“Energy Systems and Performance” Monthly Talk 4/9/17


Performance testing Carl on the Wattbike

How do we generate energy for exercise and what fuels do we use to do it?

How do the systems and fuels used change with different levels of intensity?

What are the limiting factors which stop us from going harder for longer?

This talk, the second in a monthly series at Physicality, is aimed at anyone wanting to understand their own performance and limitations. It outlines the basic knowledge required to go on to understand the principles behind cardiovascular training programs (to be covered at a subsequent talk) such as intervals, endurance and “fat burning” sessions – what they are trying to achieve and why.
Whilst the approach – “all it takes is just a bit more effort” gets you a long way, it doesn’t always work!

A few yards from the line and on the limit, even if it’s only a park run!

If you would like to read the notes for the talk, please click on the link below:

Scanned copy of notes from talk

Dietary Fat – Friend or Foe? Monthly talk 7/8/17

A “freedom food” turkey which has had a free range life on it’s natural diet – how does it differ nutritionally from intensively reared birds?

The first of a series of talks on the first Monday of each month at 7pm (after running club). All runners/massage and PT clients are very welcome to attend. The talks are free and will address various aspects of nutrition and training and should appeal to a wide audience. They are informal and friendly.
On Monday 7th August the title of the talk is “Dietary Fat – Friend or Foe”. Over the last 40-50 years the government advice has been to encourage a low fat calorie controlled diet yet the incidence of obesity and Type 2 diabetes is higher than ever. Are we lazy gluttons? Or is the advice seriously flawed? This talk looks at the types of fat present in food, the evidence for and against eating fats on health grounds and the role of the food industry in adding fats to processed foods. The aim is to present more information on dietary fat than is generally available, based on scientific studies from the reading list, to assist individuals in making their own personal dietary choices.

Fast food with lots of unidentifiable fat

Here is a summary of the notes for the talk:

DIETARY FAT – Friend or Foe?

Range of food items

What is understood to be current NHS advice re fat

Categorisation of food into macronutrients

Categorisation of fat as saturated/mono/unsaturated

What are these types of fat (chemical structure) and in which foods are they found


  • Palmitic vs stearic acid


  • Monounsaturated
  • Polyunsaturated
  • Omega 3s and omega 6s
  • Trans-fats (and cis-fats)

Historical approach to hydrogenated fats

What about cholesterol

Studies on fat and CHD

Effect of different fats on lipid profiles and CHD

Future of fat in processed foods (banning of trans-fats/substitution with palm oil)

Some points to ponder:

In 1984, the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute launched a massive health campaign. They undertook a decade long trial to test the idea that eating less saturated fat would curb heart disease. Not a single heart attack was prevented. After 10 years and $115m they gave up.

In the early 1990s, the National Institute of Health instigated the Women’s Health Initiative costing around a billion dollars. Amongst the questions asked was whether a low fat diet prevented heart disease or cancer. Fifty thousand women were divided into two groups, a low fat group and an “eat what you like” group. After six years, the “low fat” group had cut both their saturated fat and total fat consumption by a quarter, slightly lowered their total and LDL cholesterol to just below that of the “eat what you like” group, and had lost only 2lbs. There was no difference in their incidence of heart disease, stroke, breast cancer or colon cancer. In fact, there was no observable benefit at all of a low fat diet.

In 2007, Stanford University conducted an “A TO Z Weight Loss Study”.  Subjects were instructed to eat as much fat and protein as they wanted but avoid carbohydrates i.e a high fat, high saturated fat diet. They were compared with those on a low fat, low saturated fat restricted calorie diet. Those who ate mostly fat and protein

  • Lost more weight
  • HDL went up
  • LDL went up
  • Trigycerides went down
  • Blood pressure went down
  • Total cholesterol stayed the same
  • Their risk of a heart attack decreased significantly

In 2001, Harvard researchers Drs Frank Hu and Walter Willett said “It is now increasingly recognised that the low fat campaign has been based on little scientific evidence and may have caused unintended health consequences”.

In September 2009, the World Heath Organisation published a reassessment of the data on dietary fat and heart disease which stated “The available evidence from observational studies and randomised controlled trials is unsatisfactory and unreliable to make a judgement about and substantiate the effects of dietary fat on the risk of coronary heart disease”.

Vegetable oils are highly processed. Take palm oil for example. First is fractionation, with crystallisation and separation processes to obtain solid and liquid fractions. Then melting and degumming removes impurities. Then the oil is filtered and bleached to produce “refined, bleached and deodorised palm oil” or RBDPO, the basic palm oil sold in the world’s commodity markets. Food companies then fractionate RBDPO further to produce palm olein, used for cooking and other food products.

In 1990, Dutch researchers found that a 2% increase in the intake of trans- fats results in a 23% increase in the risk of coronary heart disease. By 2000, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland banned trans-fats for human consumption.

The USDA (United States Drug Administration) stated in 2016 that “Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for over-consumption”. In other words, you can eat as much cholesterol as you like and it is not harmful.

A 2006 study supported by the National Institute of Health and the USDA concluded that palm oil is not a safe substitute for partially hydrogenated (trans) fats in the food industry, because palm oil results in adverse changes in the blood concentrations of LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B just as trans-fat does.

Before 2000, studies on saturated fats included trans-fats. The Nurses Health Study followed 80,082 nurses over 14 years. After removing the effect of trans-fats, the study concluded that “total fat intake was not significantly related to the risk of coronary disease” and that dietary cholesterol was also safe.

An analysis of 21 studies in 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition covering 347,747 patients found “no significant evidence for concluding that dietary fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease”.

Twenty year follow up data from the Framingham heart study revealed that margarine was associated with more heart attacks whereas butter was associated with fewer heart attacks. Those eating the most saturated fat had the least strokes whilst polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oils) were not beneficial.

The National Cholesterol Education Program states “the percentage of total fat in the diet, independent of caloric intake, has not been documented to be related to body weight”. In other words, eating fat does not make you fat.

Harvard researcher Dr Willett concludes “The emphasis on total fat reduction has been a serious distraction in efforts to control obesity and improve health in general”.

Reading List:

  1. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/the-eatwell-guide.aspx
  2. “The Obesity Code” (2016) by Dr Jason Fung
  3. “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” (1939) by Weston A Price DDS  with many reprints
  4. “Pure, White and Deadly: The Problem of Sugar” (1972) by Professor John Yudkin
  5. “The Paleo Diet” (2011) by Dr Loren Cordain
  6. “The Paleo Diet for Athletes”  (2012) by Dr Loren Cordain and Joe Friel
  7. “The Case Against Sugar” (2017) by Gary Taubes
  8. “Fat Chance: The Hidden Truth About Sugar, Obesity and Disease” (2014) by Dr Robert Lustig
  9. “Human Evolution, Diet and Health-The Case for Paleolithic Nutrition” (2008) Mark Hines
  10. “It is time to bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity: you cannot outrun a bad diet” by Malhotra/Noakes/Phinney British Journal of Sports Medicine 23/4/2015
  11. “The Great Cholesterol Myth” (2012) Bowden/Sinatra
  12. “The Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson (2012)
  13. “Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It” by Gary Taubes (2012)
  14. “The Great Cholesterol Con” by Dr Malcolm Kendrick (2008)
  15. “Rebuilding the Food Pyramid” by WC Willett and MJ Stampfer (Harvard School of Public Health) Scientific American 288 no 1 (Jan 2003) 64-71


Equipping the gym – May 2017

Once the building works were over and the re-wiring, re-plumbing and interior decoration was done, the exciting job of equipping the gym was next. Almost all of the larger pieces of equipment arrived on the same day. The gym looked like this (some of those boxes are very heavy!):

….and not long after, the largest piece of kit, the squat rack, was laid out as a large metal puzzle:

After that was assembled, everything else fell into place around it until we had a lovely well equipped gym at last.

Squat rack with side safety bars, Concept 2 rower, battle rope and free weights
Free weights area and weights bench
Wattbikes – as used by British Cycling and Team Sky

In addition we have a variety of smaller pieces of equipment such as a bosu balance trainer, resistance bands, kettle bells, Swiss balls, punch mitts/gloves, a plyometric box, medicine balls and a balance mat. This gives us a huge range of exercises for cardiovascular work, muscular strength and endurance training as well as core stability.

Time to get in there and do some work!




Final building works – April 2017

Finally, after nearly 18 months of knocking down walls, ripping out interiors, digging up floors, demolishing and rebuilding the extension, re-wiring, re-plumbing and then fitting out the interior, we have a building ready to equip for the business!

And what a smart looking building it is.

We still have some lime work to do around the windows as that can only be done in spring and summer but otherwise the outside is finished.


Window signage

The window signage has been installed on the centre window and we have a working phone line! Next step was to furnish the reception room. For this we tried to source reclaimed and “industrial” style pieces which would be in keeping with the exposed stone walls and sandstone floors of a mid 1850s building. We found some metal / wood shelving, desk and sideboard which looks great with the log burning stove. Add some old storage boxes for the firewood next to the slate hearth and the fireplace is a centrepiece.

The pewter chain curtain separates the reception room from the gym and has our Physicality logo in silver.

The other side of the reception room has a comfy leather sofa for clients waiting for a personal training or massage session, or to sit and discuss personal requirements with Carl or Carole over a cup of coffee. Hopefully our clients will find this reception room comfortable, relaxing and above all, a private area for discussion with us.

Next – equipping the gym.

Sandstone floors – February 2017

Gym floor looking through to treatment room

The last couple of months have been full on laying the floors. The floors have to be “breathable” to allow the limecrete slab underneath to release moisture. The stone is set in a bed of lime mortar which takes a month to cure, then sealed with a breathable protective sealant. Then the  underfloor heating can be switched on and the rooms are now finally getting some heat after years of being shut up, unused.

In the gym and reception rooms we have laid a beautiful sandstone which is a sedimentary stone from the seabed and is very colourful with lots of pinks and purples to match the sandstone walls. The rear wall of the gym has been plastered with lime hemp plaster, a sustainable and eco- friendly plaster which is both insulating and breathable.

In the treatment room and changing room there is a pale green/yellow slate floor as a contrast. The underfloor heating is throughout the building so all floors feel warm to the touch.

Inside reception looking out onto Main Street

The window sills and upstands have been cut from the same sandstone as the floor. The original wooden beam over the windows will be retained but boxed in in wood. We also have installed a log stove in reception for extra winter warmth!

Next is the plumbing for the changing room, business kitchen and toilet and finally the joinery to finish it all off.



Extension roof and floors – October 2016

A momentous month with lots happening.

Firstly, the roof on the extension was finished and slated with 80% recycled slate tiles, which can cope with the shallow pitch better than natural slate, as we have on the main roof.


Lovely - without the skip!
Lovely – without the skip!

Then once watertight, we could move on to the floors finally. The subfloor is a thick layer of recycled glass called “Glapor”, which looks like coal but is incredibly light. The underfloor heating pipes were laid on top of the Glapor before mixing up the limecrete slab to cover them. This entailed an articulated lorry load of materials being stored temporarily outside the house as one floor of 5 was laid per day for a week.

A part load!
A part load!
Underfloor heating pipes
Underfloor heating pipes
Limecrete going down
Limecrete going down

So we’re all ready to do first fix electrics, plumbing and IT cables now. The floors need a month to dry and carbonate (the lime absorbs carbon dioxide from the air and turns back into limestone) then we can think about laying the stone flags.

We’re starting to look quite tidy at last!


Front window and more pointing – September 2016

While we’ve been building the extension roof at the rear of the property, some work has continued at the front. The large shop window was not supporting the lintel and the stone had dropped by about 1.5 inches in the centre.

Old shop window with sagging lintel
Old shop window with sagging lintel

So the stonemasons have put in two sandstone mullions and replaced the concrete sill with sandstone sills.

New window stonework
New window stonework

which improves the appearance of the building no end, or at least it will when that skip has gone! And the front elevation is partially pointed in lime mortar.


Next job is slate tiles on the extension roof at the rear, which will house the treatment room, business kitchen and changing room as well as the private kitchen to the house.

Pointing, gable ends and a new main roof – August 2016

Although the building may not look greatly different inside, progress has certainly been made on the outside!

Both chimneys have been rebuilt and flues installed for the log burning stoves. The east and west gable ends were full of holes under the cement mortar and needed repair.

This photo refused to rotate – but it shows the holes!

They have now been pointed in lime mortar, which turns paler as it dries and shows the stonework off instead of obliterating it, as the cement mortar did.

Pointed gable end and new chimneys
Pointed gable end and new chimneys

The rear gable end was full of holes and the stonemasons have done a good job of repairing it ready to be pointed also.

Next was the main roof, which was well past it’s useful life. The underside of the slates had been sprayed with foam – a disastrous bodge job. So it has been completely stripped and replaced with reclaimed Welsh slates, which look very smart.

Re-roofing in Welsh slate
Re-roofing in Welsh slate
Finished new roof
Finished new roof and top section pointed in lime mortar
Pointing completed and new roof
Pointing completed and new roof
Lovely! The house as you approach it from the village
Lovely! The house as you approach it from the village

On wetter days work has continued inside with installing new lintels over the fireplaces, internal lime pointing of stone walls which will be exposed and trying to keep tidy after the inevitable mess made by the roofers removing the foam covered slates!

We can now get on with building the roof for the low level extension at the rear and finish pointing the front wall.

Rebuilding the chimneys and extension -March 2016


Work is progressing on the house with both chimneys being taken down and rebuilt. The external pointing has been picked out where possible and will be pointed in lime mortar once the weather is warm enough i.e. no chance of overnight frosts.


At the rear the old extension and it’s rotten roof have gone. A new extension with external stone walls to match the original house are being built to house the changing and treatment rooms, plus a small kitchen area for making tea and coffee on the business side.


That gap will be the rear business entrance!

Next big job is to replace the main slate roof before putting a new roof on the rear extension. In the meantime we will start external pointing on the first floor level and gable ends.

Also good news on the administrative front – we have received both Planning Permission for the change of use (from shop to sports massage and personal training) and Building Regulations approval for building work proposals, subject to submitting final plans for a few things.


Back to the walls – January 2016

Well, since we purchased our new premises work has progressed to pull out the interior to get the property back to sound materials. A very large quantity of plasterboard, wood and general rubble has filled many skips and fuelled a large bonfire. The property feels bigger every day and some lovely old stone walls are emerging from underneath it all, plus the original ceiling beams. Where possible (and practical) we will leave part of the walls and beams exposed to add to the character of the building.

Here’s a taster of what we have found in the business side:

Interior stone wall and beams in the reception area
Interior stone wall and beams in the reception area
Stone mullioned window in the gym
Stone mullioned window in the gym


Rear of property being dug out
Rear of property being dug out

Already the property has an entirely different feel to it as the character of the old building is starting to show itself.