In case you all missed it I had a Q&A session on my Snap Chat last week. But so many of you told me that you don't have Snap Chat yet (get with the program people ;)) so I didn’t want any of you to miss out on some of the great questions that were coming my way!
Here is a recap of my Q&A session for you I hope you get some great information plus a few giggles out of it!
What are the “must have” items in your refrigerator? And what 5 exercises should you do if you want to lose belly fat?
A1: Part 1 - I always have an abundance of fresh food in my fridge. I do a big shop every week and I may pick up some extra vegetables and meat throughout the week to ensure they are as fresh as possible. My absolute staples are proteins sources such as grass-fed fillet steak, grass-fed beef burgers, chicken breast, fresh prawns, fresh vegetables, a tub of cooked basmati rice, a container of pre-baked pumpkin and my tub of Ajvar!
This way I always have some healthy choices to go for that are quick and easy to throw together in a stir fry, as a salad or in the oven. My freezer always has some frozen packet vegetables in case I need it plus frozen blueberries, frozen mango, and my ultimate favourite salted caramel coconut milk ice cream. Read more about my favourite go-to foods HERE.
Part 2 - If you want to build abs I tell people to not over think it. Treat them like any other muscle group, use weighted exercises combined with days of higher reps. If you are anything like me I genetically do not have blocky abs so it takes work for me to build them up even slightly. There are no specific exercises just lift! Change it up! I like hanging leg raises and weighted sit ups. However, exercises are NOT what makes you lose belly fat. You need to be in a caloric deficit in order to lose fat from all over which will eventually let your abs come out from behind the fluff.
Is it best to lose fat before starting to weight train?
A2: This is kind of a catch 22 question but it's one I hear very often. Most people looking to lose fat tend to believe that they need to do a bunch of cardio to drop weight before they add in the weight sessions. I definitely do not recommend this. Weight training actually makes you burn more fat in a 24-hour period than a steady state cardio session. when you weight train you are building lean muscle tissues, or at least keep your lean muscle tissue where it is.
If you can do that then you will help keep your metabolism revving (provided you are in a caloric deficit to lose fat). If you just do cardio on its own you are not using those muscles properly. When they are not being utilised the body doesn't have a need for them and it will start to break them down, this will result in more of a "soft, skinny fat" look. So prioritise the weights/resistance sessions and add in cardio in order to help break through plateaus. You can read more about this in my Fat Loss Myth busters HERE.
I don’t supplement at all. I eat clean and train 4 times per week. Do you think supplementing is essential when training to build muscle?
A3: Repair is an essential part of building muscle. So what matters most here is your overall caloric intake and adequate protein intake throughout the day. Now you absolutely CAN build muscle with food alone. This would mean sticking to recommended macronutrient intake along with optimal nutrient timing (you can read more about Nutrient timing HERE).
No, the simplest answer is no you don't need supplements in order to build muscle as long as your food intake is on point, but do I think they give you an extra advantage? Yes, I do. So if you are eating in a slight caloric surplus to build muscle and supplements will help give you that extra recovery factor then why not use them. I love supplements and they are very useful in my opinion, but it is important to remember that they “supplement” your training and nutrition program and help boost your results. But supplements alone will do very little unless you are consistent with your overall plan.
What do you eat pre- and post-workout?
A4: The way I structure my meals pre- and post-workout is to give my body adequate fuel to train hard, and give my body replenishment after training in order for it to repair and recover adequately. So my pre- and post-workout meals include 25-25g of protein content plus an ample amount of carbohydrates which equates to roughly 30% pre and 30% post of my daily carbohydrate intake.
This can come from any food sources I choose but generally pre workout I go for a bowl of oats with either protein powder or a salad with chicken. Then post workout I have a smoothie with protein powder and fruit, followed by a meal that consists of any meat source, basmati rice, and vegetables. If it's the weekend I sneak in sushi and tutti fruitti frozen yoghurt. I ensure that I keep my fat as low as possible around training time.
Now note that I am indeed a flexible dieter yet I am eating pretty standard foods. This is not because they are magical foods by any means but because I simply enjoy eating them. So any carb and protein sources are just fine as long at the fat content is reasonably low.
What is your current macro plan? I know you do IIFYM but are you currently in a deficit? And have you ever had binge eating issues? If so what was the biggest thing that helped you break the cycle?
A5: Part 1 - My current plan with my macros is to optimise my metabolism. I recently was trying to cut down for a shoot but my body was not responding to the low calories. So I actually increased my caloric intake and resistance training and my body is finally responding well. So right now I am trying to keep calories as high as possible while ensuring my body fat is coming down slowly. So I am still in a slight deficit according to my predicted maintenance level. However as my metabolic rate is a little slower than my predicted maintenance I'd say I'm actually probably in a slight surplus but my metabolism seems to be catching up which puts me back in a maintenance or slight deficit level.
Part 2 - YES I have had a terrible binge eating history. I used to eat a very low-calorie diet all week with very restricted and limited food choices, mainly of food I disliked. So when it came to the weekend I would binge eat for a whole day uncontrollably. I would stuff myself to the point of my tummy feeling like it was about to explode and then eat some more. I did every week for about 3 years and developed a very negative relationship with food. The thing that pulled me out of it was actually flexible dieting.
This is because it gave me the freedom to make my own food choices rather than being told what I could and could not eat. The freedom to eat any foods I craved or wanted within my macronutrient guidelines was liberating for me and as a consequence, I have not binged once in the last 3 years. It has also taught me to eat mindfully as I learned the nutritional content of food, so even if I had ice cream I refrained from eating the entire tub like I used to because I knew how many calories were in each serve. Now I know that binge eating is not as simple a fix for everyone so if little fixes like this do not seem to help then it may be worth seeking help from a professional.
What are your must-have essentials in your gym bag? What are you go-to workouts when you are short of time but want maximum exertion?
A6: The things that always live in my gym bag and are considered my gym bag essentials include: a weight belt, lifting straps, glute bands, towel, BCAA’s, knee wraps, my beats by Dre and a shaker. That about sums it up really. When I am strapped for time I like to do circuits or giant sets. Circuits I will do exercises for a time such as 45 seconds on 15 seconds off consisting of about 4-5 exercises. 4-5 rounds take 20-25 minutes. Or giant sets I just pick 5 or more exercises and perform them to reps with little or no rest. 2 -3 rounds is all you need here which takes about 20minutes.
Q7: Fabio Gonzalez
If you were a skittle what colour would you be and why?
A7: This is the million dollar question! I am the most indecisive person so to give me an array of colored skittles to choose from is a very bad idea! But I chose RED! That's because red makes you go faster, it's science people ;)
Q8: Taki Roberts
What would you consider to be your ultimate cheat meal?
A8: I have been tracking my macros for the last 3 years so I actually do not have cheat meals anymore. This is because flexible dieting allows me to eat the foods I want all of the time. So, on higher calorie days I make sure I get them in one way or another but they are still accounted for. However, something that is hard to track when eating out is pizza. So if I were to choose a cheat where I just didn’t have to count any macros it would be a pizza with all the goodness on it! Plus, probably followed by a tasting of any kind of desert pizza covered in ice cream.
Q9: Tristan Hark
What would you say your biggest cause of your change in physique? Was it a change in training (less cardio more weights)? Diet? Or something else altogether?
A9: I would definitely say a combination of both. I used to be quite petite with not much muscle, this is because I spent hours doing cardio and was eating very little food so it was quite difficult to actually make changes to my physique. I now eat a larger amount of food, lift heavier weights and focus on progressive overload with my training which I feel has definitely helped make some quick improvements over the past year or so. I definitely notice more changes in my physique when I don't make cardio I primary focus.
But consistency is also the key. I have had my moments where I have been very inconsistent with both train and nutrition due to life getting in the way. But once I am consistent everything seems to fall into place again. I can already see same great changes just from being consistent with everything in the past 4 weeks after some tweaks to my program.
Q10: Mallory Brown
What would you say, aside from overall weight work, is the best thing for reducing stomach fat and achieving a smaller waist? Is it more so your food? Or is it certain exercises that target that area?
A10: I touched on this earlier in regards to belly fat. In order to lose fat, you can not really spot reduce. It's about being in a caloric deficit and losing fat from all over your body. But in regards to having a smaller waist, there are a few things you can do. I avoid any weighted oblique work as this builds up the muscle and ca make you look thicker in the waist. But also, you can create the illusion of a smaller waist if you focus on building up your upper body a little such as your shoulders then followed by building more shape in your legs. This will give you an X shape and even though your waist may not have shrunk in cm's it may appear small as your overall body shape has changed.
Q11: Johnny Johnson
What is your most non-workout therapeutic thing that you do for yourself?
A11: That's a really hard one as I count training as one of the most therapeutic parts of my day. Something I make sure I do once a week if I can help it, I take a yoga class, particularly Yin yoga is great for stretching and relaxation. But nothing can go past a night of Netflix with my favorite local Japanese take away.