Category Archives: Anti-ageing

Ladies: Why Getting Strong Will Make You a Goddess in 2017 (Part 1)

It is safe to say that females are as delusional about what comprises an ‘ideal’ physique, as men are when it comes to thinking more muscle mass is better. Both of these misconceptions have persisted for decades now, but this post will aim to elucidate the erroneous mindset many women have towards training and their desired body composition. Specifically, I will explain why strength & power-based training will make women healthier… Not bulkier, as the pervasive myth would suggest.

What Fuels Women’s Aversion to Strength Training?

1. Perceived Norms Mistake Healthy For Hulk-Like

Quite contrary to the commonly strived for stick-thin model look, the consensus amongst males is that strong women are healthy, and healthy is desirable. And this is not purely coming from my own strength-biased mouth; a study involving 842 college students explored both the same-sex and inter-sex perceptions of attractiveness related to physique.

There was a significant discrepancy from both the females’ and males’ perspective of what the opposite gender considered most attractive, with women shooting for skinny and men aspiring toward the bodybuilder end of the spectrum. So while there is nothing inherently wrong with either of these looks, the conventional motivation for achieving them is often unfounded; that being to attract the opposite sex.

Not only do men find more wholesome-looking women attractive, but a fixation with weight loss (as encouraged by social media) lends itself to all sorts of damaging health consequences for; extreme diets, use of laxatives, chronic endurance exercise, eating disorders, and so on and so forth.

The majority of men don’t care whether your abs are visible, ladies. Nor do most men give a sh*t if you have a ‘box gap’ – one of the most cringeworthy trends of the 21st century. Just like 99.9% of women couldn’t care less what a man can bench press. Sorry bro’s, but 100kg is the same as 140kg in her books. We are such delusional creatures.

As inconceivable as this may be for many of you, female (and many male) runway models epitomise perhaps the most unhealthy body type classification there is: ‘skinny fat’. No muscle mass on their frames, and a relatively great proportion of fat (albeit not evident). Skinny fat people tend to carry the most dangerous fat our bodies can store; visceral fat (VF). The kind of fat that accumulates in and around our vital organs.

The best way to avoid this toxic fat from engulfing you is primarily through focusing on quality foods and exercising regularly. Quality, whole foods and caloric restriction is the best mode of preventing VF storage, but simply minimising processed food intake (as opposed to restricting quantity) if you are already lean is your best bet. Exercise-wise, both cardiovascular and strength training demonstrate a similar reduction in VF, but this outcome is augmented when both are incorporated in a programme.

I am sure we can all attest to having that one friend who can put away substantial quantities of fast food every day, yet never seems to change superficially. And I am also certain that many of us feel envy over this ‘unfair’ ability. This envy is unreasonable though, since most skinny fat people become complacent with the fact that they don’t have much subcutaneous fat (the less lethal adipose tissue, and what we typically consider body fat).

Joey Chestnut & Takeru Kobayashi – World Eating Champions and Prime Examples of Skinny-Fat


And the above discussion revolving around body composition is exactly why I resent the body mass index (BMI); it is such a redundant parameter of health that really has no place in public health, let alone athletic individuals. Lots of laypeople using this calculator, who don’t know better, can yield normal (‘healthy’) BMIs despite potentially having alarming levels of visceral fat.

Anyhow, women usually avoid strength training in light of their effort to attain an ‘ideal’ level of thinness; because they associate weights with bulky muscles (and thus deem it antithetical to their dream body).

This last point concerning training-induced bulkiness is a whole other fallacy in itself, which I will briefly talk about next.


2. Strength Training is Associated With Masculinity & Bodybuilder Stereotypes

Now this is arguably a more potent deterrent than point #1, since people immediately link moving iron with a classic bodybuilder look. It is ludicrous to believe that modest strain in the gym will cause you to wake up looking at The Hulk in the bedroom mirror.

The fact of the matter is, women have 10% of the testosterone running through their veins as men do, which is a molecule instrumental to muscle protein synthesis (MPS; i.e. hypertrophy gainz) post-training. Even men with normal levels of testosterone are hard-pressed to get ‘too big’ with strength training a few times a week.

Countless studies dispel the bulky myth; ‘…acute responses in testosterone are limited in women and the elderly, mitigating the hypertrophic potential in these populations.’

It takes tremendous time, effort, and food to look like a bodybuilder; and that is just from a bloke’s point of view. It is an unrealistic expectation for females.

So, the unfortunate weight-lifting stereotype brought to mind is the product of steroid abuse. Steroids have devastating consequences for females, both socially and aesthetically. Obviously, anabolic steroids are none of our business, but we just needed to flesh that one out.













3. Cardiovascular/Aerobic Exercise Will ‘Give You Long & Toned Muscles’

Just as we appear to rapidly lose a few kilograms on a low-carb/keto diet, when it is ultimately just water weight (*roughly 3 grams of water is bound to every gram of glycogen), there is an instant weight loss gratification derived from cardio exercise. This is quite misleading since most people assume the reduction in bodyweight directly corresponds to fat loss. Yeah, a small proportion of this will be body fat, but it is predominantly depletion of muscle glycogen.

Let me be clear about what I mean when I mention by cardio: sub-maximal, prolonged periods of exercise whereby the intensity is relatively constant (~60-80% HRmax). Of course, if you actually enjoy this type of exercise or even find it psychologically therapeutic, continue to do it; I just want to inform the people that enslave themselves to cardio for want of a more aesthetic physique. To these folk, I would advise brisk walking often and an occasional sprint session.

Sorry to tell you, but beyond immediate weight loss, cardio won’t do much for body composition. Here are a few points why aerobic exercise is inferior to resistance training (RT) when it comes to our physiques:

  • Aerobic activity does facilitate greater energy expenditure than weight training during the exercise bout, but this difference is inconsequential for 2 main reasons; excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and long-term energy expenditure. It is difficult to quantify EPOC because it depends on a few variables, but it is usually significant enough to result in equal to or greater energy cost over a 24-hour period after RT, when compared to cardio. Secondly, our basal metabolic rate (BMR; amount of energy required to survive) rises as a result of improving our muscle:fat ratio with RT. Muscle is much more energy-inefficient (N.B. this is a good thing) than fat, in that it is very demanding to maintain. In short, having a greater proportion of muscle (not necessarily more bodyweight) will increase the threshold of food you can eat before gaining fat. Cardio breaks down muscle and fat which isn’t helpful.
  • It is very easy to overestimate the amount of energy we burn doing cardio. This is attributable to: inaccurate calculators on commercial gym equipment like ellipticals and treadmills; sweat and body heat deceiving us; and, of course, the effort required to perform the same thing for 20+mins…Monotony makes things appear harder (well, that’s the conclusion I came to during my steady-state ‘recovery’ runs a few years back!). Although cardio and RT both acutely reduce the appetite hormone ghrelin, I feel that many people overcompensate later in the day with the belief that their cardio session justifies more food. To illustrate my point, a 55kg woman might burn (approximately) 285 calories during a 30 minute run @6min/km pace. This equivalent to ~2 medium bananas. You are better off simply exercising some willpower to reduce your food intake rather than going through the motions jogging, if the goal is weight loss.

*If you truly love cardio or need to perform it as preparation for certain endurance races, do it!

Just understand that it is misdirected effort if you are running, spin-biking, etc. with the purpose of fat loss or improved body composition. This is undoubtedly best achieved by lifting heavy a few times a week, and lots of walking.

In part 2, I will outline:

-How females should go about starting strength training; or, for those who have some experience with it, train more optimally

-The few positives of Crossfit

-How females should eat to support their training & goals

…And more!











3 Easy Strategies To Prevent Fat Gain This Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner, which inevitably means banquets of delightful foods. It is a season to be enjoyed but, for the health-conscious individual, represents a formidable threat to one’s discipline and concomitant fat loss efforts.

While the suggestions I will outline in this article are by no means revelatory, they deserve consideration if you want to exercise your innate hedonism this social season, without derailing your fat loss progress. Let’s go into the New Year in a position that is propitious to attaining our fitness ‘resolutions’.

1. Sparkling Water Is Your Friend

Not only is carbonated water more palatable and satiating than still water, its use as a mixer can dramatically reduce our total caloric intake for the day.

Unless you have ever inspected the nutritional panel of foods and beverages you commonly consume, it is likely that you underestimate the calories within them. Similarly, for those with a basic understanding of nutritional composition, high-calorie drinks lend themselves to excessive energy intake and weight gain. I believe what and how much we drink at this time of the year is more culpable than our food indulgences, from a fat gain perspective.

As we would expect, carbonated water has demonstrated prolonged gastric emptying and feelings of fullness.

Add some lemon juice to a glass of soda water before a meal. Dilute your favourite juice or spirits with it. Keep a bottle of San Pellegrino on hand wherever you go. Use it in your salad dressing recipe. Wot?




2. ‘Hara Hachi Bu’, and Eating Mindfully

It is widely accepted that the Okinawan people of Japan perpetually claim the world’s greatest longevity, per capita; but few people are aware of the key custom that underlies their supreme leanness.

‘Hara Hachi Bu’ translates from Japanese as ‘eat until 80% full’, and has been employed by Japanese people for generations. This inherently simple, yet tremendously effective principle, necessitates that the individual eats both intuitively and mindfully.

In today’s obese climate, however, most people find eating intuitively a piece of cake (to their heart’s content, without any accountability), but the mindful component of ‘Hara Hachi Bu’ undoubtedly evades most of us. Particularly with our smartphones and various gadgets at hands reach, 24/7. It is only when both intuition and mindfulness are employed concurrently that this strategy works; they depend upon each other.

What I like most about this concept is that it embodies a way in which we can consume a calorie deficit, and thus lose fat, without counting calories or being neurotic. Rather, we can listen to internal cues of hunger.

So, I understand this concept is easier said than done (as with most behavioural interventions), but there are a few sub-strategies we can use to successfully implement it:

  • Quarantine your phone, and turn off the T.V, at meal times
  • Chew your food. You might find this suggestion comical, but the amount of people that inhale their food like my dog Slater, is very real
  • Have a cup of tea after a your first serve (or plateful). Anecdotally, I find a cup of green tea after or with my meal allows my internal hunger cues to ease, and digestion improves
  • Replete a smaller plate with food



3. Reduce Meal Frequency, and Skip Breakfast

Yes, many of the papers examining the effect of meal frequency on body composition almost invariably favour the higher frequency group (albeit marginally), but these findings are correlational and causation shouldn’t be assumed. What I mean by this is that, generally, the type of person that usually eats irregularly, is the same person that skips breakfast and subsequently proceeds to eating donuts (or similar junk) at work; and then binges at night after a sedentary work-day. Generally.

Further, seldom do these papers incorporate intentional, intermittent fasts in the lower frequency meal groups. The myth of ‘eating around the clock to stoke one’s metabolic fire’ has been propagated by ripped gym-junkies for years, but it is scientifically unfounded. This systematic review headed by nutrition pioneer, Alan Aragon, found that body composition changes were almost identical when comparing isoenergetic (same amount of calories) diets in high frequency (HFM) VS. low frequency (LFM) meal groups.

Insulin sensitivity, or our glycemic control, is also improved in the LFM, when 3 meals/day was compared with 14 a day. This effect is augmented by fasting, which can easily be achieved by pushing breakfast back a few hours.

Rarely does the morning call for social gatherings during this time of year, so I suggest strategically fasting for the first 2-6 hours of the day. Wake up, have some coffee, and use this time to be productive. Run errands, smash an early gym session before the day gets too busy. Don’t brood over food.

Fasting during the first half of the day will give you a nice energy buffer, and allow you to get away with feasting at night, when we are most social. I am not currently fasting every day, purely because I am gaining weight and find breakfast more conducive to this goal; but I understand the general population usually desires weight loss, and this is where strategic fasting is very handy (not to mention the whole host of other benefits associated with it).

I believe it is advantageous, and much more enjoyable, to consume 3 large meals a day as opposed to grazing constantly. Who actually enjoys teasing themselves with tiny servings, and thinking about food all day?



That’s it, guys and gals. Feel free to message me with questions, or if you are interested in my coaching services.

Healthy regards,




Cavanagh, K., Vartanian, L. R., Herman, C. P., & Polivy, J. (2014). The effect of portion size on food intake is robust to brief education and mindfulness exercises. J Health Psychol, 19(6), 730-739. doi: 10.1177/1359105313478645

Fukkoshi, Y., Akamatsu, R., & Shimpo, M. (2015). The relationship of eating until 80% full with types and energy values of food consumed. Eating behaviors, 17, 153-156.

Katterman, S. N., Kleinman, B. M., Hood, M. M., Nackers, L. M., & Corsica, J. A. (2014). Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: A systematic review. Eating behaviors, 15(2), 197-204.

Munsters, M. J., & Saris, W. H. (2012). Effects of meal frequency on metabolic profiles and substrate partitioning in lean healthy males. PLoS One, 7(6), e38632.

Schoenfeld, B. J., Aragon, A. A., Wilborn, C. D., Krieger, J. W., & Sonmez, G. T. (2014). Body composition changes associated with fasted versus non-fasted aerobic exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), 1.

Tate, D. F., Turner-McGrievy, G., Lyons, E., Stevens, J., Erickson, K., Polzien, K., . . . Popkin, B. (2012). Replacing caloric beverages with water or diet beverages for weight loss in adults: main results of the Choose Healthy Options Consciously Everyday (CHOICE)

Zhu, Y., & Hollis, J. H. (2015). Relationship between chewing behavior and body weight status in fully dentate healthy adults. International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 66(2), 135-139.

How The ‘Gut Microbiome’ Ultimately Governs Our Health

The concept of ‘hitting’ one’s macronutrients, or even merely calorie-counting, is as pervasive as ever in the fitness world; and, while I don’t deny the importance of tracking macros or calories for body composition purposes, I do believe the macro obsession obscures the bigger picture.

That bigger picture is our gut health, or ‘gut microbiome’.

Don’t worry if you are one of the majority whom has never heard the above notion before, as you should walk away from this post enlightened and equipped to improve your own gut health, and overall wellbeing.

A snapshot of the gut microbiome:

  • Microbiome: micro = small; biome = community of naturally-occurring organisms suited to their given environment
  • Human beings consist of ~70 trillion cells (using a 70kg, 170cm male as reference), with bacteria cells outnumbering human cells by roughly 30%
  • There is thought to be 1000+ different species of microbiota, encoding 10 million genes, in our gastrointestinal tract (GIT)
  • It heavily influences our metabolism, immune cell education, disease prevention, brain function & psychology… To name but a few of its roles. Basically, the gut microbiome impacts ALL parameters of our health, and research is continually mounting to corroborate this idea
  • It can be considered a ‘2nd brain’, perhaps more powerful than our 1st brain; and, collectively weighing 3-5 pounds (thus the same volume)
  • Scientists are still yet to fully comprehend this colony of flora and fauna that exists within humans, but they ARE certain of its significant influence on our health




‘Leaky Gut’ Syndrome (LGS)

LGS is exactly as it sounds: hyper-permeability of the intestinal wall, consequently resulting in ‘leakage’ of undigested molecules, waste products, and toxins, into the bloodstream. Particles that escape the GIT may travel to other areas of the body, including the brain, and trigger global inflammatory effects… which may devolve into disease.

LGS may manifest itself as:

  • Gas & bloating after meals
  • Brain fog
  • Mood swings
  • Multiple food sensitivities
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhoea
  • Chronic fatigue and joint achiness

LGS is also a key culprit in vitamin & mineral deficiencies, as carrier proteins get damaged or filtered into the bloodstream; iron, vitamin B12, magnesium, calcium, folate, zinc and vitamin D are most at-risk.

Now, many of you are probably associating the above symptoms with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and you aren’t wrong… But they are not synonymous. IBS & LGS are closely linked, in that they may precipitate one another and often co-exist.

Essentially, IBS is stomach upset (i.e. cramping, diarrhoea, constipation) and LGS is when the gut lining becomes porous.

Our diet is one major contributor to both LGS & IBS, and the good news is that it also serves as the most easily modifiable factor in these conditions.

Scientific literature reports a range of incidence rates of IBS, given the various criteria sets used to diagnose IBS. And while many studies estimate Australia’s IBS incidence to be in the vicinity of ~20%, this is a gross underestimation as only 30% of those with symptoms report it.

More people than not are dismissing abnormal bowel movements, chronic lethargy & brain fog as normal. Perhaps it is fair to say that this dismissive culture has been bred by allopathic medicine (and the countless, dismissive doctors whom constitute it).

The scary thing is that mental illness & obesity have become so prevalent that they too may be termed ‘normal’, in today’s society. 20+% of 16-85 year-old Australians will experience mental illness at some point in any given year, and depression is the #1 cause of non-fatal disability. This is not a coincidence.


The Gut-Brain Axis

When I first read of the purported impact our gut microbiota could have on our brain function, I was somewhat sceptical. But after diving deeper into the research, the gut-brain link appears irrefutable.

There is now compelling evidence that gut microbiota can influence humans’ behaviour, with particular note to depressive-like symptoms. The reciprocal gut-brain relationship seemingly takes place at the central nervous system level, with the brain regulating things like gut motility and secretion; and the gut regulating mood.

The main mechanisms by which an altered microbiota state predisposes us to anxiety and depression are believed to relate to cytokine production; and reduced circulating serotonin & tryptophan.

When our intestinal permeability increases, pro-inflammatory messengers termed ‘cytokines’ are released by immune cells, and heavily implicated in psychological disorders, as well as an array of diseases. Depression is more-so a symptom of inflammation than a disease.


Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) widely known as the chief commander of mood & sense of well-being. What most people don’t realise is that 80-90% of our total serotonin resides in our GIT.

Gut bacteria (such as probiotics) both produce and respond to the same neurochemicals—such as GABA, serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine and melatonin—that the brain uses to regulate mood and cognition.

The translocation of our ‘good’ gut bacteria across the intestinal wall hampers the proportion of the aforementioned neurochemicals, and this has been consistently implicated in depression… As well as deleterious eating behaviours.

How do these microorganisms in our gut lining potentially trigger over-eating and/or voracious food cravings? Well, interestingly, they too crave particular substrates and so when the microbiota balance is thrown out of whack via LGS, this gets fed back to our brain. As an example, the common probiotic bifidobacteria thrives on dietary fibre.

The intricate feedback-loop between our central nervous system (brain) and enteric nervous system (gut) is facilitated by the longest cranial nerve (CNX) in the body, the vagus nerve.

Major takeaway: a happy gut microbiome may indeed stave off anxiety & depressive symptoms, and indirectly reduce cravings.


Interesting Misc. Facts

  • Good gut bacteria have demonstrated the ability to convert white (stored) fat to brown (heat-producing) fat. This process increases our basal metabolic rate (BMR; how much energy we burn in a day). More can be read about this in my first article here.
  • Certain studies have reported 84% of IBS patients improving symptomatically after the removal of gluten from their diets. So, while non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is estimated to be ~20 in Australia (determined, again, from various criteria), it is apparent that gluten is pro-inflammatory in a lot of cases.


Actionable Steps To Bulletproof Your Gut Wall

  1. As straightforward as this will sound, monitor how you respond to the foods you eat, and eliminate anything that consistently elicits the earlier-mentioned symptoms. And, of course, try to eat simple whole foods 80+% of the time… Your gut will find it much easier to break it down, and greatly reduce your likelihood of LGS. When you get an upset stomach, your 2nd brain is alarming you for a reason – investigate it!
  2. If you are an ‘if it fits your macros (IIFYM)’ fan, feel free to continue with it, but it is risky business trying to fit as many ‘cheat’ meals into your diet as possible. Try to indulge less frequently, and be cognisant of micronutrient intake as well your macros.
  3. Both caffeine & alcohol are gut irritants – try not to binge on either of them too frequently.
  4. Avoid antibiotics (anti = no; biotic = life… death) at all costs. This medicine destroys BOTH bad AND good bacteria in our stomachs, and may permanently alter the gut’s microbiome. View the use of antibiotics as an absolute last resort.
  5. Fermented foods. My personal favourite, which I eat in abundance most days, is natto (fermented soybean, popularised in Japan). Other choices include sauerkraut, greek yoghurt (check the ingredients for cultures such as lactobacillus and bactobifideria) & kombucha.
  6. Sorry ketogenic advocates and paleo lovers, but preliminary data is suggestive of high-fat diets lending themselves to LGS. This is thought to be because fat is a more efficient vehicle for toxin transportation than carbohydrates. I say shoot for balanced macronutrients.


Happy Summer 🙂




Bai, Y.-M., Chiou, W.-F., Su, T.-P., Li, C.-T., & Chen, M.-H. (2014). Pro-inflammatory cytokine associated with somatic and pain symptoms in depression. Journal of affective disorders, 155, 28-34.

Balakireva, A. V., & Zamyatnin, A. A. (2016). Properties of Gluten Intolerance: Gluten Structure, Evolution, Pathogenicity and Detoxification Capabilities. Nutrients, 8(10), 644.

Dach, J. (2015). Gut-Brain: Major Depressive Disorder, Hypothalamic Dysfunction, and High Calcium Score Associated With Leaky Gut. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 21, 10.

Dash, S., Clarke, G., Berk, M., & Jacka, F. N. (2015). The gut microbiome and diet in psychiatry: focus on depression. Current opinion in psychiatry, 28(1), 1-6.

David, L. A., Maurice, C. F., Carmody, R. N., Gootenberg, D. B., Button, J. E., Wolfe, B. E., . . . Fischbach, M. A. (2014). Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature, 505(7484), 559-563.

Elli, L., Tomba, C., Branchi, F., Roncoroni, L., Lombardo, V., Bardella, M. T., . . . Buscarini, E. (2016). Evidence for the Presence of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity in Patients with Functional Gastrointestinal Symptoms: Results from a Multicenter Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Gluten Challenge. Nutrients, 8(2), 84. doi: 10.3390/nu8020084

Halmos, E. P., & Gibson, P. R. (2015). Dietary management of IBD[mdash]insights and advice. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol, 12(3), 133-146. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2015.11

Ley, R. E. (2010). Obesity and the human microbiome. Current opinion in gastroenterology, 26(1), 5-11.

Li, X., & Atkinson, M. A. (2015). The role for gut permeability in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes–a solid or leaky concept? Pediatric diabetes, 16(7), 485-492.

Luna, R. A., & Foster, J. A. (2015). Gut brain axis: diet microbiota interactions and implications for modulation of anxiety and depression. Current opinion in biotechnology, 32, 35-41.

Tsai, F., & Coyle, W. J. (2009). The microbiome and obesity: is obesity linked to our gut flora? Current gastroenterology reports, 11(4), 307-313.













The Game Changer of Male Vitality: A Primer On Natural Testosterone Optimisation

Hear the word testosterone, and 99% of people will automatically link it to aggression, violence, and a whole host of other undesirable traits. This is understandable given that social media is saturated with stupendously big, vascular, aggressive bodybuilders; but these guys are usually pumping themselves with supraphysiological amounts of artificial testosterone, to gorilla status.



Testosterone is the major male sex hormone, but found in both men and women. It is mainly synthesised in male testes and female ovaries, but a small amount is also produced in the pancreas. In healthy populations, males should have 7-10 times more T than females, but this ratio is declining by the day with an unprecedented prevalence in obesity and other concomitant lifestyle habits.

Later, this article will be outlining practical ways in which we can naturally optimise our endogenous testosterone levels, and how doing so could change your life.

Although it is the predominant male sex hormone, associated with masculinity, testosterone positively affects the quality of life (QOL) in both males and females.

Yes, this post is mostly directed at the lads reading this. However, before the lady audience abandons the rest of the article, I want to allay any preconceived ideas you may have; and allow you to perhaps glean a few things you can share with your male friends 🙂

An imbalance between testosterone/cortisol may well manifest itself as low libido, stubborn body fat, unexplained lethargy, and general apathy with everyday activities.

If you can identify with these symptoms, it would be prudent to get a blood test done to confirm any imbalance, as I feel hormones are often the underlying reason why people are not reaching their fitness goals.


Healthy testosterone levels help to:

… Only to name a few of its positive effects.

Put simply, testosterone is an elixir of well-being!


Why am I so passionate about hormone optimisation, and particularly testosterone? And why should readers deem my word as tenable on this topic?

MY STORY (in brief)… How I Bounced Back From Rock-Bottom

Those who know me well are aware that I place a great deal of importance on hormonal health, but few know the story behind my disposition.

Through primary school and high school, up until late 2011, I had excelled at various sports requiring power and strength; while physically developing at an expected (or slightly faster than expected) rate for my age. In 2010, I won my football club’s BnF; my tennis club championships; and inter-school triple & long jumps. Puberty was running its natural course during this time, and I was gradually getting bigger, stronger and faster.

Coming in to the twilight years of high school, I decided to channel most of my energy and time in to study, so ultimately dropped all sport but running. At this point in time I was 70kg, and had just won $100 in a 5km fun run. I ultimately settled on running due to its inherent time-efficiency, simplicity, and the fact it was a nice psychological release from studies.

After winning this race, and the yearning to win more races that ensued, I started running every day while developing a somewhat unhealthy preoccupation with eating only ‘clean’/unprocessed foods. In the space of a year, my weekly mileage had increased and I was consistently training at sunrise before school; often back-ending the day with a ‘strength training’ session (naively performing countless exercises for 15+ repetitions).

By the end of 2012, I had faded in to a 58kg little boy. Naturally, my family and friends were concerned for me but knew I was sensitive and vehemently in denial about my deleterious habits.

I eventually conceded to my family’s genuine worry, and arranged a check up with the GP. A blood test was conducted, and the results I received 3 days later were exceptional. My serum testosterone count had registered 14ng/dl.

To give you some perspective, the ‘normal’ range for males is 300-1000; and 15-70ng/dl for women. I essentially had zero testosterone running through my veins.

I was absolutely horrified by my results, and even the doctor was befuddled by these unprecedented results. Never, had I been so shattered in my life. Here I was, an 18 year-old male who had no strength, minimal confidence, no assertiveness or decisiveness; and ultimately no passion for the things I previously loved.

It took me a number of weeks to come to terms with the fact I was responsible for plummeting my T to a negligible level, at an age where testosterone should naturally be sky-high. In hindsight, almost every aspect of my lifestyle at the time contributed to my disastrous bloodwork:

-Minimal rest & recovery with either endurance training or studying around the clock

-Boycotting many social events in order to ‘maximise my year 12 VCE results’

-Chronic calorie deficit (energy intake being far less than the energy my body required to maintain weight)

-Inanely minimising healthy fat sources & starchy carbohydrates, instead opting mostly for fibrous vegetables and protein… (endurance training + high protein (ala Atkins-style) diet lends itself to losing both fat and muscle; far from ideal)


I was quickly referred to an endocrinologist (hormone specialist) who did not hesitate in offering me testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). He showed no hope for my capacity to naturally restore my T, so instead prescribed the potent, smelly goo known as ‘androgel’. It perplexed me how a ‘specialist’ like this could just dismiss the need to explore the root cause of my deficiency.

I tried the gel for a few days, because I didn’t know better, but I could not bear the thought of being reliant for the rest of my life on artificial hormones, when I was only a kid. I threw the prescription out ambivalently, but with an immense drive to naturally correct my problem.

This was the turning point…The monumental wake-up call I needed to re-evaluate my lifestyle at the time. It was thus, I set about devouring as much research as I could on natural testosterone optimisation, and developed an unwavering passion for endocrine health.

Fast-forward to today, and my testosterone is on the high-end of the normal range; I weigh 85kg at 9% body fat; stronger than I’ve ever been with ample energy. I can safely say that I am very proud of my turn-around over the last few years, I am extremely glad I could do so of my own accord, naturally.

It wasn’t easy, and didn’t change overnight, but my accumulated knowledge of hormone optimisation facilitated this gradual transformation. It would also be remiss of me not to mention an awesome dude called Christopher Walker (from the USA), who had been in my shoes at a similar age and provided timely hope of naturally restoring my health.

I even deferred my Physiotherapy studies for a year to pursue Medicine, and ultimately specialise in endocrinology (although I ended up continuing Physio, doing my own research regarding hormone optimisation).

Anyhow, TRT is at its highest rate of prescription in the developed world, currently, and I believe most of these prescriptions are handed out prematurely…Before the root causes (lifestyle factors) have been adequately addressed. The thing about TRT is that if one decides to go on it, their endogenous hormone production will shut down. The physiology of our endocrine system is beyond the scope of this article, but essentially our pituitary gland (chief hormone regulator) realises we are receiving an external source of the hormone, and goes to sleep. Even after weaning off TRT, the pituitary gland may never fully function as it did prior to the therapy, so it is a decision that should not be taken lightly.


Basically, my focus over the years has been on optimising my hormones, rather than directly trying to improve my body composition . Correcting hormonal deficiencies will translate in to attaining a strong, robust physique, so this is crucial to note.




Running Myself In To The Ground, 2012
Running Myself In To The Ground, 2012…58kg
Today, 85kg And Training Correctly


Now, there are many, many tips I could provide you to raise your own testosterone, but I will give you 5 significant ones so that this article doesn’t get too big!


  1. Perform Power-Based Exercises

This was the game-changer for me. Up until 2013, I had been running 7 days a week for prolonged bouts of sub-maximal intensity efforts. I thought I was addressing strength with 3X weekly gym sessions but, not only was I working in the wrong rep/set ranges, my nervous system was fried from all the endurance work I was doing and thus made strength gain impossible.

A training program incorporating either ballistic (plyometric) based exercise, and/or heavy weight training will stimulate the neuromuscular system in a profound way, such that significant post-exercise increases in growth hormone (GH) and testosterone occurs.

This kind of training usually requires at least 36 hours of recovery time between bouts, so in order to preserve the quality/explosivity of your training, I would suggest training in this manner every other day (3-4Xweekly). Enjoy a brisk walk as active recovery on rest days.

-> Prioritise heavy compound lifts that recruit a greater number of muscle fibres (i.e deadlifts, squats, chin-ups, standing press, bench press); and free weights over machines

-> Perform the movements as quickly/explosively as you can with weights that allow you to perform 4-10 repetitions. Stop as soon as you feel your form compromising and/or the risk of missing the next repetition.

->If you enjoy running, you can substitute 1-2 of the strength training sessions for a series of windsprints (~50metres), with ample recovery (walking) between each effort. Aim to work up to 10-15 quality reps at 95% effort.

->If you are an endurance athlete (though I do not advocate this pursuit for optimising T), the damage can be attenuated by the order in which you concurrently train your endurance and strength (if doing more than one session a day). This study demonstrated a greater spike in testosterone when endurance training preceded strength training, rather than the other way around.


2. Appreciate The Power Of Consistently Deep Sleep

If someone asked me what I believe the most important supplement available to improve health is, I would unequivocally say sleep. Chronic sleep deficiency is linked to a plethora of diseases, yet it isn’t addressed anywhere near as much as other modifiable lifestyle factors like smoking or fast food consumption.

In this study, a group of older men doubled their testosterone levels with ~4 more hours of deep sleep, compared to the control group. This averaged out to 15% more T with every extra hour of sleep.

Sadly, the great majority of us are sabotaging quality sleep with our social media addictions. The modern bedroom has become inundated with blue light-emitting technology, impeding our production of ‘the sleep hormone’ melatonin. This hormone, emitted by the pineal gland in our brain, essentially reduces the time it takes for us to fall asleep and enhances the quality of our sleep. Also, the darker your room while sleeping, the stronger your melatonin production.

To maximise my quality of sleep, I:

  • Wear orange glasses that filter out blue light, ideally as soon as the sun goes down
  • Switch off my phone while sleeping
  • Don’t have a led-light clock in my bedroom
  • Try to maintain a sleep routine of ~11pm-7am
  • Installed f.lux on my laptop and phone (an app that reduces blue light emissions)
  • Don’t consume caffeine after 2pm (excluding green tea because it contains theanine, which negates the caffeine response)


Reserve the bedroom for sleep and sex, only, and watch your T levels (and health) rise.




3. Supplement Wisely

While good sleep trumps all other nutraceutical supplements on the market, there are a handful of these that I would recommend to boost T & QOL. There aren’t many scientifically proven supplements available, but the following have consistently demonstrated efficacy in human studies:

Vitamin D deficiency is more common than most believe, with >30% of Aussie adults falling at least mildly short of their daily quota. Even if you aren’t necessarily deficient, non-optimal levels of vitamin D may be limiting your testosterone and health potential.

Many don’t realise that this vitamin is in fact a hormone, playing a major role in the conversion of cholesterol to testosterone in leydig cells (testes).

This study showed how simple supplementation with a vitamin D tincture could raise T by ~25%. A nice summary of scientific articles backing this supplement can be found here.

I believe it is a necessity to supplement with vitamin D in winter, especially. I take this Vitamin D3 tincture made by Thorne Fx, through iHerb.

  • ZINC

Hard-training athletes are at highest risk of deficiency in this micronutrient, but stressful lifestyles also deplete our zinc levels.

Supplementation with zinc can preserve both total and free testosterone during times of harder training. This study showed 3mg/kg to work in elite wrestlers.

I usually buy this zinc by life extension, as most studies favour zinc citrate for its benefits.

  • ASHWAGANDHA (‘Withania somnifera’)

I came across this herb in 2014, and was amazed by its immediate stress-relieving effects. A herb dating back to ancient Ayurvedic practices in India, it is an ‘adaptogen’ (a term denoting an aid that helps the body maintain homeostasis during imposed stresses).

The main mechanism by which ashwagandha improves testosterone is given by its cortisol-lowering property. Cortisol & testosterone are opposing forces in the body, just like the yin & yang concept; cortisol breaks down tissue, whereas testosterone builds new tissue.

This study shows a 40% increase in testosterone with 5g (or 500mg extract) of ashwagandha taken daily.

Barlowe’s Elixirs make an impressive extract here.


4. Practice Some Form Of Mindfulness

It was only after I implemented mindfulness practice in 2014 that I experienced significantly greater calmness in everyday life. Combining mindfulness with ashwagandha may reap potent dividends for your psychological well-being.

A study conducted on medical students suggested a significant stress-lowering capacity in those who practiced mindfulness for 4 days (by virtue of cortisol suppression).

I try to listen to Eckhart Tolle’s ‘Practising The Power of Now’ while walking in nature, daily.



5. Revise Your Diet (Do Not Eschew Fat Or Carbohydrates)

All macronutrients play unique roles in our body composition and health, but I feel people go wrong when they vilify one of these in lieu of another.

Yes, it is important to maintain a high intake of protein (~1g/lb of body weight) for muscle protein synthesis and satiety. However, fat and carbohydrates are the most important macronutrients when it comes to optimising testosterone.

Many studies have positively correlated fat (particularly saturated fat) with higher testosterone levels, with this particular paper suggesting a diet comprising 40% of fat as superior to 20% fat intake.

Choose monounsaturated and cholesterol-rich foods, such as olive oil & eggs. Olive oil can assist in converting cholesterol in to testosterone in the testes.

Other studies have shown reductions in T when carbohydrates are replaced with protein.

Ultimately, I would advise consuming as much protein as you can without lowering your intakes of fat and CHO to <30% of your daily intake. Whole food sources where possible as they will ensure greater satiety, micronutrients, and better health in the long-run.



Thank you for reading my story, and getting this far. I hope it was insightful for you all, and I wanted to illustrate that my journey has by no means been without its hardships. The hardships have made my improvements much more fulfilling, though.

P.S. Get a blood test done if you are not entirely satisfied with your mood, energy, and general health – both the ladies & gents. Get your hormones right, and everything else will fall in place with much less effort.

I am happy to work with you one-on-one if you would like some guidance.

Healthy regards,






Strategies To Lose Stubborn Stomach Fat

It can be incredibly disheartening when you have been training consistently and eating ‘clean’ at least 80% of the time, yet still are plagued by the stubborn accumulation of belly fat.

Although men and women tend to deposit fat in different locations, in light of distinctive hormonal profiles, a large proportion of both genders have struggled (and continue to struggle) with fat that covers their abs. Health-conscious men, in particular, often feel as though they have exhausted all potential exercises and ‘fat-burner’ supplements in pursuit of the elusive ‘six-pack’.

For many, visible abdominal musculature is regarded as the pinnacle of fitness and some may perceive it as a representation of one’s immense discipline.

But it doesn’t need to be that difficult.

Today, I will be sharing with you 4 powerful strategies to eradicate that frustrating stomach fat that is seemingly so persistent. Not only have these strategies been effective for me in carving out my underlying 6-pack (that is inherent in EVERYONE), but so too are they backed by scientific literature.

If I can maintain visible abs while gaining on average a kilogram a month (+26kg since 2013), you can be assured that my advice will similarly assist you even if your goals are not necessarily to gain lean mass.

Implement these tips and you should expect to see major inroads to a dense & flat stomach within several weeks.




1. Delay Breakfast For At Least 2 Hours After Waking

Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained a lot of momentum in the world of human nutrition in recent times, and I strongly believe it can be an effective tool for most people to maintain muscle mass while diminishing body fat.

So many of us mindlessly eat immediately after waking up, rather than being intuitive to our body’s signalling.

I attribute my ability to stay lean over the past three years, while gaining healthy weight, to delaying my first meal on a regular basis. Rather than sticking to a rigid eating and fasting window, I would simply push my breakfast back by ~4 hours after waking up, and use this opportunity to drink plenty of fluids and attend to tasks at hand.


*But wait – doesn’t eating earlier in the day kickstart our metabolism?*

Yes, one tends to be more insulin-sensitive in the morning, but people neglect the fact that both fat and muscles cells possess insulin receptors.

While our metabolism of food will invariably be triggered by an early meal, and fuel our precious muscle, so too will our fat cells have the propensity to mop up substrates we consume.

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas and plays a central role in regulating the level of blood glucose during periods of feeding and fasting. It is a powerful anabolic hormone, due to its substrate storage mechanism, and our cellular sensitivity to insulin declines gradually as the day progresses.

Cortisol, which is our ‘catabolic’ hormone, similarly peaks upon waking and wanes throughout the day. Cortisol is responsible for breaking down tissue (hence catabolic), but is negated by the presence of insulin.

Martin Berkhan – ‘The Godfather’ of Intermittent Fasting

*While the above photo of Martin is an extreme example of the fat-burning potential that IF gives rise to, we can see that it clearly works. You can read more of Berkhan’s work here.

So, from the background science above, we can now better understand how to use cortisol (extensively feared for its muscle-wasting potential) to our advantage during the early hours of the day, as it mobilises fatty acids to be used.

To facilitate this, we must minimise or completely negate insulin. Both carbohydrates AND protein-rich foods are insulinogenic (promote insulin release), so it is best to avoid breakfast altogether or you can put a stick of butter in your coffee (AKA ‘Bulletproof Coffee’, made famous by David Asprey…Please do not do this …) XD

On the topic of coffee, though, caffeine enhances the fatty mobilisation that cortisol initially stimulates. Compounding this is the knowledge that caffeine also suppresses appetite, making a morning fast much more feasible.

Therefore, enjoy 1-2 (preferably long black, but a splash of milk will be okay too) coffees before your first meal.


When we eat first thing in the morning, we sabotage this wonderful ability to tap into stomach fat stores.

*But won’t muscle mass be broken down too?*

Unlikely. Growth hormone (GH) is acutely amplified by a short-term fast, having been shown to increase by ~2000% in humans during a 24-hour abstinence from food.

GH is vital in the preservation of lean body mass, and aids in fat oxidation. As such, your hard-earned skeletal muscle will be spared.

…Lower insulin levels, higher GH levels and increased amounts of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy.

Ideally, given this information, one would train in the evening when our insulin sensitivity is lower. By exercising our muscles in the PM, we are ultimately manipulating our cellular activity in a way that heightens muscle cell sensitivity to glucose uptake and, conversely, nullifies fat cell insulin sensitivity.

I have taken this approach while eating 1kg+ of potato (or equivalent in rice) at dinner and have experienced this nutrient-channeling phenomenon first-hand.

A few other cool benefits on this strategy before moving on to #2:

  • Breakfast energy intake has been positively correlated with total daily energy intake in recent studies; to test this anecdotally, I have been eating a large breakfast for the last 2 months and have gained 4kg in a month as I have found hunger to quickly ensue an early meal
  • Creating an energy buffer (and ‘wiggle room’, as my friend Christopher Walker says) in the back half of the day is socially convenient. We are more likely to dine out or enjoy food in the company of friends/family at night time, rather than in the morning. Knowing we can eat a substantial (and perhaps indulgent) meal in the evening, without overblowing our total daily intake, is peace of mind. It also makes the adherence to a morning fast much more achievable.
  • After roughly 16 hours without food we become the beneficiaries of a physiological cleanse, termed autophagy. This process leads to cell turnover, and has the major benefit of neurogenesis (increased neurons in our brain; and associated prevention of Alzheimer’s disease)
  • When compared to constant caloric restriction, alternate day fasting not only reduces weight to a similar extent but is also superior for retention of muscle mass; who wouldn’t want to maintain muscle while losing weight?



2. Do Not Fear Carbohydrates, But DO Consider WHEN To Eat Them

As much as you may be told by famous personal trainers, or social media, that carbohydrates are inherently evil, they are actually crucial for long-term healthy eating and any body composition goal.

Generally speaking, however, the more lean an individual is the more efficient they will be at disposing of glucose (the simple form of carbohydrate). This is by virtue of the correlation between insulin sensitivity and degree of body fat.

So overweight or obese persons reading this should either scale back the amount of carbohydrates consumed accordingly, or trial a ketogenic diet for rapid weight loss. I only advocate the ketogenic diet (rather extreme) for very sick and/or diabetic individuals, so if you want to read more about this paradigm please follow the works of Professor Timothy Noakes.

Notwithstanding this, the timing and application of carbohydrates I am about to suggest remains the same for unhealthy and healthy populations.

Conventional nutrition wisdom purports that starchy carbohydrates are best avoided the deeper we go into the evening, and especially at dinner time.


I propose, in line with my first tip of intermittent fasting ^, that we maximise the anabolic effect of carbohydrates around the times that we train (predominantly post-workout), and even reserve our intake of such for dinner time on days that we do not train.

*If you prefer or have to train in the morning, which is not ideal with these principles but can work, I would advise you to consume ~50-100g of simple carbohydrates (obviously dependent on the nature of your training and goals) immediately post-workout, and then consuming the bulk of starchy carbohydrates (e.g. potatoes, rice) with dinner. The other meals will be protein & fat-centric, alongside fibrous vegetables.

I was first infatuated by this approach when I came across the work of John Kiefer, of ‘Carb Back-Loading’ (CBL). Kiefer is a Physicist and avid researcher of human nutrition, so I took credence in what he said and applied his advice for roughly 2 years before modifying it slightly in 2015. One fundamental difference in my approach to Kiefer’s, however, is that I prefer complex starches (with a low glycaemix index) while Kiefer advocates purely simple (high G.I) carbohydrate sources.

In short, back-loading our carbohydrates is prudent because:

  1. As with IF, it is socially convenient to eat carbohydrate-rich foods in the evening with dinner.
  2. The majority of people I know who strength train do so in the evening, so the ensuing uptake of glucose (that elicit insulin) will be shunted to muscle cells more so than fat cells.
  3. Carbohydrates induce the release of serotonin and tryptophan, which are hormones that can be considered sleep-inducing agents. Quality of sleep is improved, recovery is optimised, and insulin sensitivity is improved. Serotonin has also been linked to appetite suppression, and decreased stress. Low levels of serotonin receptors are associated with depression.
  4. Carbohydrates are superior at reducing levels of ghrelin, an appetite-regulating hormone, when compared to protein and fat. Decreased ghrelin is a positive thing because we are less likely to overeat when we have this big buffer of energy at the end of the day (after our morning fast 😉



My main modification to Kiefer’s philosophies has been to consume at least 1 gram of carbohydrate for kilogram of bodyweight (~83grams for me) a few hours prior to a training session. I have found this has worked more effectively for both strength and muscle gains, compared to training without any circulating glucose. Kiefer vehemently proposes that a ‘hulk-effect’ (surge in strength) occurs when training without circulating glucose, but I am dubious over this theory for my goals.

An important consideration is the type of carbohydrate you consume. Generally, carbohydrate-rich beverages are void of nutrients and lend themselves to excessive calorie intake. If you want to seriously lose weight, eat/chew your calories and avoid liquid calories where possible. I would even admonish people that seek to lose weight from consuming smoothies. People who know me will be aware that I consume a daily smoothie, but I believe it should be reserved for the crowd that wants to gain weight (like I do). Eating three solid meals a day, in my opinion, is idyllic for weight loss.

Personally, I LOVE potatoes (both white and sweet) so predominantly eat these starches. Fruit, rice, and oats are my secondary preferences, with a focus on low-fructose fruits such as berries and citrus. Fructose is a simple sugar densely present in honey and certain fruits like apples, and is directed to the liver for its metabolism; too much fructose may cause fatty liver disease and it is useless at replenishing our skeletal muscle glycogen stores after exercise.

Finally, understand that I do not mean to exclude fibrous carbohydrates (i.e: cruciferous vegetables) until dinner so feel free to consume these ad-libitum. I do not even count vegetables like brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower towards my total energy intake.

*But Jonny, I thought you were a proponent of a balanced diet and macronutrient intake…?*

By the end of the day, my macronutrients almost always hover around 40/30/30 (%) carbohydrates/protein/fat, thus being balanced.

My philosophy is just to strategically capitalise on the different hormone-signalling that occurs with the three macronutrients, and their timing. As such, my meals are usually disproportionate in favour of one macronutrient over the other, but I ultimately maintain a proportionate spread of the major food groups.

An average training day for me would look something like this:

Wake up: Drink lots of water and some coffee/green tea.

Meal 1 (2-5 hours after waking): High fat/moderate-high protein/low carbohydrates

Meal 2: Moderate Fat/ High Protein/ Moderate Carbohydrates (1g/kg BW)

…Train between 2-6pm

Meal 3 (largest): Limited Added Fat (but enough for taste)/High Protein/HIGH Carb

3. The Nature Of Your Training Is Extremely Important

Strength training surpasses aerobic training by a mile and some.

As a former middle-distance runner (over-zealous you could say), I can greatly appreciate performance-related goals in the way of running events that you may have. In saying this, I believe there is a pervasive delusion carried by the general public that sub maximal ‘cardio’ training is a pre-requisite to burn fat.

Yes, we can observe many elite runners that sport a ripped stomach, but they:

a) Are usually underweight and so do not possess much absolute muscle mass


b) Are genetically blessed, with a favourable physical capacity to perform exercise and assimilate food

You cannot argue that a six-pack is MUCH more impressive to look at on someone who has a bit of extra bulk on their frame.


Having already posted an article that goes in to depth regarding the ‘ripple effect’ of strength training (here), and the most effective approach to getting stronger, I will keep this tip as concise as possible. Please read that article to assume a better perspective on the rest of this piece.

Not only does high-intensity strength training facilitate muscle growth but, as I mention in the aforementioned article, it also significantly improves muscular endurance (without having to train for it directly!).

Exercising at sub-maximal intensities for extended periods of time is effective for weight loss, but it will impede your strength gains and concomitant muscle. Jogging, for example, is a purely catabolic exercise that will catalyse the breakdown of both fat and muscle. On the other hand, PRE can assist you with both weight loss and muscular development.

I believe, from experience, that the effort required to merely eat less calories pales in comparison to that required to burn the same amount of energy through steady-state cardio.

Heavy resistance exercises (relative of course to an individual’s ability) that are multi-joint (or ‘compound’) in nature are the key to abdominal muscle recruitment, and render direct abdominal exercises futile if progression is constant.

I rarely perform isolation work on my stomach. This is because I prioritise compound lifts that require the abdominal muscles to contract maximally. You see, one must fully engage their deep and superficial stomach muscles during bang-for-your-buck movements like the deadlift, as to not compromise on posture and subsequently risk injury.



Exercises like the deadlift, that recruit huge amounts of muscle fibre units, have been scientifically shown to recruit as much or more stomach muscle than direct work. Note that the participants in this study were performing 80% of their 1 reptition-max (1RM), thus constituting a challenging load that stimulates the neuromuscular system meaningfully.

Only when you reach an advanced level of strength and power-to-weight ratio should you consider implementing direct abdominal work, to accentuate your already visible abs. In these cases, the ab-wheel rollout, hanging leg raises, and reverse crunches are the most fruitful choices.

Finally, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) is considered to be proportional to the intensity of exercise undertaken. EPOC is the measurement of residual oxygen uptake seen after strenuous exercise.

We have all been witness to the huffing and puffing of a 100 metre sprinter during their interview, even if it is 10+ minutes after the race has finished. It was essentially due to this phenomenon that the ‘Tabata’ high-intensity interval training style gained popularity in the fitness world in the 21st century.

Although EPOC has undoubtedly been blown out of proportion, it is a worthy thought for exercise selection purposes.

There are few pretty awesome studies that elucidate the elevated energy expenditure after intense strength training:


4. Minimise Unnecessary Stress


Stress is not only a silent killer, but also under-recognised as a bane for fat loss.

This 2014 study evinced that an additional 435 kilojoules was consumed, on average, in the stressed group relative to the control group of participants. This equates to ~5 kilograms of fat gained over the span of a year. That is quite substantial!

In a nutshell, periodically experiencing even small stresses throughout the day may easily disrupt our metabolic efficiency.

Stress has also been implicated in the development of diabetes.

We must not confuse chronic psychological stresses with the intermittent physiological stress incurred during intense exercise, though, as the latter is necessary in order for us to elicit hormesis (adaptive stress response that is a potent anti-ageing agent).

We do want to rapidly curb cortisol (stress-hormone) post-workout though, to commence these adaptations that we are after (‘anabolic’/rebuilding phase).

A few easy ways to alleviate unnecessary stress:


  • A regular pattern of 7+ deep hours of sleep is crucial to reduce stress, so try to avoid blue-light (emitted by smartphones, TVs etc.) after the sun goes down. This can be achieved by turning technology off or, as most would prefer, blue-light blocking apps or glasses. Blue light confuses our brain by thinking it is daytime, and consequently suppresses melatonin production (vital for deep REM sleep).
  • Practice some form of mindfulness daily. This meditative practice has demonstrated significant reductions in stress, and can be performed for just a few minutes a day. I usually do so by walking in nature while listening to the ‘Practising The Power of Now’ audiobook by Eckhart Tolle. This was recommended to me by my friend Greg O’Gallagher (of Kinobody), and I have observed massive differences in my overall calmness.
  • SMILE! Even if you are not genuinely feeling happy, exhibiting a strong smile can drop blood pressure, heart rate, and stress. This was achieved with a certain type of smile though, known as ‘Duchenne’s smile’. This is a smile that engages the muscles surrounding the eyes, as well as the mouth muscles. Standard smiles that do not involve the eyes, interestingly, did not induce the same response. Smiles are contagious, so spread that happiness 😀




I hope that you have enjoyed this post, and gleaned a few points that you can put to practice.

Remember, this article is predicated on my own anecdotal evidence (and some research), so it is what I have had success with. Not everyone may experience this same success from my methodologies, so experiment at your own will and let me know how you go.

By the same token, people have achieved flat stomachs with various other approaches, so do not take this article as dogma; it is what I consider the most sustainable way to achieving and maintaing a lean physique.

I initially planned to outline 7 strategies, but the post quickly became too expansive to do so. These are the most important points.

Ultimately, losing stomach fat occurs when we are consistently burning more calories than we consume. The strategies I outline above should make this process easier, and assist in the preservation of muscle mass while targeting fat stores.

I managed to minimise stomach fat while gaining 26kg over 3 years, so this is why I have faith in these strategies.

Ladies, please be aware that studies concerning intermittent fasting have generally conveyed more positive (and substantial) results in males than females. So, IF may not be prudent for you. Simply avoiding starchy carbohydrates at breakfast may be a more effective strategy for fat loss goals, if you do not succeed with IF.

Also, if anything does not make sense or you require further clarification on certain points, do not hesitate in contacting me and I will be more than happy to discuss with you.

Thank you for reading!

Healthy regards,



A recent photo to substantiate credibility: I try to be the product of my own advice.

You can contact me at for consultations.












The Power of the Cold Shower

Cold Shower

It is something we do every day, but the thought of turning the shower to cold is unpalatable for most. Although immersing yourself with cold water may seem a scary prospect (especially in winter!), doing so on a daily basis for just a few minutes carries an array of benefits. These benefits are derived from ‘cold thermogenesis’ (CT), which is just a technical term for heat production brought about via exposure to cold temperatures.

Perhaps the most notable benefit associated with cold showers is brown adipose tissue (BAT) activation. There are two types of fat within the human body: white, and brown. White fat is much more plentiful than brown in the human body, and it stores excess calories. Brown fat, on the other hand, is more akin to skeletal muscle in that it consumes considerable amounts of glycogen and fat when stimulated. It is important to note that leaner people have a greater amount of this ‘good’ fat than their overweight counterparts, and it is mostly situated around the upper back, neck, and collarbone regions.

brown_fat_webImmersion of cold water accelerates fat loss through mobilisation of free fatty acids, and enhanced beta oxidation. The mean drop in body temperature initiates thermogenesis, with fat utilisation increased by up to 63% and carbohydrate utilisation by as much as 588%! Metabolism is elevated for several hours afterward, depending on one’s adaptation, meaning a few hundred extra calories burnt throughout the rest of the day. The mechanism to explain activation of BAT is due to the metabolic hormones irisin and FGF21, which may play an imperative role in fighting obesity. Forget high-intensity interval training (HIIT) I say, and make a cold shower a part of your daily routine! Just 2-5 minutes is all that is required, and can be implemented at the end of a warm/hot shower.


An impressive cosmetic benefit of finishing a shower with cold-only is the significant effect it has on smoothing one’s skin. It makes sense that hot water dries our skin, stripping it of its natural oils. I noticed that, within just 2 days, the stubborn patches of dry skin on my face had disappeared. Even lukewarm water can tighten pores and cuticles which will prevent clogging of dirt. Moreover, cold showers serve to diminish dandruff by flattening hair follicles and strengthening their rooting with the scalp.

Despite the continually perpetuated belief that ‘cold temperature exposure causes flu-colds’, the science refutes this misconception. Cold water immersion in fact has been shown to improve one’s immunity and emotional resilience. The stoked metabolism is thought to create additional white blood cells and, perhaps the most important antioxidant, glutathione. This is a crucial adaptive response to frequent oxidative stress, and thus serves to reduce your likelihood of infection or illness. Rather impressively, acute cold exposure also mimics the anti-ageing benefits associated with intermittent fasting and/or caloric restriction, brought about by a down regulation in mTOR pathways. In short, the profound common benefit of all these methodologies is the process of autophagy which cleans out metabolic junk within cells. As such, our cells become hardier and healthier.

Anecdotally, I have found cold showers to significantly improve my mood, even to the point of dancing like a fool while getting dressed post-shower. I even find myself involuntarily giggling and smiling in the aftermath of the slight noradrenaline rush; you will find your energy soar through the roof. No, I am not weird – cold showers genuinely evoke a powerful sense of euphoria! A 2008 study alluded to the potentially analgesic effect cold showers may have for depression sufferers. Although the authors concede that further research was required, these implications are quite remarkable.


For my male readers, you will be encouraged to know that substantial scientific literature suggests a mild boost in testosterone. When the testes are subjected to temperatures that exceed the body’s homeostat of ~37 degrees celsius, specialised leydig cells (which convert cholesterol in to testosterone) become inefficient. Conversely, fertility has been observed at its peak in the colder months from a sample of 6455 males. This is due to elevated luteinising-hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) which act as precursors to testosterone production.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the most frequently touted purpose of cold hydrotherapy; that of speeding up recovery time from delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS). Ice baths, and hot-cold showers have been employed by sports teams and athletes for eons, and to great effect. Increased circulation of blood to the outer extremities is known to flush away metabolic waste products while distributing nutrients to the cells. Cold thermogenesis, like exercise, induces arterial & veinous dilation by virtue of the endothelial nitric oxide which lines blood vessels.


So, I hope that this article has inspired you to consider turning the hot shower knob to the left. As you can probably tell, I am a HUGE advocate of cold water immersion and believe the profundity of its benefits go largely unacknowledged. Some consider cold thermogenesis as the true ‘the fountain of youth’. I have only been performing 3-5 minutes of cold showers (after 1-2 minutes of warm water) for the last few months, and trust me when I say it has had an immensely positive effect on me holistically. Turn your music up and allow the cold stream of goodness to fully contact your brown fat zones!

NB: Cold showers may not be a sensible idea for people with:

1. Pre-existing heart conditions (You will notice a much faster heartbeat in the acute stages).

2. High blood pressure (blood pressure and blood glucose are elevated via sympathetic, or ‘fight & flight’, nervous system)

Thanks for reading, and let me know how you go! Remember, it is merely the thought of the cold shower that deters most people…NOT the experience itself.