#wisdomwednesday – Things I wish I knew before I started training.

Have you ever had that moment where you think if I knew what I knew now, I would do things different?

Two things we say a lot; being strong makes everything easier! Girl’s, lifting weights won’t make you massive!

Here’s the things I wish I wish I’d known before starting training.
– Sean

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Why is protein important for weight loss? 

Why is protein important for weight loss?

1: It fills us up! Protein is the most filling food group. It slows the release of food from the stomach and helps stave off snacking.

2: Helps reduce calorie intake. Due to feeling fuller it is easier to hit our calorie goal.

3: Reduces cravings. Protein balances blood sugar levels which stabilises energy levels throughout the day and halts craving for sugary foods.

4: Promotes muscle growth and repair. This doesn’t mean you’ll end up bulky, it means you can get shape to your body that you’re after!

5: Increases metabolism. Protein actually burns calories to digest through a process called TEF (Thermal effect of food). It’s estimated you burn 1kcal for every gram of protein you eat.

Couple an high protein diet with a resistance based workout to get the toned look you’re after.

If you want more information feel free to drop us a message and see how we can help you achieve your goals this year!

Why vodka is the go to for losing weight.

We’re all going to go out and have a drink at some point and alcohol is a big stumbling block for a lot of us, especially if you like to switch off with a drink at the end of a day.

Like a lot of things a drink at night can be an habit.. Habits take 21 days to make and you have three options; swap, limit or avoid. For me it’s much easier to change a habit than remove it entirely. I try not to look at things as good or bad, simply are they working for my goals and if not is there a way to make them do so.

I want to compare the calorie content in different drinks and then you can make your own decision.


Drink Calories per serving Food Equivalent Total calories over 4 drinks
Cider (Magners)






Lager (Carling)







250ml glass



Mars bar  






14 Jaffa Cakes  



120ml glass





Alcopop (avg)

330ml bottle





Vodka Coke




Vodka Orange





That’s the main ones most of us have on a night. Individually these will fit into a balanced lifestyle. An average man with us might be eating 2000 kcal a day and a woman 1700 kcal.

Once you start having one or two every other night or if it’s a good night out it can make a big difference, it really depends if 4 is a lot to you or not.

This is where spirits and diet mixers are a much better option. Swapping to spirit and a diet mixer can save 600 kcal over a few drinks and you’re going to feel it just as much.

Spirit Shots or with Diet Mixers which don’t add calories

(35ml shot))






(35ml shot)






(35ml shot)






Remember there is 3500 kcal in every pound of fat and the cartergood infographic below.


In perspective all things the same, just swapping to a gin and slimline tonic a few days a week could burn an extra 1lb of fat each month or an extra stone over the year without doing any exercise.

There’s no harm in having a drink but if it’s going to be a regular thing look I much prefer the cake and eat it scenario where you can do so and not be offsetting what you’ve done at the gym to do so.

8 exciting ways to liven up your morning oats without ramping up the calories!

Oats and fitness go hand in hand. When you’re clearing out your shelves to start your new fitness plan an oats so simple porridge pot is a common sight but what else can we do with oats? Can we make them better? Below are 8 tasty ideas for your morning oats:

1. Cinnamon and Apple

40/80g Porridge Oats
Almond / Soy Milk (unsweetened)
1 heaped tablespoon Cinnamon
Grated Apple / 1 teaspoon Apple Sauce.
Apple is a little higher on the GI scale than blueberries and raspberries later on but we don’t have to use the full thing. Try grating a quarter of an apple into your oats to add lots of flavour without ramping up the calories or sugar content. You can also use a teaspoon of apple sauce if you want to be super quick. Cinnamon is also shown to help regulate blood sugar and keep your cravings down.

2. Protein Porridge​ [strawberry / banana/ chocolate / vanilla]

40/80g Porridge Oats
Almond / Soy Milk (unsweetened)
30g Scoop Flavoured Protein Powder
This is a staple and easy to make. Mix up your usual protein powder into your oats. You can use any flavour so there’s lots of variety in this option. Chocolate, vanilla, banana, strawberry or there’s even more wild flavours out there like double chocolate mint. Check out my protein (click here) to see what offers are available

3. Blueberry Oats
40/80g Porridge Oats
Almond / Soy Milk (unsweetened)
Fresh Blueberries

Fruit is a great addition to porridge but depending on it’s glycemic index it’s the difference between adding some nice flavour and a sugar overload which isn’t good for cravings especially at breakfast. Fortunately, blueberries are really low down the GI scale and are rammed full of anti-oxidants. Keep an eye out for frozen blueberries in your supermarket. They’re much cheaper and last. I boil a kettle and run them under boiling water before adding them to my porridge to quickly defrost them. You also find the juice runs and mixes great into your oats.

4. Chocolate Mudslide Porridge

40/80g Porridge Oats
Almond / Soy Milk (unsweetened)
Walden’s FarmsSyrup

Have you ever heard of Walden’s farms? If not check them out. They’re an American brand gaining popularity here in the UK. You’ll probably have to order online but they’re well worth it. They make lots of syrups and dressings which are relatively calorie free (20kcal in a jar). I recommend chocolate for this recipe but you can also get maple syrup, caramel and lots more. You can also add this to your protein porridge or any of the other variations.

If you don’t like shopping online sweet freedom is an alternative that’s stocked in most supermarkets in the free from section. They’re a little higher in calories (15kcal per serving) but unless you’re going crazy you’ll struggle to do damage.

5. Peanut Butter Oats
40/80g Porridge Oats
Almond / Soy Milk (unsweetened)
Powdered Peanut Butter
Stevia Sweetener

Keeping the theme of new products here, powdered peanut butter!! There’s a few different brands but PB2 / P.B Fit are the ones you’ll see most often. They’re available in Holland and Barrett and supermarkets again in the free from aisle. Why’s it so great?? Because they’ve skimmed off all the fat which is where 85% of the calories comes from in peanut butter. That means all the taste without the damage to your gut. Been powdered it mixes great into porridge. Add a bit of sweetener if you like to brighten the flavour up.

gingerbread-2_orig6. Gingerbread

40/80g Porridge Oats
Almond / Soy Milk (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Stevia sweetener.
(optional) ½ teaspoon. ground cinnamon
(optional) ¼ teaspoon nutmeg (just a hint)
(optional) ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

The key here is using the spices and non of the black treacle which keeps the calories down whilst adding lots of flavour. Great for the winter months and just like gingerbread.

7. Raspberry & Yoghurt
40/80g Porridge Oats
Almond / Soy Milk (unsweetened)
Fresh Raspberries
1 or 2 tablespoons fat-free yoghurt.

Back to the fruit Raspberry is another great low-gi fruit. Like blueberries you’ll also find them in the frozen fruit section. Here we add some low fat greek yoghurt for a creamier texture and to up the protein. Total 0% is our favourite brand but for how much you’re using and supermarket brand will do. You could also use strawberries instead for this one. ​

​8. Overnight Oats

Last but not least overnight oats!! If you’re not in on the whole fitness thing these are a thing right now. Use any of the recipes above here but the trick is to prepare your oats the night before. Cover the dish or jar in cling film and leave them to soak in the fridge overnight. While you sleep the oats will soak up all that milk for a really creamy refreshing texture in the morning. Also saving you time if you have to rush out the door and eat them at work. Give it a go.

Finally, protein. If you’re going for fat loss, protein is the most filling nutrient and a staple in most fat loss plans. Oats should pack a good 15g punch but a small shake mixed again with soy or almond milk would be a great addition alongside your morning porridge to help towards a fat loss goal.

Any questions? Drop them in the comment box below or drop us an email via the contact box.

​Sean – Next Level Fitness

When to eat before a workout

When should you eat before a workout?

This is a question we get asked quite a lot. When is the best time to eat before a workout.You want to make sure you’ve got energy for your workout but you don’t want to be overdoing it either; feeling sick, sluggish or if you’ve got a weight loss goal smashing through your calorie target.People train at different times too so what we’re really talking about is making sure you’re fuelled.

Keep it simple
While you will always hear contrasting arguments a lot of what is been debated is the talk of athletes or bodybuilders. These are circles where 95% of the picture is already perfect and they’re arguing over the last 5%. When you’re at the top of your game that 5% can be the difference between a win or loss but for the rest of us it’s not worth getting out of bed for. I’m much more interested in what’s practical and applicable. The human element.

With that said there’s a few different options but I also want to make a few assumptions.

–  No-one should be starving themselves to lose weight. If you’re going to the gym and your only nutrition for the day is an apple you’re most likely going to have a bad time.
– You should be eating regularly. I don’t mean 6 meals a day but breakfast lunch and dinner isn’t unreasonable. If that’s difficult we need to look at strategies to make it easier; learning a few quick easy meal ideas or batch cooking.

The only exception might be if you’re following a specific protocol such as intermittent fasting but in that case this article isn’t for you.

Under these assumptions most of your needs will be met in your meals and what we’re really talking about is a little boost.

Food for energy
Food is divided into 3 categories; carbs; fats and protein.

Carbs are our body’s main source of energy. Fats slow digestion and and protein is essential for muscular repair. Prior to a workout carbs are going to be our best bet. Carbs can be broken down further into sugars which burn much quicker so the food choice is going to depend on when we’re eating it before a workout.

Before a workout (pre-workout)
2 – 3 hours before you’re better looking at your brown carbs. Rice, bread, pasta are all good choices.

As you get closer to the workout you want to look at faster released carbs which is where you might look look at white carbs; potatoes, white bread, white pasta.

Finally, 60 minutes – right before a workout you might want to look at incorporating some sugars. This is where fruit might be a good shout or some old favourites like a slice of bread and jam.

After a workout it’s all about repair and refuelling. Protein is what your body will be craving. There’s a lot of research around the ‘post-workout’ window which comes largely from bodybuilding and says you should have a shake within an hour of working out to stop your muscles breaking down.

A protein shake is a good idea here (made with water or almond milk as cows milk is higher in sugar and fats and also not everyone’s stomach agree with it) but also getting something in with your evening meal an hour or two later is just as good.

Snack Ideas (pre workout)
​- Smoothie1-10
– Breakfast Bar (belvita, soreen bar, special k bar)
– Pot of porridge
– Banana
– Apple + a teaspoon PB
– Bread & Jam / Banana (1 slice)

What’s best is always an individual question so the answer varies. The main thing is to ensure you’re fuelled for your workouts, how you manage your calories is down to what works best for you. You can try fuelling up before the workout 2-3 hours before and slow burning carbs will work best or a smaller snack. The same goes after some will find a protein shake is enough, some will enjoy a fuller meal. Experiment and stick with the option that works best for you.