Category: Fitness

Making the Cover

A picture of a bodybuilderAnother picture of a bodybuilderCome on, admit it, we’ve all looked at those guys on the cover of novels and wondered where they hide during the day. Every time I look at the smoking hot guy on the cover of Angels, Demons and Doms, I start to drool. I also wonder where he lives and does he have a twin that lives near me. But the truth is, there are plenty of guys in my own gym who can look just like that – with the right preparation.

Okay, not everyone can look like a cover model. You need to start with someone who is ripped and muscular, not Santa Claus in posing trunks.

Then you put him on a very low carb diet. For at least two weeks before the photo shoot, he gets to eat only protein, fat (lots of oily fish and olive oil) and green vegetables. No cereal, bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, oatmeal, and of course, no fries, donuts or chips. Not that our guy eats those anyway.

You send him to the gym every day, and you tell him to get heavy with his deadlifts, squats, bench press, stiff-legged deadlift, pull-ups, bent over rows, dips and military press. He’s

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got to lift heavy. Three sets of eight reps at 80% of his one-rep maximum is a good start.

On a low carb diet, this is going to be tough. Even after the gym, he only gets a post-workout shake of whey protein with a tiny amount of glucose. This depletes his glycogen stores and forces his body to burn fat instead. He’s probably going to lose at least ten pounds.

The day before the shoot, he does a full-body depletion workout where he works every muscle to failure. He is not going to enjoy this. When he’s finished and you finally allow him to crawl out of the gym, you give him a big whey shake containing at least 100g of pure sugar. Glucose/dextrose is great here. Add some creatine to this drink.

Those starved muscles will grab all that glucose and water and start to swell. Your cover model continues to carb-up by eating as many simple carbs as possible: bagels, Special K, jelly beans, glucose drinks, zero-fat puddings, and drinking lots and lots of

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But he doesn’t get to relax, he now has to shave all his body hair and slap on the Protan. The darker his tan, the better his muscles will look.

By the morning of the shoot, he will have put most of those ten pounds back on, but now they are all swelling his muscles to give him abs you could grate cheese on and biceps that look like melons.

And you thought that getting your legs waxed was the ultimate in suffering for beauty.

Bodybuilder’s dessert

100ml egg white

40ml liquid L-Carnitine


Put the egg white and liquid L-Carnitine in a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy.

Turn into two containers and freeze.

That’s it.


If you want, you can fold a little yogurt into the whisked mixture to make it a little more solid. Crushed berries optional.


Have a very keto Christmas


Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, and as much black coffee as you can drink.



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Smoked salmon and salad


Roast Turkey and ham.

Brussel sprouts boiled, then sauted with lardons.

Broccoli, cauliflower and mashed celeriac.


Cranberry Ice-cream.


Coffee with cream.


Snacks and nibbles


Pistachio nuts (not the lowest carb nut, but shelling them will slow you down)

Cottage cheese mousse.

Pate. No matter how much you are tempted, make sure the pate is not made from human liver. Eating people is bad. (see Don’t Eat the Earthlings)



Cranberry ice-cream

100ml egg white, whisked till stiff

1 scoop berry flavour whey

handful of stewed fresh cranberries

30-40ml cream

Whisk the cranberries, whey and cream until smooth, then fold into the egg white.

Pour into a flat dish and freeze.


Cottage cheese mousse

1 sachet of sugar-free jelly

200g cottage cheese.

Pour 1/3 of a pint of hot water on the sugar-free jelly and stir to dissolve.

Put the cottage cheese and half the hot jelly mixture into the blender and blitz until it is smooth.

Add a tray of ice cubes to the hot jelly and stir.

Add to the blender and blitz until you can’t hear any ice rattling.

Pour into four dishes and chill until set.

Bone Basics – for men too

Why Osteoporosis matters to you.

Osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease, is not just something that old women have to worry about. You do too, and here’s why. One in three women, and one in ten men will get it, and it will destroy your quality of life far more devastatingly than heart disease or cancer. There’s no point in having a perfect heart, a well planned early retirement and an excellent pension, if you are scared to move from your armchair in case your hips break.

Risk Factors

1. Being female. Your chances of getting osteoporosis are higher if you are female, both because you can expect to live longer, and because you have smaller bones in the first place. However, men are more likely to die within six months of breaking a hip.

2. Family history. If anyone in your immediate family has osteoporosis, or has lost a significant amount of height, pay close attention.

3. Being of European or Asian decent.

4. Losing weight. If you have dropped a significant amount of weight as an adult, your bones will not thank you for it. The effect is worse if you have lost, regained and lost it again. A recent study of Irish jockeys found that many of them had compromised their bone health through over-strict dieting.

5. Missed periods, unless due to pregnancy or breastfeeding.

6. Medication, particularly corticosteroids or thyroid medication.

7. Poor diet, especially if it is based on acid-forming food like sugar and grains. Your body has to leech calcium from your bones to neutralise the acid.

8. Coffee and Coke are not bone friendly!

9. Lifestyle: lack of exercise gives bones no reason to maintain density, but too much (as in the case of marathon runners or ballet dancers) reduces bone density as well.

You can’t tell by looking how dense your bones are. The commonest test is a DEXA scan, which is usually arranged by your doctor and carried out in hospital, involving a form of x-ray at hip and spine. You can also get a quicker and cheaper DEXA scan on a heel bone. However, unless you get it done regularly, this only gives a snapshot of your bone density, and gives you a very general idea of your risk of future fractures.

A Bone turnover test is done on blood and can be done every six months or so. It is often used to determine if the drugs are working.

The good news is that there is a home test which appears to be just as accurate as the hospital tests, and which you can do yourself. Just jump. Experiments have found (yes, they really do tests on stuff like this) that your ability to do a vertical leap is directly related to your bone density.

Reach up as high as you can and make a mark on the wall. Then jump straight up and see how much higher you can touch. Do best out of three and see what the difference is between standing and jumping. 12 inches for a female or 18 for a male is considered average, but since you know your own fitness level best, you should be the best judge of your jump. If your vertical leap is not as high as you expected it would be, it may be time to start considering your bone health.

If you have doubts about your bone density, do not go rushing off looking for a prescription for Fosamax or anything similar. These drugs work by trying to prevent the breakdown of bone tissue. Unfortunately that also prevents the bones rebuilding themselves. And there are all the side-effects….

While HRT has been shown to have a slight protective effect on bones, it only lasts while you are taking it, and as soon as you stop, your bones play catch-up. And again, those side-effects….

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to improve the state of your bones.

1. Breastfeed. This is the single best thing you can do for your bones. Women who breastfeed for six months or longer have a quarter of the risk of hip fractures of those who bottle feed. When you breastfeed, your bones become metabolically active again Calcium for the baby’s milk is taken from your bones, and calcium from your diet goes back into your bones, and this process continues for six months after you wean. Even women who only eat an adequate diet have stronger bones after breastfeeding. Women who consciously plan and eat a good diet have much stronger bones.

2. Weight bearing exercise. Your bones operate on the principle of “Use it or lose it”. If you regularly overload your bones by weight training, they will respond by becoming stronger. The big compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull ups) are the ones which will benefit your bones. Slow negatives have been found to stress bones most.
Also, high impact sports like martial arts, which involve lots of kicking and punching are bone-friendly (as long as you don’t break any). Running and skipping are also good. Jump in bursts of 20 for maximum impact.

3. Diet. Believe it or not, there are still doctors telling people that a high protein diet rots your bones, in spite of all the research showing that a high protein diet, especially combined with enough calcium, tends to remineralise bones. A bone-friendly diet needs plenty of fat in it, particularly saturated fat. It also needs plenty of vegetables, mostly green ones.

4. Drink lots of water, and cups of tea. Even discounting the effect of the milk in their cups, tea drinking tends to be protective.

5. Get out into the sun. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, and the best source is sunlight. Do your cardio outside. Cod liver oil contains extra Vitamin D, fish oil doesn’t.

6. Supplement sensibly. Bodybuilding is a sport that creates a drain on calcium reserves, so it makes sense to take a good calcium/magnesium supplement. Crush it and put it into your PWO shake for maximum absorption. Vitamin K is one that is usually not included in multi-vits, but is essential to bone health. Make sure you are getting enough boron as well.

7. For men, keep your testosterone levels high. For women, don’t drop body fat to the point where your periods stop.

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