Is fish healthy?

We know there are so many positive things about incorporating fish into your diet:

  • Lean protein
  • Lighter food option
  • Omega 3
  • Lower in fat than any other source of animal protein

deep sea fish

There are also some negatives that you need to be aware of. I have made a list of fish to avoid and the reasons why:

Fish you should never eat:

  • Chilean Seabass

I was quite sad to find out this fish should be avoided as it is one of my favourites. It has very high mercury levels.

  • Farmed Salmon

Just to gross you out, the fish feed that is fed to these farmed salmon consists of chicken, duck and pig feces. This alone could be the reason why farmed salmon has 10 times the amount of cancer causing pollutants in comparison to the wild salmon. ALWAYS go for the wild option!

If that isn’t enough to put you off, the waters that these farmed salmon reside in are also often filled with pesticides, feces, bacteria and parasites.

A study where mice where fed farmed salmon showed weight gain and diabetes so if I were you I would stay well away.

You can easily tell if the salmon you buy is farmed or not by the colour:

wild vs farmed salmon

  • Catfish

Catfish might not be the most common item on the menu but it is growing in popularity. Beware as this is one of the dirtiest items on the menu as about 80% of it contains the bacteria responsible for food poisoning. Farmed catfish are also treated with antibiotics, pesticides and disinfectants so when consumed by us these drugs get into our system as well.

  • Imported farmed Shrimp

Most imported shrimp – about 90% is treated with a high oestrogen containing food additive. This increases the risk of breast cancer in women and reduces sperm count in men.

The shrimp pond waters are often treated with cancer causing pesticides and another linked with ADHD and Parkinson’s disease.

  • Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna

This is a large deep sea predatory fish that has very high levels of mercury so is best avoided. Mercury can cause neurological issues and has been linked with individuals getting symptoms of an uncontrollable tremor, numbness or pain in certain parts of the skin.

  • Swordfish

Swordfish is also a large predatory fish that contains high levels of mercury so is best avoided.

  • King and Spanish Mackerel

King and Spanish mackerel also contain high levels of mercury so is best avoided.

  • Grouper

Grouper, again has high levels of mercury.

  • Tilapia

Apparently eating tilapia is as bad as eating bacon and worse than eating a hamburger but recent studies have found that eating this type of farmed fish can increase the risk of inflammatory disease.

This are the reasons specifically associated to health. However, there are many other reasons to avoid the fish mentioned above. These include the following:

  • Extinction due to heavy fishing
  • Disturbing the natural food web
  • Reducing species
  • Farming is destroying river life and wetlands
  • Some fish is sourced from locations where unsustainable fishing practices are common
  • Imported fish is associated with a slavery network in Thailand

If you are concerned about the environment these fish should also be avoided but they do not pose as a health risk:

  • Atlantic cod
  • Atlantic flatfish
  • Caviar
  • Eel
  • Imported king crab
  • Orange roughy
  • Shark
  • Sturgeon

Not to worry, there are some fish types that are fine for you to eat and benefit your health, please see the list below:

Healthy fish options:

  • Wild caught Alaskan salmon
  • Pacific sardines
  • Atlantic mackerel
  • Albacore Tuna
  • Black cod

black cod

These fish are all farmed sustainably and contain far less contaminates. When you add these fish into your diet you will gain higher levels of omega 3 which is great for your health.

I hope I haven’t completely put you off from eating fish as I have also mentioned the great benefits it has. However, if you are put off and fish just isn’t for you any more you can still have fish oil supplements so that you don’t  miss out on the omega 3. The oils are taken from both fish caught for human consumption but also animal consumption. Please do make sure to only buy capsules made from purified fish oil or you may be exposed to contaminates.

It is not always immediately obvious as to which fish oil is purified so I have create a small list of recommended brands:

Benefits of Omega 3:

  • Fights depression and anxiety
  • Improves eye health
  • Connected with promoting brain health during pregnancy and early life
  • Improves risk factors for heart health
  • Reduces symptoms of ADHD in children
  • Reduces symptoms of metabolic syndrome
  • Fights and reduce inflammation
  • Fights autoimmune disease
  • Improves mental disorders
  • Fights age related mental decline including Alzheimer’s
  • Helps prevent cancer
  • Reduces Asthma
  • Reduces fat content in the liver
  • Alleviate menstrual pain
  • Improves sleep
  • Good for your skin

Are you sold yet? I am!

omega 3

If you are vegan or vegetarian and fish and capsules wont work for you, fear not as you can get Omega 3 from other sources including:

  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Wheat germ

However, they are not quite as good as the omega 3 found in fish.

Instagram @Keziakco

xxx

Fitness supplements – what are they and what do I buy?

A friend of mine asked me to write my next blog on fitness supplements and of course, I said ‘yeah sure’. When I came to write this, I didn’t know what the exact definition of a fitness supplement was. Does this include protein powder, vitamins or just things associated with fitness professionals like creatine and BCAAs? Let’s find out.

On further research the internet has broken these supplements into various categories:

  • Protein supplements
  • Dietary supplements
  • Pre-Workout supplements
  • Sports supplements
  • Bodybuilding supplements

The definition of a supplement is as follows:

A thing added to something else in order to complete or enhance it.

Therefore, a fitness supplement includes all of the above and is designed to support whatever you are trying to achieve within your fitness goal.

This should already help you when shopping for fitness supplements. For example, if you’re struggling with getting enough protein into your diet you know you should look for protein supplements. If you lack energy and motivation before a workout you know to search for pre-workout supplements etc.

I strongly believe in going for the most natural approach as possible. I don’t think its good practise to fill your body full of things that you are unfamiliar with. Just because they claim to do amazing things on the pack doesn’t mean they do and you need to educate yourself on what you consume before doing so.

These are the supplements in my cupboard:

  • Protein powder – to get extra protein in my diet
  • BCAA’s (Branched chain amino acids) – Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They help with maintaining and creating muscle.
  • Lysine tablets – helps the body to absorb calcium and build muscle. *
  • Calcium tablets – to strengthen my teeth and bones. *

* Both Lysine and calcium together help with the production of collagen in the body which is good for skin and looking younger. It increases bone strength and density and build muscle.

So out of the million fitness supplement options to choose from I’ve whittled it down to just 4 things. As you would have noticed I don’t use pre-workout. I find that they are very synthetic and have an extremely high caffeine content that is not entirely necessary. Also, it can’t be healthy having a huge dose of caffeine and then increasing your heart rate further when working out – just saying. Another thing that puts me off is the huge list of chemical ingredients. I don’t know what they all are so when in doubt best not to have it in my opinion. Normally I don’t actually find a need to get additional energy before the gym and I wouldn’t want my body to get used to the extra boost and rely on this before every gym session. However, if I am exhausted and severely lacking energy I would either have a black coffee or espresso or alternatively make myself a matcha latte. I use the natural ground matcha that can be bought on Amazon – click here.

Fitness supplements

Match is extremely healthy and also very tasty. The latte tastes sweet but you can add some sweetener or agave syrup to sweeten and it will taste just like the ice cream (if you’ve ever tried it).

Matcha latte

Steps to making a matcha Latte:

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon matcha Powder
  • 1 cup of milk (almond, cashew, oat, skimmed, soya – your preference)
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup

Steps:

  1. Poor cup of selected milk into saucepan
  2. Add one teaspoon on matcha powder
  3. Add one teaspoon of agave syrup
  4. Heat until boiling and serve

And the result should look like this:

What I use to boost my health - matcha

There are so many variations in the way that you can make a matcha latte. Here is some inspiration of pictures I took from Instagram:

There are so many fitness supplements out there, here is a list of others you can explore in your own time as these might work better for you and your personal goal:

  • Fat burners
  • Creatine
  • Casein
  • Multivitamins
  • Fish oil capsules

This selection of fitness supplements work for me and for what I’m trying to achieve but everyone is different. I suggest try things and see how they work for you. Remember less is more and always try to find a natural alternative if you can.

What fitness supplements do you use?

Instagram – @keziakco

xxx

Fitness myths – Mythbuster 2018

I have constructed a list of fitness myths that need to die. Carry on reading to understand these myths and misconceptions that could be holding you back.

  1. No pain no gain true or false?

No pain no gain fitness myths

Your training programs should not be painful. You want to challenge your body, get out of your comfort zone but actual pain should not be a part of it. If you experience pain when working out something is wrong. You have probably developed or are developing an injury and if you persist it will get worse and could result in your training coming to an end. Listen to your body as pain is a sign to stop.

It simply isn’t worth it as pain caused by exercise can often mean – electrolyte imbalance, mental burnout, injured muscles, damaged joints or all of the above. You then will not be able to work out for a significant period of time meaning that you cannot achieve your fitness goal.

Try and mix up your workouts to avoid strain on the same muscles over and over again. This allows you to get a well-balanced workout and body and the whole body can benefit.

Stretching before and after a workout helps to reduce the after workout aches we often all experience. This is vital in preventing injuries and assisting with muscle recovery.

Mythbuster – fatigue, sweat and endurance is all required for an effective workout but pain should not be a part of it.

  1. Lifting heavy weights bulks you up

lifting heavy bulks you up - fitness myths

Lifting weights helps you burn more calories than you would if you were to just do cardio. When you do cardio you burn and when you stop you stop burning the calories. When you lift weights you burn calories and then continue to burn calories for a considerable amount of time after your workout has finished. Burning calories makes you lose weight so this would suggest lifting weights contributes to making you smaller not bigger.

Weight training is used to shape your body and it’s your choice how you plan to shape it. If you want a perkier bum – squats and deadlifts or if you would like shapely toned arms you can work on your upper body.

Weight training alone will not bulk up your body, in order to bulk up you have to bulk up your diet as well.

Mythbuster – If you do weight training you aren’t going to wake up with Popeys muscles unless you’re eating a hell of a lot of food to match.

  1. Exercise machines beat free weights

machines vs free weights fitness myths

Both have their pros and cons

Exercise machines are great for beginners and they help with form and getting the movement correct. Exercise machines are also very easy to learn and makes what could be a complex movement, easy.

You use more muscles when using free weights. When using free weights the large muscles and all the tiny ones we are hardly aware of are hard at work. This means you are able to get the most out of your workout.

Mythbuster – personally free weights win for me every time. I rarely use assisted machines apart from the leg press. I just believe that you should only need to do what your body is capable of doing alone.

  1. Running on a treadmill is just as good as running outside

treadmill vs running outside fitness myths

Running outdoors is definitely more beneficial than running on the treadmill and here are some reasons why:

  • Weather, the wind, heat and cold all set up various different conditions that make our bodies work harder to adapt and so burn more calories. The wind give us resistance we have to work hard to fight against, the heat and the cold make our bodies work harder to regulate our temperatures therefore burning more as we exercise
  • Running outside is far more interesting than the treadmill. People often say that a minute on a treadmill can feel close to an hour but this is quite different when running outside. I quite enjoy running through the park on a sunny day as it’s a great way to be outside, get some fresh air and see the countryside.

Mythbuster – How does running on a treadmill compare to running outside? Well the answer is simple, outside the terrain varies so gives you a better workout than the consistent level terrain that the treadmill offers.

  1. You can’t work out when you’re sick

work out when sick fitness myths

Winter is coming and flu season is upon us, so does this mean we can’t work out when we catch a bug? This is absolute rubbish, in fact, if I have a fluy symptoms or even a hangover I find it great to sweat out the germs. Once the germs are out of your system you must still be mindful that you are not at 100% of your health. Take care to have a warm shower and wear warm dry clothes after a workout. Continue with any medication, vitamin C, warm teas and soups and get plenty of sleep. In no time you will be feeling great and smashing the gym again.

I recommend working out to boost your immune system but please don’t attempt anything too strenuous on the body. Perhaps a light jog and some medium to light weights will do the job. You have to remember your body is not at its best so recovery is harder than when you are at optimum health.

Also if you have anything more serious than a hangover or the flu please seek medical advice if you want to continuing working out.

Mythbuster – exercising regularly will reduce the chances of you getting sick in the first place. If you have flue like symptoms or a hangover, toughen up and sweat it out, this will make you feel better quicker in the long run.

  1. Crunches are the best exercise to give you abs

crunches give you abs fitness myth

There are so many exercises that are amazing for your core it is almost rude to suggest that crunches are the best. Here is a list of just some of the exercises that can be used for core exercise and strength:

  • Front plank

front plank

  • Crunches

crunches

  • Leg lowering

leg lowering

  • Dying bug

dying bug

  • Long lever front plank

long lever front plank

  • Side plank

side plank

  • Side plank with leg lift

side plank leg lift

  • Side plank band row

side plank band row

Let  me put some perspective on this. Think of someone who is overweight and they do 100 crunches a day in the hope that they will get abs. They will indeed strengthen their core muscles and underneath the layers of fat there will be stronger muscles but this will not be visible. You have to shed the fat first with a combination of cardio, weight training and a healthy diet. In time you will then see the results you are looking for – ABS.

Mythbuster – this is an outdated approach to abs. In fact as they say, abs are made in the kitchen. All exercise contributes to abs but all of the exercises listed above target the core muscles along with cardio, weight training and a healthy balanced diet.

  1. Running beats walking

running vs walking fitness myths

The ultimate goal for everyone is health and fitness so walking and or running is pushing you in the right direction. I would say after this it would depend on what you want to achieve.

Going for a leisurely country walk will increase your steps and indeed increase calories burned but you will have to walk a lot further to burn the same amount of calories if you were to run the same route.

Walking on an incline on the treadmill has a very similar calorie burn rate to that of running of a flat surface.

Personally my preference is walking on an incline. This increases fitness, burns calories and isn’t so aggressive on the knees. I also find that it maintains and increases leg and booty muscles. If your interested in keeping your shape I would opt for incline walks instead of flat running but if your main focus is weightloss definitely start running as much as possible.

If you look at Olympic long distance runners you can often see they have a very flat body shape. It is of course a matter of preference but I like to keep my shape hence the incline approach.

Mythbuster– if you run on the flat and walk the same distance running will of course burn more calories over a shorter period.

Both running and walking are great to improve health and fitness

Running on a treadmill and walking at an incline burn at a similar rate so are equal.

Running on the flat makes you skinny all over (with good diet) whilst incline walks maintain your body shape.

  1. You can target your fat burn

targetted fat burning fitness myth

As mentioned previously we know that doing 100 crunches a day isn’t going to give us abs, just as doing 500 tricep-dips isn’t going to get rid of our bingo wings. It is making sure you do a well-rounded exercise targeting the entire body and of course with a key focus on our problem areas.

Mythbuster – Targeted fat loss or spot reduction is an absolute myth – there is no scientific evidence to suggest that this is at all possible.

Read more on this in a great article written by The Body Coach.

  1. You shouldn’t work out on an empty stomach (fasted or fed workout)

working out on an empty stomach fitness myths

Ultimately there are pros and cons to both fed and fasted workouts. It is really about listening to your body and realising what works best for you. If you have your breakfast and coffee in the morning and feel this surge of energy that gets you through your workout its probably best to stick to this method. Some people like to work out first thing and don’t have the stomach for food at 5am and prefer to work up and appetite. Again, if this is you it might be best to stick with what’s currently working. If you’re new to working out I would recommend doing a week of both and weighing up your own pros and cons.

Mythbuster – There is no evidence to suggest that a fasted workout is bad. There is plenty of evidence to show the benefits of both fasted and fed workouts, all very interesting:

Fed:

Should you eat before a workout?

Fasted:

Exercising empty stomach secret weight loss

I would personally recommend doing a mixture of the two and design a pattern that fits in with your lifestyle.

  1. Sweating means you’re out of shape

sweating means you are unfit fitness myths

Everyone is different when sweating during a workout. Sweat is basically a cooling mechanism of the body, but is it linked to being out of shape or less fit?

Sweating sooner whilst exercising can actually be a sign that you are fitter than those who have not yet started to sweat. This is simply that your body is more acclimatised to the exercising conditions and is more efficient at cooling down.

Please make sure you are aware of how much you sweat during a workout and you need to replenish this amount of liquid lost. Make sure you always have water to hand whilst exercising to avoid dehydration.

Mythbuster– sweating is the bodies normal response to exercising and most definitely is not an indication that you are unfit.

Instagram @keziakco

xxx