What is a Pharmaceutical Grade Supplement?

What is a Pharmaceutical Grade Supplement?

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.

 

References:
http://www.snc.spore.ws/AboutMedicineGrade/AboutMedicineorPharmaceuticalGrade.htm

http://www.arthritis-relief-naturally.com/pharmaceutical-grade-fish-oil.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietary_supplement

 

and if you really want to know about what is and is not regulated, then go here:

http://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/ODS_Frequently_Asked_Questions.aspx#Ingredients

500 Calorie Challenge – The Results!

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:

St_Albans_Personal_Training_500_Calorie_Challenge_Day1-min

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

1      00:28:29

2      00:24:58

3      00:24:13

4      00:21:02

5      00:21:13

6      00:21:29

7      00:21:12

8      00:21:35

9      00:20:56

10    00:20:53

11    00:20:30

12    00:21:31

13    00:20:49

14    00:21:49

15    00:21:44

16    00:19:55

17    00:19:49

18    00:21:49

19    00:20:24

20    00:20:01

21    REST

22    REST

23    00:19:26

24    00:20:01

25    00:19:39

26    00:20:08

27    00:19:50

28    00:21:01

29    00:19:57

30    00:19:58

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.

Alkaline diets. Marketing fad or the real deal?

Alkaline diets. Marketing fad or the real deal?

  • An acidic diet is one mainly composed of foods and drinks which supposedly increase the acidity of our bodily fluids, by decreasing our bodies natural pH levels. Acidic foods include meats, grains, and dairy. 
  • An alkaline diet is one mainly composed of foods and drink which supposedly increase the alkalinity of our bodily fluids, by increasing our bodies natural pH levels. Alkaline foods tend to be leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits.

It is the end product produced after digestion that determines whether or not a food or drink is acidic or alkaline. For examples, lemons are highly acidic but create alkaline products after digestion. Not all fruits and vegetables are alkaline, and likewise not all animal products are acidic. (Google alkaline foods and .you’ll surely find a comprehensive list).

It is a common belief that a diet high in alkaline foods will prevent disease and ill health. I don’t believe that is true. Although it is a fact that many alkaline foods are extremely good for you, but so are many acidic foods. So why do many people believe that alkaline diets are literally saving them from disease? In my opinion, it is because they are simply a victim of yet another great marketing ploy. But wait! Alkaline diets are heavily endorsed by celebrities! And celebrities look fantastic! Hmmmm….could it not be that celebrities are endorsing something in which they are getting paid to endorse by those clever brands? 

Anyway, I’ll let you form your own opinion on that, but here is my reasoning for having an opinion that an alkaline diet will not prevent disease.

 

1. Homeostasis

Our bodies are very sensitive to pH (pH being a level of acidity and alkalinity on a measure from 1 to 14, with 1 being very acidic and 14 being highly alkaline). Our bodies are highly effective and efficient at maintaining a pH level between 7.38 and 7.42 (part of a process called homeostasis). Anything above or below this can have serious side effects on our health.
Given that our bodies maintain bodily pH at an optimum of 7.4 through homeostasis, and it being true that food can leave its (albeit very minor) mark on our bodies pH levels, this means there is one thing that health food and supplement marketers have completely overplayed, and no doubt suckered you into believing. That is the belief that you can alter your blood pH through your diet. I am yet to read any compelling evidence that our diets can alter our bodies pH levels, but if you do know of any journals or clinical trials which conclude that eating certain foods regularly can alter our pH then do let me know! 

 

2. Respiration

For our bodies pH to dramatically change then we would need to either speed up or slow down the rate of respiration (in other words, the rate at which we remove carbon dioxide from the blood, which is done through breathing). Our Kidneys would also need to be inhibited from producing the buffering agents that also help regulate our pH. If either of these happened then we would become seriously ill.

This leads on to another marketing ploy, in that it is believed that an acidic diet causes bone demineralisation (and some believe an acidic diet can cause osteoporosis), and other diseases. The belief that an acidic diet causes osteoporosis or bone demineralisation comes from the fact that bones store calcium, and the belief that bones will release their calcium (an alkaline metal) to buffer out our blood if it is too acidic. This is highly flawed because it makes the assumption that both our respiration and a major function of the kidneys has been heavily inhibited. If you want to know more about this side of the scientific argument then check out this published journal: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24094472

 

3. Marketing Ploys and Self Medication

Where the marketers successfully achieve their goal is in the selling of products (alkaline products and supplements) that claim to counteract an increase in acidity due to our poor diets. Just to clarify, I am not referring to any clinical conditions such as acidosis or alkalosis (which does cause serious health problems). I am solely referring to the belief that a diet which contains more alkaline foods than acidic foods will prevent serious health problems. 

One problem here is that many people are spending over £20 for a bottle of 90 capsules which apparently alkalise the body, believing that an alkaline diet will prevent disease. To put this straight, neither a diet that is highly acidic or highly alkaline will prevent disease. Why waste your money on this stuff? If you’re that determined to have an alkaline diet then why wouldn’t you spend that money on great alkaline food, which is rich in nutrients and minerals?

Another problem is that this is all yet another marketing ploy to fuel our innate fears of becoming ill by providing us with another way to self medicate. We are naturally afraid of an undesirable self perceived future self, whether that be a fear in becoming ill, poor, lonely, overweight, or in some way unable to live up to societies heavy and outrageous demands for us to be as near perfect and desirable as possible. Not that there is anything wrong in wanting to be the best and strongest version of yourself, but there is a problem when you are spending money on something which you believe is helping when it’s not. There is a problem when you buy into a product which is sold through capitalising on your anxiety, rather than a product which is genuinely good for you.
I’m not saying that all supplementation is bad either. I like raw vegan-friendly supplements (mainly protein) because they have so few chemicals, preservatives or additives. 

 

4. Finally, your Body is not this Fragile!

Finally, the other main problem is really believing an alkaline diet will prevent disease. Could it not be that a diet which is rich in nutrients and minerals is the cause for improved health and increased vitality? Alkaline foods are highly nutritious, they’re great for you! But does that mean that eating a steak will be detrimental to your health? Or that if you eat wholemeal pasta, or even go as far as eating a pizza or a burger, that you then need to quickly supplement it with alkaline rich foods or you will surely suffer the consequences? Is any of this sounding a little too…drastic? Is your body so fragile that it cannot handle the odd croissant here and there? No it’s not! 

 

As always, if you are aiming for a healthy lifestyle or even an athletic level of health, then I always always always recommend a balanced diet and keeping well hydrated. Increase your greens by all means if you want to increase the amount of nutrients and minerals in your diet. But don’t buy into diet fads without really digging deep into where they came from (and as always, go and speak with your local GP!) 

Don’t waste your money on something which has not been proven to work and is currently being pushed and promoted as if it were made of unicorn horns. Go for healthy foods and recipes that taste great and make your health routines enjoyable! Who ever enjoyed or looked forward to swallowing supplement pills anyway???


So what about toxins? free radicals? oxidative stress? antioxidants? detox? and all these terms which are thrown around every day? What are these about? Check out next weeks blog for more on these! Are they also fads? or do we genuinely need to detox once in a while?

500 Calorie Daily Burnout update!

500 Calorie Daily Burnout update!

However, my muscles are a bit stiff, I am feeling tired, and a few times I have felt a bit ill (but still done it anyway!). The importance of eating right, sleeping well, and stretching has been crucial to sustaining this. I often struggle when I do not get an early ish night, or if I don’t eat well. Hydration is another key factor. I sweat so much during the burnout that I am having to drink plenty of water to stay cool and hydrated.

To be honest, training this way is giving me a real sense of commitment, achievement, and it’s helping me learn how to stay truly competitive with myself, and it’s also shown me just how hard I really need to work during the time I have dedicated to training. It has already changed my training habits entirely, and I know believe that I have simply not been training hard enough during the time I have set to train. I now have new boundaries and I am able to push myself much further than I thought I could – every single day as well!

I will be taking a rest day on Saturday (yes I know, this will ruin the challenge a bit!), but I won’t have access to my X Trainer whilst away. I will be doing it tomorrow before I go, and when I come back on Sunday night I will also do the challenge, so I will literally only be resting once which is this Saturday. To be honest, I wouldn’t set this challenge to anyone without a rest day or two. Recovery has been an issue but it’s not prevented me from doing the challenge so far. 

One of the questions has been answered for sure. Is it possible to burn 500 calories in less than 20 minutes? Yes, absolutely! I have achieved this within 15 days! If I can do it, then anyone can do it! My cardio is certainly been a neglected area of my fitness over the years, as I much prefer resistance training. So I know that anyone else in a similar boat can achieve this. I have had to use strategies such as:

  • Starting with Ta Ba Ta for 10 minutes, and then 10 minutes consistent pace
  • Starting with consistent pace for 10 minutes, then Ta Ba Ta 
  • Increasing/changing Ta Ba Ta sprint time (i.e. 40 seconds sprint, 20 seconds rest)
  • Warming up before doing the challenge (sometimes I have tried to do it without a warm up – something I have stopped doing and I do not advise. It doesn’t help at all. Always warm up)

 

I am doing this on top of my usual resistance training too, so I am most likely (most definitely) burning more than 500 calories a day. This challenge was not intended to replace your usual workouts, but to add to it. 

500 Day 16 result

500 Day 16 result

Do I believe this is sustainable? Certainly not every single day without a rest. But many athletes or serious competitors out there are training 5-6 times a day and are burning a lot of calories too. This differs in that you are working as hard as you possibly can at a consistent rate for 20+ minutes, which is a huge demand and stress on your body.

With each day I just find it hard to believe I can push myself any harder. But clearly I am getting stronger because from somewhere I am developing the strength to better each time. As long as I can maintain burning 25 calories or more each minute then I know I am on target to make 500 calories in 20 minutes. Here are my times so far:
 

 

 

 

Day | Time

1     00:28:29

2     00:24:58

3     00:24:13

4     00:21:02

5     00:21:13

6     00:21:29

7     00:21:12

8     00:21:35

9     00:20:56

10   00:20:53

11   00:20:30

12   00:21:31

13   00:20:49

14   00:21:49  <— felt really ill here!

15   00:21:44

16   00:19:55

17   00:19:49


Day 14 and Day 15 I really had nothing to give! But the main thing here that I am absolutely loving is that I have a daily target which I can set for myself, which I can work hard it, and which I can see is making my training far more effective. Whatever you are currently training for, I highly recommend setting targets, work hard to achieve new PB’s (personal bests), record your results (very important), and especially if you’re looking to lose weight or change your appearance (i.e. going for 6 pack abs) then do record your progress by taking pictures! Keep a daily record of your progress – this has been the one thing that has kept me going more than everything else.

More updates to follow soon! 

500 Calorie Daily Burnout update!

500 Calorie Challenge! Day 1

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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!)