Why your getting fat on a diet?!



We live in a image obsessed culture, were a person body weight/composition is scrutinised through a number of forms of media whether it be celebrities in a newspaper or a friend on social media. This ISSUE is the cause for extreme dieting, extreme calorie restriction and fad weight loss solutions such as the waist trainer (a corset not to dissimilar to that worn by Victorian women). The damage that is caused from these methods can be not only detrimental to your physique but your health.

The key to long term weight loss or maintenance, is to make it LONG TERM, the definition of diet has changed over time, it was once the statement in the above picture but now to most it means restriction of food, which is usually carried out quite drastically.

Sticking yourself on a low calorie weight loss diet, generally low carb diet, which is the method most dieters use is certainly not a LONG TERM solution, and if you don’t understand the processes and strain your body goes through without carbohydrates and program refeeds etc. accordingly your probably not going to see results and your likely to gain more weight upon returning to a ‘normal’ diet. Which you will eventually because nobody enjoys eating lean meats and veg for every meal, and carbs taste great, meaning a low carb diet isn’t sustainable for most.

We all get pleasure from the foods we eat, why would you want to take that away by eating bland foods with no taste?

Look at the image of the nutritional pyramid above, the base and most important aspect of food intake is energy balance which is controlled by caloric intake.



After long periods of low calorie dieting your body is going to hold onto calories and store them as body fat in order for it to survive, vital hormones for weight management and appetite regulation will drop and you will most likely find you are fatter, hungrier, binge more, tired constantly, sex drive will drop and overall mood will be bad.

Finding your caloric needs

If you want to make the necessary changes which will allow you to eat more of the foods you want whilst still losing weight and improve your general health then you need to keep things simple to begin with and get stage one of ‘The Nutrition Pyramid’ pictured below in order.

the nutritonal pyramid JNF

Looking at the rank of importance running down the left hand side of the pyramid, you can see that the base of any good diet is energy balance and CALORIC INTAKE. Once you have your calorie intake set, you can look to improve the rest of the pyramid, following the rank of importance.

Here’s how to figure out how many calories your body needs to function at rest, this is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR):


BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in KG) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age)


BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in KG) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)

Once you have figured out your BMR you need to multiply that figure according to your lifestyle and exercise:

No exercise = BMR x 1.2

Light exercise (1-3 days a week) = BMR x 1.375

Moderate exercise (3-5 days a week) = BMR x 1.55

Heavy exercise (5-7 days a week) = BMR X 1.725

Very heavy exercise (train twice a day) = BMR x 1.9

The above equation leaves you with a figure, this is your maintenance calories, and you could now manipulate these for fat loss, without you under eating and causing further damage.

Using myself as an example:

Weight: 77kg

Height: 169cm

Age: 22

Training: 4 days per week

BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x 77) + (4.799 x 169) – (5.677 x 22) = 1807

Now we have to factor lifestyle in, so as I train 4 times a week I will multiply my BMR by 1.55

Maintenance calories = BMR x 1.55 = 2800 calories

What to do now

If you have been under eating I’d suggest eating maintenance calories for a minimum of 2 weeks without looking at the scale, after the 2 weeks check your weight, from my experience your weight will have dropped, in some cases it may stay the same and rarely will it go up.

After the initial 2 weeks:

If weight has dropped: Keep eating the same calories

If weight is the same: Drop calories by 10%

If weight has increased: Drop calories by 10%

And weigh yourself weekly from this point onwards.

for more information on calories read my previous blog https://joeneillfitness.wordpress.com/2015/07/05/calories-what-are-they/

If you need help setting up a diet and exercise plan or need weekly support feel free to contact the No Limits team for help or information on our online training service nolimitsnutrition@mail.com

Joe Neill
Personal trainer @ No Limits Strength and Conditioning Centre Liverpool
To book your free consultation please get in touch!
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Email – Joe_neill06@hotmail.co.uk
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Training like a Sprinter


Why should we train like sprinters?

Have you ever seen an overweight or out of shape sprinter?
Your typical sprinter is lean and muscular to the point a number of them could probably do really well if they suddenly changed their careers to bodybuilding competitiors.


(pictured are Harry Aikines-Areyeetey a British 100m and 200m sprinter and Allyson Felix an American 100m sprinter)

How a sprinter trains

Obviously a sprinter, sprints! The benefit s of sprint training are huge as I’m sure you are aware but incase your not, Here they are:

• Great for fat loss
• Targets fast twitch muscles therefore improving lean muscle growth
• Improves endurance
• Improves Heart health
• Improves insulin sensitivity
• Improves circulation
• Plus it’s a time saver in comparison to long distance running

As you can see there are a lot of ‘improves’ in that list, so get yourself to your nearest hill and get sprinting if you want to burn fat and improve your health. What else do they do? Well…. Weight Training and generally heavy at that! But why?

Sprinting is all about converting your power through your hip, legs and feet to create acceleration, the upper body also aids in the production of power and pace to hence the Upper body mass of male sprinters . Weightlighting/powerlifting use the same principles but instead of creating speed your using your power to move an object from A to B. More muscle means more power which means your going to generate more force and move quicker.

The benefits of resistance/weight training are again widely known but just to reiterate I’ll write you a list:

• Reduces risk of diabetes and insulin needs.
• Lowers risk of cardiovascular disease.
• Lower high blood pressure.
• Lowers risk of breast cancer – reduces high estrogen levels linked to the disease.
• Decreases or minimizes risk of osteoporosis by building bone mass.
• Reduces symptoms of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
• Reduces stress and anxiety.
• Decreases colds and illness.
• Increases Muscle strength, endurance, size and power
Look at the health benefits! Strength training should be part of any health conscience persons routine. Especially you women who claim it will make you bulky IT WONT!

Example of a sprinters training

(Track workout designed by Monte Stratton, coach of multiple Olympic sprinters.)
• Monday (10am): Track work: speed-endurance (300m, 200m, 100m)
• Monday (2pm): Upper body strength training
• Tuesday (10am): Track work: block starts (2 x 10m, 2 x 20m, 2 x 30m, 1 x 50m) or speed work
• Tuesday (2pm): Lower body quad dominant strength training (squats, knee flexors, hip flexors)
• Wednesday: Soft Tissue therapy/ Massage
• Thursday (10am): Track work: speed day (5 x 60m) or (4 x 90m) or (3 x 120m) w/ 10 minute rest interval
• Thursday (2pm): Upper body strength training
• Friday (10am): Track work: speed endurance (3 x 150m) or (4 x 120m) or (180m, 150m, 120m)
• Friday (2pm): Lower body hip dominant strength training (deadlifts, split squats, hip flexors)
(source: http://www.simplyshredded.com/crank-it-up-sprinting-towards-single-digit-body-fat-percentages-with-high-intensity-training.html)

In terms of bodybuilding this program is split upper and lower, that could be to make sure the sprinters are recovering as much as possible between sessions, so I don’t see why you couldn’t train full body, push + pull or keep it the same! whichever suit you and your schedule best.

See Below for videos of British Sprinter Harry Aikines-Areyeetey training

How can you train like of a sprinter

Lets assume you have a job and a social life, you wont have the time to train like a elite level sprinter. You haven’t got the time or resources, but you can do your best to mimic it.

A good place to start would be to follow a STARTING STRENGTH Program. I’d Advise training 3-4 times a week alternating the sessions put together here – http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/FAQ:The_Program. In this program you are concentrating on Compound movements (full body) to increase your strength.

As for Sprinting, 1 or 2 times a week should be enough. Try:

10 x 30 second sprints with 90 seconds rest in between.

Joe Neill
Personal trainer @ Liverpool Personal Training studios
To book your free consultation please get in touch!
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Email – Joe_neill06@hotmail.co.uk
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Why Is The Western Diet Making You Fat?



What is the western diet?
When I talk about the western diet I mean the general eating patterns and food intake of your average British person. The norm for many people (this is no different in my household barring myself) is 3 meals a day. Breakfast, Lunch and Tea.
These meal times usually follow a pattern when it comes to the foods eaten and the times people eat at:

Breakfast – 7.00ish
Relatively small meal
Generally a high carb meal of cereal, toast or fruit.
Average calorie intake around 200-300 kcal

Lunch – 12.00ish
Small meal
Ready made sandwiches, baked potatoes maybe takeaway food like chip shop food.
Average calorie intake 500 kcal

Tea – 15.00– 19.00ish
Largest meal of the day
Good variety of food weekly
Average calorie intake 600-800k Kcal

Now what’s wrong with that? Well a couple of things (all could be causing fat gain/storage):

1) Our eating habits play huge factors on our hormones and irregular eating causes irregular hormone secretion, this could lead to a whole load of health issue and is a huge cause for Fat gain.
2) Blood sugar levels have a big effect on our mood and appetite. If you are spreading your meals out longer than 3 hours blood sugar becomes low.
3) When blood sugar is low body can start craving carbohydrates because it feels it needs them to provide energy.
4) Metabolism is slower when eating is spread further through the day.
5) People usually don’t spread enough calories over their 3 meals, if you don’t feed your body enough calories it will hold onto fat! You can also become metabolically damaged if you don’t eat enough (follow link for more information).

What changes could you make?
1) Eat more often, to control blood sugar levels and reduce appetite eat every 2-3 hours.
2) Eat balanced meals; try to avoid eating only carbohydrates. For breakfast add some scrambled eggs for a quick and tasty dose of protein and fat.
3) Don’t under eat! Make sure you are getting healthy amounts of protein, carbs and fats spaced out over the entire day.
4) Snack on foods such as nuts, seeds and humous instead of sugary products that are going to have you craving more sugar later on in the day.

Joe Neill
Personal trainer @ Liverpool Personal Training studios
To book your free consultation please get in touch!
Twitter – JoeNeillPT
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Email – Joe_neill06@hotmail.co.uk
Mobile – 07852352726

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Ghrelin – The Hunger Hormone



Ghrelin is the sister hormone to Leptin and has a similar job in the body, produced in the stomach and released in the body just before we eat and stops when the body feels it has enough energy to function hence why it is known as ‘The Hunger Hormone’. Although primarily known as a hormone Ghrelin is also an amino acid.

Ghrelin influences our eating patterns by sending signals to our brains when the stomach is empty. A study was carried out with 18 men and women all aged 23 who fasted overnight and where injected with Ghrelin and shown high and low calorie foods and told to rate then 1 to 5, they carried out the test twice, once after being injected with Ghrelin and another time under normal circumstances. Whilst they where looking at the foods their brains where being monitored to see what impact the hormone was having. The results showed that when more Ghrelin was present in the body the participants rated the high calorie foods higher. This has led experts to believe that Ghrelin is a major factor in obesity and there has been suggestion of medicines that block Ghrelin to being a cure of obesity, but why not do it a safe and natural way?

Ways to keep The Ghrelin hormone in check:


Getting proper sleep keeps the production of Ghrelin to a minimum, it is recommended that you get 6-8 hours sleep per night, by leading a healthy lifestyle (eating organic foods and regular exercise) you will improve the quality of your sleep and therefor reduce your hunger.

Eat breakfast!

Often said to be the most important meal of the day and not without good reason, the Ghrelin hormone is most active when the stomach is empty and after being in a fasted state whilst asleep (6-8 hours of no food) it is important to eat a healthy nutritious breakfast, try some porridge, fruit or boiled eggs.

Eat small and often!

Eating small nutritious meals 5-6 times a day will keep food in the stomach and therefore limit the release of Ghrelin keeping the hunger to a minimum, in this case portion control is key!

Joe Neill
Personal trainer @ Liverpool Personal Training studios
To book your free consultation please get in touch!
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Email – Joe_neill06@hotmail.co.uk
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Rest – why is it important


Rest is important and comes in the form of sleep and rest days during a training program where you don’t go to the gym, don’t lift weights or do exercise. These are used to give your body a chance to recuperate, for muscles to repair and to ensure you aren’t overtraining.

What can happen if I don’t allow my body rest:
Catabolism (important for body builders to understand)
Decrease in testosterone
Decrease in Energy
Decrease in Growth hormone
Slower results
Lack of motivation
Struggle sleeping
Lowering of immune system

Getting as many hours of sleep as you can a night is hugely important. Many people don’t understand how important sleep is in the process of muscle building and fat burning. One of the main reasons is to do with the release of growth hormone, which is key in the repairing of muscles and the fat burning processes in the body (for more information on the importance of growth hormone in fat loss Click here)

Rest days
Rest days away from the gym are important as a part of any training program. First off for the bodybuilders, your muscles don’t grow at the time you are lifting weights, muscle growth occurs when you allow your muscle fibres to repair themselves, they can only do this by giving them adequate rest. For the general gym goer rest is important to ensure you are not working your body into the ground and therefore overtraining. Overtraining can bring a lot of negatives with it as mentioned earlier and you need to be aware of the symptoms such as changing moods e.g. Snapping at people when you usually wouldn’t, fatigue and struggling to sleep amongst other symptoms.

People might find it hard to stay away from the gym through guilt of missing a workout, the desire to lose weight and just plain and a simply loving to exercise, but having adequate rest has its place and should be present in everyone’s program.

Joe Neill
Personal trainer @ Liverpool Personal Training studios
To book your free consultation please get in touch!
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Email – Joe_neill06@hotmail.co.uk
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Strong is the New Sexy – Why women should lift weights!


A major misconception about weight loss especially with women is that to lose weight you need to go on a jog or head to the gym spending 45 minutes on the cross trainer. Though you may lose weight, it will be slow, it will cause major stress on joints, and it will deteriorate muscle.

The lack of results from this method of training can be disheartening, it can cause people to feel like they are in a rut and they may feel they will never be able to make that change by themselves and can lead many people giving up and return to eating the same old refined, processed food and doing no exercise at all!

So what should you do instead?


Somewhere along the line misconceptions come about that women who lift weight will end up like this…..


Woman simply don’t produce enough testosterone to be able to build that kind of muscle with out the use of steroids etc, and the time it would take spent in the gym for a woman bodybuilder to build that kind of muscle is considerable!

Things lifting weights will do:
Yes it will build muscle (for women this means toned arms, leaner stomachs and firm bums)
It will improve joint strength
You will continue to burn calories up to 36 hours after exercise
You will have a higher basal metabolic rate (metabolism)
Strengthens the heart
Strengthens bones
Increases testosterone (still important in females)
Burn More Fat!

Exercises to do!

Compound exercises are great for burning fat, these exercises are full body movements and with the right weight, sets and reps will leave you lying in a heap through exhaustion!

Examples of compound movements are:
Chest Press
Bent Over Row
Chin Ups
Kettlebell Swings

And there are plenty more!

Aimee squat
A client Aimee going deep with a 70kg squat!

Side note:
If you still feel the urge to lace up your running shoes and hit the streets sprint instead! Sprinting burns nearly the same amount of calories a good weight session will, look at the different body shapes between a long distance runner and a sprinter! (For more information on sprinting follow this link…Training Like a Sprinter)

Joe Neill
Personal trainer @ No Limits Gym
To book your free consultation please get in touch!
Twitter – JoeNeillPT
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Email – Joe_neill06@hotmail.co.uk
Mobile – 07920032520

Leptin – Why you have a huge appetite!



Hormones are chemicals that control our bodies’ processes, they are a part of the endocrine system and we have no direct control on these but we can manipulate them by what the things we put into our bodies and the activity we do.

There is still a lot of research going into the leptin hormone but some things we know are that it has a significant effect on our metabolism due to it monitoring the levels of energy our body has or needs. Leptin is released by our fat cells and is received by the hypothalamus glands, the lower the amount of leptin being released the more we will feel hungry, If leptin was absent hunger would be relentless. The more adipose tissue (body fat) a person has the more leptin is released due to the body seeing that it has enough energy, this is why after exercise we often get a feeling of hunger if we don’t eat.

So I hear you asking if leptin is released in the body how do people get obese? Well there has been some research that shows certain things can affect the ‘Leptin Pathway’ one of these is fructose, fructose is a sugar found mostly in fruit but is also in:

Canned foods
Sauces (tomato, bbq, ranch etc)
Ice cream sauces

Fructose causes the levels of triglycerides in the blood to be higher which inhibits the leptin making its way to the brain. Not enough sleep can also affect the leptin pathway due to the higher amounts of cortisol (the stress hormone) being released this causes a lower amount of leptin being present as well as an increased amount of insulin which makes more triglycerides in the blood again this will affect the reception of leptin by the brain.

Severe calorie restriction also has a negative effect on the levels of leptin released. These type of diets make our bodies release less leptin making us feel hungrier. This can make getting leaner really difficult and often causes the end result being completely opposite to what was expected. This is why people who do fad crash diets and supplement diets (e.g. Herbalife) never keep the weight they have lost off.
Leptin production is hugely important in the body, it not only affects the amount of food our body feels it needs, which has a direct impact on body fat and our health but it also plays a part in our libidos, fertility, our immune system and puberty. This is one of many reasons why we should eat a healthy balanced diet and lead a healthy lifestyle.

There has also been studies that have shown the chemical MSG which is heavily used by the KFC fast food chain and largely associated with Chinese food may be causing our bodies to become more resistant to Leptin. The study suggests a high amount of MSG intake is causing damage to our hypothalamus gland in the brain. The physical damage that MSG is causing to our hypothalamus receptor reduces the amount of leptin received in the gland, this tricks the body into believing it needs more energy, therefore the hunger response triggers, that is why many of us never have that ‘full feeling’ for long after a Chinese Buffett, even if we have put 10 plates of spring rolls and udon noodles away an hour later the body still feels it doesn’t have enough energy due to the MSG’s effect on our hormones and therefore makes us feel hungry again.

Joe Neill
Personal trainer @ Liverpool Personal Training studios
To book your free consultation please get in touch!
Twitter – JoeNeillPT
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Email – Joe_neill06@hotmail.co.uk
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