Check out the latest from Always In Your Corner about fitness, nutrition and training for seniors.
In the United Kingdom ultra processed foods are consumed more than in any other country in Europe.
58% of all calories consumed are from ultra processed foods.Ultra processed foods started to gain popularity in the eighties and incidentally this is when obesity also got more common.
I was born in 1965 and I grew up in the seventies.Back then obesity was’t very common.
In this day and age it’s a different story. Just look around you. Anywhere you go you will find that overweight/obese people now are a majority.
So what defines an ultra processed item of food?
In essence if an item contains a high number of ingredients then it is ultra processed.
Are the ingredients harmful any way?
Probably not but generally the number of nutrients that you get per calorie will be less if you opt for ultra processed foods.
Therefore it’s always better to choose whole foods and spend a bit more time in preparing them, especially if you are looking to lose weight.
A few years ago someone reached out to me asking for advice. She said she was only eating whole foods and she was still finding it really hard to keep the weight off.
I asked her for a food diary.
So her breakfast was Weetabix, a sandwich for lunch and on most afternoons she would eat some kind of an ultra processed snack.
So I told her neither Weetabix nor bread are whole foods so a large chunk of her daily calorie consumption do actually come from ultra processed foods. And the packet of crisps in the afternoon it's not like she is eating boiled potatoes.
She disagreed, she told me that Weetabix comes from highest quality wheat and that it’s even sold at Holland and Barret.
The bottomline is that a lot of people consume more ultra processed foods than they think because they are so common.
Surely if you are looking to maintain a healthy weight it would be a good idea to start looking at your consumption of ultra processed foods.
The less you eat the better.
By: Abdi-Karim Berleen/Personal trainer in Loughton
At one point in your life you are going to have to make a decision on how you are going to live your life as you age.
Many things are in our own hands. If you look after yourself by eating well, sleeping well and moderate exercise then your chances of staying healthy as you growl older are much greater.
What are you looking forward to in the years to come?
I have got 3 myself. My last one was born on April Fool’s day this year.
You wanna travel the world or go on a hike in the mountains?
None of this is gonna be possible if you don’t have your health.
I have got 3 grandchildren. I can decide what I want to do or be able to do.
Sit on a sofa and talk to them, sit on the floor and build lego or take them out and explore.
I have got great memories of my grand dad taking me on a skiing trip in the alps. He must have been in his mid sixties then. Imagine how much energy you would need to go up ski lifts and ski down the hill for 7-8 hours?
My grand mother actually lived until she was a 103 years old and on her last day she still walked to to the breakfast room all by herself.
Independence is something that is so important. I can’t think of anything worse than having to depend on other people?
So how hard is it to stay fit?
I personally spend about 2 and a half hours to three hours every week and I do consider myself to be in good shape. In fact I can run faster and lift heavier than many people half my age.
How about my food?
I practise something called JERF. (Just eat real food).
Most of us are aware that ultra processed foods are no good for us son I have made the decision to stay away.
I also make sure I get 8 hours sleep and I also practise time restricted eating. I give myself a rest from food for about 16 hours every day. I can still drink water, tea and coffee during those 16 hours.
I would actually love to help you as well if you are looking to invest in yourself for your future.
I have been helping seniors fro get fit and healthy or over 20 years now.
Drop me a message if you are ready to take action?
By;Abdi-Karim Berleen/Personal trainer in Loughton.
In 2022 I needed to lose a bit of weight. My daughter was getting married and I wanted to wear a suit that I bought in 1992.
The action I took was to just eat one meal a day. It worked, six weeks later I could wear my suit again. I bought this suit when I finished university.
Eating just once a day wasn’t really sustainable so after the wedding I decided to have a go at TRE.(Time restricted eating0 I was really kind to myself. For the first six months I ate for 12 hours a day and fasted for 12 hours( Overnight).
I did realise some benefits. I slept better, I felt better overall but the biggest surprise was how easy it was.
Yeah and my weight kept on going down effortlessly.
A little background. Years ago some mice in a lab were fed a diet of junk food. One group were on TRE and the other group weren’t.
So the group who weren’t on TRE developed lots of health problems and surprisingly the ones who were on TRE didn’t. They didn’t even gain weight.
Imagen the excitement. The scientists thought they had unlocked the secret to weight loss. Sadly mice aren’t people. When this experiment was carried out on people the differences were only marginal.
Mice in laboratories only live for about 2 years so if you fast them for 16 hours that might be equivalent to a year of fasting for a human being.
The research has continued and in 2018 a Japanese scientist called Yoshinori Ohsumi, received the Nobel price for his research on something called autophagy which in essence means cell recycling.
So there is lots of research going on about TRE and there are many signs that it is very good for our health.Some studies have even been conducted on people recovering from cancer. There are even some indications that TRE could prevent you from cancer.
So about 11 months ago I decided to take TRE to the next level. I now fast for 16-17 hours on most days. I normally eat my last meal of the day at around 3 PM. When I wake up I normally drink black coffee and I have my first meal of the day at around 10 AM.
I am not finding this hard at all and best of all it really works well. I am nearly 59 years old and I was getting a bit flabby. Well now I am all ripped and I haven’t made any other changes. My training is still the same. 3 hours of exercise per week.
If I want to eat a late meal one day then I can easily adjust by delaying my breakfast the next day.
I feel great. Hands down TRE is the best thing I have ever done in my life.
By: Abdi-Karim Berleen/Personal trainer in Loughton.
Hands down the most reliable body fat scan is a DEXA scan. I have actually had one done at University of Westminster. I used to have students from the Nutrition programmes doing work shadows on me and as a sign of gratitude I was called in to do a DEXA scan.
The big disadvantage of DEXA scans is the cost.A DEXA scan is probably priced in the region of several hundred pounds.
I use a body fat scanner called Bodymetrix. This is what is defined as a second generation body fat scanners and much more reliable than scanners that use electrical currents to scan for body fat.
A Bodymetrix actually uses ultrasound to scan your tissue. The scan determines the composition of your tissue and it gives you a reading for body fat, muscle tissue and water.
By using the scanner on your body you can actually calculate your body fat %. Men and women have slightly different measure points. Men do their thighs, chest and waist whereas women measure triceps, waist and hip.
So what is the benefit of scanning your body fat?
I would say it’s a good reference point. It will basically tell you if your training and nutrition is going in the right direction.
Personally I find that it motivates me to stay on track. I try to scan myself every six weeks.
I actually stopped scanning myself a few years back when my results started to go the wrong way. Then my daughter was getting married and I wanted to wear a suit which I bought over 30 years ago.
I took action about a year and a half ago and now I am back scanning myself again every six weeks.
If you believe that a Bodymetrix scan would be useful for yourself don’t hesitate to drop me a line and we will get you booked in for a scan.
By: Abdi-Karim Berleen/Personal trainer in Loughton
Reducing body fat is a very difficult task.
In fact this will never happen unless you have a strategic plan and implement this plan.
There are many people who stay fit and healthy through exercise and healthy eating.This is brilliant as being healthy is probably the most important thing.They aren’t however; losing body fat. They might carry a bit of excess fat even though they are really healthy and they might even be gaining a bit more fat over the years and still be healthy.
In order to lose body fat a strategic plan is needed.
I am going to use the Rumble in the jungle as an analogy. This was back in 1974 when Mohammed Ali took on George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire.
Ali at the time was a massive underdog. Foreman was at the time knocking out most of his opponents including Frazier who once beat Ali. Foreman was a really dangerous opponent and he possessed massive power.
Ali had his strategic plan in place however, he had looked into his strengths and had figured out how he was going to conquer Foreman.
Ali believed he was mentally stronger than Foreman. He was also more experienced and was probably fitter than Foreman.
At the beginning of the fight Ali humiliated Foreman by hitting him with some lead backhands. In boxing conventionally you are meant to set your opponent up with your front hand then try to hit him with the back hand. Ali did the complete opposite. All this was part of his plan, Ali knew that if he could wind Foreman up this would drain him of energy.
Next thing, Ali went to the ropes, the famous ropa dope and stayed there for the next 8 rounds. Foreman kept pounding Ali with punches som e which very blocked or partially blocked by Ali and all along Ali kept taunting Foreman by speaking to him.
Most people thought it was only a matter of time before Ali would be knocked out as Foreman was a devastating puncher.
Well, then out of nowhere Ali came off the ropes and finished Foreman with an explosive combination of punches.
So without a strategic plan fat loss is not going to happen. You will need to come up with some actions and stick to them. It doesn’t have to be rocket science and there are no rights or wrongs.
The most important thing is that it is something that suits you in the long run so that you can stick with the plan.
By: Abdi-Karim Berleen/Personal trainer in Loughton.
I would say getting physically active is a good idea if you want to increase your life satisfaction not only at present but also as your age progresses.
Obviously there are no guarantees when it comes to what the future will bring to us but as a way of preventing metabolic syndrome exercis and also nutrition are key factors.
For those of you who don’t know what metabolic syndrome is; it’s when you tick some boxes for conditions that are mostly life style related.
The list is as follows; high blood pressure, insulin resistant, fatty liver, high triglycerides and high levels of LDL cholesterol.
If you don’t look after yourself metabolic syndrome is a very likely outcome. Let’s say your food consistes mainly of ultra processed foods, you drink too much alcohol and the combination of not moving enough this is what could be next for you.
The worst thing of all is that once you have metabolic syndrome you are at a high risk not only for cardiovascular disease and stroke but sadly cancer as well.
Worst of all you are also at a much higher risk of developing dementia. The really scary thing about dementia is that it can be neither prevented nor treated. Many people would actually rather take the heart attack or cancer than ending their lives with dementia.
Getting physically active will most likely add to your longevity. You could add years orre even decades to your life by getting in shape and also by trying to improve your food choices.
The minimum exercise you can do is brisk walking or any other activity that you enjoy that will raise your heart rate.
You could even have some benefits if you only take 30 minutes out of your day, this could even be in portions (exercise snacking).
I do consider myself to be reasonably fit and I only spend two and a half hours to three hours on formal workouts. I do walk and cycle quite a lot and I have a physical job so that comes on top.
Weight bearing exercises are really important especially as we get older and our muscle tissue wastes away. Without any intervention your life quality will decrease when everyday tasks such as getting up from seated becomes really difficult.
You don’t need to do a lot 2-3 hours a week should be sufficient and it’s probably a good idea to take a bit more time cooking your meals from scratch rather that ultra processed foods and take aways.
By:Abdi-Karim Berleen/Personal trainer in Loughton
More recently some companies have started offering Microbiome tests as a way of personalising your nutrition.
Your microbiome is very relevant to the way you absorb your nutrients. As a matter of a diet high in fruit, vegetables and legumes in large variety is really the key to good gut bacteria.
Now we have companies asking you to send them your poo and they will tell you what to eat.
So let’s say a person with a poor diet lacking in fibre send them his poo and they find out that the microbiome lacks large variety of bacteria.
Then the recommendation will probably be; eat oats instead of coco pops for breakfast.
Now is this personalised nutrition?
Other tests that are offered as a way of establishing what you should eat is Glucose testing.
How can Glucose testing be relevant to your nutrition. You walk around all day with a glucose monitor and watch your Glucose spikes.
The only people really who need to monitor their Glucose spikes are typ 1 diabetic Glucose spikes are not in any way form or shape going to personalise your nutrition.
Obviously if you drink 15 cans of Coca Cola a day you will have a bit too many insulin spikes and your health and well being will suffer as a result.
Personalised nutrition is definitely something that will be a thing of the future. When better ways of testing are available.
But as of now it is really just science fiction.
By Abdi-Karim Berleen/Personal trainer in Loughton
Physical activity for seniors is pretty much like brushing your teeth. It’s not going to solve all your problems but try to not do it and see what happens.
For example if you have gained lots of weight over the years and you start to exercise to try and get lean again you are most likely not going to be very successful.The reason for this is; if you increase your activity your appetite will also increase.
Really, the biggest advantage of exercising is always going to be health related and also to maintain some functions that will decline the older you get.
The main health benefits that we are getting from exercise is improved blood glucose, reduced blood fat levels and reduced LDL Cholesterol.
Functions that will deteriorate as you age is balance. Some simple exercises where you challenge your balance continuously will help you to maintain this function.
Another function that goes down is power. For example getting up from seated will get more difficult as we age. This is because of decreased power. So power is Muscular strength and speed. So if you lack muscular strength many tasks are going to get increasingly difficult as we age.
So what is the solution?
First of all you have to find an activity that you enjoy enough to do a couple of times every week.
Two hours should be enough but if you are completely out of shape can start ding about 10 minutes of a couple of times every week.
Let’s say you chosen activity is walking. Jus start doing 10 minute walks a few times every week. Once you get fitter you can slowly start to add volume. If you are already fit you can start doing 60 minute walks, 2-3 times a week.
In addition to this it is highly recommended that you do weight bearing exercises twice a week.
This will have huge benefits for many of your declining functions and will add much quality to your life as you get into your senior years.
Not only will you feel much better but you will also look so much better.
By:Abdi-Karim Berleen/Personal trainer in Loughton.
I am a functional ageing specialist. Not only am I the first one in my hometown Loughton but also one of the first qualified functional ageing specialist in the whole of the UK.
The fact is that this qualification is so new that it is yet to decided whether it is going to be a Level 3 qualification or even a level 4.
To tell the truth I will take any. Be it level 3 or level 4. All I can say is that passing this qualification has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. That is probably good though, that you need to be at your best to look after the fitness of our ageing population.
You know what the cool thing is?
My certificate is only valid for 2 years. 3rd of May 2018 it expired and I had to redo my exam.
I am now looking forward to working more and more with alder adults and hopefully sooner rather than later I will be making a big difference in someone’s life. It could be such as simple things getting someone fit enough to play with their grand-children or how about this great grand children. It could also mean that I take on a client who needs help with fall prevention.
Good thing is!
I now have both the experience and the qualifications to deal with these situations.
I just heard the other day that the average age in the UK now is 40 and this doesn’t mean that there are lots of 40 year olds walking around. The average age is 40 because there are lots of older adults and our population keeps on getting older day by day.
Unfortunately as we age many functions start to slow down.
!) We lose muscle power which is needed in our daily lives.
2) Balance definitely goes down as we age.
3) Movement. Our agility goes down.
4)Weight gain as we get older and slow down our bodies get heavier
5) Niggles and pain
The good news is that if you keep on moving most of these things can be prevented and remember it is never too late to start. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you can still improve many of your functions and continue to live an active life.
If you are an older adult or if you know any older adult who could benefit from some movement then you know who to call.
I am based in Loughton Essex and my initial consultation is free.
I would love to hear from you!
By:Abdi-Karim Berleen/Personal trainer in Loughton.