I am delighted to launch our Monthly No 17 Newsletter. This is something I have wanted to do for some time now. Our aim is to have a monthly newsletter with updates for all our clients and followers. Each month we promise to deliver exciting and informative content. This will not just be a newsletter about fitness or weight loss. Our goal for this newsletter is to deliver informative content, feature stories on our clients and what they get up to and interviews with some experts in the fields of business, sport, fashion, health and wellness.
Recipe of the month
Exercise of the Month
No 17 Athlete of the month
Nutrition for health / well-being / fat-loss and proper nutrition can be a rather controversial topic, with experts differing in opinion and one in which you find contradictory information everywhere you turn. And it is a topic which you will have to make up your own mind about. At No.17 Personal Training we have our own views, made from educated decisions made over the past decade, and this is your turn to make your own educated decision. This is our opportunity to impart advice on nutrition that we believe will benefit you, no matter who you are, no matter what age, no matter what sex.
The Truth about Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates, also called saccharides, are sugars or starches and they come in many different forms. Carbohydrates in the diet include vegetables, fruits, breads, pastas, cereals, etc. And when these are broken down within the digestive system, their smallest possible unit is glucose which is a unit of sugar. That is what all carbohydrates are made of, essentially: sugar.
Carbohydrates are not classed as essential nutrients for humans. We could get all our energy from fats and proteins if we had to. However, our brain requires carbohydrates, specifically glucose. Neurons (cells of the nervous system and brain) cannot burn fat.
• 1 gram of carbohydrate contains approximately 4 kilocalories (kcal)
• 1 gram of protein contains approximately 4 kcal
• 1 gram of fat contains approximately 9 kcal
“The truth about carbohydrates…” We can see from these numbers that, gram for gram, protein gives the same amount of energy as carbohydrates. However, proteins are used in both forms of metabolism – anabolism (building and maintaining tissue and cells) and catabolism (breaking molecules down and releasing/producing energy). So, the consumption of protein cannot be calculated in the same way as fats or carbohydrates when measuring our body’s energy needs.
Not all carbohydrates are used as fuel (energy). A lot of dietary fibre is made of polysaccharides that our bodies do not digest.
What happens to sugar levels in the blood?
When we eat food with carbohydrates in them, our digestive system breaks some of them down into glucose. This glucose enters the blood, raising blood sugar (glucose) levels. When blood glucose levels rise, beta cells in the pancreas release insulin. Insulin is a hormone that makes our cells absorb blood sugar for energy or storage. As the cells absorb the sugar, blood sugar levels start to drop. When blood sugar levels drop below a certain point alpha cells in the pancreas release glucagon. Glucagon is a hormone that makes the liver release glycogen – a sugar stored in the liver.
Insulin and glucagon help maintain strict levels of blood glucose for our cells, especially our brain cells. Insulin brings excess blood glucose levels down, while glucagon brings levels back up when they are too low.
If blood glucose levels are rising too rapidly and too often over a period of time, the cells can eventually become faulty and not respond properly to insulin’s “absorb blood energy and store” instruction; over time they require a higher level of insulin to react – we call this insulin resistance. Eventually, the beta cells in the pancreas wear out – because they have had to produce lots of insulin for many years – insulin production drops and eventually packs in altogether.
Insulin resistance leads to high blood pressure, high blood fat levels (triglycerides), low levels of good cholesterol (HDL), weight gain and other diseases. All these illnesses, together with insulin resistance, is called metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome leads to type 2 diabetes.
If over the long-term, blood sugar levels can be controlled without large quantities of insulin being released, the chances of developing metabolic syndrome are considerably lower. Natural carbohydrates, such as those found in fruits and vegetables, legumes, etc., tend to enter the bloodstream more slowly compared to the carbohydrates found in processed foods such as breads, pastas and pastries. Good sleep and regular exercise also help regulate blood sugar and the hormone control.
Carbohydrates which quickly raise blood sugar are said to have a high glycaemic index, while those that have a gentler effect on blood sugar levels have a lower glycaemic index.
The glycaemic index explained (GI)
Carbohydrates enter the bloodstream as glucose at different rates – high glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates enter the bloodstream as glucose rapidly, while low GI carbohydrates enter slowly because they take longer to digest and break down. And so a scale was designed, to rank carbohydrates from a level of 0 to 100, where 0 is a food containing no carbohydrate sugars, and 200 is pure glucose.
A meal with lower GI carbohydrates will raise your blood glucose levels more slowly, and over a longer period – this is better for long-term health and body weight control.
Low GI carbohydrates have the following benefits:
• Low glycaemic diets may be better for weight loss. A diet of foods less likely to spike blood sugar levels helps dieters lose more weight, according to a systematic review from Australia.
• You will have better diabetes control, or indeed, will prevent diabetes development.
• Your blood cholesterol levels will most likely remain healthy.
• Your risk of heart disease is lower.
• It will take longer for you to become hungry after a meal.
• Your physical endurance will improve.
Exercise of the month: The Humble Kettlebell Swing.
Kettlebells were developed in Russia in the 1700s, primarily for weighing crops. It is said that these farmers became stronger and found them useful for showing off their strength during festivals. The Soviet army used them as part of their physical training and conditioning programs in the 20th century .They had been used for competition and sports throughout Russia and Europe since the 1940s. Though kettlebells had been in the United States in some form since the 1960s or earlier, Dragon Door Publications and Pavel Tsatsouline developed the first instructor certification program in the USA in 2001. Pavel Tsatsouline is still one of the main Kettlebell Gurus in Europe and the US.
Personally, I like to use Kettlebells for conditioning, strength work, rehabilitation, and in order to make warm-ups more specific to the workout that will follow. Kettlebell training is a very cost effective way to train absolutely every muscle in your body. When you train smart with a kettlebell you can reap all sorts of benefits.
Over the next few months we will be giving different exercises that you can do with a kettlebell in the comfort of your own home.
The Kettlebell swing: There are three variations of the two-handed Kettlebell swing: Russian swings, American swings and power swings. The most common one we like to use is the Russian swing.
Method: Starting with the kettlebell in between your feet make sure to get your back and hamstrings loaded in a safe stating position. From here accelerate the hips and knees to extension by squeezing with the glutes and legs. This will allow the kettlebell to be propelled upwards to shoulder height with speed. Note this is not an upper body strength developer so do not try to muscle it up with your arms. The momentum generated using the muscles of your lower body makes this move happen. As soon as the kettlebell reaches shoulder height, guide it back down between your legs to load your hamstrings then accelerate it back to shoulder height again. It is essential to maintain a neutral spine on each repetition by keeping your shoulders back and chest out in excellent posture. Keep your midline tight throughout the full movement.
Here is the link to a video of Sophie demonstrating the perfect Kettlebell swing technique:
Muscles worked on the Kettlebell swing include the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps muscle, the core, arms and shoulders.
No 17 Featured Athlete of the Month
At No 17 we train various different types of clients. I work remotely with clients all over the EU, the Middle East and in the United States. Over the coming months, we will run different features on some of our in-house clients, as well as on some of the athletes that we work with overseas.
Here is a brief interview I just did with an amazing athlete I’m working with at the moment. Naomi Sturdy is a competitive rock climber and Yoga instructor. I’ve been working with Naomi for a few months now and have had great success with creating new movement patterns and creating better structural balance.
John: Naomi what’s your sporting background?
Naomi: I was always interested in exercise and activities in general, I knew I wanted to work in this area so when I finished secondary school I went on the study Physical Education teaching in the University of Limerick. I was involved in a lot of activities and I loved swimming in particular. In my third year in University I joined the rock climbing and mountaineering club. I fell in love with the idea of going into the outdoors and being active. We travelled to Scotland and the Alps mountaineering and then after a couple of years I became more involved in rock climbing as a sport. I started to train more and become more knowledgeable about the benefits of training and then I also found Yoga as a means initially of balancing climbing training but I also was drawn by the relaxation and calming benefits. I love having the balance of climbing and yoga in my life now and being able to share yoga with others through my work is hugely rewarding for me.
John: So you’re a rock climber, tell us a little bit about what your sport involves?
Naomi: In climbing there are many different facets. There is traditional climbing which is done in Ireland. You climb on a rope and you place your own gear for protection in the rock as you climb. This type of climbing is more risky. Sport climbing then also involves climbing on a rope but there are pre-placed bolts in the rock that you clip to for protection so that it is not as risky. This type of climbing allows you to challenge your physical abilities, to try harder movements without a big risk of injury or death from falling. Then there is bouldering which means that you climb boulders, which are shorter in height than rock faces. The climbing movements are more compact and then in general more powerful, technical and harder than movements on longer routes. There are pads/mats placed underneath the boulders on the ground to protect from injury if you fall.
John: Is rock climbing a fast growing sport in Ireland?
Naomi: Yes, very much so! Climbing in general around the world is growing at a rapid rate. It is a very young sport and had been for a long time, an activity undertaken as a means of adventure, or to get out into the outdoors. Now the competitive elements of the sport are growing and sport science is being applied to training and performing and the standards are being pushed constantly. Facilities are also improving and in Ireland in the last few years two major indoor walls have opened in Dublin. This allows climbers to train all year round in any weather meaning that everyone is getting stronger!
John: Do you have to be very fit to attempt climbing or are there different levels?
Naomi: Climbing is amazing in the sense that it involves all elements of fitness, forearm strength, finger strength, shoulder strength, power, aerobic fitness, core strength, flexibility, balance, co-ordination, I could go on! Then you need to be able to combine any one or all of them together to complete climbs. The good part is that they are grades and levels to suit all abilities and anyone can enjoy climbing at their level and challenge themselves to improve.
John: How has your training at No 17 helped with your climbing?
Naomi: I came to no.17 with specific weaknesses which I need to improve and have been hindering my climbing movement and progression. My leg strength and core strength is definitely improving and my overall power. It has opened my eyes to my potential and how much more I can achieve which is also a huge plus. I am also not a hugely confident or forceful person when it comes to power movements and being sure of myself, so I feel I am gaining a lot from the encouragement and support.
Make sure to follow Naomi on twitter and Facebook
Recipe of the Month: Chicken and Sweet Potato with Shallots
3 medium (5″-6″) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 2″ pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons coconut oil
4 (4-6oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 shallots, sliced into thick rings
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
Wash and chop the sweet potatoes. Place in a large pot and cover with cold water.
Bring pot to a boil. Once boiling, add 1 teaspoon sea salt and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until tender (about 14-16 minutes).
Reserve 1/4 cup of cooking water. Drain remaining liquid and return sweet potatoes to pot. Mash with reserved cooking water.
Meanwhile, season chicken with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper.
Heat 4 tablespoons of coconut oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
When pan is hot, add sliced shallots and rosemary and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add chicken breasts to pan and pan-fry until golden brown and fully cooked (7-8 min per side).
Serve with mashed sweet potatoes on the side.
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