What is Pharmaceutical Grade? The FDA has three grades which it uses for determining the purity of a product intended for consumption. These are:
Pharmaceutical Grade – the highest in purity (it must be bioavailable and have 99.1% purity)
Food Grade – over 10% purity
Feed Grade – intended for agriculture
A Pharmaceutical Grade supplement must have ZERO % of fillers and binders in it’s ingredients. Which theoretically would make it a good supplement. No binders and no fillers is the first thing I look for (silicon dioxide is a classic example, as is magnesium stearate – both used to help lubricate the machines, improving binding of the pill, and speed up production).
A Pharmaceutical Grade supplement must be bioavailable – in other words it has to be easily absorbed by the body (intravenous administration is an example of 100% bioavailable).
Usually, Pharmaceutical Grade supplements are sold by medical professionals and are rarely found in the supermarket. Unfortunately the FDA does not regulate the supplement industry in the same way it regulates the Pharmaceutical Industry. Supplements can’t have any ingredients that the FDA have banned but they can contain pretty much anything else. Currently there is not anything in place where a supplement company cannot claim that their product is pharmaceutical grade – scary huh?
So, if the number one nutrition company tell you their product is Pharmaceutical Grade, then ask for a list of their ingredients (all of which are found in their marketing material once you take a sample or buy it, but rarely are they published online). If their ingredients contain fillers, lubricants, and binders, then they are just lying.
How are they lying you ask? The term Pharmaceutical Grade only applies to the individual ingredient itself. This means a supplement can contain both pharmaceutical grade, food grade, and a whole bunch of FDA approved fillers and binders. This therefore allows that particular supplement to label itself as Pharmaceutical Grade, as it contains a pharmaceutical grade ingredient. The FDA do not regulate the final products that supplement companies make – they only ensure that these products meet legal requirements and do not use banned ingredients.
This is a deceptive practice that occurs in the supplement industry – using ingredients that meet pharmaceutical standards, but do not deliver the same high quality in the finished dietary supplement.
They’ll probably tell you that they adhere to GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), which is great if they do, but this doesn’t stop them from adding fillers, binders, and lubricants to their products.
So what does this mean for us? Well you simply have to choose your supplements wisely. Don’t fall for marketing hype and deceptive terminology. Don’t self medicate (you may not even need that supplement). If you are going to supplement your diet, then go for something that is just what want. If you want protein, then buy protein (I’m a personal fan of Pulsin and Sunwarrior but just to it make clear I do not get paid by them and I am not obliged to mention them – they’re just good value for money, clean and honest products which I personally like).
If you’re in doubt then remember, Pharmaceutical Grade is defined as a standard which is suitable for Medicine. Medicine is defined as the diagnosis, practice, and treatment of disease. Supplements are not allowed to claim that they can cure or prevent ill health or disease – by definition alone, a supplement which calls itself Pharmaceutical Grade is going against it’s own legal definition.
and if you really want to know about what is and is not regulated, then go here:
One of the biggest lessons this challenge taught me was the discipline of doing something every day. One of the many reasons so many people find a training programme doesn’t work is because they cannot commit to the regular exercise required, and they cannot give 100% – particularly if they are “too tired” or just not up for it. I learned that by managing my state and pushing myself to do something that I wouldn’t normally do, I could achieve a far better result than if I had just exercised inconsistently for the past 30 days.
I hope you’ll give me a bit of grace on this one, but during Easter I put on a fair bit of weight. I gave myself the excuse that I was stressed and I needed to work hard, and that this meant I had no time to stick to regular exercise. As you can see in the picture below, I did not look good! That is both the effect of a bad diet and stress which I placed upon myself:
Tired, stressed out, poor diet (I was still eating good nutritional food but I was snacking a lot on top of it), finding any excuse to avoid exercise. Even when I was exercising I was barely giving 50%.
That’s one of the great things about this challenge. It forced me to give 100%. If I were to beat my times each day then I had to give 100%.
My first time was pretty bad. I burned 500 calories in 00:28:29. With each day I gave it my all to beat the previous days time. Check out my times below:
Day | Time
My best time was 00:19:26. I knew that if I were to get a good time I had to burn at least 25 calories a minute, so this is what I aimed for. This is not at all easy, and I can tell you that you are left absolutely gasping for air and water once you reach 500 calories! But 20 minutes is not long and you equally recover quickly. It’s manageable and it’s something you can do every day.
So what did it to my body over the coming weeks? Take a look at the Gallery at the top of this post!
Not bad going for 30 days training for just twenty minutes. I did do this on top of my usual workout, but my usual workout (weights, calisthenics) did suffer. On some days I felt very tired, others I felt my muscles had nothing to give. But I still pushed through!
Do I think this is sustainable every single day? No, only as a 30 day challenge. Is it effective as part of your workout? Yes, this is a great way to burn fat in a short amount of time, and you can add it to the end of a workout. I wouldn’t do this without recovery days (unless I were to do the 30 day challenge, which to be honest I would still recommend 1 rest day a week).
What do you think? Would you like the training programme to build up to burning 500 calories a day? Would you like to take on the challenge? Drop me a message and I’ll send you the details (all for free!)
All in all this has been a great amount of fun, and I am going to continue utilising this particular exercise and add it into my own training.
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Can it be done? How hard will it be?
So the challenge (or more accurately, the research) is:
30 Days, 500 calories burnt every day through 1 session of exercise.
Questions I am looking to answer:
- Can it be done?
- What are the positive and negative impacts on health?
- Will I become more tired or more energetic?
- Will my appetite increase?
- How long will burning 500 calories in one go take?
- What is the shortest time I can burn 500 calories in?
- What does it feel like to burn 500 calories in one go?
- Can I do it after my usual workouts? (as a finisher?)
- Could I sustain this for longer than 30 days every day?
I started my research this morning into burning 500 calories a day in one go, every day, no rest days, and here’s how the first session went.
After starting work at 5.15 am this morning, I planned to do my first 500 calories at 7:30 am. I’ll happily admit, my cardio fitness isn’t the greatest. I am much more of a strength and muscle endurance type of person (lot’s of body weight, heavy weights, using pull up bars – anything with interesting and challenging movement).
About 10 minutes in and my mind was telling me “it’s time to give up now, this is going to be too hard”. Which is absolutely crazy! I knew my body had more so there was no way I was going to stop at 10 minutes. So I had to put a real effort to switch my state from giving up to giving it a go!
I could definitely feel the effects of an easter diet, and I’m a little bit…well say we say…shy…at the thought of posting my shirtless photo on day 1 at the moment (I’ll be keeping a visual diary and taking a photo each day before each workout.)
To my surprise it didn’t feel or hurt as much as I thought it would, and it certainly was not outside of my comfort zone, nor my ability. At the moment I definitely feel like I could do this every day – but it’s only day 1 so best not get carried away! Let’s wait til the stress on the legs and mind start to kick in first before I get too cocky!
The outcome of this morning was that I managed to burn 300 calories in under 17 minutes, and burnt 500 calories in 28 minutes and 29 seconds. So that is now my minimum standard and my time to beat tomorrow.
I’ll post my update in the weekly email and keep sending a few of these updates throughout. I’m also keeping a health log (which I use with all my clients) to track my health too (heart rates, blood pressure etc…) I’ll send out the results each week so you can see the effects this research/challenge is having on my whole body.
As for my diet, I will be keeping it clean. Lot’s of vegetables, balanced out with protein, and a small amount of carbs. Personally, I am not a big carb fan anyway – pasta is not a favourite of mine. I’ll be cutting out breads and baking goods, and keeping chocolate consumption under control (maybe a little bit at the weekends – chocolate is my weakness!)
For example, have you ever heard of the chemical Monosodium Glutamate? Better known by its more common name, MSG (look for the E number E621). As well as being a major additive in many foods, it is also used in laboratories to fatten up rats for experimentation. MSG causes high levels excitation and is often referred to as an excitotoxin. It is found in so many foods, and is purposefully added to foods such as soups, seasonings, snacks, fast foods, ready meals, and many more, in order to trigger your sense of craving for other foods which provide excessive stimulation (such as those high in sugar, or caffeine, or salt)
This is scary stuff! I highly recommend you read the book ‘Brandwashed’ which also covers this point.
So how can we fight back against brand and supermarket marketers (who are equally as bad with their own in store own brand products)? We know what we are craving, and why we are craving it (to literally get our fix of such substances), but what else is influencing us to buy these foods in the first place (other than knowing they taste good).
Many of the foods we crave are often described as rewards, treats, celebrations (literally!), or as something we deserve. You will frequently see marketing that describes certain food in such ways as “go on, treat yourself” or “you deserve a reward”. Coincidently, when we reward ourselves, our brains release a powerful neurotransmitter called Dopamine. In our brains, dopamine is translated as pleasure, creating a powerful feeling of satisfaction which we crave and become addicted to. During periods of the day when we have not received a reward for some time, we begin to crave a dopamine hit and start searching for ways to obtain this satisfaction associated with rewards. The more frequently we reward ourselves, the greater the need for a greater reward.
In food terms, something as innocent as yoghurt can (and many do) contain chemicals and sugars, and literally feed your reward system, giving you that release of dopamine you’ve been waiting for. If you have a relatively healthy diet and then start to reward yourself with something as innocent (hint) as yoghurt, you’re going to release dopamine into your system as a result. This in turn is going to influence you to seek out and crave sweeter foods. Perhaps you have the same problem with salt and you seek out crisps as a reward too. The fun, rewarding, celebratory slogan “once you pop you just can’t stop” soon becomes a real problem. If you look back to where your addictions started, for many during times of stress or lack of stimulation, you may be able to identify what foods initially caused the problem, and what foods you began to go after from there on.
For me I recognised this problem in bread and other baked products. I also loved bread based meals such as pizza, burgers, sandwiches (hungry yet?), and sweet baked goods. Unfortunately, these very products were feeding my cravings, and helping me towards a diet which was entirely reactive to the cravings I had to fulfil. Even when I was not hungry I would impulsively buy Burger Kings (I used to live a few yards away from a Burger King at University), cakes, doughnuts, you get the idea. Crisps and chocolate then became the norm (notice how ‘meal deals’ are always a sandwich, packet of crisps, some sort of chocolate, and bottle of fruit juice from concentrate or a fruit smoothie…supermarkets know how to get you hooked!) But it wasn’t the bread itself I was addicted to…it was their unlabelled ingredients. Bakers of ‘fresh’ bread and baked goods in the UK do not have to fully label their products with the ingredients used. The Real Bread Campaign gives us an overview of what bakers and retailers are not required to do for us consumers (www.sustainweb.org/realbread/bread_labelling):
- Bakers and retailers are not required to provide customers with full lists of ingredients and any additives they use in making unwrapped loaves – e.g. those from supermarket in-store bakeries.
- The use of so-called processing aids can go completely undeclared, even on the ingredient and additive lists of wrapped loaves.
- There are no legal definitions for terms commonly used in loaf marketing, including ‘fresh’ (or ‘freshly baked’), ‘sourdough’, ‘wholegrain’, ‘artisan’ and ‘craft.’
Shocked? We literally live in a world where avoiding additives or addictive substances is near impossible! It’s no wonder we crave such bad foods or comfort eat, or even let these foods become a part of our everyday diet! Once these foods are in your everyday diet the supermarkets know you will literally be buying the sweeter, saltier, more appealing foods which are ridiculously high in these addictive substances.The messages throughout online food stores and in the supermarkets themselves are telling us it’s ok to buy and enjoy more, and more, and more.
How do we stop? If you really concerned then your first point of call should be a GP (I always recommend this) as they can help guide you towards resources and even dieticians. Never attempt to dramatically or suddenly change your diet without GP guidance. For me, I took steps to keep bad foods out of sight and out of mind. I avoided the baked goods aisle and I wouldn’t allow any bad foods into my kitchen. I made rules for myself such as eating those foods only at weekends, which I soon reduced to a new rule which is now ‘eating those foods only at birthdays and celebrations, and I’m on my way to reducing this even further’. By reducing my intake of bad foods I naturally reduce the cravings and my addictions slowly break down. They become less frequent and I haven’t caused myself any additional stress from drastically changing my diet. My approach to food is much less reactive.
I also started to explore fresh vegetables, fruits and healthy fats. I realised that my taste buds could only recognise severely strong flavours, and I would find vegetables to be bland, which they shouldn’t be! They have so much flavour but we can barely recognise it as it’s not what we’re used to.
Also, I looked for different ways to reward myself other than food, which is how I got into exercise and why I continued playing sports. I loved playing (and still do) rugby! I found Calisthenics to be challenging and rewarding, especially when I could perform the more complex movements due to my hard work paying off. Re-wiring your dopamine reward system to respond to a healthy stimulus is a key way to avoid comfort eating or treating yourself regularly with bad foods. It’s strange to say it but I now crave fresh raw foods like vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, nut and seeds because my body has got used to wanting the nutrients. I become more irritated when I am a bit dehydrated, as opposed to needing a cup of coffee. It may sound a bit mad or even ridiculous, but I want to encourage you to remove addictive foods and seek out a healthier diet. Find other foods, healthier foods to reward yourself with. Work out which healthy foods are your favourite and work from there (find recipes that use them for example). Reward yourself in a different way and fulfil your bodies cravings for a dopamine hit with a healthy reward, something you enjoy.
It’s not going to be easy but nothing worth having ever is! If you’re looking for a way to reward yourself with exercise then I urge you to try out Calisthenics, which can be done without any equipment and can be performed anywhere, anytime, by yourself or in groups. Yes, I’ll even plug my own classes but they are good fun and they could help you get started on your journey towards a stronger version of you.
If you have any questions then leave comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For next weeks blog article I’ll be writing about one of my biggest problems which is sleep and a feeling of constant tiredness. I really do struggle to get out of bed in the morning, and although I’m not as bad as I used to be, I still often feel constantly tired.
It just made me wonder. Are supplement companies just feeding us these drinks and pills without informing us what is in them? Even worse, are we just taking them without questioning or researching into what these ingredients are? Last week I spoke about how artificial sweeteners can worsen our sugar cravings, and I recently wrote a blog post titled “All Killer, No Filler” where I rant on further about supplements and why I only take supplements suitable and acceptable for Raw Vegans.
Anyway, fat burning myths! Fat is an excellent energy source and good fats are incredibly healthy for you. Sugar (carbs) are good in moderation and like fats are also needed for fuel. But the main difference between sugar and fat is that sugar really has one purpose – to provide fuel for energy.
Fat on the other hand is different. Fats are used by our bodies for insulation, fuel, shock absorption, protection, and form many major cellular and biochemical structures in our body. Hormones are made of fat. If we remove fat from our diet completely then we are hindering of bodies natural signalling system. Nerve tissue (neurons, specifically axons) are covered in myelin sheath, a protective layer which is made of fat. Myelin sheath provides our nerves with the insulation it needs for electrical impulses to quickly reach their destinations (our muscles). I am sure you all know this, but the point I am getting at (before I go into fat myth busters) is this – fats are essential to a healthy life style. Source healthy fats (avocado, coconut, nuts, olive oil), avoid bad fats (trans fats, saturated fats, butters, most cooking oils such as vegetable or seed oils). Keep your hormones in check and give them the nutrients they need. Same goes for the nervous system – you’ll need both systems working as efficiently as possible to help improve your health, and get the most out of your training.
Just think about how much your hormonal and nervous system will benefit from a diet that regularly receives good healthy fats.
Here are my fat burning myths:
1. The body turns off one fuel system and then turns on another
The body uses both fat and carbs at the same time, just in different ratios. Why is this important? Because this is often explained poorly by many who sell fitness programmes. The claim is that there is a fat burning zone. Whilst our bodies do switch primary fuel sources from carbs to fat, both are always at work. Our bodies also need to preserve carbs as we only have a limited supply. When the body knows it needs to preserve carbs, the ratio will change in favour of fat for energy.
2. Low-intensity exercise will burn more fat than high-intensity exercise
Again, looking at the fat to carb fuel ratio, at a low intensity your body will use more fat than carbs, but not will solely burn fat alone. At low intensity our bodies will preserve our carb stores as carbs are required for everyday bodily function. However, the question is how do you define your low-intensity exercise? Would you regard a walk as low intensity? a jog? The important thing here is that low intensity workouts will not burn many calories, high-intensity workouts will. Therefore even though low intensity favours the use of fats in the fat to carb ratio, the overall amount of fat used for fuel will be pretty low (but still more than the carbs used in the low-intensity activity) – want to burn more fat? then burn more calories and perform high-intensity workouts.
3. Exercising for longer than 15-20 minutes burns more fat
This myth boils down to the calories you are actually burning. If you go for a jog for 30-40 minutes then I will surely burn fat (and carbs!). But if I go for a run for 15-20 minutes and perform sprints as part of that workout, I will burn more calories than a 30-40 minute jog (I will most likely have to do a few good sprints though). If I am planning to make fat burning effective for my workout then I need to make sure I am burning more calories during a 20-minute workout than I would for a 40-minute workout. Not easy, but with hard work and dedication it is more than do able. This is why HIIT training and Ta-Ba-Ta training is very effective because it focuses on the calories within a short time frame, not the fuel source.
I’m not saying that we must count calories – we all know when too much is too much. What I am saying is that when it comes to our food, go for the quality of the nutrition and keep the carbs in moderation. In other words make sure the calories you are taking in are high quality calories. When we exercise let’s aim to burn a high number of calories in a shorter amount of time.