replenish after a workout…the notion that you can eat something big at 1 because you have a heavy session planned at 7 is complete nonsense. You will not burn it off..it will be stored. Full stop.

Eat heavier after sessions is they way forward. The calories and nutrients are in demand now. Most if not all will go to aid recovery. WIN

MK: A lot of people think that eating fat will make you fat and that a low fat day is the best way. What are your opinions on this?

BK: Fat is necessary for so many bodily functions that it is nonsense to think we should be restricting it… it is also slow to digest and makes stuff taste nicer :-)

Obviously im talking about healthy fats.. Omega 3, flaxseed, mixed seeds etc. we’ve all heard that before… but there are some saturated fats that are essential for hormone production and even fat metabolism. Stearic acid and palmitic acid found in beef are just a few examples.

Don’t fear the fat!

Fat has made very few people fat,

It’s the metabolic damage caused by chronically elevated insulin levels as a result of diets that are overloaded with ‘low calorie’ and ‘fat free’ foods that makes people fat.

So there :-)

MK: What role would you say protein had in a fat loss program?

BK: mostly satiety, protein will be slower to digest and give you that full feeling for a little longer…

MK: Before we close Bryan, what would be your 3 top things to do regarding training and nutrition to help the readers to cut body fat

BK: 1. Time your meals, eat normal on training days, restrict calories on non- training days

2. Train metabolically don’t waste time on silly isolation exercises. Move! Jump. Step. Push and pull.

3. adopt and athletic mindset and set yourself some goals. Do you honestly think an athlete would train as hard if he had nothing to train for?

Set a date, any date.

Buy an outfit that’s too small.

Start NOW not Monday!

MK: This has been an awesome interview Bryan. Where can the readers go to find out more about you and your training programs?

BK: My own personal website is http://bryankavanagh.com and that has all my rants and blogposts on there…

The athletic body system website www.athleticbodysystem.com would be a good place to start. We are currently working on ABS 2.0 and when its ready anyone who buys athletic body system will get ABS 2.0 free when its ready.

MK: Thanks again Bryan

BK: Thanks for having me buddy…anytime!

About Bryan:

Bryan Kavanagh is a fat loss expert and physique transformation specialist, speaker and co. author of The Athletic Body System’ and Athlete Physique. with the prestigious CSCS qualification he has also completed a BSc degree (hons) in Health and Human Performance in Dublin City University. Bryan and his business partner Ian Graham run a small personal training studio called The ABS Gym in Dublin Ireland. Bryan is a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and has been Boxing for the past 5 years. He has competed internationally in both disciplines in over 20 countries.

With an extensive international career having customers and clients in over 10 countries, Bryan is an expert in both personal and online training and nutrition. Constantly striving to help others and achieve their potential.

Although the title suggests he is a personal trainer, Bryan prefers the title ‘Coach’ because a coach is somebody who helps you win. Whether your goal is to increase sports performance, lose weight or just increase vitality and health Bryan can help you WIN and be successful in whatever it is you seek. Bryan actively influences and contributes to the education, capability, and development of all his clients through thorough consultations and accountability strategies.

Alwyn Cosgrove Interview

Alwyn Cosgrove is regarded as the Worlds Leading authority on fat loss and athletic conditioning and has kindly agreed to give me an interview on how he achieves rapid results with his clients.

MK: Hi Alwyn, I really appreciate you taking out some time for this interview.

AC: Cheers Marc, always happy to help out.

MK: Could you start by telling the readers a little about your current coaching commitments?

AC: Right now it’s a mixed bag Marc. Most of my time is actually spent coaching BUSINESS for personal trainers and studio owners. The newest arm of our business is ResultsFitnessBiz.com which puts on educational events and provides business development coaching for exercise professionals.

We also still operate a VERY busy gym – Results Fitness, here in Santa Clarita, California, with a full load of clients and of course, I’m on the road quite a bit. My commitments range from actual training sessions, staff training to more of a consulting role. I helped Felicia Oh (World submission grappling champion) and Juila Cross (World Taekwondo champion) with their physical preparation for their last events – purely as a consultant.

MK: Can you tell the reader a little about your educational background?

AC: It’s not really a background Marc – it’s an ongoing journey!

To answer your question though –formally I have a degree from the University of Liverpool (Chester College) and also completed a course of study at West Lothian College in Scotland.

I have had every certification in the book at one point, and to be honest have let most of them lapse. The education was great, but I didn’t see much point in maintaining them all (as to be honest the “maintaining” tended to involve just attending more seminars – which I do anyway – and then sending someone some money!)

But the real answer is – we have 300 clients at our facility. We monitor their results all the time and test and tweak our programming accordingly.

I try to read a book a week at minimum. Today, it’s more business and professional development books as opposed to training – but you can imagine the difference that reading 52 books a year can make.

And I attend seminars. I suggest my staff attend one every 90 days as a minimum. We bring in people to train our staff at least 2-3 times per year, and we run our own in-house training.

My suggestion for most reading this would be to attend at least 4 seminars per year. I’m blessed in that I present around 15-20 times per year, so I’m also able to attend the other speakers presentations. It makes for a lot of education.

MK: In your books Afterburn and Afterburn 2 you do not recommend any steady state cardio. A lot of people reading this will be of the opinion that steady state cardio in the “fat burning zone” is the best way to lose fat. Can you give me your opinion on why traditional cardio doesn’t work and what you think of the fat burning zone?

AC: It’s quite simple. There are no studies that show any significant fat loss effect to low intensity steady state cardio. There are tons that show higher intensity work, resistance training and interval training to work very well. It’s not rocket science. Harder work will yield more results.

The fat burning zone is correct. There is a heart rate zone where your body will burn more energy from fat as a percentage than it will from other fuel sources. However it’s been misinterpreted – the “as a percentage” line gets missed by most people. It’s irrelevant. You burn the most fat as a percentage with low intensity work (and at rest). Does anyone really think that the international obesity epidemic is as result of people working too hard in their exercise programs?

MK: In my training programs I never use any of the traditional “machine” exercises as I believe they cause long term joint injuries. Would you share your opinions of the machines that you would find in a typical gym?

AC: You’re asking the wrong guy. I haven’t been in a typical machine gym in ten years or so. I have no idea what they have in there, sorry :-)

Basically though – all machines were ever designed to do was to mimic free weight movement and isolate muscle groups. Why we would need a more expensive “alternative” and a need to isolate anything never made any sense to me.

MK: Your training philosophy is not too dissimilar to mine in that you use supersets, tri-sets and circuits to get rapid fat loss results. Could you tell the reader why you chose this method instead of traditional weight training where you do one set of an exercise, rest before repeating the exercise?

AC: We don’t’ always use that method. Different programs require different approaches. For metabolic conditioning we use that method as it allows us to keep overall work high while minimizing local muscular fatigue. I break down the science here: Tweaking Your Workout

MK: Thanks Alwyn.  Now for some of the ladies reading this they might be reluctant to try your program due to the weight training. What would you say to a female client who was worried about “bulking up” due to lifting weights?

AC: We have 300+ clients – about 70% or more are female. They all get leaner and smaller. I think today’s female knows that weight training can be a great tool for them. Most females were leanest when they were in their early 20’s – typically when they had the most muscle mass. If any ladies out there are still unsure of the benefits of resistance training – then check out Rachel’s book – “The Female Body Breakthrough”

MK: Thanks for clearing that up. Moving on to nutrition, with regards to fat loss, what should the readers be doing to get incredible results?

AC: I think we have got carried away with nutrition. A good goal would be to eat every 3 hours, a serving of lean protein, with a serving or two of fruits and vegetables. Follow that plan 80-90% of the time and you’ll be making great progress.

MK: What would you say to someone who was training hard but still not seeing the results you would expect from the effort they were putting in at the gym?

AC: There are so many variables. It could be bad form, actually not working hard enough (perception vs reality), or not working smart enough. Busting your arse on a bench press program when your goal is weight loss won’t work – so sometimes it’s a programming issue. I’d need to see training diaries, video, and do a consultation to know for sure.

MK: With regards to calories, obviously eating too much is going to hinder fat loss, would you say eating too little will have an adverse effect on results? Could you explain why?

AC: It can but that’s rarely a problem until you look longer term. Any time you don’t eat enough you slow down. Forget metabolic rate etc for now – if you eat far too little food – you just won’t have the energy to train, work or even live. Basically you’ll move less and be tired more. Therefore you’ll close any numerical caloric deficit that you think you’ve created.

The other issue is that, as my friend Valerie Waters says – strategy will trump willpower all the time. At some point, after eating way too little, you’re going to snap and eat too much. So we have a double whammy – you’re moving less and over the course of the week, or month, you end up overeating anyway – so now we are burning less calories and still eating too much.

MK: What are your opinions on these diets that say “drink two shakes & one meal per day” or the cereal based diets?

AC: I haven’t heard of the cereal based ones – must be a UK thing. It’s a short term approach for inevitable failure. How are the result one year or more after coming off those plans? I’ve never seen anyone who can live like that for long periods of time, and I’ve never seen anyone make meaningful change when they come off those plans.

MK: I believe that supplements should be just that. They should be an addition to a healthy balanced nutrition plan make up of whole foods and not replace them. Would you agree?

AC: Yes.

MK: Before we close Alwyn, what would be your 5 top things to do regarding training and nutrition to help the readers to cut body fat


1.       Perform metabolic circuits or pairings 3 times per week

2.       Drink enough water – it’s hard to do anything in a dehydrated state

3.       Eat real food, multiple times per day

4.       Increase the amount of vegetables and fruits you consume while limiting starch and processed foods

5.       Weight train 1-2 times per week

Obviously we can create hybrid routines of #1 and #5 but most people still need to train at both ends of the continuum

MK: This has been an awesome interview Alwyn, I’ve learned a lot from you today and I hope the readers have too. Where can the readers go to find out more about you and your training programs?

AC: For trainers wanting to learn about business – check out www.resultsfitnessbiz.com. For those of you wanting to learn about training – my gym website is www.results-fitness.com and I have a blog over at www.alwyncosgrove.com

MK: Thanks again Alwyn

About Alwyn: For nearly two decades Alwyn Cosgrove has been committed to achieving excellence in the field of fitness training and athletic preparation.  Specializing in performance enhancement, Alwyn has helped countless individuals and athletes reach their goals through sound scientific training.  Alwyn has an honors degree in Sports Science from the University of Liverpool, is certified as a strength & conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association and has been recognized as a Master of Sports Sciences with the International Sports Sciences Association.

Alwyn is also recognized by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the American College of Sports Medicine, the British Association of Sports and Exercise Sciences, Kingsports International Australia, the Society for Weight Training Injury Specialists, USA Weightlifting and the Chek

Institute of Corrective High Performance Exercise Kinesiology. A former Taekwon-do international champion, Alwyn has utilized his personal experience as an athlete and combined it with the advanced theories of European Sports Science and the principles of modern strength and conditioning systems.

Through the years in this field Alwyn has been recognized as a specialist in Athletic Preparation by The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia and has studied extensively each country’s approach to athletic preparation. During his career as a strength and conditioning coach, Alwyn has worked with a wide variety of clientele, including several Olympic and national level athletes, five World Champions and professionals in a multitude of sports including boxing, martial arts, soccer, ice skating, football, fencing, triathlon,  rugby, bodybuilding, dance and fitness competition

Alwyn recently had two books published, The New Rules of Lifting and The New Rules of Lifting for Women. A sought after ‘expert’ for several of the country’s leading publications including Men’s Health magazine, Alwyn works closely with our program design department developing all the training programs carried out in the gym, and oversees the elite staff in their implementation of each workout.

Charlotte Ord Interview

Charlotte Ord is the top female personal trainer in the UK and was recently named UK Personal Trainer of the Year for 2010

MK: Hi Charlotte, first let me congratulate you on becoming UK Personal Trainer of the year and say thank you for taking out some time for this interview.

CO: It’s a pleasure Marc, and thank you!

MK: Could you start by telling the readers a little about your self and your coaching background?

CO: Sure.  Well I’ve always been really active and played 5 different sports to national level when I was at school, including playing lacrosse for England and riding horses internationally.  After I finished my degree in Psychology and Sociology at uni, it was a very natural progression to move into the fitness industry where I could combine my passion for training and psychology.  It was a bit of a stroke of luck to be honest that my very first job in the industry was a club manager role in a brand new corporate gym and was, initially, a complete baptism of fire, but I managed to develop the club to be pretty successful with an absolutely thriving personal training component, and that was what I really loved.  In 2008 I decided that I really wanted to go out on my own and develop my own business, so that was when Phoenix Pro Fitness was born.

MK: You have been featured in some of the top fitness magazines and have recently authored “The Beach Babe Workout.” Every girl wants to look hot on the beach, could you share your approach to getting bikini ready in a hurry?

CO: Yeah.  The programme follows exactly the same protocol we use in our club and with our members to great success every day.  It’s essentially based on the hierarchy of fat loss; sound nutrition, strength and metabolic acceleration training combined with high intensity intervals.  Despite the girly exterior it seriously works people hard, which there is no way round if you want to see significant results in a brief period of time.

MK: You mention your “triple threat” approach to getting in shape fast, would you describe this for the readers?

CO: Of course.  See the thing is with fat loss and getting into great shape is that it’s really hard to do it just through training.  There’s a saying that you can’t out train a bad diet, and unless you’re really lucky and have an amazing metabolism, it’s true.  So the first angle we need to cover is nutrition.  Good eating habits are number one on the hierarchy of fat loss, as my mentor Alwyn Cosgrove likes to call it!  Then it’s essential that you have a training programme that is focused entirely on getting your metabolism racing – especially when you only have a short period of time in which to achieve your goals.  The final prong in the triple threat approach is motivation and mindset, because without it, it’s really hard to make changes that are ultimately going to get you to your goal.  It takes 3 weeks to change a habit, and mindset is what keeps you committed when the going gets tough and you wanna quit.

MK: So we start with the right training, could you describe a beach babe workout. What kind of exercises should the girls be doing to get that beach babe look?

CO: The training component of the Beach Babe Workout is based around a combination of resistance training and high intensity interval training, both of which lend themselves extremely well to not only shifting unwanted muffin tops and wobbly bottoms, but also in producing super sleek, super sexy streamlined muscles.  The exercises that are involved cover a range of different movement patterns so that you become well conditioned from every angle, and they’re all bang for your buck exercises which produce big calorie burn during each session, and even bigger calorie burn once you’ve finished!  And that’s what we want – elevated metabolism even at rest.  All of the exercises are functional, which basically means you have to use your own body for support, not sit on a piece of kit; most of sit too much as it is – it’s time to get moving!

MK: So none of those adductor and abductor machines you see in the gyms?

CO: Err, no!  Don’t get me started on that…haha.

MK: What about cardio? In your experience what type of cardio is best for burning fat fast?

CO: high intensity interval training, or even low intensity intervals for those who haven’t trained much before, are perfect for between resistance training sessions.  These ramp up your metabolism and improve your cardiovascular fitness better than steady state training, AND it’s not nearly so laborious.  HIIT is basically where you perform an exercise, say sprints, for a short intensive burst, and then rest, or active rest, before repeating again.  You can use various different time scales, but the idea is to go really hard for short periods of time.  It’s tough, but over much quicker than an hour trundling along on the treadmill and gets way better results.

MK: So that’s the training covered. Nutrition is the second step in your triple threat approach. Could you describe the ideal nutrition plan for fat loss?

CO: In an ideal world we’d all eat raw foods, drink clean water and be totally free of pollutants.  In today’s world that’s not realistic, but if we aim to get as close to that as possible we’ll be well on our way to optimal health and therefore a killer body.  The key things when eating for fat loss and muscle tone is to drink clean, filtered water, and lots of it, eat as much raw, or at least natural, food as possible, avoid processed foods and eat often; ideally 5 or 6 times a day.  For most people a diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates and fat works very well for fat loss.  It is however essential to eat good fats as these actually help facilitate the chemical process of fat metabolism and promote overall well being.

MK: Finally motivational support and coaching, why is this so important?

CO: I think regardless of what you’re trying to achieve, if you have people around you who are supportive, positive, cheering you on, telling you can do it, that you’re amazing, that you can do anything, you’re always going to do better than if you are left alone with your own thoughts, which very often are negative and not conducive to positive change.  The power of the mind is incredibly powerful and I would say is one of the biggest factors in body transformation success.

MK: Thanks Charlotte, that’s some great information you’ve just shared with us. So what would say are the 5 must do things regarding exercise a girl should do to get beach ready in a hurry?

CO: No problemo!  Ok so my top 5 things would be..

1. Before anything else, I’d say make a plan, schedule in when you’re going to train, and move hell or high water to stick to it.  If you don’t give yourself the option of missing training, you won’t.  Make a commitment.

2. Lift weights.  Contrary to popular belief, it won’t make you bulky unless you’re on steroids.  What it will do is turbo charge your metabolism, whip your muscles into sizzling hot shape and leave you feeling fit, strong and sexy.

3. Give it your all.  Don’t be a wimp, you’re stronger than you think, and you’ll be amazed how good you feel if you push yourself and achieve things you didn’t think you could.  You know those annoying people who get high as a kite on exercise?  Push yourself and you might just turn into one of them!

4. Don’t skip the warm up and recovery phases of your programme.  These are essential not only for getting your body ready for the more vigorous part of your programme, but also for helping you recover fast so that you come back to the following session even stronger and burn even more fat.

5. Invest in expert help.  The fact you even need to get ready for the beach in a hurry suggests that you haven’t had much time to think about how best you might get into bikini shape in the first place, and now you even less time you’re probably going to need some help.  Having a plan to follow is ALWAYS more successful than winging it – going to the gym without a proper programme is a bit like getting into your car and not knowing where you were going; you just wouldn’t do it.  Hopefully!

MK: And the 5 must do nutrition strategies a girl must do?


1. Drink plenty of clean, filtered water

2. Eat as many raw foods as you can

3. Eat at least 5 times a day as this will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable and reduce cravings for quick fix sugary foods

4. Again, make a plan.  If you’ve got a meal plan written down, you’re far more likely to stick to healthy eating habits than if you don’t.  It’s that old saying, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’  Don’t let it happen to you!

5. Avoid acidic or processed foods which can leave you feeling bloated, lethargic and storing fat that you don’t need.  A diet of 80% alkaline and 20% mildly acidic is optimal.

MK: Thank you Charlotte for sharing that with us today. Before we go, is there a website where the readers could go to find out more information about you and your training programs?

CO: No worries Marc!  For more information about the Beach Babe Workout people can visit the website at www.beachbabeworkout.com and my personal site is www.charlotteord.com

MK: Thanks again Charlotte

CO: Pleasure, thanks Marc!

Charlotte Ord is a Sky TV fitness presenter and director of leading Surrey Personal Training Company Phoenix Pro Fitness.  She was named UK Personal Trainer of the Year 2010 and is a regular contributor to both the general press and fitness publications on an international scale.   A specialist in kettlebell training, Charlotte is an assistant coach to the IKFF and is renowned for her ability to produce outstanding fat loss results.  She trains a wide variety of clients ranging from those challenged by morbid obesity to ultra marathon runners, and has herself competed nationally and internationally in five different sports.

Training Myths Part 4

If you have been following my series on training myths you would have read  in part one the lies that women who lift weight get bulky muscles. In training myths part two I covered the lies that says your lean toned muscles will turn to fat if you stop lifting weights and in part three I exposed the myth that says specific exercises are great for toning muscles.

If you have not read these articles yest then you can by clicking on the links below.

Today I’m going to address Training Myth 4: Specific Exercises Are Great For Spot Reduction

Spot reduction  exercises comes from the idea that if you work a particular part of the body then you can burn fat from it. In reality the theory goes against scientific principles of exercise physiology.

We cannot chose where we burn fat from our bodies, it is genetically determained. If spot reduction was possible then the amount of people walking around with six pack abs would be significantly more!

In order to get that elusive six pack you need to eat a healthy balanced diet consisting of lots of fuit and veg and plenty of protein. You also need to lift weights to build the muscles to give your body shape and to increase your metabolism while at the same time intergrating metabolic conditioning exercises such as kettlebell swings, sprints and burpees. Simply doing thousands of sit ups and crunches wont burn enough calories to achieve this and will set you up for low back problems down the line.

If fat did come off the areas that we worked the most then we wouldn’t have fat on our faces as we use our face muscles all the time from laughing to smiling, to talking to frowning! We would never have fat on our legs, thighs or butt as we use these muscles everyday for locomotion and standing.

The biggest concern with exercising muscles individully is the potential to cause injuries in the future. The body works as a whole unit, meaning lots of muscles have to contract or relax and work together to allow movement to occur. So all you ladies sat on those adductor and abductor machines in the hope of building firm thighs and butt muscles are setting yourself up for hip, knee and ankle problems. You would be far better doing squats, deadlifts and various types of lunges as these work far more muscle and in doing so burn more calories allowing you to reduce body fat faster.

So in closing this article I’m going to provide you with a simple blueprint for fat loss:

  • Embark on a healhy nutrition plan for life. Diets don’t work long term and set you up for frustration and failure.
  • Eat little and often. Aim for 5-6 six small meals and healthy snacks per day.
  • Create a calorie defisit through nutrition and exercise. One pound of fat contains 3500 calories. By reducing calories by 250-500 and burning the same amount of calories through intense exercise can see you dropping 1-2lb of fat per week.
  • Training intensly with weights to build some lean muscle which will in turn will boost your metabolic rate to increase  your calorie burn even more. Ladies don’t worry about bulking up, you can’t if you have followed the above steps. For more informaton on this click here
  • Add in metabolic conditioning exercises such as kettlebell swings, squat thrusts and sprints to boost metabolism further still and increase your calorie burn.
  • Hip a personal best in every single workout. Either do more reps with the weight, the same reps with more weight, sprint faster or further. To keep progressing you have to keep moving forwards, simply doing the same thing everytime will lead to plateaus and eventually regression.
  • Always, always stetch. Stretching after exercise helps return the muscles to their resting length, can help speed the removal of toxins and help prevent injury. I also reccommend a sports massage 1-2 times per month.
  • Drink lots of water, a dehydrated body can’t burn fat optimally

I’ll be back with training myth 5: Lifting light weights for high reps is great for ‘toning’

So Train Hard, Eat Smart!


Training Myths Part 3

In training myths part 1 I covered the myth that women will get bulky muscles like men if they train with weights and in training myths part 2 I covered the myth that says if you stop training your lean toned muscles will turn to fat if you stop training.

If you haven’t read part one or two yet then click on the links below to be taken to those pages.

Click to read “Training Myths Part 1

Click to read “Training Myths Part 2

In part 3 I’m going to clear up the myth that says “Specific Exercises Are Great For Toning Muscles”.

Having toned muscles is really a slang term that’s come from having really low levels of body fat. The lower your body fat percentage the more visible your muscles are under the skin.

Muscle is active tissue, it does not hang down or hang off your bones and it cannot be “un-toned”. The un-toned appearance comes from too much fat covering your muscle and not having enough muscle under the skin to give your body any shape. Poor posture can also give the appearance of “saggy” muscles.

In order to develop the lean toned appearance you need to train with progressive resistance. Whether that resistance comes from lifting dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells or even your own body weight, you need to challenge the muscles to become stronger while at the same time reducing your body fat.

The most effective way to do this is to train with a weight that allows you to perform 8-12 repetitions per exercise in supersets, tri-sets or indeed a circuit. The benefit of training like this is that you can get more done in less time than traditional weight training where you would say do a set of press ups, rest one minute and then repeat. The idea of resting is so you can achieve the same number of reps per set.

One of my favorite ways to build lean toned muscle is to use trisets or mini circuits of 4 exercises.

For example:

Squat x 12
Press Up x 12
Recline Rows x 12

The beauty of doing this is that the legs are resting while you are doing press ups and recline rows meaning that you should still manage all you reps. An added benefit to this is that because you are doing three exercises back to back you are getting a high intensity cardiovascular workout. So it pays to train hard!

Add to the above exercise protocol some smart nutrition and you will be well on your way to reducing your body fat so you get the “toned” look.

I’ll be back in a few days with Training Myth 4: Specific Exercises Are Great For Spot Reduction

Train Hard, Eat Smart!